Design Feed


It was the first day at the art galleries.  I have seen too much, there were too many people and I am in overload.

At the main gallery they had a great water wall as you walked in.  I would like to do something with these images but not sure what just yet.

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I have just had so much inspiration in too short a time.  I need to give my brain a rest and come back to it.

But then there was the work of  Guo Pei.

How about these shoes! 

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I am going back to try and get some better shots of the gowns.

Another bag

I am off early tomorrow morning to spend the weekend in Toowoomba with friends.  Two days stitching and I hope to get my bunnies well under way in that time.


And I am still making bags.  I really like the shape of this bag.  I am now up to about the 10th version and still have some other ideas for it.

 If I don't piece the fabric but just use one piece for the outside and another for the lining I can cut it out and have it made up in 20 minutes.  So this is the 20 minute bag.  (I did have to rush to get it done in that time and there is a tutorial in a separate post.)

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I would prefer to take a little longer and get every bit accurate and I didn't top stitch the zipper opening in that time which I did with this version.

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It is a great sewing bag as my dressmaking scissors sit perfectly along with glasses and all those other odds and ends.   I have used a heavier lining in this one and am not sure it is the best choice.  It looks alright from a distance but top stitching the zipper was difficult and I couldn't achieve an even top stitch.  There were so many different weights of fabric in this bag and they were all fighting one another.  Shame It is a nice bag.

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Now I am about to attempt a re-purposed version.  I ironed the piece and have been looking at it all day.  I just CAN'T cut into it!!

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The two finger tassel

Quite a few years ago I decided I needed to have every colour of DMC stranded cotton.  Back then I was stitching other peoples designs and only dabbling with my own.  I thought that I had a full set and then DMC added new colours to the range and discontinued others.  At that point I decided I didn't need a full set of threads.


So what to do with all these threads, boxes of them?  Some I donated to the guild but I still have a lot that I will never use.  That is where the two finger tassel comes in.  One skein of thread is just the right amount to make a nice little fat tassel.  Now you could use three or even four fingers to make the tassel but they get a little thinned the longer they get.  You could use a piece of cardboard as a template but this little tutorial is just for fingers.

You will need 1 skein of stranded cotton or the equivalent amount of left over mixed cottons.

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A large needle with a big eye, a pair of scissors AND 2 fingers.

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Take the paper wrapper off the thread  and cut one small (1 round approx.) and one large length(6 rounds approx.)

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Then, with your two fingers slightly apart, lay the short thread along you index finger and wrap the main thread until it reaches the thickness you like.  This could be all the thread left or just as much as you want.

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Slide your fingers out and tie a tight knot with the short thread.

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Take the longer thread and make a slip knot in one end leaving enough length in the short end to blend in with the tassel.  (I had to put my pen through the thread because I couldn't take a photo and hold the tassel with one hand.)

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Pull the slip knot tight to make the head of the tassel and then wrap this firmly. 

Thread the end of your thread through your needle.

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Work you needle under the wrapping thread, working from the direction you finished wrapping.  I finished at the bottom so had to work towards the top.

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Work your need up and down behind the wrapping threads a number of times finishing with the needle towards to bottom of the tassel.  Notice that I work this on an angle and be careful not to pierce the strands of cotton.

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Now cut your thread at the length of the tassel and cut that folded thread along the fold.  At this point it will look a bit ragged.

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Use you scissors to trim it up.

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You could use it just like this but I have used that left over thread to make a longer hanger.  I threaded it through the top knot and made a secure knot.  You could make it fancy by using a twisted thread if you wanted to.

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First time I made one of these it took me about 15 minutes, I now have that down to 5 minutes.

Quick and Easy.  Uses up my extra threads and this is just right for the zipper pulls on all these bags I have been making.



My friend Angela rang last night and just after this I found a small flyer she had given me about a workshop she had visited in Germany.  She had a great collection of samples of this work and it made me wonder about the history and tradition of working with indigo in Europe. 

Think of indigo and I think Japan and India but these are not the only countries who use this dye.  So with my flyer in hand I launched out onto the web.  I didn't have to go far Mr Google had me to the site in one click,  ( The site is all in German so if you want an English translation I would search in Google and click translate on the site.)  I then found that they had a Facebook page as well that is full of the most interesting information.

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What a treasure trove of information.  This man has 700 old hand made printing blocks made of pear wood. 

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This carving was then added to with metal pins, so like the Dutch Stipwerk folk printing. 

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And I was interested to read  that this form of printing came as a result of trade with India 400 years ago.  Then I clicked on current research and there is so much going on in this area.  Next trip to Europe this work is going to be one of the top things on my to do list.



Next Project

As I only have one table cloth that fits my kitchen table I need to make some more.  I am not a huge fan of chicken scratch but have decided to decorate the cloth with that.  Now, I can't buy the nice fabric gingham that you can get in Europe and the USA.  I am stuck with a poly cotton, not very cheap at $14.00 per metre but this is what we all have to use.  (Unless we have access to a relatives stash.)  I have considered backing it with a stabalizer,  or maybe lining it, but for a breakfast cloth?  I don't think so. 

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I bought a little extra fabric to experiment with, so first off I will try different thread weights on some serviettes.  It should be interesting.

The other new project is a teaching sample for applique.  I have roughed out a design based on Ginko leaves, which I have never seen up close but I liked the shape.

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Then today on Pam's blog, among the most wonderful images were 2 shots of the real leaves.

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I am going to have to rethink how I do this one.  (Do go over and have a look at her wonderful story about NZ.)

Pattern Darning

I have always liked pattern darning.  Maybe it is the regularity of the patterns, it's geometric base, or maybe it was because running stitch was the first stitch I learnt and all it's variations?  What every the reason I like it, so it is with great interest that I see that Yvette Stanton has a new book coming out this year about Norwegian Pattern Darning.

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I started to do some digging into this technique and found that there isn't a lot to find.  I did find this image that shows a historical piece.

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A book was also given as a reference and I found a copy on Amazon.

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Other than this Medieval piece  I have only been able to find examples of baby clothes on Pinterest, no source given.

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So it is with interest that I await the publication of this book.

Some experiments

I am working at putting together a bag made from the Kogin stitching that I finished recently.  I bought a shoulder bag in Guatemala when I was there and have found it to be really useful so have based my design on this.

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But it has leather inserts between the zippers and the embroidery.  I have never sewn anything like this before.  I bought some upholstery fake leather, but it has a flock backing that I don't like.

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I also bought another type of fabric that can be used as a blackboard for children in quilting,  it looks like what it is.   I then found a leather supply Company in a nearby suburb and was able to purchase a piece of leather that looks good (like leather) and would do the job and piece was only $20.00.

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It isn't very thick so I tried sewing it with a "Jeans Needle" . 

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That didn't look too bad, but not quite right.

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So I have tried a leather needle which is a lot better. 

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The only cotton I had was a "Rasant " which is great for dressmaking but a bit light for leather.

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So off to the patchwork shop to get a heavier weight cotton, and would you believe it,  I got the cotton I wanted,  and a couple of pieces of pretty fabric.  Just too nice to pass by.

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Now for the prototype.

Some interesting tea towels

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I had a teen-aged student who's parents came from Portugal, where these came from.  She used to complain that all they did was crochet.  Everything was covered in crocheted and she called her mother and aunts the "Crochet Marfia".

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They are intense but colourful.


I am in the process of developing a class on applique and want to include a number of different techniques.  I had to make a friendship block for my friend which used a technique I think I will include.  It is a good method for larger pieces of fabric.

You will need a base fabric to applique it onto, applique fabric and iron on interfacing. 

Make sure that your pattern piece is cut on the bias because this will make it turn through and stitch in place evenly.

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Put your iron on inter-faceing  with the glue side against the right side of your fabric.  Trace your pattern onto the wrong side of your main fabric,

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then sew around this line.  DO NOT IRON.

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Trim back your seam allowance.  Turn to the interfacing side and make a small slit in this.

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Turn through to the right side.  DO NOT IRON.

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Roll the edges between your fingers to get the edge to sit straight.

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It is never easy to pull your points through.  You could use a collar turner.

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Or put a thread through the corner

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and then pull the corner out when you turn it through.

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Position your applique piece onto your base fabric and now iron in position.  Once you iron there is no turning back so make sure you have it in the correct position.  Slip stitch the edges into position.

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This method works well where you have larger and regular applique pieces.

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