Friday, December 23, 2011

Thank you for sharing in my fibers adventures this year!  I'll be back on January 4th for the beginning of a new year of fun - look for a snowflake table mat, a colorful crocheted shawl/scarf to chase the post-Christmas winter funks away, and some beginning silk painting projects!  Stay warm and safe and ...

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Quick Last Minute Gifts

If you're in need of a quick to make handmade gift or stocking stuffer before Christmas, I put together a few from this year's blog posts that might work.  Also, check out the review from 2010 I posted last year!

If you have a needlework enthusiast on your list, one of these mini needle books just might work.  And if the cloud's not your cup of tea, substitute any shape.

I made this lined fabric scarf from repurposed Goodwill clothing, but any fabric will work.  It's very quick!

If a crocheted scarf is more of what you're looking for, I posted this wave pattern scarf I developed for the Special Olympics scarves. 

These crocheted flowers/leaves go together real quick for a nice flower pin.  Make the flowers, sew the small to the large, attach two leaves, add center beads, and sew on a pin backing.  This was the most viewed post this year!

Or crochet a flower face cloth in the person's favorite flower colors.

A trip to the thrift store should turn up a sports T-shirt that can be turned into a game day bag for the sports fans on your list.  Or use any interesting tee you find to make a great re-usable shopping bag.

For readers, these winter bookmarks go together quickly.

Same with these felt robins for your bird loving friends!

And for the kids:

a hand towel bib,

crocheted doll hat and sweater or sewn doll clothes,

a bean bag felt snowman (or lady),

or an apron for the toddler who loves art or "helping" with the cooking!  One reader made this in thin plastic as an art apron and said it turned out really well.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, December 19, 2011

Monday Project - Christmas Tags

Alright!!  The presents are finished, wrapped, and now just need tags!  I decided to use the holly, mistletoe, and pinecone drawings I made for my gift bag heat transfers.  If you'd like to use these, too, a PDF of these tags can be found here.  However .... I found a really cool effect on GIMP that you might want to use on your own images to make your own personalized tags.  I'll show you how!

First, for those who haven't heard of it, GIMP is an image manipulation program that you can down load for free here.  I've been using it for several years and love it!  To make my gift tags, I took photos of my drawings - I tried scanning them, but thought the photos looked better.  I find it easiest to download my photos to my computer, copy the one I want to work with, and put it on a PowerPoint slide.  There are other ways to get photos into GIMP, but this one works for me!

Next, copy the photo from the PowerPoint slide and and paste it onto the GIMP page.

If the image isn't perfectly crisp, you can sharpen it by going to Filters, selecting Enhance, and selecting Sharpen.  A box will come up - I set it to about 25 and hit OK.  If you want to sharpen it up more, you can keep selecting Repeat Sharpen until you like it.

I wanted my gift tags to be either circles or ovals, so I went to Toolbox and selected Ellipse.

I made my circle around the mistletoe by clicking on one side of it and pulling the circle to the other side.  You can adjust your circle by clicking on its edge where it touches the square (see below) and pulling it out or pushing it in.  It takes a bit to get the hang of this - just play around!

Next, I like to copy the circle and paste it on a PowerPoint slide.  That way, I can play around with it all I want and not have to worry about getting it back to its original form if I don't like the changes.  I also find it easier to play with if I don't have that extra photo around it.  To copy, right click on the circle, select File, and select Copy.

Now copy the circle from the PowerPoint slide, close your previous picture on the GIMP page, and paste on the circle.  The checkerboard pattern you see below means that portion is transparent.

Next I played around with the Artistic Filters.  There's one called Clothify that adds a lot of nice texture.  I'm not sure it looks like fabric (maybe burlap), but it's interesting!  I selected it and hit OK.

You can see the nice texture I got!  However, it's a little dark and dinghy looking.  Most photos benefit from having the contrast increased.  Under Colors, select Brightness-Contrast.

An adjustment box will come up.  I made it brighter and increased the contrast quite a bit.  Hit OK when you like it.

Now just copy it and paste it back on a PowerPoint slide.  Tada!

To attach the gift tag to a present, I used a hole puncher to make a hole, tied on some size 10 crochet thread, and tied it onto the gift.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Printed Textiles

The printed textile class I took this semester has finished up and I'm already missing it!  This was my first university studio class since I was working on my BFA and I'd forgotten how much I love the atmosphere of artistic, inspiring people working together.  The frustrated tears of not being able to get a technique to work in the way one wants, the joys of a piece that comes together exactly right, the anticipation of critiques ....  In some places, there are groups of artists who work together in co-op or communal studios, but not here.  I have dreams of some day starting one!

So here's the rest of the work I ended up with!  I talked about my first piece here.

My second piece was part of an assignment working with contact paper stencils.  We went through a design process to make a random shape, printed it, and then added other stencils to make a cohesive piece.  The shape I got looked like an sea plant to me, so I added in squids and bubbles.  Why squids?  Why not - they're fun!  After I printed the cloth, I quilted it.  I dyed some of the same fabric a turquoise and printed binding with the same dot stencil I used on the piece.  I free motion quilted the sea plants with leafy designs, the squid with circles, and the background with a random wave-like pattern.

 Things got a lot more complicated for the third assignment!  We spent quite a bit of time learning to make a leapfrog stencil - one stencil that is rotated and printed in different colors.  Four colors are used, but by designing in overlaps, one can end up with a lot more.  For my inspiration, I worked with a photo I took of contoured fields - I think we were over Virginia.  To keep with an airborne feel, I made a stencil of feathers (using drawing fluid - not my favorite method, I discovered) and printed those around the border.  I haven't quilted it yet, but do plan to. 

Before this class began, I was most looking forward to learning how to make photo exposed silk screens, so I was ready and rarin' for the last project!  Since we were learning a huge number of new skills in this class, this last project was the only one that had the requirement of being more purposeful/having something to say.  A few days before, I'd been thinking about my life long dilemma - how to balance having enough time and enough money to do what I want.  They always seem to be out of balance for me - I either have enough time OR enough money (except for when I was in college in my 20's and I had neither!) but never both.  I'm not sure how I would handle having both, but it would be interesting to see! 

I decided to make a meditation mandala, using a shibori fold technique that results in a symmetrical circle for the background.  The money and time pieces were first photocopied and enlarged and the photocopies were printed on transparencies.  Then two days of work began, carefully cleaning off all the spots on the transparencies that I wanted to not print.  I made screens with multiple images, but printed each motif separately.  At some point I think I'd like to get this framed with a dark gray background that will make the circle show up better - it's huge though (38 inch diameter), so that'll take saving some pennies!

Now I'm busy planning how to come up with a surface at home that I can continue printing on - it's pretty addictive! 

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Fabric Pillow Boxes

Hmmm ... this year I still seem to be sewing like crazy trying to get everything finished before Christmas.  Some years I actually finish before Thanksgiving!  I am slowly making headway, though, and love seeing the pile of finished wrapped presents growing.  This year I decided to come up with wrapping that uses fabric in some way and can be reused by the person getting the gift, which did add a bit to the sewing list, however they look so nice!  These fabric pillow boxes are a nice way to wrap gift cards, money, small presents .... and a great way to use small pieces of fabric stashes!  Between these, the gift bags, and bogaji wraps, all my presents are getting covered!  I used the pillow box template from

*8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of fabric
*Size 5 perle cotton embroidery floss
*Steam a Seam 2
*1 sheet cardstock
*4 feet of ribbon
*Tacky glue
*pattern found here

1.  Print off one pillow box template.  Cut an 8 1/2 by 11 inch piece of Steam a Seam 2, remove backing from one side, and press onto the back side of the template.

2.  Remove second piece of backing fabric and iron onto the back side of piece of fabric.

3.  Cut out pillow box.

4.  Sew along fold lines.

5.  Lay ribbon across the box so it covers the semi-circle indentations.  Sew the ribbon on in the middle - I sewed it on in a square.

6.  Using perle cotton and a blanket stitch, finish edges except for the edge with the turn down.

7.  Fold box along stitching lines.

8.  Glue folded down edge ...

9.  ... and clothes pin to the opposite edge.

10.  When dry, tie in a bow and trim ends.

Happy Creating!!  Deborah

Monday, December 12, 2011

Monday Project - Bogaji Wraps

Bok Hee Lee, Yellow Wrapping Cloth, 2009.  Linen.
Ever since I found the exhibit on Korean bogaji wraps at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco last summer, I've been planning how I can wrap our Christmas presents this year using fabric that the receiver can use.  If you're not familiar with bogaji, see this past post here.  I love the idea of gift wrap that, depending on the size, can be used as a shawl, scarf, or even linens such as napkins!  Bogaji can be made from most any type of fabric, from embroidered silk to cotton pieced from scraps.  When the fabric is faced with a different fabric, the contrast shows up great when the cloth is tied.  If you silk paint, you can design your own beautiful wraps (and if you haven't silk painted before, but are curious what it's all about, you'll be happy to see what we're working on in January).  I decided to use silky fabric I bought and hemmed - you can also use already hemmed scarves.

*1 yard of a silky fabric that has the same design on both sides - make a narrow hem.  See this past post for a tutorial on hemming sheer/silky fabrics.
*ribbon, a string of beads, silk flower, or Christmas decoration

Lotus Wrap:
1.  Lay fabric out on a large flat surface with the turned under hem facing up.

2.  Lay the present to be wrapped diagonally in the center of the fabric.

3.  Lift up two opposite corners and tie in a square knot on top of the present.

4.  Pick up the remaining two corners and repeat.

5.  Add a decoration, if you want!

Two Bottle Wrap:
1.  Lay two bottles of wine about 1/4 of the way in from one corner with their ends about 3 inches apart.

2.  Fold corner over bottles.

3.  Roll fabric around the bottles.

4.  Pull the two ends together while standing the bottles upright.

5.  Tie in a square knot.

6.  Add a decoration!

In Japan, wrapping gifts with fabric is called Furoshiki.  I found this great chart on the Japanese embassy website with a lot of other folding and tying options:

Wednesday I'll have the last of the fabric based gift wrap I came up with this year.

Happy Creating (and present wrapping)!  Deborah