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Thursday, April 30, 2009

New fabric

I'm trying to recreate a photo of myself.  It's a photo of me from the 80's with the "Big" hair and shoulder pads.  I really want to make the jacket in the photo like the one in the photo.  Call me crazy but I did like that jacket.  Didn't think I would be able to unless I happened upon some fabric somewhere that looked similar.  Well, today I sat down at my embellisher and started to play.  At first I thought it wasn't going to work, it was too linear and the colors weren't quite right.  Than it accidently flipped over and guess what!  The back of fabric was very close to what I needed.  And even better, I like it!!
Here is what I did.  First I alternated black and pink yarn on the maroon fabric.  Like this, don't forget you can click on the images to enlarge them.

I covered it all with black tulle, which is to me magical.  Black tulle just disappears into the fabric when you place it on top of almost anything.  I pinned in the squares to keep it from shifting.  Like this

Than I took it to my embellisher and started to attach the yarn to the background fabric.  Like this

As I was embellishing, I was a little disappointed thinking it wasn't going to work, when a part of it flipped over and I saw the back.  That's when I remembered one of the best things about an embellisher is both sides are open for use.  The back of the fabric was perfect for what I wanted.
Always fun to have a surprise ending that turns out for the best.
The first photo shows the front, the second shows the back.  which would you use?
Have a creative day. Janet

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Cottage stones

Several people have asked how I made the stones for my Red Door quilt.  I'll do my best to explain how I did it. I'm sure there are many ways to accomplish the same thing and you may look at what I did and think  "Well, if she had just done this instead it would have been much simpler!"
I sometimes make things harder than they need to be.  However, the end result is, I love the finished quilt!  And that is good enough for me.

I mentioned in my previous post that I used about six different batiks for the stones.  I took about a twelve inch square of each and matched them with a square of thin batting.  I took one square of batik and one square of batting, and placed the batting on the wrong side of the batik.  I took this to my machine and put a corner of the 'sandwich'(just 2 layers the batik and batting) under my presser foot with the needle down.  I lifted the foot a little and scrunched the fabric and batt all around the needle from the front and the side.  I put the foot back down keeping the fabric scrunched and began to meander my way over the bumps and valleys I had created.  I kept scrunching the fabric and sewing until the entire square was sewn.  You could do this with even bigger pieces at a time.  I have disc problems in my neck and manipulating fabric always makes me tighten those spots in my neck that I shouldn't tighten up, so shorter sewing times with breaks are best for me.  I had to repeat this process several times for each fabric.  

I'll back up a minute here because before I started to make the stones I made a pattern for my quilt.  I used my Tracer projector and made an outline drawing of the door and the stones from a photograph.  Here is a photo that shows my outline drawing with some of the stones placed on top.

I made a pattern for each stone individually from my larger pattern.  Did I mention this was a little time consuming.  I took my individual stone pattern and traced around the outside edge of it with a marker on top of the scrunched fabric.  I used a disappearing ink marker, but since you will be cutting along this line it doesn't matter too much what you use.  After tracing the outline, I took it back to my machine and sewed about an 1/8 inch inside the drawn line.  I just used a small zig-zag stitch.  I found it best to draw and sew all the stones on one of my scrunched fabrics before cutting any of them.  Otherwise you might lose some of your stitching that holds the hills and valleys in place. After they were all drawn and sewn for that block I cut them along or just inside the drawn line.  I placed them in the matching spot on my design board and kept repeating this process until I had them all complete.  They are almost finished in this photo, I just need to even out the edges a little.

Next I made my door.  I wanted it to tuck under the stones on the one side so it needed to be in place before the stones were added.  I made a couple of versions of the door before I decided I liked it and not sure if this is the final version. You can see I am now placing them on my background fabric.
Than I transferred the stones to the background fabric and just sewed, with a straight stitch this time, to attach them.  For a few of the larger stones I also sewed across along some of the scrunched lines. (Is this clear as mud)

For the final quilting, I sewed on the black fabric between the stones.  Hope this was helpful.
Have a creative day! Janet

Saturday, April 25, 2009

New Space! part 2

My sewing space before was our family room.  That worked fine until the recent addition to my sewing arsenal.  My son and his friends have moved all the gaming equipment to the basement, so they spend most of their time down there.  My daughter moved out several years ago after graduating from college and getting a job.  So, it is just my husband and I rattling around up here most of the time.  We decided the best choice was to make the livingroom/diningroom my new sewing space.  So now I have two rooms.  One room for my new long arm and the other for my sewing machine and 'stuff.'  My son was a little concerned when the lights were added to the long arm frame and my husband commented, "Now you can sew all night!"  We all laughed but than he realized his bedroom is right above the room my longarm is in, and what if I really did sew all night!

Here are some photos of what was my dining room.  The first photo is my wall of cubicles.  The drawers and doors are labeled (we added those last year) because when I put something behind a closed door well, I'm like a toddler 'out of site, out of mind.'  It helps me remember what I have and where it should be.  You can see my folding table for cutting/ironing in front of the window.

If you swing to the right you can see my Bernina.  I still need a better table for this, but it works for now.  There is another storage shelf in the corner.  This one has a lot of recyclable materials on it.  At least I am hoping to recycle them.  Every year the Textile Center has an exhibit of art made from recycled materials.  That's one of the challenges I hope to enter next year.

Swing a little farther to the right.  Now you can see my old sewing cabinet with my almost 30 year old Kenmore tucked inside and my embellisher sitting on top.  Did I mention I have a lot of toys.  The embellisher was a Christmas gift.  I'm excited that I have room for it now.  I plan to use my Kenmore for some of my experimental sewing techniques.  I really like the work that Maggie Grey does and want to try some of her techniques.  Two of her books I have are Raising the Surface with Machine Embroidery & textile translations: mixed media.  One of my recycled items to make is a purse.  I've saved heavy brown packing paper for this.  I have the book Bags with paper and stitch Innovative Surface Techniques for Embellishing Bags by Isobel Hall.  One other book I want to experiment with is The Art of Stitching on Metal by Ann Parr.  I just got some very light weight metal to play with from Joggles.  I can't wait to try it looks like so much fun.
The shelves hold my paintsticks, paints, inks and pencils,  glues and foil, stamps and stencils, shibori tools, brushes and other tools.  The three boxes below hold ribbons, yarns, bits of wool, and anything else that I think might work for my embellisher.  The file cabinet has class print outs and other notes that I wanted to save for reference.

Swing one more turn to the right and you can see into the other room where my new long arm is still in the assembly stage.  You can also see my tv on a stand with wheels.  I can swing it to be watched in either room.  Notice my Quilt Show DVD's waiting to watched.

Last turn in the room shows you my corner with a few more cabinets and a light.

Here is one last shot of the room as a whole.  I'm sure there is still some tweaking to be done and once I start creating it will never look this neat again but I hope you enjoyed this look at my new sewing space.  Have a creative day. Janet

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New space! part 1


I have been working on rearranging my sewing/quilting/craft whatever you want to call my creative space. I found a magnet that sort of explains me.  I like to do new things, try new things, explore new things, so here is my new motto:

I put most of my fabric on some open shelves that I already had (re-purposed from another room in the house).  I was worried about sun damage and the cats decided it made a cushy bed.

So now I re-purposed my Target boxes.  I did buy a couple more (they were on sale this week)  I like to be able to see all of my fabric so somewhere down the road I may buy some shelves with doors I can close.  This works OK for now.

I really like my organizational space.  I want to try to enter some challenges this year.  So I have a pocket to put information about challenges that interest me.  I also have a pocket for the many postcard exchanges I am involved in.  Somehow I just can't say no, at least very often.
The long list is things I need to complete.  Many are almost done, just need to be quilted.  A few are still ideas in my mind.  

Right below this is my new dog couch.  I had to take the old (people)couch out of the room to make room for my monstrously huge new machine, so Mocha Chip needed a new bed.

And here is a hint of why I needed the new bigger space! Have a creative Day! Janet

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My favorite quilt for the Blogger's quilt festival

I decided to enter a quilt in the online quilt festival.  I needed to write about my favorite quilt in my blog and link it to the festival.  Hope you enjoy the show.

I have two or three quilt's that are my favorites.  They were all made within the last two years.  I joined Minnesota Contemporary Quilter's about a year and a half ago.  I credit joining that group with the spark in my quilting.  I really enjoy the no-rules approach to quilting and am having fun learning lot's of techniques and maybe making a few of my own.
The quilt I chose was for last years challenge.  Our theme was architexture.  I already had a photo of a cottage in Ireland that I wanted to re-create with fabric.  The photo had been on my inspiration board for over a year.  When I learned about the challenge I knew I had to try to make this quilt, even if I didn't feel it was good enough to enter.  I was very nervous about entering something with this group since I was new and there are many accomplished quilter's in this group.  I also had no idea how to make this quilt.  I made a couple of copies of the photo and left them around the house to keep me thinking about it throughout my day.  I enlarged one to eight by ten and used my projecta scope to draw outlines of what I wanted.  I decided to do the stones individually so I could add more texture to them and maybe still have my quilt lay flat when I was done.  I wasn't quite sure how to make them with the texture I wanted but I just started to play with my fabric and my machine.  I think it was one of those middle of the night "Aha" moments when it finally came to me.  Do you ever do that?  Wake up with a brilliant idea in the middle of the night?  Sometimes it works for me and sometimes I wake up in the morning look at the note I wrote myself and wonder 'who wrote that, and what were they thinking!'
I used about six shades of different batiks to make the stones.  I wanted to show the changes in color of the rock along with the shadows.  It took me awhile to decide on the door fabric but I really like the small stripe that I chose.  I added some tulle for the shadow on the door and did a little thread painting.  I tried thread painting the door latch but it looked really flat and didn't fit with the rest of the quilt.  I was thrilled when I found the latch I used.  It's a switch for a miniature train set!  It just looked perfect too me.
I had some trouble finishing the edge of the quilt.  I cut it first and then added the tiny stripe of red.  Well, I wasn't really thinking when I cut it and had trouble getting my little red strip of fabric straight because of the dimension of my stones.  Live and learn! Next time think of the whole quilt and finish out to the edge before applying dimensional aspects.  I did finish it in time and I did add it to the show.  It has been touring with the MCQ exhibit for almost a year now.  Should be home pretty soon. I've added my original photo to the
 bottom so you can see I did change it a little, cropped it and emphasized some of the color tones, but it's close.
I also want to credit a couple of teachers I had around the time I was making this quilt.  Myrna Giesbrecht who taught me to keep going and not listen to what others have to say about what I am making.  It was my opinion that mattered for this quilt.  I also took a class from Susan Brittingham around this time.  I learned how to add the grass at the bottom using her technique.  I took classes from both of these teachers at Quilt University
Have a creative day

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wild Life or wildlife?

A couple of weeks ago I came home from exercising to find two cardinals in my yard.  I am a big bird lover.  They are so fun to watch.  I immediately got out my new 'squirrel proof' bird feeder, filled it up and put it in my front yard.  I have to put it in the front yard because hawks have started nesting in the trees behind my house.  I love to watch the hawks and think it is very cool to have them near but they do tend to discourage the little pretty birds.  I took this photo from my deck.  I made a photo postcard of the twin hawks that were here a few years ago.  If you look at my postcard slideshow you can see them. (Oops!  I haven't added it yet but it will be there soon.)
My cats love watching my new squirrel (bird) feeder.  I moved a file cabinet and chair over near the window so they can just lounge and enjoy the show.  Here is what they see most often, the creative, fat, happy squirrels hanging on the feeder.

The poor little birds are left to scrounge up seeds on the ground.

Or wait despondently on the nearby sidewalk.

Occasionally my cute little dog goes out to oversee all the activity.  

For some reason the squirrels and birds all tend to scatter when he goes outside.  I think he just wanted to play.  His name is Mocha Chip.  He was named for a blizzard at Dairy Queen!  Isn't he a sweetie.  I'm making him a new bed this weekend because in all my room arrangements I took his favorite resting spot out of my sewing space.  It was an old couch, I am talking old for a couch, it was older than my daughter who has graduated from college and been working for a few years.  I recovered it at one point just to see if I could do it and I don't think it turned out too bad.  I'll post a photo of his new 'couch' when I get it finished.  Hopefully it will turn out.
Here are the cats watching all the activity outside.  Keeps them from lounging around on my fabric! Have a creative day. Janet

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Sneak Peak!

Still working on my space.  I have trouble with motivation when it comes to organizing and cleaning.  Lucky for me the Quilt on a Budget group is giving me incentive to finish.  Joan is having a contest for the messiest quilting/sewing space and a second contest for the neatest.  I'm pretty sure I could have won the messiest last week but I'm glad I now have a chance to try for the neatest.  Even if I don't win the prize, ( a copy of STUDIOS magazine) I will win because my space will be so organized.  There are lot's of ideas for working on your space on the QOB blog right now as well as a giveaway sponsored by Country Stencils.  You can use the stencils to paint on your quilt.  Be sure and check out the Quilt on a Budget blog.

Here is a photo of my cubbies that have been following me around our home for at least fifteen years.  They have multiplied a couple of times but I bought most of them on clearance at Target years ago.  This last year I had my husband add the little holders so I can label each drawer/door with what is inside.  Am I getting old?  I can't always remember where I put everything and this helps so it more often ends up back in the same spot when I am finished.  They aren't completely organized yet and I need to rework the open shelves but I like the arrangement.  

I put three over in the corner with a light on top.  You can never have too many lights in a sewing space.  This lamp is more than 30 years old but it works great.  I added the fabric and bow a long time ago.  Definitely time to jazz up the fabric or re-paint the base of the lamp.  (The photo is me can you tell?)

Here are my fabric shelves.  I need to make something to hang in front to protect them from the sun and the cats.  One of my cats has already decided the second shelf from the bottom on the left is the perfect spot to hide away.  The second shelf from the bottom on the right has projects that I have everything I need to finish.  The shelf above that is projects in process that I still need to get backing and or batting to complete.  So, those two shelves should be empty in no time right?

One of my shibori dyed fabrics was chosen as photo of the week in the Fiber Focus group.  Here is a photo of that fabric.  I guess it should be on my incomplete project shelf.  I still haven't decided how to finish it.  Waiting for inspiration. Have a creative day! Janet

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Searching for ugly fat quarters!

Last week my husband and I started the transformation.  He painted the walls on Wednesday & Thursday.  Friday and Saturday we started moving furniture, upstairs, downstairs all around the house!  Good thing I've been lifting weights!  Actually, it's a good thing I have a seventeen year old son who can be bribed with use of the car! They cleared out the space and I have slowly been filling it back up again with all of my sewing, quilting, art paraphernalia.  I am so excited about my new space.  I will have twice as much room!  I am trying not to rush the move and really think about where everything will be placed.  Trying to create use zones.  I like to keep things together that will be used together.  I'm sure I will still be moving for awhile as I figure it all out but I can try!
I am in a swap right now for 2 ugly fat quarters.  So, as I sort my fabric today I will have to decide which ones qualify for that honor.  It will probably be the ones I haven't cut into yet.  I tend to use a small piece of this and a small piece of that when I quilt and seldom have a whole fat quarter laying around.  I guess if I do that means it is one I don't like as well, or isn't useful for me.  I have trouble calling any fabric ugly  because you can always add to it and transform it into something you like even more.  Hope my swap partner likes my ugly fat quarters.  Here is a photo of my shelves waiting for the fabric and my fabric waiting to be refolded, organized and placed on the shelves.  Can you see all my jars of buttons on the top shelf?  I love buttons. Somewhere in that pile of fabric are two ugly fat quarters that will go in the mail today or tomorrow.  Have a creative day! Janet