Stitching News May 2020 (2)

I seem to have inadvertently published my blog (2) long before it was finished! I am struggling with a new format on WordPress! Technology, Grrr! WordPress has changed its format for writing the blog and from June 1st the creaters of blogs must adhere to this new format. Nothing changes for readers, at all.

I decided to get it over with! “Strike while the iron is hot mentality”! Technology and I dont get on too well, but I decided to take the bull by the horns straight away. So how have I got on? The immediate answer to that is … not at all well! I spent several hours last night trying to sort out the new system. Then, trying to retrieve everything I had lost when it disappeared! What a nightmare! I searched in every possible area, but even though I had been “saving” all along that journey, it had gone, never to be retrieved. …. and of course, I have no idea why, which is SO frustrating. I kept checking in “drafts” quite unbelieving that it was not there!

I have slept on it, and am trying, from scratch once more! If this doesn’t work, I shall have to give up!
It totally takes the shine off writing, and that is such a shame.

I am still thoroughly enjoying Unit 2 of the machine embroidery course.

http://www.pocketmouse.co.uk/distanceme.php

I have three stitched samples left to do now, then I will have finished this unit. During the time I have been working through the Unit, I have repeated many techniques that I have covered several times over the years. It has been a great refresher, and I am really excited about the wonderful stash of painted papers I have which will last me for years!! New ideas have been developing, and I admit I have got distracted several times, having to “pull myself back to the case in hand!

The first exercise after working on the basics of colour theory was to create a scrap bag of painted and decorated papers and fabrics I used Brusho as my favoured medium for these, having used acrylic paints painting onto as wide a collection of paper surfaces, and a few fabrics, to use in the rest of the stitched samples. I used Brusho for these papers, and had a fabulous time.

I have discovered new favourite surfaces for painting onto and thoroughly explored the lovely qualities that Brusho has. I love the transparent quality of the paints, because they give wondrous bright colours, and you can build on the marks you create with your chosen brush, or sponge or other painting tool, by painting the same colour over the first dried colour; or indeed a different colour, creating layers of intrigue!

Here are a couple of photos which sample a fraction of my results!

Another of the exercises in this colour unit is to make a set of collages, using our decorated papers.

The photo above shows a collage on the left with a painted paper on the right. I had added some “marks” to this painted paper; one from my collection. It has the secondary colours, so was a very good choice for a collage representing these colours. We didn’t have to have a source to start with, but my mind was blank, and I just needed a nudge to get me going. It worked, and subsequently I could have spent hours and hours putting together other collages. In total I produced five, which was what was asked for in the course material. Choosing from my stash of papers I chose dark, mid and light tones within the colour ranges for the collage.

The papers I used were; tea-bag paper, wallpaper lining paper, Indian rag paper, tissue paper, Khadi paper, white packaging paper and cheese paper. The latter was given to be by a tutor coleague when I was teaching in FE. It is very fibre like, takes Brusho paint wonderfully, and is not easy to tear! Very interesting paper to use.

However the real surprise was the packaging paper that came to us recently surrounding and protecting an item in a parcel. It was lightly scrunched up in the box. What a find. An off-white which gives a sharp representation of colour,. The brusho immediately soaked through onto the protective newspaper underneath. It dried crisply, and is a fine paper as opposed to a coarse or heavy paper. I have wondered if it is plain newsprint paper. If anyone has used newsprint paper in any of their art work, I would be interested in their opinion. It is even more interesting because I am recycling at the same time!

Here is another of the collages. This time it represents two of the complementary colours; red and green.

The complementaries sit opposite each other on the colour wheel.The papers I have used here are:

wallpaper lining paper

white packaging paper and

cartridge paper.

Again I have chosen papers which have tonal ranges and interest. I was itching to add hand stitch to my collages, using hand dyed threads, but had to be mindful of the fact that this is a machine embroidery course!!

My sewing machine (shown above) is a Bernina 1015. I bought it in 1987, and it has been a real work horse for me since then. I have used it hugely over the years, not only for quilting but for dressmaking, and house hold furnishings; curtains and cushions. Unless it became obsolete for any reason, I would not change it, or trade it in! It is one of the original heavy metal machines, but what I do love about it is that I can manually fine-tune stitch length and width to exactly what I want, rather than having computerised fixed settings.

It is very easy to take apart and clean, the walking foot, which I purchased, probably at least 20 years ago is very easy to attach, as are all the other feet too. It doesn’t have a knee lift, but I know my machine inside out and back to front, and I can stop it with the needle up or down, without really even thinking about it. The foot pedal also has two speeds. These days I rarely change from the “fast” switch but when I first bought the machine it was an invaluable feature. It runs at a very even speed which is also very easy to control.

When I took the photo above, I noticed an implement in the far background. It is a small weighted paper holder.

You just slot the bottom edge of the paper into the space within the holder, and the page will stand upright. I have no idea where or when I bought it, but it is a really useful piece of kit. I have had it for very many years!

I am currently working on two hand made “book” assemblies. One I have had to sample several times to get the measurements and the method straight!

I wrote down the stages I have to go through for each page when I had finally cracked it, so that I could refer to the notes quickly. It is so easy to refer to them before I start sewing, when I have it stood at the side of my machine! I have quite large gaps between working on each page, and my memory is hopeful. I need reminders all the time!

Prior to starting on my first proper stitched sample in this unit, we were asked to make a stitched practice sample of the automatic stitches. Mine is shown here to the left.

As you can see I stitched everything in bright red, and wrote my own notes on the sample at the same time. Referring back to this sample frequently, enabled me to work out exactly how to set my machine, once I had decided on the stitch I would like to use on my first proper stitched sample using my automatic stitches.

I learned a huge amount about my machine and the few automatic patterns I have. I had never used some of them, ever!

Finally here is a photograph of one of my stitched samples using the automatic stitches on my machine.

I have not stitched anything like this in the past, so it was a fabulous learning experience. I shall definitely use some of these techniques again.

I have used a mixture of ribbons, strips of fabric or paper, and a wide selection of my stitch patterns. These were all worked on top of one of my painted cheese papers.

I am very relieved to have completed this blog. It hasn’t been without its traumas, including the unfortunate posting early on!

Until next time, happy stitching

Di

Stitching News May 2020 (1)

Good day, from sunny Cornwall, where we have another beautiful cloudless blue sky.

During the last week I have been busy gardening, walking, baking and of course getting on with my machine embroidery course. Naturally there are always the basic household chores to get through as well…mostly I skim over them, just giving them more attention when necessity kicks in!
I am sure I am not alone in saying that my creative self is quite erratic at the moment. Some days I am full of enthusiasm, and others are quite different! No day is uninteresting but the creativity definitely comes and goes!

This newsletter is about;

  • Colour; the design element of the second unit in the course is all about colour.
  • A little about my work on the presentation of Unit one.
  • Creating an original patchwork block.
  • My favourite “easy access” tool box.

I have been really itching to get on with Unit 2, and have been reading around the subject, and also had great fun looking back at some work I did years ago. It is always fascinating to go back and review old work as it is almost always still relevant to today!

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For the course and the start of Unit 2 we had to start with colour basics; a colour wheel. We could choose our medium with which to paint white paper, and my first choice was acrylics. I know the colour wheel inside and out and back to front, as the majority of readers probably do! There are several different colour wheels, but this is the basic one, and we had to paint papers with the three primary and the three secondary colours. I was quite happy to repeat the exercise, and began to consider the different combinations!

I soon cut the relevant sections from my papers and glued them down onto a background. I cut elongated triangles from scraps putting the complementary colours together too. The latter sit opposite each other on the colour wheel. I followed this by playing with the left over secondary colours I had mixed. Combining these created even more colours, a different array of sludgy ones which always appeal to me. I made some small collages from these. Great fun!

For an alternative set of painted papers I decided to work with Brusho. These paints come in powder form and are mixed with water. I made up solutions of blue, red and yellow and painted papers as before. Using this totally different medium gave very different results! I should have made the colours stronger, which I cna still always do.  Pale colours are always essential and so, on reflection I am sort of pleased! There is equally nothing to stop me increasing the strength. The first six are acrylic paints, the second are Brusho.

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This is just the beginning of exploring colour… there are many more exercises to do, which will be fun too, but in the meantime, I have put the colour work in Unit 2 on hold! I had completed all the course content in Unit one, but at that time had not decided on my format for the presentation of the work. I have considered many options and a final decision made; a book.  So many book ideas, which is what has taken my time… I have had it OK’d, and have returned to work on it.

I find I am working through this course in regular but very small capsules of time. That has so often been the way I find my ideas can develop. I have worked like this for many years. I like to have some space and time to really think ideas through. Strangely this “thinking time” more often than not happens in either wakeful periods at night, or when I am hand stitching on other projects. It is never ever a conscious action on my part. It just happens and it is surprising how the germ of an idea expands quite quickly once it appeals to me! When I am happy about my thought processes, I can start working out the nitty gritty; size and techniques. I have already made samples of the techniques I am going to use for this constructionand have already made samples using scrap paper and scraps of fabric. Part will be hand stitched, and part on the machine. I had to do several samples just to get the proportions right. This is invaluable use of time, and well worth the effort.

I am actually deconstructing a book that I was given maybe as long as 15 or even 20 years ago. The paper is a high quality cartridge paper but it has been so tightly bound that the book will not lie flat when it is opened. This makes it impossible to even write in! It was never going to be used, so I am cutting out the pages very carefully with a craft knife so that they can be re-used now to create a workable book! Great to recycle!

I had a fascinating time recently looking through some of my past work. I found two pieced 16″ blocks along with the initial design work. It had all started with a simple 1″ square that I had cut from polystyrene packaging and used as a printing block.

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As you can see from the photo above, I have printed a straight square alternating with a square on point all over the paper. I then lightly outlined the printed squares with a fine black drawing pen to give a little definition and highlight the small irregularities the uneven printing had created. Next I trawled a 1 inch square “window” over the page, looking for possible areas that might be suitable for a patchwork block. I considered three areas, finally choosing one with part of the negative space as well as tiny sections of adjacent squares. Simple but effective!

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The newly identified area, has been slightly modified to give continuity and balance. The first of two additional lines runs from the top left corner until it comes to a stop at a right angle to another line. The second line creates a small triangle in the top right corner. These additions serve to break up what would have been two large spaces.

 

 

 

I tried various arrangements of this final block, then coloured in the one that I liked; as shown below.

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In this coloured version, have a look at the yellow corner; it is four of the original design blocks. Each original block has been rotated by 90 degrees in a clockwise rotation. This could be called a 4-patch, and four of these create the whole design, seen here on the left. Each of the coloured corners consists of four of the design blocks, all coloured identically.

The final design could be called a 16-patch.

 

The photo below shows the bottom left quarter of the design after piecing.

This finished patchwork block measures 16″ square. The finished design as in the coloured version above, would be 32″ square and could make a very nice wall hanging.

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Use of colour plays a huge part in any block, emphasising shapes as blocks are put together. Below is another way I created interest, by inclusion of a change of scale;

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Three of the corners in this red block are the size of the green blocks above. However the left top corner has a 1/4 size of the whole design. Here, the large corners measure 8″ square. But the top left corner consists of four x 4″ squares, creating the final 8″ sized corner. I like the way that the black individual striangular shapes, touch each other and create the distorted z shape. The use of black, really makes a sharp impact. All this came from a very simply printed paper!

Below is another block which I created in exactly the same process as above, but from a different source.

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Below you can see repeated blocks which have been assembled identically in the three versions, but I have painted them in different ways. The different use of colour illustrates that a range of final options are possible if you take the time to explore them. All the design lines are still in place, showing the way to construct the block.

 

 

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Finally, I was browsing in Coast and Country Crafts late summer last year, and saw these little storage units.  https://www.coastandcountrycrafts.co.uk/

I thought they were fabulous, and would make great Christmas presents. Of course I had to try them out didn’t I, so that meant “one for me” too!

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Mine is packed with everyday tools which were previously in other pots, pencil cases, boxes etc, but here they are instantly visible, and accessible and tidy! Probably a bit of a luxury, but hey ho!

It is called a “stash ‘n store”

All of the items are used very regularly, and I find the little unit fantastically useful and organised! It sits on a table just to the right of my sewing machine.

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The silicone top surface has an interlinking circular grid, which can accommodate a wide variety of tools, as you can see. They are gripped by the silicone, so won’t “fall over”.

 

Take care and stay safe. Until next time, Happy stitching!

Di

April Stitching News (2)

Good afternoon. Hopefully you are surviving the lock down and staying safe. Rob and I seem to have settled into a steady routine, and “time” has almost become inconsequential. Breakfast seems to get later and later, but I have often been up for three hours or even more hours by that time;  more often than not … sewing!

In this edition of Stitching news, I will be showing you;

  •  details and a link for a different pouch. You will know that I am very fond of making little zipped containers! I have many, and use them all at various times.

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This has a different assembly, still giving a lovely roomy shape.

More about this later!

 

 

 

  • An update on progress with the machine embroidery course.
  • A request from our 4 year old grandson!

But first a thought for the week! I read this quote one day recently, and it really resonated with me;  “You don’t stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things.”  The quote isn’t new to me, but perhaps it hasn’t been so stark in the past! It could also be thought of as a variation on the theme of “use it or lose it”! We are all having to make adjustments to our normal routines, and often use our time in a totally different way. Learning a new skill, or honing past skills are a couple of ways we stitchers’ are spending some hours these days.

A few months ago I was looking at different pouches, when I found this link:

http://terrabytefarm.com/wp/2012/01/04/boxed-pouch-tutorial/

I made one of the pouches very quickly, loved the shape and the ease and speed of making! It is an excellent tutorial. There are two versions, one short tutorial, and the other giving  fuller tuition for new students to patchwork, e,g, how to create the patchwork fabric for the main fabric. There is plenty of visual material, for those who like photos of stages, as well as text. For myself, I prefer to “finish” off raw seams with a binding. In the link tutorial the finishing of the seams is done by using a zigzag stitch over the raw edges. I  just prefer to make make the finish a little more professional. Another addition I made, was to include a tab at each end of the zip. It isn’t very easy to open the zip without a tab to hold which “anchors” the pouch while you are pulling on the zip.

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You can see the tabs in this photo, positioned at either end of the zip.

If you have looked at the tutorial, by clicking on the link, you can see that there are no tabs included.

You will also notice that I have also chosen to use the method of inserting the zip into the pouch, which I showed in the “soft bag tutorial that I taught in  recent post about zipped soft bags;

https://stitchingnews.wordpress.com/2020/03/01/stitching-news-march-2020-1/

So if you are interested in making this pouch, you can follow the initial stages of the soft zipped bag to start with, as from that post, in conjunction with this one! I have given the basics in the text below.

  1. Decide on the size you would like to work with, referring to my soft bag tutorial.  Cut a main fabric, wadding and a lining fabric, all the same size.
  2. I actually decided to quilt the three layers together for my black and white pouch. I pieced my main fabric with central strip and a strip from a second fabric either side of this. There are endless ways you can piece the fabric, or clearly you can just choose one fabric.
  3. Then prepare your zip in the same way as in the the soft bag tutorial. I have chosen to use this method, as opposed to the method in the link, because it offers another contrast fabric within the design of the pouch and it also increases the “roominess” a little too.
  4. Pull the zip pull into the centre,  as shown in the soft bag tutorial, and trim the ends of the zip, stitching across the ends of the zip exactly as shown.
  5. Sew the zip to the to the main panel as shown in the soft bag tutorial
  6. Make the two tabs.

I will illustrate the next stages now, as I did them on my black and white pouch.

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7. Essentially you now have a tube, with the right side of the fabric inside. My pouch is lined with pale blue fabric, which is what you see in the photo.

I have shown you one end of the “tube”. Next stage is to insert the folded end of one of the tabs inside the tube, so that the raw edges of the tab match the raw edges of the zip, and the zip teeth lie directly over the midline of the tab. Pin securely and repeat at the other end of the zip.

 

8. Before stitching anything, the next stage is to prepare to “box the corners”. The box creates the shape of the pouch, and  I decided I wanted to have a finished 2″ box. I therefore drew a 1″ square at both corners. The drawn square is always half the size of the required finished box. 

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Repeat this at the opposite end of the tube as well.

9. Cut away the corners on the drawn lines. Pin the layers together, near the corners to secure.

10. Next, notice in the photo, the line of stitching across the remaining short edge. This was stitched with a 1/4″ seam allowance, reinforced at each end of the seam. Repeat at the opposite edge of the zip. These lines of stitching seal the ends of the pouch and secures the tabs in place.

 

11. Measure the length of this stitched seam, and cut two pieces of fabric 1″ longer than this measurement and a generous 1″ wide. This will be the binding, (I used a very fine fabric, a Liberty Lawn fabric, to reduce bulk as much as possible, it worked really well). Centre the strip of fabric, right sides together on the zip side of the tube, matching raw edges. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam allowance.   Turn the strip over and wrapping the ends carefully around the edges of the seam, fold the seam allowance under; pin, and hem on this side by hand. Repeat at the opposite end of the tube.

12. Carefully open out the corner, so that the seam you have just dealt with, is opposite the centre of the folded edge of the tube. it is a very short edge to bind. You will notice that as you “open” the corner, the folded edge will automatically be almost  opposite the end of the bound seam. Adjust, pin and carefully sew 1/4″ seam allowance. from the raw edges. Repeat on all 4 corners. Bind in the same way as the short edge. Photo below.

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As you can see, the boxed corners are exactly what gives this pouch its shape. I also feel that the very nature of the bound corners means that they are firmer, and that helps the pouch to keep such a great shape!

 

 

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In the  photo above, you can see that I have almost finished  hand embellishing the top of  this pouch. A little afterthought, that took quite a time to do, as it was awkward to do on the finished item! But it makes it very individual and pretty! Still have a few French knots to add.

I am currently working on another, because I do like the embroidered flowers. I am doing the embroidery this time,having just sewn one edge of the zip to the main quilted panel! This means it is flat and therefore much easier to do. I will only have one side to complete after assembly. I like the idea of the embroidery occasionally being worked into the zip unit,  though, hence not being able to complete the other half until it has been assembled into the tube!!

An update on the machine embroidery course.

Well the first thing is that I am loving it. I have completely finished the first Unit, and have had very positive and constructive feedback, with further possibilities for extension ideas of some of the techniques. Very exciting.

Here are a couple more of my samples from Unit one: This one based on my mark making, and we had to just use straight stitch, with the feed dog up.

The second sample below is one using plastic as a medium to stitch onto, and we had to free machine with straight stitch and the feed dog down. It was one of my favourite samples in this unit.

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I have received Unit two now, which looks very interesting, Colour is a feature of the initial design work,  and that follows through to the machine stitching techniques , of which there are four. More on this in the next newsletter!

Finally, My little grandson’s request, was for a Spiderman Cloak! I did a little research, and it was very clear that Spiderman didn’t actually wear a cloak! Relaying this to my son, he said “Doesn’t matter Mum, Joseph would be so excited to have one. Please can you put a spider’s web on the back!”

Took a bit of courage, and quite a lot of practising drawing one, before I dared “just go for it” on the material. Red was requested, and I did a pale blue lining!

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As one friend remarked: “You will never lose him in the park!” I don’t want to include him in the photos, but his daddy sent lovely photos to us when he received it. He looked like the cat that had eaten all the cream!! It was a joy to see!

If you ever want to refresh yourself about a technique, or a link, or particular post I have written on this site, but you just cannot remember what year or what month,  look on the right hand side of any Stitching News post, and there is a box headed “What are you looking for?” Enter one or two specific words relevant for your search in the box .Press enter, and a list of posts which have those words in, will appear. For instance, if you wanted to see the post about the Robin Christmas card I made, entering Robin and card would  do the job!

Happy sewing! Stay safe,

Di

 

 

 

 

 

April 2020 Stitching News (1)

A warm welcome to you all at the end of this Easter weekend. 

In this Stitching News post I shall discuss:

  • Problems with bedroom curtains!
  • Progress on my  machine embroidery course
  • Sharing recipes!

It has been the strangest of Easters living here in Mevagissey, such a beautiful Cornish coastal village. The weather has been amazing, but the streets and shops empty! Scenes which will have been echoed all over the UK. Hopefully we are now beginning to adapt to the social isolation we are having to live with and beginning to create new routines. 

We have been decorating, as are many other people it seems! Having finished the painting in our bedroom, I decided to wash the curtains before re-hanging them, just to finish the job properly! I washed them on a cool wash, but … they shrank!  Now, I am not normally someone prone to expletives, but I couldn’t stop myself as I realised that what was just going to be “the finishing touch” was suddenly looming as a major repair job!

I decided to “sleep on it”. Come the morning I had the solution! I was going to make a patchwork border to hide the evidence!

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I woke early and started gathering  a selection of fabrics which I felt would be sympathetic to the blue stripes in the curtains.

The majority of these came from a jelly roll I had bought for another purpose, a few years ago. There were still plenty left. A few hand dyed fabrics increased the palette and introduced some “plains”. Most of the fabrics are cotton with a couple of hand dyed linens.

My mother was always saying to me: “measure twice, and cut once” so after checking measurements several times, I cut 5-6 strips from each fabric. These measured 7.5″ long, and between 2 1/4″” and 4″ wide. The measurement along the bottom of each curtain was 80″ but I also needed the border to wrap around the sides of each curtain, so I added another 6″ to give a final total of 86″. I had to make a border for each curtain, of course!

It took me just over two days to complete the task in between other chores, but I am pleased with the end result. It saved the day!

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In between the decorating, and the gardening and of course the “normal” routines of daily living, I have also been working on my distance learning machine embroidery course. It is such a positive feeling to have a structure and purpose to my days ahead.  I can work at my pace whenever time permits. I have been an early riser for decades, especially after the clocks change for summer time, and before breakfast is often the most productive time of day, for me! Every time I repeat an exercise there is always something new to learn. There are infinite ways to do most tasks, which is why it is always stimulating and interesting.

I have been through more exercises in this first Unit, but I had also put one on the back burner; the collage to be created from some of my mark making papers. A landscape was a possible option suggested in the text, and I had found one quite early on, but in my heart I knew that my procrastination was due to the fact that it didn’t inspire me at all! So I began trawling through photos I had taken this year and found one of a pheasant who has been visiting us regularly, every day, for many months. I took it in February. I seem to be “homing in” on birds recently, and this photo certainly attracted me. At last I felt some enthusiasm, and knew I could get on with the exercise now!

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On the left is my original photo, copied in black and white. I have highlighted the shape of the pheasant in a 0.1 fine black drawing pen, just to give him a bit more clarity.

His actual colouring is not traditional. There are many variations down here, and this one is particularly silvery grey on his back. He struck a very elegant pose as I clicked away!

I also particularly liked the ceramic pot behind him. It was a welcome change of scale to all the small detail in the photo. The pheasant is walking across a pebbled area around our patio and pond. I knew that this surface would probably be labour intensive to collage and I wasn’t wrong! Looking for suitable papers, I turned some of mine over to the back, where I found many of the sort of marks I needed, for example the way the ink that I had painted onto the paper had seeped through to the back leaving pale tiny spots in patches, which were just perfect! I had also painted some bleach onto the inked side of the paper when it was dry, and although I was disappointed with the results on the front, but the way the bleach had also come through to the back, was just perfect for what I needed now!

The moral of this story, is “always try to look for a positive, or to put it another way “something that makes you think that perhaps it might be useful at sometime”. Save everything, throw nothing away! As I had written notes on everything I did, I was also pleased that if I needed to repeat the effects I knew how to start!

Another instruction was to tear the papers for the collage, where possible, so by far the majority of my collage has been created with torn papers. Very occasionally I have used a sharp cut shape where appropriate! Below is a photograph of my end result.

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The collage did not have to be precisely identical to the chosen source photograph so there was room for manoeuvre, and indeed, whenever a collage is created, it becomes our individual interpretation and, therefore unique!

Because of the similar tones of the bird against the background of pebbles, I decided again to highlight the outline to give the pheasant “more substance” within the context of the collage.

 

 

He was the last piece of the jigsaw, so to speak, so I mounted the finished bird onto black paper and cut the outline leaving a minuscule black border. I know that the legs and feet have turned out too clumpy, but if I were to produce this in fabric, that would then be easily adjusted. Did I enjoy it? Yes, it really refreshed the process of creating a collage, and particularly the importance of the order of work.

Finally I decided to end this post with something that is not stitching related at all, but is a welcome “refreshment” when sewing!

Shortbread biscuits! I have home baked since my teens when every weekend I used to help my mother with baking for our family of five! I love it, and I know that many of you have eaten my ginger oaty biscuits, a favourite recipe that I have baked numerous times, including for all our customers when we had “Patches”; the number of baking sessions is certainly into four figures! However, I had never been successful with shortbread biscuits, that is until my dear friend Rosemary gave me one of hers one day when I visited her, and I LOVED it. The recipe never fails, and is very straightforward!

I am taking the liberty of sharing it with you, I know she would be tickled pink as we are both very happy to share our recipes. Whether this was handed down by a family member, or was one she found from a different source, I have no idea. Be warned, this gives a good yield! But they never last long enough!

Ingredients;  250 gm of butter. 1 cup of sieved icing sugar.  2 1/4 cups of plain flour.  1/2                           cup of cornflour.

Method;     Beat the sugar and the softened butter until creamy. Mix the plain flour and cornflour well and add to the creamed butter and sugar. Knead well until the mixture is well combined. Roll into two “fat sausages”, wrap them in cling film or an alternative and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Slice into biscuits approximately ¼” thick. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 170 degrees C,  on lined baking trays.  I check after about 13 minutes, they usually need another couple of minutes! They should be golden brown.

They are so simple. I mix everything in my old Kenwood mixer, using the K beater. When the flour is added, I keep the Kenwood working until everything is really well “kneaded” so that minimal hand kneading is then required.

For myself and Rob I usually add 3 chopped stem ginger balls, and a good teaspoonful of the syrup from the jar. I add this after creaming the butter and icing sugar.  If you like ginger flavoured biscuits, this addition is delightful. Another variation is to add lemon essence, or the grated zest of half a lemon and a couple of teaspoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Both of these make for excellent variations. It is also a great base for …….

Millionaires shortbread (A real treat).  Make the shortbread recipe, and roll it out on a floured surface, and press it into an oblong tin measuring 12″ x 9″  (35 cm x 23 cm),  bake. To make the caramel layer, heat the contents of a 397 gram can of condensed milk, 100 gm of butter and 100 gm of soft brown sugar carefully in a saucepan, stirring continuously until it comes to the boil. Still stirring continuously allow the mixture to simmer until it begins to thicken. I just use my instinct to estimate when to pour it over the shortbread! Spread  it evenly. Then melt 50 gm of butter and 200 gm broken chocolate. (I buy Tesco’s or other supermarket home brand of chocolate…about (£1 – £1.50 per 200 gm bar). For me it tastes far better than “dedicated cake chocolate”) When it has all melted together pour over the caramel on the shortbread, and help it with a knife or spatula to the edges, and corners.

This is a great treat, as you will gather from reading the ingredients! It freezes well, and is therefore not too big a temptation when not in sight!.

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The photo on the right is of part of a batch made yesterday, Easter Monday, which I cut into 32 pieces. It is rich, so a little goes a long way.

 

 

 

I put it into the fridge, so that the chocolate begins to harden before cutting it into pieces.  If the chocolate goes very hard, it shatters when cut!

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The photo on the right shows shows that the biscuits have some depth using this recipe with the quantities of ingredients given and baked in the size of the tray bake tin that I use.

Occasionally we really need a treat these days!

Happy stitching and creativity, until next time!

Stay safe, and well.

Di

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March Stitching News 2020 (3)

What would we do without the Internet!  With the enforced restrictions that we are now having to adjust to, I am certainly relying on the internet for keeping in touch with friends and family more than ever! So often we have decried the intrusion in our lives and have made determined efforts to limit the time we are on it But, to be fair in the circumstances we now find ourselves in, I am sure it is a life saver for many people. Personally I don’t use Facebook, but I do post on Instagram. With a couple of exceptions I just follow the wonderful creating stitching community,  and it is a joy to keep up with the lovely creative work that is posted.

Welcome to this month’s newsletter the contents of which are;

  • Birthday card
  • Seaweed printing
  • decorating
  • Distance Learning course Machine Embroidery

This week it was a dear elderly friend’s birthday. She is an avid stitcher, and constantly interested in “stretching her brain”.

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So, I made her a birthday card, with a decidedly contemporary style. I knew she would be intrigued, so I also included the method inside explaining  how I approached the finished result”

Below is a closeup photograph and an explanation.

 

 

 

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There are three layers to the worked surface; dressmakers tissue on top, with newsprint underneath, and finally a layer of fine iron-on Vilene to protect the upper layers from perforation and tearing when I was stitching.

The piece of news print was one of my layers underneath the tissue, protecting the table as I painted the swirls. It was just one section of the paper, and had several marks layered up on it!! As you can see I have machine stitched the outlines of the swirls with bright red thread, everything else is hand stitched. The long very thin lines are stitched within the “spaces” of the newsprint lines, or actually on top of some of the printed straight lines which were sectioning off an item.
I like the hand stitching down the centre of the swirls where I have used a hand dyed thread. A lady deserves flowers on her birthday, so that is the reason for the double daisies! A few french knots just finished it off.

Rob my husband was taking part in an annual seaweed survey earlier in the month.

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So, I just had to have a go at eco printing it.

Janine, my friend in Abu Dhabi, was so excited when she told me how she had got some good results from pressing seaweed between paper, which had only been sprayed with white vinegar. Weights were put on  the parcels in order to try to maintain an even pressure and contact with the paper. She decided not to steam them (the normal way of obtaining eco prints) I just had to have a go. I was very impressed, with my results. She recommended that they were left to dry naturally, and I left mine in our conservatory, for about 4 days.

Since I separated them they have sat in the glorious sunshine we are enjoying, and the prints have gradually got stronger. One can only presume that the salt is a factor in this process.

Two weeks ago, when suddenly everything in my diary had been wiped out within about three days, I began to feel rather “directionless!” I knew I needed an injection of fresh energy and a more structured week than what seemed to be looming ahead. So I decided to become a “student” again and booked onto a Distance Learning Design and Machine Embroidery Course with Anne Griffiths.

Anne Griffths, Contemporary Textile Art :  http://www.pocketmouse.co.uk/distanceme.php

Anne and I were colleagues when we both taught in further education  in Cheltenham, and have remained very good friends ever since.

It has done the job!! I am feeling a different person. Now I have a structure to my days and weeks. Strangely it has also given me fresh incentive within everything else I suddenly have space and time to do! I am enjoying more experimenting with cooking/baking. My husband and I have put some structured time table in for small bouts of gardening regularly in the week, as well. I have a sudden urge to spring clean, and we are even decorating as well. After all we are not going to have visitors or even drop in callers, so what does it matter if some of our space is totally upside down for several days!

I am also enjoying the space and quiet and calm as we have our daily walks around the harbour.

I had my preparatory chat with Anne, when I rang to discuss it all. It is not easy teaching another tutor, albeit one who’s discipline is different, so I do understand her apprehension.

It is reciprocal! What will be expected of me! I am rusty now, very rusty, which is why I decided to learn new skills during this period of forced containment..

I assured her that I wanted to be treated exactly as any other student. to be given advice; sorted out when I “just don’t get it!” I know absolutely nothing about machine embroidery! Yes…I clearly know how to drop the feed dog on my machine, and free machine stitch, but I would say that is the limit that I have ever needed to do. This is marketed as a one year Course with 6 Units.

So I was sent the Introductory Unit, and Unit 1. I must say, they are very well written; clear, concise, with plenty of suggestions and advice, and photos of some work, along the way. Lastly it is very easy to follow. A brilliant start! She recommended that I let her know how long I would like to working on the first Unit, and I decided on one month. With everything else I am packing into a day, I felt that was about right.

This first Unit is divided into three sections with two or three exercises in each section.

It is the “old” one year C&G Course, which was one of the courses she taught in College, and therefore also covers the design element on which samples etc may be based. She has no affiliation with C&G now, so she is unable to offer the certificate…….that does not change the course! It is suggested at this stage we just work in neutral colours; whites and  blacks and see what else develops.

I have been working through some mark making exercises…. preparing a selection of marks on different papers using different mediums. Then doing similar ones on a range of fabrics. Anne gives a suggested list of mark making implements, as well as different media to use.

Below are two photographs of mine; the first are marks made on paper, and in the second photo I have been making marks on fabrics.

Anne give lots of ideas, to get you going, and as I have always said in the past; “it’s the doing, which brings more ideas into your head. Ideas don’t just leap in, especially when you are a novice, but while you are experimenting you gradually begin to think; “I wonder what would happen if I did “so and so”…..the answer is, just try it.

Anne says “nothing is wrong”. What you work through are your own personal ideas. If one student interprets the text in one way, and another interprets it in a completely different way, that is absolutely fine too. It is the individual student’s own way of working that produces innovative and fresh ideas, as well as developing her own style.

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I am enjoying myself! I have almost finished the first of the 3 sections, in Unit 1, and have started the second, and have got on well with that. I wanted to give myself time to reflect on what I have done so far, so beginning the next section has been a nice break and change.

The last section is all about stitching! Can’t wait to get on with that!

I have a great structure to my days and weeks ahead now, and something interesting,  and challenging to get my teeth into. I shall have a completely new set of skills at the end. What could be better!

Stay safe, and try to make the most of every day. Very best wishes to you all for remaining virus- free or for the strength to fight the virus, if it does affect you.

Happy stitching, until next time.

Di

 

March Stitching News 2020(2)

Welcome to this March blog,in which I am discussing:

  • My new little Eco printed book ; work in progress.
  • Easter raffle prize finished!
  • Mermaids’ Purses

My fascination with Eco mark making and stitch continues! I am in the process of making another little folded book using some of my papers which I printed last autumn.

This book will be smaller than my last one, but I shall still have a good number of surfaces to display my little stitched prints. I am using a heavy water colour paper again as the main “carrier”. I have concertina folded the strip, so that I have two valley folds. Into each of the valley folds I shall stitch a single fold paper. The pages will turn really easily, and the book can be displayed either flat, or stood up.

The following three “pages” give a glimpse of  how the contents will gradually develop. The first photo will be on the front cover. The second will be attached inside. I haven’t decided on the definite position yet! The third photo is the inner aspect of the single fold insert in one of the valley folds. Before I stitch it into the valley fold, I shall stitch and prepare two prints to place on the outer sides of this insert. It is so much easier to stitch a completed unit into the valley fold!

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I don’t make a plan of how I would like to stitch into the pages, but as I work into each, the ideas evolve. When stitching into paper there is often “no going back!” I have learned from experience always to make the stitch holes from the front with my needle, so that when the needle has travelled through to the back, I am not guessing where to push it back up again! Making the holes first, I can see exactly where the needle has to return.

I have used contrast threads, in colour and in weight, echoing some of the printed lines in this page. The finished sizes of these pages are 3.5″ long by 2.5″ wide.

 

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This print is interesting because the string that tied the package of papers together has also made its mark. The black colour on the string prints has come about due to the iron content of the old weighing scale weights I use to increase the contact process during the printing process. 

This particular page was clearly at the top of the pile of papers, just underneath the string, to have given such clear markings!

 

 

 

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On the left of the double fold above, I have cut out the leaf of one of my prints, painted it and acrylic waxed it, all of which has given a very leather-like quality. Then I machine stitched it in place onto a specifically chosen backing paper. If you enlarge the photo on your device, you will see the machine stitch all around the perimeter. Hand stitched lines echo or emphasise line and space. To the Eco print on the right I have added stitch to some of the spaces on the leaf and have just emphasised additional lines which were created by the steaming process.

It is such a therapeutic way of working as it is slow and methodical! Lots of time to think about the next stitch.

Last week, my husband and I, plus our good friend Anne, went beach combing looking for  “mermaids’ purses”. I knew nothing about them before this activity. For those who are equally unaware,  they are are egg cases of rays, skate and sharks.  When these “purses” are found they are mostly dry and are very hard. If they are newly deposited on the beach, and therefore still wet, they are more flexible. Most of the ones we found were very dry and hard. However, if you leave then to soak in a bowl of water they soften up considerably! They can often be found at the top of the beach, where the wind has blown them, although last week the majority of the ones we found were actually entangled in bunches of seaweed.

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My husband was wanting to collect the mermaids’ purses for a specific purpose, and Anne was keen to scour the beaches for any and all interesting finds!

Soon, during the school Easter holiday, our local Marine Conservation Group is organising a session for children to  learn all about these special little egg cases and they will be searching one of the local beaches for them. (We purposely didn’t search that particular beach, so hopefully some may be found). They are not so easy to discover around our part of the Cornish coast, and indeed we spent many hours looking for our catch! Not wanting the children to go home disappointed, there will now be a collection ready for them if there are non to be found on the day!  I am seriously thinking of trying to add stitch to one, and “decorating” it, in the way that a tiny “purse” may be embellished! Time will tell. It isn’t my priority at the moment, but you can be sure that if I do achieve anything I will show you!

I have been completing my “Easter raffle prize” which our quilt group committee prepare for at Easter. I know I have mentioned it in the past, but not sure if I have actually photographed it before!

Below is the front of the pouch. I pieced the background first, prepared and applied the chicks, then hand stitched the top section.

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Below is the back which I am just about to Quilt. The lovely little bone tool which I have used as a “Hera marker” to mark my quilting lines, is just beautiful. Given to me by lovely Anne who stayed with us recently while she was teaching up at Bodrugan, it could also be used as a page creaser/bone folder or a letter opener, but it is unique as a Hera Marker! We were exploring the riverside town of Lostwithiel on Anne’s day off, and this was one of three purchases Anne made in the very interesting selection of antique shops there. The carved detail is so pretty? It is also very effective, as a hera marker as you can see below! Thank you, again, Anne

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We had a fabulous day, and came back refreshed, and inspired. Below is the finished pouch!

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I wrote about sewing a zip and lining in together in the February 2018 Blog:

https://stitchingnews.wordpress.com/2018/02/

Dates for your Diary:  

Firstly, please note that here is an important change to a diary date I posted back in January:

After much deliberation Shipton Quilters are postponing their quilt exhibition on 4th and 5th April 2020 at Rendcomb College, Cirencester.  It has now been rescheduled for next year on the 17th and 18th April. A reminder will be posted at the beginning of January 2021.

  • 29th – 31st May.  Bristol Quilters Quiltfest 2020    Open 10-5 (Sunday 10-4)  Venue: Redmaids High School. Westbury Rd, Bristol BS9 3AW Admission £2 Free car parking on site. Served by No 1 bus. Full details at http://www.bristolquilters.xyz   Please check on Bristol Quilters website for updates before travelling to the exhibition.

Currently we are all in a very worrying and unsettled period, with the fast-moving changes due to the corona virus illness. We must all be as careful and thoughtful within our communities, respecting and supporting people who are less fortunate than ourselves.  Keep safe, and well, and perhaps with the advice increasingly to stay put and not travel we shall have the unexpected opportunity to sew more!

Happy stitching, until next time.

Di

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stitching News March 2020 (1)

Welcome!

  • Today I have included a great sewing tip for use in dressmaking, although it could well be adapted for other stitched projects!
  • The soft zip bag project; requirements and method, illustrated throughout with photos to illustrate the text.

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  • A brief look at my gold finch which I had started preparing a couple of weeks ago.

 

Having said in my last blog that I was going to write shorter newsletters, this one is quite long, as the bulk of it is given over to the project mentioned above. I have written detailed instructions for this, with photographic steps to make it as clear as possible.

However, I would like to start with a fantastic tip that my lovely friend Rosemary gave me the other day. We were discussing dressmaking and she was wearing a delightful skirt she had made recently.

DSC01789 (2)She had bought a remnant of a beautiful mustard coloured fabric which had virtually nothing to spare to make a traditional hem. So, she told me that she had used a technique that that was not dependent on having a good hem seam allowance! Apparently it works particularly well, as well, with a garment which is made from a heavier material. It also means that the final hem is really flat and minus any bulk. In the photo (above and right) Rosemary has turned the hem over to the wrong side and you can see lace in situ. The  lace is the “magic ingredient”!

She pressed the tiniest of seam allowances to the wrong side of the skirt, (that being all the fabric that was available) and had secured it in place by machine stitching a strip of lace as close to the folded skirt hem as possible, using a very good colour matching thread  to the main skirt material in the bobbin. The opposite edge of the lace was then caught down by hand with a tiny hem stitch. The photo below shows the right side of the skirt, with a beautiful flat hem line. Magic! I was so impressed, and I know I shall try this out myself! It is obviously akin to using a bias binding, but the lace has no folded edges, which is why it lies so flat.

I shall look for lace remnants in shops now. They are often labelled with their length and there are often many bargains to be had!!

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In the last newsletter I promised to give you my tutorial for the little soft zipped bag I am keeping my travel Eco mug in.  I saw these many years ago in a book called; “A Passion For Patchwork” by Lise Bergene. They appealed to me because they looked roomy, having depth as well as height! When I read about them, I was also intrigued by the method of inserting a zip as well as the construction of the pouch. Both are really easy to get to grips with. I have adapted the technique a little as I have gone along, as little changes I have tried have worked well for me! This is a perfect little project for a wet, stormy day!

Soft Zipped Bags   Please read the instructions carefully as you start each section.

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To me “a bag” suggests that it has a strap, so maybe a better description might be a soft zipped pouch.  Basically, as you make the item, you will see that you are making a “roll”, or “tube” from a quilted sandwich. The way the ends of the “tube” are folded, gives the bag/pouch its shape! The photo above shows a selection of some that I currently have in use! They are perfect for taking away on holiday to keep a range of items temporarily:  jewellery; cables for charging electronic devices; medication; sewing threads and kit etc, Eco Mug!

The blue one on the right hand side of the photo above was the very first one I made and I thought I would take a short cut, and leave the tabs off at each end. Big mistake!! The tabs are needed to hold onto the pouch when you are opening and closing the zip! 

Never mind! I have used it as a spare pencil case to house items that I don’t use on a very regular basis, e.g. “tippex”; craft knives and spare blades; my hinged spray diffuser etc.

Requirements: 

Below are 3 suggested sizes, with additional requirements. N.B. The zips are a minimum of 2″ longer than the width of the pouches.  I  actually prefer even longer than this extra allowance. You will be able to read and see why this helps in the method section.

  1. Main fabric 11” wide x 11½” long. Wadding and lining very slightly bigger. (plaid version). zip  either 13″ or 14″ long.
  2. Main fabric 9½” square.  Wadding and lining very slightly bigger.  (stripe version) zip 12″ long
  3. Main fabric 6½” wide x 8½” long.  Wadding and lining very slightly bigger. ((small pink and grey version, and small blue version) zip 9″ long.

(You can piece the main fabric, if you like, or it can be one fabric. Applique doesn’t really work on this technique.)

  • You also need 2 strips of fabric, 2″ wide. These will be pressed in half length-ways then sewn to either side of the zip.  They may be a contrast to  the main fabric, or be the same; the choice is yours!  The 2″ width measurement of the strip is standard for whatever size of pouch you make. However the length of the 2″  strip will equal the width of the pouch you choose to make. Thus the strips would measure 2″ wide by 11.5″  if you are making for the first size pouch in the list above!
  • For the “tabs” at either end of the bag/pouch you will need two strips of fabric           2” wide  x 2.5” long.
  • For neatening two internal seams you will need a small piece of your lining material; 1.25″ wide by approximately 4″. You will have to measure your finished seam for true measurement of length.
  • Machine threads to match fabrics, rotary cutting equipment, sewing machine, and hand sewing equipment.

In the photograph below you can see that I have a main fabric with the wadding underneath it; then below that, the right side of the lining fabric is shown. On top of these is a zip and the two strips of fabric which have been pressed in half, wrong sides together!  (Apologies, I forgot to add the tab strips to the photo at this stage!) For the purposes of this sample I have cut the main fabric, 10″ square. I am using a 14″ zip.

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Method

Cut out the top fabric. As you can see I just have a straightforward piece of fabric for this sample! Layer it with the wadding only, at this stage and quilt as desired.

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I tend to quilt in straight lines, as very little of the quilting ultimately shows! As you can see above, I have used a coloured thread to match the zip!

  • After quilting, trim so that it is an accurate square/rectangle. Now trim the lining fabric to the same size as the quilted piece. Place the wrong side of the lining to the wrong side of the quilted panel, and pin or secure in several places. I have used hem clips around the edges to stabilise the layers.

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When secure, machine tack all the layers together using a large stitch, within the seam allowance, around the four sides. Remove pins or hem clips as you stitch, and pivot at the corners.

Change the stitch length on the machine back to your normal stitch size.

 

 

 

  • Prepare the zip strip.  Fold the 2″ wide strips in half length-ways and press. Place the folded edge up to the zip teeth, and pin securely. N.B. I am using my 1/4 inch foot to sew my zip to the strip, as shown below. This technique is one that I devised myself, and it suits me and my machine. I never seem to be able to get a good result using my zipper foot!

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The left hand prong of the 1/4″ foot sits on top of the zip teeth and I use my stitch ripper as a slim extra “hand” to keep the fold of the material close to the edge of the zip. You can see that my stitch line is going to be close to the zip. (I have never had the fabric get caught in the zip.)

If you prefer to use your own method, and by all means go ahead.

By using a longer zip you are able to place the zip pull, out of the way and thus avoid having to stitch around it! Hence you can keep a straight stitch line. (Later you will trim off the excess zip!)

 

Next, do another row of stitching approximately 1/4” away from the first stitch line, as shown below. Personally I just feel that this gives a professional finish to the end result.

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In the photo to the left, I have completed the second line of stitching, but for the purposes of demonstration I have placed the fabric strip back under the needle so that you are able to see the position of the 1/4″ foot. This time instead of the left prong of the foot riding on top of the teeth, it lies close to the edge of the teeth.

 

 

 

 

 

  • Turn the fabric strip, with attached half of the zip, 180 degrees and repeat the above two stages with the second folded fabric strip….placing the folded edge close to the edge of the zipper teeth…. follow the instructions above.

IMPORTANT;  After the second folded strip is sewn in place bring the zip pull within the centre of the zip panel as shown below.

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Then stitch across both ends of the zip. I did another stitch line inside that first row, later on, as I felt I had stitched just a little too close to the edge! NOTICE  how this little stitch line only goes across the width of the actual zip, NOT across the entire width of the folded strips of fabric.

  •  Flip the zip panel over so that it is right sides together with the top edge of the quilted panel. Secure in place with clips or pins . Then stitch in place with 1/4″ seam allowance. Notice how it is the bottom layer ONLY of the folded strip that is going to be stitched. The hem clips are holding it in place and the (now) top layer of the strip is held out of the way at this stage! (Photo below)

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Stitching is in progress.

Neaten off the threads, then turn the top layer of the folded strip over to the wrong side of the quilted sandwich, and hand hem it in place, (photo below).

 

 

 

 

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  • Repeat these processes on the opposite edge, i.e. fold the quilted panel “loosely” in half, right sides touching each other, match the other side of the zip panel to the other edge of the quilted panel in the same way.  (I opened the zip more to make it easier to hem the second edge). When the zip is finally all stitched in place, and hemmed to the wrong side, you will have an open ended “tube” with the main fabric inside!
  • Trim the zip to match the raw ends of the tube now.
  • Make two tabs. Cut two pieces of fabric 2” wide  x 2.5” long. Fold the two long edges in a 1/4”. Press. Leave the short edges. Top stitch along the two outer edges of both tabs.  then fold in half across the width. Tabs complete.
  • Turn the tube to the right side, and place the tabs over the ends of the zip as shown in photo below. Pin in position. Move the under layer of the tube just out of the way to avoid it getting caught in the stitching. Stitch the tabs in position across their width only.  Turn the tube inside out again.

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  • Flatten the end of the tube, ensuring that the wrong side of the zip is centrally placed on top of the “tube”. Place a pin as a marker in the fold at each corner. Bring the pin almost up to the centre of the zip, creating a pleat. Pin in position. Repeat the action the opposite side of the zip, at the same end. Check that both pleats are equal sizes either side of the zip.

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  • Stitch across the end, from one side of the edge, to the opposite side, so that all of the pleated edges are caught securely. See photos below
  • Measure the length of this stitched seam, and cut two pieces of fabric 1″ longer and a generous 1, 1/8″ wide, from the lining fabric.  Stitch this in place, with right sides together on the zip side of the item, matching raw edges.

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  • Turn over and, wrapping the ends carefully fold the seam allowance under, pin, and hem by hand. Repeat at the other end of the tube. Put your fingers inside the tube and pull the zip tag along to the end. Turn the pouch through to the right side, and manipulate into shape.

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I hope you have enjoyed the process. once you have made one, others will take much less time.

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Finally, I have made a start on my goldfinch. I am  enjoying the process  and am currently working out how I might do the white flashes in the wing and tail feathers! I think it will have to be with stitch….but there again, maybe some tiny white patches!

I have lots of stitching to do on the body and head yet, but it is lovely “thinking time”. There is no hurry whatsoever.

 

I am thinking that a thistle might be making an appearance somewhere on the panel, too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stitching News February 2020 (1)

This year I would like to think that I might be able to post a newsletter more often, but make it shorter in length. A lot of time is involved in writing posts which have a lot of content, so I am going to try out “little and a little more often” and see how it goes!

In this one I am including:

  • Slow stitching…hexagons for tunic trim.
  • Travel cup and sandwich wrap ideas

For several weeks  I have needed hand stitching projects on hand, that need little concentration! I have had to travel rather a lot. Indeed, I am “on the road” and away from home for two or three nights every week at the moment and I do find it difficult not to take some sewing away with me. Contemplative stitching rests the mind, body and soul. It is precious time, and extremely therapeutic requiring very little concentration for experienced fingers! When you are immersed in it, time just disappears. The action of the calm rhythmical stitching; the simple project, and beautifully soft prints, become almost mesmerising,

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Two weeks ago when I was home and able to go to one of the quilting groups I belong to, two or three of us were having a conversation about stitching hexagons. Some time ago the group purchased three different sizes of hexagon punch, to cut the hexagon shapes for paper piecing.  We went to find them, and “lo and behold” there was a half inch one. My mind sprung into action immediately!

I have a couple of different stretch denim tunics, and for several weeks I have been chewing over ideas for a tiny colourful trim around the bottom of one of them. As soon as I saw the 1/2″ hexagon cutter, I put my name in the book. paid my very modest fee of 30 p to borrow it for two weeks. I knew exactly what I wanted to do couldn’t wait to get started.

The punch I used was a “Fiskars squeeze hexagon punch”, specifically for cutting paper hexagons for English paper piecing. There are three different sizes for hexagons.  It is easy to use, very accurate, and takes a fraction of the time that drawing around a template then cutting all the drawn shapes out takes. In a word; magical!

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I have a lovely variety of Liberty lawn prints, which have increased over the years thanks particularly to one very generous good friend. I use them in small applique items such as brooches and cushions and they work particularly well in Kantha projects, with soft edge applique.  I save all my tiny scraps, many of which came into play here.

This project was ideal to take away with me. With the papers cut very accurately, I just had to iron a selection of scraps before I left home, pack a hand sewing kit and threads and I was prepared for hand stitching when the opportunity arises.

I began by preparing about 30 tacked hexagons and laid them out in a straight line on the table. This enabled me to distribute fabric, colour and tones fairly evenly between the group. One or two of them I actually removed, as they didn’t seem to work with the others! I used a medium to dark tone navy thread to stitch them together, and the same colour thread to applique them onto the tunic. When a row was stitched together, I ironed them with the papers inside to give a sharp creased edge and then removed the tacking stitches and the papers, except for the two at either end of the row. This was so that it would be easy to carry on adding more hexagons in the next section of the row. With the paper still inserted (I was actually using very thin card) there remained a sharp edge to stitch the next hexagon to.  A soft, floppy edge is not as easy to handle. This project was finished relatively quickly, and was just perfect.

A couple of years ago I made several sandwich wraps. They make great gifts. You could probably find a method of making them on Pinterest. Probably lots of choice and various methods of closure, too. You may even find instructions.

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Rob and I had been given a commercial one each as presents, several years ago, so I also had a sample. However, I discovered how inaccurate it was when I came to measure it! It was not well made at all.  It also had a cheap clear plastic lining and Velcro as a fastener and I have to say I am not a great fan of Velcro.

Having “found” Kam Snaps a couple of years ago, I decided to use these as fasteners and was delighted at the way they speeded up the process, as well as providing a professional finish to the project.

The photo above shows the sandwich wrap I made for myself on the left, and I also made a little wrap for a fruit knife. I am fond of apples, but cannot bite into an apple so I have to cut them up.  I use both of these items very regularly.

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N.B. I suggest that you read everything carefully if you are thinking of making one and make a sample out of two pieces of old fabric first. You will learn a lot, which will be invaluable. It also give you an opportunity to work out where to place your fasteners and what method you might choose to use.

  1. My method for preparing the main squares. Cut two 13″ squares of fabric for the sandwich wrap. One of the fabrics should be 100% cotton and the other a laminated cotton, thus “wipe-clean”. Turn the fabrics over to the wrong side. Make a mark either side of the corner exactly 1.75″ distance from the corner. Draw a line between these two points and cut on the line, removing the corner. Repeat at each corner, on both fabrics.  Press carefully, mindful of the laminated fabric, with the heat of the iron.
  2. Preparing the poppa straps  (my chosen method of closure)                                    For the short strap cut a piece of fabric:  2″ wide  x  3″ long. Fold in and press 1/4″ seam allowances on both long edges, and one short edge and press. The other short end can remain raw edge. Fold the strap in half, lengthwise. Press before machine stitching. Pin or use your favourite method of keeping folded edges in place. Then top stitch to finish the strap, as in 3, below.
  3. Start top stitching at the raw edge end, reinforcing the start and end of the stitching. stitching. Continue close to the folded edge along the long side of the strap, pivot  with the needle down at the corner, and continue across the short end pivoting again at the corner, and continuing down the other long side. Press.
  4. for the long strap cut a piece of fabric:  2″ wide x  5.25″ long, and repeat the process as above. If you are using Kam Snaps, do not attach the poppas yet.
  5. Placing the straps in position. Scroll down to the last of the wrap photos and notice the the straps positions. They lie opposite each other centrally on two opposite sides of the wrap. The raw edges of the straps should be in line with the raw edge on the right side of the cotton wrap fabric. Tack the straps along their centre, so that they will stay free of the machine stitching., when the two layers of the wrap are being sewn together. Tack across the short raw end of both straps, matching the raw edge of the wrap fabric. This all helps to keep them in position.
  6. Now place the right sides of both main fabrics together, matching all the edges. Do not pin them, as this will leave holes in the laminated fabric, but if you have a means of holding them together, securely before stitching, (e,g, with hem clips please use them. Alternatively carefully stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance around three sides, checking that everything stays in position; side to side, corner to corner. Leave the last side open. Turn the wrap to the right side through this gap, and push out the corners carefully with “That Purple Thang” if you have one. (See Stitching News January 2020  to read all about it!) alternatively use another blunt pointed tool. Fold the seam allowance on the final open side and finger press to the inside. Iron press ; mindful again of the laminated fabric and the iron heat.  Finally top stitch that final side, close to the folded edge.

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The photo above, shows the wrap, with the last section to be folded across. Notice one poppa at the left hand side of the wrap. When the second half of the wrap is folded over, the right hand “short strap” which has a poppa (very difficult to see in the photo, apologies!) can be snapped into position on the receiving poppa. Another design choice I made was to give the left hand “strap”  two choices for the Kam snap to “pop” into, thus allowing for a thick sandwich or a slimmer one! The two poppa options can be seen in the photo below.

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The whole wrap should then be pressed firmly, creating the folds, that will be used when it is functioning.

Now is the time  to work out the placement for the Kam Snaps.

 

 

 

 

Finally, I have had a passion for making zip bags for a very long time. They are so practical and come in useful time after time after time! They come in many sizes and styles and serve a multitude of purposes.  I rarely make them for a specific purpose, but I am equally rarely in position of not having one to cater for a specific need!

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Showing in this photograph is a soft zip bag, from my stash, which was perfect for my  re-usable coffee cup! So this accompanies me now, on my road trips! I added the swivel hook and large kilt pin, (again from my stash), so I can attach it to my shoulder bag, when needed. I can equally remove them and keep them inside the zip bag, with the cup for use at any time!

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Here is is in use. The cup looks far too big for it, but that is just the angle of the photo I have taken. I stood the cup up inside, for the purposes of the photograph. It lies easily lengthwise inside, with plenty of wriggle room.

Next time I will write a tutorial for these particular zipped bags, giving three different sizes. Until then…

Happy Stitching.

 

January 2020

This is an extra post this month to explain how my scrap quilt is coming along.          I am aware that I have hardly mentioned it over the last few newsletters. I have had many interruptions over the last three months so progress has been slow or to be honest it had virtually come to a halt. However I am picking it up again now, so hope the momentum can continue alongside other projects on the go!

I like scrap quilts and have made several over the years. As a result I have been asked similar questions many times, so I shall address some of these here. Please forgive me if you are well versed and experienced in this field and have your own tried and tested methods for creating and stitching scrap quilts. I know there are many people who are “young” in the quilting world, so reading and observing a variety of ways to work with any technique can be invaluable. I learn something every day by reading, stitching and experimenting and this constantly refreshes and invigorates my knowledge.

  1. How do I chose my colours?
  2. Do I have a theme or is the result random (in the old fashioned sense of the word)?
  3. Do I plan everything first?
  4. What colour thread do I use when there are multiple colours in the work, and what is my favourite thread?
  5. How do I iron multiple seams in a small or indeed a large quilt?

 

The basic block in this little scrap quilt is a completed 4″ square consisting  of seven rectangles which measure 2″ x 1″ finished, and two finished 1″ squares. One of the squares is red in every block, but the placements are varied within the blocks.

How do I choosing my colours? This, and the next two questions in the list above, are answered in this section.

Basically I am choosing “brights”, and patterned fabrics, intermingled with some plains. When I talk about “brights” in this sense, I mean that I am not using the “sludgy” colour palette.

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As you can see, I also have some finished size rectangles which measure 4″ x 2″, cut from a lovely “gull” fabric. When I saw this at Cowslip workshops a couple of years ago, I thought it was fun, and different enough to make a statement.

My only criterion for these gull units are that they are introduced fairly regularly.  I have cut 5″ squares and either cut them horizontally across the centre, or vertically down the centre, because I want to keep the rotation of the gulls the same throughout. Having the gulls looking “north, south east and west”, was far too busy when I tried it out. However, when the gulls were all in the same rotation it looked calm and pleasing.Introducing these units also had the effect of breaking up the regular 4″ block arrangements . I hadn’t really thought it through, or had anticipated or realised the effect it would have. Another reason why it is sometimes a very good idea not to have a set idea in your mind, because “serendipity ” might never occur!

In the photo maybe half a dozen of the blocks are sewn together, but most are just placed in position on the floor of my sewing room, which is why it looks haphazard and rather uneven in places. I am continually assessing the arrangements, and often changing them! Looking at the photo, I can see one or two placements again that I shall change!

Another way I have also changed my original thoughts; and why not….?                          I decided to cut more 2″ x 4″ units AND  some 2″ squares, but this time using some of the fabrics already in use. These two additions have been really useful, because they have been able to infill some gaps, and that has worked really well. They blend in because the same fabrics as are in the quilt already are being used. This still ensures that the gull fabric is still a feature.

The subtle change of scale within the work is a plus, adding more intrigue and interest. It also gives the eye somewhere to rest, other than on the gulls! I have long found it fascinating to try to work out if quilts have been designed with a “regular” block size. (It certainly aids with final construction). It is not always evident what the technique has invilved, and to me that is always an interesting feature! As long as the designer/maker is happy with their choices that is all that matters. 

What colour thread do I use when there are multiple colours in the work? 

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In the photograph to the right, I have laid a white thread, and a khaki coloured thread onto one of my fabrics.

I think you would agree that the white shows up more readily than the khaki. This is because the white is very light, and the khaki is a mid tone, which blends so much better. I always piece with mid tone threads, for this very reason. They almost never show in the piecing, even if seams are opened out to press.

My favourite piecing thread is Aurifil 100% cotton. Although the reels are now in the region of £8.80 per reel, it is important to read that there are 1300 metres on an Aurifil reel, which is very economical, and it is an excellent quality thread.

The cost of Gutterman 800 mtre cotton thread is now in the region of about £7.50 ish per reel. Again, it is undeniably a good quality thread, but not nearly as economical! We can all look around for a bargain,  and will always find prices a little lower. But overall I have always thought that Aurifil is always reliable and always very economical and for that reason it is my first choice.

How do I press seams when they are small and there are multiple colours?          There are many ideas for pressing seams, and I usually tend to press towards the darkest colour. However this isn’t always easy, for a range of reasons. In my scrap quilt I am using lots of different colours and tones, as well as lots of small pieces, so I am letting the fabrics show me which way the want to be pressed! I will explain what I mean! I am using different weights of fabric, all 100% cotton, but ranging from Liberty lawns which are very fine, to mid weight cottons, which are heavier and firmer.

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In the photo to the right, perhaps you can see that the right hand piece of fabric wants to lie totally flat. It is a slightly lighter weight than the green one. I iron from the right side of the two unit piece sliding the long side of the iron from the lighter fabric to the the turqoise one. N.B. The angle of my camera in this instance, has given a slightly distorted view of the pieced unit. Both pieces were cut accurately! The way that the

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turqoise fabric is lifting slightly at the seam, shows that the paler fabric is lying flat. The two photos above illustrate the same point, but shown from the reverse side where there are multiple pieces.  All of the smaller units, such as the two pieces sewn together first in the top row and the three pieces sewn together in the second row, etc,  had been pressed after this inital pieceing and before they were finally all stitched into the “finished block”. Here the mid tone thread is seen more clearly. It doesn’t make a statement it just blends in!

At this stage I wanted to see how the individual units wanted to lie naturally. Then I turned the whole block over to the right side, allowing the iron to glide across the seams, but checking all the time, that all was well underneath! You can see that the top horizontal seam in the block on the right, has a twist in the seam. I don’t mind that. There is very little bulk overall, and that is the way it naturally wanted to lie. When it lies on the “cushion” of the wadding layer, it will not be noticed at all.

You may also notice that there are pencilled template shapes on some of the pieces. This is because I have hand pieced occasionally and had prepared some units in advance. Then I have used them within a machine pieced block instead, which I pieced with my 1/4″ foot.

After pressing individual blocks I always re-measure, wanting a 4.5″ block at this stage, so sometimes the finest trimmings need to be made!                                                              This is the stage I am at, as I write. When I have finished piecing the workI will give another update!

Below is a very different scrap panel, which I constructed from another quilt maker’s scraps a couple two years ago. It is approximately 6″ x 13″.  As she was working, Susan was putting all her scraps into her waste bin. The amazing quilt that she was making was to depict the flowers which grow with the challenge of the Atlantic seas and the Cornish weather during one year. Some days later when the scraps were building up she suddenly thought of me!!

DSC01785 (2)She had seen them in a different light when she peered into her bin.            I, apparently, came into her mind! She knew that I really liked the challenge of working with tiny pieces. She also knew that I liked recycling too. I was thrilled to bits when the bag of bits arrived, with a covering letter. Her scrap size, and my scrap size are rather different, but then we do both work on a very different scale! SUsan’s quilts are large and amazing. The photo on the left is my finished result.

It is a tiny Log Cabin panel, with distorted little blocks, and some very tiny pieces. I chose to face the finished piece of work, rather than use a traditional binding and I hand quilted with hand dyed threads!

When I initially looked at the scraps as a group, contemplating how I might use them,  I decided to add one more fabric of my own. It is the red batik. The other scraps were some of the “left overs” from a fantastic quilt, which has been well exhibited, and is truly a masterpiece. I am thrilled that I  made a special little panel using the special fabrics sent to me. Using up fabric scraps gladdens my heart, as I know it does for many quilters.

You may remember that A couple of years ago I put out a tentative request via my newsletter for any spare fabrics which might be recycled by putting together yummy fabric packs for sale. I, along with Rosemary, a very good friend, spent some happy hours putting fabrics packs together which had been sent to me from quilters all over the country.  We made well over 100 with each pack having 1 metre equivalent of fabric scraps which I colour co ordinated. All those bags sold and I still have some of those fabrics stored ready for another blitz. I know I shall enjoy the stimulation of creating gorgeous combinations of colours all over again. They are brilliant charity fund raisers. 

To complete this post I have been preparing for the next bird panel I am looking forward to making. This time it is to be a goldfinch. Many goldfinches visit our garden bird feeders every day. They are such a bright splash of colour, and we love them.

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All the finch family seem to be fearless! When they perch to feed, they can sit for a long time, seemingly concentrating hard on the process in hand. Most of the other small garden birds, flit on and off the feeders, taking flight, (or is it fright), very easily so I have easily been able to study the typical colour distribution in the adult gold finch.

They all have the same basic markings, but each bird is unique. I have used two reference books and a photo taken through our kitchen window of a goldfinch and  I have enlarged and traced my chosen image. From this I shall make a card template to transfer that outline shape onto my background fabric.

I have also chosen my fabric palette, so with my resources to hand I am itching to get started! Hopefully there will be something to show before too long!

Until next time…

Happy Stitching!

 

Stitching News January 2020

 

Welcome to the January Stitching News and a special welcome to new readers  who have signed up recently.

In the Newsletter this month I am talking about:

  • Producing my own Christmas cards and labels
  • Editing my photos using the Windows 10 software. Really simple!
  • Printing  my photos for my Christmas cards and gift labels using the Windows 10 software
  • New ideas and experiments for my Eco printed leaves.
  • Christmas stitching project
  • Organising my Sewing room
  • The many uses of That Purple Thang!

A Very Happy New Year to you all. The start of a new decade for everyone, and an opportunity to make fresh decisions and plans for the future. I have been slowing down over the last couple of years, and have had time to reflect, and I intend to slow down a little more alongside increasing my personal exercise activity. It is so easy to get absorbed in things at home, but fresh air and regular walking is certainly going to be high on my agenda this year “Use it, or lose it” readily comes to mind!

I would like to sew more “for me” this year too. Is that selfish? No, I don’t think so!! It will certainly require using my time far more economically than I do now. Realistically that means reducing time on electronic devices! Something I am increasingly very aware of. Sometimes we do need to be kind and thoughtful to ourselves, and perhaps this year I will be a little more self indulgent! I hope to make it a fruitful year, and I don’t know about you, but I am a great “list” producer! When I make a plan for the day, I have a real sense of achievement when I can tick off the list of “to dos”. It is also a way of checking if I have aachieved something for myself, as well

Producing my own Christmas cards and labels: December was a hectic month, so I wasn’t able to get a newsletter out. Had I done so I would have shown you my Christmas card for 2019.

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It featured an appliqued robin with lots of hand stitch embellishment. The legs and beak are hand stitched using a “back stab stitch”. Not being an embroiderer, I am sorry to say I don’t know the correct name of the stitch, but it is an outlining stitch which I learned from Mandy Pattullo on a workshop day. It is a very useful stitch and I have used it many times since. Instead of making a normal back stitch, I actually pierce the last stitch instead of just putting the needle against the last stich.

Eight of the background rows of stitching, are machined; the only time I used my sewing machine in this project. These rows are interspersed with my hand dyed threads used in the hand quilting.

As always I created (A6) cards, as well as small square cards and gift labels too. Three sizes in total. I am frequently asked how I get the different sizes of photo, so I thought I would explain that here.

In December 2019 I posted two blogs;    https://stitchingnews.wordpress.com/2018/12/

If you scroll down to the second blog you will see the three different sized versions of last year’s cards. I use the windows 10 software. I do not have any fancy photo software.

First thing is to choose the image you want to use for the card. I always photograph my finished projects, and often the processes leading up to to completion too. These are downloaded from my camera card onto my laptop and the photos automatically go into “my pictures”.

I edit my chosen photo using the Windows 10 software. To access this software go into  your “pictures” gallery and double click on the photo of choice. Then just follow the options available. It is very straight forward. The photo below helps to clarify the text and explain the process. “Why edit?” I can hear you saying. It is often necessary to crop out imagery around the photo!

 

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Above is a photo of my laptop screen after I have double clicked on my chosen photo in preparation for editing it. (Apologies for the quality! It is almost impossible to get a clear image from the screen, being so close up to it!)

Look to the top right of the photo above where you can see “Edit and Create”. Click once on that and a new screen will appear with the photo image with a white frame around it. This allows you to crop the photo as you wish. Put the curser on one of the sides, and carefully manoeuvre it, making the required adjustment. Repeat as necessary on the three remaining sides. Above the  photograph there is also an “adjustment” optionwhen you have completed the cropping, it will slightly enlarge and subtly brighten it as well, which all helps to sharpen the image.

At the same time a new set of options appear to the left of the image with another set of options.  If you are already happy after cropping and “adjusting” click once on “save a copy”: one of the options available. Alternatively experiment with the various options. Your original photo is always in your picture gallery unchanged. Once saved exit the screen and return to your main picture gallery, and the saved version will appear with a (2) to indicate that it is a new version. You can, if you wish, continue making different versions which will appear as 3, 4 etc. For example, you may wish to isolate a small section of the original photo. So this is done in exactly the same way; double click on the original photo; single click on Edit and Create….and so on…

Printing your photos; Choose the relevant photo in your pictures gallery that you wish to print. Click once to highlight it then right click on the touch pad for a drop-down menu to appear. Click once on “print” which is near the top of the options and the print page appears on your screen with your chosen image. Below is a photograph of the screen at this stage. Apologies for the quality of the photo, as I have photographed my laptop screen again in order to get the image!

 

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At the right hand side of the page is a selection of sizes to print out. As you can see these are all shown visually. I use 4 to the “page” for my standard A6 cards; 9 to a page called “wallet” for my standard small cards, and 35 tiny photos called “contact” for my gift tags.you can see these at the side of the screen above.

Click on your chosen format, and at the bottom of the print screen you that you are requested to enter how many copies you want on page. It then asks if you want the images to fit the frame. Try out fitting the frame and also look at not filling the frame. The latter choice sometimes cuts off some of the detail of the photos. I find it also matters what shape your cards are; i.e. square or oblong. Experiment to get the result that you want. Nothing will print until you press PRINT at the bottom right of the screen, so you can make changes, as many times as you like! Do not print until you have placed photographic paper into your printer! A very easy mistake to make! Always remove any photographic paper not used, at the end of your session! allow sheets to dry for about an hour. Trim the photos individually. I use my Rotary cutting equipment to do the job! Then I use double-sided Sellotape to securely attach them to the front of blank cards.

Thess  processes can be done a little at a time;  in the 20 minutes waiting for the dinner to cook, for example. I will often sit with a tray on my knee in front of the TV, attaching photos to the cards;  it takes about 5 minutes to trim a sheet of 9 photos, so two or three sheets can be prepared in odd moments. I am always using my time, for projects like this, as economically as possible, and have done so for many years! It works well!

I belong to a small group  of different textile artists called Textiles Plus, and a few months ago one of the group produced a bundle of envelopes with an old embroidery transfer pattern in each envelope. We all chose one of the blank envelopes and were asked to use a tiny section of the transfer for a Christmas present swap. The patterns were really old fashioned and certainly “of an era”!

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My paper pattern had had a large area cut off and apart from a very straightforward border design and a group of what I thought may have been weird strawberries, I was left with a tiny very babyish bird, and very elementary flowers! What to do??

I had been quilting a really lovely scrap of fabric left over from a quilt I had made and it was looking at me from my sewing table as I pondered!  I also found a spare patchwork block, made from black, white and grey fabrics, (again, it came from the same quilt) and gradually an idea was beginning to form. I decided that the “bird” could become a little chick.

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So I made a template, and drew around this several times on the paper side of a piece of Bondaweb, then roughly cut the shapes out.

I wanted the chicks to have some interest so I turned over the patchwork block, and placed the Bondaweb shapes, “glue” side down onto the block in such a way that I hoped would create a nice use of fabric for each chick. When I was happy that each chick would have three different fabrics they were ironed in place. Then they were cut out accurately on the pencil line, and turned over, and placed onto the quilted panel.

N.B. I have used the reverse side of some of the block fabrics as the “right side” in the patchwork block. please also note that I have just used a small block, to illustrate y text here. The one I used for all four chicks had no useful area left to use as a demonstration piece for this article!

 

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I played around with the positioning of the chicks before removing the Bondaweb paper and ironing them in place. The sewing machine was only used to outline their shapes. This served to secure them in place, as well as sharpening their outline. I hand stitched all the marks on the chicks using very simple hand embroidery stitches; running stitch, French knots; Single fly stitch amd cross stitch.

 

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The  panel measures 7.5″ x 5″ and makes a spacious mug mat; (Mug and biscuit!)

As soon as I placed the images onto the quilted panel I liked the juxtaposition of the tiny chicks against the large scale of the leaves. It really made me smile! To me they appear to be tip-toeing through a forest!

Since my last blog in November, I have been experimenting more with my Eco printed leaves.

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I cut some of them out and painted one or more  coats of acrylic wax to a few, which I discovered made no difference at all on some but brought out a wonderful glow to others! I could not understand why, unless some of the prints ame from the back of the leaves, and others were prints of the front of the leaves!

The front and the back of leaves, give different quality prints,  apparently due to the different chemicals in them.

I also painted some with Koh I Nor dyes;  experimenting with three or four coats. It made a difference!

Then I experimented with machine stitching into the prints too, which I really liked.

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I started by stitching around the outside edge of the print which secured it to a background. This also made it easy to do the internal stitched detail.

I really like the subtle marks and colour that some of the background papers picked up during the steaming process. The end result of this leaf is very “leather like”, visually as well as the feel of it..

In my June 2018 newsletter I wrote about the method I use when I am Eco dyeing leaves

https://stitchingnews.wordpress.com/2018/06/

 

Very gradually I have been sorting out and organising my work room over the last few months. It had become unbelievably  untidy, and I found it so upsetting that I just didn’t want to go in there at all. So, it was obvious that I had to knuckle down and just do it, bit by bit!!

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I have had a gorgeous studio since we moved down to Cornwall, and I feel very privileged to have it all to myself, so it is important to me that I want to keep it organised. I am a great one for having several projects on the go at the same time. so it is effortless, in a way, to just let it all get out of hand!!

This is half of my space, looking totally different now! I have been through my teaching files ruthlessly. Several sit on a windowsill in the other half of the room, and I found that the sunshine has totally destroyed the plastic sleeves! What a mess! I have now invested in box files, and have no plastic sleeves at all but lists of the contents on the outsides of them. The process has been very cathartic as well as revealing lots of lost and/or forgotten items and I definitely feel back in control! Such a good feeling. I feel inspired to crack on once again!

Finally “That Purple Thang” is one of my favourite sewing tools, and has been for a very long time. IF you have one yourselves, Are you aware of its many uses?

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Recently Christine, (a great friend of many years, since we first met when we took our two boys to playgroup for the first time)  ordered herself a new one as she had lost hers recently!! She sent me an email with a video she had found which explains some of the uses that the Purple Thang can be used for. It has certainly enlightened me! It has far more uses than I had realised!! It has always been my “go to” tool for pushing out corners because of its blunted but pointed end. Click on the Youtube link to learn more:

 

Diary Dates

Shipton Quilters are holding their 14th Exhibition on Saturday April 4th 2020 (10 am- 5 pm) and Sunday April 5th (10 am – 4 pm),

Venue: Rendcomb College, Rendcomb, Cirencester GL7 7HA. Admission £4under 16’s, free. Parking free. Disabled access. There will be quilt displays, demonstrations, traders, sales table and more!. Refreshments are available.

Raffle is in aid of Maggie’s Medical Detection Dogs and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People. They have made a beautiful quilt, which is first prize. For further information e-mail:

shiptonquilterssecretary@outlook.com

Thank you for reading, and Happy stitching until next time….