31 Dec

It’s Crafturday (3)

Look what Santa brought for the kids!

I love this silly Hawaii themed fabric and decided it would be perfect for little bags for the kids.

Circle Zip Earbud Pouches

Everyone got Circle Zip Earbud Pouches. The tutorial from Dog Under My Desk was easy to follow and I think the pouches are cute and practical. I’m putting a few on my list to make for myself (excellent use for mushroomy fabric methinks) in a few sizes perhaps.

Pleated Zip Pouches

The girls got Pleated Pouches made from the Skip to My Lou tutorial. Again, this was a very nice, easy to follow tutorial. I’d definitely use it again as I think the pouch is quite handsome. One change I would make would be to add a little interfacing to the top band fabric for a little more structure. I also added wooden beads to the zipper pulls.

28 Dec

This perplexes me


I bought this cool house fabric because it was on sale and had houses. I bought it online, so what I did not realize was that it appears to have come with strings attached. I’m not using it to make up cute dresses for a little girls’ boutique, or coin purses galore for an Etsy shop, but there is a small chance that it will find it’s way into one of my art quilts which could, potentially, be sold one day.

I’m not going to worry myself too much about this as the chances that someone’s lawyers will track me down in 10 years is pretty darn slim. And, in digging into some of the related issues blogged about in the last five years or so, this all appears to be more bark than bite. But why then print the disclaimer at all?

All things tech and cool blog Boing Boing delved into the issue here in ’06. Fabric-centric blog True-Up followed here the same year. A rather vitriolic post about another designer is here, covering ’05 to ’09. I thought this had all blown over, but now there’s been a more recent episode that sounds very odd. I understand not wanting Crafter A to pass off handbags (or whatever) made from a pattern by Designer B’s pattern as his/her own, I sort of get not wanting to flood the market with things made from Designer B’s pattern when the designer would rather have more people buy the pattern directly and make the item themselves, and I understand the separate issue of designers using older textiles as inspiration (with a fuzzy line between inspiration and appropriation), but trying to restrict how Crafter A uses Designer B’s fabric in Crafter A’s creations is beyond me.

And what are we to do about these fabrics with restrictions? Not buy them (hard to identify them when buying online), segregate them in our stash (totally not practical), return them (not possible), not use them (such a sad waste of fabric)?

I do not want to stir up a hornet’s nest. This is just me thinking out loud about the strings attached to my new fabric.

24 Dec

It’s Crafturday (2)

Our stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Well, except that we don’t HAVE a chimney. And, we have additional kids here this year who don’t have Christmas stockings.

In Germany, St. Nikolaus comes on his Catholic feast day, the 6th or December. And while often brings candy or a gift, he leaves them in a shoe by the door, not a stocking by the fire. So, I thought our German guests would enjoy getting a stocking from American Santa Claus. And, as long as I was making new stockings, why not update my kids too?

Simple Embroidered Stockings

I started with the simple embroidered stockings from Purl Bee, but I sped up the process a bit by using grosgrain ribbon for the loops and sewing it into the lining seam. I used the fancy schmancy embroidery module on my sewing machine instead of hand embroidery for the names. Also, no good linen at the fabric store closest to me so I went with muslin from my stash for the lining.

Simple Embroidered Stockings

I probably should have taken the time and effort to go to the fancier fabric store (Kaimuki Dry Goods, home to the full color range of Kona cottons) and get a different color green for each kids. I do have one more green, but it’s a secret for now. These were so easy to make though, so maybe I’ll get lucky and there will be a sale after Christmas and I will get two more greens so Art and I can have new stockings too next year.

21 Dec


I’m in a constant state of trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I’ve already made the choice to be a mother, so that pretty much dictates the majority of my priorities. I also feel compelled to make art. So I am always trying to find the right balance between the two. Lately I’ve been feeling like the art is taking away too much time from the mothering and housewifey stuff I should be doing, and as long as the art isn’t paying any bills or leading anywhere specific, that is probably not the right balance.

In the last few years I’ve set a few goals to focus my work (helps with finding the balance thing). One decision was to enter only local shows if they seemed appropriate, or non-local shows if they were really important ones like Quilt National, with a recognized reputation. In that vein I entered work into Quilts=Art=Quilts and Art Quilt Elements, which seem to be highly regarded in the art quilt world. Amazingly, my quilt “War Sucks,” was accepted into both!

So now I’ve had work hanging in Q=A=Q for over a month but the only feedback I’ve gotten was a flurry of Facebook comments from friends that they are proud of my work being in the show, and emails from the venue promoting quasi-related events at the gallery. Somehow I was expecting more. A catalog (OK, I admit, that’s something I knew going in, and QN and Art Quilt Elements do publish catalogs), or more importantly, some kind of review of the show. I’d love to know if the art world thinks this show is better than last year’s, or not, or reflects some of the current zeitgeist, or shows trends towards larger or smaller work, and which works in particular stood out for whatever reason. Perhaps just knowing that I got in should be enough. That I did not win any of the awards is a critique in itself as well. I asked on the SAQA discussion board if anyone else had perhaps seen a review in a magazine or somewhere, and the general response was that reviews of art quilt shows are not productive and cause more harm than good. I should be happy that my work was accepted. Maybe my disappointment is just a symptom of my tendency to self sabotage.

I have to wonder though, why do I want to get my work shown in these supposedly high cache venues? Are there that many more people coming to view the art than say, at my local library? Is there any more discussion about the artworks than say if they were displayed at the coffee shop down the street? If I’m not actively marketing my work, do I stand any better chance of selling my work than through my website? If I can make it through the jurying process, then why not just try showing in a local gallery where I can at least come see the art in context, and even talk to viewers first hand? Getting back to the balance thing, I wonder what’s the big deal, and why am I doing this? I could probably make a bigger impact by focusing more on my family and creating a healthier environment for them to flourish.

I suspect that I set these shows on a pedestal. I suspect my expectations were too high and my gratitude too low.

17 Dec

It’s Crafturday! (1)

Longtime readers know that I am kind of schizophrenic when it comes to my making. I create (what I hope to be) deep thinking art quilts and textiles. But I am also enamored of all things cute and crafty and have a hard time resisting a handbag pattern or fabric with mushrooms on it. I’ve tried to separate these two sides online, and for a brief moment determined to reserve this blog for the art stuff and keep the craft side on Flickr. Yeah, that didn’t last. I had a brainstorm this week though, and decided that I will devote Saturday posts to my crafty side. It doesn’t  re-define me or what I do, it just organizes it a bit. I’m not sure there’s any benefit to designated “Crafturday” posts, but it seems like a fine idea to me right now.

So, on to the craftiness!

Though I’d hardly qualify as an environmentalist or one with a small footprint, I try to incorporate small earth friendly things into my life when possible. Right now, that’s re-usable wrapping for gifts. I thought cloth wraps would be classier than the newspaper I used last year.

Reusable Gift Wrap

Thanks to the Thanksgiving weekend sale at Pink Chalk Fabrics, I stocked up on festive fabric and set to making bags and furoshiki style wraps. These are just the first wave. I’ve made more since last week. And then I realized the problems inherent in this kind of wrapping.

The first, and relatively minor, issue is that I wrap things up and send them off to their recipients and, duh, the wrap is gone. I have to start fresh the next year. However, given the pretty embellishments on the tops of presents that have been circulating between family members for a decade, I fully suspect that sooner or later a wrap or bag will find it’s way back to me. This last summer I also had the pleasure of seeing a fabric envelope pouch from last year’s Christmas gift being used to carry my niece and nephew’s portable DVD player and headphones on our road trip.

No, the real issue is the re-usableness of reusable wrapping and it’s relationship to kids. I realized (after making about a dozen bags and filling them with lovely gifts) that it would be VERY easy for curious eyes and fingers to simply open up a bag, check inside, and tie it (or button, or velcro, or whatever!) back up. And my kids are exactly the age that would do that. Now I can’t put the pretty pressies under the tree to admire and intrigue as we wait for the special day. I guess we’ll have to start a new tradition at our house — presents don’t appear until Christmas Eve. Or, it’s back to newspaper and tape for next year.

BTW, the lovely gift tags are downloadable from Paperseed, here. The wraps above are hemmed squares of fabric and the bags were just made up on the spot.

15 Dec

A Communal Project

Sorry, especially to my Dad who’s home page on his computer is my blog. I suspect it’s been pretty dull to see the same page up there for two weeks. My excuse is good though. I’ve been busy with daughter’s symphony concert (she’s learning to play bass), lots of Christmas buying and some crafting (more on that later), the first wave of holiday visitors, and most importantly — the return of TS&WGH (Tech Support and World’s Greatest Husband) from Iraq!

Somewhere in there I found a small pocket of time to participate in a communal quilt project too. I don’t care how dangerous the web may be, I have connected with some of the most amazing and interesting people through my time online. A new addition to my pool of fascinating bloggy friends is Completely Cauchy. She’s got a wicked sense of humor.

She has invited her bloggy friends to help her express that impish side in a communal quilt project she calls “Give a F*ck.”

“this is a communal quilt project designed… in an effort to get more quilters/embroiderers/textilefolks to exercise their potty-mouths in textile form.”

Mom and Dad, you may want to stop reading now. But, then again, you have all seen my rather raw “War Sucks,” and other pieces in The Army Wife series, so maybe a curse word or two is no big deal.

Anyway…. I figured I ought to make my F-word block army related, so I decided to piece Cluster F*ck with uniform fabric. But there would be a lot of seams and heavy fabric with lots of seams didn’t seem like it would play well with other people’s blocks, and Cauchy specifically asked for quilting cottons. There was a size limit too, and I wasn’t sure I could piece such a big word so small. Argh! I cursed a bit at the restraints and then realized the sweet irony! So I switched to embroidery and took my frustration out on the fabric.

Give a F*ck Project

My husband is fond of saying “his sh*t don’t stink” when referring to someone who can do no wrong. That was the inspiration for the flowery poo. There’s a bit of a subtext in the background fabric and lovely embroidery that all the pretty pastoral crafty stuff that’s popular now is just a crock.

Frustrations quelled, I went back to the Cluster (though SNAFU would have been equally appropriate and an easier scale, or FUBU as Camp Follower suggested) and swapped “army colored” fabric for the actual uniforms and made another block!

Give a F*ck Project

Cauchy says she’s going to use both! If you feel so inclined, check out more from her project here. My personal favorites are from Daintytime and Daniel Rouse.

02 Dec


Yesterday, December 1, was the 365th day of my man’s deployment. The second year-long one in three years. I know that over the last decade, many have endured more and longer deployments than we have, but that doesn’t make this anniversary any easier to mark. It wears on you.

01 Dec


This time it’s not me teaching, but my very talented friends. Deborah Boschert is one of my fellow Twelve by Twelve members and one of the incredible women who I am proud to include in my Circle of Friends. She is one of 20 artists who are offering a WIDE variety of fabric and stitch workshops coordinated by mixed media artist Alma Stoller.

STITCHED is a collection of 20 online video workshops by 20 talentend fabric artists. Students have access to all 20 workshops and can choose to view and work on the projects any time of the day, any day of the week. Registration opens on Dec 1 and the workshops kick off on Jan 1 and run through June 1. Registration is only $89. Deborah is teaching a workshop titled, “Branches, Buds and Blossoms: A Botanical Fabric Collage.” She includes videos on selecting fabrics, adding surface design, composing and improvisational hand embroidery.

Also part of the STITCHED team is another fellow Twelve, Nikki Wheeler. Nikki’s class will explore her quirky method of backwards quilting, make fabric paper, secretly share dreams and wishes on some fabric beads, and share the big secret of sewing these boxes 100% on the machine.   Plus, she couldn’t resist throwing in some extras, like Treasure Tea Boxes and Nesting Boxes. These are jewels of projects and look like they could become quite addicting!