Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Creation of a Tote Bag—the process

We had our Annual Guild Challenge exhibit, "Fiber and Caffeine get me going..." this weekend. The Challenge was to create a tote bag inspired by a favorite mug. I emceed the event again this year and we had 10 wonderful entries.
One of the best things about working on an assignment that has been issued to a group of artists, is sharing information about our processes, detours and solutions after the pieces are complete. This time, I remembered to periodically document the process (via my digital camera) from the initial sketches through finishing.

Here is a pictorial documentation of the journey of my Challenge Tote Bag. My piece is called "How to be a Fiber Artist," which was inspired by this SARK coffee mug.
Coffee mug inspiration piece.
Here are the initial sketches. They were drawn to actual size: approximately 18" x 15".
Sketches for both sides of the tote bag.
One of the requirements of the Challenge was to include a decorative design element. I used painter's drop cloth canvas for the fabric and hand painted the trees using acrylic and fabric paints. When dry, the paints were heat set.
Hand painted images. Side 1.
Side 2.
I auditioned bits of hand knitted and felted fabric for the "studio / tree house." This knitting was wet felted by hand in a little glass jar (shake, shake, shake).
Felted hand knitting.
Auditioning fabrics and threads:
Auditioning threads for the quilting and thread painting.
The house with the door was proportionally too big for the tree and I was not satisfied with this fabric option for the roof. The colors needed to be clear hues for this palette. I knit and felted 2 more pieces.

The house (below) was a better solution for the tree house and the wooden slat steps. It was more inviting to have windows in the tree house. There is light and energy coming from inside.
 Free motion thread painting was used to create the lettering.
Bag front with free-motion stitching. Choosing a zipper.
Side two of the bag before assembly.
The trees were free-motion quilted. Extra batting behind the tree trunks provided a dimensional (trapunto) effect.
The lining fabric is 100% cotton with a directional print (from one of Kaffe Fasset's collections). Care was taken to insure the direction of the print was oriented correctly inside the bag as well as for the flanges of the zipper. A pocket was added to the inside.
Directional print lining with a pocket and zipper.

I wanted a zipper in the bag to keep the contents from falling out. I made three muslin prototypes to figure out how to sew together the lining, zipper, handles and embellished outside. Canvas tabs were sewn to the ends of the zipper. The handles (another requirement) were made from a purchased woven trim.
Close up of the zipper.

The finished bag.
"How to be a Fiber Artist" bag Side 1.
"How to be a Fiber Artist" bag Side 2.
Other Challenge entries can be seen here on the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild web site. Other inspiring and fun books by SARK include:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fiber Art inspired by Coffee Mugs

My fiber arts guild, the Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild, is presenting its second annual Guild Challenge this Saturday. The Challenge theme is "Fiber and Caffeine get me going..." and members were to create a tote bag inspired by a favorite coffee mug. We've had 11 months to design and work on our entries... and the big reveal is this Saturday.
Riverbend Fiber Arts Guild Challenge 2011
I've got my entry form filled out with my Artist's Statement (check!). We're required to bring the coffee mug that inspired out piece (go that). And, I'm the team lead for this year's Challenge, so I've been coordinating the day's agenda, preparing the presentation and getting the ballots ready (off to the printer's this afternoon). I'm also teaching Colorwork Knitting this evening and a Free-motion Quilting class tomorrow, so I'm running around like a crazy woman...

Without giving too much away, here is a little preview of my piece. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Colorful Stitches: this week's classes

I'm teaching two classes this week—Color Knitting II (at Chattanooga State) and Free-motion Quilting (at Chattanooga Sewing). Both classes offer unlimited possibilities for adding color to your stitching—whether you're stitching with two needles and yarn or a single needle and your sewing machine. So come and join me and spend some time with like-minded sewing and knitting enthusiasts and learn a new technique!
Left: Free-motion Quilting class      Right: Color Knitting II class—Intarsia method
To Register: Contact Chattanooga Sewing at 899-3664 (for free-motion quilting) and Chattanooga State at 697-3100 (for Color Knitting II) to register for classes. Classes are small and friendly and we always have a good time.

Some of my favorite reference books for free-motion quilting and color knitting include:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Free-motion Quilting, stitching freestyle

Want to learn how to Free-motion Quilt? Come to my Intro to Free-Motion Quilting class and learn how to drop the feed dogs and start "thread drawing" with your sewing machine. It's fun and liberating.
Intro to Free-motion Quilting class
This is a beginner class, so you don't need any prior free-motion quilting experience. In class, we'll cover sewing machine set-up, threads, batting and continuous-line patterns you can use with traditional or contemporary style quilts.
All you need is a sewing machine (yes, you can quilt bigger quilts on your home sewing machine!) with the ability to drop or cover the feed dogs and a machine quilting (or darning) foot for your machine.

Call Chattanooga Sewing today at 899-3664 to register for my November 11 class. This is a 5-hour class. You will learn a lot and we have lots of fun!
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