Sunday, April 6, 2008

I have been having so much fun felting and I decided I was ready for something more complicated. I bought this felted purse from They had a huge color selection and two or three styles and sizes. This color is called Iris and it cost $15. My plan was to felt directly on to the bag, but it has a nice lining, and I didn't feel like getting into a major lining-removal project today. Instead I basted on to it one of the small motifs that I have been making. I like it. If I want to change the look, I can just change the motif. I'll have to get to that remove-the-lining-felt-on-the-bag thing later.

I have been working on my Big Crazy Quilt today. The stack of blocks in the photo will actually cover a bed. As slow as I am going on this, it might make more sense to call it a coffin cover.

I am laying down base stitches so that I can go back and add layers of more stitches. I like to get the bases down and then work on decorating the base stitches with different weights, colors, and fibers. If you have a chance to attend a workshop by Carole Samples, or if you can find her book A Treasury of Crazy Quilt Stitches, leap on it. (I believe the book is out of print, but check on amazon.) She is an excellent teacher, and her book is one of my constant references.

This block is screaming for some seam treatments, but it will have to wait until tomorrow. I just realized that it is 3:30pm and I have not eaten lunch!
(I just noticed that there are some tubes of glue at the top of the first block photo. I do not use glue in my crazy quilts. They are still there from another project I was doing earlier. Just want to set the record straight about that glue!)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Life keeps getting in the way of making art. It's a beautiful day, so I took some photos of my yard for inspiration, to get me moving again. When I am stitching, clock time goes away and I go to a place where I am in my own time. I stay in the present moment -- the past and future lose their power over me. I am taking babysteps toward learning to get back to the present moment when I am not making art by focusing on my breathing, by being mindful of what I am doing, and by reminding myself that I am not my thoughts or feelings. As I grow older, the peace that comes from being present no longer feels like a luxury but a necessity.

I bet that most of you did not come here to read about my inner self, so on to a stitching topic. I am spatially impaired. Can't crochet, can't knit. The cast on stitch gives me fits. Every time I do it I have to relearn it. I love Sharon' B's stitch dictionary, and refer to it frequently. Sometimes, however, I am just mystified when it comes to looking at the photos and making my hands do it. The other day I ran across the Video Library of Hand Embroidery Stitches and found help. Little 2 - 4 minute videos of many embroidery stitches show clearly, with narration, how to do even those stitches that confuse me. Great resource for beginners.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I gave my sister her crazy quilt block birthday present today. She loved it, and we spent the day celebrating by going to lunch at a great Italian restaurant, then we just visited for hours. We even planned a sewing day to make some darling things for her granddaughters, which we have never done before. What a great day.

We live about an hour apart and we don't see each other enough. I was reminded today that it is worth making the effort. Sisters are special, and mine is very dear to me. She is 60 today, but when we are together we are not in our sixties, we are young again.
A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit, a golden thread to the meaning of life. ~Isadora James
A note about the frame: I purchased the bright green brushed metal frame and mat at Michael's. However, it squashed down some of the embellishments on the block. Michael's staff were not helpful, so I took it to a customer framer who said he would put in a second mat, with a spacer. When I picked it up, he told me that the frame would not accommodate a second mat, and he just put it in the frame in its mashed state. I picked it up this a.m. and did not have time to do anything about it. My sister decided that she liked it the way it was.
What I learned: If you don't want to spend a fortune on custom framing, go to Hobby Lobby or Michael's or whatever store you have in your area and buy a frame with the double mats already in it before you start the project. Make it to the specifications of the frame and then you can pop it in yourself. Even better, wait until they are on sale for 50% off or until you get your hands on a coupon for a big discount.
If you make many gifts, keep a couple of these around and then make the gifts to fit. Much less hassle and $$$ than custom framing.
I don't know what is wrong with blogspot today. The spacing in this message is all messed up in the preview!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I have been making little felted motifs to make into pins or pendants, or to sew on quilts or purses. I am working on an instructional article for but wanted to show them off on my blog. If the article is accepted for publication I will post a link to it. If it is not accepted, I'll publish it myself, right here.

Some of the motifs in the photo are complete, and some have not been embellished. My favorites are the one with the purple-haired lady bead and the one just above it. Click the photo to see a much larger view.

As a beginning needle felter, I have really enjoyed making these because I get a sense of accomplishment from having a finished product that I like. These small pieces are a great way to improve my skills with the needle felting machine.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Inspiration from Nature

My sewing space is small, but has windows looking into the woods, which I find so inspirational. These photos are not the best but you get the idea. I have huge gratitude to be able to work in such a peaceful setting.

My crazy quilting habit outgrew our spare bedroom so I moved to a small (10'x24') building that is about 50 steps from my front door. I have my sewing things and an office there. I have music, the internet, and crazy quilting. It just does not get any better than that.

Joining Lace

I just found out that I can join two pieces of lace together for a new look. I gave it a try and here is what I learned.

Joining lace is easy to do with the right presser foot for your sewing machine. The foot is called an edge joiner or a stitch-in-the-ditch foot and has a vertical metal guide between its "toes". By lining up the edges of the lace (or fabric or ribbon) on each side of the metal guide, you can zigzag stitch, catching each side as you go. Of course, this could be used for any stitchable item with a straight side -- fabric, trim, ribbon.

The image above shows two pieces of lace joined in the middle, the edge joining foot, and a single piece of lace like the two that I joined. This is the first one I stitched and I can tell I need a bit of practice. The foot that came with my Janome machine is labeled "G".

I think I will make this into a leaf by shortening it and cutting a V into each end. I can stitch the edge each V to the other edge, giving it some dimension. Paint it green, add beads etc. and it might be quite cute.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Big Girl Toys

For several years I pieced crazy quilts with a 1937 Singer Featherweight. Then I decided to modernize with a Janome Jem Gold picked up at a Crazy Quilt Retreat several years ago. About a month ago, I bought a Janome Memory Craft 6600P because I wanted the quilting features and the decorative stitches. (Do not go in a sewing machine store and ask for a sewing machine that does embroidery stitches. That means something completely different to them.)

You can see it on the left side of the photo.

I love my new Janome and I am even making a sane quilt, quite a stretch for someone whose idea of a straight seam might vary as much as 1/4".

Needle Felting Machine

A couple of weeks ago I found out about needle felting machines, so I headed right out to destroy my budget by buying a Baby Lock Embellisher. It is the most fun thing I have done in a long time.

This is a 4x5" (approximately) crazy quilt 'interpretation' that I made the first day I got the embellisher.

There is something so satisfying about making a little needle felted piece, or an atc, or a cq postcard because it goes so quickly and then you have something beautiful. Making larger cq projects takes time and sometimes goes on for longer than I want.

I have been making some pins with the embellisher. More on those later.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I am giddy with power

Yes, posting on my own blog has me in a dither. Should I just talk about making crazy quilt stuff? Should I share my vast wisdom about life. Or maybe a few photos of my dog? I'll have to give this some more thought.

For today, here's a photo of the block I am making for my sister's birthday, which is April 1, so I'd better get a move on. I have had so much fun making this block. It's hard to see in this photo but I used my needle felting machine to make the orange flower in the top right, and I used invisible thread and my sewing machine to stitch down the vines. Up until now I have done everything by hand. There is something sort of naughty about cheating like this! But I need to save my hands for embroidery and a little machine stitching never hurt anything.

"After all, the goal is not to make art, but to be in that wonderful state that makes art inevitable."
~ Robert Henri / The Art Spirit