Monday, August 22, 2011

I'm back!

Hello everyone. Sorry there has been a distinct lack of blog posts over the past month. I have been busy with the sewing for my daughters wedding on Saturday 13th August: my daughter's wedding dress, the flower girl's dress and my own dress and jacket.

I promise photos will follow. I just need permissions to share the wedding dress and flower girl's dresses with you. Then I need a kind person to supply me with photos of myself weearing the suit I made as well as the matching hat which I trimmed........... I was too busy at the time to take any photos...............

Now, having had a week to completely relax and catch up with some reading, I am raring to go. Yes, plans are beginning to gel for some of the projects I have on hand - the next few journal quilts, a challenge quilt, and a book making session I shall be leading. There are one or two other things that I have forgotten about for now, but then I can tell you all about these later.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Staying busy and sewing madly.

Hello there. Sorry, it is rather a while since I last posted anything here. I've been sewing madly, making clothes and working on two journal quilts at the same time.

Since the last post, I have completed the pair of trousers (Kwik Sew 3363) I had made such a mess of making, and finished a second blouse from the same Hot Patterns design shown in my last post.

The trousers turned out quite well, although the waistband is still a little looser than I would like. However, they are really nice to wear and I shall use the pattern again.

The dress (Simplicity 2174), was made quickly for a friend's 60th birthday party. He had asked for a Scottish theme and everyone had to wear something tartan. Luckily I had this tartan in my stash. It was a lucky find a couple of years ago in a local charity shop.

The party was huge fun with an English Ceilidh - and yes, I danced most of the dances. The food was superb and so were the fireworks. It was such fun to meet some old friends there whom we hadn't seen in years.

The wedding dress has been started. This is for my elder daughter and will be ready for her wedding next month. So far, I have made the toile for the fitted bodice, but got no further since I need to catch up with Liz and check that it fits. There will be no photos of the dress until after the wedding, which I hope you will understand.

Two Journal Quilts are currently under way, but photos of these will have to wait until they have been completed and photos posted on the Contemporary Quilt Yahoo site.

Apart from all this, I have started Gretchen Hirsch's "Sew Retro - perfect bombshell dresses" course with This may appear total madness, but Gertie goes through a lot of techniques which will be helpful to me in making the wedding dress.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Sewing and keeping busy.

Well, I have been keeping very busy doing some sewing. Not my usual kind. I shall need to get back to the quilting and textile "art" before too long since I need to have some creativity in my life too.

This past week or so I've been trying to hone my dressmaking skills, ready for making my daughter's wedding dress. The first piece was this crepe de chine blouse. It is such a lovely design and fits well, and is already one of my favourites. The pattern is V7903, a Today's Fit pattern by Sandra Betzina for Vogue. (Yes, each link is different. I do hope that you find them useful.)

This was the second item - a shirt. Again, such a comfortable design to wear. Sadly, since it is made from quilting weight cotton, it is really a little too warm to wear at this time of year. That said, I did wear it last week during a particularly chilly couple of days. It was nice to feel warm! However, one child did bring me right back to earth with a bump, when she innocently said "my grandma has curtains like that". I really couldn't help laughing, since the fabric is similar to the old toile de jouy design, so yes, could easily be seen on curtains and the like. It reminded me of the time when I bought some gorgeous red floral fabric to make dresses for my daughters when they were small. Now that time I did buy curtain fabric - and those dresses were loved and worn such a lot.......... My girls were only five and three at the time. Happy memories.
Oh yes, the pattern for this shirt is this one: Classix Nouveau Great White Shirt from Hotpatterns. Again, a really well designed pattern which fits beautifully. I was really impressed to find the pattern printed on really sturdy paper. The instructions were good too.

My third project is currently being rescued from complete disaster. A pair of trousers, and no, I didn't make a muslin.......... yes, bad mistake. I made them too big and so have had to take them almost entirely back to the original pieces again. It was all pinned and ready to be reassembled earlier this evening, when I managed to break the zip. Well, to be accurate, I accidentally took the metal zipper piece off the cut end of the zip itself and wasn't able to replace it........... More disassembly later, I am about to replace the broken zip with another one from my stash.......... Thank goodness for having a stash of zips..................... I decided enough mistakes had been made, so stopped for a cup of tea, and a Blog post. Why, you may ask was the end of the zip cut in the first place? It was part of the instructions for making the fly front. It has to be cut when the waistband is added. Why did I get so far before I realised I had made such a stupid mistake? I don't know. I should have stopped many times to check the sizing, but didn't. Lesson now learnt.

The pattern is this one: 3363 from Kwik Sew. Please don't let my misadventures put you off this pattern. It is a really nice design with good instructions. I was just enjoying myself too much to stop and think and try them on.

It's just as well that I can laugh at myself. I've been chuckling at how silly I have been whilst writing this. Still, better to get everything wrong doing a project like this than to get my daughter's wedding dress in a mess................ Back to the sewing machine to retrieve these trousers. I really need to add them to my wardrobe.

Hopefully, I will be able to show a completed pair of trousers which are wearable before too much longer.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Monday, June 06, 2011

Book construction and bead soup.

The book is a series of parts at the moment. This is part of the collection of pages I got through the Traveling Pages Textile Book Page swap. You can see more about the whole project here.

I love the texture of the different pages and the way their edges have been finished.

Here is the bead soup. Not sure how I shall use these beads yet.

The last collection of materials are these ribbons. I'm not entirely sure how to use these yet. I do have an idea of weaving these around the uprights I am using as the "spine" of my book. However, it remains to be seen whether this will work or not.

I am adding these uprights to each of the pages. They will form the "spine" of my book.

You can see a little more here. This is the front page. The back page looks exactly the same - well, as nearly as I could make it. If you would like to read more about how the page was constructed, please read more here.

There are just two more pages to go and then I can sort out the spine and get weaving - literally.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Journal Quilts and sewing.

It has been rather a busy few days here. First, I managed to complete my April Journal Quilt. This shows maps of the village and it's location, close to the River Weaver. The cherry tree and blossom were taken from photos of trees I took very close to my own home in the village. The lamp post is one standing just beside a neighbour's gate. It is almost surrounded by his trees. The light looks wonderful at night, peeping from above the leaves.

The techniques used are - photos printed on Inkjet Printing cotton sheets by Jacquard; applique and free machine embroidery.

I also completed the May page. This one is called "Play Week". Moulton Drama Group celebrated their thirtieth anniversary with the reworking of a play by Robert Meadows. A local playwright, Robert lives, literally, just around the corner. The play is called "The Dawn of the Crows" and relates stories about the village in times past. Amongst the stories is that of the founding of "The Crows", a group which performs at the Crow Fair each year.

I was commissioned to make a second copy of my May Journal Quilt. This was mounted, as you can see. It was presented last night, after the performance had ended, to Robert Meadows as a present from "The Crows".

The techniques used were: painted fabric; applique and free machine embroidery. As always, two buttons were added to the Journal Quilt. These were omitted on Robert's copy.

Oh yes, I must not forget to credit Pat Bennett who took the original photograph I used to create the fabric "Crows". He was very kind in giving his permission for me to use the photograph in this quilt.

I also managed to start my blue blouse this week - I just got to the stage of basting the body together and checking the fit. Amazingly, the blouse fits first time. Such a wonderful surprise.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dyeing and having fun.

I had a wonderful time yesterday playing with colours. In Frodsham for a Dyeing Day organised by NWCQ, we were being taught by Sandra Wyman. She talked about Procian dyes, and showed us all; how to use them. There were fourteen of us, quite a large group, but Sandra's instruction sheets were really informative. She was also able to talk us through each activity. Just as well, since I had never used this type of dye before.

Sandra provided the dyes, soda solution and a pack of fabric samples and threads. We could also purchase a pack of cotton fabric ready for dyeing.

I came home with a large collection of mysterious plastic bags.

Too tired to do anything last night, I set to work this morning washing out all the fabric and threads I had dyed. It was so exciting to see how each piece had turned out.

This first group was the result of my colour gradations experiment. I used a buttercup yellow dye and was thrilled to find these lovely pieces had been the result.

This next series is the result of the colour gradations, where I mixed a blue-black dye with the buttercup yellow. Aren't the colours amazing? I love those greens. Thank you so much Sandra for suggesting using the blue-black. I had asked her advice since I wasn't sure which blue I should use.

This amazing piece is my tray-dyed piece. We had to crumple the fabric in a tray and then pour the dye over the fabric. So exciting to find this piece of fabric coming out of it's plastic bag.

These bright fat quarters are the parfait dyeing result. Some dye and its soda solution went into a small tub followed by a crumpled up piece of fabric. After a little wait, the same amount of dye and soda solution went into the tub followed by some more crumpled fabric. This was repeated another couple of times until there were four pieces of fabric

This is the parfait just before I washed it. What amazed me, was that I had started with a mid yellow colour, then added a pale yellow, following this with red. The red was watered down. I used less than half the dye I used for the other colours making up the quantity required with water. The reason being that Sandra had mentioned that red was a very strong dye, and I hadn't wanted it to take over too much. It was really exciting to find that the red had dropped to the bottom of the tub like this, and that the yellow had risen.

The threads look rather a mess on my washing line. I had dyed them different shades of yellow. The green appeared when some blue dye accidentally leached out into my large yellow tray without my spotting it. I love the accidental tint of bright green which has appeared.

My threads now look like this:

They have all been wound onto spare cotton reels. Did I mention I seldom throw anything away?

The last set of fabrics were these - the samples of fabric. These included cotton gauze, viscose satin, silk taffeta and silk/viscose velvet.

My favourite was definitely the velvet. It turned out so beautifully........

Here they all are on my line this morning.

I think what I also found really exciting was the unexpected delights of accidental dyeing.

The sheets on top of my sketchbook are the kitchen paper sheets I used to mop up. I just love those colours.

Since the paper had looked so lovely, I decided to use a dye catcher sheet to mop up the tiny scraps of dye left inside the yellow tray I carried everything home in.

The result didn't disappoint.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Works in progress and those completed.

Firstly, those completed objects. I finally got all the hand-stitching completed on my Serger Quilt. This is the bright side.

Now, the reverse side - you can see the hand-stitched binding. Just to avoid misundertanding, the binding was attached by machine, and then hand-stitched to the reverse side to finish off. You can also see the FME on the border too.

My husband's reaction when I passed it to him after finishing it on Friday evening?
"Who is it for?"
I couldn't answer since I really hadn't made it for anyone. It now resides in the livingroom for snuggling into.
Oh, after asking the question, he snuggled up into it and promptly fell asleep............ The quilt is appreciated, even if the reasons for making it aren't fully understood.

I also finished a quick project. These bench cushions were made last week for our new garden bench. The covers are made from some cream vinyl we have had in the loft for over twenty years. Still in excellent condition, the vinyl had been bought to make some bunk mattresses for a boat we owned years ago. We had been lucky enough to find a roll of the vinyl being sold cheaply and made four bunk mattresses with it. After making these two bench cushions we still have plenty left...................

Oh yes, I shall be finishing a couple of quilted scatter cushions to add to the bench. The cream seems a bit startling a colour to my eyes, so some colourful cushions should help it all blend in.

One project just about to be stared is this blouse. I have some delightful pale blue viscose covered with black polka dots.

Why start dressmaking again? Well, I have my daughter's wedding dress to make later this summer. It seemed only sensible to get some practice in first.............

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So sorry its been such a long time since I last visited this Blog. It has been rather busy here. The serger quilt is nearing completion. I am currently doing some free machine embroidery on all the sashing to enable it to lie satisfactorily.

Progress is steady.

I'm knitting and planning some sewing too. A blouse and a shirt, with a skirt and a pair of trousers are amongst the projects I have in mind. I really could do with getting rid of some rather shabby pieces in my wardrobe..........

Another project is the monthly journal quilt for the Contemporary Quilt group of the Quilter's Guild.

I call this series "A year in the life of a village - Moulton 2011." It sounds rather presumptuous, but the idea is just to show elements of the village where I live as the seasons change.

Each quilt is just ten inches square. The first one shows the sign at the side of the road, as drivers approach the village. The house stands very close to the sign. The crows are the emblem of Moulton and will be shown in each journal quilt. It is called "Welcome to the village - February."

The second quilt, entitled "Spring is coming - March." It shows the metal spire of the local church, with nests in the local trees. The snowdrops and daffodils are some of my favourite signs of Spring.

Part of the challenge of these quilts is that the first four quilts should show a circle. The next four should have text in some form, with the final four quilts having buttons somewhere on the surface. I decided that I would use all these elements is all the quilts I make in this series.

Both of these quilts have a painted background with appliqued items, photographs printed onto fabric ( I used Jacquard's Cotton sheets made for inkjet printing), and free machine embroidery.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Work in progress

Work has finally started on a quilt I planned to do in January! This is being made using my overlocker (serger), rather than piecing it using my sewing machine as usual.

The idea for this came about as a result of a serge-a-long organised by the Serger group on My Sewing Circle.

All of the blocks are being made from fabric out of my over-sized stash. I am not using wadding simply because the backing is fleece, again from stash. Some blocks will have the yellow as a backing, the rest will have a chocolate brown. This last piece of fleece had been intended for mum's quilt, but proved to be too dark. It is hiding away in the top photograph.

Other projects under way at present are the February Journal Quilt for the Contemporary Quilt group, the next section of the Stitching Sisters Sampler for Norma, and a bag I need to get around to rebuilding. Yes, I am woefully behindhand with some projects. I get sidetracked easily...................
I completed the first of the bags some time ago, but forgot to post about it here. This is what it now looks like:
As is usual for me, all four sides are different:

One of the ladies in my local library really loved it when she saw it.
I had had to completely take the bag to pieces since the only good fabric left was that used to make the handles and also the lining I had made to prolong the life of my bag. The sides now have wadding as a backing to stiffen them a little so that the bag can stand up.
I'm not sure exactly what my next bag will look like. It is a pile of fabric pieces and a box of buttons, ribbon and iron-on motifs at present.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Making a bag from made fabric.

This is the bag I made from the fabric shown in the previous two posts. It is a very simple cylindrical bag, twelve inches tall with an internal zipped pocket, two large external pockets and padded handles. The tops of the bag and pocket are bound - this was sewn into place by machine and then handstitched into place to leave no stitchline.

The two pieces of fabric I used were: 26 inches long and 12 and a half inches tall (for the main bag), and 26 inches by 8 and a half inches for the outer pockets. I put a piece of wadding inside the main bag to give it some "body". It now stands well.

The base was constructed very simply after the main pieces had been sewn together to form a cylinder. The basic bag structure then became the outline for the base. I quilted this to give it some shape. The chalk marks show the internal dimensions of the bag itself.

This was then sewn to the main bag, being careful to not stitch in the lining - this was then handsewn into place.

The bag has now gone to it's new owner. It was constructed as part of a Swap organised by the United Kingdom group on My Sewing Circle. The theme for the swap was "Stash busting/repurpose". Mine used fabric scraps and pieces from my stash.

At present I am considering writing up this pattern as a free tutorial. Please let me know if you would like to have a copy.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Making fabric - completion

This is the next stage of working on the fabric pieces I constructed last time. I am oversewing, doodling with my machine. This is FME - free machine embroidery. It is good fun. If you have never tried it for yourself - try this:

Start doodling on a scrap of paper. Here, I have started in the centre and swung round in a spiral.

Then I have added loops like petals.

The loops have then lead on to heart-shaped leaves which link to each other.

Thats all it is. Just drop the feed-dogs on your sewing machine, get out the darning foot and try it for yourself. Don't just try copying my patterns. Why not try using the patterns left on the scribble pad beside the telephone. (If you doodle like I do there should be plenty of inspriration there.)

The photo above shows the completed piece, well part of it. I use a size 14 (90) Universal needle with a slightly looser tension than usual. The thread being used here is YLI machine quilting thread in the colourway V70 Red Hat Club, by Luana Rubin. The bobbin thread is Coats Duet 1033, a cream colour. Yes, I should be using cotton, but didn't have any in the right sort of colour.

My sewing machine allows me to set the sewing speed. I usually set this to medium, not too fast but then not too slow either.

The picture above shows the underside of the finished fabric. I shall be lining this before using it, but it does show the stitching quite nicely.

All you need to bear in mind with FME is that the patterns need to link into each other in a continuous line. This isn't hard, and it avoids having to weave in any ends................... and there is no stopping and starting either. If you should find yourself stuck in a corner and not easily able to get out of it just stop, cut the thread and start again somewhere else. I often need to do this. It isn't obvious once you have completed the piece.

Do let me know how you get on.