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Time to panic

I had a lovely few days away.  The weather was cool and the company good. The mornings were foggy,

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and the clouds as they rose over the escarpment, memorable.

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In the evenings the skys were the most amazing colours as the sun set over the western downs.

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 I was introduced to another woman who is travelling to Houston for the festival and she said,

"Oh yes, I leave in under two weeks".

  I thought,

"She must be going early." 

Now I have looked at the calendar, it is less than 2 weeks before I leave.   It is all shaping up to be a disaster.  My paper work and tickets have been sent to Boston for Guatamala, (I live in Australia.)   No paper work has arrived for my classes at the festival.  I have an email confirmation which says I have to have the paper work for the classes, the email is not good enough.  But they have deducted the payment for the classes from my account so I am hopeful that this might still work out.  I think I need to make some international phone calls and I am not good on the telephone because I have a hearing problem.  I must transfer money into another account just in case the other credit cards don't work.  (My husband has given me another 3 credit cards on top of the 3 I already have.) Stress, Stress, Stress.

 I need to get the samples finished for next years classes and they are not going well.  The drawing are great, the stitching isn't bad but I have chosen the wrong colours for one piece and will have to start again.  That is the one that needs to be finished in the next couple of weeks.

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 The furniture is still being delivered for the city town house and I need to buy a dining room set and my daughter keeps suggesting very expensive ones.  The washing machine has just broken down and as I have had it for some time I think we will have to get a new one.  No one delivers to the island so that means carriers and stress.

 On the upside I do have a new suitcase and I have got all my clothes organised.  I have cleaned out my wardrobe and the back of my car is loaded with donations for the charity bin.  My new ipad is packed ready and my camera is working well.  (Got to find that passport.)

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I finish a dummy run on the crocheted bunny, very cute.

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Look at that fat tummy, and I love the tail.

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(I still need to make clothes for the girls bunnies.)  I used left over yarn from the shawl.  Lots of adjustments to make and the next ones will be white rabbits.  Of course the only crochet hook I don't have is a size 3, the one I need for this wool.

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I think it is time to make lists and start to find some control in all this mess.

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A new tech toy

I have been wanting to buy a new Ipad for some time but keep putting it off because of the cost.  But after much research and deep thinking I took the plunge and bought a new Ipad Pro, the biggest size with the most memory.

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Along with a smart keyboard and

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an Apple pencil.

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It is such an expensive toy that I need it to do a special job.  That is to take the place of my lap top which is getting very old and weighs a ton.  That really is what tipped the balance for me.  I also need to upgrade my skills for vector drawing.  I use Easy Draw on my computer, which is a great technical program.  It is really used for doing mechanical and architectural drawing and when I used to teach those skills in the class room it was great.

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But I am not using it to it's full potential any more.  The other program I run is called Easy Grapher Professional, but it was written in 2004 and hasn't been updated since then.  It is a specialty needlework program and I run it on an old PC.

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I think the time is approaching, at a rapid rate, where I am going to have to learn Adobe Illustrator.  That seems to be the standard these days, I am just turned off by the price.  If I take a class at the local Technical College I might be able to purchase a student copy.  But courses range in price between $300 and $3,000.  I wonder if my son has a copy of this program?  I know he uses this package and he used it for his degree.  I know what he will say.  "Look it up on Google Mum".


Some singlet dresses

I had to replace the foot pedal for my over-locker and whilst in the Bernina Shop I saw some children's singlet dresses on the wall that they had been teaching as a project.  I immediately thought of my grand daughters and quickly bought a couple of ecco cotton tops to make them one each.   Now there are lots of  instructions for these dresses on the internet and they are quick and easy to make but I made a couple of changes to get a better look.

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I like this tutorial for a toddler but I wasn't happy with the look of how the bodice and skirt joined.

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The things I considered first were:

  • The choice of fabric,  I used some Liberty cotton because it gathers, drapes and washes well. (The fibre used has a long staple - expensive- which means it doesn't crease like cheaper cottons that have a short staple - cheap.)

        But there are lots of fabric to choose from.  Most Mum's these days do not iron and hand washing is a thing of the past.  So if you don't want to spend a lot of money on fabric choose one that has a small amount of polyester in it.  Pure cotton is going to crease.  It will look good to start with but after the first wash it will be creased if not ironed.  After a couple of minutes in the dryer that fabric with some polyester in it will look great.  (The heat slightly melts the polyester in the fabric taking out the creases as it is thermoplastic.)

  • The amount of fabric.  Most instructions tell you to use the width of the fabric but this varies between fabrics and the weight of the fabric will effect just how it gathers.   I think pleating would be better for a heavier weight fabric and extra width is needed if you are using a light weight fabric.
  • The distance between the underarm and where you cut the t shirt.

This changes with the age of the child.  For a toddler I would cut the T shirt at about 9cm (3.5").  A toddler has a bit of a tummy and this will hang better over it.  For my girls, who are 5 & 6 years of age I made the cut longer 12cm (nearly 5") .

 

Then there was the construction.

After I cut the T shirt I ironed a 4cm (1.5") strip of light paper iron on interfacing above the cut to stabilise the knit fabric.  This also allows you to use a straight stitch when you attach the skirt.  After sewing you can easily peel the stabiliser back to the sewing line and trim it off.

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The gathering.

Most instructions will tell you to lengthen your machine stitch.  I only slightly lengthen the stitch but I also loosen the tension.  This makes that bobbin thread easy to pull up.  (I sew on the right side and gather on the wrong side of the fabric.)

I also sew 2 lines of gathering.  At the end of the first line I sew down 3 stitches and come back the other way.  (This is about the width of your presser foot. 

This allows you to pull up an even gathering and you can then sew the bodice and skirt together in between the 2 gathering lines.  To pull out the gathering threads you just have to snip the thread on the bobbin stitched side back at that 3 stitch turn. The loose bobbin thread pulls out with no fuss and the top thread just falls away.  This also means you do not disturb that line of stitching where you joined the bodice and skirt.

Make sure you mark the quarter and half ways points on the top of the skirt before you pull up that gathering thread.  This will then make it easy to line them up with the seams and centre front and back of the T shirt.  I then neaten this edge by over-locking it.

I thought about top stitching the join but decided it wasn't necessary.

The hem

If you want to allow for growth, and all kids grow ,  set a wider hem you can let down.  You could machine it but I like the hang of a hand stitched hem.

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The girls put the dresses on and refused to take them off.  They love the feel of that Liberty fabric.  They couldn't stop touching it.  Now there will be nothing to compare to this fabric.  I bet they are hooked for life, just like me.

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Robyn's House

Robyn asked me not to put her photo up on my blog so you won't find her here.  (TIP:  Look on Facebook)

But I have put together some images that I took when visiting her home.  It was just the most generous gesture to open her door to the public.  Some of the highlights for me were the embroidered books that were scattered around.  A beautiful way to keep memories.

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The little kick-nacks.

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Her order of Australia displayed on a beautiful old embroidered cloth.

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The antique baby bonnets crocheted using silk thread and bullion stitch.

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The dresser with Xylonite pieces.

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The original Gumnut Baby quilt and that collection of post cards that went right around the room.

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Those jelly beans that were in dishes throughout the house.

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Glancing out the window there was a small fish pond complete with gold fish.

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Old quilts and new quilts.  All her quilts are hand pieces and hand quilted.  (The ones on the dinning room table were piled high.) And her huge collection of Xylonite pieces.

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The garden was full of quilts.

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I should have noticed these things as I came in but I did see them as I left.  The big clam shell full of floating camillias.  So old Queensland. (She has over 100 camillia trees in her garden.)

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The bush seed pod wreath on the wall.

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Her Mother's flowers.

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And that bird bath.

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Thank you Robyn.

 

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The joys of pattern making

You know I threw out all my old paper patterns and swore never to dress-make again.  Then my grand daughters twisted my arm to make them dresses.  So here I am again making patterns.  I found an old pattern I had bought online and printed it out, some thing like 50 A4 pages of the thing.  The dress is cute though.  I know the girls will like the swing of the skirt.

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People had warned me about having to stick all these pages together but it doesn't really mean anything until you have to do it yourself.

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Because the pattern is multi sized I like to trace the size I want onto paper and then keep the original aside, just in case.  Of course with all that paper I didn't line it up properly.  Not enough on one side and

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Too much on the other.

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Whilst doing this I came across a book of patterns that I bought some time ago, still in pristine condition because I had forgotten it.  I am going through the same process of tracing off the sizes and styles I want.  Just working out what pattern pieces are what is taking time.  I was going to trace all the patterns but have given that away.

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But, the quality of the drafting of the Japanese patterns is beautiful.  As a dressmaker of old I know how a pattern should be drafted and these are correct to the mm.  It is those small details that make the difference in the finished garment.  I am just a bit worried about the size.  Japanese children are quite a bit smaller than western children.  I think I might make a toile first to check.  This WAS going to be a quick job.

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Studio Visit

It is Carnival of Flowers time up at Toowoomba and this year Robyn Ginn opened her home for people to view not only her wonderful collection of quilts but her beautiful embroidery, things she has collected, her garden and her home.  Robyn has had she fair share of troubles in her life.  Ranging from breaking her back through to the recent loss of her husband and a grand child.  (She has a Pinterest page of the quilts that were lost in a fire at her daughters home and her grand son was also lost in this fire.)  She works her life into her quilts.

This quilt talks of how they were knocked off their perch but are still standing.  You can see more on her Crazy patch pinterest page.

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There was so much to see and to absorb that I am sure I missed tons of important details.  But one thing that caught my attention was that she also designs and stitches canvas work.  Each piece is totally original and the stitches chosen just blew me away.

The use of gimp ribbon for the flower stems and the variety of stitches in each bird. (click on the image for more detail.)

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So much to think about.  I will revisit some of my impressions of this viewing in a later post.  I just think I need to reflect on it for a few days.  My mind has been so taken up with what I saw here that I didn't really pay attention to everything else I viewed.   I found this visit very moving on a number of levels.   As a result my husband and I will drive up again this week and spend the day there together and this time I will focus more on the flowers.

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Computer Day

I am not moving from in front of my computer today because I can sit all day and watch Craftsy Classes.

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Yesterday I sat and worked out just what classes I wanted to watch and there were hundreds to choose from.  I already have a heap  of purchased classes I haven't completed and some I have completed and want to watch again. Still.  this is too good an opportunity to miss.


Hanging around

I am still hanging around not up to much after the operation.  Drugs and I do not get on well together.  But today I am out of bed.  Mainly because I need to re make the bed, somehow, and as I can sit at the computer I must be getting better.

I thought I would write about a web site that I love to visit, Chelsea Textiles.

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They do all kinds of home decorating but they also do hand embroidered fabrics.  Look at that wonderful selection to scan for inspiration.

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I like the work of Kit Kemp.

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But there are lots of other designers there to inspire you. 

Neisha Crosland.

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Robert Kime.

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And Alidad

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Beware!! You can get lost for hours in this site.

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Xmas Cards - No 1 & 2

No time like the present, so I have started on the Xmas cards.

I found my bundle of rectangle ivory textured three panel cards and envelopes and then dug out a plastic bag full of left over pieces of embroidery linen.  I cut these into rectangles approx 10cm x 11cm and then over-locked the edges. 

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These will sit behind the opening which is 6cm x 8.5cm.  I started by drawing an approximate design on that piece of card that came out of the opening to get an approximation of the size of the design. 

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The first piece is a 32 count natural linen.  There is going to be lots of different counts amongst these scraps so I will have to adjust the designs to suit.  I have decided to use Kaaland Yarn's silk variegated threads to stitch these pieces because the threads are just so beautiful.  The first designs are going to be very simple shapes and a variety of stitches.

So here is my first card.  I used three strands of silk in the colour, watercolour.  The stitch is Eastern Stitch which I stitched over 4 threads.  A few back stitches made the trunk and the base is a scrap of felt and a glitter star glued on the top of the tree.

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These are quick and easy to stitch so I did another straight away.  Same everything, except the thread colour, only this time I used Algerian Eye Stitch.

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This is a great way to use up those small left over pieces and I think this falls into the category of "Silly Stitching".  Great for stitching whilst you chat and there isn't  a lot of thought involved in the stitching.  Plus the advantage of almost instant gratification.  

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Past Exhibition

Back a few weeks ago, (a month ago), in fact back when I went to the Marvel Exhibition, which I want to go to again,  I saw a small display of Indian Embroidery in the main gallery.  (That was a mouthfull. )  It was only because I ran into some friends from the Embroiderers' Guild that I was alerted to the fact that it was the last day it would be on display.

The exhibition was called "weavers, Wanderers".  (Click on the images for a larger version.)

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What I found remarkable about this exhibition was the level of skill on display.  I have seen quite a lot of Indian embroidery but these pieces, besides being beautiful in design were also beautifully stitched.  There were 2 quilts on display.

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Any one of these squares would make a great embroidery.

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The second is appliqued and embroidered.

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There was also a black and white photo of a house which had been decorated with hand painted images.  Lots of design ideas in these three pieces.

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I was also struck by the similarity between the women painted on the left of the photo and folk embroideries I have seen from Sweden.

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I will write a post about some of the other pieces at a later date.