Today’s Featured Item: Organic Pluto Pillow

IMG_8832This astrological year started a new project,  The Pillow of the Month.  Each month, two new pillows are added to the collection; that month’s zodiac symbol and its corresponding planet.  I am running a little behind, and actually need to get started on my Leo and Sun pillows really soon, but for now, the lone wolf Pluto will have to do.  There is no real birthday associated with Pluto, except for Scorpio, which historically shared both Mars and Pluto, but now is coupled primarily with Mars.  But seeing as how Pluto has been decommissioned as a planet, this pillow felt timely, considering the recent resurgence of the debate as to whether or not Pluto should be considered a planet….I for one, feel that Pluto should absolutely be considered a planet because having only eight planets in our solar system is surely unlucky!  Bring Pluto back to its former glory and give it the credit it deserves so order can be restored and we can go back to having NINE planets in our solar system!  It is already such a long way from all other planets, and can very rarely attend the Sun’s fancy tea parties.  Let’s not throw sand on the playground just because it lives so far away and is so very, very small.  As I was reminded this week at the Springer Opera House‘s showing of The Little Prince, even the smallest of planets can yield wonderful lessons and great adventures.  As it may be with Pluto.  We may never know if we turn our backs on this distant rock in our solar system….Anyway, to see the facts on this pillow, if you’ve heard enough of my childish gibber, click this very grown up link here.  I am off to go tend my Volcanoes.

Scrap Projects – Pennant Banners

IMG_8578 Sometimes, cutting into that fresh yardage of fabric is so rewarding, but at the same time, almost wistfully sad because you know that before long, that print will be gone forever, especially if it is a one of a kind vintage piece.  Exciting because of all the possibilities of what it could become, sad because who knows when you will IMG_8721be able to find something so spectacular again?  For fabric cuts that aren’t vintage, it simply means that you must now buy more to make more, and so on and so forth.  Sometimes it isn’t the fresh cuts of fabric that pull your attention, but the smallest off cuts, the rejects, the leftovers.  Sometimes, I relish in the leftover projects.  How many things can I make without cutting ANY new fabric?!  Answering that question has been my focus this week.  This stash busting session has been a little different because this time, the scraps are my own designs and that adds its own special flavor to the projects.  So what do you do when you only have small randomly shaped bits, fabric test swatches, off cuts from bedding, and other various leftovers?  Flag buntings are such a cute way to dress up a blank wall, and are an affordable gift for a person who may already have everything and need nothing.  Not to mention, they are hot photo props, IMG_8579party decorations, and can be reused over and over unlike their paper counterparts.  I make a flag roughly 5-6 inches across the top, and 6-8 inches down, depending on the size scraps I have.  The best fabric to use for banners like this are fabrics that do not have a direction, because you can use both the triangles, verses a directional print (that is meant to be seen from one way or another), which will have half of your cuts being upside down.  In the case of my rhino prints, I saved the upside down flag shaped triangles as scraps for a different project, such as a scrappy mountain quilt that will need lots of triangles of different shapes and sizes.  I was able to get roughly 15 banners from a stack of off cut fabrics, each banner having 11 pennants.  Instead of investing a lot of time into a project that was meant to be a quick use of scraps, and making my own binding to hang the flags from, I bought binding from the store for about $2 each.  IMG_8583They come in dozens of colors, and measure about 3 yards long, which is a perfect length for a good banner.  I got the “Extra Wide Double Fold” bias tape, which is not really all that wide.  Only about 1/2 inch actually, but none-the-less, that is the name.  It can be found in most fabric or craft stores.  I serged my banner flags to a solid backing of organic cotton sateen fabric because it was what I had available and on hand, but you could use anything for the backing fabric (the cheaper the better!  You won’t really see it IMG_8740anyway!).  Having two layers for the banner will give them a nice weight so they will hanging nicely.  If you don’t have a serger, which most folks probably don’t, no worries!  You can simply stitch around the outside of the two layers (the front and
back) and then cut the edges with pinking shears so that they don’t fray excessively.  If you want to be really fancy, you can stitch the two layers with right sides together, and then turn them inside out for a very finished and durable style.  My goal was to make as many as I could, in the shortest amount of time possible, so I chose the serging technique.  Plus, I just really love the way serged stitches look.  It gives a sort of raw yet refined look to any project.  So there you go.  Not really a tutorial, just a reminder that scraps can be fun too, and to get creative when you see that discarded pile, and see what you can create with them!  Tomorrow, I will share some quilt tops I made from scraps too. IMG_8753

Today’s Featured Item – Thin Cotton Blankies for A Georgia Summer~

I have been investing so much time into quilting lately, that a fast IMG_8040and simple project was just what I needed today!  It was a good reminder too, how refreshing it can be to change the pace sometimes and avoid getting into a creative rut of doing the same things each day.  I just got this organic thermal cotton a couple of weeks ago, and decided to try dyeing it with my last batch of muslin to see how it would hold the dye.  I was thrilled with the result!  It has such a nice weight and drape, and is SO super soft.  I never thought of using it as a backing for blankets or quilts until recently, when it came out so pretty after dyeing.  I also had some of my own designs that I had been holding onto for a while, not sure what to do with them, when I started getting restless with this thermal and really wanted to make something with it.  I liked the grey and aqua flying cats print the best and decided they needed to be paired together, but I just couldn’t shake this feeling…What would you call it?….Oh yes.  Sweat.  I am sweating all day every day.  It’s June in Georgia, and I just couldn’t go for one more thick, hot, full-blown quilt.  So what came from this 90+ degree inspiration?  These lightweight, single layer, thin cotton blankets.  The perfect solution to the summertime nights!  IMG_8002They are roughly the size of a crib quilt, measuring 33″ x 55″ and are made with a classy rolled hem out of GOTS certified organic cotton, high thread count sateen.  Once things start cooling down again, they can be used as flat sheets on a toddler bed as well, or if you are REALLY using your imagination, they can be used in your IMG_7993next amazing couch fort or to create an instant secret hideout under the table.  Easy breezy.  I added some new prints, in addition to the grey and aqua flying cats to the Etsy shop today, for fitted sheets and changing pad covers.  I would tell you how I got the idea for a flying cat fabric, but that story is for another day.  Cheers!

A Simple Rhino Tale

It started as a simple craft done at the kitchen table.  The kids had been given this gingerbread man cutout that was laminated so they could bring it home and trace it, play with it, make more gingerbread men…You get the idea.  But this made them want to make other shapes that they then traced and colored, like the gingerbread man.  There came from this simple day of play, a collection of rhinos.  Large and small, bright and bold, with fierce horns, and bowed heads.  Some even had two heads…one on each side!  (Just to represent the monstrous side of things!!)  They were so precious.  The kids cut them out, colored them, and turned them into puppets with popsicle sticks.  Like many things born in this way, they were all too soon forgotten, having fallen under the table, or stuck behind a chair, and they were no longer interested in playing with them.  That is when my inspiration struck!  IMG_5970

You see, I had been experimenting with fabric design, and playing around with my own doodles for a couple of weeks, trying to get the hang of the graphic nature of online fabric design.  In a moment of brilliance, I saw these sweet, disregarded rhinos for what they were…Complete and total inspiration!   My kids might have been finished with them, but I was only getting started.  I deconstructed the popsicle stick version, and layed them out on a white surface to photograph, and the rest is history.  I now have a collection of ten or so fabric designs, all featuring the rhino stick puppet cut outs.  I love them.  When I look at them, I am instantly happy, rejuvenated, and transported back to that magical day.  I know it was a magical day because I have tried over and over to recreate the experience with no luck whatsoever.  They can tell I am onto them now, and like the tap-dancing, singing frog, they just sit there and ribbit at me when I suggest in my most cheerful voice, “Who wants to make some stick puppets with a new animal today!?”  I IMG_3911know it will come back around one day, but for now, I am utterly smitten and happy with our little rhino collection.
Each time an item sells with the fabric they helped design, I tell them about it, and give them a little cash for their piggy banks.  It has become a source of pride and joy for them to see their drawings made into something lasting and tangible.

Then one day a few months ago, I receive this letter through Etsy:

“Hey there,
I am a Zookeeper with the Toronto Zoo and I am organizing a fundraiser through our AAZK committee to help raise money for Rhino Conservation! Last year we were able to raise over $17,000!
We are currently looking for any Rhino related items that companies/ organizations would be willing to donate as auction items for our event! All funds go directly towards the facilities that support Rhino Conservation!
If you would consider donating a Rhino blanket I also have an official letter I could send you along with more information need be!
We REALLY appreciate every little donation and will definitely advertise what companies donated items for our auction in hopes that it would also help you get more business!
I hope to hear from you soon and am happy to answer any questions you may have!
Thank you!”IMG_9886

I thought that was so awesome.  Awesome in so many ways…the conservation of rhinos?  CHECK!  The pleasure of meaningful donations? CHECK!  Getting our family business all the way out to Toronto? CHECK!  And my favorite one of all…Talking to my daughter about the significance of this project?  Check.  I let her read the letter and asked her what she thought.  She does have a sense of ownership over these blankets and quilts with her drawings on them, and if I was to give one away, I wanted to know how she felt about that.  It meant I wouldn’t get paid for it, which would mean she wouldn’t get any dollars for her piggy bank either.  Did she even hesitate for one, single second?!  Of course she didn’t.  She thought it was amazing and awesome too.  We looked into the organization together and IMG_1513did some rhino research, and we became even more aware of the issue than we already were.  When I shipped the blanket off to Toronto, I made sure she knew it was on the way, and we celebrated the moment together.

I guess the moral of the story here is this…You never know where an idea will take you.  You never know what small thing will one day become a very big and important thing.  You never know when a laminated gingerbread man made from blue construction paper and sent home in your child’s school folder will change the way you do business.  You just never know, and isn’t that amazing!  Now I see rhinos everywhere.  Mostly they are sad stories about poaching, or declining populations, but I hear them.  I am aware of them, and I donate to the cause as I am able because it feels like the right thing to do…and the kids think so too!

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Today’s Featured Item: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Quilt

il_570xN.602463201_byuyToday’s featured item is a fun and different way to expose your little ones to music.  Featuring notes from only the treble clef of the song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, the notes are all correctly rendered and positioned to reflect the tune.  It is a whole cloth quilt, meaning that the top of the quilt is not pieced, but consists of one entire cut of fabric.  The back is straight black, and it has black binding as well.  I wanted the quilt to reflect the simplicity of sheet music, so I chose to only use the white and black colors on this one, although I did an Amazing Grace quilt and added colorful binding, which I preferred once I saw it as a finished project. It is 100% GOTS organic cotton, with organic cotton and bamboo batting inside.  I really enjoyed making this quilt, and can see it going in so many cool directions…For example, with someone who writes their own music and wanted to give a personalized quilt as a gift…So funky and unique!!  To see the Etsy listing, click here.

Today’s Featured Item

IMG_5186This quilt is one of my new creations of 2015.  It features hand dyed organic cotton muslin and wonky, perfectly imperfect circles.  What I love about this quilt is that I had never used circles before…Never actually sewn circles, to tell the truth.  When I imagined this quilt and drew it out in my notebook, I never thought I would have so much fun with the circles.  First, I cut out my large squares and large circles.  I cut them all into quarters, and layered the quarter circle on top of the quarter square, and then traced the circle shape onto the square and cut it out.  I actually wanted the circles to be wonky and improvisational looking, and was surprised at how uniformly it all turned out, even though I didn’t use a template or anything to trace out my circles!  Raspberry Pie, make your big debut!

Plus Sign Quilt and My Discovery of the Red Cross Quilt Project

I wanted to make a plus sign quilt, which led me to the internet for some research.  We are flooded with images, stories, and blips that we register as cool or nostalgic.  We file it away in the back of our minds, thinking one day I will try that, or that reminds me of something I had as a child, or evokes some other nameless emotion.  So it was for me with the new rage of plus sign quilts everywhere.  It is the new symbol of gender neutral and packs a powerful stream of thoughts and emotions, but whose idea was it originally?  This was something I wanted to find out before I actually made anything with this design, as it has become increasingly important to me to be as completely original and authentic as I possibly can with everything I make.  IMG_2831So of course, I went to Wikipedia and various quilt indexes to see who made the FIRST plus sign quilt.   I found that while the notion of a “Plus Sign” Quilt might be a modern one, the symbol of the Red Cross is not even remotely new or original to anyone living today…Especially quilters.  The sign of the American Red Cross, an organization founded in 1881 by Clara Barton, is very well known and recognized as a symbol for humanitarian aide and distaster relief.  So much so that in 1917 during World War I, in an effort to raise money to help with recovery at home, a quilt campaign was established that called anyone who could make and contribute a quilt featuring the symbol of the Red Cross, to do so.  The quilts were auctioned off to the highest bidder and funds were used to help purchase ambulances and other emergency equipment.  A lot has happened since that time, and now plus signs are everywhere.  I felt pretty safe in assuming that I would not be infringing on anyone’s rights to make a quilt featuring plus signs, but the symbol reminds us that there is always growth that can happen after something traumatizing happens in our lives.  It reminds us to have hope for more and to stay strong.  My research led me to realized that the symbol is bigger than me or my creative juices, or one person out there who may have made a plus sign quilt.  It is a symbol, almost universal, to make this world a better place and to help one another.  I decided to try a simple screen print for this initial project.  I really enjoy the process of screen printing, but as with most new techniques, it still remains a bit of a mystery to me.  I printed a large, whole piece of organic cotton muslin with black water-based, non-toxic ink, and made it into a double thick playmat, measuring 60″ x 60″.  Organic hemp denim went on the back, with two layers or organic cotton and bamboo batting inside.  This project sold last year, but I want to make another one day.

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Jane’s Wedding Tree – Part Two

Jane’s Wedding Tree stitch art began with a very simple drawing and picking out colors based on photographs she had provided for me.  All of these colors are organic cotton scraps from my hand dyed fabric collection.  These make the prettiest range of colors, which are rich but also soft, perfect for this project!  Next, I made the “streamers” for the tree by ruffling LOTS of little fabric strips.  Some of these strips were originally one yard long, and ended up being only 10 inches!  Putting this together involved cutting and placing the pieces where they should go to make the stitch art resemble the Wedding Tree as much as possible.  I ironed everything to keep it in place before securing it with the stitches.  Drumroll, please!  Here is the finished product!  I am really happy with the way it turned out, and I think it captures the spirit of Jane’s Wedding Tree pretty well.

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And here she is again, the beautiful Jane under her wedding tree!  Congratulations on the two year mark, dear friend!!  Here’s to many, many more wonderful years!  Cheers!

Jane's Wedding Tree 3(1)

 

Jane’s Wedding Tree – Part One

This is my friend Jane’s wedding tree.  I love Jane.  Jane is a straightforward girl with a head full of words, and a heart full of love for kids.  Jane is a teacher.  I love Jane.  Now that my very simple tribute is over, let me say that when my friend Jane came to me and told me that she loved my stitch art so much that it gave her an idea, I couldn’t wait to hear what she had come up with.  Trees speak to us all in different ways, and this tree was a thing of beauty for Jane.  She wanted to get married beneath it’s soaring branches, and so she did.  Her sister decorated the tree with these colorful streamers, and it has since become a very special symbol of their marriage.  For their first anniversary, which is symbolized with paper, her darling husband made her a picture of the tree with tissue paper and glue.  What a lucky pair!  While touching, sweet, and oh-so-meaningful, the paper didn’t hold up so well over time.  Her second anniversary is rolling around the corner, which is symbolized with cotton.  How perfect!  I had no idea that my most favorite medium was cornerstone of second anniversary gifts, but Jane did.  And she knew what she wanted to give to her guy for their second anniversary:  A stitch art picture of their wedding tree.  Today I will make Jane’s Wedding Tree, and I am so excited to get started! 

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Hand Dyed Organic Muslin

I have a new love for fabric dying!  I love the art of fabric dying because you are in complete control of the type of fabrics used (it is really hard to find organic solids in a wide range of colors…they are mostly bright primary style colors), the depth of color, and the relationship of one batch to another.  For instance, the range of colors you can get by varying the amount of time the fabric stays in the dye results in this pleasant gradiant of color that is going to be beautiful in quiltmaking!  These colors are so rich and subtle, powerful yet gentle at the same time.  The dyes are fiber reactive, non toxic, and can be mixed and matched to create custom colors as well.  The possibilties are endless.  All cotton used is 100% organic, but I am currently in the process of experimenting with PFD (prepared for dye) fabric, verses regular unbleached fabric, because there is a better variety of options available if you don’t limit yourself to the PFD.  I am also experimenting with different fabric types, such as muslin verses poplin, fleece, silks, canvases, dye concentrations, and anything else I can think of!  This was the first collection of fabrics, and they came out beautifully!! I bought the dye from the Dharma Trading who also sells a really nice variety of ready to dye projects for the do-it-yourselfer!  As indigo is one of my most favorite dyes, and I really love the historic relevence of the “color that seduced the world”, I would like to try that next!  But first, to fully explore this style of fabric dying.

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