Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Snowball for Nicki Lee

A snowball for Nicki Lee
I stumbled upon the Crazy Quilting International Yahoo group about a year ago, while looking for ideas to make my first crazy quilt.  (I was planning to make a cream on cream crazy quilt at the time; however, as you can see by my blog, my interests changed - lol!)

You can see some of the amazing eye candy the CQI members have created on their blog.  Just click here.

One of the swaps the group had going was a "Snowball Fight."  Looking at these beautiful works of art, I have often thought I might like to join in, but I was still a little bit intimidated by the beautiful stitching the ladies in the group did.

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and give it a try.  I asked the group a few questions I had about the swap, and Nicki Lee was one of the first to reply.  She also offered to be the first to trade snowballs with me. 

Now, if you have seen Nicki Lee's work, you will understand why I felt like I had just won the lottery.  (If you have not, here is a peek at her blog at Raviolee Dreams.) 

It is a little bit intimidating to make something for someone when you admire their work, particularly when the theme of the block is one you have never attempted.  However, we never know what we can accomplish if we are too afraid to try.  So, I made my first attempt at a snowball with an under the sea theme. 

Sea horse pattern from DMC Collection: Mini Motif Designs by Mary Bartley Stockett

The cross-stitch designs are from a leaflet I purchased years ago, planning to make a hand towel.  It is called DMC Collection: Mini Motif Designs: Exclusive Creation by Mary Bartley Stockett.  (I was unable to find a leaflet online to share with you.  It was published in 1993 by Graphworks International Inc.)

Conch pattern from DMC Collection: Mini Motif Designs by Mary Bartley Stockett  
I found the antiquated sterling silver plated Halcraft Charm Gallery charms at Michaels.

This small, cd-sized block held many firsts for me.

1.  This was my first hand-pieced block (I followed the piecing instructions from Allie Aller's Crazy Quilting: Modern Piecing & Embellishing Techniques for Joyful Stitching by Allie Aller.  However, I did not trust myself to use my sewing machine for the curved seams and discovered that I actually enjoyed sewing it by hand!)

2.  The block pieces are all curved.

3.  It is an Under the Sea theme.

4.  I used a coral stitch for the first time.

5.  I finally attempted a whipped circle (using 5 spokes, hoping it would resemble a starfish.)

6.  There are charms on the block.

7.  Curiosity allowed me to discover a lazy daisy stitch combined with two straight stitches will, indeed, make a tiny fish.

It was a lot of fun to put this little underwater scene together.  I hope Nicki Lee likes it!  

Thank you for visiting my blog!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

CQJP 2013 Block 3

Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2013 Block 3
Well, it is nearly June, and I finally completed my March block for the 2013 Crazy Quilt Journal Project

CQJP 2013 Block 3 prior to embellisment
First, I added the miniature toy wagon to the sidewalk.  The cross-stitch pattern is from the Leisure Arts leaflet 150 Itty-Bitty Motifs with designs by Jorja Hernandez.

Wagon from Leisure Arts 150 Itty-Bitty Motifs designed by Jorja Hernandez
Next, I added the door and windows.

Using a satin stitch, and DMC #8 White Pearl Cotton, I satin stitched around the frame of the door.   Using the same thread and satin stitches, I added shutters to the window.

For the curtains, I folded small sections of lace and carefully stitched the folds together.  Placing the raw edged folds in the back, I stitched the tops into place.  I brought the thread up through one edge of the center of the curtain, carefully slipped the needle through the lace and gathered the center to "pull" it toward the window frame, then went down through the fabric on the other side, tacking the pulled curtain to the fabric.

After adding the curtains, I was ready to add the window box.  (If this is something you choose to try, I would recommend using a thinner fabric than I did.  White denim folded to hide the raw edges turned out to be rather thick to work a needle through for embroidery.)

Knowing my embroidery would secure the window box into place, I folded the raw edges under and only stitched the short sides onto the block.

A white pearl bead was placed on the door to create the door knob. 

Then, I made a cobblestone path from the door to the sidewalk, using the same thick variegated brown threads I used on Block 1 for my January block.  The path was inspired by a motif in the book Silk Ribbon Embroidery Bible by Joan Gordon

As this scene was not snowy, I found four brown shades of DMC floss similar to those in the thicker variegated floss.  Using various combinations of those four shades, I combined two strands of floss and filled the cobblestones in with satin stitches.  I worked the stitches and different angles.

I was not sure how this would turn out, but I was happy with the end result.

The next step made me really nervous.  Even after completing it, I hoped I had not ruined the block.  Inspired by a photo I found with a Google search of "window box images," I added pink and purple "flowers" to the window box.

The flowers and their leaves were made with French knots and variegated pink, purple and green flosses.

Hoping to make gutters, I added white Chevron stitches along the edges of the roof with the DMC #8 White Pearl Cotton floss.  Then, I worked small chain stitches along the seam between the house and the sky in the upper-left corner.
As you can see, the corner where the Chevron stitches changed angles ended up looking rather funky.  I decided I would hide that section with the leaves of a tree.  However, I feared a tree between the door and the window would look out of place.  So, I added the trunk of a tree along the right side of the house and its branches extended along the roof.

Using two strands of DMC cotton floss (1 strand each of two shades of brown), I chain-stitched the trunk. 

For the leaves, I used two similar shades of 4mm Riversilk Silk Ribbon.  This part made me nervous, as I have not done a lot of silk ribbon embroidery (SRE) in the past.  However, I was pleased with the results.

I wanted to add a tall sunflower along each side of the front door, but the house was already yellow.  So, I looked through my book by Diana Lampe, and decided to add Agapanthus instead.

(First, I added white chain-stitched "trim" along the seam between the front and the side of the house.  And, I added panes to the window.)

We owned a yellow house once.  And we encircled the tree in the front yard with flowers.  So, I decided to do the same with the tree in this block, following directions for Diana Lampe's English Primroses.

The final additions were a Forget-Me-Not flowerbed along the edge of the lawn and the sidewalk and the sun in the upper-left corner.
Adding the window with curtains and a window flower box required me to step outside of my comfort zone.  I had a lot of fun working on this block, so I am glad I challenged myself.

Thank you so much for visiting my blog!

Friday, May 24, 2013

A Trick for Precision

As promised in my last post, I wanted to share the method I used to make the "J" monogram and to create such a precise wavy line on the glasses case I made for my mom.

I learned this trick in The Magic of Crazy Quilting: Second Edition by J. Marsha Michler.  (However, I traced my "J" from another source.) 

The book recommends tracing your design onto tracing paper or tissue paper.  I only had colored tissue paper on hand, so I used that.  (Please note, I was extremely careful not to get the tissue paper wet.  Have you ever seen the color leach out of wet tissue paper?  I was worried it would stain the fabric.)

The other key suggestion was the use of a HARD lead pencil.  I found a website stating the higher the number of the lead in a pencil, the harder it is.  So, I used my husband's 4B art pencil.  I also learned that was a HUGE mistake.  Apparently, the larger the number with a "B" after it, the softer the lead.  And the easier it is for the lead to transfer to the thread as it pulls through.  (My clue should have been that it was darker than a #2 pencil.  The harder the lead, the lighter the mark.)

Anyway... I traced the "J" onto the tissue paper and basted it into place on my block.  Next, I embroidered along those lines.  I used DMC #8 Pearl Cotton in white.  (Later, I wished I would have chosen a darker color so it would have stood out more.)

Then, I tore the tissue paper away and carefully removed the pieces that remained.

This left me with a monogram to embellish.  (You may be able to see the top section is a bit dark, due to the pencil lead transferring.)

I loved this method!  (Michler gives more tips in her book and has two fonts of letters.  Did I mention her book was one of the best gifts I have received?!  It was not even on my wish list.  I thank my husband for buying it all the time.)

Knowing I wanted to use this method in the future, I began searching stores and craft stores for hard lead pencils.  (In the U.S., if the # is followed by an "H", the bigger the number, the harder the lead.  It also means the lighter the lines, though...)

In the end, I purchased a 5H pencil from Amazon.com.  It arrived just in time to make the wavy line along the lower-left seam on my mom's glasses case.

I also found a set of four decorative rulers I had purchased from Creative Memories years ago.  The wavy one was perfect!

As you can see, the line is very light.  (I wondered if I should have purchased a 4H pencil instead, but this worked.)

Making the monogram, I discovered some of my fabrics were not very forgiving.  It was difficult to smooth out the needle marks from tacking the tissue paper into place.  So, this time, I tried to stick to the seam lines as much as possible.

Using 2 strands of green DMC floss and a stem stitch, I embroidered the wavy line.

After removing the paper, it was ready to embellish!

Did I mention that I love this technique?!  (It gives me SO many ideas for the future.)

On a more personal note, and a bit off subject... It seems by body and food have decided to have a few disagreements, without my consent, of course.  It could be a lot worse, so I am not seeking sympathy.  However, I must say that for the past month, I have been truly grateful for a hobby that allows me to simply sit and stitch.  I have several projects going at once (to stave away boredom.)  As it turns out, being a mysterious woman and a bit of an enigma is not as glamorous as it sounds - lol!  On the bright side, it has allowed me time to complete the two glasses cases shown in my last two posts.  And I hope to share more projects with you soon.

In fact, I am hoping to finally finish my next CQJP 2013 block today.  I have used a few new techniques and ideas with it, and I think I like the results.  Of course, with every new section I work on, I am certain I am about to ruin the block.  Someday, I hope to feel more confident.  At the moment, I am just glad I am willing to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

This is the before picture of my CQJP 2013 March block prior to any embellishment.

I am off to finish it up so I can share the transformation with you soon!  Thank you for stopping by.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Glasses Case for Mom

This is a project I have been wanting to share, but did not dare.  It was a gift for my mom.  She reads my blog on occasion, so I did not want to spoil the surprise.

Diana Lampe's book, Embroidery for All Seasons, is still one of my favorite resources.  I used her directions for the fuchsias and for the cottage pinks.  However, I changed the colors a bit to match those on the case.

When I  have more time, I will share the trick I used to embroider the J monogram and to stitch such a precise wavy line along the bottom-left seam.  (I am SO thankful for the positive reviews posted on Amazon.com for J. Marsha Michler's book, The Magic of Crazy Quilting.  My husband bought the book for me for Christmas because of those reviews and it is my other favorite resource!)

For the back of this case, I used pink Oregon State University fabric.  The lining is a soft pink gingham flannel.

My boys have requirements about gifts to my mom.  I have been told they have to be pink, soft, and fuzzy.  This one is not fuzzy, but the OSU fabric helped it gain their approval!

Thanks again for stopping by!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Landscape 1 Glasses Case Completed!

Well, I have never claimed to be a seamstress.  There is a good reason for that - my sewing skills are definitely at a novice level!  The bottom is slanted.  One corner is rounded, and the other not-so-much.

I wish I had not used the fluffy green fabric where I did.  And, the sun should have had a few more chain stitched rows. However, that being said, I think I am still happy with the way this gift turned out. 

I found a fat quarter of this green fabric in my stash and used it for the back.  As for the La Mode button, I picked it up at Jo-Ann Fabric the end of last year, planning to use it with this gift.  The scenic picture with the tree seemed just too fitting! 

The inside lining is a soft yellow flannel.  (You can see it peeking out around the flap for the button.

Thank you for stopping by!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Glasses Case Panel - Landscape 1 Almost Done

This gift is almost complete!  The crazy quilting is done, I just need to assemble the rest of the case. 

As you can see, my fear of the tall grass hiding the flowers was not unfounded...

I used 2 strands of a green DMC floss to make uneven buttonhole stitches along the seam between the grass and the water.  Next, I used a single strand of yellow DMC floss to attach a small yellow bead to the top of each "stem" created by the buttonhole stitch.  Using 2 strands of variegated yellow floss, I added lazy daisy stitches around each bead.  The taller "stems" received five lazy daisy stitched petals, and the shorter "stems" only received three petals.

The fluffy green fabric looked too strange with lazy daisy flowers, so I opted to not to add them in that section.  I did put a yellow bead at the top of each "stem."  My boys decided it looked like the flowers were peeking out of tall grass.  (My husband simply laughed.  I told him I hoped the tree made up for the flower seam treatment!)

Next, I used two strands of yellow DMC floss to stitch two butterflies.  A single strand of the same color stitched their flight paths.

Finally, I added a sun in the upper-left corner. Two strands of DMC yellow floss were used to make a series of chain stitches.  Both ends of the rows of chain stitches extend a bit past the seams.  This way, the sun will be full in that corner.  The "rays" are split stitched with the same floss.  My only hope is that I made it large enough to really show up once the case is sewn together.

Thank you for checking in to see my progress!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

CQJP 2013 Block 3 and Glasses Case Progress

While I continue thinking about how I want to proceed with my CQJP Block 4, I thought I would put some time into Block 3 (which will likely be my April block... even if it is May already!)

I find myself wishing I made the sidewalk a little bit smaller.  However, the fabric I used for the sidewalk was gathered at the bottom of my eldest son's very first pair of jeans.  So, I do not mind having a bit of that fabric on its own...

The first addition to the block was a small child's wagon.
Cross-stitch pattern from Leisure Arts 150 Itty-Bitty Motifs
The pattern for the wagon was found in the Leisure Arts pamphlet 150 Itty-Bitty Motifs designed by Jorja Hernandez. 

It is a bit tiny, so I worried about it being way too small for the scale of the block.  Then, I remembered that the red wagon my boys had was a tiny little thing.  It may have been a foot wide and two feet long, so I decided this itty-bitty wagon would be just fine.

Next, I sketched a window and a door that would fit the house well.  Using a rotary cutter, I cut out fabrics to attach to the block.
CQJP 2013 Block 3 and fabrics to create the house.
I am not a huge fan of sewing, in and of itself; however, I love seeing how small pieces like these can become so much more.

Next, I attached the door and window to the fabric with fusible webbing.

Then, I began securing the door into place with two strands of DMC white floss and a satin stitch to prevent the fabric from fraying.
I figure the satin stitch makes a decent door frame.  I began in the lower right corner.  Had I realized the fabric was already beginning to fray above, those first stitches would have been wider to make the size more consistent.  (As you can see, I still have a small section to complete before I get to move on to the next part.)

I confess, these satin stitches bore me.  So, I completed a strand of white on Block 3, and then allowed myself to add a strand of floss to the glasses case I have been working on.

The leaves to the tree are now finished.  I added a fence using a single strand of white DMC Pearl 8 Cotton.  Perhaps it was cheating, but I used small pins to mark where each post would go - measuring so they were an equal distance apart.  (The trick is not allowing your floss to catch on the points of the pins!)  Next, I added the boards along the bottom.  I began on the right side of one post and brought the needle down on the left side of the next post to help secure them and prevent them from snagging in the future.  The top boards were completed in the same manner.

I also used two strands of a green DMC rayon floss to make uneven buttonhole stitches along the waterline.  (Again, I marked the distance with pins.  And I measured the height of each stitch.)  Yellow flowers will be added today.

I have mixed feelings about the wonderfully, soft, fluffy green grassy section to the right of the tree.  It adds texture and is SO soft to touch.  However, the stitches do become lost.  I hope the flowers with their beads work out as intended...
Thanks so much for stopping by!  I hope you have a fantastic day.


Monday, May 6, 2013

CQJP 2013 Block 4 and Landscape Glasses Case Progress

Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2013 Block 4
One of my first stops in any fabric store these days would be the area in which they keep their fat quarters.  And, as I have always been fascinated by the idea of making a landscape quilt, I find myself drawn to landscape fabrics.

The problem with purchasing the fabrics as fat quarters, is that I do not always know who made specific fabrics.  However, I have had a few comments about the fabrics in this block, so I thought I would do my best to share a bit more information.

The blue swirl fabric used for the water was purchased at Jo-Ann Fabrics - I think (maybe?)

The brown fabric I used for the muddy ground says it is by Hoffman California International Fabric.  It is a screen print and says it is style #PN008.  (I tried to find it on their website and failed.  I think I picked it up last summer at a quilting store.)

As for the lightning fabric, I was able to do a Google search and find a bit more information.  I purchased mine at a quilt store as a fat quarter.  However, I discovered the fabric is called "Lightning Storm" and it is a product of JOFabric.com.  The ID # is nat00065.

So far, I have only stitched the "water" onto the block.  I used a buttonhole stitch with a variegated blue Edmar floss.

I plan to add a tree to the block, but I have not decided how I plan to stitch it yet.  I may use satin stitches, like I did with the birch tree on my CQJP 2013 January block.

Or, I may use a chain stitch for the trunk and branches, as I did on the landscape glasses case I am working on.  (I have a few more leaves to add on the right.)  In either case, I do not believe the tree on Block 4 will have leaves.  The stormy scene could easily take place in the fall...  (Hmm... should there be leaves falling from the tree in the windy storm?  There are just SO many choices!)

My stitching must be improving... My husband saw my tree last night and exclaimed it was, "Absolutely gorgeous!"  This morning, he saw it on the table and declared it was, "Amazing!"

This is the full panel at the moment:

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Glasses Case Panel - Landscape 1

Waaaayyyyyyy back in December, while piecing my first CQJP blocks, I made a couple of extra glasses case panels to embellish as time allowed.  (I have not tired of them yet - lol!)
I have been working on the one above as a gift.  (I do not believe the recipient reads my blog.  Even if they do, I doubt they would know it was for them!  So, I think it is safe to post this...)

My first steps were using a metallic DMC white floss to make stem stitches along the white lines in the water, and adding silk ribbon cattails.

I found the directions for these cattails in The Silk Ribbon Embroidery Bible by Joan Gordon.  I picked up a used spiral bound copy at Powell's Books in Portland for about $20.00.  (I had NO idea the new ones sold for over $90.00! The link above will take you to Amazon.com, where used copies are about $23.00.  There were 8 used copies available when I added the link.)  I love this book, and the fact that it is spiral bound makes it easy to use while I stitch.

My cattails are a little on the short side, but I worried that longer stems and leaves would snag easily.

Next, I added a tree.  (I wanted to experiment with tree ideas before adding one to my CQJP block.)
For the trunk and larger branches, I used two strands of floss and chain stitches.  Those two strands of floss were both different shades of brown: one strand of DMC 838 and one strand of DMC 3021.  Using the same colors, I added a few smaller, stem-stitched branches to the tree.  (I began with the chain stitch on the far left and just continued working to the right, randomly beginning lines of stitches from the bottom to create the roots of the tree.  After I made the taller lines, I added a few shorter sections amidst the roots to fill them in a bit.)

Next, I used a single strand of DMC 433 (a lighter brown) and made a few back-stitched lines through the trunk of the tree to give an illusion of bark texture/highlights.

There are three types of lazy-daisy stitched leaves.  Some use two strands of DMC 702, some use two strands of DMC 704, and others blended the colors - using one strand of each.

So far, I am happy with the way the tree is turning out.  (Unlike the cherry blossom tree I put on my last CQJP block, my husband has not teased me once about the top of the tree not being big enough for the trunk.  I guess I am making progress - lol!)

As always, thank you for stopping by!