Saturday, November 29, 2008

An Invitation to Shop

I've been spending some time adding a few new products to my shop. I absolutely hate marketing, but if I don't tell, how is anyone to know? As much as I hate to admit it, Christmas is not that far off, so thoughts are turning to gift shopping. Perhaps something from my shop featuring my logo and my quilts would be just the thing for a friend, relative or even yourself!

My newest product is this cute teddy bear, sporting a shirt with my "Quilting...An Alternative Lifestyle" motto. Never too early to influence the next generation of quilters, I say. Or perhaps you just need a mascot for the studio?

I've also added a journal featuring my journal quilt "Strength." It comes blank, dot gridded, lined or as a task journal.

I'm working to put together a calendar as well, one featuring 12 of my birch-themed quilts. I've discovered I need to rescan some of the journal quilts I want to use to improve image quality, but hope to have it up in my shop by the end of the week.

In addition to these new items, you'll continue to find a variety of t-shirts, totebags, cards and mugs. So far I have been very pleased with the quality of the merchandise puts out. The clarity of every small detail of my "Wisdom" journal quilt as printed on the greeting cards astounded me. I've no doubt the life-size framed print of it is equally clear and crisp.

That's it - that's my plug for now. Enjoy browsing my shop, Idaho Beauty's Textile Art. If you like what you see, please tell a friend!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Fabric Postcard Winners

I spent a quiet Thanksgiving day at home yesterday, still swollen but able to eat pot roast cooked until it was nearly falling apart...yum! I also spent a few hours working on the fabric postcards for my blogger anniversary giveaway. These have gone better than my first effort, and I may be getting addicted to this small format. It's a little like Twitter or texting (which gives a limited number of spaces in which to speak one's mind); One has to be focused and concise to make a design work in this small of a space. Superfluousness must quickly be discarded, harsh editing used to make the message fit, clarity intact. They aren't exactly masterpieces, but I am pleased enough with how they came out. I particularly loved finding a project in which to use these small pieces of hand-marbled fabric. The winner of the above card, randomly drawn from commentors on the announcement post is....Wil Opio Oguta! E-mail me your postal address so I can send this along and let me know if you think it would survive international travel. If not, I'll put it in an envelop to protect it.

I thought I'd run a few errands today, but there's still enough swelling in my face to make me self-conscious about being out in public. I also remembered that, being the day after Thanksgiving and the official start of the holiday shopping season, there'd be bedlam out there. Better to wait a few days and stay home, putting the finishing touches on the postcards. I used Decor Bond again for my stiffener, but I added Thermore batting between it and the front before quilting. It doesn't add a great deal of dimension, but when the card is handled, there's that give that tells you it's definitely a textile. The previous ones did not have batting, and it bugged me just a bit. Back to my issue of why do something in fabric that might be better done in a different medium. Just a personal quirk.

I thought about trying binding on these, but went back to the satin stitching again to finish the edges. I'm still not getting the consistent coverage I'd like (used a pen to fill in some gaps and darken stray threads), but I came up with a different way to handle the corners that worked much better for me. On the first pass, I stopped the width of the satin stitch from each corner with the needle down on the left. Raising the presser foot, I pivoted to head down the next side, but sewed slowly in reverse to the edge before resuming satin stitching down that side. On the second pass, I sewed all the way to the end of a side, then slowly sewed in reverse until the left swing of the needle put it at the inside edge of the adjacent satin stitching. Then I could pivot and head down that side. This process seemed to eliminate the problem I'd had before with stitching bunching up at the corners and the feeddogs not having enough to grab on to to move the piece forward.

I'm calling these, "Negative Flow" since they are based on the negative cutouts from "Flow" and have the same type of quilting on them. (Click on either picture for a larger view.) The two above are going to two of my official followers as seen in the sidebar. One I chose randomly - Congrats to magsramsay! My goodness, another international too need to e-mail me a postal address and let me know if you want this coming naked through the mails or in an envelop. The other postcard goes to katney because she was my very first official follower, the one who made me aware there was such a thing! She's just over in the next state, so katney, e-mail me your address and I'll get this in the mail.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Postcard Giveaway

Feeling better today, although my face is quite swollen. I was warned today would be the worst day for that. I escaped to the studio, first to clean up from my beading project, then to start thinking about the fabric postcards for my blogger anniversary giveaway - tomorrow's the last day to sign up for it (see this post to find out how.)

Here's one idea using the circles cut from "Flow" - they had fusible on them so I saved them for another project. This is it! The backgrounds are from 6 inch squares I marbled years ago.

This is another idea I'm playing with. It's something I sketched several years ago which brought to mind the expression "jockeying for position." The triangles are the hand dyed fabric trimmings from the New York Beauty block paper piecing. They went in the trash and then were retrieved when I realized I might be able to use them in this idea.

Both these designs are using up stuff on the work table so fit into my current work rules for deciding what to work on next..

Monday, November 24, 2008

A little interruption

I'll not have much to report, I suspect, over the next few days. I had my expensive dental procedure done today, which they jauntily call an apicoectomy. While not as bad to go through as the brochure might indicate, it has left two incisions with stitches. The afternoon has been spent carefully downing a very large jamocha shake as well as the requisite pain pills and antibiotics, and cozying up to an icepack. I've had this done twice before, so know that this bit of discomfort is highly preferable to the pain that would remain if I did nothing.

I may feel up to a little handwork tomorrow between the salt water and antiseptic rinses required until the stitches come out. By Wednesday I hope to get started on the giveaway postcards (don't forget to sign up by November 27 here to win one of three I'll be giving away). But I've promised myself not to push it. The older we get, the longer it takes to heal, and healing requires slowing down a bit and letting the body work.

By the way, welcome to the two latest readers to become official followers of the blog. I recognize the other followers either from past comments or because I follow their blogs. htanner & tonks are new to me and I appreciate your interest in my blog.

Ok, time to go find that icepack...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And the Winner is...

Saturday was my blog anniversary and 600th post. In honor of the 600th post, I decided to award a separate gift of two greeting cards from my shop to someone who commented on that post. (You still have time to sign up to win one of 3 fabric postcards to be given away in honor of my 3rd blog anniversary - see how here.)

I originally planned to make the 6th commenter the winner, but I only got 4 comments. So through a rather convoluted random drawing method, I can announce that long-time blog reader, Felicity, is the winner! Felicity - click on my profile and use the e-mail link there to send me your postal address. Congratulations!

Thanks to everyone for all the nice things you've said about my blog. As I mentioned before, it's the readers who really make it worth it to keep blogging.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

600th Post and Blogger Anniversary!

As of today, I have been blogging about my creative journey (and I guess, a lot more) for three years! Hard to believe I've sustained it for that long, through lots of personal upheavals that impacted what got done in the studio, through triumphs and defeats, through a lot of soul searching and not a little frivolity. I've maintained it primarily for my own needs, one of which I discovered was the need to share my knowledge and what I've learned along the way with others. So while blogging may have started as being all about me, it quickly included being all about you - my readers. Thanks so much for coming along on the journey and becoming such an integral part of it.

So here I am at my 600th post. I'm not sure why acknowledging numbered landmarks is so important to humans, but it is. I suppose it gives us an excuse to pause and reflect on our progress and achievements (or lack thereof) within a manageable time frame. It's easier to look back and analyze what happened in 100 posts rather than 600, in 1 year rather than 3. With one exception, I've missed celebrating my blogging landmarks until now. Instead of trying to summarize what I've written about over these three years, I decided to see what I was writing about each 100th post.

Post 100 was actually noting that it was post 100!. May 18, 2006 had me reiterating my blogging goals stated in the very first post and contemplating if things had worked out as I'd hoped. They had and the blogging continued.

Post 200 was about my goals for the week of December 11, 2006 and much more. I started posting weekly goals shortly after starting the blog, on December 6, 2005. I've always been list driven, and posting weekly goals on the blog put more pressure on me to follow through and get more work done. Read here my reasoning for setting weekly goals and posting them publicly. I faithfully made these weekly goal lists and posted them for quite awhile, but fell away from it this year. Not a good thing and something I need to get back in the habit of doing. To prove the point, I see that the 200th post leads off with this observation: "
Boy, having no goals last week was a mistake - I drifted and got very little done, when I definitely could have been more productive."

Post 300 on June 10, 2007 was all about my love affair with birches and texture. At that point in my journey, I was starting to worry that perhaps I was doing too much birch-related art. Since then, I've come to realize that I need not worry, as long as I don't simply repeat the same idea over and over. Birches are a part of my consciousness I can't deny. As for texture - I'm still entranced by it, but am having a harder time figuring out how to incorporate it in my work. Always room for growth.

Post 400
shared a 2007 Christmas gift that later became fodder for a surface design experiment with paintstiks. The wrought iron cross hangs in my kitchen near the table where I play with paints, a continual inspiration.

Post 500 takes us to June 7th of this year when I became fascinated with the color combinations of a group of azaleas near my house. I'd brought some of the blooms into the studio to match with fabrics in my stash. In this post, I show another way of matching nature to fabric using photo manipulation in my Corel Paintshop Pro program.

And that brings us back to this post, the big 600! Congrats to you if you have read this far. If you leave a comment today (I moderate comments so don't panic if you don't see yours show up on the post right away), you'll be eligible to win two quilt greeting cards (one each with my quilts "Strawberry Moon" and "Wisdom" on the front) featured in my cafepress shop - Idaho Beauty's Textile Art. This is my small way of saying "thank you" for keeping me company on this journey.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Giveaway reminder

Thanks to those of you who have become official followers of my blog (see sidebar) and those who left comments on the post announcing my upcoming blog anniversary and giveaway. If you'd like to be one of three lucky blog readers to win a fabric postcard, you have until November 27th to either become an official follower or leave a comment on the announcement post here where you'll find all the details.

In the meantime, don't miss my 600th post tomorrow. I'll celebrate that milestone by choosing an additional winner from those who leave a comment on that post before the end of the day. What will you win? Well, you'll just have to check back and see!

This photo, by the way, appeared on my second post, which was the first "real" post showing and talking about what I was working on. The theme of the post was "Where Does Confidence Go?" Click here to read the entire post.

Orchid, Lavendar & Black Beads

I may be done with the beading. These lovely orchid beads used as spacers between the black bugles look almost pink against the dark plum background fabric.

This is how I resolved the problem block. Ditched the yellow/gold beads altogether and used a variety of black seed beads interspersed with those gunmetal grey seed beads. Ending the line of beads with a sparkle didn't look right, nor did ending with the black seed bead.

So I scrounged in my odd beads and came up with three of these larger discs that I fastened with a sparkle bead on top. The other two lines end in a large round bead of which I only had a few.

I love this lavender against the blue.

And I think that is that. There's only one other block I'm contemplating beading, but I really don't think I need to. Can you spot any blocks that look forgotten? Is the balance of beading adequate? When I look at it, my eye flows from one section to another and I'm afraid if I do more it will be too much. What do you think? Click on the picture for a large view.

Oh, and do you still approve of the orange binding???

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Want to know what type your blog is? Then enter its name (or any other blog you're curious about) into Typealyzer and it will spit out the blog author's characteristics. It works so fast one should be suspicious if it wasn't so uncannily accurate. I'm analyzed as an ESFP - The Performers and here's what it says about me:

The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves.

They enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

Just for fun, I ran some of the quilting blogs I follow through the analyzer to see if we all turn up the same. Not so. Give it a try and let me know, perhaps leave a comment with a link to your own blog post revealing your blog personality.

Blogging Anniversary, Widgets & Giveaway

Saturday November 22, marks the third anniversary of this blog and I'm nearly at my 600th post.When I started blogging, I wasn't sure how often I'd post, but committed to at least one a week. Obviously I've done much better than that. Along the way, I've resolved some of the issues that I struggled with in those early days, others I continue to work through, and still others thought resolved continue to resurface. In that first post I talked about lack of accountability and the hope that public blogging would "help me focus, stay on track, pinpoint what works and what doesn't work as I explore how to better get these ideas in my head interpreted in my preferred medium of textiles."

I went on to say, "...
if I have nothing but words to show for my efforts, this experiment will have failed. But if it actually shames me into playing with ideas and finding answers to keep me moving forward, then it will be well worth my time, and maybe even yours." I feared the blogging would turn into one more method of procrastinating to keep from doing the work. Happily, that was rarely the case, and I have much more than words to show for the last three years. The words have been important, the record to look back on also important. And as hoped, my readers have been important in this journey, keeping me accountable, giving support, offering suggestions and opinions, keeping me connected. It's definitely been worth my while, and if you are still reading along, I have to assume you find it worth your while too. To read the entire post, see here.

One of the downsides to blogging is that I don't really know who all of you are or even how many unique visitors I've gotten over the years. I have a sitemeter that tells me how many hits I get a day, and if I take the time to look, I can see where in the world they originated from. But if you're not commenting, I don't know specifics, I haven't gotten to know you and I don't know how many individuals are following. Out of the 150 to 200 hits I get a week, how many are repeats from day to day, how many only checking in once or twice a week, how many just once never to return? Just how many devoted followers do I have?

I don't really need to know, of course. Just curious. And blogger understands that curious nature of ours. It has launched a Followers widget whose hype I've succumbed to after noticing I had a public follower, researching it and deciding it was harmless and maybe even fun. I've signed up on a few other blogs as a follower and see that it makes it much easier to check out other bloggers with the same interests. There are other advantages too, which you can read about here. If you haven't already noticed, look below my profile in the sidebar and you will see the Follower widget.

Here comes the giveaway part. I've noticed other bloggers stage drawings to celebrate their blog anniversary and devise various ways to choose the winner. I've decided to do the same. Since I've missed my other anniversaries, I will choose three winners who will each receive a fabric postcard yet to be made. (Note to winners: holding of breath for prize not advised.vbg). Two of those winners will be chosen randomly from my official Followers list. Because not everyone may be able to use the Followers widget, I'll choose a third winner from those leaving a comment on this post.

So, if you are interested in winning an anniversary gift from me, all you have to do is either click on the Follow button and become a follower or leave a comment on this post stating "I'm a follower!" and include your name if you sign in anonymously (Otherwise, how will I know who you are???) The cutoff for "entering" is November 27 (to give those once-a-week readers a fair chance).

And watch for my 600th post on my Blog will include a separate giveaway for one lucky blog fan.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teal & Black Beads, Redwork

I removed the offending yellow/gold beads discussed on the last post, tried a few alternate ideas and decided to wait until more beading has been done on other blocks. I may not use those yellow/gold beads at all...

But I DID decide what to do in this teal block - Black bugle beads separated by a tiny teal sparkle of a bead. These truly are small; I had to switch from the short stout quilting needle I usually use to a long fine applique needle.

I didn't get more done because of my weekly phone call from a friend (you know who you are!), but while chatting, I worked on the embroidery on the redwork cross. It's all done and ready to be bordered and quilted.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Green, Yellow, Orange Beads

I hit a snag before the weekend on the beading. I tried numerous combinations of colors and styles and sequences of beads with little satisfaction. What I thought would work on the blocks with the dark red background simply wasn't working - partly because of my limited number of black beads. Yesterday I resolved that by dropping by the quilt shop (making a beeline to the beads and ignoring any other temptations!). Now I have three different types of black beads in quantity.

As you can see, I beaded three lines on the upper right block before calling a time out. It doesn't show well in the picture, but those yellow beads were showing up much more than other beaded areas. I'd tried to temper it by mixing in a few black beads, but as I said, I didn't have many so what few I used wasn't having the desired effect. As Mary Stori commented, beading shouldn't overpower and I felt this combination was doing just that.

Rather than take them off, though, I decided to see if I felt the same after I'd beaded some adjacent areas. On the left I used green beads with yellow/gold inserted on either side of the large beads. Those big ones have quite a spark to them compared to the smaller green beads, and that little bit of yellow toned them right down. On the lower right, I used those gunmetal grey twisted beads again with a pop of orange/red bead in between. Again, the photo doesn't show the true effect well - those beads don't show nearly as brightly in real life. Click on the photo for a larger view.

Another reason I didn't remove that one section of beading is that its impact changed drastically with the light. While I beaded in daylight, it screamed, "Look at me!" But when I went back in after dark and turned on the overhead light, it was subdued and whispering, "I'll be quiet and fit right in." It's true that with the other beading in the surrounding blocks, it doesn't pull the eye to it as much, but I still think it would benefit from a change of where the black beads fall.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Red Beads

These are a variety of matte, shiny and sparkly red beads, although you wouldn't know it from the picture. This represents a bit of a departure for me, believe it or not. I originally thought I'd use navy or dark purple beads in there. It was an accident that the red beads got anywhere near this block, but when they did, I instantly saw the wisdom of using them there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

7 Things You Don't Know About Me...

Megan Odie & Katherine Louise

...or at least I think you don't know about me. This little exercise is courtesy of Lisa Call who found an ingenious way to tag readers for passing on this meme. I fell into her criteria of a reader who's first and last name includes exactly 2 e's and 2 a's. Way to go, Lisa! Since she shared some fun information about her cats, I will lead off info about my dogs:
  1. I just realized that with the passing of my Labrador, I am without a dog underfoot for the first time since 1975. Because we often added a dog before the current one died, we just never had a lapse in furry pets. My mother-in-law complained that we gave the best "grandkid" names to our dogs, and we gave them middle names too. Among my favorites were Kate, who when in trouble was called by her full name of Katherine Louise Barnes; Megan Odie (as in "other dog"); and the slightly politically incorrect Jesse Owen for the recently deceased black lab.
  2. My mother agreed to teach me how to play the piano in order to keep from sending me to kindergarten. I was so anxious to start school; in those days, attending kindergarten was not a given and mom felt it wasn't necessary I guess. Or maybe she just wanted to keep me home one more year. I was also anxious to learn the piano and bugged her incessantly about it. So she gave me my choice - I couldn't do both, she said. I wonder if she would have reneged if I'd chosen school?
  3. I've sold harmonicas to James Earl Jones and answered questions about percussion instruments posed by Carlos Santana. Unfortunately, I didn't realize who I was dealing with until a fellow sales person pointed it out to me. The music store where this happened was located in downtown Tacoma, WA where we were prone to visits from street people. In my defense, Jones was dressed for a blue collar role in a film being shot downtown and looked like so many of my harmonica customers. Santana was in town for a concert, and while we were quite used to roadies showing up to buy drum heads and miscellaneous accessories for big name acts, we rarely were visited by the headliners themselves. He and his buddy looked very scroungy (like street people you know) and were acting half high. None of us really wanted to wait on them and didn't expect them to buy a thing, just handle all the merchandise and walk out. I begged a co-worker to cover for me so I could go to lunch. Later, he showed me a photocopy of a charge slip...signed by Carlos Santana! We were mortified we hadn't recognized him. In my favor though...I DID recognize Tracey Ullman and Phoenix River when they came in to kill some time in the guitar section.
  4. I'm a crack shot with a 22 pistol or 7mm rifle, but have never used either on a living being. You may want to think twice about trespassing...
  5. I corresponded with a Russian woman for quite a few years, as part of what I think was called the Letters for Peace project - an outgrowth of Glasnost and the hunger of the Russian people for friendly contact with the west. I was so embarrassed when I found out she was translating my letters from a dictionary, and later letting her young daughter translate them that I signed up for a Russian language class. I think it was 9 weeks at the community college and a real eye opener. I hadn't worked my brain that hard for years. I still had to have someone translate her letters for me but I got far enough that I could often get the gist of them using my trusty dictionary. We had our sewing and needlework in common, and I even sent her a little quilt.
  6. With very few exceptions, I walk every day, rain or shine, blistering heat or freezing cold. This is a habit the last dog got me into; it was easier to face the elements than her incessant pestering if we didn't go.
  7. I absolutely hate having to ask for help, and always have. I don't mind asking for advice - that's different. But there's something about having to admit I can't do something myself or figure something out by myself, regardless of why, that is hard for me to face. It's tied, no doubt, to the independent streak in me, or maybe the fear I'll be beholden to someone else, losing a bit of freedom. I was that way in the workplace and I'm that way in my personal life. As I age, though, I'm beginning to see the value in letting some of this go and letting others take over when it's in my best interest.
Ok, rather than tag 7 people, I think I'll do what Lisa did and let YOU decide if you want to take on this challenge. If your first name starts with "Sh" consider yourself tagged and let me know when you've posted your info.

More Beading

These are twisted bugle beads in what I think of as gunmetal grey. Not really black but not really grey either. There's a tiny seed bead that is clear with a dark grey lining that makes a nice sparkle in between those bugle beads.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beading Block Broken

I finished sewing the green beads on Balance Check and I think, think I'm done with the beading. At any rate, it's back up on the design wall where it will remain until I am sure that's all I want to do with it. As Annabelle commented, sometimes "breaks in creativity are just providing a space in which to think." I'll wait until it is totally finished before showing it again.

The upside is that this little bit of success has encouraged me to tackle the beading on the New York Beauty tie quilt. Still, there was a moment of hesitation as I put the set of beads away that I'd used on Balance Check and got out a whole different variety for a totally different approach. I'd already auditioned my bead stash awhile back and left out those I thought might work, but now I was wondering just how I would approach this. The silks meant I would have no misgivings about using sparkly beads, and I could use a wider variety of colors and sizes. After laying the various beads out and pondering options, I hit upon this combination (see above picture) and I was off and running. I will probably use this once, as each area I plan to bead is a different color. I already have several other combinations ready to go.

Gosh - I finally feel like I'm back. I'm excited again about where this is going. The beads are really going to make it a special piece.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Blogging Friends

What a nice surprise! Just when I start wondering if anything I'm writing about is of any interest, someone like quiltcrazygal goes and tells me my blog has been an inspiration, then passes along this award. Thanks!

And in return, I am to list four dedicated follows of my blog plus one new follower from overseas. I'm pretty sure these people follow my blog fairly religiously, and if not, I follow theirs. They are well worth taking a peek at:

Lisa Call
Annabelle Rainbow
Sally Bramald
margaret cooter

As for the new one living overseas, here is someone I discovered was following my blog about a month ago.

Elma in Lochwinnoch

So, devoted blogging friends, if you are indeed following my blog and see your name here, you may accept this award and pass it on if you so desire.

A Find

Never, I repeat, never go into your favorite store just to look around and maybe absorb a little inspiration...especially if you're cutting back on expenditures in anticipation of hefty dental bills. The store in question is Stitchin' Sisters, and the item I could not pass up is a tea-dyed bone button. What will I use it for? Oh, who knows?!?! I just loved the look and feel of it, such a large thing that could be used on a purse, or a wrap or...?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Postcards Done

I finished up some detail stuff on the postcards today so they are all done. I'll back track to where I left off, starting with the moon one above. I'd read that you could use paper instead of cloth for the back of postcards, so on this one I tried using index card weight card stock. Below, I'm ready to fuse it to rectangle of Decor Bond. That's a board covered with foil that I'm doing the fusing on. It's a trick I learned from my Baltimore Album applique days. The foil reflects the heat back and the hard surface assures a good bond.

I added some echo quilting to the sky portion of the card, then lined up the decor bond backings on the two parts of the postcard and fused them together. This is why my applique was attached to the non-fusible side of the Decor Bond, so that I wouldn't have to add more fusible web to secure the two parts together. More on the fusing process below.

I squared the piece up to 4 x 6 inches, then contemplated edge finish. Because of the paper, I didn't want to do a satin stitch, and I couldn't manage couching a decorative thread on the edge. So I just used a zigzag stitch that wasn't too wide or tight just to keep the edges together and from fraying too much. What I didn't take into account was that the decor bond center would show on the edge - glaringly white against my dark picture. I tried inking it but that didn't really solve the problem, so I ended up gluing the decorative thread I couldn't couch to the sides. I used G-S Hypo Fabric Cement which is an epoxy suitable for porous to porous adhesion (fabric, textiles, yarn and appliques are just a few of the items listed on the box) and which has a "precision applicator" for detail work. I had other glue on hand that I knew would work but which I also knew would be pretty messy to apply to such a narrow surface. The needle applicator was almost too precise though - I had some trouble getting enough to come out in a continuous line, and then speed is of the essence since it dries quickly. I managed to get my perle cotton shot with silver attached and it makes the perfect accent around the edge. I just wish those zigzag stitches weren't there. Click on the picture to see better what I'm talking about.

Now back to my landscape trio. These I added fabric backs to - unbleached muslin fused to decor bond. I could have done one big piece, then sub-cut after fusing, but when I searched through my muslin, I didn't have a strip long enough from my scraps and I didn't want to cut into a big piece. Each postcard back got fused on separately.

When fusing front to back, I covered the postcard with a Teflon pressing sheet to protect it and the stitching. Then I flipped it over, covered it again with the pressing sheet and applied the iron once more to make sure I had a strong bond.

Here's the squaring up.

I tried several different ways of doing the satin stitching around the edge. The first one got this treatment of a loose zigzag stitch followed by a satin stitch. But the coverage with these two passes was not the best. The next one I tried tightening up both rounds a bit, but I was still getting some gaps. The last one got two full passes of the satin stitch which gave the proper coverage, but it takes a long time and eats up so much thread. I'd already determined I didn't like doing the satin-stitched edges when I tried it on journal quilts, so why did I go back to it here? I guess I just keep thinking I'll find the magic combination that will make me like it - after all, so many use this method. Binding something this small seems like a real pain, but maybe I'll try that if I make more.

The final step was to glue some birch bark as trunks onto the fronts. I'd snagged some bark from a tree by the river that was shedding and wanted to incorporate it in these postcards meant as a memory of the weekend. Thus the glue tests I ran the other day. I tried several white glue types but they needed long drying times and buckled both the bark and the fabric. But good old Beacon Fabri-tac did the trick. I had some trouble spreading it and getting it out to the edges, so I'm not sure how durable the edges will be over time. But for now, the bark bends without splitting where the glue adheres it to the fabric. Yes, I know I could capture it all under tulle, but I didn't have any on hand, nor did I want to cover the whole piece in it. Maybe on another project I'll give it a try.

And here is my inspiration picture of the Columbia Gorge taken by Sherrie Spangler, and my completed postcards. Were they worth the effort? Not 100 percent sure. Plus, I'm not sure I'm comfortable mailing them what with that birch bark and that glued-on trim. They may end up going into envelopes for protection. I did really like using the Decor Bond for stability. The two layers fused together were perfect and it is easy to sew through, even two layers worth. It makes the card slightly less thick than Timtex would - with a feel more like an actual postcard.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Postcards Continued...

So much for plans...I did NOT get as far on the postcards yesterday as I thought I might. I totally forgot that I needed to conduct a glue test, the results of which would determine how I would proceed with the stitching. I also forgot that there was a 4th postcard unrelated to these first three that I wanted to make. So I set up my glue test and proceeded to choose fabrics for this new postcard that you see on the left. It is inspired by a photo I took from my back yard and uses some of the same fabrics as the journal quilt version, "Wisdom."

Today, I got up my courage to start the stitching. Part of the courage part has to do with the fact I'd be dropping my feeddogs and testing the repair on my machine. I need to do more extensive stitching before I am sure, but for these short runs, the machine performed flawlessly and my confidence soared.

Click on the picture to see the stitching better. I feel that I should do something in the mountain area of the one on the left and the sky of the one on the right, but I'm not sure what to do. I had limited time today, so I will let these sit overnight and see what I think tomorrow. I'd really like to finish them up tomorrow so they can go in the mail Friday. I certainly didn't mean for this project to take all week! I can see the value of doing them production line style, the quickest no doubt being to start with a large piece of fabric and random or abstract design, then cut the result up into postcard size. I had one sketch of the river scene that could have been done this way, making one long mountain/river/riverbank scene that could be subdivided into 3 cards. But I had scraps I wanted to use and opted for what I think is a more interesting design that needed constructing one at a time. Still, I have tried to do as much consolidating of steps as possible, in the spirit of chain stitching, which has helped move things along.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Interesting Polling Place

This was my first time voting at this particular polling place. I live less than a mile from town, but apparently that puts me in a whole different voting district, sending me 6 miles in the opposite direction out into the countryside. I am not kidding - there isn't even an unincorporated town near the community hall where I went to vote. I made a wrong turn heading me up a dirt road that I knew couldn't possibly be right, where there was only the odd farm or ranch. Back to the main highway, I soon found the right road a little further down, and there at an unmarked intersection was a building tucked back in the trees next to a group of recycling bins. There was no discernible parking lot as such, and the "driveway" was a short semi-circle of pot-holed dirt with muddy ruts from the day's rain and traffic. The smallish "Vote Here" signs were all that convinced me I was in the right place.

The community hall could once have served as a school, or even a church, but more likely has always been just what it is today, a community meeting place for this rural area. I could hear raucous laughter coming from inside, and indeed, it was the lovely ladies ready to serve, all five of them, joking and having a great time together. No waiting - no one else was there at 2:30 when I arrived, although I overheard them tell a couple who arrived after me that it was quite busy this morning with people lining up an hour before the polls opened. Once again, my inability to get crackin' early in the morning paid off.

I am inherently suspicious of much computer technology so was counting on this remote polling place to let me fill out my ballot the old fashioned way and I was not disappointed. I was handed a paper ballot and told to fill in the appropriate ovals using the pencil in the voting booth. I turned to see where to go, and instead of seeing those cute little portable curtained booths, all I saw were several folding screens painted with flags. Mmm - I moved toward one and found a card table and chair set up behind it, a 1950's style nightstand lamp and promised pencil resting atop it. My, I don't EVER remember being able to sit down while I filled out my ballot - I rather liked this!

Once I was done filling out my ballot, I took it back to a poll worker secure in its sleeve to keep anyone from seeing how I'd voted, and slipped it into the ballot box. Then I was given the sticker and reminded that I could go find a Starbucks to get a free cup of coffee for voting.. Tempting, but I decided not to drive the additional 2 miles past my house into town to collect.

I think all the polls are closed now on the West coast, and the news stations are already calling the election. I am relieved, and have only to wait to see how the local elections shake out.

Monday, November 03, 2008

And Today...

...I tried my hand at fabric postcards. According to my new work plan, I should not be starting anything totally new that doesn't in some way generate off what's already on my work table or design wall, but I have my reasons. I started by sketching out my idea full size - using a photo for reference. I reviewed different instructions for making postcards, then in my usual manner, ignored the recommendation to use a product such as Timtex. I've looked at it in the store and arbitrarily decided I would not like working with it or using it as the base for a postcard. So I've gone back to my old friend Decor Bond, and we shall see if I am happy with the end result. Here you see a piece cut slightly larger than finished size that I have traced my design on. I used pencil but you could probably use permanent pen as well. I just wanted a bit of a guide.

I've often heard, and have experienced myself, that small projects can take almost as long to make as larger ones, and why is that? I discovered one reason today - it's not the execution that takes up the time necessarily, but the same sorts of decision making any project requires leading up to the execution. In this case, it was taking me just as long to choose the proper fabrics and find just the right spot to cut pieces from as if I'd been working on a larger wall quilt. And I have nearly as much fabric strewn around in the process of auditioning too. Who would believe that 3 little postcards could generate such chaos?

Once those decision were made, it was relatively smooth sailing. I'm using the accidental landscape method essentially, but not so accidental, as I'm using those traced lines from my sketch for placement. The edges of each applique piece is merely pressed under with an iron, the tighter curves causing more care to keep them smooth. A few pins to hold each in place on the non-fusible side of the Decor Bond while the turned under edge is top-stitched with mono-filament thread. You could certainly use a matching or contrasting color of thread, but it's just easier for me to go with the clear. These colors are not very true - something about the type of light bulb in my machine and the digital camera makes for some weird colors which I was only partially successful in adjusting. Oh, and that's my "newish" machine back from the manufacturers. I felt good enough today to hoist it out of its box and set it up, but I haven't tested the free motion yet to see if it's truly fixed.

So here are my three little postcards as far as I got and my sketchbook. In the process of adjusting the colors again, I lost the detail on the sketch page showing the alternate orientation for my landscape. I meant to do them all the same direction - portrait, but then I discovered that a feature I plan to add wasn't long enough to run the whole length, but would work in landscape. So far so good, except that I didn't have enough sky fabric for the third card and that blue cloud fabric scrap was only wide enough for the portrait orientation. Well, they really don't need to be identical and it's fun to see the design rendered both directions.

Tomorrow I'll add some decorative stitching (crossing my fingers that my machine behaves in free motion mode), attach the back and finish the edges. At least that's the plan.


...I felt better both physically and mentally. Enough so to want to do something in the studio finally. But not sit and sew. Standing felt pretty good. So I decided to take care of some fabric that's been sitting on my dryer for months, some pieces bought with birch quilts in mind. It's been sitting so long because quite a few of the pieces are batiks and batiks tend to have a lot of excess dye in them. I've gotten into the habit of checking each one in the sink, and if they bleed, I keep soaking and rinsing until the dye stops running. These are fairly light colors, so you wouldn't think there'd be much excess dye, but even that light blue released quite a bit. Once washed, I ironed and folded them, ready to either store or use immediately.

I've also been sorting beads - several "free" scoops of beads that my anal retentive personality cannot stand to leave unsorted. Besides, I needed to pick out certain colors to use in Balance Check and the tie quilt. I find that when there are a lot of different colors, a muffin tin makes for an excellent sorting bin. I finished sorting most of the miscellaneous beads, some of which I already had in little bags.