Design Feed

Class 1 - Completion

I could have stitched so much more on these pieces.  From my initial response I have found this the most enjoyable and thought provoking process.

That fabric dried as 3 different, but similar colours.

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I thought at first it would be too stiff to work with but It was more similar to fabric that is highly starched rather than thick and stiff.  I think that must be a feature of the acrylic paint.  As I said in my post about the disaster of painting them, I had used the expensive even weave linen, but this turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I started to work with them.

I started designing with a series of shapes.  Nothing fancy, just the basic shapes.

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From these I selected the three most likely and decided on the last one I had drawn.  I then moved on to making a pattern that would fit the seed pods I had selected.  Actual observance of each pod revealed that I would be able to incorporate embroidery into the design.

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I started with the largest seed pod and the opening in the fabric reflected its shape.   The embroidery was just straight stitch lines and some very small beads to mirror the texture of the surface.

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I didn't have the right kind of cord or wire that Debbie Lyddon used so just had to improvise with what was at hand.  This resulted in selecting a button hole finish to reinforce the opening.  I had wanted to tie a knot at the bottom but the stiffness of the fabric saw me just not turning it all the way through.  I then moved onto the large gum nuts.

I love gum nuts.  When ever I find a fallen branch of these they come home to my "interesting things" table that I keep for the girls.  The blooms are beautiful and range through a whole lot of colours.

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They look a bit daggy when they start to die.

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But dry to these wonderful shapes that have so much texture.  This was the inspiration for the shape of my vessels.  I made a round opening  and the gum nut just sat there when I dropped it in.  I used a variation on feather stitch all over the little container, front and back.

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Because I had used even weave fabric the embroidery was very enjoyable and got me thinking about how I could use it in the third container.

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This container was for the little seed pods.  Some of the biggest trees,

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have the smallest seed pods.  These are photographed on a 32 thread count  (threads to the inch) linen.

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The birds rip the branches off to get to the nectar and if they are cockatoos the ground below the trees are covered with small branches and flowers.

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There seems to be an infinite number of varieties and colours.

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The question was how would I stitch this?  I selected eyelet stitch.  There are so many ways you can stitch this.  I tried out a few on the back of the container.

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If I had more time I would have stitched every variation in all the different shades of the bush.  (See that even weave fabric was a blessing.)

For this container I used 3 openings and different types of drawn thread work.

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Because the seeds were so small I put handfuls of then in and different ones show their faces in each opening.

I have decided to put a peg board on the end of the cupboard next to the "interesting things" table and make lots of different containers to hold some of these things.

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I think they look so much more interesting hanging and the seed pods inside fill out the shape.

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My "interesting things" table is great but I think a hanging display will be better.  Now onto the next class.  I have one day to clean up the mess I have made.


First Class

I was really excited to open up my first class with Debbie Lyddon in Stitch Club. 

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The support material is exceptional and I have rushed out and bought myself a box and folder etc to house my class materials.

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Then I read through the class materials and looked at Debbie's work and thought, " this isn't my kind of embroidery at all!"  It is nothing like I have ever stitched and doesn't really, at first glance appeal, to me.  I am more a counted thread type of person.

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But this is all about opening myself up to new experiences, so I read the class work again, visited her web page and blog and started again.  I found that I could relate to her artist statement.

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That I could relate to.

We are to make 3 containers for collected items. Debbie had collected a range of stones to put into her containers.  The name of my island, Coochiemudlo, means red rock in the sea.  I thought about collecting some red stones.  But that meant that I would have to walk on the beach and that means sand all through the house.  Forget that. 

But, I have a small table on my back verandah where I put found items that I find interesting to show to my grand daughters.  This includes stones but looking at the collection I could see that it is the seed pods that have really caught my attention.  So from these I selected three to make containers for.

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Next step was to prepare the fabric by painting it and this is where I really ran into trouble. 

Firstly, I am one of the most unco-ordinated people on the planet.

Secondly, I have never used acrylic paints before and know nothing about them.

Thirdly, I have never painted fabric before.

Now that is a recipe for trouble, only I didn't recognise the signs.

I started by organising a work area on my patio outside my sewing room which is on the first floor.  Protection for the work surface, kitchen paper for spills etc. and painted the first A4 piece of fabric.  (I have a horrible feeling that I used a good even weave piece of fabric not the cheap linen I planned to use.)

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I hung this on the portable cloths line and moved onto the next.  I used the first colours I had used just added more to the mix.  I knew this would give a slightly different colour but that was alright.

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Piece No 2 was just as good, onto the dryer.  Then I noticed what a great pattern the paint that had was left on the surface made, so made an impression of this with the remaining piece of fabric.

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But, it didn't really give enough coverage and didn't fulfill the brief so I painted the surface again with water from my pot and then added the paint.  This time when I went to hang the piece it dripped all over the place.

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It was sinking fast into the tiles and in my panic to get the drips up it got all over my sweater.  Panic!! I took the pieces off the hanger and threw them into the garden below.

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I couldn't decide what was more important to clean, my sweater or the tiles!  As I had to lower a rope and pull the hose up to the first floor to clean the tiles I decided to get what I could out of the sweater and get this into the washing machine and then address the tiles.  Speed was of the essence so here was I running around in my jeans and bra.  When I got the hose up to the first floor I had to use a pot scrubber to get the paint off the tiles.  I was so exhausted after all this I made myself a sandwich to calm my nerves and managed to drip honey everywhere.  More cleaning.

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So now those pieces of painted, expensive linen, are on the line downstairs.  I see that I will need to put down protection on the tiles as well as the work surface If I ever paint the surface of fabric again.  (I never get into this kind of mess with water-colours.)  I think I will return to my normal type of embroidery for a couple of days to reclaim my equalibrium .  But I am not giving up.  It may take a few days but I will get through the rest of the process to make the containers.

Things need to be replaced

I have finally finished the last small embroidery I was working on.  These pieces may only be 6" square but there is a lot of stitching in each one.

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As I was tracing up the next design I took more notice of the amount of work involved and there is quite a bit in this next one as well.

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I also found that I had no felt for the applique and that I was running short on certain thread colours.   I can order these things on-line and wait for them to arrive, and wait, and wait.  I am still waiting on some books and fancy pins I ordered 3 months ago !!  Anything that I can source locally takes at least a month to come through the mail, although It doesn't take that long for the bills to get here and if it comes from overseas who knows when it will get here.

I have also run out of art paper and printing inks, I can't get that through the mail  I used my last scrap on a card I was making and have to urge to do more.  I am going to have to make a trip to the shops.

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A bit of forward planning

As we start to come out of lock down I have been thinking about how I will pick up my activities again and have come to the conclusion that I may not be able to.  That is until they come up with a immunisation jab against the virus.  Because of my ongoing health problems I am in that 'at risk' group and the risk of catching the virus means I may have to keep up the isolation thing for some time.

So, looking ahead for the next year, which is as long as anyone can look and probably is a bit longer than one should, I have decided that I should retire from teaching during this time, probably for ever.  The only ray of sunshine in this area is teaching on an on-line platform, but I'm not sure that I want to do this.  But I do want to keep stitching and learning new techniques.  Looking back, the 2 or 3 years during which I took part in the 'Take a Stitch Tuesday' group with Sharon Boggan  I really extended my skills and it was so enjoyable.

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I know there are other free on-line groups but I would like to develop the 'ART' part of my stitching.  I have always had an interest in this and was part of a group back in my 20's.  (I started my City and Guilds studies back then but dropped them when my musical career started to blossom.)  Now many years later, and a lot of water under the bridge, I have decided to venture down this path again.

This is a piece from way back when.

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To this end I have signed up for the Textile "Stitch Club".

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I only have to commit for one month (which costs $42 Australian) and I must say that I did enjoy their Community Stitch Challenge 2020.

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The support material was first class and their use of on-line talk back gives you that bit of extra support. I will post my progress or lack of it.  I have to say I was a bit overwhelmed by the level of expertise of some of the participants in the stitch challenge but it is for the challenge that I am joining.

Time for something new

I am getting rather bored with the simple stitching that I have been engaged in.  It is time to start something more substantial.  The big question has been just what will I  start?   Because I haven’t been able to make up my mind I have just sat and done nothing, except the simple stitching.   But yesterday I made a decision and decided that it is time to stitch some Smoyg and have pulled out my book by Yvette Stanton.

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I saw the band sampler stitched at a recent exhibition and was taken aback at how much more attractive the actual piece was over the photograph.   So, this is going to be my new project.  I rang Karen at Allthreads and said I want the supplies for the project on page 36, can you put it together for me?  So now it is in the mail.  I didn't ask the price, I think if I did I wouldn't have bought the supplies.

Looking at Vyettes' kits for sale on her page I know I wouldn't have bought it.  Too late now!!!

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That fabric in the stash

After using the cat panel in the back of the cat quilt I have got to and cut every panel up and labeled just how many of I have of each.

Large panels.

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And small.

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I hadn't realised that the cats would face each other until I got them on the wall.  I then found a large charm pack of fabric that matched the cat panels.  I never saw these fabrics together in the shop and remember buying the charm pack because it was black and white fabrics not because it matched the cats.  Now I find it also includes shades of grey and beige.  I also had a whole heap of fabric that I had dyed so I cut these up to make half square triangles.

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From this lot of dyeing I got some lovely colours and they have made great colour contrast to the neutral colours of the charm pack.

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Now I have to put it all together to make a quilt. 

Recyling project for April

I have known for ages what I wanted to do for my April project, a pinwheel pin holder.   But could I find a pattern?  No.  I spent days searching the web, but to no avail.  I did find lots of images of antique pinwheel pin holders mostly from sale houses.


Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 11.25.36 amI like this silk one.

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And this one as well,

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and I even found a butterfly shape.

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But no instructions anywhere.  Result, I made my own.  I'm not sure if this is how others make this but this is my version.  (you will find a downloadable PDF at the bottom of this post.)

So what do you need?

  • An old piece of embroidery to cut up.
  • A backing fabric for the reverse side.
  • Soft, light weight wadding
  • Waste card  packaging (post card from book packaging is great)
  • Tacky glue.
  • Needle and thread.

I cut my cardboard into a 1 X 4" circle, cutting on the outer side of the line  as a template to cut the embroidery and reverse side fabric.  I added an iron on interfacing to stablise the embroidery.

  2 X 3.5" circle cutting on the inner side of the tracing line for the mounting shape.

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I glued the wadding to one side of each of the mounting shapes using a tacky glue.

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Using a fine needle and a length of poly-cotton thread I ran a line of small gathering stitching around the edge of the embroidery and the reverse side fabric, starting with a firm knot.  (A small stitch gives a much more even gathering line.)

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I found it helped to slightly gather this before inserting the mounting shape.

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I then inserted the mounding shape, pulled up the gathering thread and secured the fabric in place.

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Placing the inner sides of the circles together  I stitched the two shapes together.  I used a double poly-cotton thread, this is stronger and will not break under pressure.  I also used a fine needle that had a slight flex so that I could sew, using a ladder stitch to pull the two sides together.

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I sewed 3 or 4 stitches loosely, just below the edge of the cardboard  and then pulled the thread tight.  When I came back to the beginning of the circle I secured that thread.

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Next I decorated the edge of the pinwheel with pins.  These are great for berry pins or any long pin that has a fancy top.

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These are a great way to use embroidery from damaged pieces.  My piece was full of holes and parts of the design had come undone.  Now it will have another life as a sale item at the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild sale table.  Also, there is now a set of written instructions.

Download Pinwheel pin holder

A bit of dressmaking

One of the blogs I subscribe to is Tessuti Fabrics.  They have a shop in Sydney and the most wonderful exotic, expensive fabrics and they have a great blog, full of useful information. This month they included a free pattern for an apron in their post.

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  Now I am a born grub.  I always drop things all down the front of me and when I sew I get threads everywhere.  I thought this apron was just for me.  Only trouble  I don't have any linen, so I just used a fabric out of the draw.  It was the first time I have down loaded a pattern from the web and printing and assembling all 25 pages was a bit of a challenge.

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But I got there in the end.

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There was 11 pages of sewing instructions and they were clear and concise.  They said to add your favourite label so I took the logo off my letter head and printed this onto fabric.  (This might be a good apron for putting on whilst I'm teaching?)  I have to say this was a pleasure to sew.

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By lengthening the straps I found it fitted my fuller figure better but I don't think I would make it for anyone who was size 18 or bigger without re-drafting the pattern.

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I do think it would better made in linen and these would make great gifts.

On-line workshop

That Sketchbook Revival online workshop is back again this year.  I loved the work I did in last years workshop.  Not that I am any great artist but it gave me a chance to experiment and play.

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I came in late last year and didn't have everything prepared in advance, which resulted in a great scramble.  This year I am going to be ready in advance.  There is an introductory video included in the link above and once your sign up you get access to a pre-session on preparing a sketch book.

Screen Shot 2020-03-10 at 10.32.24 amThen, if you want to, you can post to the Facebook page and get comments from others, or not, as you like.

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It starts on the 23rd March though to April 3 and the page stays open until April 26th, for all of us that are slow.  Of course there are lots of links to buy things but they are just links, you don't have to click on them.

The health advice has been to stay away from groups of people, like my quilting and embroidery groups, especially for those over 60 years of age.  This could be one way to keep your mind and hands busy.

That link again if you are interested is

Some Embroidery Inspriation

As I am designing some new embroidery I am also out on the web looking at what others are doing.  I found the site of Paulina Bartnik and remembered that I had seen an article in Frankie magazine.  It wasn't my magazine so I couldn't take it and when I went to buy a copy couldn't get one.

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Luckily she has a link to the article, and another to one in Inspirations and Embroidery magazines, on her web page.

This is from Embroidery magazine and I love the effect of embroidery on felt.

Screen Shot 2020-03-05 at 10.21.42 amIt is interesting to zoom in and look at her stitching,  looking closely I see she mixes up the type of threads she uses. She has some great images on her Instagram account.  Her work is lovely just to look at even if you can't afford to buy anything.