Category Archives: Tutorial

Kantha + Patchwork Quilt Project

Here’s the result of my latest sewing efforts. I’d found someone’s unfinished patchwork project in one of my local thrift stores. It was basically just some square patches sewn together, without a backing. I liked the uneven, slightly wonky, amateurish feel to the piece and knew I could do something with it. At just $5, it was a real steal. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, right?

Inspired by my fascination with Indian Kantha quilts, which are fashioned out of layers of vintage sari cloths sewn together using simple running stitches, I decided to try my hand at making my own Kantha + Patchwork quilt. 

I had amongst my fabric stash a Queen-sized duvet cover in a lovely blue stripe, which would work perfectly with the patchwork piece.

First, I lay the duvet cover right side down on my bedroom rug. (This unassuming rug, a recent purchase, is around 6 x 8 feet and has become my workfloor for my bigger sewing projects, as well as providing a handy template for sizing quilts). 

Next, I lay the patchwork piece right side up, on top of the duvet cover. The duvet cover is larger than the patchwork piece. After making sure all the sides were equally balanced, I trimmed, folded and pinned the excess duvet cover fabric over the patchwork piece.

The laying out and pinning took a long time to get right. 

Next, I took the pinned piece to my sewing machine and sewed along all the edges, to secure both pieces together. Then I pinned the patchwork piece to the duvet cover at regular intervals, to prevent it slipping out of place when Kantha stitching.

The reason I chose the striped duvet cover as the backing for this project was so I’d have a handy guide to sew the running stitches along. 

I decided on a 4+3 pattern, i.e I’d sew along 4 rows of stripes and skip the next 3, then sew the next 4, skip 3 and so on. I used white crochet thread, which is strong and smooth at the same time. 

3 weeks of nights spent “watching” TV while sewing, rolling and unrolling this humongous swath of fabric on and off the sofa, et voila! I give you my first Kantha + Patchwork Quilt!

(Showing the front)

(Showing the back)

Now to show this off outside, in natural sunlight! The previous photos were taken at night, indoors, and don’t do justice to the vibrance of the colours in this quilt.

I draped it over Meep, my little Kia Cerato here, so you can see just how big a project this turned out to be!

This photo shows the rows of stitching and how they simply go over the patchworked squares on the other side. I just love the crinkly effect Kantha stitching produces!

Now for some close-ups:

Here’s what it looks like folded up. I love it! ❤❤❤

I intend this year to sew up a whole batch of Kantha-inspired items, ranging from little to large. These will be my inventory and stock for when I start selling my crafts later this year.

So, watch this space for more Kantha-inspired projects!

Upcycling:”Origami Bento Bag”

So this just happened…I’d recently accumulated several orphaned pillowcases (orphaned as in single, having been separated from its original pillowcase, bedsheet and duvet cover set) from my local thrift shop, and had already used a couple as the basis of some “Kantha” scarves. (I’ve since realised that those creations could just as equally be used as table runners or wall hangings, and have as much visual impact as a scarf…but more about that later).

My latest find at the thrift store was an orphaned quilted pillowcase that reminded me of Japanese/Indian textiles. Right up my street. 

I’d been wanting to make one of those roomy, triangular Origami-style carry-alls I’d seen on the internet. They’re called “Origami Bento Bags”. This seemed the perfect opportunity to use up some pillowcases.

This is the site I went to for the instructions: http://lolanovablog.blogspot.com.au/2013/06/origami-market-bag-tutorial.html?m=1

Now for the math…

The instructions call for a piece of fabric measuring 17 x 51 inches, the length being 3 times the width. I found that a standard pillowcase measures around 19 x 29 inches. 2 pillowcases, joined together lengthwise, would be 19 x 58 inches. 3 x 19 = 57 inches. Sweet! The extra inch in the fabrics would be used up anyway as the seam allowance when sewing the 2 pillowcases together.

The other beauty of using old pillowcases to make this Origami Bento Bag is that I get to choose whether I want the 2 pillowcases to be complementary, or contrasting in their designs and colours. Another big plus is that the backs of the pillowcases make natural linings for the inside of the bags. So, there’s no need to create a separate lining for the bag. These bags were originally used in Japan to carry everyday items like groceries and also food, so there’s no need to be precious about whether the seams show on the inside or not. If you really must have perfectly smooth seams on the inside, then just sew a French seam. I’ve left mine raw.

If you use pillowcases that have different backs and fronts, then the resulting bag will be even more colourful and attractive. And, if you Do sew a French seam for the inside seams, then technically you’d have a reversible bag.

The first photo below shows how the 2 pieces are arranged and pinned together. The other photos show the finished product.

I used a separate piece of fabric to create a tube, through which the sewn ends of the bag are passed through to create a simple handle.

Very happy with this one. I think I’ll test it out on my next grocery run. Might even use it as a library book. Or for general shopping use. It certainly is a BIG bag, you could use it easily as a baby’s nappy changing bag, and carry all of baby’s things in it – bottles, wipes, change of clothes, toys, books etc.

I love upcycling and recycling, and this project fits the bill perfectly. 

Going to make more bags like this and also more “Kantha” scarves/table runners/wall hangings, and put them up on my Etsy and eBay stores, to help my “Escape From Australia” fund 😄.

30 Minute Repurposed Project : Frenchie Cushion

I found this cute piece of fabric in the remnants box at my local Spotlight store. As a lover of all things doggy, I had to get it. $8 it cost me. 

Back home, I found an old pillow and because its covering was still halfway decent, albeit with a couple of tears in it, I did not even have to make a new pillowcase for it.

All I did was cut the top off the case and fold the filling inside so it made a 16 inch square. I then folded the rest of the pillowcase over and sewed the open ends closed. 

The next thing to do was to cut the fabric to make 2 squares to fit the square cushion/pillow. Place the 2 pieces together, right sides facing, and pin to make sure the pieces don’t slip around. And then sew straight stitches up 3 edges and half of the 4th edge. Snip the corners to reduce bulk. Turn the case right side out, stuff the cushion inside, then handsew the opening closed. A slipstitch will do, but I always use a ladder stitch, which is a very clever stitch indeed as the stitches become invisible from the outside. It’s a little trick I picked up from my days of being a teddy bear artist. 

And there you go. An easy-peasy, nice little 30 minute project done. If I can sew this, YOU can too! 

One side of the cushion. 

The other side of the cushion. I love how it complements our living room wall colour. I can’t remember the name or brand of the paint now, but I searched high and low for just the perfect shade of turquoise. 

Now I won’t have to fight Boo the cat for a cushion again 😄.

My “Deconstructed Dog Harness”

I wanted to call this the “Naked Harness”, but that could’ve been taken out of context. 😄 So, for the time being, until I can think of a better name, this is my “Deconstructed Dog Harness”.

There are literally dozens and dozens of dog harness designs on the market. Some work better than others. Personally, I prefer those that clip or pull from the front. My experience with harnesses that fasten from the back, between the dog’s shoulders, is that they tend to make the dog pull even more. Dogs have a built-in Opposition Reflex, meaning they will pull in the opposite direction of any force…if you push, they’ll push back, if you pull backwards, they’ll pull forwards. 

A front-clipping harness does not mean you’re pulling your dog. Dogs have four legs, we have two, so naturally the dog, unless it’s afraid and putting the brakes on, will be going faster than its handler, and giving the impression that it’s pulling ahead eagerly. We’re not going to talk about how to get a dog to heel or walk on a loose leash here, we’re talking about dogs that pull and harnesses that deter them from doing that type of behaviour.

At the risk of trying to reinvent the wheel, I wanted to create a no-pull dog harness that:

1) is easy to put on and take off. Many dogs are head-shy, which makes it difficult for handlers to slip a harness over their heads. Others get overly excited and prance about, which makes “step-in” harnesses hard to put on.

2) doesn’t constrict movement around the shoulders or chest. Many harnesses on the market have adjustable straps on either side of the chest and/or on either side of the shoulder area. This means fitting a harness on different dogs is potentially an exercise in adjusting 2 – 4 straps each time. Poorly fitted harnesses can constrict the dog’s chest, chafe its underarms and chest, poke into its shoulder blades. 

3) is secure. Some harnesses on the market require you to purchase a “connector strap” which provide extra security should the harness break or come undone. Others have no protection in the event of metal/fabric fatigue. 

And so, after Pinning lots of harness ideas onto my Pinterest board “Dogs 101”, aka “research”, I came up with my “Deconstructed Harness”.

Here are its 4 constituent parts (these are the raw parts before sewing, they’ve just been pinned in place): 

From top to bottom:

Girth belt – constructed like a giant dog collar

Back Connector – connects the Girth Belt to the Collar

Collar – exactly like a standard dog collar, but with an extra D or O ring for the Back Connector to clip to

Front connector – this bit joins the Girth Belt to the dog’s Collar, and the O ring is where the dog’s lead clips to and leads the dog

4 hours sewing later…(yes, really)

This photo shows the Girth Belt on the left and the Collar on the right. The top of the Girth Belt is connected via the Back Connector to the extra D or O ring on the back of the Collar. The bottom of the Girth Belt is connected to the O ring on the front of the Collar, using the clip, while the strap with the small end O ring passes through the ring on the Collar. The lead is clipped to this small ring. All 4 components can be disengaged from each other, and the collar can be worn on its own.

Shelagh was my very patient and cooperative model through all this. Here she is sporting the complete outfit.

Photo showing the Girth Belt, Back Connector and Collar.

Photo showing the Bottom Connector passing to the front between Shelagh’s front legs, and clipping to the Collar, with the small end O ring passing through the Collar’s O ring and clipped to the lead.

Shelagh was so patient with my endless measuring, adjusting and fitting of the harness. Love that dog so much!! 

All set and ready to go! I chose a camouflage cotton fabric sewn over webbing for this harness. My next one will be in bold, bright colours, I think!
 

App Review: Photoshop Mix

Back in the my days as a mobile photography artist, sometimes, for the heck of it, I used to cut around the outline of images in my photos, and then paste them onto different backgrounds. I never went as far as grafting cat heads onto bird bodies, however. Those I left for the Photoshop afficionados. I never could quite get my head around Photoshop, so instead I contented myself by playing with different Apps on my mobile device.

Since taking up mobile photography in 2010, I’ve gone through several mobile devices – an iPhone 3, iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and my current workhorse, a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Sheesh! That’s 1 mobile device almost every year! I guess you could call me a heavy user 😄.

Anyway, I’d been happily using the App “A Thumb Cut” for all my cutting and pasting projects. Until I switched from my Note 4 to the S7 Edge…and the App refused to work. Or rather, I could still cut out my image, but for some reason I was unable to save my work. I wrote to the App developers, but never got a reply.

What’s a girl to do? I know, start searching for a substitute App that I could use instead of “A Thumb Cut”.

After a bit of searching, downloading and testing out a number of duds, I stumbled across a perfectly serviceable App called “Photoshop Mix“. It is actually by Adobe Photoshop, and it works a treat. So once again, I’m back in business, being able to cut and paste images.

Here are a few posters I’ve created for work, using “Photoshop Mix“:

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Project NOW: Part I

Lately, I’ve been hankering after decoupaged wooden letters, the sort you see in trendy homes spelling inspiring words like LOVE, HOME, PEACE, JOY etc.

Like these that I saw on a Google Image search:

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So, when I saw some large wooden letters for sale at Thingz, one of my favourite home decoration stores, I decided to buy some to create my own cutesy letter art “sculpture”.

Why the word NOW? Well, I would’ve bought the letters H O M E or L O V E, but for the fact that each letter cost $7.99 but I could buy 3 for $20. So, I had to choose a 3-letter word, and N O W seemed a great idea.

Those of you following my humble blog will have noticed that I haven’t written about any Gelli® plate printing lately. That’s because I’ve been busy vacillating between reading Mind, Body & Spirit books and creating digital photography art on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4. While at the same time fantasising about my Next Big Project. And getting nowhere. There’s just not enough time in the day to do everything, and I can’t clone myself.

As it so happened, I had a whole pile of Gelli® prints lying dormant, awaiting further action. Now would be a perfect time to use up some of them.

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I selected the prints I wanted, then traced around each letter with a fine-tipped Sharpie pen. Then I used scissors and a scalpel (for the fiddly bits) to cut out the shapes.

I used PVA woodworking glue as my adhesive, and stuck the cut out Gelli® print letters to the wooden N O W letters.

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The wooden N O W letters were about an inch thick. I wanted to cover the depth of the letters with my Gelli® prints as well as front, so I measured and cut out several strips of Gelli® prints for the sides.
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And here they are, with front AND sides done. All that’s needed is to seal the surfaces and then varnish the letters.

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There’s another reason why I chose NOW instead of another 3-letter word such as JOY, but I’ll tell you what that is in my next post. 😄

Birthday Bread

Today, the 1st of July, happens to be Canada Day. It would’ve been also Princess Diana’s birthday. It is also my birthday.

I’d been meaning to try out this recipe that I came across on Pinterest. It’s for a round loaf of crusty bread that needs no kneading. The idea of using a cast iron pot, instead of a loaf pan, appealed to me. I must confess I’m not very good at making breads. They always come out flat, or grey. Sometimes both at once. So this no-knead, “Dutch oven” crusty loaf recipe seemed too good to be true.

Here is the link to that recipe.
http://www.jocooks.com/bakery/breads/crusty-bread/

I didn’t follow the measurements in the recipe per se. I had bought a box of Laucke soy and linseed bread mix, so all I did was mix it with the amount of water and yeast as specified, and only from thereon did I follow the Dutch Oven recipe.

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You have to leave the dough to rise for 12-18 hours. I’d prepared 2 lots of dough last night, and left them to their own devices overnight.

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This is the batch The Kid mixed.

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And this is the batch I mixed.

So, roll on the morning. The recipe says to preheat the oven to 450 Farenheit (around 225 Celsius). The cast iron pot you use (aka the “Dutch Oven”) also needs to preheat.

Next, all I had to do next was flour my kitchen worktop, scoop out the risen dough, form it into a ball, and drop it into the preheated pot. Like so.
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And then, put the lid on the pot. Pop the whole thing into the preheated oven for 30 minutes. The lid is important for ensuring a crusty crust, as it keeps the moisture in as the loaf bakes. After the 30 minutes are up, take the lid off and continue baking for 15-20 minutes, to brown up the crust.

Et voila! C’est incroyable!

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This is the loaf just after removing the lid.

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Here it is after browning up.

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And here it is in all its magnificent crustiness. Yum yum yum! Happy Birthday to me!

(I made 2 loaves. My neighbour Diane had baked me a loaf in her breadmaker, and The Kid loved it so much he urged me to get a breadmaker so we could have freshly baked bread every day. But I figured, if this recipe really works, then there’d be no need for a breadmaking machine. So I’m giving Diane a loaf and sharing the recipe with her).

Ta Daaa!
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I’ve just realised something. Bread makes me happy!

Fish!

I was sorting through my thousands of photos in my mobile phone’s camera roll the other day, and came across some poor abandoned, orphaned half-processed images of my Japanese Koi fish. I remembered that at the time of editing those photos, I’d been playing with an App called Trimaginator. And then some other project of mine superceded it, and it got buried under an avalanche of new photos.

My favourite App for blending images on my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is “Photo Blender“. It offers more blend modes than you can think of, and is super-easy to use.

Another favourite App of mine for creating colourfield backgrounds is “Impressionist Fingerpaint“. I have a folder in my phone that is just for backgrounds I’ve created using that App.

I decided to have a play with my Fish images, Photo Blender and Impressionist Fingerpaint. The only other App used here is Photo Editor, for tweaking various parameters of the resulting blended images.

Such fun! And I really like the results too. Here are some of them. Please refrain from copying these images, full copyright remains with me, although I have submitted them to my Licensor for licensing on homewares.

These images hold bittersweet memories for me, personally. The fish you see are my own Koi, and since the photos were taken, the number has fallen from 12 down to 4. I’m not very good at keeping fish, and I’m determined to NOT replenish stocks anymore. When the last 4 go, that’s it.

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Square Collage Project

I made this mixed media collage a while back, but never got round to blogging about it, as the photos I took got buried under thousands of other photos in my camera roll.

Until now.

This collage was made using paper ephemera, washi tape and acrylic paints. The whole project, once completed was sealed with several layers of spray varnish. The substrate or base used is a cradled wooden panel that I’d made last year. For instructions how to make cradled wooden panels, read here.

I didn’t take any photos of the collage while creating it, just of the finished result, including some shots of the sides (which are also collaged) and also some close-ups. So, here they are:

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In case you’re wondering how a couple of the ephemera elements appear to be “floating” off the background…it’s done very simply with a black watercolour pencil. Neat, huh? 🙂

Juicy Journals with Word Bands

I snagged myself a set of 12 Ranger Tim Holtz Word Bands on eBay recently. They cost me around AUD$20 in total, and that’s invlcluding postage. When the word bands arrived in the post, I knew they would be perfect for my next Juicy Journal project. (For the unitiated, my Juicy Journals are Gelli Plate printed and inked pages torn into segments and bundled together into booklets, to be either enjoyed as they are, as artist books, or they can be scribbled/doodled/painted/collaged on as you like. Both sides of the paper are printed. No 2 pages are ever the same i.e they are monoprints).

This is what the Tim Holtz Word Bands look like:
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They’ve words of inspiration etched on them, like “possibility begins with imagination”, “dream as if you’ll live forever”, “life is about creating yourself” etc. There’s a handy loop on each end of the 2-inch tags, perfect for securing and binding to my Juicy Journals.

I used a modified Ledger binding for this project. I’ve written about that project previously here. This time, I didn’t tie the loose ends together, as that would’ve created a tented look where the threads joined, and would’ve partially obscured the word tags and detracted from the overall look. Instead, I simply tied up each loose end with a double shoelace knot.

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I used 8 A3-sized art papers, Gelliprinted on both sides using children’s texture mats and various other stamps made from household items. Out of the 8 A3 sized sheets of 190gsm weight paper I was able to make 4 Juicy Journals.

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Sweet, aren’t they? I’m considering putting up some of my Juicy Journals for sale on my Etsy store. Currently, all I have on offer there are Lenormand divination cards that I designed myself. Do visit my Etsy store! 🙂