Monday, April 30, 2007

Fabric Stack

Fabric Stack 1, originally uploaded by IamSusie.

These are fabrics from a kit I bought at the Chicago Quilt Festival. Normally I don't go for kits, but it's been so long since I've made a quilt, I thought getting a bunch of coordinated fabrics would jump start me. The kit was for a child quilt so I added some fabrics from my stash to have enough to get a lap quilt from it.

It's going to be this pattern. I have had trouble doing this type of star in the past. I did it for a friend's baby quilt. On this pattern however, notice how the genius designer made the star tips just a little bit away from the seam so I don't have to worry about sewing through the tips of the stars? Non-quilters will have no idea about this, but trust me.. I think this one will go together pretty nicely.

I already cut out most of the colors. My daughter wants me to teach her how to sew the leftover scraps into a doll quilt. I think she's ready...

And here's some links:

Mariska's pattern for the little chick she designed for me in our swap here.

Novastarlet's gallery of regional Hello Kitty Japanese omiyagi (souvenirs) here. Really, this is fascinating..

And I'm still waiting for my package to arrive, but check out the felt food swap gallery we did on Craftster. People made amazing packages. The swap thread is about 16 pages long, but if you click on the blue tab that says "Show Images Only" you can see the pictures only without all our chitchat and encouragements.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Chiacagoland Craft Collective

Here's the scrapbooking page I made last Meetup. Martha who makes fantastic little felt pugs and wonderful scrappy layouts of the various pugs in her life, provided kits for us to play with. This is my favorite picture of my 2 beautiful children. It's about one month after my little girl was born. My son is just 3 years old. I love the way he hold his bitty baby sister like a dolly. Last month he turned 10 and is headed to middle school next year. Where does the time go?

If you are crafty and live in Chicagoland, you have to join us at the Chicagoland Craft Collective. We are a diverse group of crafters who get together casually each month at the Schaumburg Portillos to share our crafts. We have scrapbookers, beaders, stampers, stitchers, sewers, knitters, and people like me who dabble in everything.

Sarah has done a couple of our MeetUp crafts. She helped us make this great clip one night. Another time she showed us how to make some adorable snowman gift bags. Mine was gifted for Christmas...
I taught some wee felt mascots on a couple different nights.

One of my favorite crafts was the night when Melanie, beader extraordinaire, taught us how to make these beaded beads. Isn't it gorgeous? When Melanie taught us this bead.. I was determined to figure it out and get it right. It was tricky, but even in the bad Portillos lighting, I got the hang of it and made 4 more when I got home. I even ordered a Japanese bead book, but I haven't crafted from it yet.

Next MeetUp, May 18, we are going to get help from each other with crafts we've always wanted to do. I'm bringing my punchneedle and Donna is hopefully going to show me what to do with it. Maybe some of the people who've asked me how to do the Hello Kitty Granny Square will come and I can give you some tips...

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Japanese Felt Mascot book

I made piles of these cute felt robots. They were a big hit and I swapped most of them. I knew that I was going to be making a lot, so I figured out how to use my sewing machine on them. My machine is a very good one that has a steady blanket stitch. Of course, the details are hand embroidered. I had to sew on his antennae by hand too.

I know.. he looks a bit like a robot snowman. These are done in the flat, mascot style which is lots easier, especially when you are cutting out the parts.

Here are his rockets. I did promise my daughter that I'd make her a rocket "bow" for her hair.. I still have to get to that... (That's a knit cap underneath, knit for my daughter by her Nana.)

Those fun robots are from this Japanese mascot book. I have several felt mascot books and the fact that they are instruction books written in Japanese isn't nearly as scary as you might imagine. I've crafted several things from this one ISBN483472378X .

This mousie was also from that book. When I finished her, my husband said that it was the cutest thing I ever made. I'm not sure about that, but the embroidery on her ears and body do add something extra...She has a little gray companion and I sent them both out to my friend novastarlet in a swap.
I order Japanese books from YesAsia. I browse all over, particularly on ebay where the sellers post pictures of the pages. You have to be a bit of a detective, but once you know an ISBN of a particular book, you can do a search for it on YesAsia. In the USA, Yes Asia offers free shipping of orders over $25 and the prices are excellent. Some smaller books are under $6 and are still packed with ideas. Expect your order to take a month or more to arrive.

Possibly you live in a city with a Japanese market. Here in Chicagoland, we have Mitsuwa. It's a bit of a haul for me, but I did check it out once not long ago and got a crochet book.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Stack 'n Whack Quilt

This is the last quilt I made. The technique for a quick kaleidoscope effect is called Stack 'n Whack. I saw the technique once on the HGTV show, Simply Quilts and always wanted to try it. It so happens that this was only the 2nd quilting class I've ever taken. The first was the introduction to quilting which I took maybe 14 years ago. After that, I'm all self taught from television quilting teachers and books and magazines.

Anyway, I signed up for this class at my local quilt shop. The other ladies thought the swirly fabric I picked was pretty wild, but they were polite about it. They had greyed down florals and teddy bears which aren't so much my thing.

The swirly fabric has a tighter repeat, so my blocks didn't have a huge level of variety. To me, this shade of blue is very calming, so I like it as the background. I think this looks like pinwheels or.. well... I dunno, but it feels like breezy spring and summer to me...
I still haven't quilted this one, but I hang it up in our front stairwell anyway. Come to think of it.. it's the season for this quilt and I should get it hung up. That spot has been empty since I took the Santa quilt down after Christmas.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Chicago International Quilt Show 2007

Quilt Show2007 052, originally uploaded by IamSusie.

I've uploaded my photos from the Chicago Quilt Show onto Flickr. Click here for my photoset. I only took about 40 pics and there were hundreds of quilts exhibited. Next year I'm making better notes of the artists too. I'm supposed to name each artist if I post photos.

This beautiful quilt is called Little Cities by Kathy York

Here's a detail of that one: Here's a really unusual one called Tsunami by Margarete Steinhauer
The stunning effect on this one was from a very successful use of unusual handyed fabrics

This one is Colorplay II by Anne Lullie. I love the color and the mosaic effect. The squares are fused to the surface. I seem to be drawn to blue and orange color combinations and the large flower motifs, especially if they have some reds or pinks. Mom and I have a favorite vintage notions vendor who arranges her things by color in a rainbow. I rarely feel that I can spend money at art shows, but this year, I allowed myself to buy a quilt kit. I think it may be about 2 years since I made a quilt top, so maybe having the kit will jump start me again. Not surprisingly that quilt was blues, yellows and orange...

Yesterday I made a super cute vintage style half apron. I left the laundry in a huge pile (it is clean), but I look the part of a happy housekeeper in my new cute apron!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Hello Kitty Crochet

HK crochet Squares, originally uploaded by IamSusie.

Last year I found a thread on Craftster about the Hello Kitty Granny Square. It is an elusive pattern, printed in a Japanese Crochet book. Because of copyright rules... if you want the pattern yourself, you very well might find an uploaded copy of it if you google "hello kitty granny square pattern". Be prepared... it's an international crochet chart, not a written pattern.

The cutest thing to make with the pattern is a tote bag. I made one for my niece last summer. It does have that handmade look... I was pleased with myself for achieving a lining for this tote too. Otherwise I just do the little square and pouches. I've seen adorable scarves made with it too, but that is still on my to do list.

I'm not sure why, but it is a fiddley little square and it doesn't go as quickly to make it as I think it should. Never mind, though.. when you get to the face and the bow. It is so satisfying, you forget how long you've been working at it....

That one is in thread crochet. I've made 2 like this one, both for swaps. It is a perfect size for a doll like the popular Blythe dolls. People always want her in pink, but I like all the other color combinations too.

Of course, I would love to sell my little Hello Kitty creations, but those darned copyright laws.... I have a friend who is an expert in trademark law.. maybe she can find me a loophole...

EDITED TO ADD: I get queries all the time for me to send this pattern out. I don't really understand this because all you have to do is google it and the pattern comes up right under the link to this blog post. It's the link at Craftster. Page 4... scroll down.... And if you want me to explain how to stitch it, I would please ask you to read through that Craftster link first.. We have discussed at length the pitfalls of this more challenging little crochet square.

You start in the center with 6 chains. SC in the 2nd chain from the hook and go around from there. Do the first ear, then you'll need to start a new yarn to do the second ear. Go around the face with a contrasting yarn using single crochet all around. I have to add a few stitches that arent in the pattern up at the top near the ears. Try to keep it symmetric.

In case you were wondering, I am not going to write out English instructions for this square. Apart from the copyright violation, I prefer the chart. This is the pattern where I learned international crochet chart patterns and you can too!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Quilts and Photos at Mom's

I went to the Chicago International Quilt Festival this Saturday with my Mom. It is so fantastic! Everyone should go! I took pictures, but I'll have to share them later.

First is a bit of a photo tour of crafty stuff at my Mom's house.

I made this quilt years ago, right after I first learned how to quilt. This was the first quilt that I used machine strip piecing instead of hand piecing. I think it was in Quilter's Newsletter Magazine. We were newly married and I was between teaching jobs, so we were really broke at the time. I think I Xeroxed the pattern out of the magazine at the local Library. The block was called "Trip to Chicago" and at the time we were traveling to Chicago a lot to see my family and our old friends.
Another time, Mom and I were on a weekend in the Indiana Amish country. The fabric stores there are unbelieveable. Mom indulges me a bit when we go shopping, so I promised to make her this quilt from a pattern she found at an Amish General Store.
Those are cut up hankies as the baskets. I had great fun picking out all the fabrics, but cutting into those magnificent hankies was really torture. This is a great use for them though. We can really enjoy them now instead of pulling them out of the hankie drawer. Again, It isn't really wonky, It's just my unprofessional photography....
Another stumbling block for me was quilting this one. Even though I embroider, I detest doing hand quilting, so I wanted to do it on the machine. I drew the design 3 times in those disappearing pens on the top, and 3 times the design faded before I got to it.... I think I eventually practiced it on muslin and finally did it freehand without any markings. It's not perfect, but the flaws that I see magnified, no one else notices...

Mom likes the hankies with the thread crochet edges best and she has pretty ones put out all over upstairs. Here's a pretty stack with some old photos. That's my Mom and Dad right after they moved to Chicago from Iowa. I'm the little girl with the dolly and the baby is my brother.

Maybe these old photos are only a kick for me, but here's my brother and I just before we left with our dates to the prom in 1985. Mom did that cute little crosstitch when we were kids. I think she did a good job of capturing my brother's untameable cowlick.

It so happens that this was over 20 years ago, but I am still good friends with my date to the prom. Another couple we went with got married to each other about 3 years ago and my prom date and I were Best Man and Matron of Honor.

I took more photos of Mom's collections.... I'll have to revisit them later!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Swap Goodies

This Easter swap package arrived from my friend Novastarlet. Look at the adorable spring mascots she made for me! I love Miss Duck and her sleepy bunny friend. She also made me a pouch with ice cream applique. Her pouches have been in great demand in our swapping circles on Craftster. Novastarlet is learning embroidery, but I think she already looks like a pro. Some people are really naturals at detailed stitching.

Here's the whole package with the extras she added.
Novastarlet made me pouches last time we swapped for Valentines day. I love them. I don't care if you think these are the kinds of things you'd give your kids to use. These are mine! (I use the pink one in my purse and the blue one for special occasions. Even the lining fabric she uses is cute.
We've been stretching our mascot making skills. Mascots is the term for them from the Japanese pattern books. Other people call them small stuffies or maybe felt toys. Mascots to me implies some sort of the Cute Japanese Style. She and I have many of the same Japanese pattern books. Often they are worked in flat shapes and you stitch the parts together with small exposed stitches. Sometimes when I make them, I use contrasting thread, to emphasize the hand stitching, but I have used the sewing machine with good success on some complicated robots I made a few months ago.

Stay tuned! Novastarlet and I are encouraging each other to start selling. Likely on etsy, because that's where it seems everyone crafty is selling...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Spring Embroidery

My daughter came home last week from school with what I thought was an adorable spring picture. I felt it was yearning to be rendered in embroidery floss so I transfered it onto a tea towel and embroidered furiously so that it could be ready to give to my mother-in-law who hosted us for Easter.
It isn't wonky like in the photo. That rick-rack was in the stash I got from my grandma. I think its cotton and not the polyester stuff you find regularly now.

Maybe this picture below shows the detail better. I find that I really dislike doing satin stitch. I used it in places on this towel, but I also filled in with rows or swirls of chain stitch. I don't know if this is faster, but I'm really comfortable with chain stitch.

I think Nana scarcely knows what to do with an embroidered tea towel, but it was fun to make. This is really my sort of thing. Having been a teacher, I think kid's drawings are terrific. My daughter LOVED this usage of her artwork. I'm really going to have to do another one and keep it for us.

Here's her original crayon drawing. Remember when you were a little kid and made flying birds as little m's and the sun was always a yellow circle in the corner of the page?

I did ask my son if he wanted to draw a picture for me too. He was very polite about it, but he was really not interested.

Thanks for having us for Easter, Nana! We miss you!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Happy Easter!

Here's a Happy Easter Swap package I sent out to Novastarlet. I crocheted a couple of the eggs last year, and those are felt envelopes with some new designs that I'm considering selling.

What's inside the felt envelopes and crochet eggs?
Felt mascots!

This butterfly is an embroidery from a happy spring drawing my daughter brought home from school. It's part of a larger scene that I'm still working on. There is a giant pile of laundry that I delayed folding because of these crafty items. I really wish housework was as rewarding as stitching. Happy Easter and Passover Blessings to all! We are off to Minneapolis to see Nana and what the kids call her "upside down house" (it's a split level).

Swap package

Hooray! My swap package from Mariska finally arrived! She also sells at etsy. Click here for her photo of this darling Isabel duckie.

Mariska explains: "I found Isabel in my garden. She was busy collecting all the flowers to make her a nice home." It turns out that she is bored with the flowers in The Netherlands and wants to live with me. (Part of the fun of these swaps is making a backstory for your creation)

Sadly, here in Chicagoland USA, the temperatures are freezing and I only have a few pitiful bulbs coming up so far.

Here Isabel is helping me start my seeds. I like to plant zinnias and canterbury bells. They seem to be able to survive the hot dry Augusts we get around here.

The package came with other fun things like KinderEggs which I think are Chocolate eggs with toys inside. My kids are going to get them for Easter. There is also some fuzzy chicks and some shrink wrap egg decorations we'll have to test out at Nana's this weekend.

Check out this cute Japanese item. I gather from the packaging that these are available in a variety of scenes. She sent me a swimming duck. I can't read what it says, but it is probably something adorable.

We had some angst over a long postal delay, but swapping internationally is really fun. Thanks Mariska!

**Mariska informs me that the ducks head and the fish go on the underside of this decoration. You can't see them under there, but knowing they are down there makes this thing even cuter than before.**
** I am also informed by Kat that these Japanese scenes are called "Chibi Gallery" and there are many scenes available. Super cute! Come to think of it, I've heard of Chibi Gallery. Here are more scenes.

**Mariska Posted the pattern for this duckie. Click here.