Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Labor of Love

I mentioned a few posts ago that in addition to making my BFF her hair accessory, she also asked me to make her guestbook.  What I haven't mentioned is that she gave me an old, wood-bound journal (blank) that belonged to her grandfather that she wanted me to turn into her guestbook. 

Above are the before pics.  It's hard to tell in the pic, but the pages were already too brittle to use for something that she planned on keeping for a long time.  She also gave me some leaves and some old lace that I was free to use or not depending on how things went.  She is a huge fan of texture when it comes to art and their wedding has also focused on the fall leaves and colors of the area (in Michigan, along the lake).  She also didn't want me to decorate the wood cover itself (can't say I blame her).

Now, when I took this project on, I kind of had an idea in my head on where I wanted to go with it.  It involved using some art paper I already had and playing with watercolors to give the pages a little color.  I also planned to use some of the leaves, but then realized that if I were to decoupage them down to the pages they would probably crack or peel as the pages were turned.

Watercolor + art paper + decoupage = giant FAIL

No pics of giant fail for you because I was just plain disgusted.  Utterly discouraged and determined not to let my BFF down, I moped for three days and then I marched right on over to my favorite art supply store and got lucky.  And by lucky I mean I talked to no less than four different workers there and found the perfect paper to turn this project into what I had imagined in the first place.  Now, I know that I wasn't supposed to shop for Stashbusting September, but pretty much this is a commissioned piece so I'm over it.  Plus I have so many other projects started for Stashbusting September that I am just going to continue to stashbust on my own probably right up till Christmas.

Now that I've gotten all that off my chest, here are some "after" pics...

Clearly, I blurred out their last name above.  This is the inside cover.  The paper is made from tree bark.  It has a fabulous texture to it and it brings in the whole nature theme and trees without any mess.

She also has this crazy fixation with anything copper, so I added just a touch of it in the form of some acrylic paint.  :)

Here are the pages the guests will actually sign on.  I tore them along a straight edge so that the pages would have rougher edges.  The paper itself has texture, but it's much more smooth than they look here.  I bought a pair of prismacolor, fine-line markers in black for the guests to sign with.  They write perfectly on it without smudging or bleeding.

Love the leaves. 

These last couple shots are my attempt at showing the soft edges that the torn paper produced... it feels almost like cloth.

And with that I am going to go start packing because we leave tomorrow for the wedding!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bridal Hair Accessory

One of my dearest friends is getting married in a Roaring '20's style wedding this weekend.  While she was trying on her dress, she also tried on several different hair accessories, mostly involving feathers and sparkles and some netting.  The prices, though, were pretty steep.  I jumped at the chance to make a hair accessory for her.

I'm sure it will look prettier on the actual bride rather than on me and since I'll be the one helping to put it in her hair I will definitely be able to do a better job of pinning the netting in the back to make it look rounded (I pinned it into my own hair blindly because I'm impatient and didn't want to go hunt down a second mirror).

It will also look better on the bride because it is meant to be worn on the left side of her head, where her part is.  Mine is on the right.  Her hair will also probably contain some sort of styling product and not be sporting my "wash and go" look.  :)

I started with a small oval of felt and sewed the tulle down to that first.  Then I spaced out the feathers and glued down just the tips with my trusty hot glue gun.  Then I hand sewed all of those beads to the felt in such a way as to cover up the ends of the feathers.  I started with the pearl beads, arranging them as I went, and then went back and filled in with the crystals afterward.  When I was happy with how it looked (and so was the bride) I glued the felt onto a metal, clip-style barrett. 

Maybe I'll get a couple pics of the bride wearing it this weekend.  :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Harvest of Quilts

This weekend I got to steal a couple hours away from studying to go to another local quilt show.  This one was called Harvest of Quilts and was put on by the Heritage Quilters Guild of Lockport, IL.  I always gather a ton of inspiration at quilt shows and this one was no exception.  I love the way the color fades out toward the middle of this first quilt and the simple geometry of it.  I also like the geometry of these next two.

Thought this next one was a great way to high-light oriental fabrics:

The tan/brown fabric in the left-most corner of the square above is one that I used in the first two quilts I ever made and a fabric that I love.

This next one really inspired me.  I've been contemplating a long-term, hand piecing project that would use up a ton of scraps.  I haven't settled on a pattern yet, but this one was done all by hand.  It's called "Omigosh" because that's what everyone says when they look at it.  I think the note said it had over 10,000 pieces.  Insane.

I thought this next one would make the cutest, sweetest baby quilt for a little girl... love all the ruffles.  Very innovative.

And, speaking of innovative, this next one looks like it is an appliqued medallion, but was actually painted using fabric paints!  Brilliant and wins extra credit in my book for avoiding applique (sorry, Marjorie!).  One day I will get over my fear/dis-like of applique, but I'm not there yet.  :)

These next two are totally different, but great medallion quilts none-the-less.  I've always wanted to be able to make a fusible version of the first one in particular.

These next ones were made by a friend of my mother, Gail Stepanek.  She is an amazing, award-winning quilter (and happens to be super nice).  The second pic is a close-up of this first quilt.

This last one is fairly straight forward, but I really just couldn't get past it when we were at the show.  Something about the color and fabric combinations, the geometry of it, and the quilting just made it really stand out to me.  I always think of how I might have done a quilt differently had I done it myself, but I thought every element of this quilt was exactly how I would have done it.

The pics a little dark, but when I tried to correct it the colors didn't look right.  Can't explain it - just love it.

I lost track of the deadline for this show so I didn't get to submit Wright's Windows - a shame because there were several winners in each of several categories, as opposed to only one big winner like the Batavia Quilt Show a couple months ago.  I would have stood a much better chance, I think.

There were lots of other great quilts, but all the pics make for a rather huge post.  Hope you enjoyed the show!

Friday, September 24, 2010

I was featured over at Gen X Quilters!

The fabulous AnneMarie of Gen X Quilters interviewed me today for her Follower Friday Feature.  I'd love for you to check it out... just click here.

Her blog is really great and high-lights lots of quilters with a more modern, independent flair.  She's also made some pretty great things herself.  Go check her out and feel free to become a follower - I promise you won't regret it and if you're a Gen X/Y Quilter yourself, you can add  yourself to her blogroll!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Quiltmaker's Gift

When I quilt or create, I pull inspiration from all sorts of places.  The Quiltmaker's Gift, by Jeff Brumbeau and Gail de Marcken, has inspired me again and again.  I am fortunate enough to get to share a love of quilting with my mom and one of my aunts.  A few years ago, while my mom was visiting her, my aunt showed her this quilting book and immediately my mom knew I'd love it.  As soon as she got back from her trip she ordered The Quiltmaker's Gift and a couple companion books for me and I have been inspired by them ever since.

The Quiltmaker's Gift isn't a quilting book in the usual sense - it's a fairy tale written for children.  It is a beautifully illustrated story about a quilter who teaches a greedy king the joy of giving.  As the story unfolds, each page high-lights a different quilt block.  I have to admit, even though this is a book my son loves to have me read to him, I keep this one in my craft room.  Too many times I found myself trying to sneak back into his room to get it while he was napping.

My mom also gave me The Quiltmaker's Journey, which stars the same quiltmaker, but in a different fairy tale, and one of the two quilting books that were based off of each of these.  The first is called Quilts From the Quiltmaker's Gift and the second is called More Quilts From the Quiltmaker's Gift.  The quilting books give patterns for many of the blocks found throughout the fairy tales and also has beautiful quilts that people have made after being inspired by the books.

Together, The Quiltmaker's Gift and The Quiltmaker's Journey have inspired two quilts that I have made.  The first one I made for my sister's new baby earlier this year...

Please excuse my baby and the cat butt in the photo.  I made this quilt before I started blogging and had literally JUST finished the label and snapped these pics before running to catch a flight out to meet my new niece.

This was one of my first real attempts at both hand applique and meandering quilting.  I named the quilt "Peachy Tea" because all of the fabrics were in peach tones and the pattern it was based off of is called "Tea Leaf" in More Quilts From the Quiltmaker's Gift.  Note: this quilt was based off of the Tea Leaf pattern, there is not actually a pattern for this exact quilt in the book - I made it up (particularly the border).

Not the best pic, but this is what it looks like hanging above my nieces crib.

The second quilt is still a work in progress, but I designed it using two different blocks that are high-lighted in the books.

This block is called Pussy in the Corner...

And this one is called Friendship Star...

Here are a few pics of how it will look once it is all sewn up...

The Quiltmaker's Gift also inspired me to not only want to give that quilt away on this blog, but it has also helped me to realize how much joy I get from making something with my own two hands for someone else as a gift.  At some point in my crafting I realized that the pleasure that I received from purely giving something to someone, without putting a price tag on it, added way more joy to my life than if I were to try and sell my things.  Now don't get me wrong, I'll sell some of my art and jewelry from time to time, but for me it has generally proved more trouble than it was really worth and had a tendency to make my crafting feel more like a job.  I think that is sort of why I've been dragging my feet on starting my own Etsy shop.  One day, maybe, but not just yet.

You can find out more about all four of the books here and also can find them on Amazon here.  And just so you know, I was just looking to share some inspiration - I am not in any way affiliated with or trying to make sales for these sites.  :)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Upcycled Messenger Bag

Oh, blog land, how I miss you.  September is proving to be a rather trying month.  Grad school is a lot of work, a very dear friend of mine is getting married (on short notice) two weeks from today, and my sweet son has also decided to evade naps.  More specifically, I have a 5 page paper due Tuesday, a 10 page paper due Thursday, over a 100 pages of reading total, I've been commissioned to make that bride a guest log for her wedding and her headpiece as well (and I don't think I've gotten permission yet to show off the wedding stuff here which I think will be pretty cool), I have been trying desperately to get some stash busting projects done, and today is the first time my son has taken a nap in four days. 

I'm a bit over-whelmed.  In fact, I need to thank my husband for this post because he was watching me just sit there doing nothing while trying hard to find out where to start.  He said, "it doesn't matter what you pick, just do something right now."  Thanks, babe.

But I did finally finish a stash buster.  I turned this old, well-worn, much-loved pair of cargo pants:

into a messenger bag for school...

I swear the pants looked better on me than they look in this shot of the back.

I'd been using my bird seed bag, but my larger and very rectangular folders didn't fit well inside of it since it was a bucket shape, plus I needed something with a divider so I can separate the books from stuff like lunch and keys and wallet.

Not only did I try to keep intact all of the original pockets of the pants, but I added a divider inside as well as a double pocket.  I like to keep all of my junk sort of organized.

And I didn't have to buy a thing to make it.  Obviously the pants were upcycled, the lining and pocket fabrics were from my stash, as well as the burlap and the magnetic clasp.  I used some template plastic to shape the base of the bag and lined the whole thing with batting, both also from my stash.

I had big plans for Stashbusting September, but I'm not sure how many I can complete before the end of the month, which is dangerously close already.  I have already separated a bunch of old t-shirts and baby clothes to make my son an upcycled quilt, but I know for sure there is no chance it'll be done this month.  I have started a sweater for him, though, from my stash of yarns.

You can't tell in the pic, but there is some ribbing at the bottom.  As usual, I am ad-libbing the pattern and this is my first attempt at fair-isle knitting.  I kind of like it.  Either way it's a great project to take along on my commute in and out of the city for class.  I've found that I can read or study on the way in, but am usually too exhausted to on the way home.  This will be a better use of time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Renegade Craft Fair

This past weekend I got to go to the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago.

It.  Was.  Awesome.

Vendor after vendor had the most amazing creations.  And they were all so different, one to the next.  I wish I would have taken more pictures, but I was completely taken up with absorbing it all and shopping.  I came SO close to breaking down and throwing myself under the bus for Stashbusting September

I was so close, in fact, that I had literally started writing the post where I was going to put up Robin's "I shopped!" button in my head.  My BFF saved me.  This is what almost broke me...

Skein upon skein of the most amazing hand-spun yarns.  They were to die for.  The name of the booth was Spin Cycle and they were out of Bellingham, Washington.  Seriously, I still can not even believe that I didn't buy anything.  Not a single piece of spun woolen goodness. 

I will dream about that yarn for months. 

But there's more!  I got to meet Katie from Skunkboy Creatures

Let me assure you - she is as sweet in person as she is on her blog.  And not only am I stupid happy in this picture because I got to meet her in person, but because I got to buy one of her plushies!!!  I've wanted one forever.  See that empty space under the Hedgies?  That's where he was when we first met...

In the car on the way home, he told me his name is Edward.

He likes my craft room his new home.

Edward got a better view of his surroundings from on top of my sewing machine.  I told him that he had to be careful and watch his step up there.  Although, clearly, I am the one that is in danger of falling.

I love that his ears are mis-matched.  And that he is manly enough to wear his red and yellow flowers with pride.

He was very curious about how the machine actually worked.  Maybe I'll teach him how to quilt. 

I think he'll be a great muse.  I'm going to have a hard time explaining to my son that he can't have him, though.  He already got ahold of Edward once.  He hugged him close and said "awww" and then he promptly started twisting his trunk.  Poor Edward.  But then a little while later my son brought over another toy elephant and put it next to Edward so he wouldn't be lonely.  I think he'll be happy here.