Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Triplicate

 At long last, I've had some time to sew the
Wiksten Tova top, and not just once but three times,
and each a little differently.
Can I start by saying how much I love this pattern?
 The instructions are clear and offer plenty of helpful 
photos, especially for details like this smart sleeve band.
 For this top, I made the neck band exactly the same way
as the sleeve band. I prefer this look because 
it doesn't overwhelm my frame.
 By the time I sewed this one, I felt pretty confident 
with my personal adjustments to the pattern; for example,
I altered the shoulders and sleeves for my petite size,  
 reduced the size of the bib and added buttons to the placket. 
I decided to gather the pleats at the center, too.
These sweet antler buttons are from my friend,
Christine Johnson!
From cutting to finishing, each top took about one work day.
Wearing any of these tops makes me feel comfortable 
and happy. I'll set my sights on solids next, perhaps linen.
With so many examples of the Wiksten Tova top online, 
inspiration will be easy to come by!

Have you sewn this top?
I'd love to hear what you think about the pattern
and your results!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What's Up, Buttercup?

Such a sunny October greeting!
 Last week, I announced my newest project, 
building a doll house and exploring the world of miniatures.

Above is a photo of the kit I purchased online at 
As a beginner, I looked for a house that seemed like 
it would keep my interest, but hopefully not be more 
than I could handle. I also kept an eye on price 
because I didn't want to sink a lot of money into 
such unknown territory. 

The Buttercup was the winner! 
I purchased individual roof shingles separately, 
while the rest of the components are included in the kit.
 After reading and rereading the instructions and 
helpful tips packet, I dove in
Above, the first batch of pieces: sanded, filled and primed.

One helpful tip is to lay painted components over spaghetti
so they won't stick to the paper as they dry. Brilliant.
 Working steadily along during evening hours
the same components now have two coats of 
satin latex paint. Lowe's sells small, affordable pots of paint 
in a limited, but very nice range of colors, 
and I was able to find three for my little Buttercup.  

In a future post I'll show the wood floor (sold separately)
that is now sanded, polyurethaned and adhered to the first floor.
I should mention that I can already see how this project is 
going to go, what with wallpaper, flooring, lighting,
furniture, accessories and people yet to acquire,
this is neither an overnight project 
nor an inexpensive one, but wow, is it fun!

So far, I'm finding all of this to be manageable 
because I can stop and move on to other things
at any time. 

I will continue to show Buttercup updates right here. 
Send me any questions - I'm happy to share.
I've been working on this long overdue Project Linus quilt. 
Shown here is the untrimmed quilt top. 
I had a few diamonds left from a 
previous Diamonds quilt for Project Linus  
and was itching to put them to use.
This new one should be perfect for a girl in grade school.
I'll finish it in the next week or two, and then 
(thank you all for your votes!), both of which will also be 
donated to Project Linus.

Do you have a favorite quilt pattern 
that you reach for again and again?
I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Things That Go Bump In the Night

 Today, October 1st, I'm finally setting up my work station to
delve into the world of miniatures. 
My interest has been growing for a few years, and finally
I gave in and admitted to myself that I'd really like  
to try building miniature houses.
Why I take so long to have some fun, I'll never know, 
but ever since I gave in, the flood gates have opened 
and ideas are rushing in. 

In the spirit of Halloween, 
I'm sharing a few inspiring miniature haunted houses 
from my Pinterest Board, Dwellings.
 To dip my toe in the pond, I ordered two modest kits 
that I'll show in a future post.
So far, I've read the instructions and the helpful tips packet 
more than a few times. Oh, I've also stared at the numerous
pieces and parts thinking, "How am I going to keep these straight?"
Imagining an upside down house or some other awkward 
and really wrong final result, I just keep reminding myself to 
follow the instructions and all will be well.
 So, all that's left is to set up the work table 
and begin learning by doing. And today is that day!
 Aren't all of these haunted houses great?!
Just to be clear, I didn't build 
any of these in today's post. You can find them all on my 
Pinterest board with links back to the makers.

October is a fun month, between the fall foliage, 
rapidly changing weather, pumpkins in the field 
and little ghosts, ballerinas and firefighters going door to door...
it's the perfect time to start sanding, painting and creating 
small haunted, and not so haunted, houses.
 I will post updates on my miniature endeavors.
If you have tips and tricks to share, 
please leave me a comment. I'm wide open to guidance.
In the meantime, since it is October,
I'd love to hear what your little trick-or-treaters 
are planning to dress up as!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Felting, a Gathering and a Tutorial

 Hooray for another gathering at Cheri Sheridan's studio,
Once In A Blue Moon Art Barn!
Our focus was mostly wet felting, 
but a little needle felting snuck in to the mix, too.
I had the pleasure of sharing with Cheri, Carol and Erika 
the basic steps for creating a jellyroll of fibers 
to be wet felted and then cut 
into discs or other configurations. 

 Below, I'm sharing a tutorial so you can join in the fun, too! 

Back to the Art Barn:
Above, you can see Cheri's layers of fibers getting a
cheery dose of brightly dyed curly locks. 
Curly locks work really well with this technique because 
they only condense more during felting, exposing bright  
spots of color once the roll is sliced into (see pics below). 
Carol Boyer builds her jellyroll layers.
Visit her blog - it's full of inspiration, creativity and information. 
Carol lives in the Syracuse area, so seeing her at these 
workshops is a definite treat!
 Erika is rolling her jellyroll, which has been wrapped in 
a layer of tulle. To see the wide range of color palettes these 
three women used was absolutely amazing, not to mention 
the bounty of fiber they've amassed!
 Cheri, our Hostess with the Mostess!
Carol's wrapping her jellyroll in tulle, 
preparing it for the wetting stage and then rolling, rolling 
and more rolling.
 Finally, the rolls are felted to the right firmness
and it's time to reveal the magic within!
Erika's roll swirled with rich, jewel-like colors,
reminiscent of VanGogh's Starry Night
 Carol's roll showed exquisite colors and contrast.
What a beauty.
 On what was a very chilly Fall morning,
Cheri's roll seemed to invoke all the rites of Spring. 
She thought these might make excellent buttons. 
These are some left over slices from a trivet I made.
Trivets can take the form of a circle, diamond or square.
If you choose to make a trivet, be careful to slice 
at an even thickness so your trivet is fairly level.
Then just sew through each disc always from the side, 
going all the way through and into the next disc, 
and so on. For strength and stability, back track often.
Pull your thread firmly as you go. Try to begin and end your
knots facing the inside of the trivet so they're invisible.

Now for the jellyroll tutorial.  :)
 Have a blast felting jellyrolls at your house!
 Round up a variety of high contrast colors of 
(preferably merino) batting and/or roving.
Approximately 2 oz. of each color per jellyroll.
You'll also need: 
a piece of tulle, approximately 16"x12"
two pieces of string
bamboo mat and a towel
hot soapy water in a sink or basin
 Steps 1-5 create the interior bullseye.
Step 1, spread a thin layer of color 1 with 
fibers running left to right. (Photo 1, above.)

Step 2, place a thin layer of color 2 with 
fibers oriented top to bottom.
(Photo 2, above.)

 Step 3, repeat step 1 using color 3.
(Photo 3, above.)
Step 4, repeat step 2 using color 4.
(Photo 4, above.)

TIP: Try to avoid layering two similar colors 
in a row. 
 Step 5, starting at a short end, tightly roll the 
stack of fibers. The tighter you roll now, 
the less rolling you'll do later.
 Set your bullseye roll aside.
 Similar to the previous method, lay out 
a thin layer of one color. 
Aim for contrast so the layers really look sharp
once they're cut into discs.
Place your bullseye roll on this layer of fiber 
and from the short end, roll tightly. (Photos 1 and 2)
Repeat this process for at least one more color, 
(photo 3)
but if you can manage more colors, do so.
The end result will be worth it!
As seen in the final pic above, if you have 
curly locks, sprinkle them on any layer for added fun!

Ready for the felting stage:
 Wrap your jellyroll in the piece of tulle, 
securely tying each end. 
(Photo 1, above, and photos of Carol and Erika, above.)

Fill a sink or plastic bin with a few inches of 
hot soapy water.
Blue Dawn, olive oil soap or glycerin soap  
all work well.

Quickly dip your roll into the hot soapy water, and
gently squeeze the water to the core of the jellyroll. 
Take care not to submerge too long or you could 
lose definition of the beautiful swirls and layers 
you've worked to create. 

On your bamboo mat, 
which I like to place on a towel for stability,
gingerly begin rolling your wetted jellyroll.

This first stage is just to get it to hold together - 
you're not using a lot of pressure yet.
(Photo 1, above.)

Roll it until you feel a skin forming and the roll 
beginning to hold it's shape, then remove the tulle.
(Photo 2, above.)

Now the work of rolling with pressure begins. 
Dip in the hot soapy water as often as you feel necessary. 
You're not going to hurt anything at this point. 
Just keep rolling until your jellyroll is dense. 
Very dense. 
(Photo 3, above)
Using a serrated knife or an electric knife,
cut your jellyroll straight down, like coins, 
or on an angle, pictured above.
Experiment and see what you come up with.

Notice the bullseye in the center surrounded by 
a few rounds of solid colors.

I hope you have a blast not only felting jellyrolls,
but finding great ways to use the resulting discs.
I've made trivets, and our group thought that buttons, 
jewelry and mobiles would be fun, too.
Pinterest is loaded with ideas, so see what you can find.
Let me know what you come up with. I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Find Me Here!

In stores now!
In my little handmade universe, the release of 
Quilting Arts Holiday Gifts Magazine
officially signals the approach of my favorite time of year,
Christmas time.

I have a project inside. Did I tell you?
You can click here to order your copy of this fabulous magazine, 
or head out to your local JoAnn Fabrics, etc.. 
and pick one up today. 
The talented magazine staff made my 
silk and batik book cover look just amazing.
(sorry, my photo above.) 

The instructions and template for my book cover are 
in the magazine so you can whip up a bunch for yourself and
 friends right away! I included ideas for personalizing, too.
I had a blast designing and making these book covers.
Silk makes them sparkle, but any fun combination of fabrics 
would be a hit. Did someone say scrap buster? Indeed!

The magazine has an updated layout with plenty of 
full page color photos, 
as well as a ton of mouth-watering holiday cookie recipes.
I've studied each and every project, and easily added
a dozen new items to my holiday gift giving list, yay!
If you make holiday gifts (not limited to Christmas) 
go now. Pick up a copy. You'll be glad you did.

Soft Denim Slouch Bags
 To celebrate the arrival of my two new bag styles 
now available in the shop,
Mini-Messenger Bags
receive 10% off all bags only, 
(excludes PDF sewing patterns)
today through Sunday, September14th!

Just use code FALLBAGS14 at checkout.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Printmaking At Moon Dance Studio

 Hello Cheri Sheridan! 
Last week, she kicked off our first informal workshop at  
her Moon Dance Art Studio.

Cheri, Carol Boyer and I gathered for three days of printmaking.
Our primary intention was to delve into wood cuts; however,
after one day of cutting wood blocks we unanimously 
decided that, while we appreciate the inherent beauty 
of wood cuts and all that the carving process involves, 
it was really ok to move on and 
explore other methods of printmaking....
 During our first morning, Cheri transfers her wood cut design 
while Carol stops carving long enough to smile for the camera.
 By the end of our first day, Cheri pulled this from her wood cut.
Isn't it lovely?!
 Carol not only cut a beautiful wood block and printed it, 
but then turned around and steadily cut and fabricated 
several foam stamps. That was just our first day!
 By day two, Carol was a printmaking machine.
Every stamp she inked yielded fantastic prints!
 Carol pulling yet another gorgeous stamp. Genius.
You can see Cheri's wood cut in the background.
 Pinned up to dry, our growing body of work. 
Carol's wood cuts are in the center, Cheri's are top right.
I have the least represented because I was having 
such a great time cutting blocks and taking pictures!
 Once we gave ourselves permission to try other methods 
of printmaking, Cheri took out her Gelli plate and went to town!
 Just one of Cheri's amazing Gelli prints.
I kid with Carol and Cheri that I really just want to 
work like them, you know, free and loose. 
Whether or not that day ever comes, working alongside 
these two artistic marvels was a real inspiration!
 Over the course of our three days we enjoyed 
some super cool visitors who couldn't make the workshop, 
but wanted to stop in and check out the fun. 
Among them were Colleen North and Terri Fendya, 
and pictured above, on the right, Erika Kuryla. 
I put my tools down for one of Cheri's 
ginger cookies with chunks of candied ginger - 
oh. my. gosh.
Have I already put "Genius" after Carol Boyer's name? 
Then how about generous?
Carol gave each of us hand painted, hand cut graffiti stamps,
both the positive and the negative, of each of our names.
You can be jealous.
More of Cheri's Gelli plate experiments.
As she builds layers, she builds interest.
Here, Cheri incorporated a block carved by one of her students
which immediately inspired Ooooh's and Aahhhhh's.
A great time was had by all, and
we've even planned our next workshop: Felting.
Stay tuned for that!
In the mean time, I'd love to hear about 
your favorite workshop. Leave me a comment!