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Monday, February 8, 2016

Winter Butterflies in Shades of Frost

It's been a mild winter up here in western New York and after last year's copious amount of snowfall, we couldn't be happier. This past week we had a 54 degree day in February!

While we are so grateful to have been spared (so far) a massive amount of mother nature's mantle, it's still a bit depressing to see all the wilted and dead plants everywhere. So if nature won't provide the butterflies to liven up our days, we'll just have to put our noses to the collective grindstone and make our own!

Today's mini project is from Laundry Basket Quilts and makes a quilt that is 14"x18 1/2".
I thought the quilt would be bigger when I initially bought it but found to my delight that simply because it was so small, it could easily be completed in a weekend or weekday. Additionally, because it uses such small pieces, it's the perfect project to use up all those tiny pieces of fabric that are too cute to throw away but not big enough to do any serious project.

I did this quilt with what I had on hand but if I were to do it again, I would definitely start with the paper backed fusible webbing that I used for the center of each butterfly to do the wings as well. In that way my butterflies would all look the same instead of the various different ones you see here.

Then again, all butterflies in nature are unique aren't they? Why should I think I'm any better than mother nature?

So some of my butterflies look a little moth like and some more swallowtail...
New from bad lighting theatre....

I used fusible webbing that I sewed glue side to right side and then rolled out. I used closed scissors to run across the seam on the inside to make it crisp and so I got all these weird little shapes.

I cut out the background and using the pattern for placement and an iron, ironed the pieces together to give me the wings.

Then, after I finally got smart, I bought some paperbacked fusible webbing and ironed on the center fabric, after it was fused, I drew the center and cut it out. Once adhered, you simply peel off the paper backing, position it where you want and iron it down. This is a new favorite that I just discovered and will be using in the future!


Paper backed fusible webbing  is so much easier when pieces are really small like the butterfly bodies!

Stitch everything down and join all the blocks. What I really liked about his project, other than it being absolutely adorable, is that could easily be done in a weekend or even a Saturday. The fusible webbing makes all the difference. I think the final project came out really nice, this may end up on the summer porch this year! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

So Very Sad

You may have noticed that the blog was not updated last week. The reason wasn't laziness, rather it was shock.

I found out via Facebook last week that someone I considered a friend had killed herself a week ago last Monday.

Annemarie was dead. By her own hand.

I didn't ask how she did it as it really seemed to be irrelevant. I knew she had a lot of drama going on in her life that she posted on Facebook but when I would ask if she was alright, she would never answer and as we were friends via work, I never felt I had the right to press.

She left behind a husband and child.

I met Annie first as a teammate at work and later she was my boss. Annie and I shared some interests and I really liked her as a person. I always felt she had been through something in her life as she seemed a bit fragile, but she always struck me as a strong person. I guess that is why her death struck me so hard, I never saw it coming.

She was young, only 40 years old.

It so saddens me to think that Annie saw no other way out for whatever was going on in her life than to kill herself. It saddens me that she didn't see what a great person she was and what a value she was to the world. Then again we never truly goes on in someone else's private life and so many of us put on brave faces to the world when our hearts are breaking.

If you read this today, please pray for Annie. I pray that she has found peace and her soul is healing. I pray for her family and all they are going through. Annie was a really good person, a kind person, and I firmly believe that our prayers help those who are now in spirit. Prayer is energy and can only help a being that is now energy.

And I ask you to be kind to each other. We never know when a kind word may be all that someone really needs to hear to pull them away from that cliff.

Thank you all.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hello Sunshine! Looking Towards Spring!

Really we can't complain....

We had a 70 degree Christmas after all.. thank you El Nino, come around anytime!

But now it's freaking cold and snowy and ::Sob:: I want Spring!

I really hate going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark, know what I mean?

I miss birdsong! I miss daylight! I miss flowers and even green weeds!

So, like many of us, I need something pretty to color the drab grey days.

Winter always seems like the time do do stained glass, I don't know why. I guess during the spring and summer there is so much to do outside that winter is the time to buckle down and do what we can indoors.

This pattern is one I've made a smaller version here. It's small and I used leftover glass to make it.The soldering also leaves a lot to be desired. I'm getting better though..!

I've always wanted to make a larger size. What I especially love about this pattern is that it looks spectacular but it's easily accessible to the beginner who wants to do stained glass because the majoirty of the lines are straight lines or soft curves. This is the pattern  book I bought on Ebay. I do not see it on Amazon but you could look for it where I found it.

 Because I decided to do this 'on the fly', I did not have any opportunity to copy my original so I simply traced two versions of the pattern from the original. Number each pattern piece the same on both. One pattern is used as a template and the other for your actual pieces to cut out.

 In stained glass, we use a special scissor that cuts out  some of the pattern. You can use normal scissors as long as it's relatively free form like this pattern (i.e. it doesn't have to be a specific size) but if you are making something in a frame, you will need to shave down your pattern so it fits. 

As you can see, these scissors have double blades with a space in between that shaves off some of the pattern. You can find stained glass equipment here.

Showing the space it cuts out.

Cut each pattern piece out from the pattern and with a Sharpie marker mark each pattern piece on your glass along with the number of that pattern piece. This is IMPORTANT as after you cut your piece they begin to look the same but they may not fit the same so you need to know what goes where.

Using your pistol grip cutter, score on the line your chosen piece of glass. When doing a curved piece, score and break away from you, supporting the piece you want to keep with the pliers.

Straight lines are a bit easier as you can see. 

As you are cutting your pieces, lay them out on the pattern as so to get a feel over what you may have to re-cut, sand down or snip away to make your pieces fit together.

Solder doesn't stick to glass so you have to put a sticky backed copper foil on the glass to get the solder to stick. I usually try to place the cut end on and inside area and overlap the tape by about 1/4" so that we don't have an abrupt end that may leave some exposed glass where no solder can adhere to.

As you foil it lay it out. I always wish it would stay this pretty copper color and have yet to find any solder that is actually copper color. It's so pretty but alas it is not to be. I bought one that said it was copper and used it on this but it was to make a copper patina, not really what I wanted.

As you foil, lay out your pattern to make sure everything still fits and you want to straighten the edges. My glass teacher made the point that you can always adjust in the middle (add more solder etch) but if your edges aren't straight, everyone will be able to tell.

Adjust where you need to to get your outside edges as straight as possible.

Right before the area you want to solder, take a little flux on a brush and brush a little on the area. Then come in with your 60/40 solder and join them together. Too much flux will cause the solder to sputter. When first doing stained glass it's normal to do this until you get the feel of it so don't beat yourself up if it happens.

The soldered piece. Not perfect but no too bad!

Here is the finished piece, cleaned up and with what daylight we can get in January. Just a little bit of color to an otherwise grey month.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Small Projects to Start the Year

Happiest of New Years to All!   

Can I just say this... I'm so glad the holidays are over!

My brother and I many moons ago.

As joyful as they are, they are also incredibly stressful. Add on to that a bout of stomach virus which laid me up for three and a half days (and I went on an interview while I had it to boot!) and this season of joy was a bit tarnished. If you are a crafter, it can be ten times as stressful as you push yourself to get that last project done in time to send it off to it's recipient in time for the holiday. 

Sometimes it takes the joy out of making something.

                .....And I love making things, so that sucks.

Now that the holidays are over life can calm down and not be so frenetic, and we can once again make things because we like to make things (or get a head start on next year's projects if we are so inclined). 

For the first few projects of the new year I wanted to do some quick projects. I still have two major quilts to finish for gifts SOMETIME during the year (didn't quite make it for Christmas) but in the meantime I need a to create a few things that can be done in a weekend or less. I like instant gratification!

For the first project, I decided to make this lovely wall hanging from  "A Cut Above".
This little unassuming book has several fun and quick little projects that you can whip up in an afternoon. Today we are going to make the Star/Square in a Square wall quilt project.

"Square in the square".


First we'll start with the square in the square.

We take a square piece, in this case 4 1/2" and we use a smaller square (2 1/2") in each corner and sew from diagonal to diagonal. Clip off the corner and iron it flat. Once this is done, you clip off the corner and do this on the other three corners.

Ultimately this is what you are going to get:

Trim it and add three more sides. Trim that up to a square.


This is a simple four patch square. You make it by sewing together 2 1/2" squares together to make 2 four square blocks. If you were making an entire quilt out of this pattern, you would make up strips that were 3" wide and then cut them at 2 1/2" increments. (You are going to loose 1/4" off of each side for the seams).  That would make the sewing a lot easier. Square it up so all sides are straight.



The star pattern we've done on a previous project from this book, here. Essentially there are two different ways of making the flying geese patterns that surround the four patch. If you have the flying geese ruler, you can follow the Eleanor Burns method, which, after making the peony, I'm somewhat of an expert on. Her method takes a bit of time but for each go around, you get two geese which makes the process go a bit faster

If you don't have the ruler, a simpler method is the square and rectangle method which is just like the above square in square only this time we are using a rectangle. Simply make a rectangle to the desired size and two squares of fabric. Put each, right faces together on either side of the rectangle and sew on the diagonal towards the center. Lop off the excess and press.
And if you have not got into the habit, make the resolution to start assembly line sewing, it saves SO much time. Just like cooking, it takes no more time to do all the pieces at once then it takes to make one, so save yourself some time but doing all your pieces at once instead of individually.

Join your flying geese to your four patch

 Square it up and sew the square in a square to your star blocks and just like that your center is completed! Pretty!

Add a frame with some background fabric and some rectangles sewn together.

Then we are going to do some fusible applique for the flowers and leaves. If you have never done this method before, it's actually very simple.

Cut your applique piece out. Using the "bumpy" side facing the "right" side, sew pieces together. Once completely sewn, cut a slit in the back of the fusible webbing and turn the applique inside out. Make sure all the edges are firmly pushed out. You can use a variety of tools to do this. A clean popsicle stick, a crochet hook or, being very careful, your sewing scissors.

After all the pieces are fully crisp and turned, place your applique where it pleases your eye. Then simply iron down. Once ironed, sew it in place. Continue this method until the piece is done in your eyes.

Once the piece is completed, wash and iron it. Now frame it as instructed in the last post, "Framed". Turned out quite nice.

Friday, November 27, 2015


If you have ever taken a piece of artwork, picture or hand stitching to be framed you probably got the surprise of a lifetime...

Sticker Shock.

It costs how much?

I did a little piece of cross-stitch while on vacation. I took it to a craft store frame shop and found out that that little piece  would have cost me almost $400 to frame... and that was after I used a 65% off coupon!

Um..No thank you.

Today I'm going to show you how to frame your artwork/projects and save you a lot of money.

I mean, a lot of money...

When I first came to Rochester, I walked into a Michaels for a part time job until I could find a full time one. The manager looked at my resume and said, you're crafty, you're a framer!

I never had framed anything in my life.

                        .........and gave me full time.

But I was taught and I routinely had the displeasure of shocking people when I told them how much their little piece of artwork would cost them to frame.

Framing still isn't cheap by any means but if you can get your artwork to a standard size, you can cut the cost by quite a bit.

Remember this piece I made early this year? The tutorial was here.

First we need to gather supplies. The important thing here is that your mounting board be acid-free.


Acid-free mounting boards*    
1 set of frames the width of your project*
1 set of frames the height of your project*
Glass cleaner
Plastic bump outs                             

Measure out the size of your artwork and try to get it to the next solid number, i.e. 24 instead of 23 1/2". Art stores often have a framing department and there you can get just about everything you need to frame your piece... and usually, they'll even cut some of the materials for you.

Once you have the size you need, make a trip to your local art store and ask for some acid free mounting board. This mounting board will be somewhat solid on the outside but "cushy" on the inside. It's important that it is acid free (they do sell some that aren't for other purposes) because otherwise it will yellow whatever image/artwork you are framing overtime. This is what happens with all those old pictures you have in your old photo albums.

While you are at the art store, wander over to the framing area. Until recently, your
Jo-anns, Michaels and AC Moores used to carry these:

These are two sides of a frame as well as the connections and pressure clips. Essentially,  you can buy the two sizes you need for any piece. My piece was 10" x 24" so I purchased a 10" kit and a 24" kit.

Mount your artwork over the cut foam board. I used simple tack pins to hold them to the edge. It will eventually rust but I'm not real concerned about a tiny bit of rust on the end where no one is going to look.
Take out your framing pieces. There will be two pieces for each side, one with two screws and one that is flat. Put the screw piece on top of the flat piece and slide it into the panel.

Like so:

Slide in the side pieces from the other kit and screw down. This creates tension and holds both pieces together.

You want to make it so the corners are tight so there are no gaps on the face of the frame.

You will only want to put three of the sides up so you can slide in the glass but essentially if you put the entire thing together, this is what it will look like.

Woot! Woot!.. starting to look professional!

With your glass cleaner (my homemade version is here), spray your glass and use a newspaper to wipe it down.

This is a trick I learned at my first job working at McDonalds. Newspaper makes your surface really shiny and leaves no lint.

If you are not using a mat board, this is the point that we would take out the bump outs. My piece did not have any space so eventually it may adhere to the glass. If you are concerned about this and not using a mat, you'll want something to create a bit of space between the glass and the artwork. At the frame shop, we had little strips of sticky acrylic that we would stick to the frame, but when I've asked for these, no one seems to know what I'm talking about. A good alternative are the bump outs you would use on the back of your frame anyway to protect you wall. Cut them in half and place the cut side towards the top of the frame so that it won't show when you slide it into the frame, it may take some trial and error to prevent it from being seen. Place the sticky side against the glass.

Create your artwork "sandwich". Foamcore, artwork, (bump outs), and glass.

Slide the "sandwich" in the frame.

With one side of the frame still open, slide your "sandwich" into the frame.

Once in, put the framing pieces in both ends and attach the
last side.

All set!

Slide on the last side and screw down taking care to make sure there are no gaps on the frame showing in the front.

Your kit came with some funky little flexible clips remember. What do you do with them?

Their purpose is to make sure the artwork is taunt in the frame so that it doesn't wobble.

Press them down and slide them underneath the frame. This creates tension and keeps your artwork in place.

Now your frame is complete but you need to hang it somehow. Hangers are provided in your kit. These aren't my favorite as there is no real way other than tension to make sure they stay in place but this is what comes with it.

Forgive the bad lighting, this is a one woman operation.
Pop it into place. Measure down on the other side and do the same so each are equal-distant on the frame and your frame will hang straight.

 Please notice the spacer clip underneath the clip here.

When I frame, I like coated picture framing wire because it's easier on your hands but it is entirely up to you what you want to use and what you have on hand. Thread through your wire through the hangers and leave a tail.

Twist your wire to hold it in place. If you like, you can also wrap the end about two inches with masking tape if you desire.

Do the same on the other side.

Turn it around and admire your work. You have now framed a picture of your very own!

Great job!