Sunday, July 3, 2022

How to pack a mini studio for your travels

When people ask me about my 100 Day Project—100 Days of Stitching Found Objects and Fallen Pieces—they ask “if” and “how” I take a project like this with me when I travel. 

The answer to “if” is: "Yes. I take this project on the road and I do stitch daily."
The answer to “how” is: make yourself a mini stitching studio. Here’s how I do it. 

Zipper pouches are the perfect travel companion for a Studio On-the-Go.


Taking your studio on the road

Zipper pouches are perfect for a traveling stitching studio. I’ve made a number of pouches over the years—with specific fabric choices, leftover fabrics from other projects, or an orphan quilt block. They can be made in various sizes and shapes. They hold quite a lot of supplies in them and tuck easily into a tote, overnight bag or suitcase.

My go-to pattern for zipper pouches is the Chunky Wee Zippy Pouch by Sam Hunter of Hunter's Design Studio.

Zipper pouches in various shapes and sizes.

Tools and supplies for travel

For my 100 Days of Slow Stitching, I gathered a variety of colors of embroidery floss, perle cotton, sashiko cotton, and 12 wt threads. Sandwich and snack size plastic baggies are great for skeins of floss and cut floss strands because the contents are easily seen and the bags are resealable.

Tools and supplies for a travel stitching studio.

My tools include small embroidery scissors, seam ripper, glue pen (for EPP projects), a metal tin (or needle case/needle book) for needles, pins, safety pins, and other small objects like bobbins, a thimble, needle threader, etc.

Conserving space by sliding spools into cones.

I like the cotton sashiko thread from Cosmo, but the cones are rather large for travel purposes. However, I discovered I can insert the perle cotton spools into the sashiko cones to conserve space in the zipper pouch. 

For the 100 Day Stitching Project, I packed a baggie of miscellaneous scraps, trimmings, and other ephemera for the road. But I quickly discovered all kinds of overlooked “fallen pieces” at hotels, restaurants and other places on my trips—soap wrappers, restaurant coupons, hotel card key folders, advertising flyers, and the like. 

When packing for EPP [English paper piecing] projects, like my 100 Days of 3/4-inch hexies, I pack paper templates, acrylic window templates, and fabric scraps in a clear sandwich or snack bags. If there are multiple shapes or sizes of pieces, each shape will have its own baggie.

Clear plastic baggie for English paper piecing [EPP] travel projects.

One of my zipper bags is always ready to go with supplies and tools for making fabric twine. I periodically refill this pouch with fabric strings and trimmings as needed.

Zipper pouch with fabric twine supplies.

Fabric twine pouch ready to travel.


Other mini tools and supply options

While we're talking about mini travel studios... you can find other "travel size" items that are handy for your creative endeavors when traveling but still conserve space in the suitcase. Visit your local quilt shop and ask them what they have or what they can order for you.

Mini cutting mats.

Along with an extensive selection of threads, hand-dyed floss and perle cotton, stitching yarns, and notions, I found this great plastic zipper project bag at Patches and Stitches, a needlework and quilting shop in Huntsville, AL.

Clear zippered project bag. 13" x 9"


Buy two... or four!

The basis of the saying, "Buy two—one to use and one to lose," holds true for mini travel studio(s). Each of my zipper pouches has a dedicated pair of scissors, appropriate sewing needles for the thread and task, and any other supply that is specifically needed for the type of project or technique. There is nothing worse than opening up a travel studio in the hotel room to find you have no _____ (fill in the blank).

Happy trails!


Sunday, June 19, 2022

Create Daily Tracker, a mid-year review

The summer solstice for the northern hemisphere is this week, June 21. It marks the beginning of Summer and is the day with the most sunlight. It seems an appropriate time to review progress on my 2022 Create Daily Tracker.

2022 Create Daily Tracker progress, June 19, 2022.


Create Daily progress

I've kept up with doing a creative activity each day in 2022 thus far. Contributing to this are:

I also participated in the online Slow Fashion Challenge in May of this year, which prompted this recent folio piece.

"We have what we need" 2-page folio. 


Make Nine progress

The last Make Nine finish was logged in on March 30, three months ago. However, I have items in progress and potential project ideas for the other prompts.

2022 Make Nine progress, June 19, 2022.


100 Days 100 Blocks 

I'm debating whether I'll do the 100 Days 100 Blocks Challenge this year since the start date has been delayed until August. In the past, it started July 1 which I had worked into my schedule. I also lined up these lovely blender fabrics from P&B Textiles that I planned to use. So I'll either find another project or wait until August... TBD.

Whimsey and Onyx basics collections from P&B Textiles.

So I'm staying creative... doing and making things with my hands.

Happy Summer Solstice!


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Fabric and quilting inspiration from the road

Across the miles in my southeast territory, the quilt shops and independent sewing centers are doing and making fabulous things with fabric, thread and stitch. After I do a double-take, marvel at the creativity, skills and talent, I try to remember to snap a few photos of the glut of inspiration I encounter. Check out a few of the sights... from the road!

Ruffle up the Little Darlings Safari panel from P&B Textiles to make this adorable pillow
at The Sewing Bee, Johnson City, TN.

Little Darlings Safari quilt and pillowcase [P&B Textiles] at The Sewing Bee, Johnson City, TN.

Children's clothes with Festive Fauna [FIGO Fabrics] at The Sewing House, Collierville, TN.

Here's a clever idea using fabric, a heavy stabilizer, and the serger.

Fabric vase covers with Etno from Art Gallery Fabrics (left) and Wild Beans from M&S Textiles (right) 
at Thomas Sewing Center, Lexington, KY.

Triangle scrap quilt featuring M&S Textiles with Art Gallery Fabrics Pure Solids
at Thomas Sewing Center, Lexington, KY.

This quilt is a free-motion quilting sampler quilt. Check out the myriad of quilting designs!

Wonderful machine quilting on this quilting sampler
at Thomas Sewing Center, Lexington, KY. 

The jam and jelly jars from the Season and Spice collection align the border of this quilt.

Quilt featuring Season and Spice from Art Gallery Fabrics 
at Bernina in Stitches, Johnson City, TN.

A palette of soft neutrals from the Rural Life collection from Paintbrush Studio creates this baby quilt.

A baby quilt with Rural Life from Paintbrush Studio
at Kentucky Quilt Co, Bowling Green, KY.

A Tribute to Ukraine made with the Little Matryoshka collection from Lewis & Irene
at Stitchers Garden, Brentwood, TN 

Stitchers Garden, Brentwood, TN has the full collection of Little Matryoshka.

East Tennessee Shop Hop quilt with Meriwether from Art Gallery Fabrics
at Tennessee Quilts, Jonesborough, TN.


Everybody knows your name...

Once you get over the fact that the TV in your room knows who you are... sometimes you can find good art and pattern inspiration at the hotels. 

How does the television know my name???

There is inspiration on the walls, on the wallpaper, and elsewhere.

Hotel art on the wall.

Just keep your eyes open...

Pattern inspiration in the hotel carpeting.


Sunday, June 5, 2022

100 Days of Printmaking—a recap

72 hand carved stamps. 3 sketchbooks. 100 days of hand stamping patterns and textures.
This is the result of my 100 Days of Printmaking with Mixed Media, 2022.

100 Days of Printmaking: First print (left) and 100th print (right).


Stamp improv in the sketchbook

This printmaking project started with some ink pads from previous projects and a few stamps. With ideas gleaned from Instagram and Pinterest posts, I began to broaden my stamp carving and printing designs by doing a daily page or two of "stamp play" or "improv stamping" in the sketchbook. One experiment definitely leads to another... and before you know it, it's down the proverbial rabbit hole.

Experiments and play in the sketchbook.

Exploring stamp and color combinations. 


Repeats, patterns and textures

My initial thought at the beginning of this 100 Day Project was to create overall textures with the stamps. Sometimes I added another color or two while making the repeats. There is a mindfulness when creating a page full of repeats. 

Repeat patterns with hand carved stamps.


Symmetry and rotation

Making repeats led to carving stamps that, when rotated, would create a secondary design. Squares, half or quarter circles, and 45-45-90 degree triangles worked well for this.

Triangle stamps with rotation.

The compositions started to look like quilt blocks and patchwork quilts. My stamp carving got more detailed.

Using symmetry and rotation.


Triangle stamps using symmetry.


Ghost prints

Printing with the stamp and following up with a second print without re-inking the stamp is a ghost print. The second print is a lighter version of the original image and sometimes can even look like a different color of ink.

Ghost prints.


Medallions

On Days 53 and 54 I started to combine stamps and print them in a medallion format. Sometimes I would use multiple ink colors. This got to be a lot of fun.

Medallion format.


Nature inspired

The stamps lended themselves to nature inspired prints. Here are a few.

Nature inspired compositions.

Making trees.

Abstract landscapes.

Stamping and Slow Drawing

As time went on, the compositions became more intricate, detailed and interesting. I added slow drawing and sometimes watercolor to the stamped compositions.

Stamping, rotation symmetry, and slow drawing.

Medallion, nature inspired, and slow drawing.

Circular stamp with slow drawing.

Medallion with slow drawing.

Stamping, watercolor painting, and slow drawing.


Learning and improving by working the 100 Day process

My primary goal for doing a printmaking 100 Day Project was to learn more about working with hand-carved stamps and improve my skills in this activity. In looking at my compositions over the course of 100 days, I can see improvement and a higher level of exploration.

I discovered new-to-me materials—round stamp blanks, acrylic mounts, and VersaFine Clair ink pads—and other artists using this medium. Other revelations are listed on the Day 50 blog post.

My collection of hand-carved rubber stamps has exploded: 72 stamps with 3 that I use both sides. 

Hand carved rubber stamps.

I have three sketchbooks from this 100 Days of Printmaking project. I've continued to use my stamps to make new compositions, although without a daily commitment. I know I would not have done this and experimented with this printmaking technique without making it a 100 Day Project.

Three sketchbooks for printmaking from The 100 Day Project.

Do the 100 Day Project!



Sunday, May 29, 2022

100 Days of Slow Stitching with found objects—a recap

The 2022 100 Day Project came to an end on May 23. For my 100 Days of Slow Stitching: Stitched Scrolls with Found Objects and Fallen Pieces, I showed up every day and have 5 hand stitched journal scrolls that show the results of this daily practice. I love them!

The 100 Day Project 2022: Stitching Found Objects and Fallen Pieces.

100 days of Found Objects and Fallen Pieces

To get started, I gathered leftover bits (fallen pieces) from various past projects to fill two small baggies. By being observant and present during this daily exercise, I discovered a number of random, everyday items that are often taken for granted or discarded. This expanded my selection of "found objects." Both were incorporated these into my stitch journal scrolls. A few of them include...

Hotel and travel paraphernalia: key card paper envelopes, soap wrappers, and food coupons. 

Hotel paraphernalia: paper key card envelopes and soap wrappers.

Tea bag tags and wrappers: have you ever taken time to read the tags on the end of tea bag strings?

Tea bag wrappers and tags on the end of the tea bag strings.

Postage stamps: there are colorful commemorative first class postage stamps and "themed" cancellation marks (like "Energy Awareness Month") adorning our mail pieces.

Commemorative postage stamps.

Colorful texture was created by couching down thrums and crumbs—yarn bits, handmade paper scraps, fabric trimmings, thread waste—to the fabric scrolls.

Thrums and crumbs create colorful texture.


New embroidery stitches and new favorites

The more one practices, the better one gets. This is true for embroidery. And I found I grew fonder of some basic stitches by doing them more frequently, and with new color combinations, and different types and weights of thread. 

Couching: the laying of threads [or yarn or fabric slivers] on the surface of the fabric and securing them or anchoring them with small stitches of another thread.

Couching yarn, knit fabric slivers, quilt trimmings, etc. with various threads.

Blanket stitch: this stitch has so many variations and possibilities. It can be uniform in size and shape or very organic. I've used multiple thread colors and used it to appliqué and couch other fabrics and threads. My favorite motif is creating a mandala/circle by working from the center outwards.

The blanket stitch and its variations.

Three embroidery stitch books from the '60s and '70s were used as reference to learn new stitches. This 100 Day Slow Stitching Project was a good opportunity to try something new. 

A stitch sampler of new-to-me stitches.

Finding new materials for stitching

Fallen pieces included "fabric slivers" from the serger and trimmings from the rotary cutter. If you have a large eye needle, these slivers can be threaded through the needle and used to stitch—lazy daisy stitches, ruffles, spider web roses and other embroidery stitches.

Embroidering with knit and woven fabric slivers.

Incorporating other handwork techniques

It was fun to incorporate samples of other techniques into the stitch journal: hand weaving, quilted scraps, knitting swatches, and tatting samples.

Incorporating weaving, knitting, tatting and quilted samples.

Five stitched scrolls: front and back

Here are my 5 stitched scrolls end to end.

Five stitched scrolls from The 100 Day Project 2022.

And no embroidery project would not be complete without showing the back. 

Backs of the stitched scrolls.

Take time to notice the small things that are often overlooked.


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