Update on Leather Handbag Practice Project

My fingers are really sore from the hand sewing.  That was to be expected especially when using a thick material such as leather.  Despite the special three sided needle and poking holes with the awl like tool, it is still hard to shove the needle through and accurately make the needle point come out through the desired spot.  People who sew leather by hand and make it look like a machine did it are very talented and have a great deal of experience doing this.  I can imagine that some of you, who are experts, are laughing a bit at my stitches, but I take solace in the fact that I have never done this type of project before and it is starting to look like a purse.

I just hope that when it is done that it looks enough like a purse that I won’t be ashamed to use it.  Afterall, the leather was not cheap and I spent a great deal of time on it.

Some of the pictures will show that the process of putting something like this together is very important.  It is important to do certain parts before doing other parts such as the outside zipped pocket needed to be done before any of the side walls were attached to the purse.  Why?  Because installing the zipped pocket piece with the purse no longer being a flat piece of material would have been really difficult.  Hard to sew and hard to place correctly.  This is why store bought patterns to make clothes and other such items seem to be strange in their order of construction at times, but in reality they really have your best interests at heart when instructing you concerning the order of steps.

The following photos show my progress on this project.  Hopefully, I will have a set soon that shows the completion and perhaps my improved stitching as well.

 

Proper placement of the outside pocket was important or else it would look bad.

Proper placement of the outside pocket was important or else it would look bad.

 

Outside Zipped pocket in place.

Outside Zipped pocket in place.

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Sturdy interior fabric sew into pocket sections to help organize the interior of the purse.  One even has a zipped pocket for securing items.

Sturdy interior fabric sewn into pocket sections to help organize the interior of the purse.   One even has a zipped pocket for securing items.

 

Unfinished outside stitches but note the uneven nature of the stitches.  Very hard to get them neatly in a row like a machine would do.

Unfinished outside stitches but note the uneven nature of the stitches.   Very hard to get them neatly in a row like a machine would do.

It is starting to have purse like qualities.  I can see how things are starting to come together.  This is the fun part of the project - knowing that one is going in the right direction.

It is starting to have purse like qualities.   I can see how things are starting to come together.    This is the fun part of the project – knowing that one is going in the right direction.

G. Winkler © 2015

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Posted in Art, Goals, Preparation

Delays and how to make good use of that time during waiting

Leather purse project  01So if you have been following my blog, then you may know about a project that I am doing for a friend.  You know, the Star Wars costume project.  Well, I just keep running into walls, and I think my head is starting to get sore from all that head bashing.  Argh.

So, in order to keep from going crazy, I have been trying to find a way to keep a positive mindset and do something that will help me with the project of creating a Jedi Temple Guard costume.  I have already done some preliminary sketches.  I can’t go much further without a dress form and some serious measurements.  And I have also considered what kind of materials should be used in this costume.  What would look best, be comfortable, and give the correct feeling for what the character is supposed to be.  One of the materials that I need to use is leather.  It is a natural material that will not cause my friend any allergy concerns and it is sturdy, and will look right for the kind of character.  But not all leather is the same.  There are many kinds and I am not expert on leather goods or making leather items.

My experience with leather is creating Renaissance Era pouches, belts, gloves, and protective Landsknechte vests and leggings.  I have even made a WWI era German Captain’s hat for my Uhlan’s costume.  The brim was leather.  So since it has been awhile since I have made things in leather and I have these delays, I thought I would make something to help improve my skills and knowledge base.  And one side note here – when doing a project just for learning, pick something that you really want to do for personal reasons.  It will help you stay inspired and focused on the project.  If there is no drive to get the project done, then completion and the drive to do it may never happen.  So I decided that I am sick and tired of having purses made of plastic or man made materials.  I like leather purses.  They last longer, are more durable, and tend to look better.

So I bought some materials to make my very own leather purse.  This involved designing what the purse looked like and considering what functional aspects I needed to make this a usable piece for when it was finished.  This was no simple task.  I also had to keep the construction process in mind as well because I was the person doing the construction and my skill set is somewhat limited and I was going to have to do this all by hand.

So first I drew out my designs for all the pieces, which included a lined interior.  Then I purchased the materials for the purse, which was not easy considering that I live in a town that has limited resources.  I was not able to get all my desired color choices.  Zippers for this project were proving to be less than easy to find, so I had to settle for brown zippers for the outside part of the purse.  I had wanted a matching dark green to the interior or a matching mustard gold color for the leather.  I got neither.  The outside zippers are dark brown.  And I have to live with it.  Oh well.  What can I say, I live on the Outer Rim.

New cell phone slip cover made of the leather to help project the phone from scratches.

New cell phone slip cover made of the leather to help project the phone from scratches.

Then next part is to carefully cut out materials.  When it comes to leather, it is expensive and taking care to conserve as much as possible is wise.  I already made a mistake and had to cut a second outside pocket to replace the one I messed up.  Luckily, I was able to turn the old outside pocket into a new cell phone case.  That seems to be working very well.  I have also discovered from working with this particular type of leather is that it is very soft and stretchy.  A bit too stretchy for making a purse.  It really needed to be a bit stiffer, so there is lesson number one.  Be mindful of the leather’s qualities in that it may cause unexpected problems during construction or even during use.  This Italian leather was on sale at Tandy and was wonderful to touch and probably would have been perfect for a jacket due to it’s flexible nature.  This would not be suitable in my mind for making a belt.

So below I have shared a few pictures of my progress on the purse.  I have no idea how this will look in the end.  In my mind, it looked fabulous, but as for reality, we shall see.  My hands are already sore and blistered from poking holes and shoving sharp thick needles through the leather.  This project may take some serious time, but I am learning something new.

Here I am trying to use common straight lines for the edges of the pieces to reduce the amount of waste.  I also drew lines on the wrong side of the leather to make cutting easier.

Here I am trying to use common straight lines for the edges of the pieces to reduce the amount of waste.   I also drew lines on the wrong side of the leather to make cutting easier.

Here is the back pocket that I had to cut out a second time.  Hand stitching is not easy and keeping the leather in place is also proving to be difficult so I used alligator clamps that are normally used to keep paper together.

Here is the back pocket that I had to cut out a second time.   Hand stitching is not easy and keeping the leather in place is also proving to be difficult so I used alligator clamps that are normally used to keep paper together.

 

G. Winkler ©2015

 

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Posted in Costume, Inspiration

Star Wars on my mind

Star Wars Inspiration 1000wWith costume research for my own needs and the needs of my two best friends and then my other friend who wants the Jedi Temple Guard costume made, I have been living and breathing Star Wars pretty intensely for the past year.  I’ve watched the Star Wars Clone Wars series multiple times and have read some excellent novels such as Bloodlines by Karen Traviss, Kenobi by John Jackson Miller, the Clone Wars series by Karen Miller, and just started A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller.    As well as  reading I have also been watching the new TV series the Star Wars Rebels, so at times I find myself utterly immersed in the Star Wars Universe.  I’ve had odd dreams where Boba Fett appears along with Obi-Wan Kenobi!! Curious.  I have found that I have gained a greater appreciation for the Boba Fett character after reading some of the novels and comic books that my husband has supplied me with.  He loves Boba Fett.

So being a writer and an artist I can’t ignore this intense amount of stimuli.  Ideas and stories start to form in my mind.  Lots of “what if questions” come to mind and I have started forming my own Star Wars novel.   At one point last Fall I wanted to write a story with Ahsoka and Ventress on some kind of adventure where they had to work together, but The Rebels series started and then the rumor of the Dark Disciple book came about, so I needed to shelve that idea until I knew more about the new stories being told. The battle in my mind is that I want to stay within the Canon storyline but also respect what has been written by the Expanded Universe authors before me. This would be no easy task.  I have come to realize this.  I will have to settle for doing the best I can.

So I have taken inspiration from the three costumes that my companions and I use for actual characters for my own novel.  So there will be two unique characters and one character from the Canon body of work – the Jedi Wookiee Gungi.  I am just hoping that nothing in the Canon bodies of work state that Gungi died.  So far so good, but that could change at any moment.  At times I wish I could ask the current writers of the Star Wars film materials for advice.  Goodness knows these people are probably inundated with fan mail and people wanting them to read their work.  Can you imagine what Dave Filoni’s email box must look like as well as the physical post box?

So what does one do when inspired to write something that is so much part of a world wide culture not to mention a business venture?  The written material I have read so far is a pretty intense measuring stick to hold one’s own work up to.  Do I spend time on a novel that may conflict with established material and potentially become a waste of great effort and time or go for the gusto and allow one’s imagination to take them on a trip to a far far away galaxy?

I am in conflict with the Force.   Fear and frustration are fighting with courage and creativity.

My inclinations are more Jedi than Sith, but one has to be passionate to write, so I guess there is just a little room for Sith.  :)

Gretchen Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Star Wars, Writing

The dress form from Hell

I am starting to feel the way Anakin looks.

I am starting to feel the way Anakin looks.

Okay.  I am about to lose my mind.  You know the costume project that I mentioned months ago.  I am still supposed to do it, but I have had nothing but problems trying to get this project started let alone even work on anything.

Let me tell you about the dress form from hell.  A dress form for those of you who do not know what one is…is a piece of equipment that can be shaped like a human male or female and is specially adjusted to the size of a specific person.  This allows the tailor or seamstress or costumer in my case to make sure the clothing fits the person in question without having to bother the person constantly for adjustments and “try ons”.  My friend, who asked me to make this costume, has one because he gets his clothes tailored and his tailor had one especially for him.  The tailor was very busy so I agreed to do the project.  And since my friend does not live near me, sending me this piece of equipment was the solution to the problem.

Yah,…..this is the story of the dress form from hell…..  The following is a list of events that have involved just the dress form.

 

  • We decided to pick up the item from California since we were going to be in the area.  We never heard from the tailor and could not meet up with him.
  • Then it was realized that the tailor was so busy it would be easier to send the item to us.  So my friend planned to have it put on an airplane and flown from San Jose to the Outer Rim where I live and I would pick it up from the airport. The damn planes don’t fly here because the Outer Rim is too primitive or something.
  • Okay, so my friend decides to have it shipped express with a tracking number.  He told me it would arrive in five or so days and gave me the number and told me I would have to go to the shipping place to pick it up because I would have to sign for it.
  • It didn’t arrive.
  • And it didn’t arrive.
  • And……it didn’t arrive.
  • So I contacted my friend who had to have an intense conversation with the shipping people.  Well, apparently the shipping company didn’t follow the instructions and shipped it as freight instead of what my friend purchased.  And mind you, my friend spent the money for the fast shipping.  So instead of being sent directly to the Outer Rim, it was down in Arizona.
  • Still not arrived.  By truck it should have arrived within a few days of that discovery.  So then the rumor was that it ended up in Las Vegas……
  • Then my friend said it showed up for sale on Ebay!!!
  • So then my friend had to call the cops and all kinds of crazy stuff. Luckily, the cops were able to retrieve the dress form from the criminals, so now the item is part of a crime investigation and my friend explains to the police that the item is needed for a project that has a deadline that is coming sooner and sooner as each week goes by.  So they manage to get the dress form to the sheriff’s department in the Outer Rim.
  • We wait again.  We call and find out that this is an odd situation and the sheriff had to do some figuring out on how to handle such a situation, so finally it is supposed to be with the UPS people and we told them that we planned to pick it up ourselves and sign for it.
  • They decide to try and deliver it on the day I was away from the house, and when we call them about this, they said they would deliver it to my friend’s apartment complex that evening.  They never showed up.
  • We have a tripped planned and will be gone.  The item is delivered to the apartment complex while we are away.  The apartment people kindly lock it away safely in their office.
  • So we had to wait until it was Monday to get into the apartment complex office.
  • The lady who had the keys was mugged the previous night and had her purse stolen, which held master keys to the complex, so all the locks had to be immediately changed for the complex.
  • So, new keys were made, but for some reason the new lock for the office where the package that we are waiting for is stored in will not open anymore.  The lock is faulty.  They cannot get into the room.
  • That was this morning.  The lock smith has been called and will show up around 3-5pm.

I am expecting the lock smith the have a flat tire or his wife have a baby.  Which do you think it will be?

There is more to this story of the Jedi Temple Guard costume, but it involves other parts and people.  I think I am going to lose my mind.  I am so stressed beyond belief.  I feel like I could go Anakin at any moment.

And I have not even started the project!!!!

G. Winkler ©2015

PS – There are so many problems with this project that it is mathematically possible but highly improbable.  This would even tax Data’s mind.

UPDATE: The box was empty and it had been stolen a second time!!!!

 

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Posted in Business, Costume

You won’t believe this…..

UNhappy face artRemember how yesterday I posted that I am waiting for the body form to be shipped and it was supposed to be in town already.  Well, it is not.  It’s in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I am not in Las Vegas.  I am a 10 hour drive away from Las Vegas.  The item was supposed to come from San Jose to here, which is a 6 hour drive.  Why is it in Las Vegas?  My poor friend said in an email that all he can do is keep calling them.  What a mess!  So it looks like it may be in town on June 3rd.  I am fearing that I will need emotional counseling after this project.

So I guess the drama proceeds on.   There may be drinking in my future.

G. Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Art, Costume, Star Wars

Challenges Unexpected

Jedi Temple Guard in the Star Wars Clone Wars Series

Jedi Temple Guard in the Star Wars Clone Wars Series

So I have been preparing to start this costume project for a friend.  He decided he wanted a Jedi Temple Guard costume from Star Wars, and I am basing the costume design on the Star Wars Clone Wars animated series design.  I had pretty much finished most of my research by the end of April and was ready to get things started.  I just needed to create the budget list of items needed.  But then I find out that I need to do a few more things to make this okay with my friend’s business needs.  I need to have certain things done so that it can follow standards set down by SAG.   (SAG is the Screen Actors Guild.) My friend belongs to SAG and sometimes he wears costumes for SAG events.  This is fine with me.  I actually belong to SAG myself from my old re-enactment years.  But in order to obtain the licenses and other required business setup – not only does it cost an arm and a leg but the state takes over 10 business days to process this stuff.  I can’t get the budget submitted until I have this paperwork done, so I have lost an entire month to do this project.  And yes, there is a deadline.  He needs it for an event that he plans to attend in the Fall of 2015.

So I am really stressed out.

My friend is trying to send me a costume form that he has to be able to make clothing fit him correctly – you see he doesn’t live near me.  So he had this thing he planned to have shipped not by freight but by a quicker means of transportation.  Guess what.  The shipping company shipped it by freight and not as my friend had instructed or paid for.  ……One stupid crazy thing after another…. so while I was waiting for the state to get it’s one sheet of paper sent to me, I could have been figuring out the pattern for this costume.  I have to make this without the benefit of a pattern, so I need to do some careful planning.  I think my friend shipped the item off over two weeks ago and it was supposed to fly on an airplane and be in my possession within 4 days.  That didn’t happen.  Right now I am waiting for it to be Monday so I can go and pick up this body form used for making clothes.

Scene from Star Wars Clone Wars Series - this has been a really fantastic animated series.  I am a big fan.

Scene from Star Wars Clone Wars Series – this has been a really fantastic animated series. I am a big fan.

So here is the next little bon bon that may cause me difficulties… Some of the items I need for the costume will have to be purchased from other places, which means I could end up with slow shipping or items out of stock.  I am already having a tough time finding under garments of the right color.  It is summer time now and no one is offering the colors I need, and I suspect that the colors I need are currently out of fashion.  Yikes.  Then there is another item that I found only in Europe, which I have to modify once I get it. Also, I had found one vendor that made a terrific version of the Jedi Temple Guard mask, but the guy couldn’t be bothered to contact me back after I tried several times to message him.  So I will have to order from the other craftsman, which will mean that I will have more work to do.  I hope he responds better than the other guy.  I am not certain that I have the time or the skill to do the mask from scratch and the others parts as well.  I already have my husband and two other friends planning to help with the dual bladed light saber, which has been a battle of it’s own.

So, I said I would share this adventure with you all.  Here is the planning part of this story.  No matter how well you think you have planned things out, stuff is going to go wrong.  Always plan to have plenty of time to do the project properly because something may happen to delay progress.  To be honest I find it scary to have to rely on others to do their part.  I did not used to feel this way, but life here in the United States has greatly changed in the past 20 years with the last 10 being the worst.  So often people say they will do something and then simply don’t.  Some don’t even tell you that they can’t complete a project, they just disappear and sometimes take your money.  It is really important to me to do a good job for my friend.  I know I can make this costume, and it’s important to me to not let him down or myself.

G. Winkler ©2015

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Posted in Art, Costume, Star Wars

Helm of Awetumn….

Banner Helm of AwetumnOkay, I could not resist the pun.  You see the symbol in the center of the painting is called a Helm of Awe and there are Fall or Autumn leaves…. get it?   The Helm of Awe is part of Northern Western European culture.  It’s a very old symbol, and well, I really like it.  The design is so well thought out.  It fits perfectly with the runic alphabet, so naturally that I almost feel I have to paint the runes at the ends of this Helm.

Darn!  I just realized I should have named the painting Helm of Awetumn.  That would have been funny.  Oh well.  I have already painted a rather bland name on the back.  Perhaps I will add a special note to this one. :)

So anyway, here is my latest artistic project.  This is what I call a practice painting.  I think it is important to keep painting to keep one’s skills in good form.  I don’t want to forget what I learned in those oh so few art classes that I took a couple of years back.  I do miss those.  And I so wish that my Color Theory art instructor had been an organized brilliant teacher.  But in these difficult times, one cannot waste their money on things that do not have any value. (So I left the class and eventually the school.)

Sigh.

First stages on laying out the design - this painting is done in acrylic paint

First stages on laying out the design – this painting is done in acrylic paint

Starting to establish the dark areas of the painting.

Starting to establish the dark areas of the painting.

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The painting really starts to change with the dark areas established.

The painting really starts to change with the dark areas established.

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Adding the color made me nervous that I would ruin the painting.

Adding the color made me nervous that I would ruin the painting.

Back to the painting…  I am not sure I am happy with this one.  I wish it had turned out better.  Perhaps I need to paint more often, but that would mean having the inspiration, time, and space to do so.  Sometimes these things do not always coordinate.  I think I can do better next time.  There are parts of it that I am proud of and other sections that I just could not make better.  An artist needs to learn when to leave a picture alone, and I think I am doing better than I used to, but not having a mentor is hard.  Good mentors always know where something needs to be done to make a project just a little bit better.  Sometimes a lot better.

Slowly I started to feel more comfortable with the addition of color.

Slowly I start to feel more comfortable with the addition of color.

2015 Helm of Awe 08 1000w

It was hard to tell what was looking good, so I tried to focus on sections.

It was hard to tell what was looking good, so I tried to focus on sections.

2015 Helm of Awe 10 1000w

Here I put in the placement of the runes.

The think lines of the Helm of Awe looked bad so I needed to make them thicker and decide what kind of outlining or color change would look good.  This was tough.

The thin lines of the Helm of Awe looked bad so I needed to make them thicker, which was an improvement.  Then I had to decide what kind of outlining or color change would look good.   This was tough.

I finally decided to use purple instead of black to act as a complimentary color to the yellows in the painting.

I finally decided to use purple instead of black to act as a complimentary color to the yellows in the painting.

I think my next project will be one of the other Helms.  Yes, there are other symbols like this one that mean other things.  This particular symbol was painted on warrior’s weapons and armor to bring victory.  The other one I want to do is the compass one, which is supposed to keep a person from becoming lost.  I often wonder does that mean lost in a spiritual sense or quite literally being lost.  Perhaps the ancient people of Europe wanted to protect the person in both realms of existence.

Thanks for visiting.

Gretchen Winkler © 2015

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Posted in Art, Asatru, Painting
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