Posted in painting, quilting

Just Trees in Progress

It’s a cold, drippy, soggy-ground day here. Even with the sun behind a cloud, one can revel in the beauty of Spring arriving. This is our neighbor’s tulip magnolia which overhangs the fence in our yard. It is robed in amazing color just a handful of days every year. So I put on shoes and went out into the wet to capture its moment of glory.

Yucky weather seems to give one full permission to huddle indoors and work on fiber objects. The Weaver’s Square vest is within three inches of being fully knitted. I should have a good image to post in a couple of more days.

Here is a progress photo showing work on my latest fiber object, which I call “Just Trees.” I have cut and basted four rows of clam shell shapes, then painted each with a tree.

My original intent was to paint all trees without leaves. But hey, I can’t ignore the burst of color right outside my window. The three trees with black trunks and pink tops are meant to be redbuds. It is a native tree that puts on screaming pink to magenta blossoms in mid Spring – usually before any of the other hardwood trees have even leafed out.

I think three redbuds will be enough to create a nice focal point.

So far the top two rows of appliques have been stitched – by hand – into place. This step is only a little bit tricky. But patience and persistence always yield results.

With a continuation of rainy weather and the unceasing announcements of event cancellations, I may easily finish this object before next weekend.

Posted in hand embroidery

Sparking Creativity with Embroidery

While studying embroidery in books and on-line classes, I learned about a method for practicing stitches by working on printed fabric. The concept is to use the design found in the print as a template for your design, then embroider it with your choice of stitch and thread. This is well illustrated by the designs found in damask napkins. These are often woven with clearly delineated fruits or flowers.

That’s not what I chose to do. I started with some quilting fabrics that had more abstract, textural designs. Here they are:

Settling on the third one, I started to analyze it. Hm. The terra cotta color reminded me of clay, and the geometric print suggested faceted jewels to me. I came up with the concept of jewels in the clay.

Have you ever had the misfortune of losing a beloved piece of jewelry? One minute the necklace was securely fastened around your neck. The next time you checked, it was gone. This has happened to me more than once. The most notable incident was while visiting Paris, where I lost a necklace the very day I was given it. But that’s a tale for another day.

Have you ever had the great fortune of Finding a piece of jewelry? You’ve just locked your car in the parking lot at Lowe’s , glanced down, and there at your feet is a silver bracelet in perfect condition.

This little fiber object will look as if someone dumped her jewelry box into the red dirt. I started out by making some gemstones in colors of amethyst, topaz, ruby, emerald and turquoise. Using the faceted squares on the fabric, I stitched outlines in split stitch and then worked satin stitch over top. The centers of the jewels were made with French knots and sequins.

Turquoise finished. Showing the split stitch base for the amethyst. I simply sew along the lines of the pattern.

And here are all the jewels. I added some diamond looking stones made with more sequins and connected the jewels with a silver “chainstitch” chain. The chain follows the lines of the print, which give it a crumpled look.

Found Jewels in the Clay

It took me two days to finish the embroidery. I like the dimensional quality of the work. One feels as if she could just reach down and pick it this lovely lost treasure.

Posted in sewing

Bandana Day

The handy dandy bandana has been a useful item for over a century. I am talking about the 100% cotton variety made in India. While its more humble uses include wiping sweat and blowing the nose, it occurred to me these brightly printed squares have an unlimited potential for converting into fashion accessories. Here is one idea for crafting a bandana into a necklace. In addition to a black and white bandana, I have gathered thread, fusible adhesive, beads, metal rings, a jewelry clasp and fabric markers. For tools you will need only scissors, a needle, a hot iron and some glue.

First I looked carefully at the design and picked out a large-ish motif. To me, it resembles a phoenix. I cut it out and fused it to a piece of felt. I also cut two 7 inch long strips from the bandana border, which included the row of paisley shapes. I started experimenting with colors, filling in the white areas of the cloth.

Cut away the rest of the fabric, leaving only the colored portion.

Next I folded up the strips so that only the paisleys showed. I secured them by fusing the raw edge to the inside fold. I colored the paisleys on the strips in a random pattern. Here are my pieces after this step.

I sewed a ring at each end of the strips so that I can connect the necklace parts.

After experimenting with the beads, both placement and sequence, I came up with this arrangement. I then joined the central motif to the strips with more rings.

The basic design is finished.

Finally, I sewed a ring at the back end of each strip and added a jewelry clasp. To secure the beads and keep the fabric from unraveling I added dabs of white glue to the thread knots and the strip ends.

Close up of paisleys and clasp.

Here is the finished object. Yes, that’s me in the photo. I’m smiling so I must like it.

This was a really fun project. As soon as I finished it, my mind began to race with lots of ideas for other accessories I could make with a simple square of printed cloth.

Posted in sewing

For the Little Ones

It’s that moment in the week to plan for my Friday fiber arts classes. Today I am working on a small stuffed toy that might be simple enough for my six to eight year old students. I learned to make it from Brenna Maloney’s book Socks Appeal. She transforms old socks into 16 delightfully cuddly friends. I’ll be making the bunny.

Here is a nice assortment of plain and colorful socks for the students’ consideration

This is an old gray sock of mine that lost its mate. I start by cutting down the foot to separate the sock into two ears. I am using an old t-shirt for the arms and tail.

Ears and arms are cut and sewn up.

Here she is fully stuffed. I pushed a little stuffing into the ear cavities, just enough to make them stand away from the body a smidge.

My little bunny’s Irish eyes are smiling because she is all put together now. I think that I will have to help the little students with some of the cutting and sewing. They can probably manage to make the ears, insert the stuffing and sew the button eyes – maybe even a do little embroidery. We’ll see how it goes.

Outside for a walk around the garden

She hopped around outside for a while, then back in the house for bedtime.

Good night, little bunny.