Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Paranoid's Perfect Travel Vest: Upcycled Men's Shirt #26 or So



The latest take on upcycling men's shirts sourced from my favorite thrift store right around the corner.  (to see earlier upcycling go to Repurposed Men's Shirts). I travel a lot and when I do, I always don a trusty travel vest with lots of pockets, some of them hidden. This time I'm traveling to a hot and humid location so I've used two 100% cotton men's shirts, jigsawing them together to make an unlined, lightweight vest. If you want to try a similar upcycle project, start with a basic vest pattern ( I like loose and oversize) and play with your upcycled fabric, piecing it together so you have enough for your pattern sections. Then with any leftover material, go crazy with pockets.

Front exterior pocket

The pocket above uses a piece from the front of one of the upcycled shirts, re-using the shirt's pocket to create a double pocket for the vest.

Front exterior pocket

A second exterior pocket (originally a section of shirt sleeve), extends from the front of the vest past the side seam towards the back. A dividing seam separates this giant pocket into two more serviceable pockets. There is a final, absolutely mandatory external pocket, sized to fit eyeglasses.

Three external front pockets

There are also two hidden internal security pockets. 

Security pockets

The first, more traditionally placed, keeps passport, air tickets, some cash, and ATM card handy. Includes a velcro closure

Traditional security pocket

The second, completely hidden, is invisibly stitched inside the upper back of the vest. This is for credit cards and larger amounts of cash. This pocket also has a velcro closure. The closures are there so that when it's necessary to take the vest off for airport security, stuff in the security pockets doesn't come tumbling out.

Hidden security pocket
This is the fourth travel vest I've had. I also use them at home to avoid carrying a handbag, and with heavy use they tend to wear out quickly. To see how I cannibalized one travel vest make repairs on another, see Extreme Mending (Uber Boro).

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Stitched Selfies: On the Road

"On the Road": photo transfer, hand-embroidery, eco-dyed silk

Here is the last in the Stitched Selfies series for the foreseeable future. This is from an old passport picture from the early 1970s, and my passport number from that era appears along the upper right edge. 

The left half of this piece is based on a photo transfer onto cloth of the original snapshot, reduced to line drawing through the miracle of Photoshop. The right side of the piece is freehand drawing. 

The background for this work is a piece of blue silk, eco-dyed with the leaves of a rose bush.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Seaweed Shoe and a Failed Experiment

Seaweed shoe

Another round of experiments with stitched seaweed, ending largely in failure. Not to worry; failure is often a crucial step in the creative process, and as I've learned so far with a range of seaweed experiments, this material has a steep learning curve. (See Seaweed for past creations.)

Bowl of seaweed

This round of experiments began with an assortment of seaweed collected in early August along the tide line just north of Point Lobos in California. The vision was that of a seaweed chandelier, comprised of an assortment of small seaweed lamps, clustered together and illuminated from within by Christmas lights. 

Seaweed lamps, drying on paper cup molds

Seaweed lamp

Seaweed lamp

The lamps above are stitched at the top and then encircled with thread to help them retain their shape while they dried. At this stage they look spectacular, but as they dried I learned a couple of valuable lessons. I expected vertical shrinkage, figuring on lamps about a half to a third of the beginning height. What I failed to account for was horizontal shrinkage, resulting in the lovely overlapping layers separating into individual strands with gaps in between. This whole concept needs a major conceptual overhaul, but I plan to revisit this idea. I have such a clear image of the final seaweed chandelier in my head.

Seaweed shoe

To console myself I stitched the diminutive seaweed shoe shown here. Based on the gorgeous variety of seaweeds to be found in Carmel and Monterey, one could conceivably design an entire lie of seaweed shoes, to be left on the shore back on the tide line for unwary beachcombers to find.

Seaweed shoe

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