Monday, November 26, 2007

Purple Pillow for Michele

I made this purple pillow for one of my best friend's new apartment - actually I made two identical ones for her. I used the same pattern as I did for the bunny pillow and the Joel Dewberry faux bois/birds pillow.

The flowered fabric is a Japanese imported fabric I bought from purl soho, and the striped fabric is from the American Jane series from Moda. I think it's an ideal stripy fabric, and it comes in lots of nice colors that have the feeling of being just slightly faded.

You may notice that I'm trying to make a leap forward here in terms of setting "set dressing" my photos. The chicken and I enjoyed playing with props and creating a "view in a room" feeling (like in though there's a lot more I'd like to learn about my camera in terms of light and clarity.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

French Knot/Stacked Coin Pillow - First Etsy Post!

After many months of putting it off, I've finally opened my Etsy store!! You can check it out here:

... and this project is the first item I've posted there!

This is a fairly unique project for me, because I did it pretty much on the fly - I didn't sketch it out on graph paper beforehand. In fact, what I really wanted to do was something more liked a traditional "stacked coin" design. I'm having trouble finding a definition of what this means, but as far as I can tell it's essentially a design that incorporates strips of stacked patches, framed in neutral sashing.

I wanted to show you some examples on Flickr but got these results instead.

This quilt from Miss MeShell was really the inspiration - I love how she combined a deliciously simple linen with citrusy fabrics. She blogged it here and it's well worth checking it out!

My project veered off this plan, as you'll see soon...

I started with a pile of strips from my scrap box. I sorted them out for the blues, oranges, tans, and browns - which wasn't really hard because most of my projects lately have been in those spectrums. It was more a matter of weeding out the odd green scrap.

This part of the process went super-quick - I actually placed the sewing machine on my ironing board and did the whole thing standing up. This saved a lot of time. Plus it made it easier to watch TV. Can you tell I like to multitask?

I ironed each strip just before sewing it to the previous one, but I didn't iron the whole patched piece until I was done. Enjoyably spontanous compared with some of my more laborious projects, and certainly efficient.

When I finished preparing the large strip patch, I cut it into 4 pieces. However, after some thought, I ditched the traditional vertical parallel lines of stacked coins. I didn't have any linen, and it just didn't look as cool on the dark brown background.

So, I decided to use them as a frame for one of my French knots projects. I made this particular one a while ago, and they were inspired by the Connect the Dots tutorial from the purl bee, one of my favorite blogs from my good friends at purl soho. And by good friends I mean advisors/teachers/dealers of irresistable fabrics!

The back is an envelope flap, using the remaining "stack coined" (if I can call them that) strips:

Remember folks, this item is actually live and on sale on my store on Etsy! Why now? How did I finally set it up? Well, I ran out of room for my pillows. I'd love to keep them all, but there's only so much room I have on my bed and couch. The good thing is, it frees me up to use different colors - ones that don't match my lamp, sheets, and other accessories. I'm looking forward to seeing how that frees up my creative process.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Shake it Up!

Okay, I just received a challenge from an anonymous reader. In case you missed it, here it is from my last post:

Anonymous said...

icebat sure does look handsome next to your woolly pillow and vice versa. you seem like such a nice, placid sort of gal. but whatever happened to your embroidery "with an edge"? let's see more of that!

Ouch! Nice, maybe - but placid? I can't take it! So here it is. I've been sitting on this since I finished it this summer, but now I'm breaking it out.

Here's how it works:

It starts with a photo, that I bought from a Chelsea flea market - one that actually still exists (as of this writing):

Believe it or not, this project has effectively been a few years on the making. I first made a pen and ink drawing based on it:

I think the lady on the right looks a little like Karen from Will and Grace. That wasn't intentional!

This is one of my favorite drawings I've ever done. It's definitely influenced by underground cartoon art, such as Charles Burns, the Hernandez Brothers, and one of my all-time favorites, Dan Clowes, circa Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron era.

So, this summer, I picked it up and tried to turn it into embroidery. I traced the drawing (not the original photo) onto fabric using standard carbon paper. Long live the small stationary store!

Unfortunately, my first try didn't work out so well. I don't even have that anymore to show you. This is the second try, which is horrible, so you can just imagine how bad the first one was:

It was really hard for me to let this go, because the above represents hours and hours of embroidery. Oh well! I got it right the third time - but I did do several different takes of color combinations on the nipples before I was satisfied.

I tried to stick to a limited color palette, almost like one might do for a screen print.

I love and hate doing hair. It's incredibly time consuming - but what can you do? Hair is important!

I'm very happy with how the necklace on "Karen" turned out. The blue beads were made by doing a pretty standard back stitch in a circle, and then placing a French knot in the middle.

This was surprisingly hard to photograph! It looks a lot better in person - in the pic, the lady on the left looks like she's giving you the evil eye! But it's an optical illusion.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Toasty Wool Pillow for Icebat

I just completed my second wool pillow. I made it for Icebat. Like the last one, it was inspired by the Japanese book "wool patchwork: warm quilt for the home."

I purchased these packs of felted wool from The City Quilter. They are from Wild Thymes Pattern Co., and they look quite appealing in their little stacks.

I was inspired by this lovely picture from the book. I love how their version is both wooly and lemony at the same time.

They have some instructions in Japanese in the back, but I could figure out what I wanted to do by looking at the photo, so I didn't refer to them. Here's my quick sketch for my version of the project. I carry around a little notebook of graph paper for this purpose - sometimes I work things out on the subway. This is one of the simplest designs ever - it's almost embarrassing to put it here:

I'm finding using the cotton fill pretty liberating, because when I use it I'm not married to any particular pillow size. I decided to make the pillow 12" x 12" because I thought it would be cute.

I played with the squares until I got something I liked:

I don't know if you can see it here, but there is a nice herringbone mixed in there. These little pieces of wool are rather expensive, and I caught myself obsessing at a brunch this weekend over my friend's vintage pants. I can see myself going out and trolling the flea markets for some old clothing - because if I'm going to continue with the wool pillow making I need to find a cheaper way to do it.

The wool was considerably more difficult to iron than the cotton quilt fabric I'm used to. I normally iron both the seam allowances in one direction, but with the wool, I carefully pressed the seam allowances open so that they wouldn't be too thick. I really had to lean on the iron to get those seams to stay down!

Then I took a bowl of pom-poms, sat down with my favorite cup of tea, and set upon the task of sewing those cute little pom-poms onto the pillow top. This is a good activity to do while watching TV.

Cute as a button! I like how Icebat looks both bashful and proud in this picture - I intentionally chose the pom-poms to match him. Ta-da!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Toasty Yellow Wool Pillow

Here's my latest pillow. Yay!

I bought this book "wool patchwork: warm quilt for the home" in the Kinokuniya bookstore in Japantown in San Francisco. I'd never seen it before, and I haven't seen it since. I couldn't find it on Amazon - but you could special order it from your local bookstore by ISBN 4-579-10894-9.

Above is a photo from this lovely book - there are many tempting projects in here. I based my pillow on the top one on that pile.

I was planning to do an envelope back like I usually make, but the felting on the wool made the pieces uneven (see the right side above), and when I squared them off, the patchwork top couldn't fit a standard pillow. Well, I have lots of leftover cotton fill from my tiny pincushion project:

I hand sewed a running stitch going through the seam allowance on the other side, as the book instructions illustrated:

Looks real nice!

I made the back out of a fabric from Denyse Schmidt's Katie Jump Rope line.

We love pillows!