eight by eight

August: Finished Project by daria
October 1, 2008, 1:03 pm
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Dear Blair,

I had no idea what to do this month, so I just sat down & started cutting.

Looking at it now, it seems clear that I was influenced by all the Alabama Chanin stuff floating around the blogs, but at the time I was wiped out from a busy weekend & thought, basically, oh, good, felt doesn’t fray & then I can stitch it down & it will be THREADY.

Actually, I like it a lot more than I thought I would, especially the green section — which, as it happens, is the one I liked least after cutting, but sewed down anyway because those are the rules.  I’ve been thinking a lot about printmaking lately, about repetitive pattern & simple shapes, & I think that definitely seeped through into this piece.

I sort of wish I’d assigned the floss colors differently, so the rectangles weren’t quite so tonal, but overall, I think it turns out that I am more pleased with this project than with some of the months that I spent much more time on.  There’s something to be said for just leaning into it & letting the thread fall where it may (ha), I guess.



August is done by Blair
September 28, 2008, 3:40 pm
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Dear Daria,

I literally finished this piece about 20 minutes ago, and we are heading out to a soccer game shortly. But I love to get things crossed off my list (and there’s much more to do today) so here you go. The first thing you may notice is that I went completely away from my original inspiration of that Gee’s Bend quilt piece I posted about. I noticed that too. As hard as I tried, it just wasn’t working with September’s box of supplies. There wasn’t quite enough contrast in the fabrics to make the geometric, graphic effect I was inspired by. So I went back to the drawing board and the result is this piece.

I thumbed through Pattern Motifs: A Sourcebook (one of my favorite pattern reference books, by the way) and ironically found inspiration in a very simple square grid pattern. I also thumbed through my sketchbook and remembered an idea I’d played around with briefly over the summer, cutting and sewing fabric into narrow strips, then cutting those pieces into strips, perpendicular to the seams. Leaving me basically squirmy little strips like the one above. I sewed these together and had one long patchwork-y, skinny snake of a strip. I pinked the edges mostly because I like the way it looked, though it does help with loose threads.

I sewed the strips on the machine, right down the middle, with the thread you sent in the box. Then I used the thread to make the grid pattern. I had planned to use the largest brown swatch you sent as the background, but decided there needed to be more contrast between the background and the handstitching, so I used this blue corduroy from my stash. It seemed to work well with everything, so hopefully that was okay. I mimicked a handquilted, running stitch on the grid pattern I “drew” with the thread, which is great practice because I will be handquilting the twin sized quilt I’m working on soon. My stitches are far from even and uniform, they’re not even straight, but I’m beginning to realize that the charm of a hand stitched effect on anything (a quilt or something else) is in the idea that its done with someone’s hands, and not on a machine. Don’t you find it terribly hard not to study something that’s been entirely handstitched?

Anyway, there you have it. This box was a challenge for me, but I’m so glad I jumped in it this weekend. Its simple, but the play of the handquilting, the patterns in tiny little doses, the pinking, worked for me.

Can’t wait to see yours!


July: Finished Project by daria
September 2, 2008, 2:30 pm
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Dear Blair,

Hi, I’m back.

Ok, so, at first I was thinking about taking all those fancy fabrics & doing a sort of undulating striped patchwork piece, meant to be wave-esque.  But, you know, slippery.

That was my best idea,  though, until the image of concentric ripples, like when you drip water into a puddle, popped into my head.

I thought it would be a nice way to manage the gradations of color you sent, plus it had the added benefit of making use of wonder under instead of actual piecing, so I was all for it.

So I organized the colors, then cut some wonky circles.  After fusing my pieces, I stitched around each one with some metallic aqua thread I had on hand.  And that was it.

On the one hand, it sort of reminds me of an egg (if the white fabric was in the shape of a slice of bread, it would look very much like my daughter’s lunch today), but on the other hand, it’s also sort of like a lily pad, which is also watery, right?, & mostly it feels very clean & simple & unfussy to me.


July’s summer postcard to myself, all done by Blair
August 31, 2008, 4:58 pm
Filed under: Blair, finished | Tags: ,

Dear Daria,

July’s little watery piece was just what I needed this month. I’m not sure why, but I found the process of making this one very relaxing and sweet. Perhaps its because summer is ending? Perhaps I was remember all those afternoons the we wandered around the beach, picking up rocks and other little bits. I loved all the parts in the box you sent for July, especially the little painting.

I’m sure you didn’t intend for me to quite as literally inspired by your painting as I was, but I couldn’t help it. It was just perfect, and I enjoyed putting all the colors and shapes together to come up with a fabric version. The green-blues and baby blues you sent could be my new favorite color combinations. Its funny how they did not feel pastel, but just beachy and washed, lovely.

So, I consider this a postcard of our summer. It will always be a reminder of good stuff.


June buttons: I pretended they were something else. by Blair
July 27, 2008, 8:20 pm
Filed under: Blair, finished | Tags: ,

Dear Daria,

Well I, like you, was secretly trying to wish this particular month’s challenge away. I mean, buttons are nice, but I wouldn’t say I am too inspired by them at this point in my crafting life. But what is inspiring me right now is printing (of any kind) on fabric. When I sat down to finally work on this project, I came at it from more of exploring what was inspiring me at the moment, and working the buttons in, rather than make the buttons the focus. That’s how I came up with this little piece.

I cut a freezer paper stencil for the silhouette and printed it in gray onto the beige linen you sent, then I attempted to “applique” different parts of her outfit with the other pieces of fabric you sent (all of which I loved!). The 2 fabric covered buttons were going to go on her dress bodice, but then I decided to embroider little french knot buttons on there instead.

Based on the direction she is facing, and the way her dress seems to be blowing, it became windy and her balloons (buttons) started blowing downward.

I did this last Friday afternoon, and even though I was tempted to stop and start it again the next day, I kept going. I’m glad I did, as I’ve said I often overthink things when I spend too much time on them. I probably would have completely started over (this was already my second idea from an earlier foiled attempt). I am already exploring more printing ideas thanks to the little push this piece gave me (well, minus the buttons). I see many mistakes in this piece, but I also needed the practice I got from making it.

You are right, these monthly boxes aren’t always supposed to fall completely within our crafting comfort zones, are they?

I have laughed more than once this past month at how coincidentally, neither of us were inspired in the least by our self-imposed button challenge. And I do have a confession to make about what I sent to you. I’ve always snatched up at least a quarter yard of those novelty sewing prints, but once I get them home, they never get used for anything. So I sent those to you as sort of a favor to myself, to inspire me to use them. You used them to their best, I love the buttoned blocks and quilted “tacks” you added (how do you do those so neatly anyway?), they anchor it all so perfectly. You also managed to balance the colors and add in just what was missing.

I hope you think I was nicer to you when you opened our July box… I am IN LOVE with July’s theme and what you sent to me, which I’ll share here soon.

JUNE! BUTTONS! by daria
July 25, 2008, 3:49 pm
Filed under: Daria, finished | Tags: ,

Dear Blair,

Holy moly, this one was hard. Hard!

Which, ok, I guess is not too surprising, since I am not one someone who collects vintage buttons, or thinks to use buttons for decorations on things I’m making — I have SEEN some fantastic vintage button collections, & some great, inspired, charming uses of said buttons, but it’s just not my gig, to look at a button & have a flash of design genius. But we’re stretching ourselves, right?

Though I am not sure a nine-patch with buttons sewn on is much of a stretch, & am definitely sure that it’s not genius, but focus on how the thing is actually FINISHED & humor me, ok?

For a long (long, long) time I didn’t know how I was going to pull everything you sent together, but then I noticed that the aqua in the Japanese print you sent was pretty close to one of my favorite aqua cottons, & once I had the fabrics working together, it was easier for me to let the buttons do their mismatched thing.

I had originally thought I would “quilt” the nine-patch with the buttons, only I had too many/not enough, so I tacked the corners with a machine satin stitch & attached the buttons (with orange thread) in two columns. I experimented with some orange binding, but it sent the entire project over the edge from tiny quilt to potholder, so it was a thankfully short-lived experiment.

The little silver button was my favorite, I think.

Ok, so, I have to say that this was the first project of ours that was NOT my favorite while working on it, though I did have a very satisfied moment when I figured out the background color scheme. However, now that it’s done, I’m not sorry we included the BUTTON theme, since I think that if we went through a whole year of challenge without totally tearing our hair out at least once, it’s not really so much of a challenge, right?

(I’m looking forward to getting back onto a less aggravated path with WATER, though.)


*As usual, I posted larger images than usual for the big reveal but looks like our template cuts off the sides so be sure to click the pictures for full size or check them out on the 8×8 flickr.

Mixtape Issue #5 by Blair
July 6, 2008, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Blair, Daria, Etc., finished, special projects | Tags: ,

Daria and I were asked a loooooong time ago (wasn’t it ladies?) to create cover projects for Mixtape’s issue #5. I have been anxiously awaiting each new issue of Mixtape since Justine and Nichola began it and was honored to be asked. In keeping of the spirit and theme of what eight by eight is all about, a box was sent (one to Daria and one to myself) from Australia with an assortment of all kinds of things create a project with. Daria and I did not see each other’s pieces or really even discuss how we were using the items in the box until they were completed (it was killing us, believe me). Same rules as always…use all the materials in some way on the project, finished size must be 8″ x 8″. To fully show each finished project, they featured mine on one side of the cover of issue #5, and Daria’s (below) on the other.

I love how different they each turned out. Yet we each seem to be on a similar wavelength, which seems to happen to us often.

You can preorder your copy of Mixtape issue 5 here, which will begin shipping in late July/early August. It promises to be larger than ever. I can’t wait.

Thank you to Justine and Nichola!


P.S.- Daria, I’m still struggling over the whole button project for June. Which is why I haven’t shown my finished project yet. It’s not finished! Soon….soon….God help me soon…..