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.

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???