Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Patience & Persistence

Last week was spent in the yard moving dirt, digging holes, mixing cement, setting posts, and getting the underground irrigation in place. Luckily, I had help to make a heavy work load lighter. Today, it is supposed to be sunny and the plan is to...

... continue working on the retaining walls and deck just outside my studio. I took this photo yesterday in the rain. The four posts you see to the left will support the stairs going up to the next level. In front of it and on the opposite side, will be a wooden retaining wall. Once they are in place, I can finish framing the deck and add the boards which should be delivered today. Decking is the easy part so I'm looking forward to getting to that stage. My goal is to be completely done the walls and the deck in the next week.
I mentioned in my last post that I am decorating the deck as my birthday gift and as a place to retreat since I can't go away for my usual workshop holiday this year. In the bit of studio time I did have last week, I put the swing together and started on the cushions by...

... purchasing two outdoor cushions from a local department store because it's cheaper to buy the ready-made cushion and recover it than it is to buy the foam ONLY... I immediately cut a hole in the fabric while removing the label and had to zigzag it back together. And then...

... the strip of fabric I'd cut for the covers - thinking it'd be plenty - was not nearly enough and since I'd already cut up the rest of the yardage I had to piece them instead of using one strip of fabric each. I must have been tired because it's obvious that a 17" by 60" strip of fabric is not going to go around two pillows that require at least a 17" x 32" piece each plus seam allowances. And then, when I finished them, the covers were a bit too loose and had to be taken in slightly on each edge. I basically sewed them both twice BUT...


... they look great now and go with the other fabrics perfectly. I'm knitting a throw for the swing from a grey cotton/nylon blend yarn that I received as a Christmas gift in 2018. It's always a delight when something new goes into stash and then equally delightful when it comes out and is made into something. YES YES!


I had cut out the foam and prepped the fabric for the swing cushion earlier and simply needed to sew it together... which should have been easy... only, when pressing under the zipper opening, I melted the fabric and had to make a dart to hide the hole and then, when I finished the cushion, it was far too short for the foam. The foam was the correct; my math was not. Luckily, I had a large piece of the fabric left because I'd originally intended to cover a back cushion as well so I was able to wrap it around the foam and work directly from that, no measuring, no math, just fitting. It's done and looks great so all that patience and persistence paid off.

In the hall way outside my studio, there is a growing collection of things for the porch. The window was taken out of the shed and I plan to add legs and grunge it up a bit more to make a coffee table. The rug was bought last year for the dining room only it didn't go with the area rug in the living room however, since it's made out of the correct fabric, it can go outside. The turquoise and the black & white cushions were bought to use as is, no need to recover them. The quilted runner for the back of the porch swing was shown in the last posting. The spray paint is for repainting two wicker chairs and the planter is actually for a plant however...

... it was originally intended to make a tall table by putting a circular element on top. I couldn't find a form big enough so my plans have changed. This circle is 21" in diameter and 24" would be the minimum so instead, the planter stays a planter and I'll create some kind of resin-concrete-found object surface for the table top and then decide what kind of legs to put on it. I also have some birthday money to spend and will decide on another decor item once these things are in place - something that costs more than I would normally spend on myself because that's what birthdays are for IMHO - celebration and pretty not practical although both is good.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a fun collection for the deck and progress getting it ready

Friday, May 15, 2020

A Play Day

I overdid it in the yard this week and woke up tired, sore, and too exhausted to even to take a picture of the work I've done so today is a play day. This morning, I plan to curl up with the pile of Art Jewelry magazines that a friend cleared out of her studio and into mine and just enjoy the inspiration. And, if the weather is good this afternoon, I'm debating a road trip to a fabulous garden center about thirty minutes away both as an outing and to look for items for my deck. My birthday is at the beginning of June and I'm celebrating by decorating the deck just for me since it's off my studio. Plus, I need a change of scenery. I haven't been out of town since the 5th of March and that was for a funeral.

I finished the bag I was working on as the assignment for my on-line workshop. My first thought when I was "done" was to remove the frame and the casing and reshape the top since the proportions are off for this style of bag. I could have shortened it to correct those only I want to maintain all the piecing I did so changing the top style is a better option.

I used the positioning of the straps to hide the raw edges of the pocket. I have a love/hate relationship with this method because it impacts the design of the straps and handles significantly and creates bulky areas where it is hard to stitch neatly. 

There wasn't enough of the leather left to create the handles. After auditioning the possibilities in my stash, I settled on this fabric that I hand painted about six or seven years ago. It has the exact shape of purple in it plus the metallic elements that go well with the findings.

However... when I change the top, I may need to shift and alter the straps somewhat. And that's okay. One thing I've learned over the years is not to hold precious when there's an opportunity to evolve something forward. For me, following that journey is far more important than maintaining the product.

The leather I used for the purse was from a well worn coat that another friend bought for me from the thrift store. She said it was so me and she knew I could do amazing things with it. The same friend just gifted me with this quilted panel thinking I might want to use it on my porch swing which is a dark grey. The panel is perfect and will be the starting point for decision making. I'm hoping to find a black and white checked outdoor fabric for the rest of the cushions.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - not holding precious

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

To Play And To Practice

Two really valuable studio things that I have learned over the years are to play and to practice. Years ago, when life had more responsibilities, my creative time was rushed. I approached quite seriously wanting to get right to whatever I was making and to have it turn out perfectly the first time rather than exploring options and possibilities. Surprisingly, I didn't learn to practice until I first learned to play. And that took a long time because play is hard work.

Some of the ways I play are to make something just because I want to without trying it on or even wearing it or exploring a new technique or supply or following up an idea. This textile cabochon is one of my play pieces - just sample to see what might happen before I invest a lot of time, money, and energy into this idea. Together play, practice, and sampling are making my work more interesting and fun to create.

I wrapped the cabochon into a wire weaving pendant. When I finished this piece, I was doing a happy dance celebration. It was a huge step forward. Textile jewelry is a goal I've been working on since 2012 and combining textile elements and wire weaving is a goal I've been working on since 2017. When I made this piece, put it in the liver of sulfur patina, and sanded off the high points, the piece was better than okay. It has potential. I'm definitely going to keep playing in this direction.

This week, I'm working on two labour intensive projects - one is in the yard building a deck and two sets of stairs just off my studio and one is in the studio piecing a leather purse from scraps as an assignment for an online class. It's due Friday so hopefully I can show it to you in the next posting.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - practice pays off

Friday, May 8, 2020

Walking Purse 2

This walking purse is the same width and depth as my previous one - 10" wide and 4" deep - only it's much longer - 13". My goal was to make a plainer purse not necessarily a bigger one but why not test the size as well. Perhaps I'll use it for more than just walking especially as my current bag is starting to wear out and once that happens, they seem to go rapidly.

The purse has a trouser-ish overtone with the colour, stitched details, and welt pocket. The filigree button is a more feminine element.

It's a very basic shape - one main body, two sides, and a flap. All the edges are finished with matching bias tape and the flap is simply sewn to the back and folds over to the front. The strap is stitched through D rings and is long enough to wear cross body.

The front... the back... finished. I'm quite pleased with how this turned out and will look forward to using it some time soon. I haven't been walking as much lately. When it's not raining, I've been spending my exercise time working in the yard. I haven't taken a picture yet but just finished the walkway I showed you earlier. I'll add an image soon.

Have a fabulous weekend. Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - the ability to walk

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

The Start Of Walking Purse 2

This pink cardigan is what I call an easy sew since it only has two fronts, two sleeves, and a back with simple hems and no facings. As I mentioned in the previous post, I seem to have given away all my cardigan patterns so I...

... drafted one from Marcy Tilton's Vogue 9057 - view A, top left - by adding length to the bottom and separating at center front.

ALTHOUGH... later that day, I was driving past Fabricland and it was OPEN. I'm not sure if it's because our store is a franchise but - of course - I had to go in and bought a cardigan pattern and this gorgeous cotton/nylon blend fabric with lovely drape. It was almost a normal experience, except for the sanitizer and Plexiglas but either way, YES YES!


I fused 1" strips of knit interfacing to the sleeve and bottom hems with the stretch going around, used a zigzag to finish the edges, turned up, and machine stitched in place. On the neckline, I fused narrow strips of knit interfacing with the straight of grain parallel to the cut edge, used a zigzag to finish the edge, turned under 3/8", and used two rows of top stitching to hold in place. The interfacing both stabilized the edge and made it easy to top stitch using a walking foot. 

Last week, I started creating this wire woven piece beginning with the stone. A lot of wrapping later, it was going nowhere good so I...

... removed the stone, twisted some of the wires more, and carried on to finish with a small pendant about 1 1/4" wide and 2 1/4" long that will hang from the top near the large bead. It still needs a patina but I'm pleased that it ended positively.

The purse shown earlier with the pink sweater is my walking purse. It was made a few years ago using a remnant from fabric painting samples and was designed to hold my wallet and keys when I drive somewhere to walk and don't want to carry my regular purse or leave it in the car. For a while, I took my driver's license out of my wallet and tucked it in a pocket only way too many times, I forgot to put it back. The walking purse solved the problem and I can also add a water bottle and my camera.

I like it only the fabric is fairly bright and doesn't necessarily go well with whatever I might be wearing that day so I decided to make another one using a denim remnant. I started by dotting the fabric through a template using a Tee Juice pen that I bought about five years ago and still hadn't used. There is a reasonable gestation period for things and once that's past, there is the why aren't you using this question. It was time.

After shifting the template over the fabric and putting one dot in each circle, there were several dots too close together so I made them into larger dots and then layered the fabric with batting and quilted it in rows using the edge of the presser foot as my guide. This is the start of Walking Purse 2. It will be made completely from remnants which I'll detail in another post however - and you're probably going to get sick of me saying it - I am so excited with what I can make from remnants. It's been a huge eye opener and has increased in my creativity. Even in the back yard...

Last week, I removed these stairs and filled in the hole underneath before putting them back and now I'm building the walkway between the two levels using leftover lumber from several other projects. I basically go to my mini lumber yard, see what I have, and figure it out from there. It's problem solving. Good for my brain.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - finally using long kept supplies

Friday, May 1, 2020

One Man's Art

After abandoning the blouse, I decided to move on to sewing a sweater. Although I knit, it seems that I prefer to wear purchased sweaters over hand-crafted ones. I'm not really sure why and that's okay only...

... I have a lot of sweater fabric as well and decided to see how I felt about sewn sweaters. In checking in my pattern collection, I discovered I have absolutely no sweater patterns... anymore... which surely means that in the last pattern purge I accidentally put the sweater category in the thrift box and not back in the drawer. Sigh.... I drafted this one using a T & T pattern - Vogue 9057 - and chose the fabric I was least likely to wear the most as a - hopefully - wearable muslin.

Before the pandemic, I would park downtown and then walk twenty minutes to Starbucks to journal before walking walk back. It built exercise into my routine. Now that they are closed, I often drive to this park with its fifteen minute circular path.

I aim to walk around between three and five times depending on the morning. Every day it's a little bit different with the weather, the time of day, and the activity on the lake.

This whole area was developed years ago by my friend's husband and I can only imagine how much he enjoys seeing how it has matured over the years. One man's art.

After I posted on Tuesday, I realized that I hadn't shown the finished path pendant from the week before. I practiced rivet setting to attach the copper disks to the back plate. They look more flush in real life than they do in these pictures and are smooth to the touch. I'm starting to get the hang of them.

I strung the chain with beading wire using a combination of the word beads, a filigree copper bead, and a black disk. The crimp tubes are still a struggle only I learned through this process - via the instructor of the workshop that I'm taking - that I ordered by the wrong measurement. I needed to order by the inside diameter and not the length so once I get those smaller tubes, it'll be much easier.

I am making progress with hammering and shaping the closure and am quite pleased with how this one turned out. I am especially pleased that both the back plate, the copper disks, and the closure were made from scrap metal... which only goes to show the potential of our garbage. YES YES.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - a beautiful lake walk