Sunday, March 21, 2010

Playing around with settings

The few people who are reading this right now will have noticed that I've changed the template for the blog.  I'm not sure that I'm happy with the one I'm using (I do like the funny little swirls and swoops, but I'm not sure it's quite the final look I'm going for).

However, as I'm not yet ready to make my own (but I am learning!), this one will do.  Now to dive back into learning how to make my own template.  Or at least my own background image!

Are there any particularly good tutorials out there?


Friday, March 19, 2010

Calm Friday

So, Geordie's car's water pump sprung a leak last weekend. He and his friend Eric are going to spend this weekend pulling the front end of the car off and fixing the water pump - and everything else in there. I've heard things like 'timing belt' and 'front snub mounts' and just smiled and nodded.

It's not that I'm not technical, it's that I don't have the beginner knowledge to make their high-level discussion even make sense.

My contribution to this weekend's extravaganza will be the ample provision of food, baked goods and delicious drink. Eric has specific foods he doesn't like to eat (all dairy - ALL dairy, and no red meat), so I'm going to have to work out how to bake without using any butter.

I asked a friend, who looked at me like I was a complete dimwit and said, "Margarine?".


Right. It's been so long since I've used anything except Real Butter that I'd sort of forgotten that a traditional subsitute exists. I'd been thinking that using solid vegetable shortening would taste awful.

I'm thinking of making this - I hope it'll taste okay even with margarine.  I love lemon pound cake.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Creativity abounds

I'm finally back to making more art on a regular basis. I've already covered a couple of plastic tubs with contact paper - something I've wanted to do with them for ages, but never got around to doing. They still look like plastic tubs, but they're prettier, and that's what counts for me.

Now I'm working on bleaching out some shirts that I've stained. I am a (proud?) member of the group of people who Wear Their Food. I can't help it - if there's a sauce, I get some on me. If there's any chance in the world something will drip or splatter, I'm the one who'll end up with the spray.

I like the idea of bleach art on shirts - I found several links to interesting tutorials and projects around the 'net: Cute dishcloth; Archaeopteryx hoodie; and the most amazing one is this: Koi I'm in awe of the last one - I MUST make that for myself. Well, or something like it.

Anyway, I have several shirts I'd like to keep, but which are stained beyond comfortable wear.(Sometimes, all it takes is one stain in an unfortunate place to move a beloved shirt from everyday to never.) I bought two bleach pens (Clorox brand; they were less expensive at my local CVS than they are on Amazon!) and set to work.

(Gathered Supplies - please note the coffee and leftover Chinese food.  They're very important!)

First I cut down a cardboard shipping box my ex gave my daughter some easter stuff in. I wanted to make sure there would be a solid barrier between the front of the shirt, where the bleach was going, and the back of the shirt (and the tablecloth underneath!).

 Thick end of the pen.
 Thin end of the pen.

Then I stared at the blank canvas of slightly stained shirt, bit my lip and started drawing. I love making these swirls - they're on every single piece of paper I doodle on. The bleach flowed well - it's a gel, not a liquid - but there were more bubbles than I'd like. I think that next time I'll shake the tube, as instructed, then tap it sharply several times before I open it, so the bubbles rise to the surface.

Swirl pattern on the first shirt.

Sleeve detail

Rinsing with vinegar helps stop the bleach discharging.

It really is a gel - after a few minutes, it sets up into almost a solid.

Rinsed off - I think I'll have to add more layers to it, though. It seems ... unfinished. What do you think?

I was surprised by the results of the first shirt; for some reason I wasn't expecting the shirt to discharge to white in the center of the bleached areas. I think it's not finished - I'm going to wash it and then see about adding more layers to the art. It's ... like a background paper right now. This one shirt used a full tube of the bleach, though.  I was disappointed; I expected more. I'm not sure why, though.

On the second one, I was more circumspect with the bleach. I like the idea of lace around the neck, so I tried to draw in something that would imply lace. I'm not sure I'm done with this one - maybe beading around the neckline? Also, isn't it interesting, but this one didn't discharge to white - it's an odd yellowish color. I'll have to decide if I like that or not.  I was hoping this one would go all the way to white.

Bleach lace with the gel on.

See the odd color? I'm not happy with that - I"ll have to figure something out.

The last one I decided to just be girly with, so it got flowers and dots. I made sure to put a flower on each sleeve as well.

Feminine and fun, I hope.

Interestingly, the bleach didn't shift around (that gel again!), but when I rinsed this one, some of it shifted on the sleeves, so there are ghost images. I kind of like them, but I know that not everyone will, so I wanted to make sure I mentioned it.

I'm also working on a felt-covered book from the book Re-Bound A friend and I are trading hand-made gifts, and this is one of the things I want to make for her. I'm sewing the felt flowers and decorations onto the cover. (And my honey just ordered Eco Books for me! I'll tell you all about it as soon as it arrives!)

I like the blue flower, but I sort of want to add more color.  The closest craft store has a terrible selection of felt!
I could always sew a bluebird onto it!!

I'm going to embroider her name onto the cover as well.  I hope she likes it.(She doesn't read this blog, so I can post the pictures without worrying about spoiling the surprise for her.) I'm also giving her a small bag I sewed, one of the pretty scalloped garlands, and maybe some nice yarn. I'm hoping to finish the garland tomorrow; then I'll put the package in the mail Saturday, maybe.

Geordie is home now, so I'm going to work on dinner and other family stuff. I had a very nice Thursday, making things and being creative. It's such a nice feeling, being relaxed about making art.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

So, I promised Marion I’d post about Coin quilts and why they’re called that. I’ve put it off for far too long. However, I seem to have wandered around a bit, and this turned into a post about stripy quilts and tutorials for different types.

What prompted her question is this quilt I made, which I called Dollar Coins.

I’ve also made this one, Pound Coins, for Geordie’s mom, for Christmas. She’s said, by the way, that she uses it all the time on her bed. I’m glad she has something warm to sleep under; it’s been very cold in the northeast of England.

So, coin quilts. Right. Sometimes they’re called Chinese coin quilts, sometimes they’re called Roman Stripe, some people combine Roman Stripe with Rail Fence.

This is a good tutorial for Roman Stripe quilts: Mary's Quilts Roman Stripe. She also has a tutorial for Chinese Coins: Mary's Quilts Chinese Coins. (In point of fact, she has good tutorials for lots of interesting quilts.)

This post seems to have wandered off topic. Coin quilts and the history of same.

I’ve always heard that the “traditional” method for coin quilts is based on the Charm Quilt, one in which each piece is the same shape and size and each fabric only occurs once. The name comes from the small, coinsized, pieces of fabric used. Since I made the first one for his mom, who’s British, I used their monetary system. For the one on my couch, I used mine. I like the format, and will be making more.

Most people making modern quilts seem to use the faster, strip-piecing method. Here's a tutorial Quilter's Cache tutorial. Moda Bake Shop has a tutorial for a smaller, baby-sized one that uses two charm packs.

I haven't been able to do much crafting or sewing in the past couple of weeks.  The house is diabolically cluttered, and I've spent the time trying to clear things out.  I've managed to do some good downstairs; I'm hoping the upstairs will go quickly.  My craft room is kind of scary, though.  It's seriously over-filled and under-organized.  I think the best way to deal with it might be to take everything out (or as much as possible) and start with an empty room.  I've made some progress, though; one side of the room is going to have mostly sewing and knitting supplies and the other will be mostly paper crafts and other stuff.

I can't wait to get back into the craft room to make things!