Improving my Instagram feed

I have been working bit by bit to improve my photo’s for my Instagram feed, to grow interest in my feed. I see such alluring images from others that I wanted to step up my game. I am by no means an expert, here are some of my experiments so far.

Staging photos, adding interest

The first thing was actually work on the staging of my photos. Everyone tells you how important staging is, and it is amazing how it drives a different interest in the photo. For example, I have two photos  of the same quilt that are similar, both taken and posted around the same time of day, same day of the week. Both, showing stages in my quilting process of one particular quilt.  The response of the photos were completely different.

The first uses no props. it just shows the quilt and the stage it is in. The topic of this photo was that it was time to start burying threads.

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The second, I added the Auriful thread options and the painters tape I was using for the straight line quilting, to the picture as the prop. The topic of this photo was I continue to do 1/2″ straight line quilting.
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The response was doubled in the second shot over the first shot.

Photo Quality

I have to admit, I had switched to using my iPhone full-time for taking pictures. This is mainly for convenience, I always have my phone. Also, my phone had higher pixels than my older digital SLR.

I was lucky enough, that my fabulous husband bought me a new Nikon digital SLR camera at Christmas. Oh, what a difference!!! The pictures are clearer, the colors more vibrant. I love it.

I am using these Campbell’s soup can’s as color palette inspiration. I wanted a quick shot and started off with my iPhone (5s). Note, these are photos before any editing. Not bad, but I wasn’t getting those vibrant colors as my eye was seeing. Also, I knew I will need higher resolution photo’s if I wanted to put these in my upcoming book.
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So, I switched to my SLR and was able to control the zoom, the color and crispness was improved. Note, I just point and click and use the camera’s defaults for this image, and again no editing yet.
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What has made using my SLR with Instagram so much easier, is my new SLR has a bluetooth feature and downloads from my camera to my phone. There is no need to move the photos from my camera to my laptop to my cloud and then to my phone.

Framing the Photo

I have loved my friend, Nicole @mamalovequilts, Instagram feed for the longest time. I have realized it has a lot to do with her staging and photo quality of her images. It also has to do with how she uses white negative space to frame her photos. I mentioned this to her the other day, and asked how she did this, whether it was with IG or another program. She uses an app PicTapGo ($1.99). I downloaded it yesterday and I love it already!!

I use it mostly for the framing of the picture, but have been playing around with their set of filters too. Let’s just focus on framing a picture, though. I find that framing the picture with more white negative space actually focuses my eye to the image more.

Here is the photo I posted yesterday, a closeup of a pineapple, which I love (border added around the screenshot so you can see the visual space in IG). This one has no negative space around the image.

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The second image is what I posted from PicTapGo with a IG Square Floating effect added. This adds negative space around all four sides of the image so its floating.
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Another image, of my new media stand. This is the image of what I posted in Instagram. IMG_8721

However, I like it much better with the floating negative space. To me it gives it a crisper and cleaner look.
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Today’s photo out on Instagram, is using a slightly different border effect. It is the IG Square Full, which adds borders to the long sides of the image but the short sides reach the full length of the space within Instagram.

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I am definitely no expert, as I mentioned. I still have steps to go to increase interest on my Instagram page. If you are with the MQG, here is a recent article by Christopher @the_tattooed_quilter on social media and photography. 

Some of the other Instagram feeds that I find inspiring (not all are quilting related):
Nicole @modernhandcraft
Hillary @entropyalwayswins
Kate @teaandkate
Giuseppe @Giucy_Giuce
Helen @helen_dardik
Nicole  @mamalovequilts
Christopher @the_tattooed_quilter

I’ll keep you posted how things go, I am looking into videos next. I would love to hear how or what has worked for you.

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Playing with Color

Have you ever played with re-coloring your design or a pattern from another designer. I love playing with color and finding new color combinations. I recently had to do this for two designs.

This first one, was designed based on an image from Design Seeds via @thebungalow22 of a striped beach umbrella.

I loved how the original design came out. The color palette landed up being an unusual and unique palette.

When playing with color combinations for this design, I wanted to make sure that I kept this uniqueness and the combination of cold and warm color balance.

The first playing with oranges, blues and grey, which I think maintains the freshness.

The second, a more reserved palette with teal, green and peach.

A third version, using peach-pink, green and greys.

With these striped designs, I am thinking of making prints or fabric wall hangings, to see them side by side – it would make an interesting color study I think.

The second design was based on an old gas lamp at the Mannheim water tower (Wasserturm), a picture captured while visiting family. The color palette was created using the Palette Builder tool from Play Crafts.

The original design, definitely with this color palette, gives an air of Art Deco (1930s). I like it but knew if I made it I would need to re-color it.

I first tried a black, white and grey version, which I think I need as a floor (tiles).

I played with some bright colors, and had fun with mixing pink + orange with some aqua + greens.

Keeping with bold colors, used a warm palette here with pinks + oranges + purples, using the white to make the colors pop.

Wanted to play with more muted tones, so added some pastel based colors to this purple + yellow based palette.

Liking the white but wanting to give it some freshness in this one. I went back to the warm + cold palette with this one. A mix of green + pink + peach and using the pastel versions of the green + peach, and again the white to add to the brightness and contrast.

Lastly, I wanted to  play with some prints, my go to Carolyn Friedlander prints. I like the variations in her blue prints and love the lilac prints that are in her collections. (color: blue + lilac + mustard and cream).

Do you play around with color in your designs or patterns? What are your favorite combinations?

Please Note: If you would like to make or use one of my designs, please email me (ml_wilkie(at)hotmail(dot)com) or leave a comment below. I am happy to talk with you on options and provide the relevant measurements etc. or have you test out a pattern. Also, if you use one of my designs, please use the following text to credit me the design: “Designed by Michelle Wilkie @ Factotum of Arts”.

New quilt designs {QDAD}

At the moment, I am currently focused on making. However, I managed to get some time in creating some new designs, over the last month. Here they are, including today’s design (the last one).

Spark: Design Seeds via @zoepower

Design: I loved the shape of the plate and the color mixtures I used below. I am not a pastel person but I can definitely see me using this color palette in future.

Spark: Design Seeds via @piiipsy

Design: I loved the angles that the mountains provided and the reverse present in the reflection of the lake. I used those angles in the design.

Spark: Design Seeds via @mylamoments

Design: The common shapes present in the coffee cups and floor tiles at Caviar & Banana’s Restaurant (in Greenville, SC), lead to these designs. I used the black to highlight the graphical nature of the design. The brown, however, might bring a softer feel, if used in the curved plus (outer rings).

I played around a little more with the design above and added a center to the circles. I love how different it made it feel, though it was just a slight change. I would love to see this also made up in bold colored non-neutral solids.

Spark: Design Seeds via @diana_lovring

Design: Still inspired by the floor tiles, and this flower remind of drunkard path like blocks. I really enjoyed playing with the color placement in this block and movement the colors bring to the design.

Spark: Design Seeds via @thebungalow22

Design: Designing the obvious stripes in this one, but using a smaller squared block at various positions and direction to add interest and movement. Reminds me a little of floor tiles. It was also a strange color palette for me. Not a fan of the design, but I can’t think what I would do differently….maybe convert to the triangles based on the edge of the umbrella??

I definitely loved the circular designs. I can see me making a couple of these in future. More to come.

Please Note: If you would like to make or use one of my designs, please email me (ml_wilkie(at)hotmail(dot)com) or leave a comment below. I am happy to talk with you on options and provide the relevant measurements etc. or have you test out a pattern. Also, if you use one of my designs, please use the following text to credit me the design: “Designed by Michelle Wilkie @ Factotum of Arts”.

 

 

 

Traverse Bag {a finish}


Recently, I traveled to Denver for a weekend of catching up with some sewing buddies and fun. In other words, Sewtopia. This is my favorite event and I look forward to it each time. This time, we got to have a class with Anna Graham from Noodlehead.

We made her Traverse Bag, a recently released pattern. Spending time with her, talking about her work, her patterns etc. was such a memorable event. Corrinna, my Sewtopia roomie, by fluke, chose the exact same fabric for the back, but in different color ways. It’s a Japanese print we both found at Bunny Designs at our last Sewtopia in Austin.

I love this little bag, only my third I had ever made!! This was the first time using actual bag hardware to make that strap. Strap and piping is a mint Cotton + Steel basic.

Lifting the front flap reveals two fantastic slip pockets. I lined all the pockets with Tula Pink’s Owl fabric.

There are two zipper openings. One revealing the opening to the main pocket at the top of the bag.  The other zipper opening is on the bag where a pocket is perfect for storing my phone.

I really enjoyed making this bag. It can easily be done in 3 hours (if all your fabric and prep work is done before hand – add about 2 hours for the prep work).

So, this was my only finish at Sewtopia. On the last day, things wrapped up around 12pm. This gave me time to walk around the downtown, before catching my flight home. I bumped into this guy peering into the convention center 😉

 

Fun + May goals

Getting back in the zone of making is important for me, and I am making it a priority this month. After all, it is all May is about making. So, every day this month, I plan on sewing for 1 hour.  Hopefully, that will land up being more than just 1 hour.

I have some deadlines coming up, so to balance the must do projects one day a week should be dedicated to a fun project. I am thinking of items like finishing my makers tote, playing with a couple of ideas, throw in some improv. projects like this one:

Including this time for play, provides me an avenue to get the ideas in my head out. I tend to over think things and if I can’t release them then I start not sleeping and getting stressed. I am sure I am not the only one, right?

Here is my current active projects or known projects I am working on, not much has changed but all of them have moved forward.

Project Dates Current Status
 NY High Line  May  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT (Underway), BIND
 Medallion  June  TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 1 (Secret)  June  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 2 (Secret)  July  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 3 (Secret)  August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
Graveyard  August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Trellis  September  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Manicured Garden  September TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Triangle Quilt  July Pattern Release
 Square Dance  July  Pattern Release
Abstract Triangles II & III  August Pattern Release
Phased Circles & Lunar Lines  August Pattern Release

What are you all making in May? What are your goals? Do you all have those slumps and how to you get out of them?

Maker’s Tote {a finish}

Friends and I have gotten together for two sew days to make Noodlehead’s Maker’s Tote. While others start theirs, both times I avoided it. I was apprehensive for a couple of reasons:

  • It’s my second bag I have ever made, and the first was 3 years ago.
  • There are several new techniques that I have not done before.
  • I wanted it to be good (funny how this stops us making things).

Finally, over Easter weekend and the following week, I managed not just one but started two Maker’s totes (a large and a small). I really wanted to have one for myself and one for a gift at Sewtopia Denver (this past weekend). Yes, I decided to try a brand new pattern the weekend before I needed it….Procrastination in my middle name :-).

Overall, the bag pattern is really not that complicated. Anna (@noodlehead) really walks you through the pattern step by step. I really enjoyed making them. There were a lot of lessons learned which you will find as tips below.

For the Large tote (which is the one I am keeping), I decided that I would finally cut into the Cotton Steel bug print which I have been hoarding and paired it with a Carolyn Friedlander print, pinks and Citrus.

The small tote, is made with this fabulous strawberry print from Cotton and Steel. The inner lining is the metallic Lizzie House Asterix,  the accents in various red prints and Art Gallery Denim.

I decided to quilt both bags. I liked the finish of them quilted. I used Aurifil 50 wt to quilt the bags.   Tip: Glue baste the fabric to the soft and stable. The first one I pin basted and I still got movement and the fabric shifted as I quilted.

I loved the bug fabric so much, I almost decided not to include a pocket. I did add the front pocket, but to keep the fabric the focus, I matched the print the best I could. I loved how it turned out.

Tip: Remember the 1/2″ seam allowance when trying to cut and match the print. This one landed up being a little lower that I would have liked but it still works.

On the back is a zipper pouch. On my large Maker’s Tote (the first one I was making), I found that the pins for the inside pouch did not stop the fabric from rolling/popping out when top-stitching around the zipper. Tip: For my small Maker’s Tote I glue basted the fabric to the soft and stable to hold it in place. It was easy to peel off when I needed to stitch the pocket seams.

I had a hard time with this zipper pocket on the small tote, I managed to stitch the pocket lining all the way through the zipper stitching, the handles, the joining of the bag layers (inner and outer), and the binding. The pocket lining was not down but landed on being flipped up. I unpicked all the offending stitches to free the pocket lining and re-stitched.   Tip: The lesson learned, make sure you have your pocket lining is facing down before any other step.

The inside lining and pockets were a breeze. If you have made Anna’s Carry-All pin cushion then the pockets are very similar instructions. I had some difficulty installing the zipper binding. The stitching appears on the outside so you will need straight lines. Tip: I  landed up glue basting both sides, drew a straight line using a marker, then stitched these two lines.

The gusseted ends were easy to make, but the hardest part of the making of the bag. I used binding clips as recommended in the pattern. This worked well for placement as I did have to play with moving the gusset around the bag to make it even and finish at the same height on both sides of the bag.  Tip: Use the binding clips to get placement and then glue baste it down. The clips get in the way of turning of the gusset as you stitch it in. Also, use a walking foot, I used a zipper foot as proposed which worked ok, but I think the walking foot would have handled the thickness better. No-one will see your seams when you are done….they are covered by the binding.

Final Tip: For the binding, stitch on the inside binding with a machine, but hand-stitched the binding to the front. Press the binding. I think it gave it a nicer finish.

I still need to finish the binding and handles of the large tote, but the small tote is finished and gifted!!

I can highly recommend this pattern. I loved making it and it is such a great finish. The small tote (after working out all the gotchas in the large tote) only took ~4 hours.

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April’s progress report {WiPs}

I am one of those folks that need a list to get things done. It helps me in two ways, keeps everything in order that I can no longer keep track of in my head, and also helps me celebrate when things get checked off the list. Additionally, posting my “to do” list here, provides me a level of accountability.

The list of things that are currently active is probably a little crazy at the moment. I finally have realized that I am never going to be a one project kind of girl ;-).

Almost finished, is this piece, NY High Line. The straight line quilting is progressing, and I see the light. This has been the project that I have avoided and severely procrastinated over. The 1/2″ quilting lines are color thread matched.

Some of my book projects are also coming along. I started the rainbow medallion quilt this week and I love how it’s already coming to life. I decided to break out my Carolyn Friedlander stash for this one.

I am loving traveling with this needle turn applique project (Manicured Garden). It’s perfect for all the wait-times in the airport and flying time.

The complete list of projects and stages is:

Project Dates Current Status
 NY High Line  April  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT (Underway), BIND
 Medallion  May  TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 1 (Secret)  June  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Project 2 (Secret)  July  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
Project 3 (Secret) August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
Graveyard August TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Trellis  September  TOP, BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Manicured Garden September TOP (Underway), BACK, BASTE, QUILT, BIND
 Abstract Triangles II & III  May  Pattern Release
 Phased Circles & Lunar Lines  June  Pattern Release
 Square Dance  July  Pattern Release

That’s my progress this week. I’ll check in each month here on my blog but you can always catch-up on my Instagram feed (ml_wilkie). How do you all keep track of your projects? Are you a one project or multi-project kind of person?