Tuesday, February 28, 2012



Oh, don't you just love collage art, especially when you can simply sew fabric scraps, ribbon, lace and any embellishments from "the stash" to make a work of art?  Whether just making one small collage as a gift, pairing a couple to fill needed spot or grouping several canvases together for a large impact, everyone will admire your creativity.   I made these six small canvases simply and rather quickly, but have in mind another set filled with beads and embellishments to my hearts content.  

I purchased 8” x 8” canvases on sale at a local craft store and I used some scraps from my Wing Study fabric from my Botanika Collection for Michael Miller Fabrics as my central theme, but there are plenty of other fabrics that will do the trick.  


6 -  8” x 8” artist canvas
½ yard for main fabric or scraps
Fabric scraps
Ribbon scraps
Double sided fabric tape (I used *Sealah tape) 
Sewing machine
Cotton thread to coordinate
Buttons, beads, etc. (optional)
Heavy Duty Stapler and staples


Lay all your fabric pieces, ribbons, etc. out on a large surface so there’s plenty of room to play.  Try different combinations or use the diagrams I provided as a guide.  Don’t cut fabrics yet.  Here are some thoughts on how I go about creating collages.


1     Before you start keep the end in mind: How many canvases do you want and what is the placement on the wall?  Vertical; horizontal?  Two rows of three each; three rows of two each; Two or HELLO...8 total? 
2       Try breaking things up into 3’s on each piece as a basic rule; it just feels balanced.  However, this is ART and shouldn’t look too predictable so playing is mandatory.   A larger overall print balances out a dark color so consider combining the two for a perfect balance.

3       Notice the direction of the objects.  The images, etc. should not all be facing the same way. 

4       Mix up the placement of the objects.  Don’t line up all like images, patterns, etc. in the same row.

5. Vary shapes, sizes.  Mix lights and darks.

6. Add interest by placing images off centered, or turn a butterfly sideways.

7.      Step away and come back later with a fresh eye.


8.  Once you have decided on fabric placement it's time to start cutting out  the fabric pieces and begin constructing.  Each completed square will need to be 12"x12" to allow for seams and wrapping around the back of the canvas. 

 Now here's a really handy tip for piecing:  When sewing random patchwork, always sew straight pieces together.  No turning corners.  If you are new to patchwork/collage piecing I am adding a diagram to show you how sewing in straight lines is the only way to go.

I made lines and numbers for you as a guide only.  In the first collage if 
you were to sew and 3 together then you’ll have to squeeze 2 in and turn  
a corner and it won’t be pretty.  Do you see what I mean?

9.  Turn the fabric pieces over so the wrong side of the fabrics are facing up     and begin piecing together using a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seam  toward the darker of the two fabrics.  When finished flip over to the front side and press.  I added layers of scraps on some of my pieces and could have sewn beads and even attached additional ephemera such a key, but figured I could add those later.


10. Place the assembled collage square wrong side facing up on a work surface and center the front of the canvas on the fabric.  Staple the fabric to the back of the frame, stretching the fabric evenly and folding corners.  

11.  Add ribbon or lace, stretch around to the back and staple. 

    A note about why I like using Sealah tape:  I find that this tape is easily reposition-able until you add pressure and then it stays!  It's washable which is great for adding embellishments onto clothing and home decor.  I'm sure there must be other similar products but Sealah tape is my go to fabric tape.  

    I hope this gets your creative juices flowing and would love for you to share what you make using this tutorial.   

Friday, February 17, 2012



This is my dear friend Nancy.  We were neighbors and friends back in Indianapolis and were thrilled to join them in Scottsdale recently.  But as I went through the photos taken, it was the same problem we always seem to have...photos of us were blurry, out of focus, or just plain bad.  Out of frustration, I still wanted to capture this one funny moment.  Nancy and I have a history of asking what the other is going to wear, except for this one evening.  We both stepped out of our bedrooms to realize we dressed almost identical.  I recreated the moment with paint instead.

Nighttime in Scottsdale was filled with color, good eats, great shopping and a full moon.

Have a colorful weekend!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


If you've never been to Scottsdale I highly recommend it.  We got back recently and my mind is still swimming from all we took in while there.  We decided to drive the 6 1/2 hrs from San Diego and watched the purple mountains, valleys, hills and landscape change before our eyes.  The highlight of our time in AZ was to visit friends, but we took in a few sights as well.  We did a day tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West and I am still seeing everything in color ranges from blues to purples and oranges to rust with a little pop of greens and aquas; a delightful combination.  

I admit that this is not my first choice of architecture or landscape, but the attention to detail, materials, colors, the arts and how Wright orchestrated it all into the landscape is amazing and I am so inspired by the experience.

You know how I love doors?  Well, Scottsdale did not disappoint.  Here is just a couple doors I spotted leading into a courtyard.  Oh, I am so intrigued by what's behind those doors.  No door-to-door salespeople, that's for sure!

And there were fruit trees EVERYWHERE.  Literally, while on daily walks there were oranges, lemons, tangerines, limes and an occasional grapefruit just laying on the ground or sidewalk.  We would pick up a few and when we got back to the condo Tim made us fruit smoothies.  Yup, since we were driving we brought our Vitamix to impress our friends.  I think we succeeded.  More on that later. 

Another treat was a luncheon with my dear fabric pals, Jona (left) and Bari J (middle).  It was so good to laugh and get caught up while stuffing our faces.  I had just come from a long walk, then blew it all with a ballion calorie meal.   Somehow thought I'd just suck it all in for the photo..didn't work.  Just looks like I quit breathing.

This has been a glimpse of Scottsdale during the day.  Scottsdale at night is also rich in color, foods and friends.  Part 2 coming soon.    In the meantime, I hope your Valentine's day was filled with a few warm fuzzies and none of these prickly hearts!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


This last year sure has been a real doozy on my end.  It kinda feels like I was broadsided by a freight train and next thing I knew I was dropped off on the other side of the country.  By Thanksgiving I simply ran out of steam.  I kept getting sick so I made a tough decision to step back and get through the holidays without all the usual deadlines looming over me.  

Alas; new year, new beginning, new projects!  I'm not only back but I come with 12 awesome tutorials for you in 2012.  One project for each month.   

Before we get started I know you know that it is already February so I'm late right out of the gate.  Since moving I am having some crashing issues with Photoshop and Illustrator, seriously limiting my productivity.  Trust me, I was working on this in January.  

As you know, we own another fixer upper so I don't need to go far to find projects.  Every room needs a face lift, and as an interior designer I look forward to sharing creative ways to get that high-end look on an affordable budget.  

I was over-the-top excited that Jennifer, Joe and the kids were coming here for Christmas.  I decided to do a quick and inexpensive makeover in time for Christmas dinner.  As you have already learned from my past Before and Afters, my husband starts tearing out while I'm still making the To Do List.  This was no exception and before I found the camera those sconces were in the trash.  I found this Before image taken prior to possession.  



Notice the $4.99 sconces on either side of the windows?  Take a closer look here.

We remain baffled as to why anyone needed to move those beauties down 5".  Repositioning the junction box and fixtures was definitely a DIY job gone wrong.   I decided to cover the whole bad mess with horizontal striped window treatments and a fresh coat of paint.  


The idea for these came about while I was wandering around Ikea with this wonderful $19.99 throw under my arm, which is maybe my best find from Ikea so far. 

I noticed these Ritva curtain panels for $34.99 a pair.  They are heavy cotton but look like linen and they come in various colors.  I placed the white, which is more like a creamy white next to the yummy gray and instantly witnessed a marriage made in heaven.  So I bought one pair of each.  These are not lined but that didn't matter to me since they were hanging against the wall.  

The other plus with ready made curtains is that they are finished at the top.  These have hidden loops on the back to slide a rod through.   I must admit that I have never purchased ready made curtains, but since I snatched these I have noticed some incredible bargains out there.  Look around at Marshall's, Target, Pier One, World Market, etc. and I bet you can make these for less than my $70 find.


2 pairs of curtains in different colors
Measuring tape
Straight edge ruler or yard stick
Sewing machine
2 colors of thread to coordinate with curtains
Seam ripper

So here is the process used to measure and cut the stripes.  First, determine the desired finished length.  Mine was 94 1/2".  I wanted seven stripes so 94 1/2" divided by 7 is 13 1/2" per stripe once they are all sewn together.  I made this chart as my guide and I suggest you do the same for your curtains. 

NOTEBecause the very top panel is already sewn and finished you only need one 1/2" seam for the bottom of this stripe.   The last stripe at the bottom will be much longer to include the hem.

I suggest using a seam ripper to undo the side hems before cutting the stripes.  I didn't do that, but instead, I undid each seam as needed and just wonder if that took longer.  Hmm.  Then cut the alternating color stripes.  Straight cuts are a must.  Starting at the top, pin the first two stripes, right sides together.  Sew a 1/2" seam.  Wait until after all the stripes are sewn together before pressing seams open and doing this cool finishing touch (below).  It makes all the difference in giving your curtains a great finishing touch.


Once all the stripes are sewn together press each seam open.  Then fold and press each long side of the seams under 1/4".
Sew both sides with the coordinating threads.  Then refold the side hems.  Sew and press.   


I found short metal curtain rods at Lowe's.  They were cheaper than one's at Target; about $10 each and included the hardware for hanging.  The Ikea curtains came with double sided iron-on adhesive for the hem, but machine or hand sewn hems are fine.  

I love the way these turned out.  They look custom.  Wait.  They ARE!  And there is plenty of leftover fabric that will probably pop up in future tutorials.  

Hey, let me know what you think.  


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