Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Designer inspiration: Amy Butler

There are so many designers, artists, creative makers whom I totally, very much admire and who have inspired me in my daily life. I possibly could base an entire blog of that subject! While that's not really my focus on this blog I do want to share some authentic inspiration love now and then and so let me tell you about one of my very favorite designers: Amy Butler. She's so popular if you are a creative maker yourself you surely already know her. Her fabric designs are vibrant and alive with color, energy and style. While her patterns are quite "busy", I do not tire of them but actually like them more and more (and it's love at first sight so that can only be good!).  What I also really admire about Amy  Butler is how she has defined her business into a lifestyle that she calls "Midwest Modern". She has written several books in which she shares her patterns as well as her positive, creative vibe. Her website is equally brimming with her optimistic, joyful outlook and her fun, beautiful style.
I have a couple of her books and on a sunny Sunday afternoon I am apt to lounge around on a blanket in the grass, my head in the clouds, dreaming and drooling over her beautifully photographed books (her photographer being her artist husband!), feeling more and more inspired by the moment. I love how she defines herself locationally because my personal background is a bit of a geographical patchwork of places that some people find very cool but honestly, it is a bit of an issue that I'm not really at peace with, yet. I find her "Midwest" emphasis very appealing as my family roots are from the American Midwest ....and yet I think I was endeared to her forever when I read her most encouraging words in the Epilogue of "Midwest Modern": 
"Being an artist in the Midwest is not very different than being one in...Europe. Think of a painter on the Rhine....drawing inspiration from your surroundings.....creating in order to express beauty and finding peace in the sheer joy of it...." 
Oh yes, certainly, she is thinking of a painter on the Rhine by the name of Rembrant, or Vermeer, or countless other possibilities, but to me, it seems like a personal little secret I image being whispered to me "Hello, you! You too are a creative soul, with your Midwest roots, your ancestral Dutch Rhine roots, and your new German Rhine roots. Embrace it!!!!"
Her colors and patterns are a lovely mix of different retro inspirations from many different eras, and they often evoke a chord of comforting familiarity with me. And yet her designs are so modern and fresh! I think when an artist can touch you on not just one but several personal levels like this, they have truly succeeded in sharing their vision. Design is something far, far deeper than just the seemingly "superficial" shape of the coffee cup in your hand, the "random" colors in the  fabric on your table cloth....
The final words of this book are so lovely I'll share them too:
"Beauty is in the way you live. Enjoy your surroundings. Let them inspire you. Follow your own path, and approach everything you do with love in your heart." 
I've not just used her books to dream big in the garden on a lazy Sunday afternoon but I like to think they have helped me improve my eye for photos, colors, and patterns, and have actually encouraged me on a personal level to embrace my creative dreams. And, best of all, I have not just dreamed but really sewn several of her projects! I will share them in my next blog posts, so please stay tuned! In the meantime, if you've not been there yet, do check out her beautiful site, and be prepared to be inspired! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Katie-Claire's Cottage in print!

I've been published!

Early this summer I was approached by a magazine publisher asking if I would share my technique for making a bunting. One of my garlands in my dawanda shop had caught her eye. Of course I did not hesitate!
The biggest challenge was to summarize my DIY process in as few words as possible. Well, and of course, writing it in German, which while I speak it fluently it is not my native language. Fortunately, I have some helpers to fine-tune and edit! I was told I would only have a small column and had to list the project in 3 easy steps – which I did – but in the end my spread was much larger than I expected - they gave me nearly half a page! And included a very nice link to my dawanda shop.
When friends and artists/crafters I admire have blogged about being publishing I've always felt so happy for them. They always seem to report how exciting it is to go to the store and see their work in a book or magazine. And now I've been able to experience it myself! We happened to be on vacation on the day the magazine came out and I will never forget the moment of finding it in a local shop and having my entire family around me sharing the excitement of seeing my words and photos!

“Laura” is a popular bi-monthly women's magazine here in Germany. You can read my garland instructions here in German and here in English. Happy sewing! And, thank you, “Laura”, for publishing me!


Sew a flag bunting in 3 easy steps

Buntings have been so very popular in the past couple years. I love the way they look in a child's room or as a festive touch on a birthday or during the holidays. They are also such a cute way to decorate a garden party. There are many variations for sewing a flag bunting. I have experimented with different techniques and I certainly did not invent this myself, I am simply sharing with you my favorite way to sew a bunting. I like a clean, crisp shape and always line my flags.
For a bunting with 6 flags you will need:
remnants of colorful printed cotton as well as plain cotton
1,6 meters of bias tape
sewing machine
scissors, pins, pencil

My tip: prepare a triangle template. The easiest way is to make this on your computer, but you can also draw one out by hand. For this project I recommend a triangle approx. 17 x 20 x 20 cm.*
1. Trace the triangle onto printed cotton and cut on the lines. For each triangle, cut out a second triangle of plain fabric for the lining/backing. I like to use plain white cotton for the lining, if you can upcycle a sheet, your bunting is eco-friendly! Prepare six triangle sets of printed and lining fabrics.
2. Pin your triangle set (printed and plain lining/backing) right sides together and stitch the two long ends with a small seam allowance. Trim the excess allowance at the point of the triangle, turn out the fabric (a chopstick helps turn out the point at the end) and press with an iron. Trim off any excess from the top of the triangle flag so you have a nice even line on top.
3. When you have your desired number of prepared flags, place them out along your bias tape with an even spacing. Fold the tape lengthwise and insert the flag between the folded tape. Pin the "sandwich" together. Then starting at one end of the bias tape, pin it folded in half lengthwise and machine stitch the entire length together. Hang up your new garland and enjoy! 

Find more examples of my garlands here and here
* if you get addicted to making these (like I am!) you will want to laminate your template or at least use a heavier paper.

DIY - Wimpelkette aus Stoff

Bunte Wimpelkette aus Stoff
Du brauchst:

  • 6 Dreiecke (17cm x 20 cm x 20 cm ) aus verschieden gemusterten Baumwollstoffen z.B. Karo, Pünktchen, Blümchen
  • 6 Dreiecke (17 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm) aus weißem Baumwollstoff für das Futter
  • 1,6 m Schrägband
  • Stecknadeln
  • Schere
  • Nähmaschine
Tipp: Die Stoffdreiecke lassen sich einfach mit Hilfe eine Pappschablone auf den Stoff übertragen und ausschneiden.

Step 1: Jeweils ein Futter- und gemustertes Stoffdreieck rechts auf rechts zusammen legen und die zwei langen Seiten des Dreiecks zusammen nähen. Die Spitze gerade abschneiden sowie den Saum um die Spitze etwas kürzen. Wenden und bügeln.
Step 2: Oberen Teil der Fähnchen gerade schneiden. Auf dem ausgebreiteten Schrägband die sechs Fähnchen gleichmäßig verteilen. Schrägband um den oberen Teil der Fähnchen falten und mit Stecknadeln fixieren.
Step 3: Das zusammengefaltete Schrägband mit allen Fähnchen zusammen nähen. 
Viel Spass beim Nähen!

Mehr Wimpelgirlanden sind hier und hier.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

August fun!

I hope you're having lovely (summer) months where ever on this wonderful earth you may be!

I've taken a far too long break from my blog....just really enjoying these summer days with family and friends, but am slowly getting excited about all my new ideas I hope to create as soon as the children are back in school - and all the crafting I hope to do before my Christmas bazaar in know how the holiday season always seems to pop up on you before you know it!

Until then, though, I'm still enjoying a bit of creative "time out" and to celebrate that, everything in my Etsy shop is 15% until the end of August.
To enjoy the sale and receive 15% off your total order, please enter the coupon code SUMMER13 at checkout. Have fun browsing!

Wishing a fabulous, sunny weekend!