Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Surface Design - Ditsy Prints

I recently learned what a "ditsy" print was when I designed one for Spoonflower's weekly fabric design contest. I hadn't previously given much thought to designing really small prints like these, but wouldn't they be sweet as a lining fabric for a purse?

I entered the dusty blue version, but couldn't stop at just one colorway!

Ditsy - Blue

Ditsy - Mustard

Ditsy - Natural

Voting is now open... click here to cast yours!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Halloween Part 1 - Spooky Damask Fabric / Free Cupcake Wrappers

Wow, I can't believe Halloween is just around the corner! I'm a little sad to see the summer pass, but happy to be moving toward the holiday season. Who doesn't love Halloween with all it's creative kookiness and imaginative imagery. I'm going to be doing a series of Halloween posts with all kinds of crafty goodness from fabrics and stationery to edible delights and decor, including lots of free patterns and downloads!

First up.... some sophisticatedly spooky Halloween fabrics, from my "Spooky Damask" series. These are a twisted take on a traditional theme. I think these would make fabulous table runners, place mats, bunting, napkins, gift bags, you name it!

Assorted colors of "Spooky Damask"

You can see how the fabric looks as a tablecloth in this photo I took of some funny little Monster Mash-mallows I made this past weekend (so easy).

The cupcake wrappers also have my Spooky Damask pattern on them and you can download a free pdf file of them (in all 5 colors) here.

Methinks maybe these Frankensteins might be a little lonely though... perhaps some mummy friends, or mini Count Draculas are in order?

Easy steps to make your own Frankenstein Monster Mashmallows:

To save even more time, you could buy your cupcakes already made from the local grocery store plain or with simple frosting. I bought my chocolate cupcakes with plain white frosting swirls and added orange and yellow sugar for a little pop.

1. Starting with ordinary large marshmallows from the grocery store, stick each one with a lollipop stick through the bottom, then stick them into a foam square to keep them upright.

2. Using green edible spray (I found it at Michael's), spray each one all the way around. (You'll want to protect your work area first, or just go in the garage like I did). Don't worry about coloring the tops or the bottoms as you won't see them.

3. For their tops, I melted some Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips in a small bowl and dipped just the tops of the marshmallows in. Chocolate candy melts work just the same, but I think the bittersweet chocolate is a better choice since the marshmallows are already super sweet. In either case, simply put the choc. chips/melts into a small bowl and zap in the microwave for a few seconds as directed on the packaging.

4. Add black sprinkles while the chocolate is still wet.

5. At this point, I go ahead and insert the unfinished monster heads into the cupcakes, b/c it will be harder to do it once you put their faces and bolts on. You can adjust the height of your monsters by cutting off the bottoms of the lollipop sticks until they sit where you want them.

6. Now, draw on his monobrow and garbled mouth with a black colored icing tube. You'll also use the tubed icing to attach pre-made eyes (found at Michael's as well) by putting a dab of icing on the back of each eye before sticking to the marshmallow. 

7. Lastly, Break off small pieces of pretzel sticks and stick in either side of the marshmallow, these are his "bolts". 

8. One thing I didn't get to add was his scar, as I ran out of time, but I think adding one would make him an even better Frankenstein!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tutorial - Voile Scarf

Down here in Texas, we have no need for thick knitted scarves, as gorgeous as they are, because winter lasts all of about 5 days... but we still like to be stylish! So, I recently ordered my first batch of Spoonflower fabric on the sheer-ish cotton voile, specifically for this purpose and am very pleased. I immediately set to work sewing up this sweet little scarf, taking photos along the way so I could share it. The fabric I'm using is one of my original designs, "Love Birds - Twilight" and you can find it and other color variations here. The silk crepe de chine or the cotton silk fabrics are also lightweight and lovely options.

To start with, I washed my fabric first, as a precaution. Even though this is made of one continuous piece of fabric and there's probably little risk of it shrinking unevenly or puckering after laundering, I don't like to chance it.

Then just cut a long, rectanglular piece that is equal to the length you desire by twice the width plus extra for hemming all the way around. For reference, my beginning dimensions were approx. 18" wide x 54" long.

As this fabric is only printed on one side, I chose to fold my fabric over so the underside doesn't show, simply line up long edges, right sides together, and pin. (If you don't mind the unprinted side showing, you could simply hem all the edges under and have a scarf that's twice as wide. 

Now stitch along the length of the pinned edge, (I used a 3/8 in. seam allowance), securing both ends with a few backstitches. 

Turn your fabric right side out.

You should end up with a long tube with open ends that looks like this.

Using an iron, turn under the edges of the open ends as shown here. It will take a bit of maneuvering but you should be able to keep rotating your fabric as you iron until you make it back to where you started.

Line up your pressed edge carefully, and pin. When doing so, I like to make sure the seam that runs up the length of the scarf is on the outermost edge and not in the middle somewhere.

Now simply topstitch across both ends. You can opt for a single line of stitching, or a double row, I've shown both here. If you choose the single row, you might want to stitch a little closer to the edge of the scarf.

This stitching will be completely visible, so instead of backstitching at the start and end, I leave extra long tails on my thread so I can go back later with a needle, and pull them all to one side. Then I tie matching threads together in teeny tiny knots and trim them very close. I think this finishes it off nicely. My backstitching on the machine tends to not be so pretty as it usually ends up not going over the existing stitches, but going off at an odd angle, especially on thinner fabrics that move a lot.


And that's it.. you're done!
Now wrap it around your neck and enjoy your stylish self!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Love Birds Makes Top Ten!

Yay, my "Love Birds" design made top ten in Spoonflower's weekly fabric design contest. It's like a double whammy, not only do they make all of the top ten available for sale immediately, but they post photos of the winners... instant gratification! Thanks to everyone who voted for my design. :)

View as yardage here.

You can see all ten of the top winning designs here.

...and don't forget,
next week's entries for the limited palette "Autumn" contest are up and ready to be voted on, so get on over there and check 'em out.

Here's my entry, I thought I'd try something a little different this week, less illustrative and more textural. Can't wait to print this on the cotton voile or silk, I'm thinking everyone's getting scarves for Christmas this year!

Autumn Ikat

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Seattle by way of Grand Junction

I just got back from my second "unexpected" business trip in a week, and once again we've gone to an amazing place I've never been before and I didn't see much more than the inside of the plane, the car or the meeting room! But.... I was able to snap some photos with my little digital camera and some turned out pretty nice. I think this may be the beginning of a new photo collection for me, photos taken from inside an airplane!

As you may know, I currently live in Houston, but I grew up in Maryland and went to high school and college in Tennessee. All of my domestic travels have been up and down the country and all along the eastern seaboard, so getting to see even just snippets of the western half of the US is amazing to me.

Our meeting was in Seattle, but we stopped in Grand Junction, Colorado to refuel along the way.

Gorgeous early morning backdrop to our refueling stop in Grand Junction, Colorado.

When I boarded the plane in Houston, the air was muggy and hot (even at 6:00 in the morning), but when we stepped off in Colorado, the air was so cool and crisp, and the mountains so beautiful! I never considered vacationing in Colorado before, I've always been a beachy/sea shore type person, but all it took was one moment of actually being there to understand. Colorado has not only been added to my list of places to explore, but it's been bumped to the top of the list.

Utah from above was breathtaking as well...

I didn't want to catch any z's b/c the views got more and more spectacular as we crossed over into Washington... 

One of a series of inactive volcanoes we flew over.

Seattle did not disappoint either; gorgeous tall trees and lush green everywhere, and of course, it's on the water (which I love). I didn't get the opportunity to take any decent photos, but it was pretty much as I imagined it, a bit overcast, but cool and breezy with a laid back vibe. Driving the curvy back roads to our meeting in Issaquah made me a bit homesick for the NE corner of TN where I went to school... and with that I add another destination to my list!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sneak Peek - Upcoming Project

Here's a couple quick shots of a new project I'm working on, it'll be my first tutorial but I foresee many more of these in the future b/c it's been so much fun to work on. Sewing and graphic design fun all rolled into one! 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Holli Zollinger - Storage Bench Tutorial

I love DIY projects... especially those that involve fabric and carpentry! Here's a super fab tutorial from Holli Zollinger, an exceptional artist and fabric designer I first discovered on Spoonflower.

DIY Fabric-covered storage bench

I've been a fan for awhile, but as I've recently become interested in learning to sew my own clothes, when I look through her fabric collections, all I see are dresses and skirts just begging to be sewn up (not to mention pillows, curtains, bedding...)!

Her exquisite (and numerous) textile designs are available here.  Or... if you'd like a chance to win 2 yards of any of her amazing designs, you can do so here, as well as find out more about her in a terrific artist's interview on Owen'sOlivia blog.

I look forward to seeing what Holli comes up with next!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Spoonflower Weekly Contest - Birds

This week's fabric design contest over at Spoonflower is gonna' be a doozy! The theme is "Birds" and it's a restricted palette: black, white, teal and artist's choice (great idea, by the way), and I've already seen some pretty spectacular entries.

Love Birds

For those of you not familiar with it, the first day of voting always opens on a Thursday around 11 am, when they announce the winners from the previous week, "Bowling" in this case. You can click here to get to their contests page.

It was a bit challenging working within the restricted palette, I kept wanting to add another color! So, to satiate that urge, I created some additional colorways. 

Love Birds - Twilight Colorway

Love Birds - Charm Colorway

Can't wait to get my printed samples in!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Appliquéd Pouches

Not very long ago I learned how to work with zippers, so pouches are my training ground for working up to bigger and better things. Here's a few of them I've made with felt appliqué. I think these would be perfect little gifts, you could even tuck a gift card inside. I'm working on a whole collection of them for my etsy shop, hopefully in time for the upcoming holidays.

I used felted wool for these cherries and their leaves.

Love this white on white dotted fabric, subtle but fun!

I used 100% wool felt for these wheat stalks.

The little leaves are so tiny, they each took one stitch each.
Definitely not something you can leave to
bang around the bottom of your purse!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"Backyard Baby" Strike/Offs Have Arrived!

What a great start to my 3-day weekend, I finally received the package I've been waiting for... my very first strike/offs for my Backyard Baby fabric collection for Michael Miller! Getting to see and hold them in my hands is something it seems like I've been waiting forever for, and seeing my very own selvage tag makes me want to dance a jig! 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Vegas... who'd a thunk it?

Today was an unusual day... instead of driving to work and starting my day off with a daily project meeting, I drove to the airport and boarded a charter plane for Vegas on an unexpected business trip! 

Yup, that's my husband, goofin' off. We work together, but don't
usually get the opportunity to travel together.

 It was pretty much a whirlwind, and we didn't get to see much, just whatever we could see from inside the plane and the car inbetween stops.

 We were there for less than 4 hours before we were back on the plane, so I was lucky to get any pics at all! 

I'm usually the one taking all the photos, so I made my
husband take this right before we got back on the plane.
Usually our business takes us to places like Arkansas or Missouri, so this was a bit of a departure. Here's hoping for San Francisco or Tucson next, two places I've never been, but would love to see.  

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