Friday, May 30, 2014

Colette's Reward...

Professional dress forms right out of the box are like oversized Barbie dolls. Nobody has that figure. It's always amazed me that the Project Runway contestants use dress forms right out of the box.  The contestants usually have to alter everything they create once their live runway models come in for fittings.

My mini-me dress form Colette needed some major "enhancements" in order to mimic my size and shape when I first brought her home. I purchased a kit off the internet which consisted of a box of various foam pads and shapes to stuff into a stretchy cover. That was a couple of years ago. After several months of Whole 30 healthy eating, I shed some pounds, and Colette shed some padding.

To celebrate her more svelte form, I made her a new dress.  If you follow SuZan's blog, FabricLady,
you know that I made her a top out of this same knit fabric. I used a Burda top pattern ( #7645) and just kept adding length, converting it to a maxi-dress. I added splits up the sides at the hemline.


"Congrats on your weight loss, Colette" I said as I slipped the soft knit dress over her headless body.

"Thanks, Lo. It's good to get some of that foam off the girls. You should keep going with that weird eating thing you're doing...it working great for me!"

Colette is such a kidder.

Laurel. A little lighter.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Drag and Drop...

I used to paint in oils...then came acrylics...I spent a few moments dabbling in watercolor... all of which I never really conquered.  My last painting still hangs on my living room wall, the last vestige left of my pseudo Van Gogh brain. I made a fabric art quilt too, and even have one in a half-finished state in my sewing room. I gazed over at it on the wall, thinking I should finish it. That was last week.

Scoff if you will, you true artists, but I will say it again - I love Polyvore. Sure, it's mostly about fashion, but there is a whole world of dark and twisted people who create the most amazing digital art using this web application. It's more addicting than blogging, per se, as results are pretty instantaneous. People view your creations (sets) and with a click of the mouse, they "Like" it. If they Like what you create, then they "Follow" you, just like blogging. I just surpassed 200 followers in a relatively quick 3 months...my blog has eked out 77 followers after some 4 years. Go figure...

So am I better Polyvore than a writer? Who knows or even cares, for that matter. I still love to blog (write) AND I love digital artwork...and right now, I seem to be a Polyvore addict. It takes me the same length of time to create a Polyvore set as it does to write a blog post. I am all about creating something beautiful, something fanciful, something thought provoking, using digital images available on the web, Pinterest, etc. Drag and drop, cut and paste, clip and crop. Some of my art works have as many as 50 unique little images. It's like collage or scrap booking, only less messy.

Okay, there are some of my fellow Polyvores who must be designing for paperback Romance novel covers, but even those sets are amazingly complex. And you have to wonder where their minds are going...for me, it doesn't involve any brainpower whatsoever. The finished images just make me smile. A few of them I wish I could hang up on my wall...but then there's this whole digital pixel sizing limitation...maybe someday I graduate into creating in Photoshop...

Here are some of my favorites...and I say, don't scoff, until you've tried it.




 



 






 

And finally, this set is my very favorite..."Perchance to Dream"
 Laurel. Drag and Drop Queen.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dress a Girl Serve Day

Imagine a world where every little girl has a new dress...that's the theme of Dress of Girl Around the World.

Every parent of a girl can identify and every parent understands the world is not a safe place for some girls.  The threats of slavery and abuse are very real for girls in parts of the world that we, living here in our warm safe homes can't even imagine.  A new dress on these little girls says "somebody cares about me...I am special."  It may not seem like a big deal to us, but it's a detractor against that abuse and it matters.

Some 200 men (yes men!), women and children gathered together on Bayside's annual Serve Day to make dresses for girls. It was a flurry of activity, even for those who don't sew. The room was alive with hope while little silent prayers were sent up to the "music" of the laughter, the making of new friends and the hum of the machines.

We all believed we will make a difference in a life. Here is our Serve Day story in pictures...





























Sue packs up the day...Looking for a new home for our Sew Fests at Bayside.



Laurel. Loving Dress a Girl.

Monday, May 19, 2014

California Harvest Quilt

I don't often re-post, but I always have people who ask me if I quilt, so I thought I would re-share this post from 2012 featuring my one and only art quilt.  As you may know, I've started another quilt, but I haven't been inspired to get back to it...it's takes a lot of strength to machine quilt, so I'm working on my push-ups for now.

Enjoy,
Laurel
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I had a whole list of things I was going to do when I retired: travel, read, sew, make jewelry, paint, etc. Upon retirement, I purchased two things that I had coveted for years - an 6' ebony grand piano and a Viking sewing machine that all but talks back to you. My goals were to take lessons on the piano and make an art quilt.  I had visited a fiber artist's studio loft downtown and was impressed by the creative way she worked with patterns, textures and colors. Her pieces were huge and in demand in commercial office spaces and hotels all over the world.  I wanted to try my hand at making a large "quilt", as is my style - to jump in way over my head when trying something new.

My hubby had planted sunflowers several years ago in our back yard, and together with some heirloom tomatoes, I created the prettiest still life on my kitchen counter one summer evening.  I wanted to capture the beauty so snapped a couple of pictures. Just for fun I started messing with the image in Photoshop, blurring the background. I loved the result and I decided that this photo would be the subject of my first art quilt.

Hurdle No. 1)  Create a pattern.

I took the digital file of the photo and entered it into a cross stitch pattern maker called PC Stitch.  The computer program converts a photo into a mass of tiny pixels and if you had every DMC floss color in the world (which I do), it would take you a year to stitch it.  So I simplified the color palette and created white borders around the shapes that I wanted to eventually convert into fabric. When I printed out the pattern sheets for the whole picture, I had twenty-five 8 1/2" X 11" pages.









Hurdle No. 2) Matching the pattern pieces

Because I decided to do this quilt in squares (not sure that was the wisest of decisions) the individual elements of the bouquet and background overlapped into multiple squares.  So each fabric piece, each petal, each leaf had to be matched with it's adjoining sections.  What a pain.














I decided that I wasn't going to use the traditional applique technique, but just pin the pieces on a white backing and use a machined blanket stitch.  That's actually a slight fib - I didn't know how to do the traditional applique techniques.  But it all worked out.  I started on one row and quickly discovered that I probably should have gone left to right and top to bottom.  It was difficult and time consuming to match the elements, especially with the detailed flowers. I changed threads on each element to match each new color of fabric. Lot's of tag ends to clip!!

Hurdle No. 3) Every quilt needs a back!


Choosing the batting was easy.  Since my squares were rather weighty and thick in some areas, I wanted the batting to be light weight.  Someone recommended a natural cotton.  The fabric for the back of the quilt was a little harder to pick.  I thought perhaps a batik with a pattern might camouflage my irregular and erratic machine quilting.  I used a multi color cotton thread for the bobbin, so the stitching on back would be somewhat uniform.

Hurdle No.4) The quilting

I knew that someday I was going to have to face the actual quilting of my project.  My new Viking was capable of free motion quilting. but I had never done it before.  The Answer - take a class! I practiced and practiced to get a good rhythm and learn how to work the fabric through the feeder foot, but I was totally stymied by the many patterns within the project.  I wanted it to look like a painting with thread, but didn't know how to get there.  I had a friend who is an excellent quilter come over and give me some ideas of stitching patterns, and after quite some time (I must have just stared it for over a month), I decided to dive in and just start sewing.  The more I stitched, the easier it became, and the farther I got, the more fun and intricate my patterns became.




Almost one year from the start, I finished my quilt, and dubbed it California Harvest. It measures 38" X 48" and hangs in my dining room. I still enjoy looking at it.


It's been a couple of years since I completed California Harvest.  A quilting friend of mine sponsored my work in a regional quilt show, and it was so gratifying to watch the  seasoned quilters gaze and admire it. It's not perfect by any real quilter's standards, but it was an accomplishment for me just to actually finish it! Amazingly, I am just about ready to try another one. I rather doubt I will use the same technique - there's got be an easier way:)

Laurel
Happy quilting!
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