Saturday, January 29, 2011

Competition: Best Mug Shot

I've been having a great deal of fun creating two entries for a competition at the gallery that is part of my favorite coffee shop, Equal Grounds. Each participant can enter up to three 5x7 images of their travel mug in the location of their choosing. The fun part is that the "images" can be in any medium. That immediately caught my attention and I decided to make two 5x7 quilts of my travel mug in, where else?, my studio! And boy did I have fun!

I started by taking an actual picture of the mug in the two places I wanted to immortalize in fabric: my cutting table in front of a stack of fabric from my stash and my sewing table in front of my favorite sewing machine (I actually took the image in front of my 2nd favorite machine because #1 was in the shop, but since they look identical, I didn't think it would matter (just don't tell the machines!)).
After I had two pictures that I liked, I sized them in the computer to 5x7 and printed them out. These would become my patterns for color, placement, and size. I wanted the mug and a feature item in each shot to be 3D, so I needed to choose the feature items. For the sewing table quilt, I, of course, chose the machine, and for the cutting table shot, the only thing I could choose was the fabric, so that was pretty easy. Since the fabric stack is so colorful, I chose white for the background for that piece, and, conversely, since my machine is so white, I chose a pieced rainbow background for the sewing table piece. That pieced background was inspired by the crazy-pieced curtains I made for the window behind my machine, so that worked well.

I started the projects by making the most complicated items first: the mugs. These were actually less complicated to make than the sewing machine, but since there are two of them and they are different sizes and perspectives, they became a bit more complex. I immediately fell in love with the completed little mini travel mugs - they came out so adorably well!

I then moved on to the sewing machine and the stack of fabric. At this point, I decided to make the sewing machine match the actual machine as realistically as possible, but to create the fabric stack more abstractly. I thought it would be fun to work on both a realistic piece and an abstract piece for the same project. And at the end of the creation, that's exactly what I created: a very realistic quilted sewing machine and a very abstract stack of fabric - I can't decide which I like best! (I actually think I will make a series of small abstract fabric stack wallhangings at some point in the future - I really like the look of them!)

The final part of the creation was the main quilt. This part was so simple. The finished piece needed to be 5x7, so for the fabric stack quilt that had a simple white background, I just cut two 5x7 pieces of white fabric, made the quilt sandwich, quilted, and bound it and was done. The sewing machine main quilt needed to represent the curtains and the wood table, so some piecing was involved, but it was still very simple in comparison to the more complicated 3Dish quilted pieces that would be attached.

This one is "Sapphire and Cider" named after
my #1 machine, Sapphire, and the beverage
of choice in my mug: caramel apple cider
Once I had all the pieces assembled, I used the pictures I'd printed out to guide me in placing each quilted piece on the background quilt and attached them using my machine. Placing and attaching them was a piece of cake (not counting the many many errors I kept getting from my machine because the presser foot was too high - these are VERY thick little quilts!).
This one is "Abstraction and Apple Cider"
I can't believe how very well they came out! I really love them both and can't wait to see them hanging in the gallery. The staff of the coffee shop and the gallery will vote on the best "mug shot" and the customers will get to vote as well, so I hope one of these two little beauties wins - but, honestly, I already feel like they're winners - they are simply gorgeous and I had THE BEST time making them!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

New Design: The Trifecta

I love creating new designs and improving old ones. Actually, I think that, like most creative individuals, I'm constantly perfecting processes and designs everytime I make an item - regardless of how many times I've made it. It is fun, fun, fun, though, to make a new design.

My new wallet is a combination of both an improvement on an existing design and the creation of a new one.

The Trifecta is a billfold-style wallet (existing design) with space for cards, cash, and coins (the coin pocket is where the new design comes in!) I 1. am a perfectionist and 2. have always hated sewing zippers, so this wallet was a long time in coming. I really wanted to get it just right and find a way to work with zippers that didn't make me want to scream, so I focused a lot of energy on that little coin pocket. And I found a fun new supply: Sullivan's Make-a-Zipper.

How I love these rolls of zippers - they are brilliantly easy to work with and allow me to use just as much zipper as I need. There's no waste - which I love! So, with the addition to a cute zippered coin pocekt, the Trifecta is a fun-to-make addition to my current family of wallets: Simply Chic and Doubly Chic - plus it's got a really fun name!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quirky Custom Commissions

I, like most makers of handmade objects, love custom orders. I've actually gotten many of my new designs from folks asking me to make this or that. I have to say that I love getting requests for custom orders from one particular family. They've asked me to make "normal" things, like wallhangings and wallets, but my absolute favorites are the Dr. Who inspired items that they've requested.
So far, I've made a very fun tote bag inspired by the Tartus - Dr. Who's call box. The bag is the call box, complete with text, and the straps are from the best Dr. Who's scarf. It was a VERY fun and original project that I loved to make.

I've also made a bunch of U.N.I.T pins for the family. I'm not sure what these will be used for, but I truly had a ball making them.

I think the thing I love best is that it brings up great memories of my childhood. I remember watching Dr. Who with my family - especially my brother, Sunday mornings before church. Every custom Dr. Who project just takes me right back there! My hope is that these items help keep happy memories alive for this family, as they do for me while I'm creating them.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

On the Studio Table Today: Labels and Valentines

Valentine works in progress
Today I've been working on valentines, just in time for Valentine's Day. I like to make a cool and unique valentine every year and this year's card has a kind of graphic arts theme. A friend had a black and white image with a bright scarlet heart as her profile picture on Facebook and it inspired this design. I really enjoy how the red pops off the grey and black. I'm finishing the hot pink polka dot on black and white and I REALLY like the look of that one, too. I have plans for two more designs to complete the bunch.

Brand new labels!
The other exciting thing I've been working on today is labels! One of my to-do list items for this year was to get labels for my items. They came in today and this card is the first item in my shop that will have a label. Very exciting! 
Speaking of items marked off the "to-do" list, this blog and my new Facebook fan page were other items on the list. To announce and celebrate, I'm doing a giveaway of one of my Jotters on my Etsy team blog. The RNEST giveaway has gotten off to a roaring great start, so I've decided that if I get 100 entries, I'll offer up a second Jotter. So, head on over to the RNEST blog and enter!

The graphic arts valentine

New label on the new card

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Greetings from The Quilted House

Sewing side of the studio
Hello and welcome to your blog's eye view into my studio. In case we haven't met through Facebook or my personal blog, let me tell you a little about myself and The Quilted House. My name is Michelle and I am so lucky to be the artistic and creative mind behind The Quilted House. I make beautiful and unique quilted items from my wonderful studio in my home in Rochester, New York. The Quilted House provides commissioned custom quilting and ready-to-purchase items from the online shop.

Notetaker listed in the shop
I've been quilting and sewing for about ten years now. My mother taught me how to sew and my mother-in-law graciously taught me how to quilt. I've been going strong ever since. I do all my work on one of my two Husqvarna Viking Sapphire sewing machines - "Sapphire" and "Esmeralda" (yes, I, of course, name my machines.)

While I do sell my work at arts and crafts shows around town, Etsy has been the online forum for my quilted wares for a little over a year now. Running an online shop is challenging, but I love the opportunity to reach people across the world. Items from my shop are in Norway, Denmark, Mexico, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Britian, and all across the United States. What a thrill it is to know that people all over the world are enjoying items made from my hands.

Quilted greeting card

This blog will give you a view into my studio. You'll get sneak peeks into my new designs, first crack at sales, and a front-row-seat for any giveaways and contests. Thanks for joining me and enjoy the view!

You can get an even greater insight by:

Following me on twitter

"You're an All-Star" custom quilt
Don't forget to click the "Follow" button or link to keep track of the blog in your reader!