Monday, October 16, 2017

"Along the riverbank"

"Along the riverbank"
The last couple of weeks or so have been devoted to getting this piece finished, named and entered for the Region 13 Exhibition at Quiltfest in Llangollen in February next year. I won't hear until the end of November whether it has been accepted.

It has taken me some time to get the piece put together, let alone stitched since I really didn't know what to do with the Colour Challenge fabrics from the MEG group. If you remember, they were taupe, ecru and cobalt. The fabrics can be seen in the pieced background. The design was based on photos taken along the banks of the Weaver Navigation near to where I live. Since my dogs accompany me on these walks, they had to have a place in the finished quilt. Sasha and Ella can be seen in the bottom left hand corner. The completed size is 17.25 inches across and 25.75 inches deep. Yes, it is a strange size, but that is just the way it turned out.

To keep me sane, I have also been knitting a cardigan. It must be aid that I haven't been making that good a job of it since I had to rip back eight inches from the body a few days back and have only just got myself back to that same point. I'd made a stupid mistake and completely misread the pattern.

I am now planning to get some dressmaking done before working on the next page for the Pinfold challenge. The theme for this one is "Architecture". There is an idea buzzing around my head, but I just can't see how to make it yet.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Working to meet deadlines, but not always succeeding

Completed Owlish adult size fingerless mittens
The first of my completed challenges - this one was two days overdue. These were finished today when they should have been completed on Saturday. Ooops. I have apologised to the designer. I had got it stuck in my head that they were supposed to be ready for this coming Friday.

One lesson learned - remember to write the deadlines down, adding them to my to do list.

Teddies for tragedies - completed
I have also finished four teddies and their bags ready to be handed over for the Teddies for Tragedies charity. My copy of the pattern has been taken by my younger daughter who fancies making some of these herself.

Free machine embroidery in progress

This next deadline is another one which I fear I am destined not to meet. The MEG Colour Challenge is due to be shown at our next meeting this coming Friday. (I wonder if that is why I was convinced the mittens had to be completed on the same day.)

MEG Colour challenge in progress
It has all become rather more complex than I originally intended. The free machined piece is hidden on the bottom right hand corner. It took me three days to complete. The tree to the left is only pinned in place and needs to be ironed on and then free machine embroidered to add texture. Those three rings are embroidery hoops holding pieces which have yet to be embroidered. There is a further, larger element on the bottom left which also needs work to start. It will have to wait until the tree is in place. Unfortunately, my two larger embroidery hoops already have pieces waiting. I really could do with extra hands and a more realistic attitude to what can be achieved in the time available.  Actually, no. I really don't believe that last statement. I think I'm better just making whatever it is I want to make, even if it does sometimes end up taking longer than it should.

These next two photos show the goodies I bought at the World Textile Day event in Frodsham on Saturday. The fabrics are destined for a bag (or even two) which I have in mind. The buttons were so nice I really couldn't leave without them. The wooden print blocks too. That sheep image will have pride of place in my Pinfold book once that challenge is complete.



The musical polar fleece was found in Abakhan last week when I went to Sew Cool, the sewing group which meets twice a month in Chester. It is a lovely group, very supportive, which caters for my interest in dressmaking. I couldn't decide which pattern to use. I really think that the shape of the Cotton and Chalk design - The Waterfall Jacket with a hood, would be an interesting design to make. It is lined, and I do have some interlock cotton which would be suitable if I have enough of it.


Unfortunately, I really don't think I have enough time left in my life for a knitting group. Though sharing my passion for yarn would be nice.....


My next knitted project will be a cardigan. This yarn, an acrylic, was found in Aldi and should make a really cosy garment. I haven't quite decided on the design yet. Though, that said, I really like "Mercy" by Drops Design.

I'd better get back to the sewing machine.

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's been a strange week.


It has been a rather strange week. I have managed to start a challenge piece for the MEG group. This rather dull looking piece is the start of something which I hope will become rather more interesting. I found some yarn in Aldi which I hope to make into a much needed cardigan before the end of the year. It is an acrylic yarn which feels really nice. I still haven't found a suitable pattern, but have only just started looking. I'm hoping for something a bit more fitted than the box shaped cardigans and jumpers I tend to knit for myself.



I managed to get to my first Friday Felters meeting of the year. We were making name badges. Mine has turned out rather dark and muddled, being somewhat difficult to read. I shall attempt to make another one before the next meeting. We were needle felting onto a piece of pre-made felt supplied at the meeting. I embroidered mine as well as needle-felting it. 


At Pinfold last week we were knitting teddies for the Teddies for Tragedies charity. I have finished knitting four teddies and made four bags for them. The bears still need sewing together and stuffing before adding faces. I will need to get hold of some more toy stuffing before being able to continue this project.


But what was so strange about the last few days? It was trying to fit everything in around helping my husband shift a pile of wood. The other difficulty being working between the heavy showers we have been having lately, whilst making sure the wood was sorted and covered with tarpaulins. It all took three days to accomplish. Aldi was brilliant yet again, supplying the tarpaulins we used. The dogs got rather bored with the whole process.

The only unfortunate thing was that I got a bit stuck with the ribbing for the fingerless mittens I need to complete by the end of next week. The technique was one I had not tried before, so I found myself searching the internet for a youtube video. The technique is called  "2 x 2 Tubular Cast On".  I found a video by Very Pink Knits which was really helpful.


As you can see, I really haven't got very far with these mittens and must get a move on. The MEG challenge piece needs to be finished by the end of next week too. Which reminds me, those teddies need to be completed by next Wednesday. I think the ironing pile will just have to wait.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Meeting deadlines and sewing


It has been a really busy couple of weeks with different projects under way. My hat got finished yesterday and the fingerless mittens will be started tomorrow. Not quite sure which two colours to choose for that design. Orange and white, or perhaps the tan and white. But then the aqua and white would also look nice. Decisions, decisions.


The hat fits snuggly and I am looking forward to being able to wear it in the colder weather. I decided not to add a pompom to the top since I really don't like them.



The two blouses got finished and I wore the collarless one with my new culottes the other day. It was really comfy, though I added a waistcoat since it is somewhat sheer. I really should remember to stand up straight when taking photos. The collared shirt is also ready to wear, though it is rather more formal and I haven't had an opportunity to wear it yet. As you can see from the photo, I really need to wear a waistcoat with it, or a suitable pinafore dress. Another couple of pinafore dresses are in my list of things to make, but they will have to wait for a while since I do have some other items to finish first.


I've cut out a sleeveless top - the Malia top and also the Dolores skirt from the first English edition of La Maison Victor magazine. It was published earlier in the summer and I have been really interested in how they fit.

The skirt will be made in a bright blue floral print, while the Malia top has been cut out of the fabric remaining from my recently completed culottes.
The interesting thing about this design is the gathering of fabric under the bust dart. The crepe de chine I am using should hang really well since it is very soft.


This little piece of felt was made for a challenge for the Pinfold group. I can't share the completed design with you since the owner of that book hasn't seen it yet. This particular challenge is a really interesting one since everyone has such different themes for their books. Each is a sketchbook just eight inches square with a spiral binding. We each get to see the work completed by each member of the group before the book is passed to the next person. I really loved the pages added by Meryl to my own book, but forgot to take any photos before the book was passed to the next person. I should be able to see what they have done next month. I really must remember to take my camera......


Oh, I did complete the alterations to the dress purchased by my daughter. It needed to be taken in a couple of sizes since it really was too big for her. A halter neck, beaded dress with a full lining was quite a task. A really interesting challenge which is now waiting to be worn at her friend's wedding next weekend.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Playing with wool


 I'm using this collection of leftover yarns to make the next two test knits. A rather interesting colourwork hat and the fingerless version of the mittens. The intention is for the aqua colour to be the background shade with the owl picked out in the apricot and cream. The darker edgings are to be in the tan colour. I've started the hat first. The yarns are from the Debbie Bliss Rialto 4ply range which I have been using a lot recently. Hopefully, I will have enough for the hat. I can then find more yarns for the mittens. The fingerless version ends above the head of the owl. I prefer fingerless mittens since it means I can keep my hands warm whilst holding the dogs leads. They can slip if I am wearing knitted mittens.


The knitted experiment has been coming along too. As you can see I am now knitting the edging around all four sides. I have also decided on how to finish off the holes in the centres between the sets of four squares. These will be knitted separately in the orange colour. The gaps between the moss stitch strips will be white. I've already started on the little orange squares, just to try out the idea. 



The two blouse toiles are still waiting for their buttonholes. I have finally found some suitable buttons in my stash. They aren't brilliant, but will do for now. I should be able to wear these soon. I need to get them finished this evening since my younger daughter is heading this way in the morning seeking my help in altering a dress. I am not sure what I have let myself in for.


Some felting was done a few days ago. It has been far too long since I managed to play with some wool fibres. These are merino with some silk fibres. I think I was a bit heavy handed, but it was such fun to get messy out in the garden making these. I must get some more done as soon as the current rainy weather retreats once more.



I have booked myself on to the next Friday Felters session now that the group is starting up again after their summer break. I am looking forward to learning some more techniques.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sewing and making plans


As you can see from these photos the hat has been completed. It has now been passed on to it's owner.


The size is toddler, so it is quite small. I made this to match a jumper I made some months ago. It should help keep this little person nice and cosy this winter.


This blouse, Butterick 6301, is now almost complete with just the buttonholes to be stitched and the buttons added. I'm rather pleased with this since I can easily wear it. This version, being made from a white cheesecloth, is rather sheer so will have to be worn under a top of some kind. The length is just right, so I can now cut out this same pattern from the blue fabric I have chosen for this project.


Over the past few days I have also made this toile. This is for the Simplicity pattern 8243. Again, I have used the same cheesecloth fabric as the Butterick blouse shown further up in this post. This second blouse is going to be a much more fitted affair. I'm looking forward to getting this one finished. I already have the fabric I am planning to use for the main version. I'm hoping that this one will, like the Butterick version, be a wearable toile. One I could use for everyday wear. Again, it is rather sheer so will have to be worn under a waistcoat or somesuch. Just as well I have quite a few in my wardrobe.

The new pin cushion has been so useful in making these two pieces. I wrote about making it in my last post here

As for planning. I still have to sort out what projects I want to get on with and the order in which I plan to do them. I have a number of dressmaking projects I would really love to make - another pair of culottes, the two blouses I have already mentioned, and a pinafore dress to my own design. I really need a couple of skirts and a couple of pairs of trousers for the autumn and winter. Other potential projects are a wallhanging I have in my head, but which I haven't started work on yet. The plans for it are nearly there. Then there is the felt. I really would love to get back to making some and starting work on the CiFT elements. I need to get it all planned out on paper and work out suitable time frames for it all. Ah well, I might become organised one of these days.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dressmaking and some knitting.

Vintage pattern
I found this pattern in a charity shop some time ago. Butterick 6301 dating from the late seventies and early eighties. I did have a copy of this pattern when it first came out, making the waistcoat, skirt and blouse. That first version had the skirt and waistcoat in a light woolen suiting. The blouse was made from a light off white viscose. I wore them out. Sadly, that pattern got lost amidst the house moves.

This pattern is the junior size, 5. It was interesting making a version in my own size. I made the paper pattern first, and now have a version in cheesecloth under way. Hopefully it will work out without too much alteration.
Cheesecloth version of 6301 under way.


Burda culottes pattern from 1989
 This will be the next dressmaking challenge. I will be making a second version of these culottes from Burda Magazine. I wish I still had the magazine - another victim of the house moves over the years. However, I still have the pattern and the line drawings to go from.


These will be made from this viscose fabric found on the Northwich fabric stall. It is lovely and soft and will drape beautifully.


Yesterday I found myself frustrated by the lack of a pin cushion. All my dressmaking pins seemed to be clustered into one cushion. So I collected together some of my selvedge scraps and pinned them onto some leftover cheesecloth.


Not very long after this stage, I was merrily stitching using a two stage zigzag. With the remnants of a piece of wadding which had been languishing in a cupboard, and a 5 inch diameter pot found some time back in a charity shop, I had this pin cushion ready to use.


It is now helping me with the cheesecloth blouse. The pot is quite heavy, so is stable beside my sewing machine.
Wolf in sheeps clothing hat
This little hat for my grand daughter is nearing completion. The deadline for this is next week, so I am on time I am pleased to say.

The next two items are recently completed projects:



First, the orange dress which I dyed then printed. This has been washed and ironed ready for wearing again.


This second project is a pair of culottes which I started a few days ago. I made the classic mistake of cutting the pieces out without a seam allowance. Luckily, there is a deep leat on the front and and a long dart on the back. Reducing both of these meant that this pair of culottes now fits well. Again, the fabric is a lovely viscose from the market stall.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Making sure that I don't miss a deadline

Printed pinny
I printed this pinny a couple of weeks ago. A sample before starting work on my orange dress. The pinny was printed using three different thermofax screens from my collection. The flower and leaf designs are my own whilst the lovely bee image is a stock item from Thermofax Screens. I used calico (muslin) from my bolt of fabric. So useful to have a large amount of fabric to hand when needing to trial ideas. I won't be using the reverse side of this pinny since I have left it plain. However, now I come to think about it, that might be rather useful.......
Pinafore pattern
As you can see, the pattern is one of those really useful and practical ones. My only concern being that there is no pocket. Ah well, something to add to the next one?

My orange dress in the process of being printed. 
When printing the apron after I had made it - a deliberate act since my orange dress had already been sewn together - I quickly discovered that thermofax screens cannot cope with curves. So, for the dress I decided to use some of my collection of wooden print blocks. Drawing some chalk lines to help in keeping the prints an equal distance apart, I printed a quarter of the circle skirt at a time. It seemed to work well. My next project will be to print a length of fabric ready to make up into a dress or a skirt.

The dress has been worn and washed and has survived well. I did add a lining to the dress skirt section since I felt it needed a little more body. I bought some horsehair braid to attach to the hemline, but have not felt it needed that extra stiffening. I must get a photo of the dress once I have ironed it and it is ready to wear again.

Recent fabric purchases
I have been rather naughty lately and bought some fabric. Yes, I had planned to use up some of my fabric stash. Unfortunately, much of that stash isn't in the colours I really need for the clothing I plan to add to my wardrobe. The middle two fabrics here are denim. The upper one was bought from The Denim Company when I went to the Festival of Quilts last week. I just couldn't resist it. Such a pretty floral print.. The top fabric is a light lawn from the Fent Shop and I plan to make a blouse from this one. The green fabric at the bottom was a find in Abakhan and is a textured green jersey from which I plan to make a pair of culottes for the winter months. The plans for the two denim fabrics involve my making up a pinafore dress based on the design of a pair of dungarees seen at the International Model Aircraft Show at Weston Park in June. I managed to sketch the design on a page of my notebook. It will be quite a challenge to develop a pattern from a pencil drawing.......... One thing which troubles me, though is would this infringe copyright? I am not intending to make a pair of dungarees as seen at the show, but a pinafore dress with a similar top to the dungarees I saw.



There has been knitting. I have now completed this jumper and put it away for the cooler months. As you can see, it fits me perfectly. Since I am used to having rather boxy and loose fitting knitwear, this makes rather a nice change and will take quite a lot of getting used to. The design will not be available until the middle of next month since this was a test knit for the designer. I've now started another tes knit for the same designer. This time it is a hat for a toddler. A much quicker item.



I found these two books and the three metre length of muslin (cheesecloth) they are lying on last week on the sales table when I went to Pinfold. The fabric has now been washed and is waiting for different dyeing and printing projects. I quite fancy the idea of a long-sleeved cheesecloth shirt. A very seventies idea.


This last piece was finished a number of years ago and I had never done anything with it. The background is free machine embroidered onto calico with an embroidered paisley element held in place above it. The embroidered piece is stiffened with wire stitched into the outline. The whole was a challenge laid down some years ago by Sharon Boggon to use some of her paisley line drawings. It is quite a shock to realise that I had completed this piece back in January 2007! You can see the sequence of paisley designs I had worked at the time here. The others have not been mounted or framed either.

Those deadlines? Well, the jumper needed to be finished by September 17th. I am a month ahead of myself there. The hat needs to be completed by the end of the month, so I am on target with that. Just so long as I don't get sidetracked. 

I do have one deadline which I must not miss. I haven't yet started work on that. I need to complete my piece for the MEG Colour Challenge by September 25th. I have a diptych in mind for that one. However, I have a pair of culottes on my sewing table which must get finished first. Unfortunately, I made the really stupid mistake of cutting these out without a seam allowance. This has made sewing them a bit of an ongoing puzzle. What doesn't help is that I made exactly the same mistake the last time I used this pattern. Those culottes worked out quite well in the end and were worn a lot during last winter. I'm just hoping that I can make these work out too.

Speaking of deadlines, I really must get myself back and organised into posting here on the blog more regularly. I have got out of the habit and need to retrain myself back into posting weekly. This is one item on my to-do list which often gets overlooked. Apologies to anyone reading this.