Posted in knitting, weaving, sewing

Back Home

Yesterday we arrived home after spending a week in Wisconsin. The trip was undertaken to help our daughter and her family prepare for a move. It was a weird and wonderful trip. With constant changes implemented by the authorities in the states we traveled through, we never knew what to expect from day to day. Thankfully, many businesses on the interstate highways remained open to provide for the necessities of travelers. All the staff we encountered along the way were both kind and helpful.

The trip was a success. While we stayed with the kids, daughter and son-in-law found and put an offer in on a suitable house in Madison. That’s a big hurdle accomplished.

I discovered a new travel craft – weaving on the little 8 by 10 artists’ canvas loom. All the materials fit into an average size project bag, and the motions of the fiber artist do not ever distract the driver. You see in the photo above my attempt to create an S-curve out of two colors of yarn.

I received two items from daughter that will inspire future fiber objects:

The Vogue Knitting book is a delightful compilation of the best of the Vogue Knitting magazine, from the 1980s through to 2011. Lots of inspiration is here. I have my eye on a couple of patterns found within. Of most value to me are the charts of various lace stitches.

This little book is called omiyage, by Kumiko Sudo. It was purchased by my mom, who passed it to daughter, who gave it to me. The Japanese have a thousand-year-old practice of making and giving small gifts. Back then there were strict rules and a great deal of formality surrounding this ritual. The author re-interprets omiyage for modern times, using fabrics both traditional and modern. As she is a quilter, she pulls fabrics from her stash of quilting cotton, and incorporates bits of silk and wool as well. I plan to try making some Good Luck dolls.

Traditionally these dolls were the focal point for a festival called Girl’s Day. I think they would be wonderful made from some of my hand-painted fabrics. Because they are small, making one should be a fun, inexpensive and quick project.

Well, I am keen to resume my making. The Just Trees mini quilt is still unfinished and I would like to get that weaving off the loom soon.

Until next time, keeping making and be well.

Posted in sewing

Stitch Bible

No, friends, this is not a publication by a religious group. This is an exercise in making a reference guide for your own sewing machine.

Yesterday I took a few hours to document all the stitches that are programmed into my Bernina 1080 Special. I would have done this sooner but for my own impatience to get on with my making.

Basically, you just make a column of stitches, move to the next button and repeat until you have a sample of each stitch. In addition, I changed length and width as I stitched along, making notes in permanent marker along the way.

It wasn’t as boring as I had imagined, mostly because I listened to podcasts while I stitched.

Even though my Bernina only has 28 different stitches, I worked my way through several bobbins of thread. The payout of this exercise is getting to play with different combinations of the stitches that I discovered. My favorite setting is the mirror-image button. This allows me to highlight nice sections of my fiber objects with mirrored embroidery stitches.

I also learned how to couch cord, ribbons and yarn.

If you haven’t made a stitch bible for your sewing machine, I suggest that you give it a go. It may spark in you some creative ideas for future fiber play.

Posted in colorwork, hand embroidery, knitting, sewing

108 Contemporary Gallery

During a shopping excursion to Tulsa, we stopped by the 108 Contemporary Gallery to catch a new show – State of Craft. Works in various media, including fiber, were on display. I thought it would be good to check it out.

There were some large works such as this one by Whitney Fortsyth.

All Things New – Ceramic with oil patina

Interesting wood items like this one by Rusty Johnson.

If you could see the Wind, driftwood and colored pencil

And then there were fiber objects, mostly smaller but exquisite.

Let it Flow, Sheryl Landis, dyed silk, embroidery, paint and beads.

A large work with a fish-eye mirror in the center. White linen with beads.

I particularly like these bags by Rhonda Steiner, hand dyed, painted, and screen printed.

And finally, there were some yarn objects, felted, crocheted and knitted.

Here is a link to the gallery, in case you would like to see more.

Posted in sewing

Baby needs a new pair of Shoes

My granddaughter has spent her whole life barefooted. And now, just as she is learning to walk, winter weather has arrived. How is a beginning walker going to gain confidence in her stride if the ground is cold, wet, and slippery? This situation has been weighting on my mind so I decided to do something about it. Hence the quest to make baby boots. I have some yardage of fake suede lined in fleece. It looks really warm. Perhaps it can be fashioned into footwear?

I found the following pattern on Stitches and Sunflowers and began to answer this question. The maker professes that these really will stay on the baby’s feet.

After downloading the pattern pieces, I cut them out of the fake suede.

It’s important to flip the heel pattern piece over before cutting the second one.

Begin by sewing the heel piece to the sole. I changed my machine needle to a larger number to deal with the thick fabric before sewing.

Those quilting clips really came in handy today!

After attaching the heels, a piece of elastic is sewn at the upper edges. I then turned the top edge over to conceal the elastic.

Notice that I trimmed away the fleece from the seam allowances.

Next comes the toe piece. I again sheared back the fleece from the seam allowances on both pieces before stitching.

After turning right side out I have a pair of cute suede boots.

All that remains to be done is to sew in some fasteners. I’m thinking of going with Velcro, since it can be adjusted for fat or thin baby ankles.

Yes! Soft AND warm. My little friends approve.
Posted in quilting, recycling, sewing

Crazy Out-of-Control Scrap Heap

This past summer has been a wonderful time of learning for the fiber artist in me. I have viewed dozens of tutorials, focused primarily on quilting. “Don’t ever throw away your scraps,” is advice that I heard from an art quilter, early in my training. Well, I took her advice, and look where it has got me. I desperately need a system for managing these fabric pieces!

By nature I am not a messy person. I like to make my bed and wash the dishes. When I began my journey with fiber, I organized a space which I believed possessed ample work room and plenty of storage for tools and materials. It was great, as long as I stuck to yarn crafts. But once I ventured into fabric work, things went wonky. (FYI “wonky” is a technical term used by quilters.)

I share my closet with the family’s camping equipment. It also houses the ironing board, a small set of drawers and shelves for my yarn stash. The stash is relatively modest, but it now fills the shelves. My bookcases contain paint, books, tools, my fabric stash and sewing machine. But the scraps have proven recalcitrant. If left tossed in a basket, they are impossible to work with.

So this is my plea: Who of you has solved the Scraps Dilemma, and will you share your solution with me, a frustrated fiber artist?

Posted in hand embroidery, knitting, quilting, sewing

Old-Timey County Fair Fiber Fun

Who loves going to the fair? If today’s attendees are representative, I would say everybody! There’s a lot to see and a lot to do. Our county fair focuses on all things agriculture, but also includes some things that city folk enjoy, like growing flowers and taking photographs. Here is what I did at the fair today.

I checked out all the Fiber Providers:

Some chickens managed to get into the picture.

Oops, NOT fiber providers, just cluckers and layers.

And I got a good look at the various needle arts entries.

Sadly, there were not near as many needle arts entries as there were in past years. Achieving a couple of blue ribbons for my two was not that gratifying.

But I was very pleased to see that some of my fiber arts kids had entered items that they made during our class last year. Here is Gianna’s Blue-Ribbon strip quilt.

Going to the fair felt so nostalgic to me. It made me wonder: How many more years can the county fair tradition continue into the 21st century? Are needle arts as a craft doomed to die out? Or can they be revived in a brave new world?

Posted in recycling, sewing, weaving

Fiber Fun at the Lake House

While I and my family were soaking up the sun and splashing in the water at the Lake House, my daughter proposed that we work on a fiber project together. The family lake house, which was built in the 1950s, contains random pieces of furniture and what nots from several decades. The object of attention is a floor lamp with a silk shade that had disintegrated completely. Used in its present condition, the unshaded light got into everyone’s eyes. She thought we could solve this problem.

Of course, the Lake House Challenge is to make it work with limited materials and tools. After a bit of brainstorming, during which we rejected piecing panels together and shirring or gathering fabric, we came up with a weaving concept. We had on hand a few bed sheets and a ball of cotton blend yarn.

Yarn is left over from the Luna Moth baby dress project.

Fortunately, Daughter had brought her sewing machine.

I took on the task of warping the yarn over the lamp shade frame and she hemmed and turned the strips of white sheet. They were about 2 inches wide. We thought we would need six rounds. Here is the shade with the warp in place and the first round of weft weaving.

It took a few days because it was possible to work only while the baby was sleeping. She sewed together the two ends of each strip and trimmed up the yarn.


We agreed that it was pleasing to the eye in a bohemian kind of way.

Posted in quilting, sewing

Triangles – the Finale

“When we last saw our heroine, she had cut and sewn all the pieces needed for a triangular quilt sampler. Let’s check in on her now.”

Okay, folks, not quite all the pieces. In reviewing my block cut, it seemed that two more hexes would be necessary if I wanted a complete sampler of the technique. So I cut and sewed two more. Here are my pieces before beginning assembly:

Here is my preliminary layout

This quilt is made up of six rows, grouped in twos. For the middle section, I will use two triangles at each end, to fill in the gaps where my cutting tools are sitting in the photo. Assembling each row is fairly simple. I start at the left and sew the pieces together in the normal fashion. The drama begins when the grouped rows are sewn to each other. Will the white triangle points match up and the hexes join properly?

Row 1 and 2. Not quite a match. I also notice a decided curve in the top edge. Wish I had see that before I proceeded to the next step.
Rows 3 and 4. Better! The edges are straighter also.
Rows 5 and 6. Best! Everything matches and is straight.

And here is my sampler all sewn together. I did a quick trimming of the outer edges, but I don’t have a long enough cutting mat or Omnigrid ruler to properly square it up.

I’m happy with this so far. This view is of the quilt turned sideways. You can see rows one and two on the left, with the decidedly wavy edge. I will probably remove these rows and try to straighten the edges before re-attaching.

Posted in quilting, sewing

Blocks with Curves

At a quilt show I attended recently, I saw several quilts that featured circular piecing. It looked so mysterious. How did they do it? Here is an example from the show.

I am very interested in making contemporary quilts in a similar style. So it is necessary for me to learn to this technique. For today’s exercise, I will be making blocks with pie-shaped wedges sewn into the concave edge of a background fabric. I turned to U-Tube for a little help. One of the instructors is Leslie Tucker Jenison. Here is a tutorial on fitting concave and convex shapes together.

My design inspiration was the sun and planets. Because of the fabric selection I had available to me, I decided to make a piece featuring a gaseous planet.

Dark grey for the background fabric, green and pale blue for the pie shapes.

After cutting out the two types of blocks, I marked the curves with a compass. The trick is that, at the curved line, the pie shaped piece needs to be 1/2 inch wider than the background piece, to accommodate the seam allowance. I used a compass to draw the curves and cut them out with scissors. Here are the four blocks pinned and ready to sew.

It’s important to mark and pin the two centerpoints and align the block edges. Then place a pin about every inch. Stitch with the concave piece (background) up, so that you can ease the curve. Here are the blocks before pressing.

I have most the points matched up pretty well. Next is to sew the pairs of top and bottoms together and then sew the center vertical seam, matching the pie shape edges and nesting the center seam.

My planet block, sewn and pressed

I’m relatively pleased with this first attempt. Only the lower right block is slightly off. The final dimension is 18 and 1/2 inch square – a very good size for a cushion cover.

Posted in recycling, sewing

Wabi-Sabi 2

I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon sewing the little wabi-sabi blouse. Getting to know the automatic button stitch on my Bernina was a bit of an eye-opener. It took four practice button holes before I was ready to attempt it on the garment. So the buttonhole is fine now, but I am having some fit issues.

Finally I called my daughter, to discuss the blouse and check her measurements. She was enthusiastic about my progress so far. Then she casually mentioned that the blouse was constructed with the buttons on the BACK. What?

After the call, I put on the blouse, switching it around so buttons were in the back. Sure enough it seemed to drift into place over my body.

A new point of view.

I will need to adjust the button locations (most of them are not centered over the button holes) and take in the band to match daughter’s measurement. Otherwise, this little turnabout is done!