Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ups and Downs

Today is September 30th and my last post for the month. In the past few weeks I've had some setbacks and inconveniences, and suddenly things are turning around and getting resolved. Same for hubby. A major inconvenience for him was the "death" of one of his work vans. It had to be towed to the shop and we were bracing ourselves for a big repair bill. In fact, all it needed was a cleanup of some connector thing or other (a lot I know about motor vehicles) and the mechanic didn't even want to charge him for the job.

Hubby wholesales British foods, chocolates and candies. He ships to long distance customers and delivers to customers who are local. I am his secretary and bookkeeper. When he is out on the road, I am at home doing the invoicing, taking orders and doing everything else that needs to be done in the office. I absolutely love working from home and consider myself extremely fortunate to be able to do so.

A few times a month I accompany him on the road to refresh my product knowledge and to meet the customers that I talk to on the phone.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, when we're on the road together, I often spot a fabric or craft supply store, and even though we're usually on a tight schedule, hubby will stop and let me poke around in the shops for a few minutes. On our most recent trip a couple of days ago, I stopped in at a fabric store to see if they carried the type of heavyweight fusible interfacing that I have been looking for since Wal-Mart shut down their fabric department and I can't buy it there anymore (yes,I am still harping about that) :( To my great surprise and delight, this store did have it and I made sure to buy enough to last me a long while.

Later on our trip, we stopped at a huge dollar store. I love scouring the buck stores because I always find some useful item for crafting. This store had a good selection of sequins in lots of different shades. I couldn't pass all this up for a total of $6.00, could I?

My other setback happened when something went wrong with the bobbin casing in my sewing machine and I had to send it in for repairs. Just when I wanted to begin a series of spooky, creepy machine stitched dolls for Halloween. Well, the nice repair man called and said he fixed it and we're picking up the machine later today.

I'll start on the creepy dolls next week. Hubby and I are going away for a few days for some alone time (away from computers, phones, faxes, etc) to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The actual date is October 4th. Ours has been a happy marriage, and God willing, we'll try for another 25 years.

Below is the beginning of one of the creepy dolls.

See you in October. :)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Black Cat

I am working on several things at the moment. The Black Cat is an experiment to try out some new materials I just started using. I am not entirely satisfied with the heavy weight fusible interfacing that I bought from Fabricland (a huge fabric chain in Canada). My favourite brand, Pellon, which I used to be able to buy at my local Wal-Mart, is no longer available since they did away with their fabric department. Now I am going to have to find another source for the Pellon. I was surprised that Fabricland didn't carry Pellon.

I was finally able to get my sewing machine in for repairs. Hopefully I can have it back this week. The repair man has retired from his regular job and is now able to devote all of his time to machine repairs. Unfortunately, he was not able to start on it last Friday as he had gone fishing. Sigh - I guess you're entitled to do that when you retire. :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Navy Blue Cat Wearing Bright Red Flowers

It's hard to tell in the picture, but this cotton print has a navy blue background with bright red flowers. I jazzed up the flowers with silver beads secured on red sequins. Hubby said he liked this cat and I think I have to agree with him. :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Stripes and Texture

In my previous post I talked about stripes. Here's what I did to jazz up the stripes. I roughly cut up a bunch of "squares" and pinned them to a background fabric in an alternating pattern. This red background fabric, by the way, is a really pretty quality cotton that I bought for a couple of dollars at the thrift store. I thought it would make a nice top. When I got it home and unbundled it, I discovered a huge tear in the middle.

I sewed the "squares" to the background by hand, using very messy stitches and to add to the mess, the fabric being a loose weave, started to unravel. The more I handled it, the worse it got so I had to use some Modge Podge around the edges to halt the damage.

Even though it's a big wonderful mess in the middle (let's call it texture :) ) the neat part of me had to make a clean finish around the outside edges. I added a few snippets of the red fabric for additional interest.

The result:

Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn Sun

I think this little sun ornament in autumn orange would make a good image for a Thanksgiving card. Our Canadian Thanksgiving is coming up in mid-October and I have a few American friends that I need to catch up with as well. I will have to take a better outdoor shot for the card but this is the best I could manage this morning.

The pretty orange striped fabric is from Judy Merrill-Smith. Stripes, as I have found out with a couple of my other projects (which I won't link to), can be boring and static if used as a single piece. I think it works OK here because the stripes are tiny and not obviously linear.

Currently I have another project in the works in which I also plan to use a striped fabric. In this case, I will be cutting the fabric into squares and sewing them back together with the stripes moving in different directions. It would be much quicker if my sewing machine was in order (still haven't had a chance to take it in for repairs). I'll have to stitch the squares together by hand.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Flower on a Mini Canvas

After thinking about how to finish this piece, I decided to glue in onto a little 5"x 5" stretched canvas that I found at a buck store. (Gotta love those dollar stores for inexpensive crafting supplies). I just happened to have some matching red decorative trim in my stash and glued it around the border. I painted the sides of the canvas black. It doesn't look too bad against my red wall and a few sequins and beads give it a bit of sparkle.

I would like to do something similar on a larger scale and with a lot more detail.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Good, Bad

The Good :)

I won a second prize ribbon at our local Fall Fair for my stuffed cat.

The Bad :(

I enjoyed making the Spooky Doll so much (described in my previous post) that I wanted to continue the fun by making a few more. That requires working quicky and the use of a sewing machine. I just got started and my sewing machine failed me. The bobbin case is loose and it's impossible to stitch and I haven't a clue what to do about it other than take it in for repairs. $$$$$$

Below is the start of a dolly that will have to wait until my machine is repaired.

More Bad :(

My local Wal-Mart got rid of their fabric department. I have read this over and over again on other blogs where women have complained about it. OK, so they didn't always offer top quality fabrics, but it wasn't exactly all junk either. You could always find some gems in the $1.99 bin. I used to rely on them for my fusible lightweight and heavyweight interfacing and that's gone now. I was lucky to still find some polyfil. All they are offering now in the way of fabric is a small selection of pre-cut lengths of upolstery fabric. Maybe they'll do the same with cottons.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Spooky Doll

I whipped this one up quickly for a spooky doll swap. I prefer neatness and symmetry in my work but this time I proceeded with "reckless abandon". :)

To start, I machine stitched some black netting to black broadcloth with bright red thread. The backing consists of two layers of printed cottons with wrong sides together, therefore, you see the right side of the fabric on the back and on the edges that are visible from the front. I sewed the back and front together. The seam allowance was not consistent and I really ended up with quite a mess. Then I thought, she's supposed to be a spooky doll so it's perfectly alright that she's a bit haphazard. I left all the edges raw and tossed some yarn around her neck.

I think I've really got to go a little crazy more often. I like this doll so much I don't want to part with her, but I will. I can make a few more for myself and string them up on Halloween.

The top scan shows her flat, before I added the back and polyfil. The second picture is the finished product.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Bronze Cat

I was surprised to see how this scan turned out. Notice the little bit of gold at the end of her tail? That's how the whole thing is supposed to look. I still like how it looks here too. :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Simple, Stuffed Cat

Remember this cat I started a few weeks ago? I finished her up today. I only had a very small piece of the pretty mustard yellow print, enough for the head and a few decorative circles. The tail is from another cotton print that is a few shades darker.

I considered sewing buttons on the circles but decided to keep it very simple. The doll is lightly stuffed with polyfill. It's mostly hand sewn but I stitched the front to the back by machine. I'm glad I cut a slit in the back to stuff it from the back. This way the front has a nice clean finish.

The photo was taken outside in the bright sunshine so the colours are not accurate. The body is a light beige/ivory print, not white as it appears in the photo.

I think I will enter her in our local fall fair if she meets the requirements (I'll have to review the rules).


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Summer Art Festival Finds

I love going to outdoor art shows in the summer. I was fortunate enough to attend a few this year and make some purchases along the way. I thought I would post a couple of fun things I found this summer, plus an interesting sight I spotted very close to home.

First up is a big, fat green frog made by local artisans, a husband and wife team. He searches for logs and bits of wood and comes up with great ideas for turning them into quirky animals. The wife half of the team does the painting. We have bought quite a few pieces from them and Mr Frog is just the latest. Isn't he a giggle?

Last year we had a number of trees removed from our property and kept all the logs to use for camp fires. This morning among the logs, hubby spotted a very large base of a tree about three inches thick and thought it would make a perfect lily pad for our frog and so there he sits.

Next, is a piece of pottery I bought today, both the front and a side view. Now I wonder what could have attracted me to it?

The artist is Alexander Kastulin.

And finally, I found what looks to me like a stylized goldfish on a piece of slate by my neighbour's goldfish pond. Now I know no one put the fish there knowingly, so it is obviously a happy accident. I have no idea what caused this rust stain but I really love it. I would love to take this chunk of rock home but I don't think my neighbour would go for it. ;)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Bird Woman

The Bird Woman is finished. I made a pair of very long legs and for a couple of weeks kept shifting the body up and down to find the right placement. Long legs or short legs? I opted for the shorter legs because the long legs made her look like a very big and tall drag queen and that was not the look I was trying to capture.