16 Apr

So Many Paths

What to do, what to do? I’ve been thinking a lot in recent months about what I want to do with my art, or even if I want to do anything. I’ve whined before about watching my peers seemingly pass me by, but then done little about it. Well, little tangible. I’ve been thinking about options — and there are so many.

I could focus on art quilts. Enter more shows. Focus on marketing that side of me. (I might need to cut back on the public handbag-making, knitting, and kid-art crafting though.) To that end I’ve entered four shows this year and submitted two project proposals to a magazine. The results to date are three rejections, one still-waiting, and one acceptance. Yay! I’ll post more closer to the date, but my latest “Rooted” quilt will travel the US with the “Tactile Architecture” show.

I could pursue fabric design. I’ve got some ideas, but I’m not really sure where to go next, or if this is even an avenue I want to commit to. To that end, I’m happily drawing away on my computer here and there, slowly building a collection of patterns for a rainy day.

I could succumb to my crafty side and grow the blog with more tutorials, swaps, community building, and reproducible inspiration. I could submit more proposals to magazines and crafty web sites. Maybe this is where my kid-inspired art takes the lead. This area is already chock full of more qualified people than I though, and actually the least enticing direction. But I have to admit that I do tend to post a lot of projects that would be just as happy on a dedicated “craft blog” as here.

I could focus on writing that parent/child picture-book-with-project based on our butterfly adventure. To that end, I’ve considered a few illustration styles and made a short list of possible publishers, but then lost it.

I could just do what I enjoy doing each day, and try not to worry about it. This is what I’ve been doing lately, and although it feels right, it also feels like it may just be the path of least resistance.

When my dad was here, we talked about defining individual success and priorities. How important is tangible success like a booming Etsy shop, or published articles? What would it take to make those goals a reality? Would those steps fulfill me? There is a certain honesty in being my multi-faceted self even if it means I’d be sabotaging myself by muddling the definitions (artist, crafter, designer, writer) that make us “marketable.” Embracing that self and accepting that that person will probably never be outwardly successful is definitely a goal of mine. However, speaking of sabotage, I still want the outward validation. I’m in the enviable position of not having to support myself or my family with my art, so why DO I want to be successful or marketable? Do I even feel comfortable selling things or ideas? Why is it necessary (for any reason other than to place value on the work itself) since I don’t need the income? Besides, I’ve always had a problem with convincing others to buy things they don’t really need (the advertising world and the design world overlap and I was always aware of that grey area I didn’t want to cross).

So, if I don’t need the income, and I’m not much of a marketer; if I like my hand in many pots; if I can wrap my head around not needing outside validation, then perhaps my path is not the one of least resistance, but the one of self discovery. My mom suggested I just keep doing what I’m doing and throwing the ideas out there in hopes that one may take hold and show me the way. And that does seem to be the direction (if one can call it a direction) right now. Underneath this hodge-podge of a blog about art quilts, ripple blankets, sewing, backyard bugs, motherhood, military life, travel and cultural exchange, there is but one journey.

*It occurred to me after writing this that part of why I keep coming back to this need to define success and to decide whether I need it or not is a cultural predisposition to need to always be growing and moving forward.  Perhaps I need to get out of my American head and look for other perspectives.

05 Dec

Rainbow Drawstring Bag

I’m fascinated by the bottoms or sides of bags that have the little sewn-in triangle thingie to poof the bottom out a bit and give it more shape. I think I cracked the code today! If you want the triangles to be on the bottom of your bag, you need a bottom seam, and if you want the triangles on the side of the bag, you need side seams. Why this was not immediately obvious to me, I don’t know.

What I do know is that I made a pretty cool drawstring bag with triangles on the bottom today and I’m willing to share. These instructions make a good sized bag — just a bit smaller than a plastic grocery bag. It’s great for holding odd shaped gifts or kids’ toys.

First, cut about 19 fabric strips 2.25 inches wide by 20 inches long. Mine are arranged in a rainbow, but you could, of course, use whatever you want. Sew them all together on their long sides, using a .25 inch seam allowance. Press your seam allowances open. Cut a piece of lining fabric 13 inches wide by the width of your sewn stripes. Sew the lining piece to one short end of your stripes. Press seam toward the lining fabric.

Fold in half lengthwise and sew up the long side creating a tube. Press the seam open. Fold the lining fabric down to meet the bottom of the striped section, allowing about 3 inches of stripes to fold over as well. You should have a tube with the right sides of your fabrics showing both on the inside and the outside. It will be folded at one end and raw edges at the other.

Trim the bottom of the strip section straight if you haven’t already, and press the upper fold in place.

At the bottom end, tuck in about 2 inches of both inner and outer layers, as shown, making sure that all the raw edges are even. Do this on the other side as well. Pin in place.

Sew the bottom shut through all layers. Use an overlock or zig-zag stitch to keep the seam allowance neat and tidy.

At the upper edge, sew “in the ditch” where the stripes meet the lining fabric. This will be the lower seam of your drawstring casing. Be sure to use something nice in the bobbin as well as the top thread since this will be what shows on the front.

Turn your bag right side out and stitch again a presser foot’s width or more (the thicker your drawstring the wider the casing should be) toward the fold side of the first line of stitching.

Now your casing is done and your bag bottom has those pretty triangles giving it a nice full shape.

Cut two lengths of cord twice the width of your bag plus a little more. I used ribbon here and though it looks nice, it doesn’t draw up in the casing as nice as a pretty cord would.

Using a seam ripper, cut open two seams on opposite sides of the bag, between the casing stitching. Do not cut open the seams on the interior of the bag. Using a safety pin, thread one drawstring through one hole, past the other and back out the original hole. Knot the ends together. Thread the other drawstring in the same manner, through the other hole on the opposite side of the bag and knot it’s ends together.

Find something wonderful to put in your bag, pull the drawstrings to close it and admire your work!

11 Dec

How to Make a Snowflake Fairy in 20 Easy Steps

Not being one to say no to my mother, or homemade elk jerky (never had it, but the concept sounds good), I made two more snowflake fairies today, and documented the process so that others can make their own as well.

Mis en Place

Step 1: Gather your supplies. You’ll need: a wooden bead for the head (approx 3/4″ in diameter), cloth covered wire for the body and appendages, white felt, optional tulle, seed beads, a silver pipe cleaner for the wings, wool roving for the hair, black, white, red and pink paint for the face, paint brushes, glue, white thread, wire cutters, sharp scissors, and a small needle.

Step 2: Cut two pieces of wire: one 3 1/2″ long, and the other 7″ long.

Step 3: Fold the long piece in half. Using the wire cutters, bend “hands” on each end of the shorter piece. Place it over the folded wire and wrap the folded end all the way around to form the body and neck.

Step 4: Cut two pieces of felt: one 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ and the other 1″ square.

Step 5: Wrap the rectangle piece of felt around the arms and, using a ladder stitch, sew closed.

Step 6: Cut two “armhole” notches in the square felt. Wrap it around the body and sew closed. Make a few stitches over the shoulders to keep it from sliding down.

Step 7: Cut out a paper snowflake with a radius of about 2.”

Step 8: Using the paper snowflake as your template, cut a snowflake skirt out of felt. You could also skip steps 7 and 8 and use a starched crochet snowflake instead.

Step 9: Embellish snowflake as desired.

Step 10: Slip the skirt onto the fairy body feet-first…

Step 11: Sew the skirt to the body with a few small stitches.

Step 12: For the optional underskirt, cut tulle 11″ x 2 1/2.”

Step 13: Gather one long end of the tulle and sew it to the body below the snowflake.

Step 14: Slip beads onto the legs and bend “feet” at the ends.

Step 15: Bend the silver pipe cleaner into wings shape.

Step 16: Sew the wings to the back of the body (best done before you add the head, unlike in the picture).

Step 17: Put a dab of glue on the neck and slip on the head.

Step 18: Wrap the roving around your finger and make into a hairdo. You could use a felting needle to form it into shape if you’d like. Attach to head with glue. Add a few beads or other embellishments as desired.

Step 18a: She should look a lot like this now.

Step 19: Prop your fairy up in a spool of thread or a small cup and paint pink cheeks, a dot for a nose, and black eyes.

Step 20: Paint a red mouth and white highlights in the eyes.

Let dry and she’s done!

13 Aug

Mod Log Cabin Table Runner

Two years ago for Christmas I made table runners for many of our friends and family. Thursday and Friday I was able to free some projects from their plastic bags (the lice are all gone!!) and finish a table runner for a friend who is willing to trade handmade stationery products (yippee!).

Mod Log Table Runner

I’ve named this the Mod Log Table Runner. I’ve had instructions for it on my website for a while now, but when I decided to post this one, I also decided that it was time to tackle the larger project of making the tutorials I’ve shown on my blog and the website instructions into more professional-looking PDF files to download. This table runner is my own design, but wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out how to make it, so I don’t feel as if I’m giving away any proprietary trade secret of mine when I share the how-to. I’m just making it easier for everyone to have what I think is a cool and adaptable design. And I’m giving back to the generous craft-blogging community.
Now, when you click the “Patterns” tab on the blog or website you’ll go to a page where you can, hopefully, click to download the PDFs for this and two lovely hand bags. I’ve changed the links in the sidebar as well so that they also open the appropriate PDF.

I assume everyone will let me know if I’ve linked anything incorrectly, or if something doesn’t work.