Monday, January 18, 2021

It's a Little Chili...


Hello to 2021! It's a chilly start to the year in Florida. When we first moved here from upstate New York, we were surprised at how cold it feels in Florida. After all, we were used to really cold winters with sub-zero temperatures. I thought it would be all shorts and flip flops once we moved here some 20+ years ago. But somehow, when the mercury drops, the cold temps in this state are really sharp and penetrating. We've had several frosts and below-freezing temps in the past few weeks. The horses have had heavy blankets on at night, and lights in their stalls. And the dogs have worn their coats for part of the day.  Of course, comparatively with other states, cold is a relative statement. But the cold might surprise you, too. While going through some things in my sewing room, I came across this little wall quilt I made for a guild challenge a few years back. It seemed a good reflection of the cold. This shivering chili pepper has turned blue from the cold and dressed for it, too. The challenge was "Play on Words". So "Chilly Pepper" was the idea I came up with. All the best and blessings to you for 2021!

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Festive Holiday Gloves...


How long has it been since you have worn gloves as a fashion accessory rather than for a practical purpose such as winter warmth or protection from harsh tasks? I've always liked gloves, but they have long fallen out of fashion it seems. That is until a recent online Stitch Club workshop with textile artist Jennifer Collier. You can see some of Jennifer's creations here- she's referred to as a "paper pioneer". Paper and stitch sculptures are her forte and she instructed us in making fancy paper gloves! So there's no practical purpose here- just pure decoration and fun. Why paper gloves you may ask? Why not, I say.

Here's the back of the glove. My holiday gloves began with a recycled gift bag. A real glove was the basis for a template and the rest was cutting, stitching, and embellishing to give the piece a realistic look. We pierced, then stitched, the edges and the thumb piece. Piercing first gave the paper more stability and less likelihood to rip. We had the option to machine sew, but I like the look of the cotton floss stitching. Of course, technically, this is a half pair since I made only one glove.

I found some interesting information on gloves throughout history at The Wardrobe Shop blog. There I learned about gloves as indicators of social status and the etiquette for wearing gloves- a proper woman was to "never go out without gloves." But what interested me more was the information about gloves and health. Particularly during the 1800s, contagious diseases were rampant. Gloves provided the barrier between the body and environment, and helped stop the spread of germs. I bought these gloves at the beginning of the current pandemic when it was thought that contact with surfaces caused the spread of the virus. It made sense to me to wear gloves at that time, and I found these pretty lined lacy ones online. 

They haven't gotten much use since the guidelines changed. But look at this nifty addition to the glove fingers. It's a pad that allows you to use touch screen electronics while still wearing the gloves! Ingenious. I remember as a child that a distant aunt opened a glove shop in a nearby city. That would fall into the category of "anachronistic" since there's probably not a glove shop in business today, other than online. According to Wardrobe Shop, "Today, wearing gloves as anything other than outerwear is extremely rare." *Sigh* Isn't that too bad? 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

On Needles and Pins...


One thing about an interest in sewing is that I've also developed an interest in sewing notions and tools. Pin cushions are included in that interest. Many of you are likely familiar with the traditional red tomato pin cushion, many of which have an emery-filled strawberry attached to keep needles sharp. But there are many other novel and stylish pin cushions as well. Our guild recently held a Zoom program on making pin cushions, and I participated by showing some of the ones I've made. A lot of mine start with a common household container and are based on the simple stitched yo-yo. The one shown above is a Dollar Tree stemmed cordial glass filled with floral stone for weight. The pin cushion itself is a yo-yo made from cotton knit, stuffed with fiber fill and wrapped with floss. I used E600 glue to adhere the yo-yo permanently into the glass. Just a pretty bauble with a handy function.

This one is teeny, tiny. It's a vintage salt cellar with a cotton yo-yo stuffed and adhered inside. I'm a fan of the idea that a pin cushion should sport some fancy jewelry, too. While it can hold lots of pins and needles, the addition of a little bling just dresses things up. I use long corsage pins from the floral department, coat the shaft with a bit of E6000 and slide on various beads. Letting the piece dry with the beads below the pin point helps to avoid shifting. To accomplish this, I stick the  beaded pin into a piece of styrofoam, beads down until the glue is dry.

I found this vintage swan in a thrift shop for change. I think it was originally a ring or jewelry holder. So I filled the open area by gluing a small bit of styrofoam at the bottom. That provided lift for the cotton yo-yo which is glued on top. 

And a glass Dollar Tree toothpick holder became the base for this pin cushion. These are so easy and fun to make. Several of these little treasures will be donated to The Shoppe which will be the gift shop at Country Road Quilters' upcoming 20201 quilt guild show in Ocala next November. The show was rescheduled from 2020, so we have lots of time to fill The Shoppe with little pretties for show-goers to peruse. And you might want to check out the 2021 opportunity quilt Anniversary Crown at the guild website.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

DIY Sewing Machine...


Things have been quiet in the sewing room lately. However, I've always admired collage quilts designed by Laura Heine. So when our guild offered a class to learn the methods for making one, I was happy to sign up. That was last Spring when the class had to be postponed due to the pandemic. At last the guild found a large and well-ventilated classroom where a small group could safely meet to have the long-awaited class. I chose the #5 collection in the Teeny Tiny pattern series which included this sewing machine along with a dress form and a pin cushion design. This project will measure about 16" x 24" once complete. All sorts of little fabric motifs are at home in a collage quilt. A quilting friend shared her Singer and sewing scraps for some of them. This project is almost ready to be quilted. But before that, I need to study it for a bit to see if there are any further additions or adjustments to make. What would you add? Collage quilts are imaginative and fun... and fussy. Quite enjoyable all in all.

And I just wanted to show you this unusual visitor to our barn. I've never seen a snail quite like it before, so had to snap his photo and look up some information on it. Mainly I wanted to see if it was toxic to animals since we have several. It's a Rosy Wolfsnail. They are somewhat exotic and are considered invasive since they dine on other snails and slugs and can eradicate the snail population. Have you seen one like it? Florida certainly has its share of unusual creatures.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

A Quilter's Hideaway...


Welcome to the "Wee Tropical Forest Cottage" made in response to an art quilt challenge titled "My Dream Home." The background got its start in Textile Artists Stitch Club, an online group. It's layered with an assortment of painted and stamped fabrics along with hand-embroidered stitches. Can you spot me floating in the sky above the little hideaway? I'm contemplating all the fun quilts and stitched projects that will come to life in my tiny cottage. I made the quilt in a random free-form shape determined by the fabric edges. That posed a challenge for finishing the quilt edge so I applied braided fiber edging to it which let me keep the shape.

The mushroom roof is colorfully beaded and and the house is tucked away, safe and sound in a beautiful location. I'm pretty sure I'll be stitching happy in my little cottage! This was a fun and creative project which is just what I needed as there are no big quilts underway at the moment. It helped to counter some lethargy that seems to have creeped in lately. Our group has some more fun small projects coming up so I'm looking forward to them. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Wonderful Watercolor...


I'm trying to make friends with watercolors. They are so darn uncontrollable that I get frustrated when using them. But we've become better friends now that I found artist Joanne Sharpe's series of Art Sparks classes. She offers nicely-priced, project classes based on using watercolors and gouache (which was new to me). The fabric covered book above is a concertina style book with a loose and flowy look.

I made it in her Art Sparks 2: Color. Collage. Concertina. Joanne offers instruction for making the basic book and painting in it, and then leads students through adding all sorts of embellishments, including the use of paint pens and addition of pockets. It's a lot of fun.

Small art bits like the flowers and words shown here get glued into the book to add to the colorful fun.

Doodles and freeform color splashes add interest, too.

While it's not fully embellished yet, this butterfly may land on the back cover of my flowery concertina book. Actually, the fun of the book is that it can be added to and embellished at any time... it's never fully "done" as long as there's a new idea to try. "More is more" is the byword here!

This small faith-themed book is one I made in Art Sparks 1: Words and Watercolor. Never a fan of my own handwriting, I appreciate Joanne's encouraging teaching style that keeps me plugging away at writing whimsical style words. I added sari silk ribbon and a handmade boho bead to the spine of this little gem.

"Swimming" color and loose blooms are two exercises we tried out in making our background pages. I've also taken Art Sparks 3: Pockets Full of Posies and am preparing for Art Sparks 4: The Doodle Book. What is it about making books, splashing paint around, and adding fun touches that makes me unable to stop? It's just so enjoyable and satisfying. Another thing I like about Joanne's classes is the number of samples she shows of her own work. So inspiring! I'll be back with a Doodle book soon. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Stuck in a Corner...

While cleaning and organizing in the sewing room, I found one corner that I couldn't get past without getting busy on a couple of projects awaiting me there. One project I'd been wanting to get to is this journal cover using a piece of original owl fabric made by Celeste Beck of Goatfeathers Studio. I received it as part of our Fiber Art Bee swap of hand-painted or stamped fabric pieces. I love the imagery and wanted to feature it on a cover.

There are a couple of coordinating pieces she made to go with the owl-one is on the back (shown below) and another  may become a pocket inside. Adding the embellishments was a fun task. I still need to decide what type of pages will get bound inside, but at least the cover is now ready for use.

Waiting in that same corner was this little wooden tray. One of our Country Road Quilters members demonstrated how to make these with our favorite quilting fabrics lining the bottom on a recent Zoom meeting (take a look at the guild's beautiful opportunity quilt at the link above- we won't be having our planned quilt show this year so the quilt can be seen there). I can see I don't have such a steady hand while painting so this will need a little touch-up before getting its final coat of polyurethane finish. It's just right for trinkets or small sewing supplies.


And look who else was awaiting me in the corner! This fleece cutie just needed his features and some stuffing to take him over the finish line. He's ready to share his love with someone. And I think I'll be stuck in this corner for awhile because there are several more project to share with you once they are done.