Saturday, August 29, 2015

Improve your designs with Science! PLEASE!!!

Science! has indicated that symmetry is both more attractive and easier to process by the human brain.

With this in mind, why do pattern designers helpfully designate the center of the design and add a handy darker line for every ten stitches on the grid on to the pattern to make it easier to count but NOT LINE UP THESE GUIDELINES WITH THE CENTER OF THE PATTERN?!?!?!

I assure you it will be just as neat and satisfying IF NOT MORE SO to have even margins around the edge of the pattern as it is to start with a full ten by ten grid on the top left.

Your design could reap the benefits of sweet creamery cognitive neuroscience!

It's not even like you even start the design in square zero most of the time. If it really freaks you to not have a full grid on the edge just extend the empty part of the graph a little bit! Is it going to mess things up that much to start stitching on column six instead of column two?

I can't show you the grid for this because it is a copyrighted design from BlackBird Designs, but this is the first prep stuff I do for any new piece. I blanket stitch the edges for stability and lay out my pattern space using a counted running stitch every five stitches (aka ten threads since this is a 28ct linen and the design calls for over two stitching, like THAT won't make it more likely for me to mess up).

The white thread designates the dead center of the design while the blue thread designates the graph guidelines already laid over the design to help you count and they are WILDLY out of alignment to each other. The vertical line is off by six stitches (or four depending on your starting point, I guess) and the horizontal is off by five.

I can assure you (*cough* having done it before *cough*) that if I do not clearly mark the orientation of my fabric and separately designate both grids I WILL shift my design over at one point or another, typically early and devastatingly. Taking out an entire day or so of stitching is no fun.

I'm actually considering taking the center markers out entirely on this as soon as I get it on the stretchers to avoid any potential confusion.

Friday, August 28, 2015

I see your true colours shining through...

Jo-Anns Craft's 20% off coupon + 30% off sewing baskets + cute black cat pattern means of course that Papa's got a brand new ba... sket.

I've really needed something I could use as a project basket; I have a giant utility basket for materials/tools storage and a smaller essentials/travel kit in a Cadbury tin, but nothing I could functionally work a PROJECT out of while sitting on the couch or hanging at a Stitch and Bitch. It has a nice big open bottom and a plastic top tray with a little pincushion and pocket attached to the lid.
Also Black Cat, which is very important as I have one, and I luuuuuuuurve him.
Not that I don't also love my other two cats, but he's my heartcat.


Speaking of DMC floss, I got a practical lesson in dye lots today!
Thankfully one that didn't come to light in the middle of a piece as that's usually how it goes for me.

I w
ent looking for a pale silvery-grey colour to do a sort of tone on tone piece and grabbed a handful of this DMC 3024 Very Light Brown Gray (which is totally NOT what I'd name the colour).

I thought at first that someone had mixed colours together as one half of the skeins had a cooler shift and the other had a slightly greener shift but the skeins all had the same code on them. THEN I thought I was being kind of crazy about it until I checked the dye lots.

I separated them by the apparent colour and sure enough every single one of the cooler skeins had the # 6609036Q on it, while the rest of them were split between about three other numbers - leading me to believe that that Q lot was the off one.

Hopefully you can see the difference in the pics above. It was pretty subtle so I don't think it would be an issue on a multi-colour piece, but I wanted these specifically to do an all one colour piece so I'm REALLY glad I checked.

I also picked up some brass stretching tacks and an octopus needle minder at a local Needlepoint shop called Ladybug Stitches, so I'm all set to get a planned project going. I was hoping to find fabric but the shop isn't really stocked for cross stitch stuff. Jane the owner(? I think?) was however super nice and actually remembered me from the last time I was in, which had to have been at least six years prior.

I now have more needle minders than I could possibly ever use in my life (with one more on the way) and I'm perfectly okay with that because octopus and pumpkin and spider (and mystery thing TBA because I know some seriously cool crafters).

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Sinking cost - Iceburg straight ahead!

A fantastic post on pricing handmade items was running around Facebook today and I found myself commenting on in a few places, so I figured I'd bring it up here.

Click here for Sarah's shop

Crafty Peeps : Do not undersell yourself!

Here's a thought exercise:

Think about a price you REALLY think someone would be willing to pay for an object you can make.

Divide that price by your state's minimum wage - that number is how many hours you would have in order to complete it before you are making *less than minimum wage* at that price. Suddenly that "reasonable" price looks a bit low, doesn't it?

Now notice that you've just ignored materials cost, wear and tear on your equipment, studio fees, taxes, etc, etc, etc...

Yeah. Get the lifeboats.

There's also the whole other level of what you do to the rest of the craft industry when you undercut but that's a discussion best left to pros.

I don't do paid sewing work anymore for these reasons. 

I do occasionally enjoy a bit of barter because I have talented friends and thankfully I'm no longer an unemployed student so I'd just be using the extra money to buy neat things anyway, but nowadays my rule for free crafting for friends is they have to keep me company the whole time I'm working on it.

It's funny how peoples appreciation for "free" stuff raises exponentially when they have to schedule THEIR time around spending hour after hour (after hour) watching you work on it. 

I find people also greatly underestimate the amount of tweaking and finishing I do before I will hand something over as A THING I MADE. If my name is attached to it I want it to be as close to perfect as I can get it. Because I am human and things aren't always as perfect as I like I also generally provide whatever fixes I can over the life of the object. That's a LOT of completely invisible work, especially in today's ergonomically constructed, perfect out of the package world.

The other side of that underselling yourself coin:

There are many objects/materials I COULD make for myself that I buy instead because I recognize that my time is worth money. I ask myself if I would rather trade my time at my job or my time at my home for an item and spend accordingly.

A $20 cotton skirt a la Old Navy is not worth making myself,. The time it takes for me to SHOP for the fabric prices it out of home-made reasonableness.

A $400 carefully fitted wool skirt that's going to be a wardrobe staple for the next fifteen years however... now we're potentially talking value.

Then again I may decide that there's a neat detail on the pre-made item I have not mastered. Are the hours of work necessary to perfect that skill worth higher in value than just buying the freaking thing already? Heck, am I even going to bother or is this going to end up another "it would be nice but... busy" abandoned project?

These are the considerations that must immediately follow the knee-jerk "yeah but I could just MAKE that" dismissal.

I could certainly do a lot of things, but do I wanna AND am I gonna?

Monday, August 24, 2015

The first rule of True Crime and Craft Time is...

Okay so I'm REALLY sleep deprived and have been listening to Fight Club at work, our inaugural post is probably going to be a bit wonky.

I obsessively collect craft hobbies like other people collect creepy dolls but went on a sort of crafty hiatus for a while*. I've recently gotten back into crafting really hardcore and I wanted a place to talk in depth about whatever it is I'm doing at the moment.

The last time I had a collected grouping of my craft endeavours was on LiveJornal under the name Carapax. It's been a while but I STILL go back to check details from time to time. Now that I'm getting back into it I really want to have that same level of project reference.

Pretty psyched about this as it's already providing utility for me. I spent a good chunk of my drive to work trying to make sure I didn't forget about some ideas I had waiting at lights. I now have four separate project planning posts going (aaaaand I just thought of a fifth while typing this).

*not strictly true as I did a metric buttload of crafting for my wedding last year, but wedding crafts come from a different headspace and I couldn't share any of that until after it was done. 
I did however try to take lots of pics as I went along so that I could share in the future, so expect to see that stuff at some point.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Product fix: no more glistening like a pig!

Carmandized! via
I really enjoy the look of illuminators in real life. An ultra light dusting on the cheekbones, above the brow, on the nose, and on the chin truly does bring a glow to the face - just like Carmandy taught us! 

All the illuminators I had tried for years had a sort of super icy tone which was pretty workable in combination with my darker skin tone... in person.

But in photos? That icy ethereal Cate Blanchett elf look doesn't fly.
My cool, top-lit glow tragically translates into this sort of "mid August, waiting for the subway, all the humidity, should have worn shorts" sheen.

Thankfully I got a sample of "The Balm" Mary-Lou-Manizer in one of my very first Birchbox sets. This was the first illuminator that made me look gilded rather than just sweaty. I hesitate to call it warmer, but it is for sure neutral... er. *laughs*

Typically I go for the pale, champagne/honey toned Mary-Lou-manizer, but now that I have the cool white hair I like adding a bit of pink in to my face and have been leaning toward their subtly rosy/peachy Cindy Lou-Manizer.  

My hair and skin tone change all the time, but between the Mary/Betty/Cindy-Lou-Manizers and a couple of the new Nude Dude shades there are enough tones that I can use them in all of my different seasonal "coats". Also the packaging is adorable.

I liked the first sample so much that I snatched up a set of the full size illuminator and bronzer (i.e. Mary & Betty) when it went on sale at Kohls even though I don't have so much use for the bronzer and the pigment is milled so fine I'm STILL using up that first sample.

Not a recent pic, but it was actually hard to find one where I could tell for sure I was wearing illuminator! Which is exactly as it should be.
I'd show you a "before" but I didn't keep those.

I've gotten a number of shades as samples from different subscription boxes and so far I have been really impressed with their whole line. I always find a use for them and more often than not they become the go-to for that product type. 

They really brighten up a matte face full of make-up and add back in all the life and depth that a full coverage product can remove without making you look like you're gaining all that life and depth by running a marathon in the noonday sun.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lifestyles of The ItsyBitsy

I am a woman of many (many) interests and I'm finding this beauty specific space to be limiting, so I'm working on ways to shake things up.

Basically what I would like to do is set up a few separate topic pages here on The Itsy Bitsy so that I can post what I like when I like, and recast this as a broader lifestyle blog.

A weirder, craftier, fussier, Itsy-er, Bitsy-er, lifestyle blog.

My goal is to make it so that people who want to come look at the blog for a specific topic will be able to find it easily as it will all be archived by topic (beyond just by tagging, that is), but if they are interested in the other stuff I do they won't have to go far.

The beauty stuff will of course stay but I'm really trying to get back into fitness and crafting in a big way and I want to talk about those sides of me without having to maintain a whole passel of separate spaces.

I'll be playing around with page layouts in the coming days but I don't expect this to be terribly intrusive, more as I get things hammered out!