Friday, January 25, 2008

Fits and Starts, and Stops

Emily wrote a great post about January. I've been filled with ideas and plans too.

That tutorial I promised just needs one more proofread, and I'll try and post it next week.

In the meantime, I've been trying to get my basement sewing area straightened up so that when my new lighting is installed I'll have an actual sewing space of my own (as opposed to the living room). The lighting was supposed to be installed last Friday, but then there was snow and ice and a delay, and then it was supposed to be installed today, but I'm just not up to it. Tuesday evening I had an appendectomy (surprise!), so no furniture moving for me for a while. I think my appendicitis story is pretty much on par with everyone else's (except my friend Kim, who has an incredible story about rural Bolivia in the mid 70's and her appendectomy), so I won't share any gory details.

Lucky for me my amazing mom has swept in and kept the household running. So until next week I'm just planning on lying around and every once and a while doing some knitting. And on the bright side, "Under the Rainbow" did get into the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival, so I'm looking forward to that.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Update on Paper Passion

In the comments on the last post Jeanie said

"I've got a Spellbinders Wizard (love the product & love the company) so I decided to try cutting plain fabric. I tried batik, "cheap" (i.e. low thread count) cotton, muslin & flannel. Everything I tried cut very cleanly. Not one thread was left hanging!"

I'm not surprised at this, as the Wizard is a more heavy duty die cut machine than the Cuttlebug. I want to emphasize that my results were just for the Cuttlebug, and I'm glad Jeanie mentioned her results as it might help someone else who could be looking for a die cut machine specifically to use with fabric. Thanks, Jeanie!

Paper Passion (to Die For)

It might not be obvious (ha!) but I tend to get intensely interested in some art or craft, learn as much about it as I can, then move on. Sometimes I feel guilty about these little obsessions, but I think that often I take away, sometimes subconsciously, ideas that surface later on in my quilts.

The "paper arts" - most notably stamping and decorating papers, is a case in point. For a number of years I tended to really get excited about them, usually in the autumn. An obvious result of this interest is the series of quilts I've made that include manipulated "paintings", including "Grotto" and "Under the Rainbow".

As Christmas approached this year I noticed a Joann's ad that include a "Cuttlebug". I had no idea what this was. Turns out it's a small die cutting machine, and it also embosses paper. I asked for one for Christmas, and low and behold got one. It accepts all major brands of dies, and is very easy to use. Caveat: it doesn't exert as much pressure as some of the "bigger" (and heavier) machines, but I thought it would be just fine for my little dalliances.

There's also a hot new die that's on the market called "nestabilities". Unlike traditional dies, they are a series of metal shapes (frames of shapes) that gradate in size, hence the nesting. I was immediately drawn to them, and purchased sets of circles and scalloped circles.

I played with the dies, cutting card stock, ruminating on how I might use the nested circles with fabric. The burning question: Would the nestabilities adequately cut fabric in my Cuttlebug? My husband's burning question: Would the Cuttlebug emboss fabric?

Here are my quick and dirty test results using some nestabilities circles and a Cuttlebug embossing folder:

As I expected, it cut the Lutradur very easily. The embossing looks much more impressive in this picture than in real life.

Painted Fabric

The painted fabric cut beautifully. (As you can see, it's pretty heavily painted.) This fabric probably embossed the best.

Hand Dyed Fabric

This fabric was not starched, and therefore very floppy. It did not cut very well. The embossing was quite minimal.

Wonder Under Backed Hand Dyed Fabric (paper removed from back)

I was most interested in this sample, as it would be great to cut circles for applique. It cut just fine, and the embossing was pretty good too.

I'd still like to try this test with silk paper (I couldn't find where I'd stashed mine), freezer paper backed fabric, and something like Timtex. In all honesty I didn't expect the fabric to emboss at all, and only did that test because my husband really wanted to know. My hypothesis is that if you get any of that embossing near high humidity or steam that it will disappear.

So there you have it! I can indeed cut fabric with my little machine, and I'd guess that the heavier die cut machines, like the Spellbinder's Wizard or Sizzix machines, would potentially work even on the plain fabric.

Happy cutting!

Friday, January 04, 2008

All Was Calm, All Was Bright

Our Tree

(If you look very closely on the right side, you'll see the fused glass magnetic puzzle that my sister made for our guys)

We had a lovely Christmas, and I hope you did too. I'd planned to post the above pictures late Christmas Eve, but still had some packing to do for our trip to Louisiana, so now they're here. Happy New Year! And thank you, Felicia, for your Christmas wishes.

In early December I was so busy patting myself on the back for not getting sick, and having healthy children, that of course that all had to change. Nothing serious, but enough to keep us hopping all month (including one child with an abscessed tooth on Dec. 21, and of course my little trip to the hospital for dehydration on New Year's Day courtesy not of over imbibing, but a lengthy stomach virus) and we're all fine (or nearly so) now.

I need to take some pictures of the knitting I've been doing (hint: we're bulking up), and in its stead we have the teacher totes I managed to crank out at the very last minute.

Here are two of the three that got finished.

In a pinch, they're reversible.

I'm working up a tutorial for the totes, so feel free to remind me about it if I don't get it up by late next week.

I've finally figured out that after a Fall full of birthdays, soccer, Halloween, and Thanksgiving that by December I'm running out of steam. Hopefully I'll remember this next year and plan accordingly. I really enjoy making things as Christmas gifts, and that takes more time and planning than I've been able to manage. One really great gift that I did make was a book of photographs of our family that I published using blurb. They provide free book editing software, you lay out the book and upload it, then it's published and bound for you.

Finally, congratulations to Jolene on the arrival of Baby Joe!