Sunday, July 8, 2018

High Brow Happy Hour

This giraffe doll, lovingly named High Brow, was initially featured in my UrbAnimals post on September 13, 2016.  He hangs around on my display wall with other dolls and animals.  After a recent suggestion to hang the dolls on bags, I started work on a bag specifically made for High Brow.  

Finished bag is 13-1/2" wide x 14" tall.  At full length, the adjustable strap measures 57 inches, including hardware.

This was not easy for me.  I enjoyed stitching the thread sketch and making the bag.  But there was something about hanging a doll from the bag that just did not speak to me.  This bag is the result of weeks of experimentation and anguish.  Even now, after several false starts, there are things I would do differently next time.  But, I've tried it, and I think I am over it.  I will share a few notes here in case I change my mind.   Rather than talk about the mechanics of the thread sketch or bag creation, I will focus, instead, on a couple new products that made this project more fun than it might have been.  
I hope you enjoy.

I have been using the same painters' 10 oz canvas for two years.  It sews easily and takes the paint well, but the quality is uneven.  After all, it was developed to protect floors and furnishings from paint.... not necessarily for art work.  I was looking for an online supplier and came across Big Duck Canvas.  They offer a large variety of heavy-duty fabrics.  I purchased several yards of 10 oz canvas in three colors.  The canvas is priced right and delivery was fast.  I am very happy with the quality and selection.  I had already started the thread sketch when the canvas arrived.  However, the body of this bag is made using their gold 10 oz duck cloth.  I cannot report on how well it takes paint.  I will try that next and share the experience in another post.  I can, however, say that the Big Duck canvas worked better with another new product for me, Otter Wax.  More on that later.

Start, as usual, with a rough sketch.   I took no photos of the thread sketch and bag creation.  I used my typical process, and there are plenty of tutorials in previous posts if you want to explore how I create a thread sketch from a pencil drawing.

The original sketch had only one tall chair.  I decided to add a second chair in case High Brow does not hang around for happy hour.

 A tiny antique brass lobster clasp attached to the back of High Brow's head can be hooked to the small "butterfly" cords sewn between the thread sketch and the zipper.  If I could do it over again, I would put the zipper on the back side of the bag above the pockets.  This would devote an entire side to the thread sketch and give High Brow a little more room to dangle. 

Here is a close look at the canvas before Otter Wax.  Heavy duty antique brass hardware dresses up the bag.

Patch pockets reduce bulk at the side seams.  Using a variety of shapes and fabrics is an easy way to add utility and interest to the back side of the bag.
These pictures were taken after I started applying the Otter Wax. The photo on the right shows there are two pockets, one holding a Kindle Fire and the second holds a case for sunglasses.  Heavy-weight stabilizer was used to pad these pockets making them a sturdy and safe place to store items.

An inside pocket keeps small items close at hand.  

I am relatively new to Otter Wax.  Earlier in the year, I waxed a few small bags made with the painters' 10 oz canvas and was not impressed with the outcome.  But the higher quality duck cloth from Big Duck Canvas took the wax much better.  I probably could have applied the wax before cutting and sewing the bag together, but I was not sure if there would be buildup on the needle causing a problem with my machine.  It takes a while to apply the wax and work it into the seams and around the edges of a finished bag.  Honestly, working on the finished bag gives a more uneven and weathered look that appeals to me.  In fact, after applying a coat of wax, I crunched and rolled the bag to create wrinkles, and applied another coat.

 There are many tutorials on how to apply Otter Wax.  Some suggest using a pressing cloth over the wax fabric and iron to set the wax.  I found that much of the wax transfers to the pressing cloth and it made a mess.  Instead, I placed the waxed bag on the drying rack that came with my dryer.  I set the heat on medium and let it go for about 15 minutes.  I applied another coat of wax after that, and now will let it hang dry for about 24 hours.   If there is any residue left after drying, I will return it to the dryer and give it a final rub with a clean cloth.  
I have found that Otter Wax sometimes darkens fabric and in the case of canvas, sometimes lightens the fabric.  Always, always test on a piece of fabric before using on your finished project!

Even though water is beading on the waxed canvas, I am not willing to say it is water proof.  For me, the wax is more about the look and feel of the waxed canvas.  

Coming Up!

While waiting for my machine to return from the shop for its annual physical, I completed several new sketches.  I am looking forward to making more small cross-body bags with new designs and new canvas.  

Thank you for visiting!  I hope you will come back again soon.  

Friday, June 15, 2018

Fun Cross-Body Bags

If you are familiar with Portland, you already know that NW 23rd is a destination.  Shops and restaurants line the street for many blocks.  The area glows with eclectic energy.

Artisan Avenue Marketplace is one of my favorite places to drop in.  Featuring local artists, there is always something new to admire.  The owner is delightful and helpful.  She has shared inspiration and ideas to explore.  My last visit, she suggested cross-body bags with animals.  I came home and started work.  I had a few false starts that I may share later in a blooper blog.  As a result of her suggestion, I made six cross-body bags, three of which feature animal art.  

The process I use has been described in many previous posts, but if you cannot find an answer for your question, please send me email.  I am always happy to hear from you! 

I hope you enjoy!


8 inches across the top, flaring to 9-1/2 inches across the bottom.  7 inches tall

Typically, I do not use patterns for the bags I make.  Over the years, I have adopted a few simple techniques that allow me to customize bag size, shape and features.  For this bull dog bag, I ventured from those basic techniques to add a small pleat - something I thought would be a simple addition.  I made a muslin prototype to test the pleat and verify measurements.  I did not take the prototype far enough and caused myself a lot of extra work.  I like the pleat idea, but need to refine how to make it work with lining, gusset and zipper.

For all of these bags, I start with a bag shape and size that will accommodate the thread sketch.  I draw the bag shape on my sketch pad and make a simple drawing that can be used to transfer to the fabric.  

You can see the shape of the bag and my intent to fill the front with the face and ears of the bull dog.  I thought the small pleat at top center would enhance the wrinkled face.  It was also my plan to place the zipper across the top.  

After transferring my sketch to the fabric, I stitched the outline.  This picture shows the outline completed and paint applied.  I have started stitching the wrinkles and his left eye.  

You can see that the metal zipper is on the back rather than across the top.  The small pleat on the front caused the zipper to bulge in an unattractive manner.  I had also created a bull-dog backside for the back of the bag.  It gave us a few laughs, but "in the end," I decided not to use it.  It will be featured in a Blooper Blog!l 

3D Giraffe

8-1/2 wide x 9 inches tall

If you have followed my blog for a while, you may recognize this little guy.  He first made an appearance in December of 2017, Thread Sketched Africa.  I re-drew him to give a 3-D appearance.

My sketch pad drawing and the head stitched separately to give a 3D effect.

I stitched most of the design on his head before applying it to the canvas.  This gave his face more depth and allowed his ears to remain free. For easier stitching, the small head was supported by a larger piece of tear-away stabilizer.

The sketch of the body was transferred to the fabric and stitched.  Very little paint was added.  I used couching techniques to create the mane and tail.  When the picture was completed, I added it to the bag fabric and completed the bag as normal.  

Lazy Days Elephant

Floppy ears, button eyes, sparkling nails and rag edge canvas.

Basic lines on the scratch pad.

The elephant's basic shape was transferred to the paper side of heat & bond stabilizer.  It did not matter to me which way the elephant faced, so I did not bother to reverse the picture.  I applied the heat bond to the fabric and ironed it to my canvas.  Then used my old stand-by, water-soluble stabilizer to transfer the lines to the front.  The ears were created separately and stitched with a lot of easy, ad-lib type stitching before tucking them behind the head.  This keeps them free of the canvas.    

A little blue background color was added to the completed picture and the canvas was hand embroidered using large, un-even stitches.

Three More Bags

If you see something you like, some of these bags are listed on my 

Thank you for visiting my blog, my new picture gallery, and my Facebook page!
I hope you will come again!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother's Day

I am lucky to have had many remarkable women in my life. My mother has been gone for years, and I am missing my sister this year, but they were both in my thoughts as I stitched these Mother's Day cards for my mother-in-law as well as the other amazing mothers in our family.      

These cards are more whimsical than my typical cards.  I created the designs for light stitching on dish towels.  I liked them so well, I reduced the size and reused the designs for these cards.  I used the same method explained in many of my blogs, so will not dwell on the basics.  The pictures below depict how easy it is to create a simple and charming card.  

Basic design outlines were stitched in black.  While the fabric was still damp from rinsing the stabilizer, I used water color pencils to add just a bit of color to the main objects.  Small hearts cut from fabric were positioned and stitched down with complimentary threads.  Trimmed and stitched to card stock for mounting onto blank greeting cards.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Meet Maddy

I have been making dolls of all shapes and sizes for years, but Maddy is my first paper clay doll.  I have used paper clay for other projects and chose to stay with it for this doll.  Although happy with the final form, Maddy and I struggled through three different skin colors, two outfits, and three wigs.  There were times when I was sure this would be my last clay doll, but now that she is done, I think I may try it again using some of the lessons learned.        

Maddy is 16 inches tall.  Blue beads serve as elbow and knee joints.  Her head, shoulders and hips are attached to a soft body.  Clothes are permanently affixed.  

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Gentle Heart

"A gentle heart is tied with an easy thread."

George Herbert's words inspired the design of this clay and fabric sculpture.  The woman, and the heart she has captured, are both entwined with thread.  Here is the meandering creation in pictures and a few words.    

I enjoyed my first experience with paper clay at Christmas making small gifts for our grandchildren.  No heat or fumes to harden.... just time and patience.  While shaping the gifts, I started toying with the idea to create a paper clay doll.

I was only minutes into the project when, for reasons I no longer remember, I deviated from the plan for a doll.  An armature was formed and I was on my way to a figurine.  I worked on this figure for four weeks, trying different media and techniques.  The paper clay is very forgiving.  It can be shaped, carved and sanded with each new idea or mood.  At 17 inches tall, the figure is larger than intended.  It is a good thing I had only one package of paper clay..... who knows how this project may have grown!  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Oblation Paper and Press Thread Sketch

I can't believe we are already into February.  I finally set aside the projects that distracted me in January, and completed the last of the videos for the Oblation Paper and Press Thread Sketch.  

This 8x10 thread sketch is based on a photo taken last fall in front of Oblation Paper and Press, Portland Pearl District.
The first two Oblation videos have been available on my Urban Stitcher® Facebook page and YouTube channel since December.  To commemorate completion of the thread sketch and the video series, I am posting all three videos here.  If you have already watched 1 and 2, scroll down for Oblation Video 3!

Oblation Video 1: Transferring Image to Canvas

Oblation Video 2: Audition and Add Detailed Element

Oblation Video 3: Planters, Shrubs and Finish for Framing

Visit my Urban Stitcher®YouTube Channel for more videos including a video in which I talk about the materials and products I use in creating a thread sketch.  

Coming soon!  Guest artists featuring a variety of arts and crafts.  Thank you for visiting, I will you will come again!    

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mount Hood Home

Mount Hood Home

Our condominium social committee recently hosted an art show for the residents.  It was a fun event for everyone and a non-threatening way for residents to show their work as artists and crafters.  I was amazed at the number of ultra talented people in our building.  As I set up my own display of thread sketches, I did not know if I should be inspired or give up and go home!   

I stayed, of course, and the feedback was very generous.  I was flattered and, as always with a commission, a little intimidated when a neighbor asked if I would stitch one of her own photos.  At completion of her thread sketch, she agreed to allow creation process pictures to be posted here.   Each step is described with a few words.  Please feel free to post or email questions about the process or products used to create this thread sketch.