Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hattie's New Hats

I had a fun time with hats this weekend. The first hat was a Summer hat which is a pretty simple style. In fact only the edges of the buckram need to be covered, so the hat is very light and should be quite comfortable to wear. I sprayed a little bit of color on the buckram first to give it a better tone for Hattie's red hair.

Now there was something I did not think through very well! Hattie's hair is SO bright it really catches ones attention. Sure limits the colors I can use for hats, though. I did not feel comfortable leaving the buckram white. It's not a pure white and next to that red/orange it looked pretty dingy. So . . . turquoise it is!

After covering the edges with bias tape, I added a spray of flowers and then played with different ribbons to embellish this hat. Goodness, we've got almost every color of the rainbow here!

The other hat I did this week is the first in a new category - hats with tips smaller than the head opening. The "tip" is the top of the crown in hat-language.
But before I show that one, I need to show you the Goucho hat! If you've been reading my blog, you know that one of my goals (number 3) is to make a hat each month. I blogged about the February hat - briefly - but never posted a picture! Well, we will correct that oversight right now!

This type of hat has all the basic elements of a hat: the crown consists of a tip and a sideband. A circle is then added for the brim. A great many different styles can be made by altering one, two, or three of these elements. Make one smaller or larger, make the sideband tilted, use only part of the brim, etc.

The Fez is a classic example of changing one element. The tip is made smaller and thus the sideband is altered to become more cone-shaped. To do this correctly a little math is involved. So how could I do so well in math at school and be so terrible at it now??! Well, let's just say I made more than one tip and let it go. Oh yeah, don't look at the back seam as the cone shape is not exactly quite right! I now know what I did wrong and I think I can correct it for the next time. I hope!

A fez is typically made from red felt and I found a darker red that doesn't clash too much with Hattie's hair. I made a tassle from black yarn and some fancy yarn that has gold discs in it. Topped off with a nice red bead I happened to have on hand. Can't believe the colors fit!
Now, we're all caught up on hats! Well, for the time being. The next lesson is a type of turban with lots of opportunity for embellishments. Sounds like such fun!
But first. I just downloaded the first lesson of "Journal Making for the Fiber Artist" from Sue Bleiweiss. I'm going to sit down and read it now so I'll know what I'll be doing tomorrow!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Another TIF Piece

I spent quite a lot of time thinking about the Take It Further Challenge Concept for this month:

"Do you ever notice the little things, the small moments, the details in life? This months challenge is to do just that, pay attention to the tiny details. Sometimes the small things become emblematic for something larger."

Even though I have already completed a piece for March, I could not stop thinking about this idea. The whole concept became wrapped up with eyes in my mind and would not go away. I thought about doing a realistic eye, but doing just one felt a bit weird. I did not want to do a multiple object piece, though, because that would be too complex. This should be a simple presentation. Eventually I came across some Egyptian hierglyphics in a magazine and I knew what I wanted to do!

This symbol is called both the Eye of Ra and the Eye of Horus. Many references use the names interchangeably and it is generally a symbol of protection and of royal power from the gods. However, if you do more research you find that the two names do not really refer to the same thing and the "details" of the legends and symbolism are different. One is even sometimes less benevolent than the other. But I will go with this: A small thing - eye - that is emblematic of something larger - power and protection.

The Eye of Horus was fused onto black cloth and then stitched using a machine blanket stitch. I downloaded a picture of multiple eyes from Craftzine and printed them onto a strip of fabric for the bottom border which was also stitched with the machine blanket stitch. A border was added to bring the piece to about 10" square.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Goals Review March 25

Time for another review of my 2008 goals. I can't believe six weeks have gone by already. In another week it will be April. Oh, oh! Goodbye Winter!!!

If you are a new reader, you can read more about the goals here. The first review was on February 12.

Goal #1: Participate in the Take It Further challenge

How am I doing: Good! I have done at least one piece each month. A second piece for March is almost ready for posting.

Lessons Learned: I think I am developing a reliable process. I’ve started using a sketch book/journal to work through my initial thoughts and that is really helpful.

Next Step: New challenge April 1.

Goal #2: Participate in the Stargaze Tome group’s Tome Page-A-Month project

How am I doing: Keeping up so far. Three months and three pages posted (look for keyword Tome).

Lessons Learned: Still having trouble turning the page after stitching front and back together. I suppose it needs more patience – not my strong point!

Next Step: April page is about painting fabrics.

Goal #3: Complete the Hatmaking class I took four (!) years ago

How am I doing: March’s hat is started – there’s probably three good working days left this month. I should still be on track.

Lessons Learned: Still being kind of conservative. I’m hoping next couple of months will be more daring.

Next Step: I think I will start April’s hat right away while I have some momentum up.

Goal #4: Use a book or tool to explore new techniques or refine un-mastered skills – preferably incorporated with the other goals – at least once a month

How am I doing: I’ve had several books out trying to pick what to do next. I’ve used fabric folding and explored stitches on my sewing machine. I completed an on-line class on new embroidery techniques and have signed up for a Journal making class next month. Learned to make postcards and padfolios. I think it probably comes out to more than once a month.

Lessons Learned: Picked up some new design skills and how to plan a piece a little better. Still need to work on that – some pieces really need to go down first!

Next Step: I have some quilt rulers and templates to try. Still lots of books, too!

Goal #5: Keep doll making as a focus for my creativity

How am I doing: Doing better here. I have two dolls in the works and have posted about one of them already.

Lessons Learned: I believe my stuffing has improved. I blogged about that here.

Next Step: I will be teaching about puppets at the next doll club meeting. Iris is also a doll for club so she has a deadline next month. Pictures should be available soon.

Goal #6: Enter the Hoffman Challenge – and any other appropriate challenge as they come up

How am I doing: Well, I have my Hoffman fabric now and a pretty firm picture in my head. Still have not started to actually work in fabric. Haven’t seen any other challenges since February.

Lessons Learned: Sometimes I drag my feet. Oh wait! That shouldn’t count as something I’ve learned – I’ve been that way for my whole life! How about this: sometimes I need to contemplate a design longer before getting started.

Next Step: I will get going on this soon. Need to clear the decks a little bit first.

Goal #7: Review the above 6 goals every 6-weeks and blog about my progress

How am I doing: So far, so good.

Lessons Learned: I like keeping busy, but with six goals I need to be pretty organized, too.

Next Step: Next review will be May 6.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I Won!

Sue B hosted a give-away on her blog and I was one of four lucky - very lucky - winners. Just look at what I got in the mail today! The blue background is hand-dyed velvet - and this picture does not come close to the vibrant colors of the velvet and these laces. Wow!

I need to think of a really scrumptuous project to use these on. But first I have to just look at them and handle them! Oh my! Eye candy overload!!!

Thank you, Sue. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Stargaze Tome March Page

Today I finished the third page in the Stargazer Tome series by Patti Culea. This page was all about fabric collage. The front of the page was a garden design. I changed the girl in the original pattern to a fairy that I got from "The Crafter's Design Library: Fantasy" by Chris Down. I traced the fairy onto white fabric and colored with pencils and pens before fusing her to the background. I chose a very flowered background so that only a few items needed to be added to the foreground.

I have had scraps of these "tiger lily" and "snap-dragon" fabrics for many, many years and I think that a fantasy garden theme is the perfect place for them! A few butterflies and ladybugs from another fabric provide more "stuff."

For the back of the page I followed Patti's instructions and cut leaf-ish shapes from Tyvek and organza and then added heat - iron for the
Tyvek and a candle for the organza. This created fronds that I stitched down and did some free motion embroidery around. I also added some heated cellophane, a piece of vegetable netting and a few beads. At the bottom is more Tyvek - in rock shapes, and more free embroidery to create a "rocky" ground. I tried to keep the colors muted as if you are looking at the garden in moonlight. In fact, that circular mark next to the dragonfly is a crescent moon charm. I forgot to take a closeup photo!

The fun part about the Tome patterns is that each page explores a different technique, some of which are new to me. Next month is painting and dyeing fabric I think. One more week in March and I still have lots to do! Oh dear.

Monday, March 17, 2008

She's a Doll!

As I was working on this doll today, I realized that I don't really think of these projects as "dolls" until they get a face! Once the face is done, her personality starts to emerge. It doesn't matter if it's only the head - or the whole body is done. It ain't a doll without a face!

This doll is for my doll club's Rainbow challenge. We are using a pattern from one of Patti Culea's books and we have six pieces of fabric in the colors of the rainbow. I have a couple of ideas, but nothing specific planned out yet. But at least she's a doll now! I am calling her Iris, at least for now.

I stuffed the pieces while at doll club this weekend. This gave me another thought. It has been a while since I did very much stuffing and I was concerned that I would have trouble. Sometimes the stuffing just does not cooperate and I get lots of lumps. This time everything went just fine. I think it's because I wasn't THINKING about stuffing. We were talking and laughing and watching what everyone else was doing and I just let my hands do the job - unsupervised you could say. This is true about so many things in life. The stress of paying too much attention can cause the task to be more difficult than it needs to be. Of course, there are lots of situations where you really do need to pay attention. Now, the hard part is to recognize the difference! My goodness, who knew doll making would be a metaphor for life itself?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Finished March TIF

Here is what I did with the March Take It Further challenge. I worked with the colors on this, although this shot is not very accurate. I posted the fabrics here and those colors are closer to true.

This is a 10 1/2" block called Missouri Puzzle. As usual, I have a little story to go with this. Back in the early 1990's I was doing a lot of yardsale-ing to find some dressers or cabinets for storage. I went to an estate sale where I found what I was looking for, but I also found a box of crafting supplies. In fact, there was one whole room with patterns, fabric, and so on. The box I wanted had some swedish embroidery cloth in it - also known as huck toweling - along with some other items. At the very bottom of the box was this little booklet.

It is made of plain paper and held together with brads. Inside are a great many clippings of quilt patterns cut from magazines and newspapers. Now, one thing I found particularly interesting is that I found this estate sale in Yakima, Washington. All of the newspaper patterns, however, are from the Kansas City Star. The ones that have a date are from 1930, '31, and '32. This little book traveled from the midwest to the pacific northwest - and now has traveled back to the midwest over a span of 75 years!

Well, I decided to make the Missouri Puzzle - there are several I would like to try - mainly because I am familiar with the 9-patch and half-square triangle so I knew I could figure out how to construct at least one block (and it did take some figuring)! And someone, sometime, had marked it with a 3-cent stamp. By making this block, I feel there is a connection to the past somehow. A bit tenuous, perhaps, but there nontheless.

And now that I think about it - that fits "Sometimes the small things become emblematic for something larger. " The stamp, by it's denomination and location, represents a sense of the past. U.S. postage was three cents for quite a long time, and went up very slowly at first but has increased more rapidly of late. How about that for fitting into this month's concept? This piece is a twofer!

I still may do another piece for the concept. I've had lots of ideas buzzing around as previous posts show. But for the immediate future, I have several other projects in the pipeline. So if I run out of time, I have met this month's TIF challenge at least.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Working on TIF for March

I'm still doing a lot of thinking about the March concept: "Do you ever notice the little things, the small moments, the details in life?" Every time I settle on a theme, another idea seems to crop up! Here are the two most likely contenders, collaged in my sketch book.

The first idea has to do with eyes - specifically my own myopic eyesight and how important seeing the details is to me. BTW, two of the eye strips are from famous personalities. Can you name them?

The second idea is the pins and needles that I use in my sewing, quilting, and fiber art. The pins often are the starting point in a design and the small stitches with needle and thread lead - one by one - to completed projects.

A third idea came this weekend while DH and I were on a short road trip and has to do with maps! As the "official navigator" I am always in trouble for (1) misreading a map and/or (2) not seeing a crucial road sign. These are definitely small details that are emblematic of something larger.

Since I cannot quite choose - yet - I have started working on the color concept for now. I was able to find pretty good color matches in my stash, so no shopping needed to get this done. Always nice. I'm working on a quilt block. There's a little bit of a story that goes with it and I will tell you about it when the block is finished. Soon.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sumptuous Surfaces Again

Well, the Sumptuous Surfaces class is officially over. Of course almost everyone is still stitching madly - and we were posting to the forum to the very last minute. I feel like I made some new friends in this class. And, WOW, did we learn some fun things. SharonB is a great teacher and very good at encouraging and suggesting new approaches. I would definitely recommend this class if you are considering some embroidery or design courses.

In reviewing my posts, I see that I have showed the "inspiration" for my color piece (it's the last photo on that post), but not the piece itself. We can take care of that right now. This is what it looks like as of last night. There are still two discreet areas to stitch - and they will both be full of beads and dimensional stitching. They are both below the light turquoise area I am working on now. One will be a darker turquoise and the other that rust red you can see a few stitches in. It will be pretty bottom heavy, so I expect to add some more to balance it out. Or maybe not. We will see when I get to that point.

I think I'm settling into a routine of doing a little embroidery in the evenings. I can stitch while listening to the television. I have a special pair of glasses for doing close work like this. With them and a craft light I can see quite well for stitching. BUT, all I can see on the television is large color shapes! Well, if the dialog is amusing that's enough. I am having fun in my own little fuzzy world!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

TIF Challenge for March

SharonB posted the Take It Further challenge for this month a few days ago:

Do you ever notice the little things, the small moments, the details in life? This months challenge is to do just that, pay attention to the tiny details. Sometimes the small things become emblematic for something larger.

And the colors look like this:

I really like the colors and have been thinking about how to use them, but the concept has really led me to do some Deep Thinking. (Yes, the caps are on purpose!) Like many of the other participants, I started out by taking my camera around the house and doing a lot of close-up shots. This can be a fun exercise and I may decide to do it more often. Lots of interesting details show up.

For instance, this shot of pins on a magnet holder. In fiber arts I use pins an awfully lot - and they certainly lead to larger things. They could be symbolic of all that working with fabric and thread means to me.

Or, how about the daily pills? There's a wealth of Deep Thoughts that go with that one. I take the pills to stay healthy and that is certainly a bigger idea. The number of pills in each day's cubicle is also emblematic of the aging process. Remember when all you did was pop a multi-vitamin? Not sure I can remember that far back!

Ah. Then there is this one. A basket, you say? Notice one little detail? There's a loose thread hanging. Let me tell you about that. I am terribly nearsighted. No, really, really, nearsighted! I got my first pair of glasses when I was about 10 or 11. I'm sure I got that old without them because my last name began with 'A' and each year the teachers would arrange students alphabetically. So I always sat in the front row. One year, the teacher reversed the order and I believe my grades started sliding. Whatever the real reason, a trip to the family eye doctor revealed my myopia and glasses were required. That first day with glasses, I realized that curtains had threads hanging, trees had individual leaves, and so on. I had never known that one was supposed to be able to SEE those things!!! I did not know that the children at the back of the class were supposed to be able to read the blackboard. When I think of the days before vision correction, I'm happy I live in this century so that I can see the details. What would my life be like without it?

So how's that for some Deep Thoughts? There are more: blood vessels lead to all that is living; a stack of CDs symbolizes the "Information Age" and all the changes that have come about recently; a stack of paint bottles lead to creativity. I have no idea where this will all lead me, but it should be an interesting trip!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

A Couple of Quick Projects

The last couple of days I have been digging through my stash and looking for something quick that I've not tried before.

I printed out Sue Bleiweiss' instructions for a padfolio several months ago. It is available as a free project on the Fibre & Stitch web site. This looked like a good opportunity to experiment (translates to "play") with different fabrics and try something different. I can see how this could become an obsession! The basic technique is fairly simple and you have lots of room to get creative. I tried fusing organza and stamping on fabric on one and free hand quilting on the other one. Both worked great. I want to do more with fabric paints and I have scraps of angelina and Tyvek that are waiting to get used up. And I will make postcards from THESE scraps. Cool!

I started reading Sue's blog late last year and since then she has developed these simple wrapfolios into full fledged professional looking journals. You NEED to check out her blog here (browse the archives, too) and her etsy shop here. There is a ton of inspiration on those pages. She is working on an on-line class to be available in the fall and I am definitely marking my calendar!

My folios have a simple interior - not as elaborate as Sue's - but I did say I wanted quick!
After a couple of days of spring weather, today we have grey skies and rain. Perfect for stitching on my Sumptuous Surfaces class piece! And then on to this month's TIF. Gotta think about this one.