Friday, March 20, 2015

"Summer Garden" - Project Quilting Challenge 6

It's done! I finished the final challenge of this year's Project Quilting! Whoop! I admit that I was having a really tough time deciding what to make this week, though.

The challenge itself was called 'Isn't that Charming?' and you were supposed to use at least 20 charms of 5" size on the front of your project. The actual challenge description first had me slightly confused, but our host Kim soon cleared up any confusion, which still left the indecisiveness about what I wanted to make. 

My colleague at work recently voiced that she wanted me to do something with flowers and bees or a big bee on a flower, since she is a hobby photographer and has taken several pictures of this kind. So, I was trying to figure out how to work those two things together.



The final product of that fusion is my "Summer Garden", which had me using a total of 54 charms, that all originally started at the size of 5", like it was asked for in the challenge. 
I guess I could've gone the easy way and just piece a couple charms together and make something simple, but as I mentioned in a previous blog post, I like to use these challenges to actually challenge myself and my thinking and I always try to tell me that Project Quilting mantra 'think outside the box'. Personally I think that I've really done that this time as it was definitely a very non-traditional  and different way of using charm squares. 

I've also documented my constructions steps to proof how I used the charms and how many, so I apologise in advance that this blog post will be a really long and picture loaded one, but I do hope you all will enjoy my creative process and my thinking behind this idea.


Of course the whole thing started with a bunch of charms, there are 18 in this picture, 6 for the outer petals, 5 for the big inner circle of petals, 6 for the small petals in the smallest circle and 1 for the middle of the flower.


I cut circles out of all those charms, for the big petals I used 4.75" circles, for the small ones I used 3.5". Then you have to cut each of those cirlces in half and sew the straight ends together. All of the flowers were made using a tutorial by Angela of Cut To Pieces, that I found while searching the interwebs for fabric flower ideas.


After the construction of my first flower I started to contemplate the background. I didn't want a large project, so decided to make the background no bigger than 10" square. Since I wanted to use small charms for the background to make it more patchworky, that meant that I needed 25 small charms. 


So I cut 7 charms of 5" size out of some Ikea childrens duvet cover that I had bought a while ago - couldn't pass it up as it has a wood theme with loads of animals - and then cut those into 2.5" charms, then assembled them randomly.


You can see that I mixed the order up a few times, because at this point I decided, that I wanted to use more than one big flower, so I moved the white flower on the background fabric further up, so that later on it would look like a flowery field of sorts. 


Now it meant to make more flowers. The two other flowers are slightly smaller as the yellow one and not as filled, so I needed less charms. 


For the orange one I cut 6 light orange charms for the inside petals and 5 dark orange ones for the outside petals, once again needing to cut circles out of all of them, cut them in half, sew them up, etc. I also used another charm for the middle again.


The exact same thing happened with the pink flower. 6 light pink charms for the inside petals, 5 deep pink charms for the outside petals and one charm for the middle of the flower.


After assembling the flowers, I added a bit of embellishment. I used a string of golden pearls and stitched them around the flower centers to give it a bit more depth and make it look more like there was actual pollen there. The reason for that will be explained further down in this post. 

I actually banged my head at some point here, because I didn't have enough of this pearl string and came a good inch short on the final flower. Thankfully a sewing crazy friend of mine - who I originally got this pearl string from - had some more in her stash and saved the day - and the whole project, lol!


Since I didn't just want to leave the flowers bare, but wanted to embellish some more, I decided to make an origami butterfly made from fabric. I used 2 charms for that and created it following a tutorial by Michelle Patterns


It ended up the perfect size for my flower and I hope it resembles a blue morphp butterly at least a little bit. I just love the blue colour against the yellow background. It's such an eye catcher.


The next idea was some bumble bees to profit from my earlier created pollen. I was contemplating back and forth how to make these, but then decided to cut up 2 empty paper spools of thread and glue some black and yellow striped fabric around it.
I forgot to take a picture of that charm as I was quite certain that I had already done that with the batch of yellow charms for the first flower, but when I uploaded the picture, I realised that I was mistaken. It can be seen in the background of a few of the above pictures, though, even if not fully.


My paper spool bumble bees received fluffy bums and heads, the latter being parts of a black pipe cleaner and their bums being made by deconstructing a fluffy white pom-pom. I had lints of that still in my nose hours later since I obviously had to trim the pom-pom down deliberately and give their bottoms an even trim. That part definitely wasn't so nice. Not for their bums needing trimming, but for all the lints tickling my nose. ;)


They also needed wings. Those I constructed out of two charms of light blue organza and a layer of soluble stabilizer, then embroidered my wings onto that. After washing the soluble out, I immediately ironed the wings dry on low heat, which made them really stiff and great to cut and glue to the little bumble bee bodies. 


I think they turned out super cute and several of my friends have already exclaimed the same sentiments. So let's see how far this one will bring me in the final Viewer's Choice voting. 


Which immediately brings me to my final words for this week...

THANK YOU!!! 

Because you made me win 1st place in the Viewer's Voting for Challenge 5 with my entry "Beneath a Silver Light" with a whopping 164 votes. That was almost double the amount 2nd place got, so whoa!
I can only say it once again, thanks so much for all the support in these votings, it really, really, really means a lot to me! Thank you! :)

I hope you will all enjoy my "Summer Garden". What a great and inspiring couple weeks it has been :)

Lots of Love!
xx Lia

Friday, March 6, 2015

"Beneath a Silver Light" - Project Quilting Challenge 5

This week's Project Quilting Challenge was called "Favourite Fabric" and you were supposed to pick your favourite fabric out of your stash and use it in a project. 
Now, many quilters and sewists out there might horde their favourite fabrics and never ever cut them, but I have several pieces of fabric, especially low volumes, that I'm a huge fan of and that I love using in projects. 
I love these fabrics more than others and don't actually have any fabrics that I haven't cut into yet for the reason that they're my favourites, but they just have not matched any criteria to fit into recent projects. So I just opted to use my favourites for projects. 
And the result of that is a fabric wall-art that I am calling "Beneath the Silver Light".


I will go into a bit more detail about how this piece came to light. No pun intended ;)

As my quilty friends will be able to confirm, I have a huge love for Carolyn Friedlander fabrics. especially her Architextures and Botanics collections as they include loads of awesome low volume prints and I have an extreme soft spot for those. 



Since I had a clear idea in my head about what I wanted to make, I made the following pull of favourite fabrics, I only ended up using 3 of these in the finished project, but added some from another fave designer of mine, Lizzy House. Unfortunately I only had a tiny scrap of my all time favourite left, Pearl Bracelets in light grey, not nearly enough to use it for what I had in mind.

And then the pulling of the other fabrics began. I swear, I never knew I had that many blues in my stash. Kind of amazing, as until recently I've not been feeling the blues so much, in fabric at least. I'm usually more into aqua and teal, lol! That's changing now! ;)


Since my "Morning in the Moor" wall-art that I made for challenge 2, I've been looking on the emmpty space on the wall next to it and thinking how a night piece would be perfect to make a completed set of pictures. I knew exactly what I wanted it to look like and was hoping that it would fit into a future challenge's theme. So this was my chance now. 

I drew my 'layers' onto a piece of paper, then cut out the parts, used them as templates for my double-sided fusible web and fabric. Then I ironed all the parts on a muslin type of fabric and after that began stitching them down to secure them, using decorative stitches. Thanks for the huge range of blue shades I have in my thread collection...


I tried to put special emphasis on the silver moon. Adding two layers of shimmery organza over my 2 different Botanics fabrics. You can't see it in the picture below, but the charcoal leaves only go as far as the first silver row of stitches on the inside, underneath that is another quarter inch of the branches fabric.
The organza and silver embroidery thread really give the moon a special glow. And speaking of glow, the star fabric is a glow in the dark fabric and my final left over from binding scraps of the Star Wars quilt that I made for my little brother. 


Like on the "Morning in the Moor" wall-art, I also was thinking about adding embroidery again. But I admit that I did not know what of. I didn't want to use cattails or birds again, then someone on Instagram commented on a work-in-progress picture and said that it looked like snowy hills in a winter night and that gave me the idea of a bare tree... and well, there's a full moon, so the owl was a given. Edited pictures in photoshop again, printed it out, drew it out with a Frixion pen, then went to work on embroidering it all.


I probably could have used fabric and iron the tree and owl on as well to make it easier, but I wanted it to be consistent with the other wall-art, so they could really work as a set next to each other. Also, the details on the owl are so much clearer this way, look at the fringy ears for example. 

Here are a few more shots to show the ranges of blue fabrics. 




The black fabric that I used for the hills is fabric that I used in my first ever quilt, by the way. So you can tell that a few special pieces went into this and I'm totally in love with this one. Probably because there are several favourites of mine in it.

They are both up together on my wall now. Can I admit I am already planning another in my head? They're kind of addicting. But I have no more space to hang them on this small wall, lol!


Now all that I will need starting from Sunday on, are your votes in the viewers choice voting. "Morning in the Moor" finished in 2nd place and that was beyond awesome. Maybe we can do that again? I'm counting on all of you! :)

Much love,
xx Lia

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Flowery crochet pincushion for a swap

Hey everyone!

I'm absolutely craft crazy lately with all the Project Quilting Challenges that I've done in the past couple weeks, so during the off weeks I'm either making swap items or other crafty things. 

Last week I bought a whole starter kit for needle felting, but have not had time to try that yet, my fingers are tickling, though. Definitely going to give it a try when I have a free minute.

Other than that I have joined a few swaps and one of them was the Instagram pincushion swap, which can be found on Instagram under #IGpincushionswap. The due date for sending isn't until late May, but I wanted to get a headstart and actually finished my pincushion already.

Since my partner has not commented on anything swap related that I posted on my Instagram profile, I was having a bit of a hard time. In the details that I received from our swapmama, my partner mentions she would love a woodland or fairytale themed pincushion, but her inspirational mosaic showed the complete opposite and also added that I have free range of what to do, she'd be happy with anything. So I was contemplating back and forth for quite a while, until I decided to settle on a flower pincushion.

And here's the result in several pictures for your viewing pleasure ;)


The base for this pincushion is actually a small cat bowl that I found at the Euro shop (equivalent to the dollar store for all the US folks reading lol), which adds a bit of weight to it and makes it sturdy enough to stand properly without tipping over.


The 'grass' is a guest towel that I got at the drug store and cut apart. It's wrapped around a filling of several layers of poly batting scraps that I tightly wrapped into a ball. I sewed the towel closed at the bottom and then glued the 'grass' ball into the bowl using a special glue that can also be used for ceramics.


The flowers were all done following several crochet tutorials online and I made a couple more, but then settled on these 3. I'm not the world's best crocheter, so I needed several tries to get the right sizes of flowers until it felt like they were going well together. 


After finishing the flowers, I made the leaves using cotton fabric in different prints and shades of green and one layer of poly batting, also from scraps. Then I started to attach everything to my grassy base.


I tried to make all of the flower centers to look different by adding a few embellishments. The one seen in the picture above has a center that was originally a flower hairband from a package of wedding decorations that I also got at the Euro shop. The ribbon used on it shimmers slightly in a light pink, so is matching the actual flower. 


On the purple flower I used a button for the center and also several pins, the lilac coloured flower has a center of all pins that I secured with craft glue. 

The final touch were a couple butterfly buttons. They are wooden buttons that I got off ebay for cheap and they look quite realistic, which I love. 


So the verdict is that I really hope that my partner will love this pincushion. I posted a mosaic of the above pictures on Instagram as well, but sadly she's not commented... yet?
She's a follower of mine on there and posting regularly other than that, so...it's leaving me quite a bit frustrated at the moment, lol!

I have done a huge amount of swaps, it must have been close to twenty last year alone, and I never had a problem with swap partners commenting or throwing around ideas, it makes the whole creating process so much easier when you know you're heading in the right direction, whereas right now I just feel lost. 

There's a few extras I have picked out, that I know I wanna add to her package, also a few decorative pins that I made up, so here's to hoping that she'll enjoy it all :)

Have you ever had a quiet swap partner? What are your experiences and how do you usually deal with it? 
Would love to hear your thoughts!

Have  agood day ;)
xx Lia

Sunday, March 1, 2015

A quick thank you!!

Just wanted to write a quick post to thank everyone out there for voting for me in the Project Quilting Viewer's Choice Vote this week. 



You managed to push my pillow "Love is Equal" into the top spots, landing me on the 3rd place with 125 votes and that means a great deal to me as I wasn't expecting to receive many votes, considering that I was hitting a topic that many are afraid to talk about or just avoid entirely.

Since I have friends in the LGBTQIA community that I love very dearly, it's been a great way to express my views and my support and I've been really happy and surprised with all the positive feedback I got from all of you, so once again, thank you so much!

It also means that this is the 4th time in four public votes, that one of my entries has been in the top three. Let's see if we can keep that cycle unbroken for the final two challenges in March :)

All the best to you,
xx Lia
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