Saturday, May 14, 2011

Movin' on

so, I've been eyein' WordPress for some time now, and finally decided to make the move after Bloggerocalypse 2011.  So, if you're wanting to see the new digs and my new projects, just head yourself over to:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

ID tag

So, my little guy, due to his Autism doesn't do so hot with the question "What's your name?"  He gets it occasionally, but speech that is still a little garbled/inarticulate.  So, as a safety measure, we slip a soft ID bracelet/anklet on him daily whenever he leaves the house--just in case.  I have hopes that no one would ever have to use it, but if it should be needed and wasn't there, I know it would eat me up.

The bracelet we had before was part of the "safety kit" from school when they took ID photos and fingerprinted the lot of them like the hardened criminals they are.  And it's served us well for some time.  But like many things toddler related--we sent him out one day with it, and he came back without it, and without the ability to tell us just where it might be.

Tomorrow brings the first field trip he's ever taken, and it's been buggin me for a few days that his new bracelet hasn't arrived.  So off to the studio i went...

Basically, this is just a piece of nylon webbing with velcro--one end of the velcro is open to hold the id tag that i laminated (that pic didn't come out--sorry.  but i think you get the idea--a piece of paper with name & numbers and whatever other tasty info one might find important.)  Since Ben has his sensitivities to all things NOT cotton, Daddy suggested i cover it with some material to make it softer.  SO i made a tube, inserted the webbing and sealed it up.  

Then after some trial and error (velcro in the wrong place, etc) i stitched down the velcro, leaving the wee pocket.  Easy peasy.

Once he got home from school i had our little Zoolander model it.  He didn't even notice it--as usual.  That's a good thing.

I'm toying with the idea of making these for sale--since they were so easy.  So any parents let me know if you'd like to tag your kid like a celebrity on parole...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Celtic BOM for May

For Mother's day, i thought i would post my Celtic BOM pattern for May.  This month's pattern was about the Goddess.  I chose to use a design different than that posted at Simply 2M, but the idea is the same.  It is a celebration of the Mother and motherhood.

I chose a classic symbol that dates back to bronze-age asia and the goddess cultures that flourished there before the invasion of the Khurgan culture from the Russian Steppe and male-dominated religion (Gimbutas, The Pre-history of Eastern Europe).  A rich symbol rejoicing in the bounty of woman, with the addition of  her ties to the phases of the moon.  On one side the moon waxes, on the other it wanes.  It is our monthly cycle, and without clocks, it would be our one way of keeping track of the months.

I chose to place this on a multicolored spiral--a design I do not claim as my own.  I saw it on some site somewhere ages ago and liked it. Many times this particular figure is adorned with a spiral over her womb, signifying the creation of life.  I preferred that spiral to encompass/signify the world entire.  My only regret in this design is that the yellow i chose for the moon was not as opaque as i would like, with the ricrac showing through.

I used the fusible web method for applique, and a blanket stitch with embroidery thread.  I chose to echo the purple fabric of the goddess figure as the outside border, with green to symbolize the lushness of life.  I outline quilted the figures, and echo quilted around the spiral.

Little by little i am gaining some skills with my machine quilting.  I am happy to say this project only took me two days (not entire, but a few hours each day--one to construct and one to quilt).  Practice practice practice.  May the Mother continue to guide my hand...

Next up--Hawaiian Quilting!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Block #4 Betty's Blue Birds

Here is the April Block for Betty's Blue Birds called swallow's crossing.  I'm pretty please with how this one turned out.  The "swallow" block was paper pieced, which is why the edges are so crisp.

The funny thing is, from this one i moved on to another BOM from Quilty Delights, and the January block was this:

This one was NOT paper pieced and one of my corners is a little crooked--but i'm hoping i'll be able to correct that when i construct the quilt.

As you can see, i also plan to make this one with a black background to change things up a bit.  I'll post the other three squares once i take pics.

There has GOT to be an easier way to make quarter triangle squares!  I am such a fan of creating half triangle squares without cutting the square, that now having done this block--and a few others, I want to find that easy  method that won't stretch out my triangles, messing up my block!  *grumble*

And would you believe it--i've actually got ONE MORE BOM that i'm doing?  By the end of the year i should have 3 quilt tops assembled, 9 mini quilts created, and the blocks i created earlier this year.  And i've embarked on another quilting adventure--but this one is all handwork to be done when i'm not in or don't have access to my studio.  I'll post about THAT very soon!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

No Plain Shirts!

I determined that Ben had too many plain shirts in his wardrobe (and i had a few designs i needed to "test",  so i recently had a little embroidery fest.

This design is from Urban Threads--a FAVORITE design shop with the kind fo embroidery designs you can get behind--instead of flowers, and puppies and rainbow unicorns (gag)

i COULD NOT turn down this one when Niamh advertised it.  As some of you may or may not know, i appreciate the nerdy chic look, and often dress my son in this look.  This design was just too cute!

I know this pic is a little fuzzy--i've got a crappy camera--deal.   But basically this is just an embroidered pocket with a calculator, pen, pencil and broken horned rim glasses.  ANd yes, the calc. does read 3.14.  (speaking of which, you should see her Pi designs!)

I put Ben in this the other day, and he was quite a cutie.  Wouldn't stand still for a pic, though.

Of course One of Ben's favorites is rockets.  To be honest, I'm not sure where i got this design (i download a lot of free ones from designers).  I placed it a little high on the shirt (i refuse to mark the shirt for placement because i've had situations where the mark did not come out--so sometimes my placement is a bit dodgy)  This was a nice full design that didn't pucker and the bright almost neon thread showed up beautifully against the black

And of course, i had to try the peep design.  This was a free design i downloaded from an embroidery forum that i frequent.  (there are lot of those flowers/puppies/rainbows on that site--but an occasional gem will pop up!)  This is an applique design--meaning that yellow you see is actually material that is tacked down and stitched in with the satin stitch on the outside edge.  I used two layers of yellow flannel to make it soft and plump, like my favorite easter candy!  
Ben, as you can see, was a fan as well.
 It's one candy he knows quite well!  "Peep!"

Friday, April 22, 2011

Another BOM

This one is from Dreamcastle Quilts, and it's entitled Betty's Blue Birds.  Instead of using shades of blue, however--since i am DETERMINED to quilt down my stash--i am using scraps from the mu'u mu'u job from two years ago.  Purple, White and will be bright at least!

These are the first three blocks.  I will be posting the 4th one once i get a chance to get into my studio.  As it is Spring Break, my usual studio time (when Ben is in school) is currently non-existent.

 This first block is called hovering hawks.  Appropos as we have a few of them in the area.  I should applique a black triangle on there to represent the crows that harass our local hawk...

a pretty simple square--all half square triangles and squares.

This one is called Fox and Geese--a variation on an old classic.  The small triangles are called "flying geese" units, so the corner units must be the foxes.  The geese are paper pieced (otherwise they wouldn't look THAT sharp!)

I really like this one, called Doves.  This one was actually pretty easy because the curves are actually just applique instead of curved piecing.  Something i CAN do but DON'T.  I wanted to do some applique with a more open zig zag stitch as it seems very...casual to me, and i like that!  Satin stitching is pretty, but too perfect.  (that and this material is actually a cotton poly blend--yes, i know, a SIN in quilting, but there it is--and i wasn't sure how well it would hold up under the tension of a satin stitch)

Luckily, each of these blocks is supposed to have a border, but i wanted that color to be the same, so i'll have to get that material later when i can really look at the blocks and determine what color would work best since it will be the dominant color of the quilt.  Right now, i don't even know.

Monday, April 18, 2011

more Celtic BOM

Once i finished the Beltaine quilt, i decided to work the three previous quilt tops and then quilt them at a later time--since those months/holidays are over.

I should state that i am using only scraps on each of these, with the exception of the white batik background.  I am deptermined to use my stash of scraps!  (especially for a mini quilt!)

This one is for january, and is the sacred pentacle, representing the four elements and the spirit.  This is the only one that is actually the correct size since i finally figured out the percentage to print the PDF file!

The pentacle itself is paper pieced, and then appliqued on using the sew and turn method.  That was attached using a blanket stitch.   The rest was done with strip sets or just strips.

This one is for February and Imbolc.  This design is called Brigid's cross, as Brigid (or St. Brigid)--goddess of midwifery, among other things, is often worshipped for this sabbat.  This should symbolize a broom, or grasses, thus the use of greens and browns.  Mine weren't as subtle as the example on the website, but i like it just the same.  The red signifies fire, which is pleasing to Brigid (think home and hearth).  This was also paper pieced.

The third one, for March, is for Eostara or the Vernal equinox.  Yes, its' an Eostara egg (seem familiar?  should i even mention the rabbit that lays eggs?)  Eostara is a celebration of spring and fertility, and i used soft pastel colors for this one, except for the border.  Also paper pieced, i look forward to practicing my stippling on this one.  I plan to stipple the white sections and stitch in the ditch for the rest.  This is the only one for which i've planned out my quilting.

I'm looking forward to next month's mini quilt already!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

BOM celtic quilts

since I've gotten back into quilting, I've jumped on a few Block of the Month series so that i don't feel pressured to get a bunch of blocks done, i can work with different color palettes and styles, and practice a few skills.

This first series caught my eye from Simply 2M.  I love that you can either make these as quilt blocks or mini quilts.  I am doing the latter, so that i can use them on my altar for each month/season/holiday.  Now, since I've been working on other things for these past few months, I am behind on jan-april.  So for this series, i decided to make the April quilt first, so that i could use and display it.  It is a design that celebrates Beltaine--one of the big sabbats--for May 1st.

For this one i tried two different applique techniques.  I did the sew and turn method with the circle, using some iron-on stabilizer.  Note to self--use lightweight fusible interfacing instead!  The triangles, being so small, i just fused as is.  I used a blanket stitch around both.

Now, this bock was a bit of a struggle because i didn't print it up to the proper size, and the center square was a little larger than the instructions.  This involved math, measuring, sewing, cursing, more math, more sewing, and settling.  You may notice that on the row of little squares, the outer squares are a little smaller than the others.

I also got more practice on my free-motion quilting--and as you can see, i need more.  My straight lines echoing the triangles turned out ok, but those durned curves are gonna be the death of me.  I even practiced on scraps before i did this.  The scraps look awesome.  This one looks like i suddenly developed a palsy!  As the design here is the second one (i ripped out the first) i decided to keep it.  I wanted to grace my altar with the most beautiful work, but i realized, that i needed to adorn it with reality.  And reality is, my skills still need work.  So here is my daily reminder.

Notice I've placed Ganesha in the center of that sun.  Perhaps he can help me the next time i tackle curves...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

well hidey ho!

Ok, so i don't write. I know. You feel neglected. You think, is it me? Have i done something wrong?

oh no, my friend. I've just embraced an old hobby, and frankly--its time consuming.

That and a friggin ark-load of rain has been dumped on SOCAL this season, and i guess i've sinned a lot lately, because my studio flooded more often than naught.

But puddles aside, i've decided to take up quilting again. Business has been slow, and my inspiration weak, so i embraced an old friend. I used to quilt in college--well, actually when i got kicked OUT of college, but that is another story-- but then i got my crap together, developed a life, had a career and I hung with a hip crowd that frankly turned its nose up at my quilting skills. I mean, there aren't too many high falutin' drunk quilting poets out there...

And then i got married, had a kid and quilting took a backseat to drinking regularly, and raising a kid without killing him.

You see, quilting requires time and patience--things which i certainly lack. Oh sure, there are projects you can make in a day, but my projects always seem to border on the grand, so i spent the first two months of this year (barring the need for biblical waders) working on some quilt blocks which i will show off in a later post. After i finished them *all 24 of them* i decided i needed a break. That's the cool thing about quilting, once you finish one part, you can take a break from it for a while, and join up again with it later. So, once i assemble that bad boy, you'll be the first to know because it will be the first patchwork quilt i've created this decade--hell i think it'll be the first one i've made in the 21st century.

The last two days however, (i should add the caveat here that my studio time is limited to Benji
at school time--2.5 hours m-th--that's it. Maybe a little more on the weekend if i'm lucky. so what might take me a day normally, takes me 3-4.) i've been working on my new passion: mug rugs. They're like mini quilts for your coffee. Technically, they should be large enough for your
mug and a tasty treat. Mini placemats if you will, for the coffee set. (or tea--i don't discriminate. I've been known to have a cuppa from time to time, although most of my tea forays usually involve a toddy of some sort...) Anyway, i took the scraps from the afore mentioned quilt blocks and used them in a crazy quilt kinda way to make these mats. A few ended up more "patchwork-y" because i had a lot of triangles left over. But i didn't care. I just wanted to use up the scraps (thanks to that wholesome American/Puritan frugality bred into me by my German ancestry--wait...what?) and i didn't want to have to worry about setting points or matching seams. So, as you can see here, they are a little...well...they'll serve a purpose, ok?

I also was using this mug rug opportunity to practice my free-motion quilting. For the non-sewer, my sewing machine has the capability to sew freely in any direction, etc.So, if i had more skills, i could do that fancy quilting you might see in quilts at fancy quilt shows or stores. Except that it's NOT a skill i currently have, so i need to practice--A LOT. Enter the mug rugs: the perfect venue.

You'll see on this one a really texturized kind of quilting in a willy-nilly fashion. No, i wasn't drunk--it's supposed to look like that. It's called stippling, and it's a way to quilt a large area. In all honesty, i don't know why stippling came about--prolly to keep the originally cotton batting from shifting or breaking down. But it's harder than it looks. You have to keep the line continuous, curvy and not cross any other lines. Like this:

looks easy on paper, because it is. Add a needle, thread and a presserfoot and it gets complicated REALLY quick.

I like this one because it just feels like an anarchy piece. Yeah! fuck traditional quilting!

Being raised in a pragmatic household, i recognize these as practice pieces, and as such, will toss them in a drawer until i need a small placemat for my tea and crumpet. Except for a couple of them. I told my best friend Stump she could have a couple if she wanted them. Still want one, Stump? Or will you start looking for an excuse--"oh, i don't drink liquids anymore, but thanks!"

More mug rugs are in my future plans. But i also need to make some clothes for my kid.

--next up, the chronicles of the "what the hell are you eating to make you grow this fast?!" kid.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Learning Hands

Things have been a little quiet on the business end of my studio, so I decided to dedicate this time to jumping on those alteration and upcycling projects that have been filling up the room. I did a few alterations, of which i didn't take pics--because changing the straps on a nightgown or the neckline on a tank top just isn't much to write home about, if you will. But once i did those things i tackled my next project--fixing up a pair of my old man's jeans for myself.

He handed these to me a month or so ago, after cleaning out his closet (gasp!) because he figured i could use them to make something for Ben (as i usually do). But on a whim i tried them on, and they were a loose fit, which i figured would be perfect for me to learn to embroider on denim.

First i had to address those knee holes. I stitched around them with a zig zag stitch to make sure they didn't continue to tear in the future. Then i made a few patches with some scrap material
and appliqued them on with a zig zag stitch. Now, before i did that, i had to open the leg seams to allow me to get in there to do that stitching. I opened the straight seam and not the flat felled seam (the classic folded over seam you're used to seeing on jeans.) The straight seam is a) easier to open and b) easier to sew up again without changing the look of the jean. Once the patches were done, i turned to putting a few embroidery designs on the open legs.

Machine embroidery is a science and skill unto itself, and i had never done it on Denim before--which was a learning experience.

My first mistake was failing to use a stabilizer and the right needle--the two main causes of ME(machine embroidery) problems. Turns out the reason denim is so
comfortable--skinny jeans aside--is that its grain is on the diagonal--which makes it "give" when we need it to, adding to it comfort. Great for wearing, not so great for embroidering. Unless it is well stabilized. I used a fusible cut-away stabilizer to make sure the material didn't "give" during stitching. I also used just a heavy duty denim needle instead of an embroidery needle--which gave me more success and neater stitches. I then scattered some
designs around to "pretty" up the jeans and to gain more practice.

I'm a firm believer in making a practice piece when learning a new skill. My grandmother taught it to my mom, who in turn taught it to me. I think it's kinda silly to try something you've never done before and expect perfection--or worse yet, give up if the first try isn't the quality you hoped for. I knew these were just gonna be practice pants, that i would wear around the house if they sucked.
Turns out though, because i employ this practice alot, that they turned out a little better than sucky, so i might even wear them out in public too. But that was never my first intention, so that i could focus of learning this skill. If you are unwilling to make mistakes, then you are unwilling to learn. If you are one of those lucky folks upon whom grace falls on every project you produce, well,, good for you and call Martha Stewart. The REST of us will be busy perfecting our skill so that we can use it later. repeatedly.

Oh, i decided to try another new skill this time around too--patches. my first attempt at ME on these pants ended up with a tension/needle/bobbin thread problem that created an ugly couple of stitches on the front that
would have been a BIOTCH to rip out. I remembered a tutorial on Urban Threads (my favorite source for designs) on how to make a patch. So i followed it, used one of her awesome designs and create my very first patch. It ain't perfect, but it does the trick, and taught me a few things too! I am excited to start creating patches for those items i can't hoop!

All in all, a great learning project, and now i've got a sassy pair of hippie jeans to wear to the store!