Sunday, March 30, 2008

Show and Share - The Pillow That Never Was

Many years ago I decided that I wanted to make a new cushion to fit on a foot stool. The original cushion had a foam insert and it was disintegrating it had to go! The dimensions were about the same as a standard size bed pillow so I decided to make a pillow and simply put this in its place.

I took the project with me when I went to spend a vacation week with my sister up north. When I told her what the piece was for, she was aghast! "You mean you're gonna put your feet on this??? Its far too pretty for that!" Despite her objections the plan remained. I saw it as a functional CQ piece...I wasn't stitching anything too fancy on it...and didn't plan to add buttons or things that would bug my feet.

When the week was over I packed up all the stuff ... but forgot one footstool cover! Cathy phoned to let me know I left it behind and said that she would save it for me.

In the mean time, she aquired an interesting frame at a yard sale and when she came home with it happened to lay it on top of the CQ piece that was on the table. It immediately caught her to how perfect it looked!

The next time I went to visit she told me about it. In the mean time she had made a backing board for it and inserted it in the frame to show me....and begged me not to make her take it out and could she please keep it! She volunteered some fabric from her stash that would make a nice I gave in to her request...and allowed her to keep it.

As it turned out I didn't end up making that pillow because the footstool and chair that went with it were in worse shape than I originally thought ... so the set got trashed and we purchased two new chairs. All's well that ends well ... and Cathy hangs this piece proudly in her home.
Of special note ... the picture on the shelf at the bottom right corner ... is of my maternal grandmother ... who was one of my stitching mentors. She was a professional seamstress ... made all her own wardrobe and could make a pattern simply by looking at a finished garment ... which was why she had such a steady clientelle! Cathy inherited this talent from her.....and her machine stitching abilities blow me away!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Show and Share - The Chatelaine

I know there are some of you out there that remember this piece! It was one of my first huge patterns! I still have and use my original one.

It was also the theme for a swap on one of the lists ..... and what I remember about the event was that the same pattern in the hands of a dozen or so individuals will yield some pretty amazing results! The second and third pics were two that I did for the swap (and I don't think these were posted...if so only on that one list!)

The participants were allowed to use the set of templates to construct in whatever method they desired. The variety ranged from simply using printed fabric to an entire CQ set. some opted to work floral patterns of their own design and there were some gorgeous ones shown! Very impressive work! If any of you readers were original participants in that swap and have pics to share....please feel free to drop me a line. I can post them here or share a link to it....whatever!

List swaps are a great way to bring a more human element to this electronic age....not to mention that you can realize some fabulous treasures from participating! I have kept every swap item I've received over the years ..... with one exception ..... it was a baby hat for my neice!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Portholes of Inspiration - # 6

Porthole # 6 - More metallics and beads - I especially like the little glass flower beads! Added a medallion of red metallic thread topped with a floral bit and bead centre. The beaded feather stitch helps to pull out the blue, and the light coloured buttonhole / Lazy Daisy seam treatment at the bottom shows off against a dark background.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy BD to Kota!

My not-so-little Kota kitty is a whole year old today! He is actually taller than Muffie and will be interesting to see how big he does get when fully grown. He has very stunning colour and his fur is a kind of long/short hair mix. Weird thing is...seems the darker hair is shorter and when stroking him along the side you can actually feel the stripes.

He is quite a character. He chatters...a lot...especially at the birds out the back window. This is one of his fave things to do. He is also very vocal at dinner time...he simply must know what we're eating...and always sounds like he's asking for some. I sometimes think there is a human trapped inside there....and that all this chatter is what he/she is saying and that they believe we actually understand!

He is very fond of foil balls...loves to chase after them and will fetch and return with them...funny to watch....with all those claws getting no traction on the tile floor...almost seems like he's running on the spot before he actually gets going!
Muffie is sort of like a mom figure for him...and she was used to having her brother around for so she tolerates Kota....but is also queen cat. She will inform him with a loud hiss and a quick smack of the paw who is top cat....but if all else fails she will simply run...which is okay too...she has definitely gotten a lot more exercise doing so. On rare occasion she will cuddle up with him....even give him a cleaning....but sleeps with one eye open when he's around.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Show and Share - The Fourth Memento

While I was writing the article about the mementos, I knew I had a pic of the last one I did ... for Paul's other neice Courtney ... but I couldn't find the picture!

In looking through some files yesterday ... I spotted it! Not where I would typically put!

This one was themed as "Something Blue". I think (if I recall correctly) the fabric used was a leftover remnant from my Matron of Honor wore that blue!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Portholes of Inspiration - # 5

# 5 - The fabric in the centre was from one of the ties that I found at Goodwill. You'll see it in several of the pieces. More metallics and beads on here. I liked the fan trio on the bottom right patch...did Buttonhole for half wheels and then Detatched BH along the edges to enhance it. Tacked a turquoise montee at the centre of each.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Show and Share - The Cube

This project was one of my first commissioned pieces. It was another that came my way from Crafters Marketplace inquiries. The cube itself was a gift to the client. It's actually meant for photographs and was then part of the product line of Bombay Company (I know this because I ended up using part of the payment from this project to buy myself one!)

Instead of pictures the lady wanted silk ribbon embroidered panels in each side and the top. She gave me absolute creative reign. All she asked was that each piece was different.

Well my friends...this is the piece that I "gave away"! I charged her a total of $100 ... in hindsight ... it probably should have been about triple considering the time invested...let alone the yardage of ribbon it took! Ah well ... like I said ... live and learn!

Happy Easter to all.

Portholes of Inspiration - # 4

I was pleased with the look of this piece. Typically these are not colours that I work with a lot and was kind of inspired by a "neopolitan" phase that Melanie had last year...seemed all the clothing that she chose to buy and wear were in this colour scheme.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tiny Gold Tassels - Tutorial

I really like making small things. There is a certain challenge in making things this size. It requires a degree of manual dexterity which might not suite every individual.....but I've always found the end result to be greatly rewarding.

Two projects shared recently employed these tiny gold tassels which I feel were the component that made them special. In browsing through my files I found the original graphic inserts that I created for the Sir PAL instructions, and decided to share them with you.

This would be the perfect finish for a Fan motif on a CQ piece. Oh...and I also came across a card that I did in a CQ fan that I added a tassel to....and tho it was not gold but can see what I mean by a perfect finish.

Kudos to Kreinik for their superior products...which perform wonderfully for the gold tassels!
These two products are staples in my thread stash....I would never be without them!

Gold Tassel Template:
Cut one piece of Dritz Heavy Duty Template Plastic
measuring 1 ½" L x 5/8"W.
Notch as follows: 1/8" down from top, make top notch 1/16" W x 3/4""L. At bottom edge make bottom notch 1/16" W x ½" L.

For each tassel you will need:
Kreinik 002P - Cable - Gold - 14"
Kreinik 002C - Cord - Gold - 10"

Thread needle with the 10" length of Cord.
With one 14" length of Cable and template held
as shown, hold loose end to the template with your
left thumb at X. Make 5 complete wraps over the
template moving left to right, then 5 more wraps
over these moving right to left.

Push the wraps together so that the inner end of the
top notch is open (as shown). Hold 3" of the Cord
at the back of the template, bring needle through and wrap around all loops; bring needle to the front through the opening and pull to tighten.
Repeat 4 times more (5 wraps).

Cut the wrapping thread 3" long. Tie ends together.
Thread both of the 3" cord lengths on needle and
take the needle inside the wraps & pull down.
Snip ends at bottom of template. With remaining
cord, take needle under wraps above the top notch,
loop over and through again. Pull tight & tie off.
Do not trim these threads, as they will be used to
anchor the tassel to your fabric!

Cut open the bottom end of the tassel as shown and trim even.
Using the tip of your needle separate the strands of Cable.

Voila! You have it!

The tassel shown on the Fan card uses YLI Jeans Stitch in Lavender.

Portholes of Inspiration - # 3

For # 3 I used some of my Hummer/Morning Glory fabric, embellished with a lace motif, metallic, cotton and rayon threads, as well as some French Knot roses.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Idea Barrage Ended ... and Scan-a-thon

I know I'm at the end of a creative streak when I feel "spent". A couple of days from now that could all change when another wave hits me...but when the idea stream ends...that's when it's a good idea to get the scanner humming and actually digitize what has been created!

20 turned into 37....sometimes it even boggles my mind! Mostly these have come from one idea evolving to another or extrapilating to other colours sometimes making minor pattern variations. Sometimes I'll be attempting one thing and quite by accident something else will happen. The results are gratifying and that is the beauty of patterning "on the fly'.

With my final aim being saleable patterns for these...I'm going out on a limb here to show you why I have been so excited and "guarded" of these ideas. Here are just a few of the pieces that comprise the 37 created so far. I've searched around a bunch of beading sites...and thus far didn't come across anything that is similar. Hoping that the rest of the stitching world will become as excited as I have when they debut!

The beauty of these creations is the patterning precision. Like a crocheted or tatted embellishment, once finished they can be couched onto CQ projects as embellishments....adding a certain "wow" factor, either on their own or with more stitching incorporated. Their versatility (especially in the seam treatments) is in being able to adjust the length of the finished piece to a desired length simply by adding the number of pattern repeats.
I will be adding some of these to my Portholes series and share them again when stitched onto pieces to give the full end result.
For the mean time...enjoy!

Show and Share - Wedding Mementos

Back when I had the booth in Crafters Marketplace, in addition to the stock that was there I also left a box with business cards and a message to contact me for any special requests or commission work.

I had one really interesting request from a young lady to create a "wedding memento". At first I had no idea what she wanted, but she elaborated that she wanted a piece that would be stitched into her dress with their names and wedding date so that future generations who might wear the gown would know when it was originally worn.

She wanted an elaborate floral frame done around their names in "summer/fall" colours...I gave her my ribbon box and let her pick them, and then worked a variety of flowers into the frame. It was an awful lot of work for something that was not even visible....but the point was that she new it was there. I did get the idea and loaded it with a whole lot of blossoms. Needless to say, Nicole really loved it.

On my next trip into Crafters I was telling the manager about this piece and she loved the idea! Little did I know that she too was planning a wedding and wanted one too! Her idea was to be a bit different though. She had received a glove from her Mom ... it was to be her "something old". The mate to it had been lost and she was contemplating how to work it into her attire....she thought she might use the fabric to make a garter (and there would have been enough as it was one of those old elegant long ones that went up to the elbow). When she heard this new idea she immediately knew that it would work fabulous for this memento idea!

Her idea was to have a simple heart of roses around their names, but wanted the existing original embroidery incorperated into it, with a bit of gold metallic thread to give it a bit of glitz.

She also wanted it in an oval shape trimmed with fine lace. It was a lovely idea and she loved the final creation.

Shortly after this, one of my husband's nieces announced her engagement! I told my sister-in-law about the idea and she mentioned it to Kyla. She love the idea too! She wanted to have some blue colours worked in so it would be her "something blue".

It's amazing how one idea snowballed into several creations ... but how each bride had a different concept as unique as each of them!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Portholes of Inspiration - # 2

With Number One I started with darker colours and enhanced with metallic thread , some tatting and floral sprays.

For this one I went bright with lace and beaded flowers, and used contrasting metallic threads to make the stitches stand out. I really like that one on the lower left gold patch...done with half wagon wheels with Lazy Daisy inserts.

Happy BD to Muffie

My Muffie cat is 9 years old today! That's a lot of years for a cat. (She's the little one on the right).

She has come through a variety of trials and tribulations in her life. She and her brother Buster came into our home when they were a mere six weeks old, and brought us a lot of joy over the years. Unfortunately, we lost Buster just before Christmas last year to FUD ... Feline Urilogical Disorder...and miss him so much...he was such a lover.
Muffie is such a survivor. I was afraid we were going to lose her the first week we had her! The kids were quite young then, and so very excited to have two small kittens. We were in the kitchen watching them run around. Mel was sitting on a chair by the table...rocking it when she lost her balance. She regained her balance but the chair fell...and as it came down...hit Muffie on the nose. OMG....she started a major nose bleed and literally had the poop scared out of her. Mommy was trying to deal with all this and kids were was crazy. I put a cold compress on her face to keep the swelling down...but it was a pretty major impact on such a small animal. Took a week of eye-drop feeding before she was actually able to eat again on her own. Did a lot of praying....and was so relieved when she finally ate from her dish again.
Seems so long ago ... but she is still hanging in...and is kind of a "mom" to Kota (who will be a year on March 25th). So glad that she is such a strong beast. She is pure love.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Portholes of Inspiration - # 1

When I first started this blog back in January, I had intended on sharing the progress on this project. It seems I've gotten off track ... or switched tracks ... whatever! No better time than the present to start!
This piece started out to be a Pin Pal ... a pattern that was shared a while back on Maureen Greeson's site in her monthly newsletter. I have also been thinking of submitting it to CQ Mag Online in the near future...just because it's a fun and quick project (not to mention that it's a really good pin keep!)
As I was completing the last seam ... I had one of those "vision things" happen ... saw it framed out in a black velveteen "porthole"... and then and there decided I had to do it! I cut a circle opening in a piece of black polar fleece that was handy and layed it over the stitched panel. It exactly matched in effect to what I expected!
I've been stitching away at subsequent pieces and my count is up to 28 or 29 ... with my eventual total to be somewhere between 60 and 80 depending on what size I decide to end with.
This is my own personal "Take It Farther" challenge. Some of the colour combinations will be similar as I'm using favourites from my stash...but am attempting to give each one it's own unique look. Fabrics are silk, satin, rayon, polyester, a few cottons and velvets. Threads ... everything and anything that I have acquired till, rayon, metallic, Silk Ribbon, Ribbon Floss, polyester, cotton and even some chenille. Then of course there will be all those extra bits ... laces, motifs, tatted bits, buttons, charms, beads and the like....the whole pallet!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Show and Share - A Love Story

Some of my favourite pieces I've created over the years have been commissioned by others. This type of work I found to be the most challenging to my creativity....because it presents a different kind of challenge...having to understand, translate and then create a piece that someone else has in mind, making it perfect enough so that they love it and are happy to pay for it.

I know now that some of the work I did back then I "gave" away....didn't charge near enough for the and learn....but they were no less great pieces!

The piece I want to share with you today has a really great story to it.....and the finished piece became a surprise anniversary gift from a husband to his wife....a new piece created to replace an irreplacable posession....but what really counted was the thought.

It all started with an on-list plea for help. A gentleman had signed up on list simply to find a stitcher that could help him acquire something for his wife. The original piece that she had was created for her by her circle of friends....who had all taken a piece of a large silk scarf, cut into long strips, upon which they had stitched short phrases to describe her then fiancee....and eventual husband. It had a lot of sentimental meaning it was given to her as a wedding shower gift by all of them....and she kept it near her always....specifically on the dash of her car.

As fate would have it....she encountered an electrical short and to her horror the car caught fire! This cherished pieced was burned up in it....and she was so very upset to have lost such a precious thing. The damage to the vehicle itself was covered by insurance.....but the stitched piece was not so lucky.

While he realized that he could never give her all that was the original, Jeff's aim was to present her with a that she would know that he realized how important it was to her...and that he spared no expense to comfort her by attempting to acquire a facsimile.

I was so touched by his plea. After contacting him directly and chatting back I got the general idea of what the original piece was like. I did a couple of sketches to make sure we meshed in concept, and he authorized me to proceed...forwarding a retainer.

I stitched a sample of the font type in whipped backstitching with black silk floss. I could not seem to find the type of trim that he was describing.....but my idea for the finishing was to use the same tiny gold tassels that I had made on Sir PAL....and while a time-consuming effort...was exactly the right thing for it. The top centre "semi-circular" piece was to be the place of honour to seat the only surviving component of the original.....a tiara....which was part of her wedding attire.

Once it was completed, paid for and shipped, I waited to hear from to how it was received. He was very pleased by what I'd done.....but it was so gratifying when he told me of the presentation. He took her out for a special dinner at their favourite restaurant and gave her the gift with dessert.

When she opened it...she cried....and hugged him....and thanked him!
Awwwwwe! How cool is that!

Some things money can buy.....but when it comes to some things is immaterial.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Show and Share - Sir Prance - A - Lot

I sometimes forget that even though I've been on lists for a long time and shared past projects with many in years gone by...that some of you out there reading may never have seen them! I had mentioned a favourite project complete many years ago, and someone inquired as to what it was. I got thinking it might be fun to share them again and details in their creation. And....some people can never get enough eye maybe this will become a regular feature! I hope it will be inspirational.

Sir Prance - A - Lot was a grand creation that I was planning to pattern/kit ... and in fact I had Kreinik thread packs made up for ... but in the midst of it ... I started my current day job and couldn't find time to finish what I'd planned. That is not to say that it will never happen, because recent new knowledge acquired in personal publishing could make a pattern feasible (kit is probably a stretch but....never say never!)

Sir PAL was a meticulous "labour of love". He was inspired by a porcelain carousel horse that I bought as a Christmas gift for Melanie when she was seven. I was so impressed with the look of it ... ribbons and jewels on an elegant creature...simply beautiful!

I thought it'd be way cool to create a stitchery version of the idea...but it took some time before I was anywhere near ready to tackle it. I let my mind think about it for a while and eventually a concept started to form. I visited the library and found a fabulous book all about carousel animals, and got a better sense of the size I'd work on. I scoured the web in search of other statue carousel horses for more ideas and added fuel to the creative fire.

I was a hot-shot up-and-coming stitcher back then and part of YLI's and Kreinik's designer programs....all I had to do was ask for the product I needed to create the project. As much as I love products from both of these companies.....I decided to give the nod to I felt most of the components would best be created in metallics for this one.

I cannot be certain to the exact time invested....all told I'd bet between 150 - 200 hours....but that wasn't just the stitching....I was patterning as I went...and most of the diagrams I did by hand (which I found easier to scan in than to try to computer generate.)

I have given thought recently to attempting another creation along these lines ... maybe even a full 3-D one. I have the name picked out....Lady honour of a childhood friend who shared her love of horses with me, and who sadly perished at the young age of 23 in a house fire.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I So Love Dollarama !

It never ceases to amaze me the incredible things you can find for a Loonie at the dollar store!

Today I popped in to pick up a couple of notebooks.....and of course I can never resist poking around to see what might be new....and oh wow.....I found a fabulous new thing! It is perfect for bead bits!

It's a small acrylic box which has 18 smaller boxes inside! The small boxes are remeniscent of Tic-Tac containers (only a bit smaller). The top comes off for easy filling....and has a flip-up tab about half the top once I get the beads in.....I just need to open this tab to pour the beads out. I couldn't have designed it any better myself!

I figure the capacity is about 15 grams of 10/0 beads....which I was thrilled with.....'cause I have lots of that type quantity. But they're also great for sorting down mixed vials of colours (of which I recently bought a few.)

I only bought two of them today.....but must go get a whole bunch more!

Yes's the little things that keep us happy.

Food For Thought : Chicken / Egg Syndrome

More new beads always inspire more new ideas. I was particularly taken by some cool new ones that are crystal squares with an Aurora Borealis finish, lined with copper.....sparkle galore! I created two related medallions with them....& then decided I just had to play with the Metallic Iris ones....and made two more pieces.

As I was completing the second one, it dawned on me that the design would look way cool expanded & extrapilated into an ornament cover.

So....if the latter were the chicken....and the new smaller designs the egg....which came first?

New ideas spun from the "other" new ideas.....reverting back to the original's so symbiotic....and of no particular importance as to which came first.

All "hatched" ideas can become new creations regardless of their source!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Baby's Got Blue Eyes

I thought I'd share a creative endeavour not of my making.

This is a photo that Melanie took of herself (clever I thought) but then she proceeded to enhance it and I just love how it looks! I did ask.....and she has authorized me to post it.

Guess the artistic genes are definitely part of her makeup!
She does have very lovely blue eyes....just not quite "that" blue!

Bead Junkie

Ya'd think that seeing as I just got a whole lotta new beads a week ago that it'd be enough!

But oh no! I was too close to the source today to not go see...and yes indeed...had to get more.

But my sister and I also got to meet up with Mary Anne for a quick lunch & delicious coffee at a new place near her. It was a lovely visit!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Did I Say 6 ? ... Hmmm ... Make That 20 !

OMG.....I think I'm outta control! Or at least I was! Could it be that the ideas are all out of my head (for the moment)? Sure hope so ... I feel "spent".

I did manage to get laundry finished amidst this flurry of I won't feel too guilty for spending all day and night beading up a storm. Just had to go with the it were. I am a victim of my own vision(s) today they were overwhelming.

I doubt that any of what I created today has been "done before". But then I couldn't really know because I don't follow all that has been done.....simply rely on my own personal vision to see me through.

It might be deliberate on my that I am not unduly influenced by the creations of others, but rather allow what is in my mind's eye come to life....which it did spades!

So you're asking yourself....what the heck is she talking about? And like I said...all in good time!

My big idea is to include some of these as an added bonus when I release the first pattern series for the beaded ornament covers! They are very CQ oriented.....and I still have some prep work to do before you all get to see. There's all that scanning...and patterning to do!

Think it's time to hang it all up for the moment...and get some sleep.

It is officially my sister's BD today..... and we have plans.....but I'll be a wreck if I don't get horizontal soon!


Saturday, March 1, 2008

My ... How Time Flies !

I swear....last time I looked at my watch it was 12:30 ..... and now it's after 4:00. That's what happens when I start "playing" with an idea....hours seem to disappear!

I had promised myself not to do that today....but ideas get the better of me and other things just have to wait. Like you said Gwen!

It was very productive time nontheless....made some roses and leaves and a fan/basket....depending on where I decide to stop! And no....I'm not sharing yet!

Better get back to won't do itself.

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