Ship Wreck, Fort Stevens Oregon 2018

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A little about how I designed the tote

Note: I was a good girl and spent the morning working on sorting papers!  Got a lot done.

I thought I might write a bit more about designing the grocery tote. 

To Gay and Joe, no, I do not have a pattern of any kind. For the structure dimensions I just measured the bag I wanted to put into it.  It is basically just a box.  For the birds, butterflies, and flowers, I looked at pictures on the web, and then roughed out my own.  The actual images are created as I stitch, since I really can't draw much better than a sixth grader. I undo frequently.

For Karen, I don't know what the overall design will be, because I don't plan it out.  As I worked on each image, I was aware of the spaces around it and  played with ideas of what will fit in next.

This is how I designed the flower side: 

I started with the pink fuchsias on the top because I wanted flowers that hung down.  The lavender flowers on the left are wisteria which also hang down. The small leaves above the wisteria visually contrast with the larger leaves of the fuchsias.

Although I had thought I would do only flowers on this side, I added the hummingbird because they love fuchsias.  I looked at a color picture on the web of a ruby throated hummer. You can't see it on this picture, but I used iridescent embroidery floss for his head and throat. I had seen it at the craft store a few days earlier and once I had decided on a hummer I bought it, and tried it on a sample before using it on the tote.

As I built each side, I filled in some of the areas of black background. I knew I was going to lose the hummer's beak if I didn't put something lighter behind it, so I added the green leaf.

I wanted a large flower that came up from the bottom. The idea of using bird of paradise came to me as I was falling asleep.  The next day I looked at some web images and discovered they could be yellow, orange, or red.  I chose red. 

After finishing them, I filled in the rest of the black on that side and decided the lower right corner needed something.  I did the little star flowers as an over-stitch.  They are a repeat element from one of the other sides. As I look at it now, I think I over did hem a bit.  Sometimes less is more.

I wanted do some yellow roses in the mid section of the space, but after three tries and rip-outs I settled for anonymous petaled flowers. (I will be experimenting with rose images in the future, I don't like to be defeated.) 

The final addition was the two tiger lilies in the lower left corner. They were inspired by images by Al in Travels With The Bayfield Bunch

So, there you have it.  A blow by blow of how I think.  I remember when I was creating animal heads I would have an overall goal in mind, but had to concentrate on creating the whole, piece by piece.
It just happened.  Sometimes things work, and sometimes they end in the trash.  The nice thing is I'm doing it for me now, not to sell.

Was this interesting to anyone?


  1. Yes, it was interesting! :) And wild too - I can't imagine creating something like that just freehand.

  2. Your tote is gorgeous! My favorite is the tiger lily, although the hummingbird is a close 2nd. What a talented person you are!!!

  3. Of COURSE it's interesting! It's fascinating to see how a creative brain works. I make lots of stuff, and can recreate something I've seen. I can watch somebody make something and then try the process myself and have things turn out great, but to make something from scratch and have that original thought, nope! You are very blessed with a LOT of talent, Merikay. The tote is beautiful!

  4. YES it was interesting!!! I cannot even imagine making something up like that and creating it without a pattern. If you don't want to sell things you make, you could probably sell patterns to a pattern company. It really is amazing as well as beautiful.

  5. Yes, very interesting to me since I can't do anything without a pattern. ;)

  6. Yep interesting to find out how your imagination goes through the thought process. I too pretty much always need a pattern except for the most simple designs.

  7. Yes it was interesting. That is such a gorgeous tote. I am amazed how you came up with it. I'm not a crafty person so I'm hugely impressed!

  8. You are such a talented woman, that was evident with your animal sculptures and now with the tote design. Amazing.

  9. Beautiful -- you have a wonderful creative side. What each of us have to offer in our creative sides make life more fun :)

  10. Hey, Merikay, that's beautiful and fascinating. We didn't see the other post, so now we'll go back and see the whole project!

  11. Of course it is interesting....it is absolutely beautiful. Those panels would look great on a wall.

  12. You have a wonderful eye for colour and shape.


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