Friday, November 21, 2008

Felt photoshoot

I've been stitching up a storm of felt sweets while watching TV, and we've been finding lots of fun vintage dishes in thrift stores. It was time to get them in front of the camera, so I staged a little photoshoot. So here are the dishes and felt food together, showing you the latest looks coming down the runway from the House of Feed Dog. With snacks from both sides of the Atlantic, this collection also draws on Japanese patterns, making it a truly international felt statement. Head to the linked books and websites for some patterns to whet your appetite for the original patterns that are on their way!

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Our first look is a pair of doughnuts flanked by two saucy little French fancies. Oh la la! These desserts sparkle on Modern Star dishes by Taylor, Smith & Taylor. The sprinkle doughnut is from this pattern and the cruller comes from My Favorite Felt Sweets. The fancies are an original pattern.


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Showing off the lovely Franciscan Antigua is a tasty spread of cakes and pastries. The strawberry pinwheel and caramel-banana square are straight from the pages of My Favorite Felt Sweets, while the raspberry tart pattern comes to us in its native language, all the way from the Land of the Rising Sun, in Felted Sweet Treats . Thank goodness for help interpreting!


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But there's more Franciscan in this line—just take a look at this Merry-Go-Round teacup, dressed to the nines with a pretzel biscuit (again from My Favorite Felt Sweets) and an off-brand Oreo cookie, a Feed Dog original.


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Ravishing on Taylorstone Etruscan, our next plate of puddings offers an eclectic range of treats, whether you fancy a luscious mixed berry pie or scrumptious strawberry shortcake (apparently taking a 16th-century ruff as its inspiration). Both are from My Favorite Felt Sweets. But what's a mouse doing amidst these sweets? It's a sugar mouse, of course! Adapted from Runo's pincushion pattern.


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A daintier selection of chocolates (My Favorite Felt Sweets) look just as tempting on the classic Midwinter Cassandra, though the marshmallow Peep seems an unseasonable misstep in this fall collection. The design is appealing, but the gaudy color seems at odds with the more subtle tones of the chocolate mint, berry cream chocolate, and mocha meringue drop.


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While Franciscan Starburst is an old favourite, this piece is a relative newcomer to the collection and makes a charming backdrop for a sneak peek at two dessert prototypes cut from the same original pattern: that English teatime delight, the Bakewell tart, and a cream-filled chocolate cupcake, found in the lunchboxes of so many American schoolchildren. Look for the two-for-one pattern soon as an Anglo-American Snack Pack!


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Let's bring out the models one last time for a final walk, all together. Divine! Delectable! Fierce! Fabulous! These girls know how to work it.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fly by Night quilt

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This is one of my earlier quilt designs, but I only just got round to making it. The idea came to me a couple years ago when I was flying somewhere at night. I'd been doing a lot of appliqué recently and was itching for an easy piecing project, so I finally got it cut, pieced, and quilted. I didn't even have to buy any fabric, since I'd had the stuff sitting around for ages!

It was a little odd to be working with just solids again, though I quite like the simplicity of it. And despite the pain of pivoting in the middle of the quilt, quilting it was fun. I love the texture of the straight quilting lines an inch apart, but I'm itching to build up my free-motion skills so I can do more. My sewing machine continues to be my BFF—the true miracle of dual feed is that you can use specialized feet when you're quilting, not just whatever foot is built into the walking foot. Pfaff's narrow-edge foot is fantastic for stitching in the ditch perfectly, and it's easy put on quarter-inch (finished size) binding when you can use a quarter-inch foot and the dual feed.

The quilt just happens to look smashing with the Pan Am bag the Other got me for my birthday last month. He also bought me a toiletry kit (to carry sewing bits) and some more airline cutlery:

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We've found quite a bit more cutlery recently, but I haven't got decent shots of them yet. The Other found me a nice set of Braniff dishes and a few bits of silver, which I'll also have to get a picture of. And speaking of Braniff, he gave me another lovely airline bag for my birthday too:

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I used it when the Mother and I hit PIQF and it made one of the vendor's day—I guess he had worked for Braniff back when, well, back when they existed. And the birthday joy just kept flowing as I filled the bag with fabric from the show care of the Mother's credit card. (She had to buy new luggage to get her own loot home, and it was quite a bit bigger than either of these bags.) Oh, and I think I made the Other buy me that narrow-edge foot as an early birthday present—I really am a spoiled brat. But thanks for a great birthday month, Other and Mother!

Now with all this airline paraphernalia, the Other and I may have to have a cheesy flight-themed dinner party—preferably wearing Space Bubbles.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Please vote no on Proposal 8

I hope you'll forgive the brief political intrusion, but it's easy to think that political issues are abstract things that don't affect anyone personally. This isn't the case.

California's Proposal 8 would mean that the Other and I would not be able to share our lives the way any straight couple can choose to. Proposal 8 isn't about protecting marriage; it's about restricting it to only a certain type of people. If you really want to protect marriage, get a proposal on the ballot to eliminate the right to divorce—my ability to marry my partner doesn't invalidate or threaten anyone else's marriage.

God doesn't want discrimination. Yes, I know all about what the Bible says, and it's just as adamant that we don't eat pork or wear mixed fibers (though I run as far from poly-cotton blends as the next guy). Please don't be fooled into voting yes on 8 by the idea that it assures religious freedom. True religious freedom means that religious beliefs are personal beliefs, not law.

If you live in California, please vote no on Proposal 8. It may only be an abstract issue in your life, but it could mean very concrete and very real discrimination for me.

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Tutorial: Freezer-paper circle appliqué for quilt labels

I had to quickly put a label on a quilt this week before sending it out into the world (more details on that later!). It seemed like a good opportunity to snap some pics for a tutorial on an appliqué method that uses freezer paper and starch and is a favourite of my quilt guild. It's a great technique for quilt labels, since the freezer paper stabilizes the fabric for writing on, and a circle cutter makes it even easier.

I wanted a round label so it would blend in with the bubbly fabric on the backing. That's where the circle cutter comes in.

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This circle cutter made by Fiskars was stocked with the papercraft supplies (I have used it to cut circles from fabric fused to fusible web—it dulled the blades and required a more careful movement but worked pretty well). There's a needle tip and a pad tip; use the needle tip. The guide is sold separately but helps find exactly where you're going to cut. The cutter blade tears up the mat a bit, so I use the cutting mat I use with X-Acto knives rather than the one I use to rotary cut fabric.

Materials

  • Fabric
  • Freezer paper
  • Iron
  • Circle cutter, guide, and cutting mat (or scissors)
  • Pinking shears
  • Spray starch
  • Paintbrush
  • Stiletto or chopstick
  • Ruler
  • Pen or marker
  • Light box or other bright light source
  • Fabric marking pen
Instructions
Click on any of the photos to zoom in.

  1. Iron 2 pieces of freezer paper together, shiny sides down. The doubled thickness is easier to wrap the fabric around.
  2. Place the guide onto the freezer paper. I wanted a 3-inch circle. If you're making a shape other than a circle, draw it on the freezer paper, cut it out with scissors, and skip down to Step 6.
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  3. Place the cutter on the guide, lining up the cutter's feet with the marked spots on the guide. Make sure the cutting blade is above the guide's open notch.
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  4. Press down on the orange center of the cutter. While pressing, slide the guide out.
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  5. Keep pressing and turn the body of the cutter around in a circle. You shouldn't have to apply much pressure. So, now you've got a perfect circle!
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  6. Back to the ironing board. Press the freezer paper to the fabric, shiny side down against the back side of the fabric. (Your fabric doesn't have to be the same shape as the freezer paper at this point; I just happened to have a circle scrap.)
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  7. Cut around the freezer paper with pinking shears, just shy of ¼" from the edge of the paper. Or you can use scissors and clip into the seam allowance periodically, but the pinking shears cut out (geddit?) the clipping step and reduce fraying.
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  8. Spray some starch into the cap of the can or another small container. Once the bubbles settle and the starch is a liquid, paint some onto the seam allowance. You can wet a few inches of the seam allowance at a time.
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  9. Press the wet seam allowance over the edge of the freezer paper. A sealing iron like this one is easier to handle than a full-size iron, but anything works. Use a stiletto to pull the seam allowance down onto the paper—I wasn't about to spend $15+ on a sharp stick, so I just use a chopstick. You can't see the chopstick in the photo because I needed to hold the camera and don't have three hands (or a prehensile tail, which would really be preferable); it's generally easier to hold the stiletto/chopstick in your dominant hand. When you get near the end of the allowance you've wet, paint some more. If you get a fold or a point ironed in, just wet it and repress.
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  10. When you've pressed all the seam allowances down, give the whole piece a quick press.
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  11. Normally you'd remove the freezer paper now, but since we're making a quilt label, we're not done with it. To help keep your lines of label text straight, draw heavy lines on the freezer paper. I lined my ruler up with the half-inch marks on the cutting mat to keep them parallel and evenly spaced.
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  12. Chuck the thing on a light box. Or a bright window, or a glass table or clear box with a lamp under it. See how the lines peek through? So does the lovely blob my pen made while waiting for me to focus the camera. (I'm also noticing that my pressing job could have been better—I should have repressed those points on the edge. Instead I rounded them out when I was sewing.)
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  13. Write your text with a fabric-marking pen, using the lines as guides. I can never get everything centered, but at least the lines are straight. Pop the label off the light box.
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  14. Now you can peel the freezer paper out. The fabric will keep the circle shape.
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    How do you like them super-pink fingers? I'm having a little trouble getting my screen colour calibrated.
  15. And sew the sucker down! I sewed this one down by hand with a blind stitch, but sewing a label to a finished quilt, you can sew by machine with monofilament thread and a blind-hem stitch. Either way, I highly recommend basting glue over pins.
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And that's it. You don't have to make the circles into labels, of course, but on the other hand, quilt labels don't have to be rectangles!