Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Module 2 is finished and I posted it off to my tutor yesterday for marking. Now I can get on with Module 3 which I actually started when we went on holiday in July, only I've lost the bit of stitching that I did while we were away - will have to go and have a biiiiiig search for it. No more stitching to report.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The wallhanging is finished! I hand quilted the lines on it to resemble water flowing down and painted some more silk to use to bind it and got it finished - I am quite pleased with how it finally turned out. Now I need to finish the rest of my samples and paperwork then I can send it all off to be marked.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

C+G Module 2 - I'm trying to get Module 2 finished - a couple of weeks ago I worked out how I was going to do the final wallhanging and did some silk painting that I could then quilt. The design is based on a postcard of pebbles - I am using just one of them as inspiration for the shape and colours. The shapes of the different sized pebbles and the border were outlined with gold gutta. I embellished the silk painting by using salt on the largest of the pebbles, printing on the smallest and markal paintstiks on the middle one and outer border.

Once It was dried and heat set I then quilted the pebbles and the plain green border - however I didn't like the quality of my painting or free machine quilting - so its back to the drawing board - I cut off the border and echo quilted round the shapes, thinking I would then applique them onto a background - still didn't like that.

So - I cout out each of the pebbles and appliqued them onto a newly painted piece of silk - I also stuffed them as I sewed them on. After layering the silk I hand quilted round each pebble.

Now I need to work out the rest of the quilting then the border. I am going to try and use the original speckled border for this piece - if there is enough fabric.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quilts and sewing space

My niece has recently gone off to University for the first time having spent a gap year working and travelling. Part of her time was spent in Tanzania working in a Bible School and training to climb Kilimanjaro, which she succeeded in doing towards the end of her stay. Before she went I asked her to see if she could bring back some material for 'an African project I would be doing over the summer'. She obliged by bringing back some tartan fabrics, some black and white fabric and 2 different lots of batik style fabrics with animals on them. Over the last 3 years or so I had been collecting very brightly coloured patterned fabrics as I had it in mind to make her a quilt for going off to Uni - she loves very bright colours. But - how to mix the 2 lots of fabric into a quilt that didn't look a complete mess?

Looking for inspiration early in the summer I found a Fabrications magazine that had a quilt in it with stars and decided to adapt it to use the bright fabrics - many of the smaller sized stars have centres made from a duck material which added some humour to it. I also used the tartan fabric and some of the batik fabric for the centre stars/squares. The black and white fabric had a variety of African motifs on it so I cut them out and appliqued them onto blue fabric to use in the corners.

Here is the finished front - I started by trying to be very random in my choice of fabrics, but that didn't work for me and I thought I would just end up with a mess so I was then more organised in my combinations of fabric.

Next to the back - the batik fabric was pale aqua and brown with animals on it - I knew I wanted to use large panels of it and managed to find some chocolate brown patterned fabric at the Festival of Quilts which seemed to go very well - I also bought a bit that was brown with gold glitter on it!

I bound the edge with a plain darker aqua coloured fabric, outlined some of the motifs on the front with Madeira 'Glow in the dark' thread and quilted it with a variegated thread in primary colours and got it finished so my sister can deliver it to Christine today - hope she likes it and enjoys using it.

Now for my sewing space - here is a photo of the sspace where I was doing some silk painting last week in the kitchen.
When I counted up I realised that I was storing my stuff in at least 9 different places around the house - we live in a 3 storey house - so that's a lot of stairs to climb everytime I was trying to do a project. My very tolerant husband accepted the fact that there was always stuff lying around the lounge and kitchen but would have much preferred it to be tidier. So ... last Friday I mentioned the problem to him and we decided to move things around on the ground floor - the result being that I have my own dedicated sewing room!! Wonderful. Son number1 now has a music room for a bedroom when he comes home from Uni at Christmas (it has 2 pianos in there + guitars and amps) but there is room still for his bed, so he does have somewhere to sleep.

So - here is the room - the wardrobe has been pinched from Son Number1 and now houses my fabrics and things like freezer paper and heat gun

Now all I need is to finish marking lots of my students assignments then I will have time to play and create in there - wonderful!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Although I have been very quiet on the blogging front recently, I haven't been quiet on the creative front. During the first half of October I decided to make a bag and to stitch on to it the embroidery panel that I did as my piece for the Sumptuous Surfaces course I took during the summer. Here is the finished article -

Saturday, October 06, 2007

It's finished! For the past 9 months a group of 6 of us from church have been working hard to create a banner to celebrate the church's 350th Anniversary and we finished it this week just in time for our new associate minister's induction this afternoon. The banner looks really good in situ on a white wall and is 6ft wide by 5ft high - unfortunately this photo isn't particularly good as I had to stand on a chair about 20ft away from it to take it, but it gives you the general idea.

We have depicted the church in the centre surrounded by groups of people representing the different eras over the years eg puritans, victorians and the multicultural influence today including young people and children.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Needlefelting/Embellishing - I have looked with interest at the increasing coverage on blogs and in the media about using embellisher machines and wondered about the benefits of having one. For a minimum of £200 it seems an expensive machine, which I'm still not sure that a) I would have the space for and b) how much I would use it. I am interested to see how other people use them and what they create with them.

With all this in mind I was very interested when I discovered that Clover have brought out a needlefelting tool - I know that needlefelting needles have been around for ages - they always looked rather dangerous to me, whereas this one has a safety guard round the needles, so may cut down the number of times that you spear yourself. I decided that at £12 this was a much more cost effective option to try similar effects to the machine. So, I purchased one today from Hobbycraft, along with a foam pad (much cheaper than the Clover mat) and some felting wool and had a go this afternoon. Here are my first 2 experiments - firstly a small landscape scene on a base of felt, using the wool and some threads from my stash

then an abstract on a base of lightweight calico, again using mainly wools and silk tops

The needles work very well with the wool fibres, fibrous yarns and silk tops but not so well with smoother threads as there is little for them to push through the surface, although calico did work well as a base. With the smoother yarns I needed to put a little bit of wool over them to hold them in place. I shall keep experimenting as it was great fun and they would make a great base for adding beads and hand or machine embroidery to.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Sumptuous Surfaces - my first piece is finished! It has taken me a couple of weeks to actually stitch it but now it is done and I am really pleased with it. I used Caron Waterlilies threads, DMC stranded cotton, fancy threads couched down, beads and shells to create the textured surface. Now I need to decide what I am going to do with it - am I going to make it into a picture or use it in some other way.

Festival of Quilts - I spent a lovely couple of days there at the end of last week - as it worked out, I could've done with more time to walk round the exhibition as I had booked a couple of workshops which obviously cut down my time. On Friday I did a full day workshop with Gloria Loughman from Australia, called Playing on the Surface - it was great fun and very inspirational. She showed a way of working and creating a unique quilt which totally suits my way of working - making it up as you go along! Now I have lots more work to do on the quilt to get it finished.

This week I am going to attempt to finish my Module 2 embroidery work which is actually different kinds of quilting - I have silk painted the fabric for the 3 samples, now I need to quilt them, then decide what to do for the final wallhanging. I am basing my work on a photograph of pebbles, that I found in France.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sumptuous Surfaces progress - well I have made a start on stitching my piece - hampered a little by the fact that I have ready Harry Potter 6 in the last couple of days and am just about to start reading HP7. Originally I was going to work in creams/ecru colours, but found that I didn't have very much thread in that colour scheme - so after a trip to the embroidery shop on Thursday I ended up with this colour scheme - I had already outlined the shells before I went.

So, now I have finished the border and filled in the lines on the shells using pulled back stitch in one strand of cotton. I then used 2 strands to do a very random herringbone stitch in the top half of the picture to give a base for the more texture stitches. I don't think I will do that at the bottom - I want to leave it feeling lighter. I started to work some buttonhole wheels/cups using perle cotton and then couched a wonderful fuzzy yarn at the bottom right hand corner. Now I need to add lots more textured stitches when I can drag myself away from Harry Potter.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I have spent the last 10 days working on my 2 quilts for the Festival of Quilts - for the past few days all I seem to have done is stitch and very little else.

Well both quilts are finished and on their way - hurray! It was rather a close call in the end as I finished the roses quilt on Monday and blocked it out yesterday - it looked quite good when it was finished - I spent 2.5 days machine quilting it in the end. I started this quilt about 3 years ago on an online course through Quilt University it is machine appliqued onto a background of 2" squares.

I finished stitching the blue quilt as the UPS man rang the doorbell!!!! I had asked them to come between 3 and 5 to pick the quilts up but he arrived early at 2.45 so he had to wait while I took a photo of it, gave it a very quick press and packed it up - now I realise that I didn't have a proper look at the finished item so don't really know what it looked like overall - it'll be a nice surprise when I get to the Festival of Quilts.

The four corner blocks are candlewicking - french knots, the central block is beaded and the applique blocks are done by hand, the sashing scrolls are couched with Caron Watercolours thread.

I've attached photos of the finished items - the blue one hasn't come out very well, I'm afraid. I know that I could've sent them by UPS tomorrow but I wanted to make sure that they had enough time to get to the depot, in case UPS had any sort of delay. Now I can get on with the rest of my life. So...

Tomorrow is likely to be filled with shopping, washing, ironing, tidying up and starting to read HP6 as a refresher before I move on to HP7. I have started to outline my shells for my first Sumptuous Surfaces piece but need some more neutral cream/sandy coloured threads to make the background interesting.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Sumptuous Surfaces - well I ended up with some free time last night as i found that I didn't have enough fabric to do what I wanted to do with one of my wallhangings - will have to go shopping today, so I played around with some ideas for a design and this is what I have decided to do.

My concept is 'Happy family holidays' - there are 4 of us in the family - hence 4 shells on the beach. I decided to go with the shells as I thought that they would be easier to work with in a monotone colour scheme and lend themselves more to a variety of textural stitching.

I will work the design on cream coloured Belfast linen - the background will be heavily textured stitching, including beads and small shells that I bought on holiday in Bulgaria (a bracelet so they already have holes drilled in them). The shells themselves will be outlined, possibly in stem stitch, then I shall use pulled work stitches to fill them in, trying if possible to echo the vertical lines of the patterning on the shells.

I'll have to see if I can get started this week - depends on how the wallhangings go and how bored I get with hand quilting and finishing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Current work - I am busy at the moment working on 2 wallhangings for the Festival of Quilts - I need to have them finished before the end of the month so that they can be posted off - as usual I am working on them at the last minute and still have a lot to do. One of them involves a lot of handstitching - I have done all of the candlewicking and hand applique, now I am on to hand quilting and then putting it all together. This is one of the applique blocks (I completed 3 of them this week).

The other wallhanging needs some machine applique on it then to be quilted and finished - fortunately I have a completely clear week ahead of me, with absolutely nothing in it but housework and sewing.

I haven't had time to do any work on my Sumptuous Surfaces design although I have been following all the discussions in the forums - I just don't have time for anymore handstitching at the moment. However I will try and finalise my design for it this week when I need a break from stitching.

Then of course there is my C+G work - I need to get on and finish Module 2 so I can send it off for assessment, before I do any more work on Module 3.

I'm also resisting picking up Harry Potter 7 - I've decided that I need to reread HP6 first, but don't want to get engrossed in it until the quilts are done. Matthew read HP7 in 8 hours yesterday - he did nothing else except eat and drink until he had finished it, now Gerard is reading it.

With all these things on my list of things to do, it's a good job that I don't have to go to work for the next 7 weeks - I love my job and the summer holidays!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sumptuous Surfaces - getting started on lesson 1. Lesson 1 is all about finding a concept to use for the first sample and using the ideas from the concept to explore design ideas and to develop the design.

I started thinking about this at the weekend - as we have just returned from a very happy family holiday, I decided to think about the best holidays that we have had as a family. I did a mind map including ideas about places we have visited which have been our best family holidays (Bulgaria, Florida, Rome, Lanzarote), the weather (sunny, hot), accommodation (selfcatering, hotel), getting there (flying), location (seaside, city break), activities (sight seeing, beachcombing, theme parks, museums, stitching, reading, people watching) and more. We plan to do one more big family holiday probably next year to the US, then I expect our eldest son won't come on holiday with us again (he's 19 now and at Uni).

So I have decided that my concept is Happy family holidays.

Motifs that spring to mind linked to this are - shells, pebbles, sunshine, space shuttle, palm trees and stingrays (from when we were in Florida) and Roman architecture.

I have never before had to explore a whole concept like this and am looking forward to keeping a record of it in a sketchbook and seeing where the ideas take me.

So I started by collecting some pictures of some of the ideas - shells, stingray and palm trees. In one of forum postings a suggestion was made to look at sand patterns so I thought I'd have alook at those as well. I sketched some of the designs and these are the ones I have so far -
I have now started to play around with some of the shapes with tracing paper - here are some of my first attempts.

I want to try some different arrangements and changes of scale, I also haven't looked at positive and negative space/shapes. Time to get the tracing paper and pencil out ...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Holiday activities - just before I went on holiday I received Module 3 of my C+G Course (haven't finished Module 2 yet, but that's mainly quilting I need to do and I'll get it finished soon). Some of the activities for Module 3 were perfect to sit and do on holiday - namely drawing lots of lines with all sorts of different media - so I went armed with an A3 sketchbook, lots of pencils, watercolour pencils, charcoal and paint. Here are a selection of the pages that I did - the first one was using a 4B pencil -

This page is using wax crayon -

On this page I was experimenting with watercolour pencils -

On this page I used a selection of pencils, 2B, 4B, 8B and charcoal to create the same motifs.

After that I then moved on to one of the stitching exercises which was to stitch a pansy using satin stitch - I have never been very good at satin stitch in the past, but was pleased with the finished result this time. I painted the background calico with Koh-i-Noor paints and used 3 strands of stranded cotton for the stitching.

I need to stitch it again using long and short stitch - hence the sample using varigated silk thread.

Bulgaria - we've just returned home from a week in Golden Sands, Bulgaria where we had a great time. We stayed at the Iberostar Hotel, Obzor Beach - a first for us as we usually go self-catering in a cottage, apartment or mobile home. I really enjoyed not having to think about food shopping, cooking or washing up! The hotel was very nice, plenty of facilities and a large buffet at breakfast and dinner with enough choice to satisfy even the fussiest of diners.

Our rooms overlooked the promenade and the beach - very golden sand.

At the start of the holiday the sea was very calm, lapping peacefully onto the shore - by the end of our week there must have been a storm out at sea and the waves were a very different matter.

It took us about 15 minutes to stroll into the resort centre, passing hundreds of restaurants and snack bars and stalls selling everything from tee-shirts to the local pottery. Our favourite stall was of course the one selling the most expensive gifts - but they were the best quality items - hand painted silk scarves and ties, leather pictures, handbags and jewellery. I treated myself to this handbag - the central section is very textured.

We went out on a couple of day trips while we were there - this photo of my husband and I was taken at Cape Kaliakra overlooking the very blue sea.

On the same day we visited an 'Ethnographic Museum' where we saw this display of textiles - this motif had been crocheted and had a very 3D effect.

On another day we visited Varna - one of the largest cities on the coast - there we visited the Cathedral - very ornately decorated inside, another Ethnographic Museum and the Dolphinarium. This is a photo of the Cathedral.

On a couple of the evenings we went as a family to play mini-golf - here the boys are trying to sabotage their fathers shot.

For some reason they weren't very happy with me on the last night as I won!

Now we are home again - I have lots of sewing projects to do including 2 quilts to finish for the Festival of Quilts, lots of work to do for my Level 3 City and Guilds and work to do for the latest online course I am taking with Sharon Boggon through Joggles - Sumptuous Surfaces - I think that will keep me busy for the rest of the summer.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

TAST French Knots
I love doing French Knots! This weeks stitch for Take a Stitch Tuesday is French Knots and while I haven't done a special sample I have found pictures of work where I have used them a lot. The first picture was a sample that I did for my C+G Level 2 - it was based on a picture of a starfish, embroidered in 2 thicknesses of variegated perle cotton and surrounded by kantha type quilting.

The second picture is the bag I made at the end of the C+G Level 2 course - much of the embroidery is French Knots in different types and weights of threads.

Recently I went on holiday to Normandy for a week - before I went I bought a pack of threads from the Fibre Factory along with some dyed scrim I then painted a piece of linen and created this freehand design - including of course, French Knots. The rest of the threads are couched down as they are too thick to use for stitching but give wonderful texture to the piece.

This last sample is one that I have done very recently - candlewicking - it will be made into a wallhanging along with some other blocks made using other techniques. I even made one of these blocks travelling through France doing French knots!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Recently I have been stitching but don't actually have a lot to show for it, if that makes sense. I have done some applique, which is slow work as I wanted to try and do it really well, and I did a design in beading - but have taken it out twice so far, last time because I realised that I didn't have enough beads and needed to space them out more. I have now counted all the beads (480!) and have worked out the design, so I can start stitching it again tonight, hopefully for the last time.

Recently on Tuesday mornings I have started meeting with a couple of friends to discuss projects, share ideas and play. This week we decided to do some fabric dyeing - I needed to dye some fabric for the sky of our next banner project for church and at the same time did a bit of space dyeing with calico, silks and other cotton. Here are the results.

The previous session when we met together, we were playing with Markal paintstiks and rubbings which ties in very nicely with my current C+G module. I tried some rubbings on cartridge paper (not very successful) then on material. After that, it was out with the toothbrushes and masking tape to make interesting patterns.

For the final picture I was trying to mix different colours with an iridescent blending stick- it doesn't show up on the photo.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I have just bought a Koh-I-Noor paint pallette from Art Van Go and have done a little bit of experimenting with it - these are the basic colours - plus black and white.

The colours are very intense and very brilliant depending on how much water you add to them - while waiting for the tea to cook tonight I experimented putting two colours next to each other.

I haven't yet tried mixing the colours together - I'll probably do that over the weekend and see what results I get.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

This is my sample of running stitch that I have just finished - it is a mixture of patterns created with the stitch and lines of running stitch whipped with various threads.

Today our church has been celebrating it's 350th Anniversary - it is one of the oldest Baptist Churches in the world.

We had a lovely day with special services, many ex-members and friends coming back to share the day with us and to share lunch, and the opportunity to catch up with people we haven't seen for years. This is one of the beautiful flowers arrangements that decorated the church.

Then the young people had a long walk ending in a game of rounders and a barbecue. Now we are all exhausted.