Friday, February 26, 2021

Tags Three and Four

When the #52tags project began I wasn't sure I wanted to participate fully. I made my first "tags" on my Winter Scroll, up until about the sixth tag. After that I started making ATC versions of the prompts. 

The prompt for the third tag was scrappy. Anne had been given a bunch of narrow strips that she folded in half lengthwise and then stitched down onto her foundation along the fold line, nestling each new strip right up against the previous one. That resulted in a lovely fluffy texture but also created more dimension than I wanted on my scroll or on my ATC. So on my scroll I just dug out tiny fabric scraps (of which I have plenty!) and stitched them to the foundation with scraps of leftover threads.

I actually like it better than my ATC version. I used essentially the same technique the second time around but my stitching is all hidden. At the time I wanted the scraps to be loose flaps more than quilted in place.

The prompt for the fourth tag was fly stitch. Anne plans to make one stitch the focus of one tag each month. Here's what I did with the fly stitch on my scroll:

And this is the ATC version:

This time I followed Anne's lead a bit more closely around the button. 

The prompts appear on YouTube on Fridays. I was caught up until this morning. Now I'm two tags behind again - I still have to make last week's tag featuring French knots, pistil stitch, and bullion stitches. I'm not worried about the French knots or pistil stitches, but I'm not looking forward to the bullion stitches. I've never done them before but they have a bad rep. The newest prompt is to use bits and pieces (of fabric and lace) and something you've received as a gift or found. That will be fun! 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Tags One and Two

I have made the decision to bow out of the tri-weekly SAL. Partly to take some pressure off myself, partly so I can set aside the #12pages book project I've been featuring in those posts with a clear conscience. It's time to do the cover for that book and I haven't a clue how I want to proceed. I've also become distracted by a new project. Don't tell me you're surprised because I know it's not true. 😁

I don't recall whether I've mentioned this new project here or not, and I'm too lazy to go back through my posts to find out. Suffice to say that Anne Brooke, the creator of the #12pagesofChristmas book project has created a new endeavor for 2021. She's calling it #52tagshannemade (the 'hannemade' designation ties it to her specifically). She presents a slow stitch prompt each week and those who are playing along then do a bit of stitching in response. Most folks are attaching the stitchery to some form of shipping tag per Anne's example. One tag per week, 52 weeks in the year, and you end up with 52 tags. I did my first "tags" on my Winter Scroll stitch wrap. Anne started us off with an all-white prompt as a nod to the new year. The next prompt was to make a heart in a contrasting color to the background. I mashed the two prompts together on my scroll. I went so far as to put a bit of my own dried lavender from the summer under my heart patch.

I stitched a couple more "tags" on my scroll before deciding to make a change. I could see that the scroll was soon going to be very cumbersome to work on so I switched to an artist trading card format. That gave me about the same amount of space Anne is using on her tags but I'll find a tin or something in which to keep my cards instead of threading them on a binder ring. To have a complete set of ATC's at the end of the year however, I needed to make the first tags over again. Of course they don't look much like the originals! 

My do-over for the all white prompt turned out this way:

A tag on a tag, completely unplanned. There's some shiny white tulle under the tag shape, and two different white fabrics make up the foundation of the ATC. I'm still using cotton batting under the fabric. I've got to do something to make a dent in my pile of scrap batting and I like the substance the batting gives to these little pieces. At the moment I'm using a double-sided tape to stick a piece of card stock to the backs of these ATC's so I can annotate them. 

The replacement heart tag began with a scrap of wool in the shape of a heart. 

Not sure I improved on it with my stitches and French knots but this is all about experimentation and practice for me. The charm is a reminder to that effect. πŸ˜‰

I have more tags to share with you and a couple to catch up on still. At least this will give me something to blog about! 

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Snow and Stitching

The topic of the week around this Magpie's Nest has been the weather. We had our share of the winter storm before it ravaged the rest of the country. Fortunately we only had snow, no power outages or ice (at our house). I think it was Monday morning when the top of our evergreen hedge was the same color as the sky.

The rose bush in the barrel was thoroughly tucked in with a blanket of snow. There were two brave little violas blooming in the barrel before the snow came. Not sure we'll ever see them again. I was surprised that they had shown their faces in the first place! 

At this point the snow on the railing of the deck measured about six inches deep. 

It got deeper, then toppled over under its' own weight. It was fascinating to watch the melting pattern over the next couple of days. I monitored the progression from inside and did some needlework. The amazing thing is that in spite of temperatures above freezing we still have snow on the ground in sheltered places. 

Before the snow came I finished up this little heart ornament. 

Basically I just stitched over the pattern that was already on the fabric. Then I seed stitched the background. 

This is what I did on the back:

A few lazy daisies and straight stitches, then some feather stitching. 

While it was snowing I stitched up a blue heart. I cut a piece of wool for the focal point of the front, then fly stitched it to the cotton ground. I used a variegated Perle cotton to seed stitch the area left visible. I really like the difference between the texture of the wool and the stitched cotton. There's a scrap of batting behind each half of the hearts which makes them even more tactile. Not puffy exactly, but soft and squishy - like a quilt, oddly enough. πŸ˜‰

I try to use a lighter print for the backs of these hearts so I can sign and date them more easily. This time the back could be taken for the front. 

I couldn't figure out what to do for what seemed like a long time and then I sort of got carried away! These little hearts are fun and satisfying to make. They're proving to be a great way to avoid doing other things that are more intimidating or less pleasant. 😁

Monday, February 15, 2021

Scrap Happy in February

 First of all, let me thank my friends who have left such encouraging comments on my last post. You are kind and wise, each one of you. 

I didn't think I would have anything for Scrap Happy Day this time around but I do! It's the scrappy mystery quilt I made last year. This was the flimsy stage:

It has since been quilted but fell to the bottom of the pile for binding. Eventually I sewed some leftover strips of multi-color binding together. Three different prints made nearly the perfect length I needed! 

The backing fabric was given to me to use specifically for donation quilts. As usual, James did an excellent job of the quilting. 😊

All that remains is to launder this little gem. 

In it's current state it measures about 46" wide and 60" high. Given all the juvenile prints in it I will probably try to get it into the hands of a child in the foster care system. πŸ’™

Kate (in Australia) and Gun (in Sweden) are the hostesses for this link party. Here are links to some other folks who regularly participate in Scrap Happy Day. They may not have a scrappy post this time around but their blogs are still worth a visit! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

SAL Follow-up

 Let me explain a bit about my ambivalence about blogging. There are several factors in play at the moment, all coloring my perception negatively. I appreciate the encouragement I've received and will probably carry on, although not as consistently as in the past in all likelihood. 

The Perfectionist in me wants to do whatever I do the Right way. That means a consistent posting schedule with upbeat content. Which, when I stop to think about it, is ridiculous if not impossible. I am a human being after all, not a machine. And I have health issues that get in the way altogether too frequently. Most of the time I can accept that and try to work around it but sometimes it does get overwhelming. It's that health issue that prevents me from keeping up with the other bloggers I've come to know and enjoy. I feel guilty about that, compounding the problem. 

I'm not technologically inclined, and lately I've had to deal with two, now three, different laptop computers. Two entirely different operating systems. Aggravating at the best of times. Hopefully we are well on the way to stabilizing that situation, thus making it easier for me to be more active online. (Not that it has stopped me from shopping online!) 

Finally, I seem to have lost my patchwork/quilt making mojo. This might be a temporary aberration; I certainly hope so. A shift in the focus of this blog probably won't affect anyone adversely. It's not like I have a huge following. It just feels like I'm cheating the people who may come looking for quilting content and that doesn't feel good. 

So, there you have it. Having laid my cards on the table, I intend to stop apologizing and move forward. I hope you'll come with me in spite of my weaknesses. 😊 And, just in case I don't get back before Valentine's Day, let me leave you with a little love token I've just completed. 


And back: 

Just scraps of fabric and batting decorated with intuitive stitching, blanket stitched together. I'm finding these a very pleasant way to escape for a few hours at a time. πŸ˜‰

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Stitching Along in February

Three weeks have passed since our last SAL check in, and two weeks since my last post. Not a great record, but that's what life does sometimes. I haven't been doing very much stitching but because I knew this check in was coming up I did get the final page made for my #12pagesofChristmas book project. Deadlines can be so useful! 

The prompt for the last page was a bit of bling. I don't know why I had such a hard time with this. I have all kinds of beads and sequins. Finally I chose a 3" square of an old Hoffman print, green and violet with metallic gold in the design and worked off of that.

Edited: I've been able to load the photos at this point. Now I can't access my pictures. It may be time to quit blogging afterall. Suffice to say, I had a bit of green organza ribbon with gold accents along the edges that I'd twisted into a rosebud shape. I wrapped it in a strip of narrow metallic gold ribbon and stitched it to the square of fabric. Then I used seed beads - gold - to secure tiny gold star sequins to the page. I'd say the page looked a little like a celebration in the end. 

The next step is to make a cover. Anne added little tags to the back sides of her pages. I'm not sure whether I'll do that or not. She also had a piece of an antique quilt she used for her cover. I'll have to make something from scratch. I was worried my book wouldn't fit in the tin I'd designated for it but it looks like it will be fine, even with a cover. 

In the meantime, if you're on Instagram you can see some of my needlework @sewingmagpie. And here are the links to the other bloggers who have been stitching along!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Not Another One!

I could be referencing the series of headaches I've had this week but I'm not. (Thank goodness, right?) No, this time I'm referring to yet another distraction from the patchwork you've come to expect here. This time it involves paper over fabric or thread.

Ever since I read Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way I've been writing three pages a day in inexpensive spiral bound notebooks. She calls it Morning Pages. I've found it a very helpful practice over the years. I now have boxes of these journals stacked in a closet. (Some day some poor soul is going to have to figure out whether to read them or toss them.) About the same time I started keeping a visual journal of sorts. Just images from magazines and catalogs that appealed to me, stuck in a mixed media sketchbook with old fashioned rubber cement. I didn't realize at the time how that product was affecting me. Today I dug out that old sketchbook, thinking I would resurrect it. Unfortunately, my sensitivities are such now that merely paging through that book was problematic. 

The catalyst for pulling out that old sketchbook are the videos I've been watching on YouTube lately. I've gone from watching ladies stitching pages for textile books to watching ladies making books from Amazon packaging. My enjoyment of washi tape and stickers has been revitalized. I've purchased new blank books without any specific purpose in mind for them.

I don't usually enjoy writing in bound books like these but they could become full of tape and pretty pictures. Meanwhile, below are the ones that are already in use. You'll notice they all have a spiral binding.

On the bottom is the sketchbook I use for my quilt projects. Working out the designs, noting yardages for backing and bindings, that sort of thing. The red one is that cheap notebook I mentioned for my Morning Pages. Next up is another sketchbook that I've begun for needlework projects, much like the larger quilting book. The Edward Gorey engagement calendar is going to be where I put the cartoons, notecards, whatever paper comes into my hands this year that I can't bear to throw away. There is a problem however.

Where am I going to store these new books? 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

First SAL of 2021

 I'm continuing work on Anne Brooke's #12pagesofChirstmas book-in-a-tin project. (You can check out her projects on YouTube.) Frankly, without this stitch along it might have become a UFO at this point. Not that I've lost interest, I've just become distracted. That often happens when new projects present themselves! 

When last we met I'd completed pages seven and nine, having skipped page eight's prompt. Since then I've made pages eight, ten, and eleven! There's only one page left to do but after that I have to come up with a cover. Anne added little tags to her book, on the backs of most of the pages. I will probably try to do a version of that but I'm not thinking that far down the road just now. 

The prompt for page eight was a pocket and a tag to go into it. My pocket is a strip of burlap on top of a 3" square of a Tim Holtz print. I cut a little section from some lace to embellish the pocket front. The tag is another piece of a Tim Holtz print, embellished with a button. It's only two layers of fabric stitched together. I wish now I'd put a bit of batting between the layers of fabric to give it more substance.

Page ten was made with circles folded into quarters. Some makers were able to be very creative with their circles, making replicas of flowers on a vine and such. I only had room for four circles so I made a single bloom. Can you see the layers created by the folds? 

 They get flattened down when the book is closed of course. I took the opportunity to practice making leaves using the fishbone stitch. I'd have had better results with a piece of muslin under the quilter's cotton. 

Page eleven was to feature a heart held onto the page with a "belly band." My heart is a tiny piece of wool backed with cotton. It looked pretty plain so I added the lovebird charm. I was delighted to see that I could make it rest over the strip of eyelet lace I used for the band.

I used size 12 perle cottons to embellish the heart and secure the laces and trims.

The final prompt is to make a page with some bling. That will mean sequins and beads for me I think.  I've been concerned that the book would get too fat to fit comfortably in the tin I chose for it but so far it looks like I'll be okay if that bling doesn't add too much dimensionality. 

The cover might have to be kept as flat as possible to stay within the tin's interior as well. 

This SAL is hosted by Avis and is meant to help us finish up needlework that might otherwise be left on the shelf or in a drawer. We each work on our own projects and check in every three weeks to share our progress. Just click on the links to see what everyone else is working on. 😊

Friday, January 15, 2021

First Scrap Happy Day of 2021

 And I'm probably one of the last to get my post up! This month Scrap Happy Day has worked much like the Stitch Along I participate in does for me, motivating me to do something I might not get done otherwise. I haven't been in a patchwork frame of mind for what seems like a long time, and that's where my scrappy efforts take place most often. But with Scrap Happy Day bearing down on us (the 15th of each month, courtesy of Kate and Gun) I got busy cutting and sewing sashing strips to 88 of my 264 scrappy Hole in the Barn Door blocks. 

Obviously that's not 88 blocks in the photo above. That was just the beginning. Now my design wall looks like this:

There are eleven rows of eight blocks each. The paisley print on a dark blue ground between the blocks will also appear as narrow strips between the rows. 

There was one block that had to have its' sashing strip removed because it just didn't seem to play well with the other blocks I'd selected. There's still one spot I'm not entirely happy with. As I approach the bottom of the design wall and the number of available blocks decrease it gets more challenging to achieve a pleasing distribution of colors and values. I'm not willing to go down the rabbit hole that would be rearranging the placement of existing blocks. I'm more inclined to remove another 6" length of sashing from one block and sew it to a different one if I do anything at all. Sashing between the rows may make it a moot point. The blocks won't be as close to each other as they are at the moment. The final decision will probably be dictated by my energy level when I get to that point. πŸ˜‰

 This link party is open to anyone who is repurposing or salvaging scrap materials of any kind. Contact Kate or Gun if you'd like to join us. The folks in the link list below may or may not have a dedicated Scrap Happy post up but their blogs are were investigating in any case. 😊

KateGun, TittiHelΓ©neEva, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Moira, SandraLindaChrisNancyAlysKerryClaire,
JeanJon, HayleyDawnGwen, Connie, Bekki,
Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin, Vera, Nanette and Ann

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Winter Scroll

About the time Anne Brooke proposed the #12pagesofChristmas book in a tin project (see my SAL post) I knew my Summer scroll was coming to an end. The 12 Pages project wasn't yet clearly outlined. I thought I might like to do a Halloween/Days of the Dead version of the book project but that didn't happen. I'd still like to tackle that at some point. Instead, I began another stitch wrap/scroll. While I started it in late autumn technically, I'm referring to it as my Winter scroll because most of it will cover the winter months here in the Northern Hemisphere. This time I'm using a long, narrow strip of batting for the foundation. The Summer Scroll was stitched on a strip of muslin. 

The first panel is plain muslin with no embellishments. I still don't have any spools or bobbins on which to wrap these scrolls so I left that plain in case I needed it in the future for mounting purposes. Then I went into full autumn mode with this panel:

For what it's worth, all of the pictures in this post were edited quickly on my phone. My intention is to fill the center of that flower I made of lazy daisy stitches with a button. The green sprigs are fly stitches, and I added some seed beads.

The next panel was created around Thanksgiving time (end of November). 

It's actually two scraps from a single print that I butted up against each other. I just used simple straight stitches around the two images and to accent the bush in the foreground of the house. Eventually some beads will probably go into that bit of eyelet lace at the top of the panel. That's a short strip of sari silk peeking out from underneath the lace to help it show up better.

Next up is a circle I fussy cut from one of the flannels I used to make pillowcases for one of our granddaughters this Christmas. It's appliqued onto a piece of wool with some more fly stitches. The roses next to it is a bit of another flannel I bought for a pillowcase cuff but didn't use. It was a good place to practice my feather stitching though. 😊

And still in pillowcase mode, the skelly and candy canes was yet another pillowcase (I made five for her in total). I really liked how the bit of vintage lace echoed the snowflakes in the print. I added the five little hearts to represent all the granddaughters, the pink standing in for the newest addition. There's just basic straight stitching outlining the skelly and canes in the green background and then some white on top of the snowflakes to highlight them. Not sure more will be done to that section.

Next up is a scrap of a print to represent our acquisition of a Christmas tree on top of a print that represents the cloudy, stormy weather we had. Then I found a piece of black velvet onto which I stitched an assortment of beads leading to the star sequins. That's meant to represent the convergence of the two planets into what was known as the Christmas star. Below the star sequins I've attached two feathers my canary dropped recently just to fill the space without doing much to the velvet. 

Finally we have the latest additions to the scroll. I bought a packet of goodies from Tilly Rose some months back, and in it was the piece of fabric I've used to indicate the end of one year and the beginning of the new. It seemed perfect for the purpose as it's appropriately dark for 2020 and lightens up with hope for 2021. I've only just added all the white bits to the right of that. Anne has begun her #52tags project for 2021 (on Instagram and YouTube). Basically the plan is to do a little slow stitching and attach it to a regular shipping tag, one for each week of the year. I'm not participating in the strictest sense of the word but will be watching from the sidelines and probably incorporating many of her prompts in my own work one way or another. In this case, the prompt for the first tag was to restrict yourself to the use of white materials. Starting the new year with a clean slate as it were. I wanted to acknowledge the fact that the annual Tournament of Roses parade in Pasadena, CA had been cancelled this year due to Covid-19 so I inscribed that note on a strip of muslin to attach to my scroll. The muslin was so thin I decided to rip two strips to layer one on top of the other. At the time I thought I might stitch them together for stability. But I kind of liked the way they flutter. Then the insurrection of January 6 happened. Now that second strip of muslin will be inscribed to that effect. 

And underneath the two flags, more feather stitch practice. 

The rest of the stitching on the white section is just straight or tacking stitches. There are a couple of areas I want to do more on but this is as far as I've come as of this writing. 

Working this way has made me realize I've got more reorganizing of materials to do as the year progresses. That's one of those tasks I dread because you have to make a bigger mess than you already have before you can put things away more efficiently. Which takes time and energy that I'd rather spend actually stitching!