November 17, 2010

Small Scale

I am having success with small scale creativity. It's a relief to feel/write that after starting work and stopping three times on the recent wall hanging (aka the Bane of My Existence).

My new little works will be refrigerator magnets (gifts). To make these, I started with scraps of canvas and primed them with gel medium. Acrylic textile paint was thinned with water and randomly applied with a wide brush. I scrawled color with oil sticks. A few rubber stamp images were pressed on. These didn't impress clearly because the dried gel medium makes an uneven surface on canvas, but I like the way it turned out. With my favorite scribble-writing, I applied textile paint straight from the bottle. I machine stitched in red or black thread, and in straight and decorative stitches. I cut the canvas into rough 1" pieces. Each piece was "framed" using black or gold paint from my paint brush. Bits of fabric or paper were glued to some of the pieces. Nearly every piece will get at least one seed bead stitched to it. Lastly, I'll glue a magnet to the back.

If you try this, be sure to allow all the layers to dry in between!

November 11, 2010

Cloth to Cloth, three

Despite being a little crooked, all the strips have at least one line of running stitches, so now it's only a question of, how much more stitching do I want to add?  Also, how should I finish the edge? I'm almost ready for Jude's class.

Thread Soup

My thread catcher was full to the brim with thread tails, frayed cotton from laundering new fabric, bits of yarn and frayed kimono silk.  There wasn't space to put anymore bits, so I fed the whole blob through the felting machine, surrounded it with cord made with a spool knitter, and this is what came out.  One of these days I'll feel like embroidering it with yarn, ribbon and floss -- that will be fun!

November 10, 2010

Cloth to Cloth, two

A couple of days ago I started handstitching this woven piece.  It's not very big.  I haven't gotten far but it is beginning to take shape.  Ideally, I'll complete stitching before Jude's C2C3 course begins on November 15th.  A few years ago, I shibori-dyed this kimono silk lining.  The floss is vintage with a nice sheen.  I'm learning that I like to take one stitch at at time (instead of two or three), pulling the thread all the way through, before starting the next stitch.  It takes longer, but it's more enjoyable.

November 4, 2010

Megan is My Tulip

During my brother's family's visit to San Diego in 2007 I watched my tiny niece, Megan, asleep in our living room.  I was facing her upside-down and, it occurred to me that her lips looked like a tulip.  Ever since then, I've called her Tulip, and she has repeatedly corrected me, "My name's not Tulip.  My name is Megan."  She's older now and has been asking, "What's a tulip?"  Despite telling her the above story, she still doesn't understand. Photos of tulips are in the mail to her and this wall hanging will be delivered when we see her during the holidays.  I know, it's sort of a grown up piece for a toddler, but if she's anything like her brother and sister, she won't stay little for very long.  One of these days, I'll also explain Two Lips.

I used canvas, gel medium, torn pages from a bulb catalog, tissue paper, acrylic paint, embroidery floss, beads and sequins.  The Robert John Thornton (1768-1837) botanical was printed on prepared canvas, "painted" with sewing machine stitches, colored pencils and acrylic paint.
15" x 19"

This photo is on the back of the wall hanging.

November 3, 2010

Jude Hill's C2C3

C2C3 means Cloth to Cloth workshop, the third time Jude Hill is teaching this online class. I've signed up, and so has my buddy Nancy. The class hasn't started yet, but excitement has hold of me already, so I'm forging ahead to see how my version will differ from what Jude teaches.  This is her technique and, surely, she'll have plenty more to say that I've not thought of.  The idea is to finish this before Jude's class begins.  We shall see!

November 2, 2010


It's nice to finish something!  A couple of years ago my youngest cousin Brian found a quilt on Etsy and asked if I could make it for him.  Since I planned to sew a quilt for his 30th birthday present, his choice made it easy.  It also gave me a two year head start, and I allowed myself lots of starts/stops along the way.  During the process, I also remembered I don't like sewing-to-order anymore.  I fussed and futzed with a pieced border, but only one row of it ended up as part of the quilt (to cover Brian's bed pillows and not visible in photo).  Quilts, like many other things I make, come together more smoothly when I have control of the whole project, but that's okay, Brian!

Punzie on Etsy made the Yoshi character (Mario Brothers' figure) and I pieced the rest.  Ellen Patton quilted on her long-arm machine.  I did the binding.  Phew, FINISHED!

October 31, 2010

Restoring Confidence

In order to restore self-confidence, I went back to an unfinished project.  The restoration comes from the repetition of handwork, reminding myself with each stitch that this is what I do, this is what I love, this is my life and this is what I'm good at.  The project is a quilt for my cousin's 30th birthday.  It just needs binding, a label, a photo and a blog posting.

October 28, 2010

Demons of Self-Doubt

Getting back into my creative rhythm is still challenging. There are voices (my own) saying, "You don't know what you're doing. Your work is ugly. Put it all away and stop making attempts at creativity."  Sometimes the work feels good. Sometimes it feels small and insignificant, like right now. Does this happen to you?

I will keep plugging away.  I'm sure this malady is a conquerable, temporary condition.

30" x 60" unfinished; woven sari cloth, burned tulle and other sheers, chain stitch squiggles in mohair, beading and hand-stitching, and vintage Chinese embroidery

October 12, 2010

Restoration Stitching

Couching stitches came loose from this old Chinese embroidered piece. Restoration stitching was not as easy as I thought, given my hands are not as steady as they used to be. Still, the results turned out satisfactorily.

October 5, 2010

Green Quilt Top

In a previous post, I assembled blocks into two rows for my cousin's quilt. In the end, I did not use them. This afternoon, the two rows became a quilt. As you can see, I ran out of the border fabric and put something else at the bottom, but I kinda like it -- it gives it a base. Once quilted, the binding will be the same green as the center strip.

October 4, 2010

Ballerina Pigs in Tutus

I went to visit Nancy this weekend. She showed me a tumblers quilt she'd made, named for the drinking-glass-shape of each block. She said it went together fast and was very forgiving because of the bias. That got me pretty excited because, lately, I've been all about "fast" and "forgiving!" The 4.25" tall blocks were cut yesterday. Today I sewed it all together.

October 1, 2010

Going in Circles

I'm going in circles.  Whenever Nancy and I visit a quilt show, I am drawn to the quilts with circles.  With circles, you can go around and around, either spinning your wheels or knowing exactly what you're aiming for.  Curves are gentle, mellow, soothing...  In the case of this series I seem to be exploring, circles will be perfected and learned from, until the next shape presents itself.  The striped four-patch blocks were pieced some time ago. Today I added the double border, mitered the corners and cut circles to applique.

The other quilt is going to Nancy to stitch her magic into it.

September 29, 2010

Chasing Circles

The last of the running stitches is in and the circles are secured.  The placement of the circles gives the design a lot of movement (in my eyes).  The outside border is next. Usually-Lazy-Me is going to miter the corners this time. Hopefully I have enough fabric!

September 27, 2010

Running with Stitches

Red, brown and green circles populate the quilt top now. In my eyes, it looks so much better! Once all the circles are hand-stitched, I'll share the whole thing. For now, here is a close up of raw edge circles and my running stitches. My pal Nancy will quilt it for me. Nancy's gorgeous quilts are for sale here.

September 26, 2010

Nook Table

Don'tcha love quick projects?!  This will cover the table in our kitchen nook.  Our kitchen is mostly white and this will bring in some color.  This quilt needs a squiggle of red appliqued circles.  (As shown here, the border isn't sewn on yet.)
42" x 58" finished

September 25, 2010

In Earnest

I think I've found my way back into the saddle.  I've been sewing all day!  For me, since being in this funk, sewing all day is a good sign.

I pieced the back of a quilt which seems to have taken forever.  It's ready to be sent to my quilter, Ellen Patton.

A pair of pants were shortened too.  With my diminutive size, everything must be taken up...  (Being short is not as cute as you think, esp at the supermarket when what I need is on the upper shelves.)

I also made a table cloth out of an old sheet for my sewing table.  The primary purpose is to keep kitty fur off of unfinished projects.  Nothing fancy, except for the stitching on the edge -- just practical.

September 24, 2010

Wolf E. Myrow, Inc.

Remember that final scene in Indiana Jones movie, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," where the ark is being stored in a government warehouse filled with assumed treasures? This is where I felt I was when entering Wolf E. Myrow. This jewelry findings business in Providence, Rhode Island is stocked to the rafters with boxes filled with every imaginable finding, AND I ONLY HAD 30 MINUTES TO SHOP before catching our plane back to San Diego! As it's a wholesale-only business, you must buy in quantity to meet minimums. Most of their stock is vintage. I am salivating as I write this. Next time, if there is a "next time," my plan is to spend several hours. They have a main floor, a basement, two front rooms, a finished jewelry room, and they all look like this!

Thanks ever so much to Nantucket Mermaid for the resource!

September 23, 2010

Nantucket Mermaid

A few days ago I met Jeanne van Etten, an artist on Nantucket island in Massachusetts. Inside her tiny shop I was surrounded with artistic doodles and a playful color sense -- I felt as if I were dancing on a wedding cake! If I had a shop, I'd want it to be as enchanting as Jeanne's. (The picture is extra-large so you can see all the treasures -- just click on it.)

Jeanne's business cards at the visitor's center are also a work of art. I knew right away it was a place I wanted to visit. In case you can't get to Nantucket, visit Jeanne's Etsy shop and keep up with her on her blog.

September 7, 2010

Faded Chalcedony

It's hard to remember what color these beads used to be. Maybe they were pink. When I purchased them, I knew they were color treated (heat or dye, I didn't ask). Now I would say the shade is a sort of non-color.

September 2, 2010

Hat/Scarf Knitting

I started this project about a week ago using Noro's Silk Garden Sock Yarn in wool/silk/nylon/kid mohair and 3.5mm circular needles. The variegated yarn has really great colors and I can't wait to get to the greens, golds and purples. I'm using a simple pattern that starts with an increase on one side only, creating a 45 degree angle. Eventually, the knitting becomes a scarf with two pointed ends. Fold in half, sew a few stitches, and it's then a hat with scarf ends. The pattern is called Garter-Stitch Balaclavas, even though it's not technically a balaclava. So what? The point is to keep my ears warm if I walk on the beach in the winter.

My knitting stitches aren't perfect like my mother's but it's a productive thing to do when we're watching TV. In the beginning, my first projects utilized big, fat yarn to finish quickly. Now I like to knit fine yarns. I've even got size 2.25mm after I was inspired by knitwear made for the movie Coraline. The knitter, Althea Crome, must be using heavy gauge sewing needles to knit her projects.

The embroidering on my hat is complete. What do you think? Does it need a few beads, more embroidered color, or should I leave it alone? I think I'm done.

September 1, 2010

Hat Squiggles

I like mindless squiggles that look like handwriting. My new hat is getting the treatment in perl cotton chain stitches. You can see where rivets were removed and left holes. Maybe I can cover them with beads.

August 31, 2010

Kinda but not really...

Remember when I made wire cloches? They're still not embellished yet, but I turned one upside-down and made it into a hanging waste bin.

We bring home fewer plastic bags from the supermarket these days, although they're still necessary in the kitchen and for used kitty litter. In an effort to recycle the thin, plastic bags from the produce dept, a smaller bin was needed in my sewing room. I also wanted to get it up off the floor.

The hook was fashioned from 16 gauge wire, then sharp wire ends were wrapped with strips of cotton sheeting. Now it hangs from a drawer pull. Sewing room trash is not heavy, so weight isn't an issue.

July 29, 2010

Hand Sewn Closure

I'm on a roll, a slowww roll, but at least I'm sewing. Although being in a funk still challenges me, three 24" pillows went fairly quickly. By quickly, I mean three days, which is slowww... For me, hand-sewing is easier than putting in a zipper.

The quilt top in the previous post isn't finished. It needed black for a narrow border and, three fabric stores later, I finally found black woven 100% cotton. It should be easy right? Quilt In A Day was out of stock; Yardage Town has polyester blends -- good ol' Joann's rescued me with a pre-packaged "Quick Cut" of three yards.

July 6, 2010

Nine Patch Border

Nine patch blocks stand out when bordered by posts and sashings, but that's not what I have planned. The finished quilt will be a 30th birthday present for my cousin Brian. I'm afraid he'll be a few months past his birthday by the time he gets it, as my favorite quilter's workshop is temporarily closed while she moves.

There's something to be said about using good quality thread. The center of this quilt (not shown) was done by another person. The thread melted under the cotton-setting of my iron, dissolving the stitches. Most likely, it was polyester, which couldn't stand up to the high heat. All is not lost: resewing the seam is easy.

June 27, 2010


My sister bought an iPad and a plain, black cover. The plain, black cover is a little too plain and black, plus it doesn't lock closed, and so she asked me to make something to solve both problems. I don't have the same gadget and can't show you how it works, but this is a close-up of the embellishment.

June 23, 2010

A Doll for Serene

I made a doll for Serene, my new sister-in-law. The white eyelet is a leftover scrap from the lovely dress she had made for her summer wedding. You can see part of the dollmaking process below.

May 11, 2010

Creative Funk

Hi, my name is Lauren and I'm in a creative funk. I am struggling with lack of motivation, so small projects come and go, and some don't get finished, or even begun. Today I'm making pillows. It's another beginning; it's a start. Self-restoration comes slowly, but surely. Just gotta keep pushing myself, because I know creativity will return eventually, in full force and then some. Bear with me, my stops, and my starts. The small white pillow is today's accomplishment -- hurray for me!

May 1, 2010

May Day! May Day!

The arms of my husband's home office chair required an emergency repair. He asked me to cover them using leftover fabric from his pillow and our kitchen stools. We had exactly enough for this project.

He removed the arms from the chair. Layers of quilt batting scraps softened the edges of the rubber.

Making it up as I went along, the batting was conformed to the curves with hand stitches. Next, I did the same thing with the decorative fabric, but forgot to take a photo to show you. Lots of pins were involved to hold the pleats in place until stitched securely.

Black cotton/polyester woven was for covering pleats and hand stitches. Running stitches in peach thread made turning the curved edge under a lot easier.

Running stitches in black thread held the turned edged in place.

Lastly, blind stitches secure the black fabric to the decorative fabric. I punched holes for the screws, then Fray Checked the edges. Bulletproof sewing!

April 28, 2010


These are the best dressed bricks in town! Now our interior doors won't slam shut when our windows are open. Why didn't I make these before?

I gathered bricks, batting, glue, pins, needle/thread, scissors and fabric. The fabric is a memo sample of silk taffeta from Janice.

I covered the brick with leftover quilt batting so the edges would be soft. Fabric glue holds it together.

The outside silk took a little more futzing because I wanted the doorstops to have clean lines and no lumpy areas. I cut away a lot of excess fabric that would otherwise be on the inside.

I did a lot of pinning and hand stitching. I'll also admit that I spent far too many hours working on this project, given they'll be on the floor, but I'm happy with the outcome.

Even after all that hand work, the stitches were covered with felt. The felt protects the fabric from wear and allows the doorstop to slide on the floor.