Tuesday, February 28, 2012

TAST - Week 8 - Chain Stitch

Better late than never - here is my effort for last week's TAST which featured the chain stitch.  This motif is on a round robin block where the owner requested peacock motifs. I have been wanting to try my hand at a peacock feather since seeing the wonderful one Tanja Berlin created! I want to credit Tanja for the inspiration although the two feathers don't have a lot in common.  Someday I would love to make that one of Tanja's though!  Guess I'll add it to my bucket list.
Anyway, about this one I did.  The center eye is solid chain stitch worked around and around until I was dizzy, working with two strands of DMC floss.  Next I added a layer made up of a row of seed bead - bugle bead - seed bead.  From each set of beads I worked a line of chain stitch.  The spine of the feather is some gold cord  couched down and then there are more lines of chain stitch coming from that. I don't think I've ever used as much chain stitch as this before or in these ways so I feel like I learned a lot.   I am happy with the motif - hopefully the owner will be too. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

BAS - Week 81 - Sequin Flower with Tutorial

This Build a Seam (BAS) Challenge is a little different - not exactly a stitch per se.  It is a technique for making sequin flowers which can be a wonderful addition to a seam treatment or motif.
You will need cupped sequins for this - flat ones will not work properly - and some seed beads. 
Mark your fabric with a center dot and five evenly spaced dots around the outside. 
Bring your needle up through one of the dots on the outside and string on one sequin (cup upwards), a bead, another sequin and two more beads.  Take your needle down through the middle dot.  Carry on making another leg in the same way on each of the other four outside dots, always going down into the center dot which will be the middle of your flower.
This is what you end up with after you have done all five legs - a nice little sequin flower!  You can add a bead or two more in the center of the flower if you wish.  You can also vary the number of legs depending on the size of the sequins you are using.  I hope you will experiment with this one - have fun!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finished Work on Merle's Winter Themed Block

I am taking part in a replacement round robin, Fabulous First Timers (FFT) 14(2) on CQI and have just finished working on this.  This is how Merle's block looked when I received it - already lots of lovely stitching on it!  I love this silk ribbon winter heart that Sue added!
Merle requested a winter themed block so I did my best to add a little bit of Canadian winter to it.  Here is what I stitched...
 Up in the corner I added some leaf like laces - this is how the frost on the windows always looks to me, like leaf and filigree patterns.  I added a scattering of snowflake buttons and charms as well.  There was some braid on two of the seams that ended on the surface of the block so I thought I would find a way to cover the ends of it - that is where the first two snowflakes were added and it just grew from there.
 This seam treatment is pretty pedestrian I'm afraid but it carries through some of the colours of the block so hopefully adds something to the continuity.  It is made up of a simple cretan stitch and then detached stitch (lazy daisy stitch) flowers with a small bead for the center of each.  It was worked in perle cotton and silk thread.
 I showed this before but added a bit of sparkle to the top section of colour in the Northern Lights with some blending filament.  In the foreground in front of the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are three blackwork evergreen trees.
 I built a treatment on another seam by couching down silver cording, blue silk ribbon and some fun textural blue yarn.  I scattered shell beads and some tiny snowflake charms along the way.
Here is the block as it looks when it leaves me to head off in the mail to Janet.  Janet is the last stitcher in the round robin for this block so I hope I left her enough room to play.  The winter theme was a lot of fun and I hope that Merle likes what I did!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Journal Project - Step 2

As promised, I am sharing my progress with my first attempt at an art journal of sorts.  I am still very much in the preparation mode, working on the mechanics of modifying something to use for my first little journal. 
 After almost a week's delay because of having to find time to drive to the city to buy something as simple as a bottle of gesso (thank you Walmart for driving all the stitching & art stores out of business and then not carrying anything in stock yourself!), I started by sanding the pages of the children's board book.  The pages are shiny so I wanted to rough them up so they would hold paint.
Next I painted the pages with the white gesso to cover what was on the pages and create a blank canvas to work on.  So, now I am ready to get started with the fun stuff! 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Finally finished!

This dresser followed me home from the thrift store - I think I paid $20 for it.  It has been an ongoing project at my house for almost a year now!  lol  I picked it up because it had the signs I look for - dovetailed drawers, no staples, solid wood, and fairly good condition under all the paint.  I could see some good wood and workmanship and thought it had potential so I started stripping the layers of paint:  grey, yellow, white, then the original varnish...  It took me forever and I got tired of the process so dh took over when he could see the wood as well and agreed there was something under there worth finding.
 Check out the grain on this wood!  Yummy!  I can't decide if it is cherry or mahogany?  It turned out beautifully anyway!
 Part of what charmed me with this piece was the original hardware which we put back on.  The metal brackets are held on by what appears to be bakelite cylinders with screws protruding from them.  You put the screw through the holes in the metal piece and screw them into the drawer fronts.  Cool, eh?
 Another charmer on this was the detail on the front - I love this pattern that is carved out.  It makes it easy to tell you have the drawers in the right order - added bonus!  lol
This is an awful photo of the finished piece.  Refer to the ones above for the richness of the colour, etc.  I got up this morning though to find dh had put the last coat of varnish on and I couldn't resist taking photos and posting right away.  I was so excited to see it done!
Have I mentioned that dh is a saint?  It has to be six months ago I gave his dresser away to dgd when she needed one, figuring this one would be done in no time.  His clothes have been sitting in laundry baskets on the bedroom floor ever since and he never complains!  Yes, this is the same man who went to look at a derelict, abandoned church twenty years ago and agreed to see what I saw in it - potential!  God - I love that man!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Merle's FFT Round Robin Block (1st Motif)

I have been working on Merle's round robin block the last few days.  She has chosen "winter" as the theme for her block and it was interesting to see other stitcher's interpretation of the season.   No one else experiences a Canadian winter is my guess!  lol  I got out my waste canvas and winged it to try to create some Northern Lights for Merle.  I stitched three blackwork evergreen trees in the foreground. 

I love removing the waste canvas to see how it looks - I think it worked all right.  At least it fits the picture I had in my mind when I picked up my needle!  It seemed a good omen too that as I was finishing stitching on the motif last night, the Northern Lights were actually dancing in the nightsky.  We are too far south to get them very often so I always love seeing them - like seeing a rainbow, it always gives you a good feeling.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Art Journalling - Making a Start

"Journal" is my word for this year and I haven't done anything about it yet!  It is so hard to make that first step always...  So, I decided it was time to start and I'll share the process with you as I go along.  This is all new to me so I beg your patience and understanding!

 I decided an easy way to create a base for a journal would be to use a child's board book.  The local selvage center had a ten book for a dollar deal so I picked up a pile of them.  They have lots of interesting shapes, details, cutouts, etc. so it should be fun.
 I decided to start with this one for my first attempt.  The series of cutouts getting smaller with each page looked like fun.
First of all I had to remove the little felt bear attached with velcro onto the last page - poor bear! 
The next step will be painting the pages to create a blank canvas to work with. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another AAQI Quilt Sold!

I'm doing the Happy Dance!  This little art quilt of mine, "The Cathedral Walls are Falling Down", just sold and raised another $70.00 for Alzheimer's research!  Look what you can do with a few scraps, a little time, and a will to help the cause!!  If you would like to help, check out the AAQI website!  Heck, check it out just to admire the eye candy and to get inspired!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Fox

I picked up this little kit at the thrift store for under a dollar. Where to get ideas and where to get supplies are always recurring questions that come up in the crazy quilting groups so I thought I would share the story of this little fox.  He is a nice little kit, basically thread painting, but tiny and came with one of those nasty little plastic frames for him to go in.  I wouldn't have made it up as a kit and hung it anywhere but as a motif on Sarma's forest theme crazy quilt I thought it was perfect.  It came with the the threads, all good old DMC floss, instructions and the pattern printed on the fabric.  I discarded the bit of fabric after tracing the pattern onto tracing paper.  I basted the tracing paper right onto Sarma's block and stitched right through it.  I was very happy with the way he turned out on the block.
So, here is my advice to those just starting out and trying to build a stash for crazy quilting, especially when you live out in the boonies like I do and don't have access to a lot of stitching shops.  Frequent thrift stores, selvage centers, garage sales, etc. and keep your eyes and your mind open to what you find there!

Sarma's Round Robin Block - Forest Theme

Sarma's forest themed round robin block was a lot of fun to work on - had to think about this one but once I got going there was so much more I wanted to do!  I could see stitching toadstools and blackwork trees but by the time I was done all that the whole block would have been filled and I'm only the second one to stitch on it.  This is where the block is as I am mailing it on now and below you can see what I ended up stitching.

The first thing I did on the block was the strawberry plant because I could envision stopping to pick wild berries on the walk through the woods.  The seam above is just some flower trim I added.  The seam to the right is a buttonhole stitch with detached chain leaves and small flowers.  I love these little jewelry spacers for attaching with a small bead to make flowers.

 In this photo you can just see the corner of a black lace motif.  Sarma said she added it there next to the blue velvet as a bit of plant that had gone black and waterlogged.  I loved that idea and added more to the velvet to carry on the water theme:  a couple buttonhole stitch lilypads and a frog charm.  I made silk ribbon cattails to cover the seam on the right.
I embroidered this little fox sitting in front of his den in Sarma's woods.  He  took me the most time to do and I just have to send the block on now because of the time it took me.  I had so many more ideas! 

Thank you to Sarma for letting me work on her block and for providing such a wonderful theme!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

I know I showed this just a couple days ago but it is now full of little matching stitching accessories!  And, it is Valentine's Day, and it has a heart, so... I'm taking liberties with showing it off again.  I can't show you all the neat trinkets inside because it is a challenge on the Stitchmap Yahoo group and I don't want to spoil it for the next batch of stitchers who take the challenge.  I am very happy though to report that this is another Christmas present finished and ready for next year's handmade Christmas attempt.  It will be my gift for the guild exchange and they are always handmade anyway but I think it will be well received and I won't be wildly stitching at the eleventh hour this year to get one done. 

Reflected Glory

At the end of January, I packed up my little exhibition at Vulcan County and brought it home.  It was good fun to have my first little show and to see it featured in the local paper, but more exciting than that I think was this comment in the little guest book!  It is reflected glory - to think that Judith Baker Montano's sister stopped and looked at my pieces and commented.  I knew JBM had roots in Alberta but I had no idea she still had family here.  I'm more than a little excited!  lol

Monday, February 13, 2012

More Piecing....BORING!

I know, this is a boring post with another batch of empty blocks but I feel like I have to prove I have been doing something!  lol  These are six more blocks, for the other Fools Gold DYB this time, again done in bridal fabrics.  Once they are embellished I think all this boring white will be very pretty but for now, not so much so...

The six blocks together is a little more interesting!  You can start to see the quilt here right?  Now mentally add the other six blocks for the other Fools Gold DYB Round Robin and it is growing into something. 
In any case, these blocks are winging their way off to Flora and I hope they will inspire her!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Another Christmas Gift in the Works!

I did this cross stitch years ago.  It was, I believe, from a pattern in Cross Stitch and Country Crafts magazine and I couldn't resist it - I love pansies and the verse is so wonderful.  It has had several lives over the years - it was a box lid and then it was framed and I think it fell off the wall and the frame broke because it has been back in the stash waiting for me to think of something else to do with it.
They are having a challenge over on Stitchmap Yahoo group where the participants are making a Travel Bag for your stitching along with accessories.
So, I am happy to have finished the first of the projects, the travel bag, and to have this favourite piece of embroidery reincarnated again!  Now on to the other pieces in the set and I'll have my gift exchange at Guild next Christmas taken care of!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

My February AAQI Quilt

I ended up babysitting tonight for over six hours but managed to make my small art quilt for donation to AAQI this month anyway - I'm on a roll!  This one is called "Fractured Glass".  It is inspired by the stained glass panels of Frank Lloyd Wright but seen through the eyes of dementia.  Stained glass is a wonderful thing - the light creates beauty whichever way it is coming, inside or outside, but the view of reality when trying to see through it is distorted.  At least that is the way my mind was travelling today as I made this.

If you haven't checked it out yet, there are some lovely quilts up for bid in this months auction!

Potholders & Dishcloths

I surprised myself by actually finishing something to put away for gifting next Christmas.  So, this is my January contribution towards next year being a "homemade Christmas"!  I made three chenille potholders ...

...and two matching dishcloths.  These were fun and easy projects!  The dishcloths are nice and large and made from sugar sacks so should be good and absorbent.  I added a band of one of my favourite fabrics towards the bottom of each dishcloth and sewed a length of ribbon on each side of it on both on the top and bottom edge so that the raw edges of the fabric were caught in between.  Then I found matching trim in my stash and stitched it on top of the ribbon.  I added a loop to the top of each dishcloth and they were done.

The chenille potholders are very easy to do as well.  They are made of a sandwich of the featured fabric (face down for the back), two layers of insulating batting, five layers of colourful scraps of quilting cotton face up, topped with the featured fabric again, also face up. 

 Sew diagonal lines across the potholder sandwich, about half an inch apart, starting in the middle and working out on both sides.  You can see the lines of stitching here on the back of the finished potholder. 

Working on the front, clip along between all the lines of stitching, down as far as the last layer of quilting fabric before the batting.  So, you will have the fabric at the back face down, followed face up  by the batting, one layer of fabric and then all the rest to the top will be clipped.  At this point you add a matching binding and a loop if desired and the sewing is finished.  Once you wash the potholder, all the clipped portions will fray and puff up, giving you the chenille appearance.  Fun!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blocks Ready for Fools Gold 2 DYB

I have been anxiously awaiting the start of two new round robins, Fools Gold I DYB and Fools Gold 2 DYB, which are the brain child of my friend, Gerry Krueger.  The idea behind these is to have all the fun of goldwork embroidery using only faux gold - inexpensive trims, ribbons, beads, etc. that only look like real gold.  So, I have just sent my set of blocks off to Gerry, who will stitch on them first. 

These are my blocks for Fools Gold I DYB, all pieced in bridal fabrics - silks, satins, etc. in shades of white and ecru.  I am hoping they will come home to me again adorned with lots of bling!