Now about the spiders!!!

Spiders have fascinated most major cultures for centuries. In Ancient China it was believed that seeing a spider drop down from its web  was a certain sign that you would be blessed with gifts and good luck from heaven.  Romans  had a favorite  precious  stone they carried for luck upon which a spider was engraved.  Egyptians associated  spiders with riches and carried spider charms at all times.. 

Throughout the history of crazy quilting spider webs have been used as embellishments on crazy quilts. During the Victorian era they were thought to bring good luck to the quilter and they became a necessary part of each crazy quilt.      It is  rare that I do a crazy quilt piece that I do not include  a spider and web on it somewhere.  I do it for tradition and to pay homage to every woman who has put her needle in crazy quilt in the last 100+ years.  And a little good luck coming my way wouldn't hurt either.

So many times embroidered spider webs look like they were laid out with a ruler and every part of the web is perfectly spaced.  Spider webs are not like that and I love it when they look natural.

For spider web inspiration I always look to Helen Stevens, renowned English embroiderer but on the bag I want to have every web be unique.

Another resource I have is a quilt I bought on e-bay several years ago.  It is entitled "Anachrophobia" and was stitched by award winning quilter Lisa du Coing of Nevada.

I have tried often to get a good full size photo of this quilt but I gave up because the beauty of this quilt is in the detail.  The ribbon and seam work are exquisite.

There are spiders and spider webs in almost every patch and each is unique.
She combined a wide variety of fabrics mixing silks, cottons, fabric flowers, buttons and beads and top stitching on the rose fabric.

In addition to beaded spiders there are beetles, butterflies, dragonflies, etc

I love owning this quilt and find new delights every time I look at it.  There is just one thing that has always  bothered me.  If there is a masterpiece askew on the wall, no matter how beautiful the painting your instinct is to reach out and straighten it. After countless hours of detailed work on this piece it was finished with uneven machine top stitching around every patch and it detracts from all the other beautiful needlework..

Finally I've decided that a good use for my large supply of narrow vintage laces is to use them to frame these gorgeous squares and hide the uneven machine stitching.. A good deed to make my hands happy.

Now the next step is the modify the bag pattern, draw the vine work and to select the fabrics.  DH is taking a group to Israel and leaving Thursday morning so I will wait until then to drag out all the fabrics for my spider bag....


Picking my color palette

Now that I have the mechanics of making the flowers pretty well sorted in my mind I want to concentrate some now on colors.  I said last post that I wanted muted colors...This palette on the right  is one of the palettes that comes up when I put "Victorian color palette" in Google. It is basically what I want but some blues and more variety in value.

This palette is getting there.  It has some more intense values and a bluish gray/green.

I love it when color palettes come with a picture.  It give you a much better idea how these colors work together.

This one has more colors in it but somehow doesn't give me any inspiration. They just don't seem to work together for me.

I eventually settled on this palette.  It basically only has 4 colors - red, yellow, green and blue.  But there is a wide variety of values in each color going from dark to light.
I will print this (probably several copies) and keep them near my work to use as a guide when I am choosing or dying materials.

 I did run across a few palettes that I added to my color file for future possibilities.  I find that using a color palette as a guide opens up new color combinations for me and also serves a guide for adding just that extra color that brings other colors to life.

I would have NEVER thought of using orange, red, pink and lime green but it works and I might try it someday.

I love all the pastel shades of turquoise and pink but doubt I would have thought to add the brilliant cerise which just makes all the other colors pop.

I love this palette.  It is in my comfort zone completely.  This palette and the water lily before it are from one of my most favorite color sites....  Design  Seeds.  They have a daily blog with new palettes every day and you can type in anything... autumn, spring, floral, seaside, carnival etc. and a palette comes up.  A great site for inspiration.

My very least favorite palette is jewel tones.  I have only used it once as the challenge option when I made my vest and this was as far out of the box I could get. Although I am happy with the vest but I will   never use this palette again. The colors were too bright and intense and actually made me uncomfortable when working on it even though  I did add black to temper the brightness of it.  I certainly stand out in a crowd when wearing it.


The CQ BoHo bag begins

Keep in mind that the inspiration for this bag is the spider belt buckle and a round robin block I did for Janet Popish years ago....

I did go over the pattern for the  bag and it states quite categorically that it must be assembled in a precise order.  Well since I have to embellish parts before the assembling, that caution has gone to the winds already. 

I have lots and lots of decisions to make before I start  but since the bag will be covered with flowers and foliage I guess that is as good a place to begin as any.  Keeping in mind my vision problems and frustration level, I am using larger materials throughout including a lot of heavier green pearl cotton that has always been too heavy for anything else.

1. I have decided to do mostly fabric and ribbon flowers....and a little  ribbon embroidery.. I want to do flowers similar to vintage millinery flowers.  Flowers that look like they have gotten wet and been run over by a truck.  In fact I might spray them with water and put them in my antique book press.

2.  I want them to be muted and vintage looking.  No bright colors.  This brings me to the fact to achieve this they will mostly have to be hand dyed or antiqued. And I plan to paint some of them with alcohol inks  after they're sewn

3.  In a perfect world I would use real silk but in my less than perfect world it will mostly be rayon ribbon and whatever works.  I am going to get out of my comfort zone on materials.

4.  I do want a very dense covering of flowers... not quite this dense because I want to showcase  the spider webs...

And I want the piece to have a sense of movement with an art deco influence -lots of flowing foliage,

5.  Since it is difficult working with a larger piece under the magnifying glass, I will be working some smaller floral groupings on buckram  and adding them to the body of the bag.

6. I want to also include vintage laces when possible.  I like the use of lace with the flowers on this bag.

 7.  Some bling, beads or buttons will be included.

8.  I have a big supply of Kreinik threads that I hope to find a use for... I can definitely envision them as floral centers.. And cording...I have  a  drawer of fabulous unused cording.

In the past I have always  added a new skill I want to learn to each project and this project will be no difference.   There is a whole world of off-the-wall fabric and ribbon flowers that I have never tried.

I have this book by Christen Brown which has 132  ribbon flowers.  I plan to try as many as I can...

Now next come the spider decisions.....


My incredible portable/foldable craft table

 Back in July I blogged in detail about my search for parts to build myself a portable foldable work table. .   I began to think about a portable work surface and my dream list was:

1. Low - no more than 24" tall and preferably 22"
2. I must be able to get my legs beneath it.
3. It must have wheels or be light enough to easily move from spot to spot.
4.  It would be even nicer if it folded up and stored or taken in the car...

It has worked out even better that I ever hoped.  I can easily move it from room to room or to whatever window has the best view or light or into another room with the TV and I have even taken it out on the deck on nice days.

I can pull it right onto my lap and get over my magnifier and have room under the glass  to work...  I just love  it.

I decided on this little lamp from Amazon for only $25.  It clips right onto the bread board and is incredibly flexible.  I roll it right up and stick it in my tote.

Here is a detailed photo with the list of items  used to build it..

And if I have to store it, I can remove the bread board and it folds up.

After I got the initial idea I started searching both the house and barn for parts.  After considering many tables with castors I finally decided on using a walker.  It was foldable, lightweight, and had wheels.  I had several in the barn. 

But this was the oldest grungiest one that I found.  It was literally buried in the very back of a horse stall... I knew it might be just what I was looking for... Even with the casters adjusted to the lowest point, it would not sit level.... but I could fix that.

So I went in search for something to use as a work surface and settled on either the orange thing or the cutting board.  The orange thing just wouldn't work but the cutting board had possibilities and I loved the little groove around the edge.  The metal tub tray may work as a shelf....maybe.

I first had to cut off the tubing on the back casters to get them low enough and   that went   well....except I wish I could have gotten them a little lower.  The whole thing was so filthy that I took it into the shower   and gave it a good scrubbing with a brillo pad.

Here it is all shining and clean.  It has casters and folds.  I could even take it in the car...actually even on a plane if I put the bread board in my suitcase and used the walker.....
..........And in an emergency I could still use it as a walker to get around.


My easiest fancy dessert!!!

Sometimes I plan to write an update on a post only to learn I never blogged about it in the first place.  Such is the case with "cornetti de crema"  I would swear I had blogged all about this culinary learning experience but on searching the blog have decided I never wrote about it at all... 

Years and years ago I picked up this little raggedy box of vintage "cream horn moulds" and they had been sitting unused in my basket  of really cool cookie cutters which are also unused.  But last spring I decided I was going to either learn how to use these or get rid of them.

The first time was a disaster and out of 18 little pastries I think only two were recognizable.  I buried them in pastry cream and berries and vowed to keep trying.

Now they are my favorite go-to fancy dessert and are a breeze to make.  Let me tell you my secrets.

First always have sheets of puff pastry in the freezer.

The first time I did these I cut all the little long strips individually.  Now I use a pasta cutter and I can whip the out in seconds.  Works great.

Next I tried to wrap the strips around the molds and the strips twist and stretch and are a mess.
The trick is not the touch the strip after it is attached at the tip.  The trick is to just let it hang and rotate the mold until the strip of pastry is wrapped around the mold.  This is a VERY BIG tip.....

The next tip is once the mold is wrapped is to give it a little roll with some pressure so all the strips are secured to each other.

The last tip is not to try to remove the mold too soon.  Once baked let them cool with the mold inside..  If you try to remove the mold when they are too warm they will crumble.

Mine are still not perfect but I can whip them out in minutes because I keep puff pastry on hand and when done not have a dirty dish in the kitchen.  You can fill them with anything... I prefer filling them with pastry cream, dusting with powdered sugar, add a few berries and WOW!! But you can also fill them with whipped cream or pie filling or whatever you have in your pantry.  These are for a dinner tomorrow.

I just found a site that had them filled with smoked salmon mousse for an appetizer.  Now you know I have to try that.


Progress on glass cases

I have all the cutting done for 6 more eye glass cases and sides are sewn.  Now all I have to do is attach the lining and the rest is hand work....what I call "fiddle work"- something mindless I can do while watching TV.  These are going to be gorgeous.  I found at least 8-10 more suitable blocks if I want to make more.

Because of all the embellishment they were
tricky to cut and difficult to cut around a pinned pattern so I laid the embellished block on a towel and traced the pattern on the back.  It was much more accurate.  I also basted all the seams by hand to be sure no beads, etc. were going to be caught in my machine sewing.  All went well.  Amazing there were very few beads to remove....less than a dozen total.

The pattern for my spider bag came and I was amazed at all the pattern pieces.  I think I would be wise to spend some time reading the instructions before I start and also organize the pieces...  This is not a quicky project...and I didn't really want it to be.  This one has been so long incubating that I want to savor it for a good while...


The perfect use for RR blocks...

On some round robins I would have an end purpose in mind for the blocks and by the time the round robin ended my vision would have changed.  Such is the case with these round robin blocks from several years back.  I had originally planned to use them with the lace cottage piece I was working on.  Then I used the lace cottage  as a cover on my CQJP book so I had six of these gorgeous blocks.   And I do mean gorgeous... This round robin was a"dream team" of stitchers -- Nicki Lee Seavey, Mary Beard Annette Graves, Fitzy Fitzpatrick, Claudia Skal and Rengin Yazitas.  I really wanted to use them for something special.....something where they would be seen and appreciated.

I've decided to make them into eyeglass cases.  First and most important  I wanted to preserve all the beautiful stitching.  When I made a pattern and put it on the blocks it couldn't have been a more perfect fit.

I may have to move a charm or two and remove a few seed beads on the seam line but other than that they will be fine.

What prompted this project is that I have been carry my magnifying glasses around in an ugly green plastic case or in an old velvet neck pouch that is too small. 

I also had a couple special people in my life that I wanted to give them something beautiful that would be used and appreciated.

These will fulfill that wish

This first one is still a work in progress and the clasp is not attached.  I had to remove a butterfly charm so I can  get the clasp on but after the clasp is secured I can reattach the charm.  I am not that happy with the  clasps I ordered and I will keep an eye out for some of a better quality for future use..


Last BoHo Bag

I meant to post about this bag in 2016 but it was a gift and then I forgot about putting it up... But I even had trouble finding any pictures this morning when I wanted to write about it....

One of my granddaughters had admired my BoHo bag   and I decided to make her one for her graduation in the spring of 2016.  Her favorite color at that time was purple and I wanted it to be fancy but still practical for someone her age.

I chose this pattern because of the extra side pockets but didn't pay that much attention to the shape of the handle and how it was attached.  First mistake.

Second mistake was my choice of materials...I wanted it to be opulent.  I had my heart set on several velvets and satin for the lining... right?  Slip and slide all the way and in addition I chose very heavy structural lace.  So bulk at the seams was a problem all the way also.  It all was so dark that it was hard to photograph.

This is the pocket on the backside.  The lace shows up better in this shot.
But as you can see from this inside shot that with all the bulk, the slippery fabrics, and the curved design of the handle it was definitely a challenge... 

But it was pretty spectacular when finished...most definitely one of a kind.  I might make this bag pattern  again but I would take it to a leather shop and have a leather handle made and sewn on there.

Now for my spider bag I have chosen this pattern called "Quattro bag" and it is readily available on line.I ordered it this morning.    It has similar side pockets but you can see how differently the handles are attached.

This will adapt itself very nicely to BoHo crazy quilting...  The bag itself will be black and embellished in color... I have tons of wonderful black stuff left from the suffragette quilt and I hope to make a dent in that stash.

Also I'm hoping I remember the lessons from the previous bag.
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