Redesigning Denim Part III : Wear Your Work

We did some redesigning and we did some making. And here’s the finished product!

Redesigning Denim_Final_square

A quick before & after

What do you think? Do you like my lacy peacock butt? I love it! I’m gonna have to strut before my professor and face critique. Wish me luck. Did you follow along? I wanna see you wearing you work. And working dat work!


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Redesigning Denim Part II : Making

Hi Sunshines!

We’re back for part two of our denim project. Click here to catch up on part I. When we left off all we had was some sketches, a glint in our eye and hope. Where are we now? A little closer to fabulous that is, admittedly, a combination of ideas. Here’s what the shorts looked like before I started hacking away at them:



If you’re following along here are some supplies to have on hand:

  • seam ripper
  • scissors
  • quilting pins
  • fabric, muslin works, denim pictured. This can also include other clothes or scraps you’ve had in the unfinished pile or bin. If you’re anything like me, anyway. I’m sayin, tho!]
  • embroidery floss this one is particularly thick
  • needles (the larger the floss, the bigger the eye)
  • heavy duty thread
  • sewing machine
  • iron
  • ironing board


Begin by ripping the seams. This always seems more painful than it really is. In my head I’m thinking ugh every single stitch but, yes, every single stitch. At most I might rip two stitches at  time, but I consider that loosey goosey. Pulling out one stitch at a time only took a few minutes. Then I pressed out the creases. So the general idea is to sweep lace between layers attached to the shorts. A little something like this:

4_General Idea

Next I removed most of the front panel of the shorts; basically cutting the front like extra hoochie daisy dukes. Be careful not to cut the pockets! Pin in the new fabric and sew down the sides first using the sewing machine. For the uppermost connection between fabric and shorts, I embroidered by hand chain stitches in a pattern emulating lace.



For the back I opted to keep things simple. I patched the gaping hole with a darker wash of denim. Where the seams connect, I made an overlapping fold so that as little hole was visible as possible then pinned and stitched that in place using the sewing machine.

11_Back_patch continued

Then lengths of lace were layered and embroidered down using the chain stitch. I chose the chain stitch because it’s pretty and very secure, which is especially important considering how hole-y lace can be. To keep each row from flaring upward (say if you sat down funny or something) I stitched an X in the center. That was Honeybee’s idea because he’s handy like that.


I can’t wait to share the finished product with you guys! I’ve been stitching my fingers to the bone. How’s your project coming along? Smooth sailing or struggle-fest? Leave in the comments below! And don’t forget to hit the Like button if you’re into seeing more projects like this around here.

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Redesigning Denim

Do you ever think about the counter-couture fashions of the counter-culture of the 1960s & 70s? [Or, as my professor describes it, hippie 101.] You’d love my class this quarter. We’re learning about clothing as a means of revolutionary expression through the lens of rock&roll, funk, punk, sex, drugs, war, anti-war sentiments—everything. Sidetone: It’s so interesting be learning alongside people so much younger than me. Our teacher asked everyone who’d heard of the Draft to raise their hands. Not all the hands were up! That’s wild!

This project is essentially pretending to enter Levi’s Denim Contest from back in 1974. Our job is to find something pre-existing and make it something else, indicative of ourselves by means of embroidery, painting, appliqué, additive / fusion, subtractive / cutout, etc. like the characters in our required reading, Native Funk & Flash. I’m inspired by the stories in this treasure trove. There are tales of drug-smuggling and there are winged penises. There’s also incredible millwork, if you’re a millwork-enthusiast like me.


Follow along with this project! It’ll be fun. Remake something schnazzy for yourself. You deserve it.

First, power through 50 [8 ½”x11″] sketches of ideas of possible future denim creations. This got painful after about 30, but keep at it! I drew up outlandish headdresses (that may very well be future projects wink*nudge) and more realistic ideas based on items I already own. When I hit a wall, I hit the thrift shop. I stopped in on Value Village and found this structured stretchy denim jacket with a wonderful problem: it’s too big. YASSS honey! Come home with me. We shall make beautiful fashion together.

To bridge the gap between ideation and physical creation, we take a closer look at our ideas, creating at least 5 [11″x17″] iterations. Not sure why exactly, but I took this opportunity to try digital illustration for the first time, focusing on two main ideas:

This incredible pair of shorts. They came from H&M‘s Label of Graded Goods (L.O.G.G.) line back when I worked there and I enjoyed that  fresh-off-the-truck quality check. Just by feel, you could tell something was different about these shorts. The denim is supple, but thick and has a generous stretch, they’re not just washed indigo, but also floral printed and slightly longer than your average denim shorts and also cuffed at the leg which gives us even more fabric to work with. Just pure perfection. Anyway, I wore them every (warm-enough-in-Seattle) day for two years until what some may describe as crotch blowout happened.

I don’t know if I can use that phrase, though. Sounds…weird.

But even as Spring turns to Summer I miss these shorts, so this is a perfect opportunity to attempt reinvigorating them.

Denim Drawing_1_LaceSweepSkirt

Also thought through some ideas for the jacket. My plan is to attempt both projects and whichever sucks the least will be my midterm.

What do you think? The final projects will likely be combinations of these ideas, but we’ll have to see. So far I’ve ripped the seams, so it’s truly a blank canvas.

Post your befores in the comments below and / or #wraysofsunshine on Instagram so I can see your projects! And stay tuned for the next part of this adventure, coming soon.

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Redesigning Denim Image from Levi’s Denim Contest accessed 4/17/16Welfare (Winner: Levi’s Denim Art Contest), 1974. Photo: Sam Haskins © All Rights. The Sam Haskins Estate 2015. Native Funk & Flash. It is always my intention to link back to the original work referenced on Wrays of Sunshine. Questions about content? Use the contact page! 

Make: Long Stitch Leather Bound Book Dummy

Did I ever tell you I dig bookbinding? I learned from Claire Cowie a variety of stitch patterns from the simple 5-hole pamphlet stitch to a very fancy looking Romanesque Braid Bind. That class enlivened a desire to try something new.

One big idea Claire taught us is that the most successful makers do a trial run before committing to a design. This trial run is typically known as a dummy. It’s important to practice with the same or very similar materials so that you have a very clear picture of how individual elements will work together and what the finished product will look like. I have a very strong idea of what I want to make with my final book, but this time around we’re going to practice with a simpler idea: a bound book about book binding. [Much like my Onsie Onsie idea, no?]

Just because a dummy is a dummy doesn’t make it dumb. You can quote me on that, lol. Oftentimes they turn into great looking books in their own right so I compiled all the information on binding I could find in a hurry into a document and set it to print in booklet style. If you ain’t got time for that, just grab about some plain copy paper, also known as bond.

I was inspired to long stitch by Youtube crafter, Sea Lemon. I enjoyed following along the video but found myself doing a lot of pausing so I thought I’d put together a tutorial of stills.


Wanna make a book like this? Alright, let’s get started! Continue reading “Make: Long Stitch Leather Bound Book Dummy”

Make: Honeybee’s Handmade Instruments

One of the best parts of partnership with a creative is this first-hand, front-line view at the creative process. While I’m deeply ensconced in my own project, I’ll hear Matt mumble something. Could be anything. One time it was, “you don’t look comfortable.” Then he built me the very lap desk I type from today.


This time he wanted to rig a banjo. No lie, my first response was, can you do that? Is that a thing you can do? We build instruments now?

Short answer: Yes. But not without much practice and patience.

He began with the prototype phase which had a pine neck and a cigar box for a body. It was determined early on, though, that the neck was bowing unfavorably. Rather than scrap it, Matt went on making, determined to learn everything he could from this first iteration.

These two, Mark I and Mark II built for Jared and Nathan, respectively, see an upgrade to basswood for the bodies. These necks are oak, hand sanded to smooth perfection by Matt’s very own fingers.

Mark III, below, is the largest of them all and the one Matt finally made for himself. While it’s my favorite, Matt considers it unsuccessful. He says the top is too thin, which bent and split. Still gorgeous, though.


Papa’s birthday guitar, Mark IV, is the most successful. Shorter one in front. I can’t wait to see him play it!


Even though he’s new to instrument building, Matt’s awesome at it and only getting better. Is it just me, or is a handy man a sexy man?

We’re heading to Walla Walla to celebrate today. See ya!

Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe for more Wrays of Sunshine

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Make: Onsie Onsies for Baby

What’s cute? What’s cuter than cute? I’ll tell you what. A baby in a onsie with a onsie on it. I know, I just blew your mind. No, it’s cool. Take your time. Breathe.

Searching for a quick DIY project to honor all the tiny baby cute overlords in your life? Look no further! Do this in a jiffy to get that baby looking extra spiffy!

Need | non-toxic fabric paint (traditional or spray), tyvek for stencil, brush or sponge, newspaper, onsies of various sizes. I asked all the moms I could scrounge and then tried to size up three months for each baby so they could grow into them and they’d last for a while.

Cut a stencil of whatever shape you’d like. Obviously onsies are my intended shape, but you can do just about anything! Cupcakes, bears, pacifiers, I don’t know, get wild! You could even create a silhouette of the baby in question. The cute potential is unprecedented here, folks.


Use newspaper to protect the back side of the onsie and keep any paint from leaking. Roll up a page and insert into the neck. Cut your stencil out of tyvek. I chose tyvek for this project because it’s waterproof and cheap. With it, I’m able to rinse the fabric paint off and keep moving, but if you don’t have tyvek, paper works just fine. I would suggest cutting several stencils either way, but extra if you’re working with paper. I even varied the size of some of the onsie stencils. Some of dem babies gettin’ big.

Follow the instructions on your paint for questions on things like pre-washing, drying and curing. The paint I’m using did not require a pre-wash, but did demand a 20-minute heat setting session in the dryer.

The more onsies I made the more fun I had with filling in the basic shape. Variations include stripes, filled, ombre and faux tie dye. I think the ombre are my favorite.

The Wee Baby Wyatt

Thanks to the Massey family for sharing this image of wee baby Wyatt rocking his onsie onsie with pride. Isn’t he the cutest thing that ever happened? Those cheeks! He’s a preemie (fighter, survivor and thriver) with badassery embedded in his tiny baby bones by his loving parents. We love you!

And thank you to all my sunshines for tuning in again. See more projects in the Make: section such as Photograms, Pinhole cameras, and relief prints.

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Make: Photograms

A few months ago I shared tips on how to take photos with pinhole cameras. Did you try? If you didn’t, you should ’cause it’s SO much fun. Pinhole cameras still require use of a darkroom and photosensitive chemicals. Photograms, however, do not. There are lots of places to find exact instructions. I did a quick search and found these. Here are some that I came up with. I began by playing with sharp contrasts, but quickly realized I love the look of the hazy double-exposures just as much, if not even more so. Because photograms require using actual items, I tried to play around with different options. Organic matter makes really interesting work and it’s even more fun to juxtapose organic matter such as leaves and flowers with very man-made items like my glasses and an old paint brush. Then I got loose. Below you’ll find my favorites: string, earbuds, jewelry and all the supplies in my pencil box.




What do you think? Have you ever made photograms before? Don’t worry if you have no experience, all it takes is a little patience and practice.

Don’t forget to Like and subscribe for more fun projects. See them all here.

Brianna Wray


Make: Pinhole Camera

Pinhole cameras are a great way to get down to the fundamentals of photography. In my personal camera history I recall going from the occasional Polaroid or disposable camera to a point & shoot situation. That was just for fun. It wasn’t until I entered the blogosphere that higher quality photos for everyday life became necessary and I lucked into my first dSLR camera. Since then I’ve upgraded to a better Nikon, a D3200, which is by no means the best camera around, but is certainly more than awesome enough for my needs. Still, in all that experience I never really had a chance to appreciate the physical dark room. I had the opportunity to take a class at UW where we learned our way around the dark room. We only had a few days, but it was quite the experience, so I thought I’d share.

You can recreate the conditions of a darkroom by using a Safelight. If you don’t have one of those you can use  a flashlight covered in several layers of red cellophane. I don’t know about that method, though. If you’re doing this at home, I definitely suggest using photo paper instead of film. If you were to print onto film, you’d be able to make prints but photo paper is easier.

Need: box or can, awl or needle, lightfast tape (duct works), photo paper, development bath, stop bath, water, three tubs (large enough for your photos to lay flat) and patience.

Camera Body

You can use a box or a can, but bear in mind the can would yield a curved photo. Almost like a fish-eye lens. I went straight up square box and still ended up with some rounded images. Whether you use a box or a can, paint the inside black.

Poking Pinholes

Use a thin sheet of metal for your lens, mine is steel but other students had pretty good results with thick aluminum. Good hole-pokers would be awls, needles, icepicks or the pointy end of a drawing compass. The direction in which you poke will need to face inside the box, otherwise your photos may be distorted. That’s the thing about pinhole cameras, it’s fairly simple but there are a lot of variables that can cause mayhem and distortion. But try it both ways, that may be the look you’re going for.



Cut a hole in your box or can. The hole should be smaller than the sheet of metal your pinhole is poked in. Tape all around the perimeter and then cut another piece of tape, fold over the edge and place over the hole from the outside of the box. The folded edge helps ease opening and closing your shutter quickly–which is how you take pictures–without shaking the box.


Lock & Load

Load up your pinhole camera with photo paper. I just used more duct tape to adhere it to the bottom of the box, but it got a little too sticky for the paper. I’d suggest something more easily removable. Put the treated side face up. Tape all the edges so it’s lightfast.




Take your camera somewhere cool, lift the shutter tape and wait. Time your exposures and experiment. This process requires patience, friends, as you’ll have to feel out the best exposure time for the lighting you’re working with.


Create a three-tub assembly line for your development fluid, stop bath and water. Follow the instructions and your heart in the development process. While the instructions for my development fluid said something around 3 minutes, I found that what I wanted varied widely depending on the shot in question. After your image is developed to your liking, move on to the stop bath which neutralizes the development fluid. 30 seconds there and then into the water. The darkroom at UW has student-technicians who rinse and dry your prints for you. At first I thought this would be awesome, but when I picked them up from a huge bucket of wrinkled prints all thrown together haphazardly, I had another opinion. Several of my classmates’ photos were ruined in the process. All stuck together. Fuff!

Of the photos I took using the pinhole process, these are my favorites. Pinholes actually print the inverted colorfield, so I scanned these and inverted in Photoshop. I like them both!

 Pinhole1_1 Pinhole1(inverted)

Pinhole8_1 Pinhole8(inverted)_1

Thanks for taking some time to craft with me today. Always a pleasure!



Interiors: Where We Play

‘Sup y’all! Sunshine popping up in the situation to share some interior updates. As much as I love the magazine-ready look, real life is more, well, real. That’s where the beauty is, to me.

Welcome to Plaid Palace!


I recently upgraded my dresser. Would you believe me if I told you this gorgeous French country dresser was free?! Well, I actually paid $30 for the paint, but that’s it, for real. It actually belonged to our landlord and had been sitting in the jam room for about ten years. Matt used it for an instrument/music stand. The drawers were filled with broken guitar pedals and picks. I inquired about purchasing the dresser and he said I could just have it. Sweet. (Thanks, Rick!). See the whole process over on Catfight Craft.

It started like this. Eesh.

It’s huge, but it actually fits everything and rearranging all the art in that corner has been such a breath of fresh air. For real. You know a coat of paint on a wall can really change the look of a room, but when you can’t paint, taking advantage of art is SO important. And Pokie likes it.


Our space is unique in that we do a lot of living in the bedroom. It’s larger than most but definitely does double or even trip duty when Matt engineers albums here, our friends lounge here, I’m always making something, but we also dress here, store clothes and media. It’s an everything room.


Outside there’s the coat closet, opposite the library and then around the corner you find yourself in the jam space which is doing triple duty, too. There’s a full drum kit, guitar, keyboards, dulcimers, more drums, yes, true. But there’s also my desk, the washer & dryer and our bathroom. Again, there’s a lot going on. Somehow it just works.


Garrett Drumsbehindthedrumkit

Sometimes I think our ultimate home would be some sort of warehouse where we could shift things almost continually depending on the scale of projects we’re working on. But then I remember how much I love porches. Mmph. This space probably wouldn’t work for everyone and definitely won’t work forever, but it’s just right for right now.

Thanks for stopping by, y’all.