Month: January 2011

Using Photoshop to Improve Your Photos

Today, I bring you expert photographer Molly O’Bryon-Welpott from MollysMuses.  She is going to offer up some advise on how to use Photoshop to improve your personal, business, and blog photos.

I was honored when Angela asked me to do a guest post on her blog.  Her idea seemed simple enough…

“I thought you could pick a few photos already posted on my blog that could be made better through Photoshop.”

This sounds easy and was something I was excited to do, but, Angela’s images do not need that much work.  I chose a personal photograph and an image from Angela’s work to edit.

One of the pictures was a candid of Monet in the swimming pool.

Here is the picture before:

using photoshop to improve your photos

And here is the picture after using photoshop:

using photoshop to improve your photosSteps I took in Photoshop, to improve this photo:

To begin with, I decided to crop this image. Because all of Monet’s right hand was not showing, I decided to crop it in a slightly abstract way, so it looks intentional with the close up of her other hand and the garden hose.

The next thing I chose to do was to edit the color balance of the image. This image has an overall blue cast to it. This is for 2 reasons, one the background is almost all blue, but also the water is reflecting blue onto Monet’s skin. So we can color correct that with color balance in Photoshop.

I simply dialed out some of the cyan out, which adds red and dialed out some of the blue by adding some yellow, which will give a normal skin tone. If you notice the background of the pool is still blue, as it should be.

Next below her eyes there are small shadows, I just lightly used the “dodge tool.” I like to work with it set large enough to cover the spot with one click so that it does not appear striped or raccoon like, just a little brightener.

Next I am choosing to clean up a little of the areas on the skin, particularly the blade of grass below the neck. Grass in an action shot is not a bad thing, but because we are going for a simple composition here with focus on the baby and the water, it can be a distraction.

In Photoshop I select the Healing Brush set at about 31 and I lightly go over it; and the grass piece is gone. You can use this time to make your brush slightly smaller and clean up any other tiny distractions you would like to get rid of.  Finally, I opened my brighten and contrast option. I slightly brightened the image and added a pop of contrast.


The next image I chose is a close up from Angela’s multi-media work.  I chose the image of the blue couch because it does not pop as much as the other  images on her blog. It feels slightly flat and doesn’t do her work justice.

Here is the picture before:

using photoshop to improve your photosAnd here is the picture after using photoshop:

using photoshop to improve your photosWith textiles and fibers it’s really important for all of the handwork to show; this image is in need of some contrast.

Steps I took in Photoshop, to improve this photo:

First I simply went adjust image and set this one to auto-level. It is a bit brighter already, Now I will go back into the brightening and contrast option. I went to a 40 on contrast. Keep in mind I am focusing on trying to show the detail in the stitching. I don’t know the exact color and that will vary from monitor to monitor. There is a dark shadow at the bottom. So I will go in and use my dodge tool again. As I mentioned in the first image, I like to make my brush size big enough when using this tool that I don’t need to go back and forth multiple times, because I want it to be even. I don’t want to dodge too much because it will distort the image. And finally we will use out healing tool again for minor clean up, for 2 loose threads.


It was much harder for me to narrow down the 2 images I like best on the blog. WHY? Because I love quilts and color and there are so many beautifully done images on this blog.

Here are the two I decided on –I know you will enjoy them as well:

The personal image I love the most on Angela’s blog is one I remember her posting in a blogpost titled, She Had me Before Hello.  This is a wonderful photo of Angela and Monet. It has everything working for it. The day is beautiful, the colors are gorgeous and my favorite part if the complete joy and emotion all captured forever in that frame. The background shows me that these people are interesting, I want to know more when I look at the image. Where are they? What are they doing. And at the same time the subject fill the frame so that they are the main focus and nothing is taken away from the moment that they are sharing. Looks like a magical day!

"Quilting 101" quilt-along in 2011The image of Angela’s work that I chose is actually from her newest post, Part 2 of the Quilt-Along.  The lighting in this particular image is perfect. The paper with the pattern on it is perfectly exposed I can even see the details of the graph paper in the background. I think this must be natural light and it looks great. I also love the variety of color (which we would expect from a professional quilter). But also the composition of this image has triangles to my right which leads my eye to look at all of the fabric choices, and yet the pincushion grounds my eye from getting lost in the white space of the paper. Very nice job Angela.


Wow, Molly, thanks so much.  These tips are very helpful as I continue to play and edit my photos in Photoshop.  I appreciate your expert advise.

Would you like Molly, an expert photographer, to guest post on your blog?  Leave a comment below, with any questions you have for Molly.  It can be in regards to this post or a guest post you would like her to do on your blog.

MollysMuses Molly's Muses Fine ART Photography Prints-Vintage

Molly can be found online through her awesome etsy shop and blog.  You can also follow her on facebook and twitter as well.

A Touch of Sunshine

January has been a rough month, between all the snow and the sickness.  First a cold, then I caught that horrible stomach bug, then another cold (or the same cold, who knows), and then a sinus infection.  Ugh!  Along with that, the inversions have been long, and the snow heavy.

My moment for this week came just the other day, when we went to the park to get a touch of sun; and even though it was still cold out, there was no snow, no inversion, and no sickness for the first time in a month.

Ahhh, I literally breathed a sigh of relief.

Because people, smiles and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, I hope you enjoyed this weeks “moment”…

om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

Making a House a Home: Custom Family Art

“Quilting 101″ Quilt-Along: Sewing your Quilt-Top

For those of you who are following this “Quilting 101” quilt-along in 2011, we are now on step #2 of our quilt-along where we will be sewing our quilt-top.  To start, please gather your cut strips and use the diagram posted in “Quilting 101” quilt-along: Step #1.

“Quilting 101″ Quilt-Along in 2011: Sewing your Quilt-Top

I’ve put together a video that will step you though the next stage of this quilt-along.  This is my first video though, and so it seems a bit rough to me –maybe I’m just embarrassed to see myself on tape for the first time.  Please watch the entire video once, before you begin sewing.

Here are the basic steps:

1.  Layout the quilt-top pieces in order, according to the diagram.

2.  Pining right sides together, pin strip 1 to 2, strip 3 to 4, strip 5 to 6, etc.

3.  Sew, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and press seam allowances open.

4.  Layout your new pieces, in order, according to the diagram.

5.  Pining right side together, pin strip set 1-2 to 3-4, strip set 5-6 to 7-8, etc.

6.  Sew, using a 1/4″ seam allowance, and press seam allowances open.

7.  Repeat until the entire quilt top is assembled (this will not include the border.)

Here is that video, that steps you though these same steps, in more detail:

Good luck!

quilting 101 quilt-along 2011 a handmade custom quilt

Please let me know if you have any question by posting them in the comments section below.  I can’t wait to see your quilt-tops assembled.

Wearing Lots of Hats

pictures handmade quilts

What hats are you wearing today?  I recently talked to Candy Glendening, of Candied Fabrics.  Candy had some excellent insight as to the multiple roles the modern day creative entrepreneur must assume.  Sometimes we find ourselves playing the part of a designer, other times authors, and still yet, artists, bloggers, crafters, teachers, seamstresses, etc. etc. etc. and often along with all this we are mothers and wives.

Why do we do this, Candy and I joked?

It seems that maybe we have to.  It’s something that is within us.  It’s in our blood –we must create.  Candy and I both feel strongly about this.  She would even go so far as to say we should “make things just for the sake of making –that’s how our work grows and evolves”.

Candy Glendening Mod House OrnamentsAfter I got off the phone with Candy, I remembered feeling assured that what I was doing with The Artists’ House was the right thing to do.  You see, I feel people should keep their dreams as the solid foundation of their lives, but often you do need to learn to wear each of those hats to be able to build upon those dreams Candy reminded me.  Candy says, “Although I have many goals in my life, one of my main goals is to continue to grow, develop and evolve as an artist.”  I find that with the busyness of life, we often start to loose our dreams, and I believe that if you are not focused, the chaos of life can obscure what it is you were looking for.

Candy Glendening Messenger BagSo, in conclusion, have your goals in mind, and always be working towards them, but do realize that there are often other roles that you will have to take on to be able to reach those goals.  Don’t let those other hats you must wear sidetrack you, but rather use them to your advantage.  Let those parts of your life connect you to your work and help make it better.  Find how to connect all parts of your everyday life into your goals.  It’s not easy, but if you can do this, I believe you can find success in what you do.

Thanks Candy, for helping me come to this conclusion.

Do you know Candy?  If you don’t, you should.  Candy as a person is amazing, as is her art and her blog.  You can find Candy online through her website Candied Fabrics, facebook page, and on twitter.  Along with that, Candy does a great “Ask Candy” column on A La Mode Stuff.  Also, recently Candy did a great guest post on Scoutie Girl titled “One little house at a time: finding your art, getting published, and going live!” Check it out!

Quilts for Babies Using Bright, Solid Colors

Quilts for Babies Using Bright, Solid ColorsSomething is in the water –it seems everyone I know is getting pregnant, or trying to get pregnant.  Oh, how I wish I could make a blanket for all of them.  And while that’s unfortunately not possible, I must say all these unborn babies have inspired me to start considering a line of quilts just using bright, solid colors.

What do you think?

Quilts for Babies Using Bright, Solid Colors

Quilts for Babies Using Bright, Solid Colors

How about a line for babies and adults?

Quilts Using Bright, Solid Colors

Yes, I think my idea just got stronger!


image credit:  Carina’s Craftblog, Screamy Mimi, Carson Too Modern Quilts, and House Doctor

“Quilting 101” Quilt-Along: Quilt Diagram, Choosing Fabric & Cutting Fabric

Today we begin our "Quilting 101" quilt-along where we will look at a quilt diagram, choose fabric for our quilt, and cut the fabric for our quiltToday we begin our “Quilting 101” quilt-along where we will look at a quilt diagram, choose fabric for our quilt, and cut the fabric for our quilt.  If you’ve never made a quilt before, or if you have limited time but you’d like to participate, this is a great quilt-along to join.  The quilt design that we will be making is simple –a skilled quilter could finish this quilt in a few days.  If you haven’t yet joined, it’s not too late, the more the merrier.

Here are a few photos of the quilt we will be making:

custom made quilt and quilting 101 quilt-alongcustom made quilt and quilting 101 quilt-alongcustom made quilt and quilting 101 quilt-along


Please read through this entire post, before you begin.  As you can see, we are dealing with a very basic quilt design, made up of stripes and a border.

Here is a diagram of the quilt:

quilting 101 quilt-along quilt diagram

And here are a few more photos:

quilting 101 quilt-along 2011 a handmade custom quiltquilting 101 quilt-along 2011 a handmade custom quilt


Choosing Colors and Fabric:

As we quilt-along, I’m going to be using “relationships” as a metaphor to describe the parts and/or steps of making a quilt.  Today, I want to talk a little bit about coordinating fabrics since your first assignment is to gather supplies and purchase fabric.

In my eyes, coordinating fabrics is similar to how two peoples’ personalities might complement each other in a relationship.  If two people are exactly the same, the relationship might lack depth and seem bland.  Instead, I think it’s better when two peoples’ differences compliment the other’s personality.  For example, I am a very passionate person; I feel deeply and strongly about everything.  My husband on the other hand is more logical, more of a thinker.  I can not tell you how often this difference compliments our marriage and the decisions we make everyday.  Do I need to go more in depth, or do you get what I mean?

Coordinating fabrics and colors for a project is similar.  The fabrics you choose need to go together, but they also need to have an element that makes them different or makes them compliment each other in someway. Instead of recreating the wheel, here are a few helpful links I found online:  Color, Rule of Thumb & Color Basics for Quilting.

Once you’ve found your fabrics, I encourage you to use the diagram above like a coloring page to help you decide how you want the certain colors and patterns to coordinate and play together.

Ordering Fabric:

I order most of my fabric online because I love the selection online shopping offers.  My favorite online shops include Fabric Worm, Fabric Shack, and Above All Fabric.  I also think it’s great to support local quilt shops, if you’re lucky enough to have a good one in your area.

Fabric Amounts:

The quilt we are going to make for this quilt-a-long is approximately 48″ x 82″ in size.  This does fit the top of a twin size bed, but with very little hangover.  Ideally this quilt would serve as a throw or a blanket you fold up on the bottom of a bed.  It would be easy to make this quilt a bit wider by making the border a bit wider if you desire a bigger size, or smaller by taking some of the strips out if you want a smaller quilt for a young child.  Here’s how much fabric you’ll need to order:

  • Fabric A – 5/8 yard
  • Fabric B (large print optional) – 1 yard
  • Fabric C – 3/8 yard
  • Fabric D – 5/8 yard
  • Fabric for quilt binding (stripes, solids, or small prints work best) – 1 yard to be safe although 3/4 would work if you’re careful
  • Fabric E (border of the quilt & backing of the quilt) – 4 3/4 yards
  • Note:  if you want your border and your back to be different, you’ll need 2 3/8 yard of fabric E and an additional 4 3/4 yards for a solid back or 2 3/8 yards for a pieced back.  Let me know if you have any questions.


Note:  I realize the above amounts changed a little from a comment I left a while back.  If you already purchased fabric and this is causing you problems, please let me know and I’ll help you work it out.  Basically, you’ll need to widen some of the strips and shorten others to balance out the fabric amounts you have.  If you have more than 4 fabrics that you’re wanting to work with, you could also add those in to make up the difference.  Sorry for the inconvenience.  I didn’t like how two of the fabrics I ordered looked and so I altered the pattern a bit.  I do hope you understand.  If you’re struggling, please email me and I’ll email you a diagram of the original quilt pattern, along with cutting instructions. Here is a diagram and the fabric amounts for that quilt…
quilting 101 quilt-along quilt diagram 2
  • Fabric A (large print) – 3/4 yard
  • Fabric B, C, D, E & F – 3/8 yard
  • Fabric G (border of the quilt) – 2 and 3/8 of a yard
  • Fabric H (binding) – 1 yard
  • Fabric I (back) – 4 3/4 yards for a solid back
  • Email me, or leave me a comment, if you would like a larger picture of this diagram.


Washing Your Fabric:

I do NOT wash my fabrics before I use them.  The overall quality of fabric has increased significantly in the past decade and it seems that many people do NOT wash fabric before they sew anymore.  I took a twitter and facebook pole today and only one person reported washing before sewing.  It’s completely up to you, but I don’t wash before I sew and I’ve never experienced problems.

Cutting Fabric:

My biggest piece of advise is to measure twice and cut once!!!

If you have never used a rotary cutter before, here is a great Rotary Cutter Tutorial.

Cutting width of fabric, or from selvage to selvage, make the following cuts:

Fabric A:  A1 – 4.5″ x 41″, A2 – 6.5″ x 41″, A3 – 4.5″ x 41″, and A4 – 2.5″ x 41″

Fabric B:  B1 – 6.5″ x 41″, B2 – 10.5″ x 41″, and B3 – 14.5″ x 41″

Fabric C:  C1 – 2.5″ x 41″, C2 – 2.5″ x 41″, C3 – 2.5″ x 41″, and C4 – 4.5″ x 41″

Fabric D:  D1 – 4.5″ x 41″, D2 – 6.5″ x 41, and D3 – 8.5″ x 41″

Set fabric E, backing fabric, binding fabric, and/or border fabrics aside for later use.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them for me in the comments section so that all participants can learn from each other thoughts.

I’ll post step #2 next week sometime –stay tuned and good luck!

A Green Giveaway

A Custom Made Quilt

“Dear Angela,  I can’t thank you enough, for creating this lasting memory…  Love, Barbara”

custom made t-shirt quilt

A few months back, I received a phone call that went something like this…

“Hello, is this Angela Flicker?”

“Yes it is.  May I ask who’s calling?”

“Hi, my name is Barbara –we met at the Avenues Street Fair!?  I was wondering if you would like to make a quilt for me.  I loved your work.  You see, my husband passed away this past year, and, umm, I was hoping to get a quilt made out of his old t-shirts.”

My heart stopped.  I absolutely remembered meeting this woman.  I met and talked with hundreds of people that day, months before, and yes I remembered this woman.  She was sweet, and soft spoken –very beautiful for her age.  I remembered because she reminded me of my own grandmother, and I remembered her because of her story.  I remember her crying.  How could I forget?

“Of course I can make a quilt for you.  I’d be honored.  Can we set up a time to meet?”

My moment for this week came just yesterday, when Barbara came by to pick up her quilt.  With tears in her eyes she showed me pictures of her husband, and she told me about the condition he had.  And when I showed her the quilt, and I saw her face seeing the quilt for the first time, in that moment I knew I had made something very special for someone else.

Barbara may not realize this, but she did something for me too.

She reminded me of how special a quilt can be, what it can mean to the owner; and more importantly, she reminded me of how special family is.

custom made t-shirt quiltcustom made t-shirt quiltcustom made t-shirt quilt


custom made t-shirt quilt

Because people, smiles and laughter, more than anything else, is truly what makes a house a home, I hope you enjoyed this weeks “moment”…

om [one moment] meet upOM is *one moment* and is a meetup designed to notice & relish a moment in everyday life. The meetup idea was created by Linda at her blog, a la mode stuff.  If you’d like to participate in OM, just click the button and you’ll be taken to Linda’s post explaining it all.

Stylish? That’s Debatable!

stylish blogger awardThank you Molly, from Mollys Muses, for giving me the Stylish Blogger Award.  I really appreciate the nice compliment.

So this is how the award works.  Honorees do the following: thank and link back to the person that awarded them, share 7 things about themselves, and pay it forward to 15 recently discovered bloggers.

7 Things about Myself:

1.  I spend most days in my PJ’s, only to shower at night and put PJ’s back on.

2.  I blog in bed, before the sun comes up, and before I’ve brushed my teeth.

3.  My primary responsibility is taking care of my 18 month old daughter who is an expert at sensing when I have actually put something clean and somewhat stylish on, only to stain it before we get out the door.

4.  When my house is clean and put away, it is magazine worthy.  Unfortunately my house only looks that way 1% of the time.

5.  Lately, all of the art is our home is wall art because that is the only art my daughter can’t reach.

6.  Yesterday after finally getting through 5 loads of laundry, I was left with 4 white socks that read, “Old Navy 0-6 months”, “Old Navy 6-12 months”, “Old Navy 12-24 months”, and “Children’s Place 12-24 months”.  Are you kidding me?

7.  Sometimes I make a circle with my hands and I squeeze it around the fat on my belly.  The results look like a bagel and this makes my daughter laugh.

Why am I telling you this?  Because in reality, most days I don’t feel all that “stylish”.

I guess I want people to realize that behind all the style and success that we see online, a mess most likely hides.

Let’s keep it real.  Are any of us really all that “stylish”?