Ready for another month? This time you get the full month to turn out a project.
Topic: Locked Up
Alright, there you have it. Be as literal as you want. Random ideas include locks, prison, secrets, bottled up emotions…you get the idea, be creative. Use whatever media form to create your project that you feel comfortable with (or challenge yourself further with something new to you). I’ve marked some ideas in Pinterest to help spur the creativity too. You can review challenge rules here.
Have fun—and be sure to share your creations here and in the Raggie Girls Flickr group.
Did you get your project done? I know it was only a couple of weeks for this first month, but I hope you gave it a go.
Topic: Tim Burton Style Humor
I had tons of ideas rolling through my head, but with such a short time frame, I needed to scale back to something manageable. After tossing some great ideas (don’t worry, I’ll just save them for some future day), I decided to go with a small décor item for Halloween because I have almost nothing in the way of Halloween décor.
I decided to try a paper clay sculpture. I’ve recently been experimenting with paper clay and fabric, but this sculpture would just be paper clay with a core of Styrofoam.
Here’s what I came up with:
I know, a pumpkin, so unique. But I needed to think small-ish for the time frame and wanted something that could be up potentially all fall. I love how he turned out! Goofy faced pumpkins are just silly. In fact, I’m seriously considering making a few more with different faces that I could work into a little pumpkin patch scene—wouldn’t that be fun?
Marla (my older sister) loved the idea of the challenge and made this adorable zombie bear ornament. The woman is seriously an artist—she can just draw out anything in her head, its sickening. This little bear is wood and Marla used some simple pyrography (wood burning) to enhance the design lines. A wash of red for the heart and copper wire to hang from and this zombie love is ready to enjoy. I just love the demented look on his face.
Did you complete October’s challenge? Let me know and I’ll include pictures and links here to show off your awesomeness! You can also add images to the Flickr group.
Alrighty, time for some creative action! What will the first challenge topic be? I know, pins and needles, right?
*shakes jar and opens lid* Drumroll please….
Well, this is appropriate for October: Tim Burton-style humor
Interpret that however you desire, you don’t have to do Halloween, goth, death, etc. (remember the circus in Coraline? Although not Burton, it is similar in feel and humor…and was made right here in Oregon, so, of course, I had to give a shout out.)—maybe even go watch a movie to get those creative juices going! Surely the man who has brought us whimsical, twisted and slightly macabre imagery such as that from Alice in Wonderland to Frankenweenie to Corpse Bride has something that will get you inspired. (Anyone else chuckle when the elegant White Queen spits in the potion or the dog’s tail falls off?) Remember, we’re starting part way through October, so you only have 21 days to create this time.
Anyone who has questions about rules, etc. can check them out here.
Here’s a link to my pinterest board specifically for ideas on the monthly challenges. Feel free to look at it for inspiration.
Also, a little reminder—Tim Burton’s designs are his, (he is not affiliated in any way with me or this blog) so please respect his copyrights. Now go, enjoy the wacky humor and be inspired.
Well, what can I say, blogging without your best friend is not the same, which is why I haven’t done it for months. I know you all understand. I’ve made a few toys since May, taken a Craftsy class or two and even an art doll class. I’ve even managed to cut out some clothes to make. But just haven’t felt like sitting here at night (my typical time for blogging) typing by myself. Haven’t finished many projects either.
It has been a long time since I did any quilting, art, sewing and other crafts other than what was required for presents and clients. I just didn’t have the time while caring for my dear Stars in his last few years. Some things are more important to focus on, you know what I mean. However, now I need to get back to creating and find that I often am stuck in the dreaded “white page syndrome” or whatever the artisan equivalent of writers block is. Sometimes it’s because I have all these ideas and sit down to do something and go totally blank or lose enthusiasm. Sometimes I have so many ideas that I don’t know which to choose. And sometimes, going through my stash to find what I need is way too much work because half my things are in boxes and totes (we’re trying to get ready to move, what a mess!) and I’m one of those people who likes to actually see my supplies.
Whatever the case may be, what I really need is a good kick in the artist’s behind. I use to love doing quilting swaps and quilting bees. Between the deadlines and assigned partners or topics, it really pushed me to create some great work. I always wanted to participate in something like the Sketchbook Challenge, but there was just no way to really do that as I was barely keeping up with what I was doing. Of course, now that I have some time on my hands, they are no longer running it. Bummer. These type of challenges are great because they have deadlines and you are accountable to a group of people, so you actually push yourself and get it done (like group diet buddies) whereas, on your own, it’s pretty easy to set your art aside for daily life. I know. Nothing left to do but create my own, so here it is. I wrote out two pages with two columns each of words for topics, then cut them up and put them in a container. That way it’ll be random on topics for each month and even I can’t preplan a project—true challenge style!
Mixed Media Creative Challenge
This is a monthly challenge open to anyone, anywhere. Join in anytime! I welcome you to participate if you so desire and would love to see what you come up with. I’ll try to set it up so we can have fun thumbnail links to your challenge projects (should have that figured out by the time its needed). If you just want to quietly do them on your own, that’s okay too. I know sometimes we feel a bit shy when it comes to personal creations. Remember, we’re all creative friends here and hopefully encourage each other to continue.
You have exactly one month to dream up, plan and create a project that fits within the scope of the monthly challenge theme. If you have a super busy month, go for a simpler project. The point of this challenge is to get us each creating. You don’t need to go buy anything unless you want to (I will probably never talk anyone out of fabric or art supply shopping. I may however give you my mailing address.). Try to use your creativity to use what you have, recycle, repurpose, and save your money. Think outside the crayon box!
Each topic can be interpreted however you see it—go literal or not. For instance, if the topic was “Triangles” you could make something shaped like a triangle or with triangle designs, or you could think of it in terms of relationship triangles, etc. You get the idea. I will give fair warning, I am a religious person and so there may be a religious topic such as “Christmas”, “angels”, or “favorite scripture”, but I will try to give suggestions on how to work with that if you have a different faith or none at all if you aren’t comfortable with the topic. Topics won’t always be easy–this is a challenge after all, and the point is to push ourselves creatively. Artists can become stagnant when they only choose easy or comfortable.
This is a mixed media challenge in that you can use whatever art or craft medium you want to meet the challenge. Paint, draw, quilt, sew, glue, cut, bend metal, doesn’t matter. Make a painting, a doll, a postcard, a painted rock, jewelry, art quilt, dress, or a popsicle stick house. Again, its your art, you pick. You don’t have to use the same thing each month either. Weave a basket one month and carve a totem pole the next. Your choice.
Hopefully, you’ll create a challenge specific project, but if you have a UFO sitting around that you can alter to fit the topic, go right ahead. The point is to get yourself doing something creative each month and finishing it! You can do whatever you want with your project—keep it, sell it, swap it, give it away or even burn it (although I hope not the last one!).
Follow all copyright, trademark and licensing laws please! Having fun does not give anyone the right to violate law. There are plenty of free use images and patterns, plus royalty free things, and commercial patterns that are for personal use. When in doubt, ask the creator for permission. Of course, you can be inspired by someone else’s work—just make your own art (wouldn’t be much of challenge if we just copied, right?) and give credit (and links) where needed. Respect the work of others.
Nothing containing anything obscene, pornographic, hate speech, violence or terrorist type activities is acceptable. This is not the place to bash, flame or picket a cause. My challenge, my rules—take such expressions elsewhere! I firmly believe that the purpose of art is to bring beauty into the world not spew filth. I will not allow any links/thumbnails to such work and will remove any comments left that are of such topics. Keep it clean, loving and fun. That doesn’t mean you can’t address a tough topic, or express a viewpoint, but do it in an appropriate manner (think G or PG ratings here people). I’m not anticipating any problems, but just thought I’d be very clear on the subject at the beginning.
Any additional questions that come up, I’ll try to put answers here for everyone to see.
Pins and links to the posts here are welcome, but please don’t take the images to use without express written permission—they belong to the photographer. Get permission from other artists for their individual sites.
Here’s a link to my pinterest board specifically for ideas on the monthly challenges. Feel free to look at it for inspiration.
Most important of all—have fun creating every month!
Last night at 9:25 PM, Stars took his last breathe. For 14 years, he has been by my side with his beautiful sunny smile. I had been spending a great deal of time these last few months taking care of him, making us constant companions. It feels very empty and quiet right now. I know he’s in Heaven, free of pain, safe and happy, but I sure do feel like he took a part of my heart with him.
I really like using vintage patterns, but sometimes they can be a bit hard to track down. There was a booklet of animal toys titled Easy to Sew Toys, that I’ve tried to get an original copy of for years, but never succeeded. Then one day, there in my inbox was a blog article about this booklet—and the author, Abby Glassenberg, had very kindly put a pdf copy of it online (don’t worry, its copyright is expired). So, of course I was thrilled, and downloaded immediately. So what did I think of it once I’d finally gotten a copy into my hot little hands?
The patterns are all the old style type toy with button attached limbs. While the photos are all black and white and the fabrics used are obviously from an earlier time period, you can easily imagine substituting in some fun, modern prints so that you have that touch of vintage from the style, but an updated look with the prints. Images and pattern pieces are not always with the written instruction pages, so just flip through to find what you’re looking for. Its not that big of a booklet, so that’s really not a hassle, just a minor inconvenience.
I decided to try my hand at making the penguin (which I wanted to create for part of my sister’s Christmas present this last year). I stuck with the traditional black and white concept, but went with prints instead of the solids shown. (While I’d love to claim the origins of this idea, not only was there a photo of one similar in the blog article, which I had seen floating around Pinterest, but I’ve seen other penguin softies done this way. I have no idea who the first person ever was, but it’s too cool not to try–go for it!)
I also used regular quilting cotton with a bit of batting and canvas inside for the feet instead of felt and cardboard (I knew my sister would put him in her bathroom which is decorated with penguins. Cardboard didn’t seem like such a great filling what with all the water possibilities.) as suggested by the pattern instructions. I like the scrappy look with the button eyes. Mine didn’t want to stay standing on its own, so next time I’ll try something stiffer for the feet, but I’m pretty sure it is due to the weight of the body. Maybe something heavy to weight the bottom?
It is a little tricky sewing the curves and trying to get the wings on was a trial in patience, but just take your time. You could just sew the wings directly on, skipping the whole button thing, but then the wings won’t have that little bit of movement. The end result is so adorable, its totally worth the effort!
If you want to snag a copy of this great little booklet, head on over to Abby’s site, While She Naps, for the download. While you’re there, check out her great softie tutorials!
Yes, yes, its waaay after Christmas, but it took me forever to get down to my sister’s apartment and snag some photos of what I made her for presents this last year. So without further adieu, here it is:
The denim rectangle blocks are from those boxes out of my Grandmother’s estate. (Same boxes as the ones I used for my other sister’s quilt the Christmas before, and the same that I’ll use for my brother’s quilt this coming Christmas.) I originally debated on all the fabric squares and rectangles from my Grandma as to whether to recut everything to be the same or just let it be. I decided that the real charm of all of these is that they ARE from my Grandma. There won’t be anything more made by her—just what I finish up (which, granted, is quite a few), so if I recut everything it feels like I would be taking away the part that she had done. So, I’ve only done a bit of trimming to make the rows even for easier sewing and then for squaring up the entire quilt, the wonky widths and such were left to be themselves. I made sure to have all the pockets going with the openings towards the top, so my sister can put things in them like hankies and cough drops for at night! It’s kind of fun, making a quilt with my Grandma, even if its not with her by my side.
I used multi-colored thread with a bit of sheen to it. Kind of nice contrast to the matte blues of the denims, don’t you think?
To get the lines, I literally taped across the entire quilt with wide masking tape. Then, I stitched along each side of the tape, lifting it out of the way when necessary to keep from sewing through it.
The backing/batting is polar fleece (like what I did on the other one). The denim was so heavy already, but I wanted warm and cuddly, which denim is not, so the polar fleece gave the soft and warm along with a bit of loft that batting would have provided. I think it will wear well with the denim. This one, like the last, is a very generous twin—because in this house we like quilts to tuck all around us when we roll!
Every year I make Stars a new blanket or quilt for Christmas. Yep, that’s right, I make my border collie quilts. Everyone deserves some quilty love, two-legged and four! Sometimes the rest of the family complains that he has more than anyone else.
Of course, we all know he’s my favorite, but it also is simply the fact that his quilts don’t need to be as large. This years was the largest at around 55 inches….so much easier to manipulate that bugger around under the machine when quilting than say a queen size. I also tend to keep his quilts simple in design (but lots of color).
I had nice bright fabric squares (I think I found them at the local Goodwill, but it was quite awhile ago, so who knows) that just needed to be in a quilt. My original plan was to cut them up and use white for sashing, but I never got to it and so decided they would be better used in the next quilt for Stars. The fabric had a kind of finish on it that reminds me of the old polished broadcloth. Stars really likes it and rubs his nose on it. Some say “lily” on them, maybe its Lily Pulitzer fabric? A girl can dream anyway. Most were the same size, but a few didn’t quite match. Facing a Christmas time crunch, I had to decide if I wanted to trim down every block, leave them be or what. I decided to make them the same height but leave the width however it was, (so not every corner matches up) to give it a more random look. I can live with it. So I sewed my rows and then trimmed the rows. With all the colors and the quilting, you almost don’t notice it…maybe I should have made it more even more obvious. So much for random.
After seeing that the Dream Poly Deluxe batting used in his outdoors quilt held up so well (its been washed at least once a week since and still fabulous), I decided to try one of their other batting types—the Dream Puff. Supposedly, it is 1.5 times warmer than down. While I can’t confirm this officially, he does stay cozy and comfortable in it even on our cold nights (and my room gets quite cold) and it is very light weight. I joke that I made him a quilt from flower petals, it really is that light. I quilted it up using some Sulky rayon thread and a topstitching needle and everything turned out lovely. I used a chevron pattern with a reverse chevron asymmetrically centered. There’s enough loft to give that little puffiness to the quilt, but not so much that it is at all a problem under the sewing machine foot. I think it would probably hand quilt well. Any hand quilters tried it yet? Hopefully, it’ll have the staying power of the Poly Deluxe, because I’d really like to keep using it for other quilts (especially since I bought the super queen size to get enough for another quilt that’s ready to be quilted). I like the idea of warmth without being weighed down…and machine washable is a definite bonus! Anyone else tried any of the Dream battings? What results did you get?
I ended up using the same fabric for the binding as for the backing. And, in case you’re wondering at the colors in these photos, yes, the fabrics are really that bright and vibrant—this is one crazy colorful quilt!
I had originally thought of using a neutral like gray, but this just looked better so I went with it. Never be afraid to ditch your idea for a better one.
Does he like it? Well, judging by the concerned, somewhat menacing, look he gave me when he thought I was taking it away, I’d say “yes”. Stars will lay snuggled in that quilt for hours (yeah, the guys taking full advantage of his retirement years) and always wants me to go get it for wherever he’s currently resting. I think I may have to sneak it into the washing machine when he’s sleeping.
If you missed the Black Friday sale, or were just wishing you had snagged that one class (or three or four, like me). Craftsy just announced a new sale with all the classes on sale for $19.99 or less! So head on over and treat yourself to something fun! Why live with regret?
This last winter I was asked by my sister’s co-worker to make a new version of a vintage toy. The toy was one she had given her daughter when she was around 2 and it became the little one’s lovey. Now that she has a little grandson, she wanted a boy version for him to love. She brought me the original—man, was that poor toy loved! Missing ears (dog chewed them off), some repairs, years of grime love, stains and lumpy stuffing made for…well, you can see the sad state of a much loved toy.
I admit, when I saw that toy, I might have swallowed hard at the thought of trying to reproduce it. The tortured state of the critter wasn’t really the part that had me nervous, I can make up an ear, but rather it was the three dimensional aspect, which can be hard to get exact, and even more so, the absolute faith that this woman had in me, her co-worker’s sister, to make a reasonable copy of “Boo Kitty”, a toy that held a great deal of loving memories for her and her daughter.
After spending a few hours searching for a similar pattern with no luck, I knew I would have to create my own. So, I thought you might enjoy learning the steps I went through—then maybe you can recreate an old toy yourself!
The first step was to document the original (so I could return it before the daughter noticed it missing as this was to be a surprise from the grandma) with lots of photos at all angles. I also scanned the face because I knew that no matter what the body looked like, as long as the face were right I’d be halfway there. If it wasn’t right, the project would fall flat no matter how well made.
From just the two shown photos (I won’t bore you with the dozen I actually took for documenting) you can see how the head has a one piece front and a two piece back, with a slight curve to the back of the head while the front is flat. Also the body is similar, but with the added bottom piece. The separate arms had little gathered ruffles with attached hands. The legs have hinged knees and the toes point up. Boo Kitty was obviously missing her ears and some filling and what was there was compressed and somewhat bumpy due to years of lovin’.
Another step I took is one similar to that used to copy garments that are already made—only because this was a dimensional object, I put the pattern paper on top of each section to carefully pin and trace the pieces. While this didn’t give me an exact replica, partly due to the condition of the toy, it did give me a place to start with pattern pieces and allowed me to really look at how this softie had been designed. I decided to lose the ruffled sleeves as this was to be a boy’s version, so that simplified the arm construction just a smidgen. For the missing ears, I measured what was there and then drew up a basic cat ear in keeping with the scale of the whole softie. As a toymaker, I did use a bit of my imagination to decide how this kitty must have looked new. In my head, I tried to rewind time and remove the years of being slept on, thrown in the washing machine, attacked by canines, spilled on, dragged everywhere, danced with and squeezed tight. Among other things, I figured that the head wasn’t quite as flat and sat up straight, the feet were better shaped, and the arms probably didn’t hang down quite so much before the shoulders lost their stuffing and repairs were made.
Once I had the basic parts traced and created, as in the case of the ears, I smoothed out the lines and made up a test dummy. I made notes directly on the muslin so that when I came back to it on a different day, I’d remember exactly what I was thinking.
Then I reworked the pattern pieces and tried another mock-up of the toy. The first round of changes made some things much better, but also caused that some other changes became necessary. An example is the neck shoulder area. You can see how adjusting one part’s shape caused it to look very different.
I didn’t like how the head was looking and the arms/hands needed some adjustment. So, more tweaking to the pattern pieces and a test of just the parts that needed a redo. No point in wasting material, stuffing and time on remaking what is already fine!
Then, one more go at the head to get the shape just right. The idea isn’t necessarily to have an exact duplicate, which would be very difficult to create with fabric pieces that have been stretched, washed, and loved for years and getting a pattern from something you aren’t cutting apart. What you want is something that is close enough that when someone looks at it, they clearly see a similarity, but that also has your own touch added to create a unique version.
When I felt I had it close to perfect, I drew out the pattern pieces for a fresh start. I decided that for a boy version, I would add a little bow tie. I opted for applique to avoid any choking hazard or loss of parts (and grandma approved). I pulled a lot of different fabrics from my stash until I came upon a beautiful red, white and blue plaid to use for the main body. Then I found this red micro polka dot fabric for the tie. Plaids and polka dots are such classic prints, kind of fitting for a reproduction of a vintage toy. I also had previously matched the skin tone fabric of the original so that I knew I had almost an exact match. I also used some shiny embroidery floss to hand stitch the face to replicate the original.
I like to stuff toys firmly so that they can stand up to years of hugging, snuggling, and being dragged around and washed. Knowing that this toy would probably need washing at some point in the future, I used polyfil for stuffing. Polyfil seems to hold up pretty well over the years. This Boo Kitty is stylin’ a bow tie that has been fused down and then handstitched with a blanket stitch. His face is hand embroidered—why yes, that is some mighty fine satin stitching, thanks for noticing—and he sits up by himself.
Each plaid piece was carefully cut to keep the plaid straight and matched up properly as much as possible on a three-dimensional toy.
The new Boo Kitty turned out close enough to the original, that when the grandmother saw it, she gasped and cried, “Boo Kitty!” Then she got all teary eyed and hugged me—that says it all!