Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Simple Details

In one week (if all goes well) you get me back to posting more often!!  Yay, because that means not only do I get to be more creative, but it means my house is officially re-sided!!  Thank goodness, because I’d like to enjoy just a bit of this warmer weather.  J  Speaking of warmer weather, I did actually get to go to a wedding reception potluck type of thing this weekend at our family cabin!  My creative contribution was the card that represented the present that came from my husband and I, my in-laws, and Aaron’s grandma and Aunt.  Because the house has taken over our lives, I only had an hour right before we left to both coach Aaron through making the pasta salad we were bringing and make the card.  You will probably be able to tell that the pictures I took are in the car on the way there!

The front of the card.  The little squares are stamped with 'love' stamps.

Details on the front: brads that matched the paper and added a hint of LOVE.  :)

Inside of the card, mimics the front just on the opposite side.
The part of the card that tells them we got them their Lime green pots and pans, and some Le Crueset pans.  I added those pictures on the green paper background once we got to the beach!  Used some stencils for the lettering.

Inside details.  All 6 of us signed in the 2 blank boxes.  And I stamped and wrote the bottom little message.  Also, if you hadn't noticed before you can see that I inked all the black edges of the card with some silver chalk ink that went well with the silver and black patterned accent paper.

This picture probably doesn't show it very well, but it is the back of the envelope I made. I used some of accent paper from the card just on the back of the envelope to give it a little pop, cover up some mismatched seams, and make the envelope a little sturdier.  I used my scoring board to make the envelope of course!
A fairly simple card, with some little details that brought it all together.  Hope you enjoyed it!  And see you again soon, I hope!!!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More Quilting, 2projects {Gail}

I'm taking a quilting class with my friend K. It lasts for a year, and we meet once a month to get our free fabric and block instructions, then we are to come to the next class with the previous month's block stitched up. K and I decided we would cut and stitch our blocks together, making this class a great way to make sure we get together for a couple hours at least twice a month!

Well, I am very very VERY allergic to cats, and she has a house cat so I cannot even go into her house. While the weather is nice, we are doing our quilting sessions on her patio! It is wonderful to sit outside under a shade cover, birds singing, windchimes chiming, summer breeze breezing, and sew! The breeze does tend to blow around small pieces of fabric, so one must beware of that.

Here's the quilt block we made for this month. The class is based on cutting and piecing using template sets from Marti Michell. I really like the colors in this quilt. Overall, it will look more navy/white, with yellow and lt blue showing more than the green. I may just make some green substitutions. I wonder if the quilting police would come get me? ;)

Quilt Block #1 for class.
More progress on the Coffee wallhanging Word mosaic block below. See previous post for the first on this. I connected the two portions. I need to make it wider, but first I need to determine how much wider to fit with the other major sections of the wallhanging I have completed. You'll get to see those soon!

Segment 1 and 2 of Word mosaic block, combined.
Happy creating this week! Let us know what you are up to in the comments.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Coffee Obsession Quilt: Coffee Words Block {Gail}

I guess I am on a sewing kick! Knitting, crocheting, my planned papercrafting online class -- not happening, just not interested. So today I worked a bit on this quilting project I started back in May and haven't done much since. It will be a wallhanging with a strong coffee theme (get it?), and done in my own quilting style I call Obsession Quilting. You get to be obsessed with searching out theme fabric, and you obsess over the fussy cutting and patching together of the pieces. The photos below will show you what I am talking about.

I have been putting off working on the block made up of coffee words from the various fabrics. I have snipped out pieces with words I particularly wanted to include -- representing almost one example of every word on every fabric, plus a few strips from some strippy fabrics. I started the segment below knowing I wanted this "Gail waking up wanting coffee" portion: a couple stacked Get Me My Coffee pieces (light blue, center left), a strip of 3 Coffee words (you know, a desperate "coffee coffee coffee" plea!) The Wake Up and Smell The Coffee piece seemed appropriate (just to the right of the Get pieces), as did the Latte pieced in above, since I have a latte every morning. My children can tell you how sacred my morning lattes are! 

First segment of pieced Coffee Words, in progress.

I had to choose something from my snips to expand the center portion toward the right, so that the Coffee Coffee Coffee strip could be stitched down to protect it during future handling. The picture of the coffee bags are all labeled with their varieties, so they are allowed in this word block. Of course I couldn't find anything that was exactly the right size, but it worked pretty well height-wise. The ends of some of these seams don't extend all the way to the edges of the fabric, so I can fill in with more pieces easier, when I am ready.

The dark tan Latte and Espresso, sitting loose just below, will be sewn onto the bottom of Coffee Coffee Coffee strip, then I have a little word/picture to go to their right. You might notice the seam between Latte and Espresso -- this was actually one piece of fabric, but I shortened it to just the right length. At quilting time, I plan on making a scribble-stitched frame around each word with thread matching the lighter gold color. I really love that fabric -- it looks as if it has been dyed with coffee!

Segment 2 started with the Nature's Best panel, and I decided to go with coffee variety names around this. The Arabica Blend piece just above it is an altered block -- there was actually a picture of something above those words, but I cut off the top of the "frame" and stitched it back on just above the words. The seam is hiding very well, don't you think? (Click on the picture, you can see it larger size.) 
I had to get tricky with the coffee canisters: that fabric had been printed with the fabric off-grain so when I washed it, the canisters got all slanted! I stretched it back to its original off-grain so the canisters looked normal, spritzed it with Niagara Sizing, and ironed it dry! This stabilizes the weave for a while, as long as you don't handle it too much. Its frame is not drawn as a true rectangle, so I stitched using the canisters' lines as my straight-grain lines and left its surrounding fabric showing quite a bit.
Segment 2, coffee variety names.
I need to look for more examples in the fabrics.
Placing this segment by the Coffee Bags side of Segment 1 will help!
 Had a bit of trouble with the Mocha Java piece on the lower left -- pre-snipping these pieces is a crapshoot. You want to conserve your fabric, but leave enough space around the words for seam allowances. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I almost lost: one of those seams has like 3 threads as a SA. Must plan some stabilizing surface quilting in that area! The seam for whatever I attach to the lower edge of that area will ride exactly along the bottom of the letters. Maybe I'll use a snip from the same fabric and it won't look so "oops"-y! I filled and enlarged the segment with a couple of strips, which I will trim to length only when I have to.

Below is a picture of the back of Segment 1. I have a lot of trimming to do, but this type of piecing is not done by sewing a set distance away from the matched edges of the pieces. It's almost like a grid-based Crazy Quilt, except you are choosing your seam lines with far more care and accuracy. I press almost everything to one side, but you can see where I had to switch sides in one area. You can do this so that it is almost invisible on the front (bulkiness considerations) if you press the center portion of the seam open.

Backside of Segment 1, about 4" x 5"
Now that you can see the actual stitches, do you have an idea of the overall scale of these pieces? The framed area of the Get Me My Coffee piece is about 3/4" x 1 1/2", about the size of the first two joints on your index finger. :)

Here are the rest of my precut Coffee Words. I think this will be a fun block in my wallhanging!

I LOOOOVE coffee and fabric and quilting; this is a gratifying project!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Messenger Bag {Gail & Becca}

Here is the second bag that Becca and I made last week. This one she stitched while I advised and supervised. The pattern was Green Pepper F875, Oregon Trail Messenger Bag. We made some modifications to both customize it and improve it. That's one of my JOYS of being a sewist, and I can't repeat it enough -- you can make ANYTHING better, unique, or just right if you stitch it yourself!

Becca chose a conservative look for her bag: grey wide-wale corduroy and black denim.
Becca, wearing her conservative messenger bag
before the button & bungee closure was added.
See picture below.

However, when we got home and started looking for lining fabric (we forgot to consider this at the store) the only thing from my fabric stash that made us happy was a combo of a black colorful print and a coordinating solid light green.

We have decided, in our family, that light toned bag/purse linings make it easier to find your stuff! So that's why we used the light green along with the black print -- the combination of the two brought it all together and gave her the light lining she required.

What you can't see in the picture below is that the compartment holding the spiral notebook is light green inside, as is the inside of the zipper (purple!) pocket. The light green is only showing as the stripes in the bag flap.

Ooooh, pretty!
Like those racing stripes? That's a "fix" that became a design feature!

 I hope that all our customizations, creativity, and hard work created a bag that will last all year!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Custom Tote Bag for Becca's Crochet Projects {Gail}

Samantha’s sister Becca is home for a couple weeks, and she had a wish for a bag to carry her yarn projects in. Of course, we couldn’t just have or buy any old bag, we had to make one! She actually had chosen fabric for this in April, and now we had a chance to design and make the bag together.

It had to be: roomy enough for a moderate crochet project; small enough to be reasonable for her mostly-small projects; and with straps long enough to sling over the shoulder and stay there.

We stacked up some yarn skeins, measured, and then calculated. I’ve made a bag or two before, so I soon had the fabric pieces cut and interfaced. I like to use Pellon D├ęcor-bond for tote bags that need to support themselves. It’s wider than regular interfacing –  at 45” across, you don’t run out of width no matter how big the bag is going to be! The only thing about a heavy interfacing is that the pieces have a mind of their own after fusing. You really have to take charge when you are sewing!

Decor-Bond interfacing on the wrong side of the bag, going to be covered up by the yellow lining with pocket soon.

I decided to add a wide pocket to the lining for project books even though Becca didn’t ask for it. It just seemed like something that would be handy.

Three yards of cotton webbing makes the perfect straps for almost any tote bag. Lucky for us, I had the perfect color already on hand so we didn’t have to make another trip to the store.

To make the bag small AND large at the same time, I copied a technique from my favorite diaper bag. There’s a stitched-in crease all around the bag, about 2 1/2” down from the zipper. When a larger project will be carried, the top of the bag can be pulled up, adding much more volume! Most days with small projects, the zipper will be tucked down into the bag. Notice that the ends of the zipper have been mitered off, with ribbon tabs to grip when opening and closing.

See the crease just above the front handle?
The bag folds crisply and easily at that point as you can see below.

The cheery yellow lining only goes up to the crease, not all the way up to the zipper – it was just easier that way.

If you ever want to make a custom bag, first consider the most useful shape and size. Stack your stuff up, experiment with actual boxes or containers, measure, think it through. Bags can be made in any shape and size you want! It’s so nice to have one that exactly meets your needs.

Speaking of which, the whole time I was working on the yarn project bag, Becca was stitching up a messenger bag based on a Green Pepper pattern (that we altered a bit, of course!) She ended up using 4 different fabrics and it’s going to be wonderful – pictures soon!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Time flies!

So I realize I’ve neglected posting this last couple of weeks, but ‘time flies when you are having fun!’  And I’m not even sure its that I was having fun all the time, but the fun mixed in with work, and work being fun, and the ongoing house project have pretty much just sucked any free time down the drain.  HOWEVER… bringing up Mom’s last post:
You get creative more times a day than you may realize. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with craft supplies. Choosing your clothes from separates and adding accessories counts, making a meal without using recipes counts, figuring out how to coordinate time schedules and errands with your family – these are all creative pursuits!
I definitely had some creative moments this week mixed in with the craziness that ‘did not have to do with craft supplies.’  First, I am a photographer, and I had a LOT of sessions the last couple of weeks so as far as that kind of creativity, I’ve been busting  at the seams with creative ideas, new fabrics for backgrounds (with some help from Mom in that category), hats, props, poses and the like.  I’m still in the editing process for those so I can’t share any, BUT I will share a photo that I took purely for my own creative pleasure.  This was late one night out on Hood Canal with some friends:

Such a beautiful night, don’t ya think?

Second, ‘making a meal without using recipes’…

I discovered Trader Joes premade refrigerated pizza dough this week, thanks to a good friend’s suggestion.  It is 1.29 for the dough, and oh so tasty!  This is the whole wheat dough with Cajun shrimp, andouille sausage, red bell, peppers, onions, and of course sauce and cheese!  It was tasty!

This night I made the regular pizza dough into Extra Garlicky Cheesy Bread.  Spread minced garlic mixed with a little butter on dough that has been rolled out.  Sprinkle on some cheese, sprinkle on some Johnny’s garlic cheese mix, fold over dough, sprinkle on some fresh grated parmesan and bake!  Took about 15 min at 400.  It was delicious, and oh so garlicky!

Next up I’m going to try my herbed pizza crust with a chicken-bacon-ranch pizza!  Yummy.

Finally, I did manage to fit in some crocheting, but I don’t have a pic to update at the moment.  I am into my third skein of yarn on my purple blanket and have been working on it every night I sit down to watch tv to unwind from the long days!

I have a lot of photo editing to get done this week, and an update to my business website has to get done too, so I’m not expecting a lot of myself in other creative areas.  But as my mom said, it always pops up in those daily aspects of life!  So cheers 2creating in whichever form it presents itself this week!