Good day to all and a warm welcome to new readers. I sincerely hope you enjoy this latest newsletter. Haven’t we been amazingly fortunate with such glorious weather for many weeks? Admittedly when the easterlies set in, and we have had quite a few, the sun may be golden all day long, but there has been a nip in the air down here. An extra layer of clothing is all that is needed though! Thankfully we have had a drop of rain but we could do with so much more.
In this newsletter I am reviewing:
- More stitching on the embroidery course
- My method of presenting the work for Unit 2
- One particular style of face mask
- a couple of interesting links, from Susan’s blog.
I am pleased with the progress I have made on Unit 2 since I last wrote. I have finished all the samples and write up and it has now gone back for assessment. I shall take a short break to catch up on some necessities; the priority is tidying my sewing room. I would also like to finish a pinafore dress I started last year and then I shall be raring to go again.
In retrospect I realise that for a few years now I have been returning to my “favourite” techniques; safe and fairly predictable techniques. I hadn’t realised quite how much I needed a new stimulus, and something to stretch me again! I have not been disappointed. I am thrilled with the fresh and inspirational ideas that are now buzzing around my head.
Twin needle stitching using the automatic stitches, was the next sample to get started on. I got out the stitch sampler that I showed you in the last newsletter; https://stitchingnews.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/stitching-news-may-2020-2/ stitched in red it has notation written beside each pattern I had tried out. This has provided invaluable information for me, this time round, saving a lot of time. I always do several test runs before I commit to my final stitched sample. This time, a little after I had started practising, I noticed that the right needle of the two was “missing” stitches! I re-threaded my machine and cleaned it, but no change! Sadly I didn’t have another twin needle. I cannot remember the last time I used one, to be honest!
So, I rang Cowslip workshops; https://www.cowslipworkshops.co.uk/ Jo answered the phone. I know from friends who have been speaking with her recently that she has been working SO hard to get her orders out to people ordering by phone, or on the internet, as quickly as she possible could.
I rang her at 4 pm on a Friday, and felt guilty realising that she would be exhausted at the end of the day. But she was as brilliant as ever, and I was amazed and thrilled, when the parcel arrived the next morning, meaning that I could get on and finish the sample! I salute and thank Jo very much and the Royal mail, for their excellent service, particularly during this sad and strange time. Very difficult times indeed for the specialised sewing and quilting business, which are really struggling in so many was to stay afloat.
It is more important than ever to support our local suppliers, as we all hope desperately that they will be able to open again. I know we all miss our days’ out at Cowslip; the wonderful garden, and fantastic cafe. So much has to be considered and it must be an absolute nightmare for them. Our hearts do indeed go out to them.
Couching threads has also been an important part of Unit 2, as has cable stitch.
The photo on the right, at the top of this post is a section of my stitched sample illustrating the use of couched threads. But first, on the left here, is the painted paper I have used to stitch on, for this sample. This paper was the only one that I really could not abide out of all my stash. It really bothered me because it looked such a mess but also the colours just didn’t work for me! However, I decided to start adding some “marks” to it with a fine black drawing pen (0.1). What a difference instantly! I did not like the golden coloured strip at the top, so I tore it out, and brought the pale blue/soft mauve down and stitched that in place to the top of the blue/ green. I also tore off the bottom two rows. Now it was beginning to look more balanced.
Below is the whole of the stitched sample.
I was happy to start the stitching now as I knew I was going to enjoy the process! I have made the two trees on the left from hand-dyed thick cotton string! The “tree” across to the right is hand-dyed dishcloth cotton. I had dyed them all several years ago and the dishcloth cotton colour was rather an acid green so I toned it down by soaking it in some blue/green Brusho.
I have used a range of other threads from my stash; all my own hand dyed cotton threads, of various thicknesses. I have used them singly, double and the purple/blue one in the purple section two rows up from the bottom actually had four strands twisted together and knotted at intervals.
Having finished this sample, I decided to be more adventurous, with another and drew some shapes onto a piece of Brusho painted cotton fabric.
I drew triangles, circles, and oblongs, linking them together; lots of angles, and circles and movement; perfect for practising.
I used a wide variety of threads; colourful, pale, thick and very thin. I have a cone of natural coloured Swedish linen thread, and I have dyed some hanks several times. The colour uptake is gorgeous, but it breaks so easily, so I have been reluctant to use if for stitching! However, now I have found a way to use it! Couching!
It was great to use 4 strands at a time of the linen thread, and because it is quite “rigid” although fine that worked well. They have created the circle nearest the bottom of the panel, also the small triangle nearest the top/
Others were single threads, some were double.
I didn’t use a twin needle, I felt I had enough to deal with turning right angles etc! But I used two contrasting threads on several occasions in this sample.
In the main, I stitched with the feed dog down, alternating on some of the shapes between zig zag stitch and straight-line stitching.
I learned such a lot doing this sample. Really pleased I did it!
Sample size: 7” by 3.75”.
There is clearly a great deal more to this Unit, but I will end by just showing you a small section of the concertina folded book I have made to present the work in.
Within this folded book I have included three additional inserts as well as three pockets. Each pocket has two samples in, and although I have stitched another two samples directly onto the page, I have left six “free” so that they can be easily removed for demonstration purposes.
I have increased my machine stitching skills and refreshed other skills and feel that this last month has been a wonderful exploration of colour and stitch.
Unit 3 is going to be about texture and form, observing detail and drawing small sketches of that detail from our choice of “natural” form. The garden is going to be an excellent resource for this part of the Unit!!
We also have three techniques and new stitches to master. In addition we have to start to consider our first assessment piece. This does not have to be completed in this unit, but our ideas must be consolidated and sent to Anne so that she can assess them and give feedback if necessary.
I am sure that many of you have been busy making face masks. Until now I haven’t made any although I have looked at a variety of shapes and styles, and read lots about them. With the recent advice now saying that the wearing of face masks on any form of public transport, and within a group where social distancing is very difficult to achieve is compulsory, then the time is not far off, I am sure, when we are going to be having to wear masks, possibly as the norm.
My husband asked me recently if I could make him one as he was going to have some treatment in hospital. So, here was my challenge! I have made one each; indeed I have made 4 in total, because I made a sample for each of us first, in calico, and without the interlining as I didn’t want to waste it. Primarily the sample was to check the fit.
A lovely friend of countless years, Teeny, had sent me a link to an excellent site with a video which gives a very clear tutorial on a fitted face mask. I am aware that there are probably hundreds of sites out there, and probably many for “fitted masks” too.
The link below is well worth watching as it is full of tips and is very well explained. Please don’t think that I am deriding any of the other tutorials, I can only recommend what I have personally seen and made! What I like about this “fitted style”, is that I have been able to make masks which have been made to our personal facial measurements. The video shows a demonstration of the whole process of making the mask. The presenter is likeable and although there seems a lot of “chat” on the video it is all about the process, and the reasons for her choices. We learn that she has worked for 20 years within the medical field, and how important it is to have a well-fitting mask.
http://www.fabricpatch.net/face-masks-for-covid-19-relief.htm This link also has another 3 video’s in total which you will see listed below the top one:
Video1 The Basic Tutorial. Video 2 Additional tips and tricks. Video 3 The Difference in masks and Video 4 What we have learned. You will learn about Jesse Hillon if you do watch them all, I have to confess that I cannot remember which of 2, 3 or 4 he is mentioned in. I do know that it is not in the first video. I learned the order of making the mask, but I chose to make the Jesse Hillon mask, because two specific facial measurements are taken from the person who will be wearing it.
Jesse Hillon is an engineer, who decided to buy a sewing machine as he wanted to make himself and his family face masks. He had seen the first video and followed those instructions to make one. (there are 4 sizes given on the template.)
I am sure that many people are more than happy with their choices, but Jesse felt it didn’t fit him well enough. Being an engineer, he decided to take two measurements, one from where he wanted the mask to come up to, near the bridge of his nose , down his nose to under the chin. The second measurement was from the mid-line of his nose to before the ear.
He then drafted 30 patterns for a wide range of face shapes. I matched my husband’s measurements to one of these templates, and found it on Jesse’s PDF download of the range of sizes. I noted the number of the page it was on. I repeated the exercise with my measurements. Then I was able to print off the two relevant templates.
- Having made 4 of them now, I have 5 tips for those who might consider making this pattern, that I have written down for my own benefit, as I shall definitely make several more.
1. Add the straight grain to the pattern, somewhere parallel to the centre of the nose seam.
2. Make a sample. It is well worth the time. I made an alteration at the ear seam, reducing the measurement from nose to ear, and altering the angle a little too, and therefore creating a new seam allowance. you will notice that I have made it a generous one, so that I can push the elastic inside, and sew it securely top stitching the very edge in addition. I reinforced the stitching over the elastic each time I crossed it.
On my first attempt with Rob’s mask the elastic came out!! I just undid the seam and carefully pushed it back in, reinforcing the stitching. It has been fine since. I am using round hat elastic, as that is what I have available here and I am using this double for extra strength. For those who know me of old, you will realise that we used this for making the button bracelets!
3. I used my walking foot throughout thinking that with all the layers it would hopefully keep them all together. It worked! As I have explained recently my machine is a basic Bernina. I can move my needle as far across to the right as it will go, and then it is exactly 1/4″ from needle to the edge of the foot. To check on your own machine draw an accurate 1/4″ line with a sharp pencil parallel to the edge of a piece of paper. Then drop the needle onto the drawn line, put the presser foot down and check where the edge of the paper is in respect to the edge of the foot.
4. When sewing in the “nose clip” check before you sew that it is at the nose end, and not the chin end! Mistake number two for me!! The two ends are surprisingly similar!
5. When you sew the prepared lining to the prepared outer mask, double check the orientation of the inner and the outer of them, so that both nose ends are together. I haven’t actually made that mistake, but it would be SO easy to do. I keep my paper pattern out, and just lay the work in progress against the paper regularly, checking orientation all the time!
Finally I am including two links that I have recently found very interesting. The blog post which they had been included in was written and sent to me by a lovely friend, Susan who has come down to Cornwall many times with lots of her friends for a long weekend of stitching and fun with me.
She has valiantly been writing a regular blog post during this lockdown, for the quilting group she belongs to near Cheltenham. Members of the group keep her up to date with what they are doing; stitching,………. etc and then she puts the information together and sends it out to the members. A lovely way to keep in touch. When I read this post, I instantly asked her if she would mind if I copied them into my Stitching News. She was more than happy to share them. She had found them on the internet.
I am a huge fan of Aurifil threads, and have been for about 18 years now. They are Italian and were launched in 1983, so they have been around a long time. They are very economical although they may seem expensive to buy. However, when you see that there are 1300 metres of thread on the spool, you will realise just how much you are getting for your money. The information on the link above is really interesting. I certainly learned a thing or two!
The following link has 8 ways to use up scrap triangles. You can always cut triangles, of course, if you don’t have scrap ones!
Happy sewing … until next time…