Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Small Hint ...

Just a small hint today of the project I was working on when I started feeling under the weather .... continued soon!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Rainy Weekend

When I lived in the Northwest, rain was just part of the scenery.  Now that I'm in Phoenix, it's something I look forward to and enjoy!  We had a rare, rainy weekend and I spent it working on knitting and spinning, wandering outside when it was down to drizzling, and sipping ginger/lemon tea ... 

... and watching the first two seasons of Downton Abbey.  Yes, I've been hooked.  I'm totally drooling over the gorgeous fabrics and laces!  I am definitely planning on working more lace into my sewing.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Inspiration - Denise Labadie

Dun Aengus Stone Fort, 2006
While looking for inspirational art that uses the principle of value, I ran across Denise Labadie's amazing quilts.  Denise has some of the best control of using light and dark to give her quilts depth, perspective, and super realism that I think I've ever seen!  In fact, when I first saw Dun Aengus Stone Fort, I had to be convinced that it wasn't a photography.  Denise dyes her own fabrics and then uses the same technique as a mason to built her walls - one stone at a time from the bottom up.

Trinity Stone Ruin, 2009

Much of her inspiration comes from the ancient stones and ruins of Ireland.  Read about why in her artist's statement here.  In fact, there's lots of enjoyable reading and viewing on her website, including photos of her beautiful studio - an inspiration in itself!

I'm working on a quilt that plays light against dark - nothing at all at the level of Denise's artwork, but fun none the less.  Hopefully I'll have some previews for you next week.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Herbal Rice Pillows

We're finally beginning to warm up here, but I know a lot of you are still in a deep freeze and trying to stay warm.  I love heating up a rice pillow and snuggling up with it!  They stay warm and cozy for a long time - and if you add some dried herbs, you get a wonderful scent too.

*2 12 x 8 pieces of flannel
*dried white rice - you can use other grains, but I have a lot of grain allergies so I use rice
*dried herbs

1.  With right sides together, sew a 1/2 inch seam on the two long sides and one short side of the flannel to make a bag.  Trim corners diagonally to help get a crisp corner.

2.  Turn bag right side out and iron, turning the top (the unsewn edge) under 1/2 inch.  Sew along the seamed edges 1/4 inch in from the seam - start and stop 1/4 inch down from the top.

3.  Fill the bag with the rice - how much you put in will depend on how firm you want the pillow to be.  If it's less filled, you can wrap it around parts of you if that's something you're planning on doing.  I fill mine to a little more firm - they don't wrap well.  Pour it out into a bowl and add your herbs and mix well - I used a handful of dried peppermint.  Dried lavender's a good one too - use a tablespoon or two, depending on how strong you want the lavender smell to be.  Other ideas - dried spearmint, thyme, sage, lemon balm, ....

4.  Pour the rice/dried herb mixture into the bag ....

5.  ... and sew the final edge 1/4 inch in.  I also sew it again close to the first seam, for reinforcement.

6.  To use, heat for about 1 to 2  minutes in the microwave.  The first couple of times you heat your bag, it may feel a little damp from moisture in the rice escaping.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, January 21, 2013

Ice Dyed Snowflakes

Still on a mission to make some colorful snowflakes, I decided to cut out a bunch, layer then in a container, and try ice dying them.  It worked -- kinda.  I really like the patterns on them, however they're pretty dark looking!  And too much brown.  I think that since there wasn't a large mass of fabric, all of the dye colors pooled on them and too much soaked in.  

And then it dawned on me.  Duh!  I have all of this beautiful ice dyed fabric - I can just trace the snowflake pattern onto cool looking areas and cut them out.  I really can't believe I didn't think of this before!

So here are my colorful snowflakes, with a blue theme.  I have more fabric with different colors I'll cut some out of and then on to my project!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Inspiration - Virtual Fiber Art Exhibits

If you're in the need of some inspiration for the new year, or just like to look at fiber art, I have three nice exhibits everyone can visit.  They're virtual so all you need is your computer!

Alicia Merrett, Cathedral Town, Harvest Time

The Studio Art Quilt Association (SAQA) currently has Come Sway With Me up, looking at the principle of design rhythm.  These pieces are wonderful!

Sommer Sheffield, Rugosa, reclaimed fabric, ink, and wire

The Maryland Federation of Art has a national juried exhibition of 71 works of art, Fiber Options: Material Explorations, on-line in a different type of virtual exhibit.  A camera pans around the exhibit room like you've just walked in and are taking stock of what's there.  Little cameras are placed on the pieces of art - clicking on one brings up a higher resolution picture and information on the artist.  This exhibit explores innovative use of materials.

Jackie Mirabel, Boboli, 2006.  Hand dyed and felted merino wool and silk.

 And go to Craft in America to view their fibers exhibit of 25 pieces from current and past artists.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Spoonflower, Kitchen Towels, and Mitered Corners

If you haven't visited before, this is a fun project that will get you started and brighten up your kitchen, too!  Spoonflower is a company that prints your designs onto fabric.  Yep - you get to be the fabric designer!  And you can buy other people's designs.  Each month they have a fabric designing contest with a different theme - and each fall one of the themes is calendar kitchen towels.  For the past two years I've ordered a couple that others have designed and hemmed them up - a fun way to start the new year.  Today I'll walk you through how to do that.  And I'm working on a tutorial on how to get started designing your own fabrics!

Follow this link to find the calendar towels that were designed for 2013 - there are also towels with no calendar on them.  Find a design you like and click on it.  This is what you should see.

There's a view of what your towel will look like.  Notice in the middle section there's a box that says "Fat Quarter" and a drop down arrow next to it.  For kitchen towels, you want to buy a fat quarter.  If you were buying other fabric, you could chose the yardage you want - and when you select another amount of fabric, the picture of the fabric changes accordingly.  Give it a try!

There's also a box in the same section that says "Basic Combed Cotton."  That's the type of fabric your kitchen towel was designed to fit.  Personally, I like linen towels, so I get the linen/cotton blend.  Notice though that it does change the picture of what you'll get - it's okay since you'll be trimming the fabric before hemming anyways.

The site is easy to order from, so I won't walk you through that part.  You will have to sign up and give your e-mail address.  That's okay - they don't spam you!  You'll get a weekly email giving you the link to vote in that week's fabric contest.  When your fabric arrives, wash and dry it and you will have this:

One of the towels I ordered was designed for the linen-cotton blend and fits the fat quarter with no repeats.  You still have to trim the edges up, though.

The other towel was designed for the basic combed cotton, which is not as wide as the linen-cotton, so there is a small amount of repeat.

Just trim it off.

Iron the towels and you're ready to hem.  Hint:  if you ordered the linen-blend, ironing will be easier if you use a spray bottle to first mist the fabric with.  Iron each edge under 1/4 inch.

Open up each corner and cut diagonally right at the point where the two ironing marks meet.

Fold down 1/4 inch (or a teensy bit more) and iron in place.

Re-iron each edge so you have it turned under 1/4 inch again.  Fold one edge over another 1/4 inch and iron in place.

Repeat with the other side.  Notice how the two sides meet - sometimes you have to play around with it a bit to get it to do this.

Pin the corners in place and iron the whole edge under another 1/4 inch.

After you've done this to all edges and corners, sew each edge close to the turned under side.  I like to sew it with a little longer stitch - a topstitching length, which on my machine is a 2.5 to 3.  And to get a straight line, I put the turned under side along one of the edges on my presser foot.

Now my kitchen's ready for the new year!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, January 14, 2013

Two-toned Crocheted Snowflakes

Here's my next go at making colorful snowflakes!  Like the quilted ones from last week, they're still not exactly what I want, but I still love them.  And they look nice scattered on my snowflake themed table.

To make these, I found a snowflake pattern I liked.  There are a ton of them on the internet!  I used one from the JPF Crochet Club site, designed by Julie BoldocCrochet Pattern Central also has links to a lot of nice snowflakes.  I used a variegated size 20 Lizbeth crochet thread (Caribbean) for the colored areas.  I didn't have any size 20 white thread that wasn't already connected to an unfinished project, so I decided to give it a go with size 10 thread and it seemed to work fine.  I'm not sure it would have worked with a larger piece, but for a snowflake it was fine. 

With a size 7 steel hook, I started one snowflake with the white thread and one with the Lizbeth thread - and changed colors with each row.

Now I'm off to try another idea for colorful snowflakes!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Inspiration - Bougainvillea Palettes

Well, here we go again .... Phoenix usually has such wonderful winter weather that we grow lots of tropical plants and keep pots of bright annuals all year long.  That's one of the things I love about living here!  And it's all great until we get one of those every few years hard freezes.  Like is being forecast for the next three or four nights ... more unusual to have a string of days like that, though.  

The last time we froze hard was two years ago and I spent the rest of the winter missing all my bougainvillea.  It comes back from the roots, but that takes awhile so I made this felt garland.  I'm resigned to it dying back again this cold snap - not happy, but resigned!  I spent today taking photos, hoping to be inspired to make some type of fiber art.  I have some ideas ....

The hydrangeas in the top photo don't grow here - they're part of an indoor bouquet I added cut bougainvillea to.  The color palettes were run on BigHugeLabs color palette generator.

Now while I'm wrapped up in my winter clothes I'll have something to plan!

Happy Creating!  Deborah