Last month I had a vase filled with gorgeous tulips.

04-04-16 Tulips

I took many photographs of the flowers as they opened. This photo inspired the piece I am working on now. I chose to use a method that I learned from Denise Oyama Miller several years ago — she calls it broken color. I like the method and the results I’ve gotten using it before.

First, create a pattern. Transfer the pattern (reversed) onto fusible web, then cut the pieces out. Select fabrics and fuse the pattern pieces to the wrong side of the fabric. Cut out the pieces slightly inside the pattern line. Place the pieces under the pattern on a piece of background fabric. Here is the pattern with my fabric selections already underneath. Click on an image for a larger view.

05-11-16 Tulips, pattern with fabric under

When all the pieces are in their proper place, fuse the pieces to the background fabric.

05-11-16 Tulips, fabric fused

Notice the lines of background fabric which peek between the pattern pieces — hence the technique name broken color. Now for the stitching.

05-17-16 progress

My progress is slow but steady. This is the first work of this kind I’ve done since moving to Portland last summer, so I’m a bit rusty with my execution. I’m doing more warm up exercises to get back into my rhythm with free-motion work. I also like to tie off my threads as I go — say, every 2 – 3 pattern pieces. I find that I get into less trouble this way. The back stays uncluttered so I don’t have to spend time getting those loose threads untangled in the stitches I’ve done for another section of the work.

05-17-16 progress back

Of course, one has to have the right tools at hand but when I stopped to do the finishing work on the first few pieces, I realized that mine were not in their usual spot on my work surface. Now then, where did I pack those things last year? Happily, it didn’t take too long to find them. And here they are:

05-17-16 tools I use

I found this needle threader on line years ago — don’t ask me where, I can’t remember. But this is the only needle threader that I have on my work table while I do thread work. I’ll be back with progress on this work soon.

Meanwhile, I’ve completed the final notebook cover, the one I’ve made for myself. 05-17-16 notebook done


05-17-16 open


I enjoyed doing the hand stitching on this piece. This one sits in my desk, waiting for the day when I need it.

Inspiration and Hand Work

I’m still getting things just so in our new condo in Portland. Just this week I brought out my collection of foot-square art quilts purchased through SAQA’s annual on-line benefit auction. (This year’s auction begins September 16th but you can view some of the art that will be available and read about how the auction works here.) I think they make a nice statement hung in the dining and living rooms. (Click on images for larger view.)

05-08-16 Foot square collection


This is not my entire collection; more will find homes elsewhere.

Spring has arrived in our neighborhood and I’m enjoying all that goes with that! Morning walks along the Willamette River are lively and filled with many surprises. For instance, here’s a foxglove in bloom on the edge of the river, probably planted by a bird.

05-10-16 foxglove

Dogwood trees of many varieties are everywhere in Portland and most of them are white, my favorite color for this tree. There are 10 of this variety planted just outside our condo buildings — all are in a riot of bloom right now.

05-10-16 dogwood


Honey bees and bumble bees are getting their fill of nectar on a variety of plants on the edge of the river.

05-10-16 bees

This Great Blue Heron seemed to be truly posing for this photo! He held this posture for quite a while, groomed a bit and then returned to it. Those are blackberry vines in full bloom — promising berries for June. Yum.

05-10-16 heron and berry vines


I’m doing a bit of slow stitching on the last small notebook cover I have readied. This one will be for me since I am just about finished with the commercial notebook I purchased last year. This one uses stabilizer fabric that I’ve painted with acrylic paints and added a bit of machine stitching.

05-10-16 slow stitching notebook cover

The fast2fuse is a bit curled here but it will be in the right shape once I’ve completed the cover.

I’ve begun a new foot-square piece inspired by a photograph of some gorgeous tulips I had. I’ll share my progress on that next time.

Small Notebooks

I’m back in the studio working on a couple projects. I have some fabric I created in a surface design class some time ago and I’ve been creating small notebook covers with it. These little things are so handy and at just 4.5″ x 3.25″ they tuck into whatever you carry. When you’ve filled the pages of the notebook, just pick up another one at your local office supply and replace the used one. So easy!

I’ve enjoyed mixing machine stitches and then adding my own hand stitching. This slow stitching by hand is rather calming. I’ve enjoyed stealing some calm moments. Click on a photo for a larger image.

04-14-16 slow stitch

And here they are complete, ready to stash and carry.

04-14-16 notebooks


To see more notebooks, both large and small, click on the Notebook/Notebook Cover category to the right.

The other project I alluded to is just getting started. I’ll be here to share progress soon.

Small notebook cover

I took out a small piece of fabric this week and did some simple surface design work. I left some blank spaces so that I could add a bit of hand stitching. I have several small notebooks (4 1/2″ x 3 1/4″) in my stash that need a nice cover for them and, frankly, I needed to do some stitching. This project would be small and satisfying.

I used the techniques shared by Carol Ann Waugh in her Craftsy class called Stupendous Stitching. (You can see the first project I completed from Carol’s class here. It’s been a book that I go back to again and again now — I wouldn’t be without it.) The lavender and blue batik led the way for selecting coordinating threads and other items for decorating and finishing the project. Here’s the first cover completed.

03-24-16 Notebook-2

The inside:

03-24-16 Notebook-3

I use elastic as the closure for these small covers since they are intended to be carried in a purse. I also stick to embellishments that will lay flat on the surface of the fabric and will be less inclined to catch on other items carried in the same container.

03-24-16 Notebook-1

You can see earlier posts about creating notebook covers for large and small notebooks by clicking on the notebook/notebook cover category to the right.

Time to complete the other three covers.

Small Notebook Cover Variation

The handmade papers I am using to create notebook covers has provided new challenges. The specific concern is how the paper will endure regular handling and storage in a purse or other container that will probably have other objects in it. The point of making these covers is to make them practical to use.

So off to my local art store I went to purchase a product that would provide a clear seal of the paper. There were many choices. I came home with Krylon Matte Finish 1311. It provides a permanent, protective matte finish; promises non-yellowing, moisture resistance and a quick dry time.

Fixative, Krylon Matte Finish 1311

Indeed, it was easy to use, dried very quickly, changed the hand of the paper but not the finish — just what I wanted. I sprayed both the decorative paper and the plain paper (used for the inside of the notebook cover).

I also needed to rethink the buttons and beads I used on the first cover. While attractive and quite fun to use on the larger notebook covers, these small ones may take quite a beating in a handbag — buttons and beads could snag on other things and the cover could be damaged. I’ve borrowed the idea of using elastic as a closure from the moleskin watercolor notebook I have. I think it’s a grand solution! Click on an image for a larger view.

Notebook cover, paperWithout the pizzaz of button and beads, this cover needed a bit of accent on the edging. I used portions of Jean Oliver’s Oliver Twists — her hand-dyed matching thread in these collections make finishing touches easy and fun. I particularly like the fact that these hand-dyed threads partner so well with the paper which has varied texture and color.

How to attach the elastic? My moleskin book has slits in the back where the elastic is inserted and secured in a way not obvious. I am not a book binder. I chose a straightforward method: I positioned the elastic on the back cover and stitched using a tight zigzag first in one direction, then shifting the cover to stitch a second time in the opposite direction. Click on the image for a better view of the elastic ends.

Notebook cover, paper, outsideI stitched the elastic in place and then fused the inside paper to the opposite side. This way the stitching has more protection. Decorative stitches outlined with a shortened straight stitch give a nice detail while strengthening the spine.

Coordinating cotton fabric flaps hold the inserted paper notebook and also provide more strength for the cover and back boards.

Notebook cover, paper, open

I’m happy with these solutions.



Small Notebook Cover

My sister Christy (she gave me molas that I turned into notebook covers) was here for a visit and brought a hostess gift wrapped in handmade paper and tucked into a bag made of handmade paper. A triple treat!

I simply could not resist using the paper to create a notebook cover for one of the 4 1/2″ x 3 1/4″ notebooks I have. This size is ideal for tucking into a shirt pocket or purse.

Small notebook coverCan’t you just feel the texture of that great paper? It’s wonderful! Plant leaves, stems and pedals become subtle greens and pinks in this creamy-colored paper. I was thrilled to have a home for the mother-of-pearl button. Cream-colored hemp cord knotted with a few small beads is just the right closure. I initially used the plain cream paper for the lining and the flaps on the inside of the cover. Unfortunately, the paper flaps were not strong enough. I removed them and stitched in some pale pink fabric to do the job.

Small notebook - inside

A touch of stitching to enforce the spine and it’s done.

Small notebook cover - openI already know who will receive this book. And I have some ideas for other closure methods that may work even better for a small book like this that will travel regularly.

Notebook Cover and Postcards Embellished

I headed for Blue Door Beads — I just love the name and, yes, they have a blue door — this morning to find something special for the closure on the notebook cover just completed. I think I found just the right thing (click on image for larger view):

Notebook front

Notebook front

I had fun choosing the fabric for inside flaps

Notebook open

Notebook open

and the photo image on the inside cover of the notebook is from an old issue of Martha Stewart Living Magazine.

Notebook back

Full notebook cover

Here are 3 of the postcards that are embellished and ready to address and finish edges.

While I was completing the above project I decided to make use of a Mola that my sister gave me recently. (If you aren’t familiar with the origins of the Mola, be sure to visit the link above!) This one is particularly lovely and deserves to be useful.

Mola Notebook cover

Mola Notebook cover

Mola Notebook cover 2

Full Mola Notebook cover

I think Christy will be pleased that this lovely Mola is not going to languish in my stash.

To see the Genesis of all this, click here.

This post has been shared with Off the Wall Fridays.

French Knots and Finger Cots

I’ve completed the on-line course at Craftsy with Carol Waugh. I have thoroughly enjoyed working through her methods, constructing my own machine stitch reference and doing some needle work I haven’t done in many years — embroidery.

I used a fat quarter of fabric to create my surface design. There is extensive machine work in the form of couching, decorative stitching and quilting. When I completed that much, I cut the piece apart to create a notebook cover and (as always, click on an image for a larger view)

Franki Kohler,

Almost done with this notebook cover

some postcards.

Franki Kohler,

Almost done postcards

Then there is the hand embroidery. Carol took us through the techniques for stitching French Knots, running stitch and the lazy daisy stitch. That took me straight back to my childhood and learning those very stitches from my Grandmother. Whoosh! Nostalgia time.

Even though it’s been quite some time since I’ve done crewel embroidery, those stitches are still with me. I pulled Judith Baker Montano’s Elegant Stitches from my book shelf and looked through it. Her instructions are great and soon I was stitching a Squared Palestrina Knot — on the left, the ‘x’s’ with a knot in the middle– and combining buttonhole stitch with lazy daisy for a simple design.

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Squared Palestrina Knot, left; Buttonhole with lazy daisy, right

Most of the embroidery has been done with pearl cotton. Let me tell you, it’s not easy getting pearl cotton through fast2fuse and a layer of fabric stabilized with shirt tailor. After struggling to pull the thread through, I dove into my supply of tools and pulled out some finger cots. I rolled one onto my thumb and — ta da! — the needle comes right through — even with very bold French Knots. Grandma taught me to wrap the thread around the needle three times for a French Knot but Carol has no hard and fast rules. So I thought, let’s go for it and I was wrapping the thread 4 and 5 times. I’m happy with the bold look it gave  the daisy and solo French Knots on the left.

Bold French Knots

Bold French Knots

I’m not quite done. I have some beads that are screaming to be stitched on and then there will be a trip to my local bead shop to find just the right ones to add to the closure for the notebook cover. Stay tuned, I’ll share the final results.

Here is where this adventure began.

Another Notebook

My calendar said “Continue Sunflower piece” but my time was used for unexpected things — what most of us call “Life.” When I walked back into the studio I knew I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to produce quality thread work.

Fortunately, I had supplies for a notebook cover nearby and a very serious urge to complete something. I pulled out a few sun prints and got to work. This notebook cover sports a sunprint of a tomato plant and some hand dyed fabric produced in my only class on the subject (Hand dyeing fabric is one thing I’ll leave others to do.).

Franki Kohler, Notebook 2And here’s the back:

Franki Kohler, Notebook backKeep a couple of those catalogs with gorgeous photographs — they can be just what you’re looking for. I used two pages from a needlepoint catalog to cover the inside covers of the notebook. This is a standard 9 3/4″ x 7 1/2″ composition notebook that I got at my local office supply store.

Franki Kohler, Notebook inside I think this would make a nice notebook to record the 2014 gardening season. What does your garden notebook for this year look like?

Distracted by a Notebook

Taking classes is a good thing. The object of the class is of interest and one always learns something new, no matter how packed your tool kit is when you enter.

I took a class earlier this week whose focus was using an embroidery machine. The project for the class was a notebook cover. I quickly realized I had a personalized notebook cover made by Sue Andrus that I brought to class — it was a gift from a friend and I had not used it because it was just ‘too beautiful.’ (Small aside here: Sue is a member of Postmark’d Art so I know her fine work — I have some of her beautiful fabric postcards.) I wasn’t entirely sold on the construction techniques used for the class project so I decided to use Sue’s notebook cover as a guide for constructing my own.

I pulled out upholstery scraps, buttons, beads, leather, several Oliver Twist collections, pellon and Wonder Under and got to work. And here it is

Franki Kohler, Notebook The inside of the front and back covers were just too boring. I pulled out a needlepoint catalog I had saved in my paper supplies and found just the right images.

Franki Kohler, Notebook insideThough I didn’t use embroidery or construct the project as instructed, I’m very happy with this notebook cover. I think I’ll have to stitch out a few of my embroidery designs and incorporate them in another cover or two.

This posting has been share with Off the Wall Fridays. Check out what other creative people are doing there!