Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Free Fabric Pillow Tutorial

Here's how I just made a non-atomic pillow sewed up with recent free fabric from Fabmo and my priestess-sister Rue. She made herself a really nice purse and sent me the leftovers since she knows I love scraps! Her fabric is the multi-colored one there, it is really soft, kind of a chenille. The other fabric is much stiffer but has a lot of texture too. I like contrasts in textures on pillows, it makes them so much more fun to touch and encounter.

Here they are stitched together into a big enough piece to make a background for the sheer applique that I want to use.
I also have a pillow back fabric that I am using, so that is a limit to the size too. I just know I want to make a BIG pillow. Bigger than the usual anyways.

Here is how it looks on top of the pieced background. Too much, covers up all that rich color, so I'm going to stitch around the motif and cut away the extra.

After satin stitching around the embroidered motif in gold/brass thread I use my applique scissors to cut off the excess sheer fabric.

Then it is just an easy stitching up of the completed front to the pillow back. You can see the wrong side of the satin stitching there. Make sure to leave enough room to turn the pillow rightsides out and to be able to stuff it easily.

Stuffing with batting bits, edge trimming, shredded old socks and other miscellaneous stuffity-stuffs (technical term). Tip: Use your rotary cutter to shred up old socks into non-lumpy pieces, much easier on the hands than scissors! Make sure to stuff the corners of the pillow really well if you like them pointy, then hand-stitch the opening closed.

And there you have it, basically a free pillow (except for the thread). Please Note: This pillow has been deemed too heavy for pillow fights by the management.

I should print that up and sew it on like one of those tags you see on store-bought pillows and mattresses...

And here is the reverse side.

Here it is in the "grandpa chair", my leather chair that I inherited from my Grandfather. It is completely sprung in the seat and you need all kinds of pillowage under you to make it comfy. I think it is the most comfortable chair in the house and I use it as my hand-sewing station, complete with Ott-Light and all. So now I have a BIG pillow which feels great and supportive for my back.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Open Studios Tour On The Horizon

Cloth Paper Scissors Studio magazine is hosting a virtual Open Studios tour, so this is just a heads up that I will be participating on October 3rd. You can too, all the information is right here on how to join in.

It is always fun to see how other people organize their stuff (or not) and utilize their space. Who knows, you might finally see the solution to some storage problem you've been puzzling on.
Now I've got to go tidy up and take some pictures and maybe even a video (we'll see...).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Too Many Buttons

I recently heard about a quilt challenge that I thought would be worthwhile to participate in and make a quilt specifically to donate to this cause, because it is something that I have a real interest in supporting. It is for the UN Global Fund to Fight HiV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis. There is to be an exhibit of the quilts in Geneva, Switzerland in November and then they will be sold through the UN Women's Guild Fundraising Bazaar.

The theme that I wanted to work with was the commonalities between the world's children that are challenged with these easily preventable diseases, represented in fabrics from different countries from around the world. Luckily I have an aunt who has traveled a whole lot, teaching English in many different countries and she gifted me with a great collection of fabrics from many places.

I cut out a bunch of motifs and stripes and patterns and started arranging them.

Then I quilted and bound the piece. But it still did not say what I wanted it to say. There wasn't enough content about just how many children are affected by these entirely preventable diseases.
So I started sewing on buttons from my recent new cache of buttons from my friends that hadn't quite gotten put away yet.

Rows and rows of buttons, representing all those children around the world.

Just too many.

Too many buttons.

Too many children.

Too little money spent on this problem.

I would love to be able to make this quilt once again, someday, and not have to use any buttons at all.
Too Many Buttons measures 30"w x 25"h.
Go here to see all the other quilts that others have contributed.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Opera At The Ballpark

Opera at the Ballpark! What a funny idea, right? A simulcast of a live opera being performed in the San Francisco Opera House to the Giants baseball stadium just across the city. Luckily for me, my parents listen to the classical radio station that was sponsoring this event, so I knew about it and we got to go with them. I grew up hearing opera all the time, and one of my great-uncles was actually an opera singer. One of my favorite memories was seeing him perform in The Barber of Seville.
The boys had never seen an opera and I thought it was about time. Plus this event was priced really well, ie, FREE.
We stood in a super long line to be able to sit down on the field. As a baseball fan I think this was the most thrilling part of the evening for me, getting to sit at the edge of the warning track out at the edge of center and right field.There were about 25,000 people there in the ballpark, and it was stunning how quiet it was during the opera. I was worried it would be as noisy as a baseball game but people were really engaged with the performance.

Even though it was dark out, the sky looks blue in this picture, maybe because of the very bright stadium lights.As we sat there waiting for it to begin, I was worried they wouldn't turn out the big lights that illuminate the field. We wouldn't have been able to see the screen very well, and it would have been bad to be looking into that brightness for so long. But nope, they turned those out as the performance began and left some smaller lights on.
This is my favorite picture of my foot and the boys feet. We took turns running into the padded outfield wall pretending to catch fly balls. Too fun.
The opera performed was Il Trovatore by Verdi (The Troubadour) which has so many plot twists and turns, sword duels, the famous "Anvil Chorus" and a great surprise ending. The leads were amazing singers as well as actors. We were all impressed with the sound system and how good it looked up on the big screen. It was almost like being there live! But more fun because we got to go on the baseball field and lay down and be casual which one most certainly does not get to do at the opera house!
We'll definitely be going again next year.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Surprise MixTape

How fun! A random surprise package from SherriD, which had this cool checked fabric and an issue of MixTape . You can also check out their blog at: MixTape. This is a very cool little craft zine from Australia which I've heard a lot of good things about but had never seen an issue in person. Zines are really fun, I love how unique and un-corporate they are, they have a whole 'nother point of view and energy that is really refreshing compared to the usual magazine thing.
Thanks Sherri, you really made my day with your thoughtfulness!

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Week Filled With Nothing

Well this was my first week with Nothing as one of my daily things to accomplish. As I predicted it turned out to be hard to actually do, or attempt, or schedule. But I can say that on the days that I did manage to do, think and be nothing for 15 full minutes, I felt more calm, less frazzled, more focused and dare I say happier.
As Martha Beck describes in her book, "The Joy Diet" that I'm book blogging with over the next several weeks with The Next Chapter there are a few steps you can take to get to nothing.

First is to Put Up The Privacy Sign, blocking off and blocking out interruptions for a certain time period so you know you won't be disturbed. This is the easiest step for me as I am home during the day by myself during the week. But back in the days of baby and toddlerhood, it would have been laughably impossible and I sympathize with those who find this step hard.

Second is to Let Your Body Vacate. I also find this fairly easy and I mark it up to the childbirth class practice with the Bradley method, which is all about training yourself to completely relax on command. I also have to do this on a daily basis anyways when my pain levels get too high, so I have become fairly adept at "checking out" of my body as needed.

Third is to Vacate Your Mind, as one who possesses an active squirrel mind that is always on the go and never at rest this one is the most challenging. It always has been whenever I've attempted a regular meditation practice. What is key for me is to let go of being perfect at this, and realizing before I begin that just making the attempt *this time* is what is ultimately important for me. Also, I'll note that the more I read about meditation and how to do it, the better I am getting at it myself. The more examples and techniques and practice the better, at least for me.

Beck has several techniques she shares in the book, but the best advice she offers is to realize that your only option is to "simply watch your mind do its thing, without passing any judgments on your thoughts, or trying to control the process. The act of nonjudmental observation is extremely powerful, allowing you to divide your awareness from your thoughts."

She shares a quote from writer Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj which really rang a bell for me:
"Know yourself to be the changeless witness of the changeful mind. Mind is interested in what happens, while the awareness is interested in the mind itself. The child is after the toy, but the mother watches the child not the toy."

The fourth and final step is to Learn to Return, which is meant to make it easier for one to return to the vacated body and mind state. Like leaving a bookmark or place marker that you can snap to easily. I see this place of peace is something to create and use not as an escape from your life, but as a life-preserver.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Follow The Thread

All alone on top of the hill, following that golden thread.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Not Measuring Up

Some of the teeny tiny people don't get along very well. Something about "someone not measuring up."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pin Monitor

See, I told you the little teeny tiny people would come in handy. I needed a pin monitor, because lately I seem to be missing a lot of pins.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cornucopia Package

Happy Monday!
Last week I received a package from Silver Crow with a very strange mixture of random goodies. Random goodies that I carefully selected myself of course. So what are they?

The Transfers Unlimited is a product I've been hearing about lately, and apparently it is a "As Seen On TV" kind of thing too. I have not personally seen it advertised on my TV though. It looks like it would be fun to use and I always like to see what kind of image I can get with one of these newfangled processes. I'm going to try it out on some fabric as well as some boring ceramic mugs that we have, more on that later when I actually use it. The hard part will be choosing something to transfer. My sons have been asking to make t-shirts with their artwork, so that might be a good use of it too. It is supposedly quite stinky when you use it, so I need to have a non-headachy day where I can do it outside. Or maybe I should just do it on a headachy day because it will give me one anyways.

A charm set of eating utensils to use as an embellishment on a small quilt about eating and food that I'm working on.

A big hank of vintage blue wired beads which were just too pretty not to buy, and hopefully will make a cool bracelet.

A vintage paper Halloween decoration that says Boo! on one side and has a smiling skull on the other because I just don't have enough Halloween decorations apparently. I'm starting in early on the Halloween decorating this year.

A package of miniature teeny tiny people because you never now when you'll need some

And a glass/metal hinged frame to be able to wear a small collage on a chain. I think I'll make a collage and then shrink it down on my printer so that it will fit. I don't think that I'm up to collageing in this small of a format, just don't have the patience or the super-duper scissors that would require.

Silver Crow really has a great selection of collage and embellishment stuff, rubber stamps, new, vintage, ephemera and artwork to purchase too, so go check them out.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Button Buttons Everywhere

A couple weekends ago I posted on Facebook that I was going to the local flea market with my family and that I was in search of buttons. I wasn't looking for them for any particular reason, it is just more fun to have something to be looking for when you're rambling around the flea market.

Well a couple of my friends from CQFA brought me these bags of buttons at our recent meeting because they'd read that post. Ask and ye shall receive right? Because I didn't find any jars of buttons at the flea market that day. Well, I did find one, but it was giant honking huge wood buttons and the glass had all this condensation on the inside which kind of grossed me out, so I didn't buy them!
The big bag of buttons was from Dolores and there were all kinds of goodies in there, including some buckles.

These were the buttons in the smaller bag from Bronwen. I just like sorting them out by color to see how they look together.

And these old button cards are always fun, with all those old-style fonts, line drawings, almost archaic phrases and of course, very very cheap prices.

Now I have buttons as far as I can see! Thanks my friends!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

More Free Fabric

More free fabric from FabMo (the repurposed fabric from the interior design business organization)! There are always some treasures that CQFA members bring and share with the rest of us. I chose these two. I think they will be combined to make a pillow for a chair I am recovering. The first one is a sheer with this embroidered almost crest-looking design. The second is an upholstery weight Japanese inspired print.

I also heard about a cool event having to do with FabMo, they are going to have a FabMo Art Expo in October where people who are using all this free fabric to create art or other things will be displaying and selling them. I think this will be great fun and am planning on going, maybe to exhibit and sell if I can get my act together in time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Joy Diet

The Joy Diet: 10 Daily Practices for A Happier Life
What a funny name for a book huh?
But after you think about it for a while it starts to make sense, feeding oneself a constant stream of joy would be quite nourishing and sustaining as opposed to the alternative of negativity.

I'm going to be reading this book with The Next Chapter book blogging group over the next 10 weeks. You can still sign up if you're interested in participating! So hopefully every Friday I'll be posting about the chapter we are working on.
I always enjoyed the author Martha Beck's column in Oprah magazine, she seemed to have a great way of getting through to people where they are and helping them see how to get to where they want to be.
The first chapter's subject is: NOTHING. Which I think will probably be one of the most challenging subjects in the whole book. Doing nothing is really hard work and I'm not terribly good at it. But I think I'm up for working on nothing and look forward to seeing what the book offers as far as getting to nothing and remaining with nothing for 15 minutes a day...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

An ATC Attempt

At the last few CQFA meetings an ATC trade has been happening. This last Saturday I woke up and remembered, oops, forgot to make them! Luckily I had just enough time to make some to take with me to the meeting.
ATC's are really fun to make and I have quite a collection from other swaps online, but this was going to be in person, and I didn't want to miss out again.
I used up a lot of scraps that were on my table, and some batting scraps too. After making an interesting design that will be cut up into the correct size (2.5 x 3.5") I started stitching them down with zig zag and other stitching.

Here's how the two big pieces look before I cut them up into the four ATC's that I was trying to make for the swap.
Here's how the first four look after they've been cut apart and then zig zagged around the edge. Yes, and I stink at measuring, one of these is quite a bit bigger than the others. Sorry to whoever got the extra-big-bonus-sized ATC from me.

And here are the one's that I traded for! Aren't they great? From top left they are by Dolores Miller, Terri Thayer, Linda Cline, Carolyn Ogg and Bronwen McInerney. You'll note that there are 5, there was one left over after all the trading, and I got to take it home, promising to make one more for the person who didn't receive one from me.
And so I did, out of the scraps left over from the first four (now that's some obsessive recycling eh?!) and took a giant solo picture of it.Then before I mailed it off, I noticed that it matched eerily well with the fabrics I bought at the meeting that I showed you yesterday. Like so well the ATC could blend in and hide. No wonder I chose those fabrics, I guess I'm in a color rut or something. Hey at least they're a pretty color combo, right? Could certainly be worse!
I hope we keep swapping ATC's with our group, it is really fun and I like collecting these little works of art.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A New Quilting Mystery

Yay! I finally have the newest Terri Thayer quilting novel "Ocean Waves".

Signed and everything. Helps that she's a CQFA member. I've been dying to know what happens to Dewey Pellicano...
And since we met at a quilt shop (Always Quilting) this time, there were three Moda fat quarters that came home with me. The colors remind me of my favorite colors of sherbert and the print reminds me of some of my coloring books from childhood.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

New Tool

Sometimes you just need a new tool. Especially if you're already at the hardware store buying paint for the kitchen ceiling.
And if the price is right, and it is a nice color combination, why not? It is fun to buy something that's intended for one use and then go and use it in a completely different way. Oooh, call me a rebel! This is actually for doing tile work, as you can see by the picture, but I'm going to use it for painting and mono-printing and maybe screen-printing if I get my act together.
Squeegee, isn't that fun to say?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Up On The Roof, Again

Another recent field trip was going up to the California Academy of Sciences with my parents, this time my husband was able to come with us, so he got to see what we've been raving about for almost a year now. Here are the boys with my mom and dad up on the living roof. There was a lot to see even though we'd already visited once. Plus, this is the kind of place that I could come back to again and again because *the place itself is so worth visiting, just to be there.* I can't think of too many other places like that, well Yosemite of course, but you hopefully get what I mean.
One of the first things Alex noticed was that the atrium roof looked very different. "Mom isn't that duct tape up there?" I thought, no it couldn't be, duct tape all over the roof of this sparkling new amazing building.Well, since my husband is of course quite the duct tape aficionado and connoisseur he had to ask and the answer was truly surprising. It turns out that they were having to re-caulk the seams of all those ceiling window pieces and the duct tape was to hold the pieces together while the caulking took time to set up and cure correctly. How about that? I don't know why that is so cool to know about, but somehow I just love that something so prosaic and useful around the house as duct tape is used by this state-of-the-art ecologically marvelous museum too.It really made for a different look for that ceiling like train tracks or antennas or something. I wonder how the heck they are going to get it all off and clean off the sticky goo left behind. That will be quite the project!

And oh why not, how about one more butterfly picture?