My Final Kick at the Book Can

Posted September 4, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Books

Tags: , , , , , ,

These are the last ones I’ll be able to buy for a long time due to having limited retirement funds. In an effort to cover all the bases of emotion and health I used a recommendation from another blogger to buy these books:


1) Living with Your Heart Wide Open: How Mindfulness and Compassion Can Free You from Unworthiness, Inadequacy & Shame by Steve Flowers and Bob Stahl

2) Calming Your Anxious Mind: How Mindfulness & Compassion Can Free You from Anxiety, Fear and Panic by Jeffrey Brantley

3) Beyond Happiness: The Zen Way to True Contentment by Ezra Bayda. I ordered this on inter-library loan first and liked it so much that I wanted my own copy.

4) Buddha’s Book of Sleep: Sleep Better in Seven Weeks with Mindfulness Meditation by Joseph Emet. I refer to my bed as “the pit of torture” due to insomnia and chronic pain, so here’s hoping this gives me a way through that.

Since I am doing so much embroidery lately and have extensive stashes of thread and ribbon, I thought I’d buy a new book on crazy quilting. I do like this sort of thing for purses, but I’m not too keen on quilts using this technique. Small items look great to me. What I liked about this book is that she actually tells you what needle to use with what thread and has some inventive insects and animals to embroider. She also uses a lot of beading and silk ribbon and I have tons of that on hand.

5) Foolproof Crazy Quilting by Jennifer Clouston


These were on a separate order from some time ago but they both have interesting information on colour and technique.

6) Urban Watercolor Sketching: A Guide to Drawing, Painting, and Storytelling in Color by Felix Scheinberger. Scheinberger’s book was originally published in German and he has a very European approach, and an interesting technique with colours which is bold. I like the storytelling aspect he speaks about too.


7) Urban Sketching: The Complete Guide to Techniques by Thomas Thorspecken. “Composition, line work, color, mood, speed and impact for sketching buildings, people, cars, bikes, streets, public spaces, and the world that surrounds you.”


Both books are similar to what I have, but a bit heavier on staying loose and colour. I like illustration books more than painting books so I like to have a few of these. They are great for browsing through and simply enjoying the art of other people.

I could probably enjoy the art of other people in the books I own for 1,000 years, but I do like a visual!



Embroidery Progress and New Threads

Posted September 4, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Needlework

Tags: , , ,

I am doing well on my purse flap. I just have to outline the motif on the left and then I can start filling it in.


The woman I was trying to order some variegated Presencia Finca #12 perle cotton kindly reduced the shipping price so I could afford to buy three balls that I special ordered.

I tried them as soon as they arrived and really like the thread. I think I like it slightly better than the Valdani I am using in my purse flap. The spacing of the dye seems better in the Finca, less subtle and the thread definition seems better too. It’s a shame that it is so hard to find.

This is an old piece of quilting cotton that I am filling up with trial runs of various threads and stitches. At some point when it’s filled up I will use it for a purse of some sort. I have marked the respective trials of the Finca in this image.


I am gradually chipping away at these projects, but I make a lot of things in several disciplines so it might take a while to complete, or not.


Choosing Colours for Embroidered Purse Flap

Posted August 23, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Needlework, Sewing

Tags: , , , , ,

I am trying the Valdani perle and wanted to buy some Presencia Finca perle to try too but with shipping it was too much money for 3 balls. The shipping cost almost $17 (more than the $12 order), so it’s well above my means. Canada Post is going to put many small business owners out of business at those rates.

Fortunately I had the manufacturer’s registration marks for all the colours on the selvedge of the main fabric. From there, I pulled out several suitable colours which you can see in the top tier.


Top tier from left to right:

Valdani perle cotton #12 – Maroon Moss – 524
DMC 154 – Red Vy Dk
Valdani perle cotton #12 – Rich Plum – 86
Anchor 218 – Pistachio Green Vy Dk
DMC 3350 – Dusty Rose Ult Dk
Weeks Dye Works Hand Overdyed Cotton – Rum Raisin – 1270
DMC 367 – Pistachio Green
DMC 502 – Blue Green
DMC 598 – Light Turquoise

On the bottom tier are a few odd things to mix in for a bit of zing. I find threads that are too matchy-matchy lack zip so I like to mix in some subtle blends and pops of colour.

Bottom tier left to right:

Silk Twist #12 – Vicki Clayton/Hand Dyed Fibers – Holly Berry
Silk Twist #12 – Vicki Clayton/Hand Dyed Fibers – Pansy
DMC 208 Lavender Vy Dk
Threadworx 1083 Hand Overdyed Cotton – 1083 – Romantic Wedding

I am using the Valdani Maroon Moss with occasional dashes of DMC 154 (which is a deep purple-red) for the variegated outlining in chain stitch and single or double stem stitch. So far it looks great, I like the extra subtlety of the DMC adding a purplish tone among the black and maroon of the Valdani.


I managed to scrounge up a package of proper crewel needles. I was finding the needles I had were shredding the Valdani, so needed something bigger with a large eye. I am slightly disappointed in the Valdani, nothing really beats the sheen and durability of DMC floss, and they have such a gorgeous palette of colours.



Finally That Handbag!

Posted August 21, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Needlework, Sewing

Tags: , , , , , ,

I bought the purse pattern A Pocket Full of Sunshine by Natalie Ross in April 2013, and hauled it out again in May 2014. After buying embroidery patterns from Kate & Rose, I realized I wanted to use them instead of the pattern that came with the the Natalie Ross pattern. Then I got sidetracked making practice pieces and a birthday present but I’m back to this now since I need a new purse for winter.

I felt the patchwork and ruffles were a bit cutesy for what I wanted, so I’m cutting the purse in two main prints only. The main black print with the grapes and leaves is a lovely, heavy polished cotton I bought to make decorative pillows ten years ago. I never made them because I knew the cats would wreck them, so it sat until a recent re-discovery. It’s perfect for an autumnal purse.

I found her flap pattern slightly off in symmetry from left to right, so I scanned the right half into Photoshop and flipped it to get a second side, and re-did the labels and got rid of the distracting linework for the embroidery. After printing and taping the two sides together, I glued it to a heavy board for tracing onto fabric and batting.


I outlined the template onto tracing paper so I could use the printed motifs from the Kate & Rose Bewitching Botanicals, and move them around to decide how to place the embroidery on the flap.


Having finished, you can see that it’s less twee, a bit more classic than the original embroidery design. I’m in my fifties, I don’t do cute.


Serendipity: I decided to flip the design when tracing it on my flap fabric, a softly monochromatic botanical print. I traced the outer line in a fine permanent marker since it will eventually be cut off and I used an HB pencil for tracing the motifs. I needed a fairly dark line in order to see it on the coloured fabric. I placed it to get the print of the fabric to fill in some of the open areas at left and right to balance the entire look of the flap.


The soft green is a quilting cotton but it seemed a bit light so I decided to baste a layer of thin cotton batiste under it since this will be fairly heavily embroidered. I basted around the motifs and edges of the flap to keep it from puckering.


I tested it in my embroidery hoop and it seems to be nice and flat, so I’m ready to go. I will be trying out my new Valdani perle cotton for outlining this, so it’s exciting to finally get going.


I use a 6-inch hoop because I’ve tried larger ones and just don’t get the tautness and control I need. Embroidery frames are hard for me to use with my tendinitis, so I use what works for me. This little hoop and I have created many interesting things over the last two decades.



Handmade Coin Purses in Metal Frames

Posted August 21, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Needlework, Sewing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’ve been working on these since June. I bought some frames, but you have to make your own pattern and I used some excellent tutorials from U-Handbag for that, and then browsed several other online tutorials for advice on sewing the purse into the frame.

I had to make a prototype to test the pattern and practice sewing into the frame. I also practiced some embroidery for the motifs I was using for the purses. I used the Bewitching Botanicals patterns from Kate & Rose which are so wonderful for mixing and matching.

After practicing I realized that I would need more frames so bought more from Willie at SugarCarousel on Etsy. She has a nice selection and good prices and shipping which is so rare when you want to buy supplies in Canada.

I thread basted the purse into the frame and found this really helped to keep it from slipping while sewing it in.


For the gift, I used a modified section of the front motif as an accent on the back of the bag. The lining fabric is a beautiful red fabric from IKEA.


My initial prototype is on the left in this image and the “good” bag I made for a birthday gift is on the right. I raised the seam slightly on the blue one, since I found the gap showed below the purse hinge on the first one. I also used a lighter interfacing as the first one was very stiff.

As well as sew-in interfacing, I used thin cotton quilt batting to give the bag some body and padding between the main fabric and the lining.


These were both embroidered with 2 plies of DMC floss and I used red Conso thread, which is a twisted nylon upholstery thread, for sewing them into the frames. You can buy this thread on small bobbins from jewellery supply stores in different colours. Many people use embroidery floss to sew them in but I was worried about that fraying or wearing with use so I used a stronger nylon twist.

Here is the blue purse opened up; I love the pop of red when you open it. While boxing the corners on handbags is usually easy, I found I really needed to line up the seams with several pins through the centres and sideways before sewing. On my first one the thick layers shifted a lot, which made the bag a bit crooked. With lighter interfacing on the second one I was careful to pin well to line the seams up for boxing the corners.


The embroidery stitches I used were chain stitch, stem stitch, fishbone stitch, fly stitch, and French knots.


Years ago I wanted to make a purse in a frame with crazy patchwork. Now that I have some frames and know the technique for drawing my own patterns to fit, I hope to do up some small gems to go into some regular handbags I am making.


One Art History and One Italian History Course

Posted August 3, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: History

Tags: , , , ,

I received some birthday money so was able to buy two of The Great Courses on sale for 90% off with an additional $15 off coupon. It didn’t save me from the $25 shipping but it helped.

The first course I bought with 24 lectures of 30 minutes each, was Italians Before Italy: Conflict and Competition in the Mediterranean. The Professor, Dr. Kenneth R. Bartlett, is from the University of Toronto, so I felt obliged to check him out, since I grew up in Toronto.


In November 2003 when I bought the Leonardo Da Vinci Tarot, I did a few personal studies of some of the historical characters on the cards. On the King of Swords was Bartolomeo Colleoni, a professional soldier for hire, a mercenary at a time when the various Italian city states always seemed to be at war. They called these soldiers condottieri and they served rulers under contract, often switching sides. Their treachery and political canniness was well known and you can see this in Colleoni’s face, which is best known from the equestrian statue by Verrocchio. Yes, he doesn’t look like a man you would mess with.


So, you see why I wanted this course, I’ve always found the subject interesting. The course discusses both the Sforza family and the Este family, notables in tarot and art history as well. Mostly though, it was the intrigue of these city-states that grabbed me; I’d like a visual meander through the history of it all.

We are still viewing the first two art history courses I bought, but I saw they had The Art of the Northern Renaissance on sale, so I had to get it. It has 36 lectures and covers several artists like Dürer, Bosch, and Bruegel, artists whom I also own card decks and books about, plus it also covers woodcuts and religious paintings that I find interesting.


That’s it then, birthday money spent, but providing many, many enjoyable hours of learning. I know many people prefer to buy clothes or wine or dinners out with birthday money, but I like to buy things like books that you can revisit and continually learn with.



Another Nightie and New Sewing Patterns

Posted July 31, 2014 by JJ ColourArt
Categories: Sewing

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I finished short summer nightie number three from Kwik Sew 3106. On this one I also made a ruffle in addition to adding a couple of inches at the lengthen and shorten line. I felt that the last ruffle I did at twice the width was a bit stiff, so this time I made it 1.5 times the width and I like it much better.

The fabric I used has a larger motif so I had to centre it on the pieces before cutting. That worked out well and the colour is lovely on me.




Encouraged by this, I’ve been searching for either a shirt or pants pattern for a couple of weeks. Pants are notoriously hard to fit but I bought a pattern when McCall’s and Kwik Sew had a sale on this week. These are pretty basic with elastic in a casing at the waist, but I thought it I could get a good fit I could make them out of light denim and corduroy in different colours. I might try the shorts first and make a “muslin” using fabric scraps as they use less fabric. Kwik Sew 3345.


As well, I bought two shirt patterns. The first is Kwik Sew 3555, a plain yoke shirt with no darts and long or short sleeves with a shirt tail hem and collar stand. This might look a bit blocky, but would be nice under a sweater for winter. I’m so tired of wearing knit shirts all the time.


This McCall’s 6076 pattern costs $18.95 plus tax up here in Canada but McCall’s had a 3-day sale and I managed to buy it for $3.99 plus shipping and tax for much less. I’ve had my eye on this for some time as it’s fitted with princess seams, has a soft collar and is one of the Palmer and Pletsch patterns with extra fitting notes and sizes.


It has quite a wide facing at the front so I’m not sure about that but it looks really stylish. Fitting princess seams is a bit tricky, so I also bought the Palmer and Pletsch Fit for Real People book that has all kinds of information. One of the things I’ve always found confusing about fitting is where exactly to make the adjustments if a conventional pattern does not fit and this has extensive information on that.


So here I am, every hopeful of tackling the fitting issue that has kept me from sewing clothes for decades. I switched to quilts in 1984 because they are forgiving size-wise, but I’ve always wanted to be able to make myself some nice clothes. The patterns today are so much easier than they were in the 1970s and 1980s when I tried so hard to sew clothing. Plus there are all kinds of tutorials and videos on the Internet to help with such things.

It will require patience, but once you get the fit right it’s simply a matter of watching for fabric sales and making multiple items from your perfect pattern. Having done this with sewing patterns for nighties for three years I really think that if I take the time I can do it.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 84 other followers