Saturday, March 24, 2018

Can You Judge a Book By Its Cover?

What's more fun than making your own good book? And every bit of it is recycled or upcycled! This handmade journal began with a bit of denim, an image from decorator fabric sample, and vintage linens. And I added a few experimental things like the fiber bead at the bottom of the roses and the wrapped and beaded cord couched along the spine.

There's so much texture happening on the cover, that it needed to continue on the pages inside. That's where a video by Kristen Robinson came in. You can see a preview clip of it here. Kristen showed how to use the vellum liners from cereal and cracker packages to make wonderfully crinkly and transparent pages for a journal! What fun this was to make.

Things are embedded in the pages by pressing them between two layers, using a non-stick pressing sheet to protect the iron. Then some stitching and paint are added before binding the pages into the book.

Even interesting little thread nests can be included. You can see the brown and white twine I chose to bind the book in this center spread.

The doily just begged to be included and I like how it looks when seeing through various layers.

Ledger paper and sheet music along with the hearts give this book a vintage feel. And the painted areas can be used for journaling. I haven't tried writing on the pages yet (for some reason I tend not to write in my journals), but Kristen says that permanent markers like a Sharpie or paint pens will work well. I wish you could hear the sound when picking up the book or turning the pages- it's so crackly and inviting!

The back of the book needs texture, too, so here is another decorator fabric sample with some embroidery on it. The lace wrap is a vintage piece of crochet that will be used as a closure. It's not stitched in place yet, and will need a button attached at the front for easy opening and closing.

Well as you can see, cracker packaging now occupies some space in my sewing room. No wonder it gets so full of a strange assortment of supplies!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Meditative Mandalas...

My, but these geometric circle diagrams are so soothing to work on. And I can't seem to stop. I'm enrolled in an online course titled Mandala Madness taught by Barb Owen at How to Get Creative. There are more than ten video projects that Barb walks us through. I'm enjoying them all, but the Zendala shown here may be my favorite. It's a combination of Zentangle-inspired art and the Mandala. I gave several of my black pens, a pencil and blending stump a workout completing it.

Barb does everything mixed media, fiber art, sewing and more. So of course I want to make everything she does. One of our lessons was making Mandalas on fabric using Sharpie markers and metallic paint. I used one of the pieces in a journal cover.  The results are completely unpredictable which adds to the fun. As you can see in the fabric underneath the journal, some of the markers did not bleed, but retained the freely drawn shape.

I added free-motion quilting to the piece used in the journal.

This began with plain white muslin and is ready to become something else now.

We also learned to draw Mandalas on paper, then color them in with inexpensive markers. Each one follows a pattern. This is the basic 8-section Mandala.

A 6-section one. I'm a big fan of adult coloring books, so to have my own drawings to color adds yet another element to the enjoyment. And it is meditative. Mindless or mindful, whichever you prefer to call it.

 And a 12-section one. I will probably go back to each one to add more penwork and embellishments. Plus there are several lessons I have yet to complete.

Some time ago, I also took a Mandala Magic class with Alisa Burke. This pink one was one of my first efforts. And the card is a representation of her artwork that was sent along with an order. I've placed the paper Mandalas in a Dylusions square journal with black cardstock pages. They stand out so nicely against the black background.

There are lots of pages in the journal, so I'm also using it to display artwork from others I've received in the mail or in swaps. This Betty Boop card is one that Robbie Payne of Robbie's Paw Prints blog made from a quilt image and sent for Valentine's Day. Isn't Betty just full of personality?

And these are some ATC's from a swap I joined several years ago. The journal keeps them all corralled and it's fun to leaf through. All the wonderful color keeps me inspired.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Fun Quilt Class with Quiltville's Bonnie Hunter...

Our quilt guild has been anticipating a visit from Bonnie Hunter for several years, and she finally came to town to present to a packed house. Organizers had booked her far in advance and she did not disappoint. Bonnie's energy, enthusiasm, and positive attitude are admirable. And her methods for cutting and sewing her wonderful scrap creations are well-thought-out and efficient. This centerpiece quilt demonstrates how the simple strips and shapes cut from scraps shown at the top of her quilt can combine to make so many appealing patchwork blocks.

Known for using assorted fabric scraps and for her "leaders and enders" system of sewing efficiently, Bonnie had piles of her colorful quilts to show us during her trunk show program. The guild members had a show-and-tell in which they displayed more than 30 quilts they'd made using her patterns and methods. Several were based on her popular mystery quilt series. I showed one of mine made using her Scrappy Trips blocks.

The day after the lecture, 40 happy quilters showed up at our meeting place to learn and sew a Pineapple Blossom quilt like Bonnie's sample shown here. Bonnie offers many free patterns and tutorials on her website, linked above.

We made good progress on our blocks and enjoyed visiting and chatting while we sewed. Here are some of my tablemates at work. Most of the light in the room came from our machines and plug-ins, so pardon the photography. Quite a few members like to bring their vintage Singer Featherweight machines to class because they are so portable and reliable. Bonnie had the opportunity to sew in her hotel room using a guild member's Featherweight that was once owned by Aunt Bee of Mayberry fame. She was delighted and wrote about the experience here on her blog.

But the raciest model is this custom painted purple one! Debra Johnston was sewing on it, and it's one restored by her husband Johnny, The Old Sewing Machine Man. I don't know if that color made it sew faster, but Debra did get a lot of blocks completed.

We'll be making 20 blocks total, and worked on 12 of them during class. Here are four of mine arranged side-by-side to show one way they can be set together. I'm about halfway done with my blocks, so it will be awhile before I can share the finished project. If you visit Bonnie's YouTube video of her day in Ocala, you'll see more images. I'm in her video wearing an orange/blue plaid shirt and just one shoe. I'm most comfortable sewing barefoot. How about you?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

And the Tie Goes To...

Homage to Menswear, an upcycled quilt project made from years-worth of my husband's neckties and ones gifted to me by his co-workers. The bag of ties had hung around the sewing room long enough! They needed to find a home in a project. And this is the result.

While I was deconstructing and preparing the ties, I noticed that the labels were pretty interesting, too. Hidden away on the back of the neckties, they needed to face front and be part of this recycling effort. While most of the ties are paisley, dots, stripes and other standard menswear, a few maverick prints stood out. Notably, this one of the children's artwork. It was from a tie produced as a fundraiser for UNICEF some years back. 

There were a couple of "joke" ties in the collection, too. My husband worked in banking, so the money tie was a fun addition. The decorative stitches also serve as the quilting in this piece, sewn in Crazy-Quilt style.

Still lots of silk pieces and labels left over, so I turned them into Prairie Points and added them to the bottom edge of the quilt. The beads serve as a little sparkle, plus they weight the silk because it wanted to curl a bit.

And once I got the beads out to add them to the quilt.... well, I HAD to get in a little more practice at making charms. So many pretty beads. It's fun to work with them. I find that nearly everything quilty or crafty appeals to me so much that I want to try every kind of project! Of course that leads to a remarkable amount of fabric and supplies. But I'm working my way through, bit by bit. Up next? Mandalas! Paper ones, fabric ones, and who knows what else? Stay tuned. The Mandalas are coming.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Charmed and Tagged for 2018...

This accordion-fold sewn book almost put itself together. I wanted a quiet but quick project to work on over the holiday week, and this was just the ticket. Pawing through paper scraps and images was relaxing and fun. And so is sewing on paper! After taking Mary Ann Moss's online class Stitch Bookery last summer, there are so many papers that just beg to be sewn into a book. This one began by making tags from black cardstock.

Next came collaging various images and background papers into small, pleasing layouts. To secure the papers I used decorative machine stitches rather than glue. I did discover that my sewing machine occasionally skips stitches when sewing on paper. Maybe if I slow down a bit it would help.

I also discovered that not all decorative stitches are suited to sewing paper. Any that sew in one spot repreatedly to form the pattern are likely to perforate the paper so much that it can't hold together. Noted. Junk mail, calendar images, pretty scrapbooking papers can all be found in this sewn tag book. And each hole is looped with crinkle ribbon for a pretty topper.

And what book is complete without its own jewelry? After exchanging hand-made fiber beads at Christmas, I decided to use some of them as charms on the hair band closure of the book. It's a first foray into bending wire and forming the charms and it's a bit hard on the hands. There is more to learn about this technique, but I am a willing pupil! After all, I know I have more paper and images that need to reside in a tag book of their own. And they, too, will need jewelry.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Happiest of Holidays... Peace, Love, Hope

Christmas crafts abound right now in my sewing room. This little paper journal is one of the projects I've recently completed. It's got sewing, gluing, embellishing, stamping, painting- you name it. And it's an exploding book. I'll show you what that means in some of the following photos.

In addition to the book, I also joined in a group project to make tags. Here's one example of that effort on the right.

 An exploding book is one that has many surfaces inside to decorate with images and paint, stamps, tape, and ephemera. Those surfaces are the "pages" so to speak in this book. The fun part is that it folds this way, then that way, front and back, so that it opens out in a long line of colorful paper goodness. Here are the opening images- don't you love the little baker rolling out the cookie dough?

Since the book has so many angles and facets, it's not easy to photograph. I hope you get the idea from this picture. This is just the front side.

And here is the festive paper chaos our journal group shared on the way to making our tags. Paper crafters are like quilters in their willingness to share supplies. And choices proliferate- scraps make more scraps. But it's so enjoyable to dig in and see what everyone comes up with for a design. And, as I'm sure you know, other people's scraps are always more interesting than our own!

These whimsical elves and reindeer added some spark to my tag, along with that wonderful fiber tie.

And the project for a Christmas swap at the Fiber Bee was to make hand-made fiber or other beads. This is the wonderful assortment I got in the swap. In 2018 I plan to try out some jewelry making in order to use these in some kind of wearable. We'll see where that goes!

Merry Christmas to all!

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.