Thursday, December 31, 2015

Leather Blank Books with Crochet Pouches

I made two leather journals with crochet pouches as Christmas gifts this year. 

Making the journals probably took less time than making the pouches which each took over 6 hours to crochet.  I have no pattern for the pouches or the journals, I just made it up as I went.  Each journal is 5" x 7" with around 200 pages of blank paper.  The journals are bound with a combination long and link stitch that I just learned.  I actually made the journals twice, totally ripped out everything I'd done, and trimmed all the pages by 1/4" because I didn't like how the pages were showing beyond the edge of the leather covers. But that means I got twice as much practice doing this binding than I would have otherwise!

The first journal is very simple, with white paper and a strap to wrap around it twice.

The second journal has the Norse Web of Wyrd symbol stitched to the front of the journal. My understanding is that the Web of Wyrd or Matrix of Fate contains all of the Rune shapes and therefore represents all the possibilities of past, present, and future. I thought the symbology was appropriate for a journal. The leather piece I used for this journal has a rough edge with a long curve and tail that I attached the strap to and used a longer leather lace to wrap the journal a couple times around.

The Web of Wyrd.

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Small Christmas Quilts for Decorations

I finally finished something I started so long ago I actually don't remember when I started it.  

Christmas Bells.

This is one in a series of several small wall quilts I'd started all at the same time. I completed the applique, piecing and quilting of all of the mini quilts with only the embellishment with embroidery to be done last.  And that's when the entire project came to a screeching halt after I'd finished about four of these little projects. I got halfway through the Christmas Bells that I have just finished and stopped. Now I still have six more to finish.

There's the angle quilt that still needs at least hair embroidered.

The snowflake that isn't frilly enough. I plan to do some embroidery in white around the white snowflake shape.

And several Christmas trees that have no decorations. 

Obviously sitting and doing embroidery is not one of my favorite pastimes but I do appreciate and admire beautiful embroidery.

Thanks for reading. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Folded Batik Fabric Star Ornaments

I just  finished making a bunch of new batik star ornaments.

Today I finished eight more ornaments by adding the copper wire and glass bead hangers:

My favorites are this blue and silver snowflake batik,

and this multi-color bright bubble batik fabric.

Thanks for reading. 

Quilted Christmas

I can finally check one thing off my long list of Christmas projects. I'm frustrated because this is taking me too long. The actual time spent on a project is not unreasonable but the elapsed days from start to finish is too long. I only work a couple hours at a time at most and skip some days. At the rate I'm going I can only get one small quilted item done every 7-10 days. I should have started these projects six months ago, which actually was the plan, but I didn't, so now my plan is to do 2-3 other items before Christmas and will very likely end up only doing 1 or 2 items.  I'll probably be working on Christmas projects in January and February next year!

But for now this small quilt is done. 

It's based on a dark/light HST design I created on my design wall. I don't usually use the design wall for this step in the process. I usually use a drawing program on my computer or plain old graph paper but I didn't want to mess with that this time because I expected to make several changes to find a design I liked. It seemed like it might be faster to use black triangles on the white wall to work out the layout.
I don't know if it was faster but when I was done the design was right there on the wall to guide me while I put the actual block together.  I might do this again when I'm working on a design where I want to play around with the placement of the dark and light elements.  And seeing the design closer to a 'real life' scale rather than on a piece of paper or computer screen I think is a bonus.

Below is the finally quilt before washing. Of course my machine quilting is horrible.  Even with the walking foot my machine struggles getting over joints in a design like this. Some of the triangle intersections are eight seams coming together into points. That's a bump no matter how much you iron it. But I do machine quilting now because it's fast and the only way I can get anything done quickly. But I'm not a big fan of the machine quilted look but I am a big fan of getting things done. 

And in the end after all is done and the quilt is washed all those imperfections will become lest noticeable.

I guess.

I still see them. 

But I really didn't feel like spending 12 hours hand quilting this. It's a shame because the piecing came out really accurate. I spent the time to pin every intersection so all the points came out nice and pointy. Now I feel like I ruined it with that crappy machine quilting. 

But it looks nice enough for its purpose, covering an end table. 

And my end tables are usually piled with all kinds of stuff and books. 

So I guess this one is good enough. But I will still try to do better on the next one. Which I plan to make using the same pattern but with a red and white snowflake fabric. I'll be back in 7-10 days, or more, with pictures of the next one. But first I'm making some ornaments.

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

How I make folded batik Fabric Star Ornaments

I will describe how I make these stars. 

I start with batik fabric. Batik fabric has the advantage of being virtually the same on both sides. Technically there is a top and back side of the fabric but for the purpose of this project you won't see the difference. During the folding of the star the fabric strip will be twisted and turned in different ways revealing both the "top" and "back" of the fabric in the finished star. 

I prepare the fabric with a diluted clear acrylic wash. This will seal all the threads, prevent it from fraying and make it handle like a piece of paper.  I start by ironing the fabric to freezer paper to keep it flat and stable, then use a paintbrush to soak it with a 50/50 solution of clear acrylic gloss medium and water.  Do not use matte acrylic medium for this step. Matte gel medium will dull the color of the fabric but gloss medium will not. Also the gloss medium will not make the fabric look glossy. It takes several layers of gloss medium to make fabric look shiny so if you like the mat finish look this process will work for you. 

To make one star I use a piece of fabric that is about 20" to 22" long and about 3 1/2" wide. This is large enough to cut four 3/4" wide strips that will be long enough to make one 3-dimensional star.

That needs to dry 24 hours, then iron the treated fabric between parchment paper so the acrylic medium in the fabric won't stick to the hot iron or the ironing board. 

After ironing the fabric I cut it into 3/4" wide strips. I use a long plastic ruler and rotary cutter for this. 

Now cut the ends of each strip into points and fold the star.  You can see how neat the edges of the fabric strips are and the point will not fray.  It also helps that batik fabric is a fairly lightweight tightly woven fabric.  

I am not going to show all the steps for making the star because there are many sites (3D stars, German Paper Stars, German Star Tutorial Video, Moravian Star Instructions) that have instructions for folded paper stars. 

It's the Exact same process. 




At this point I seal the finished star with clear acrylic gloss medium. Depending on how glossy you want it to look you may need to do this several times. The initial wash of the fabric before cutting and folding and one coat using gloss medium after the star is made will not make the ornament shiny looking but it will seal it into form and make it stable. Depending on how glossy you want the final ornament you will need 2 or more layers of gloss medium. 

My final step is to punch a hole and make a nice wire hanger.  I begin by punching a small hole to put the hanger through. I have use something sharp like an awl to make holes in the past but I like the neat hole I get using the hole punch. 

Ready for hangers.

At this point I go to my wire and bead work space and add a copper wire hanger with glass beads to match the color of the fabric. You could also just use a decorative string, yarn or ribbon for the hanger. 

Blue batik Fabric Star Ornament with glass and wire bead hanger.

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Christmas Craft Time, Almost

I did set a goal for myself to start on Christmas projects in August or at lest no later than September. I always have a number of things I want to do and it all takes time. If I want any chance of getting most of it done I need to start early. 

Yep. That didn't work for me this year. I had no Christmas motivation in August and other things to deal with. So, I'm not getting many things done and I'm just starting to look at the Christmas projects. 

But in October I did get one thing done that has been on my to do list for a long time. Remember those color swatches I did earlier this year to pick out colors from my Naif dish pattern?  Well I finally got around to pulling some fabrics from my stash in those colors in order to make a quilt runner to fit on top of my dinning room server. 

I decided to use a simple brick pattern for the runner. You don't generally see much of a tabletop quilt in my house because there is usually so much stuff sitting on top of it.  So I didn't want or need to make some elaborate design for something that would end up mostly covered up. 

I did carefully plan the brick pattern and determined the sizes I needed to cut all the pieces to make it work. Odd thing though when I cut all the pieces, somehow I incorrectly measured and cut them all 1" longer than I planned. Not just a couple of them but ALL of them.  The 4" long blocks all came out 5" and the 3 1/2" blocks all came out 4 1/2".  At least they were all the correct width. I didn't even notice the mistake until I started sewing them together and it wasn't coming out as planned. That's never happened to me before.  I'm blaming the mistake on cutting the fabric while dealing with a migraine and watching videos on my iPad all at the same time. Too much multitasking. But that's OK, it didn't change the plan and I was not going to cut them again and wast all those spare inches. 

This is how it ended up pieced. 

This is the completed runner. 
I chose a light grey binding and quilted in simple parallel lines. 

It looked huge hanging on the design wall but I doubled check all the measurements this time and adjusted the finished size to account for shrinkage after washing.  And it fits perfectly. 

After finishing this quilt runner I finally got around to digging into my stored and set aside projects to figure out what I left unfinished last Christmas and what I'd planned to do but didn't get to. 

I found a couple of unfinished folded fabric star ornaments I was making so that was the first thing I got out of the way. These are usually made with paper and sometimes called German, Moravian, 3D or Danish paper stars.  I figured out a way I like to make them with fabric. It's not a very difficult or time consuming project so there is the immediate satisfaction of getting something done and the added benefit of jump starting my Christmas crafting motivation.

These folded stars are made from cut strips of batik fabric and have been sealed with clear acrylic gloss medium. I used copper wire and glass beads to create hangers for each star. The star on the right has some gold metallic powder mixed in with the gloss medium used to seal the star.

I really liked how these came out so I am planning on jumping in and making a few more right away.  Then I'll dive into my pile of Christmas print fabric and decide which surface in my house needs a new Christmas print quilt top for the holidays. 

Thanks for reading.