Monday, September 25, 2006

No domestic goddess

So many blogs give the first impression that their creators are Wonderwomen who manage their homes, husbands and children with one steady hand while creating wonderful craft and art projects with the other. However, if you read more closely and study the pictures, you realize that most of them are more like you and me than you would think at first glance. After all, in our blogs, we get to choose what we show the world, we take pictures of what we like and omit the things we don't want to share. I loved Gemma's post "Domestic Goddess??" yesterday with the link to the article about the Non-Domestic Goddess - that's more like it! I won't even try to pretend that I am anything like a goddess, so I might start to show hints of the not so perfect surroundings here... Somebody must be on to me, because I was invited to join a Flickr-group: Art Studio Makeover the other day. The invitation reads:
"This group is for those artists who wish to redefine and reclaim their work space. Are you pulling out your hair because you can't find what you need when you need it? Are you tripping over all your STASH? Are you knee deep in stuff that used to inspire but now overwhelms? Then this is the group for you. Please post your Messes, your Inspirations, and your Solutions."
How did they know? Maybe after posting pictures of some of my mess I'll be inspired to get it all sorted... Watch this space ;-)
I have been playing with the idea of getting a cat, but have thought that it would create too much of a mess, but it seems that I manage that on my own... However, after seeing pictures like this at Tales from Pixie Wood, I feel my heart melting and thinking that I really must have one... My dream is to have a silver tiger like the Whiskas-cat, and I'm getting closer to making the decision every day...
At least I get to choose what to show you today, and that is the picture of a cake I made for a friend's 50'th birthday party last Saturday. What I don't show is the state of the kitchen afterwards... The dozens of failed attempts of writing "Still crazy after all these years" in chocolate, the scattered pieces of purple marzipan and sticky drops of icing, not to mention the pile of dirty dishes. But that's the great thing, I don't have to show you ;-) Just the Crazy Quilt Cake for my purple-loving quilter friend, who by the way loved her cake! Oh, and it was quite edible to: sponge filled with puréed strawberries and whipped cream mixed with caramel custard... Mmmm.... Fit for a Goddess!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Document folder - tutorial

A while back I mentioned that I was going to make a folder for travel documents before I went on holiday. I did, and I finished it on the eve of departure, but I realized that I have never posted about it. I took a lot of pictures while I was working on it to help remember the whole process if I wanted to make more, and that means I have the makings of a tutorial here :-) So if you want to make one, I'll walk you through it all. Here goes:You need three pieces of Fast2Fuse (a kind of stiff interfacing which is fusible on both sides. There is something called Timtex which is similar, but not fusible, so you'll have to use some fusible like Wonder Under or Bondaweb with it to attach the fabric). 2 pieces: 5 x 10" (- front and back) and 1 piece 3/4 x 10" (the spine). Butt the pieces up to each other and stitch together using a wide zig zag stitch so you end up with a piece which is 10 3/4" x 10 ". This is to make the folder easier to fold when it is finished, rather than using a whole piece.
Iron a piece of fabric to each side of the Fast2Fuse, slightly larger than the F2F, and quilt the piece. Trim edges. For the pockets you need three pieces of fabric: 9 1/2 x 15", 7 x 11" and 5 1/2 x 7". You may adapt the sizes to your needs. Iron fusible interfacing to the back of all pieces. I cut mine 1/2" smaller in both directions to get less bulk at the seams.
Fold all three pieces in half right sides together and stitch along sides and bottom, leaving an opening, clip corners and turn pieces inside out. Press. You will now have three pieces with finished sizes 9 x 7 ", 6 1/2 x 5 " and 5 x 3 ". To make them more sturdy, stitch a narrow seem along the edge on both sides and top + a seam ca 1/4" from the edge (leave the bottom edge unstitched for now).
Place the three pockets on top of each other as shown in the picture below. The two smaller ones are aligned along the bottom (tuck the seam allowances inside) and then placed 1/2" from the bottom of the largest one, and centered. Stitch the two smaller ones to the large one with a seam along the bottom edge. The bottom of the largest pocket will be aligned to the bottom edge of the cover.
The pockets should be stitched together along the bottom line only.

Align the three pocket pieces along the bottom of the cover piece and pin (measure out from the middle, so they are centered). Make sure that you have the side of the cover you want to be on the inside facing up. If you have a fabric on the outside where the direction of the pattern is important, make sure that the pockets are aligned to the bottom edge of the cover - you don't want your cats or whatever to be upside down! Find the ridges that mark the two seams in the Fast2Fuse and mark these with pins along top and bottom edges. Draw a chalk line from top to bottom along both and stitch on these lines through all the layers. This forms the spine of the folder, and also becomes a pocket for your pen.
Your folder should now look something like this. I won't pretend to be an expert when it comes to stitching zippers, but here's what I did anyway. I used a binding strip on each side to cover the edges of the zipper. Cut three strips from full width of fabric 1 1/2" wide and join them to form one long strip. For perfectly rounded corners you might want to make this a bias strip, but I was in a rush and fudged it a little, so I used strips cut on the straight of the grain and managed to make passable corners anyway... I rounded them ever so little to make this easier.
Fold a length of binding in half right sides out and pin it along the outer edge on the outside of the folder. Fold in one end about 1/4 " and cut the strip to length, letting the other end overlap by 1/2". Tuck this end inside the beginning of the strip. Stitch all the way around with a seam allowance slightly less than 1/4" making sure to ease the fabric strip around the corners so it doesn't become too stretched or too puckered.
Open the zipper ( a 22" one) and pin it around the edge on top of the binding strip, starting in the middle at the bottom.
Pin the remaining binding strip on top of the zipper, wrong side facing up, tucking one end inside the other as before. Stitch all the way around the outside edge using a 1/4" seam allowance. Now for a bit of hand stitching: Fold the edge of the last strip over so it meets the edge of the folder, then over again, so it ends up covering the seam on the inside. Pin and hand stitch to the fabric on the inside, making as neat a finish as possible. The Fast2Fuse is a bit stiff and akward to handle, and a thimble might be helpful. The binding on the outside should also be folded down and stitched to the fabric on the outside, leaving a "lip" to cover the zipper almost to the "teeth".
Then it is time to put your tickets, passport, travel insurance card, business cards, pen and whatever in your folder, zip up and you are ready to go!

I hope this made sense, but if anything is unclear, please ask and I'll try to improve my explanation. I found this folder quite handy to carry my important documents in - it was big enough so I didn't have to fold things too much, and it was easy to find in my purse (always a challenge...), but not so big that it got in the way.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Folded flowers finished fast

As a master of creating workshop-UFOs I'm proud to say that I actually finished the bag the day after the workshop - that must be a new record! I think it turned out quite well, and the rick rack along the top edge was a good finishing touch. It just goes to show that everything comes in handy sooner or later: I bought it along with some in pink and turquoise a while back. The colour was described as "soft green" and I had something more pastel in mind and was very disappointed when it arrived. I decided that returning it was too much of a hassle, and it was so cheap that it wasn't really worth bothering about so I just put it aside.

When I was gathering the materials for the workshop it came to mind again, and I dug it out again, and lo and behold - it was a perfect match for the silk and leaves fabric. So maybe it was meant to be ;-) The fabric flowers weren't too difficult to make, and I think I'll remember if I ever want to make some more. Here's a close-up - the picture is actually taken with my cell phone.

That really says something about my ancient camera, doesn't it? I couldn't get a proper close-up with my camera, but with my phone: no problem! I must start doing some research into digital cameras with a view to getting a new one. Any suggestions?

Saturday, September 09, 2006

It worked :-)

- I'm"itchin' to be stitchin' " again. The workshop today was great fun. It didn't take long to master the technique of folding the flowers, so we could concentrate on chatting and giggling, looking at all the new fabric and yarn and dreaming about new projects. Just the thing to get the creative juices flowing again. I din't finish the bag, but both sides and the handles are ready so I'll finish it up tomorrow. My back insists on a bit of rest today after a day in a chair that was too low and a table that was too high. I'll try to get a better picture of the flowers tomorrow when the light is better.

After tidying my craft table when I came home, I made delicious bacon, spring onion and cheese muffins to be eaten warm with a cup of tea. Just the ticket for the first Saturday of autumn :-)

And tomorrow the day will be spent in the company of my sewing machine...

Friday, September 08, 2006

Friday at last!

I thought the weekend would never arrive! Getting back to normal routines after the summer hols has proved more difficult than ever. I think I'm suffering from an overload of inspiration after Birmingham - lots of new ideas, books, magazines, fabric and thread that I could do something about, but somehow I can't get started.

Like so many other bloggers at the moment I have been clearing out cupboards and getting rid of stuff - it's the new ting, apparently ;-) I haven't started on my fabric stash yet, but I'm getting closer... Something has to be done I suppose, as I keep adding new fabric, and I'm sure there is a lot there that I'll never use. Not to mention all those magazines piling up - I really ought to sort through them and see if I'm able to say goodbye. It's just that I'm convinced that once I throw one away I'll get a desperate urge to look at a pattern or technique described in that particular issue next week... Meanwhile boring books, summer clothes I haven't worn this year, oldish foodstuffs, spice and such are on their way out as I'm working my way around the flat with less clutter as my ultimate goal.

To kick-start my quilting urge again I have signed up for a workshop tomorrow. Being with other quilters, discussing ideas and fabric and actually making something (although it's not quite my sort of thing...) tends to put me back in quilting mode after a slump, so I am counting on this as a prelude to a quilty weekend :-)
We are making folded fabric flowers in silk and using them in nine-patch blocks. The shop samples are a cushion and a cot quilt, very pretty, tone-on-tone, but as usual I'm doing my own thing. I've decided on a tote bag for my mother, and I have chosen some green silk and a cotton fabric with autumn leaves, combined with black. That way I'll get a finished poduct that's actually going to get used. A cushion with silk flowers is not quite my kind of thing, so that would just mean adding another UFO to my collection. Here's what I'll be working with, and that's also this Friday's WIP.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Just one more

-and then I'll stop going on about Birmingham for now ;-) I just wanted to share this piece by Majyk Scraps Textile Group which I found very fascinating. Like a child I kept going past and watching how the image changed, then back again quickly - two different pictures just after one another, then again s l o w l y and stopping at the point where I could see both at the same time and then gradually see a new picture emerge.

The casual observer must have thought I was totally deranged! But I had fun, so who cares. Ideas of doing something similair have been brewing, but I'll probably never do anything about it. It has been done, and not by me, and that's OK. Come to think of it, the idea is not very different from those advertising boards one used to see with lots of square or triangular tubes that slowly turn around to form new pictures. I find the mechanism of the things totally fascinating, but once I have studied the construction and decided how I would have done it, I'm satisfied. I don't have to go there. I think...
The piece is called "Sunset at Saint Valery Sur Somme", original photo and design by Sue Readhead. Various techniques were used, including felting, layering, cantha, machine embroidery, cable stitch and beading. The triangular tubes were machine fagotted together and mounted on a wooden frame.