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Monday, April 30, 2007

Spontaneous Designing Challenge

It was a beautiful sunny and warm weekend here in Northern Illinois. Scott and I spent the entire weekend outside getting our yard ready for plants. We still have a few little things to do and we need to clean and reseal our deck but by the end of this coming weekend, we expect to have everything completed and ready for planting.

Despite so much time outside, I did manage a bit of stitching time. Rather than starting another crazy quilting project, I decided to do something completely spontaneous, a sort "design as you go" project:

Button Flowers

If you're interested in increasing your artistic abilities, this would be a good Challenge exercise for you, an excellent starting point!

Gather a piece of fabric, some buttons, some beads and some threads. To make a circle, I used a drinking glass and traced it onto my fabric. I then sewed on some vintage glass buttons and beaded around them. I drew on some leaves and beaded those. Next, I will add some embroidery.

Give this a try! Use what you have on hand and start the same way I did, with the intention of creating 3 flowers. And then expand on it. What sort of fancy stitches do you know how to do? Use them! And don't confine yourself to the inside of the circle. Once you fill in the circle with beading and stitching, think about what you can do beyond the circle. You can create an entire garden if you want to!

I have no idea where my piece is going to go. I can finish stitching within the circle and then stitch or bead around it and leave it at that, but I really want to see where spontaneity takes me. This may remain as a small piece or it may expand into a larger piece. The point is to design as you go.

Many times, some one will look at one of my crazy quilt pieces and tell me that it's beautiful but they could never do anything like that. They're not creative or artistic. Do you know what they're really saying to me? They're telling me that they don't want to. For whatever reason, they're telling me that they don't want to try.

We are all creative! And we all have the ability to be artistic. So if you're interested in getting your artistic juices moving, start with my suggestion and add your ideas to it. You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take one step at a time and have fun with it. There's no right or wrong way. Many times, I have no idea what a design will look like until it's complete. That's where the fun is!

If you decide to give this a try and have a blog or Flickr album, post the link in the comments section of this post so everyone can see your what your doing. That will inspire others and then you'll see how inspiration is everywhere and you will see that you do have the ability to be artistic!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Source For Design Inspiration

I'm sure you've noticed that quite often, I use vintage costume jewelry in my crazy quilting. These pretty and interesting pieces are a wonderful starting point for abstract needle-art as well as an instant focal point to work around. They are also a great source of design inspiration!

While wandering around Borders bookstore earlier this week, I came across this little book on the subject:

Costume Jewelry (POCKET COLLECTIBLES)

Yes, this is the image from Amazon.com. If you're interested in this book, click here to go directly to the book listing at Amazon.

The many photographs are amazing and I'm sure you'll find great inspiration for all sorts of design possibilities with the use of thread and beads as your medium.

I'm off to get my yard ready for plants! It's a gorgeous warm & sunny here so I'm feeling the need to dig in my garden!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Being Creative vs. Being Artistic Continued.....

Yesterday, I explained the difference between what being creative means vs. what being artistic means.

Today I will share with you, stitched examples so that you can see the difference in terms of needlework.

The following embroidered peacock is an example of being creative:

Ginas Peacock 4

I re-created a pattern from an embroidered piece in Gina's collection of vintage embroidered linens. This is not one of my original designs. I simply made a copy of the design (with Gina's permission) from a photo of the stitched piece. For all practical purposes, this is copyright infringement. We have no idea who the designer is. We do not know who the copyright owner is. We do not know when it was designed and we do not have the designers permission to make a copy for our own use or for the purpose of distributing it. Based on my own knowledge of embroidery design styles, I would say that it's from the 1940's. Well, anything from that era is still protected by copyright law.

Since my article today is not about copyright law but rather to share stitched examples to show the difference between being creative vs. being artistic in regards to needlework, I will continue on with the topic at hand.

From the pattern that I re-created from Gina's vintage linen image, I traced the design onto a piece of muslin that I myself hand-dyed:

Embroidered Peacock

I then embroidered it using my choice of threads which are Overdyed Floss from Needle Necessities and black DMC embroidery floss:

Embroidered Peacock

I embellished it a bit with some beads and some sequins to enhance the eye feathers.

This is an example of being creative. I created a stitched duplicate of the pattern. There is nothing artistic about it on my part. Yes, I chose the fabric, yes I chose the special threads and the beads but in all honesty, this is simply a duplication of someone else's artwork.

The following image is of my Bird Purse. The stitching is complete and this is most definitely an example of being artistic:

Bird Purse

You may remember from yesterday's post that I said, "inspiration is everywhere". This piece is an excellent example of seeing inspiration in many places and using that inspiration as a starting point, expanding on it and adding much of myself and my own ideas to it.

First, I have to refer back to Sharon B. who's In A Minute Ago blog inspires me constantly! It was Sharon's beautiful and heavily embellished Unicorn block which appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Quilting Arts magazine that inspired me to try my hand at crazy quilting. I was quite taken with the intricate stitching, the extreme amount of embellishments, the colors and the composition of the design. I was also intrigued by the free form and abstract style of crazy quilting. That was my first inspiration.

If you look closely at my embellishments, you may be able to see where some of my other inspiration came from.

The vintage bird pin for example is what inspired my color choices. I did not design nor did I create the bird. It's a vintage piece that I found at a flea market but it is the basis and focal point of this design. I simply started with the bird and using it as my inspiration, I chose my colors and I worked my art around it.

The Buttonhole stitch beneath bird was indirectly inspired by Sharon. I had attempted to learn the Palestrina Stitch which Sharon named as the TAST focus last week. Due to my frustration in not being able to get the hang of doing the knot, I opted for the Buttonhole stitch instead. That produced the look that I wanted but without the cool knot on the edge. To compensate for that, I used some seed beads.

Moving to the appliqué above the bird, I did not design the lace appliqué. I used it as a starting point to add movement. I hand-painted it, I added the sequin flowers to the centers which were inspired by Jo in NZ and then I added more beads and sequins to the vines on either side of it.

A bit more inspiration comes from Pat Winter. She does beautiful Silk Ribbon Embroidery and although I never cared much for doing that technique in the past, I am so inspired by Pat's work that I'm am now adding more of it to my work. This is not a copy of anything that Pat has done. I added my own artistic interpretation of sunflowers to this piece using the technique of SRE.

I think it's safe for me to assume now that you understand the difference between what being creative means vs. what being artistic means.

I will leave you with some words of wisdom that came from my dear husband.

If you look closely at the dragonfly charm in the top right corner of my Bird Purse design, you'll notice that one of the yellow rhinestones is missing. I didn't see that until I had the charm sewn on.

For 1/2 an hour I had a little tennis match going on in my head, should I replace it or leave it on?

Scott then reminded me of a Swallowtail Butterfly that we saw in our garden last Summer. This gorgeous creature had a slightly broken and quite tattered wing. Scott asked me if the tattered wing made the butterfly any less beautiful. I said no. He then asked me if it made the butterfly any less able to fly. I said no. Here are Scott's words of wisdom:

Sometimes nature causes imperfections on purpose, so that we notice it and stop what we're doing to focus on it's beauty.

I will be leaving the dragonfly charm as is.

That has to be one of the most profound things that my husband has ever come up with! Of course, this is the same man who woke me up 3 times from a sound sleep that night to tell me about all the available ringtones that he had to choose from for our new cellphones! Go figure!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Being Creative vs. Being Artistic

Today, I would like to talk a bit more about the "creative process". There's a huge difference between what being creative means and what being artistic means.

As I mentioned yesterday, everything begins with a thought. We think, therefore we are. Thoughts become things. Here's an example:

Imagine that you are sitting on your sofa, watching television and you suddenly feel hungry. You determine that what you would like eat is a cookie. But you don't have any cookies. So you decide to get up off of your sofa, go into the kitchen and bake a batch of cookies. You gather your ingredients, you mix them all together, you put them on baking sheets and bake them in the oven. You have just created cookies.

The thought of wanting a cookie gave you the urge to get up and make some. This is the "creative process". Every person on the planet uses this process to accomplish every thing that they do. It doesn't matter what it is.

Now, unless you decorate the cookies, there's nothing artistic about them. You created them, but they are not a work of art.

Here's another example:

You see one of my counted cross stitch designs. You determine that you really like the design and that you would like to stitch it and hang it on the wall in your house. So you purchase the design and all the supplies to make it. You follow the pattern and duplicate the design according to my chart and directions. You have just created a stitched version of my design.

Again, there is nothing artistic about duplicating a pattern exactly as it is written. You indeed created something. You created a stitched version of my design. Of my art. But it's still my artwork, not yours.

I spoke yesterday of inspiration and where it comes from. I said that it's everywhere and that we just have to open our minds and see it. Being artistic means to take that inspiration and use it as a starting point but then to elaborate on it, adding your own thoughts and ideas to it. Expanding on it. Taking it a step further.

The image of the 9 bands that I shared with you yesterday based on Sharon's trim piece is not only a visual example of "the creative process in action" but also "my artistic interpretation and expression" of the inspiration that I found in Sharon's Jewel Tone CQ block.

Do you see where I'm going with this discussion? I want you, my readers to understand the difference between being creative and being artistic. I'm assuming that many of you come here to my blog for inspiration, for my ideas and for my thoughts. But what do you do with them? Do you stitch with the intention of taking my ideas a step further? Or do you prefer to simply duplicate my patterns? If you are content with duplicating patterns, that's fine. You are creating and hopefully having fun doing so.

If you want to feel the joy of being artistic, then you have to take the ideas that I share here and add something of yourself to them. You have to breathe some of your life into them. You have to take my idea, interpret it and then expand and express yourself through it. The needle & thread is only the medium through which you express your thoughts. If you duplicate one of my designs, you are expressing my thoughts. But if you find inspiration in one of my designs, if you expand on it, adding something of yourself to it, you are then expressing your thoughts. You are then being artistic.

More tomorrow.....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TAST - The Straight Stitch & More!

I'm often asked, where I find my inspiration? Inspiration is everywhere! It's all around us. We only need to see it.

Last week, Sharon posted a photo of a Jewel Toned CQ block on her In A Minute Ago blog that she was working on. A special "thank you" goes out to Sharon who has graciously given me permission to post her photo here:

crazy quilt block

For some reason, I was so taken with the beautiful geometric trim on the bottom left of the design. I don't know if it was the colors, the pattern or the overall look of Sharon's block but I knew, I had to "do" something with it!

Sharon was kind enough to take the time to email a larger image of the trim to me which I then printed up and stared at for a few days.

Yesterday, I decided to start with a simple counted cross stitch design. I charted a basic version of the geometric pattern in the trim.

Now yesterday morning, Sharon announced the "Straight Stitch" as the focus for this week's Take A Stitch Tuesday Challenge. With this floating around in my mind, it occurred to me to take the cross stitch pattern and gradually move it into a "Straight Stitch" pattern.

The "Straight Stitch" is of course a very versatile stitch and for me, one that doesn't require a knot is always welcome!

The following image is "the creative process" in action:

Bands 1

So how does one take a design worked entirely in "cross stitch" and turn it into a design worked entirely in "straight stitches"? The answer is one step at a time.

Obviously, the final design looks quite different from the original design based on Sharon's trim. My goal in the beginning was to recreate the trim design. Since one thought always leads to the next thought, that in turn inspired me to create a "straight stitch" design based on the original but not necessarily as an exact "straight stitch" interpretation of the original design. Call it, "killing two birds with one stone" if you will. I wanted to do something for the TAST Challenge!

Through the process of changing a few cross stitches at a time to a few straight stitches, I created 9 variations of the pattern until I reached my final goal of creating a "straight stitch" design based on the original.

Again everyone, this is the creative process. It works this way for everyone, not just for me. It only depends on our awareness of it. We only have to open our eyes to see the inspiration and the beauty that's all around us and then take that inspiration and do something with it. Some of us choose not to do anything with it. For some of us, it takes an artistic path.

I've divided the charted patterns into two parts. Each part should print up nicely on one sheet of paper each:

Bands 2

Bands 3

Click on any of the images to go to my Flickr site where you can download the larger versions of the patterns.

So where does the inspiration go from here? It moves in your hands. If you're a cross stitcher, you might want to stitch one or all of these into bookmarks. You can use whatever colors you like. You could also work the entire design as a band sampler.

If you're a crazy quilter, try stitching up one of these designs and working it into the foundation of a new block. Embellish it and see where it goes.

Try working one design vertically several times with different threads for a different sampler variation.

Do you see where I'm going with this? The creative process (inspiration) is constant. It moves from one thought to another thought and from one person to another person. There's nothing special about where I find my inspiration. It's everywhere and we all have the ability to see it and use it. And in this case, it didn't even start with Sharon's block. It may have started with whomever designed and manufactured the trim that Sharon used on her block. Perhaps the person who designed the trim was inspired by something they saw somewhere else. It then moved to Sharon through her block and then to me and now it's moving from me to you, my readers! What will you do with it? And where will it go when it moves from your thought to the next person's thought?

It's know this all a little deep. But it's something to think about!

Until tomorrow, enjoy your TAST patterns!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bird Purse Update

I had hoped to complete this last night but my dear husband arrived home from work yesterday with a bee in his bonnet about getting new cellphones so I now have a new pink cellphone (yes, you read that correctly!) and I have another day of stitching on this project:

Bird Purse

Now, don't get me wrong here! I'm never in a hurry to complete my CQ projects. I was just quite content to keep on stitching but there will be more stitching time later today.

I've decided to order some ribbons and dye some of my own colors. I never have the colors I want! The yellow I used for the little sunflowers was a bit brighter than what I wanted but it's all I had. When they arrive, I'll share some photos with you.

Well, I'm off to do some design work for now. Have a great day everyone! And follow your bliss! Make some time for yourself to stitch today!

Thinking Blogger Awards!

I've been tagged by Pat as a blogger who makes her think. What an honor to be tagged by Pat! Esp. since I find her work so inspiring!

There are quite a few talented bloggers who make me think but many have already been tagged so I will tag the following 4:

Sharon, who's In A Minute Ago blog inspires me constantly! And you be will be seeing some of that inspiration in the next day or so!

Vicki, who's photographs on her Turkey Feathers blog (not to mention her incredible, informative and inspirational content) always make me want to do better with my camera!

Stephanie, from Novasblossoms blog who's art dolls mesmerize me. I could stare at her gorgeous Victorian Cat doll all day and get nothing else done!

Last but certainly not least, Angie from Norththreads who finds the most incredible bargains and does the most incredible things with them! Angie, I want to go shopping with you!

Ladies, I'm so happy I found your blogs! Thank you for your inspiration and for making me think!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Embellishment Finds On Etsy

I've been sitting here for the past 1/2 hour trying to find something really great to share with you today. Yesterday was my nephew's birthday so we spent the day at my sister's house. I managed nothing in the way of stitching time, which is fine. It happens now & then and will certainly help me to appreciate my stitching time even more this afternoon!

For today, I thought I'd share with you a great Etsy shop that carries all sort of beads & charms suitable for crazy quilting and other needlework projects:

ArtfulMarket

The Artful Market has very nice brass charms at extremely reasonable prices. I recently purchased some brass fish, some little butterflies and some leaf charms.

I was quite pleased not only with my order, but with the great communication and speedy shipping offered by this nice Etsy shop owner!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bird Purse - Secret Revealed!

I did some more beading on the appliqué on my bird purse yesterday:

Bird Purse

With all the excited of setting up the new fish tank, I couldn't sit still long enough to stitch so I didn't get in as much stitching time as I would have liked but that's ok.

Now, you're probably still wondering what that glittery green stuff is to the right of the bird. I didn't think anyone would figure it out.

It's one of those glittered floral picks that you can use to tie on packages or to make flower arrangements:

Glittered Pick

I found them at Michaels Craft Store back at Christmas time. They were on sale so I bought a bunch of them thinking they would be great on Seascapes. I was looking for a piece of lace the other day and saw these in my drawer and thought, "hey, I can use a piece of that on this project" so I clipped a piece off and sewed it on!

If you want to give this a try, I just want to warn you: some of the glitter will come off onto your CQ. Not to worry! After you get it sewn on and add some do-dads to it, just hold it face down over a waste basket and tap on the back a few times and the excess glittered will fall off of your stitched piece!

I've been told that I use some unusual things on my CQ projects and yes, I do! The great thing about crazy quilting is that there are no rules. If I can sew it on, I will sew it on!

New Aquarium!

We've come a long way on our Living Room remodel and are finally reaching the point of completion!

The floor is done and the trim is in. We primed and painted the trim first before nailing it in place. I spent a couple of hours this past week going around and touching up the paint on the nail holes.

I still have to paint the risers on the steps and the interior door and I still have to have paint my Ivy leaves here and there but I'm very happy to say, that the worst is over! The "dust" producing projects are done!

Before we started this project, we had a 60 gallon aquarium which took up a whole wall. I could have lived without the fish tank all together but Scott really enjoys it so I asked if we could get a smaller corner tank instead. He loved the idea so yesterday, we went up to PetsMart and bought our new corner tank. It's all set up and we can start moving our fish later this evening:

Aquarium 1

Check out the Greek (or Roman) ruins that we bought! We went with all new gravel, artificial plants and do-dads.

When we did the floor, we had to set up 2 small temporary tanks (heaven help me, in my kitchen) for our fish. And we unfortunately lost 4 of them in the move. So next weekend, we'll head back up to PetsMart and get 3 or 4 new tiny fantail goldfish. I love goldfish!

Here's a photo of the tank on the stand. You can see my new oak floor, my icy aqua blue sponge painted walls and my white trim:

Aquarium 2

Could I possibly be any worse at taking pictures! Geez, I should have had Scott take these. But it's enough for you to see! I have an antique chair that will sit next to the tank so my cats easily watch the fish. Simba especially enjoys watching them swim back and forth!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bird Purse Continued

The bird purse is coming along nicely! I did some beading on it yesterday:

Bird Purse

The bird pin is now permanently attached. Because the pin is in mint condition, I didn't want to alter it in anyway. I pinned it in place and then added a few tack stitches here and there to make sure it wouldn't go anywhere.

You might be wondering what the glittery green spray is to the right of the bird. Does anyone want to take a guess as to what that is? I'll reveal my secret tomorrow!

Google AdSense

Because I put so much time and energy into my blog posts everyday, I've decided to add Google AdSense to help generate a bit of income for my efforts.

It'll be in the sidebar and not right in the middle of each daily post. That way, if it bothers you, my readers, it should be easy to ignore and if anyone is interested in one of the ads, clicking on it will help to support this blog.

Since I'm HTML challenged, my friend Chris will be adding the code when he has a few free moments. It should be there in the next few days.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Update On Bird Purse

I had every intention of doing the Palestrina Stitch on here. The Palestrina Stitch is of course Sharon's pick for this week's TAST Challenge. You may have noticed, that I haven't participated in TAST for the past couple of weeks. That's because I honestly don't care for some of the more complicated stitches. For me, I find the simple, basic stitches quite functional and attractive and they serve their purpose well for me.

I love the way the Palestrina Stitch looked on Sharon's example so I was determined to do it here on my Bird Purse. After 1/2 an hour of staring at the stitch diagram, not being able to figure out how do that knot, I gave up and opted for the Buttonhole Stitch instead. That produced a similar effect, so I accomplished the look I was going for but it doesn't have that cool knot along the edge:

Bird Purse

I have a terrible time figuring out how to do stitches that have a knot involved! I will attempt this again sometime but I'll admit, I was getting annoyed last night because I wanted to stitch, not stare at a diagram. Call me "Complicated Stitch Challenged"! Remember my struggle with the Cast-On Stitch? I mastered it, but I find them fussy and time consuming. I've found that it's easier for me to do tatted circles and then sew them on rather than working the Cast-On Stitch directly on my block.

The point that I'm trying to make here, is that stitching should be fun, not a chore. If your goal is to learn and master stitches that are new to you, then stick with it. You'll get the hang of them.

If your goal is to stitch for the sake of relaxing or to make something beautiful, then I say follow your bliss and do what you love. Stitch! That's what I do. I follow my bliss. There is nothing that I enjoy doing more than stitching and creating. It's what drives me. It's what guides my focus and gives me purpose.

Ok everyone, have a great day and follow your bliss! Go Stitch!!!

New Design Release

My newest design appears in the June 2007 issue of Just Cross Stitch magazine:

Just Cross Stitch June 2007 Cover

Designed for a Showcase Huck Towel from Charles Craft, this vintage inspired "Basket Of Posies" design can be found on page 52:

Just Cross Stitch June 2007

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Vogart Fruit Pattern For Custom Apron

Just a quick update on this project today:

Apron Fruit Design

I completed the stitching last night during the ballgame. I just love these old patterns! So next week, I'll take a day and sew it into the apron.

I didn't have time to start on my bird purse:

Bird Purse

I'll begin stitching on this later today.

I was asked awhile back about how and when to sew lace and trim on. Well, normally, I sew it on after the block is pieced. I simply decide what I want to use, open the seam, tuck the lace or trim in and close the seam with a couple of blind stitches. The fancy stitches will hold it in place.

On occasion, I sew the lace in when I piece the block. That's what I did with the bird block. I knew when I pieced it that I wanted to use the aqua blue lace so I did it when I was sewing.

I'm off to Richmond to take my Ocean Garden Cellphone Pouch to my showcase.

Have a great day everyone! See ya tomorrow!

Silk Rods Are Back At Larkspur Funny Farm!

If you were interested in the hand dyed Silk Rods that I mentioned in my April 12th post, they're back in loads of gorgeous colors!

Silk Rods

You can find them here at Larkspur Funny Farm Etsy shop!

I asked Grace for a couple of custom packs with a variety of colors. If you're interested in something like, drop Grace a message. She replies very quickly!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Vintage Style Apron Embroidery

I didn't quite finish the stitching on this last night:

Apron Fruit Design

I expect to complete this later today and then next week, I'll take a day and sew the apron together.

For some reason, I prefer to sew during the day. It's probably the natural daylight that makes me feel more comfortable with sewing. I prefer to work on the computer during the day as well. Now for stitching, I can do that anytime!

When I finish stitching up the fruit design, I'll be starting on my next crazy quilt purse project:

Bird Purse

Again I'll be using one of my vintage pins from my flea market trip last weekend. I love this little birdie and I love the way he looks on this block. My plan is to give this a very vintage look but sometimes, the block takes over and just tells me what it wants. Many times, they just turn out however they turn out. It's a "go with the flow thing" for me. There are some pieces that although I have a plan for them, I'm not completely set on it having to turn out that way. So stop by again to see what direction this takes!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Vintage Style Apron - Custom Order

I mentioned the other day that I received an order for a custom Vintage style apron. I'll be starting on this today so I thought you would like to see the patterns and fabric that I'll be using:

Apron Supplies

The transfer is from a Vogart pattern. I never cut or iron on my transfer designs. I traced them onto my fabric using a lightbox that my dad made for me and a washout blue pen. My fruit design is already traced onto my fabric so I'll be pulling thread colors shortly and stitching on the design later today. Once the stitched piece is done, I'll assemble it on my machine. Stay tuned.....

Peacock On Heart Block

I had a good few hours yesterday to work on this Peacock piece:

Peacock Heart Crazy Quilt

The fix for the peacock not popping was definitely to outline him in metallic gold. He sure pops now! And that funky earring is a most excellent tail isn't it? I waited to sew that on until I had most of the other do-dads on. I knew that earring would be a "pain in the behind" because my threads would catch on it.

I'd like to say a special thank you to June R. for the pretty little flowers that I used on my signature cat. June, I love them!

So how will I be finishing this? Well, you know I just love to make cellphone pouches so I believe this will be the first in a new line of cellphone pouch designs! When I get to finishing, I'll share the tutorial with you. Once I figure out what "I'm" doing!

If you're into exchanging hearts in the "Chain Of Hearts" group, but don't know what to do with your finished pieces, this might be a fun idea for you so stay tuned. And if anyone is interested, there are still some heart kits in my Etsy shop.

Cellphone Pouch Finishing Tutorial

I was asked for directions on how to finish things like cellphone pouches, purses and so on.

I did the finishing on my Ocean Garden Cellphone Pouch so I thought now would be a good time to give you the tutorial. It's very easy!!!

First, trim your stitched piece to the size you want it leaving and extra 1/4 inch on all sides. Cut one piece of fabric for the back and 2 pieces of fabric for the lining the same size as the stitched piece. In this case, I used the same fabric for the back and the lining:

Cellphone Pouch Tutorial 1

With right sides together, sew one lining piece to the top of the stitched piece and one lining piece to the top of the backing piece, using a 1/4 inch seam:

Cellphone Pouch Tutorial 2

Press your seams. Again, with right sides together, making sure that the stitched piece and the back piece are together on the same end, match up your top seams and pin these two pieces together.

Note: if you use a lot of embellishments close to the seams like I do, you will want to use the zipper foot for your machine!

Starting on the lining side, sew your piece together with 1/4 inch seams leaving a 3 or 4 inch opening for turning your piece right side out. The more embellished with beads and do-dads, the larger the opening will have to be:

Cellphone Pouch Tutorial 3

Your opening should be in the lining.

Once your sewing is complete, trim your corners, turn your piece right side out, blind stitch the opening closed by hand and then push the lining into the pouch.

Hand sew some pretty trim or lace on the bottom, add a snap for closure and a chain or cording and you'll have a pretty neckpouch for hands-free shopping, walking or gardening.

Ocean Garden Cellphone Pouch

This one was a bit tricky because of all the seashells that I used. If you've never done one of these before, I wouldn't recommend an extremely embellished pouch as your first sewing project. But if you're sure of what you're doing, the tip for something like this is to sew the bottom first, and then the side with the least amount of do-dads on it. Once I had that sewn, I was able to line up the other side where the big seashell is. I simply pulled the lining piece a bit to match up with the edge of the stitched piece and I was able to sew it together.

Turning this one right side out was a challenge too. With a piece that's extremely embellished, you have to take care not to pull on your embellishments. Take your time and work the lining down first and then from the bottom, carefully push the stitched end out.

I'm planning on taking this one up to my showcase in Richmond. I like to offer my blog readers first dibs on my things so if anyone wants this, please drop me an email and I'll reserve it for you in my Etsy shop.

All of the crocheted edgings on my cellphone pouches are made by mom. She will gladly do custom orders if anyone is interested. Just drop me an email.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Peacock Heart

I worked on this a bit last night. As you can see, I have the peacock embroidered on here. I used 3 strands of DMC cotton floss and then highlighted the wing with some Kreinik #4 braid in a light lavender color.

Heart CQ

Looking at it now, the peacock does not "pop" like I want it to. Does any one know what the "fix" is for this? There's always a way to fix something. I'll be outlining it with metallic gold thread.

In other news, I ran up to Hobby Lobby this past Saturday and picked up some white Kona Cotton and a nice red Gingham like fabric to make my custom apron order. Today, I will pull my vintage iron-on transfers out so I can get myself ready for stitching. Once the stitching is complete, I'll do the assembly work on my sewing machine. Stop by tomorrow to see the fabrics and transfer design.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Update On Heart

I'm really posting late today. I had the chance to spend some time with my sister this morning and I didn't want to miss out on that!

Here's a quick update on my heart block:

Heart CQ

I'll be working on this more shortly. For those of you who guessed that the focal point will be a peacock, you are correct! I'll be using one of those funky earrings that I bought last weekend for the tail. Be sure to stop back to see that!

Figural Beaded Purses

I found this interesting article on Figural Beaded Purses. These are beautiful! Do check them out!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ocean Garden Cellphone Pouch - Stitching Complete!

Or maybe what I should say is, the embellishing is complete!

China Silk Seascape 1

The scanner made it look a bit washed out. When I get it sewn together, I'll share a photo from the camera.

Speaking of sewing this, I'm sure you're wondering how in the world I'm going to do that with all the seashells? Yes, it is quite do-able but there are some tricks and I will share those with you.

I also want to mention that there's no need to worry about using my purses or cellphone pouches. I've been told that they're too pretty to use, too decorative and rather fragile looking. There's nothing fragile about these. I use bead thread to attach beads, charms and buttons. The larger beads and embellishements are gone through twice with a double threaded needle. Once the stitching is complete on my seascapes, I use E6000 Jewelry Glue. The shells are sewn on with the bead thread and then I glue them together with the Jewelry Glue. These do-dads are on to stay!

I would like to say thank you to everyone who took the time to answer my questions yesterday, either in email or here in the comments section regarding my blog. It sounds like I have readers who do a wide variety of needlework techniques!

Apparently, everyone enjoys my daily Works In Progress photos. I can imagine how much fun it is for you to see one of my blocks develop day by day.

I was asked for more "how to's" esp. when it comes to piecing a block as well as finishing my cellphone pouches and purses. I guess I never thought too much of sharing that information with you. I just assumed that it was already available on the internet or that everyone already knew how to do that part. Not to worry though! Your wish is my command ladies! I will share that information here. I'll take photos when I get to my next sewing projects. Trust me, it's easier than you think!

Several of you also mentioned that you like my writing style. I had to laugh just a little bit because I write as if I'm actually talking to someone in person. I just don't know how to do this any other way. I've never been good at expressing myself verbally so I just write like I talk. Heaven help all of us, huh?!!!

So now, I'm sure you're wondering what my next project will be? Ok, I won't make you wait any longer:

Heart CQ

This is a 6 inch heart. I running over several different finishing ideas in my head but haven't decided on anything for sure yet. I'll wait until I complete the stitching and then decide. Does anyone want to guess the theme? I'll give you a hint: I'll be using one of my recent stash purchases!

More tomorrow....

Inside Story Of A Handbag - 1945 Article

I came across this republished article yesterday. It's about the contents of womens handbags in 1945.

I was rather amused by it and thought you would enjoy it as well.

In Victorian days, it was considered "lady-like" to carry as little as possible. Hmmmmm....how interesting! I would have fit right in then! I only carry my wallet, my keys and a chapstick in my purse. I guess that's why I can get away with a small handbag. And by now, I'm sure you know my motto when it comes to purses:

If it isn't embellished, what's the point!!!

Enjoy!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Questions For My Readers

In hopes for offering new and fun ideas, tips and inspiration to my readers, I would like to ask you a few questions. Please take a moment to leave your answers in the comments section for me.

1. What kind of stitching do you do? Are you a cross-stitcher, a crazy-quilter, an embroiderer (such as vintage transfers), a sewer or a multi-media stitcher?

2. How often do you come to my blog?

3. What do you enjoy about my blog?

4. Is there anything you don't like about my blog?

5. What type of information would you like to see more of?

Thank you everyone! I'm looking for input so that I can share with you more of what you come here for.

Ocean Garden Cellphone Pouch Continued

I'm constant search of new names for my "Seascapes"! You may be wondering why I do so many of these? It's because I find them very peaceful to work on. Just like watching fish swim in an aquarium. There's something soothing about creating under water themed pieces.

Ocean Garden Cellphone Pouch

I started with some purple eyelash yarn, tacking it at the bottom and then twisting it, tacking at the twists. I added just a bit of feather stitching to the right, some other purple yarn in the middle and then a piece of mint green vintage trim. The metallic gold piece that you see is a vintage tassel which I fanned out and then sewed on.

This piece is really more about couching and embellishing than stitching. It's kind of fun to experiment with different yarns and trims.

Scott drilled holes in a bunch of seashells for me so those are the next do-dads to go on and then beads and sequins. As you can see, I've already added my cat. I tend to forget about adding him on the seascapes. I try to make him blend into the background.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Special Effects For Needlework & Mixed Media Projects

Since I'm getting ready to start on another Seascape, I thought this would be a good time to share with you some fun things you can use for "special effects".

This is a piece of China Silk which I hand-painted and applied to the foundation fabric with Heat & Bond:

China Silk Seascape 1

The image is a bit fuzzy. You know that photography is not my medium! But it's enough for you to see.

I then added a "special effects" layer which consists of Angelina Fibers, Silk Rods and some metallic gold mesh:

China Silk Seascape 2

Angelina Fiber is a very fine "light reflective" as well as "light refractive" fiber. It is extremely luminescent and comes in a wide range of colors.

Angelina Fibers

Angelina is a loose, fusible fiber meaning that when heated, it bonds to itself creating a sheer, non-woven fabric which can then be applied to an unlimited range of projects. It can be used in paper arts such as hand-made paper, scrapbooking and greeting cards. It can used with wool for felting and as you can see here, it will make for a lovely background to my Seascape.

Silk Rods are another really fun "special effect" item that can be used in all mixed media applications. The only limit is one's own imagination:

Silk Rods

I purchased my Silk Rods from Grace at Larkspur Funny Farm, another wonderful Etsy shop owner! Since I am rather clueless about silk worms, I am going to quote Grace from her description of the Silk Rods:

"Carrier Silk Rods are the by product of reeling silk from the cocoon. As the silk filament is unraveled from the cocoons into a skein that is carried over a rod. Silk builds up on this carrier rod and must be removed. This silk is then slit and removed. These slit tubes still have the sericin. The rods can be dyed, separated into layers, sprayed with water and ironed flat or degummed. They have been used in paper making, jewelry, spinning, felting, altered art, textural stitching and silk fusion. The rods vary in shapes and sizes."

So here is what I did with my piece:

Working on a sheet of Freezer paper, I sprinkled on some purple and mint green Angelina. I then added some snippets of metallic gold fabric mesh.

I pulled off some small pieces of the silk rod, spritzed it with water, pressed it with my iron and laid that on top of my fiber and gold mesh. I then sprinkled a bit more of the mint green and the purple Angelina on top, covered it with my Freezer paper and pressed it. This all fused together in what I call a "fiber sandwich". At the moment, it's just laying on top of my China Silk but will be held in place with my stitching and embellishments which I will be starting on here shortly.

Grace is currently sold out of her Silk Rods but I spoke with her last week and expect to see new listings soon so if you're interested in purchasing some of these, please bookmark her shop and keep checking back.

There are many online sources for Angelina Fibers but I recommend Textura Trading. For the direct link to the Angelina Fiber page, click here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dragonfly Purse & More!

Ok, who ordered snow? According to my calender it's the middle of April! Yes, it's snowing here but I'll try to think "Spring" thoughts and hope that it comes back very soon!

First, I want to update you on my little Flicker birdie. He's fine! He sat in the same spot on my maple tree for about 2 1/2 hours yesterday. Every little while, he would stretch his wings and look around a bit. After a couple of hours, he called out to his friends! 2 more Flickers came and landed in the tree by him. A few minutes later, all 3 of them flew off into the woods together!

I can't begin to tell you what an amazing experience it was to touch this gorgeous bird! I would never wish his trauma on any bird. He hit that window very hard and knocked the wind out of himself but to see him so up close and to touch him was amazing. I'm thrilled that I was here to help him and that he was able to recover from the shock.

So now, onto some finishes! I finished up my Dragonfly purse yesterday. And for those of you who counted 5 dragonflies, 2 butterflies and a spider yes, you are correct! Here's a photo of the finished purse:

Dragonfly Purse 1

I just listed this in my Etsy shop.

My next finish is the black Autism pouch:

Black Autism Cellphone Pouch

I trimmed the bottom of this pouch with some crocheted beaded edging that my mom made for me. She does this to thank me for taking the time sell some of her things for her.

Anyway, that's my news for today! I plan to start another CQ piece later today and I want to get my list of needed supplies together for my custom apron order so I can pick up what I need and get started on that. Stop by tomorrow to see what I decide to work on.

At Home With Needlework Magazine Holiday Issue

The new Holiday Issue of At Home With Needlework by Zweigart is now available. Here is a list of my designs which appear in this issue:

"Redwork Valentine Stitchband Border" - page 6
"Cluster Of Clovers" Tabletopper (cover) - page 8
"Easter Bunny" Tabletopper (cover) - page 10
"Bookmarks For Dad" - page 16
"Autumn Leaves" Stitchband Borders - page 23
"Halloween Greetings" - page 26
"Harvest Table Collection" - page 29

Zweigart Magazine

You can find this magazine and others with my designs at your local needlework shop.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Bird Rescue

About an hour ago, I was in my kitchen and heard a huge thump on one of my living room windows. I looked out, and laying on the ground was a beautiful Flicker bird which is a member of the Woodpecker family. I immediately ran outside in hopes of helping him.

He was still breathing so I sat down and started talking to him, telling him that was fine, that he hit the window hard and was just a bit stunned.

His eyes kept opening and closing so I started petting him. Birds are so soft! Anyway, he began to perk up a bit. It didn't appear to me that his wings were broken but I wasn't sure about his neck. I kept visualizing him being ok and flying away but after a few minutes, he was still quite out of it.

I ran in the house, grabbed a box and some old towels and then went back out. Again, he was still breathing, and starting to move his head around a bit so I assumed that his neck wasn't broken. I talked to him some more, kept petting him and then gently picked him up and put him in the box and carried him to the front porch.

Flicker Bird 1

I sat the box on the chair and just talked to him and kept petting his little head and slowly but surely, he started to move around some more.

Flicker Bird 3

As you can see, this little guy was quite out of it but after awhile, I noticed as I started to move around, walking back and forth a bit on the porch, he started watching me which I think perked him up some more. After a few more minutes, he stood up, and flew into my maple tree.

I just checked on him and he's still sitting in the same spot in the tree but he was looking around, I saw him stretch his wings a little and I heard him chattering. All of which I believe are good signs that he'll be ok. I'll keep you posted.

Black Autism Pouch Complete!

I stitched on this yesterday during the Cubs Home Opener game. Yes, they lost. That's ok, I'm just so happy to have baseball to listen to again!

Anyway, this is ready for assembling now:

Black Autism Cellphone Pouch

As with the first Autism pouch that I did a few weeks back, I pulled the colors from the puzzle ribbon.

My plan for today is do the machine work on this as well as the Dragonfly Purse. If all goes well, I may even get the hand-finishing completed today too! Stop by tomorrow to see I was able to stay on schedule!

I have a custom apron to do so I'll be pulling out my apron patterns today to figure out what supplies I'll need and I have a ton of new blocks all sewn up and ready to stitch on so I'll have to choose one for my next CQ project. I'll probably have to go "eenie, meenie, miney, mo" because I want to do them all and probably won't be able to just pick one!!! Isn't creativity wonderful?!!!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Inspiration In Magazine Publications

I mentioned last week that I'm more of a do-er than a reader. I've always loved reading but I find it time consuming and with my drive & passion to constantly create, I find myself looking to magazines to fill my needs. Short articles and lots of pictures that suit two purposes, the need to read and the need for inspiration.

Over the weekend, I picked up the new Quilting Arts magazine:

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This magazine is almost always a treasure to me! I so much enjoy curling up on my sofa with my latest issue of Quilting Arts, a glass of iced tea and getting lost in the beautiful artwork of the contributers.

I also picked up a magazine titled, "Haute Handbags" from the publisher of Somerset Studio & Belle Amoire:



You know how much I love handbags! And this magazine is loaded with gorgeous photos, ideas, how-to's and of course inspiration! Anything can be a handbag! And I truly believe that every women on this planet deserves to own at least, one gorgeous purse. Even if only for the purpose of looking at it! If you're attracted to beautiful purses, you may consider checking this one out. I found it at Borders.

If you're still wondering what those crazy black earrings that I bought yesterday at the flea market will be used for, Allison was correct when she said "peacock tails". Yes, I saw them and I saw peacock tails! Stay tuned for that project!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter!

We started our holiday with a nice morning walk through a flea market. It was rather cold this morning. In fact, Spring seems to be on a holiday! No matter, it was something nice to do and we both enjoy it.

It wasn't as large as it normally is, probably due to the cold temps and the fact that it's a holiday but I still managed to find some goodies:

Vintage Jewelry 1

Pretty vintage jewelry pieces to use as embellishments!

Now, you're probably wondering what I'll be using these on:

Vintage Jewelry 2

Take a guess! If you think about what I see them as, you'll know the answer!!!

I also found these earrings which aren't really old but they were loaded with charms:

Vintage Jewelry 3

Personally, I can't imagine wearing these but the charms will work nicely on crazy quilts!

Wishing you all a wonderful and safe holiday!
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