Wednesday, January 31, 2007
A quick word on the quilting - you guys are never gonna believe this, but I managed to sew through my finger AGAIN! I've never done this before and then twice in a month, honestly. This time it was a different finger, and I did it on the longarm while trying to baste the batting down across the top of the piece (see, the batting was all puffy and I was trying to keep it poked down under the needle while basting and...you can see where this is going, right?) Lana was there, with a customer dropping off quilts - both were seriously impressed that I managed to restrain myself from further comment than an extremely loud "OW!" and a note to Lana to buy more plasters (we use them a lot - not so much for needle incidents, but there are some really sharp pins used to attach the backing to the canvas on the rollers (we call them The Pins of Death for a good reason) and you don't want to risk bleeding on a customer quilt - or your own, for that matter).
Where was I? Oh yeah, quilting. Well, without giving anything away, on this quilt I did some stitch in the ditch around some sections in the centre, then did parallel lines either horizontally or vertically across the elements I ditched around. The background I filled in with a rectangular meander. I think it came out fairly well, though I had some trouble with the lines in places - mostly due to hand-dyed or batik type fabrics, I think - and the back tension isn't quite what I would like, ideally, but it's not too bad, and frankly, they aren't going to hang the back up facing out anyway. So I am not going to obsess. Now I just have a billion and seven ends to bury, and I'm sorted. Oh, and I have to bind it. But no rush, it's not due until mid-March.
Right, back to the goodies. First thing is the batiks above - I ordered them from Teresa a little while back, and here they are. And they are lovely. As are most batiks... So next thing I'll probably do, whenever I get a chance to sew (busy weekend with Alex's birthday party on Saturday and another one to attend on Sunday) is finish the batik framed four patches. Or at least work on them some more. I do have to wash the fabrics first, but that won't take long. Now if only the shipment I ordered from Big Horn Quilts would arrive (not their fault - they mailed it on the 13th of January - I'm hoping it got stopped in customs and I will shortly be required to go pay duty on it as that's far preferable to it going completely missing).
The other thing I got was some fabric postcards - I actually received three, but one was the Valentine's one I sent myself so I didn't put up a picture of that as they've been blogged before (I always send a copy of my cards when I do a group of them to myself - partly this is so I have a proper record of what I make, but it's also to see how things travel through the post - it doesn't cost much, and I like having a franked one...).
These two are from Margaret (bottom) and Judi - and are both really lovely. The yarn Judi has used around the edges is great and survived really well in the post. She obviously has a lot of nice stitches on her machine, as all the circles are made from different decorative stitches.
Margaret's card has a meander in gold metallatic thread and some little beads on it and looks much more dynamic (though in a soft and subtle way) in person than in this photo. But both are great additions to the theme of January cheer and certainly help me keep cheery...
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Still, here's a picture anyway - two more January cheer postcards: "Nobody here but us chickens" from Sue and a cup of whatever and the sudoku puzzle from Sheila - both fun additions to the group.
Monday, January 29, 2007
...is the squishie kind. Today's post was very squishie - got another January cheer postcard (photo later on one of those days I have nothing to show) and these pieces of pipe shibori work from a swap with my dyeing group. Also got some 9 patch blocks from the same group, but I'll show those when I'm doing something with them later - I'll be making split nine-patches with them. Think I must have blogged about the ones I made ages ago, but can't find it, so perhaps not.
Anyway, a great variety of pieces and really fun to have land on my doormat this morning.
I also did a few quick blocks for the February block lotto, but it's still in the sneak peek stage, so I can't show them to you - maybe in February. They are fine, but frankly, not very exciting. I didn't work long today, just did those three quick blocks and added a dozen or so more light green yarns to my fibre landscape. I won't photograph every boring stage, but when the light green hill gets filled, I'll post an update. A small sewing day, but a satisfying one nonetheless.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Anyway, I finally got around to really playing with stamps - though I have added a few things to previous pages, it's true. It's very hard to see in these photos, but I have done lots of background stamping, in addition to the more obvious ones on the second set of pages. In the red/purple pages, both backgrounds are heavily stamped, the left one with a rubber stamp of a feathery leaf and the right one with actual leaves - three sizes of ivy and a small fern frond. Because the fabrics are quite dark the stamping adds texture rather than dominating, which is what I was after.
With the right hand page, I decided to stamp all over it before adding anything else. Olivia and I inked some leaves - ivy and a fern frond in various colours and applied them to the fabric. The fabric was quite mottled to start with, so the stamping is subtle (though not quite as subtle in reality as in the photo, I admit). I then added some bits of paper, postage stamps, two transparencies (one just with glue, one attached with a brad at the top) and some German paper (the bees). It was hard for me to stop adding at this point, but I didn't want it to get too busy - I will add some decorative stitches later, though.
I forgot to say that the first thing I did today was to put together some of the other pages I have waiting - so now, I have all of them completed except for what I did today (and the one green page which is the flip side to one of these pages). Not sure how many more pages we are supposed to create, but I'm beginning to feel this book is nearing completion. It will need at least one more side in order to finish it, but it might not want a lot more than that...
After lunch, I moved onto the blue pages, which Sarah helped me with. This time I decided to make at least one page where the stamping was the focus. I have a large compound stamp which I like but had never used, so I decided to give that a go for one page. On the second one, I once again stamped the background, but also brought a few stamps to the foreground on paper for emphasis.
Finally, this page was done by covering the entire background with stamps in various colour inks, then building on top. Quite early on, Sarah and I decided to cover the whole page with a thin layer of Angelina, as we liked the hazy effect that gave. The girl is printed on matte photo paper, with two pieces of lace running behind her. The star and flower shapes are paper; I have stenciled the star pattern onto the flower shape and stamped one of the shapes I used on the background onto the star, but this time in neon pink, just for a spot of brightness. Then the Angelina was added and sewn down with a few lines of decorative stitching. And finally, I put a strip of embossed felt (a new craft shop find - very cool) down the side. This is the only item that is on top of the Angelina.
This is the one with the featured stamp - it doesn't look bad here, but it's clearer in reality - especially the central bit, which is a patterned hand and the word "LOVE" below. I decided adding any other stamps to this one would detract from the main stamp so just added some funky paper, some stickers, star sequins and some letters from an old game. Love that ephemera... We tested the stamp several times before deciding how to use it, and came to the conclusion that due to the nature and shape of the stamp, it was possible to easily put two colours of ink on it, which is not something I usually try - too fiddly. My stamping is getting much better than it used to be - we'll see if that's true with dyes & paints, too next time I try that!
In all, a very useful day - not just because I got several sets of pages made, but because working with each girl in turn worked very well. They don't argue that way, for one thing, and for another, they have a slightly different way of looking at things than I do. I don't always agree with them, but it's interesting to have some other input. DH, while admiring of the finished product, would not be helpful in the creation process - not his sort of thing at all...
Monday 29/1: Anna's comment reminded me I haven't said anything about which class this is since some early posts about these pages - the class I am taking is a private online class with my surface design group (which is a closed group), but it's given by Lenna Andews, who offers similar classes through joggles.com and elsewhere - check out her website if you are interested in this sort of thing. I think she's a very good online teacher (and no doubt in person too!).
Saturday, January 27, 2007
As I mentioned yesterday I needed to make some crazy squares or something up on which to practice some of my stitching for the TAST challenge - so that's one thing I've done today. These are all done with bits of silk - mostly ex-sari silk, I think. They are bonded onto a foundation and some of the joins are actually seams, while other pieces are just held on by bonding. As all the seams will have treatments, I'm not that worried about them being pre-sewn. I intend to make some more eventually - maybe 9 total, or 12, as that would be a nice wallhanging size (they will be 10" finished), but three is enough to be getting on with for a little while, even if I only have 3 or 4 stitches to practice at the moment.
I was planning to do some practice stitching on them tonight while watching telly (our current fun reality TV programme - Dancing on Ice - is on) but frankly, I didn't want to stop reading my book, which is The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (finally getting to it!). If you are one of the few remaining people on earth who like me haven't read this - do. It's astonishing. In fact, it was all I could do to come in and blog before shutting down the computer for the evening instead of just reading more. If I thought there was any chance of finishing it tonight, you can bet I wouldn't be here typing, but I'm only about halfway through.
But I digress. The other thing I worked on today (which isn't a quilt or anything involving the sewing machine but which does relate to other stuff I blog about), this time with the girls, was a birthday present for my mom. Now, I know you'd all like to see it, but as my mother has been known to read this blog I won't put a photo here. I will, however, put a link to a photo and description of the item in so that if you aren't my mother (which most of you won't be!) you can have a look. And mom will just have to exercise her willpower... So, if you are my mother, don't click here. Such a tease I am!
Friday, January 26, 2007
I decided, though, that although playing is fine for getting the hang of a stitch, it's not all that fun, so am going to make up some crazy blocks using a pack of silk fabrics I bought several years ago and have yet to work out what to do with. Then, when I feel I have the hang of a stitch a bit, I can use it to embellish a seam or two. By the end of the year, perhaps I will have a set of crazy blocks with nicely embellished seams with which I can do something! Here's a photo of the silk fabrics (obviously, they could use ironing!):
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Today's sewing consisted mainly of bits and pieces - I did a bit more work on the fibre landscape - finished off the left hand hill and got started on the right hand one. After a while I get a little tired of working with the piece (a little hard to move around under the machine, so a little goes a long way) so decided to put together the rest of the corns and beans blocks - remember them? They look great, and will now hang around for a while, while I decide whether to put a border on. I have some fabric I'm auditioning. We'll see.
I also assembled the panda blocks I bought for Alex into a quick cushion - just added some green batik sashing - I was going to use black sashing, but then decided not to be predictable. Also, I didn't have enough black :) And the back is a kind of dark grey/black batik. It's very sweet and was very simple. He'll love it. And his birthday's not for another week and a half, so time-wise, I'm doing well!
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
I know Sharon has posted the next stitch already (actually, it's well into Wednesday in Australia by now) but I'm resisting looking at it for a day or two - too many stitches buzzing around my head already at the moment. Luckily I shouldn't have too many to test out at once in most weeks, so there will be space to really play with them.
Anyway. For these, I used commercial fabrics, as I mentioned yesterday - four different ones across the top with a different one across the bottom. Mostly red, with some metallics and texture to them. I knew they'd be largely covered up, so I wanted stuff to give interest and movement, rather than any particular pattern.
The next step was to use fusible webbing and foil to make the small hearts (cut a heart shape out of webbing, fuse to fabric, then apply transfoil & iron). After the first one, I learned that it works better when the shapes don't go over a seamline, so I made the hearts a little smaller on the later ones. I did four silver hearts and one purple one on each card, but not all in the same position. I'm not quite that much of a control freak...
After the foil hearts were on, I used a zigzag stitch to couch down some red yarn around the hearts - not strictly in heart shapes, but basically outlining the hearts. Then I cut some larger heart shapes out of fused angelina fibres and stitched around them to hold them down (hopefully, they won't tear in the post - we'll see). Instead of the usual sort of satin stitch around the edge of the card, I decided to try something a little different - Valentines are traditionally often edged in lace, so I have stitched pink lace (and here I bet you thought I wasn't a pink lace kind of girl! It's amazing what stuff I have tucked away in my sewing room...) around the edges. Two of them have a different lace, as I ran out of the thin light pink one (which, frankly, is a good thing, because I'm really not a pink lace kind of girl).
As if that wasn't enough fibre work for one day, I decided to start something a little different. If this new project turns out well, it's going to be a wall hanging for my friend Sophie, who is turning 40 this year. She saw something a little bit similar (only much better artistry, LOL) in one of my issues of Cloth, Paper, Scissors and really like them, so I thought I'd try for a similar effect. As I said, we'll see how it turns out. The basic idea is to use lots and lots of different fibres to build a landscape - maybe with some beads thrown in, too.
Here's how I'm tackling it. First, I cut a piece of very stiff interfacing about 12-13 inches wide and about 16-18 inches high - a little bigger than I want the finished piece to be. I drew some rough lines on it (left photo above) - my idea was two hills with a glimpse of sea, and the sky. Then I used scraps of hand-dyed fabrics to collage the scene - a dark hill in the background and a lighter hill in the foreground (rightphoto above) - I used fusible webbing (I think I should buy stock in the company at this rate!) to stick everything down - I did this the easy way - by just covering the whole thing with fusible and more or less just randomly sticking the fabrics down. Because I know it will be heavily covered later, it doesn't matter too much what it looks like, I just want some texture and shape. Did the same thing with the sea and sky (left photo below) though I decided to do the sky in strips.
Then I fused some angelina into sheets (not too thick) and covered both the hills with that. I just wanted a little glimmer behind all the fibres (right photo above). I decided (for the time being anyway) not to use angelina in the sky - I think it wants a slightly different texture there. And then I started adding yarns - couched down with zig zag mostly, occasionally with a straight stitch, depending on what I think the yarn wanted (below photos). I may later add some decorative stitches as well - we'll see. There's a lot more to do, but so far, I am really pleased with how it looks. And I'm thinking I might do the sea in beads rather than fibres, but again, we'll see what it wants when I get there.
Monday, January 22, 2007
Anyway. Here are two pages for the third week of my fabric book class - the main lessons this week were using transparencies, using metal objects on your pages and interesting ways of attaching things. Also beading, but I've done some of that before - and will do more, but not on these pages. Oh and also, some edge treatments, which I am filing away for later, as I want quite plain simple edges on these pages. An interesting note here - our teacher Lenna commented before that my pages have a lot of lines on them (this is true - I like lines) and while it's mainly been unintentional - that is, it's my natural tendency to add lines, rather than think "oh, I will put a line here", it just happens. However, on this right hand page, it's very intentional - I really wanted to use this colour fabric and didn't have a big enough piece to cut a 7" square, so the gold ribbon covers the seam line. I just noticed it doesn't look very straight - don't know if that's the photo or the piece - guess I will have to check it out :)
This page uses a transfer done by using iron-on transfer paper (the picture was from this vintage image site - which reminds me, I must scan and send them an image as a thank you), and a transparency, which is attached to the fabric using the four metal brads down the right side. The transparency is from a sheet from Artchix Studio. The left hand side isn't yet attached, but I have nebulous plans to use some stitches to attach it - either machine or hand, I haven't yet decided. There are also two small pieces of fabric from a Laurel Burch print and a sun charm, which used to be part of a necklace I was once very fond of, and which broke, ages ago. I attached it with very strong glue, and so far, it seems to be sticking, but I must say, it's a VERY heavy page!
The second page uses the ribbon I mentioned above, with four small pictures printed on fabric (also from artchix). It also uses more of the Laurel Burch fabric (which in this instance, reminded me of flags), some small watch gears, some lion-shaped sequins and the metal charm is part of an old mobile which has been in my family at least since I was a small child - if my mother is reading this, she can probably tell us where it came from, but I can't remember. It fell apart from it's mobile state a long time ago, and I have at least three of the danglies from it - possibly more, though I'm not sure. I remember one of a cruise liner which I don't seem to have - I have this one, another building and a person carrying two water buckets, that I can find, at least. Again, the page isn't completely finished, as I'm sure it wants some stitching or beads.
The second stitch in this weekly challenge from Sharon B was the buttonhole (blanket) stitch. I have put these two photos at the top of the blog entry, because they are a lot nicer to look at than my experimental sampler (below), wherein I learned several things: 1)my canvas is too big (i.e. holes too far apart) for very very thin thread and 2) it's virtually impossible to work this stitch in a circle on this size canvas. However, I think it would do a great circle on different fabric, so I will try that at some stage. These two pages from my fabric book show the buttonhole stitch in situ - in the left picture, along the top edge of the top ribbon and the right edge of the sheer fabric; in the right photo, down the right hand side of the orange triangle (not thrilled with that; might remove later). I have also added some freeish form herringbone on the page with the pharoah.
I've been having fun playing with the third stitch, detached chain (lazy daisy) but am not ready to share that one yet - I want to try out something I say on someone else's blog (and I apologise here, but I can't remember whose - if I work it out later, I'll come back and add the link - edited to say, I found it, it was Karin) where they layered tons of these on top of each other and made a gorgeous flower. That's tonight's in-front-of-the-telly project. Results tomorrow, whether or not I like them!
Sunday, January 21, 2007
I also made a quick nine-patch (9.5 inches unfinished) for someone on the Quilting Forum on Delphi who is collecting signature blocks in this size and style from people outside the US. She will swap for them - she's sending me an FQ as I didn't want a siggie block in this size and style. If you are outside the US and would like to make one for her, leave me a comment and I can put you in touch. Now to sign it, and put it in the post...
Anyway. The point here is that my stitching leaves something to be desired - I know basically all I need is practice, but the idea of just "practicing embroidery" is somewhat nebulous and undirected and just isn't going to happen. So I decided to go ahead and sign up for this challenge. It started at the beginning of January, so I am only 2 stitches behind, and should be able to catch up quite quickly. Also, it's something I can do while watching telly, so I can fit it into my schedule fairly well - I never seem to have handwork lying around when I need it, so this would fit into that slot nicely.
The first week's stitch challenge was Herringbone stitch. Above, you can see a rough sampler that I have stitched on waste canvas - not sure of the count off the top of my head, fairly big - 14 maybe? I started with some plain herringbone in various sizes, did some where the colours overlapped (like that effect a lot) some with thin thread, where the stitches weren't tall enough and just looked like "x"s, then tried couching a large thread down, curving it, adding some other kinds of stitches to make a pattern, and doing some sort of random, freeform herringbone stitches. I'm glad she started with an easy one! Then to apply the lessons learnt :) I decided to add some to one of my fabric book pages, which has been waiting for a few decorative stitches - I was going to use the machine of course, being me! Here you can see a little herringbone down the right hand side of the blue snowflake ribbon - and I've added some French knots in there, too. There's some running stitch down the left side of that, just for balance.
I thought that worked well, so I decided to tackle another page - here you can see a little herringbone across the foil on the bottom ribbon. I like this a lot - it tones down the foil a little, which was very shiny. There's a scattering of French knots at the top and I even used a little blanket stitch (buttonhole) on the middle ribbon - buttonhole is the second week's challenge, so you'll be seeing more of that soon.
Saturday, January 20, 2007
I also did some more work on the batik framed four patches that I started yesterday. I think I am going to make 60 of them - 50 to swap and 10 to keep. I must check and see if there's a limit for the swap, actually. They are so easy, and a good way to use up small and smallish bits of batiks that I have - I haven't yet cut into anything much bigger than a fat quarter, even for the frames, which take quite a bit of fabric... Here are the ones I got finished today - 8 of them, I think.
Friday, January 19, 2007
So anyway, I have a nice clean machine which works and a manual which is almost right for the machine (I had the shop give me one - they don't have precisely the right one, but it's nearly the same machine - we'll see how that goes!). And actually, it's nice to know about the speed on the foot pedal, as that will be really good for when the girls use the machine.
So once I got the machine back, I decided to do a little sewing - I made a bunch of these batik four patches, which use 3 inch squares - they all came out of my batik scrap bin. They will be the centres for a batik framed four patch block for a swap on quilting.about.com. I love batiks and I knew I could do this swap from stash, and a lot of it just from scraps, so I couldn't resist.
Thursday, January 18, 2007
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
In the end, I decided to change the instructions slightly, because I had just done a row of appliqued curves with the orange, and I didn't really want another one. So I did a central block in applique with Olivia's name (it has one curve!) and piano keys to the outside. It's not attached yet, because it's what I was working on when the sewing machine died, and although I now have the loan of another sewing machine, I left my yellow thread on my machine when I took it to the shop, so I don't have any yellow thread to finish the "VIA" in Olivia... and it will be easier to do with it not attached. But that's not a big deal, I can easily finish it off when I get the yellow back. Can't imagine needing any more yellow thread, so I'm not going to buy a replacement and anyway, then it might not match, yadda yadda yadda.
So then I went straight away to the next row, which instruction was only posted a day or two ago - and it was to do crazy piecing. Luckily, the row I was due to do was green, and I have tons of green fabric - in fact, I didn't even have to use anything except my scrap bin and strip bin, in the end. The picture is slightly washed out in colour - the greens are a bit brighter in person. It's a fun row and was very quick to do - that's the joy of imprecise piecing!