Design Feed


In the middle of getting ready for the wedding I got a panic phone call from my grand daughter.  "I need a costume for my English/Drama presentation for Monday."  This was Thursday night and I had to leave for the farm on Friday morning.

Panic stations!!!

So in the midst of everything else I sat up late and made a costume for her.  She had to be a convict child from 1790.  I'm not sure this is very original but I know the bonnet is the same as those issued at the time.  I didn't have her to hand to do a fitting it was just do the best you can.  I sewed on fake patches and told her to rub it in the dirt.  (I don't think she has done that.)

Screen Shot 2020-11-30 at 3.16.40 pm

Here are my two girls all dressed up for their job as ring bearers at the wedding. 

Screen Shot 2020-11-30 at 3.17.15 pm

As I have said before Monique is on the Autistic Spectrum so I knew that if I didn't have this costume finished to take to the farm she would freak out.  The moment she saw it I saw her mentally draw a line under that problem and then she was ready for the next.  "Would Aunty Laura and Uncle Shane really get married without any problems?"


I am working on my second portrait from my Sue Stone class and in doing this I have made a surprising realisation.  Sue's process is to trace the image and then stitch this onto fabric.  I thought I had done this with my first portrait but in our second lessons we are looking at layers and I realise that I had automatically done this in class 1 without thinking about it.  So for lesson 2 I did exactly what was asked of me.  I traced the photo and was really unhappy with the result.  So I decided to see what would happen if I just drew it free hand.  Result?  I am better at freehand drawing than at tracing.

The top image is freehand, the one below traced.

Screen Shot 2020-11-10 at 2.45.32 pm

Now I have to work out why  I have trouble tracing the image.  It is something in my process that is happening at a sub conscious level and I'm not sure what it is.

Anyway, I have begun the stitching in brown thread colours this time.  I am using the drawing I did on tissue as my base.

Screen Shot 2020-11-10 at 2.45.50 pm

I think I might try just doing a basic sketch onto the fabric, (although this isn't Sue's process) to see what I can do.  I think using someone else's process and then altering it to suit yourself is a good way to coming up with your own signature in your work.  I do not want to just copy but develop my own voice.  Still a long way to go but I am enjoying the journey.

First attempt

This is actually my second attempt at a stitched portrait, (but as I used that for the title of the last post I couldn't use it.).  The first was in Stitch Club and I was pleased with what I did there. (It was a lot smaller than the one I have just finished.)

Screen Shot 2020-11-07 at 3.46.39 pm

This is the first in a series of seventeen that I intend to stitch.  Twenty plus years ago I asked the members of my patchwork group for a portrait of how they saw themselves for my friendship block. (We took it in turns to do a block for each other so we could make a friendship quilt each.)   I had thought that this would make a good wall hanging and I expected blocks that looked a bit like this.

Screen Shot 2020-11-07 at 3.56.34 pm

What I got was some like the one above but many were so different.  Judy, who's portrait I have just stitched gave me this!

Screen Shot 2020-11-07 at 3.56.56 pm

There were some blocks that didn't match the size I asked for as well.  I still thought I would do a wall hanging, so, I took photos of each of the ladies.  I imagined I would have this printed onto fabric in a random design and mount the blocks that way.  Problem was that the technology to do that wasn't available back then, it is now, but not then.  Then, 20 years later it was my turn for another block and I hadn't made any firm decisions about the first lot, so I declined and decided I wouldn't ask for another block until I had finish that first lot.

Over the years I have tired various ways to stitch portraits of my friends, both embroidered and quilted, but, non of them sat right with me.  That is until Sue Stone's Class.  I'm glad I kept all those photos I took of the ladies, they are perfect for this project.  I am very comfortable working with Sue's method of stitching.  

Of course over the twenty years we have lost members.  Some have moved away and some have died.  The first three portraits will be of the members who have moved on to become angels.  I think these ladies will fit in well with the 'heavenly hosts'.  They did a pretty good job of being angels here on earth.  The first of the three is Judy.

Screen Shot 2020-11-07 at 3.02.08 pm

I intend to make all this into a fabric book and also write a book about the stitching of this and focus on how important friendships are in our lives, with an emphasis on what this has meant to me.  I won't have it finished anytime soon but I like long term projects.

(Some notes about the stitching.  I used a dressmaking linen and backed it with a cotton voile before stitching.  I used only two different threads.  The black is Cotona Madera, 30 weight machine embroidery cotton from Germany.  The grey is a Rasant machine poly/cotton  machine thread.)



Time Difference

I have signed up for yet another on line class, this time with Sue Stone.  The disruption caused by the virus does have some positives, one being some of these "on line classes."  I have wanted to do a class with Sue for some time but It would have meant a trip to the other side of the world, plus all the added expense of accommodation etc.  This way I can do it in my own home.  (This is the first time she has offered this course on-line)

Screen Shot 2020-11-02 at 11.40.00 am

(image from Google)
I thought about the cost, for about 2 minutes, and then clicked that button.  What I didn't think about was the international time difference!  What I thought would arrive today will not arrive till tomorrow.

Screen Shot 2020-11-02 at 12.22.32 pm

I normally travel around this time of year but that is no longer possible. It kind of hit me when I realised that I wouldn't be up in the air, or fighting my way onto planes and through customs when the Halloween decorations started appearing.  So I put some decorations out myself and joined the list of residents for trick or treating by the kids, my grand daughters included.  Then we had this monster storm hit just when the kids were about to set out.   My son sent me a photo of the hail they were getting and I was a bit worried.

Screen Shot 2020-11-02 at 12.28.54 pm

But it wasn't nearly as severe here.  We had lots of rain, smaller hail and thunder and lightening.  Still all the kids enjoyed it, even though they all looked like drowned rats.


The Hexi's begin

So I have myself set up ready to start the hexi part of the raffle quilt.  I bought a plastic box from the Dollar shop, I had recycled all my other boxes.  I cut one strip of each fabric I want to use and gathered the other bits.

Screen Shot 2020-11-01 at 9.43.34 am

So many hexi's to prepare!  I started at a rush thinking "this will take forever".  Then I slowed down.  I thought about how I was stitching and finally have turned it into a slow stitch exercise.  Far more enjoyable.  I now start my morning with the ABC Classic FM breakfast show, a cup of tea and sew 20 hexis ready to put into this quilt.

I also went back over my on-line classes with Phillipa Naylor.  (Those classes are just so detailed and the work so accurate.)

Screen Shot 2020-11-01 at 10.04.47 am

This minature quilt called "Circuit Training" used a lot of the paper piecing techniques as does the quilt hanging behind her.  It is on my 'someday' list.  But, she has a whole section on Hexi's that I keep looking back to.  I wondered at the time if these classes were worth the investment but they have far and away been wonderful and just keep on giving.  I want to have this quilt ready for 2021, probably about June.  I think I have left myself enough time.  (Say's she crossing her fingers.)

Feed back on the pods

A little time ago I mentioned that I was going to make some small pods.  I had a couple of tutorials that I had found on line, plus a little pod that came with some ear-rings I was given.  I was going to experiment with cardboard and plastic forms, plus, different sizes. 

After I had finished I looked back at these tutorials and realised there was an important difference.  The first (the Asian one) only used a lining with NO shape form.  The second (the Olive purse) used a shape form for both pieces.  I based my samples on the Olive purse but on reflection think the Asian example might have been better.

Using the Olive purse tutorial I prepared my pieces attaching the wadding with tacky glue, then gathered and laced the pieces in position.


Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 11.29.02 am

For the smaller pod I used a plastic plate to make the form.  I also tried an old Xray film but found that it was too flexable and the image changed the colour of the fabric.

The larger pod used a cardboard form and this worked quite well but I'm not sure how durable it will be.  It is great size for keeping small projects or sewing tools in.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 11.28.00 am

The smaller one I made to keep ear-rings in when I travel.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 11.47.48 am

I am not happy with the finish of these samples so dug out my old pod and had a good look at it.  Firstly, I have had this pod for at least 30 years, so, it looks a bit used, but, it is well used and still works well.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 11.49.57 am

The leaves are not as well held together as the ones I have sewn, but they do the job and have done for some time.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 11.50.30 am

When I pushed them apart I see that the joining method is different.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 1.23.09 pm

And that the lining has no plastic insert.

Screen Shot 2020-10-28 at 11.50.15 am

I now have to go back to the drawing board and refine this design.   I will make another using the plastic plate and maybe recycle a plastic juice bottle.  (This plastic is a bit thicker.)  I will not put a form in the lining but stitch it straight into position and then use the joining method used in my old pod.  It will be interesting to see what the outcome will be.

Taking longer to adjust than I thought

My son and his family have now moved out of their home and into the home of their in-laws, who have moved into a caravan.  Their house is on acreage so there is plenty of room, but oh the disruptions!!  I have to drive for 2 hours to get their to pick up my grand daughter to bring her here.  I meet her mother at a midway point on the return  journey.  But still, there is a lot of driving.  4 hours return to get her and 2 hours to return her.  That is really eating into my time. Then there are the days home schooling.   Adding insult to injury someone ran into my car in the parking lot at the supermarket.  No note, no nothing just a ding in the car.  I have tried to push the panel into place but it will need to go to the panel beater.

Screen Shot 2020-10-25 at 11.50.35 am

The car is less than a month old and I have to get to Toowoomba in a couple of weeks and then to my daughters wedding, which is out in the countryside.  I am tempted to leave it until the end of next month when I have got through everything.  But it has to be done.  I might just have to hire a car whilst it is being fixed.  More expense.

The government has increased the number you can have at a wedding from 10 to 20 so we can at least have the immediate families attending.  My daughter has not decided on what she will wear.  At first it was going to be her hiking gear!!  Then she looked in Charity Shops.  I took her shopping and we bought a couple of dresses but I don't think these are what she wants.  It is getting a bit close for something to be made.   If it comes to that it will be me making it as she is about to start University examinations.

She is very concerned with the environment, hence the recycled clothing.  And, as the reception will be in the garden of the country house she asked me to find 20 recycled champagne flutes.  Off to the Op shops and at an out of the way Salvation Army shop I found them.

Screen Shot 2020-10-25 at 11.50.53 am

What a mismatched collection?  Some are glass, some are crystal and all of them came out of the dishwasher looking good.  Some of the crystal glasses still had their original labels on them.  They must have been very precious to someone.

Something else to keep me on my toes.

BEFORE I took on the role of home teacher I had taken on the role of the Secretary of the Coochiemudlo Artisan's Collective.  By the time all the home schooling stuff had started it was too late to back out of the position.  So, this is another hat I have to juggle for a while.  (I promised them 2 years.)  I always knew there were lots of creative people on the island I just didn't realise HOW creative or HOW many people there were.

Their show case opened in the space beside the Kerlew Cafe and was named Artisan Alley.  It opens on weekends and does a brisk trade.  Then the cafe owner offered the area upstairs as a gallery which is now fully functional. 

Screen Shot 2020-10-04 at 7.13.59 pm

This place has some really talented artists and Bryan Kearns is one of them.  Brian's area of practise is as an Abstract painter.  Originally from England where he studied at Leeds College of Art and then at the University of East Anglia.  After migrating to Australia he worked at the Queensland College of Art.  His work kind of draws you into the painting.

Screen Shot 2020-10-04 at 7.16.09 pm

If I didn't have the bottom of the cupboard full of paintings I have nowhere to hang I would be tempted to add this to my collection.  The other piece I would like to buy is this chicken.  So much personality!  ( by Artist Yvonne O'Shea)

Screen Shot 2020-10-04 at 7.21.10 pm

Life is certainly going to be interesting.  I hope I can cope.

Taking Stock

The past month has been difficult but I hope I am coming out the other side.  Home Schooling starts this week and I must say I am worried about it.  It is the 'thinking about everything that could go wrong' that is my main problem.  I'm sure that when I get into it I will be fine.  When I was teaching full time Sunday night was always sleepless as I would worry about the weeks lessons.  Come Monday morning I was into it and I never had any of the problems that I had imagined.

Screen Shot 2020-10-04 at 5.03.05 pm

Yesterday I gave my first lesson since lock down, with all Covid 19 safe practices in place.  I over-thought that as well. I prepared booklets with illustrations of how to stitch so that I wouldn't have to violate students 1.5m distancing regulations.  It was one of the most drama free lessons I have ever taught.  All just followed the instructions and there were not that many questions.  But it didn't have that level of social interaction I am used to.  Being out side of 'that circle we use' when interacting has an effect on how we connect.  I have to work out some way of replacing this with some other action.   Also, the restrictions meant that we couldn't share food.  I normally serve an afternoon tea during the break in the lesson and this acts as a wonderful way to get people talking and enjoying themselves.  Now everyone has to bring their own tea or coffee.  Not the same at all.  It just goes to show what social creatures we are and how much we take for granted.  This could go on for some time yet and how to adjust safely is going to keep us all out of our comfort zones.