Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A sewing and marrying update

A few things have come to fruition around here, so it's time for a little update.   Firstly, there was the Mouthy Stitches zippy pouch swap.  In my last post you saw this pouch I made, which I can now reveal was for Jan over at Isisjem, who thankfully seems really pleased with it.  And I was super lucky today because the pouch made especially for me arrived, and just look at it!

Look at that embroidery!  The french knots in that sewing machine are amazing!

 This lovely and useful pouch was made for me by Indianna who blogs at Indianna Dreams.  Not only did she do this embroidery, she also pieced the back in some lovely and covetous Hometown text fabrics and made her own lining fabric using stamps.

 I am in awe of all the skills used in this make, and I really appreciate the time and effort that Indianna put in, not only in the making but also in the stalking she must have done to get me so spot on!

Thanks lovely lady!

In other news, I have finally finished my block for Jennie, aka Miss February in the Brit Bee.  Jennie set a tricky challenge that had most of us quaking in our boots - she asked for a fabric self portrait!  Not to be beaten, I picked this photo of me (from this blog, a little while back)

and set to work with the free-motion foot on my sewing machine (for the uninitiated, this gadget allows you to use your sewing machine more like a pencil - in my case, a pencil wielded by a two year old!). I added a few applique details and since Jennie asked for a background that represented us, I opted for a rainbow made out of fabric scraps, pieced together to look like the brick wall in the original photo.

And there we have it!

Now, I need people to know that whilst I do have fat lips, no one stares or comments, so I'm hoping my lips suit me more than the fish-face I seem to have given myself in this portrait!

And finally, some exciting breaking news - James and I have decided to make good on the wedding we promised ourselves a while back...and we're getting married, THIS SUMMER!    Venue was selected last weekend, and we are in the throes of finding a date that suits all family members (ha ha)

Stay tuned, cos I think I might have to make some stuff for this event...although I won't be making my dress..unless I decide to walk down the aisle in a quilt :D


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mouthy stitching, literally.

The air has been turning blue around here lately. 

Mouthy Stitches
I've been working on a swap for a secret partner in the Mouthy Stitches swap. In case you're not in the know, this swap involves making your assigned secret partner a zippy pouch, based on any information you can glean on them.  It all started smoothly, with these sketches.

I picked design A (possibly or possibly not guided by feedback from my partner, I'm not telling!),
and created two panels like this one

I made myself this test pouch using this great tutorial:

And learnt a lot, including not to put a ladies head right next to a seam!

....and then I put off making the REAL thing because I was scared I'd muck it up. However, with the deadline looming I had to "man-up" and tackle it this week..

Sunday evening: Sewed first panel to zip, and then top-stitched it.  Stitching was all loopy on the back and stitch sizes were all over the place as the PVC lining kept sticking to the machine.  Unpicked it and did it again. 
Repeat above exercise another three times with various threads and machine settings.  PVC now looks more like a teabag.  Air turns blue.  Bedtime.

Monday nap-time: Successfully top stitch first panel to zip. Quit whilst I'm ahead.

Tuesday Evening: Successfully sew second panel to zip.  Attempt to top-stitch it but PVC lining gets folded unevenly resulting in a chunk of lining that will definitely get stuck in the zip. Air turns blue again. Stitches unpicked and PVC vigourously rubbed to see if the holes will become less visible! Redo (twice) and sew the rest of the pouch together. Spectacularly snap a needle during stitching of denim loop to end of pouch. Arrrrgh.

Wednesday morning:   Box all 8 corners in a heavyweight title fight, but without major incident (woohoo!)  Pouch turned though and now seems a little on the large size! (7.5" x 10.5" x4")
Lining sewn up and pouch completed....large sigh of relief.

So partner, if you're reading this...revel in the fact that sweat and tears (no blood fortunately!) went into the making of this item.  I really hope you like it! 


Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Having a play...

I think it's partly a reaction to finishing a big quilt, but I've found myself mucking about with small bits of fabric recently, trying a few new ideas and styles in small items.  It helps that I've had my own screen-printed fabrics to play with, plus my new year fabric binge, that has been waiting patiently for my attention!

Here's what I've been up to:

A few zippy's:

This one uses a fussy cut clock from Melody Millers Ruby Star Shining range - which I love.  Mum loved it too, so she bought it! (am I mean to "sell" things to my own Mum?!)  I had a play with adding a few teeny bits of leather, a little tab, and as a zipper pull.

Then, I got brave and cut into one of my screen-printed designs.  This zippy uses a panel that I printed on calico, a little Echo and a piece of suede, which I've stitched over in a random design.

 Spurred on, I cut into another yellow panel and a red leather scrap and attempted to make an iPad holder.  I say "attempted" because in my desire to make it a snug fit, I forgot about the fact that zipper tabs at the ends would shorten the zip length and therefore make it impossible for me to get an iPad in it - doh!

And finally, I made Felix a little skirt, using a charity shop sourced M&S vest top which I've recycled and appliqued with, yes you've guessed it, another of my screen-printed scraps!

I am planning to do a tutorial for a similar style of skirt for Sarah's "Sew: Get started" series of simple sewing tutorials on 22nd March, so if you have a little person who would look cute in one of these, then look out for that!

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Bonkers drove me bonkers!

Yep, the bonkers quilt is done...I'll let the pictures do most of the talking..but I will just say I'm relieved!  I do love the finished article - I think the quilting and washing it gave it a more relaxed feel (I was worried it was going to be a bit too "in your face").
(thanks to mum-in-law for standing on a stool in her garden so I could get this picture!)

The things that drove me bonkers (lessons learnt!) were:
  • Quilting a large quilt with a stipple makes your shoulders ache.  I snapped 5 needles as the weight of the quilt pulled the needle forward onto the plate..doh.  I really need to get over my vanity and get some sexy quilting gloves!
  • Do not try to machine-sew a binding on if you are not practiced at it.  I ended up unpicking the whole 260+ inches in order to hand-stitch it on properly
  • And finally, do not underestimate the time it takes to sew in all the thread ends and trim all other loose thread off...2 hours work I reckon!

Quilt Stats for the bonkers quilt:
Pattern: Large scale disappearing 9 patch
Size: 60" x 72"
Fabrics: All from the stash, I counted 26 different prints and solids.
Backing: Quilt is backed in the black, white and green swirl that appears on the front.  This was originally a king-size cotton duvet cover by Hobbs.
Quilting: A large scale free-motion stipple pattern

Anyway, this one is destined for a local shop, but if it doesn't sell it doesn't matter, cos I reckon I can find it a home right here... now..on to the next project :)


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Better than Pronta-print!

On Tuesday, I was lucky enough to spend a day with Sue Harrison,  a local textile printing artist.  As you may already know, getting an insight into printing my own fabrics was on my new year resolution list, so you can imagine how excited I was about this!

It was a great day, with Sue allowing Josephine (my "classmate") and I to play in her studio.  We started off with simple mono-printing on paper first, to get the feel of it.  This involves painting a canvas sheet with your chosen colour and then laying paper on top.  Various techniques were then used to create a design..

We tried drawing directly into the paint with a stick or pencil (shown above) and drawing and impressing stamps and other items on the back of the paper, which then picked up the paint from underneath.
(the print take from the canvas above)
We tried cutting paper shapes to block out areas, before pressing paper on top to create a print.

We then tried adding a second colour, using the first technique, and cutting more advanced patterns from paper.  All of this was experimental and we could have played for hours with different colours and techniques.

Satisfied with the progress, we moved onto screen printing, and I used simple cut-out paper shapes to create this design. 

The difference with screen printing is that the result is a much more crisp matt image, and also that the paper template adheres to the screen, allowing you to run off quite a few prints before it starts to disintegrate.  I was amazed at how professional the resulting print was, even though I'd only spent 10 minutes cutting the shapes. I grabbed my calico and furnishing fabrics to create a few copies to take home with me.  Sue explained that we could mix the techniques to create interesting finishes, with the rougher looking mono-print over-printed with a striking screen print.  Here it is in the process:
(mono-print in black completed and paper shapes laid on top in preparation for screen printing)

(screen-printed over the top with more mono-printing highlights then added in green - remind you of 1950s wall paper?!)
More playing...and a delicious lunch, and then we had an hour or so to work on any ideas we'd had.  Josephine had chosen a hilarious moustache theme and printed a set of six napkins, along with this comedy hankie for her daughter!

And I chose text, because I thought I'd be able to cut it up and use it in my patchwork...  I spent 20 minutes cutting various letters and numbers carefully out of two layers of newsprint paper with a craft knife, and then we used the first sheet to print in black...and the second sheet to print in red.
(one of four different panels I printed in this way)
 I was so chuffed with the results, especially because I'd opted to print the text on a soft oatmeal linen that will be really usable.   The dyes are fixed using a hot iron, so will be washable and usable in quilts, cushions, bags etc

And finally, since the screen was set up up, I even printed the letters over the work I'd done earlier in the day, just to see how it looked.
which kind of reminded us of political posters,

Even from this short day, I am so excited by the potential and could see how I could add to simple designs with machine embroidery or applique, so I owe huge thanks to Sue for opening up her home to let us play for a day!

Now, is there room in my sewing room for a screen and a few tubs of dye?!!