Sunday, February 18, 2018

At long last, the next "baby" blanket

My older son turns seven in April, but by golly I just finished his baby blanket! I had previously made blankets for two nieces and two nephews, but then developed a mental block for this one. I put a lot of thought into the ones I made before, so of course I wanted to make something very special and amazing for Bruce. Which ended up in overthinking. I even drew up one design but then lost faith in it and had to start all over.

In any case, I finally made a design and got it printed. (I went back and checked, and I ordered it juuuuust over two years ago.) I gave it to him two weeks ago and got as good a reaction as I could have hoped: he was very happy, gave me (and it) and big hug, said he loved it, and wanted to have it on his bed to sleep with.

Since I was so late getting this blanket together, I was able to incorporate things Bruce actually likes (well, skewed towards the stuff he liked when he was two and three):

  • He was obsessed with the ABCs for quite some time, hence the alphabet song along the border
  • He loved the meerkats at the zoo so there's a row of those (not the first time I've used meerkats for him)
  • The Dalmatians are a tribute to his favorite Paw Patrol character, Marshall the fire pup. (The background of that section may slightly resemble Marshall's pup tag logo...)
  • The elephant is for his favorite snuggle blanket (one of those gauze Aiden + Anais ones), which has an elephant pattern. 
  • The background behind the elephant uses the designs of the hubcaps of some of the cars we've owned. He used to love looking at the hubcaps when we let him walk around the front yard.
  • The rows of vehicles include some of his favorites - helicopter, dumptruck, excavator, bulldozer, caboose, garbage truck.

I had one stomach-dropping moment: as I was quilting it I suddenly realized I should have included a cement mixer in with the rows of vehicles. He was fixated on those for awhile too. But, I've had to make my peace with that.

The front is poplin and the backing is sateen. For the backing, I got one of my Spoonflower acquaintances to make this tartan in the colors I wanted (the red was originally more magenta). Why that tartan? Because one of its names is "Clan Bruce!" I couldn't resist.

The binding I got from Etsy, as I've done for several before. Making bias binding myself is one of those fiddly things I really dislike somehow. And, Bruce usually sleeps hot so the batting is a very thin cotton.

I was originally only going to do a little bit of quilting - just enough to separate out the different panels. Once I got going, though, I kept thinking it would look nice with just a little more: outlining the animals and vehicles, then going over all the musical lines, then adding some fills, etc, etc... I got mentally stuck again on how to quilt the elephant but made it over that hurdle as well. Just powered through and filled it in. Whew! I'm glad I did all that because it has that nice crinkly look.

I had been very confident that I would have it done in November last year, so I dated the tag 2017...whoops. (That darn elephant!)

I am very very happy to have it completed and in the hands of its rightful owner. 

Saturday, February 17, 2018


For the otter contest, I wanted to do something that would work on the gauze fabric Spoonflower added fairly recently - like what those muslin swaddlers are made out of. Since it crinkles so much, they recommend doing a sparser design, such as just motifs on a white background. So I did simplified otter faces (based on sea otters specifically) in a simple brick repeat.

Jade Otter Faces

This actually made it into the top 100! The entries for this one got pretty repetitive though. Sooooo many arrangements of floating otters on a blue/green background. My favorite of that type was this one. Slightly breaking away from the pack, I also liked this batik-style entry. The one I liked the look of most was this one, though I think the designer actually has seals in there instead of otters. Hmm.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Origami contest

For this week's theme - origami! I chose to represent creased and subsequently unfolded paper:


The color combo was inspired by Japanese woodcuts. I'm quite pleased with how this turned out. It came in the bottom quarter of the contest. I liked this other, photographic crease design, plus this icy plant assortment.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Kilim contest

This week's contest was to do something in the style of kilim. I was originally going to do a very stylized map of my neighborhood, but once I got it about 95% done, it suddenly occurred to me that it was, in fact, quite ugly, and I couldn't imagine anyone ever actually printing the design and using it for anything.

So! I used just the background texture I had drawn, and recolored it. I figured most people would be entering high-contrast, brightly-colored designs so I went for something more muted.

Eyes on Kilim

The colors here are actually all from my sons' eye colors. Sampled directly from photos of them. It got 44 votes and ended up in the top half of entries. My favorite was this one.

Friday, January 26, 2018

More contests, all squares

I'm still sticking with very easy repeats. For the "Spanish Tiles" challenge, I used colors from this photo that was making the rounds a few weeks back and did simple, stripped-down monochrome versions of tile designs.

geometric tiles

I got 49 votes and ended up bang in the middle. My favorite was probably this one.

Then, for the Greek Art challenge, I did a montage of Ancient Greek architecture, in the white/cyan color scheme you always see in vacation photos of Greece.

Collage of Ancient Greek Architectural Details

I honestly thought this one was rather meh compared to my Spanish Tiles entry, but it did way better - 84 votes and it made it into the top 100 (the top 1/3 in fact). My favorite was the swirling Greek key ribbon.

Thursday, January 11, 2018


And I'm back! I've actually done a few crafty things in the long gap since I posted.

1 - My son's school had a penny drive. We had this big bear-shaped jar and my spouse had the idea to give it to his class to collect money in. I decided to draw a silly label for it.

2 - I had a swatch of this design in the poly satin. The same son took a liking to it and called it "glorious!" He asked for a pillow case made out of it. I decided to make it reversible so he would have four different designs to choose from. I recolored the other three (sneakers, pickles, word shapes) to match the scarabs.

(Which reminds me, I need to go post those other three fabrics into a collection together...)

3 - Also on the subject of pillowcases, he had fond memories of a tool-patterned crib sheet and was a little sad to see his younger brother sleeping on it. Well as it so happened, there were two of them, and one ripped - so instead of repairing it I made it into another pillowcase. It took me wayyyyy too long to get around to it though, so he didn't really remember it by the time I actually made it! In any case, it's done now. Yes, I'm aware it totally clashes with the other one (as does everything else on his bed) but so be it.

4 - I sewed a few more Baby's Book of Computer Science for gifts for friends' babies.

5 - Made gift bags for four kids for the 2016 redwoods trip:

6 - And for five kids for the 2017 redwoods trip:

7 - Sewed a longer pocket into my new jeans so I can put my phone all the way in (using a scrap of cotton sateen - not my design):

Finally, I took a break from the Spoonflower contests but with the new year I'm giving it another go. The first one for 2018 was for designs inspired by African wax prints. This was my take:

Joyful Checks Stripes and Circles

I got 62 votes and made it just out of the bottom third. My favorite was this yellow floral.

Friday, March 18, 2016

A different contest format

Spoonflower has ended the weekly design challenges and will be doing them monthly instead. For March, the format is quite strange: the first fifteen days of the month, we get a daily prompt (the "Daily Spoonchallenge"), for which we can create a full-fledged design, or a sketch, or whatever. Then, on the 16th, they'll pick one of those prompts to become the actual contest theme - and entries are due on the 18th. So, not very friendly to those of us who have limited time to work on designs!

I did my best to keep up with the prompts. Here are the designs I came up with:
  • Day 1: Pencil Drawing
I went with the simplest thing I could think of I use a pencil for (though I used Sketchbook Pro to digitally replicate the look of pencil): writing the alphabet.
Pencil Alphabet
  • Day 2: Watercolor
Thinking that these themes are all going to be mediums rather than subject matter, I figured I'll stick with the theme I started: typography. I messed around in Sketchbook Pro to find the brush that most resembled water color and drew a couple different symbols. I decided I liked the "@" the best and applied a watercolor texture.
watercolor strudel symbols
  • Day 3: Abstract
I went the literal route here and adapted the Chinese symbols for "abstract" into an abstract design.
abstract - citrus
  • Day 4: Block Prints
Once again, I faked the look of the prompt format on my computer. Having done "@", I figured I'd do the darling of the typographical world: the ampersand. For colors, I looked for "trendy palettes" and decided to use this one.
linocut ampersands - ochre on slate
  • Day 5: Pen and Ink
I have terrible handwriting and am no kind of calligrapher. So I didn't want to continue using lettering, exactly, so I thought of other things to draw that are still kind of writing. Maritime flags! (Which I have used before) But what should I spell out? Just drawing each flag in the alphabet is a little boring. I looked at pangrams and chose to spell "Glib jocks quiz nymph to vex dwarf".
pen and ink maritime pangram
  • Day 6: Geometric
Some type elements are very geometric - like the plus sign! Scattered plus signs are actually pretty trendy, as are chevrons, so I combined them. Plus I used one of the "trendy palettes" used by one of the design groups. So this resulted in a kind of Frankenstein's monster of trendiness.
Plus Chevrons
  • Day 7: Vector
I was unexcited at trying out a vector-drawing program just for the sake of the challenge, so I ended up combining this with Day 12 below, by using only the basic vector tools: rectangle and circle selectors, with flood fills.
  • Day 8: Photographic
Flickr has a collection of copyright-free photographs from various institutions, so I browsed around that until I found this gallery of fish from the Smithsonian. My husband had the idea of framing stuff in rectangles to look like polaroids. I took crops of the most interestingly-patterned parts of the fishes and put them together. (No typographical association with this one!)
Fish Polaroids
  • Day 9: Free Software
Well, I use GIMP to draw almost everything anyway, so I didn't bother doing anything specific for this.
  • Day 10: Steampunk
I wanted to do something with cuneiform, so I drew some using antique square nails instead of the usual wedge shapes in clay. I feel like it's still in the same spirit as "steampunk," but outside of the same old gears that usually means.
Antique nail cuneifom
  • Day 11: Dyed
Really? A theme of "hand-dying" for a single day? I'm not sure who can just go come up with the time and materials to try dying something in one day with no notice - not people with a full-time job, a toddler, and an infant, I guess! So, as with the other themes involving a specific medium, I just mimicked it digitally. Thinking about various forms of writing, I was considering Braille, which reminded me of the way some shibori-style dying makes motifs out of lots of little squares. Instead of Braille I ended up arranging such squares into a cross-stitch type design (taken from this book, which I've used before). I used the colors from this example.
Faux-Shibori Basketweave
  • Day 12: Typographical
So of course, after having adopted typography as an unofficial theme, it comes up as one of the official ones! I was browsing interesting typographical examples and liked this one. So I tried to think of what text I could compose in a about just the word "circle?" Might as well do square and triangle at the same time! I used the other of the trendy palettes from what I used in Day 7.
calico_spring_warm 300
  • Day 13: Kawaii
I considered a bunch of different things to render "kawaii," but at this point I was five designs behind so it couldn't be that elaborate. (I spent way too much time drawing all that cuneiform!) I saw a picture of a heron in my Feedly feed, which made me think of what bird would be interesting - but not too hard to make cute. So I went with the obvious and illustrated "The Ugly Duckling."
ugly duckling or misplaced cygnet?
  • Day 14: Found Objects
I went back to the copyright-free commons I used for the fish photos and browsed around until I had a variety of interesting images saved. Then I combined them into a simple grid. I think this would make a pretty cool wrapping paper.
  • Day 15: Designer's Choice
 On the final day, they just suggested that we pick one of the previous themes and use it again. So I didn't do anything for this one either.