Design Feed


I have been following Rachel's progress on her foot stool done in canvas work on her blog.  I used to do a lot of canvas work but got bored with it.  Now I think I would like to stitch a piece.  At the Embroiderers' Guild they have a huge selection of threads for this kind of work on the sale table, so I can get the thread cheap and I'm sure I must have some canvas in my stash.  Next step was what would I stitch?

I found a colouring book on-line from 1615.  It was originally written for glaziers and plasterers but I'm sure some of these patterns would work.  (These are the kind of things one finds on in the Internet Archive.)

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There is a design index at the beginning setting out all the designs as thumbnails.

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Then these are expanded to full page prints later and there are some interesting designs that could work.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 2.05.47 pmIt also has some recipes for mixing colours that come with the warning that these might be dangerous, still, it is interesting to read how it was done back then.

Screen Shot 2021-01-26 at 1.52.14 pmI intend to have a play around with these designs and see what I can come up with.

First Marks

When I went to start my mark making for 'Stitch Camp' I found that all my acrylic paint tubes were either empty or dried out.  Not a good start.  Paint and I do not have a good relationship.  I had to wait until I could get to the mainland, where I'm trying not to go, to get some more.  Then the instructions said "mix till it looks like cream". I added to much water and had to add more paint so now I have two jars of diluted paint.  But I have made my marks and am waiting for it to dry.

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It is raining cats and dogs here.  This might take some time. But, I couldn't wait so I set the paint with the iron.  The next step was to deconstruct the two pieces of fabric and then reconstruct them ready for stitching.

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I think I will leave this overnight and come back to it.

I have lots of left over painted fabric to use for other things.

Another recommendation

I have had my "Machine Finishing" class brought forward a couple of months so I am updating my samples and notes.

As a trained teacher I am very aware of the "presumed knowledge" that books, commercial patterns and teachers, and in fact all types of teachers, think that students already have.  This also applied in the classroom when I was teaching high school students.  But a lot of basic knowledge has not been passed on to learners, of all ages.  I know my own Mother didn't know how to sew or use a sewing machine and she would have been over 100 years old today.

So, as I am working on my notes all this is running through my mind.  There is just so much basic knowledge and skills that my notes were turning into a "major novel."   On visiting Phillipa Naylor's web site I found that she too has been thinking about this "presumed knowledge"and has called it "Basics".  She has put together a whole series of videos about this for students to read prior to taking her dressmaking course. There is much here that doesn't apply to embroidery but it is all really important information for anyone that works with textiles.

These are presented under four headings.



Patterns and

Sewing Machine Basics.

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The blurb at the top of the blog says:

Philippa Naylor shares her thoughts and advice on foundational tools and techniques required for garment making. We will be adding new videos to this series as we come across foundational topics which would be usefully covered by Philippa.

All these videos are free

So now my class notes refer students to these videos.  I will highlight the ones I think are pertinent to my class and set them as background viewing.  They are a wonderful resource.  (Not that long ago I would have said background reading.  Haven't times changed?)


Sometimes fate steps in.

I have been agonising over clearing out all my fabrics.  I had 6 bags full of fabrics.  All in good condition, all use-able but all surplus to what I needed.  I had to steel myself to load them into the car ready to give away.  But, it just had to be done.  I am seriously considering giving up teaching at the end of this year and I will not need all those supplies. 

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Now it is done.

My daughter and son-in-law came to pick up a motor scooter, that is also surplus to requirements, on New Year's Day and to arrange a loan so that they can start the renovations on their home.  Laura is teaching 'Summer School' at the University so things have to be fitted in around that.  At breakfast she excitedly told me that she had started a 'Sewing School' as well because so many people had approached her to teach them.  "Would you like to go through my fabrics to use in your classes?" I asked. 

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Now the majority of the fabrics, a collapse-able cutting table, a bag of extra zippers etc have all gone to set up her new enterprise.  She is also dabbling in quilting, so I know my stash and library will go to a good home.  I knew she could sew and also that she is a great teacher but I hadn't put the two things together.  She has a Doctorate in Business and is academically very gifted, I would never have thought she would love stitching more than this.

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Looking back I realise that my love of stitching, which I took from my Grandmother, has been there for my family to see.  I have never tried to 'make' them like the same things as me but it has been passed on almost like 'osmosis'. 

Now I wonder if anyone will pick up on the embroidery?

This quiet space in my mind

"It is such a waste, all that fabric I have pilled up. "

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This is what is going through my mind as I clean.  "I could give it to the sale table at the Guild, donate it to an Op shop, I've already given heaps to friends."

The other thing running across my mind is that my hearing aids are giving me trouble.  One has completely died.  I wondered the other day when I went shopping why everything was so quiet.  It was Xmas Eve and there was no noise at all.  I rang the audiologist but everyone is on holidays and I am going to be living in this super quiet space until January 5th, probably longer, because the aids has to be repaired or replaced.  I ordered some cheap ones on-line to get me through, but they have to get here through the post.  It has been 15 years since I suffered the injury to my hearing when I was attacked.  It has just got progressively worse over the years.  I had no idea that this would be the outcome back then.  Being unable to hear also turns on your internal voice.  It was there before but now that there is nothing else to hear it is getting 'very loud'. 

"What are you going to do with all that fabric?"

I can't hear anything but I can sew.  The noise of the sewing machine may send others up the wall but I can't hear it!!

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I also have a set of noise cancelling earphones and I can hear the music I am playing on I Tunes on my computer.

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So maybe I can turn this set back into a plus? 

(Note to self : Put some more money in your itunes account you need to buy some more music. This stuff is so old!)

Simple stitching (2)

I wrote this post before Xmas and thought I would start the week with it.  There is some great simple holiday stitching and other things to be found on this site.

Helen Stubbings has been around for a while (2001) and is always very generous with her ideas and patterns.  She has also published numerous books on quilting, applique and embroidery.  She has a plethora of social media sites. (She has links to all of these on her blog.)

I liked all the great advice she has on her blog.

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Her articles on how to survive breast cancer treatments, taken from survivors, is really good.  (I can second the one about taking warm comfy socks.)  As are all the wonderful free tutorials and projects .   

These are not only on her site.  She is the Queen of networking and you could spend a life time just following all the links.  It always leaves you feeling good and full of enthusiasm after visiting her blog.

Some more thoughts on that goal setting

I have been thinking deeply about how I am going to approach the coming year.  I just try to do too much and really need to re-think what I am doing and why.  I looked back at my goals for this year and found I had fallen short, yet I have been flat out busy.  Then I came across this post by Ruth Singer who was also reviewing 2021.  She had written about goal setting here and here.  I need to sit and contemplate this information before I make any firm commitments to what I will do next year.

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I came upon Ruth's work when I viewed her "Criminal Quilts" 

I found this work deeply moving.

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Table Toppers

In my search for easy things to embroider I came across Gail Pan's new book "Tabletop Stitchery".

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There are so many Australian designers of this type of stitching who have incorporated it into their use of quilting.  There are so many that they must have a market for this type of work and there must be a lot of stitchers out there, who probably don't call themselves embroiderers, rather quilters.  So the humble doyle hasn't died, it has just meta- morphosised into something different.

The publishers of the book have a 'trunk show' of the work from the book.


I might use some of these ideas as part of my plan just to enjoy myself and I need to visit the sites of the other designers to see what they are doing.

Wild Weather

For years it has been dry.  Now the cycle has changed again and the rain is falling.  Along with this we have been having really severe storms.  It is cyclonic.  The kind of storms we used to see up north but there are some here that I think are worse.  We have had several weeks of rain, a couple of clear days, when you get the garden straightened and the lawns mowed and then bunker down again.

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I have to make a woollen skirt as part of my Garment- Maker's course.  Goodness, wool!!!  I haven't worn wool in years.  And then I got thinking about that.  When I was a teenager and into my 20's I did wear wool and even in my 40's.  School's can be cold places so woollen slacks were called for.  But there has been a steady increase in the temperature over the years and there is no need to wear wool.  The change has been gradual and I, and I guess most others, have just adjusted and forgotten that we once wore woollen clothes in winter.

Then I thought back to when I did make woollen garments.  I remember that we used to bind the seams and hems with a tape.  I haven't laid eyes on that for years.  I suppose we use overlockers now and we  hemmed  woolen garments with herringbone stitch.  I was mulling over all this, and then, in the middle of the night, I woke up and had this thought, moths!!  They could ruin anything.  They usually got into your clothes in the summer months and that was the end of your good woollen garment. And then there was 'dry-cleaning'.  I don't know where I would find a dry cleaner now.

Still, I made the trip into Fortitude Valley to the Fabric Store to get some  fabric.  They had sent me an Email saying the had 'short ends' of wool fabric.

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Short Ends are the ends of bolts of fabric from designers.  They usually sell these off cheap to clearance houses.  If you are quick you can  get some beautiful fabrics at a good price.  And I did just that.   It is an treasure trove that place.

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  So this is the fabric on the bolt  that I bought and I got a lining as well.

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Problem with 'short ends' is that  if you don't buy them when you see them you never see them again.  So I bought a few.  Well, I know we will probably be making shirts and blouses, so I will need the fabric for them.  In amongst them is this silk fabric, (the stripe) it will make a beautiful blouse, along with some Liberty Lawn.

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But I have now remembered that there can be problems sewing with fine, silky fabrics.  I seem to remember I used tissue paper to get an even feed into the machine.  Oh boy, this is a whole new world!!

Some lessons learnt

The dress has re- taught me some valuable lessons.  I had forgotten some of these things in the 10 year break I have taken from dressmaking.

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No 1.   Know the fabric you choose.

The fibre content and weaving technique will determine just how that fabric will behave. 

My fabric was labled100% cotton.  It wasn't 100% cotton but a cotton mixture and I think the other part was rayon.  I should have picked this because it felt too soft but I said to myself it must be some kind of finish added to the fabric because the label says 100% cotton.  I should have followed my instincts.

Knowing the fibre content will also dictate some of your sewing processes.  In my case once I realised what kind of fabric I had I knew it would fray if I nicked or notched any of the curved edges.  This in turn called for different sewing techniques to counter this.

 Supervised the sales assistant when they was measuring the fabric.

I didn't and I missed a discolouration in the fabric that I didn't notice till I had finished and It was right across the front.  It isn't a terrible flaw, but it is a flaw and I will see it all the time.

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Check the selvedge

I missed this and if I had seen it when I was purchasing the fabric I would have taken more notice of other things. 

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Today many fabrics are woven on Water jet looms.  This results in a fluffy selvedge where the thread is cut between each pass of the shuttle. This leaves a weakness in the fabric as every weft thread has been cut, not rewoven as a continuous thread as in traditional weaving.  There are also side by side looms where the shuttle is sent across several warped looms and then this is cut, I think this might have been how my fabric was woven.  Using these processes has considerable savings for the manufacturer, making their profit margin higher and can result in a good fabric but it is a warning sign for the buyer that the fabric could have problems. 


No 2. Be careful what you say to your husband (or other family members)

I said I was never going to dress-make again.  This gave permission for my husband to take my dressmakers shears and use them in his workshop.  That was the end of their usefulness for me.

It also gave permission for my daughter to take my dressmakers dummy.  I've lost that one as well.

But I must have known I would come back to the dressmaking because I had hidden my Gingher Scissors.  There they were just perfect and ready to use.

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I am looking forward to the next class.



I have finally finished my first garment as part of the Garment Makers Question Time course I am doing with Phillipa Naylor.

The dress fits well and is perfect for out hot steamy summer days.

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But I learnt a lot of lessons from sewing this one.  ( I will write a separate post about that.)

I am back to making my zippered box bags and will have them completed for Xmas, I hope.  I seem to be doing a lot of unpicking.

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And I am doing some more of those Kogin patterns for the Pin and Needle keepers

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and have cut out a whole lot of bookmarks using this pattern.

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Never a dull moment here.