Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Ornaments as Art

I've always loved buying ornaments from artists and have quite a collection for our tree.  There's just something about a compact piece of art that is put away for most of the year and becomes special again when it's unpacked before Christmas!  So I've been thinking about fiber art ornaments - not the felted or fabric ones that I've made so far, but something that would be a work of art.  One of a kind, is meant to communicate something, and has more thought put into it.  Looking at what's out there, I found some great fiber art ornaments to share with you.

Doll and fibers artist Bobby Jo Free created this great elf ornament - he has personality galore!  She has some pretty amazing larger works on her website that are definitely worth taking a look at.  And the elf is for sale!

I'm fascinated with beading on fabric and am an admirer of fiber artist Lisa Binkley's beautiful work.  She made this ornament for her grandparents - see her website to read about it and how it was created.  And in case you didn't know, she teaches classes!  See her schedule here to check for one in your area.

If you've never seen Japanese temari, do a Google image search - you'll be in awe!  This is the art of thread wrapping soft balls in intricate geometric patterns.  I've always thought they'd make great ornaments!  This beautiful chrysanthemum temari was made by Jane of World Embroideries.  If you want to learn more about the art form, a good site to check out is here.

I love needle felting - well, more admiring the work of needle felting artists than pricking up my own fingers!  These gnomes from Laurel Lee Burch are fantastic!  Definitely visit her website and see the Santas - and when there you'll discover she has a detailed tutorial on making these pieces.  It looks like something I could tackle, so there will likely be needle felting in my near future.  Time to restock the bandaids!

I have some ideas for my own work of art ornaments - but they involve using a color printer and mine is currently out of commission.  Hopefully it will be replaced this weekend and I'll have something to show you on Monday!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wednesday Sewing - Dress Up Clothes

If you have a toddler or preschooler on your shopping list this Christmas, you might consider making a few of these easy dress up clothes!  There are lots of great fabrics they look good in - go with animal prints for a jungle theme, sparkly and lacy for a more elegant look, velvet capes are good for wizard play, or shiny spandex for superheroes.

*3/4 yard fabric that doesn't fray and won't need hemming
  (you can use other fabric and hem it)
*1 inch elastic
*sew on velcro

1. Measure how long you want the skirt to be (I used the waist to ankle measurement) and add 2 inches.  If you'll be hemming the bottom, add another inch.  Put right sides together, matching selvages, and pin.  Sew with a 1/2 inch seam.

2.  Make a 1 1/4 inch casing along the waist edge - turn 1 1/2 inches of fabric to the inside, turn the bottom edge under 1/4 inch, pin in place and sew, leaving an opening at the seam for the elastic.  Cut a piece of elastic 2 inches larger than the child's waist - since dress up clothes are usually worn over a child's clothing, you'll need a bit of extra room in the waist.  Insert elastic, overlap the ends 1/2 inch and sew securely, and sew up the opening.

That's it!

1.  Fold right edges of the fabric together, matching the selvages.  Place a 7 or 8 inch plate along the top with half of it on top of the fabric.

2.  Using a Sharpie or chalk, trace around the bottom of the plate.  As you reach the top of the plate, continue to the right, drawing a rounded tab as shown below.

3.  Draw a line across the bottom of the fabric at the length you want the cape to be.  I made mine 20 inches for a toddler.  Using a straight edge, draw a straight line from the tab you drew to the bottom line.

4.  Here's a drawing showing what I did to this point - the proportion's not correct!

5.  Cut the cape out along the lines you drew.  You can round the bottom corners if you want.

6.  Cut a 1 1/2 inch piece of velcro and round the edges.

7.  Pin one side of the velcro to the right side of a cape tab and the other side of the velcro to the wrong side of the other cape tab.

8.  Sew in place.

And you have a cape!

Here's Super C in action!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Project - Gift Tags

I love vintage holiday cards and am getting quite a collection of them!  I wanted to use images from them as part of my gift tags this year, but couldn't decide if I wanted to make them from fabric like I have in the past, or print them on paper.  It's less work on paper and they don't get saved anyway!  As I went through the images, I had a great idea - use the images that have something to do with fibers!  There are five of them - two with sheep, one with sewing, one with darning and one with knitting.

Using the page found here, print out the tags on cardstock.  Cut them out, punch a hole, and string a piece of ribbon through the hole.  Remember to make sure "Print Actual Size" is checked on the page that comes up on your computer when you click print.

Now to work on some presents!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Yarny Books!

It's not like I need another book having to do with yarn - I just gathered up various piles of them from around the house and tried to cram them into an overfull bookshelf.  However ..... these are probably going to make their way into my collection!

I've been playing around a bit with Tunisian crochet and have been about to the point where I think I'm ready for a bigger project - The New Tunisian Crochet looks like it'll be perfect!  I love Dora Orhenstein's designs - the one on the front cover looks like something I'll try and I can't wait to see the rest of the patterns!  The publish date is February 26, 2013.

After all the spinning I did last spring, I haven't touched my wheel in months - something I've been trying to remedy.  The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs looks like just what I need!  I accidentally discovered a way to make boucle yarns (by forgetting which direction to spin one of the yarns I plied...), but I'm intrigued by instructions for 80 different yarns.  It'll be published January 29, 2012.

I love Noro yarns and always drool over the beautiful, colorful patterns in the Noro knitting books!  I'm no where near proficient enough at knitting to tackle any of them, but earlier this month Noro published a book of crochet designs.  Yes!  Crochet Noro is already on the way to me!  

And speaking of knitting ... I don't think I'm ready for these designs yet, but if you knit and need a project to start on for Christmas 2013, here's a great looking one.  The Twelve Knits of Christmas has all the figures from the song - if you make the correct number of each, you'll probably need to start now to get all of the figures done, though!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!  This table mat was made from the pattern Autumn Reflection by Lori Kabat of Lily Anna Stitches.

Monday, November 19, 2012

2012 Felt Ornaments - Part 2

The last two felt Christmas ornaments for this year are a frosted gingerbread cookie and a peace dove.  The first two ornaments are here.

*felt - white, light blue, olive green, brown, tan, and a small bit of red
*embroidery floss - white, green, brown, tan, red
*small craft buttons - 2 black, 1 navy, and 3 red
*12 inches each of white and green 1/4 or 1/8 inch ribbon
*patterns for Frosted Gingerbread Man
*patterns for Peace Dove

1.  Cut two bodies from tan felt, one icing from white, and one bow tie from red.  Pin the icing to one of the body pieces and attach using a blanket stitch and two strands of white floss.  Sew the bow tie on in the same way with red floss and then sew an X in the middle of it.

2.  Sew two black buttons on for eyes and three red buttons on as shown.

3.  Pin on the second body piece as backing, with the green ribbon attached in the center of the head.

4.  Attach back to front using a back stitch and two strands of tan floss.  Tie a knot close to the gingerbread man's head.

For the peace dove:

1.  Cut two body pieces from white felt, one bottom wing from light blue, one branch from brown, and one of each numbered leaves from olive green.  Attach the bottom wing to the dove body.  Sew into place with two strands of white floss, sewing only the portion shown below.

2.  Attach the top wing in the same way.

3.  Pin branch to the dove body as shown.  Sew the branch parts with a blanket stitch and two strands of brown floss.  Attach the leaves with short stitches.

4.  Sew leaves on top of the branch matching the leaf number to the number on the branch piece.  I recommend cutting and then sewing one leaf at a time so you can keep track of where they go.  On leaf 1 and leaf 3, sew only the portions that are not on the edges.  On all leaves, sew a running stitch down the center.

5.  With a pencil, lightly draw a scallop design on the wing as shown below.  Use 6 strands of white floss and sew over the lines with an outline stitch.

6.  Pin front to back, attaching white ribbon at the point where the wing meets the head.

7.  Sew front to back with two strands of embroidery floss and a blanket stitch - use green for the portion from the beak through leaf 3 and white for the rest.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Terese Agnew

When you study art, you learn a lot about different perspectives and viewpoints.  And yet, so much of the art one sees is just a straight on perspective - the viewer's eye is around the horizon.  I know that's the way I tend to orient most of my own pieces.  And then along comes an artist who uses a different perspective and it's amazing!

Wisconsin quilt artist Terese Agnew uses bird's eye view in many of her quilts and it's so intriguing.  With bird's eye view, the viewer's eye is far above the horizon - now that we have air travel and know what it's like to look straight down from ourselves as we're flying, this usually looks like what a bird would see should it look down. In Cedar Waxwings in the AT&T Parking Lot, we're above the birds!  I like how she puts a small window of straight on perspective in the middle.

Cedar Waxwings Above the AT&T Parking Lot, 1996.  Thread, cotton, silk, organza.

Terese uses thread painting to create her quilts.  Looking at the whole piece in a reproduction, it's hard to see that.  Everything comes together so well!  However, when looking at a detail shot, you can see how many threads and colors are used to get that effect.  These two shots of Practice Bombing Range in the Mississippi Flyway are a good example. 

Practice Bombing Range in the Mississippi Flyway, 2002.  Cotton, bridal tulle, denim, photo transfer, thread.

Detail of above

Craft in America featured Terese last season, so PBS has a great lesson plan (geared to high school) for anyone who teaches or just wants to learn more about her art and processes.  And if you want to be totally blown away, watch this clip of Margarete and David Harvey telling about how they commissioned her to create Margarete's Garden - and you see glimpses of this amazing quilt.  Note - when they're talking about the paper mache dragon Terese created around a water tower, the caption says "1958," but it was actually in 1985.

Watch Terese Agnew - The Harveys on PBS. See more from Craft in America.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Grandma Willoughby

I have quite a few copies of old photographs of my grandparents, great-grandparents, a few great-great-grandparents ... and I've been trying to think of how to display them.  While I'm not sure I'll do this with everyone, I decided to work prints of the photos into pieces of fiber art.  And the first one is done!  I made a crazy quilt square from silk fabric I bought on my recent New England trip 

added embroidery, beads, and vintage lace, and turned in the corners so it would fit in the oval frame I found.  Her photo in the middle was printed on silk printer fabric.

My great-grandmother Margaret McGrady Ybarra Willoughby was born in 1890 - her parents' seventh of eleven children and the first to be born in Montana after they came west from Virginia on an emigrant train.  She spent most of her life in and around Butte, where she married my great-grandfather Edward Ybarra.  He died in 1918 during the Spanish Flu epidemic, leaving her with a baby and a two year old.  Life was not easy - one can only imagine how hard it must've been to try and provide a living for my grandmother and her brother.  She married the man I knew as my great-grandfather ten years later.  I remember the wonderful pasties she cooked, her bathroom that smelled of Dove soap, and playing outside in her yard!  As a teenager studying history, I was amazed at how different the world and my life was from when Grandma was my age - cars, movie theaters, supermarkets, airplanes, television, space travel .... she saw so, so many changes.   Grandma passed on at age 94, outliving her children, both husbands, and all her siblings save for one sister.  And leaving loving memories for the rest of us!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, November 12, 2012

Felting Wool Fabric

I bought a kit for a felted wool fabric wall hanging (except that I'm going to use it for a Thanksgiving table mat) at a quilting show my mom and I went to last week.  I've never made anything except little ornaments from felted wool - and that was the type that looked like actual felt, not woolen fabric - so I thought a kit would be a good way to start.  Okay ... the first thing I learned is I should have checked the colors of the fabric in the kit before I bought it!  Quite a few of them didn't look like the sample at the booth I bought it from or the photo on the front of the kit.  And I'm not talking "some fabrics may vary slightly from the photo" - they weren't anything like the photo!  This wouldn't have been so bad, except that the fabrics were all dark, so they wouldn't have shown up on the black wool background.  And, while I'm not usually one that has to have everything look like the example, I do feel that sunflower petals should be some type of yellow and not brown!

Luckily, Joann's had all of their woolen fabric on sale this weekend so I was able to pick up some quarter yards of fabric I felt better about.  Except ... when I got it home and put it next to the other fabric it was so, well, smooth and unfelted.  Duh!  I've felted roving into fabric before, but have never tried felting (or fulling) patterned wool fabric.  How do you make sure it doesn't get too full?  After reading about several different methods I decided to try the method that looked like the least time consuming - the washing machine and dryer.  This was the method I was most nervous about, so I only used half of each fabric.

I have a front loading HE machine that I can't open midway through the cycle to check on the felting progression.  So, with great trepidation, I threw all the fabric in the machine with soap and a small hand towel, set it to medium spin on the delicate fabric setting (figuring that I could always felt it more, but couldn't undo too much felting), and pushed start.  They looked promising after they were done!  I put everything in the dryer on medium and a 20 minute cycle.  Perfect!  The fabric on the right is the felted one and the fabric on the left is how it originally looked.

Here's another piece ...

... and here's one of my felted fabrics compared to one of the provided fabrics.  They have exactly the same amount of felting!

I really like the full feeling of this felted woolen fabric!  Looks like I need to make a trip to Goodwill and see what kind of wool suits I can find!

Happy Creating!  Deborah