Daisy Fumes

Exploratory Making: Giving my gift to myself

Written by Daisy Fumes


exploratory making

daisy fumes

new york

The gift I originally gave to my classmate was the concept of all the energy buzzing around New York. I felt it the moment I landed. I feel it in the air, I feel it coming from the buildings, I feel it coming from the people. This energy is palpable, tangible, and real. Arriving in New York, I immediately thought to myself “I get it.”

In expanding this gift I chose to go for a soft project. I have done so many technical projects, I could have easily put part of myself in autopilot going that direction. I also could have learned something new in the technical direction, but I really wanted to embrace unfamiliar territory.

It was so unfamiliar at first I couldn’t even think about what to do. What were my options? I had seen someone use a sewing machine many times and even thought about the many times I heard my mentor Nandini back home boast about the CETI Lab’s embroidery machine. It would be really great to be able to take advantage of more of the possibilities in the lab. I love that lab.

The one avenue I am familiar with in soft materials is screen printing, so for a moment I considered involving a printing element. I know you can cut a block for printing with the laser cutter, so it’s achievable, but I decided I should save that for later because it still felt familiar and could end up taking over the project.

While working on a different project I heard my roomie say “Dang Lisha learned how to sew.” Both fear and excitement hit me. I knew someone I could ask for help and for a moment I felt unoriginal. But only for a second and then I felt very silly about it. She ended up being the biggest resource for me. SO HELPFUL.

After a detailed introduction to the JUKI sewing machine from Lisha and some practice on a random piece of material, I was ready to go.

Initially thinking I’d do a scrappy T-shirt after discussing my project with my classmate Mishka, I decided to do something simpler and do a tote. Totes have become a great medium for communicating a message. The message I want to convey is “I feel it.” I think this could mean many things, while also resonating with others who feel something big. Almost like the feeling Kermit talks about in Rainbow Connection.

I brought some of my totes to school for reference and luckily found a big spare piece of black material on the soft lab junk shelf. Laying one of the totes over the material, I found my general shape and cut two pieces.

After I had my pieces, I drew out my graphic on one of the pieces and put it under the needle. It was a slow start at first, but I was able to put my graphic and message on the material. The curves were especially hard and didn’t come out amazing, but I still was in love. The fidelity looked like sketching with thread and I really liked it, so I decided to leave a lot of it messy, but fix a few holes in the design.

Next I worked on the straps and they were the hardest part. I was trying to fold the material for sewing, but they kept folding back. Soft material is very rebellious. I remembered seeing some irons, which are basically the bone folders of soft materials, and used them to solve this problem. I folded them twice to loosely emulate what I was seeing on one of my totes. Once folded, I put them through the machine and not just sewed them, but embroidered some cute hearts on them.

Once I had these done, I had all the pieces. I just needed to put them together. Despite reminding myself over and over to be careful about which side I was sewing, I still managed to mess up. But not too bad! I sewed the insides of the bag together successfully, but accidentally sewed the straps to the outside of the back of the bag. Round two, this will not elude me.

One last thing I wanted to do was add “DAISY FUMES” to the bag to make it feel even more like a Daisy Fumes project. The ghost was doing a good and cute job, but I really like how this added to it.

I’d love to try this again now that I’m getting more comfortable with the machine and how the sewing comes out. I need to do some more research on how to seal the thread. This round has many loose threads, but the next one won’t. I’d also like to try a hat, because hats are a really great method of showing everyone how cool you are.