Posts tagged ‘design’
Here are some photos of my latest quilting project. OK, it was over a month ago, but better late than never, right?
I designed this pattern myself (drawing inspiration from many quilting bloggers.) I enjoy the process of sketching everything out on paper. It’s sort of like a puzzle because you’re trying to make the dimensions of the quilt work with the dimensions of the fabric, backing, and batting that you have on hand. Of course, when you work that way you never quite know how things will look when you’re done, but that’s part of the fun.
I improvised each of the twelve squares and then framed each one using several different white fabrics. You probably can’t tell from the picture but some of the white borders are gingham, some are subtle polka-dots, and some are adorned with cherries. If you click on the photo, you can see a little more detail.
I used Warm and Natural needled cotton batting for the first time, and I LOVE it! The needled cotton feels so much nicer than polyester and is also easier to work with. Rather than machine-quilting, this time I hand-tied at the four corners of each of the twelve squares.
Of course, as with nearly any finished project, I think I would do a few things differently next time. I keep meaning to make my own binding and hand-sew it, but never seem to leave myself enough time to do it. That would really give things a more finished look, I think. I also want to try this method of putting the whole thing together next time, as this is my least favorite part of the process and is usually the point where things start to get wonky. One of these days, when I finish a project and feel that I wouldn’t change a thing (if that ever happens!) I’d like to create a PDF pattern and make it available here.
I finally made something from Bend-the-Rules Sewing by Amy Karol (also known as Angry Chicken.) I was flipping through it looking for something to make for my aunt Susan’s birthday (I won’t say which birthday it is, but let’s just say it involves “over the hill” wrapping paper and black balloons.) When I saw the “Charming Handbag” project., I thought it looked like a really simple and pretty bag so I decided to try it out.
Based on this first project, I am impressed with the book so far. This bag was really easy to make and is truly do-able for a beginner (which is unusual for a handbag.) I had one gripe with the instructions (specifically: step 6 should tell you how to lay out the lining and fabric pieces before you sew them. If you are making this bag, lay them out in the following order from bottom to top: first a flannel piece, then a lining piece right side UP, then a lining piece right side DOWN, then another flannel piece.)
Of course, I made few alterations of my own. I enlarged the pattern about 10% and added a snap to hold it closed. I appliquéd a piece of fabric to the front instead of using ribbon, and I sewed on three buttons instead of making a bow. I also used fleece as a facing instead of flannel, as the instructions called for. This made the bag a little more difficult to sew but made it much sturdier in the end.
Next time, I think I’ll stick with the flannel facing and try using a home-decorator weight fabric on the outside. I usually have trouble finding heavier-weight fabrics that I like, but I’ve seen some gorgeous ones lately. Feast your eyes on these lovelies:
Remember Shrinky Dinks? I remember coloring those plastic sheets as a kid, cutting out the characters and baking them until they’d turned into little plastic toys. I can’t remember exactly which ones I had, but they were probably Smurfs or Strawberry Shortcake or something along those lines. By today’s standards these toys might seem a bit dull. But to me, they were thrilling.
These days, you can buy blank sheets of the plastic and design your Shrinky Dinks yourself. I’d been thinking of playing around with Shrinky Dinks for a while now, and our puppy needed a new ID tag, so it seemed like the perfect chance to try them out. I started with shrink film by Grafix, which I bought at the craft store. (Next time I’m going to see if the flat portion of a plastic takeout container will work just as well, which would be a great way to upcycle it.) Using sharpies, I drew a penny (three inches in diameter) and added Penny’s name and our phone number.
Then I cut out the circle and used a hole punch near the top edge. I put it on a cookie sheet between two pieces of parchment paper and baked at 350 degrees for three minutes. While baking, the plastic curls up and then flattens down again. It should be mostly flat by the time you take it out of the oven. If it’s slightly curved when you take it out of the oven, you can flatten it with a spatula. After the tag cooled, I coated it with Modge Podge to seal in the color.
Ta-dah! Now Penny is stylin’ with her own custom dog tag.
This was just as much fun as I remember. I’m looking forward to experimenting with other projects using shrinky film. It’s so quick and easy! I’m thinking about making magnets, wine charms, quilting pins, and custom eyes and noses for softies. More shrinky projects to come!
Last weekend I made a quilted picnic blanket. My last project, this baby quilt, reminded me how much I enjoy the process of designing a quilt. Its tiny size, however, made me forget how much more time-consuming making larger quilts can be. Even this project, which is relatively small at about 62 inches by 62 inches and is relatively simple in design, was a lot of work! Of course, as is usually the case, I started out with a somewhat simpler plan and decided to get a little more elaborate as I went along. I worked most of the kinks out this time though, and I’m sure it will go much faster next time I make one of these.
You know you have a substantial fabric stash when you’re able to put together a quilt like this one with coordinating fabrics without going to the store! Most of these fabrics were left over from old projects, and a couple were fabrics I bought without knowing what I’d do with them (which I’m trying to stop doing, now that the cabinet I keep my stash in is full, but that’s another story.)
Here’s the plan I drew up:
I made the center out of small squares, about 8 inches, in a 4 by 4 pattern. Then I did a border of the larger squares, which were 16 inches.
If you want to attempt this pattern, I recommend cutting the small squares a bit larger, say 8.5 or 9 inches, sewing four of them together to form a larger square, and then cutting the large square to 16 inches. Then everything will line up better. I learned this (as usual) the hard way. The problem arises because four 8-inch squares sewn together are not exactly 16 by 16… they are somewhat smaller because of the seam allowance! I tried to fix the problem by using double the seam allowance when I sewed the larger squares together. What I would do next time is make a 16 inch cardboard square and cut a circular hole directly in the center of it. Then I would use that hole to center my large square (made from four small squares) and then cut it to exactly 16 inches. Then the large squares and the small squares would line up perfectly.
For the back, I trimmed the selvedges off of a piece of fabric that was 45 inches wide. I needed to add about 20 inches of width so I cut 8 squares using a legal-size FedEx envelope, which was 10 inches by 16 inches, as a template. (Shhh, don’t tell FedEx I misappropriated one of their envelopes, they get rather upset about this kind of thing.)
I added triangular corner pockets to the back side of the quilt, to put rocks into for holding the blanket down. I got the idea from this tutorial, which was my starting point in designing this quilt. (Of course, I had to make things more complicated.) I recommend checking out that tutorial for much more detailed instructions than I have written here, and very helpful photos.
I thought about adding ribbon ties to the center of one side so that the blanket could be folded into thirds, rolled up, and tied together neatly for travel. I would probably make the ties from double-fold bias strips from a coordinating fabric, or possibly from twill tape. I didn’t add them though, because I thought they might be bothersome when the blanket was being used for other things, like cuddling up on the couch on a chilly night. (Did you ever use a sleeping bag as a comforter and wake up with those darn ties stuck to your face, or is it just me?) I’d love some input on this idea, and maybe I’ll try it next time.
At the last minute, I decided to quilt the layers together, rather than hand-tie them. I really love that quilted look, although even when quilting by machine it is time-consuming to make sure all the layers are laying flat as you sew them. I think I need to buy a walking foot. Maybe that will make this part of the process easier. Or maybe I will just hand-tie next time. Does anyone have an opinion on whether either method is preferable for a picnic blanket?
Forgive the blanket for looking a bit rumpled in the photos. That’s what happens when you roll around on a pretty picnic blanket with your puppy.
For my birthday, my mother gave me (among other goodies) a couple of craft magazines, and I found lots of inspiration within their pages.
The two photos below are of fabric collages that captured my imagination. These could be created around any theme for any room in the house. Wouldn’t they look cool matted and framed?
Below is a picture of adinkra, a stamping technique used on cloth that originated in Ghana. This caught my attention because I have been thinking about the possibility of silk-screening or freezer-paper stenciling fabric. Adinkra cloth is made up of panels which are hand-stamped and then embellished with stitching. The symbols in the picture below are traditional, but I think their simplicity gives them a modern feel.
You know that lumpy, stringy stuff you cut off the ends of your new fabric after you’ve washed and dried it? Can you believe it can be turned into a beautiful landscape quilt? This one reminds me of Van Gogh. Maybe it’s the swirly quilting lines in the sky.
Check out the magazines for detailed instructions. The fabric collages are from the May/June 2008 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, and the adinkra and landscape quilt are from the June/ July 2008 issue of Quilting Arts. Let your imagination run wild!
I’ve always been drawn to cute things. In college, I carried around what little money I had in a plastic Keroppi wallet. I was in my early twenties then, and I probably figured that it was something I would, or should, grow out of.
While living in Japan in my mid-twenties, I was introduced to a culture in which it is very common and completely acceptable for grown adults to revel in a level of cuteness previously reserved for the toddler set. In Japan, cuteness is absolutely everywhere you look. A sign on a subway train may inform you that you are in a non-smoking car, but chances are it will be a gentle reminder coming from a cartoon cat. Check out the mascot for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police:
“Obey the laws, or I’ll wink at you and giggle!”
In the picture below I am posing with the Onibaba, an evil witch rumored to inhabit the mountains in the town where I lived. When she gets hungry, she lures children into caves and eats them alive. If you can look past the horns and the sharp teeth, she’s pretty cute, don’t you think? That’s how she gets you.
Cute is definitely in, and it’s not just for the Japanese any more! The article above discusses the trend in Australia, but I certainly see it here in the US as well, and I’m all for it. The next time I blog, I’ll show you what happens when the new cute makes its way into your lunchbox. Come hungry.
I love my new sofa! It’s going to look so great in our new place. This shade of green is just perfect. Only at IKEA can you buy a sofa in pieces and fit it comfortably in the backseat of a tiny Kia Sportage!
The icing on the cake is that the people who will be moving into our old apartment (which is kind of surreal to think about) are very happy to be inheriting our old couch. We won’t have to move it (which is a big deal because it’s pretty huge) and I won’t have to feel guilty about it going into a landfill, so it’s a win-win situation!
Let the sewing of throw pillows begin.
When my Anthropologie catalog arrived last week, I was immediately drawn to these photographs. It’s a crafter’s dream– an upholstered HOUSE. Look closely– the artwork on the walls is made of cloth. The paneling on the walls and the doors is all needlework. Even the light switches are stuffed! Impractical, yes. But so pretty!
I have house and home on the brain these days because we’ll be moving at the end of the month. We’ve been in Salem for three years now, which is the longest I’ve stayed anywhere in a really long time. There’s definitely something to be said for sticking around for a while and really getting to know a place. In some ways I’ll be sad to leave Salem because there are lots of things about this little city that I’ll miss. I’m really going to miss being able to wander around downtown on a whim. I love just heading down there on a warm Saturday with no idea where I’ll end up. Sometimes as I walk around the back streets of the Derby Wharf area or past the McIntire mansions of Chestnut street, I feel like I’m transported through time. I imagine what life was like here a hundred years ago, or two hundred years ago. I can almost hear the clatter of horses’ hooves as they pull carriages through the cobblestone streets. Oh wait, that IS the clatter of of horses’ hooves as they pull carriages (full of toursists) through the cobblestone streets.
I’ll miss seeing the harbor every day and smelling the salty air. I’ll miss brunch at Red’s, the Peabody-Essex Museum (which has a really cool photo exhibit of the art of Maori tattoos right now, check it out!), and frozen yogurt delivery until 11:00 pm! (Sometimes, you just gotta have it in your pajamas.) Of course, I’m NOT going to miss the traffic, trying to park downtown during a snow emergency, or shopping at the black hole that is Salem Market Basket.
As for our apartment, I do like it but I don’t think there’s much about it that I’ll truly miss. I’m definitely not going to miss having only one kitchen cabinet and almost no counter space. Sayonara, grimy bathroom floor. You are someone else’s pet peeve now.
Things have been quiet on this blog for almost two weeks! I’ve been fighting off a nasty cold for the last few days, but I managed to finish a quilt for the Baby Blanket Drive over at Barakah Life. As I explained in an earlier post, Khadija at Barakah Life will be traveling to Mauritania, West Africa and hand-delivering all the handmade blankets she collects to new and expectant mothers there. Because her trip has been delayed until March, she has extended the deadline to February 29th, so there’s still time to get involved! Check out the website for details.
When I sat down to plan this quilt, I realized it’s been a long time since I last quilted. The last one I can remember doing was over seven years ago, now that I think about it. Making this one has renewed my interest, but it has also reminded me how much work is involved. For me, it’s most enjoyable to quilt when there’s no real time line involved– when I can just pick up and put down the project as I wish. I’ve decided my next quilting project will be a throw quilt for our living room, so I can finish it whenever I want to!
For this quilt, I experimented with an interesting way to piece together the front. The idea was to create a pattern more complex than a basic checkerboard pattern without any having to do any tricky sewing. I did this by piecing squares together in a basic checkerboard pattern, cutting up the pieces in various ways, rotating them, and sewing them back together. I’m not totally happy with the pattern that emerged, but I think I’m on to something. I just need to work on the method a bit more, and once I’ve figured it out I’ll post a tutorial.
In the past, I’ve always hand-tied my quilts, so I never actually quilted the front to the back before. I wanted to try it this time, because I love that bumpy, quilted look. I know myself, though, and I will never have the patience to do all that quilting by hand. So I machine-quilted for the first time! For my first time, I wanted to do something very simple, so I just quilted around the inside of each piece on the front, using the edge of my presser foot as a guide. It was quite simple to do, but it was surprisingly time-consuming. I can only imagine how long it would have taken to do by hand. It was worth the effort, though, because the finished effect is really lovely. I have read that machine-quilting should be done with a walking foot, but I didn’t have one so I just used my usual presser foot. Perhaps that’s why it took so long? Next time around, maybe I’ll buy a walking foot and see if that speeds up the process.
Without further ado, here are a couple of photos of the finished quilt:
Thanks again to Khadija at Barakah Life for organizing the drive. I’m so happy to have been involved.
A few weeks ago, I bought the make-a-long pattern from Hillary Lang’s incredible website, Wee Wonderfuls. Hers is the first blog in my reader that I absolutely must read when it shows a new entry. She is so talented, and her work is just my style. I’ve been admiring her work and the work of others who use her patterns, and that’s been a part of what has inspired me to dust off my old machine and get going again. I’ve been trying to teach myself to sew for a long time, mostly without the help of a pattern (see my last entry, a project that I just “winged”). I finally decided to buy one of Hillary’s patterns though because I haven’t really been able to sew three-dimensional objects very well. My hope is that by following the patterns of some of my favorite artists, I’ll be able to gain the skills I need to improve my own designs.
Now that I’ve made my first doll using Hillary’s pattern, I have to say, she is so cute and was so much fun to make that I don’t want to stop! Here’s a picture of my first attempt. I’m not sure if she’s quite done: I might add a collar or buttons to the front of her dress and some kind of embellishment to her shoes. But she’s lovely the way she is. Hillary, you rock.