Archive for the ‘Buttons’ Category

Finally Finished Red Vases

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Four a day flower sewing worked well for Firewheel Meadow, so I started with that regimen until a more urgent project distracted me.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

While appliqueing flowers (not my absolute favorite job in a wall hanging), I listened to The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu. Listening helped me stay focused, because I really wanted to hear the next chapter and so I had to keep on sewing.

At last, all the flowers were sewn in place. My friend Peggy said, “Those bluebells need something. How about beads?” Again, a different perspective helped. I added the beads.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The wall hanging rejected all but a few of my attempts to add buttons. A Gail Hughes green button nestled comfortably among leaves, a polymer clay button was a good flower center. But mostly, the buttons were too showy and they detracted from the flowers.

Okay, so… less showy buttons?

Yes!! I hid small tan buttons among the flowers, adding texture and interest, without drawing too much attention.

Red Vases is finished, and it will make its debut at the Town and Country Quilt Guild Show in October. Peggy said, “It will win a ribbon.” That would be nice!

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Red Vases

The crocheted flowers and leaves on Red Vases are from my books Crochet Bouquet and Crochet Garden. To purchase these books, please follow links on the sidebar to amazon.com.

Afternoon: Flower and Button Arranging

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

The blue and orange Czech Festival Flowers (from Crochet Garden) made me think of hollyhocks and other tall flower stalks. For ideas on how to arrange with tall flowers, I typed “tall flower arrangements” into Google Images. My screen was filled with interesting, beautiful examples.

My favorite type of arrangement was where the tall flower stalks were surrounded at the top of the vase by a ring of different flowers. It was like they had a collar of smaller flowers.

Once all the flowers were crocheted and blocked, I tried several arrangements, photographing each one, like the one at right. I chose the best arrangement and started sewing flowers in place. Even then, I continued to fiddle with leaf placement and filler flowers.

step by step TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Then there was the matter of buttons. Once again I photographed different button placements so I could compare and choose the best, which was the one at left. I was very pleased with the black button centers on the yellow flowers (“Aster-oid” from Crochet Bouquet).

My personal rule for this wall hanging was “no pink.” But I couldn’t resist sprinkling my dayglow pink buttons across the flower arrangement. They looked so wonderful, so delicious, so mouth-watering (as my mom would say), the no-pink rule evaporated.

TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon, detail

Afternoon was finished in time to hang at the Town & Country Quilt Guild’s exhibit at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council (Stephenville, TX) in the final months of 2015 and in the TextileFusion exhibit at the International Quilt Festival (Chicago, IL) in April 2016. It still needs a couple of tweaks, but there’s time for that later.

TextileFusion wall hanging, Afternoon

Embellishment Troubles or Joys?

Friday, December 11th, 2015

The title of this post was originally going to be “Embellishment Woes.” This project is causing me trouble. I’m not quite satisfied with any arrangement of flowers and buttons so far. But after thoughtful consideration, I remembered that this is my favorite part of the process. So no woes.

Titled 360 Degrees, this piece is for one of the member challenges at Visions Art Museum next year. It is a small quilt, made from a rug I knitted many, many years ago.

Once again I say, “Thank goodness for digital photography!” It’s so quick and easy to photograph different options and look at them all together. Here are photos of the arrangements I have tried so far.

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Embellishment options for 360 Degrees wall hanging

Seems pretty likely there will be more photos before I make the final decision about embellishment. Really, I’m waiting for the thrill. The thrill will tell me when I’ve got the combination right.

Powerful Motivation

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Suzann Thompson's knitted quilts at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council

Need motivation to make a few wall hangings? Simply agree to show them in a quilt exhibit or two, scheduled for a few months away. Be sure to note how large you said they would be, so you can make them accordingly.

That’s what I did. The result? I’ve been working diligently, consistently, and pretty much exclusively on wall-hangings for the last six months. Tuesday, November 3rd, was the deadline for the last of the quilts. I did it! I met the deadlines!

The quilts in the photo are at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council River North Gallery, Stephenville, TX, until December 12. If you’re near Stephenville, please drop by and see them plus dozens more quilts made by members of the Town & Country Quilt Guild.

The other result of intense wall-hanging activity? I suffered from “wall-hanging eyes.” That’s when you have been sewing for so long, your eyes are focused at sewing machine distance or hand-sewing distance, and it takes a while to refocus them to see the real world.

And when I refocused last Tuesday afternoon, I saw that my house needed cleaning, papers needed filing, and blogs needed updating. That’s the plan for the next two weeks, before I start the next round of wall hangings. They’re not committed to an exhibit. Yet.

Antelope Horns: The Final Lap

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

The last post about the Antelope Horns wall hanging ended with me sewing the patches to a foundation cloth. Here’s how they looked, compared to the photo, once I finally finished the foundation piecing.

Antelope Horns wall hanging

Next step: quilting with a regular presser foot, because I can control the stitching better.

Antelope Horns wall hanging

Now for my favorite part: embellishing. First, I outlined all the petals with a widely-spaced buttonhole stitch.

Antelope Horns wall hanging

For each flower, I crocheted five water-drop shapes. I laid them on the photo, to see how long the five stems needed to be, and how to attach them to a crocheted white center.

In the photo below, three of the flowers already have violet centers attached, but one shows the provisional white center. Though you can’t see it in the finished wall hanging, the white center adds dimension to the piece by lifting the violet centers a little higher than the horns.

Antelope Horns wall hanging

By laying out the horns on the photo, I could figure out how to finish the end of each horn, by crocheting taller or shorter stitches in the second round of stitching. Some of the horns are seen from the side, so their final row is different from the horns we see straight-on.

Antelope Horns wall hanging

I embroidered the purple stripes along the sides of the horns, which partially appliqued the horns in place. The dark violet center had lots of cream and light green embroidery. I sewed fuzzy five-petal flowerets to the centers before appliqueing them over the provisional white centers.

The button phase of any wall hanging is the best part of embellishing. I poured the buttons from our big jar, gleefully sorted through them, and chose 14 or 15 excellent candidates. I arranged them on the wall hanging and…oh. They didn’t look good. Aw, man!

Every button in the leafy section stood out like a sore thumb. The colors matched well. I even matched light swirls in dark buttons with the appliqued netting in the background. But they stood proud and a little too shiny. They distracted from the flowers.

In the flower half of the wall hanging, I managed to place four buttons. Their height matches the height of the applique, so they blend in better. After sewing on the buttons and attaching the hanging sleeve, the wall hanging was done.

Antelope Horns wall hanging

Hurray! On to the next project.

Throwback Thursday—Eva’s Button Cloth

Thursday, May 14th, 2015

We played with polymer clay a lot in the late 1990s. It was a great way to pass the time during the frequent rainy, gloomy days in Sheffield.

The compelling thing about polymer clay is that after you model a project, you cure it in the oven at a fairly low temperature to make it permanent. The colors stay true, it stays the same size. You get what you make. I wish every kid (and lots of adults) could experience the joy of it.

During these times, I designed polymer clay projects for magazine articles and for my first book. I made lots of buttons, so four or five-year-old Eva did, too. She used the different tools and cutters, and sometimes repurposed my millefiori off-cuts. I made this cloth to showcase her buttons, and it hung on her wall for years.

Two things stand out in my memory of those days. As we worked one day, Eva asked, “Mama, what if I become better at this than you are?”

And the other was when she finished the large button in this detail picture. It has nine or ten sew-through holes. “Mama, it’s going to take you a long time to sew on this button, because it has so many holes.”

Four Flowers a Day

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Crocheted Firewheel Wall Hanging

The Firewheel Meadows quilt is due at the 2014 Threads of Texas Quilt Show on October 1. So far, I’m making steady progress toward the finish line by appliqueing four flowers a day onto the quilt. See the flowers at the left of the picture, with the petals curling up slightly? Those are the ones I sewed today.

At four a day, I’ll finish with the flowers on September 16, which gives me plenty of time to do more embellishment, sew on the label, and finish the hanging sleeve. AND finish two other projects by the end of September!

Oh, but some days it’s difficult to sit down and sew four flowers. I’d rather be doing something else, like reading stuff on the internet or sneaking a game of 2048 on my daughter’s iPad.

The process is character-building. Yes, that’s what it is.

Memories Monday–Recycled Sweater Vest

Monday, September 1st, 2014

TextileFusion vest made from recycled sweater

I placed a darkly colorful man’s sweater on the thrift-shop counter. The cashier looked at me apprehensively. “Do you realize this sweater is 100 percent wool?” she asked.

Yes, I did. That’s why I bought it! Frankly I was amazed that such a wonderful sweater was still on the shelf, but apparently the wool content wasn’t as attractive to other people. The price was right, too—about five dollars.

Wool is perfect for TextileFusion projects. It takes heat well, which is important because I stabilize the knitted fabrics with fusible interfacing. Since wool threads tend to cling to each other, wool is good for cutting into pieces.

For this vest, I cut the facings and hems off of a commercial sewing pattern, and used it to cut vest pieces from the sweater. I stabilized with fusible interfacing and machine stitching. My current favorite mother-of-pearl buttons were perfectly subtle embellishment for the vest. I added other buttons and trims, too.

Firewheels and Buttons

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Oh, those challenging firewheel centers! The dark, bloomed-out flowerets are around the outside of the center, while the yellow, currently-blooming flowerets are toward the center of the center. Clearly this calls for homemade buttons!

Making polymer clay buttons

Luckily, I had company in this button-making adventure. Ella and I gathered materials and got to work. She researched polymer techniques in the classic text Polymer Clay for Everyone, by her mom. Woo hoo!

Ella made a jellyroll cane with turquoise and pearl, and wrapped it in purple. Slicing the cane is the most exciting part! We both love how it reveals the design inside the cane.

“What are you going to do with those pretty buttons, Ella?”

“I’m going to put them in the button jar until I find a good project to use them for,” she said.

Like mother, like daughter!

Ella's handmade jellyroll button slices

My buttons were a little different. I made a Skinner Blend, a very clever technique which shades two or more colors into each other. You start with two colors of clay fitted together diagonally like this:

Skinner blend buttons

*Fold the piece in half as shown in the picture, and run it through the pasta machine.*

Skinner blend buttons

Repeat between *s until the blend is even.

Skinner blend buttons

Skinner blend buttons

Skinner blend buttons

I rolled the resulting blend starting at the yellow end. This made a cane of clay that shaded from yellow on the inside to burgundy on the outside. Thinking the buttons needed an even darker border, I blended some burgundy with black and wrapped it around the cane.

Handmade buttons for crocheted Firewheel, Indian Blanket, Gaillardia flowers

The button centers look good! The best part—I cut buttons for the large flowers, then reduced the cane and cut button slices for the medium-sized flowers, then reduced it some more and cut button slices for the small flowers!

Ella and I used the scraps to make miracle beads and scrappy buttons.

“What are you going to do with all those scrappy buttons, Mom?”

“I’m going to put them in the button jar until I find a good project to use them for,” I said.

Like daughter, like mother!

Sign Up Now for Taos Wool Festival Workshops in October

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Polymer clay buttons

The Taos Wool Festival is always the first full weekend of October, with workshops starting a couple of days ahead. This is a great time to be in the mountains of New Mexico. The autumn colors and crisp weather are just wonderful.

This year I’m offering three classes at Taos:

Polymer Clay Button Boutique, all day Friday, October 3. You’ll go home with lots of colorful, pretty buttons, ready to use. They’re machine washable and dryable. Beginners are welcome!

The buttons in the photo above are Swirl Buttons, which we’ll make in class. You can match your Swirl Buttons to any yarn or fabric.

Mosaic knit fish rug

Knit Mosaic Patterns and Design Your Own, Saturday afternoon, October 4. After this class, you’ll be able to knit any of Barbara Walker’s many mosaic patterns, and you can design your own! Read more about the workshop here.

This fishy rug is from a picture that my daughter Eva drew when she was seven years old. Think of the precious drawings you could capture in knitting after taking this class!

Knit Cables, Bobbles, and Braids workshop

Cables, Bobbles, and Braids, Sunday morning, October 5. You’ll learn how to do these stunning knitting techniques, but more importantly, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of these textural wonders. You’ll go away ready to twist and shout!

Please sign up for classes before September 1, 2014, at www.taoswoolfestival.org/workshops.

This notice is also on my other blog, but with different pictures. Enjoy!

Updated 2016 to correct a link.