Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ironing as Art

Ironing is an obvious metaphor; we’re smoothing life’s wrinkles only to have them eventually return again. You either love to iron or you hate it, it’s not often you find indifference.

The subject of ironing has not escaped notice by extraordinary painters, eluded the poetic pen, nor has it been ignored by my own sewing endeavors.

Young Woman Ironing by Louis-Léopold Boilly, 1800, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Les repasseuses (Women Ironing, also known as "The Laundresses") by Edgar Degas, 1884, Musée d'Orsay, Paris

Woman Ironing by Edgar Degas, circa 1887, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Ironing can be a dreaded chore or you can choose to make it a meaningful act, much as we can do with most things in life. I do believe there is beauty in housework.

I’ve decided to make ironing celebratory by bedecking the new ironing board cover I made with one of Degas’ paintings.

After sewing the cover from a deep red quilted fabric, I simply printed the artwork on fabric and attached it using fusible interfacing.

The pattern for the ironing board cover was part of a fantastic gift package from Sarah at Sassy Priscilla last week. This was a fun project!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Asian Mixed Media Art

Thank you for sharing what you’re reading and why yesterday. I’ve added a number of the books you mentioned to my library list.

Last September I wrote about creating your own wall art in my post about Loving Your
Home. Here is a series of multimedia art pieces recently created by Jen for her kitchen. All photos are Jen’s and used with her consent.

Jen is a young woman with a great enthusiasm for life and a willingness to learn, just thinking about her makes me smile. Inspired by another artist, she created her own art using paper and paint.


The larger pictures are 13-inches square and the smaller pieces 9-inches square.


There’s both a soothing simplicity and a subtle complexity to these works.


The small white leaves on the flowers in the vase are actually paper. I love the textural elements that give these pieces depth while maintaining the integrity of the design simplicity.


I love the way she’s featured each kitchen item in color in contrast to the black-and-white vase of flowers. It makes for a lovely balance, I think.

Sake Cup

The constancy of the vase of flowers anchors the grouping.


Jen cut her own mats and framed the art pieces herself, useful (and less expensive) skills I need to learn.

Teapot 2

I love the way Jen took an idea that resonated within to create something of beauty for her kitchen that reflects her own personality.

  • Jen’s Flickr account

  • My original post about wall art with additional resources
  • Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    A Book Respite

    I have a need to be quiet right now. After my housework this morning and a bit of progress on my new sewing project, I’m turning to my books and a cup of tea for respite. Here is what I’m currently reading and why.

    A Weekend to Change Your Life: Find Your Authentic Self After a Lifetime of Being All Things to All People by Joan Anderson

    I was raised to be responsible for the happiness of everyone around me. Now, as an adult, I know we’re only responsible for our own happiness. I’m journaling along with the book to muzzle that secret voice telling me it’s always my fault when things go wrong.

    FYI: It’s taking me longer than a weekend.

    Case Histories: A Novel by Kate Atkinson

    I adore mysteries, but don’t you wonder why this essentially terrible subject is so popular? I don’t have an answer, but my supposition is because good eventually prevails in the end—at least in the mysteries I read.

    Even if we don’t see the bodies, the mystery genre is still about people killing people. But I keep reading them and try to tamp down that little voice suggesting there is something inherently questionable about my character because I enjoy reading them.

    What are you reading and why?

    Monday, January 28, 2008

    Junie Moon's Bandage Brigade 2008 Final Report

    Although I did not in all honesty plan this, I just discovered that World Leprosy Day was honored yesterday, the last Sunday of January—just as our bandages of care are about to wing their way to leprosy patients in Vietnam. The synchronicity amazes me!

    Amanda Cathleen's daughter Corra made this sweet tag to accompany her bandages.

    Together we knitted or crocheted 69 bandages. When laid out end-to-end, we created 276 feet of love.

    Linda (coordinator of Touching Others With
    Leprosy) and I were exchanging emails Sunday about the end of the Junie Moon Bandage Brigade effort. She is thrilled with our final count and sends a message to all of you, “Please pass my thanks on to all of your participants. Your group's participation will bring our overall total up to 1,007!”

    We care where most people pretend the problem doesn’t exist. Thank you is such an inadequate thing to say when you have done so much for others; but my thanks to each of you is truly heartfelt.

    Junie Moon’s Bandage Brigade Participants

    1. Alice: Inspired Tokens
    2. Amanda Cathleen: Mistress Stash Enhancer
    3. Anna: Thimbleanna
    4. Beth: Beth Leintz
    5. Beth S.: non-blogger
    6. Carole P.: non-blogger
    7. Catherine: Wing of a Bird
    8. Clarice: Storybook Woods
    9. Darla: Bayside to Mountainside
    10. Deb: Homespun Living
    11. Diana: Knit This Too
    12. Heidi M.: non-blogger
    13. Jan M.: Flickr
    14. Joni: Yummers
    15. Judy N.: non-blogger
    16. June: Junie Moon
    17. Karen M.: non-blogger
    18. Karen: Weathertop Farm
    19. Kelli: Africankelli
    20. Lynn: Craftstew
    21. Mary Lou L.: non-blogger
    22. Meg: Meg’s Garden
    23. Millie H.: non-blogger
    24. Mrs. Staggs: A Happy Miscellany
    25. Robyn: Happy House of Haas
    26. Rosie: Rosie’s Whimsy
    27. Rosemary: Cozy Rosy
    28. Saucy: Bloggedy Blog Blog

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Blessings Friday: Bandages!

    I’m just leaving a quick note to say that I’m up to my ears in bandage preparations today so I’m not going to worry about writing a post.

    Source: free knitting images

    I look forward to sharing the final count of our bandage blessings with you on Monday. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Thursday, January 24, 2008

    Travel Shoe Bags

    My shoe sachets are made and I’ve cleaned/polished each pair of shoes. Here are some of the vintage shoe trees I bought on eBay to help keep the shape of my dress shoes.

    Now I’m making travel shoe bags using the free Poodles in Paris pattern (see Resources below). The bags will protect the shoes as well as clothes in my suitcase. The pockets are great for tucking in socks or hosiery.

    The fabrics are leftover from other projects; I always worry about not having enough fabric for a project and end up buying too much. A cotton print is perfect for the main outside section and a complementary soft flannel works great for the lining, ribbon casing, and exterior pockets. There are two buttonholes (4 in all) on each side of the bag through which the ribbon is threaded.

    Resources (Free)

    • Crocheted shoe tote bag pattern
    • Drawstring shoe bag tutorial at Thimble Arts and Crafts
    • Lingerie/utility/shoe bag projects tutorial at Sommer Designs
    • Poodles in Paris shoe/lingerie travel bag

    Updated on Aug. 17, 2008: The Poodles in Paris free project is no longer offered. However, I've saved it in PDF format should you wish a copy. Just send me an email (see right-hand column).

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    I’m Still in the Closet

    Who knew there would be so much to do in one master bedroom closet? But here I am still having an up-close and personal relationship with this space. I hope my husband doesn’t get jealous.

    Last February’s challenge for the In Stitches Sew-along group was Amy Butler’s bedside organizer and sleep mask. As this was way before my blogging days, here is the photo of my effort.

    I have a large piece of that fabric in my stash which works perfectly for another closet project. I’m making shoe sachets and filling them with French lavender.

    My project originates from
    Romantic Touches: Charming Handmade Projects for Every Room.

    In the book, they painted a design on each sachet. Instead, I simply drew my initial freehand and embroidered it in white. Here’s my sample test set, today I’m making the others I need.

    As strange as it might seem, I still have a few other closet projects to complete before I come out of there.

    Tuesday, January 22, 2008

    Lavender Closet Sachets

    Closets can be stuffy places; so I made lavender sachets to go with my new clothes hanger covers.

    I cut 3x12-inch fabric pieces out of 22-count white Hardanger cloth and finished all edges on my sewing machine with a zig-zag stitch so they wouldn’t fray. I stitched my monogram using the alphabet chart from
    2001 Cross Stitch Designs: The Essential Reference Book ("Better Homes & Gardens"). Folding the fabric in half lengthwise, I seamed three sides and filled my little bags half-full with French lavender. I inserted a piece of ribbon to make a hanger loop and slip-stitched the end closed.

    Monday, January 21, 2008

    Variations on a Scarf

    We have two real seasons in Tucson and one rather non-committal season: Spring, Summer, and the rest is “What the heck is going on with the weather?” As such, our wardrobes are a tad schizophrenic.

    The Button Scarf project as directed by the Finny and Donk’s Sewing Adventure project involved faux fur. I just cannot get my head around the idea of faux fur so I opted to use something else.

    I also decided the scarf must fit into my wardrobe. There’s more color in my closet than represented in these photos, but I have a black linen dress, a jacket, and other items with which I can wear the scarf in fun ways.

    Although I did use the pattern instructions from Simple Gifts to Stitch: 30 Elegant and Easy Projects, I varied from the original instructions as follows:

    1. I extended the length of the scarf by 6-inches.

    2. Linen was my fabric of choice.

    3. I’ve made the scarf reversible.

    4. I used a leather button on one side and a reproduction vintage button on the reverse side.

    5. My fabric choice allows the scarf to be folded along one edge to give it two additional look variations.

    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Blessings Friday

    Another busy week has flown by and now the glorious weekend can embrace us. I’m still working on my closets/cabinets cleaning and organizing but I’ve made lots of progress. Also on my agenda is the button scarf for the Finn and Donk’s Sewing Adventure project.

    Gentlemen of the Past

    Today is (was) the dapper and debonair Cary Grant’s birthday. Mr. Grant would have been 104 today and probably just as much a gentleman as in his prime. Besides his good looks, I admire his inherent charming nature and good humor.

    This is also A.A. Milne’s birthday, creator of the “Winnie the Pooh” stories. I have fond memories of reading his stories aloud to my children when they were small.

    I appreciate the contributions both men gave to the world.


    The lovely bandage photo is Jan's (and used with her permission). Her fingers have been flying on their crochet mission. What a blessing that so many have joined in our bandage brigade. It comes to an end next week and then I’ll quickly box them for shipping to the group flying out to deliver them.

    Return to Grace

    With the republication of Victoria magazine and the wonderful Jane Austen series being publicized on PBS, I feel a calm flow into a gentler rhythm. Both are wonderful reminders to cherish our time and find bliss within as well as without.

    May your blessings be many this weekend (and don’t forget about Northanger Abby on Sunday night)!

    Thursday, January 17, 2008

    Exploring the U.S. Patent Office

    Long before I knew what a blog was, I constantly visited a craft site called Meggicat. In August of 2006 she suddenly quit writing new entries but I kept her site bookmarked and kept referring back to it now and then. I actually thought it was a regular web site but now I know what a blog is.

    I’m happy to say that the Meggicat blog is back in action. Go over there and explore but you cannot get through all her fantastic posts in one day as she’s excellent at sharing links and ideas. Your inspiration mojo will be kicking in big time!

    One of her site’s features is that she shares ideas found via expired patents from the U.S. Patent Office. I decided to try this myself. Here are a few things I found by just doing some random searching on Google Patent
    as Meggicat suggests. Right-click to enlarge and print.

    Search term: Doll Pattern

    Search term: Embroidery Design

    Can't you just imagine the possibilities in this? Jump on over to Meggicat’s blog and play for awhile.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2008

    Sewing Clothes Hanger Covers

    Although I am knitting away on bandages, I have projects that I’m trying to fit in here and there as part of my organized home quest.

    Wire hangers distort the shape of your clothes. Yesterday I began sewing clothes hanger covers to cover generic plastic hangers—some are literally meant to just cover the hangers and then your clothes are hung over them, like this one.

    There are numerous versions of hanger cover patterns (see resources below) but I used one from During my spring and fall cleaning missions, I can simply remove the covers to wash and iron them.

    In a closet, dust tends to settle on the collar and shoulder area of your clothes. So I modified the pattern to make covers that fit over my clothes instead of just the hanger by adding ½-inch all the way around to make shoulder covers. You can simply add more to your measurements to fit thicker clothes items.

    You can make them fancy by using fun fabrics, bits of lace, or even embroidering them. But I’m using an old cotton sheet I found for a $1 and, since it’s a queen-sized flat sheet, I can make lots of covers quite inexpensively.

    Not only does dust settle on your clothes but on your closet rod and hangers, too. I’m removing everything from my closet, purging like a mad woman, and cleaning everything—walls, floor, shelves, closet rod, and the hangers.

    Other Resources