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Archive for July, 2008

Labor of Love

I’m in the middle of making 8 new totes. It takes a long time. Why do I do it?

Hmm…although many things I o because I enjoy the process, the majority of the steps involved in making these bags is sheer tedium:

  1. First I dye several large pieces of cotton duck (very similar to canvas). This is much harder than dyeing my normal dyer’s cloth, because of the weight of the duck. I can only work so long wringing and massaging this heavy stuff before my hands start to ache.
  2. Ironing the duck, not a joy either.
  3. I have to cut several large pieces of the heavy cotton duck very accurately.
  4. Then I have to cut interfacing to match all these pieces.
  5. Then I have to cut batting 1″ smaller than most of those pieces.
  6. Then I have to fuse all this interfacing to the cotton duck, most with batting. There’s no rushing this step…each place needs just the right amount of heat from the iron.
  7. Then I end up with a stack of pieces:
  8. A fun step – stitching the beginning of my Baubles.
  9. Another fun step, blocking out the bits of fabric to finish the Baubles:
  10. I then stitch out the Baubles.
  11. Next I begin making the pockets and handles and applying magnetic snaps.
  12. Finally…I assemble the bags….Phew!

So, why do I keep making these? The END RESULT! I love seeing these bags – each one unique, each one so cute. And I love seeing a bunch displayed all together, almost as much as I enjoy people buying one to take home for their own! (See all that I’ve made here.)

Making these bags really is a labor of love! I do want to start making some new bag shapes and styles, so these may be the last totes I make for a long while…

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It’s up, and looks like he likes it. Yay!

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Art for Max

So, my step-sister Pam had a baby recently, a real cutie named Max. Talking to her on the phone shortly after he was born, she could tell I was hinting around at what I should make him and she asked for something to put on his wall. I know she likes the kind of stuff I’ve been doing lately, but still, so many possibilities…

One thing I really like is assembling a larger piece of art out of smaller pieces (if you couldn’t tell), but I was kind of drifting around waiting for inspiration when a PB catalog came, with this image inside – bingo! Love that idea! I’ve also been working with some abstract pieces where I do fun, not necessarily lifelike quilted designs in leaves:

Falling Leaves, 15" x 18"

Falling Leaves, 15" x 18"

Leaves Shoulder bag, recycled wool

Wall pocket for interfacing scraps & release paper

Wall pocket for interfacing scraps & release paper

SO, knowing that I get stressed when I’m making a surprise, I decided that it wouldn’t be a surprise – I had Pam & Tommy take a look at all these images and asked them if they’d like this sort of thing – YES, was their answer! Phew! Also, we knew the baby was a boy, and his room is painted a creamy yellow, so that sort of provides some more boundaries. Off I go!

I worked up a general design in EQ6 and printed off the pattern and placed it on my design wall (ahh! lots of tape was involved getting those 30 some pages together!):

I dyed some dark brown, light blue & lots of differnt greens:

Then I traced each tree branch onto some Wonder Under release paper and used an iron to fuse the lines to the back of

This new table is a bit narrower, so when I open up the cutting table all the way, there's room to walk all the way around.

This new table is a bit narrower, so when I open up the cutting table all the way, there's room to walk all the way around.

brown fabric (this is a great tip I learned from Frieda Andersen). I cut out the branches and pieces of blue fabric 5″ larger than each size rectangle I needed, then folded a 2 1/2″ margin around each blue piece (this part is for wrapping around the stretcher bar). I then lay this all out on my cutting table:

After fusing the branches on, made the quilt sandwich and “sketchy-quilt” outlined the branches. I put the fabric rectangles on my working wall and went to town cutting out & placing leaves. I also made another smaller piece to try out this concept before I began on the large pieces:

Leaves 1

Leaves 1

I’m so glad I did that, because I realized that doing complex & differnt designs in each leaf for the whole tree would be TOO MUCH! So, I added a little red apple (I quilted Max’s name here), a little red bird for another bit of zing, quilted Pam/ Tommy & Max’s birthdate on 3 of the leaves and the rest I just did some more sketchy outlines.

I LOVED the little birdie I put in the tree, so I made some more little guys to try out differnt quilting styles before getting the one chance to do it on Max’s tree:

Anyway, just got a voice mail from Pam & Max – they love his tree – YAY! Hopefully we’ll have a picture of it installed along with Mr Max himself before not too long!

Max Rowell Family Tree, 68" x 46"

Max Rowell Family Tree, 68" x 46"

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I threw a baby shower for good friends at the beginning of June.

Of course, baby tie dye is always fun!

Of course, baby tie dye is always fun!

I had a lot of fun making presents for them, but as they were surprises, it was quite stressful. I always get worried that they recipient won’t like what I’m making, but have to say they like it because I made it…does this happen to you too? I wanted to do a quilt for the baby, and a friend of both Brad & Nicholle and myself commissioned me to make some quArt for the baby. He chose the large piece from my stock, then we talked about how he liked unsymmetrical things, & we decided that since the baby’s room was painted light green, we needed to avoid that background color. This is what I came up with!

A friend of both Brad & Nicholle and myself commissioned me to make some quArt for the baby. He chose the large piece from my stock, then we talked about how he liked unsymmetrical things, & we decided that since the baby's room was painted light green, we needed to avoid that background color. This is what I cam up with!

Construction for Brad & Nicholle's baby

And the quilt has a simliar feel to the square bits of the quArt:

Front

Back

And here are the happy parents-to-be:

Nicholle

Brad

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So, the upside of my little business is that I have made enough money to completely cover all my material expenses, plus I’ve been able to purchase a new camera (a Nikon D40) and a new Sewing Machine – a Juki TL-98Q. Yay! But now I needed a table that could fit both machines at once, or one at a time. For 2 reasons, 1) money and 2) function, my DH has made me the perfect sewing machine table!

Tah Dah! As always – click any picture to embiggen!

It is 2' x 6', with an extension hinged across the back to make it a full 4' deep when I want (the extensions that hold that up aren't built yet, but Rome wasn't built in a day either...) It is 28" high with leveling feet that allow up to another 1" in height if needed. There is also a 12" deep shelf running across the back to hold either the machine covers or the machines themselves.

2x4's braced with plywood pieces at the junctions. There is a 12" deep shelf running across the back.

Table frame: 2x4's braced with plywood pieces at the junctions. There is a 12" deep shelf running across the back.

Measuring

Measuring

Holes Cut

Holes Cut

Shelf

Shelf

Lots of drywall screws, counter sunk, then later filled with spackle.

Lots of drywall screws, counter sunk, then later filled with spackle.

The Juki with the brass plate set into the worktop and held in place with some rare earth magnets. I can fit my finger into the fingerhole of the plate on the machine, flip the brass plate over, then access the bobbin area.

The Juki with the brass plate set into the worktop and held in place with some rare earth magnets. I can fit my finger into the fingerhole of the plate on the machine, flip the brass plate over, then access the bobbin area.

Here the brass plate is flipped over - you can see the magnets coutner sunk and plenty of room to access the bobbin.

Here the brass plate is flipped over - you can see the magnets counter sunk and plenty of room to access the bobbin.

Bernina

Bernina sits just proud of the table and the table that came with it covers up the hole. This system worked really well with my old table and saves the $$ for the plexiglass insert. See my July 6 post.

We stapled some velcro ties underneath to control the cords.

We stapled some velcro ties underneath to control the cords.

My DH created a "mini-table" insert for the Bernina hole.
My DH created a “mini-table” insert for the Bernina hole.
A crefully fit plywood top with 2x4 bits underneath. Those are adjustable chair legs crewed into the bottom, so we could get the  top totally flush.

A carefully fit plywood top with 2x4 bits underneath. Those are adjustable chair legs screwed into the bottom, so we could get the top totally flush.

With the "mini-table" in place, I can use the surface for cutting, or it will support a large quilt when I'm quilting.

With the "mini-table" in place, I can use the surface for cutting, or it will support a large quilt when I'm quilting.

Even more pictures of this whole process are here…if you need to show the handy person in the house “Just how Candy’s husband did it” so they too can build you the perfect sewing table!
With the addition of one more set of drawers for my fused fabric little bits my studio works very well!

With the addition of one more set of drawers for my fused fabric little bits my studio works very well!

This new table is a bit narrower, so when I open up the cutting table all the way, there's room to walk all the way around.

This new table is a bit narrower, so when I open up the cutting table all the way, there's room to walk all the way around.

These drawers were repurposed to hold all my thread.

These drawers were repurposed to hold all my thread.

I can also create an ironing surface by placing my large board across a small set of rolling shelves (balance carefully) Then I can cut & press side by side.

I can also create an ironing surface by placing my large board across a small set of rolling shelves (balance carefully) Then I can cut & press side by side.

I always enjoy seeing where people work, so I’m glad that 1) I’ve got such a great place to work and 2) that I can show it off to you! This is not a large room, but with most things on wheels, I can reconfigure it depending on how I need the space! This is working really well for me.

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I live in a city of ~70,000 in Southern California – Redlands. One of the neat things about it is that it feels like a small town, but it’s not! There are several “Art Fairs” each year where one can very inexpensively set up a table for a day or two, and hopefully sell some! A year and a half ago I had just finished my “Once in a Blue Moon” piece and a friend of mine said: “Those are fabulous! Make some more and sell them at Red Dirt (a local art fair) and I’ll buy some!” Louise makes jewelry and is very successful at several of these shows in our town. What was neat about what she said was that she actually wanted to buy them! Usually folks who see my quilts say things like: “These are fabulous – you should sell them!” This type of comment says many things to me:

  1. People have to place a monetary value on worthwhile things here in this country.
  2. People appreciate my work.
  3. But, I would have to find that mythical “rich” person to buy that work.

And, indeed, most of the quilts I was making back then were very labor intensive and would have been very expensive. 2 years ago, my goal as a quilter was to develop a unique style and win one of the big quilt shows…and then what? I don’t know! But, with this new way of working, I was beginning to develop my style, and I wanted to keep going. But I was going to quickly run out of room and start spending too much of our family budget. Thus, having a booth at a local art fair called “Red Dirt” was born.

Getting ready for Red Dirt gave me 1st hand knowledge of the tenet I’ve heard and seen in the the art world: “You’ve got to DO the work”. Instead of plotting and planning and sketching, I just started doing. I began be assembling a simple color pallette: many shades of brown, with a light blue & green and accents of a red/orange. Then I started by repeating my successful pieces from the “Blue Moon” construction, and then I got stuck! But I could stay stuck for long – I had a show to get ready for! I had a photograph of a curtain of little circles that looked like they were made from shells, but it was the lines of little circles that got me, so I made this piece:

"Baubles #7" 8" x 8"

Then a couple more:

Baubles #4, 18" x 18"

Baubles # 11, 12" x 12"

Baubles #3, 12" x 12"

Baubles # 20, 15" x 30"

Baubles # 20, 15" x 30"

So, I was out of my slump, and had a new motif I called “Baubles”.

“Just do the work!”

What to call my little business? That was easy! Several years ago, back in Ohio, I sold hand dyed fabric  to quilters. I had come up with “Candied Fabrics” for this business and loved it, so go with that! Some cheap business cards from Vista Print, some very heavy displays made by DH and I was in business!

Red Dirt Spring 2007

Red Dirt Spring 2007

So, my first show went well, but not that well. Many people loved my art, but didn’t buy it… SO, I decided to come with with some more ideas of things I could make and sell. I had dyed some pretty silk & velvet scarves for Christmas presents before, so why not those?

Silk/Rayon Velvet Scarf

Silk/Rayon Velvet Scarf

(click here to see more)

I also had tested a pattern for the awesome Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studio. I loved it so much that I asked if I could make some of those to sell, she graciously agreed. As an illustration of 2 great minds at work 😉 I developed a smaller version of it just as she was adding the small version  to her pattern. I came up with a small pen loop that she liked better than her original idea, so she incorporated that into the “Notelet” pattern.

Notetakers and Notelets

Notetakers and Notelets

Click here to see more.

Then, less than a month before the big Fall Show, “Art for Heaven’s Sake” I made a bag to carry all my stuff I would use for the show. When I brought it to work with me, everyone loved it and said I should make some for the show…so I did!

Small, Medium & Large

Totes: Small, Medium & Large

Click here to see more.

So, I was set for the 2nd show! “Art for Heaven’s Sake” is held in mid October each year, so last October I set up my booth and had an extremely successful show…all the scarves were sold by the middle of Saturday, and I also sold most of the totes and lots of Notetakers! Yay!

Art For Heaven's Sake, Fall 007

Art For Heaven's Sake, Fall 007

I then did 2 more shows that Fall, then one in the Spring. Click here to see photos of all of those shows.

Now we’re up to the present day-ish! I contemplated branching out further afield and doing shows NOT in my hometown. But, setting up for a show is a lot of work, and hard to juggle with the myriad of other things we have to do, so I decided not to go this direction. However, I have had several contacts from people who have seen my things (either at a show, or because someone else has something I made), and thus I’ve decided to open my Etsy shop and see if those people would be interested in purchasing from there!

And, that, as we say is that!

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My Studio Today

So, here is my studio today. When you enter the door, the 1st thing you see is shelves of folded fabric – YUM! Luckily, these shelves were built in to this space, all I had to do was fold the fabric to fit correctly – now that was fun 😉

Anyway, as you continue on through, there’s a closet on the right:

And then there’s my working wall, with a cut & press station made by hubby. The large pressing board can be removed, and another leaf can fold up out of the back. Note: I don’t often watch TV while working – it’s too distracting and I like to keep an ear on my kids. BUT, it makes the perfect place to plug in an iron…I love have the cord coming down from  on high!

Here’s my desk, this was built in by the previous owners!

Finally, here is my current sewing table:

But now it has company! Hubby is building a new one to take both machines. The Bernina is sitting on a lovely litte cart I got from the scratch & dent at Ikea, it’s

got lots of d

rawers 7 shelves to hold all the bits and pieces for my Bernina, and as it has well, can roll around and sit on my left as I’m sitting.

As you can see, I’ve got some peg board mounted – great at holding tools and boxes of thread. I’ve also mounted some dowels with fun commercial fabric I’ve purchased and want to oogle. I don’t usually work with commercial fabric, except for home decorating, but I still love it, so I buy small bits of it and use it for inspiration!

Hope you enjoyed the tour!


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