Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sewing Just Before Christmas

"Merry Christmas Everyone!"
Are you busy in your studio before Christmas? I hope you have been, as I have been having so much fun there. The days have quieted down with the arrival of snow and I find myself, wanting to sew and sew some more. Below is one of my hand 'dye' painted textile cards with 'free motion' thread sketching. For my own Christmas cards I simply had photos made of the textile art and attached the photo to folded card stock.
I think the trick in thread sketching is to simplify. "What lines really tell the story?" In this case, I felt, that the shape of an old fashioned wooden shoeshoe was important, as well as the webbing. Notice I didn't put the webbing in the top area, or the boot harnesses, or ski poles. Did you make your own Christmas cards?

Sewing Gifts

Picking fun fabric and fussy cutting makes for some great potholders for gifts.


Okay measure twice and cut once. Obviously I didn't do that here!
Coordinating fabric makes two matching potholders but not they are not the same.

Lay the two layers of fabric right sides together. Mine were 8" square. Lay two layers of cotton batting on top. I stitched with a 3/8" seam to be sure to catch all layers. It probably would have been better to change to a walking foot but with attention, a regular foot works.

Preparing a Loop
 Some I added a loop to. Out of the scraps, I cut 1 1/2" strips, folded in the edges and stitched down the open side. The sewn strips were cut to 4" and inserted between the two fabric layers when sewing the perimeter.

A matched set because of the identical paisley background.
Leaving an opening when sewing the perimeter allows the potholder to be turned right side out. The opening was hand stitched closed and then the square was machine quilted.
This lovely fabric was purchased at
All packaged and ready for giving

From the left over scraps I cut 3/8" strips, sewed them together to form strips long enough to tie the two potholders together.

Board Game Bag:

My Scrabble Tiles Bag

 Although this top sample was sewn years ago, I wanted to show it, as the bag has been great. Three features I really like are:
  1. the satiny lining as the tiles slip out easily
  2. the double draw string as it is easy to close
  3. the front pieces is velvet so it absorbs some of the sound as you lay down the bag.
As this bag is a gift for another Scrabble Player, I wanted to incorporate those special features. I didn't take photos as I went along, but this is what I did. I put two layers of cotton together and free motion stitched them together. I used one of my hand dyed fabrics for the outside. To see what was my inspiration for this fabric, click here.
 I cut a rectangle from the two sewn layers of fabric, folded it in half lengthwise and sewed up the two sides. Then I sewed a 2" seam across the bottom side seam to create shape to the bottom of the bag. The bag was then turned right side out. Next a lining was sewn using a shiny fabric but I made it a bit longer. The lining was inserted into the outer bag and turned over the top edge of the outer bag to create a casing for the drawstring.
After sewing the edge down all around the top, I stitched around the side seam several times in a square shape. After that the stitches of the side seam were undone to create an opening for the string to go into the casing. Strings were threaded through the casing all the way around the bag and back to the original opening. This was then done on the other side with another string. Beads were added.

To keep the lining and outer bag from separating, a few hand stitches were sewn to catch them together at the bottom near the side seam.
There it is. Of course this would make a unique bag for other board game pieces.
January is around the corner and I am looking forward to more time in the studio. What are you planning?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Vintage Sewing Machine: My Little Singer 'Spartan'

My Little Spartan

Have you ever dreamed of a owning a vintage sewing machine? Since I have been a vendor at shows, selling my hand painted and stitched fabrics, I've been thinking of having a hand crank sewing machine in my booth for doing demonstrations.  Last Friday I saw this machine at our local second hand store . This wonderful organization is run by volunteers and supports community programs. I thank the gentleman working that day who gave me additional information about this machine. After going online I find that yes it can be converted to a hand crank machine.

'Spartan 192' - Singer Sewing Machine
Yesterday, I cleaned and then oiled where I could see moving parts and the oil holes. The motor was working but the machine was very stiff to move. It wasn't until I cleaned and oiled around the bobbin area that the machine started moving smoothly. The spool spindle was missing but I tried sewing anyway.

It's first sewing in ??? years. I was able to hear another Spartan on a Utube video and my machine sounds the very same. It just purrs along. In one video they showed it sewing through multiple layers and then through 3 layers of garment leather. That's my little Spartan!

The Spartan is a specific model of the Singer Sewing Machine Company. It is 3/4 size and research suggests built in the 1950s or early 1960s. It is similar to the Model 99K but with much less decoration. Named the 'Spartan' as it was built as an economy model. But Spartans were also ancient Greeks from the City of Sparta so I already think of my little sewing machine as strong as Greek Warrior
Spartan 192 Model. This model features a forward and backward stitch.
Click here to go to an introductory video that I found helpful. And click here for an online manual. A couple of things I did learn online was that the silver area is NOT where the spool spindle threads in. It is an place to put oil. I read online that it is quite deep and should be cleaned first before oiling. I need to do that yet.

Another thing I learned was that red piece of fluff is an oil felt. DO NOT try and remove it. Thank goodness it didn't come out when I tugged on it. I left the tape on the machine bed for the photo. It delights me to think of the projects that must have been sewn by the previous owner.

The surprise this morning when I opened this somewhat hidden draw and emptied out the contents, I found the spool pin!!! Thank goodness I didn't find it before I did the research and try and put it in that wrong hole on the top.

A drawer that turns out from under the cabinet.
Odds and sods from the plastic bag inside the drawer. Well we know she/he sewed something light green, turquoise and burgundy.
Can you tell I am excited about my new sewing machine. I love it so much, the question is, "Will I really go ahead and convert it to hand crank?" Any feedback for others with vintage sewing machines?

Also this Week

The other fun thing this week was a Painting with Dyes workshop I gave to the local Quilt group. I didn't get as many photos as I should have but I'll post what I have soon. There were some great images painted and I can hardly imagine what the quilters are going to be sewing them into.
Sample piece of painting with dyes. We did a dry brush technique on the candle and greenery with a lighter dye glaze overtop. The two white stripes were created with a pinstripe masking tape resist for a design element that the quilter's are going to have fun embellishing with thread.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Watercolour: The Blooms of the Southwest Desert

 My newest completed watercolour paintings. Looking at them, I can almost feel the warmth of the sunny desert. The 'Argentine Giant' blooms are very fragrant, open at night and close during the day. In certain places in the southwest desert you can see the agave and the prickly pear growing naturally. That is a treat in itself but when they are blooming, well, that really is something very special.

Watercolour: 'Foothills Agave' - off to a new home

Watercolour: 'Argentine Giant' - off to a new home
Watercolour: 'Prickly Pear in Pink' - off to a new home

You may have noticed I haven't been posting as regularly. Below is a sample of what has been keeping me so very entertained. More info as things unfold.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Canmore and Nelson Quilt Shows

A few snippets from the two textile shows I attended, as a vendor, this month (Oct 2015).

 Canmore Quilt Show: 

I introduced my shibori folded, ice dyed fabrics at the Canmore show. Note them hanging on the pegboard.

Lynne Howard (right), McGown Rug Hooking Teacher and Supplier of Hand-dyed Wools, from Calgary was at the Canmore quilt show along with her twin sister Linda. The hand-dyed wool scarves they were wearing were very popular and several people came to my booth to purchase clay buttons to go with them. The clay buttons were from Blue Moon Pottery (Andrea Revoy, Creston, BC).
Didn't I tell you those buttons and scarves looked great together.

Another vendor, Keith Kepke from Creston was at the Canmore Quilt Show selling his meticulously crafted wooden quilting accessories.
The Canmore Quilter's Raffle Quilt

The Nelson Quilt Show:

Kootenay Quilters, Nelson, BC
Part of my booth in Nelson. I must make some more of the hand-dye painted panels featuring the feather weight singer sewing machine, such as the one in the wall hanging. I always get asked for them.
Dorothea Houseworth, was one of the 'Featured Quilters' at the Nelson Quilt Show. She so kindly brought in some of her grandfather's art work. It decorated every letter he sent from overseas. It was very moving to see the care he gave to his correspondence.

Janet Jone's was another of Nelson's 'Featured Quilters'. She had stamped additional designs onto the sashing of a quilt after it was sewn. It was very successful and she did this because the contrast was too great in that quilt and was detracting from the quilt as a whole. Janet you are brave and it worked!
Win Dinn's Colouring Book is popular with quilters too.  Check here for her new colouring book, 'Colour from the Centre'.
My, hand dye-painted squares ready for quilting or framing.  I needed more red maple trees, fish and bicycles as they were the most popular!
Thank you to all the quilters, quilter's friends, art appreciators, quilt show organizers and fellow vendors for making our time at the Nelson and Canmore quilt shows, this October, so rewarding. It keeps me painting.  

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Quilt Show: Canmore

Quilt Show in Canmore, Alberta. Oct 17 & 18/2015.  My booth will be in the Vendor's section  and if you are in the area please stop in.

Mug rug / wine mat sales were so successful at the recent Nelson Quilt Show, that the lights in my studio have been on well into the evenings catching up. If you are looking for gifts that mail well these are a great option. Here are a few samples I will have at the market this weekend.

This one was influenced from my recent month of painting in Alberta.

Oh, our Creston apples are so... sweet right now!

Another Alberta influence. We painters can't resist those red farm buildings!

Mauve. I am seeing a lot of purplish fall flowers right now.
New since the last Canmore Quilt show I attended, I have paired a local artisan's handmade buttons, from Lavender Lampworks with my artwork to create a card and gift in one. They are such a great gift for those that sew.

Another choice for a card and gift in one are these one of a kind textile bookmarks. They are removable from the card. Oh yea, the card can then be used for colouring too.

Quiltable hand painted squares in 3 sizes are popular for using in quilts, wall hangings and pillows. If you are looking for something specific, be sure to ask me. Maybe I can create it for you.
Larger quiltable panels are also available at a special market savings.

 Buttons  by Blue Moon Pottery look great with my hand dyed fabrics. I picture purses and pillows.

I will be bringing Win Din's mandala colouring book. Great for colouring and stitching pattern ideas.
 I have been dyeing and sewing all summer and will have a selection of the frameable textile cards. These have always been my most in demand item. 
Sat Oct 17 & Sun Oct 18,  you can find me at the Vendor's Market of the Canmore Quilt show. I hope to see you there.  If you can't make it but are looking for one of the items mentioned you can purchase them by contacting me directly at

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

And the Winner Is......

'Autumn Overlook'
Watercolour by Eileen Gidman
Winner was LM from Creston, BC
Thank you to everyone who commented on my blog, newsletter or Facebook page. Your comments encouraged me to keep painting on location everyday during my art residency in the Crowsnest Pass, AB. I looked forward to my down time on the internet to see who was commenting.
Ready for the draw

The winner is number 44: LM from Creston, BC

Here is where I sat to paint that last painting,

right beside an animal's den. See the bone out front! Luckily no one was home.
Displaying the watercolours on the wall in the Art Residency Cottage

Our paintings were transferred to the Gushul Studio for the Open House
Off to a new home! Thanks for the purchase. You may not be able to tell but the wind really got blowing there, where it comes over the Livingstone Range. Those clouds had to be captured quickly as they were really blowing around. This area was one of my favorite places to paint but the weather here was definitely the most challenging. One day two other artists and myself huddled on the leeward side of a snow fence to paint.

Off to a new home! Thanks for the purchase. The day was so perfect, warm but not hot as Fall can be. I enjoyed painting this watercolour so much. Those old signs are so captivating. Someone at the show mentioned I had captured the roughness of the old buildings. I took that as quite a compliment.
In another post I am working on, I will tell you what the other artist and myself gleaned from the Art Residency. Hopefully you will be inspired to set some time aside to follow your own passion.