Thursday, December 20, 2012


Guess what's DONE.

Oh yeah, it's done.

That pic is kind of crap since I forgot to snap it while it was still on the easel.

I can't believe I finished a painting in only FOUR sessions.  That's light spead for me.

I'm not sure how I feel about this finished painting.  I don't have any really strong feelings about it.  I like it because I accomplished what I wanted to do (a different style and a quick painting) but I dislike it because it doesn't make me react much and it doesn't make other people react much.  I guess it's more a painting for me (for the fun of it) then a display piece for others to really enjoy. 

I'm quite happy with it and had fun doing it so that makes it a success.

Now I get to think about what I want to do NEXT.

I'm thinking it's time to finally get some oval canvases.  I've been wanting to play with those for a while.

That would mean only one thing then. . .PORTRAITS.

Robot Portraits.

Yeah, I like the sound of that.  That will motivate me to finish the second robot I abandoned months ago.  I need to make two Robot Portraits.  One of Mr. Roboto and one of his companion, Cylindra (yes, I named the as yet unfinished robot and she's a she). 

I'm going back to my more realistic style (with lots of shading/blending--I do enjoy that) but I think I'll go for smallish canvases (so I might get them both done in a years time--I paint so slowly!).

I won't be painting again until the new class session starts so that will give me plenty of time to get Cylindra done and get my canvases.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

"J+X": Progress report

It's almost done!

It's so weird that I could get a painting done in only four sessions.  I feel like I'm cheating or something.

Here's where it was when I started last night:

And after:

Subtle differences are subtle.

You can see a bit of the shading (on the head, dress and boots) and of course the pink blobby dots representing the elephant sequins (on the original painting).  I also added a bit of shading on the black but it's not really noticable in the pic.  It's also not super obvious in person, either.  The black was still wet so the added white was kind of swallowed up. 

Next week (last session until next semester) I'll touch up the black shading (make it pop) and add the yellow blobs (I think two really bright ones representing the flowers on the dress) and I think this one will be DONE.  (yeah, I'll probably diddle around with other parts, but I only have two real things on the "to do" list).

So that leaves me wondering what I'm going to do for my NEXT painting.

I really want to work with an oval canvas so I'm thinking a small series of Funky Portraits.  Maybe that will motivate me to finish the cylindrical robot I've let languish.  Then I can do a set of Robot Portraits.  Or maybe a set of Squid Portraits.  I know Violetta would love to have her portrait painted.

Yeah, I really want to do oval shaped portraits.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

WINNER: Charming Travelers

The Charming Travelers are ready to move on to. . .

KellyS's house.

She was the lucky winner (I did an old school draw and made up slips of paper and pulled from a my hat).

Kelly, I just emailed you for your shipping address, so check your spam.

If for some reason I don't get an address from Kelly in three days, I'll draw again from the names I already have.

Thanks for playing along!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Sewing!!

Saturday I got a buttload of sewing done.

A buttload in the form of ALL of the items I wanted to sew for my sister's christmas gift.

Time to show it all off.

My sister LOVES The Grinch.  I bought a bit of Grinch fabric (back in the summer) and really couldn't think of what I was going to do with it.  Some of it was panels, which I assumed I'd make into pillows or a quilt.  But my sister's not one much for decorative pillows and by the time I got around to sewing there was no time for something big like a quilt.

Then the answer presented itself to me when I won a free stocking pattern.

That's the front and back.

I cut images from the panels and other grinchy fabric I had so I could tell the whole grinch story on the stocking.


"Every who dowin n who-ville liked christmas a lot. . ."

But the Grinch, who lived just north of who-ville, did not.

So the Grinch comes up with a wonder, awful plan.  (to dress as Santa and steal all the gifts--thinking if there are no gifts then there is no christmas).

REDEMPTION ARC (right there on the heel!) leading to a much nicer Grinch mugging with little Cindy Lou Who (who was no more that two--and has antennae--love her antennae).

The hanger is some cool ribbon I bought purely because it was Grinch (and I'd find some use for it).  The lining is some all over print Who fabric.

It turned out very well.  It was my first time working with batting and doing anything truly quilty.  I just randomly pieced the images to each other without really thinking about how I was piecing it (not a lot of measuring except to see if things fit on the stocking shape).

My sister also LOVES The Lorax.  Around the same time I bought the Grinch fabric, I got some Lorax, too.  Again, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it but I knew I'd find something (and I still do want to make my sister a quilt, with Grinch on one side and Lorax on the other).

I found a free tutorial for a simple zippered pouch so I figured it was a good time to learn how to use the zipper foot that came with my sewing machine (I wasn't even aware I had a zipper foot until I checked--happy surprise there!).

I got lucky and the panel images were just a wee bit bigger than the size the pattern called for, so I just cut them out directly and then cut the lining fabric (per instructions).

I like the image on the back of the bag, with the little boy giving the Onceler the nickel, the nail, and the shell from a great-great-great granddaddy snail.  I thought it was a good image for a pouch (I had a lot of other good images to pick from though).

The tutorial was SUPER easy (I forget now exactly where I got it, so I can't link to it--but there are tons of pouch tutorials out there so it wasn't anything super special) and now I'm going to whip up a few more pouches for extra gifts (and one for myself, too) using some of my stash fabric (I really need to start using up all the fabric I bought--I got out of control buying!).

OH, and I couldn't forget my cat nephew, Lowell.  I made him this:

It's a simple little cat toy using some of the scraps.  That's the other side of the image from the stocking (the Grinch is looking in the mirror as he tries on his santa outfit).  The back is just a scrap of Who fabric.  I stuffed it with polyfill laced with some killer catnip.  That should have him nice and high for the holidays.

Now I'm super excited for Christmas.  I can't wait to give all this to my sister.  I think she'll really like it (I also got her a store bought gift, just in case my handmade stuff either didn't get done or didn't turn out).

Update: Scrap Map of U.S.A.

I worked on the map again this weekend, so time to show off the progress.

While it looks like it's over halfway done, looks are deceptive.  The big states take up more space but total only about 20 states. 

My thumb got tired from all te cutting so I put the map aside again for a while.  I think I need a different pair of scissors.  I've been using my embroidery scissors (the storks) which KILL my thumb.  But I need tiny scissors to get all the little cuves cut so. . .

Yeah, I'm not looking forward to the Eastern seaboard.  Tons of tiny states over there.

(for the record, I'm not putting much if any thought into what scraps I use for what state.  I'm mostly going for best color coordination for the whole map--like not putting two fo the same color next to each other and things like that, so if you live in Kansas don't be offended that I used the hearse fabric for your lovely state)

Friday, December 7, 2012

For a Swap: Cutest Fat EVER.

Holy crap, last night I made the cutest thing.

First, a bit HELL YEAH to me for using fleece.  I'm not a fan of sewing with fleece.  I love the finished look (it's great for smushy stuffed toys) but I just don't like working with it.  It's too damn thick and I'm paranoid it will destroy my machine.  As it was my machine cried a little bit while working with it (mostly when I got to spots where multiple seams were being joined).  But all in all, it was a good fleece experience.

So, what on earth was I making with fleece?

Something GEEKY.

It's an adipose from Dr. Who.

Now I know just this side of NOTHING about Dr. Who.  But the person I'm swapping with listed it as a favorite so I was off to The Google.  I did know about the police box and some of the metal bad guys (the robots that look like upside down colanders) and that cute robot dog K9.  But I'd never seen the adipose before.  So when I found a free pattern and tutorial I had to make it (even if I'd have to use fleece).

OH, yeah, the pattern and tutorial are HERE.  I love that it was from livejournal (a blogging place I've been a part of for YEARS).

I had a fleece remnant from when I made the ham for the Easter Basket of Awesome (earlier this year), so there was no expense in making this little beastie.  And it only took about 2 hours start to finish (meaning cutting the pieces to sewing the stuffing opening shut).  I've been trying to time how long things take me so I can better estimate when folks ask for commissions.

More pics.

Cee-Lo hard at work.  (yeah, I started calling him Cee-Lo because they both have those little dinosaur arms--not merely because both are fat, I'd never mock someone merely for being fat, seeing as I'm beefy myself--though I do commit fat on fat crime).

STOP. . .I need to take a lunch break.

Get your eat on, Cee-Lo.  You're a growing fat cell, can't have you getting all deflated and dimply.

Is it a full mooon?

Oh, Cee-Lo, you naughty adipose you.  Showing us your good side, huh?

*shakes head*

You can sew them up but you can't take them out.

I really hope my swapee likes it.  Hell, I'm loving it and I know zippo about Dr. Who.  This sucker is CUTE.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

"J+X": Progress Report

Quck progress report.

Here is what it looked like when I started:

And here it is now:

I'm enjoying this painting a LOT.  The whole point is to produce something quickly and to do something I've never done before so. . .yeah, that's definitely working out perfectly.

Last but not least, a pic of both paintings side by side.

Seeing them side by side I really notice how realistic "Jackie and Xerxes" is.  My attention always focuses on Jackie but Xerxes face is really pretty realistic (if I do say so myself).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

GIVEAWAY: Charming Travelers (US and Canada)


Guess what showed up at my door yesterday?

Some Charming Travelers.  It's a set of 56 5 inch charms that started with From Blank Pages and has been all over the US and Canada (ok, not quite all over Canada yet).  Want to see exactly where this (the blue pack) has been?  Check it out at the travel log on From Blank Pages.

When you win the charms, you can take as many as you want then replace them (the pack must have minimum 56 5 inch charms when it leaves you!).  Make sure you follow the golden rule and add back things that you think others would like and are of good quality.  You want the Travelers to be as nice for someone else as they were for you!

Rules for winning:

1.  Must be an active blogger (so you can have a giveaway to keep the Travelers moving).
2.  Must be willing/able to mail to US or Canada
3.  Must be willing to have fun!

(ok, that last one is optional.  I won't be able to tell if you "had fun" but the Charming Travelers are fun so approach it that way!)

So if you can meet those requirements then enter the giveaway (details about that after the pictures!).

Of course, before you decide to host the Travelers you need to check them out a bit more, right?


Here is what I took from the bundle (hee hee, have to tease you with what you can't have. . .I can be cruel like that!).

I'm not sure how many folks will be heart broken over missing out on some of the weirdos I snagged.  What?  You're not lining up and rioting to get that koala charm?  Or that feline tabloid charm (yes, it's like a cat tabloid with funny headlines--I grabbed that up without hesitation).

I took a total of ten charms, eight of which I consider "pairs" which I plan to use together (like the cat tabloid and paw prints--go great together!).  The two miscellaneous ones (that aren't really pairs) were the white with the blenders and the yellow with little puppies.  Yes, I could pair them but that would be odd and mildy disturbing.


Want to see what I added to the Charming Travelers?

(the colors are a bit washed out--you know how crappy the lighting is in my house!)

Top row:  flowery shaped polka dots on a beige-ish background, mottled purple/greens (kind of looks like a watercolor painting of a field of flowers), apple trees
Middle row:  storybook gals on purple, gray and white large chevron, pale yellow with verry feint tinge of green and swirls
Bottom row:  celery on yellow, gray with flowery design, ghosts (I love that fabric--I share it all the time)
And, last but not least:  SUSHI  (a charm from the leftover fabric I used to make Biggie Smalls, the giant squid)

I tried to add in colors/patterns that were lacking in the set and replenish the "weird" factor (I depleted it pretty well) and add a few that matched charms already in the set (like the apple trees go well with another apple fabric in the set).

Ok, I'm done yapping about the charms.  Time to get on to the giveaway rules.

1.  Leave a comment on this post.  If you need a prompt, tell me which charm you think is just TOO weird/ugly (from those pictured) that you would NEVER take.

2.  Random name will be drawn Tuesday December 11.

3.  Anonymous comments welcome but make sure you include an email address so you can be contacted. 

4.  Winner has 3 days to reply to "You Won" email.  If they don't reply, another winner will be drawn from existing entries.

Remember:  This is open to US and Canada residents.

One entry per person.

Good luck!


Thursday, November 29, 2012

NEW Painting: "J+X"

Oh yeah, time to start a new painting.  And I'm going to put updates here every Thursday. 

This new canvas is small and it's a simpler subject, so I'm hoping it won't take a YEAR to finish (ok, that was dramatic--it doesn't really take me that long to paint considering I only paint 3 hours a day one day a week only during the class semester).

Ok, enough blathering.  Time for the pics.

Here is where I started:

Blank canvas is blank.

And here is where I ended up.

Good progress!

Wait. . .I need to show off the painting I'm working from and share what I'm up to to explain why my "after" looks so weird.

I'm deconstructing one of my existing paintings, "Jackie and Xerxes".  A minimalist thing, where I just want to pick out the major shapes from the original.  I'm going to shade it a bit like the original, which I started a bit in the gray around the hoof on the left side of the painting. . .wait, I need to show the original for reference.

Yeah, that explains it a little better. 

When I first started I was going to just make basic shapes but then I liked the odd shapes of the original.  Like the bum patch, how it curves and that curve relates to the curve of Jackie's head--and there are up curves on both the hoof and the boots.  There are only two "real" circles, Jackie's head and Xerxes eye.  Then there's the dramatic blue block-ish shape of Jackie's dress (which I plan to shade quite a bit to mimic the deep color of the original--but blue is so sheer it takes a bit to build up the color on the canvas).  Then there are the more straight lines of Xerxes mane and Jackie's hair. 

I can't decide if I'm going to add a tiny bit of detail from Jackie's dress and accessories.  I kind of like the idea of adding one yellow dot and one pink dot to the dress.  The yellow one would represent the flowers (and compliment Xerxes's eye) and the pink would represent the pink elephant on the purse and tie into the color of Jackie's hair.  It would also break up the big blue blob of the dress, minimizing it a bit since I have no other blues like that on the canvas (though I like that Jackie's head and dress don't have "matching" colors anywhere else on the canvas--it makes her stand out).

Blah, blah, blah, enough painting talk.  Well except to say I'm enjoying doing something totally different from all my other paintings.  It's fun and very relaxing.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Geeky Gingerbread Swap

Time to show off something I made for a Swap Bot swap.

The swap was gingerbread themed Dotee dolls.  You had to make a pair to send to one partner.  The only "rule" (beside the basic Dotee doll rules of having a hanger, tail, and being 4-6 inches long) was it had to be gingerbread man themed.  It was a sender's choice, so I wasn't required to check out my swapee's profile to see things they liked but I did.

My swapee listed "Big Bang Theory" as one of her favorite shows.

So I just couldn't resist. . .

I made a Sheldon gingerbread man and "soft kitty" gingerbread kitty.

Of course, the Sheldon-bread man had to have the Flash shirt and wouldn't be complete without the infamous Sheldon-ism "bazinga" embroidered on the back.  The "soft kitty" (for those unfamiliar, Sheldon likes to have a song "Soft kitty, warm kitty" sung to him when he's upset/ill) is from the same gingerbread man shape just with some pointy kitty ears on the head.  To keep the gingerbread feel I had to have the rick rack on the arms/legs (to mimic icing) and kept the decorations very minimal on both (except for the backs--normally a cookie wouldn't have the back side decorated at all).  I did super basic tails from some leftover string I had (string I got on packaging from a swap I received a while back).  The hangers are also from recycled ribbon from a swap.

Made with felt, poly fill, rick rack, glue, string, ribbon, bells, and embroidery floss.

Super simple and (if I do say so myself) darn cute!

They're off to Canada today.  Here's hoping they are well received.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feeling Festive (cuties for a swap)

WARNING:  I'm about to show off two things I made for a swap.  It's a holiday ornament/decoration exchange held through a blog (which for the life of me I can't remember the name of right now and I'm pressed for time so. . .I'll have to share it later).

Ok, so if you are Dani (my exchange partner) and don't want to be spoiled. . .STOP LOOKING NOW.

Now, everyone who wants to look, check out this cuteness!

Wait, first, props where props are due.  Links to the patterns/inspiration.

Christmas lights ornament HERE.

Gingerbread man trinket box HERE.

Now (at long last) pics of the goodies.

Ok, how cute are they!

I've already shown off the lights before (this is the second set I've made) so there's not much to say about them.  I changed up the pattern the same way I did before (stuffing my lightbulbs to get a bit more dimension then Molly at Wild Olive did) and using string for the cord not wire.  That string was recycled from a swap I got (it was tied around the packages I got, it's too cute to throw out).  I also didn't put a plug on one end, just a slip knot on each end so it can be tied to tree branches (or whatever) for display.

The gingerbread trinket box turned out quite nice, if I do say so myself.  The only "bad" thing about it is it still smells a bit of modge podge.  I know that will dissipate in a bit (this has only been finished for a few days so it hasn't had enough time to breathe yet).

I deviated from the original pattern a bit to suit my tastes.  The original pattern/tutoial has you use a buttonhole stitch to make the seams on the face/body more noticeable.  I didn't really like that so much.  I prefer a more subtle seam on the face in particular.  So I sewed on the reverse side then turned the pieces out.  So you still see the seam but it's very flat.  I used a basic whipstitch for all the other seams (not a buttonhole/blanket).  I've found on these small pieces if you keep the stitches very even you still get a very nice finish with a lot less work (blanket stitch on something this small would have made me batty).  I used six stands of floss for all seams.

I didn't put rick rack all the way around the body.  I liked that in the tutorial one but once I got this guy done, it was too much on him.  I used felt for the eyes (glued on) and three simple stitches (I can't remember if they were chain or stem) for the mouth (using 3 strands of floss).  For the buttons I used more of the string I used on the ornmanet.  The candy buttons are just knots pulled super tight so they won't come undone.  That string ties tighter than embroidery floss, which I find tends to want to slip apart.  A dab of glue would solve that problem but I'm not a huge fan of tons of glue on sewn pieces, especially felt, so I used glue sparingly. 

I used felt glue for the eyes, rick rack, and the icing on the box.  I found a brand that's really great and you only need to use the littlest bit to get a really nice hold.  I haven't had any issues with pieces coming apart when I've glued them with my felt glue.  I also used hot glue to hold the gingerbread figure to the top of the box.

The box is just a simple paper mache box I got at the craft store and painted then covered with a layer of modge podge.  I didn't paint the lid (since it was covered with felt) but did modge podge the inside so it would be shiny and match the rest of the piece.  I didn't paint the inside of the box, just sealed it with modge, too.

Both projects were SUPER easy to make and easy time wise.  You could easily make them fancier (with glitter--which I debated but I wanted the white felt to look more like icing than snow, so I opted for no glitter) if you wanted but they really don't need a ton of embellishment.  The gingerbread man pattern is also used to make a snowman, the body for a santa, and an elf.  All the variations are at Cotton Pickin' Fun.  That's a really fun blog (as is Wild Olive).  Such generous folks behind both blogs, sharing free patterns and tutorials all the time.

I really hope my exchange partner likes them.  I think they will.  I know if I got something like this I'd be happy, so I'm not worried.  (that's my lithmus test, if I feel the items are made well enough that I would find hem acceptable then they are ready to send out).

Now I just need to finish the stuff I want to make for my sister's christmas gift (though I bought something to give her just in case I don't get done in time), make a pair of dotee dolls for a swap bot swap, and get my regretsy swap done.  Busy, busy, busy!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

"Kitty Up" : Progress Report: DONE!!!


Time to celebrate all y'all.

Guess what's FINALLY done.

*happy dances*

Want to see it?   Ok!

I'm very pleased with it.  I'm tempted to fiddle with the corduroy texture a bit more but the rational side of me says "no, let it be".

It took nearly the whole class last night to get the whaling in.  I also touched up the eyes a bit and fiddle with the shadow at the right side of Mr. Roboto's head (lightened that area so it matched the space between Mr. Roboto's armpit and Timothy's head).

I'm VERY ready to start a new painting.  There is no class this coming Wednesday (holiday week) but we bought the extenstions classes so I'll have 2-3 classes this semester before the full Christmas break.  I could make some good progress on my new painting in that time.

I'm not going to reveal the new painting description yet, but I do have the name.  The new painting is "J+X".  I'll definitely be doing progress reports with it.

WOOT WOOT, another painting finished!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm Dreaming of a Swap Christmas

I just joined Swap Bot and am about to send out my very first swap.  It's a christmas themed dealie specifically for newbies like me (who need to get their rating up so they will be welcomed into bigger swaps).

I'm also in an ornament and decoration swap (not through swap-bot) so I was in need of some cute ideas that were also easy.

So of course I ended up at Wild Olive.  Face it, her patterns are cute and easy and translate well from embroidery pattern to sewing patterns.  And don't you know, she had a whole ornament event a year or so ago so her archives are full of fabulous festive wonder like. . .

Eee, aren't they just too cute. 

Closup time!

(bah to crappy cellphone pics in my office--but I'm about to finish up the package these go with and mail it out and I forgot to take pics so I needed to document these cuties).

I did change it up a bit from Mollie's pattern.  For her version she just cut out two pieces for each color and sewed them togther with a running stitch and didn't stuff.  While that was fine for her, I like things a bit more puffy (and with less visible stitch lines) so whip stitched around the edges (trying to keep the stitches really close and just deep enough to hold the edges but not deep enough to really show) then stuffed them.  I also added a little plug at the end.

So now what was "just" an ornament (that's how Mollie was listing her version), mine can now be called a Dotee doll.  (yeah, that's something I just learned about via swap bot and I like he idea a ton--basically they're just little dolls made from scrap fabric/felt--most need to be 4-6 inches long, have a hanger and a tail).  By looping one end of the cord, I had a simple hanger.  And adding the plug on the other end gave it a tail.  Bippity boppity Dotee!

This is for my swap bot swap and my person likes Dotees and christmas so double duty, baby, yeah!

It's just a small low committment type swap but I still needed something else to round it out.  I had a few other ideas for stuff but time is really having its way with me right now.  Then I remember I had a GREAT item already done (in my "charity" bag).

I think I've shown this off before so. . .remember this?

Reversible drawnstring bag (cats on the "outside", sushi on the reverse).  And inside two week kitties.

I know I showed them off before.

Graham and. . .I can't decide what to call the black kitty.  Inky keeps coming to mind but I don't like how "cheap" that name is.  Ooh, black cat needs a black theme name (like "Cinder" or "Blacky").  But Inky really does sound cute (and poor Inky, she had to pose on the office cactus so I coudl try and get some decent lighting.  OUCH!).

I'm rounding the package out with stickers and a post card along with a notecard (with a note).  The swap says items should be wrapped but I really hate gift wrap (it seems so wasteful) so I'm considering the bag the wrapping.

I'll get this in the mail (most likely) tomorrow evening along with Biggie Smalls.  Yes, I'm finally mailing him off.  I can't wait to be rid of him.  Ooh, that sounds harsh but I don't mean it that way.  I'm just ready for the buyer to have him and not have to fret over him anymore.

Now I need to get together an ornament and decoration for another swap.  Then a pair of gingerbread dotees for another swap.  Then my regretsy swap.  Oh, and the phoenix commissions needs worked on.  And I still have to make stuff for christmas gifts. . .yeah, I'll be stitching a lot in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sewing for Charity: Hurricane Relief Quilts

Color My World put out an all call to share quilt blocks to be assembled into quilts for hurricane Sandy relief efforts.  Check out the post here if you want to help.

Now I'm the newbies of newbie quilters but I figured I could manage to make the simple block requested (a 9 patch--so you make 9 4.5 inch squares then sew them together to make a 12.5 inch block).

SO. . .I did.

Double bonus time, I used some fabrics I recently won.  Remember that "pin it to win it" thing from a few months back, that mystery fat quarter bundle.  Well this is it.  Yeah, I wasn't so thrilled with the set.  Not that it's not nice fabric but it's really not my bag (those florals--uh, yeah).  BUT. . .they look fabulous together and I'm very happy with the blocks that came about as a result.

This one is my favorite:

But now I'm worried they won't be good enough to use.  You can clearly see my corners don't match exactly even though I checked my machine to find exactly where the magic 1/4 inch spot was (I had to move my needle to the right then I could get the seam just right using one of the lines already on the throat plate).  But even though I took care with the blocks, they still might not be good enough.

And what if they're not the right finished size?  I did measure them but I thought the finished size was 12 inches but now I see it's supposed to be 12.5 inches (and I can't remember exactly what my sizing was--I know it was larger than 12 but was it 12.5 or more like 12.25?!).

Yeah, I'm being a worry wart but that's what I'm good at.

For what it's worth, if someone offered me a quilt made with these blocks (even with their not quite perfectly matched corners) I'd like it.  Especially that dots/lines square.  I wouldn't be ashamed to gift these squares to friends/family in a quilt so that makes them perfectly acceptable.  But I can't help feeling they should be PERFECT.  Where is this perfectionism coming from?  Especially given these are my first official quilt squares (I don't count my postage stamp quilt as "real" blocks since it's all scrappy and free for all).

Well, if the organizers don't care for them they can always tear them apart and keep the fabric for themselves.  It didn't cost me anything and wasn't really my bag anyway.  And I did get some scrap for my postage stamp quilt, so I'm only out the tiny bit of money it cost to mail them.

But I still want them to be GREAT.  Ok, for now I'll settle for "good enough".

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Kitty Up" : Progress Report

Oooh, the end is SO near with this painting and I'm so very excited.

Ok, here is the "before" pic:

And here is the "after" pic:

The changes are very subtle.  I did some more work on the eyes, gave Timothy a nose job and fiddled with darkening the black.

I have a good feeling next week will be my last go round with this painting.  I just have to fiddle with the eyes a bit more (making the green stitching pop more) and then lay in the whaling to get the look of corduroy.

Next week we'll have a model but I'm not sure I'll be doing that.  I'm not a huge fan of life drawing (because I SUCK at it) and I really want to start a new canvas.  I'm nearly 100% committed to the idea I have in mind (which should be a nice fast painting--famous last words there!).

Oh yeah, I'm so happy to see "Kitty Up" finished.  Here's hoping the whaling turns out well (it's really going to make Timothy pop!).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Work in Progress: Phoenix (commission)

New commission in the works.

The (potential) buyer wanted a Phoenix that was akin to the one in Harry Potter.  She provided a pic of mass produced stuffed toy (to give me an idea what she wanted) and my first reaction was "It's a parrot in drag!".

So with that in mind, I sought out a parrot pattern.  That was trickier than I thought it would be.  But I did find THIS.  Someone took a song bird pattern and modified it to be a parrot.  Fabulous!

Based on that pattern/tutorial, here is my prototype.

Since this is just a prototype, I wan't overly concerned with matching threads.  So for the wings (where they attach) I'll probably use a matching yellow (not the orange I had already threaded!).  I'd also add more frillyness to the wings to get more of a feathery/fire look to them (I added the few snips currently on the wings at the last minute before taking the pictures).

Also, I didn't do much in the way of embroidery embellishment.  In fact, I'm not sure how much I would put on even for the larger finished product.  To be totally honest, this is for a baby/young child so I feel simple is better.  And if I'm being brutally honest, tons of embellishment seems wasted on a baby who's probably just going to destroy the toy by gnawing on it.  (also, stitches could come out and be eaten by said baby, so that's not cool either).

The final product will be MUCH larger, around 12-18 inches tall and will probably include legs/feet.  I'm toying with making simple velcro straps in place of legs so the bird could be attached to the side of the crib, so the Phoenix could be watching over the baby (I like that idea).  The potential buyer wasn't sure about legs or not (and even stunned me by flippantly saying, "well, they can cut the legs off if they don't like them"--what the hell?  but I digress).

Overall the pattern is super simple to make.  The real time suck will be in how much (or little) embroidery I add.  I'm thinking the larger item will look nice with a bit more than this small prototype has.

One more pic.

Perched on my apple.  This is what made me think a velcro strap to lash it to the crib would be a cute idea (though now that I'm thinking about it, a larger item might not lash so well--would it fall over due to the weight?  I'd have to look into that).

Now I need to share the pics with the potential buyer and see if this is what she had in mind.  I kind of hope she prefers this smaller one (with the idea of velcro legs).  A smaller one would sew up simple enough so I could have this commission done quicker (not that I hate this project but I'm really keen on my own projects right now so. . .this is kind of hanging over me like a dark cloud).

Here's hoping I get a positive response from the potential buyer.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Remnant Box

I'm stealing this idea from alimakes .   She reviews new stores she buys from and she's a fan of buying remnant/scrap/mystery packs, items I adore as well.  She's introduced me to a few different online stores that I enjoy buying from but more importantly she's about the only review I found that showed pictures of what you can expect when you buy the 3 lb remnant package from  Yeah, I probably would have caved and bought one eventually even without the pictoral review but she definitely showed me it was worth the $20.  In fact, I think the pack I received was even better than what she got.

SO. . .blah blah blah, lets see what I scored in my remnant pack.

It came all double bagged so I had extra fun picking out the knots (hey, I like to re-use the bags) which just increased my anticipation.  I tried not to look at the fabric too much while I was freeing it.

There was a TON of fabric in the bag.  No piece was smaller than about 1/2 yard.  Most were around 1 yard with only one small swatch missing along one cut edge.  (which is fine with me, since I want to include all of these in my scrap quilt--so I can just even up the edge where the swatch was cut and get my scraps and still have a nice full piece to do other, bigger projects).

First up was about a yard of this great fabric.  The picture doesn't do it justice in showing off all the shiney gold fabulousness.  Each of those stripes is covered in gold leaf (I'm sure there's a real term for this but I'm too lazy to look it up).  The flowers/vines are also all trimmed in gold.  This is not a type of fabric I'd ever buy (especially in yardage) but I like it.  A lot.  It's definitely going to be a great addition to my postage stamp quilt.  In fact, the pattern is so big and varied I can see two or three bits of this in the quilt, giving a little gold flash here and there.

This piece (about 1/2 yard) is also shiney.  The snowflakes are silver leaf and there are other shiney embellishments on the swirly action along the side edge.  The way it was folded up in the bag, I could only see the snowflakes on the white background and I was thrilled with that.  I love subtle/neutral holiday prints.  As I was unfolding it, I saw the dark edge and thought it was two small pieces folded onto each other.  I was thrilled once I unfolded it all the way and saw it was printed with the dark stripes on each selvage edge and then it faded from tan/beige to white (with poinsettas and snowflakes).  Again, this is something that's outside of my comfort zone but I REALLY like it.  I like it so much I kind of don't want to ever cut it up.  But I also really want it in my scrap quilt.  Like the other shiney fabric, the print is such it could make several appearances and not look like a duplicate.  Love that.

More WIN here.  I really like all four of these.  The green one (on the right) is something I'd probably even buy as yardage.  I can see a lot of uses for it (in fact, I'm thinking "alligator" right now!).  The other three are definitely things I would consider buying as individual remnants, so getting them together (and each is between 1/2 and a yard--the purple may even be a bit bigger) was awesome.  I see I have the black one upside down.  Those circles are actually balloons, each with a different pattern.  The white confetti one just screams "birthday" but could also be new years (or any festive celebration).  The purple is something I've actually seen before and thought cute but had no reason to buy (yardage).  All of these will look fabulous in my postage stamp quilt and I can think of plenty of other uses for the rest.

This bunch contains the only fabric I gave a "wtf?" look to.  Bet you can guess which one it is. 

Yeah, that camoflauge colored one with the saketboardesr/bikes is it.  I don't hate it (it's good quality) but it's something I would never buy on its own.  The only way it would come into my posession is through a mystery purchase like this (or in a bag from the thrift shop), if it was gifted to me by someone else (hey, I wouldn't turn it down), or if someone asked me to buy it to make something for them (and I kept the leftovers).  Thankfully that one is one of the smallest pieces I received (about 1/2 yard). 

The orange paisely next to it is also bordering on a "dud".  I like the colors but I'm not a fan of paisleys at all.  But it does match (sort of) the orange biker on that funky fabric, so I'm thinking I could make one hideous gift bag with the two.  I do swaps at Regretsy so. . .yeah, I may have to just do that.  I have about a yard of it so. . .

The blue one has great colors (really bright--again, my pics don't do any of these justice).  It's not something I'd ever buy even as a remnant but I do like it.  The pattern is really large so I might just use it twice in my postage stamp quilt.  I have NOTHING like it (color wise) in there yet so it's a welcome addition.

The skulls?  Yeah, I like them.  They'll be welcomed in the postage stamp quilt and I can see uses for it in other projects (maybe a skirt for a sock monkey?).

Overall I'm very pleased with this purchase.  I got a TON of fabric for $20.  And with, if you spend $35 you get free shipping, so I had an excuse to buy a few other things I'd had my eye on (which were on sale) so I met the minimum.

The fabrics are all good quality, not cheap stuff from the super clearance bins.  This batch had a lot from Timeless Treasures. 

My only beef with the pack (and this is super minor) is quite a few of the pieces had tape and/or staples on them (one small piece of tape in one spot).  It was only one staple (per piece--not all of them had it) and it came out without incident but it's annoying having to check for it.  The tape was less annoying except on the shiney fabrics.  It did take some of the shiney off (but it was along the selvage so it was no biggie).

I'd definitely buy one of these again.  But not for a while, since you get SO much with them. 

Great stash builder.  Great way to get you out of your comfort zone.  They'd also be great for a quilt along style project.  Everyone who joins could buy one (or two folks could go together and share one) and you have to use ONLY the stuff in your pack to make something.  That would be so FUN.