Stitching News July 2020/1

Welcome once again to this July post of Stitching News. Several new readers have joined us again in the last couple of weeks. I sincerely hope that you enjoy this first post of July. The summer is upon us, and Cornwall is getting busier, even before July 4th, when the extra relaxation of the rules since lock down begin. I must say we are staying put, and being very cautious about wandering amongst the visitors, although we would love to see our grandchildren and family.

In this post I am writing about:

  1. Make do and mend!
  2. Further progress in Unit 3 of the machine embroidery course which I started in March. So much to learn and practise, but my enjoyment continues.
  3. Progress on Turvy III

I have been meaning to buy a new ironing board cover for months!! Then there was lock-down and the cover had deteriorated to a point that was driving me to despair! So a couple of weeks ago I decided to mend it! I hasten to add that the deterioration is nothing to do with household ironing, but due to additional wear and tar from the constant small fiddly bits of ironing when I am stitching and pressing seams etc. I do this a zillion more times that I iron clothes!!

I had a large torn area near to the iron stand. For many years that has been the area that has always been vulnerable on my ironing boards. The badly worn patch with a large hole in it had been exposing the inner foam sheet for far too long! It always happens where the heel of the iron sits! Why have I never thought of mending ironing board covers in the past? It was a doddle!

I cut two large pieces of white cotton; one for underneath, and the other for the top. On the under fabric I had ironed a piece of Bondaweb the same size. It was placed with the Bondaweb uppermost. The top layer of white fabric, was placed over it, and the burnt very damaged area was sandwiched in between. I could see to match the placement! No hems, as I wanted it to lie as flat and smooth as possible. I then added a smaller patch for good measure. This is the blue one in the photo, which still well and truly covered the damaged area. Everything was stitched in place with a zig-zag stitch. I hasten to add that the area I have covered, is far larger than the damage! It just seemed sensible, while I had the cover off, to reinforce a larger area. This cover should last for a good while now, before being patched again, maybe several times! Boro comes to mind! However, these are “make do and mend times”… and strangely it has given me a great deal of satisfaction!

Unit 3 has been in my possession for a couple of weeks now, and I went straight to the end of it, when it arrived, and started on my planning etc for the first assignment, as you know from the last post! So I have now returned to the beginning with Exercise 1; a drawing exercise in the design element of the Unit.

This is about form and texture. We had to choose a “natural object” such as a shell, branch of wood, stone etc.” to draw, endeavouring within the drawing to create the 3-D nature of it, as well as the textures.

Then we had to isolate one area and reproduce this as a collage using a variety of papers and card to create the textures as well as possible. We had to disregard colour, and concentrate on the form and texture. I took the photo of this fabulous tree trunk, hosting a well established climber of another species, when I was abroad on holiday a couple of years ago.

It seemed a very good example to work with as you can see. Not a great deal of variety, but sufficient to think about!

Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

I must say that this was a huge challenge for me. I was well out of my comfort zone, but commonsense tells me that I need to challenge myself in order to progress. I lost my way a little as I was nearing the bottom, but I was pleased with the majority of the drawing, especially as I had not attempted anything quite like this before! I have always been a fan of the saying: “If you want to grow, push your limits” as my ex students can probably well recall!

I used an HB propelling pencil, and a 2B pencil for the drawing. Next I isolated an area and thought seriously about how I was going to produce the collage.

The brief in the Unit actually says “You are now going to interpret this in depth, using a wide range of papers to create a texture sample”.”Scrunch, pleat, fold, do anything which will create variety and raised areas”.

Anne has also given lots of ideas of what sort of papers we might use….indeed I have been using a wide range of different papers in both of the previous Units, so have become increasingly aware of their various qualities.

Observing my subject matter closely was the main “tool” required to do this exercise We were referred back to various parts of Units 1 and 2, during these exercises….building on skills already practised in the course so far.

It took me a long time to get going with The textured collage, and it certainly wasn’t my finest hour, but I gave it a shot! The background texture of the main tree trunk has worked well, and I think the whole collage relates back to the original photo!!

I have used screwed up brown paper, white card, smooth thick brown paper, torn off corrugated carboard, which I also used. I also used some recycled florists paper, and some Indian rag paper. I must admit that I have used some string as well.

PVA glue was used for attaching it all to an A4 piece of card.

Dyeing fabric was my next task in this Unit. This is one of my all time favourite activities, as those of you who know me, will be well aware of! As was going to use this opportunity to dye a specific range of colours, I actually didn’t use the method that Anne had suggested in the Unit. She gives lots of information on the process, but I needed some dyed fabric for a specific piece of work, so I chose a method I have used many times in the past.

I am actually very low on hand dyed fabric at the moment, so this has come at a very good time for me. I have used Procion and Dylon dyes for years. The latter are easily bought on the High Street and I do like the more muted colours I have to say. I do have quite a selection of Procion dyes too, but for this particular dyeing exercise I have used Jeans Blue Dylon dye, and I made up my orange colour with a Procion scarlet dye mixed with a little Procion golden yellow. Blue and orange are complementary colours and will give a lovely range of earthy colours. Any mix of complementary colours will do this. If I had chosen to do an exchange between two primary colours, the result would have produced bright, clear colours.

I haven’t dyed any fabric for at least two years, and as I am constantly dipping into my stash, it has become well and truly depleted. I prepared a household soda solution, and having machine washed all the fabrics that I wished to dye, in the washing machine to remove any factory dressing in them I took them from the washing machine and put them into the soda solution, soaing them thoroughly. The soda fixes the dye to the fabric. I have a set of measuring spoons, Marigold gloves, an old apron, a plastic jugs, recycled containers and disposable masks set aside (the latter for use when I am using dye powders) and purely dedicated for use when I am dyeing fabrics.

Below is the full selection of the fabrics that I dyed. As you can see I also soace dyed a few threads. Can never throw up an opportunity!

The exchange method of dyeing required me to put my measure of liquid dye into a poly bag, supported in my “dyeing” jug. Then I dropped a piece of soda-soaked fabric into the bag and I squeezed and manipulated the colour into the fabric, through the plastic bag. I pushed the coloured fabric firmly down to the bottom of the bag, twisted the neck of the bag just above the tight wet ball of fabric, so that no liquid could leak out, and I sat the bulk of the bag on its “tail” in an old washing up bowl. I worked through the order of adding dyes to each new bag (there are 9 steps in total, and therefore 9 polythene bags). Confining the wet dyed fabric in a small space helps to give textured pieces of dyed fabric. If you want flat dyed fabric, the fabric needs space within the bag, but even then you will probably have some marks. These are what makes the fabric so unique.

It is important to have a range of pale, mid tone and darker tones in a piece of work as this gives it its energy, and sometimes a little clash of colour works wonders too! You can see here that I have dyed some commercial fine stripe shirtings and checks. Because I often work in miniature, I love the scale of the woven stripes and checks. They work really well in tiny pieces!

So, when I had reached the 9th bag I went back to the first bag and added another piece of fabric to each bag, manipulating and squeezing the bags again, ensuring absorption of what dye was let in the bag into the fresh piece of fabric added. and I frequently added yet another fabric to the bags too.

I have found over the years, that doing this is the easiest way of producing a range of tones that all work so well together. The later addition of fabric, has given the first piece an opportunity to soak up as much of the dye as it can, resulting in a good strong colour. Subsequent additions get paler as they are added. Even if a fabric looks as though it has not changed at all, if you put it up against the original white, you will see a definite pale colour there. It is almost impossible to by really pale fabrics, so this method works fantastically well

Another bonus is that every bit of the dye solution is utilised in the bags. you don’t end up pouring unspent dye down the drain! I leave them soaking for at least 12 hours, before rinsing them until the water is clear. I always include a very hot rinse, followed by a cold one again, during this process. Then I give them a final hand wash with just a little Stergene in the water. I spin them in the washing machine to get rid of the excess water, then I iron them dry!! This is the exciting part when you can see all the subtle variations of colour and shading within each individual piece. They are always darker when they are wet, and while ironing them their true colours and the wonderful marks, and shading appear.

I hadn’t really achieved the “terracotta” range I was looking for after rinsing drying and ironing the initial dye run. Some of the fabrics were very brown, so I removed some of them, as well as the really vivid orange results. I soaked them thoroughly again in the soda solution, and over-dyed them with Procion magenta. This time I was delighted with the finished results. At the top of this photo, you may notice that I have also included some of the “unexpected grey/green results from the first batch of dyeing.

Some of these fabrics will now be used in the rest of Turvy III. I have given an explanantion of my choice of colours for this panel, which clearly illustrates my particula choice of colour for this session of dyeing!

I have given a great deal of thought to Turvy III, since my last Stitching News. Getting it out and reveiwing it a coupe of weeks ago, whetted my appetite for working on it again! I was also inspired by two friends, who are very talented textile artists to begin working on it sooner than later.

They don’t know each other, but during the last couple of weeks they had both independently told me that they had some hand sewing of hexagons on the go.

That really resonated with me and I thought that I might stitch Turvy III over papers. I am very fond of English piecing over paper templates. It is a great project to have as it is portable and easy to work with in the evenings. So I traced the top two rows onto freezer paper, ready to cut them up into templates, and I prepared and pieced the first couple of rows over a few evenings. My original design is here on the left.

I like to use freezer paper for my templates when working with small pieces, and fine fabric. The combination works well for me.

Here are the first two rows of paper piecing laid onto my master copy of the design. However, when I looked at them I could see that they were coming up a little larger. I understand that; it is due to the nature of folding the fabric over a template. But my main concern was that the technique was also looking very different to the other two panels, so after some consideration I decided to go back to machine piecing. The panels are in “series”…and as such I feel they should not look so different due to the technique!

Here is the fresh start of the piece now that I am machine piecing of the top three rows. I have completed three rows. you can see that I have drawn the straight grain of the fabric onto each template with a red crayon.

The row of templates will stay in place until the next row been sewn to this row. Only after the two are stitched together, will I take off the templates from the above row. The measurement of this piece, so far, is 8.5″ wide by 3.25″ in depth, (inclusive of seam allowances). I am much happier with the appearance now! I already have another plan for hand sewing in the evenings!

So, in both of the last two items I have discussed; the dyeing, and the piecing, it is evident that my initial efforts in both weren’t giving me what I was looking for. All the experimentation was invaluable, and I could make the changes I wanted with little fuss. The moral in all of this is not to “make do” with how things are going, if you feel uncomfortable, or disappointed with what is happening. Just have another go, and see if you can make it more to your satisfaction. Nothing is ever lost. Every part of the process is a learning curve for all of us; experienced sewers as well as beginners!

My colour palette for Turvy III is a muted palette of colours with a range of dark, medium and light tones, using the complementary colours of blue and orange. All the house roofs will be within the dark terracotta tones, with the body of the houses depicted within the warm medium and light tones. For the “background” I am using a range of soft blues, taupe and grey fabrics. Hence my colour choices for the dyeing exercise! I have an excellent range now for this and further work to compliment it.

So, onward and upward. I have plenty of Unit 3 work ahead of me. I wish you all well, with any projects that you are working on.

Until next time … Happy Stitching

Di

Stitching News June 2020/2

Welcome to this edition of Stitching News; the weather has changed; lots of rain, and cold! The rain has really helped the garden and has been most welcome, but the cold has not been welcomed in the same way. We were so spoilt in May! I am hopeful for a return of warmer weather soon! I have been “finishing off” projects this last couple of weeks. It is a really good feeling!

In this Stitching News I am talking about:

  1. The issues I have had completing my dress.
  2. The house panels and further developments; also completed.
  3. My thoughts on my first assignment in the third unit of the machine embroidery course.

This week I finished my pinafore dress/ sleeveless dress, which I started last year! You may remember that it started life as a toile for the black linen dress I made last summer. I did have short sleeves in that one and I embellished it with hand embroidered lazy daisy flowers, using my own hand dyed threads. https://stitchingnews.wordpress.com/2019/09/25/stitching-news-september-2019/

I made the toile initially to check the size across the bust, as it was the first time I had used the pattern. It is the Merchant and Mills Trapeze dress pattern, a loose fitting pattern so there was not much else to “fit”! When I made the toile I didn’t bother to cut out the sleeves. I used a good quality mid weight white cotton fabric, and as I didn’t want to waste it, I over dyed it soon afterwards, deciding to alter the neckline and and turn it into a “pinafore dress”. Fortunately I dyed another short length of it at the same time, which was invaluable for the facings

I have added a feature decorative pocket. It is a “quiet” feature as I also over-dyed the striped fabric at the same time that I dyed the toile, so apart from its size, it blends in quite well!.

The intention at the time was to make a simple short sleeved blouse when I bought that remnant. However, I just could not get it out of the material so I have made use of it here, making a narrow bias trim for the hem on this dress, and the pocket!

I have had one or two challenges along the way with the construction, not least the process of the facings for the neck and sleeves, being sewn together into a yolk, and the very awkward way of sewing the sleeve facings to the dress, so that when you have finished there is a neat yolk-lined internal facing.

I couldn’t even begin to explain how the yolk facing works! It took some “fathoming out”. I rang Janet, a friend who I knew had made the Trapeze dress, to ask her advice, and it seems that what I had started to do was correct, even though it felt so bizarre! At the beginning of lock down Janet had made the same sleeveless dress, with the same method of facings, and she said to me; “just plough on Di … follow the instructions to the letter!” To be fair to the pattern, it does say “this may seem awkward”! I will hold my hands up and say that I would do it again as the finish is so good! I can’t say fairer than that, can I? I love the finished garment. It is so comfortable and easy to wear.

The two pieces immediately below are Turvy I, on the left, and Turvy II on the right I was devoid of any ideas for a title for them, and asked Rob for suggestions. “Turvy” he said, and the notion of Topsy- Turvy just made me smile, so I knew that was the choice for me!

… and this week I have finished them. I designed them a couple of years ago and made very good progress on their construction, and had even started the quilting. I had to finish the quilting, choose fabric for the bindings, and make hanging sleeves for the back. The panels are both the same size which is approximately A4; 8.5″ wide, by 11.75″ long. They are machine pieced and hand quilted.

The four panels to the left, are actually miniatures! I have enlarged the photos so that you can see the detail.

They each vary a little in size, but fall within 2.5″ wide, and 4″ long.

They are variations on the same theme, and illustrate that ideas can develop the more you work on them!

I often find it easier to work ideas out by photocopying in a reduced size and working on the smaller images.

I have over painted in some areas and enhanced or added small detail. I have overlaid thread lines and added stitch. My original intentions were to make them into cards, but as I calculated the time spent on them, if I was going to sell them, then they could not be sold at stitched card prices!

I would probably mount them and sell them unframed, allowing the buyer to make their own decisions according to their personal choice. Of course this all takes time and experimentation, which isn’t necessarily taken into account on top of the originality of the work, when work has been priced up., and I think that is particularly pertinent when the work is so small.

In the last week I have also been looking at a third panel in the Turvy series which I have already spent many hours developing. I have not yet put needle and fabric to use on it, because I could not decide on colour. However, looking at it again after a long break, I can see it more clearly, and ideas presented to me immediately! The work is A4 in size, again, and is thus Turvy III, in progress. Now that I am well ensconced on the Distance Learning course, any further progress on T III will have to be put on hold for a while longer!

In Unit 3 we are asked to consider our first assignment and send our ideas to Anne for her consideration and support and for her to give constructive feedback. There is a comprehensive list of items to choose from and clearly the skills we have learnt and have been practising should be used within the design and decoration of the chosen item.

I have set my own Brief:

To design and make a piece of Contemporary Wall Art taking the imagery of early Nasca Embroideries as my inspiration.

Five years ago, my son gave me a wonderful birthday present; a book on Early Peruvian Needlework. Some of the naive “embroidery” fascinated me immediately.

This and the next photo illustrate Hummingbirds. They really captured my imagination and made me smile!

I have nurtured ideas about this in my head for a long time, and now the obvious opportunity has arrived for me to develop those and create my piece of work! The original imagery is in fact knitted as you can see. The knitting also incorporates the “stick/branch” on which the bird is perched but I intend to use fabric and stitch to create my ideas. The branch will support the bird but will not be integral as in the knitted version!

I have been stitching British bird panels recently, having had a long fascination with our wonderful British birds, and I thoroughly enjoyed the process,and have used traditional techniques of applique.

This will be different and could take that study into a different and potentially exciting development.

I have started by sketching and painting some naive bird shapes and then I added a kingfisher to the page as well, as this will be my choice of bird to work with. The painting of the kingfisher on the page, is not “naive” at all, but having other options on the same page, and having painted one of them in the wonderful colours of the bird, I can see that it could work, so now I can look at further changes and options.

The bird will be mounted on a “stick” in a similar approach to the original inspiration. I intend to use two or three layers of pelmet Vilene for this which will be covered in various textures of small pieces of fabric, machine stitched in place. The piece will hang from this structure, but I have to think about whether I would like it to be round, or flat!

For the bird, I intend to make my own “fabric”, which I shall either dye or paint! Preliminary experimentation will determine technique, but I am thinking about using fabric and tissue paper.

Below are my initial drawings.

I have painted these initial drawings with Koh-I-Nor ink dyes. Colour is going to be an important design consideration in this work, as it was in the Peruvian textile world of many centuries ago.There is a lot of development still to consider; more drawings, lots of sampling and exploration. I wonder where it will lead to!

Within this unit we are also going to be dyeing fabric, and learning some new stitching techniques. Lots to contemplate! I wonder how far I shall get before I am in touch again!

Until next time, happy stitching …

Di

Stitching News June 2020 /1

Good day to all and a warm welcome to new readers. I sincerely hope you enjoy this latest newsletter. Haven’t we been amazingly fortunate with such glorious weather for many weeks? Admittedly when the easterlies set in, and we have had quite a few, the sun may be golden all day long, but there has been a nip in the air down here. An extra layer of clothing is all that is needed though! Thankfully we have had a drop of rain but we could do with so much more.

In this newsletter I am reviewing:

  • More stitching on the embroidery course
  • My method of presenting the work for Unit 2
  • One particular style of face mask
  • a couple of interesting links, from Susan’s blog.

I am pleased with the progress I have made on Unit 2 since I last wrote. I have finished all the samples and write up and it has now gone back for assessment. I shall take a short break to catch up on some necessities; the priority is tidying my sewing room. I would also like to finish a pinafore dress I started last year and then I shall be raring to go again.

In retrospect I realise that for a few years now I have been returning to my “favourite” techniques; safe and fairly predictable techniques. I hadn’t realised quite how much I needed a new stimulus, and something to stretch me again! I have not been disappointed. I am thrilled with the fresh and inspirational ideas that are now buzzing around my head.

Twin needle stitching using the automatic stitches, was the next sample to get started on. I got out the stitch sampler that I showed you in the last newsletter; https://stitchingnews.wordpress.com/2020/05/26/stitching-news-may-2020-2/ stitched in red it has notation written beside each pattern I had tried out. This has provided invaluable information for me, this time round, saving a lot of time. I always do several test runs before I commit to my final stitched sample. This time, a little after I had started practising, I noticed that the right needle of the two was “missing” stitches! I re-threaded my machine and cleaned it, but no change! Sadly I didn’t have another twin needle. I cannot remember the last time I used one, to be honest!

So, I rang Cowslip workshops; https://www.cowslipworkshops.co.uk/ Jo answered the phone. I know from friends who have been speaking with her recently that she has been working SO hard to get her orders out to people ordering by phone, or on the internet, as quickly as she possible could.

I rang her at 4 pm on a Friday, and felt guilty realising that she would be exhausted at the end of the day. But she was as brilliant as ever, and I was amazed and thrilled, when the parcel arrived the next morning, meaning that I could get on and finish the sample! I salute and thank Jo very much and the Royal mail, for their excellent service, particularly during this sad and strange time. Very difficult times indeed for the specialised sewing and quilting business, which are really struggling in so many was to stay afloat.

It is more important than ever to support our local suppliers, as we all hope desperately that they will be able to open again. I know we all miss our days’ out at Cowslip; the wonderful garden, and fantastic cafe. So much has to be considered and it must be an absolute nightmare for them. Our hearts do indeed go out to them.

Couching threads has also been an important part of Unit 2, as has cable stitch.

The photo on the right, at the top of this post is a section of my stitched sample illustrating the use of couched threads. But first, on the left here, is the painted paper I have used to stitch on, for this sample. This paper was the only one that I really could not abide out of all my stash. It really bothered me because it looked such a mess but also the colours just didn’t work for me! However, I decided to start adding some “marks” to it with a fine black drawing pen (0.1). What a difference instantly! I did not like the golden coloured strip at the top, so I tore it out, and brought the pale blue/soft mauve down and stitched that in place to the top of the blue/ green. I also tore off the bottom two rows. Now it was beginning to look more balanced.

Below is the whole of the stitched sample.

I was happy to start the stitching now as I knew I was going to enjoy the process! I have made the two trees on the left from hand-dyed thick cotton string! The “tree” across to the right is hand-dyed dishcloth cotton. I had dyed them all several years ago and the dishcloth cotton colour was rather an acid green so I toned it down by soaking it in some blue/green Brusho.

I have used a range of other threads from my stash; all my own hand dyed cotton threads, of various thicknesses. I have used them singly, double and the purple/blue one in the purple section two rows up from the bottom actually had four strands twisted together and knotted at intervals.

Having finished this sample, I decided to be more adventurous, with another and drew some shapes onto a piece of Brusho painted cotton fabric.

I drew triangles, circles, and oblongs, linking them together; lots of angles, and circles and movement; perfect for practising.

I used a wide variety of threads; colourful, pale, thick and very thin. I have a cone of natural coloured Swedish linen thread, and I have dyed some hanks several times. The colour uptake is gorgeous, but it breaks so easily, so I have been reluctant to use if for stitching! However, now I have found a way to use it! Couching!

It was great to use 4 strands at a time of the linen thread, and because it is quite “rigid” although fine that worked well. They have created the circle nearest the bottom of the panel, also the small triangle nearest the top/

Others were single threads, some were double.

I didn’t use a twin needle, I felt I had enough to deal with turning right angles etc!  But I used two contrasting threads on several occasions in this sample.

In the main, I stitched with the feed dog down, alternating on some of the shapes between zig zag stitch and straight-line stitching.

I learned such a lot doing this sample. Really pleased I did it!

Sample size7” by 3.75”.

There is clearly a great deal more to this Unit, but I will end by just showing you a small section of the concertina folded book I have made to present the work in.

Within this folded book I have included three additional inserts as well as three pockets. Each pocket has two samples in, and although I have stitched another two samples directly onto the page, I have left six “free” so that they can be easily removed for demonstration purposes.

I have increased my machine stitching skills and refreshed other skills and feel that this last month has been a wonderful exploration of colour and stitch.

Unit 3 is going to be about texture and form, observing detail and drawing small sketches of that detail from our choice of “natural” form. The garden is going to be an excellent resource for this part of the Unit!!

We also have three techniques and new stitches to master. In addition we have to start to consider our first assessment piece. This does not have to be completed in this unit, but our ideas must be consolidated and sent to Anne so that she can assess them and give feedback if necessary.

I am sure that many of you have been busy making face masks. Until now I haven’t made any although I have looked at a variety of shapes and styles, and read lots about them. With the recent advice now saying that the wearing of face masks on any form of public transport, and within a group where social distancing is very difficult to achieve is compulsory, then the time is not far off, I am sure, when we are going to be having to wear masks, possibly as the norm.

My husband asked me recently if I could make him one as he was going to have some treatment in hospital. So, here was my challenge! I have made one each; indeed I have made 4 in total, because I made a sample for each of us first, in calico, and without the interlining as I didn’t want to waste it. Primarily the sample was to check the fit.

A lovely friend of countless years, Teeny, had sent me a link to an excellent site with a video which gives a very clear tutorial on a fitted face mask. I am aware that there are probably hundreds of sites out there, and probably many for “fitted masks” too.

The link below is well worth watching as it is full of tips and is very well explained. Please don’t think that I am deriding any of the other tutorials, I can only recommend what I have personally seen and made! What I like about this “fitted style”, is that I have been able to make masks which have been made to our personal facial measurements. The video shows a demonstration of the whole process of making the mask. The presenter is likeable and although there seems a lot of “chat” on the video it is all about the process, and the reasons for her choices. We learn that she has worked for 20 years within the medical field, and how important it is to have a well-fitting mask.

http://www.fabricpatch.net/face-masks-for-covid-19-relief.htm This link also has another 3 video’s in total which you will see listed below the top one:

Video1 The Basic Tutorial. Video 2 Additional tips and tricks. Video 3 The Difference in masks and Video 4 What we have learned. You will learn about Jesse Hillon if you do watch them all, I have to confess that I cannot remember which of  2, 3 or 4 he is mentioned in. I do know that it is not in the first video. I learned the order of making the mask, but I chose to make the Jesse Hillon mask, because two specific facial measurements are taken from the person who will be wearing it.

Jesse Hillon is an engineer, who decided to buy a sewing machine as he wanted to make himself and his family face masks. He had seen the first video and followed those instructions to make one. (there are 4 sizes given on the template.)

I am sure that many people are more than happy with their choices, but Jesse felt it didn’t fit him well enough. Being an engineer, he decided to take two measurements, one from where he wanted the mask to come up to, near the bridge of his nose , down his nose to under the chin. The second measurement was from the mid-line of his nose to before the ear.

He then drafted 30 patterns for a wide range of face shapes. I matched my husband’s measurements to one of these templates, and found it on Jesse’s PDF download of the range of sizes. I noted the number of the page it was on. I repeated the exercise with my measurements. Then I was able to print off the two relevant templates.

  • Having made 4 of them now, I have 5 tips for those who might consider making this pattern, that I have written down for my own benefit, as I shall definitely make several more.

1. Add the straight grain to the pattern, somewhere parallel to the centre of the nose seam.

2. Make a sample. It is well worth the time. I made an alteration at the ear seam, reducing the measurement from nose to ear, and altering the angle a little too, and therefore creating a new seam allowance. you will notice that I have made it a generous one, so that I can push the elastic inside, and sew it securely top stitching the very edge in addition. I reinforced the stitching over the elastic each time I crossed it.

On my first attempt with Rob’s mask the elastic came out!! I just undid the seam and carefully pushed it back in, reinforcing the stitching. It has been fine since. I am using round hat elastic, as that is what I have available here and I am using this double for extra strength. For those who know me of old, you will realise that we used this for making the button bracelets!

3. I used my walking foot throughout thinking that with all the layers it would hopefully keep them all together. It worked! As I have explained recently my machine is a basic Bernina. I can move my needle as far across to the right as it will go, and then it is exactly 1/4″ from needle to the edge of the foot. To check on your own machine draw an accurate 1/4″ line with a sharp pencil parallel to the edge of a piece of paper. Then drop the needle onto the drawn line, put the presser foot down and check where the edge of the paper is in respect to the edge of the foot.

4. When sewing in the “nose clip” check before you sew that it is at the nose end, and not the chin end! Mistake number two for me!! The two ends are surprisingly similar!

5. When you sew the prepared lining to the prepared outer mask, double check the orientation of the inner and the outer of them, so that both nose ends are together. I haven’t actually made that mistake, but it would be SO easy to do. I keep my paper pattern out, and just lay the work in progress against the paper regularly, checking orientation all the time!

Finally I am including two links that I have recently found very interesting. The blog post which they had been included in was written and sent to me by a lovely friend, Susan who has come down to Cornwall many times with lots of her friends for a long weekend of stitching and fun with me.

She has valiantly been writing a regular blog post during this lockdown, for the quilting group she belongs to near Cheltenham. Members of the group keep her up to date with what they are doing; stitching,………. etc and then she puts the information together and sends it out to the members. A lovely way to keep in touch. When I read this post, I instantly asked her if she would mind if I copied them into my Stitching News. She was more than happy to share them. She had found them on the internet.

https://mailchi.mp/aurifil/troubleshooting

I am a huge fan of Aurifil threads, and have been for about 18 years now. They are Italian and were launched in 1983, so they have been around a long time. They are very economical although they may seem expensive to buy. However, when you see that there are 1300 metres of thread on the spool, you will realise just how much you are getting for your money. The information on the link above is really interesting. I certainly learned a thing or two!

The following link has 8 ways to use up scrap triangles. You can always cut triangles, of course, if you don’t have scrap ones!

http://www.blossomheartquilts.com/2020/04/8-ways-to-use-leftover-scrap-triangles/

Happy sewing … until next time…

Di

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!