Tuesday, August 25, 2015

More sewing and crochet - it's been a busy week.

Curtain fabric remnant
The past week has been busy - first, I managed to wash and iron a couple of pieces of fabric I found in the remnants section of Shufflebotham's in Macclesfield. This first piece will eventually become a jacket. Not sure yet whether it will be a blazer or a more fitted and lined jacket. At the moment I plan to make the latter. I do have a lovely pattern, but will need to find it first.

Remnant of silk
This delightful piece of fabric just had to come home with me from the same remnants section. It is a sheer blouse weight, so will need to be fully lined. It just asked to come home with me.............

If you do get the chance to visit Macclesfield, then this shop is well worth a visit. One of those wonderful shops which are getting rather rare these days. It is full of gorgeous fabrics, has an amazing remnants section and has really helpful staff.

An old curtain makes a useful zipped bag
I found myself making a zipped bag for some blinds. A very quick job. The old curtain was in my stash. It was a find from a charity shop many months ago and had been destined for shopping bags. This will be so much more useful. The original container for these blinds was a rather nasty battered plastic bag.

Completed oven gloves
I started these last week and managed to get them finished a couple of days ago. Two squares of Insul-bright quilted inside some quilting cotton, edged with tape. There is a gap for my hand to fit inside the "sandwich". It will be interesting to see how well this works. There are two which is why I think of them as oven gloves rather than pot holders.

Reverse side
Lastly, the reason I ventured into Shufflebotham's in the first place. My new piano stool. This was a very lucky find in an auction when we were in Tring some weeks back. Constructed in the 1930's it was rather a mess when we first saw it. My husband has stripped it down completely and rebuilt it. I just added the finishing touch, the upholstered top.

Piano stool
There is a lot of polyester filling and some old polyester wadding which I really didn't want to use for a quilt - it was rather nasty, but perfect for this task.

Fabric and detail of the wood
So comfy now and just the right height. It is nice not to have to use one of the diningroom chairs. I always had to add a couple of cushions to be able to sit at the right height. Now I must stop looking at my new seat, and start using it.

Cushion cover in progress
I posted a photo of this project a little while ago. There are now 24 different designs of the hexagons. I have made two of each and so have a total of 48 completed. Just another 14 pairs to crochet.

Some of the completed hexagons

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sewing and dyeing

Drying the newly washed dye samples 

As promised last time, here are the photos of the dried samples. These first two photos show everything drying on my washing line.

Persian berries sample

Alder Buckthorn

Rhubarb root sample

Apparently, adding a small amount of washing soda carefully to the dye bath can turn the colour from brown to purple. A fascinating process. We were told that the colour could change to navy if too much washing soda is added.



Dyers Greenweed 
The beautiful darker green was achieved by the addition of washing soda to a smaller sample of the dye bath, Such a difference to what was originally a rather insipid yellow.

Such an exciting process. The last photo shows my favourite - Japanese Indigo. This is a piece of silk and I love it because of the various colours. Some red has leached onto it, but I think it makes it such a really interesting piece of fabric.

Japanese Indigo
I really don't know what I shall with these samples. They are quite small, but I expect most will end up being used one day.

The experimental dress
This is where I have got up to with my dress. The skirt is quite full, and now has pockets which were not part of the original design. I now need to get going with the printing.Not sure where this project is heading at the moment, and totally unsure whether it is worth the effort, but we shall see. I was feeling rather unsure whether to continue at all until I read the Blog posted today by Cherie Haas, the online Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors. Her title was "You might not like this". In her piece, Cherie wrote ",,,,if a project is scary, if it's so big that it seems impossible, then it's worth doing". "I invite you ro dig in, dig deep, and be authentic. You have nothing to lose."

(I should note here that, at the time of writing this, the Blog post mentioned above has not been added to the Cloth Paper Scissors website. Hopefully it will be added later. I found it well worth reading.)

Cherie Haas might have been talking just to me, the dithering, prevaricating me. I really felt encouraged by her words. I just need to clear a space to get the printing done. Sadly it will have to wait until the next project has been completed.

Work in progress
This is not a big project, just a pair of pot holders. The last set I made is currently living with my elder daughter and I miss having them in my kitchen. These will be a bit bigger. I must also get my piano stool upholstered, but that is a story for another day.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Experiments in printing and dyeing.

Printed calico bag - inverted
I've been busy since I last wrote. Firstly, I was involved in a delightful printing workshop. This was such fun. We were printing bags ready for the Festival of Quilts. They were donated to the Tombola which raises funds for The Quilters' Guild of The British Isles of which I am a member.

Printed bamboo bag - correct orientation

Printed black calico bag - correct orientation
We could each buy three different bags - two were calico, one being black. The third was a little more unusual, being made of bamboo. I must admit to having preferred the calico bags. I brought six extra bags home with me to print as presents. The three shown will be, by now, with their new owners since I donated all three bags which were completed on the day. The photos were taken as they dried on a washing line.

Last Friday I was really lucky and went to an Introduction to natural dyeing with the Frodsham Friday Felters group. We travelled to North Wales and visited Helen Melvin in her fascinating Blaen Wern Dye Garden.

Rhubarb root (Rheum sp)
The photos you see here are the wet samples of the different dyes we tried as they waited on the draining board in my kitchen. I shall post photos of the rinsed and dried samples in my next post.

Japanese Indigo (Persicaria tinctoria)

Persian berries (Rhamus sp with rusty nails)

Helen's dyed wool - fermented Alder Buckthorn

Alder Buckthornm (Frangula alnus)

Cochineal (Dactylopius Coccus)


Dyers Greenwood (Genista tinctoria)

Madder (Rubia tinctoria)
It was really interesting to walk around Helen's garden with her commentary on what each plant was and the colours that could be achieved using different mordants. Different parts of the plants were used - dried berries or roots, or fresh leaves (Japanese Indigo). All dyebaths, bar the Japanese Indigo, were prepared by Helen before we arrived so that we could make the best use of our time with her. I was able to help collect the leaves and liquidise them ready for use. Since I had forgotten to wear gloves, my nails were a rather nice shade of turquoise by the time I had finished.

The last photo shows the bodice I have been making. I am intending to print and paint the dress while it is in two pieces - the as yet uncompleted bodice and the skirt. The skirt has still to be assembled.
The almost finished bodice
You may have seen the pattern photograph in my last post. You can see it here.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Busy sewing, stitching and crochet too!

New pincushion
The past few weeks and months have been crazy. I really don't know where the time has gone, but little in the way of sewing was completed until recently. Hence this post.
The first project was a new pincushion to house my new glass-headed pins. My old, much loved pincushion had seen better days and is currently residing at my younger daughter's house. She didn't have enough pins to assist in constructing a new upholstered cover for her renovated bench. I gave her mine, complete with old pincushion. So, having bought some new pins to replace the donated ones, I put this pincushion together. It is very simple. A little pot, around 2.5 inches tall, found in a charity shop stuffed, with a wad of polyester toy stuffing. The stuffing is contained within a piece of fabric made of selvedges from my collection.

Crochet cushion cover
I also finished this crochet cushion cover. The design was found inside issue 57 of the Inside Crochet magazine. The original design was for double knitting, but I have used 4ply. It makes for a really comfy cushion.

This pair of culottes has also been completed recently. The design comes from an old pattern originally from the Burda magazine dating from October 1989. I made these back in 1989 and wore them out, finding them really comfortable to wear. Not surprisingly, I have had to enlarge the pattern by two sizes................. I am rather heavier than I used to be.

Another version of my favourite shirt pattern. This time a fitted version of the Hotpatterns design which sadly now seems to be out of print. This now has buttons down the front and is ready to wear as soon as I get around to ironing it.

Dress pattern
This is a current project. Being constructed out of calico (muslin?), this is rather an experiment. I am intending to use this as a printing project once I have the bodice and the skirt constructed. Hopefully I should be able to get most of the sewing done this evening. I shall have to wait until later this week before getting started with the printing, Funnily enough I am off to a printing workshop tomorrow. Sadly, not an occasion when I can get started with this.
The pattern is from  Prima Magazine and is dated 1990. I found it in a charity shop.

Crochet cushion cover in progress
Another current project. This is a project to use up my stash of 4ply yarn, or some of it. The design is actually for double knitting, so my version will need rather more of the little hexagons. The pattern came in a booklet supplied with the May edition of "Knitting Magazine" (UK).

The crochet pattern
Ah well, I must get back to the sewing if I am to get the bodice and skirt parts completed today.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fabric, quilting, and knitting

Essex pullover - my current knitting project
Such a long time since I wrote anything on this blog. So much has happened over the past few months, but I won't bore you with any of it here. I am knitting, as usual and the photo above shows the current project, a cropped sleeve, fitted jumper with a fair-isle design around the picot edged sleeves, body and also the yoke. The mix of picot edged sleeves and body teamed with a fitted shape really intrigued me. So many of the jumpers and cardigans I have knitted over the years are rather shapeless. They are lovely to wear, and cosy, but it was time for a change. Not sure how this will work out, but this could be interesting.

The knitted body of my jumper
So far, I have completed the body, knitted in the round, up as far as the point at which the sleeves will be attached. The first sleeve has been started and I am in the process of knitting the fair-isle pattern. As you can see from the photo above, the picot edge to the body (and sleeves) is sewn after the whole jumper has been completed. I haven't done a picot edge in this way before, having knitted it into place in a previous project (a knitted bag). It will be interesting to see which of the two techniques I prefer.
Indigo dyeing
I was lucky enough to take part in an indigo dyeing session at a friends house a couple of weeks ago. These "flags" are my own pieces shown after washing. They are hanging in my friends garden on one of her trees. There were a number of us playing around with an indigo dye vat that morning. We were so lucky with the weather too. It can't be guaranteed that we get a bright sunny morning at this time of year, so we did give ourselves a backup plan, just in case we couldn't do any dyeing. Indigo dyeing really does have to be done outside. The pieces above are, from left to right - a tightly woven cotton, cotton lawn and two silk hankies. The first piece had been dyed after being folded into pleats and pinned using bulldog clips. The second was merely loosely pleated and knotted at intervals. The silk hankies were tie-dyed after being folded together and held in place using rubber bands. Great fun!

I'm not sure what I shall use these pieces for, but I really enjoyed the experience. I have also recently been experimenting with rust and tea dyeing.

Tea dyeing - the fabric was scrunched around the tea bags used.
Rust dyeing using tea.
Rust dyeing using a fruit tea wrapped around a scouring pad.
Last week I found myself having to replace the cover on my printing board. I shall be using the old cover since it just looks so interesting. Not sure what it will be used for, but I feel sure that I will find a use for it.
The under layer of my old print board cover.
The top layer - I just love the muddle of patterns
I am also quilting. The following photo shows the quilting in progress. This is a very simple pieced design made up of square blocks. The working title is "Spring Flowers" and uses some of Tracy Fox's gorgeous dyed fabrics.
Quilting in progress on "Spring Flowers"