Monday, June 25, 2012

Fabric Postcard Exchange

I have been pretty quiet these days with the DollStreet Dreamers online group.  I am still interested in making artdolls but other projects are taking up my time.  So, I try to occasionally take part in group activities with this amazing group of artists so despite packing up and getting ready to leave South Africa.  Last month I committed to sending 10 fabric postcards out to other artists with the optional theme "Spring".  I must be crazy.
I miniaturized my Spoonflower fabric, Love in All Seasons for the back ground and then used Wonder Under to applique hand painted fabric tree tops and commercial fabric trunks to the the background.  I finished the design with commercial stamps of birds.  I hope they enjoy the postcards.  I mailed these out a couple of weeks ago.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Traveler's Backpack (Rucksack)

I mentioned in my Cape Town travelogue that I planned on using some fabric I purchased there.  I decided to use it and some of the Shweshwe to create a backpack to replace the one I have carried around for years that is now MIA.  There are a lot of patterns out there for children's backpacks but I was looking for a more grown up model but something more practical than the City backpack patterns that I have run across.  I began by looking at my husband's pack and taking measurements and ideas from it and what I remembered of my old, favorite pack.  I wrote down the measurements, sketched my ideas and began cutting!
One of the hardest parts was lining up the curved areas for sewing. I must have pinned some areas 5 times! Sewing through all of those layers was no picnic either, especially since the bag has more layer than is visible- it is lined with yellow polyester inside and quilted on the back.  I used the lining to make it easier to see the interior and because it will wipe down better.  I used my zipperfoot to guide me when sewing the area with the cording.  I felt the one of the ubiquitous beaded keychains made just the right touch for finishing the look of it. 
Now I am ready to be on my way and with a very special souvenir from my time in this country.  My eldest son complimented my bag saying it looked like I bought it from a street vendor. 

One of the most helpful tips in this process was a Youtube video on putting in zippers.  I have always slopped through the zippers but why do that when Youtube is a wealth of knowledge?  My favorite series of videos were by Candi Cane-Canncel.  They ought to have a link to follow from one video to the next but you can look for the tell-tale pink fabric.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mosaic in Pretoria

Mosaic is a very popular art form in Pretoria and as far as I can tell throughout South Africa.  Even tiny gift and craft stores carry Mosaic supplies and there are several studios where you can go to Mosaic much like the stores to paint pottery in the United States.  A South African craft magazine, Craftwise, seems to have a mosaic article every month.  Due to the prevalence of mosaic the boys and I decided to make mosaic picture frames for dad at the i Create Studio.  It is really amazing how their artwork reflects their personality.
Here are some photos of mosaic in the community.  Badec Bros has a cool mosaic along a busy street out side their showroom. House numbers are often done in an artistic way in Pretoria. Even the side of a building may be done in mosaic.

There are several examples of mosaic in restaurants, the most obvious is Restaurant Mosaic, with it's beautiful mosaics of Mucha's designsLa Pentola has a large tree mosaic on one of the back walls. Notice the mosaic pillars at Cafe 41 or the beautiful giant garden pots at Braza. (As an aside, take time to look at the interesting menus of these restaurants as well.)  Most mosaic is in interior spaces that I don't have access to but at the bottom of the page are some photos from the web that show the kind of designs popular with crafters.    The photos are from which has some free step by step classes online.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Ocean Chevron Quilt

Pictured above is my middle son's quilt.  This has been the hardest quilt to make, not just because of all of the extra sewing of the triangular pieces, but all of the little obstacles that have gotten in my way. First off, one of the fabrics I ordered never arrived.  The company replaced the fabric but the long wait delayed my start in layout and sewing.  Finally, I decided to layout the fabric without the last pieces and just track where the missing pieces would go once I got them.  Surprisingly, that worked out.  I sewed all of the strips that did not contain the missing fabric and numbered them so I would know where each strip went.  Once the fabric came and I was able finish sewing the top I took it to a quilt shop who sends it away to longarm quilters to finish.  When I had dropped off the quilt the clerk assured me it would a quick turn around and probably not even take two weeks.  I called at weeks 2 and 3 but the clerk didn't know when the quilt would be in and finally I asked for the quilter's number.  That's when I found out that the quilt was stuck on the machine.  (Why didn't she call me????)  She said the person to fix the machine was on holiday in Durban (across the country) and would not be around for another week.  She thought she could get the quilt to the shop in a week and a half, assuming the machine was fixed.  Yikes!  I told her I was leaving soon and really needed the quilt--I wanted to finish it before my sewing machine was packed away. I was able to pick up the quilt on Friday and finished the binding this weekend.
Of course I have used some Spoonflower fabrics on this quilt.  My middle child had fun picking out the fabrics but most importantly to him we found a fabric with Axolotls, an endangered Mexican amphibian and his favorite animal.  With the Axolotls we found our theme and it was not hard for him to choose his other fabrics.  I also noticed I had an incredible amount of watery fabric in my own stash so I only had to supplement the fabric selection with a few darker colors.
The fabrics available on Spoonflower are labeled:  A. Squids in Space! by caenirminger B. Axolotls 1 by tenderlovingclaire
C. small Bloom of Jellyfish by Plushplay  D. Big Five Dots by Bloomingwyldeiris  E. If By Ocean - Beach Block Coordinate - Octodot Light by TTOZ  F. Deap Sea Alphabet by Maile  G. Under the Sea by Valentinaramos
Laying out the design was fun.  I envisioned the movement of water; the lights and darks that play upon the surface of waves.  The wave action is how I decided to use triangles and the alternating light and dark fabrics.  Only later did I discover I made a kind of Chevron quilt.  I used the end pieces of the strips I sewed to make the binding, which I had to supplement with some extra triangles of fabric.    
This will be my last quilt for a while.  It has been fun and interesting and I am sure I will be quilting again in the future.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Collaborative Color Block Quilt

Margaret, pictured above, is my part time housekeeper.  In addition to helping my home be cleaner than it has ever been Margaret has helped me with quiltmaking activities:  prewashing fabrics, ironing and cutting squares.  She seemed to enjoy my quilts so I invited her to go through my fabric stash.  We discussed the colors she liked and how to have a framework of color and pattern to give the quilt some unity.  She cut out all the squares and we collaborated on the layout. 
Thanks to you Margaret for all you do to help our family!
An aside, this blog is likely to see a surge in posting over the next couple of weeks and then a couple of months of silence.  Our family is getting ready to move and will be traveling before we settle in our new home, Senegal.  I have enjoyed my time in South Africa and will miss my new friends, including Margaret.