Monday, March 06, 2017

Completing UFOs, making plans and plodding along

Daffodils in the garden
Everything seems to have started growing in the garden. It is lovely to see some bright colour outside.

Work has continued over the past few days on the weaving theme. You will see a sample of a woven pocket in the next photo. The sketchbook belongs to the challenge starting soon for the MEG group. I am looking forward to getting this one started. I don't normally use a sketchbook, preferring to jot things down in my notebook, so it will be interesting to get some guidance on how to put one together and then begin to use it.

I treated myself to a sewing magazine this morning, so will probably end up tempted to make something else. Unfortunately, my list of things to sew seems to be getting longer. I have now cut out the lining pieces for my Cocoon coat, but it has got no nearer to completion. I keep getting tempted to do a bit more with the weaving project. The first draft of the instructions has been written. It remains to be seen whether the directions and illustrations make any sense. 

The pdf pattern belongs to this design from "Sew Now" issue 3. I need to find some nice denim or fine corduroy to make this. Years ago I had a pair of dungarees which I really loved wearing. This is a more practical item of clothing for me these days. I just love those pockets.

Pinafore design in issue 3 of "Sew Now".

I did mention finishing UFOs in my title. Last time I mentioned a piece of embroidery but didn't show it. 

This is it. I only have the scissor keeper to embroider now, then I will be able to get the whole thing assembled. It has only been in my UFO pile for a few years. Embarrassingly I cannot now remember exactly how many years it has been languishing. The finished size of the closed Etui will be 3.5 inches square, so it really is rather small to have lain unfinished for so long. The brown felt shown behind the embroidered pieces will be used for the lining and the needlecase pages.

The designer, Sue Hawkins is a very talented and her work is really colourful. I couldn't resist it when I saw this little kit, which is why I am getting on with it now. There will be a needle case inside, and somewhere to stash a small pair of scissors inside the back cover, also a neat little thimble case which is to be attached to the scissors on a long cord. A rather useful item for my hand-stitching projects. I just need to find a nice sharp pair of embroidery scissors to keep inside it. 

My idea this year, is to get on with the rather large number of unfinished projects which have been lying around. Some may end up being drastically redesigned. My interests have changed rather a lot over the years. I'd like to use up at least some of the yarn I have collected, and then there is my rather too large stash of fabric.............. I must check to see if I already have something I could use up for that pinafore dress.......... Now that really would be sensible.

Do have fun with your own projects.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Working on things

Paper sample
 I haven't got any sewing done this week, some embroidery, but mostly messing around with paper. The idea is to turn the paper weaving into fabric weaving.

Playing with paper
There has been some success with the fabric weaving, but it all needs more work.
Fabric samples
I do agree, it does all seem a little odd. I really ought to be getting on with my Cocoon coat. I realised the other day that the fabric I had was too thick to also be the lining, so had a hunt through my stash and found some nice thinner weight red wool mix fabric left over from a pair of trousers which were made several years ago. Hopefully there is enough for the lining and the pockets too.

Why the experiments with paper? Well, I will be giving another talk in November and was asked to give a workshop too. I've been thinking hard about what exactly I could do. I don't want to be boring. My current thoughts are based on this weaving idea. It still remains to be seen whether it will work out or not. I still have time to think about something else, haven't I?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A busy few days

1972 - The Miner's Strike
As promised, here is the completed piece. The Miner's strike from 1972. This is now ready to be added to the panel. 

Magazine article detailing the sweatshirt design.
The past few days have been rather busy with a lot of sewing. I have been getting on with some dressmaking which I first wrote about here.
Sweatshirt with lace insert - my version.
I started off with the sweatshirt you see here. Found in Love Sewing Magazine, issue 34, it really is nice and cosy, and can be worn with thin polo neck tops underneath. My version has a slightly different neckline to the original design since I wanted the cuffs and neck to match. The lace fabric came out of my stash since I didn't need very much.

After this, I started making up some patterns of my own. I hadn't been very pleased with my first attempts at making polo neck tops out of jersey fabric, so decided to make a pattern from a top I already own. It fits much more snugly than anything I had previously made and I rather liked the style. I also made a pattern from a useful vest I also already have. I added some length to the sleeves which were rather short on the original and made it out of some cotton interlock remaining in my stash. I must admit that I am not very pleased with the neckline since I should have slightly stretched the fabric as I was sewing. Still, it is a really nice and warm addition to my winter wardrobe.

Grey stripe polo neck - neckline

Striped polo neck
The first polo neck made from my own pattern was this grey striped one and I must say I was really pleased with the stripes on the shoulder line. This worked really well, so I went on to make two further tops, completing the last of these this evening. As I write, I am wearing the flying birds top.

Leafy polo neck
Flying Birds polo neck

Tomorrow, I really must get on and get my cocoon coat sewn up ready to wear. It has been sitting beside my chair, waiting rather patiently for me to get other projects out of the way. The weather forecast doesn't sound very nice tomorrow, so a day spent indoors sewing, sounds rather pleasant. The pattern is one I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate back in November. You can the pattern here. I bought some lovely woolen fabric some time back, a bright red on one side and a tartan pattern on the reverse. I fancy playing around with the possibilities offered by the different sides of the fabric.

Oh yes, the "1001 Nights" quilts are now safely back at home with me after their exhibition at Quiltfest. They will soon be heading off to Bramble Patch for their next outing.

Monday, February 13, 2017


Exhibition at Quiltfest
Last week I was a little later than intended in posting to this Blog since I had been busy taking the "1001 Nights" quilts over to Llangollen in North Wales to be exhibited at Quiltfest. I have been involved with this collection of quilts for some time. They are on show at Quiltfest until the 19th February. After this they will travel to Bramble Patch to be exhibited there over Easter this year.

My title stems from the fact that the following quilt should have been finished some months ago. It is finally ready to be handed over.

"1972" being stitched.
The background is built up using pieces of dyecatcher stitched onto fusible wadding. The other fabrics used are thin felt and a sheer fabric which I cut round using a soldering iron. This was to stop the fabric shredding.

More stitching showing the water soluble fabric I use 

The topic of the quilt is the year 1972. It will become part of a Millenium embroidery along with other pieces denoting events from that year. My theme was the first Miners Strike which took place that year trying to stop the inevitable closure of the coal mines around the UK. When I was training as a teacher I found myself observing the lives of the miners and their families since I was based in Doncaster, Yorkshire.

The piece is A4 in size - 7.75" x 11.75" 

Do you ever get the feeling that you have spoken too soon? Well, I suddenly realised whilst writing the above that there was something that didn't look quite finished......... So I will be going back to my sewing machine a little later to get that done. Photos of the completed, fully finished piece next time.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Now to get started

Newly purchased jersey fabrics
 I am determined to get on with sewing projects to make some clothes. At present I have a coat and a lace insert sweatshirt to complete. They are cut out and ready to stitch, but will have to wait for another project which is wildly overdue.......... I'll tell you all about that one another time. I'm prevaricating at the moment. I really need to get on with this A4 quilt, but am having doubts about whether it will be good enough. Yes, I know. I really should shut up and get on with it.

Planning for future dressmaking projects
The lovely fabrics shown above are currently drying. I always wash fabrics before use, and have been delighted with the quality of the fabric which has arrived. I have bought these online from a company I have used before. Fabworks. They use a delivery firm who are very prompt and keep their customers informed about when their parcel is likely to arrive. I do appreciate it when companies give a one hour window in which a parcel will come to my door. The drivers, so far have also been very pleasant.

What got me started on planning a collection of clothes was a Blog post by Maria Denmark. It got me thinking about what exactly I need to make to replace some increasingly shabby clothes in my own wardrobe. Hence the notebook. It might keep me on task............. Unlikely, but it might help.
I plan to turn the two leafy designs into versions of the v-neck cap sleeved dress hiding behind the notebook. The other three patterns are not suitable for use with jersey, but will be used to make use of fabric I already have in my stash. I've wanted a tunic like the Merchant and Mills design for a very long time, so that will be something I should start soon. The grey stripe and the swallows design will be made into summery tops. I am not sure what to make with the purple flying birds fabric. It asks to be made into another dress, but I'm not sure which pattern to use yet.

Recent purchase from Lidl
In the local Lidl over the weekend, I found these thick "pens". The description on the back says "Highly pigmented, water soluble crayons with a creamy, soft consistency.
The brilliant, colour-fast paints blend easily for vivid colour gradients. Mix with water for water colour effects. Use on paper, canvas, wood, etc..."Intriguing. I plan to play with these soon.

Another recent purchase
The previous week I found these. They are acrylic sprays for use in mixed media projects. Again, I can see a play session in my future.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Getting ready to start more projects

Pinfold challenge
Yes, another challenge. The challenge is to make something out of these collections of five inch squares. There are twenty squares in each pack. I still haven't got round to washing and ironing the fabric, but I must think of something soon.

Colour challenge jacket
The completed jacket which I promised I would show you. It is really cosy to wear, just what I need. It caused a bit of a stir when I showed it last Thursday at the NWCQ meeting. It was wonderful to see the variety of pieces made by the other members of the group.

Back of the jacket

Label from inside the jacket
I've also been making a bed for Sasha. Very simple - two metres of polyester wadding folded inside one metre of fleece. I had already made one for Ella some months ago - she really loves her bed, so I thought it a good idea to make one for Sasha too.

Sasha's new bed

Ella's bed, made back in November

The Solar Dyeing experiment, back in July
You may remember my post about trying Solar Dyeing in July. Well, I finally got around to emptying out the jars and washing out the fabric.

The same jars this morning
As you can see, rather a lot has happened to the fabrics in the intervening months. I have not opened the jars, but left them to their own devices. The results are interesting. The Dyers Chamomile, the yellow flowers in the top photo have produced the fabrics below. All yellowy greens. Really interesting colours.

Dyers Chamomile
The second jar was the Medieval Solar collection. This has given a really fascinating collection of colours - from a light yellowy brown to a beautiful reddish brown.

Medieval Solar
At present the fabrics and fibres are still wet. I'm interested to see what they look like once they are dry.

New knitting project
I have another knitting project waiting for me to finish the tension square. It is a new hat. This will match a rather nice cowl which my elder daughter made me for Christmas. This is the same yarn which she used. The cowl already keeps my ears cosy, so having a hat to keep it in position will really help on those walks out with the dogs. The pattern, "Cogges", is designed by Jeni Hewlett and can be found in The Scrumptious Collection Volume one. The pattern is now available as a leaflet since the books is now out of print.

I just have the buttons to add to my waistcoat now. I am still trying to decide whether to go with the turquoise buttons, or whether to go with navy. I could use orange, but I really don't think that would look as nice.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What a couple of weeks!

Ella with her new friend Sasha
Well, there has been quite a lot of sewing which I can't show you, as well as some knitting. The sewing cannot yet be shown since it is ready to be unveiled later this week. It is the result of the colour challenge which I organised for NWCQ. I shall post photos after Thursday.

The biggest change over the past few days is that we are now a two dog household. Can I introduce Sasha. She joined Ella in our house just a week ago and has been settling in well. She was a rescue and is around three years old. As you can see she is a similar size and weight to Ella who is a Husky-Akita cross. Sasha appears to be an Akita-Alsatian cross.

My waistcoat is nearing completion. I am just knitting around the border at the moment. The plastic safety pins are showing the positioning of the buttonholes which will be made in a few more rows time. With 712 stitches on my circular needles this is proving to be a bit of a marathon. The pattern asks for a long knitted strip rather than a knitted on border. However, this will work better with my remaining yarn. As you can see I have only knitted two rows of the navy and am continuing with the turquoise. I have just about enough of the navy left to do a final row and also the cast off.

I have also been involved with an exhibition. You can see photos of the stand here.