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.

RIP old camera

It only seems like yesterday that I bought this camera but looking at my records it was 2005.  It has been around the world several times.  Up mountains, into the desert, been repaired twice and now it is dead.

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They don't make spare parts for it anymore.  So, I HAVE TO buy a new camera.  I have a lot of lenses for this one so I will buy another Canon that they can be used on.

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A big purchase but it is about the same price I paid for the dead one 16 years ago.  How can that be?

Ecco Dying Experiments

So the experiments have begun.  Monique and I collected a range of leaves from the garden and the bush close to home.  I had problems finding the wool and silk fabrics recommended but finally found the 10cm X 160cm strip of wool.  No silk unfortunately.  I had prepared the cotton shirt I had bought and decided to add this as an afterthought, knowing that I might not get any results from it.


As I was working with a child I had to be very careful about safety, so we put on gloves and masks when working with the iron mordent.  I also set up the cooking station on the back verandah.  I had bought a Chinese steamer at the Op shop and found an old saucepan and bowl that I will only use for this purpose.  Working on the verandah keeps those smells and anything else nasty out of the kitchen.

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I also bought an old T shirt at the Op shop and cut this up to make wrapping for the bundles along with the string.  We were both surprised by the  iron mordent results.  We got some really clean prints along with some not so clear ones.  The highly coloured leaves were not a success and the best results were from the Geranium and Rose leaves.  I am going to make this piece into a book cover.

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I haven't decided how I will embroider it just yet.

What was surprising was the cotton fabric.  We got some really good results.  These are now going to be added to all the experiments.

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The native plants also gave good results.

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We left the fabric overnight and then wrapped and steamed again.

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This time the prints were less distinct but still useable.

I did an embroidery experiment with a small piece and made it into a card.  This was using the cotton shirt material.  Lots of potential here.

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 I have a very keen assistant.

The next day we did both the copper and allum and now I see why people are not happy with the cotton.  Very poor results here but I'm sure I can find a way to use some of these.

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There was one piece of fabric that had been put into an iron wash and then allum.  This gave an interesting result.

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So overall iron seems to work best if you want a dark colour .  Now it is time to go back to the chemistry books and do some proper research, in amongst everything else.


Trying Eco Dyeing, Again!!

I have just finished watching my last "Textile Design" class with Dr. Caroline Nixon and this has inspired me to try Eco Dyeing again.

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I tried once before with India Flint but the results were so patchy that I put it away.  I intend to go back to India's work again because I'm sure the problem is me not her.

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I think my problems were caused by not using a chemical mordant.  The chemicals are now ordered and are coming in the mail.  As the island is a flora reserve I have an unlimited suppy of leaves to work with.  I am going to make this a project that Monique and I can do together.    The right fabrics are a bit of a problem and I think this will be more trial and error.  As a science project I think it has potential.  Writing up what we did, where we went and what the results were will be interesting.

At the moment I am preparing an old shirt I got from the Op shop.  I have cut off the buttons, these will be used in my toy clothes.

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And after cutting out all the seams etc. I have a nice bundle of well washed, pure cotton fabric pieces.

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I was going to put the scraps in the bin but they look so interesting I think we will have to do something with them as well.

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I might end up just as frustrated as I was before.  But then again I might not.


I found this hack via "with my hands - dream", which led me to the Ikea Hacks page.  Both pages have gone into my bookmarks.  On the first are lots of things Finnish and antique sewing.  The second has led to my new pressing station that I can position right next to the sewing machine.  Because of the injuries to my spine standing up and sitting down are painful.  Once I'm up I have no trouble walking, it's getting up and down that are the problem.  With foundation piecing you are up and down all the time pressing the pieces in place so this baby eliminates that.

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It was a struggle getting everything home on the barge and I'm sure my husband thinks I'm mad.  When I'm not using it it just sits underneath the regular ironing board.

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Bet those trays don't stay empty like that for long.

Lockdown again.

We are all in a 3 day lock down to counter the virus, shame the teenagers and those in their 20's seem to think they are exempt here on the island.  I hate having to wear a mask but I know there is a good reason for it.  I feel like a bit of a dork walking alone with the dog down the bush tracks wearing a mask.  Then when I get back on the road there are all these young ones with no masks.  I feel like dobbing them into the police.  There is a $200 fine for non mask wearing.

I am spending my time doing some more work on my Sue Stone class.  This first class in this module asked for us to use just 3 shades of the one colour, and fill 3 areas after we stitched our outline.  This is my finished piece and I have to say I learnt a lot from the class.  (I have it soaking at the moment to remove the pen marks.)

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I used three shades of green, this lady's surname is Green so that had to be the colour I used.

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The mid green was just a normal dress making thread, I needed this to do the details and then it came in handy for lots of other stitching.

My embroidery threads have been on these cards for some time and although they store well those krinkles are annoying.

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Solution, a piece of damp kitchen sponge.  Run the thread over it and it is straight.  It dries in no time so you don't have to stop stitching.

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The outline and features offered no problems but when it came to filling the three areas I had to put my thinking cap on.  I started with the hair and used the reflection of the light to inform my stitching, using couching to put a little kink in the hair and the light colour for the high-lights.  When is came to the other two areas I had to be a bit more inventive.  Normally open filling stitches are worked on an even weave fabric and you count the threads to achieve that even look.  I was not using an even weave fabric.  For the scarf I wanted to use  Star Filling stitch for the filling.  This is normally stitched in three colours so it suited my brief.

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To overcome the fact that the fabric wasn't an even weave I charted the first stitch on some graph paper and then traced it onto tissue paper and mounted it over the area I wanted to stitch then stitched through the paper.

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The only problem with using tissue paper is getting it out from under the stitches.  I use a very sharp needle and score the paper in both direction, then remove the paper with tweasers.

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It can be messy and you have to have patience but it works.  If you do a big area the mess afterwards is the problem.

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I then came back and finished the other two layers of stitching.  This achieves that regular look I was wanting.

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For the other area the figure is in front of a chain wire fence.  The light had distorted the chain pattern so I used a water soluble pen to chart my grid and then stitched.  I think I got that distortion just right.

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Now I think I will return to my knitting for a rest.

I hope they get there in time!

Shopping has been a constant problem this year.  I would normally get my Xmas shopping finished long before this but I am rushing to catch the post.

I got my daughter to make me some pinch purses to give as gifts to my nieces.  But not only did she do that she also made ear rings to match.

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On checking I see she has a Facebook page   and an Instagram page

And here am I, her mother, thinking she was just an academic.   I knew she was a great dressmaker but her talent with working leather is news to me.  I thought it was just a hobby.  I think this would suit her a lot better than the academic world.

The finishing touches

So a little time to hand while homeschooling to finish my mug bag.  So, all the lining is in place and stitched but I need to do something with the knots on the ends of the drawstrings.

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I decided to cover them with the little tulips that my friend Tomiko showed me how to make.  I started with 2 x 5" squares of  fabric that I joined into 2 tubes and then ironed a hem on either end.

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You then fold this end to end and run a line of gathering stitches through all layers of the fabric.

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Insert to knotted end of the cord into this tube with the gathered edge closest to the knot and pull up the gathering so that the tube fits firmly above the knot.

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Then fold the tube back over the knot.


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Join the two sides of tube in the middle with a small stitch.

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Divide the fabric in the other direction and take another small stitch.

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Finished.  A lot better than just knots.

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The present I made for myself

I have just about finished the items I made for myself from the Mother's Day fabrics.  They are not completely finished because my beautiful, very expensive, new sewing machine has broken down.  The least said about that the better.  I am just so disappointed in this purchase and up until now it has been wonderful.  I don't expect to get it back till after the Xmas New Year holidays, which just makes things worse. But, I have an old machine that I can use so this has been pressed into service.

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Because of the virus our meetings at the Embroiderers' Guild have been rather different.  We have to socially distance, do not have use of the kitchen, have to clean the area in which we work before and after use.  We can not sign in, have to tell the convenor in advance we are attending and place any money for attendance and purchases into special containers.  Now, I am not complaining, I know these measures are necessary but they are different.  One outcome of this is that we need to bring our own morning tea or lunch in our own containers, use our own utensils and bring our tea or coffee in a themos. ( I was surprised to find that my cold water bottle also kept drinks hot.  I only realised this when I saw all the other members using theirs.)

So to make my work area more personalised, I made a lunch mat,

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and a new mug and themos holder/protector from the fabrics given to me. I didn't have a pattern just made it up as I went along.

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I used one of the embroideries from the "Love & Hugs" free patterns I embroidered that I didn't think would suit the quilt I am making.

I can see myself using these even after all restriction are lifted.  I must make a little label to go on these to remind me of 2020.


The friendship of like minded friends is so special.  I find it hard to put into words just how important it is to me, I suppose that is part of the reason I choose to stitch all the portraits of my Maberly Quilters patchwork group.  This year has brought into focus just how special those friendships are.  Within our group we set up an on-line group so that we could stay in touch with each other.  We discussed simple things, like what flowers were in the garden,

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how beautiful the sunrise was,

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Funny things we had read.

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We organised a swap of fabrics from our stashes with a sewn card for Mother's Day and when restrictions eased a little, morning tea at members homes, within the numbers allowed.

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We normally all go out together to finish the year with a Christmas dinner, not this year.  This year three of our members offered to cook the dinner at Mia's home.  We all put in cash, and then, on the date of the last meeting of the year, turned up at her house. 

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Our gift this year (mine still isn't quite finished, and thankfully there were a lot in the same position,) was to make ourselves a present with the fabric we received for Mother's Day.

The ladies had set up the table on the back veranda.  It was special.  Mia lives high on a hill and we looked back out to the city in one direction and towards the bay in the other.  To see planes in the sky during this year is a rarity and now that the state borders are open we sat and watched a procession of lights in the night sky.  That seemed very strange.

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The 'cheeky cooks' outdid themselves.  They chose an Australiana theme for the decorations.  Bush flowers and leaves from the garden, animal decorations from Kmart.  The dinner was far more sumptuous than any we would have got elsewhere, and there was lots of laughter and love.'

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But it was the Christmas tree that had us all laughing.  It was a pile of toilet rolls all decorated within the choosen theme. After all the panic buying and fights over who would get the last rolls in supermarkets this year it was perfect.

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After dessert Dianna always tells us who has been to the most meetings and who the least, there is usually a small prize attached to this.  This year we all got prizes.  The biggest when to those who hadn't missed a meeting and so on down the list.  The prizes this year were 'toilet rolls '.   I came somewhere in the middle.

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So this year past is one to remember with thanks. 

For our friends and the state politicians who kept us safe from the virus.  (We have zero cases except for those returning from overseas and they are held in isolation.)  A year to remember, with gratitude.