Saturday, December 20, 2008

'Tis the season - I sewed a patchwork Christmas gift, a sofa pillow case for a friend who collects mugs. When I saw this fabric, I knew I had to make something for her.

The original fabric is now the reverse side; the idea for the patchwork front was in my mind very early, since a number of her mugs are displayed on a shelf. I used the traditional "attic window" pattern, slightly changed, to give the illusion of depth. I'm quite pleased with the effect.

No more sewing before Christmas; after the holidays, I will work as quickly as I can on the music wall hanging so that it is finished before we move in a couple of months.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Here's the current state of things on my fabric book. When I pieced this page using the green/white fabric, I had no idea that it would become the background for woods. I'm very happy with the effect now, especially with the light shading at the top and darker shadows at the bottom of the page. I added some fallen leaves and suspect that a mushroom or two may show up sometime in the future.

To the left you can see the button flowers I added to the previous page. It's not quite complete yet, but will have to wait until I have time to get back to it.

Work on my fabric book is currently on ice, as a friend and I are sewing a wall hanging for our church. I designed and sewed lettering for the motto "Sing and play unto the Lord". It's all paper-pieced, and I'm very pleased with the way it looks. The letters are made of a glittery gold-patterned fabric; we have paper-pieced instruments and musical symbols for the wall hanging and are now beginning to assemble all of the elements.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Finished, yet still a work in progress

The basic (machine) work on my book is finished. Now I'm beginning with the hand sewing, embroidery, etc. that will decorate the pages that still look a bit bare. I sewed the front and back pages together (with some sturdy cotton twill ribbon as a 'hinge'), then machine stitched the whole long tube right sides together, then turned it and stitched the ribbon hinges to each other to stabilize it. I hand-stitched the open end to close it.

You can see the changes I made to the fifth page - the road was rerouted and now meets up with the rainbow rays on the last page.

The third photo shows the reverse side, which has the lines of Tolkien's poem about the future of the road on it. That's why there is no path there. I may do a bit of hand quilting to make those pages a bit more elaborate, or sew on some sparkly beads - I'm not sure yet.

The cover is pretty much finished; I added some grass around the contour of the hobbit hole and two bushes in pots beside the door - a detail that Tolkien himself sketched in his pictures of Bag End. The brass doorknob is an old button I discovered in my mother-in-law's no longer needed sewing basket, after I had searched in vain for something of the right size and material in the shops. The door opens - of course! (I'm a doll house kind of person) - to show me framed by the round doorway of the film site of Hobbiton in New Zealand.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Rip van Quilter

Lost time: thinking about redoing a page of my book has me pondering the reasons. Is it unnecessary perfectionism or artistic integrity? As far as I'm concerned, it can be either - and probably a number of other things besides.

There are times when a mistake shows up too late to be fixed, or when the work involved or the amount of material needed for a fix would be prohibitive. Then it can be accepted with a philosophical sigh and shrug, called an "Amish imperfection", and left that way. Alternatively, it can be declared a "design decision" and made part of the whole work, perhaps even improving the original idea. Or it can cause such a negative reaction that the unfinished piece gets put away, never to be completed.

There are times when I swallow my perfectionism and realize that nothing I make will ever be absolutely perfect. Then there are other times when I perceive that something is so wrong that it needs to be changed in order to be what I meant it to be. This is such a case. I didn't see it coming when I was working on the pages - or rather, I did have a vaguely uncomfortable feeling, and ignored it. It took the photograph - the distance create by looking at it that way - to show me what was wrong. Fortunately, though it will take several hours to redo it, it's not too late. It will be worth the extra time because it will show what the poem means to me at that point. In this case, that is necessary for artistic integrity.

Back to the drawing board...

Stitches in time

P.S. concerning San Francisco and fabric: I found "Far Out Fabrics", but nothing was there that I liked well enough to buy. A problem I had in all the fabric stores I checked out - none of them were willing to cut less than 1/2 to 1 yard of a fabric. I want lots of different material for piecing strips etc., so I have to really like a fabric to be willing to buy a greater amount. As a result, I brought along only three small scraps from the remnant bins of a couple of stores. One store in downtown SF did impress me - "Britex" has four floors of fabrics and accessories. Without something specific for which to buy, I was overwhelmed and left without purchasing anything.

I have continued work on my fabric book and now have some pictures of progress to show. The road has kept me busy for many hours; I had originally planned to paint it, but then found a flagstone fabric that is absolutely perfect. I made a pattern so that the road would continue from page to page, then cut out iron-on batting plus the fabric, which I basted onto the pages, then sewed on by hand.

Next step was machine quilting around the stones, which gave the 3-D effect I wanted. I'm very pleased with the way it looks! The first photo shows the difference between the road with and without quilting. The next ones show the pages sewn together; lots of hand sewing remains to be done for the details, but first I will sew the reverse side so that I can finish all machine work.

Actually, I'm not pleased with the connection from the fifth to the last page - there's a break there. The poem does ask where the road will go, but my rainbow of possibilities on the last page doesn't connect with the road. I will probably rip the second-to-last page and re-do the road to make it fit. Lots of work, but then, I wouldn't be a patchworker if I weren't willing to work for the best possible result!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Now I know that vacation time is drawing nigh - I have printed a list of fabric shops in San Francisco, where I will be spending a couple of days after visiting my family in the Midwest US. No matter where I travel (and I love to travel!) I always google for fabric shops before I leave home. Fabric is the ultimate souvenir - unbreakable, neither heavy nor bulky. And I can use it - it doesn't collect dust nor waste space.

Why does it not surprise me that there's a shop called "Far Out Fabrics" on Haight?! I shall have to tear myself away to see the other sights of the city.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Creative energy is at a low point right now - I have a cold, thag you very buch. I'm trying to do low-energy things, such as cleaning my sewing room. While picking up pins from the floor (lucky me, haven't had to use the barefoot method to find them so far!) and placing them in the receptacle in my sewing table, I realized that uninformed watchers could wonder about that - it's a red frisbee. Now why would anyone think to place a frisbee on a sewing table?!

Well, the shape and material are appropriate for the purpose - unbreakable, flat, with edges high enough to keep things in it (it is, of course, upside down, sillies!) yet not so high that extracting them is a problem. And since it is an object that was lying around (one of those advertising gadgets we were given once upon a time), it could just as well be used for something sensible. It houses spools of thread that are about to be used though a different color is in the machine right now, needles and pins (so they don't get onto my cutting mat and ruin the edge of my rotary cutter), buttons that will be sewed on soon - yes, I'll do it tomorrow.

Besides, I'm a patchworker - we're used to keeping scraps and bits and pieces because we think we can use them some day - and we do! So putting the frisbee to use was quite logical, Captain. It used to be called "thrifty" - now it's "ecological". Patchworkers are on the cutting edge of recycling!

Friday, June 27, 2008

My patchwork Hobbit hole

The title page for my fabric book "The Road Goes Ever On" is basically completed now, as far as sewing machine work goes. I will now patch the poetry pages and sew them all together before doing the hand sewing details - buttons, embroidery, and some fluffy grass, plus a bit of hand quilting, will finish off my hobbit hole. When the pages are all together, I will also sew the road onto them, so that it continues uninterrupted from page to page. Final photos will be forthcoming in a few days, I hope. Here is what I've done so far:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

While I'm working on the title page to my next fabric book, here are two more past projects. Like many quilters, I'm very partial to star patterns. The first is a miniquilt titled "Rainbow Log Star", made of log cabin blocks. The second is my interpretation of an aboriginal dot painting in an unusual color combination; my quilt wall hanging is called "Milky Way Memories". It reminds my of the starriest night I have ever experienced, in the darkness of outback Australia on my memorable trip there two years ago.

The two quilts are very contrasting in method and colors: one bright and colorful, a stylized individual star; the other almost naturalistic, with the dark blue sky and lots of tiny stars.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Paper Pieced Pillowcases

Continuing my show of past patchwork projects, here are two coordinated sofa pillowcases that I made as a gift last year:

Both are designs by Linda Causee, from this book:

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My first fabric book

While I am waiting for administrative approval of my application for membership on the new textile arts forum Stitchin fingers I will post pictures of the fabric book I made last year. I took a class, taught by Christiane K├╝hr, at the annual Patchwork Guild conference in Berlin and enjoyed it very much! I had already been fascinated when I read her article on the subject in Patchwork Professional magazine and had decided to make my favorite poem from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings the subject. I ended up changing plans somewhat and using the cover with Tolkien's picture for a scrapbook which I take with me to Tolkien events and when meeting friends. It's a good place to keep my commemorative pins from various occasions (including seeing the Hobbiton movie site in New Zealand!). Since the pages are quite stiff, it is easy to have people sign them, draw on them, and of course embroider or sew on them.

I took my pictures and the poem which I had set up on my computer to the copy shop which then printed everything on my fabric. I have since then printed directly onto T-shirt iron-on paper myself, which works the same way. The finish is stiff and shiny, like plastic, which is fine for the purpose - though it does have to be ironed with care.

The cover is softer than the pages, with a thick layer between the visible surfaces. I decided to go for a clean look, so sewed the layers right sides together, then turned them. I allowed for additional thickness with more fabric for the spine; until it is needed, it's laced to hold it together.

The pages are backed (both sides) with a very stiff iron-on facing. I sewed them right sides together as well, leaving the side for the holes open for turning. I then sewed a sturdy twill tape to that edge to finish it and give stability before punching holes and eyelets into it. I sewed matching cords to the cover spine, which go through the holes and are tied together at the top. I also used my sewing machine's embroidery stitches to embellish and stabilize the page edges.

I like the loose-leaf principle for a book like this that is used as a scrapbook. It gives me the option of adding pages in time, as needed. I am currently working on a family scrapbook along the same line (which will be a gift, so I can't show it until after the occasion).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Blog Reloaded

This blog began as a travel report, coupled with a weather theme. Now I am changing the emphasis. The name I chose for myself back then - RainbowCatcher - already hinted at my interest in fabric arts, especially patchwork and quilting. Since blogging has become such an important means of communication in the world of creativity, I am now setting this up to be my patchwork blog. I will show pictures of my work; talk about projects past, present, and future; and hopefully exchange comments with other quilters.

Good-bye, "I weather the weather"; hello, "Sewing Rainbows"!

More to come soon.