Julie Bowersett

juliebowersett{at}gmail{dot}com
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Monday
Jan112010

New Beginnings

A new year.   A time to set goals and begin fresh.  Each year I vow to become more organized and, on a macro level, I’m happy to say that I achieve that – year end finds me a little more organized than the beginning of that same year.  But there is still a lot of room for improvement.  Particularly in my sewing space.  It could use a lot of help.  Each time I step into the closet (an act that is becoming increasingly difficult with each passing week) I see projects that need completing -- UFO’s (that’s Unfinished Objects for those of you who may not know).  One year I vowed that for each new project I started I needed to finish a UFO.  That didn’t last long.  Once again, this year, I am hoping to finish a few of these long overdue projects.  The satisfaction factor is pretty high with UFO’s – not only do you get the usual satisfaction of completing a project but you get the bonus of feeling virtuous about clearing something out that has been hanging over your head.

Back in 2006, before my first child was born, a very dear friend asked me to make her a dozen bags that she could give to clients at the successful completion of their work together.  This is a friend that I would do just about anything for so I readily agreed.  I enjoyed creating a label to go inside the bag and quickly whipped up four of the bags.  Well, along came child #1 in late 2006 followed by child #2 in late 2008 and the other eight bags remained uncut fabric in my closet.  When my friend asked me about these bags recently I knew that I had to finish them for her and clear my conscious, along with my closet.

The Safari Bag is made from chenille upholstery fabric in an animal print.  The outer fabric is soft and drapey so I knew I would have to provide some sort of stabilizer for the bag.  I contemplated fusing interfacing to the pieces but rejected that idea as too time consuming and a risk for crushing the nap of the fabric.  Instead I purchased heavy black canvas (duck) for the lining fabric.  With that stable layer on the inside the bag holds its shape nicely.  This bag will be my bag of the week for this week – look for the post on Wednesday along with a tutorial and pictures on creating the bag. 

(And if you ever need a realtor in the Annapolis, MD area contact The House Huntress, you just might end up with one of these bags for your very own).

Saturday
Jan092010

Creating an orchestra

The things we do for our children.  Our oldest son has been obsessed with musical instruments for some time now.  He creates all sorts of scenarios involving instruments and insists we play along.  He received his first play dough for Christmas and immediately wanted to make instruments from it.  Or, I should say, he wanted mom and dad to make instruments from it.  He has been known to sit at the kitchen table for two hours playing with these creations and gets so much joy from them.  One night my husband suggested we make some more permanent play things from polymer clay.  So, for the last two nights, after the kids were in bed, we have been creating an orchestra.  Our band consists of a piano, xylophone, violin, cello, bass, cymbals, tambourine, bongo and snare drum (with drumsticks), clarinet, saxophone, flute, trumpet and bassoon. 

My husband is a very fussy creator and took great pains to make his instruments near perfect. 

I took a bit more relaxed approach (except when the yellow clay proved too soft to work with easily). 

All look like they stepped out of a Dr. Seuss book.  We had fun working together on this project and can’t wait to see our son’s reaction tomorrow.  Knowing him, he will probably come up with new and imaginative ways to play with them.

Wednesday
Jan062010

Forget-me-not

My good friend Joyce came to visit the other day.  She arrived with a little paper bag filled with goodies, one for each of my boys and one for me.  Inside mine I found some vintage treasures.  The calendar is a reproduction of a vintage trade card for Niagara Spray Starch.  These color lithographs, popular in the late 1880’s, were a major form of advertising for products of the time.  Also in my bag was a beautiful aqua-colored organza and velvet floral hair comb which I am contemplating turning into a lapel pin.  Finally I discovered two bouquets of vintage paper millinery flowers, forget-me-nots, in beautiful shades of pink and aqua.  I’m not sure just what I will do with these (maybe another lapel pin) but they did bring back memories from my childhood.  When I was little I used to watch (and sometimes help) my mother create tray favors for patients at Sibley hospital (where, 40 years later, my first son was born).  These classic retro favors were made from the plastic lids taken from aerosol spray cans (particularly hairspray).  Do you remember when those lids used to have a small circular wall in the interior of the cap?  That little indentation was filled with some form of putty and then flowers such as these were inserted to mimic tiny little floral arrangements.  Patients at the hospital had their food trays brightened with these little blooms.

Treasures like this are available through many online sources.  Tinsel Trading Company has a wonderful selection of vintage and contemporary flowers, many dating from the 1940’s as well as fabulous trims, embellishments, beads and buttons.  If you ever have the chance of visiting the store in NYC don’t miss it – it is a wonderland.  Closer to my home is Accessories of Old located in Bethesda, MD.  This store is packed with vintage embellishments of all sorts, most dating from the 1920’s.  No doubt you will find some treasures of your very own at these shops.

Monday
Jan042010

Bag of the Week

I love to make bags:  purses, totes, shoe bags, pails.  You get the idea.  In fact, I have made and photographed nearly enough “bags” (some of the items may be somewhat loosely defined) to feature a bag a week for the entire year.  Check back each week for new ideas and pictures.  Tutorials will be included on some of the pieces.

The Vintage Reticule Pattern was created by Hope Yoder.  I first made this bag in a class with Hope (watch for pictures of that bag in the future) at Sew Special Studio.  Each year I make and donate a few items to a silent auction for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, and this is the bag I created for them in 2008.  The color scheme was inspired by the fabric used for the top band – a chocolate brown printed velvet with tones of taupe, green and rust.  The bottom portion of the bag is crazy quilted with coordinating silk dupioni using Hope’s instructions and then embellished with couched fibers and bobbinwork decorative stitches.  The bag was lined with rust colored silk dupioni; the same fabric was used to make the top ruffle and to cover the large button on the front.  Beaded eyelash trim separates the two bands and the bag was finished with a beaded tassel.  The strap was made from thick cording covered with bias cut chocolate brown wool crepe using a FasTurn tool. 

Monday
Jan042010

First Light

I am a creature of light.  I love the hours in the early morning when the sun is just coming up, especially when I can spend that time in my studio.  That space faces east and catches the early light.  These days I don’t get much chance to work in there in the morning but I try to sneak a few minutes before my children awake to gaze around (the mess) and let inspiration wash over me.   Morning light or not, I love spending time in that space.  Most of my stolen moments are in the afternoon or, occasionally at night.  But I’ll take them when I can get them.  All too soon my nestlings will have flown and I will have the luxury of working in the morning light again.

Most of my creations are crafted from fabric.  I am, primarily, a garment sewer but my interests are far more eclectic.  I love using my hands, and dabble in sewing, knitting, quilting, embroidery, beading, and crafting of all sorts.    I haven’t held a paying job in years but on our tax return every year I list my profession as Fiber Artist.  My favorite part of any project is the creative stage where the final result lives only in my mind.  I love putting together theme, materials, colors, textures and techniques.  Sometimes scents and flavors (for I like cooking, too).  I collect (read: hoard) the materials used to fashion my creations so I will have at hand what I need when my muse speaks. 

So now I have created a blog.  The site design is a work in progress itself, in a media that is not as familiar as the one I am used to working in.  I hope to share some of my work in this space along with tutorials so others can have as much fun creating as I do.  I hope you will check back often for inspiration.

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