Sunday, June 9, 2024

100 Days of Paint, Paper, Stitch—a recap

100 days. 40 watercolor compositions. This year’s 100 Day Project, Paint Paper Stitch, is finished.

My stack of watercolor and stitched compositions from The 100 Day Project 2024.

My 2024 100 Day Project involved watercolor painting on watercolor paper with the addition of hand stitching and some slow drawing. I participated with my quilting friend, Tari, who worked on mixed media compositions with a “leaf” theme. We kept each other on task with weekly reviews and photo exchanges.

Tools and supplies

Most of the tools and supplies needed for this project I had on hand. I did purchase a jumbo tablet of watercolor paper, but found a spiral sketchbook worked better as I was able to turn the sketchbook orientation as needed during some of the painting exercises. The thick tablet was more cumbersome. 

Willa Wander’s “Watercolor for Relaxation” course was the perfect starting point to learn about watercolor painting and I found her class exercises so helpful and informative. I took one of her other online courses and would highly recommend her classes.

Stitching and painting supplies and tools.

The frame jig I cut from a piece of cardboard (shown below on the right) was so helpful. I was able to line up the square frame on a page, draw a light pencil line for the painting boundary, and I was ready to paint. This kept the composition size consistent and the square format was conducive for posing online. 

The plastic drafting templates—tools from my days as a paste-up artist—resurfaced in the toolbox and were used for various painting exercises and as a guidelines for punching holes for stitching.

Various templates used for painting and stitching.

My process

I started with the painting exercises—loading brushes, color mixing, creating a color palette—to learn how to work with the watercolors. 

Color mixing with watercolor paints.

As the project progressed, I began to add stitching to compositions. The stitching started with simple lines following the painted shapes. 

Days 38 (painting) and Days 45, 92 (stitching added).

Days 14: drawn flowers with a background wash. Day 73: petals were painted.
Stitching on Days 74 ,75, 84.

Once comfortable with stitching through paper, I started to think about using the stitching on its own as another layer of design. 

and Day 89

Layer upon layer

Many compositions entailed multiple days of both painting and stitching. Some of the painting exercises required drying time before the next technique was added to a piece, so spanned over a day or so.

Day 32. Painting shapes and then learning background flat washes.

Later in the project, I began to revisit earlier compositions to enhance them: stitching, drawing, and adding depth and texture.

Days 64, 69, 70,71, 93. Adding stitching to the painted compositions at different stages.

Drawing and stitching were added to this painting.

Days 48 (painting), 50 (drawing), 79-82 (stitching).

Beneath the Surface

The following composition, called "Beneath the Surface," was worked on the most number of days. It started as a painting exercise (Day 6) and got more complex with each day of stitching. This composition taught me the most about different weights of thread, using stitch patterns, and reusing holes.

Day 6 (left) ad Day 99.

I used Floral Stitches by Judith Baker Montano as inspiration for trying different stitches on this composition.

Using Floral Stitches by Judith Baker Montano for stitch inspiration.

Below is the final composition. It was started on Day 6 with a watercolor painting. Stitches were added on Days 46 47, 49, 90, 91, 94. On Day 95, I went back into the background and painted more shapes. More stitching was added on Days 96 - 99.

"Beneath the Surface" Day 99.

A few close-ups of Beneath the Surface.

Detail of "Beneath the Surface."

Detail of "Beneath the Surface."

And here is the back view.

"Beneath the Surface," back view.


I used various threads for stitching: embroidery floss, perle cotton, a few yarn scraps, and tested two new threads from Scanfil (a 4-ply cotton and a wool/nylon mending thread).

Days 76 and 83 using a cotton mending thread.

Days 77 - 78 using a wool mending thread.

Day 100: the final composition

For my final composition, I went back to the beginning of my daily process and pulled a color mixing exercise (3 primary colors) from Day 5. A successful flat wash was painting in the background (a technique I’ve been steadily improving on). Then, with whatever threads were left in my working needles, I stitched a sampling of patterns in circular motifs on the painting. 

Threads remaining in the working needles and pre-punched holes ready for stitching.

Day 100, final composition.

A wonderful learning experience!

With this 100 Day Project, I learned more about watercolor painting and practiced many techniques through the “Watercolor for Relaxation” course with @willa.wanders. I discovered the challenges of and learned the differences between stitching through [watercolor] paper vs fabric. I found ways and tools to adapt to this technique and have the results feel like it was successful. 

Things I learned about the stitching on paper
  • pre-punching the holes is a must! At one point I found a awl tool that helped with this.
  • stitching through paper is not like stitching on fabric. I had to turn the paper over when sending the needle and thread back to the front of the work.
  • use a needle "just big enough" to handle the thread. It will minimize the holes in the paper.
  • the same hole could be used for multiple passes for the same or different motifs.
  • once a hole was punched in the paper, I was pretty well committed to the stitch path (unlike on fabric).
  • I found the combination of the watercolor, drawing, and stitching, very interesting, different and rewarding.
Future explorations include trying different threads, yarn and silk ribbon.

Day 86

Watercolor painting techniques I learned
  • color mixing
  • how to make the colors in a color palette relatable
  • flat washes and glazes
  • "more water, less paint"
  • There is no need to clean the palette after every painting session. Watercolor paints can be rejuvenated and used for future sessions.
  • Watercolor painting is very frugal… a little goes a long way.

My 100 Day Project for 2024 resulted in 40 watercolor compositions/exercises. Some are on loose sheets of watercolor paper, a few are in a spiral sketchbook, and many are in a perfect bound watercolor tablet. 

I still have opportunities to continue this practice and I'm confident I'll use these techniques in various ways in future art. Thanks to everyone who cheered me on with "likes" and comments on my posts.

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Slow Fashion Challenge 2024, 14 days in June

The Slow Fashion Challenge this year is from June 1-14. This Challenge is always interesting and enlightening to me and the daily prompts and topics usually lead me into doing research to get more information and a better understanding. I’ll be giving these prompts a go.  

2024 Slow Fashion Challenge daily prompts.

How to participate in the Slow Fashion Challenge?

Participation is easy. 

  • Follow @SlowFashionChallenge and the hashtag #slowfashionchallengejune24.
  • Make a post on Instagram using the prompts above as a guide. Or, free-style it and post something related to slow fashion or sustainability.
  • Include the #slowfashionchallengejune24 hashtag and include @SlowFashionChallenge in your posts.

You can post and/or just follow along and support other participants with likes and comments on their posts. 

The “Long Loved” prompt

For today’s “Long Loved” prompt, I posted a favorite patchwork jacket of mine that was started in 2018 and completed in 2019. As a Make Nine project from 2019, it’s been in my wardrobe rotation for 5+ years and is worn frequently.

Patchwork jacket from 2019.

Patchwork jacket, front view.

Want to learn more about slow fashion and sustainability? Follow the Slow Fashion Challenge 2024.

Learn, enjoy, and be inspired!

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Make Nine finish #6: a Berwick St. shirt and Valencia pants

I have a handful of favorite patterns that I reuse often. Once the pattern pieces are modified and re-drafted to fit me, it’s fun to focus on variations to these garments—shortening/lengthening sleeves, incorporating color blocking, using different fabrics, adding hand stitching, and the like. These are the times when I feel creative… and why I include a “Make it Again” prompt in my Make Nine challenges.

My Berwick St. shirt in linen/cotton with the pattern.

The Berwick St. Tunic re-make

Back in 2021, I used an eclectic Australian aboriginal print [by M&S Textiles Australia] to make my first Berwick Street Tunic [by The Sewing Workshop]. I wear it often in cooler weather but always thought it would be interesting to forego the gathered lower front panel and make a shorter, shirt variation and extend the button band down the full length of the front. So, here is my Berwick Street shirt, and the sixth finish for Make Nine 2024, fulfilling the Make it Again prompt.

My new linen/cotton Berwick Street shirt.

This Berwick St. shirt is made from a linen/cotton blend from Art Gallery FabricsInkperfect collection. When I was at Gina’s Bernina, a quilt shop in Knoxville, TN, I couldn’t decide which print to buy, so I purchased yardage of both. I drafted new pattern pieces for the front (to eliminate the gathered lower front panel) and shortened the bodice back about 3.5”

Redrafted front pattern piece.

I curved the bottom hem on the front pieces and matched them to the back pattern piece at the side seams.

Berwick Street shirt: color blocked front and curved bottom hem.

One of my favorite parts of the garment sewing process is choosing buttons from my extensive button collection! (Who doesn’t like mixing and matching and playing with all the buttons in the button box??) Buttons were needed for the sleeve cuffs and the front—and they don’t have to match or be the same!

Button options for the sleeve cuffs.

Small white shirt buttons were chosen for the concealed button placket.

This AGF linen blend has a beautiful drape and was easy to hand sew for the finishing steps—bottom hem, collar facing, cuffs.

To accompany my new shirt, I did a re-make of another favorite pattern—the one-seam Valencia Pants [The Sewing Workshop]—with a nubby, dobby yarn-dyed fabric [by Diamond Textiles] that I purchased on a recent visit to Fletcher’s Homemade in Elizabethton, TN.

Valencia Pants with added patch pockets. Pockets are lined with a voile print.

The pockets are a pattern hack that was added since my first version of these pants. I like to line the pockets with a “surprise” fun fabric like this one—a voile from the Emmy Grace collection [Art Gallery Fabrics]. Using a voile, rayon, or lighter weight cotton fabric for pocket linings reduces the bulk of the pocket and makes it easy to turn. (It’s also a great way to use up smaller pieces of fabric and offcuts from other projects!)

I wore both of these makes at H+H Americas, an industry trade show at the beginning of May. Nothing like a deadline to get something made… and finished!

Make Nine 2024 tracker. May 2024.

Make Nine 2024 Tracker: Make it Again prompt.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Mending the handles on a handbag with faux leather

Do you like shopping for handbags? I do NOT! 

I like a functional (not trendy) handbag/purse that holds all my stuff in an organized fashion. I like a purse in a basic color, sections on the inside, a light-colored interior, pockets on the inside and outside, and zippered or flapped pockets are even better. The bag also has to completely close—so if it slides or tips over in the car, the contents do not fall out. So when I find one that suits my criteria, I want it to last!

My functional purse with worn out handles.

I’ve had this purse for several years. It fits my needs! But, as you can see, the fabric is cracked and worn at the “bendy” place on the handles.

Cracked and worn purse handles.

On a visit to Wilson’s Fabric in Boaz, AL, I talked to the expert in their upholstery department. I asked her about a faux leather fabric, showed her the purse, and she fixed me right up!

Faux leather, tools and old handles.

The purse repair process

The repair was quick and fairly easy. After removing one of the old handles, I measured it, added about an inch to accommodate the fold around the hardware, and cut four pieces (two for each handle). The faux leather was easily cut with a rotary cutter and ruler.

With wrong sides together, two pieces were edge stitched to each other for each handle. The faux leather does not slide as easily under the presser foot as does other fabrics. A roller presser foot would have helped with this.

I left one of the old handles attached so I could use it as reference on how to attach the new one. It was a bit cumbersome to get the handle and bag under the needle at the sewing machine, but I took it slow and managed. I used binding/hem tape to hold the handle in place while sewing—a good tip as I couldn’t get a pin through two layers of the faux leather. The black thread (top and bobbin) blended with the faux leather to camouflage any stitching inaccuracies.

Successful handbag repair!

So, here is a completed project for “Me Mend May#memendmay! The project supports the concepts of slow fashion, sustainability, making do, and prevents me from making a trip to the mall and facing the arduous task of finding a suitable replacement. The new handles work great and it’s like having a brand new handbag.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

The 100 Day Project: Day 85 update

Happy Mother’s Day and Day 85 of my 100 Day Project 2024.

With only 15 days remaining of the 100 Day Project 2024Paint, Paper, Stitch, I’m posting my progress with some of my favorite watercolor and stitched compositions.

Day 14 composition: slow drawing, background fills.

The Day 14 composition (above) started with the flower shapes drawn with a black waterproof ink marker and a watercolor background fill. Around Day 73, color was added to the flower petals. On Days 74 and 75, the feather stitching was added to the petals. The french knots were added recently on Day 84. This is how these painted compositions generally evolve.

The composition below from Days 30 and 31 used the flat wash technique and is one of the first that included stitching. The stitching with the orange thread gives this composition a focal point.

Days 30 and 31: flat washes and background fills.

The composition for Day 32 is a second composition in painting flat washes with these oval shapes. This composition came to life with the stitching using the backstitch. The variation in thread weight (thickness), thread color, and overlapping the stitched oval shapes gave this composition a lot more interest than the painting by itself..

Day 32 composition: flat washes.

I experimented more with wet-on-dry painting techniques (glazing) on the Day 48 composition. I needed a painted background on which to practice the slow drawing “U” pattern. Wanting to test a new cotton thread from Scanfil, the seed stitch and french knots were added over a period of a few days. Perle cotton and embroidery floss were used for the color stitches. 

This composition has become more intricate and layered. I have not decided whether to add more stitching…

Day 48 composition: wet on wet painting, blooming, slow drawing

The Day 7 composition was a “walk the dog” painting exercise from Willa Wanders’ Watercolor for Relaxation course. It was also an early experiment with running stitches.

Day 7 composition: color mixing, flat wash exercises.

Create Daily Tracker

I continue to use my Create Daily Tracker for documenting a daily practice. During the 100 Day Project, the date square is colored with the sky blue colored pencil. If my daily process consists more heavily on another technique—free-motion quilting, slow stitching, garment sewing, etc.—the block is colored differently. I’ve had a few finishes during the 100 Day Project as well, which is indicated by a color other than sky blue.

Create Daily 2024 Tracker: May 12, 2024.

A snapshot in time of a daily creative process.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Scrappy kitty quilts, Make Nine 2024 finish #5

Fun and Easy! These two scrappy, kitty quilts for our neighbor’s two cats definitely qualify. This is my fifth Make Nine 2024 finish.

Quilted and trimmed scrappy quilts ready for binding.

I pieced two scrappy quilt tops earlier this year when I was purging and organizing discontinued fabric samples. Then, when my machine was set up for free-motion quilting for the Spellbound quilt, it was easy to sandwich and put these two tops under the needle as well.

The quilt backs are a soft, thick flannel.

Flannel quilt backs.

The binding was attached by machine.

Prepping the binding.

The quilts went to our neighbor, Julie, who has two indoor cats… and who occasionally feeds our outside cats if we are away overnight.

Two scrappy kitty quilts. 23.5” x 26.75” and 22.75” x 27”. 

I’m counting this finish as fulfilling the “Fun and Easy” prompt for Make Nine 2024.

Make Nine 2024 tracker, April 20, 2024.

Five down. Four to go.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Dashwood Studio "Spellbound" quilt

Coming in June to quilt shops is the Spellbound fabric collection by Nancy Mountain for Dashwood Studio.

Spellbound quilt. Finished size 53" x 60.75"

Spellbound sports all the classic Halloween motifs—black cats, hoot owls, snakes, pumpkins, potions, spiderwebs and skulls—set on dusky blue and black grounds. I was asked to make a quilt to preview this fabric collection for the Quiltex booth at the H&H America trade show later this month.

Black cats and serpentine snakes from Spellbound.

Owls in the moonlight from Spellbound.

Skulls, potions, candles and spiderwebs from Spellbound.

The Spellbound focal fabrics were paired with several Twist blenders [from Dashwood Studio] and a Pin Dot basic (color: candy) from Dutch Heritage. 

The backing fabric is Twist, color: violet.

Twist backing fabric. Color: violet.

The free-motion quilting was a combination of shells, swirls, and occasional bubbles, with a bit of rulerwork zigzags for contrast. A faux piped binding in black and cadet blue was attached for an added detail.

Faux piped binding on Spellbound quilt.

Quilt Stats

  • top threads: 50 wt cotton from Wonderfil Threads, Tutti TU19 and Konfetti KT604
  • bobbin thread: Isacord 40, polyester thread, color: Purple Passion
  • 11 hrs of free-motion quilting and rulerwork; 4-1/2 bobbins
  • faux piped binding
  • completed April 14, 2024
  • finished size: 53" x 61.75"
  • 80%/20% cotton/poly batting
  • 2 hours to make and attach the label.

 The pattern used is Fandango from Villa Rosa Designs.

I used the Fandango pattern from Villa Rosa Designs.

And the label is on the back.

The Spellbound quilt label includes a selvedge from one of the Twist blenders.

Headed to H+H Americas

This quilt is headed to the H+H Americas trade show taking place the first week of May. I've taken Spellbound and Twist scraps to make two fabric baskets using one of my favorite patterns by The Textile Pantry

Fabric baskets featuring Spellbound fabrics.

Make Nine Finish #4

I'm fulfilling one of the Wild Card prompts for Make Nine 2024 with this quilt. It was indeed an unexpected project. My favorite prints from Spellbound are the owls in the moonlight, the floral and pumpkin print, and of course, the black kitties sitting on the spell books.

Make Nine finish #4. Wild Card prompt.

Be looking for the Spellbound fabric line from Dashwood Studio at your local quilt shop and sew up a few quilty Halloween treats for your home.

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