Monday, July 25, 2016


Quilt design by Katy Jones in Love Sewing issue 28
This is the design I saw which set me off making the cot bed quilt I am currently working on. You will have seen the top in my last post, here. The layers have all now been pinned together. The backing is a piece of plain calico. I use those bent safety pins. I had to buy a third pack to add to my collection and still ran out! My fingers are still quite sore from sticking the pins into the quilt layers. I do feel that it is well worth the effort since the layers do not get a chance to move.

This photo shows the pinned layers along with a sample of the wallpaper from the baby's bedroom. There is also a wall painted in buttercup yellow, hence the colours chosen for this quilt. The parents seem very happy with it all so far, I'm relieved to say.

Sample square constructed to test out the quilting patterns.
I've also made a small sample to test out the quilting patterns since the stitching will be visible on both sides of the quilt. Beneath, you will see the completed sample fully quilted and the reverse of the same sample.

The sample will be turned into a cushion cover since this may well prove a useful addition to the bedroom chair.

I'm planning to get started with the quilt as soon as I finish writing this entry to my Blog. The parents are planning to come to visit at the beginning of next month, so I don't have much time.......

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Still dreaming and stitching

Solar dyeing kits outside my workroom
I eventually got the solar dyeing kits under way. I wrote about my dyeing experiences on that day here. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to the fabrics. I've used silk fabric, silk thread, cotton organdie, butter muslin and wool slub.

Solar kit labels
You can see the colours I should be able achieve on the packaging shown above. Do get in touch with Helen Melvin if you find yourselves in North Wales. She is an inspirational dyer.

A gift from Japan
My dear husband met up with a Japanese gentleman recently. They worked together on a project in Japan some years ago. He came home with some little gifts for me. I love the little fabric horned sheep. It has a scented sachet inside a slit in the back.

More gifts from Japan
If you look closely, the little scented sachets are tied with little sheep. So sweet.

Woven quilt top under way
There has been sewing. I have been steadily working on this quilt top. It will eventually be a quilt for a cotbed. A first quilt for a new baby. There are borders to add now that I know the size I need to work to.

Lily in the sunshine
It has been so warm lately that getting to work in my workroom has been left until the cooler hours. It leaves me time to daydream amongst the flowers in the garden. I just love the juxtaposition of the colours. How many of us would actually put pink and orange together and yet it works.

Garden flowers
I find myself deciding what projects I need to do and organise the sequence when I daydream these days. I just can't stop my brain working on ideas even when I am physically doing nothing. You've already seen a couple of the projects I fully intend to finish before too long. I showed these in my last post. More hours in each day would certainly be useful.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

More projects ready to go.

My dress got finished quite quickly after my last post here, but then had to be washed since it ended up with a mark on the front....... my own clumsiness, I expect. It now hangs in my wardrobe ready to be worn.

Today I spent some time getting some more projects cut out ready for sewing. They have all coem from a couple of magazines I bought recently - both copies of "Love Sewing".

The first is this top, using some shiny fabric I bought on impulse some years ago. It is a soft jersey and should suit this design. It is the first of a couple of jersey tops which I shall be making.

The next is this rather useful looking bag. I do love project bags. A useful gift if not something to use. I can't help feeling that I have rather a lot of bags already. I couldn't resist this one. The fabrics are also from my extensive stash.

This second top can also be found in the new "Great British Sewing Bee" book, "From Stitch to Style". I actually got a copy of the book when I took out a subscription to the magazine. There are some interesting designs in the book alongside the patterns. I'm looking forward to trying some of them out. The BBC website about this programme can be found here.

These are the magazines I've got. I've enjoyed reading them too. You can find out about the magazine here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Spending some creative time with my sewing machine and other projects.

Where have the past few days gone? It has been really busy here - a new print board has been put together, four cushion covers, a simple top, some zipped bag/purses and a new print board have all been finished and I have nearly completed a new linen dress for myself. I haven't bought any new fabric, just a couple of zips. Everything has been constructed out of my rather large stash of fabrics, threads and general "stuff". I wish I could say that my cupboards and shelves are less full as a result, but I really cannot see a difference just yet.
the felt layers of the new print board
 I decided to make a third print board since I shall be giving a print workshop in August and my two current boards will not be sufficient. I can improvise some extra space, but the third board will just make everything so much easier for everyone.
All three boards together
It was so lucky that I had plenty of acrylic felt and enough of an old cotton sheet in my stash to be able to complete this project. The board had seen occasional use as a drawing board, but will be so much more useful to me as an additional printing surface.

I'd completely forgotten, until I sorted through my photos, that I'd also been to a dyeing session. This time I followed some advice I found on the Kemshall's website about preparing fabric for dyeing. The resulting colours have been so much better, I shall definitely do this again. The advice gave specific quantities for the washing soda used in preparing the fabric for procian dyeing. I now have a solution in a sealed pot ready in the garden shed for when we next have some good weather and I can prepare some more cotton. I hadn't realised that the solution could be kept and used again and again.

 These cushions were not started by me. They were handed in at the last Pinfold meeting and I volunteered to construct the cushion covers. They are now ready for the cushion tombola which will be part of the group's exhibition later this year. The covers have been hand embroidered and look so beautiful. Each cushion is just twelve inches square. I hope that the embroiderer will be pleased when she sees them again.

Speaking of tombolas. This collection of zipped purses have been made for The Quilters' Guild tombola at Festival of Quilts in August. So far I have made nine, but I have a couple more which have been cut out ready to sew together.

Yet another cushion for the Pinfold tombola. This one started life as a miniature quilt block challenge which has been stuck in my unfinished pile for a very long time. It is twenty inches across.

the dress waiting to be finished
 The dressmaking patterns were found in a recent edition of Ottobre magazine. The dress still has to have the armhole facings stitched into place and also the hems completed. I really need to iron it too. It has been fully lined.
a completed top
The top is going to be rather useful in the warmer weather. It was made from a piece of crepe de chine I had in my stash.

So apologies for not having posted here for a few days. I have been rather busy. I still haven't started those cotbed quilts.........

Monday, June 06, 2016

Planned quilts and Whispers

The fabrics shown here are for two planned quilts. These will be for a baby not yet born. The nursery theme is a delightful mix of blue sky with white clouds as the wallpaper and a bright yellow sun as the lamp in the centre of the ceiling. Such a cheerful room.

I have plans to make two quilts - one with the bright blue and yellow "daytime" theme with a sun.The second, slightly darker, having the moon and stars as a theme. 

Sadly, I can't yet share the piece I have been working on this week since it is part of a challenge. It will be handed over to the owner on Wednesday when there will be a big reveal showing all the work produced. There is a plan to have all the resulting pieces displayed at a group exhibition later in the year which is all rather exciting. Perhaps I should say nerve-wracking......

The challenge itself is called "Whispers". The idea is rather like the children's game of Chinese Whispers where one friend whispers a word or phrase and then this is repeated by each child taking part. The fun being whether the word spoken aloud at the end is the same as the first word whispered at the beginning of the sequence. This challenge is similar in that each person taking part has found a photograph to be their theme. The owner of the photo then produces a small piece (in our case, A5 - 21cm x 15cm, 8.5" x 6"). This piece is then passed to the next person. The second person is not permitted sight of the photo..... At the next meeting, the first person's piece is returned and the second person passes their interpretation on to the next person who makes a piece based on their interpretation of the piece they have been given. It is only at the final meeting that all the textile pieces are displayed alongside the original photographs. This will happen on Wednesday, and I must admit that I am rather excited to see what we have all produced.
After the meeting on Wednesday we are expected to go and make a book of the collection of little textile pieces we will each have collected. These books will then be displayed at the group's exhibition.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Itching to stitch.

Fabric collage
An interesting workshop with Liesbeth making fabric collage. The idea is to put the pieces together without thinking too much about it. The fabrics are bondawebbed in place. The pins are there since I also added some scraps of fabric which had not had any bondaweb ironed to them. The idea is then to place L shaped bits of card to find interesting pieces for future stitch projects.

Using improvised L shapes to make mini stitched pieces
These small pieces are around 5" x 3" (13 x 7.5cm). In the end I chose a couple of other pieces to cut out since these seemed a little dull and "safe". So far I have just cut out two pieces to work on. There may be others.
Another mini piece
In case you are wondering, I improvised the L shaped pieces. These are actually cut from flyers I found at the venue since I don't have any such shapes of my own.

Charity shop finds - lace edging and cotton hankies.
One of my failings is that I really cannot resist going into charity shops and rooting through their textile items. I do try to plan what I shall do with each piece rather than just add to my growing collection of fabric. I had intended the lace edging and hankies to be used for nuno felt. However, the hankies are so pretty I think I shall probably keep them as they are for now. The lace edging will definitely find itself added to some nuno felt before long.

Cotton fabric
Now, this cotton lawn piece could become a long skirt. I think it was intended to be two long scarves since the design has distinct borders. Each shawl is approximately 1.5m by 1m (59" x 39"). This is after washing. Luckily, I chose to hand wash since the fabric was steeped in size and really quite stiff. It is a lot softer now and has shrunk slightly. I said it was lucky that I chose to handwash this since it lost a lot of loose dye in the process. I'll have to find a suitable fabric to line this with if I decide to make it into clothing. Any thoughts?

More vintage patterns
I found some really nice patterns too. I used to own a copy of Simplicity 9254 when it first came out in the eighties. I made a long sleeved version of the dress which I wore for quite a few years. It is one of those patterns that I really wish I had hung on to. The McCalls pattern is from 2003 and is for stretch knits, a type of fabric I really must get around to working with. The third pattern had never been opened. I've never heard of "Successful Sewing", so can only assume it came out with a series of magazines. There are no sewing instructions, but since it is quite a basic style that shouldn't be a problem. I see this as a potential pattern to use some of my own printed fabrics. I just need to start printing some much larger pieces...... Now that could be fun.
My only problem will be what to start first. Perhaps I should finish some of my UFOs first..... decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Postcards, books and printing on felt

Completed Apache top
It has been an interesting week. For once I have quite a number of completed, or nearly completed items to share. 
Firstly, a photo of the completed knitted top which I talked about last time. As you can see it has a really interesting closure in that there is a knitted tab which is pushed through a buttonhole in the right front of the waistcoat. This should be handed back tomorrow.

Printing on felt
On Friday I went along to a workshop at Friday Felters. This was with Val Hughes, a very talented textile artist. This was a really interesting session, although I must admit to not liking the block printing medium which I used for my sample. The felt is still sticky today. I shall have another go and print using my usual fabric paints. The blocks shown above were made at the workshop using foam board as a backing with thin foam. As you can see, I cut the foam so that I could use a positive and negative of the same design. I haven't used the second block yet, I found the idea of printing on felt had a lot of possibilities and will definitely be doing it again.
Completed book cover
 You may recall this post, where I showed an earlier stage of working to put this book together. Since March, I have been steadily adding bits and pieces to my book, deciding yesterday that it really now needed to have a cover. So, here it is. I still haven't filled all the pages, but will continue to add bits and pieces during the rest of the year. Tomorrow, it will be travelling along with me to the NWCQ meeting where other members will be showing their altered books. I didn't join in with that topic, preferring to make my own book rather than use a printed book. I really don't know what they will make of my version.
The cover is part of the old sheeting on my small printboard which I replaced earlier. Shocking to think it has languished in my fabric stash for so long before being used. However, it was perfect for this book cover. Just the right size too. It won't be too long before I need to replace the current printboard cover on that same small board......
The cover is stretched over a piece of foamboard which was left over from making some exhibition notices last year. Useful stuff. It is quite sturdy and stops the book becoming too heavy.
A few of the pages
 The next two photos show some printed bits and pieces which may well end up inside the book once they are completely dry.
Some material to be added to the book
 The lettering was printed using a set of children's wooden letters which I have had since my teaching days. Rather nice to be able to use them. The block pattern at the top of the above photo is another of my home made blocks made using foam board, double sided tape and thin foam. Like the earlier blocks, this also has a negative block which I haven't yet used for printing.
A sample to try out the lettering
This scrap of fabric is all that remains of the printboard cover which I used for the book cover. So useful to have a piece like this to use to try out different things.
My postcard - "Wish you were here"
Last week, I went along to a Pinfold meeting where the challenge was to complete a fabric postcard on the topic, "Wish you were here." I decided to revisit the design I used for my Horizons quilt, "Caribbean Memories". The original design was 0.5m wide and 1.5m long (19.75" x 39.5"). You can see it here. This piece still needs to be trimmed. It uses scraps of sheer and satin fabrics with some woven silk over a backing of calico. The detail of the leaves has been free machined with a small amount of paint used for the coconuts. The size of this piece will be 87mm x 139mm (3.5" x 5.5"). I will be taking this to the beading group in the morning since they are considering this as a challenge.