No bluebirds yet...

Just a quick progress report on "Bluebirds & Forget-me-nots" as it's going with me for today's seam building class...which I can see will be a favorite for me to teach..  No bluebirds as yet but I have used 3 different tiny blue flower beads and a precious piece of tiny  blue-flower trim on the upper right.

The majority of my work over the years went off in the mail for round robins but I had kept back some precious treasures for a when I did a project for myself and this cottage series is it... On the left is a exquisite angel on a heart created by Pat winter.. This will be its permanent home.

There were intensely cerise flowers (probably Monarda) in this cottage garden... I went over them quite heavily with a white colored pencil and am now stitching them over in shades of pink... Somewhere I have a little forget-me-not poem I did for Ati .  It would be perfect here but I can see it will be difficult to include it on this small block...


Need some color inspiration???

Need some color inspiration or help picking out the best colors for your fabrics?  You have a couple options...  If you have a photo or scan of your image or fabric you can upload it to a myriad of sites which are called " palette generators"...and they do just that... Working with the image you upload they find a palette for you...

 I uploaded the   picture upper left and my favorite palette generator picked these colors...

My preferred site is http://www.pictaculous.com/ because it offers a limited palette... Most of the sites give you huge palettes (19+) which is overwhelming. The biggest drawbacks to these sites is that you can't download, print or save the colors... I had to use the camera to get a picture of these colors because all that you can save is the color numbers which relate to various palette  swatches such as Adobe's.

So I seldom use these sites even though they are kinda fun. But this is the exception.... when I have a special image and want inspiration.. Such was the case with a photo taken in Morocco by my granddaughter.  I want to use it on a block for her and this is the palette I was shown.  Again I had to take a picture of the screen to save the palette but it was worth the hassle.

BUT IF YOU JUST WANT INSPIRATION  then this is a great site for you... http://www.design-seeds.com/. It is absolutely delightful.  You can't upload photos but if you subscribe, every few days they send you a couple images with a palette and they can be downloaded and saved which is what I'm doing with them.  Even if you don't subscribe it is a fun site to browse.... believe me this site  is a true gem.

This was their image and you can see how much nicer their color choices were for this image  than the ones given to me at a palette generator at the top of this post.   Cathy Kizerian posted this site on the web and I just fell in love with it.

When you're making fabric choices it would be nice to have a color palette you love to use as a reference.


Fool the eye!

My April block will be done early because I am using it as a working example for my new class of students. The very first class is what I call "dressing" the block... I bring LOTS of stuff and they go through it a pile at a time pulling bits and pieces for their blocks...not attaching it but putting it into a clear bag I give them.   First laces, then ribbons, then cording , then rick rack, and then trims... By then they can lay their bag next to their block and see that almost without conscious effort they have created a bag of "harmony" for their block... No matter what they take out of the bag  will work.. If this initial dressing stage is skipped, I feel it is impossible to backtrack.

But on my block that I'm starting to "dress"  I have a special situation.  I want the theme of this block to be bluebirds and forget-me-nots... a really true blue... but the patch upper left (see X) is an aqua blue which clashes... I'm sure everyone has tried to match two colors thinking they will be perfect but when placed next to each other they either clash or look like a different color... So I can either remove the patch and replace it with a better blue or I can overwhelm it with 7-8 shades of the blue I want and then magically it will begin to appear to be a soft green...  And the latter is what I'm going to do.



They arrived and take a look!

There are ten 8oz containers of paints for Behr... Not only were they a GREAT bargain, there was FREE SHIPPING.... They came with color swatches for the paints I ordered but also swatches for coordinated colors in case I wanted a darker, lighter or brighter version...  (see the 3 blues on the right)

There are 10 colors and after looking at them all I'm happy with my choices but think I need to add one more.. a darker purple to balance the deep  poppy red...

11 colors and fancy trims....what fun!!!

Now I have the actual colors the next step will be doing the door to scale and playing with color placement with my chosen colors...  I know I also want some stenciling on the door and some birds...  I will do several versions and let you give some input...

I know I have lots of bits and pieces of fancy trims stash in the barn  left from other projects... some only  12" but hope to find places for everything I have.   After I inventory what I have a trip to Windsor Hardware and Trim will be my last stop...The hardest part will be waiting until June when it is warm enough to remove the door and DH is out of town..  Some of the trim around the door I can do in the barn ahead of that time.......

 Yesterday I found the empty granola bin sitting right in front of my coffee pot... I suppose this to be one of my DH's subtle hints.  I didn't get it done but I did bake him a berry pie... Today starts the second of my Level One classes at the thread store...


Just a sliver makes a big difference....photo editing

This tip is really for those use photo editing software such as Photoshop or something similar... You really only need a "cut out tool" and a "smear tool" (aka smudge, blend etc.)  I have been doing my cottage images in circles and want to continue that format but have run into cottage images which are either to tall or wide to fit into this format.  And here are 3 examples of how I handled it.
Actually you can do this with copies of an image and cut and paste then scan... (What we used to do in the old days before computers) OMG that dates me for sure. When I learned these  tricks 35 years ago and it was all cut and paste with real photos and copies)

This is a precious cottage but if I cut it out in a circle I lose most of the foreground and some of the cottage... so here is how I solved that problem.. This works best with foliage, skies,water, etc.

I cut/copied off a sliver on each side of the photo. As you can see they are very narrow bits

When I attach them to the original shot I have this.  With my smudge/blending tool I can make the lines almost invisible.

Now when I cut out a circle I get more of the cottage and the foreground.  This still needs more blending.  Obviously this would be more difficult if you were trying to do an 8x10 but on a 3" circle for a CQ block it is perfect.

Now the problem with this cottage in a circle is if I am able to get the arbor (which I adore)  in the circle I will lose a lot of the cottage  and I would have no foreground..

So I  cut/copied a silver just on the left and on the bottom to get more foreground and then when added,  it looked like this. A more square shape.

And when I cut the circle I get this... I wait until I get the final circle shape cut to do  the "blending" of the seam.

Now for the last example this morning.  This cottage image is very tall and narrow and not conducive to a circle shape at all.

By  copy/cutting slivers from both sides I can change the shape enough to get the cottage in a circle. One added twist to this one.  Once I had the silver on the left cut out I flipped the image  so it would look like the other side of the tree...

Again I will have to do a little more blending on the right but I do have a more square shape suitable for a circle...

And here is the result... I know most of you will think I AM crazy to take the time to fiddle with these photos and not give up and look for another shape or another photo..

But I love the photo editing which is a hobby by itself and indeed you are right, I AM more than a little crazy... You can watch for these cottages in my CQJP series and I hope you at least enjoy what goes on behind the screen (oops I should say scene) ....so to speak...

Later I will demonstrate doing some of the same technique with colored pencils just on the fabric or photo itself.... no photoshop.


Let's talk turkey or what he don't know won't hurt him!

We were at a lovely gathering a couple weeks ago and the conversation turned to food preferences and my DH announced that he NEVER EVER eats chicken... After years of having dry rubbery chicken in his youth and in the navy,  he just never ate it again... Now we all know that chicken is a real stretcher of the food budget.

So if the truth be known my DH eats LOTS of chicken...  I just call it turkey... Every year during the holidays I buy a turkey and he bones the leftovers for the freezer...about 4-5 packages... He has never noticed that these few packages account for all the "turkey" dishes he eats the rest of the year...turkey lasagna,  turkey noodle casserole, turkey pot pie, turkey salad sandwiches, turkey noodle soup, turkey Florentine, turkey tetrazzini,  etc. etc. etc.

Tonight we are having manicotti stuffed with "turkey", ricotta cheese, chives and parmesan.


4 done, 5 to go!

I finished the seams and bead work on this block today... It is at "ready to assemble stage".  Over the several years I've been working on this I've acquired lots of  incredible antique metal and black glass buttons.  I don't intend to add the  buttons until all 9 block are sewn together.  I hope to use the button trails as transitions on the blocks... That's the plan anyway...

They look a bit unbalanced seen individually because the layout and color placement are  based on the piece as a whole.

My British readers will probably recognize Emmeline Pankhurst on this block... leader of the British suffrage movement and an inspiration for all to follow her lead.  To read more about her, try this site.  Except for Emmeline all the other women on this project are ordinary women of the time...

Doing the black floral motifs was a last minute inspiration and I couldn't be happier with them..  I   intend  to place each on a piece of black lace.

Here is a close-up photo... I had originally planned to do the roses with black velvet but like the organza  better... Remember a week ago when I bought the organza blouse and some satin lounging pants at the thrift store..?

This is the next block... The five remaining blocks are all at this stage..  All trims are in place and images are framed..  Only seams and beading are left to be done.. And march these ladies did!!! I just love the images and never tire looking at them and feeling proud and grateful.


Colors for my happy "Rainbow Door"

I have been gathering color palettes various ways... Some like upper left... I use the "color picker" feature in photoshop on things I think are happy like this piece of crazy quilt... Others palettes I've collected on fashion and home interior sites.

I want colors that make me happy and I can live with and colors  that won't shock my husband into a divorce or heart attack when he comes home and sees it... He didn't talk to me for 3 days after the porch project last spring.  Now he loves it. The nine colors upper right are Martha Stewart's spring rainbow palette and I really like it the best so far...

I did a little research and the brand of paint most often recommended for metal doors was Behr Ultra and I have been playing in their virtual color center where you can save colors and tweek them... I'm at the tweeking stage now.

Besides DH, my other concern was the cost as most paint centers won't custom mix anything less than a quart  and one quart would do the entire door... I want at least 8-9 colors... So the VERY BEST thing about the Behr site is they will send you 8 oz. samples of the colors you pick for only $3.98 and free shipping for over 4 colors... Now that is a real deal for this project and I may get 12-15 colors.. If there is paint left over I may paint birds and a rainbow on the garage doors..and on the barn too...    So when I'm too tired to stitch and it's too early to go to bed, I'm playing with paint colors..

Update: My  mother is out of the hospital, out of the nursing home and moved from a independent living unit to an assisted living unit.  I unpacked the last of the boxes yesterday.


Market cart in new trimmings

Remember a while back when I showed you my market cart that I'm using to haul supplies to my CQ classes? (on the left)  Well look at it on the right all decked out in its new liner...  Whatta ya think, Susie W.?

There was a cart on the internet that I admired that had a leather tool belt attached for pockets... I didn't want to appropriate my only leather tool belt, but I did have two canvas carpenter aprons....both equally grungy.  I soaked one in detergent and Oxyclean overnight and it came out well enough... I thought about buying a new one but this is a NO$$$ (from the barn) project.

This one has ten pockets of various sizes and I'm going to add a little lace trim to the pockets to finish it off...

It's nice to cross something off my list that wasn't even supposed to be on my list.


You must check out this blog!!!

You must check out this piece of embroidery. To a lover of whimsy and surface work this piece is just an incredible delight... It has brought me much joy this morning...and don't miss the fabulous spiderweb... I love a piece that tells a story and this certainly does that.


Want to take a walk to the barn?

DH was looking for his favorite paring knife this morning and accused me of throwing it away..  If it wouldn't have been so difficult to get up again, I'd fallen to the floor laughing.... I NEVER throw anything away.  Now that I've decided to do the front door I am going to need some impressive lumber to do a frame around it and of course if I'm doing the door I will need to do a frame around the entry porch... So I decided to poke around the garden and barn this morning to see what is salvageable. What I do know is:

  • I will need several days for this project
  • DH must be out of town
  • It must be warm enough to take the door off its hinges.
  • I have VERY limited funds most of which need to go for paint.
In the big sewing room in the barn (formally the tea room) there are about 40-50 feet of shelf around two walls. They  are wonderful 2x10s.  I would need a strong body to help me get them down as they are about 10ft  above the floor and I have promised DH and my doctor to stay off ladders. I was much younger when I put the shelves up and used a pulley and a 12' ladder.

I was thinking of some birds I carved for a bench and thought they might be suitable for over the entry to the porch...I knew the bench had since collapsed and found the birds were in pretty bad shape..  But I do have this faux thing over a window in the barn shop which I will repaint and use.   How many people do you know who have lace curtains on their barn window...?

And speaking of doors... Remember when I had an emotional meltdown over a door...  Well the replacement door (not nearly as nice) and is still sitting there on sawhorses.  Wouldn't it be nice if I could find the perfect use for this door this summer...?


I've decided I need a "rainbow: door.

I often have "visions" that just need to incubate.....sometimes for years until there is that "aha!" moment...  This morning was definitely an "Aha!" moment... One of my guiding principles of life is "if it's ugly, paint it." (In fact I have a section of the blog devoted to this principle " http://tinyurl.com/ayxbp6z "

My house is 107 years old, poorly built and entirely ugly...  I've had plenty of opportunities to be creative with nothing to lose. Originally this was a two room-house built with used lumber and enlarged with more used materials and repaired with duct tape.  A few years back we had to replace the old front door which disintegrated... I chose a nice metal door which is not ugly with every intention of painting it but never could settle on a color...

But this morning I ran across these doors on pinterest and knew instantly I needed a rainbow door...  I love the antique quality of the first door and the second door is about the size of my door but the paint looks too new and fresh. So this will give me a fun project to mull over and cogitate about until the weather is warm enough to do it.. 

I've "antiqued" lots of junk furniture over the years and have never tired of the look... Even though my door has some trim on it suitable for a rainbow look I can add lots more by going to one of my favorite stores... Windsor Hardware...  Then it brings to mind  that it has been about 20 years since I painted the cement porch with faux bricks and there is a pile of misc. tiles from travels that I intended for a utility shelf by the door..And I have always planned to add a zillion twinkling Christmas lights to the ceiling of the porch.



March done REALLY early

As life takes odd turns I ended up the last  couple weeks sitting with my mother and stitching.. The CQJP was much easier to tote about than the suffrage quilt.   Each block has a cottage of course but also I wanted each block to have its own definite personality...  In this block it is the fuchsias that are the drama queens and all else issubordinate.

In fact the hummingbird is such an extremely strong directional element  that  if there wasn't something to stop it your eye would fly right off the block...  Not only do the fuchsias do that but their triangular shape  bring the eye back into the block and around to the bird.  All else on the block is really only surface decoration..

And as usual once I get the block on the screen I see something I want to change... I can see with photo editing that I would like beading around the button  so I will do that   this evening.

The cutting shear brooch lower right was a gift from a special friend years ago and this seems the perfect resting spot for it...

By the way I didn't do the block and then paint the button.  The button was the inspiration for the block... Next month will be bluebirds and forget-me-nots.


How to make ribbon fuchsias.

I could have done these fuchsias right on the block with silk ribbon as the technique would have been the same.  But since I love the option of being able to move things around before they're in their final resting spot, I made the fuchsias in parts as you can see here.

First I gathered 4 little loops of 2mm white silk ribbon and secured them with thread and attached the stamens.  The I folded a length (about 3") and gathered at the fold.  I put 4 of these together and gathered at the top to make the petals.. Lower right on the plate are the buds.

First I attached the white inter-petals at the end of the chain/stem/ Then I positioned the larger petals just about the lower one and secured them..
 To cover the receptacle part and hide the gathering threads I did a vertical stitching. On the first try I tried going around the gathering horizonally but it didn't work... Vertical MUCH better!

I used the green thread to wrap the chain stem and then I could fuss and fiddle with the petals and tack them in place...

 Now they are ready for me to add the buds and leaves...  The leaves are going to be a bit of a challenge.  I would love to do them in the ribbon leaf stitch but I only have 2mm silk ribbon left in the right shades of greens.

They would be much easier to do the fuchsias a little larger... But since I stitched the hummingbird first I has forced to keep the flowers in scale to it so mine are only about 1" high.

So I'm again turning to a Di Van Niekerk  piece for inspiration..  This is part of one of her pieces. Notice some of these leaves are with the ribbon leaf stitch but many are just a chain stitch which is what I 'll use. I have all her books and highly recommend them.

You can see her work and find her books at her blog. She also has some tutorials on her site.  Her books are what I turn to whenever I want to do some ribbonwork...  You'll notice that she uses organza ribbon a lot... I think it's flowers that will allow me to use up my organza ribbons.


Early start on March

As you can see this is the very rough beginning to March...  I'm just starting to add the first of a cluster of fuchsias.  I did the hummingbird on felt with Krienik metallics and it is just pinned on for now...  I had to stop on the suffrage quilt because I was seldom home and this one was easy to carry when I have to be away so I got an early start on March... I have great plans for lower right but am saving it for last....

I should add that I'm using organza ribbon for the fuchsias.... In past years I've bought several large lots of silk ribbon on e-bay and usually included are packets of organza ribbons which I find hard too use... But I saw these gorgeous fuchsias  by Di Van Niekerk in SA and it looked like she used organza ribbon.. Unfortunately most of my organza ribbons are colors hard to overdye...
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