In February I started taking part in Lilla Rogers Bootcamp! Each month for six months, we are given a professional project brief and have a few weeks to work on it. At the end of the month, everyone’s designs are showcased on Lilla Rogers actual agency website in a special gallery! Pretty awesome! Beyond getting to stretch my creative muscles, it is so very lovely to in a new vibrant community and seeing all the new work pop up. If you can believe, there are over 550 other artists!
February’s theme was cuckoo clocks! It was a bit funny, as I had actually been working on a pattern collection with a similar theme. Because of this I needed to consider how I was going to go in an entirely new direction from that as well. I started with doing rough pencil sketches for the mini assignment, basically the “lead up” to the actual design brief from Lilla.
The actual project was to make a phone cover or case using our cuckoo themed artwork. A phone cover has a shape and size that is not suited to all manner of artwork so I decided to create a placement graphic versus doing a repeat pattern of some kind. My design is titled “Double Decker Cuckoo Cottage” My interpretation of the cuckoo clock was in a more rustic way, as a woodland cottage and the forested environment it would be found in.
You would not believe the amazing array of adaptations from the group of artists in Bootcamp with me. Wow! I definitely recommend you go and see for yourself, you can check out the February Gallery here on Lilla’s website (mine is on p 5 if you were curious!).
Last week I was working very hard on a project so I missed my unconventional animal alphabet for the week! K is for knives and a curious parrot called the Kakapo. They are strange and unique creatures, also the rarest and heaviest parrots in the world, weighing up to 8 pounds!! They give off what is described as a powerful, yet pleasant sweet musty scent – very curious to know what that is like.. Kakapos are nocturnal and the only parrots that are flightless, with a life span of around 95 years but living up to 120 years. Unfortunately, they are critically endangered but there are conservation efforts being implemented in which surviving Kakapo are being kept on predator-free islands in New Zealand. You can find out more about that on the Kakapo Recovery website! Oh my goodness, you can actually adopt one if you want! How cute are these guys?
Also, this is a HILARIOUS video from BBC of a Kakapo attempting to mate with the head of a zoologist while Stephen Fry stands by.
For the letter “J” in my unconventional animal alphabet series I found a highly amusing and curious looking animal called the Jeroba and added some jalapenos for snacking on. In my opinion, the Jeroba looks like a hybrid of a rabbit, kangaroo, and mouse! All this in a very small package with their bodies at 5 to 15 cm in length (the tails are an additional 7 to 25 cm). They have disproportionate legs and use these with their tails to move around by jumping! And jump they can – up to 6 to 7 feet in height and 10 feet in length. Their ears can vary in size with various species, but here I have drawn the Long-Eared Jeroba which has exceptional large ears BBC has a cool video here that shows a Jerboa in its natural habitat.
I am on the letter “I” for my unconventional animal alphabet series this week. I decided to showcase a bird called the Ibis.. and Ice Cream (of course!). Ibises have been present in various mythologies and legends around the world, but the most familiar may be the Ibis as a symbol of the god Thoth by the Ancient Egyptians. They are also considered carnivores, which I found interesting. We can pretend some of the ice cream are grasshopper and fish flavored!
I have been working on my unconventional animal alphabet series again! This week I have completed H for Hyena (Spotted to be exact).. and hot dogs! The hyena has a strangely proportioned body and can be quite scary looking, so it took me a little while to come up with a drawn interpretation that I was pleased with. Hyenas have traits (genetic and behavioral) that are both feline and canine, which is pretty unique! Spotted Hyenas have less glorious manes than the other species of hyena but sometimes they do look like little mohawks.. I felt it was an important detail to add
I know Christmas has now passed, but I was unable to reveal this creation until it was received and thoroughly enjoyed by the friend I had made it for! I love to make customized Christmas stockings and for the past few years I’ve been honing my skills using quilted cotton and felt for my designs. This year I decided to try a new technique because the concept I came up with was much more intricate that these materials would allow for. The friend who inspired this has wanted to start collecting dollhouses her entire life and I thought what better way to start her off than to create a dollhouse stocking! (This way she wouldn’t have to worry about finding the space to fit a real dollhouse in her house either)
I started off by sketching out an original dollhouse illustration in pencil directly on to butcher’s paper and used that to paint directly on the front stocking piece. Instead of using any additional fabric, I hand painted the blue fills and gold outlines. I wanted a bit more dimension to the artwork so I kept building on that base, adding paint and also using fabric markers to create shadows throughout. On top of that I began to freehand embroider, sometimes to enhance the lines that I had already painted and in some places to add new aspects of pattern, detail, and 3-D quality.
I integrated some seed beads and sequins with the embroidery floss to add a little bling, such as on the “mini” Christmas lights. The wreath, Christmas tree, and drapes were made from tulle and do actually stick out from the stocking instead of laying completely flat. I loved being able to add a bit of texture in that way!
The stocking is actually fairly large, I believe measuring about 17 inches long, so the details aren’t too small to see in person. I think it turned out rather well and my friend was quite excited to receive it This project method was similar to my stitched postcard design back in October and I think is a technique that I would really like to explore more!
A few weeks ago, I posted about using a Spoonflower swatch to create a needle book (image shown above). I had to wait until I made a few more so I could get some process photos but finally had a chance to put together a tutorial with images for my needle book project. It is easy sewing machine project and a scrap buster! I hope this is useful to some of you who need a handy place to hold your sharp implements and for anyone who wants a last minute crafty gift to create
Note: Project requires sewing machine and iron.
-full 8” x 8” Spoonflower fabric swatch (as printed with white borders still kept on) [In this tutorial, I've used a swatch of the larger scale version of my Sew, My Darling fabric]
-piece of fabric at least of equal size to full fabric swatch for lining (or second Spoonflower fabric swatch)
-one sheet of felt (or two, if you prefer to have different colored pages)
-9” section of bias tape (I use ½” single fold bias tape, but you may prefer a variation)
-OPTIONAL: fusible interfacing, ribbon
- Create three pattern pieces using plain printer paper:
-COVER: 8 3/8” x 5 1/4”
-POCKET: 8 3/8″ x 2 5/8″
-PAGES: 6 1/2” x 3 3/4″
These pieces have a 3/8” seam allowance factored in.
- On the Spoonflower fabric swatch, cut off top and bottom white borders. Keep the smaller borders on the left and right edges, these will be hidden inside your seam allowances.
Center the COVER pattern piece in the middle of the white bordered areas on the left and right sides, aligning bottom edge of pattern piece with bottom of fabric. Pin and cut.
- OPTIONAL: To add some structure to the outside cover, you may choose to use fusible interfacing. To do this, pin and cut out a piece of fusible interfacing with the COVER pattern piece. Following the directions for your specific type of interfacing, fuse using an iron to the wrong side (inside) of the cover fabric.
- On leftover Spoonflower fabric swatch piece, center POCKET. Pin and cut out.
- Cut second COVER and POCKET pieces out of lining fabric.
- Pin and cut 2 x PAGES out of felt.
Here are all my pieces lying out except for the pocket lining which I had already basted to the underside of the pocket piece.
- Now you are ready to sew! Pin wrong sides of POCKET and POCKET lining together and baste 1/4” from edges with sewing machine. This will keep everything secure and flat while you work.
- Take your strip of bias tape and unfold one edge, pinning flush to top of basted pocket edge. Sew (the distance from the edge will depend on how large your bias tape is, just make sure you go lower than your basting stitch so it is hidden).
- Wrap remaining width of bias tape over the top pocket edge, encasing the raw edge inside. Pin and sew closed, a scant distance from the front outside edge of the bias tape.
- Position the POCKET on the right side of the COVER lining piece, matching the bottom edge and sides. Lay the right side of the outside COVER face down against the pieces you have just positioned lining up all the edges and sandwiching the pocket inside. Pin all edges together. Sew 3/8” seam allowance all the way around, leaving a two inch opening at the center top.
- Clip corners and then flip inside out using opening. Push out corners using something blunt if necessary. Press so the edges are nice and crisp.
- Pin the opening closed** and pin around the rest of the edges to ensure when stitching everything will sit where it should. At this point I do a double row of stitching, mainly because I like the aesthetic of it. It is possible to do just one row of stitching (or more) if you’d like but you must ensure that you catch the seam allowance of the opening so that it is closed properly. Sew 1/8” from edge. Repeat sewing 1/8” from the first line of stitching.
- **You can hand sew the opening closed before proceeding or you can just use the top stitching to close everything up.
- OPTIONAL: If you would like to add any extra embellishments to your pages such as a ribbon, elastic, buttons, etc., this would be the time to do it (before Step 14).
- Mark the center of the inside needle book at the top and bottom using pins. Repeat with the felt pages, making sure they are stacked and aligned on all sides before pinning. These will be your place markers for centering the pages on top of the inside cover.
- Position the two felt PAGES on top of the inside of the needle book cover using the pin guides. Make sure the pages are equal distance from the top and bottom and from left and right sides. Pin and stitch down through all layers from center front top to bottom.
- Fold entire book closed along the center and press along the center fold. This will help keep it closed.
Now you have a lovely little homemade gift that will help keep you or someone else organized! Please let me know if anyone has any questions about this project or any issues come up with my directions Happy Holidays!