Monday, July 07, 2014

iPhone pockets and knitting, preparing for sewing too.

Stormy skies
The skies aren't quite so dark as this outside at the moment, but this was the scene from the back garden a few days back, just before a thunderstorm. The colours were amazing. At the moment the skies are dark and it is raining again. The garden does need the water, and it gives me the time to get on with things inside rather than feeling I should be out doing some gardening.
Weights for my next session with a dress pattern.
Yes, it might seem odd having these heavy washers in my sewing room. I was reading the Coletterie blog, and noticed how washers were used to weight down dressmaking patterns rather than using pins. I decided that the next time I was in a builders merchants I would get some for myself. So yesterday I picked up two packs of these. They were the heaviest on the rack and cost just £2.14. It will be interesting to see how I get on with these.
iPhone pockets.
Yesterday my elder daughter took collection of five iPhone pockets which I had been making for her. These have been around my workroom for the past few weeks and I had forgotten to post about them. Liz had seen two previous little bags I had made for myself, and noticed that they would be perfect for carrying her iPhone around at work. I let her have the one already completed and let her persuade me to make some more. Three of these have closures while the remainder are just left open at the top.
More iPhone pockets.
You might recognise the fabric used in two of the pockets shown above. I was printing these not so long ago.
Reverse of the brown and silver pocket,
My long sleeved cardigan under way.
The back of my longsleeved cardigan is now complete and I have started the left front.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Making a miniature quilt

The Quilt blocks part way through assembling the quilt.
I've been having a little fun making something very simple for a change. This is a foundation pieced Miniature Whirlwind Quilt. I had decided to have a bit of a break from my lengthy list of projects, and make something where the design was already set. The result is this set of sixteen pieced blocks. I shall quilt these very simply and add sashing and a border.
The completed 12" square centre.
The design comes from http://quilting.about.com/. You will find the design here. There are a number of other quilt designs to choose from. The prompt to make something like this came form an online group, one of the My Sewing Circle forums which was starting a quiltalong. I just couldn't get my head around any of the projects I really should have been getting on with, so decided to have a go. I really didn't fancy making a twelve inch square block, so looked around for a design for a miniature quilt which would end up being 12 inches square. This little quilt when finished will probably turn into a cushion cover. I have plenty of these fabrics left over to make another three cushions. Perhaps by the end of doing these my piecing may have improved.
My finished edge to edge cardie, or waistcoat.
During the past week I finished off my waistcoat. I haven't worn it yet since it has been rather too warm. However, it is really nice and I am looking forward to wearing it later in the year. first posted about this project here.


The next project a cardigan.
My new project is just about ready to be started. Pink is really not my colour and so my version is going to be a pale green. As you might have noticed, this project is also in the same booklet as the edge to edge cardigan above. It is unusual for me to knit more than one project from a book, but this will be my third.
The first project and the book itself were written about here. The completed first cardigan was shown here.
I haven't knitted so much in months.

Now that the knitted elements of my wardrobe are under way I really ought to start getting some clothing sewn. As you can see, I have already bought the fabric. From the top here is some wadding, two patterned fabrics - a soft cotton destined for blouses and some blue chambray which is going to become a new skirt. The bottom fabric is a soft poly-cotton fabric which will become the skirt lining. All these fabrics, apart from the wadding has now been laundered and is awaiting a final ironing before I can start cutting out and sewing. I am hoping that it won't be too long before I can get started.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Batik workshop

Batik using red tissue paper
I was really lucky yesterday to take part in a batik workshop with the Textile without Limits group. This was a technique which I had always wanted to try, but never had the chance to do so. Our tutor was Nawal Gebreel. She was lovely, encouraging and also good with advice at each stage. We started off learning the basic techniques on tissue paper and also some thin white drawing paper.
Batik on paper
It was really interesting scribbling using a tjanting. Some tools were really good, with a manageable flow. Others just let the hot wax through rather too quickly for my novice attempts. It was such fun, using dyes and bleach as a resist. You can see the effect of the bleach on the red tissue paper - the bleach caused the pale patches with the wax resisting the bleach and leaving the red lines.
Batik - three colours
Lastly, in the afternoon we were allowed to use fabric. Nawaal had brought the fabric along for us to use. It had been previously treated with soda so that the dye will be permanent. We were using procian dyes. The fabric was stretched onto a frame, and pinned ready to use. I started off with the tjanting, drawing poppy seed head shapes which I had originally drawn when I took part in the Shelley Rhodes workshop in March.

Batik - closeup.
In searching my blog posts I see that I never got around to writing about the Shelley Rhodes workshop. Oops! Now that workshop was really interesting. Basically a drawing exercise, we got to use a wide range of materials, drawing on fabric and also paper. Stitching paper and fabric together, cutting and piecing the drawings we made too. It was completely out of my personal comfort zone, but I learnt such a lot about using different media when drawing and to not be afraid of rearranging a drawing which I am not totally happy with. The piece of work from this first workshop is shown below. It is still unfinished and I do pick it up from time to time to look at and consider working on. However, the drawings were perfect for using in the batik workshop. I had also brought along one of the dried poppy seed heads which I had used back in March, which allowed me to draw the full seed head as well as the details.
The work in progress from the Shelley Rhodes workshop/

A close up.
I shall be removing the wax from my batik later today. It will be really interesting to see how the piece looks once the wax has been removed. I used three colours in all. The first was a pale yellow, I then added more wax once the yellow dye had dried, adding more details and some poppy seeds. This was covered with the same yellow dye to which I had added a small amount of red to make orange. After the orange dye had dried, I added a lot of wax to cover some areas I wished to keep free of the final colour. With some advice from Nawaal, I added a bright red as the final colour. I decided part way through adding the dye, not to colour in the two circles which is why they look slightly odd at the moment.
I really enjoyed my day yesterday, and was so pleased to have been able to use elements of the work done in the previous workshop. Thanks Shelley and Nawaal.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Textile finds in charity shops.

Wooden buttons - so useful being in sets of ten.
I was extremely lucky to find some really interesting bits and pieces in charity shops today. A really pretty dress pattern, some nice buttons and a few wooden hearts.

More wooden buttons and hearts.
The dress pattern - a simple design just right for the summer.
Alongside that there was also a kit for a ribbon weave card. Now, I must admit that the design is rather dull although the ribbon pieces are quite pretty. I shall not be using the card frame for a ribbon weave, but will use it for something else at some stage. The ribbons will go into my stash of ribbons, as will the small piece of iron-on interfacing. Interestingly, one of the textile groups I go to will be having a ribbon weaving session next time. I have already done some ribbon weaving on my journal quilts a couple of years ago. I'm still not sure if I did it right, but had a lot of fun putting those pieces together. At that time I was using threads as well as ribbon and some lace.

The ribbon weave pack.
The last item I found was a package holding a variety of Vilene samples, leaflets, and a small booklet showing the different types and their corresponding numbers. I shall find this extremely useful when it comes to ordering new interfacing since I can now assess which type I shall need. There was also a large sheet of sew-in interfacing printed with a grid pattern. This will become useful when I do any patchwork blocks. I don't often do these, but there are times when I really feel the need to do something simple and straightforward.

The pack of Vilene bits and pieces.
Now to get back to some sewing once more. However, I have also started knitting again. This time a waistcoat in a rather interesting recycled cotton/acrylic mix. I can't usually knit with cotton, finding it too hard on my wrists and fingers. However, this yarn is soft and a pleasure to knit. It does tend to split, but not too badly to irritate.
A new project - knitting this time.
Whenever I really can't get myself started with a sewing project I always seem to start yet another knitting project. I really must stop prevaricating and make friends with my sewing machine again.

In case you are interested, this new project can also be found in the same book as my last knitted project.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Knitting and stitching.

Completed cardigan
 The cardigan has now been finished and put away ready for wearing at some stage. It was really quite a fast knit, only taking ten days to complete.
Journal Quilt for May
Other items completed this week include the May journal quilt for the CQ challenge. I have also started the June quilt, but will post that when it is complete. This still continues the theme of journeys. This time showing an aircraft flying over a map of Prague. The map has been printed onto a sheet of silk. The purple band is the one I had to wear when attending the 8th Patchwork Meeting in Prague some weeks ago.

The Sky's the Limit challenge for May also got completed, but missed the deadline by a couple of days since I just couldn't complete the stitching in time. The back is still just pinned......

Sky's the limit quilt - Filling in the Blancs.
Just to share the appalling joke - the background shows Mont Blanc with a blancmange to teh left, a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to the centre and the French entrance to the Mont Blanc tunnel on the right with a line of cars entering and leaving. The theme this time was "Filling in the Blancs". You can see other quilts on this theme on the website.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

No sewing yet, but a play day instead.

Sirdar book 398, "Roman Holiday"
In town yesterday, I found myself looking for a pattern for a cardigan. I have needed a cream cardigan for quite some time and haven't done any knitting for months. So I walked into Crafty Stitches and picked up this lovely book. It has a number of patterns in it which I know I shall be wanting to knit over the next few months.
Sirdar 9428, top version
This pattern was the one which took my eye. There is also a shortsleeved version which could so easily become longsleeved. Some lovely cream yarn came home with me too. Sadly, I really can't knit with cotton, so I opted for a polyacryl/wool mix  which feels beautifully soft and should wash really easily.


New print blocks
Home again I decided I owed myself a play day so got out the print blocks, fabric paints and stencils. The large print board was set up in the conservatory and I was off. My new print blocks from Colouricious were the first ones to be used.
Flower - first prints

Flower - overprinted

After quite an enjoyable time with the blocks, it was time to break out the stencils. I do so love playing around with the fabrics and trying out the different paints, mixing them too.

Using a stencil - work in progress
More stencilling.
I think my favourite is to use fabric which has already been painted or dyed and then print over the top with something completely different. You can see this clearly with the photograph above. The base fabric had been painted for a landscape theme and I really cannot throw away anything which might prove useful. I have used the offcuts above.
Blocks, foam pieces and bowls drying
My printing table at the end of the session.
I really need to get on with some stitching now before finishing off the printing now that the fabrics and the blocks have dried out. If you are wondering about the toothbrush - well, it is brilliant for getting the paint off the blocks and cleaning right into all the little nooks and crannies of any design. Yes, those are children's foam printing blocks in the centre. I do use those too. I printed using my new heart block too, but will share those photos another time. I am going to overprint that fabric, or perhaps add more colour in a different way. I just haven't decided yet.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Here's hoping for more sewing this week!

Ella, wearing her back pack.
Well, I haven't managed to get any sewing done over the past two weeks. Once the costumes were finished it was time for play week. A brief weekend away and I am itching to get on with some stitching of my own. I've managed to fit in a couple of mending tasks - a tear in a trouser leg, repairing the hem of another pair. Nothing very exciting and not really what I want to be doing.

Bluebells in the local woods.
If nothing else, I did manage to fit in a daily walk with Ella. Being a Husky/Akita cross, she really does need a couple of good walks a day. My morning walks tend to be at least 3 miles in length, with the route changing each morning. We are very lucky to have some wonderful walking tracks around here. All are walking distance from my front door as well!
The Bluebells have been magnificent this Spring. A delicate bluey-purple haze. Sadly, they have all but finished for this year. However, I did manage to get some photos.
Just in case you are wondering, Ella is carrying her own water bottles and a collapsible water bowl in her "back pack". She does get rather thirsty when the mornings are warm as they have been recently.
I did have a lovely visit with a friend yesterday afternoon - we talked textiles. A really enjoyable chat. It really got me excited about the idea of getting back to playing with textiles once more. The soldering iron and heat gun I had ordered recently arrived in the post today ready for some experimentation. I am going to be playing with the effect of heat on fabrics, as well as getting some printing done. I ordered some new woodblocks for blockprinting, as well as restocking my collection of fabric paints. These have now arrived.... lots of fun to be had!
Bye for now.