Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Illustration Friday - Mushroom

For a number of reasons it's been nearly a year since I've participated in Illustration Friday. I usually do glance at the topic, and for this week's Mushroom, I had just the pics I wanted to work on. Here's what this mushroom looks like from a normal perspective. On the internet I discovered that it is Leucocoprinus birnbaumii, common in potted plants and greenhouses, but this was growing in a neighbor's flower border. I thought it was lovely and snapped several pics of it, including these from underneath which have received the usual intensive Photoshop treatment here. 

Mushroom triptych

Friday, March 30, 2018

Down in the Treme

Down in the Treme
I have to confess that I'm not sure this little house was in the Treme, although I do remember walking through it when we were in New Orleans in 2013. Anyway, I like to think it was, because Mr. C and I both loved the Treme series, recommended to me by an ami in France. At the end of 36 episodes, we felt like we knew the characters, that we had been there with them. And, oh, that Treme Song!

The Photoshop alchemy on the rather bland original photo included a technique for turning a photo into a line drawing from the Photoshop Artistry course I've embarked on. I also used Topaz Adjust on another copy of the photo. And I've layered two of the terrific textures that Cheryl Tarrant generously offered for free on her Flickr Photostream. As usual, lots of layers in various blend modes adding up to this effect. All in an evening's work. Although I really can't call anything this enjoyable work.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Early morning rain

Here in Dallas we've been deluged, drenched, and generally damp for most of an entire week. Early one morning I peered out of a bedroom window to see the street lights reflecting golden on the rain-slicked streets and sidewalks while the sky was just beginning to lighten in the east.  It was a scene worth saving, I thought, perfect for some Photoshop alchemy.

For this picture, my original photo was duplicated several times, and I used the Akvis Sketch plug-in filter on two of the copies. Interspersed with those various layers are three different textures which were bonus content from the Photoshop Artistry course I'm taking, as is the Roman-numeral clock face on the lower right side.  All put together with lots of different blend modes and masks.  VoilĂ !

Early morning rain

Sunday, February 18, 2018

White Rock Lake boathouse

A couple of days of pure Photoshop pleasure enhanced the view of the 1930 Art Deco boathouse on the western edge of White Rock Lake.  

White Rock Lake boathouse

I took the original photo on January 2 last year from the pedestrian bridge across the little lagoon that extends just behind.  The red wing blackbird, not in my photo although common around reedy shore areas there, came from a Creative Commons search of Flickr.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

"Sociable" reading

In a recent New York Times review of The Social Life of Books by Abigail Williams, the reviewer likened the 18th century practice of books being read aloud to a group to the phenomenon of best sellers which millions read more or less simultaneously, a contemporary example of sociable reading. It seems to me that an even better comparison would be with the reading and sharing of books by a book group or club

According to The Reading Group, a UK-based website, book clubs have shed their fusty image and become trendy as well as ubiquitous, meeting everywhere from libraries and living rooms to online. In addition to helping readers sort through the huge mass of books being published today, a primary reason for their popularity is that participants ...are finding being a member of a book club to be fun and rewarding, transforming the personal and private experience of reading a book into a shared one of discussion and appreciation.”

Or as another New York Times article on book clubs elaborates: “Reading is a solitary act, an experience of interiority. To read a book is to burst the confines of one’s consciousness and enter another world. What happens when you read a book in the company of others? You enter its world together but see it in your own way; and it’s through sharing those differences of perception that the book group acquires its emotional power.” Yes, indeed.

Further delving online unearthed an interesting 2015 white paper report on book clubs from A lot of the statistics are no surprise; my long-time book group could be the poster child. A majority of members are women, and they tend to be older, empty nesters, often retired, seeking intellectual stimulation and personal connections. Higher education plays a role but income a bit less so. They also are more likely to use their public library. (Ah, we know it's probably us when all the copies of a relatively obscure book are checked-out or on hold.)

That report also defines the ideal book. “Overwhelmingly, book club participants want to read books that expand their horizons—windows that allow them to see into the lives of others or mirrors that let them reflect on aspects of their own lives. Above all else, books need to have plenty to discuss.

We hope that we have chosen books for 2018 that fit that criteria. So without further ado, here are our selections. I invite you to join us in person if you happen to be in the Dallas area. Or read along with us and send any comments from wherever you may be. 


Friday, December 8, 2017

Embroidered and beaded version B

Although it took me a while to blog about it, I did get right on to stitching up version B of Marcy Tilton's Vogue 8497.  The shady chartreuse cotton interlock that I picked out of my stash almost matches the garment on the pattern photo.  I hope I'm going to like it as well as I do version A.  There's not too much to add to the info in my last post on that short sleeve top with its zig-zag front and back seams.

Once again, instead of overlapping the curved front and back seams, I turned under the seam allowances on the top pieces and stitched them close to the edge and then again a bit over 3/8 inch away. These seams I embellished with a Double Cretan stitch, using two colors of embroidery floss and accenting that with seed beads in a green-turquoise range. The neckline is also simply bound, as I did on the red version, then embroidered and beaded exactly like the front and back seams.

I hemmed the sleeves and the bottom with a double needle.  On the sleeve hems I worked the straight version of the Zigzag Chain Stitch that I used on the neckline of the red top.  I used two strands of embroidery floss in the two different colors of the other embroidery and put a seed bead in each stitch. 

I used the size 12, but did stitch the side seams with a ½ inch seam allowance, rather than 5/8 inch.  One thing to note in construction is to make sure the front and back seams meet precisely at the shoulders, and that the uneven hems meet at the correct place.  There must have been a small amount of stretching or distortion when I cut out the garment, and if I hadn't been careful about matching these up, they would have been off just enough to cause a problem.  Also I used a narrow fusible bias stay tape on the neckline edge which had stretched while I was doing the embroidery and beading. 

I found that the embroidery and beading went fairly fast, as I sat at my sewing table listening to The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles.  (IMO, audio books are one of the best things that ever happened where sewing is concerned.)  Now I've started on something more pedestrian, some olive-y denim pants that I know will be a welcome addition to my wardrobe.  But not as rewarding as making this fun top.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Marcy Tilton meets Alabama Chanin

Yet another pattern that finally got its turn after ripening in my collection for several years. I was a little leery of the unfitted fit and the cut-on sleeves which I have found do my figure no favors. I doubted it would actually resemble the pattern photo on me. But it was calling out to me, and I had just enough left of some ancient red interlock to give it a try. With some modifications, of course.

I cut version A in a size 12 with no changes. The modifications involved assembly, because I am just not a raw-edge sort of person. Instead of simply overlapping the zigzag front and back pieces, I turned under the seam allowances on the top pieces, top stitching them very close to the edge and then again a bit over 3/8 inch away. Similarly, I did a conventional bound neckline, turned to the inside and stitched down. The bottom hem and sleeve hems were stitched with a twin needle.

But what to do to emphasize those zigzag front and back seams which are what the top is all about? Not knowing if I was going to actually like the fit of top, I hadn't really thought much about the decoration. After putting it together enough to try it on, I decided it would do, but it definitely needed something...more. And that was where Alabama Chanin came in.


I first discovered the hand-sewn and hand-embellished knit creations of Natalie Chanin's company, Alabama Chanin, a couple of years ago and immediately purchased the Alabama Studio Sewing + Design book, a complete how-to manual of their processes and designs. I doubt that I would ever want to exactly duplicate anything in the book, but it provides a bounty of inspiration and ideas that could be borrowed and adapted to one's own garments. 

I used the very easy-to-do Cretan Stitch with two strands of embroidery floss on the front and back zigzag seams. On the neckband, I did the simple, straight version of the Zigzag Chain Stitch. 



Both created spaces to stitch on single red seed beads that I bought in a big packet at JoAnn Fabrics. Because the embellishment is red-on-red, the effect is very subtle, even with the slight iridescence of the beads. So subtle that only one person seems to have noticed and commented on it. But I love it!
It's the perfect easy-breezy top for hot summer days, loose enough to be cool and comfortable, and yet not too over-sized or overwhelming on my small frame. If I didn't have a line-up of other patterns clamoring for their turn, I'd sit right down and stitch up another. I'm definitely going to be making version B in the near future, so stay tuned.