Peony and Parakeet

How to Create More Often

Art journal pages inspired by modern quilting and embroidery, by Peony and Parakeet

For many years, I have been dreaming about constantly making quilts. I have even recorded that into my art journal. Even if I have quilted almost all my life, especially in the recent years, I have had difficulties to arrange time for it. It has always seemed to require so big block of time that I am able to arrange that only few times in a year.

I am especially fond of modern quilting. One of my favorite quilting blogs is Crazy Mom Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg. She is especially focused on quilting from fabric scraps. I also love her book Sunday Morning Quilts. There are so many days that I have browsed the book, admired my fabric stash and felt sorry for myself not to have enough time for the actual making.

Unfinished quilt project with printed rose photos, by Peony and Parakeet

I don’t like showing unfinished projects, but as a proof, here’s one of the many patchwork projects which has been untouched for months. And, my dream is to make more of these quilted boxes for the fabrics (the pattern is from the book Sunday Morning Quilts)

A quilted box, the pattern is published in the book Sunday Morning Quilts

The problem: How to create more often?

I have asked so many times:
– How to quilt more often?
and answered to myself:
– Arrange more time.
– Buy more fabrics, books, classes or subscribe to a magazine.
– Follow more blogs, have a Pinterest board for inspirational quilts.
– Organize your scraps first.
– Take more/less time for planning … etc.

None of that worked. But now have found the solution! I have developed a method derived from digital scrapbooking, another hobby of mine.

A Case Study: Scrapbooking as a regular practice

I had a similar kind of problem with digital scrapbooking, just not so bad. I wanted to do more of that but often realized that I had not done anything for a long time. Last October I decided to start scrapbooking one page a week with Project Life style: insert photos to a grid and make it simple. I only included one photo of each day or two, so it was not a big task to fill the page during the week. I decided that one page per week would be my minimum dosage. If I wanted to do more digital scrapbooking and be more creative, I could create more pages if I had any energy left.

What happened? I have not only created those weekly pages but 12 other layouts as well. That’s 33 pages total in 3 months which much more than my usual pace! Surprised by the result, I began to think about the magic behind that. And – could it be use for quilting as well?

Here’s is what I discovered.

1) Lack of time is not an issue, moving from one task to another is.
It did not require much time to take a sewing machine and start sewing. The reason I needed bigger and bigger time blocks to begin, was because I was thinking about too big tasks that seemed overwhelming. In other words, I required too much of myself. After working late in the evening, I should have started sewing a big quilt in a snap! The more I thought about starting, the less time I had to actually to do that and the less inspiring it sounded. When moving from one very different task, like writing, to another, like quilting, is not easy for the brain.

2) Lack of energy is not an issue, if the task is small and interesting enough.
It’s amazing how tired we can feel ourselves, but still spend time browsing computer or watching tv instead of going to sleep! There must be some energy left in us! I got that energy in use by telling myself that I was allowed to make only one little task. That way I did not imagine doing a lot and feeling a lack of energy for that. It also helped if I had some freedom to perform it. Then it sounded not only manageable but also interesting.

3) When the task is done, move to working with bigger projects.
The biggest thing that I learned is that I should always keep the promises for myself. If I presented a little task to get myself going, I should never ever make the task considerably bigger. Why? Because the next day I remember that one small task is actually a huge one and I don’t want to start it anymore. After I have made the small task and if I feel like doing some more, I can move to the bigger projects – to those unfinished ones that I actually want to finish!

Here’s how I adapted all that for quilting:

Sew One Block per Day

I decided to start a new quilt. But instead of planning and measuring, I just set few simple rules for each block. If I feel exhausted I can only pick one fabric, cut one 4-inch square and call it the block of the day. At the most I can make one 12 ” square with as much piecing as I feel like. But that’s it – no other blocks are allowed on the same day.

I started the quilt on the 1st January and here’s what I have made so far. This won’t most probably be my greatest quilt but more importantly, I have started to make a quilted box, a red one for the red fabrics. And – it is so much fun to sew it!

Sew 1 Block per Day, a quilting project by Peony and Parakeet

As the result of the new project, my studio has turned into the sewing room!

Peony and Parakeet's studio

The little project bags are also handsewn (two of them are made just recently!). The old cardboard box is for buttons and been inherited from my husband’s grandmother.

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Now you might ask:

How to apply this to art journaling?

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Why not make a page in phases from element after another! Here’s what I have made in two days: two little ornaments. I continue adding one doodled element or text each day. When the page is full, I will start coloring the elements, each at the time.

Preorder my class: Artistic Embroidery with Pens and Paper

https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1395184&c=ib&aff=284560&cl=134923

D.H Lawrence has said: “Love is the flower of life, and blossoms unexpectedly and without law.” You can replace the word “love” with the word “creativity”! But whether love or creativity, I believe that we need to do a little push to make the blossoming really happen. Like one doodle per day!

If you love crafting, quilting and needlework and want to show it in your art journal too, preorder my class from 21 Secrets Spring 2015 art journaling workshop! Let’s add little treasures to our pages! (Here’s also a recent blog post about the class).

How to Make Folk Bags

Folk Bag Workbook - Instructions on how to design and make creative drawstring pouches

Since 2008, I have had a dream: teaching how to design and make folk bags. When I invented the idea of the folk bag, I drew a sketch. That sketch was the first piece in the pile of documentation gathered for the workbook.

The workbook has 40 pages and about 100 images. You will be guided from the planning to the making of unique folk bags which you can keep, give away or sell.

Paivi from Peony and Parakeet

I feel so happy and relieved at the moment!

The book includes instructions for three folk bags: one small with stripes, another large with solid-colored fabrics and third medium with printed fabrics. But the best thing in the workbook is that it guides you how to create unique bags in various sizes. Starting from choosing the theme and fabric and ending with setting the final decorations in place!

Folk Bag Workbook - Instructions on how to design and make creative drawstring pouches

Buy the book for 15 euros (about 18.50 USD) here or from my Ravelry store

Writing a Craft Pattern

At first, I should probably give you a warning: I am in the middle of the chaos, this not so organized as my posts usually are! With this post, I invite you to the process of writing a craft pattern. I have had this idea for 6 years and it has become hugely important to me.

Sewing Folk Bags, by Peony and Parakeet

I designed a drawstring pouch which combines yarn and fabric in 2008. I have made tens of those bags, which I call folk bags, during the years and dreamed about writing instructions of how to create them. Within years I have learned a lot of making these bags. What first started a simple idea and simple sketch of a pattern, has become much more. It became clear when I began working with the pattern that I won’t be writing a regular craft pattern. I am writing instructions and formulas about how to design and customize folk bags so that you can make your own unique bags.

Fabric Stash

Writing a pattern is not just writing. I have to test each sentence for many times. So I need to actually make more bags while I am writing.  Going to the fabric stash in the morning feels as inspiring as grabbing the pens and paints. What I find challenging is to go back and forth from knitting and sewing to writing. I do not know if it was a good idea to make the pattern both in English and in Finnish – and write the both language versions at the same time! Sometimes I get so mxed up that I have to translate the most simple words from English to my mother tongue Finnish! The good thing with working with two languages at the same time is that the instructions get checked much more carefully.

Folk bag Emily by Peony and Parakeet

I knew I had taken a lot of photos of my bags during the years. It seemed to be a good thing. All the ideas that I have had and that had been implemented are recorded. Furthermore, I have a special folder in the photo organizing software where they all are. And yes, that’s great. But there are over 500 photos plus the new ones I have took during the writing. I need to pick the best images for each chapter and then process them. There’s still 250 photos to go through and few more to shoot.

A Folk Bag by Peony and Parakeet

After all this, I still have to confess that my heart sings when I am writing the pattern. I hope that with this work I am able to spread more joy than if only I made the bags. I wish that there will be more people experience the joy of both making the bags and receiving them.

A Folk Bag by Peony and Parakeet

I hope to get the pattern published in this month. I already have finished many chapters and soon I will begin to insert the texts and images to the desktop publishing program. The working title of the pattern is Folk Bag Workbook. It will be available for purchase in my web site and at Ravelry.

Folk Bags by Peony and Parakeet

Next week I have more news, also textile related in a way!

Make Samplers to Save Bits and Pieces

Samplers by Peony and Parakeet, using stamping and embroidery

My sampler madness began when I found an unfinished embroidery project. I had started it two years ago on an online course called Happy-Go-Lucky Stitchalong. It was led by Amy Powers and the goal was to embroider a sampler showing all the things that make you happy.

An embroidered sampler by Peony and Parakeet, a phase photo

It was only a two-week course and I got some more squares done than what is shown here but there was still plenty to go. I had dyed the fabric with monoprinting method and quite liked it. I was not happy with all the embroidery that I had made but I felt compelled to finish this project. The embroidery floss I had to finish this looked so tempting!

Embroidery floss

So I began to work little every day for a couple of weeks. Some of the squares were remade and some were complemented with extra stitches.

Stitching an embroidered sampler, by Peony and Parakeet

In the end I added some more details to the background fabric using the same method than in the beginning. By using a glass plate and textile dye I was able to prints some more color and doodling to make the result even more interesting.

Monoprinting fabric, by Peony and Parakeet

I painted the frame with bright coral red to create an athmosphere of hot summer days (which I love and which are all too rare in Finland).

An embroidered sampler, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

I am pretty happy with the finished piece. Can you spot a peony and a parakeet there?

While stitching the sampler, I was thinking about samplers in general. They can be really handy of saving things. Even virtually! Isn’t Pinterest like a big sampler too?

An embroidered sampler, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

I chose not to spend an extra hour at Pinterest but make a stamped sampler showcasing some of my favorite stamps.

Phase photo of a stamped sampler, by Peony and Parakeet

Folk style suits well to samplers so I decided to make a sampler that reminds me of folk costumes. I doodled around the stamped images to get extra details. Then I colored them with colored pencils and markers.

Phase photo of a stamped sampler, by Peony and Parakeet

Thinking of folk costumes, I got the idea of adding buttons in the middle of each square. They all had to be different, of course. That way they would repeat the idea of a sampler too.

Adding buttons to a stamped sampler, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

Before sewing the buttons I had painted the frame with faux antique paint. Many folk costumes use a lot of lace and ribbons so I picked all the stamps which were like them. Luckily I had so many that I was able to use each once and get the decoration around the frame.

Rubber stamped sampler inspired by folk costumes, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

While making this sampler I got the idea of a sampler made from handdecorated papers. Wouldn’t it be cool to have an art journal page showcasing the scraps of papers? Or just coloring and drawing 9 squares while on vacation, one per day and then gather them into a sampler. Or giving each family member a square … The possibilities are endless!

Rubber stamped sampler inspired by folk costumes, sampler ideas by Peony and Parakeet

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