Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday - definitely a Monday!

There I was all excited to get going on my crazy quilted silk pieces and wham!  Reality hit.  After having emergency dental surgery on Friday, I will be recuperating this week and don't anticipate writing any posts.  Or probably even doing anything fiber art related that I want to turn out nicely, since my brain seems to be on recuperation mode, also!  However, with all the new followers and subscribed readers lately, I thought it might be worthwhile to go back to some fall/Christmas projects from my first year of blogging.  I even found some I forgot about and want to make again!

If you need a quick Halloween craft, these felt puppets go together pretty quickly:  

And here's an embroidered squirrel pattern.  For some reason fall makes me think of squirrels!

I had a brief love affair with needle felting and made these tiny fall harvest vegetables.  My fingers seem to be totally healed now, so maybe I should try a few more!

If you're beginning to think of Christmas sewing, here's a fun way to use Christmas candy fabric in a table runner ...

... and crocheted granny stars that can be made in worsted weight or thread.

See you next week!  

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Inspiration - My Picot

I just realized I've never shared one of my favorite places for crochet inspiration - My Picot.  This site is a treasure trove of free crochet and knitting patterns!  There are dozens of patterns ...

edgings, ...

motifs, ...

even butterflies, flowers, snowflakes ... everytime I browse through the different sections, I find something new.  I'm thinking about trying some of those snowflakes ... Christmas will be here before you know it!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Back from New England ...

We had a wonderful week of fall color ....

finding ancestors in rainy, cold cemeteries ....

afternoons in town vaults going over old, old records ....

the Maine coast ....

apple and pumpkin picking.

We discovered the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire and these gorgeous 17th century Flemish tapestries the family owned.

And I got to visit Delectable Mountain Cloth in Brattleboro, Vermont - it's packed full of silk fabric, vintage lace, vintage buttons, velvets, .... mmmm.  I first read about the store on Susan Elliott's blog and bookmarked it for this fall's visit.  It definitely lived up to my expectations!  I bought two sample packs of silk fabrics, yardage of two vintage laces, and a doily.

I've decided on these five fabrics for a piece that will display my great grandmother Margaret McGrady Ybarra Willoughby's photo.  I can't wait to get to work on it!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Project - Halloween Shibori

I've had this idea for a couple of years, but finally got around to trying it out this year.  Since kumo shibori looks like spider webs to me, a kumo shibori shirt with spider transfers seemed like a great Halloween shirt!  If you've just decided you want to make something for Halloween, this is quick (well, except the the couple hours it'll take you to make the kumo ties).  Little c gets this one!

*white 100% cotton shirt
*Procion fiber reactive dye - Mist Gray
*artificial sinew
*Steam-a-Seam II
*Spider pictures - if you want to use mine, they're here

This project uses a lot of techniques that I've already done tutorials on, so I'm going to refer you back to them!

Kumo shibori - techniques are explained here
Dyeing with Procion fiber reactive dyes - techniques are explained here
Spider transfers - I used the same technique as with the Five Little Pumpkins Halloween shirt from last Monday

Here's the shirt after I made all the kumo ties.  I tried to use as much of the fabric as I could.

I have sometimes had bad luck with vat dyeing shibori with anything but indigo.  Leaving it in the dye bath for as long as is usually needed with dyes seems to allow too much time for the dye to seep into all the folds and under the artificial sinew, and sometimes the designs are lost.  This time I decided to go with a radically shorter dye bath.  I used about half again as much dye as I usually would've.  Then when I submerged the tied up shirt the first time, I swished it around for about 7 or 8 minutes instead of the usual amount of time.  I added all the soda ash (mixed with warm water) at once, and swished it around for about 10 minutes more. I skipped the additional time in the dye bath that one usually does after making all the soda ash additions.  After that, I ran it under cold water until I didn't see anymore dye coming out - without squeezing it.  It didn't take long for the water to run clear using the gray dye.  Still without squeezing it, I cut all the sinew off, breathed a BIG sigh of relief that the webs looked great, and washed it with Dharma detergent (a Synthrapol substitute).  Here it is after drying:

I originally printed the spiders on heat transfer paper to make them into iron-on's, but cutting around all those teeny little legs was impossible.  And when I did manage to get the leg cut out, the pigment rubbed off of it.  So ... I printed them onto ink jet prepared fabric and used Steam-a-Seam II to attach them in the same way as I did with the Five Little Pumpkins Halloween shirt

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Big Little Felt Universe

I know that quite of few of you like making things from felt as much as I do!  So I wanted to share a new book I just got - Big Little Felt Universe by Jeanette Lim.  This is amazing!  Usually, when I want to make something from felt (like the food I design), I gather a lot of pictures of the real food and start drafting patterns and waiting for inspiration.  I don't buy felt books or felt patterns - I like to make them my own way.  However .... when I saw this book, I had to have it!  And this is the felt set that sent me over -

Jeanette has really good instructions and loads of photos, so I'm anticipating her projects will go together easily.  You can look through some of the book on Amazon here.  The cake .... mmmm!  And I'll finally learn how to do piped whipped cream, something I haven't been able to figure out.

There are so many projects here, it's mind boggling!  I thought I'd show you some of my favorites:

I see a lot more felt in my future!  But first, the campfire set - complete with s'mores!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Wednesday Sewing - Toddler Doctor Costume

Well, this year little c moved on from being a cowgirl and has decided to be a doctor for Halloween.  This surprised no one, as she's been terrorizing  - or performing checkups on according to her - the two cats ever since she got her doctor kit! If a doctor costume is on your to-do list, here's how I put little c's together.

I was able to use the same pattern as last year as  one option is scrubs.  And since I used pattern paper to copy the size I needed last year, I could just do the same this year with the new size.  I used a light blue cotton fabric and left the pockets off.  The pattern went together really easily.

With the lab coat, I had a decision - do I make it or buy it?  An internet check found a very nice child-sized one for about $18.00 at  Since the rest of the costume was so inexpensive, I gave myself a break on all that tailoring and button hole making and went with the pre-made one!  It's gorgeous - well worth the money.

I was originally thinking of putting little c's name on the pocket with either embroidery or a heat transfer design, but found Avery's plastic name badges and went with that.  

I ended up printing her two name badges - one for when she's a cat vet and another for when she switches to people!  I found the images on Google and then added her name in - I've found that PowerPoint is easy to do this in.

The name tag added just the right touch!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monday Project - Halloween Collage Shirt

Remember the Five Little Pumpkins finger puppets?  They were a big hit with little c .... and I lost track of how many times we sang it in the four days I was visiting!  While looking for vintage postcards for another project, I came across different old style pumpkins that made me think of the song, so I decided to put together a Five Little Pumpkins Halloween shirt.

First I needed to find all the components that are in the song - a gate (I know, it looks more like a fence!), five pumpkins with the appropriate facial expressions, a flying witch, and a light.  I added in an old tree, the moon, and stars to make a nice picture!  I was able to find great illustrations by Googling "vintage (subject) postcards" or "vintage (subject) illustrations."  To start composing the collage, I copied the images onto a PowerPoint slide - I've found it's an easy way to manipulate images.  I made a guess at the size they needed to be and cropped everything off except for the image I wanted.  There wasn't any need to remove the extra illustrations around the image since I knew I'd be cutting the image out.

When I had a few images, I printed them off (in black and white since I'm stingy with my color ink!), roughly cut them out and started arranging them on the shirt.  This let me know if I had the sizing right or if some needed to be adjusted a bit more.  

When I had all the images, I arranged them on two pages and printed them off onto ink jet prepared fabric, using the "Best" setting on my printer.  There are lots of different products you can use!  I use Blumenthal Craft PhotoFabric - mainly because it's easy to get at the Joann's near me and not too badly priced when I use a 40% off coupon.  The picture to the left shows silk habotai, but for this project I used the cotton poplin.  With this brand, you let the ink dry, rinse the fabric under cold water for 30 seconds, and iron to dry, with no steam.

I then attached the fabric to one full sheet of Steam-a-Seam II, trimming off the extra.  Then it was time to sit down with my sharp, little scissors and a good movie and start cutting all the little pieces out!  A few hours later, I removed the backing from the pieces, arranged them on the shirt, and ironed to attach.  When I put fabric onto other fabric this way, I usually embroider around the edges with embroidery floss and a blanket stitch.  In this case, most of the pieces were so small, I didn't think that would work, so I made sure everything was ironed down well.  And I'll cross my fingers that everything stays attached - it should!

If you'd like to make this same shirt, the sheets of vintage images I used are here and here.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Beneath the Southern Sky Traveling Exhibit

If you enjoy art quilts, you'll definitely want to spend some time looking over the traveling exhibit, Beneath the Southern Sky.  This group of thirty is a diverse collection of work by fiber artists from Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US.  It's a broad theme and is interpreted in many ways, both in subject matter and styles.

Go to the exhibit website, under artist listing, and you'll find links to many of the artists' websites, blogs, and on-line galleries.  Under exhibition program, there's a list of venues the exhibit will be traveling to for the rest of this year and into 2013.  In a couple of weeks it'll be in Melbourne (October 25th - 28th), followed by Adelaide, Queanbeyan, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Paducah, Kentucky, and East Gosford, back in Australia. 

Helen Godden, Beneath the Southern Sky.

Clicking on individual quilts in the gallery brings up the artist, a brief statement about the piece, and information on how it was created.  Australian artist Helen Godden's work, Beneath the Southern Sky, was inspired by a camping trip in the Northern Territory.  She does fantastically at conveying the feelings of vast sky and deep earth!

Debra De Lorenzo, Antipodean Adventure.

 New Zealand artist Debra De Lorenzo uses shibori dyeing techniques in Antipodean Adventure, her piece about Antarctica.  It really does convey the cold, iciness well. 

June Buxton, A Wilfu, Lavish Land.
June Buxton's work, A Wilful Lavish Land, uses weaving, felting, and embroidery to show her love of her Australian landscapes.  It was inspired by Dorothea Mackellar's poem My Country.

These are just snippets of three fiber pieces and their artists' inspirations - be sure to look over the rest.  Each has a wonderful story!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wednesday Sewing - Felt Peppers

One of the best things about our fall garden is the peppers!  I plant them in the spring and they give us a few peppers before the summer heat sets in - after that, they're pretty much on survival mode and just sit there.  But when the temperatures start cooling off to the 90's and 80's, they make up for lost time and become loaded with peppers!

Usually I grow sweet peppers and chile peppers, but this year it's solely a few varieties of Italian sweet peppers.  They've been delicious eaten fresh, roasted and peeled, and baked with cheese and herbs or sausage stuffed inside - mmmm! 

And they're still blossoming like crazy and starting up new peppers, so we'll probably have a couple more months of enjoying them.

So .... my mind has been on peppers, and I thought of making some felt peppers for little c's kitchen she plays with when she's down here visiting.

*felt - green and red for chiles or red and yellow for sweet peppers and dark green for the crown and stem
*fiber fill stuffing
*dark green embroidery floss
*sewing thread
*long embroidery needle - not especially long, just not the little short ones
*patterns found here

1.  Cut two each of pattern pieces A and B using the colors of felt you want your peppers to be.

2.  Lay one of pattern A on top of one of pattern B with the right sides (if your felt has any!) together.  They won't match up - don't worry about the bottoms going in opposite directions, it works out.

3.  Pin the top edges together and the bottom edges together.

4.  Pin the edge together that was marked with an X on the pattern.  It's the smooth, non-wavy edge.  Sew together with a 1/4 inch seam.

5. When you open the piece up, it should look like this ....

6.  Repeat with the remaining two pieces of A and B.  Before you sew them together, make sure that when you put the right sides of the two pieces together, they match up.  The bottom curvy part should face in the same direction with the right sides together, not in opposite directions like in Step 2.

When you've sewn the second part together, pin it to the first, right sides together.  Sew the two side seams separately.

7.  Turn right side out and stuff with fiber fill.  Thread a longer embroidery needle with a double strand of sewing thread that matches the felt.  Run large stitches around the top ....

8.  ... and pull tight to gather the top closed.  Tie a double knot, but do not cut the thread off yet.

9.  Now we're going to give the pepper some dimples and twist it up a bit.  Insert the needle down through the top of the pepper and come up in one of the seams as shown below.

10.  Go back down about 1/8 inch below and come back up in the seam on the opposite side of the pepper.  Give a tug to distort the pepper a little.

11.  This is where it becomes a bit like work!  Keep going back down near where your needle came up and come up further down on the opposite seam than you did before.  Each time you come up, give a tug - and then hold the thread so you keep the distortion you made as you go to the next spot.  Do this all the way down the two seams.  When you reach the bottom, go back up in the same manner using the other two seams.  Tie off your thread with a double knot when finished.

12.  Cut stem and crown pieces from the dark green felt.  Pin the crown piece to the top of the pepper.

13.  Using two strands of embroidery floss, sew the crown to the pepper using a blanket stitch.

14.  Roll the stem piece up tightly and pin to hold.  Sew the edge to the stem using a blanket stitch.

15.  Sew the stem to the crown - again using a blanket stitch.

16.  A note about finishing off the end of the thread - when I'm working on stuffed pieces like this, I tie a knot in the floss or thread and then stick the needle down where the knot is and out in an area that is the same color as the thread.  I pull the thread through and cut it close to the felt.  This way your knots won't show!

And a finished red sweet pepper!

Happy Creating!  Deborah