Sunday, August 19, 2007

CPR Embroidery

Here is the embroidery I did of the life-saving embrace of CPR.

It's based on an educational illustration from this Lifesaving book. It's my very own Lifesaving book from when I was 14 and a counselor in training at a YMCA camp. It was a very hard program, and while I passed the written test with flying colors, I had to take the practical test twice.

I'm sure that would have been very comforting to the parents of the kids whose lives were in my hands.

I made this embroidered piece into a pillow; I love the fabric I used on the back - it reminds me of a vintage tie pattern.

And here is the completed project:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Mmmm... More Japanese Quilt Block Pillows

My latest project is another one from the book Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match.

I had purchased some blue fabric last week, and constructed block #5, otherwise known as Kurume kasuri igeta.

I was very happy with the results, and have been plotting since then about what block to do next. I settled on the very next one, #6 - Yamato kasuri igeta (Yamato well curb).

I am truly attracted to the simplicity of the designs and colors laid out in the book, but I like to add just a little bit of pattern to add more texture and fun to the look.

First I pieced 5 strips of fabric together...

... and then cut them perpendicularly to create the 1st, 3rd, and 5th columns below.

I did this as a "time saving" method, but it left me with a lot of extra sewn fabric that I couldn't use for this project. Hopefully I'll be able to apply it another one.

I chain stitched the remaining squares for columns 2 and 4:

After I sewed the columns together, I added the outside strips. I adapted the "recipe" in the book from a 9" block to a 16" block, so there was some slight redesign involved, which I plotted out on a small piece of graph paper before starting.

The most major change was adding this colorful 1 1/2" border. Visually, I like to think it looks like the binding on a quilt.

So, here's the two blocks as they appear in the book:

And here they are transformed into pillows!

I was very pleased with the results and took many glamour shots:

As always, I couldn't resist putting some quirkiness into the back:

I like how splashes of color peek out when you pass them from diffferent angles:

Look who's happy for new pillows!!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

I (heart) Joel Dewberry Fabric

I love this line of Aviary fabrics from Joel Dewberry. Faux bois woodgrain and bird motifs all in the same collection, and in orange and brown, one of my favorite color combinations? I can't think of any single collection that reflects my current aesthetic so perfectly. (BTW, if you like the woodgrain aesthetic as much as I do, check out one of my favorite blogs, It's (K)not Wood, which is entirely devoted to covering the topic of fake wood! They have also made note of this fabric.)

I first saw these fabrics on the shelves of purl soho, and I immediately snapped them up. These are all from the Bark palette - Sparrows in almond, and Woodgrain in both Orange and Chocolate. I did go back to buy a few different varieties of the Woodgrain. I have no immediate plans for them, but it seemed like a good idea to have them in my stash for future patchwork projects.

The first thing I did was create this pillow cover for the chicken. He also loves orange, brown, birds, and woodgrain, so it went really well with his existing pillows.

Also pictured here is a pillow by west elm in the back. I have to admit I am a bit of a fan of west elm. I go to their store, website, and catalog for inspiration (as well as actual shopping), and right now I use their pillow inserts for all of my pillow projects. While adopting their aesthetic as a whole could be a little dull, I have found that a lot of their items provide good backdrops for my handmade and more personalized projects, such as these.

The pillow in the middle is made from a barkcloth fabric from reprodepot and stuffed with fiber fill. The chicken's mom made this for him; this was before I was a crafter myself. She sewed it and we filled it; I remember how intimidated I was initially, and how satisfying it was to complete these. I think it was one of those aha moments where I realized I could do something that I thought I had no talent in.

I just made these coasters last night. There is a layer of cotton batting in between two layers of fabric. The tricky thing about working with the Sparrow fabric is cutting and sewing the birds so they appear in exactly the right place!

Now I'm enjoying a cool glass of water on the new coasters...

Friday, August 10, 2007

Male Plumage

I drew this portrait based on a photo based on a 1960s Life magazine article about "Male Plumage." They were quite amazed at how the crazy kids were dressing, and particularly that the men were expressing themselves in such vibrant, flamboyant ways, especially coming out of the gray flannel suit era. I'll post some info about this article when I relocate it.

It's interesting how projects evolve. I completed that drawing more than 8 years ago. A copy has been happily living on my friend Michele's wall for at least 5 years. Two months ago, I decided to try it out as an embroidered portrait. I finished the whole body and clothing in June, but not the hair. I just couldn't figure out what to do with the hair. Then I learned how to do French knots, et Voila! The solution.

I am particularly excited about the colors; prior to this, my portraits were of a more restrained palette.

I spent a LOT Of time on these two details. I did them freehand, and was just obsessed with getting them to reflect with what I had in my head.

Here he is in all his glory!

Now, what to name him...?

"Little Odd Forest Coasters"

littleoddforest_coasters, originally uploaded by itsknotwood.

I found these on the Flickr site of one of my favorite blogs, It's (K)not Wood. This blog is devoted to anything and everything faux bois (fake wood). I actually did try to embroider my own faux bois many months ago, but it was too bloody boring for words. I might be willing to try it again on a small sized project though, like a coaster or pin-cushion.

Faux bois is one of my favorite aesthetics of late, and I actually have several variations of faux bois in my fabric stash. I think faux bois is very evocative, whether it makes you think of nature, or it makes you of some kind of Larry Clark basement photo shoot. Personally, it makes me think of both, and I like that.

These coasters are made by the littleoddforest, where they are available for purchase.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Molly Shannon on The Martha Stewart Show

This is just the preamble to the crafting dialogue I've recreated below. That, unfortunately, I couldn't find.

Martha Stewart and Molly Shannon Crafting

The NYC transit system is down, and I had to stay home from work. Sooooo sad. No one is even on email yet.

I've spent all morning watching the weather reports, tornados in Bay Ridge. Unbelievable. The weather guys are saying it's the worse mass transit morning they've seen in their entire careers. I like how situations like this bring the realness out in people sometime; I've noticed during the course of the morning, all of the anchors' and man-on-the-street interviewers' New York accents got more pronounced.

The weather abruptly switched to a repeat of the Martha show, where I caught the tail end of her making crafts with the adorable Molly Shannon.

This is my memory of it:

Martha complements Molly. She says her characters were the main reason she watched Saturday Night Live. The makes me a little verklempt. She says it brusquely and while applying an industrial strength glue to a ribbon. but really seems to mean it.

Molly is clearly uncomfortable holding the electric jigsaw Martha has given her. "You don't have one of these?" Martha says. Molly says her husband said moving in with her was like "taming a wild bear." It is clear she is not domestic.

Martha scolds, "come on, you have kids now, they are going to want to make crafts." They don their plastic protective eyewear. The saws start. Molly messes up immediately. Martha struggles to contain herself.

They move onto a cutting sequence, applying "beautiful" corkboard onto the letters they have now managed to saw out of the plywood (I guess Martha knocked off both of them herself during the commercial break). Martha asks if Molly has a self-healing board. "No?" Martha is incredulous. "You really must a self-healing cutting board in the house."

They make it through alive. I do love both of them! It was awkward as hell but that's what made it so great. I can now imagine Molly hanging the corkboard letters in her children's room, and then telling her friends the whole story over a dinner party and everyone laughing and having fun. I wish I could be there.

But it's true, Molly. You really MUST have a self-healing cutting board.

Pincushions complete!

I finally got my cotton fill from purl. The bag is huge! I don't know how I'll use all this stuff.

I must say it was very enjoyable to work with - a very different tactile experience than patchwork and embroidery.

Like a pita...

Finally! I can stop using my balled up socks as pincushions. I even put in some nice unused pins to celebrate.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Blue for you

I just completed my second project from Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match. The first one I did was for my dad.

This time I tackled block #5, otherwise known as Kurume kasuri igeta.

I have to admit, I was bad. I a) bought fabric yesterday when I was supposed to be adhering to my self-imposed fabric-buying freeze and b) used the fabric before washing it. Sigh. I just couldn't wait. That's okay, I just won't wash it. Ever.

Here are the culprits:

Who could resist these charmers?

These actually represent some of my favorite fabric patterns, but these are the first time I have played with these particular color variations. Again, dark blue is a new thing for me.

Before I get started with cutting and sewing, I translate and re-do the pattern a little. The blocks in the book are set up to be 9" squares - perfect for a quilt, or a small, fill-stuffed pillow, I suppose. When I did my dad's pillow, I simply "doubled the recipe," and made an 18" pillow. However, I greatly prefer 16" pillows for myself. They're just, well, cuter.

This was a little more complicated than just doubling all of the called-for sizes; instead, I decided to make some variations, including adding some kind of "binding"- looking border with the brown/blue flowered fabric, which is from Denise Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope series.

The pattern in the book called for pre-cutting every piece, but I like timesaving techniques, such as this. Do you really want to cut 15 individual squares and then sew them together? No.

Completing the "border":

The top is done!

And here's some detailed shots of the sides and back. I really like to see those white on blue polka-dots peaking out.

I couldn't resist adding a splash of color! That orange fabric is also from Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope series.

Et voila!