review: Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms

Handmade Heirlooms: Crafting with intention, making things that matter, and connecting to family & tradition by Jennifer Casa

This book embraces the idea of family heirlooms being special keepsakes that are, more often than not, handmade by someone in the family. One doesn’t often think of creating new heirlooms, but this book challenges the reader to do just that – instead of simply making a gift for a family member, make something that will be loved by that person and handed down over the years. These projects are made using a variety of techniques including knitting, crochet, sewing, and more. They range from traditional baby items like booties and caps to more unique objects like a knitted airplane toy. Some are more utilitarian, like a knitting needle roll and a monogrammed bulletin board.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the East Lansing Public Library through the MeLCat ILL system

Spring Showers and Spring Flowers Blythe Swap

This was such a fun swap to put together! My partner and I figured out quickly that we both like the Mori Girl style and that really informed my process for making things. I got so excited about it! I wrote a few new patterns for knitted items (see yesterday’s freebie for one!) and sewed a bunch. Here’s a quick look at the things I sent:

And the awesome package I received:

review: Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched: Beautiful Embroidery Motifs and Projects with Wool and Cotton by Yumiko Higuchi

The projects in this book combine wool embroidery thread and cotton embroidery floss. Most of the projects I’ve seen use either one or the other exclusively, so this combination allows for a different look than many other embroidery projects. Fourteen projects and sixteen motifs are included here, all inspired by nature, mostly plants and animals. The motifs and finished projects are shown in large color photographs while the project and motif instructions are provided in black and grey illustrations. The floral motifs are pretty but not fussy and have a classic feel. The creature motifs seem simple but perfectly represent their subjects without anthropomorphizing. I especially love the bees (with segmented legs and french knot bodies) and roosters.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Sterling Heights Public Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system

Blythe three dress giveaway!

Happy new year! I’ve been attempting to spend more time doing things other than the internet, hence the lack of posts. I’m not giving up on blogging – far from it! – but am trying to focus on mostly on making things and taking political action. I’m still planning to make time for blogging but I am also in winter hibernation mode, so posts will probably be more sporadic at least for a bit.

So, back to making things! I made these three dresses for Blythe and would love to give them away to other Blythe folks. Head over to YouTube and comment there to be entered to win. I’ll pick a winner on Friday January 13th so hurry on over!

a brand new bag

We are going on a trip pretty soon*, to Universal Studios and Epcot! I am pretty excited since we haven’t been on a vacation in awhile, and it’ll be Halloween-theme-time at the parks. It’s also the Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, which we loved the last time we went. And we haven’t ever been to the Harry Potter parks! I’ve been bingeing Witch, Please in preparation (I have been listening to this anyway because it is THE BEST, but I’ve been spreading the episodes out so I could always have more – I finally gave in and just got caught up).

I knew that I wouldn’t want to carry my usual purse in the parks and that I wanted a cross-body style for max comfort and making sure I don’t lose it (a shoulder bag is too put-down-able). I know that generally you don’t need to carry a lot of stuff with you in these parks, but I always want sunglasses and sunscreen and mints and whatever and anyway, I knew I needed a bag.

The perfect one was already in my pattern file: the Two Zip Hipster by Dog Under My Desk.

Spoopy Two Zip Hipster - pattern by Dog Under My Desk

It turned out awesome! I have raved before about Erin’s patterns but seriously, they are THE BEST (equal level of awesome as Witch, Please). They’re so easy and every step is laid out and it all goes so smoothly. I chose this super spoopy fabric in honor of Halloween time. I had hoped to find a Harry Potter themed fabric, but all the ones that Joann carries (at least in our local store) are loud and juvenile and not cool enough. I’m happy with this spider fabric, though, and I’m also going to embellish the exterior with at least one Hillary pin (#ImWithHer)! If any of you lovelies have tips or things to know about our destinations, please share!

*would-be evil-doers, take note that our house will be occupied while we’re away! No opportunities here!

Art Walk Central wrap-up

Modern Venus - on display at Helios Art Gallery

Here’s a much better photo of Modern Venus on display at Helios Art Gallery! I went in with the DSLR and of course managed some higher quality shots.

I am so honored that my art was displayed in this gallery! It made my Art Walk Central experience so much richer this year – big thanks to the folks at Helios for welcoming me, being interested to know more about the piece, and encouraging me in every way during every interaction we had throughout the festival. It was such a pleasure to be involved with such good people.

Overall my experience this year was a bit of an up-and-down. I had received a call from ArtReach informing me that my piece was in the judges’ top ten and I was both stunned and elated! But then when we attended the judges’ round table discussing their top picks, mine was not among them. I felt so embarrassed in that moment, even though as far as I know, K and I were the only ones expecting to see mine in the slide show. I am pretty sure that someone confused my name with the other art quilter from Mount Pleasant (named Ann, oddly enough) on their contact list and called me by mistake. The folks at ArtReach were extremely apologetic about it and really did everything they could to make things right, so I have no ill feelings on that front, just a little residual disappointment and embarrassment that I had to then tell everyone that my big happy announcement was the result of an error.

Listening to the judges discuss their top picks was extremely enlightening. It’s clear that they both appreciate fiber art, which is awesome (the top 10 had two art quilts, which seems unlikely to happen very often). They both also spoke a lot about political art and how much they value pieces that address specific current events (#blacklivesmatter and the Flint water crisis in particular featured in several of the top ten). For me as an artist, I think I’m less likely to address a specific event – I think that my work, so far at least, is less likely to be so direct and specific. I would rather address a theme or idea in less literal ways, I guess. I wonder if this is a current movement among art critics or in the art world in general? Or maybe it’s always a preference some folks have? I should ask the Art Assignment! It was also interesting to note that the judges seemed to be very in sync with one another – I don’t think I heard either of them express an opinion that the other didn’t echo. I wonder if it’s a challenge, when working in that capacity, to keep one’s own voice strong and distinct. It could be that they were just that in tune with each other.

I also quite enjoyed the artist talks that I got to attend. I could have signed up to do one myself, but I was so intimidated that I didn’t. Having seen some others now, I think that I could manage it, though I’m sure I’d still be quite nervous. It was reassuring/notable to me that the artists I heard all took somewhat different approaches to the talk – and all seemed to be equally acceptable. That gives me a bit more confidence for the future as well.

For now, I’m still working on the planning stages of my next piece, so I need to get to the drawing board for that. Once again, big thanks to everyone I worked with this year and big congrats to all the other artists!

Review: Sew Happy

Sew Happy by Karin Ziegler

Sew Happy: Stitch yourself stylish with 25 step-by-step projects by Karin Ziegler

This book has a great introduction to sewing garments but also features a lot of patterns and instructions for smaller items that may be an easier place to start for those unaccustomed to sewing apparel. Most of the patterns in this book use knit fabrics, which may also be new or seems challenging for a lot of sewists. Ziegler includes a fun brief description of each of her own favorite sewing machines which also includes some advice for those making decisions about future sewing machine selections (and reinforces my own desire for an overlocker, though I don’t think I really have room or a serious need for one!). Most of the projects here have a distinctly retro feel, though they could be made to look more contemporary with different fabric choices or by adapting the patterns (instructions for which are included! Many of the patterns could be combined with one another for more options). I’m looking forward to trying at least one of the smaller projects where fit isn’t a huge challenge!

full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from a pal

Review: Home Sewn

Home Sewn photo homesewn_zpsngqxasj2.jpg

Home Sewn: Projects and Inspiration for Every Room by Cassandra Ellis

This is a book that you can totally judge by its cover – what you see is a solid representation of what you’ll find inside. That is to say, a lot of linen, cotton, and other organic undyed fabrics; plenty of unfinished rustic fabric edges; and a healthy serving of billowing material in neutral-heavy rooms. Solidly inspired by Martha Stewart but with a more limited palette, these projects all fit into the trendy look that relies on light earth tones and a pride in doing it yourself (with materials you carefully purchased from curated sources). You’ll find brief instructions for each project, but none include in-depth detail – the joy here is in doing it yourself and in figuring out how to make it work for you. The tone suggests that whatever result you end up with is what you are supposed to have and that you can appreciate the beauty of your own unique creation (the degree to which it matches the photos may vary). I can definitely appreciate this aesthetic (being a relatively privileged white woman, I am its target market) but it is a bit too neutral for my own taste. That said, one could easily make any of these projects using a more colorful range of fabrics.

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from Blogging for Books

gadgets guarded

K’s birthday was last week (while I was gone – sob!) so I made him a couple of Gadget Guards for his devices – useful and fun!

Gadget Guard for Karl's lappy

First we have one for his laptop. It’s Zelda-themed, with two different fun Zelda fabrics for the main fabric and the lining.

Gadget Guard for Karl's lappy

Then for his tablet, I used two Doctor Who fabrics:

Gadget Guard for Karl's tablet

Gadget Guard for Karl's tablet

Nothing like using fun fabrics to make a project extra enjoyable! And, as ever, credit goes to Dog Under My Desk for making this excellent, easy to use pattern.