Thursday, March 24, 2016

Project Photos: Undercover Maker Mat

I originally found the pattern for the Undercover Maker Mat on Pinterest, and have finally managed to finish sewing my own! It comes from the blog lillyella by Nicole Young and you can see her post and get free pattern HERE. The mat doubles as both a sewing machine cover and a pocket filled organizer to keep all your notions et cetera at hand as you work.

This was a bit of a stash busting project, which required a bit of editing from the pattern. This was almost entirely made up of test swatches which are approximately 8" x 8". The obvious thing  to do was try and break each swatch down into blocks of 4" x 4", but since they end up being slightly less than that, I decided to do a bit of fussy cutting to make 2 slightly larger blocks using the unprinted white space to remain attached in the seam allowance.

Here is my rough plan of how to assemble my new pattern. The dimensions changed to 20" x 28" for each side before sewing and seam allowances. It was only a basic guide to getting her pattern to be divisible by 4" and fitting more comfortably around my old Bernina. The pockets stayed the same, and I added an accent swatch onto the opposite end so both sides would look interesting when it was being used as a dust cover.

Calavera in a Sombrero
Another of the changes that I made was to remove the need for bias tape or bound edges, and replacing that with lace on the pockets.

Golden Cat Grass Damask
Clocks and Flower Background
Multiple White Gold Rose Borders

Maya Ball Players Linen
Arabesque Medallions Gold
Snow White
Vineyard Damask Nouveau Red

The way this worked was by piecing together each side, top and bottom, and with right sides together, pockets and ties in place, sewing around the edges leaving a space for turning on one side. Emma made sure to lay on the completed blocks while I was trying to get this step done.

After sewing these together, I added a thick layer of padding made of fabric doubled over a few times and stitched around the edges. This padding layer is standing in for batting, and I left the pocket area open to cut down on the bulk. This was affixed with a zigzag stitch along the seam allowance of the main body of the mat, and everything got turned the right way out before quilting.

Just a cheap checked fabric from my stash.

Here is the full view of the finished top,

and the underside that won't really be seen all that much.

Quilt label that was ladder stitched on after most of the photos were already taken.
 The thread catcher is a great feature to the design. The way I did mine was to piece together several swatches before cutting out the specified shapes. The lining is the only place in the ensemble that I used satin swatches. It's easier to empty the threads and fabric bits that will accumulate from a slippery satin rather than a courser cotton. So instead of mixing red and gold designs like on the mat itself, this ended up with the red on the exterior and gold on the inside.

My thread catcher featuring my Vampire and Red Ink Splatter III. designs on the front,

and the back of the thread catcher using Ink Splatter II. Red and White.

And the lining from my Confetti Triangles swatches.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 14

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 15 - Designer's Choice
Photo by John Morgan
Designers, YOU DID IT!  For 15 days we've seen many of you set aside at least 15 minutes of your day to devote to creativity. With the guidance of designers from the Spoonflower community, you've sketched in pencil, you've learned block printing and traditional Japanese shibori, you tackled steampunk and kawaii styles, and, hopefully, you've gained the confidence of knowing there's no medium you can't take on. If you haven't yet, be sure to scroll through the #SFDesignADay hashtag on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – I know you will be as inspired as we are by the incredible talent of this community. We are so proud! 
See what others have created
Our prompt for today is Designer's Choice! Take a moment today to dig into your favorite prompt from the series or to dust off an old favorite. It's the perfect day to let the creativity you've cultivated during the challenge run wild!
We're wrapping up our SpoonChallenge with a friendly competition! We've taken the 15 prompts and pulled one out of a proverbial hat to bring you the theme for a rapid-fire, first-of-its-kind design contest! If you want to put your new skills to the test and participate in the SpoonChallenge Contest, here's your theme!
click to watch the #SFDesignADay Contest Theme Reveal!
Beginning now, you have until 9 AM EDT on Thursday the 17th (that's right, we decided to give you ONE extra day!) to submit your design in the theme we've selected, before voting is turned over to the public. The voting period will last for one full week, and winners will be announced in our newsletter on Thursday, March 24. See the official timeline and FAQs here
Best of luck designers! Take today to catch up on the themes, work on a new design in the medium of your choice, or, go ahead and get started on your contest entry. When you're ready to submit your entry, simply upload the design to Spoonflower, select your layout and tweak the scale if you wish, and then click on the ENTER IN DESIGN CHALLENGE option on the left-hand side next to the preview canvas. Please note that designs will be displayed at the fat quarter scale during voting. Have fun with this one!

I am so thrilled that they picked watercolor as the theme! That is my favorite out of all the designs that I created in this daily challenge :D I am entering the gold and blue version. You can see more about that design HERE.

For today I headed back over to Canva to play around with some shapes for another tile design. You can't really do an entire design there imo, but it does give a nice little springboard to start from. I did my usual playing with colors and adding texture. 

Here's the base idea made and downloaded from Canva.
Stars & Hexagons

Stars & Triangles

Monday, March 14, 2016

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 14

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 14 - Found Objects
We're in the home stretch of our Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge! Are you hanging in there? Today's #SFDesignADay comes to you from 2014 Spoonflower Staff Challenge Winner, Allie Tate, head of marketing at Spoonflower in Berlin. Allie knows better than most that you needn't look further than the contents of your junk drawer at home to create an award-winning surface pattern. 
Found Objects, Design, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, Fabric, Allie Tate
Allie: Surface design doesn't have to be complicated. It can be as simple as using everyday objects laying around your home to create a compelling textile design. Find inspiration in items you use every day or test your creativity by incorporating unusual items into your fabric design.
Fancy Florals: 2014 Winning Staff Challenge Design
To create this design, I used materials purchased at a local hardware store as a part of Spoonflower's 2014 Staff Design Challenge. By restricting the tools available (and with just 1 hour to create and upload our designs from start to finish!), we had to really get creative in how we executed our design ideas. For me this was a really fun exercise in flexing my creative muscles and making something I may not have made otherwise. 
Allie shows off her new Faux Suede upholstered chair, covered with her winning Spoonflower Staff Challenge design Fancy Floral!
Once I scanned in my "junk drawer items" collage, I increased the brightness and the contrast to remove most of the mid-tones in the scan. Then, after uploading the design to my account, I used the Spoonflower color changer tool to create this teal background and  change all of my elements to black. This allowed me to still keep the hand-created look, while also giving the design a clean, modern aesthetic. 
Staff Challenge entry from Spoonflower's Director of Engineering, Kelly Walsh.
2014 Spoonflower Staff Design Challenge Top Ten Winner: Paper Spring by Kelly Walsh
Spoonflower staffer Kate Butler's entry for the 2014 Spoonflower Staff Challenge made and uploaded within one hour from a paper plate, paint chips, yellow string, painters tape and a glue stick. 
2014 Spoonflower Staff Design Challenge Top Ten Winner: Fiber coral! by Print room manager, Janet Talus
2014 Spoonflower Staff Design Challenge Top Ten Winner: Fiber coral by Janet Talus
Spoonflower Office Manager, Kelly Baugh used paper, string and washers to create this geometric, clean design which placed in the top 10 for the 2014 Staff Challenge.
Spoonflower Office Manager Kelly Baugh used paper, string and washers to create this geometric, clean design which placed in the top 10 for the 2014 Staff Challenge. 
Allie's pro tip: Get really creative! Grab tools and objects you may not think twice about using to create a surface design. By doing so, you'll get outside of your box and create something truly unique and interesting. You just may surprise yourself! Use design tools like Spoonflower's color changer to stylize the image and make it look just right. 
Missed a few days and want to get caught up? No problem, we've got you covered on the blog! Don't forget to tag your designs influenced by today's SpoonChallenge with#SFDesignADay. We'd love to see the designs you can come up with using items from your junk drawer, or found out in the world! 

This one was difficult to get an idea for, but it was much simpler once I got going. The found objects that I used were my straight pins and buttons. I did a couple of arrangements, and photographed them. It took a long time to clean up on the computer, but I finally got it finished. Maybe when I'm not trying to do this on a deadline, I'll make a color version.

Pins & Buttons

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 13

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 13 - Kawaii
Inspired by her love of the super cute, today's Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge is brought to you by Heidi Kenney. Today Heidi gives us a rundown of the history behind this fabulously fun design style along with pointers on the various ways you can make it your own. Ranging from her love of pizza to drawing nuns, she shows us just how versatile kawaii truly is. Be sure to check out more of Heidi's kawaii designs over in the Spoonflower Marketplace!
Kawaii, Design, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, Fabric, Heidi Kenney
Heidi: Kawaii is a Japanese word that means the quality of being cute or items that are cute. Kawaii began in the 1970s in Japan, when teenage girls began using a cute informal style of writing. It included hearts, smiling faces, and doodles and was seen as a rise against traditional Japanese culture. Kawaii has grown from a small teenage rebellion into an huge part of Japanese culture. In Japan today, you can see the kawaii influence everywhere, from adorable items you might expect like toys and clothing to delightful mascots for police departments, national parks, and historical landmarks. The internet has made it easy for people outside Japan to share in kawaii culture and it has since spread worldwide.
Kawaii, Design, pizza, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, Fabric, Heidi Kenney
I have always loved creating "cute" things. For me, that means a lot of the stuff I make gets a face, sometimes happy, sometimes very sad. You should never feel limited that things need to be happy to be cute. Never underestimate the charming power of a crying piece of burnt toast! Adding a face is an easy way to turn an everyday object like a radio into a cute little electronic device with personality. Your kawaii characters do not need to be something that already exists.  Think about creating your own characters by combining a couple of animals or your favorite animal or food.
Kawaii, Design, nun, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, Fabric, Heidi Kenney
Take a look at kawaii characters that have already been created, so you can come up with something you've never seen before. Experiment with faces, moving the distance between facial features. Try the eyes close together, further apart. Creating something kawaii doesn't mean you have to work with inanimate objects. I created a fabric covered in nuns that have large round heads, smaller bodies, and simple faces. Personifying objects might be my go-to, but don't limit yourself. Think big eyes, simple expressions, a winking eye created with just a few lines, but don't feel trapped by hard and fast rules.  Sometimes in kawaii design, the thing that matters the most is the question, "Is it cute?" If sweet characters are not your thing, there is also a version of kawaii called kimo-kawaii (gross-cute).  Imagine a little zombie character, falling apart and gross, but still cute.
Whether you're feeling kawaii or kimo-kawaii, let your imagination run wild with this inspiration. Have some fun with this design style and be sure to post it to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter with #SFDesignADay so you can share it with the entire Spoonflower Community!

Okay, today is the last double day of the challenge for me. No work on Sundays means extra work Mondays. So I'm way behind on posting today, but I am pretty psyched about my kawaii unicorns. Big fluffy manes and tails are of course mandatory and I started adding a couple of hearts to the flank that quickly blossomed into an X's and O's takeover. The background is just a simple striped rainbow and the whole thing got covered with texture to soften it up.

Gold Unicorns & Rainbows

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 12

Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge: Day 12 - Typographical
As we begin to come to the close of the Design-A-Day SpoonChallenge we can't leave out one of our most important techniques: Typographical!  Amy Peppler Adams, better known as pennycandy in the Spoonflower Marketplace, shares with us why this technique is fabulous (and easy) for new Spoonflower users and veterans alike. 
Amy: When I found Spoonflower about six years ago, I was coming from a graphic design background. The first several prints I uploaded were typography based because it seemed like the easiest way to transition into what was, for me, the whole new world of surface design. To this day, I still use type in the majority of my work, and often try to include at least one text-based design in each collection. But you don't need an art degree to experiment with and enjoy using typography in your designs. Here are a few ways anyone can have fun with type.
Typographical, Design, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, PennyCandy, Amy Peppler Adams
Word Puzzles
One of my favorite ways to use type is to fit it together like pieces of a puzzle (think Tetris, but with letters and numbers!). In the old days, before computers (B.C.!), this would have taken awhile. But now you can size and resize type with just one click.
Typographical, Design, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, PennyCandy, Amy Peppler Adams
Low Volume
Another type-centric design usually falls into the "low volume" category, designed with one or two colors on a light background. Very popular with quilters these days, the low volume prints make nice neutrals that are more interesting than solid colors. Many text-based, low volume prints feature mock pages from a newspaper, magazine, or catalog. 
Typographical, Design, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, PennyCandy, Amy Peppler Adams
Typography can also be used to create repeating pattern elements, which in the final design may be no longer be recognizable as letterforms. This is really fun to experiment with, and there are an infinite number of possible outcomes.
Typographical, Design, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, PennyCandy, Amy Peppler Adams
Graphic Design
Then, of course, there are the designs for which some amount of type is necessary, like tea towel calendars. Though the information on calendars is always the same (names of the months, numerals for the year, and all those dates!), there are countless ways to organize it and make it pleasing to look at. Just make sure the numbers are legible and can be read at a quick glance, so the reader knows which date belongs to a particular day of the week.
Typographical, Design, #SFDesignADay, SpoonChallenge, PennyCandy, Amy Peppler Adams
All of the above styles can be created using hand-drawn type, which is currently very on-trend, and sometimes a more appropriate choice than slick, computer-generated fonts. Drawing type by hand is fun to play around with, and just about anything goes.
Amy's Pro Tips:

  • Try to choose appropriate typefaces to convey your message. A great way to get in the habit is to observe type around you; it's everywhere!
  • Trendy, pretty, or favorite fonts may not always work. You may find that a design created over 40 years ago isn't "in style" right now, but it may work because it more closely resembles what you are are creating.
  • Take advantage of the ornaments and special characters available in many font families. You will find lots of fun shapes and symbols.
  • You don't need chalk and a chalkboard to make chalk type. Create your design in pencil, then scan it and invert it in Photoshop.
  • Need another coordinate in your collection? Lines of text make great stripes!
  • Sometimes it helps if you start designing with type using only black and white. Generally, if a design works in just black and white, it will work in color. Then applying that color is just icing on the cake!
  • And last but not least, just have fun and welcome unexpected results! Try lots of typefaces and see what works best. As with any method, sometimes your finished design will be completely different from what you initially imagined. Recognize unique traits of each character, or something about the words or phrases you are illustrating, that you could play up in an interesting way. Love those happy accidents!
Don't forget to tag your designs influenced by today's SpoonChallenge with#SFDesignADay on social media. We'd love to see your typographical creations (or happy accidents) inspired by Amy!

For the typographic prompt, I used the computer for the entire project; so I don't have any sketches. My hand writing, and attempts at hand lettering are laughable. So I decided to try another route than my usual sketch and edit. I turned to my trusty Gimp which has a neat little ink tool that I have been wanting to try out. The first thing that I did was make a mock up of what I wanted the design to say in a pretty Jane Austin font. I moved things around and changed the spacing between the words until I had everything laid out almost like a blueprint for my actual work.

The ink tool lets you make calligraphic strokes of varying angles and thicknesses. I used the Austin guidelines to help me keep my letters evenly sized and spaced as I wrote my own letter style on the layer above. It took a really long time to hand 'write' each letter with my mouse, but I eventually got through the entire quote. This method allowed me to quickly erase and redo each letter until I got it right without having to start all over again as with actual pen and ink. I then placed a pretty tile pattern that I started with shapes in Canva beneath the letters, and added an outline to make the words more legible.

2 Peter 1: 5-7 
2 Peter 1: 5-7  
Fancy Tile