Monday, February 28, 2011

More 'Musements...

I posted too soon - 

I have been in a funk for a week but mid afternoon today the skies cleared (mind you, it's thanks to the nasty vicious wind blowing off the lake!), the sun came out and my sewing room was bathed with the most beautiful light... 

and I was inspired

so I ruched a muslin flower this time and parked it on here... notice how only the edges are where the ruching is, the centre part is just gathered... I'll post a tutorial on this one later this week, if you're interested...

another torn-edge crazy-quilted heart, all in lovely neutrals...

I think I'll call this one finished as far as the front goes and let the flower make the statement...

I'm happy now

'Musing Mondays

The sun is shining and the snow is falling...
and I am really not amused at all.
Spring and Winter are having their yearly tug-of-war and I feel caught in the middle; yearning to be out playing in the dirt, feeling the warmth of the sun, but finding ways to enjoy these last few inside days...
silk and velvet cuff

Like finishing this silk and velvet cuff I showed you a while back; I added torn black silk fabric ribbons to the top and bottom with just the frayed edges peeking over, and some vintage glass seed beads to the pink silk ribbons flanking the centre band. A little more detail but not much, still keeping with the overall simplicity of the piece.

I also made a case for it and today's 'Musement was to make a new-to-me flower: silk dupionne cut on the bias and ruched along just one edge. I love the look and it's even easier to do than the regular ruched flowers I have made before. The silk holds it's shape beautifully and is surprisingly easy to gather...

The edge that isn't ruched is simply gathered after the ruching is completed and a beautiful flower with a fairly plain, flat centre is formed; perfect for a charming vintage button echoing the flower theme.

The colour of the silk perfectly matched the colour of the pleated ribbon in centre band of the cuff itself, although none of the beautiful texture of the silk is evident, lost in all the tucks and gathers...

I have to say I am delighted with how this one turned out; it's what I had in my mind when I started out and didn't require 47 gut-wrenching decisions to get there!

The only thing left to do is list it in my Etsy shop and then size it for the purchaser, and then, and only then, can I count it "Done"!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Monday's 'Musement -Trying Too Hard?

It seems I can't get Monday's post done on Monday - and believe me, it isn't for lack of trying!

This week I really wanted to play with a wrist cuff I started a while back, but this story really starts last year when I bought a beautiful seashell cuff from Diane Knott. I love to wear it in the summer months and thought I would use it as my inspiration to make another one for our upcoming trip to France. 
I've been amassing a small collection of silk ribbons, vintage buttons and was gifted some beautiful handmade lace from Belgium last Spring by a travelling friend and thought these might combine to make something pretty.

Below is the fabric case I made for it so hopefully it won't get crushed along the way. It's made from Osnaburg fabric in a simple envelope style with frayed edges - can't get much simpler than that!

I embroidered my initials on a small piece of twill tape - perfect for hiding where the silk ribbon flower and button are attached to the front...

I used a lot of buttons and beads, trying to keep everything balanced without getting too symmetrical. The ribbon definitely has a mind of it's own when you're trying to twist, turn and pleat it. 
It doesn't help either that I'm all thumbs...

I sewed buttons on and took them off again, beads bouncing all around,

I tried twice to get a better close-up but my camera won't do macro photographs and every  time I got too close it started beeping like mad!

(Clicking on the pictures might help see the detail a little better)

I think I'm happy with it (sound convincing don't I?) but oh my, it took forever. Hours and hours and you would swear my name should be Mrs. Dithers, or maybe Goldilocks.
"This button's too big, now too small, not the right patina, design's too plain, too intricate, beads are too shiny, too little, does this look silly?"  and on and on and on.

So I wondered, am I trying too hard, or just incapable of making a design decision in less than 15 minutes?

Inquiring minds want to know...

Friday, February 18, 2011

Jiminy Crickets!

I've been off since Tuesday and am enjoying myself thoroughly - still puttering but a little more seriously than before.

Finishing up some projects from last year, like this little Christmas card (I'll be so organized this year!)

It's like a cabinet card in that it doesn't open, just two sides..

There's just enough space to add a salutation to the intended recipient and it's ready for giving, in about 10 months time!

And below is a small gift tag, all ready to go...

I started these when I was working my way through KC Willis' Collage Camp and they were almost done, but not quite, so I today I finished them.

The star button is mother-of-pearl but the holes were huge so I glued a button on top  - much better.

Making these little tags is simple, especially if you have lots of scraps.

I used to save the smallest, teensy-tiniest scraps of fabric, many smaller than 2".
Every time I finished a project I would go to throw the scraps away and it was as if my mother was perched on my shoulder and her words were running through my mind: "Waste not want not", "A real quilter uses all her scraps" so I saved them all.

When I was feeling overwhelmed with all my fabric of late, my scraps were a big part of that; the piles grow at an alarming rate and though I use them, I never make a dent. 

So I did what any good daughter does when her mother is perched on her shoulder chirping like Jiminy Cricket...

I pushed her off.

Don't worry, she landed in a great huge pile of scraps - which I then sorted through and got rid of everything that was under 3" square, or was so hideous I couldn't imagine I ever paid good money for it.

Less stuff = less mess.
It's the new math!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Puttering Away

I come from a long line of putterers.
Puttering's fun; you accomplish things but they're never serious tasks and there is no urgency - almost like dilly-dallying but you do get somewhere, eventually...

For the past few days I have been puttering in my Sewing Room because for months I have been singing the same old song - "It's such a mess I can't stand to work in it!"

I got tired of listening to myself so I can't imagine how friends and family have put up with me for so long. So I puttered away and it's much better.

Today I'm working at finishing this piece - needle felting, felt applique and embroidery - started about two years ago for a Demo and then sat, waiting for today.

It will be a little wall hanging when I'm finished with it.

And I must say, it was pleasant working on it now I can see the entire surface of my work table.

When I was in the quilt shop the other day one of the girls asked me what I was up to. "Cleaning up the disaster I call my Sewing Room", I replied. "It's making me crazy!"

"Why should you be any different?" was the response.

"Because I want to be"

And therein lies the truth. I want to be more organized and know what I have and where it actually might be. Novel concept. 
I want to be content with what I have and not want more.
Goes back to my New Year's Aspirations.

And since I consciously stated a desire, I am finding it is the truth most of the time. It allows me to question what I'm thinking, doing, feeling every step of the way if I want to - I ask myself more and more "Will this get me where I want to go, will I be happier if I have it?" 

More and more the answer is no; I am already there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Monday's 'Musement - Remembering

I have been distracted of late, hence the lateness of this post.

memories have been flooding through my mind...

memories of Spring...
we are still in Winter here but with a warming trend the past few days I am yearning for warm, sunny days

memories of time well spent making beautiful things...
memories of stories of a Great-Great Grandmother, Julia, who also had a love for needle and thread

memories of my trip to the Yukon last year and one special morning spent at the Pioneer Cemetery.
It's a quiet place, just off the main street, nestled close to the clay banks; car engines are a distant rumble and the wind blows softly, a very green place with some of the largest trees I have ever seen up there...
A mother and daughter buried together, one birth year and one death year on the stone encompass two lifetimes, and a single word
for them both.

I have spent many happy hours doing family research instead of sewing and I was rewarded with finding much about these two women who travelled to a new world, and then on to an isolated Territory.
A daughter seeking a new life and her mother who couldn't bear to give her completely to a far-off country.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Monday's 'Musement - Where's My Shoe?

Several months ago (almost nine to be exact - which almost seems apropos now that I think about it), I had the exceedingly uncomfortable experience of having my shoe placed quite firmly on my other foot.
I was in a Vancouver whilst Marc was on a course and happened upon a quilt shop while hanging out with my darling daughter, where she happened upon a version of this:

"The Boston Bag"

Several were on display, advertising an upcoming course. 
As I didn't live there, taking the course was not an option but thinking myself of reasonable intelligence, I would buy the pattern and make the bag on my own.


Only available as a course.

How many times I have uttered those same words to customers and there they were, coming right back at me. Karma? I think so... and what an uncomfortable experience that was...

I looked it over pretty carefully but I know my limitations - there was no hope of making it without the pattern. 
A very big sigh of regret.

But I am stubborn... and resourceful... so when we got home I started digging... and got nowhere.

So I emailed the store where I had seen the bag and told them I would sign up for the course but as I couldn't attend would they please mail me the instructions. This time I struck pay dirt.
This time a very helpful employee gave me the name and email address of the instructor and suggested I contact her directly to buy the pattern.

Agnes Rhim of agnesquilt and also a blog in Korean (which is definitely worth looking at) was more than willing to sell me her pattern as well as zippers with charming pulls and the leather handles that make her bags so lovely.

If you click on this photo you will see the sweet cherub charm on the zipper...

I love the shape of this bag and it was surprisingly easy to make. The rose fabric is one I have had for more than a decade; it is one of my special, treasured fabrics - you know, the ones you are so afraid to use... I have several like that and I have often wondered what holds me back. I think in part it's because when they're gone, they're gone but also because they are so perfect to me, in and of themselves, and I am afraid there is nothing I would make that could live up to their potential.

Perhaps I'm getting older (for sure) and wiser (not so sure), but I knew it was the right fabric for this bag. So I hunted and gathered and found some pretties and I am so thrilled with how they all came together.

And I learned my lesson.

The next time someone comes into the shop and asks about a pattern because of something they have seen, I will do everything I can to help them get it.

I just know that they have the perfect piece of fabric, just waiting...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Creative Table

Last night we hosted a little dinner party.

There were eight of us and our table comfortably seats six. 
We have tried using smaller chairs, smaller place setting and practicing "elbows in" but Marc and I have always felt bad about the cramped conditions imposed on our friends...

A few months back he was offered a work table, and thinking it might come in handy for me someday, he accepted. It has sat in our garage since then waiting for me to decide what to do with it and the other night I had a bright idea...
"Why can't we bring it in to the family room, move out the chair and the coffee table and have dinner there?"

We hauled it in and set it up and it was overwhelming in it's size!
I knew right away none of my tablecloths were close to big enough so I started thinking... after all, it's a plywood top and so desperately needed to be covered.

I have a fairly extensive collection of vintage table toppers and doilies, gifted to me by several people that know of my penchant for textiles, especially handmade ones. 
On my "To Do List" for the past several years is a project that would see them all sewn together in a kind of crazy quilted type of tablecloth - too bad it wasn't done yet.
But then I thought - there's really nothing that says they have to actually be sewn down...

I gathered them all up, plus an extremely large vintage cotton bed sheet, and beginning with that and then my largest and oldest embroidered linen tablecloth, I began laying out all my treasured bits of lace and cloth, creating a layered and patched work of art for the table.
Once I had the base done I realized my ivory dishes would be lost on a same colour off to the linen closet again, although I already knew there was not a hope of finding eight matching place mats. (I'm thinking our grandmothers might just have been on to something with the whole theory of hope chests and trousseau and all that - but that's a post for another day...)

I did find eight matching silvery grey napkins and thought they would work just fine.
Then I added pages torn from old French books, the potted silk flowers seen above, votive candles, old bottles filled with thyme, and little butter pots.

And two little vases of beautiful pink tulips

The original photo is above and my Photoshop version is below. I played with it for about two hours, trying various textures and layers and learned a great deal in the process. 
I spent about an hour trying to pull back some of the colour but will have to review that section as nothing I thought would work had any effect whatsoever.

Someday I will get these pretties sewn together as planned, but for now I am liking the fluidity of having them in separate pieces; I can use more or less, closer or scattered to create a beautiful look for any size table.

And yes, they went on unironed.

I never get my best ideas in time for things like that!

Friday, February 4, 2011

For Sarah

I first started quilting in the Yukon in about 1989. 
Tuesday night was quilting at Colleen's with a group of about 12 women who were crazy for quilting. The first time I went I was drawn in immediately, hit with sensory overload.

Women talking everywhere: at the table while poring over fabric swatches, in the kitchen, learning how to use freezer paper, on the sofa, sharing snippets from the latest quilting magazines, and finally, on the living room floor, discussing the merits of more or less borders for a quilt top spread out on the floor.

The quilt top in question was made by Sarah and the pattern was Hidden Wells. She had discovered it while in Victoria having cancer treatments, at the little quilt shop not far from the hotel where she stayed for several weeks at a time.
I can't recall Sarah ever making anything but Hidden Wells - she was so entranced with the pattern, always trying out different ratios and values of the bright jewel toned fabrics she loved.

I made this runner for a demo at the quilt shop last week; Hidden Wells is an intriguing pattern and until you make a few, it's hard to know where exactly the various fabrics will be in the end result.
But in reality I made it because I was missing Sarah and our group, I miss the market spice tea we always drank when quilting was at Colleen's, the paper napkins that never matched (she saved the matching ones for the Wednesday night group because they were pickier than us girls!), the pungent smell of cigar smoke wafting up from downstairs where her husband was watching television, the endless discussions about fabrics, colour, techniques, how you always got at least 10 opinions, even if there were only 7 people present...

I miss the enthusiasm we all had for this wonderfully creative and useful craft

and I missed playing in colour

so I rounded up all sorts of bright jewel tones and made something pretty

Sarah would be pleased...

but she would also be saying the same thing she always said to me when I made something from a pattern, an admonishment I suppose, in her gentle English accent,

"Well of course it's lovely and all, but really you know, you're so very clever, you should be making up your own designs - you should be doing your own thing."