Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New Perspectives: Fronts & Backs of Projects

I try to incorporate both the fronts and backs of projects into my pieces, whenever possible. 
Front side: patches machine-stitched onto a piece of felted sweater.
I think both sides have beautiful elements to them--I actually think that sometimes the back of a project is more beautiful than the front--and more surprising.
Back side: now the geometric stitching is the focus. Completely different.
When I knit, I put so much thought into the outer pattern, and I carefully try to control the way the colors interact.  But when I look at the finished product, it is often the more impressionistic, fluid back that interests me.
An unfinished knit piece I acquired.
(left=back side) (right=front side)
I find that by looking at the piece from all sides, I gain a greater appreciation for the medium, and a greater understanding for how it can be used. 

Stitching is functional, but it can also create an interesting pattern or visual effect.
Even embroidery and stitching can create a beautiful effect.
Whenever I'm stuck, I can usually get new ideas just by turning a piece upside-down or inside-out.  I actually find that I often like an abstract painting that I've labored over better if I turn it so a different side is up!

It can be helpful to keep samples, or a photo collection, or notes, to help you remember particularly interesting techniques.  You never know when you'll need some inspiration!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Great Projects for Scraps: Fabric Flowers

I've recently been dabbling in fabric flower construction.  I really admire how simple a lot of YouTube crafters make it look.  For some designs, you have to cut out petal shapes, while for others you simple need a bunch of fabric squares or a long strip of fabric, to create the neat "shabby chic" look.
The Crafty Blog Stalker shows beautiful examples of 20 simple fabric flowers, and includes links to the tutorials that show you how to make each.  There are also dozens upon dozens of step-by-step tutorials on YouTube, if you prefer a real-time demonstration.
I have a lot of fleece scraps from my plushie construction, as well as some lonely bins of unused fabric and ribbon.  I may just have to go on a flower-crafting spree, if I can figure out a design that I like... 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Magnetic Needle Cases & Cuffs

I've found magnetic needle cases to be a very helpful tool.  No, they are not absolutely necessary, but they can be very nice for large projects.  My small, metal case with the cat picture on it holds my tapestry needles and an extra seam ripper, so I always know where to find them.  It has a nice, strong magnet inside.  The larger, pink case is made of plastic and has a magnetic sheet with an adhesive backing.  Its magnetic pull is not as strong (I wouldn't be as comfortable up-ending the case, for example), but it does close securely.  A large, flat case like this is very helpful when you are working on a larger project, like the hoodie towel robe or the skylight covers, where you need to re-use a large number of pins, and do not want to risk the pins falling all over the place.  Again, the magnetic aspect is not absolutely necessary, but it is a bonus.

 If you're working on the floor, to take advantage of the greater workspace, any kind of case is especially helpful.  I never want a repeat of the time I was pinning a blanket, and an unsuspecting friend came in to check on me and wound up with a pin sticking out of his foot!  I always put my pins into their container immediately now...

I like that these cases are compact and easily recognizable storage cases.  I can quickly grab them from my tool bin and put them in my bag, or shuttle them to my workspace, or tuck them back out of the way.

A quick magnetic cuff that I made out of scraps.

Some crafters wear magnetic wrist cuffs (or pin cushion bracelets) for easy access during a project.  Similar cuffs are sold in some hardware stores with stronger magnets embedded in them, for easy access to loose screws and nails during construction.  I made this sample cuff one evening with scraps and a fridge magnet.