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Is This an Excuse?

Shoes on Aditi -- SolidShoes on Aditi -- Solid
Probably not, huh? I'm still playing with mesh in Blender and SL. And playing with textures in GIMP, although less of that since I'm using the specular baking.
Specular baking is where you use the 3D program (in my case Blender) to "bake" the reflections of the lights onto the texture of the object, to give it a more realistic look. The specular colors generally depend on angle, so it's rather convoluted going about trying to actually bake them into the texture. It involves nodes which are essentially a pipeline of texture factors. I actually found the Tutoral on SLU by Googling.
Shoes on Aditi -- Animal PrintShoes on Aditi -- Animal Print
Then I found this blog post that directed me to the Rotating Brush Assistant GIMP Plug-in which was how I learned the easy way to create a stitching effect. ..and any other effect that requires the angle of the brush to change with the angle of the stroke. How I managed to live without knowing about this plug-in and how to make animated brushes, I don't know.
Shoes on Aditi -- PlaidShoes on Aditi -- Plaid
So I'm improving at box modeling, learning how to use materials and material nodes (or is that node materials? I'm not clear on the difference. Or maybe material nodes are the nodes and node materials are the materials that use nodes.) setting up lighting, combining lighting types (it seems to turn out better with a couple of white specular/diffuse point lights and then some more specular-only lights in different colors.) effective/efficient UV unwrapping, using the different modifiers, and picking up some additional helpful GIMP skills like animated brushes.

So I've been playing with digital shoes and digital lighting effects and digital textures. It's not completely not real, though. I mean, anybody can hop onto the grid and see 'em. Fine, currently I'm just playing with them on Aditi [the beta grid] but I'll upload them to the main grid [Agni] at some point.. when they're ready. I need to do a few more different plaids, I think. And some more animal prints. And maybe something else. Polka-dots? Random prints, like hearts and skulls and stuff? I dunno. Maybe all of the above.
Shoes on Aditi -- SparkleyShoes on Aditi -- Sparkley

Still Working on Mesh Garb

French Hood on Aditi (SL Beta Grid)French Hood on Aditi (SL Beta Grid)
Yea, I'm still lost in SL. Working on garb! Yes, I know it's not physically real garb. Except to the physics engine, but that not real physics.

But anyways, I've been working on a French hood. It's not rigged, I think it'll probably work out better as a normal attachment.
French Hood in BlenderFrench Hood in Blender
It still needs some work, but it's getting there. I tweaked it some more in Blender, and now I'm having trouble uploading it again. I'm not sure if it's because of the mesh or because Aditi is being really really really slooowww. So the second picture is just from Blender.

I did some more shaping around the part that goes over the ears, widened the bottom of the outer part, and pulled the veil back a bit to help with the clipping. Maybe I should shorten the veil a bit, because there will probably be clipping either way if it's not rigged and it's that long.. but I kinda like the way it looks. If I can eliminate most of the clipping and get it to look decent, I'll probably leave it this length.
It probably needs some kind of other trim besides the pearls, too.

Cloth Simulator! It works!

The Blender Cloth Simulator Works!The Blender Cloth Simulator Works!I have a new best friend. The Blender cloth simulation modifier.

Fine, I haven't actually done anything interesting with it yet, but look! It makes the pixels act like fabric!

I used this video tutorial on Blender Cookie and it was actually pretty EASY! (Did I just call something in Blender easy? This may mean that something very bad has happened to my brain..)

This is way better than sliced bread. Sliced bread is all well and good for sandwiches, but pixels that behave like fabric are just amazing. And this is just the still picture of the applied effect!

*does happy dance*

Rigged Mesh

Mesh Renaissance DressMesh Renaissance Dress
I know, I'm horrible for disappearing.

And this is totally non-sewing-related.

But you see, Linden Labs released mesh onto the main grid.. and so I've been working on rigged mesh garb.

I know, I know, it's not real.. but it's cool anyways, right?

And no, I haven't uploaded any mesh to the main grid yet, these were taken on Aditi.

I still have to fine-tune the vertex weighting a bit, but I'm pretty excited to have gotten this far!
Renaissance Dress -- Rigged MeshRenaissance Dress -- Rigged Mesh

A (Stained) Whitewood Trunk

OMG, my trunk actually worked!Whitewood Trunk with Piper and TinkWhitewood Trunk with Piper and Tink
Unless you count Ikea furniture, this was the first time I'd ever built something. I used whitewood (stained "gunstock" colored) because it's cheaper than anything else and I didn't know how badly I'd screw it up. While there are multiple imperfections (not the least of which being that I planned it for the size the boards are advertised to be, rather than the size they actually are) it didn't come out too bad.
Sorry for the fuzzy picture, but I hadda put up the one with Tink and Piper!
Whitewood TrunkWhitewood Trunk
The other picture is better, although the trunk didn't react too well to the flash.
I'd gotten handles to put on the front, but the way it came out, it seemed like that would look weird, so I left those two off and just put handles on the sides.

I think the trunk wants to be home to my patterns. Not counting a box of vintage patterns (which were a lot I'd gotten off Ebay, and included a bunch of kids patterns, so most of what is in that box isn't stuff I expect to use anytime soon-- the more usable ones are in my main stash) they seem to all fit! I'm thinking of trying to add some kind of container for the lid, because the patterns don't reach the top, and some kind of top compartment would be nice. Or maybe just some plastic pockets.. or some kind of clips. Something to keep random pieces and such visible. I have a couple of pattern bits that I couldn't find the patterns for. I wanted somewhere visible to put them so I'd remember them when I finally find the patterns they go to.

Now I have to figure out what wants to live the drawer that had been home to my non-costume patterns. My intention in building trunks is to make the living room tidier. If I can have pieces of furniture that can store things and double as seats and coffee tables and footrests and look pretty, then things will be neater, right?

The Continuing Saga of Simplicity 2700

Simplicity 2700 WinklesSimplicity 2700 Winkles
I am sorry, dear readers, it seems that I am cruel enough to subject you to mirror pictures of my butt. I've been trying to fiddle with the fit even though I haven't figured out the waistband yet. I'm thinking I should have used the curvy pieces instead of the regular pieces.. but it's hard to tell. While my butt isn't so flat as it seemed to be before I had any clues about how pants were supposed to fit, it's not my butt that's a fitting issue, it's my thighs. What I'm getting is those diagonal wrinkles in the back from crotch to hips. And some bagginess in the front. Of course, maybe I'm a total idiot for trying to do any fitting before figuring out the issues with the yoke.
I think what I have to do is extend lengthen the crotch curve such that there is more room in the thighs. I'll probably need to cut out entirely new pieces to get it right. I let out the side seams, which helped some, but that may just be because they're looser. I think what I really need is more room in the inner thighs.. it seems logical, anyway.
Simplicity 2700 Left Front Yoke NotchesSimplicity 2700 Left Front Yoke Notches
I started a WIP on PR for the pattern, and when I didn't get any suggestions through that, I started a thread. I got some good, logical suggestions.. or rather, suggestions that would be logical if not for the pattern. Mainly, that perhaps the pieces weren't meant to be the right size and needed to be eased in. But the notches and stay-stitching make that unlikely.

Here's a picture of the front left yoke, from both sides. With the notches lined up, the side of the yoke meets the side of the front of the pants correctly. So all of that easing would have to be happening within those four inches from notch to edge-- no way can I get a whole seam allowance by stretching non-stretch fabric over a four-inch seam.

As for the back, I think any chance of easing-in intent on the part of the drafter would have been nixed by the instruction to stay-stitch the top edge. If I was supposed to stretch it out to make the pieces fit, that would make the instruction to stay-stitch that edge to prevent stretching utterly nonsensical, right?

Simplicity 2700 In-Progress

Simplicity 2700 Inside Front In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Inside Front In-Progress
I've been working on Simplicity 2700, the "amazing fit" pants. I'm doing them in a $1.99/yard Dockers cotton I got from FabricMart awhile ago as a mockup for eventually doing them in the lovely striped wool that is dfr's fault.

The instructions aren't bad (and I'm pretty demanding of instructions) but I do have some concerns. For one thing, the left front yoke. As you can see, all matched up, it only extends up to the edge of the fly underlap. This is a problem because the yoke has a facing, which of course requires a seam allowance.. but there doesn't seem to be an allowance.

Simplicity 2700 Back In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Back In-ProgressThen there's the back yoke. It extends significantly beyond the main pattern pieces on the sides, and I don't see that explained anywhere. It seems that for a pair of pants that includes darts, they completely ignored the effect of the darts when drafting the yoke.
Simplicity 2700 Front In-ProgressSimplicity 2700 Front In-Progress Actually this doesn't seem all that surprising, since the main pieces have three different versions (for "slim," "regular," and "curvy" figures) but they all use the same yoke pieces. That might not explain it, though; to pick a size, the instructions say to "Measure your waist and hip (at the fullest point). [sic] Compare those measurements to the measurements on the pattern envelope." So the waist size shouldn't be different between the different versions, should it? The "curvy" pieces use two darts while the "slim" and "regular" pieces use one. (I'm using the regular pieces currently.)
So they must have neglected to account for the darts in drafting. This seems like a rather significant drafting mistake to me. It also makes me nervous. It's not explained anywhere, and I don't like to trim down pieces when I don't know why they're not the right size. It couldn't relate to the lack of a seam allowance for the end of the left front yolk, because there are notches that match up. (And because that would just be bizarre.)

So, I'm plugging along with the pattern, and hoping that it fits well, but for something that got such rave reviews, I'm certainly disappointed that there seem to be such significant errors.

I should note that this is only the second "real" pants pattern I've sewn. I've done drawstring pants and leggings, but the only other pants with pockets and a fly and all that I've done was Jalie 2908, and not many patterns can live up to that. I think I like that the fly construction method doesn't involve basting the front closed-- apparently that's a very "home sewing method."
I guess I won't really be able to develop a "true" opinion of the pattern until I've gotten far enough to get into the fitting.

My Bug-Bitten Feet (And a Solution!)


Benadryl-and-baking-soda-paste-lotion-ed FeetBenadryl-and-baking-soda-paste-lotion-ed Feet
No, it's not calamine lotion. I didn't have any of that on hand. But you see, I was complaining about my bug-bitten feet (just how they got bitten, I'm not sure. Kris didn't get bitten. And it's mainly only my right foot and leg that got bitten, with a few bites on my left foot) and dfr suggested benadryl. I take diphenhydramine (the generic name for benadryl) to sleep anyways, so this seemed reasonable, except that then it's not targeted.. so I started wondering if some kind of crushed diphenhydramine solution would work.

And then I read a Tipnut article about ways to relieve itching from mosquito bites, and it mentioned baking soda paste. So I figured, if baking soda paste is helpful, baking soda paste mixed with powdered benadryl would be even better!

So I dashed into the kitchen, crushed up some benadryl (six pills, I think? I figured that if it's topical, there's no such thing as too much.. I hope!) mixed it with baking soda and water, and smeared it all over. I found that it dried out quickly and started flaking off, so I added some Jergens Ultra Healing lotion too.

And it's actually working!

I also read on that Tipnut page that basil is supposed to help with itching. I seriously considered smearing my feet with pesto! After all, the garlic would help keep more bugs away too, right? But that would get awfully messy.. not that the benadryl-baking-soda-paste-lotion isn't messy.. but it's light pink. And doesn't smell like much. And doesn't have oil in it. Pesto is green, has a strong smell, and is greasy. That could make for a much worse mess. And of course, Piper would want to eat the pesto. The remedy would become quite a bit less effective if the dog licked it off!

Bug Bite De-Itcher Recipe:
(measurements are approximate)

  • Six 25mg diphenhydramine (Benadryl) tablets, crushed
  • Four tablespoons baking soda
  • Just enough water to turn that mixture into a paste
  • Lotion of your choice to make it more lotion-y and less paste-y. (In whatever quantity you like.)

Caution: I took my usual dose of diphenhydramine for sleep. I have no idea whether the topical application alone can make you drowsy, or to what extent. Use with caution, and don't drive or operate heavy machinery at least until you know how it will affect you. That may or may not include sewing machines. And just because some sewing machines aren't heavy doesn't mean you should operate them with any kind of impairment!

Butterick 4609 Blouse, Finished. (And I Used My Buttonholer!)

I finished my with-real-cuffs blouse!Floral Rayon Challis Blouse -- FinishedFloral Rayon Challis Blouse -- Finished
I ended up using stitch witchery in the front band, but I think I actually used too much, it's stiffer than I would have liked it to be. I'll keep that in mind for next time-- and I definitely will be sewing this pattern again.

This one doesn't seem to photograph too well, but I think it's mainly the print that's responsible for that. It's a pretty print, but it's so contrasting that it's hard to make out the details of the blouse! That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, since the front is a bit strange since I overinterfaced (is "interfaced" the right word when I used stitch-witchery to make the fabric interface itself?) the front band a bit. I think the front was supposed to end up slouchier.

While others had reported that the pattern runs large, I found it to be just about right, actually a bit too small in the hips. I ended up letting out the back darts a bit, which seemed to fix the problem. I'm definitely glad that I didn't go down a size.

I'm not totally sure how I feel about the neck tie thingy. It's kinda cool, but kinda silly at the same time. It was definitely worth making, though; quick and easy, and another option for the blouse.
French CuffFrench Cuff
I'm loving the French cuffs. I was afraid they would be goofy, but I really like them. I made "cuff links" out of buttonhole thread and mystery bundle buttons.

And I finally rewired my Necchi BC! (Okay, fine, Kris did most of it.. but he's the expert!) So, with my BC rewired, I now have a low-shank machine in good working order, which means I can use my buttonholer! I got the buttonholer ages ago, thinking that since it was made specifically for Necchi, it would fit my machine.. and then realized upon getting it that it was for low-shank machines, and I use mostly high-shank. Low-shank buttonholers are cheap. High-shank buttonholers are not.

So, with my working BC and my buttonholer attachment, I was able to make nice automated pretty buttonholes! (Up to this point all of my buttonholes had been as-carefully-as-possible zigzagged.


Floral Rayon Challis Blouse with French Cuffs -- In Progress

I've been sewing, so you can't say I haven't!Butterick 4609 View C -- In ProgressButterick 4609 View C -- In Progress

I've been working on View C of Butterick 4609-- the blouse with the French cuffs. I'm doing the sash thingy too. I'm making it out of one of the "Trendy" rayon challis-es I got from FabricMart's most recent 75% off sale.

It's not done, but it's getting there. I still need to hem it and put in the buttonholes, and stabilize the front band. Well, it's not actually a front band it's a self-front-band, basically just folded over and then over again to form what would normally be the front band. It says to catch-stitch it in place. And doesn't say anything about interfacing. I used some stitch-witchery tape in between the innermost layers, I'll probably add another strip on the back. I'm not completely sure, though. I've been playing with buttonholes on scraps. Hopefully I'll pester Kris into helping me rewire my BC so I can use my actual buttonholer. But, uh, I've been saying I'm going to rewire the BC for quite awhile..

This blouse is the first time I've successfully made real cuffs! My first try was McCall's 5929 which caused a huge amount of frustration and ended up being a wadder. The Simplicity 2758 blouse I made back in December to shut dfr up only had those little narrow cuffs and not all the trappings real cuffs like the bound slit-- and the bound slit is the mind-boggling part. (Why didn't I do a post on that blouse? I wrote a review, but no blog post. I thought I wrote a post, but now all that seems to be on my site is the picture. Oh, it was probably because it was while dfr was in Florida! LOL Okay, that explains my lack of a post!
But this time I managed real cuffs! The instructions on the pattern were pretty good, and in combination with my copy of the Singer Sewing Book (1949 edition) I managed to make it work!

It looks a little awkward on my dress form. I do hope it ends up looking better on me. My dress form is slightly crooked, which makes everything look a bit awkward. Most of the reviews say that it runs a bit big, but it actually seems quite snug. I cut a 14, which should be about right, and seems to be, but it's hard to tell for sure before finishing up the buttons and all. I did use French seams, but I don't think they should have made too much of a difference.

I'm hoping to finish this one up tomorrow. Either with buttonholer-ed buttonholes or my normal unautomated machine buttonholes.

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by Dr. Radut