Saturday, June 27, 2015

put a frame on it

this is my motto for today: "put a frame on it".
earlier this spring, I acquired this lovely frame at a garage sale for one dollar. I like the black painted wood even though, or perhaps because, it is a little bit beaten up.  I also find the gold accents quite delightful. They appeal to the magpie part of me that likes shiny details.
when I decided to try the techique of embroidering on to a motif printed on fabric, I decided that this project would finish up in this particular frame.
The Tim Holtz fabric that I chose had three large butterflies printed on it. So I made sure that when I cut the piece of fabric these butterflies would be centered within the intended frame. Also, I cut the fabric pieces large enough so that it could be mounted within the frame.
I have spent several happy hours embellishing these butterflies. I used a combination of machine free motion thread painting, together with some simple hand embroidery stitches.  The machine stitched areas are quite flat, while the hand embroidered sections are more dimensional and raised.
I had put a backing of fusible fleece behind the fabric, and although I started out by embroidering within a hoop, I soon found that this stabilizer on the back was enough to keep the thread from puckering the fabric,
this morning, I started to do some free motion quilting In the background around the butterflies.
then I decided that the whole thing would be improved if I added a little frame in the stitching.  upon reflection, I like the idea of adding frames, or borders and I think it will be fun to hand embroider a few more,
if one frame is good then several frames must be better, right,?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Time for a Selvedge Edge Project!

I like to save the selvages off the sides of fabrics. I just throw them into a box and forget about them usually.  from time to time I think to myself "It would be fun to make something out of those".
I have also had it in my head for a while now to try this design with strip piecing or string piecing, 
it is a project from this book:
I just dumped on my selvages out onto the table, and pulled out the blue and gray ones.
Initially I was thinking a table runner so I made one diamond with two ends.
with selvages, you just overlap them onto a foundation made of paper or muslin and topstitch the finished edge down.I cut out a diamond that is about 14 inches across and 26 inches long. I should've made it from two equilateral triangles, but that detail escaped me at the time. it is been hot here lately and my brain isn't working at top capacity.  
nevertheless, I just stitched them down onto my paper making sure to leave lots for the seam allowance. 
Before I cut the shapes to size, I decided to stay stitch around the paper shape to keep the stitching from unravelling as I go.

the paper founations I made were the actual finished size, so when I trimmed theem I added the seam allowance.
Again in retrospect, I think I might have been a good idea to make it a little wider than a quarter inch.
once I put them up on my design wall, the shapes looked a little forlorn. So of course I had to make more pieces. 

So long to the table runner idea. Hello new quilt project.

so now I am this far. I have also been to the store to get a couple meters of gray fabric to use for the alternate triangles..... 
I used up all my blue and grey selvages.
Have a good day. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Inspiration and Exploration

(today I have quite a philosophical essay about a direction I want to take for our Block of the Month program for the autumn.  Sorry about no photos....)

I had a good time putting together the pattern for the Row by Row experience. 
At the same time that I was doing that, I was mulling over the Saturday Surprise Sampler Program at the store that runs from September to June.   We've done that for 12 years now, and we need to have a change.
I noticed that I was quite enjoying the process of designing the row for the shop hop, and started to ask myself how I could repeat that process.   Although I don't want to duplicate the idea of making a row quilt on a monthly basis, I do like the idea of creating a slightly bigger project.  That is, the project kit would be larger than just one 12 inch block, and come out only once a month instead of once every two weeks.   Also, the projects would not be cumulative, combining into a big quilt at the end, but rather, each project could be complete on its own.    Ergo, Project of the month, or PROM.  

The wheels in my mind keep turning however, and I want to tie the series of projects together somehow, to add more meaning to it, not to just create a series of projects, willy nilly. 
 I came up with the idea of exploring the whole concept and process of Inspiration.  I hope to do  two things each month.

1.  Choose a source of inspiration and explore ideas that could arise out of it.   Share those possibilities through a store display and blog posts, hopefully leading to others considering how they could use that inspiration source as well.
2.  Provide a project in kit form, based on that source of inspiration.  The person who sews the pattern might finish it as an item such as a tablerunner, or it could be a starting point for a whole different project.  

Along the way, I hope to delve more deeply into the process of how we get inspired, and how we can take the inspiration we feel and translate it into actual finished projects.
A lot of the time when I get ideas of what I'd like to make, they just fizzle out.  I'd like to be more able to harness that interest in an idea and direct it into my sewing.

so, I would like to invite you to join me on this voyage of exploration !

Monday, June 15, 2015

Our Row by Row pattern

I mentioned a while back that we are participating this year in a program called the row by row experience. it was this blog post here. It at that time I copied the information for how the program works. So if you are interested you can refer back to that post by clicking on that link.

The program starts on June 21. So to prepare for it, I had to decide on a pattern, sew it up, and plan on how to display it. It seemed simple at the start.  
however, first I had to decide on some sort of a design for our row.  
I sketched out a few ideas. The theme was water, so I focused on blues,
I started to test sew a few of the ideas.
and it wasn't too long before I had several possibilities: 

so I decided to sew them together into a simple row quilt, child sized to use as a sample.
i opted not to use any sashing between rows to keep it as simple as possible, and added only a 3" border of the white background.
the row I decided on for the pattern is the one that uses these strip pieced sections:
It uses a simple technique where you cut your background piece and insert a contrasting strip between the two pieces.  Just do that over and over....
i thought the design evoked the idea of rain, and it used many solids, so I am calling the pattern... Solid Rain!
Of course I had to sew parts again to work out the pattern, resulting in another project... for the table runner I used part of two different ideas, but still made it to be the 9" x 36" finished size, so a person can see the size of a table runner using only one row.
I quilted the projects very differently.  the baby quilt has very simple horizontal wavy lines.  the table runner is much more densely quilted.
I hope you have fun with the row by row idea, whether you collect any of the shop patterns or make a row quilt.  I think there is such a lot of potential from using a simple pattern as a jumping off point! 
i would love to see what you can make of this simple pattern!
You can pick up your free copy of the pattern starting on June 21st, and we're not allowed to send them out by mail or email, just hard copies given out at the store, so hopefully we'll see you soon!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Chain Link Quilt

yesterday I finished sewing together the main part of my huge epic millefiori quilt. Then I folded it up and set it aside so that I could work on something a little less overwhelming. 
I have about five works in progress folded up in my closet, so I perused the stack and pulled out a couple that needed borders.
I felt like working on something with happy, summery colors and which wasn't too large, so I chose this one I had started a few years ago at one of our quilt retreat at Shekinah.
this morning when I started on it, it didn't have the wide white outer border yet.
the body of the quilt was quite a lot of fun to make. I started with two packages of those mini charm packs that have 42 2-1/2 inch squares in them, a stack of fat quarters from the shot cotton line by Westminster and a couple meters of white fabric.
basically I pieced together rectangles of three little squares and sewed a border around them with a solid color.  (in case you're interested in the math, the pieced rectangles measured 2.5" x 6.5" when they were sewn together.  The side rectangles of solid measured 2" x 6.5".  the top and bottom rectangles of solid fabric measured 2" x 5.5".  so, I completed Brick measured 5.5 x 9.5")
after that, I cut out quite a few 5.5" x 9.5" rectangles of white fabric.
I laid them out on the floor in quite a few different pattern combinations and decided that I needed a few extra pieced "bricks" to play with.  I was many miles from the quilt store, and had no yardage of the patterned fabric line with me, so I just used white centers.
when I was happy with the layout of the colored bricks I just filled in the background with the right number of white rectangles and half rectangles for the top and bottom of the staggered rows.
this morning I added a 5 inch border of solid white and then strip pieced some 2 inch strips of white and colored fabric for the little pieced squares border.   later I hope to sew on the pieced border and then perhaps add another white strip around the whole thing.  i'm not sure if I have enough of any fabric on hand here for the backing, so I might need to go shopping before I baste and quilt it.  there's a lot of white background in this one. I'm a little, well, a lot puzzled about how I'm going to quilt it.
hope you're having a great weekend, and that your Sunday is filled with pretty summery colors too!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Upcycled handbag hardware

I do love to make sewn handbags. I have made tote bags, little pouches and messenger bags..... It is a lot of fun to make something so useful.
One of the main parts of the bag is the handle.   In the past I've usually sewn the handles out of fabric, although sometimes I purchase leather handles to add to the bag.   One thing that I've often wanted to try is to recycle handles from a discarded bag onto a new one.

A few weeks ago, I was in the Goodwill store and came across a whole bunch of bags that were priced between four and $10.  
these five bags cost $26.00 all together with the tax.  
I immediately set about the deconstruction.  
These three that I took apart are not leather, but vinyl,   They have a lot of great detailing, and there are alos some good magnetic clasps in there.
A person can learn a lot by observing how a commercial bag is assembled!
After this take-apart phase must come the "thinking about" phase, which can take a while.
In my case, it co-incided with a "sewing with Tim Holtz fabris" phase, and an "english paperpiecing hexagons" phase....

these hexagons are bigger than ones I've used before, two inches on each side, so as to show off the amazing fabrics,
After a while, my path became more clear.  
I decided to use the hanles and bottom section from this black bag,

I sewed the hexagons together into a horizontal section three hexies tall, (by machine)
then, I appliqued them to a rectangle of cotton/linen that I had on hand.   the rectangle is about 16" tall and 40" long.  (it was longer than needed so that I could fine tune the length later as I was sewing it all together to fit the base.)
Next, I backed it with a rectangle of foam interfacing, my favorite is by Annie's Soft and Stable.  I did some very simple quilting 
quilting was mostly straight lines and curves from corner to corner,
To attach the bottom, I ended up stitching it by hand, using the holes that were already punched.  however vinyl is a lot softer than leather I think and so it isn't hard to make new holes when you want to. 
It was a pretty simple totebag construction, no pockets or any complicated stuff.
I sewed the handles on by hand as well.

it has a very simple lining, which was cut extra tall so that I just folded it down over the top edge of the bag to finish the edge.
It is a pretty good size!
the handles are spaced a wee bit wider apart than I'd like, but I didnt want to cover up the butterfly on the fabric,
it should work well for all sort of carrying!
As you may have noticed, I have several more rescued bags to use.   so, now I am back to the "thinking about" phase!

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