I’m still here!

Hi Guys! Sorry for the radio silence. We spent most of July having house guests and traveling – plus it was my birthday, so I was happy to celebrate turning 42! If you know me personally, you may remember that I celebrated my 40th birthday by being discharged from the hospital after having my right cancerous breast removed. Woohoo! So although I turned 42 years old, I celebrated this as my 2nd birthday without cancer in my life. I took a month away from social media in August, and I just didn’t feel like writing a blog post.

So here we are – September! I was somewhat productive in the time I was offline. I have started making journals, in addition to painting with watercolors and soft pastels. Let’s see if I have any good pictures to share.

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These are a couple watercolor greeting cards I painted the other day. I will be making more, I’ve just fallen down the rabbit hole of journal-making currently (reference photos: Photo on pmp-art.com  and Photo by Breno Machado on Unsplash)

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This was one of my first hand-stitched journals that is not just a simple pamphlet stitch. It contains four signatures that are bound together, and they are then attached to the cover, which I painted with watercolor crayons, by a ribbon. I think it turned out quite pretty. Reference photo – Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Then I made some personal size traveler’s journals using Kraft-tex, hemp cord, and vintage buttons. I also found some really pretty patterned cardstock in my stash from a decade ago as well as my local Michael’s. I used that, as well as some vintage typewriter paper that was my grandmom’s, to make the inserts and coordinating folder.

Then I modified a tutorial that I saw on Youtube by Lyriclover810 to make another variety of journal. I used some of that patterned cardstock that I bought at Michaels’ to make the cover and the journal inserts and folder. It is about 5×7.

Let me know if I should record a video with flip-through of the different journals. Leave a comment with your opinion.

Lastly, I also started gelli printing with my homemade gelli plate. I made a journal out of the print on the left side above. It has four signatures sewn into it. The prints on the right side are on canvas sheets from the pad. I am still thinking about how I want to make those journals.

I have quite a collection growing, so have decided to set up a table at the craft show at the church we attend. I might also start up an Etsy shop or something similar. Watch this space…

So what do I have planned for the rest of the month? Probably make another journal or two and paint a few more watercolor cards. I hope to sell enough to at least pay for my table fee – if I can sell more than that, that would help offset the cost of my art supplies. Wish me luck!

 

Wow, has it been a month already?!

Well, I didn’t think it would take me so long to write another blog post, but here it is – one month later. Sorry about that.

I have been doing a lot of things though. One thing that has consumed a lot of my time for the last few months has been my garden. I think I mentioned that I purchased a few raised bed gardens in early spring. In addition to the purchased raised beds, I built another six raised beds. I raised my seeds using old 2L soda bottles and gallon milk jug – I basically made miniature greenhouses for starting the seeds. I transplanted seedlings for tomatoes (3 varieties), cantaloupe, watermelon, jalapeno peppers, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, Thai basil, cilantro, dill, eggplant, and tomatillo. I ended up purchasing some locally raised seedlings for some interesting varieties of tomatoes, eggplants, and additional herbs, plus I started cucumbers and corn.

I have put so much more work into my garden this year than last year and it certainly shows. I have about four baby watermelons, a couple baby cantaloupes, an enormous butternut squash, and lots of tomatoes just waiting to get ripe. I’ve been picking (and eating) yellow squash and cucumbers! Strawberries from last year’s planting produced several but they are over now.

I’ve also done a lot of sewing. I finally finished my mother in law’s birthday gift dress. Her birthday was only LAST SEPTEMBER. Every time I sewed something for myself, I felt guilty that I hadn’t made her dress. I finally bit the bullet and went for it, after making a muslin of the bodice to check for fit adjustments I had made. I got scared when I ran out of fabric, but realized it was because I was trying to cut the fabric in two layers  – once I laid it out as a single layer and traced all the pattern pieces I was able to play pattern piece tetris to make all the pieces fit. It was helpful that she didn’t want the elbow length sleeves though, because I’m not sure I could have made that work with the length of fabric that we had chosen.

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I made two versions of the Zadie jumpsuit by Paper Cut patterns. One in a lightweight yellow/green slinky fabric and the second in a wax print that I got years ago from my sister.  I also made one more pair of shorts for myself. I started working on another pair this morning and had to walk away. I made silly mistakes that required me to rip out seams twice. I decided I should take a break from it all. I’ll probably pick it up again Monday after a weekend away.img_20190609_135901833_burst000_cover_top

In the art world, I have not done a lot. I’ve done a few doodles with watercolors, and one pastel painting, but that’s it.img_20190616_150044623

I have, unfortunately, spent a lot of money on supplies. Most of it occurred today. Terry Ludwig pastels released the Karen Margulis curated set of 60 soft pastels today. They are expensive but had a significant price reduction for their release and I lost self control and purchased them. About an hour earlier, I had a bit of a binge on the LA Finch fabrics website. Suffice it to say, I have spent pretty much all my disposable income for the next few months. I am actually extremely excited to get both of those purchases though. I am looking forward to adding to my self sewn wardrobe over the next few months. I also can’t wait to swatch out the new pastels and see for myself just how soft and creamy the Terry Ludwig pastels are.,

I will say that I have been thinking about the planning process as it pertains to making art. I tend to just wing it when I paint (watercolors or pastels). I will sometimes often take a good amount of time to do a sketch – often in my sketchbook, and then transfer to watercolor paper. But what I don’t plan is the color scheme. Obviously, I think about what the colors should be, I mean I’m looking at a picture that I took of flowers, or whatever. But when it comes down to it, I just start to grab paint. I do try to limit the number of colors that I choose, but I don’t plan ahead to pick harmonious colors, etc.

So, I plan on implementing two changes to my art practice. 1- I will be doing thumbnail sketches to try looking at a subject from different angles or zoomed out vs. zoomed in and 2- I will try to do a value thumbnail and a color theme thumbnail. I think it may be easier to do the value and color thumbnails with pastels than watercolor, but I’m still going to give it a go. I have several attempted paintings that I haven’t finished because I just don’t like the way it starts to look. I want to finish creating the paintings! I don’t mind if it ends up being a mixed media project.

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Oh, speaking of mixed media project, I did actually finish a painting that ended up getting some colored pencil finishing touches. It was a tutorial that I had access to because I belong to the Critique Club on Lindsay Weirich‘s teachable website. Despite some technical difficulties, ie. I forgot to turn off the ceiling fan and my wet paper dried out very quickly, it turned out really well. The colored pencil may not have been 100% necessary, but I prefer the way it turned out with the colored pencil.

Hope all is well in your part of the world and I’ll try to get back here sooner than a month, but I’m not promising it!

 

See, I came back in a week… give or take a few days ;)

Hi guys,

I want to start off by saying Hi! to all my new followers. I was shocked to see so many alerts from WordPress letting me know I had new followers. I hope you enjoy what you see and decide to stick around for a while 🙂

I have finished my class and submitted my final exam, so my time is my own again (at least as much as it can be with a 3.5-year-old son). I have enjoyed getting back into making again. So, what have I been up to, you might ask?

I made a couple pair of workout shorts using my modified version of the Seamwork Nantucket shorts pattern. I have been a member of Seamwork since early 2015, and while I don’t always enjoy the patterns, there are some that I make and keep coming back to. The first time I made these shorts was back in 2016 and I made them using a chambray. I wore the heck out of those shorts and eventually they got very worn and even bleached out in one spot. I loved the fabric, so I cut them up (and cut out the bleached spot) and they are going to be used in some future sewing project.

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I liked the modifications I made with these workout shorts that I decided to make a pair of casual shorts in a black cotton/poly bottom weight fabric I found in a giant box of fabric my Mommom had collected over the years. I wish I had taken a picture of it before I washed the fabric. The fabric was cut into a 1-yard length, folded, and then had a paper wrapping with that described the fabric and showed examples of what it could be used for. The example showed a skirt, but I made shorts. It had to be from the 50s or 60s. So cool! I have no pics of the black shorts, as I’m wearing them for the 2nd day in a row since making them Friday, and I am not good at taking selfies in front of the mirror. Maybe I’ll get my husband to take a pic of me in them and I’ll share in the next blog post.

For both versions I straightened out the curve of the sides. I also sewed a faux-flat felled seam for crotch and inseams. The workout shorts have 2 inch wide decorative elastic for the waistband and the black shorts have bias binding for the hems and a traditional waistband with enclosed elastic. I’m really pleased with both versions!

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I also have done a little bit of art. I created my first sketch of a human (my son) that doesn’t look weirdly disproportioned or scary! I just used inexpensive compressed charcoal sticks and a dollar store doodle pad. I definitely have a lot to work on, but I’m finally heading in the right direction. I haven’t had a lot of time to work on it this week, but I’m planning on doing more sketches to get the values and the mouth better. May switch from compressed charcoal to charcoal pencils or conte crayons/pencils… we’ll see!

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I also did a watercolor sketch of a bouquet of flowers. I didn’t do any sketching with pencil ahead of time, so the proportions are off (especially concerning the vase), but I think some of the colors and shapes turned out alright. After I finished that, I decided to do a doodlesmudge – if you want inspiration in this category, check out my friend Lauren Sebastian. She is so creative with her doodling and art. I have several pieces of hers and just love them. Plus, she is just a wonderful, caring soul.

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Right now the I just have the paint splatters, but I see a rooster on the left and a hen on the right with maybe a chick in the upper right quadrant… So my next step is to sketch in those critters and then use my ink pen to make them pop out more. Can’t wait to get started. I’ll be sure to share when I finish the doodle! 

Well, that’s it for now. I think I’ll be assembling some PDF patterns (I’ve been itching to sew the Zadie jumpsuit from Papertheory Patterns for a while now), working on the doodle, making an updated muslin for the shirtdress I promised to my mother-in-law for her birthday this past September, and possibly making a sewing something for myself. I’m waiting for my May Aquanut subscription of handmade watercolors to arrive from Xanadu Art Studio, then I might make a doodle with them and record it. I’ll be sure to post on Instagram if I do anything outstanding 🙂

Thanks for tuning in and I’ll talk to you all later!

 

I’m back… I hope!

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Hi Guys,

I’ve been MIA and have struggled to maintain a blog, but I am really hoping that I can keep it up from here on out.

I was recently asked to participate in a YouTube channel where we record ourselves making whatever art we choose to do. I mostly do watercolor and soft pastels.

So what’s the plan with the blog?

  • post weekly
  • post pics of completed (and possibly in progress) sewing projects
  • post pics of sketches, watercolor paintings, and/or pastel paintings completed during the preceding week
  • I’ll try to provide links to the pattern, fabric, or art supply that I’m using

Wish me luck with this endeavor!!

Watercolor Church with Sunset

I saw a tutorial from Lindsay Weirich aka The Frugal Crafter several months ago on her Youtube channel. It was of an old church on a hill with a beautiful sunset background. As soon as I saw it, I decided that I wanted to paint that for my cousin and his wife for their Christmas gift.

For my first attempt, I sketched out the church and then sketched in the hill – when I was close to being finished with the painting, I noticed that I had the back half of the church floating in the air. So, I recycled that sheet of paper to use the backside for something else, and started over.

When I started over I decided to make the painting a little larger and used a 9×12 inch piece of handmade watercolor paper that I purchased at Jerry’s Arterama . I’m so glad I did, because it was a rougher texture, and I think that it gave the sky more dimension.

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The sky was painted first with a wet into wet technique. I just love the vibrancy of the sunset.

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Then I added in the roof and some shadows and highlights on the church itself. I also filled in the grassy hill.

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I thought the roof was looking a little too weak, and the shadows were a little too dark, so I scrubbed out some of the shadows. To make the roof darker, I used my Pentel brush pen which contained black ink.

The only problem with using the black ink was that I lost any dimension, so I got out my dark grey gel pen and added some highlights to the roof. And here is the finished product again!

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I think it turned out well – and more importantly, my family loved their gift!

A change of focus

Originally I started this page as a way to document the sewing projects I have been completing, and I have still been sewing, but I started painting with watercolors in April and I love it.

I have decided to use this page for all of my artistic and creative endeavors.

So let’s see what I’ve been up to!

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This is one of the first larger pieces I painted with my watercolor class. I didn’t love it, initially, but my mom did and I gave it to her. I finally got around to putting it in a mat and frame for her and I like it so much more than I did before.

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This is a photo of my first craft fair that I had a table at about two weeks ago. I sold several greeting cards and book marks. None of the larger paintings sold at the show, but I had shared them on Facebook and family and friends purchased all of the paintings. The little bunny was done in conte crayons and my son requested that for his bedroom, so that is where it is now! I love the painting of the cheeky little bird – that painting was a favorite of two aunts and I have now been commissioned to paint the bird again.

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This is a mixed-media piece. It is primarily watercolor painting with soft pastel accents for additional texture. I quite like the way it turned out. It was a gift for my uncle’s 70th birthday.

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If you have been following me on my other blog you will know that I have an aggressive form of breast cancer (inflammatory breast cancer.) I walked the half-marathon at the Donna Marathon last year and will be run/walking it this February. I took a screen printing workshop at The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC a week ago and learned how to make a paper stencil for screen printing. My goal is to screen print my own t-shirts this year and this is a prototype of what I will be using.

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A friend of mine saw that I have been sewing my own clothes and asked if I would be willing to take on a sewing commission. She needed doggy jackets for her pups who are between sizes. These fleece jackets turned out really well!

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Finally, I have been experimenting with conte crayons some more and sketched this cute little piggy. I will probably do it again because I’m not in love with it, but I still think it’s cute.

Alright – that’s a long post. Hopefully I will be posting more regularly as I create new works – paintings, sketches, sewn items, or knitted/crocheted items.
Let’s see what Brandi makes!

Natalie crop top, take 3

I think I have perfected the Natalie crop top/bra from Ooh Lulu (available as a PDF download on Etsy). But first, let me give a quick summary of take 2. Despite my intentions of making a size L with the second bra – I made the original size. It was less successful because the fabric was a rayon/spandex blend that was stretchy but wanted to hang – not a good combination for a bra only half filled, especially if the side that has a breast is still kind of large (I was 38 DDD before mastectomy). So, it’s better constructed than the first bra, but fits worse. It is now the property of my mom.

Version 3 is made with a very spandex-y fabric. I don’t know it’s exact composition, nor where it was purchased because it has been in my stash for probably four years. All I know is it is a pretty neutral color (taupe?) and was nice and stretchy without being saggy. I made size L as planned and I shorted the shoulder seams by taking them in 1.5 inches from the outside. To change up the construction, I skipped the neckline fabric bands and used clear elastic to hem the neck. I sewed a single fold with zigzag for the armholes. For the underbust I did use a band. THe band is wider than the previous versions and also a little smaller in circumference. I also modified how I stretched the band to attach to the bra. I am not symmetrical – losing one breast will do that to you – so why should my band be symmetrically attached. I chose to attach it without any stretch on the side where I have no breast. I thought that might minimize pressure on that side of my body because it still feels heavy sometimes and I can’t have things too tight on it. I tried it on and it feels great. I will wear it all day tomorrow to see that it is still comfortable before making as many as I can from the remaining fabric.

Thanks for tuning in!

Jim’s belated Christmas gift

I decided to try purchasing custom fabric from Spoonflower for a couple Christmas gifts. One still has not been completed, so I won’t say what it is yet, but the other one was a cotton/lycra jersey that was printed with chthulu babies. I had never heard of chthulu until I met Jim, and I still don’t know much, I know the word and know that it looks like/is an octopus. I usually purchase Jim a funny pair of underpants for Christmas every year, but this year I chose to make him underpants with this custom fabric.

I chose the Thread Theory Comax trunks pattern for this project. I have had it for about a year, so I figured it was time. 🙂 According to his measurements, he was at the max size of 45 so I traced it out. I decided to make a muslin using some light gray jersey I had in the stash, because I didn’t want to cut into my $27/yd fabric if it wasn’t going to fit!

I’m so glad I made a muslin. As I was sewing it I kept shaking my head because it looked so big… and it was! I pinched about 3 inches from his elastic waistband so decided to make the spoonflower fabric with size 42. They turned out nice, but are still a bit too big. Next time I’ll make a size 39, but before I do I’m going to do what I should have done in the first place – measure a pair of his comfortable underpants to compare the sizing. I have enough fabric leftover to make a second pair.

Check out some pics (pinned on my dressform – Jim refused to model for me).

The picture on the left looks like it has a soggy bottom, but it’s not that bad. It’s a gusset to go from front to back. It looks normal when it’s on the body.

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My only imperfection with the construction is that I flipped the elastic to the wrong direction when attaching to the waist so the visible part of the elastic seam is visible on the outside of the underpants. Oh well, they will get worn and no one will see it anyway.

 

RTW Fast 2018

A couple months ago, a blog that I follow (goodbyevalentino.com) announced that it was hosting a year of no ready-to-wear (RTW) for 2018 and was encouraging readers to join in. This came at a perfect time for me, because I have been wanting to have a handmade wardrobe for quite some time, and I have an asymmetric body (temporarily until my second mastectomy) and therefore ready-made clothes don’t seem to fit well.

So this is my first post about what I have sewn in 2018. I’m not brave enough to post a picture of me wearing this garment for the whole world to see.

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I made the Ooh Lulu Natalie Crop top that I purchased from Etsy. I have been eyeing this pattern for a while but bit the bullet a couple days ago and purchased it. My intention with this garment is as a soft bra. I am still tender from my radiation wounds after mastectomy and wanted something snug but not too tight around my chest.

Size wise, I made the XXL based on what my pre-surgery measurements were and my current waist size, however, it is looser than I would like. I modified the assembly slightly. I didn’t care for the fold over elastic (FOE) so I cut it off after sewing it on and then made self-fabric bands for the underbust and the neckline. I also just turned the armscye under once and zigzagged it. I topstitched with zigzag around the band placement also. It’s not perfect – note some irregular thicknesses of the neckline band – but overall I like it. I’ll have more control with the next one I make!

Next time I will be making size L and I’ll also take in the outside of the shoulder by 1 1/2 inches because it was loose and flapping over my shoulder and down my arm.

I’ll definitely be wearing this bra though because it is comfy despite being a bit too big.