Monday, October 31, 2011

Monday Project - Felt Chicken Legs

This weekend it was back to my felt food project!  I decided that while fruits and vegetables are great, sometimes you just want chicken legs.  These are really easy - the quickest of any of the food I've been making.  Once I got the pattern made (that took a few tries), I made two of them in about an hour.

*felt - tan and off-white
*patterns found here

1.  Cut three pieces of tan felt using the meat pattern and two off-white pieces using the bone pattern.

2.  Sew the three pieces of meat together (right sides together), with a narrow seam and leaving the final side open.

3.  Sew the last side with a gap in the middle (so you can turn it right side out).  Turn right side out, stuff with fiberfill, and hand sew the gap together.  After you have the gap sewn together, you might need to add more fiberfill through the bottom opening.

4.  Sew the bone pieces together (right sides together), with a narrow seam and leaving the top open.

5.  Turn right side out and stuff.  Sew a running stitch around the top and pull to gather.  Leave the thread attached.

6.  Put the bone section inside the bottom of the meat section and hand sew together.

I think next week I'll come up with something for dessert!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Crochet Art

Every once in awhile I surf for crochet fiber art - it's hard to find, but usually worth it when I find some!  This time I discovered three very interesting (and very different) artists.

Endless Night, 2008.  Crocheted yarn, indigo, garden trellis, ribbon.

Josh Faught is a textiles professor at California College of the Arts and recently had a solo exhibition at the Lisa-Cooley Gallery in New York City.  I especially love this piece.  To me it plays off the idea of crochet as the medium of so many grandmothers' (maybe great-grandmothers' these days) curtains, but takes it into a more modern theme.  It's not just the curtains - it also makes me think of looking out into the night and wondering what's there.  Interesting!  See more of his work from the exhibition here and read about Josh here.

I'm always fascinated by using yarn to "paint" a picture as in the work above and as in Caroline Routh's work.  I've tried tapestry crochet before and didn't have the patience at that time to get better at it - it's not a quick art to master!  I especially like the way Caroline uses vessels - bowl, vase, even shell forms.  Read more about her and see more pieces here.

Even if it wasn't almost Halloween, I'd love (and covet!) this table cloth crocheted by Icelandic artist Hildur Bjarnadottir.  I really enjoy art that uses a medium in a way that is almost opposite of what is more usual.  The lacy, old fashioned tablecloth with the totally unexpected skulls is wonderful!  Someday I have to figure out how to make one of these - not for art (it's been done), but just for my table!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Cowgirl(boy) Trick or Treat Bag

I'm back from Portland and delivering little c's cowgirl costume.  She's darn cute looking in it - I just about melted!!  I have a few hints on the pattern I used (Simplicity #3650) in case anyone's also using that one and a tutorial for a cowgirl (or boy) trick or treat bag to go with it.  Unfortunately, I seem to have forgotten to take a picture of the whole bag, so hopefully you can get the gist of it from the photo above!

Pattern hints: 
First, a comment on fabric - apparently there are two types of ultrasuede.  One frays very easily along the cut edges and the other does not.  The one that does not fray is more expensive, but get this type!  It would be impossible to cut fringes from the "easy fray" one. Luckily I bought the right type for the fringes.  I bought the wrong type for the shirt and had trouble with fraying edges.

Bandana - I rolled it differently than they suggest.  Instead of having a little triangle of an end that can easily come undone, I folded the triangle ends in and then rolled.  I finished it off by sewing the two sides together. 

The pattern shows you an ingenious way to put this bandana together so it doesn't have to be retied every time you put it on.

Shirt - This is not an easy beginner item!  There are a few instructions that were more difficult to understand, even with all my sewing experience.  I eventually figured out all but the instructions for putting on the velcro that closes up the back.  It looks to me like they want you to attach the velcro to a single layer of fabric that's not folded under - I'm not positive, though.  That hasn't ever worked for me with velcro - too floppy.  So I folded both sides of the back opening under, top stitched along the edges, and attached a smaller oval of velcro to each side.  This works fine for keeping the back closed.

The instructions call for scrapbooking brads for the "rivets."  I couldn't find any I liked, so I used iron-on studs.  See the bag tutorial below for instructions on how to use them.  They also suggest you use interfacing on the facings and collar.  Don't.  The ultrasuede is so thin, it makes those parts way too stiff - and I used featherweight!

Trick or Treat Bag:

1.  Cut five pieces of non-fraying ultrasuede:  two pieces 9 x 15 inches, one piece 18 x 5 inches, and two pieces 2.5 x 8 inches.

2.  Pin the two 9 x 15 inch pieces with right sides together and sew each long edge with a 1/2 inch seam.

3.  Turn one open end down 1 inch and pin in place.

4.  Sew about 1/4 inch from the cut edge.

5.  Turn bag right side out.  Take one of the 2.5 by 8 inch pieces and turn down 1/4 inch on the top edge.  Pin in place about 3/4 inch from the top of bag.

6.  Sew close to pinned edge.

7.  Cut into 1/4 inch fringes, stopping about 1/4 inch from the sewing.  Repeat with the other side.

8.  Draw a chalk line 3 inches up from the bottom of the bag (it's still open).  Sew on each side of the chalk line.

9.  Cut the fabric below the sewing into a 1/4 inch fringe.

10.  Fold the remaining piece of fabric in half, right side together, and sew the long open edge in a 1/2 inch seam.

11.  Turn right side out.  Attach each end to the bag at a side seam.  Sew as shown below.

12.  To attach iron-on studs, cut plastic apart and stick on the fabric.  I placed 5 across the top of each bag side.  Iron as directed (it varies with different brands).  Let cool and remove plastic.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Project - Lion Cotton/Hemp Yarn

When I read about the new Lion Brand cotton/hemp blend yarn, I ran up to the store and bought some to test out!  I love the feel of hemp fabric and the way it picks up Procion dyes so wonderfully - it'd be great to have a yarn like that.

I bought three colors and crocheted a dishcloth using the pattern I developed here.  I started with the cream color for the beginning chain and the first two rows, went to the brown for two rows, and then the orange for two rows.  I repeated that pattern for rows 7 through 18 and ended with two more rows of cream.  For the edging, I used brown.

This dishcloth turned out very, very soft and nice and absorbent.  The yarn would be great for baby clothes and anywhere else you want a soft hand.  Before washing, the dishcloth measured 13 by 13 inches and after washing and drying in the dryer it was 11 by 11 inches.  Not a problem for dishcloths, but something to keep in mind when making something that needs specific dimensions.

I plan on working up some new patterns using this, so stay tuned!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Native American Art at Dartmouth

We recently spent a long weekend in New Hampshire enjoying some gorgeous fall weather and a good visit with one of our sons and his wife.  While in Hanover, we were able to see the Hood Museum of Art's current exhibit Native American Art at Dartmouth.  The pieces are all from the museum's collection and are definitely worth taking in.  And there are dozens of wonderful fibers pieces!  The exhibit runs through March 11, 2012 - if you're in the area, I highly recommend a visit.  These are just two of my favorites.

c. 1910 - 1920, Northern Athapaskan, hide, thread, glass and metal beads

There are several pieces of beautiful embroidery work.  These moccasins took my breath away!  Made by an unknown Northern Athapaskan artist in the early 1900's, they were also useful - the smoked hide made them waterproof.  The pattern is a typical colorful, complex design seen in many pieces made in the Subarctic.  I imagine those long winter nights lent themselves to intricate pieces that took a lot of time to create!

This close-up shows the amazing detail and perfect, tiny stitches.  Beautiful!

c. 1850 - 80, Chilkat Tlingit, mountain goat wool, cedar bark, native dyes.

Northwest Native Americans used twined cedar bark fiber to make cloth.  At a museum in British Columbia years ago, I was able to feel a cedar fiber weaving (a modern day weaving, not a museum piece!) and was amazed at its softness.  This wonderful Chilkat robe was woven using cedar fiber for the warp(vertical) threads and mountain goat wool for the weft (horizontal) threads and the bottom fringe.  This design features a whale in the typical stylized manner.  The Tlingit weave their designs from pattern boards that are passed down from generation to generation.

You can learn more about the exhibit here and view an extensive pdf guide (with lots of photos) here.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Pattern Paper

Pattern paper is one of those things I wish I'd found out about when I first started sewing!  It's really a very simple concept, but it never dawned on me until I'd bought years of patterns multiples so I could cut out several sizes.

Pellon carries a nice pattern paper on a bolt - it's thick enough that it doesn't rip easily, but thin enough to see your pattern through.  Makes tracing very easy!  I buy mine at Joann's, where they keep it with the bolts of interfacing.

These days, I buy yards of it!  Patterns now have lots of sizes in one envelope and I'm cheap - I'd rather buy it once.  I also have a vintage pattern collection.  I like to sew with them but never want to cut them up!  I'm currently sewing a cowgirl outfit for little c's Halloween costume and anticipate wanting to use the pattern again in one of the larger sizes, so I traced all the pieces I would need, folded the printed patterns back up, and put them back in the envelope.

It's extremely simple to use this paper to make your own patterns - the hardest part is folding the printed pattern sheets back up and getting them to fit in the envelope! Just lay the pattern paper on top of your printed pattern and trace the entire pattern onto the paper.  Be sure to copy all the dots, notches, and any special stitching lines.  I also like to include the pattern number, the size, the pattern piece letter and name, any special seam allowance measurements, and the fabric grain arrow.

An added benefit is the new pattern pieces are much sturdier than the old.  This comes in handy when you'll be using the pattern several times.

Next week I'll show you how the costume turned out.  So far there have been a few instructions that are a bit hard to decipher - I'll give you my take on these!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, October 17, 2011

Monday Project - Autumn Felt Texture Book

It was pointed out to me recently that I never made a summer felt texture book for little c to go with her spring book.  Wow.  I completely forgot that I was going to do a seasonal series!  Well, summer's long gone so I went on to autumn.  I'll do a winter one next and then the summer book next spring.  I might need to be reminded .....

*Four pieces of 12 x 9 felt for the book cover and pages
*small pieces of felt and textured fabric (I'll go over what I used as we get to each page)
*feathers, googly eyes, bat beads or buttons
*fabric autumn leaves, leaves for the apples, and leaves for the pumpkin patch (I used grape leaves)
*pre-cut foam or felt letters - or if you have a die-cut press, you can make your own
*felt glue
*Aileene's Jewel-It
*embroidery floss
*patterns found here


The basic instructions for making the book are in the post for the Spring Felt Texture Book.


Pin a fabric autumn leaf in the middle of the page and sew down the center with coordinating embroidery thread, using a running stitch and 6 strands.  With 6 strands of thread, use a running stitch to suggest movement from the leaf falling.

Pages 2-3:

I used brown textured felt for the branches. 

1.  You will be skipping to what looks like pages 3-4, since we'll be sewing each page to the page next to it.  This will make the pages a little sturdier and hide any sewing knots, etc.

2.  Pin or glue on the branches as shown.  Use 2 strands of thread to attach, with a blanket stitch.  Pin on leaves and sew down the center as you did with the cover leaf.

Pages 4-5:

Cut two apples from shiny red fabric.  Lay on page 4 and pin apple leaves in position.  Sew down the center of each leaf to attach.  Remove and save the apples - you'll glue them on at the end.

Cut a turkey body from brown textured felt, a yellow triangle for the beak, and a red gobbler thingy.  Lay the body on page 5 and glue feathers behind it.  Using a blanket stitch, attach the edges of the turkey.  Glue on googly eyes, the beak and the red part.

Pages 6-7:

Cut a moon and stars from felt - I used sparkly white for the moon and gold for the stars.  Pin and attach with a blanket stitch.  If you want sparkly stars, you can add sparkly puffy paint to them.  Sew on bats.

Attach pumpkin patch leaves by sewing down the center.

Cut four circles from shiny orange fabric (about 3 inches in diameter).  Free hand cutting works fine for this - you don't need perfect circles.  Using 2 strands of embroidery thread, sew around each circle, pulling up to gather the edge a little bit.

Turn edge under and attach pumpkin using a blanket stitch.


Attach pages together using a blanket stitch and 6 strands of embroidery thread.

One page at a time, glue the letters in place with Aileen's Jewel It (and the apples when you get to page 4).  The glue takes awhile to dry and cure.  I glue one page worth, cover with waxed paper, and pile on several heavy books.  I leave it like this for about 4 - 6 hours, then let it dry for either the rest of the day or overnight before I move on to the next page.

Here is what your  finished pages will look like:

Happy Creating!  Deborah