Tuesday, August 5, 2014

zendalas for fabric design

Over a year ago I discovered Zentangle. I've always wanted to learn how to draw, but took only one class first semester of my freshman year in high school many, many years ago, and had pretty much given up hope of having the guts to learn to do so until I came across this artistic method. Because it's lines and strokes, what's become my methodical brain after years of structure, it was like a dream come true, a desire fulfilled. I could certainly draw lines and fill in with pretty patterns and designs especially with all the wonderful samples given. I was even "allowed" to use a compass, protractor, stamp or template and fill these in with more lines, circles, shapes, anything, everything. I have since accumulated quite a nice collection of books for Zentangle Inspired Art and have made beautiful, simple notecards and stand alone pieces that I've given away and hope to sell.

This morning while I was starting to cut some fabric for mug rugs Tee wants for our den, well, I was thinking about how I've also toyed with the idea of designing my own fabric and having it printed.  Recently I've been working through "The Secret Me Book" and one of the exercises is listing 100 things you want to do, inspired by the list Summer Pierre did back in 2011. Designing my own fabric was top of the list.

I've known about Spoonflower for some time and had a fat quarter printed a few months ago with my logo. But that didn't count. I wanted something original, something fun.

Why not combine many of my loves...Zentangle, fabric design and graphic design?

This is the last Zendala I created. I thought to myself, "Wouldn't this make for a pretty fabric design?"

I've scanned it and am currently improving the quality of the filling and lines using the brush and pencil in Photoshop.  Because I drew the zendala using micron pens on watercolor paper, when scanned the computer picks up the pen strokes and the tiny spots missing ink invisible to the naked eye. That's where the brush comes in. I'm a self-taught Photoshop user so I'm doing it the only way I know how...quick selecting the continuous blocks of black in small segments then filling them with a black foreground color.  Then I touch up the edges as needed. When I've finished the entire design I'll save it as a jpeg file, upload to Spoonflower, select my layout and order myself a yard. I'm excited!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Since I was last here, I've made 8 mini quilts. With each one I learn something more about my machine, about my preferences for color and design, about what is visually pleasing to me, from the stitches I choose for quilting and binding to a favorite color palette. My minis are yet far from perfect in my eyes, but I try to remember that is how someone will know they are handmade, each and every one, not manufactured.

I'm proud of myself for being committed with a goal in mind.  I may even attempt a larger quilt again, having gotten some good practice in with these minis.

I'm also learning to use what technology I have on hand to assist in my quilting.  I had been designing my quilts with pencil, eraser and graph paper. It's nice being able to do so anytime, anyplace.  However, it's also frustrating when your design doesn't fit the space as you intended and you have to start over again.

I decided to make a spreadsheet using Numbers on my iMac, mimicking the graph paper.  I can fill the cells with color. I can even add shapes when I want something besides squares and rectangles.  It's much easier to select the cells and wipe out the color and the lines when I want to make a change.

The colors don't necessarily designate a particular fabric. I use them for placement, length, width, etc.  I don't always know what fabric I'm going to use for a particular style quilt; therefore, trying to designate colors for the different fabrics would be impossible for me.  I let the fabric tell me what to do with my template as a guide.  And, without hesitation, I make changes to the template if needed as I'm working with my fabric.  It's meant to guide, not restrict. The lines I've included for notes at the bottom of the page have proven useful. I jot down fabric, what stitches I used, thread tension and date completed. It means less time spent agonizing over my machine settings.

Quilting and working with the spreadsheet satisfies both sides of my brain...the side that aspires to design and the one that is the foundation to my creativity.

Friday, April 11, 2014

pink patch doll quilt

when i mentioned on fb i was making doll quilts and hoped to open an etsy store by the end of the year i had a few sweet friends tell me they'd be interested. and they reminded me little girls like pink! between what little bit of pink i had in my stash and what i found at my local hobby lobby, i came up with this quilt. it measures 18" x 24" and i quilted using curvy lines, with and without bows.

pink patch doll quilt - front

pink patch doll quilt - quilting

pink patch doll quilt - back/binding

thankfully i don't have to pick my favorites because, though i've only made two so far, i am loving each and every one. they're fun to design. and fun to imagine being cherished and played with by a child.

and, yes, that's my American Girl doll, one of the first they ever came out with! there are so many more options now, from hair to eyes to skin tone, to choose from so every little girl can find her very own playmate. or every woman who knows to nurture the child within!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

the cutest thing ever!

this morning i finished my first little doll quilt and i positively love it! the fabrics are all from my scrap bin. i chose bright, happy colors and sweet designs. and i stitched, quilted and did the binding with my Brother XR9500PRW machine.

mini mod stripe doll quilt, front

mini mod stripe doll quilt, decorative quilting

mini mod stripe quilt, binding (back)

it's the best binding i've machine attached ever! i couldn't be happier!  yes, i still see my "imperfections." but with every piece i make, i learn something new and i improve my designs. that's a win-win in my book!

the rain has gone, the skies have cleared and the sun is shining bright and warm. life is beautiful. go live it!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


at the start of this new year, a sweet high school friend of mine i've had the pleasure of reconnecting with thanks to facebook posted that she was participating in a pay-it-forward project. to the first five people who responded to her status update, she would send a small token of friendship anytime during the year. in turn, all who responded would post the message on their page and do the same for five more of their friends. it's always fun to receive some mail love, something that is NOT electronic. i was in!

it's already april. AAUGH! but i haven't forgotten. in fact, i've been busy working on my friendship gifts for the past few weeks. after finally making myself a version of prayer or peace flags that i'm ready to hang in my yard as soon as the hubby puts up some hooks for me, i decided these would be perfect...handmade with love.

i've since made three more sets. i chose colors and fabrics that reminded me of the recipient. and i'm going to include a bottle of fabric paint that each one may write their own words/blessings on their flags if they so choose. tee suggested that. i thought it was a wonderful idea.

one set has already been mailed off.  two more are pictured here with mine.

can you tell that mine is the flamingos?

i've made my flags double sided, pretty from either direction, and sewed them with sweet decorative stitches. this photo shows the "backside" of one. the fold is actually pretty cute, too.

i strung some on braided trim i found at hobby lobby, but then picked up a nice, big roll of twine at lowe's. i tack my flags down to the twine so when they're hung they won't slouch or shift in the wind. and, yes, i plan to leave mine out. i want them to fade and fray, sending my blessings to the heavens, just like the tibetan prayer flags. read a description here.

this morning i wanted a little something more to include with flags going to the kind woman who inspired me to do this. i made my first mug rugs from the same fabrics as her flags.  

as soon as i jot down a note on a card i've tangled, i'll be ready to bundle everything up and send this package on its way.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

mod blocks. wall hangings

lately i've really been into modern blocks for modern quilts. because we have so much wall space in our home and all this fabulous color from room to room, i decided it would be fun to do quilted wall hangings, turning the open space into a canvas of favorite things.

i'm also really liking white in my quilted projects which is pretty unusual for me. it looks fresh and color really pops in contrast.

i did this first one a couple of months ago now.

White Mod Blocks - Front

White Mod Blocks - Back

White Mod Blocks - Stitching

because it's a nice size, easy to maneuver around on my machine, i took my time and quilted squares and rectangles in various configurations. you can see the cute pattern it created in the second photo of the back.

this was the first time i cut my own binding and i realized how much easier it was to machine sew than the more stiff store bought.

this wall hanging will be in our hall when i repaint the walls something more like lavender than the "fuchsia" it is now. and super white for the trim.

there's a second one, quite a bit larger, for the same hall. i'll save photos for another post. it's pieced but not quilted yet.

the following photographs are of a wall hanging i just finished today that will be for our den. again, i've used colors that are a bit of a departure for me, but in our den we have these beautiful Native American framed masks that are red and black. and a snowscape i had professionally printed and mounted that i took on our adventure to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Antarctica. this will fill up the wall nicely.

Red and Black Mod Wall Hanging - Front

Red and Black Mod Wall Hanging - Back

Red and Black Mod Wall Hanging - Stitching

i pieced the blocks with my Husqvarna Viking Scandinavia 200, but quilted and did the binding with my Brother XR9500PRW. i used straight stitching as well as decorative stitching to quilt. because the fabric i chose for the back is rather busy, the various stitches aren't distracting. the stitching becomes part of the artistic design and personal expression. mine are far more simple than the amazing quilt designs i've seen on the net. some day it would be a pleasure and a privilege to witness artists at work on their extravagant designs created with or without a long arm machine.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

a purple lap quilt for her

my sweet niece is in her second semester of her freshman year of university. she's adjusted so well and has become quite independent. it's a blessing to see dear babes become responsible, happy adults.

i remember many, many years ago how wonderful it was to receive a "care" package from home, or from a friend, when i was in college.

hopefully we've not completely lost such kind gestures because of this age of technology.

after making a lap quilt for an older niece who is in her own apartment and has returned to study nursing, i wanted to make one for our freshman.  i asked her what her favorite colors were. she said she would like purple and light purple. the child knows how to get straight quick to this heart of mine. i really like purple. it's just plain fun.

i found fat quarters and fabric yardage in awesome shades of purple, threw in some white and decided on a nice, striped pattern.

and added blocks for the borders, keeping it simple since the fabric was so rich.

for the back I found this 118" quilting fabric of lavender daylilies here.

i had every intention of quilting, but ended up tying the entire quilt, using a curved needle to thread DMC embroidery floss at the corners of each block in each strip and in the border blocks. i was trying to stitch in the ditch, but i could not feed the quilt, all bundled up and rolled, adequately through my machine to get nice, straight lines with tidy stitches. after it took me two hours to rip out two lines, i knew i needed to stop, take a deep breath, and tie.

then it took me between ten and twelve hours to tie. i even woke up one morning at 2:30 AM and tied for 2.5 hours. i couldn't sleep, wondering why i was having such problems when i hadn't before. in those early morning hours, i relaxed and let the stress roll off my back.

the binding went on quite easily. i've heard and read about nightmares regarding machine stitching binding, but i actually like it! i cut my own which i've realized goes on much straighter with no wrinkles then the store bought i had previously used.

as i mentioned in the previous post, i like to use a decorative stitch to secure and give my binding, front and back, a finished look. i am so very happy with the end result!

i've the perfect sized box ready to package this baby off, send it on its way.

and i've decided i'm going to stick to smaller quilting projects, things i can do fun designs with, in sizes my machine can handle. like this wall hanging i did before the holidays...

Sewing should be fun, not stressful! And if I do decide to do something bigger, like lap size, I'll resign myself to tie it from the beginning. It's just as secure and the knots are cute anyway.