Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Pocketful of Pretty…



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This pretty bundle is wrapped and ready to mail for an Easter gift for a friend. The sentiment on it says “No matter how long the Winter, Spring is sure to follow.” She lives in Pennsylvania and is quite ready for Spring, given the harsh winter season that seems to be hanging on there. The idea for this project came from seeing Pocket Letters, the creation of Janette Lane. Basically you create a Pocket Letter beginning with a 9-pocket clear page like the ones used for trading cards. Then you fill each pocket with images and other goodies, add a letter to one of the pockets, fold it up and send it through the mail to a friend in a standard #10 envelope. They’re great projects for those who enjoy colorful fun mail combined with a bit of creativity. There’s even a swap network for people who love making them along with making new friends from around the world. I chose an Easter theme and found most of the beautiful images at the Graphics Fairy site where there are thousands of free images for use in craft projects. One thing I particularly enjoyed was the chance to use a variety of images. I have a hard time choosing just one when I’m making a greeting card or other project. This time I could download to my heart’s content!

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Here’s the front side of the page before folding. In addition to the images, I was able to add little bits of tatting, trims, buttons, and flowers to decorate the pockets. A Graphic 45 image (center row, right) combined well with the others and I used a selection of scrapbooking paper in fresh looking pastels to back the images.

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Here are some close-up photos of sections of the pocket page. Because they’re made from clear plastic, it’s a challenge to photograph them clearly without getting reflective shine.

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A few more of the images that really invited me to “think Spring.” Many of them seem to be from vintage greeting cards and contain a lot of pretty detail. I think it would be fun to make one of these with a dog or cat theme, and a beach theme. Those may be next.

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Can’t forget the back! I left the backs a bit more plain, but still added a few smaller images here. What does one do with a Pocket Letter? Since the pocket sheet protector is punched, they might collect them in a ring binder. I’m thinking my friend may want to take the cards out and use them in a journal of her own. But just a bit of joy coming in the mail is really quite enough for me. Easter blessings!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Building on the Past…


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There is just something about antique quilts that makes my heart beat a little faster. This display of Crazy Quilts can be found at The Suwannee Valley Shoppes in Trenton, FL. I love the warm, rich tones of the velvets in the one hanging on the wall, along with an almost stained-glass look to its tiny and random pieces. It didn’t resemble any Crazy Quilt I’d seen before.

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Neither did this one with its pieced sunflower blocks and fancy stitching in the centers. Lovely!

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The examples shown all date from the late-1800s and contain many unique elements that invite closer inspection. Look at the celluloid photo stitched into this beauty. And those lovely embroidery stitches- oh, my. It’s wonderful to see old quilts preserved and on display like this. Seeing them reminded me to share another part of the Sew Expo quilt exhibit I recently attended. In this case, today’s quilters built upon the past by completing old quilt tops with fancy machine quilting.

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The quilts you see here began as quilt tops in the collection of Brenda Groelz. Sponsored by Handi Quilter, several Handi Quilter instructors each completed a quilt top with the instructions to “quilt in a way the original quiltmaker would never have dreamed.” The quilts became part of an exhibit entitled “Heritage Quilts Made Modern.”

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The longarm quilters were truly masters of their craft as these examples illustrate. An interesting sidebar to these quilt tops is that nearly all of them had some special challenges for the longarmer to deal with- tops out of square, “blousy” fabric pieces within a block.

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It was astonishing to see how they met the challenges, and the creativity each quilter brought to her assigned quilt top.

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This close-up shows the density of the quilting, even inside the applique motifs. Stunning! I applaud the work each of the quilters did to turn the old quilt tops into a collaborative effort and to show them off in a new and exciting way. Some quilters have issues with completing old quilt tops. As for me, I doubt I’ll get all the tops finished in a lifetime, and I’d be happy to know someone might take my project to the finish line someday!

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Here’s my candidate for building on the past. I’d love to hand quilt this vibrant Dresden Plate, maybe using perle cotton thread and The Big Stitch, maybe in a peachy color. There’s a lot of white space around the blocks that would look good quilted and the background fabric is tightly woven. This is a someday project, and it joins many others! What’s your take on completing old quilt tops, or using old quilts in other projects?

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sew Expo, Sew Fun with a Little Steampunk!



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I joined a bus trip to the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Lakeland, Florida, this past week for an eye-popping time! What a treat to be surrounded by everything quilty, and more. The “and more” included the class I took titled “Almost Steampunk Junk.” Participants brought all sorts of metal and jewelry parts, beads, buttons, and charms. Our instructor brought even more, and we all dug in to make brooches, headbands, bracelets, necklaces- you name it. All we needed was a glue gun and some imagination. There were lots of sample pieces to inspire us, along with rubbing compounds in various colors, and hard felt to use as the base of our pieces. I’m not sure what these will be as yet- possibly brooches, or maybe the focal piece on a fabric journal cover. I’m afraid I’ve started yet another avenue of interest. I always say my problem is that I want to make at least one of everything! And look- I made two.


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There were two large rooms at the event filled with vendors. Here’s what came home in my shopping bag. Abbey Lane Quilts had their patterns on sale. Barb Originals had kits to make Treasure Bags from a silk tie or quilt fragments. I love little bags! Fabrics abounded and I purchased this wonderful rust dyed fabric from Art Quilt Textiles as well as some batiks from Vogue Fabrics Store. I was not familiar with them, but they had many wonderful products in addition to fabrics of all kinds. We received two shopping bags with our entrance fee, but I filled only one. Remarkable restraint, wouldn’t you say?


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There were lots of quilts on display, including the Double Wedding Ring International Quilt Challenge. This quilt is titled “Organic Pink Pickles” by Karen Williamson. It’s always interesting to see different takes on the same quilt pattern, especially when it’s made modern.


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“Shadow Play” by Meg Crowley really used value contrast very effectively, while low contrast was the goal of the quilt below.


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One of the trends in Modern Quilts is the use of low-volume fabrics to achieve subtle variation in the design rather than strong contrast. This is “Low Key Rings” by Colleen Molen. I like how she used prints to achieve texture in her quilt even though there is not a lot of value contrast.

I’ll share some more of the display quilts in my next post. If one of the sewing expo 3-day events is in your area, I certainly recommend that you attend if you can. The teaching staff includes some very well-known names like Nancy Zieman of Nancy’s Notions, June Colburn, and quilter Shar Jorgenson. There are plenty of free demos and special events, plus outstanding door prizes. The day we went, a Bernina sewing machine and a Juki serger were the top two prizes. It was a treat to attend and to see the great interest in home sewing.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Merrily We Roll Along…



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Similar to potato chips, one is not enough when making Snippet Rolls. I fished around in the lace and trim bins and assembled two more of these little bundles of pretty. See that cat image in the upper right? It’s an iron-on that’s been waiting in the sewing room for several years for just the right project. It’s a bit of a surprise it wasn't lost in the shuffle before finding a home in this Snippet Roll! The ruched flower is the one I learned to make in a mini-class. These sweet little rolls are the perfect home for those one-of-a-kind items that wind up in the sewing room because I can’t bear to throw them away. You can see the previous one here, and find a tutorial for making them on Carole Brungar's Madness and Mess blog here.


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Here are the two unrolled so you can see what other snippets grace each one. They’re a challenge to photograph given their long, skinny perspective.


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Because I love text on fabrics and vintage images, both of those elements needed to be a part of the Snippet Roll I plan to keep, above. The bead is one received an a handmade bead swap. Such detail and shine! It needed to be showcased.


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A doily, velvet flower spray, resin heart, metal tag, scissors charm and a hang-tag pin all combine to add a bit of weight to the end of this roll. It's a gift for a friend. I think a lot of the appeal of these small projects is that they give me a chance to look through all the odd bits I’ve accumulated over the years, and to combine them in such a pleasing way. They play well together. And the rolls are relatively quick to make unless you’re a person who can’t stop adding just a little more. I’m that way, and have to finally call a halt. Otherwise I could be stitching away for another week.


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The inspiring Thoreau quote printed on muslin certainly added to this one. And another handmade paper bead anchors the top, right next to the tea-dyed fabric flower. One thing that I notice as I’m working on a Snippet Roll is that one or two more begin to emerge as I group things that seem to go together while sifting through the items. I actually started out to make one roll this time, and just look what happened. I tend to do that same thing when making greeting cards and prayer flags, too. But that’s the joy of playing in the sewing room.


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I also recently participated in a class taught at our guild by Pat Sloan. I have always loved her whimsical folk-art style, and guild members waited a long time for Pat to come visit Ocala as her schedule is booked up far in advance. She was worth the wait! The above photo shows our class sample for "Wild and Free." Our task for the day was to learn to combine fabrics for the lively background.


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Pat brought several samples of backgrounds for us to study, and she walked us through the method she uses for combining fabrics. We each brought bins and tubs full of fabric possibilities, and Pat provided the coaching we needed to pull together the fabrics for our backgrounds.

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Mine took a tropical turn when I pulled out a piece of palm print and then found some interesting go-with fabrics that have lots of texture. It’s laid out but not pieced yet. And who knows what I’ll use for the fusible applique elements, which Pat covered in day two of the workshop. That’s a challenge for another day. But I’ll be sure to post it here when it’s finished. I get lots of projects going at once, and the sewing room is often in turmoil. However, a good percentage of my projects do make it to the finish line ultimately!