Fiona Tranter

Letting off Creative STEAM


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Posted by fionatranter on March 20, 2014 at 8:10 AM

I have been sick this week. This means there has not been much creating going on the last few days, just surviving the day job and taking a day at a time. It's only a silly cold or possibly mild flu, but I feel awful!

Here is a photograph of our elder statesman, Soxie to keep you going and hopefully I'll have more energy to be creative after work today.

Gift Wrapping

Posted by fionatranter on March 16, 2014 at 8:05 PM

I love wrapping gifts which is good because February, March and April are busy months for birthdays in our family. I am always on the lookout for a unique way of finishing a package and making it personal for the recipient.

I was recently inspired by a picture on Pinterest to make a doll to replace the gift tag and bow on a parcel for my friends 4 (soon to be 5) year old daughter.

I made this one very quickly as the gift had to be on its merry way today so I am afraid I have not put any instructions together.

I started with a piece of string which I knotted to form the top loop. The wooden bead sits on the knot and is held in place with a spot of hot glue. I knotted the ends of the string to look like feet. I used a second piece of string for the arms and knotted this around the first knot made. This holds the legs and arms together.

The dress is cut from a piece of felt and stuck together up the back with terrifically tacky tape. I cut small holes for the arms and threaded the string through the dress. Then I threaded the bead onto the string and used another blob of hot glue to hold the head in place.

The face was drawn with a permanent marker and the look was finished off with a length of orange ribbon around the neck.

I think my doll is somewhat taller than the version on Pinterest, but the recipient is a ballerina!

National Quilting Day

Posted by fionatranter on March 15, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Today is National Quilting Day in the US. Celebrating the third Saturday in March as National Quilting Day started back in 1991 when the National Quilt Association voted to adopt a special day and recognize the heritage and tradition associated with quilts and the craft of quilting in American History.

In recent years the National Quilting Association has organized a competition for a quilt design that can become the National Quilting Day Quilt. This years quilt (the 2013 winner) was designed by Evelyn Young of LeRoy Illinois and is available as a PDF here (scroll to the bottom of the page).

The quilt is called Stash Attack and I decided to give it a go. However instead of delving into my stash I decided to use fabric scraps. I keep all my fabric scraps - whether its the left overs from a quilt, making binding or clothes - in a colourful set of draws. I try to keep the scraps organized by colour and have a separate draw for finished blocks and different types of fabric such as flannel and canvas.

My stash of fabric scraps

I did not set out with a plan, other than to use my fabric scraps. I made 5 blocks today and now need to decide what shape to make the finished design. I may also make some additional blocks, in a more planned design and make them into cushion covers.

They are fun blocks to make and with the 6.5 x 4.5 inch fabric piece, its also a good design for showing off relatively large patterns. The finished block is 10.5 square, so you can cover a large area with relatively little piecing.

Stash Buster Blocks

With three purple blocks I must have a lot of purple fabric in my scarp draws. However I don't have much purple in my fabric stash. Perhaps that is because I have used it all!!! Anyhow, I'll have to find some complementary colours to finish the remaining blocks.

Happy Quilting!

Reusable Shopping bags

Posted by fionatranter on March 14, 2014 at 8:30 PM

This last Christmas I decided to make reusable shopping bags for the family rather than Christmas Stockings. I got the idea for making a pattern from a plastic grocery bag from Crafster and the link will take you to the tutorial for making these bags.

This was my prototype. The bag is an inch or two longer than a half yard and takes up the whole width of the fabric.

This bag uses a Laurel Burch fabricwith a fun fish fabric inside (fish inside the cats!!!!)

I had a lot of fun at Christmas finding fabric to match and stand out.

Zipped Bags

Posted by fionatranter on March 13, 2014 at 7:30 PM


The inspiration for these bags came from a Plush Addict Blog entry back in December. I made them as a birthday present for one of the young men in my life and they were a lot of fun to make.

Some of the bags are lined with rip-stop fabric, so they are somewhat water proof and good for laundry from an overnight stay. Others are lined with fun fabric and came with cable ties for use with various portable electronic devices. I have an older style Nano ipod and it, along with headphones and charger cable, fit nicely in the triangle bag, which is them slim enough to fit in my hand bag/ purse for carrying around. This is an unlined bag but I bound the seams with bias tape for extra durability.

I am going to make myself a bag that is a similar size to the blue bag with Racoons on the fabric. This will be for scissors and other tools to go in my sewing bag for taking to Quilt Guild meetings.

The smaller bags were made using 7 inch zips, while the larger bags have 12 in zips. The cotton fabric came from my stash, while the rip stop fabric came from Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL.

The rip stop fabric used on the Plush Addict blog to make the Welly bag is printed with a fun pattern, so now I am on the lookout for similar fun fabric in the USA.

Glass beads

Posted by fionatranter on March 12, 2014 at 7:30 PM

I purchased a new torch at the Bead and Button show last year and it has made a big difference to my sucess. I now have a Mega Minor and run the torch on natrual gas (we had a line run off the main house supply) and an oxygen concentrator.

Here are some of my latest efforts. I think I have the basic shape down so I have been working on spots.

My biggest problem (other than still trying to manage spot size control :) ) are the chips I get around the bead hole.

Elasticated Jewelry

Posted by fionatranter on March 11, 2014 at 7:30 PM

I love the way this bracelet turned out. It looks like many of my other bracelets that incorporate Lampwork glass beads and bead weaving however there is one big difference - there is no clasp!

I have been asked several times whether its possible to make nice looking jewelry with elastic for ease of use. This was my first attempt and I think it came out rather well. I used a woven elastic with a fabric outer for added strength, rather than the usual Stretch Magic Elastic. I found the elastic in a sewing shop, but I was able to knot it and glue it securley. The knot is hidden in the tube of herringbone woven beadwork.

The Lampwork beads were made by an artist who resides in Door County, Wisconsin, USA.

Bead Crochet Bangles

Posted by fionatranter on March 10, 2014 at 8:10 PM

The crochet hooks have been running at full steam recently. Its been a great way to pass the time on a plane or in front of the televisions. I am not very good at just sitting still!!

The paler lavender bangle on the left was crocheted with size 8 seed beads from Bead Cats while the bangle on the right was crocheted with size 11 seed beads from Beyond Beadery.

The invisible join has improved because I get a top tip from Mary Lou of Time2cre8. She suggested I try using Fireline to join the rope into a loop because it's much finer than the thread used for the crochet and will reduce the bulk at the join. It's also very strong and will likely give a stronger join. :)

Tula Pink Block 3

Posted by fionatranter on March 9, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Here is Block 3 in the Tula Pink book, 100 Modern Quilt Blocks. I've had these fabrics out in my sewing room for months wanting to put them into a quilt block or project, but nothing fitted. I think this block suites the fabric choice well.

The Individual Fabrics

Block Layout

The finished block

Bead Soup

Posted by fionatranter on March 8, 2014 at 9:00 AM

One of my local bead shops has started selling tubes of bead soup. These are collections of beads that are left over from various classes and projects the shop has going on. The nice thing about the tubes of beads is the selection of shapes and sizes in one package that are arranged in colour themes.

Recently Jean Campbell blogged about a snow day and how her daughter amused herself for most of the day making a simple necklace that could be worn twelve different ways. The necklace is a simple 45 inch loop of strung beads. The challenge was then to see if the necklace could be worn more than twelve ways!

This necklace is strung on Soft Flex Touch, flexible nylon coated beading wire with excellent drape, and is approximately 45 inches in length. I used two sterling silver crimp beads to close the loop and added some silver beads to the mix to help the crimp beads blend in.

A quick and easy project that is very versitile and fun to wear.

These pictures show the necklace knotted like a lariat, but the loop is long enough to be wrapped around the neck several times.