Friday, December 1, 2017

Well, I Swan.... Christmas is Coming!





Somehow we've arrived in December already! Doesn't time just seem to fly by? Going along with the previous stitch-and-stuff post, I thought I'd show you this Christmas Swan I just finished. It's another pre-printed panel that simply requires sewing on the lines and filling with fiber-fill. But this one is practically vintage. I found it on the freebies table at quilt guild and scooped it up. Decades ago I made one of these for a friend's Christmas gift. All the while I was making it, I was thinking, "they are going to think this is a weird gift" and I lacked confidence about presenting it to them. I mean really, who gives a stuffed swan for Christmas? Turns out, the funny thing was, they had seen an expensive white swan displayed among Christmas greens in a gift shop and really wished they could afford it. But alas, they could not. So they were quite thrilled when my white swan showed up in time for Christmas! It just proves again, that hand-made gifts are often exactly the right ones. Anyway, when I saw this swan, it took me back to that Christmas story, so I was happy to have a chance to make a white swan of my own to remind me.




"Well, I Swan" popped into my head the minute I saw the panel, so I had to look up the origin of the expression. Have you heard it before? Turns out it is Old English and used as an alternate way of saying "I swear" or "I declare." More recently, it's become an expression of surprise, used particularly in the South. That's how I use it. At any rate, I was delighted to find this treasure among the cast offs! Now I must get more Christmas projects underway.




Monday, November 20, 2017

Turkey and Stuffing....




Happy Thanksgiving! I have an affinity for stitch-and-stuff fabric items like these turkeys and pumpkin. The turkeys are vintage Cranston Fabrics panels, and I purchased these on eBay. Since our daughter's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, I decided she needed to have some stuffed decor to go with the feast she prepares.



And since I can't let things go to waste, I cut out the small turkey illustration that was on the panel and appliqued it to the center of this Checkerboard Dresden block. I had made one as a sample to try out the instructions, and it just happened to be in fall colors. So it became a table mat to go with the other sewn items.



Once I start a stitch-and-sew project, I usually sew a few others that have been waiting their turn. That's how this little blonde girl  and her companion bunny got finished at last. There are still a bear and a swan awaiting their stuffing. So I had an assembly line of projects all happening at once. The doll is posing with the Ghastlie figure shown in a previous post. All in the family!



And these two kitties got sewn- one is awaiting stuffing. Sometimes I find these projects on our "free table" at quilt guild. So I know I'm not alone in my affinity for them. It's fun to get them done all together. And now I'll look for their new homes.


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Day Trip to Downton Abbey... Part Two




Here is Part Two of highlights from the "Dressing Downton" exhibit at St. Augustine's Lightner Museum. What does one wear when being presented to the King and Queen of England during the Debutante Season in the early 1920s? Something lavishly beaded, lacy, and formal. And, according the the strict dress code, a headdress with three white Prince-of-Wales feathers attached to tulle veiling was required. The gray velvet dress on the right was worn by the Countess of Grantham, Lady Cora in Season 4.



This beaded silk dress was also one worn to Lady Rose's debutante ball in London.



Lady Mary Crawley wore this stunning dress of black net over light-color silk in the first season, circa 1913. The dress is embroidered with silver starbursts. This creation ranked near the top of my favorites, though it was not easy to choose favorites, the fashions were all so beautiful.



"Below stairs", the servants were garbed in black cotton dresses topped with decorative white ruffled aprons. Lady's Maid Anna Smith was often seen in this kind of garment in the early seasons of the show. Her job was to dress the Crawley daughters, choose their jewelry, and arrange their hair.



Lady Cora Crawley wore this fitted coat with black frogging and a large silk-trimmed hat during Season 1, circa 1913.



The museum had a nursery vignette set up with this lovely carved cradle and lace canopy, from their collection.



Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess, wore this purple day dress with a silk bolero and close-fitting hat in Season 1. The color was one permitted for those who were in "half-mourning" after a proper period of time had passed following a loss. The Crawleys had lost a family member in the Titanic disaster. Notice the clusters of grapes or wisteria on the lamp behind the dress. Another of my favorite pieces from the museum's collection.



Does it look as if I'm stalking the Crawley sisters? They were certainly fun to hang out with for the day. It does seem as if this exhibit is the final one in the tour which began at The Biltmore in Asheville, NC.



We worked up a hunger at the exhibit, so enjoyed this lovely salmon dish at La Pentola Restaurant nearby.



The Lightner is housed in the former Alcazar Hotel which was built by industrialist, founder of Standard Oil, and railroad magnate Henry Flagler in 1888. It houses Chicago publisher Otto Lightner's extensive collections of Victorian era decorative arts, and has a lovely collection of Tiffany glass. This is a stained glass image of St. Augustine.



One tidbit of note about the old Hotel Alcazar is that in the late 1800s, in addition to a casino and bowling alley, it also had the world's largest indoor swimming pool. You're looking at it here. Currently a restaurant and wedding venue, this was once a huge swimming pool where meets were held. Hotel guests could look down upon the pool from the mezzanine and upper level balconies. Learn more here, and see some photos of the watery phenomenon.

I may have just talked myself into watching the Downton Abbey series again!





Thursday, November 2, 2017

Day Trip to Downton Abbey, sort of...




Are you a fan of the PBS Masterpiece series Downton Abbey? The several seasons of the drama spanned the years from 1912 to 1926 in Great Britain. It told the story of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servant staff as they lived through epic historic events and social change. If you are a fan, the beautiful and memorable fashions of the era surely caught your eye. I had the opportunity recently to visit the Lightner Museum in St. Augustine where the "Dressing Downton" exhibit is on display until January. I may need to return for a second visit. It was wonderful! This dress was worn by the character Lady Rose MacClare, a Crawley relative in Season 4, era early 1920s.




Other than the clothing and the rugs, which were loaned for this exhibit, everything in the room settings is taken from the Lightner Museum collection. The docent explained that it took weeks to get things out of storage, cleaned, and arranged for this display. All the furnishings were safely on the third floor and ready for the exhibit when St. Augustine experienced flooding during September's Hurricane Irma. Every room setting was so thoughtfully put together, that each one was a large part of the enjoyment of my visit. This is Lady Mary Crawley's dress from Season 1, era 1913.




Lady Mary wore this dress in Season 2, era 1917-1920. It's pink silk with a black net overlay, stitched with sequins and beads.



One of the Crawley daughters, Lady Sybil became a nurse to support the World War I effort. This nurse's uniform represents the era 1918 during Season 2. It's shorter and less full than fashionable because of the shortage of cotton during the war.




The masculine wool breeches and tailored coat for women reflected the need for women to do "men's work" during and after the war. Lady Edith Crawley learned to drive a car and she rode a bike around the estate farm.





Finally, I was able to join the Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley; the Countess, Lady Cora Crawley; and the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley for an evening at the theater. I'll show some more of these wonderful fashions in an upcoming blog post. And I'll tell you a bit more about the museum, which is remarkable all on its own. Meantime, if you are near St. Augustine, Florida in the coming months, do try to see this exhibit! 



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hi... Remember Me?...




     Griselda Ghastlie is back, and this time she's got her entire family with her! Just in time for Halloween. She made her first appearance on the blog back in January, in this post, and she was the inspiration for our Fiber Art Bee's challenge. Members purchased one of the four figures featured on the fabric panel by Alexander Henry Fabrics and used it to make their own Ghastlie project. This month was the reveal, and what a fun day it was- a reunion of sorts for the Ghastlie Clan.



There's Griselda, standing in front of several family members dressed in their finest.




You can see a couple of the original fabric panels in front of Laura's Ghastlie trio.





There were even Ghastlie garments. Merri made her jacket using an Indygo Junction pattern and centered a Ghastlie Family in the center back.




In addition to Griselda, I also made this apron using a Sit a Spell panel, the caped Ghastlie to whom I added a derby with a cat sitting atop, some fabric paint, lots of lace and glitter, and some tulle ruffling.





We took a break from admiring the Ghastlies, to enjoy some spider and monster cookies. And then it was back to the festivities.





Joyce used Inktense Blocks to colorize her Ghastlie girl and stitched her into this wallhanging.





Michyle gave her Ghastlie girl a steampunk look by decoupaging her onto a canvas. She used so many techniques to complete her project, that I've lost count. But she foiled her hair and added glitter glue and a feather. She used discarded jewelry to embellish, including toe rings for the arm garters, and a locket for the cat portrait. Watch faces and parts are also in the piece, and Michyle recycled discarded frame corners to complete her asymmetrical wall art. There's even a disembodied, skeletal hand up top and a necklace dangling off the bottom. So creative!







Bonnie couldn't stop and she made an entire family collection, using roving for the hair and adding other embellishments.









Even tiny yo yos and buttons went into her pieces.


Sherry added bat wing eyebrows to the caped guy, and lots of colorful embellishments to the Ghastlie woman.




More family members...


And even more! The two women may be competing for the Ghastlie guy's attention, and I do believe he is blushing. Or nervous.




 And finally me, modeling my apron and holding Griselda. This was so much fun and everyone who participated really rose to the challenge. What will we do next???


Saturday, October 7, 2017

A September to Remember!




Phew! This blog has been sadly neglected for quite some time. Over a month at least. I've been busy creating, but have not shared in awhile. For one thing, we had Hurricane Irma blow through this area of Florida. While we did not suffer any property damage or flooding, thankfully, we were without power for a week. That was a very l-o-n-g week. And hot. Did I mention hot? The day power was restored was a happy, happy day.

But I have been working on projects, and even completing some. One is this Pop-Up Fringe Journal, the project from an online class taught by Roben-Marie Smith. It began its colorful new life as a discarded manila file folder.




The inside pages are full of found images and stitching. What's more fun than sewing on paper?


There are colorful tags stitched and tied with sari ribbon. The black tag has a more colorful reverse side seen in the next photo. There are lots of places to write in this fun little journal, and yet I don't seem to write in mine.



It's funny, because I love to write and make lists, and I love pens and markers, and I love making journals. 


 And yet, when it comes to writing in the journal, I find I have nothing to say! The exception is when I make travel journals. I manage to document places and activities then.



The paper I used for most of the elements in the journal is a piece of artwork made in another journaling class with Tiare Smith. I photocopied it, and enlarged it. Some of the pieces are also from Roben-Marie's Art Pops and downloads that come with the class enrollment.


The end. The back cover shows all the pop-ups and fringe that make this journal so appealing! It was a fun class.



And this weekend at our local library, I'll be presenting a lecture and "trunk show" of the many journals I've made in the past few years. Participants will get to make a simple accordion-folded journal of their own, with no sewing so they should be able to complete it in the time allowed. I made two models for the program which I'll share here in an upcoming post.



During September, a collections of my journals have been on display in the glass case at the library to generate some interest in the program. Apparently there has been a good deal of interest, so hopefully we will have a nice turnout. And hopefully I'll remember to take some photos so I can show you what participants come up with for their journals.

When I loaded the journals up in totes to deliver them to the library, I got a sense of how many I have. The saying "anything more than two is a collection" came to mind and I've got way more than two- it's definitely a collection.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Downeast Stitch Book...



We just returned from a refreshing visit to the state of Maine. It was a welcome respite from hot and humid Florida. It's referred to as "downeast", and in fact, that's the name of a magazine that celebrates Maine's history and culture. Early sailors navigating from Boston to Portland were sailing downwind and to the East-hence the term. While we were away, a brand new online class called "Stitch Bookery" taught by Mary Ann Moss of Dispatch from LA began. I watched some of the Week One videos and gathered photos and brochures I could use to make my first class project- this sewn, meander-style accordion book with a nautical Maine theme.



I've enrolled in other classes on Mary Ann's site and have enjoyed all of them. It's fun and relaxing (not to mention messy) to sift through paper and combine images to convey a story, or just to create a pleasing collage.


And using the sewing machine on paper scraps is indescribably soothing. The number tag 862? That is a piece of street litter. I walked by it every day on our way to the beach, and it caught my eye every time. Finally I said to myself, "If that's still there on my last beach walk, it's going in my journal." I was kind of half hoping it would not be there because I love using "found objects" in my projects, but road trash? Not so sure about that. But, there it was on the last day, so here it is in my book!


I used a canvas paper base for the book, and found it easier to bend and get under the needle for sewing than stiffer watercolor paper would be. The photo is of beautiful Perkins Cove, Maine, a pretty small port on the Atlantic.


Because of the way the book is folded, some of the pages needed to be stitched as panels before securing them into the book. That way the stitching of the page behind it is covered up.



Lobster is a recurring theme in the Downeast book, too. We had a few, and they do taste so sweet right there at the source. I did read that studies show that lobsters are migrating to colder waters of northern Maine.


This is the back cover, and features a lobster image seen through the clear window of an envelope. This is a four week class, so lots more ideas are in store. I'll be stitching and whistling my way through more stitched books.



Another class project is a small accordion book. I made an abbreviated version of stitched together panels on watercolor paper (gelli printed) layered with dyed cheesecloth and sentiments of healing for a friend undergoing surgery.