Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Re: Focus

Time to Reflect on my word for 2010- FOCUS.
I think I learned lots about focusing but mostly about how hard it is for me to focus. I am a zealous follower of new and exciting tangents. Particularly this last quarter, I've been looking myself in the eye and saying "You, rascal!" But nothing is lost if you are teachable. Hopefully I'm not to old a dog and I can learn new tricks!
Focus is the first part of my motto, Triple F- Focus, Fiddle, and Finish.
The word for 2011 should be fiddle but somehow that doesn't portray moving ahead by great leaps and bounds. So I have chosen FIND.
Find: come upon, meet with, discover, obtain by search or study. It also has the original sense of to go, pass, path, bridge. It can be by chance or by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, and observation. One can find out by practice and experience. Now I need to get from focusing to finish and finding what makes me tick, what I like and how to accomplish it, to my way of thinking, is the bridge.
I shall be dragging Focus along again this year as I fiddle, I mean FIND, a way to get a finished product that speaks my name.
Typically I've already begun to fiddle. Instead of striding ahead to meet 2011 with gusto, I decided to reorganize the playroom. Lack of motivation just might have to do with the lack of daylight hours so I'll be finding a way to overcome that small difficulty as well.

The good news is that every time I organize things I get that much closer to perfection. I edit, I simplify my work paths and I find stuff. The above photo is after I had organized my new working stations but after I began to tackle my projects bookcase.

Because I start new projects at the sound of a starting gun I decided to at least have some fabric groupings prepared for those spontaneous moments that actually relate to my need, want, and desires for my home deco wish list. I am encouraged that as I regroup them from the various fabric hunts that bring them into disarray, I notice that about 90% actually stay intact, still vibrant, and as desirable as ever. Maybe I really am learning to focus. :)

I had bought some plastic shoe boxes on sale last year thinking I could use them instead of baggies for fabric dyeing. I got 15 and I wish I'd got more as they stay shut and are MOST useful. This bookcase represents 4 seasons and the major rooms in the house. The bottom shelf is old UFO's that have survived all the simplifying and the shelf directly above is the small art/journal quilts for this and last year.

Journal could be the word for 2011 as well. I'm definitely going to be journalling. I'm committed to several venues. I hope not too many but finding is a journey and as I use this journal format I expect to learn all kinds of enlightening things about myself, my abilities and my art.

I have learned that I have no need for a lot of external stimulation so I continue to simplify my surroundings. My fabric is behind curtains and my books are down behind closed doors.

So the Before (first photo) had me shuffling my sewing cabinet and cutting table around because I like working waist high. Then I changed the various plastic storage unit drawers.

The After (above) shows that I put the deep drawers into the closet and the shallow drawers in the craft area so I spend less time looking for what I need.

That window curtain needs to go even if it was free. 8p I really like a plain and straight valence.

I did move ahead in 2010 and I'm hoping to do even more MOVING AHEAD in 2011.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Just in time delivery

I did get the grand kiddies quilts made up for the big day!

In fact I used them as the wrapping paper for what they 'really' wanted!

Matching the horizontal lines on the back with the gridded lines on the front was problematic so I decided to do diagonal lines.

I used variegated thread. I will be reconsidering variegated thread that goes from light to dark as something is usually too much. I shall be on the lookout for medium blendables.

The first lines were straight stitch thru the centres of the squares. I sewed all in one direction. I used a 3 step zig zag for the lines on each side of the initial straight lines but I stitched them all from the opposite direction to prevent distortion. I thought it worked well.

I did machine sew the bindings. I think I'll still hand sew the 'heirloom' quilts even if I manage to perfect the machine bindings.

The little quiltlets were also used for wrapping and can be wee blankies or placemats.
Now I need to update my Loose Feathers List. Happy Holidays!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Blessed Holidays

Happiness is ...
snuggles and smooches

simple decorating
scrumptious snacks
stress free holidays
and Standard Operating Procedures in place for a creative and productive New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Basically Blue

I had an unscheduled baby quilt to make for hubby's work mate. I thought I'd use the other piece of gridded fusible for this one as I did on the pink quilt whose grid is on the diagonal. (darned if I can find that post, sorry) I might have to revise my opinion of this fusible as I did find things went fairly fast. This might also have something to do with my new 57 foot which is a quarter inch foot with an edge. Quite slick and fast.

I also think a tutorial on digital cameras might be a help as colour and perspective are quite changeable.
So here is a photo focusing on the various prints which are thirties and blue.
One that does show the rectangular shape, 37" x 47". Definitely some shrinkage as I was using the full 45" width on the back. I also did the quick inside/out edge finish.
This photo is probably more accurate colour wise.
And the backing is a very old but great quality fabric I got for a good sale price many years ago. So very not me and I'm glad to have most of it out of my stash now.
Now I need to get the 2 small quilts for my grand kiddies machine quilted as they are actually on my list. hum, hum, hum... happy holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Books are like Popcorn

One isn't enough.
I had ordered Threads - the Basics and Beyond some time ago. I gather it was a hit and I had to wait for more. It looks like a great resource and I'm looking forward to making notes in it as it is spiral bound and it is that kind of book. Threadpainting, free motion embroidery or modifying sewing machine patterns really interests me and our next page challenge is all about a continuous line on a whole cloth background.
A quick trip thru Michael's with my coupon and I was stopped dead in my tracks by The Journal Junkies Workshop. Now to my credit this was a different store and I had no idea this was a book section. I tried because as you can see I don't really need another. But ...
It is now part of that section in my library.
The good news is that I did not get another coupon so that should keep me at home for a good while. And it does take me a bit to get off of the current tangent I get on but I do think I am ready to make marks on the new year goals and they shall pretty much relate to staying home and making many marks and messes as I begin a visual journey with the Sketchbook Challenge.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Drawing the line

My trip to the city was partly to get a sketch book for the Sketchbook Project. I had read about the Strathmore books on another blog and recognized them at the Artist's Emporium store. I'm not sure what size I'll like so I got two sizes. They had also gotten in the Moleskine line and in my haste to get a Moleskine I got lined ones. arghhh But I'm good to go. I understand the value of Gesso now!

There is a card in the Moleskin detailing their history. Gee, I'm in good company! Vincent Van Gogh, Picasso, and Ernest Hemmingway! They were originally handmade by a French bookbinder in Paris. The small family owned business that made the 'little black book' eventually closed its doors. In 1997 a small Milanese publisher brought the legendary notebook back to life and it continues to be a travel companion of many.
But the 'going' has hit a major stall. While thinking about line drawings for the journal/sketchbook projects I was reminded that I haven't had a reading binge in a while. I absolutely LUV reading and allegories/fantasies are high on my list of favorite ways to spend my time. We don't have a TV and movies are only watched occasionally as I do prefer to read the book than watch the movie. But now I've gotten all involved in Tolkien's story and though I've read them a number of times I get all caught up and can't wait to read about what happens next. After every chapter I try to whip myself up to the sewing station.

The last baby quilt has the squares laid out and the lines of sashing are ready to be laid. I need to study the layout to see if there will be anymore changes to the position of the squares.
While I'm thinking I'll be studying the various line drawings at the chapter headings! Very inspiring actually. ;~)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

It's a Jungle Out There

I was off to the city yesterday to return spray cans and buy Sketchbooks. I shall talk about that tomorrow.

First the Grand Kiddies! Quilts from:

They share a tiny bedroom and the theme is 'jungle'. Aqua water, sherbet flowers, monkeys, elephants, lions and tigers and zebras. I do believe Noah's Ark landed there as well.

My first quilts for them needed to be colourful but not terribly busy. They needed to be similar but different. Perhaps they'll be keepsakes but definitely usable.

Eliana's began with one metre of wonderfully colourful hearts, flowers and leaves that I'd bought even before her brother was born. I wanted most for the backing with some accents on the front.
I auditioned colours but mostly aqua and greens seemed the calmer approach for the front.

I 'stretched' the backs with the colour strips and I can see I need to work on 'the golden mean' as it is proportionately not quite right.

Joshua's theme fabric proved hard to find. I finally decided that there are cows in the jungle. lol

I have one more baby quilt to put together and then I shall be cutting all the batting and machine quilting them. I'll post a final quilts soon, I hope.
Sorry the pictures aren't the best. I had bought a very large pack of batteries knowing that blogging requires LOTS of pictures. The sale may have been good but I'm not half done the box and I feel they are not keeping their charges as the time passes. I shall remember that for the future.
Okay, three babies sewn up and one to go.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I tackled the box of green scraps which had a few teal bits. I laid double sided interfacing down, removed the top release paper and arranged strips. I ironed then down when I had a nice selection in place using a Teflon sheet to protect the iron. Then I removed the release paper from the back and added a fabric backing.

I don't care for raw edges fraying so I laid a piece of black netting over everything. It really is almost invisible but adds a unifying element to the various fabric scraps.

I used variegated thread to apply various sewing machine stitches to stabilize everything.

I rejected my first idea of straight cuts for my bookmarks because diagonals are much more interesting. This is about 2" x 8". I satin stitched around the edge and then added two buttons, one sewn on top of the other for some interest.

The TOM challenge has caused me to be more diligent in using my scraps. It is also a great way to experiment with 'What if...'

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pretty in Pink

I'm still working on the Technique of the Month. Vicki is challenging us to use up scraps. This is a little harder because it seems so much easier to grab a big chunk from the stash. This time I grabbed a FQ, cut it into squares, and then used some overdyed fabric that was left over from a home ec class I gave a girl. The fabric was a white on white print that we dyed fuchsia trying lights, mediums, and darks and some mottled pieces. It was in my pink/red box. It is also challenging to just strike out with no real plan. But I just sewed around the four sides of the inner square and my smallest block was about 8" x 7" and so I cut them all that size. I luv the rectangle.
Scraps all gone but not big enough for the baby quilt I require so I took a solid pink from my stash and cut alternate blocks. I was still short 1 block so I put all 3 scraps fabrics together and I think it'll be fine.
Still another day for the TOM deadline. I wonder if I could do bookmarks???

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Not a bad thing

Things have been a tad hectic. That probably has a lot to do with the change of seasons. It involves switching gears emotionally as well as physically.

The holiday season is very low key here so shopping only involved 2 toys for the grand kiddies but a lot of supplies for the various winter projects (and the sketchbook challenge) so I can stay home and do them. Now a first doll requires a first little pink quiltlet but then I learned that the grandson has actually been playing with Bob the Builder so that means another quiltlet, but it'll be green. I got the idea from Terri. The TOM at 3CS has us using scraps and I am trying that. Only the triangles were scraps but it is a start. I used flannelette as a backing and minimal quilting to keep it drapeable (sp???) for the dolls

The Altered Book 101 needs a chunk of time to make a niche and I need to find that chunk. Laundry had to be done so that compromised my basement work area. I'm good to go again and have made a few changes to lessen downtime. It is cold down there so drying time and comfortable work conditions have made adding a better heater necessary. Course all the snow we've been getting adds insulating drifts to the foundation but buries the walk which means I'm shovelling instead of sorting laundry!

Back to my scraps. I picked the black and white box and combined the page sized challenge. Monograms. ??? The E became and 8 and I shouldn't have made the 8 part so dark. I used a freezer paper shape and black free motion stitching on the white fabric with the batting underneath.

I was going to do an inner border and then the checkerboard for the outer but I liked the graphic look of the strips. Now I was going to add those borders in a quilt as you go way so I need to rethink how to do this. So I kinda appliqued as you go! lol. The checkerboard was relegated to the back with another piece to 'make do. I did the quick turn finish so I can keep moving along.

So here it is. Think: 2, 4, 6, 8. Who do we appreciate? E LOL I used to be a cheerleader and I was desperate to explain the whole 8 thing.

I am learning to let less than stellar go as I move along the creative path. Improvements will come.

I have 2 small lap quilts and 2 baby quilts in the starting line up. One is already in rows. Two have their pieces cut and one will be out of the scrap box.

I am sew delighted to be making happy noises as the snow sifts down and covers the darn walk AGAIN!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm dreaming of...

the new year actually!

I have been a stay at home mum and except for the occasional whirlwind that changes things for short times, I have stayed at home. It is where I am the happiest. This last month has had me out and about more than I like. I forgot the darn spray cans from the last fiasco so it is looking like I need to go back to the city to return them at least one more time before I can hibernate for the winter.

I do have an idea for the cash that they'll be giving me. I need to buy a sketch book. A for-real one. And I saw exactly what I need at the art store and almost got it but thought I had enough supplies for my winter creativity. But I didn't know about The Sketchbook Challenge.

I decided to join. This is a pretty new thing for me. I am not a sketcher but I do realize that keeping things you like helps identify what it is you are drawn to. I was also very intrigued with the art challenges concerning line and shape that I worked on last year. I have been happy with this year's word- Focus. I'm definitely learning to do that. I think next year's word could be Find. I want to find my particular style. I think I know what I don't like so now I should be able to see what it is I really like as I sketch things and make notes of things that inspire. If I keep a sketchbook common themes should become apparent and then I can fine tune and finish what turns my particular crank. At least I hope so.

I returned my grandson to his home today after a short visit. We had a fun day in the city yesterday and today we met his mum and sister at their local thrift shop. I found a great light. My style! :) I also found a china mug like the ones I like to have my coffee in. This one is my first bird as they are usually flowers. It'll definitely be keeping company with the sketchbook!

Friday, December 3, 2010


I'm working on my attitude. I want to post projects that are well on their way to completion. I am identifying what motivates me and gets results. Today is not that day.

I have recognized that to get my bright ideas done I need to find affordable projects that I can do myself. My dear hubby is quite busy right now. I want better cabinets on each side of our small stove in the dining room so I put the old ones in the basement for storage and got 2 better ones.
Getting the old ones down was tricky so I decided to work on the new ones in the corner of the kitchen. I have been following a few DIY blogs and spray painting appeals to me. I could make a spray chamber from a roll of plastic. First I sanded. awk The little dust bag on the sander is pretty much decoration. I dusted and vacuumed the whole downstairs. I had coffee and started again.

I shook the primer for all I was worth, made sure the plastic was in place and pressed firmly. :( I need to go back and read the fine print on those DIY blogs. Then I need to take my unused spray cans back and buy regular spreadable, brushable paint. But first I need to dust and vacuum the whole downstairs. AGAIN
I'm still working on my attitude!

Monday, November 29, 2010

AB 101 Prepping the pages

The number of pages in an altered book need to be reduced by about half. I sectioned off 1/2 an inch (200 pages) for a niche in the back. Then I proceeded to 'alter' the book by using two different methods to reduce the pages.

I could easily see the sewn thread in the various signatures so I carefully removed the inner two pages which comes out as one sheet. That is two pages folded as one. I think it is okay to just tear out a couple of sheets at a time but I could see the threads well so chose this way.

Then I went thru the book picking four pages. I'd put a cutting mat behind the second and third page. Use a ruler to cut those two pages 1/2 inch from the spine.

Then I used gel medium to glue the page the two flaps and the two outside pages. To clarify I glued the outside of the 3rd page flap to the inside of page 4. Then I glued flap 2 to flap 3. I spread the medium on the outside of flap 2 and the inner side of page one and made them all fuse together by using my brayer. So you have 2 flaps glued inside 2 full pages. Perhaps I should have let these dry before doing more but I'm not that patient. I used wax paper between wet pages and dry pages and kept going. I found the gel a bit thick and perhaps I could have thinned it.

This is an example of the wax paper and brayer.

Then I put my sewing machine on the closed book to exert some downward pressure for the night.

I removed the wax papers in the morning. It looked pretty flat but was also quite damp so I draped the book over a rung on my clothes horse for the day.

I saved all my pages for future projects. I also did some extra flaps. I want to add some loose pages later so I made two flaps side by side so I can stick in a loose page and glue it in between the two prepared flaps.

So far so good. Now I'm off to the art store in the city to ask all kinds of questions about gels, mediums, and glues.