Saturday, July 19, 2008

For Once, Finished Early

The page I created for the July "Half Way Mark" challenge is done, and once again, the results turned out better than I had planned.  Maybe I expect too little from myself as I begin each TIF challenge or maybe it's true that when you show up at the craft table, some creativity goddess takes over and guides your hand.  In any case, there's a smile on my face.

The back of the page was to have three compasses stitched off-center.  But the design needed something.  There was too much blank space.  It was like the page was saying, "Get me out of here as fast as possible."  Since I really wasn't in any hurry and certainly didn't want the page to give that impression, I started to play around with sayings or phrases to embroider onto the empty space.  In the end I settled on scattering some fussy cut flowers from the border.  I stitched five of them to the page and embellished them with some beads.  But then the flowers looked like they were somehow unconnected to the compasses, just sort of floating around in space (see, I did learn something from my introduction to drawing class and March's TIF challenge), so I took a few more beads and scattered them randomly between the flowers and the compasses.  The compasses did not receive any beading (don't think I didn't try, but beads just didn't go with the zigzag stitches and the fabric imprint.)  I used dark blue and turquoise beads at the center of the flowers, bugle beads radiating out from the flowers' centers, and yellow, bronze, and clear beads as the connectors between the compasses and the flowers, with a few red and turquoise beads thrown in at random for accent.

Now, I know some of you are sitting there saying, "Maybe she should have been in a hurry to get out of there as fast as possible because I still don't know what she is trying to say with the flowers and the compasses."  Well, I guess an obvious message is:  Fiddle with the design until you're happy with it.  The Freudian message probably is:  She had no direction at the start, so what makes you think that in two weeks she got one and found her way?

The front of the page remained pretty much as it was last weekend.  I tried some scattered beads but decided against them, thought about embroidering something at the right side of the page, but then realized that this is where the grommets will go so that the page can be inserted into the book.  In the end, I just sandwiched the the cotton batting core between the two pages and stitched on my border.  I did not quilt the page, although when the page was done, the grid lines of the foundation fabric lined up perfectly on each side (what an Act of God!), so I did consider it.

This project was good practice for the quilt I'll be starting on Monday - a gift for a friend who has had (and is still having) a run of extremely bad luck in her personal life. I am hoping that maybe the palette Sharon selects next month will agree with my quilt colors.  I can't imagine that the theme will!  :) 

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Moving Along the Road to Anywhere

Good morning, dear readers.  I'm getting this project done more quickly than any other I've set out to do in this challenge.  I spent part of an evening earlier in the week cutting maps out of the hiking fabric I purchased.  I kept one map area with the compass intact and pieced in additional map parts until I was happy with the layout.  I was going to hand stitch the pieces onto the background, but decided to try out the zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine.   The effect is interesting and I like it a lot, although it is impossible to see on the following photo.  The extra space on the left side of the page is to accommodate the book's anchoring posts.  I will mark the fabric and do a buttonhole edging around the post holes.

I decided to do a different design on the back of the page.  Since I generally develop patterns that are fairly symmetrical, I opted to experiment with an off-center layout.  I fussy-cut compasses and again played with the positioning until I liked the effect.  Here's the final product, also appliqued onto the background with zig-zag machine stitching.

I had to come home for an eye doctor appointment, so I raided my stash while I was in town and picked up some batting to sandwich between the two sides of the page.  The other pages I completed are fairly hefty, and if I don't add some additional fiber to the page, it will seem flimsy compared to the others.

I was also going to embellish the map page with beads or heaven-knows-what, but I haven't been able to come up with any ideas that I think will work at this point in the project.  I also haven't decided if I should quilt the page or just leave the batting loose.  Since this is an experiment, I am willing to take one step at a time, although adding beads or other embellishments will be a lot easier before I install the batting.  Maybe over the weekend I'll just think about what road I'll take.  Seems like I am at a circle/rotary/round-about.   Isn't that just what I should be expecting on this road to anywhere?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Any Road Will Get You There

I have decided that the reason I am astonished by Sharon's challenge each month is that my mind does not operate on the same plane as hers.  I remember years ago, I saw a comedy routine in which Jonathan Winters was handed a wire coat hanger and asked to turn it into a prop.  My mind immediately thought, "Well, hang up clothes, silly."  Mr. Winters on the other hand proceeded to think of at least 7 things he could use the hanger into for.  That is the difference between linear thinkers and the more creative types.  However, over the years, I have learned that you can nurture and develop creativity, even if others seem to be born with it and consequently have to work less hard at it.

So, Sharon says, "Half way there,"  and I think, "WHAT?!?!?"  After giving myself an afternoon to calm down, and instead of immediately going to the color palette challenge for July to do more of the same, I spent several hours thinking about what it means to be half way there.

First thought:  I'm not half way anywhere.  When I joined the challenge, I wanted to have fun, use up stash, and just see if I could persist in meeting a monthly challenge in the event that I wanted to enroll in an on-line course.  Practice, so to speak, for a future day.   So, if there's no destination in mind as far as projects or techniques are concerned, you can't be half-way there.

Then, I got a bit perturbed.  Is everyone else in the challenge half way there?  Am I the only one wandering aimlessly through this challenge?  

Anyway, the more I thought about it, the more the following saying kept springing to mind:  "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."  So, I decided to use a map theme this month and do a page for my growing fabric book.  I know that this project is not the most original idea, but it does seem to fit the challenge.  And although I did not set out in January to make a fabric book, it does seem like I am on that road.  So if the journey is the important thing, then I guess I'll stick to that road until a signpost points me elsewhere.

I went to the store to look for fabric that had maps printed on it.  I thought this would be easy - Not.  I managed to find some quilting cotton with a backpacking or hiking theme.  I first thought I'd embellish the fabric with embroidery, but then decided to fussy cut the maps and the compasses and make my own design for the page.  I selected coordinating fabrics for the back of the page (the plaid) and the border (blue flowers).    I really like this better than just using a map background.  The compasses imply direction and the maps, destination.  Wow!  Fate or what?

Next week, I'll try to find time to lay out a design.   Oh, by the way, the colors in the photo are true.