Charity Workshop Information

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Tutors:     Di Wells (Kantha) and Rosemary Rowe (Angels)

Venue:      Cowslip Workshops; Newhouse Farm, Launceston, Cornwall  PL15 8JX

Date and time: Tuesday 11th September 2018, 10 am-4 pm in the Big Barn

Cost: £35.  The two charities we are supporting this year are: The Albanian Sewing Project and Cornwall Air Ambulance

We are immensely grateful to Jo, at Cowslip workshops,  http://www.cowslipworkshops.co.uk  who has very kindly allowed us to use her Big Barn for another charity workshop day this year. Above and below, are photographs of the workshops we are offering. They are both hand sewing on the day. Please choose carefully from the information given before making your choice, because if your choice is Kantha, it will be necessary to do some preparation, before the day.

You are at liberty to do either one workshop all day, or both, as a half day each.

The kantha workshop involves some preparation of the background, before the workshop day, so that your workshop time can be spent in developing the kantha and embroidery.   A lino printed house will be included for everyone who is doing the “kantha with a house”….and there will be one available, on the day, for those who are doing one of the other options, if you would like one. Please note that you won’t finish your kantha project in the day, but will have hopefully become “hooked”. I am now totally addicted!

I feel that complete beginners and more experienced stitchers would enjoy either of our two workshops.  On both projects you could add your own spin!

Mine is Kantha. 
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The finished measurements of the little panel with the red house measures 3.5″ wide x 4.25″ long, and the panel with the pale lilac house is 4.5″ wide x 3.5″ long.

The third piece, shown below, has a finished size of 5″ square

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N.B. Measurements have only been given as a guide as it is impossible to estimate size from  photographs. You are, of course, free to work on whatever size of panel you wish, but I would advise against working on a big scale if this is your first foray into Kantha. It is a closely worked technique, and you do want to see some results by the end of your day/half day. Placement of strips and oblongs/ squares is purely up to personal choice.

Another kantha choice is this fish panel which is worked on a plain background. I chose a piece of linen which I had hand dyed. The final size of this piece is 6″ square.

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Details of all pre preparation for any of the Kantha choices will be given on the requirements sheet. I will email the details for the panel you have chosen.

You can of course plan your own piece of work, to whatever size you wish before you come to the workshop. The subject matter can be entirely your choice, but if this technique is new to you, I do suggest that you work on a small scale to start with. It is an intensively worked technique, and as such is not quick!! However, it is actually a very therapeutic, soothing, slow stitch method once you get into it.  Please Note that you will not finish the kantha during the workshop, but you will understand exactly how to finish it by the end of your session.

Rosemary will be teaching a contemporary Angel for the second workshop on offer. Below are some variations on one basic structure….and then the world is your oyster! They become individual little characters according to the materials and embellishments you choose!  These young ladies just make me smile with their “Doc Marten boots”; piercings(!) and jewellery!

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All bookings should be made through me, please, by emailing me at, diwells49@gmail.com giving the following details:

  • Your name, and  email address if it is different to the one you are emailing me with.
  • Your chosen workshop(s); Angel, fish kantha or House kantha
  • Payment: £35 for the day. Please make cheques out to; Mrs H Wells, and send to: Cedar Lodge, Trevarth, Mevagissey, Cornwall, PL26 6RX. If you would prefer to pay by Bank Transfer, let me know, so that I can email you the details

On receipt of payment, requirement sheets will be emailed to you.

If you are booking the Kantha workshop, some initial preparation at home, prior to the workshop day is required. The reason I ask you to do this is because it would make such a difference to the time available to really make progress with the Kantha stitching, on the day. You would be able to do this preparation by hand or machine, your choice.

** If you are choosing a kantha panel with a lino printed house, please also include an SAE when you send me your cheque, so that I can send you a house. If you are coming with friends, then it would be sensible to send one sae on behalf of any friends choosing the same workshop too (unless they do not live close to you)! The colours available are: green,  turquoise, red, pink/red, blue, terracotta,  lilac and grey. Please give at least a couple of colour options, because I clearly do not have an unlimited supply! **

If you choose one of the other workshops; i.e. the fish Kantha or Angel,  and would like a house, maybe to work with at a later stage, you are welcome to have one on the day. I will bring some extras!

The angels are achievable in half a day. You can see that these “contemporary” angels allow for personal embellishment, beads, buttons, bows and embroidery etc….whatever takes your fancy.

On the day we shall have a raffle table, and any contributions to this would be gratefully received. We shall also have a sales table, all made and prepared by the two of us.

An “inspiration” table will also hopefully enthuse you, and show what you might aspire to. These items won’t be for sale, but are more a “show and tell”!

You are very welcome to bring a light lunch with you, and there will also be a good selection of luches available from the cafe. I am sure that we shall be able to order before lunch time, so that when we do have our break our orders will be ready for us. Drinks will be available during the day, and home made biscuits/tray bakes etc, which Rosemary and I shall make, will accompany liquid refreshment! After all, that is part and parcel of any quilting day, is it not?

We are very dependent on the weather, and hopefully September will have warm sunny days, however, please be aware that you may need extra layers, if it is a cool day, so please come suitably attired.

Happy stitching!

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Stitching News January 2018

Welcome to any new visitors to the Stitching News blog. I hope you find something of interest and some encouragement to fire your imagination, and inspire you this month! Happy New Year to you all. Goodness didn’t the month get off to a very chilly, stormy start? The seas have been very rough, especially those accompanying the highest tides, and the full moon. They were spectacular. We didn’t get any snowfall down here; but it seemed as though we did get everything else…and it hasn’t given up yet; terrific hail storms and winds this evening as I get ready to publish this blog.

In this month’s stitching blog I am going to write about;

  • The changes I have made in my lovely sewing room, and what I found in the process!
  • My sewing projects for this month.
  • A mini, simple little in-house tutorial I have prepared for one of the two  quilting groups I belong to.
  • Progress on the charity workshop  information

Not necessarily in that order!

Over the years, I have been asked how I can find the time to put together a comprehensive blog, quickly! Well, put simply, it isn’t quick! I write little and often, so that it grows in a logical order and I have time to make adjustments as I go along! It is a time consuming activity and needs constant reviewing to ensure it makes sense!

I have had some lovely walks this month, albeit in the wind and showers; definitely in the mud and one memorable day in gorgeous sunshine, joy of joys. Sunny days have been few and far between but it has been a delight walking around Mevagissey harbour,  and in the lanes up to Heligan, and seeing many signs of the spring plants raising their heads to battle with the elements.. 20180111_103601

The little turnstones, returned in December, and their constant busy scurrying activities bring a real smile to my face. It is so good to see them back. The boats have spent many days sheltering in the inner harbour. The tides have been high and the results very evident. The waves crashing over the wall onto the foot path around the outer harbour. In Portmellon, sea weed splashed on the houses opposite the bay, right up onto the roofs ….and sea weed behind the houses! The swell, deceptive! Great care is needed.

My Fitbit is back in use after a few months rest! I find it really works for me as a great incentive to get out walking. When it is in constant sight, it is urging me to get out there! Although it has many functions, I am just interested in monitoring my steps…aiming for the 10,000 per day.  We are so lucky to live by the coast because it is always interesting, and often inspirational, and a pleasure to walk. The harbour is a working harbour, albeit it very small, so there is constant activity. Heligan Gardens are only a 35 minute walk away along lovely lanes, so there are always lovely choice straight from the front door.

I treated myself to a Sue Lewington book for Christmas.P1040790 (2)

P1040789 (2)It is absolutely delightful, and is series of sketches; a personal record of 12 days on the Isles of Scilly during Easter 2013. I have bought several of her books over the years, but I think it was A6 format of this book, that caught my eye, and of course the sketches on the covers, as well as inside!

She uses a variety of media including pencils, pen, charcoal and water colours. The sketches are just that…quite like scribbles at times, which is so encouraging! It is a great read, with the odd accompaniment of text. The majority of sketches have no words. They simply aren’t needed, but the narrative, when it is there, does add flavour, and interest which helps to inform the imagination! It inspires me every time I look at it. and really makes me “want to do”.

Then… within a few days of delving into that, it was meant to be that I read the InStitches blog; www.institchestextilecourses.co.uk/blog/the-10-minute-drawing-project

About the drawing project, the author says, and I quote: “The received wisdom is that practice makes perfect.  By doing something repeatedly you should get better, so 2018 is my year to see if I can actually become better at…drawing.  By allotting 10 minutes each day and limiting the media and subject I want to see if I can improve – I don’t think I’ll become a fine art master, that’s not my plan, what I hope to achieve is becoming more skilled at looking and recording.

So, my plan is to have a go, as many days as I can.  I shan’t be precious about it, because I know there will be days that I can’t do it but I am making a start and have taken my camera out walking, with me. It doesn’t matter what your source is, it is the “doing” that matters! My personal tool kit, for want of another phrase will include water colours and paint brush; charcoal pencil, fine drawing pens, watercolour pencils, Ten minutes a day should be achievable for those of us who are “retired”!! I wonder if I have the discipline to keep going! Sketching is an integral part of design, so we can never have too much practice.

We have recently been helping a longstanding dear friend, who was very sadly bereaved last year, to pack up his huge house as he is downsizing and moving to a tiny lovely cottage by the sea. One piece of furniture that he was unable to take with him, has been welcomed into my own sewing room now. I am thrilled to bits, because it really adds character and interest.

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It is a lovely old pine washstand, with a tiled back, and a replacement marble top. Originally it would probably have had a hole in the marble to set in a wash bowl. It has a  cupboard underneath the marble and plenty of storage underneath the whole unit. It is just gorgeous, and I love it.

The inclusion of this into my sewing room necessitated a big sort out, and tidy up of what I can only describe as a “tip”. I am sure many of you know exactly what I mean! I get so involved in different ongoing projects, that it doesn’t take more than ten minutes to produce chaos! The trouble is with me, that one idea very quickly suggests another, and so on, and before I know it, I am off track and onto additional things, which creates more fabrics, and equipment etc. I was so grateful when an artist friend who asked if he could see what I was working on, once said to me, in response to my “Its in quite a mess…!” “Di, you cannot be creative in a tidy space!” It was music to my ears!

The tidying was actually fun to do, as essentially I do like to be tidy in all other respects, and indeed when I am sewing, …but it just doesn’t last. The fact that no-one else who visits us can see the mess, unless I invite them to, is a blessing in so many ways.

On this occasion I found some of my old screen prints, which I had printed onto fabric, but in the main, had got no further!

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The seed case prints, had got as far as already being attached to a cotton canvas backing, with some machine stitched detail and even some button flowers on one of them. These were intended for book covers, and I shall take them on into fruition! The square and circle prints had been printed onto a white background; not inspiring, and probably the reason I had not gone further with them! I have now overdyed them, and am itching to embellish and work with them….I will show you the results all in good time.

Over many months, I have become more and more aware of just how much time I am spening on the Internet.  Far too much time is wasted on social media sites, and this year I am determined to be much stricter with my time. Being more thoughtful about this, I know will free up a lot of time which I can use in more positive ways. It will be interesting to reflect, at the close of the year, on how well I have done!

Rosemary and I are also busy making items for the sales table…we would like some surprises so I will not be showing you everything in the blogs, (but will perhpas be tempting you!)  In addition, this month,I have also been asked if I would prepare a little teabag wallet for a handbag, to give as an  in-house tutorial to one of the quilting groups I belong to.  I started planning this little item by measuring the teabag packets, and sketching different options of how they might be contained. I wanted it to be simple, and neat. I worked out measurements and made a start in calico so that I wouldn’t be wasting good fabrics in the trial run! I am pleased with the end result (shown below), and know I  shall be making a few more of these, as well! Many people like to keep a favourite herb or fruit tea with them, for when they are visiting friends, and these little wallets do just the job! They hold four teabags, which are kept secure with a ribbon and button closure.

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A great little gift, anytime!                                                                                                September, when we have the Charity day workshop, will be a very good time of year to be thinking about presents, and we shall have an interesting selection of lovely items to tempt you!

I am writing a completely separate blog about the Charity workshop. It is almost ready! There are lots of photographs to show you what is on offer and, additional information about the day. It seems to me that it is easier to to present all of this in its own blog, which I will be posting in the next couple of weeks.

Last, but not least, I have now made changes to the third and fourth quarters of the original pieced cushion top which, originally, just did not inspire me at all. If you remember I cut the original pieced top into four quarters, deciding to alter them so that I felt inspired to make them into something attractive! I discussed the changes I made to the first two quarters in the November and December blogs. This month I have made a start on the last two. I soaked them both in a soda solution, then dyed them both with wine-red procion dye.  They are the bottom two blocks in the photograph below.

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I rolled the bottom right one, from opposite diagonal corners, towards the centre then twisted it and knotted it loosely before dunking it briefly in the wine-red dye. Then I dipped it in a turqoise dye, immediately afterwards, resulting in a mottled pale purple. Both blocks were left for 14 hours before rinsing.  I cut the pink one into four equal strips, altered the strip positions, turning at least one strip upside down, before sewing them back together. I have started to quilt it, but have more detail to add yet. The second one was cut into four equal squares which were also rearranged before being sewn back into a new block. I have quite a bit more work to on this one too, before quilting it. Now I shall have fun using each of the blocks in different items! I will show you how each one has been used in future blogs.

How many of you use overdyeing as a method of changing something that you don’t like? If you never have, would it be something you might now consider? Perhaps you might think about cutting something up, and pieceing it again, differently….It would be good to hear from you via comments at the end of this blog.

Happy stitching, until next time.   Di

 

 

December Newsletter

Christmas Greetings to  you all.  Thank you to everyone who sent me wonderful cards too. It is so lovely to hear from you. Each of the little units in the little hanging below is a 2″ finished Japanese folded patchwork unit. A circle is folded over a square. I appliqued the letters onto the white square and embellished the finished units with tiny star sequins and a single bell.

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I sincerely hope it has been a peaceful and happy time for you.  December is such a busy month for most of us and at times I wonder how I am ever going to fit everything in! I have been making presents, Christmas cards, and gift labels, not to mention preparing the Christmas food, shopping, baking, visiting family and friends to distribute presents and getting organised for visitors. Oh, and one of my sons asked me to make four cushions….! I have to admit that he did ask about three months ago, saying “there is no hurry Mum”…I took advantage of that little thought, as I had rather more interesting things to do, however, guilt eventually hounded me, so I have now made them, just in time for Christmas! Although it is busy, it is also enjoyable. It really is, but the presure is increased, and perhaps I am feeling my age more, these days!

I told you in last month’s newsletter that in this one I would explain how I made my Christmas cards this year; a Christmas tree in the falling snow! (Grahame, a great friend and very talented artist showed me how to print leaves using this method when he and his wife, were staying with us last month). I love the fine detail that can be obtained! Thank you Grahame. This technique opens up all sorts of possibilities!

I  like to use the 1400 wall paper lining paper to work on. It is extremely good value. It supports everything in terms of craft work, dyeing, painting, printing, book making etc, that I have ever used it for over very many yP1040753ears!

For this project I measured my “printing block”; a sprig from a Leylandii branch, and made sure the resulting print would fit my blank greeting cards. Then I cut the wall paper lining paper into strips, having measured what I was going to need. These particular strips were 5 ” wide, and I was going to be cutting them into 3″ units after they had been painted. I covered the floor with a large sheet of polythene to protect it, put disposable gloves on and a pinny to protect myself, then the fun began! I had some left over green dye, from a dyeing session, so I diluted this and used a sponge brush to paint the paper quickly.  I painted the first strip, then immediately placed the next one on top of it, and patted it down, so that it was “taking a print ” off the wet strip. This gave a mottled effect on the background of the second strip which remained when I quickly used the sponge brush to wash over that with dye too. It is always much nicer to have a textured background rather than a flat colour. I treated all the strips in the same way, just painting one side, as it was going to be stuck onto the card. These striP1040754ps were left to dry overnight, then cut up into units using rotary cutting equipment. Next I prepared my printing area; polythene to protect the table surface, then an old magazine, opened so that I could ink up on the left hand pages and use the right hand pages as a printing surface! The bulk of all the right hand pages was firm but also provided a little “give”.  The photograph above shows that I have mixed black relief printing ink with an equal amount of appropriate extender. This makes the ink go further, and also stops it from drying out too quickly. It is an oil based ink; the same that I use for lino printing. I use a small kitchen glass work top protector, which I bought several years ago for about £3. The top surface is textured, but it is smooth underneath, so I use the underside. I needed two rollers; a small one to ink up my “tree” and a larger clean one to roll over the back of the “receiving” paper pressing the paper on to the Leylanddi surface. I also have a small pair of tweezers, to manoevre the sprig into its correct position on the clean surface after inking, and have my prepared papers close by. In the photo below, you can see  a piece of Leylandii tree. This is what I am going to print onto my painted paper. I “worked up” the ink mixture on my glass plate with the small roller, then placed the sprig onto a clean page, and rolled the inked roller firmly  over it, in several directions, making sure it had picked up the ink.P1040762 (3).JPG
Then I  picked it up with the tweezers and placed it down onto a clean magazine page. I placed the piece of  paper, painted side down over the inked tree, and using the clean roller carefully and firmly rolled it over the back of the painted paper, thus producing a print. I was getting about five prints from each inking up. The printed papers were left to dry for four or five days. I had two different printing sessions, about three weeks apart, using a fresh sprig on the two occasions. It is essential to clean up any equipment as soon as the printing session is over. A mixture of a little cooking oil and a good squirt of washing up liquid works fantastically! Work it into any black inky areas with an old paintbrush, then rinse. Pat dry with a clean old cloth, or paper towel, then leave to air dry P1040769 (2)

Next I made a stencil; a piece of the same lining paper into which I punched holes, all over. I prepared a white acrylic paint mixture; 50:50 paint to acrylic medium, ensuring that it was really well mixed together. This would give my snow effect! I placed the holey paper stencil, over the printed tree, and using the small roller, with a good covering of white paint, rolled it over the stencil. In the photo to the side, you can see the results. When dry, I mounted the finished prints onto single fold blank cards, using double sided cellotape, and wrote “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” with a silver pen, and initialled each one.

For my gift tags, I took a photo of one of the cards, then printed it using  the windows 10 software, choosing the option of multiple small photos. These had to be trimmed and then mounted onto folded cut card. I punched a hole, and inserted a tie. A gift card and matching Christmas card, makes a delightful duo! In this photograph I have just noticed that I have a gift tag from the first printing! and the card from the second; but you get the idea! They look very simple, but, as you can tell, now, there is actually a lot of work involved!

20171205_094839-1Earlier in the month I made these little drawstring bags, in various sizes to give with a gift inside. Karen and Maggie taught them as an in house workshop at Gate Quilters. They did a very good job. I had previously made a couple of drawstring bags earlier in the summer, and Karin’s method was far superior to mine! Sewing these made me realise that I had made a mountain out of a mole hill. These, on the other hand were straightforward and quick to make, especially as a “batch make”!

The bags are a useful item in their own right; great for storing chargers for a range of different devices, or for sewing equipment, camera, phone, little sketch book and pencils etc…..there are endless possible uses. They have a double drawstring and are lined. Two or three of these would be fantastic for packing in a suitcase. If they are made with different fabrics, then they are easily identifiable when searching for specific items! I love “containers” of all sorts. They make such practical gifts, even to give as a little thank you with a special bar of chocolate inside! What’s not to like?

Last month I also suggested that I would show youhow to sew a zip and lining in  at the same time”. However, as I have told you all about the Christmas card method,  I shall now hold this over until another newsletter.

I have been using my book press to print off little houses. They make me smile everytime I look at them! I have almost finished a couple of small stitched pieces which have one in each piece! Again I will show next time.

Finally, do you remember in last month’s newsletter how I showed you a cushion top I had pieced a long time ago? As I really did not like it, I cut it into four, and said I would do something different to each quarter to alter it to my liking. Last month’s effort was my first changed quarter! Below, the photo on the left is a reminder of the original, and on the right hand photo shows the changes I have made this month

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A very happy new year to one and all, and I sincerely hope you all enjoy the stitching projects ahead of you.

If you need to email me please note that I have changed my email address to: diwells49@gmail.com 

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

November News

We have been away for quite a chunk of this month, and consequently I have not managed  as much sewing as normal! That doesn’t mean to say that my mind hasn’t been working overtime though! I definitely need hour extensions to every day.

We saw Guinea fowl many times on holiday and they totally fascinate me. I love the way they herd themselves to run away, or on other occasions they may run away in a long line. Their black boxy shape and white spots are so smart. The wattle and neck are a gorgeous vivid blue, contrasting with the bright red beak and the horn on the top of their head!

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I had always believed this to be a crest, but on closer inspection of recent photos it is quite solid! I took lots of photos, and shall be making printing blocks, hopefully before too long.

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Before we went away I printed my Christmas cards, and I have been doing the finishing touches to those over the last few days. They are simple technique, which Grahame,  a great friend, and artist, showed me how to do, and I will show them and explain what I did after Christmas, as then they will still be a surprise to my friends! I will also explain how I made my gift tags to match!

I have had a great time dyeing sari silk and threads, this month. Autumn colours are so gorgeous, and inspirational. I also took the opportunity to dye some more threads while I was being messy! I prefer to wind my threads onto small units of mountboard. It does take some time, but the plus side of that is that the threads are totally ready to use; don’t knot as they are completely untangled; and I can really see the lovely space-dyed effects clearly.

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I use cotton and silk threads, and have just tried dyeing some antique linen thread. They all behave differently.  If you look at  the middle row of threads, there are two “golden browns, and a blue all sitting next to each other. These are the antique linen thread. They are much coarser, stiffer and quite “spindly” in comparison to the cotton thread I buy to dye (from Empress Mills at the shows). A lovely friend gave me two big spools of silk, many years ago. One was a dull dark pink, and the other golden yellow. I really wasn’t sure what to do with them, as I had limited use for using a pink and or yellow thread, although they are beautifully soft. Then I decided to over-dye them. Since then I have created quite a range of colours, considering how dark the red is, and the colour mix theory, which clearly sits alongside this process! On the top row of the threads the five on the left hand edge, are silk threads. You can see the slight slub in the thread.

Charity Day:  Jo, at Cowslip Workshops, Launceston, has very kindly booked me another day for a charity workshop, next year. It will be on Tuesday September 11th and, as last time, there will be two projects on offer. Students may spend all day on one project, or chose to do a half day on each. It was a really successful day last year, enjoyed by one and all; a large spacious area to stitch, friends to share and chat with, good food on offer for lunch, or you are also very welcome to bring your own picnic lunch, a sales table, and raffle, and “inspiration” table… and last, but certainly not least, a wonderful shop to browse as well! What more could you ask for? We raised a magnificent amount of money for our two chosen charities, last year, so hope we can rise to the challenge again in September.

I am delighted to say that Rosemary will be team teaching with me again. We have been planning our projects for the workshop, and in the New year we will let you have more details of what will be on offer. I already have three bookings, even though I explained to the ladies that no decisions have been made about the projects on offer yet! As before, we shall split the proceeds between a local Cornish charity, and the sewing project in Albania. There is magnificent work going on out there, and having been run and very well organised from Devises in Wiltshire for the last 20 years, a solid local team over in Albania who have been involved and trained for many years, are taking over the reins themselves now. They have been supported and working towards this, gradually, for a long time, and are doing a superb job. What a success story!

With this in mind I have made a start on thinking about creating items for the sales table for the charity day!

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I always like to aim at some small pieces, that have an element of hand stitching, so that they can be picked up easily and worked on, even if only for ten minutes at a time! This is how I manage to achieve quite a lot of work, as I often tell people! Little and often! These “few minutes”. here and there, very quickly add up, whereas finding “half a day” to sew, can be a large chunk of time which cannot always be found.

However, just because they are small items it doesn’t mean that they are quick to make! Far from it. There is always a lot of preparation in any project before you get to the stitching stage, whether it be large or small. Personally, I like to be neat and have items well finished too, so that if anyone looks inside, upside down etc, there are no raw edges or loose threads! My motto has always been; “If something is worth making, it deserves to be done well”! So, however small, there are no compromises!

The two photos above show the two fronts, and to the side of this text are the two  backs of a couple of pouches. They are approximately 3″x 4″ and 4″ square, finished. The depth across the base is 1″. This is created by “boxing the corners”

Here is a brief overview of the process.

  1. I made tiny individual log cabin blocks from the dyed sari silk. Before the dyeing process I had torn the sari silk into strips, approximately 3/4″ wide.
  2. I  then completed the fronts of the pouches by piecing the little block with recycled denim pieces.
  3. Then I constructed the backs of the pouches out of denim pieces. (N.B. They needed to be about 3/4″ larger than the fronts, to allow for the diagonal slash, and re-piecing).
  4. I folded and pressed one of the silk strips in half  lengthwise. laced the raw edges of the silk to one of the raw edges of the slashed denim. The other slashed edge was positioned, right sides together, trapping the silk in between them so that it was ready to stitch with 1/4″ seam allowance. Only 1/8″ of the bright coloured silk is revealed this way. This is only a small detail, but it packs a punch! As you can see from the photos these two pouches are pieced differently.
  5. Next, I cut two “medium to heavy weight” pieces of calico, and layered and tacked them to the front and back panels.  I didn’t want to add more bulk by using a wadding, but I did want to add stability, for the quilting.
  6. I hand quilted the panels, as shown in the photos, using a white “denim thread”.
  7. Finally I cut linings to size, and sewed the zip and lining in together. I boxed the corners to give the pouches shape and “roominess”, and added a ribbon detail to the zip pull.

I shall always be grateful to Helen who showed me how to sew the zip and lining in to a bag/purse at the same time. I have used this technique dozens and dozens of time since, and taught it to many people. It is an efficient and tidy method. The secret is to buy zips, longer than you actually need, so that you are not having to move the zip pull out of the way, when stitching. Next month I will explain the process in this technique.

This week I found a pieced cushion front, that I had made well over ten years ago. I had potato printed some fabric which I had used in the centre of the panel, building it up as a cushion panel. I didn’t like it then, which is, presumably why I didn’t take it any further. Looking at it again I still didn’t like it, so I have decided to cut it into four, and treat each quarter differently. I aim to make four items for the sales table out of them. Below is half of the cushion front, from which you will be able to imagine what the whole thing looked like.

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Below you can see how I have altered the first one. I trimmed away the pale blue borders and appliqued red circles onto the batik fabric, finally adding the denim borders. I just have some hand stitching to do around the internal edge of the denim. I have decided that this will become a pocket on the front of a cross body denim bag. The back of the bag will be made from recycled denim.  It has come alive now, particularly with the pop of red, and of course the quilting. I have started to prepare the second quarter now, and it already looks very different to this one! How will that turn out! I will show you next time!

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Just a week ago, Rob and I visited Cheltenham, to go to Montpellier quilters exhibition. What a lovely time we had! A really lovely exhibition, with beautiful workmanship in a wide variety of quilts and artefacts; wonderful old friends to see, great refreshments too. Montpellier quilters had told us they had voted to support the Albanian sewing project by having it as one of their chosen charities for this exhibition. We were absolutely thrilled…so another HUGE thank you to them.

Tip of the month:

I have two “non stitching” tips to offer this month! Please forgive me if I am “teaching my grandmother to suck eggs!” I had no idea about these two simple short cuts, until very recently, and they have saved my sanity!

  1. I recently bought a new laptop, and the key board is incredibly sensitive. As a result, my text size zooms in and out frequently, and  alarmingly! I really don’t know why or how it happens! I was getting really irritated by this constant distraction and interruption, having to look up at the top task bar, move the cursor to it in order to return to default size. I have now discovered that this can be done quickly and efficiently by holding down control and clicking 0. This is far easier, and very efficient.
  2. Another problem that was happening far too readily, and was SO frustrating ; “disappearing text”! I could be writing an email or document  when unexpectedly it would suddenly totally disappear. I could never ever find it again, and felt totally helpless. I googled the problem and found out that there is a very easy solution;    ctrl z. This will magically return the text! You have to do it straight away, and very occasionally, will need to do it two or three times, particularly if you hadn’t noticed, and had written another couple of words. It can’t be just me that experiences these really frustrating laptop idiosyncrasies!

Happy stitching until next time……,

Di

October News 2017

P1040408 (1) I love the month of October; the misty mornings; the leaves changing into glorious autumn colours; berries, hips and haws abound in the hedgerows and the birds are eating voraciously from the feeders, giving us endless entertainment! Early in the mornings there are spider’s webs everywhere in the garden and when I saw this one it made me reflect on how hard the spider had to work to catch her early breakfast! This then led me to look up whether it is male or female spiders that make the web, and the complicated processes involved. What a story! It is a fascinating read….

My lovely sewing room has become more and more disorganised, just because I have so much on the go all the time!!  My projects seem to be grouping together, on tables or the floor while I am “auditioning” fabrics for each of them!  I suspect that many of us, do this before launching into making piece of work. I often want to pin work up for a while, or even put it away for a few days/ weeks, until I have a more concentrated period of time to concentrate on it. That doesn’t mean to say that I am not turning it all over in my mind, constantly.

One very good friend said to me one day, as I was apologising about the state of my room; ” Di, you cannot be creative and tidy! Don’t worry about it”! I don’t, I can assure you, but I do like to have a good tidy up occasionally, as it helps to clear my mind! Anyway, I decided to make some calico tote bags, so that it is easier to separate the different projects, and store them. This would help to tidy up my room, as well as other areas in the house! First, I stored them in various cloth bags, and hung them from some butchers hooks just to get the feel of what I wanted! As I already use these bags on a regular basis, they couldn’t be in permanent use! But, immediately it was tidier than it had been for many weeks. That was the just the incentive to get on and make them!

P1040425They had to be quick to make, but I equally wanted them to look smart. I used a heavy weight calico…no adornments other than a tiny additional loose “pocket” pinned with an outsize safety pin around one of the handles. I have slotted a card into this with the project name easy to read! Job done. Will be making another couple very soon!

I finished the quilting on the lino printed panel that I showed in the last blog. It has been an easy project to get on with as it is relatively small. I really love having hand sewing on the go as it is so easy to transport, and to sew in the evenings, or with friends when chatting! I cut out some more denim to border the panel, which also made it up to the correct size for the front of the bag. I also sourced a denim pocket for the back of the bag; such a useful addition to have. I chose a fabric for the bag lining and cut this to size, before stitching a padded pocket in place on it.  In the final construction I sewed the lining and the zip in together and created boxed corners at the base of the bag to give a pleasing shape, and a roomy interior. I have made this bag specifically as a gift; designing the lino print, choosing colour, size etc.

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During the first three years after we moved to Mevagissey, I taught eleven residential courses up at Bodrugan Barton, a farm on the edge of Mevagissey, whose wonderful owners, Sally and Tim could not have been more hospitable. The courses were great fun, and when I “retired” the ladies started to book retreats there for themselves and friends.

They frequently invite me up to the farm when they are staying there. It is a wonderful way for me to keep in touch with everyone. I get to see what they are all working on, and they get to see what I have been up to too! We chat, laugh, share a mix of ideas…and of course cake and coffee come into it as well!! This last month I have three invitations up to see old friends. They are very special times.

I also taught 15 wonderful ladies from Brockhampton Quilters, Gloucestershire, a week ago, for a long weekend.  This is the sixth annual “workshop weekend” that I have taught for them in Mevagissey, and hopefully there may be more! They have already booked again for next year! It was a very happy weekend, with much chatter and laughter; a lot of very productive stitching going on in between the coffee and cakes and other delicious food and everyone supporting each other fantastically.

The Saturday “whole day workshop” was a mini landscape day. They had all brought their own source material to work with and a fabric palette, threads and hand and machine sewing equipment. I had dyed some scrim in different colours, as well as extra  threads for anyone to dip into…and I also had a selection of painted mixed media to hand for their use, as well. It was very much a learning experience for some, while others were more comfortable with the process….but I was SO impressed with the fantastic progress they all made. One of the ladies had brought a quilt which was under construction, so she was making the most of the time to get on with that.

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There was a terrific range of styles and embellishment, and they should all be very proud with their end results.

The previous weekend, I had prepared  P1040409 (2)a mini landscape. I took a photo of  the garden from our sitting room. and then worked out an order of work, which gave a basis for the handout and a suggested start for the workshop. The result is shown here on the right. I need to do a bit more at the bottom of the panel, but it was sufficient for teaching purposes.

I used a wide range of mixed media as well as my dyed fabrics and  threads, and really enjoyed the process. The size unfinished is 4″ by 10.5″.

I did an Eco dyeing demonstration for the group on Friday evening, which worked well. I had also made a little book with some samples in, and talked them through the book making process too. While the leaves were steaming, they began the preparation for their landscapes, so it was a very full 3 hour class, starting late afternoon!

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The two photos above show one of the the page spreads and the outside cover of the book.

On Sunday morning we had another small project; a flat, narrow pencil case which involved the insertion of a zip. I use my 1/4″ foot for zips, rather than my zipper foot, so I was able to show them how I do this, and for those who had never tackled a zip before, they were really excited about the finish. The secret, of course, is to have a zip which is a good 2″ (or more) longer than is required. It is then trimmed to size after insertion. We made small flat pencil cases which are an ideal size for putting in a hand bag.

I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter and look forward to being back in touch next month. Happy Sewing!

Di

 

 

 

 

September News

I belong to Harbour Quilters in Mevagissey, and we have just held our biennial quilting exhibition. It was a great success and we met many old friends, and made some new ones. It was delightful to see some potential new members at our following meeting. There was a wide range of items on display, from miniature to very large!  Below is one of my entries!

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I called it “A quilters day at the seaside”. Needless to say, it was one of the smaller ones! I enjoyed making these ladies last year, and they looked interesting set with the deckchairs which have been great fun to make. They are all pieced, appliqued and very much embellished with stitch.

I am really excited as one of my sons has given me an old renovated book press for my birthday. I have hankered after one of these for many years, wanting to be able to use it for printing. He bought it from E bay, from a gentleman called Neil, who lives in Dudley. It has been in my possession for over a month, but I had so many tasks underway that needed completing that I did restrain myself from trying it out until after the exhibition. “Restrain” meant practically sitting on my hands!

The first photograph shows it’s condition when the restorer first starting working on it. I am sure you will agree that he has done a fantastic job. I have several photographs of the progression of his work, which is a fascinating record and accompaniment to go with the press. The way it works is that you screw the top plate down, using the huge T-bar handle. In the second photo it is almost wound down to the bottom plate. There is excellent clearance when it is wound up to its maximum height. I have cut a piece of mountboard, exactly the size of the bottom plate, and drawn a grid on it so that I can position the prepared printing block  centrally under the screw (not shown).

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I sit the lino block on another piece of paper, then ink it up with a roller. Then, I can carefully slide it from the paper, onto the grid and carefully position it in the centre.    The material which will receive the print, is placed right side down, over the block, next a protective piece of paper, in case any printing ink comes through to the back of the fabric, then a thick layer of felt or old blanket to provide a cushion underneath the rigid top.

The press is wound down, as firmly as possible, until the top plate makes a firm contact with the “sandwich”, underneath it.  Then the handle is rotated in the opposite direction, lifting the top plate clear. The mountboard, with its “sandwich” is removed, and the layers under the printed material carefully peeled back to reveal the result. Magic. I have printed with my own lino blocks in the past, without any form of press, and it is quite a time consuming process. This is pure joy,  in comparison!

I have created a new lino printing block, specifically to use as a stitched panel on the front of a denim bag. I did some drawings of the design  and when I was happy with one of them, I transferred the design to the lino block, by turning the drawing over, with a piece of carbon paper underneath it, and drawing with a sharp pencil. The tools that you see in the photograph below, alongside the lino block, are very sharp  and need to be used with great care and respect. I have a wooden block frame that was purchased from a specialist supplier. The piece of lino fits inside this, and can nudge up against two adjacent sides at a time which helps to protect my fingers, and the surface that I am carving on. A small amount of royal blue, and black oil based inks were mixed on a glass plate, then having been “worked up” with a rubber roller, the ink was applied to the surface of the lino block.

I made 7 prints in total using four different hand dyed backgrounds, some plain, and some had some patterning on them from the dyeing process. I far prefer the latter, and I have now started quilting the first one, (shown below) and am really enjoying the slowstich process, and the wonderful therapeutic action of the stitching.

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I could not resist making a couple of small house printing blocks at the same time, seen below. These are 1″ wide and are for a different project. I shall be making more!

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Earlier in the month I did another batch of Eco prints again. I am delighted with the prints I am getting from the leaves. These are direct prints onto paper, which has been soaked  in white vinegar overnight. The vinegar is a mordant, and helps to create a colour fast result.

Finally, I was lucky enough to go on a day mono-printing workshop at Roseland Mews studio, last week. This was taught by Sophie Fordham. It is a really delightful venue, in a beautiful setting, close to Liskeard. Jane, who manages and owns the studio, is also a great cook, and a light lunch is on the menu for those who would like to partake!  It is a real treat to attend a workshop there.           http://www.lynhervalley.co.uk/roselandmewsstudio/

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I, personally,  wanted to create some abstract prints, with the intention of doing further work on them in the future, and I was very happy with my results. I kept on building up layers of colour and shape with repeated paper templates. My intention is to edit them, and put iron-on Vilene to the back of the papers, which will help to strengthen them and support stitch. Watch this space!

Finally I have been asked to mention a few exhibitions coming up in the next couple of months:

Diary Dates:

October 6th and 7th: Lighthouse Quilters exhibition. Venue: Falmouth Cricket Club,     TR11 4JB

October 7th and 8th (Saturday and Sunday 10am -4pm):  Ledbury Quilters 25th Anniversary Exhibition. Venue: Lady Emily Hall, Tarrington,  Herefordshire,  HR1 4EX

November 18th(10-5) and 19th(10-4), Montpeller Quilters Exhibition, The Reddings Community Centre, Cheltenham Glos,  GL51 6RF. Entrance £2. Refreshments, Sales table, Raffle. They are very kindly donating some of their takings to the Albanian Sewing charity which we support.

November 16th to 19th: “All Things Christmas” (including all aspects of needlecraft, paintings and knitting.) The Christmas journey in various themes based on Carols. Venue: St Nicholas Church, Ashchurch, Tewkesbury.  10 am-4pm.  Entry is free, but donations welcome.

Until next time…..

 

 

First Blog

I have been writing a newsletter for the last 6 years which I have sent out as an attachment to an email. This method has worked very efficiently until this year when I have had  huge problems sending it, as many, many have been returned to me as “undelivered”. I have investigated this and have been told that many of the large servers are now limiting the number of emails a subscriber can send out. My Newsletter goes out to about 600 readers  so I am clearly on the hit list!

I was assured that email will not be disappearing because it is too important to industry and public and private companies etc.

The outcome of all of this is that I have to find a different method of delivering my newsletter, and I was advised to write a blog. I am using WordPress.com and this first short blog is to alert you of the change, and to try to ensure that if you are still interested in the newsletter, that you will be able to open it. I am still learning, and by the time I write the next newsletter I will have hopefully sorted out how you may be alerted of posts as I write them!

I would be grateful if you can employ the old “bush telegraph” system and let anyone you are in touch with for the change of system. I will also do my very best to let everyone know!

I lived in Gloucestershire for about 30 years before moving to Cornwall, and have many quilting friends and colleagues in that area. I like to support them in publishing stitching exhibitions up there, as well as our exhibitions locally too. This is why there are usually diary dates for the two areas!

Here are a few reminders of the events taking place over the next couple of months.

September 14th-16th  Harbour Quilters’ Exhibition (Thursday to Saturday)  Jubilee Hall, 10 – 4.30 Raffle; refreshments, trader (Coast and Country Crafts). All proceeds in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care and other local charities. Entry  £2-00.

September 21st – 23rd  Karenza quilters exhibition, 10 am -4pm, Kea Church, near Truro, Cornwall, TR3 6AE

September 28th-30th  Trelyn Quilters’ Exhibition, Fraddon Village Hall, The Old A30, St Columb Major, Fraddon, Saint Columb TR9 6NT

October 12th, 13th, 14th; Leominster Quilters Exhibition: Sports and Social Club Hall, South St, Leominster HR6 8JQ: ex British Legion Hall, same place different name!

 October 6th– 12th  Cotswold Edge have an exhibition of new works.  This very respected group of artists comprise: Liz Brooke Ward [contemporary stitched textiles], David Laycock [copper foil glass art and fused glass], and incidentally my twin brother, and Grahame R Tucker [sculpture in wood]. The venue for the Exhibition and Sale is: The Great Oak Hall, Westonbirt Arboretum from 10:00am to 4:00pm daily except on the 6th (11:30am to 4:00pm). Why not treat yourself to a day at the arboretum, and a visit to the exhibition. You will not be disappointed, I promise you.

Finally, in this introductory blog, here are two photographs of a piece of work I have completed recently, which will be in Harbour Quilters exhibition next week. I was inspired by the wonderful Kantha work of the late Tricia Warman, which was being displayed at Cowslip Workshops summer fair this year.  It wasn’t long before I was designing my own small panel. I prepared a background to support many small pieces of fabric. These were a selection of my hand dyed fabrics, and some liberty prints, within a limited colour palette. I stitched rows of close stitches over the entire surface, staggering the rows slightly. Some are vertical, and others horizontal. The result is a lovely textured ripply surface which is known as Kantha. There are many interpretations of Kantha. If you are interested there is a lot of information on the internet.

Until next time….