Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Experiments with fabric.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to be brave and upload one of my old collage designs to Spoonflower.  Knowing absolutely nothing about designing fabric or graphic design or anything like that, it was kind of a gamble for me, waiting to see how my collage would translate on to fabric. 

Guess what?  I liked the result!  So after tearing open that package, I immediately cut into my fabric and started making a little wall quilt:

Not a lot of planning involved here: I used some fabric pieces & scraps that were handy: the black and white pieces are left over from my current work-in-progress and the striped piece at the bottom is a repurposed pillowcase scrap.  The chevron ribbon was a recent purchase from Stitch here in Des Moines.  I had just enough double-fold binding left from my red & black Nancy Drew quilt to bind this little quilt. 

Spoonflower is great place to try your hand at designing and you can also buy other independent artists' designs--as fabric or wallpaper.  How cool is that?  I'm so glad I decided to give it a try and I'm sure I will be doing more Spoonflower-ing in the future.  The cost is reasonable (I got a fat quarter of my fabric with shipping included, for just under eleven dollars) and their turnaround time is pretty quick (my fabric arrived sooner than was promised).  Definitely worth the gamble. 

During the time that I was waiting for my Spoonflower fabric to arrive, I had a bit of fun playing around with the idea of fabric as art--by putting it in a frame:

Yes, typewriter fabric again, and a few charm squares and scraps that were handy.  The frame was a Goodwill find.  The matte was included, I just turned it over and painted it.

It always makes me happy when my experiments yield good results.  Even when they don't, I always learn something in the process and that in itself is valuable. 

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Quilts of All Sizes.

I love working on a big quilt top, but sometimes I need a break in the middle of a long-term project.  A couple of weeks ago I needed a break from making quilt blocks--so I made a couple of mini-quilts.  (Makes no sense, now does it?)  I've been waiting and waiting to make something with this pink typewriter fabric (from Melody Miller's Ruby Star line, 2012), which is of course so very different from the aqua typewriter fabric I've used before...so I whipped up this mini quilt.

You might be asking yourself "what's so fun about a mini-quilt?"  In fact, a very good friend of mine, who is quite the crafty gal herself, told me that she thought a little quilt to hang on the wall was about the silliest thing she'd ever heard of.  (And she hadn't heard of it before I explained to her what it is I was making during our in-depth discussion of sewing, quilting, crafting, etc.) 

So here's the answer to that burning question--what's so fun about a mini-quilt?
1.  They are quick to make.  Almost-instant gratification.
2.  Things that are small tend to be cute. 
3.  Great way to try new fabric without a long-term commitment.  I admit, I have struggled with commitment in the past. 
4. Perfect for experimenting with design & technique. 
5. A great way to use up scraps. 

And....mini quilts are also a good excuse to cut into fabric that you buy for absolutely no other reason than you simply could not resist it.  Case in point:

I really, really, really loved this sewing-machine print fabric. (I found it at Stash Modern Fabric on etsy; she has an awesome selection!)  And I was dying to sew with it.  True story: my 5-year-old son was even excited when he saw the fabric and immediately said, "We gotta make a quilt out of that!"  Yep, that's my boy!  He's learned to like fabric the way I've learned to like Disney Jr. 

I had some fun experimenting with colors I don't normally use (hello mint green and purple!) and continuing my pursuit of that ever-elusive scant quarter-inch seam allowance (a piecing foot for my machine sure helps!). 

There are getting to be quite a few quilts around the house, so these two minis are listed on my etsy shop.  Another one will be going out the door this weekend: to my mother for her birthday.  She always tells me not to spend any money on her, but one year I actually did that and got her nothing for her birthday and believe me, I won't do that again.  So, she is a getting a scrappy improve quilt made up of mostly leftovers from the very first quilt I made, last spring.  It looks like this:
She likes green so this will work for her.  And I will claim that I didn't buy any new fabric for the quilt so she won't suffer from motherly guilt.  Everybody's happy.  And I have room for another quilt in the house, which is good. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Black and White....and Yellow!

Yellow has never been one of my favorite colors.  I don't wear a lot of yellow and I don't have a lot of yellow stuff in my house.  But over the last several months, I've noticed that I'm increasingly drawn to it.  And I do recall reading somewhere that yellow is the color that makes people feel the happiest, so that alone is a good reason to bring a little more yellow into my world. 

I think my attraction to yellow started last year when I got my hands on this paper:

It was love at first sight!  I absolutely love this paper.  It's bright, cheerful, sweet--it makes me happy just looking at it.  In case you're wondering, it is a lotka paper (made from the Daphne plant!) and you can find it at Paper Source.

When I make a journal from an old book, I let the book's cover art take the lead when it comes to choosing the papers for the inside covers; I like for them to match, or at least coordinate with, the cover art.  Some covers give me some leeway as to what colors I can use inside, while other books don't leave much choice (in my opinion, which is, of course, the right one!).  Take for instance, this cover, from the 1974 edition of Better Homes & Gardens "Creative Decorating on a Budget":

There was no question whatsoever about what paper to put inside this cover.  And I really like it when the book cover makes my decision-making/design process simple and easy.  (Isn't the living room featured on this cover totally awesome?  I wish my living room looked like this and I am not kidding!)  Of course, I could have used a black and white paper inside this journal and it would have worked.  I did consider this paper:

I love chevrons, but it was clear that the daisies were the right match.  Instead, I put the black & white chevron paper inside this journal:

Because daisies are too girly for this macho Handyman's Book journal anyway. (Both journals are available in my shop, by the way.)

Making these journals made me think about the whole black/white/yellow combination.  I realize I see it everywhere--and by everywhere, I mean craft stores and in magazines.  I thought about this pillow cover that I made a few weeks ago:

Wouldn't this throw pillow look perfect in that 1974 living room?  And yet those fabrics are new; I just bought them last summer and I finally got around to using them in February! 

All this thinking about yellow also reminded me of my favorite scarf that I've been wearing nearly every day this winter:
I knit this way-long infinity scarf in October & November, just in time for the onslaught of arctic weather we've been having; the yarn is Loops & Threads Cozy Wool from Michael's and I love it.  It's light and cozy and warm and knits up nicely.  It's a 50/50 wool acrylic blend.  I had never entertained the idea of knitting anything yellow until I saw this yarn and fell in love with it.  The color itself is so warm and it goes great with all my gray and black shirts.  My winter wardrobe tends to be very monochromatic and boring so I need some colorful scarves to mix it up a little. 

So there you have it: my love affair with yellow.  I think it's permanent.  I feel pretty happy, too. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Sunbonnet Babies

Around 1950 or so, my mother received this adorable quilt as a gift from her grandmother (my grandma's mother, Edna ).  It is so sweet that I think it's worth sharing here:

This is probably my favorite out of all the quilts we have.  The colors are wonderful--still so bright even though this quilt is 64 years old!  The workmanship is beautiful; I can only assume this, but I would guess that my great-grandmother did much of the sewing by hand.  Here's a closer look at the stitching:
I love how she did the applique in black thread to outline the figures.  And just look at the quilting...all I can say is Wow!  My hand-sewing skills are barely adequate at best and I can't imagine having the patience to do something like this. 

This quilt is sized for a child at about three feet wide by five feet long.  It's been well-cared-for and I'm so glad that we have it.  I imagine that my great-grandmother took great joy in making this for her only granddaughter. 

Thanks for looking!