Sunday, 31 August 2014

The Blood Bag Project

Whilst recently perusing an issue of Embroidery magazine in my university library (yes, really), I came across an article about Leigh Bowser, a super talented embroidery artist who makes ultra rad pop icon brooches in her Etsy shop. On investigating her work further, I found that she also runs an ongoing campaign / exhibition called The Blood Bag Project, which raises awareness for Diamond Blackfan Anaemia. Anyone can take part in the exhibition and since I am not monetarily blessed I thought this was a really fun and unique way to contribute to a worthy cause, so I did:
I liked the idea of trying to make the bag look like a real transfusion bag and then filling it with different textured textiley things which represented the blood; I used ribbons, wire, lace, foam hearts, fake flowers, fabric scraps, shaped sequins and handmade cords, I also made cords and braided them together to make the 'tube' which hangs down under the bag. These were made from yarn, some shiny, slippery embroidery thread I'd struggled to actually embroider with and some metallic gold embroidery thread.
For the outside of the bag I used my anatomical heart motif which I had printed onto paper for a previous uni project, based on a similar concept. The heart is one of my favourite things I've done so far and it seemed very fitting to include it here where blood is a theme, so I stitched the paper hearts to the outside of my blood bag (one on each side). I'd never really sewn into plastic much before and luckily I chose a plastic which was very easy to work with; after considering a few options I cut up one of those plastic protective sleeves from a 12" record. It was very pliable and forgiving, although I didn't dare run it through my sewing machine and decided to opt for hand stitching instead. For certain projects I prefer the look of hand stitching over machine anyway; although it takes much longer, there is something I find aesthetically pleasing about a neatly hand-sewn item, not to mention the therapeutic nature of hand sewing!
Some detail shots:

I am quite pleased with how the bag turned out and had a lot of fun making it - although of course I keep stumbling across more materials I wish I'd put inside! That may be my excuse to make another one sometime... hopefully one day I'll also get to see the full exhibition in the flesh!

You can see more beautiful and creative contributions to The Blood Bag Project on the tumblr site

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Blue Belle Season

I've been wanting to make more dresses to improve my sewing skills and kill time / use up excess fabric stash so since my friend Aimi is always complimenting my dresses I offered to make her one for her birthday. She had already picked out a fabric she liked from a bargain hoard I bought from lovely Helen:
And although I secretly wanted to keep that fabric for myself, as everyone knows, bagsy is a complete and final done deal!
I used vintage Style pattern 2382 again:
Regular readers might remember that I used it before for this dress, except this time I made it sleeveless (last time I used the sleeve pattern from the overcoat and adjusted it for use in the dress). This pattern is not really intended for stretch fabrics, but the fabric I was using was stretchy, however I found that it didn't make much difference other than being slightly trickier to sew! Despite that it turned out as one of the most well-made and fabulous dresses I've ever created:
And luckily it fits like a glove! And Aimi looks gorgey in it! This was also the first dress I've ever hemmed properly (e.g. by hand) and although it takes a while it certainly gives a nicer and more professional looking finish so I was extra pleased about that. The dress is a sort of landmark for me as I can see that my skills are gradually improving, which is very encouraging!
Some close ups:
La Boutons
I added vintage orange flower buttons to complement the blue, which I think makes the dress extra special! I'm a little bit jealous of Aimi now, but one thing I have realised is that when you make dresses for yourself, you don't really have the opportunity to look at them much, whereas I can admire this one from afar.

Aimi's dress was inspired by Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Pleasure Seekers and halloumi!