Friday, August 31, 2012

Luna Moth Bag

The Surprise Swap on Craftster is well under way; my friend Susan and I are the organizers.  For this swap, everyone knows information about the person they are crafting for and sending to, but they don't know who will be sending to them--that's the surprise!

I got busy crafting for my partner as soon as I knew who she was.  She gave a link to her blog, and the current entry there was about a luna moth she had seen in her yard. I love these insects, and I quickly decided I would make a luna moth patch and sew it to the front of a purse for her.

She likes earthy colors, so making the bag in brown and green was a no-brainer!

I made the luna moth patch by tracing an internet image onto paper, then cutting it out to make a template.  I used HeatnBond lite to hold the moth in place while I sewed the details with brown thread.

My partner had written and posted a haiku about the luna moth on her blog, so I knew that HAD to be on the bag too.  I ironed off-white fabric onto HeatnBond, then taped that to a sheet of paper, and put it into my computer printer.  The haiku printed onto the fabric perfectly!  I ironed it onto the bag, then stitched around it first with the sewing machine and then by hand with embroidery floss to give it a boarder.  I added a few buttons, and it was done!

The back has a big pocket:

The inside is lined with drapery fabric, and it has a big pocket too:

This is the most personalized bag I've ever made, and I'm THRILLED with how it turned out.  My partner loves it too--that's what really matters!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tiny House #2

I've heard from my partner in Australia that she has received the package I sent her for the Tiny House Swap on Craftster, so I can now reveal it to the world!

I let my love of bright colors guide me as I chose the fabrics for this project; when I was done, I was concerned that it was too colorful for my partner, but she says it's great!  I made this 4" x4" house wall-hanging just the same way as the one in my previous post:  I sketched my design on paper, then referred to that as I cut the fabrics free-hand.  I sewed everything together on the machine, leaving all the edges raw.  I included a cat in the window because my partner is a "cat person", and the number on the door is her actual house number.  I finished it with blanket stitching on the sides, and a cord for hanging it on the top.

This cheerful house makes me happy every time I look at the picture!  I might have to make another one for myself!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tiny House #1

I had two partners in the Tiny House swap on Craftster, but today I can only show one of the houses I made, because my partner in Australia hasn't received hers yet.

There are so many different directions a crafter could go in when making a tiny house--it could be paper, wood, fabric, metal; flat or 3-d--and probably a lot of other things that never occurred to me. I stuck with what I know best, which is fabric; and because I've been on a fabric collage kick lately, that's how I made my partner's tiny house.  It is a 4" x 4" wallhanging; I sewed a brown cord to the top for hanging.

I sketched my idea, then cut all the fabrics free-hand, which is both fun and fast!  The roof of the house gave me the most trouble; at first it was too small and rectangular, so I tried again and made it tall and wonky, like a wizard's hat.  That's why I call this the Wizard's Cottage.  All the fabrics are cotton, except the tree, which is dupioni silk; it has a nice slubbiness to it, and a little shine, which makes it an interesting contrast to the other fabrics.  All the sewing on the front was done by machine.  I then layered it with cotton batting and fabric backing, and blanket-stitched it all together by hand.  I'm quite pleased with it, and my partner is too!

I expect to be able to show you Tiny House #2 later this week; it is constructed the same way as this one, but the look is completely different!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

An Amazing Coincidence!

Yesterday, on my other blog I posted a picture of this matchbox (below) which I decorated for an Art Abandonment project.  My friend Lime Riot saw it and left this comment:  "Oh my gosh, Leslie! Wait until you see the little goodie I sent you a couple days ago. Great minds think alike :)."  I had sent her a pair of my scissors fobs, and I knew she was working on something for me, but I assumed it would be a felt badge, since we both like making those.  

Her package arrived today, and it wasn't a felt badge--it was a decorated matchbox!  Here it is, below.  Our color schemes and themes are different, but in an amazing coincidence, we both covered the matchboxes with book pages!  I've NEVER used book pages for anything before!

Inside, we both used the book pages again; and in another coincidence, she included a heart!

Lime Riot, I LOVE the matchbox you decorated for me!  The tiny clay house is the cutest thing ever!  I love your style and your color palette; the whole thing is a wonderful little package.  Thank you so much!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Few More ATC's

Just in case my previous post about Artist Trading Cards didn't convince you, let me urge you now to grab some supplies and give them a try!  They are made for trading, so join a swap--there's an on-going ATC swap on Craftster that I'm participating in all month.  If you have been a member of Craftster for at least 30 days, you can sign up too!  Come on, I want to swap with some new people!  The best thing about ATC's is that you don't have to be accomplished in painting or drawing to make them; if you can cut and arrange paper and printed images, and glue them in place, you can make ATC's!  Here are a few more that I made this week:

"Let's Go" was for the theme "map as background".  I've seen an embroidery hoop with this packed car on Pinterest, and this image came to mind immediately when I tried to think what to put in the foreground.  I drew the car on drawing paper with a sakura micron marker, then added the color with colored pencils.  I cut it out and glued it onto the map (which I had already glued to a 2..5" x 3.5" card).  It's part of a map of Kansas sent to me by my friend Diane in a Craftster swap!  Thanks, Diane!

"Want Cake" (below) requires a bit of explanation.  It is for the mom of a boy who got a betta fish.  He named the fish "Want Cake".  (He's very young...but hey, I want cake too!!)  I happened to have this scrapbooking paper with cake images all over it, so I used that as the background.  I did the fish exactly the same way as the car in "Let's Go"--I drew it, colored it, then cut it out and glued it to the background--but FIRST I cut a fishbowl shape from clear plastic and traced around it on the background, then added the blue (to look like water) to the background with a copic marker.  After gluing the fish down, I added the plastic on top of it.  Now that I look at this card again, I wish I had outlined the bowl with the micron marker.  I could have added some details to the cake too.  Next time.

"All Are Welcome" (below) was an "artist's choice" card for a swapper who gave a lot of information about herself, including the fact that she loves tiny houses--thus, the houses and hearts.  She also said that she loves all people, so I added the message of inclusiveness.  I think she will like this.

There's lots of information about making ATC's online, like this article at Altered Art or this one at wikihow.  I find that creating these cards--which are small and quick to make--is a good way to hone my skills of composition and creating color schemes, which carry over into all my creative projects.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Quilts for Craft Hope

I was SO EXCITED last week when I read the announcement from Craft Hope about their newest project to spread hope to those who need it, by making and giving them wonderful hand-made items.  The new project is QUILTS!

Craft Hope is asking for donations of quilts to distribute to families who lost their homes in wildfires in the western U.S. this summer.  The goal is 849 quilts.  Any size, shape, or color, done by hand or machine--even non-quilts such as crocheted afghans--are being gladly accepted.  Please click on the words "Craft Hope" to go to their Facebook page to learn more.

My first and favorite kind of sewing has always been quilting, so I am definitely going to donate a quilt--or possibly two.  The "soft" deadline for submissions is September 14th (that's when the official Craft Hope project will wrap up, but the group that is actually distributing the quilts, Phoenix Quilts, will continue to take them after that.)

I rummaged through my quilt chest and found two pretty quilts that are complete except for the binding.  It's hard to get a good quilt picture inside, so I took them outside and photographed them on the hood of my car!

This blue one is a traditional pattern called either Monkey Wrench or Churn Dash.  There is an interesting story about how I was inspired to make it:  a woman contacted me to ask if I could "fix" her quilt. I told her sure!  (I love old quilts--why not??)  When she brought it to my house, I could see the problem immediately--it was a "tied" quilt (instead of actually quilting it, the maker, her mother, had just tied it with bits of yarn, about a foot apart).  The quilt was well-loved and well-washed, and all that washing had caused the inner layer to bunch up, and the outer layer was beginning to split.  I pulled open one of the split areas to see what kind of batting was inside, and what did I see but another quilt!!!  And it was a far superior quilt to the one on the outside!  I could hardly push the lady out the door fast enough, because I wanted to rip open her quilt!

The outer quilt came off easily, revealing a beautiful old hand-quilted quilt in the Monkey Wrench/Churn Dash pattern.  Apparently, once it had a hole or two, the owner decided to cover it with her own work.  Sadly, all the years of wear and tear inside the inferior quilt had ruined the one inside.  I took measurements of the pieces and made this copy for myself, using reproduction fabrics in colors similar to the original.

There's one more amazing aspect to this story:  inside the old, ruined monkey wrench quilt, THERE WAS ANOTHER QUILT!!!!  I'm not kidding!  Of course, it was even worse off than the monkey wrench; I couldn't see enough of it to determine what the pattern was, and there was no way the two could be separated.

I "fixed" the outer quilt by giving it new batting, machine quilting it, and binding it by hand.  (The quality and workmanship was too poor to bother with hand quilting.)  I reluctantly returned the inner quilt to the owner, and I showed her the third quilt peeking through the holes.  I suggested that she could perhaps display it on a shelf or over a door in her home.  I hope she appreciates the treasure that was hidden in her quilt!

This quilt, below, is one I made out of 1930's reproduction fabrics, in my favorite colors, just to please myself!  I have finished the hand-quilting, but the edges have not yet been prepared for binding (that's why there's lots of batting showing all around!)

It's just a simple 9-Patch, alternating with solid blocks.  The boarder was the time-consuming part, since it was all hand-appliqued.

My plan is to make a new quilt for the Craft Hope project; but just in case I run out of time or get side-tracked by other things, I have these two quilts as my back-up plan; I will bind and donate one or both.

I want to encourage everyone who reads this to consider making a quilt or other blanket to donate to a family that has lost everything they own.  You could do it as an act of thanksgiving for the abundance things you possess.  I'm so grateful to Craft Hope and Phoenix Quilts for this opportunity!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Today, August 9th, is Susan's birthday!

You know--susanab on Craftster; Susan of the blog The Sloppy Sewer, Susan, whom I mention on this blog all the time--Susan, my friend!  Go over to her blog and leave a little birthday greeting in the comments; I know she will love that!

Susan, I hope you like these goodies that I made for you, which I know you received yesterday:

--your birthday card, in ATC (Artist Trading Card) form.  (We both love cats!  And cake!)

--A prayer flag.  Since we just finished coorganizing a prayer flag swap on Craftster, I NEEDED to make one for you.  This is my new favorite thing!  I suddenly love fabric collage, and leaving every edge of the fabric unfinished, and leaving lots of dangling threads!  It is so fun!

The picture below shows a close-up of my favorite area.  It is supposed to be the odds and ends that might end up in a birds nest (I guess it would have to be a crow's nest--aren't they the ones that pilfer all kinds of junk?)  I chose the swirly metal charm because you love spirals.  The words "Trust Him", which I stamped on polymer clay, are self-explanitory.  The glass bottle is filled with tiny glass beads and slips of paper that say "be still".  The two brown buttons on the right were made by my partner in the matchbox swap last year--they are made mostly of cinnamon!

--Speaking of matchboxes...I decorated a matchbox for you and filled it with...

...a wool felt scissors fob!  (I also managed to cram into the box a pair of beaded bobby pins, but they didn't make it into the picture.)

Have the happiest birthday ever, Susan! 
You are a beautiful, creative, smart and fun person, and I am proud to be your friend!!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

MORE Scissors Fobs

You probably know that I'm working on a challenge on my other blog (365 Sewn Hearts) to make 365 sewn hearts this year.  I want to share a small milestone that I reached this week:  I've filled up a second pint-sized canning jar with heart-shaped wool felt scissors fobs.  The timing is perfect, because my enthusiasm for these fob-hearts has decidedly waned!  It's funny, because for 2 months I've been a fob-making machine, full of excitement and new ideas; but now I am very ready to move on to something completely different.  There are still over 100 days left in my challenge, and I have a good idea that will carry me through a large chunk of that time--if you check my heart blog in about a week, you will see what that idea is!

The two jars full of fobs:

Here they are, all nicely arranged!

You can see how small they are in the picture below, with one resting on my fingertips.  Each heart is about 1 3/8" in each direction.

The two below aren't in the group picture because I gave them away in personal swaps this month, with people on Craftster.

The snowman went to Homerof2.  (She is in Canada, and I also sent her a Canadian flag fob; the one in the picture above was the "reject" because I felt that the maple leaf was too tall and skinny!)

This beauty of a chicken now lives with waggonswest

I love looking at all of these hearts; and I expect I will make a few more before the year is out, when I get some new ideas for them.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Artist Trading Cards

According to Wikipedia, Artist Trading Cards (or ATCs) are miniature works of art about the same size as modern baseball cards ( 2.5" by 3.5"), small enough to fit inside standard card-collector pockets, sleeves or sheets.  Cards are produced in various media, including dry media (pencils, pens, markers, etc.), wet media (watercolor, acrylic paints, etc.), paper media (in the form of collage, papercuts, found objects, etc.) or even metals or cloth. The cards are usually traded or exchanged.

It's been well over a year since I last participated in an ATC swap on Craftster; it was one of the first swaps I did there.  That time I hand-drew every card with skinny Sharpies and colored pencils; this time, I wanted to steer away from time-consuming drawings, and try paper collage instead.

This is the first one I did.  It is for my partner's "water" theme.  I had run across a photograph online of a blackbird on the edge of a puddle (or birdbath, it was hard to tell) and I used that as my guide when designing this simple card.  It is made of  scrapbooking papers and rubber stamps, with a piece of thin plastic over the lower section to replicate the shininess of water.  I did just the smallest amount of drawing, by adding the boarder and coloring it in with colored pencils.

I claimed my second partner for her "cooking/recipes" theme, and although it was my intention to use only paper for the design, I realized I couldn't make the card I wanted to make without doing some drawing. This ATC is a collage with a drawing as the focal point.  I drew and colored the cook, then cut that out and glued it to the blue striped paper, which I also cut out to give the cook an outline.  Then I used a rubber stamp on scrapbook paper to imitate the look of a recipe card for the background.

By combining a small drawing with paper collage, I felt that I had developed a style that really worked for me.  I intended to continue in this style for the rest of the swap, but for my very next card, I tried something completely different:  fabric!  This is the third card I did, for my partner who likes nature; it was "artist's choice".  The blue background and the square with the poem are paper, while the tree and ground are fabric.  I decided on fabric when I realized that my stock of scrapbook paper is limited, but my supply of various fabrics is almost endless!  I easily found scraps in the colors I wanted to use.

 Below you can see how I'm signing the back of these cards.  I received the wonderful flying heart stamp from my partner miknessevie in another swap; she hand-carved it just for me!  it is the perfect size for these cards.

Since I take my time to do a good job on each card, I like to present them nicely.  I made these small folders out of heavy scrapbook paper and little price tags.  I affixed the cards to the folder with a single roll of tape on the back--just enough to keep them in place, but easy to remove later.

This swap runs all month, and I can make as many claims as I want (as long as I don't have more than 10 in transit to their recipients at a time)--and I'm having so much fun with these that I will definitely do a couple more "show and tell" posts about them in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Two Prayer Flags

I have recently discovered that I LOVE doing fabric collages!  Here are two examples of my recent work in that style, which I made for my partners in the Prayer Flag Swap on Craftster.  Both of these flags are 5" x 8", with a hanging sleeve at the top.

For this swap, we gave our partners several words or phrases to either use as a guide or to actually appear on our flag.  We also mentioned themes and images that appeal to us.  For my first partner, alteredmommy, I combined the phrase "be still" will her love of nature/birds and antique-looking colors.

The egg and the words "crested lark" were printed on fabric that I already had, so I chose the other fabrics to go with that.

I love this little "pile" of textiles.

I filled a glass bottle with lavender buds and the theme phrase printed on a slip of paper, and hand-sewed it in place.  (You might notice that this bottle is different than the one in the first picture.  I realized that the bright green beads I used inside that bottle didn't go with the rest of the colors.)

All the fabric edges are left unfinished, and most of the sewing threads are long and dangling.

My second partner, Phizzychick, likes earth tones and insects, so I started digging through one of my bags of scrap fabrics, and almost immediately I pulled out this fabulous bee!  I had to use it, even though there isn't much of a connection between the bee and the word "thankful" that I already planned to use for the theme.

I found out that this partner also likes bells, and I happened to have these tiny ones on hand.  I simply tied them onto the bottom with string, leaving the ends of the strings showing.

I made this flag like the first one, by simply cutting the fabrics, arranging them so they looked good to me, then machine sewing them onto a heavy piece of canvas.  All the edges are left unfinished.

 Leaving all the edges raw allowed me to work quickly, so it didn't take more than a couple of hours from start to finish for each prayer flag.

I am so pleased with these that I feel like making a set of them for myself!