Teaching Feed

New course starting Monday

I really enjoyed my Art on the IPad online course.  I learnt lots of new skills and it has opened me up to learning even more things.  With this in mind I have enrolled in a Future Learn course about the Book of Kells.  It is being presented by Trinity College in Dublin and starts on the 18th of March.

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There are lots of great images in this book that could serve as inspiration for some interesting embroidery.  I know that has been done before but I think I would like to focus on the fish.  So look out for a fishie something or other in the not too distant future.


A new sewing machine

My eldest grand daughter turned 8 in December.  This is the time to start to teach her how to use a sewing machine.  Small problem.  I could give her one of my machines but mine are Bernina's and that means that they are heavy and I don't want to give any of my machines away.  I did have a Husqvarna Machine, but I have lent that one to a friend and I know she uses it all the time.  Only thing to do was to buy a new one for Monique.

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I am not familiar with the Janome but an entry level machine is less than half the price of the equivalent Bernina.  It is also far more intuitive and quite light to move around.  It has all the stitches that a beginner sewer would need, including some fancy ones.  Grandma just has to work out how to use it so she can teach Monique.

Being a sewer myself I also know the extra things you need for the machine.  Like bobbins, cutters, extra feet, needles etc.  So, I purchased these along with the machine.

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I found the little bag on sale while we were in Caloundra.  I bought it not knowing what I would use it for but it is perfect for all these extras.

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When her sister turns 8 I will buy her a machine as well.  I remember that I hated having to share my mothers machine between her and my sister.  A girl should have her own.  I hope she likes this.  It is not something that you can take for granted.  I taught my daughter to sew at the same age and she loved it and has always thanked me for teaching her.  Fingers crossed.


An alternative to computer games

Through this illness I have used computer games to keep my mind working when I thought it might shut down.  Now that is fine but I find that I am becoming addicted to the darned things.  So I have come up with a nifty plan to kick my addiction.  (Or perhaps make me do something else before I play, I do like these games.)

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This involves learning to use my Apple products properly.  I have a desktop Mac, a Laptop, an Ipad pro, an Ipad mini, an Ipod, an iphone and an Iwatch.  I have never had a lesson on any of these devices, I just muddled through teaching myself.  Having said that I use everyone of these devices but I think that I could improve HOW I use each one.  Come to the fore my friend Teena Hughes, who is not only my friend but a computer wizz.  She pointed in the direction of a free newsletter called "Mac Most".

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I am finding that the tutorials are short and to the point and I am learning 1 or 2 new things from each one I watch.  It is early days as yet but I think I might learn a thing or two and be less dependent on the old computer games to keep my mind focused and active.


WIPW

Another relapse but I have bounced back better this time, fingers crossed.  Still not completely back to normal but I was able to go into the Guild this week.  I drove myself into town and back home again.  So fingers crossed.

I also finished the sample for the "introduction to applique' workshop.  It is a cushion cover.

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I have included 7 different applique techniques in this piece so participants can have a taster of some of the common methods in use today and I plan to add a tassel to each corner of the cushion. The design is based on a bird I saw in Quatemala.  It looks nothing like the bird in question but is my representation of how I think it should look.

This is the male,

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and this the female bird.

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I thought these birds looked kind of royal, hence the crown.  I also included the colours of Guatemala, like the ones we saw in the thread shop.

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I realise now the these threads are for weaving but I am experimenting with making some tassels with them.  They are about the thickness of  2 strands of embroidery floss but have a higher twist.  This is going to be a slow job. 

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First you have to work out just where to undo the knot, like all of these things there is a knack to knowing just where to pull it apart.  I have it around the back of two chairs, just like my mother would have done when balling wool.  Then the very slow process of winding the thread around the base frame.  I hope they work out alright.


Normality

 I am still searching for that.  Just when I think I am starting to recover this virus comes back and reminds me it still has the upper hand.  I have got lost in this fog.  I know I first started feeling ill back at the beginning of March, I'm still not sure if it was some new medication or the virus at this point.  But by the 19th of March I was ill.  It is now May.  That is only 8 or 9 weeks!  It seems like years.  Writting that down gives me some hope.  I keep thinking that I am going to die.  But not yet, not yet.  It is now the most perfect time of year and the island is so beautiful.

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Even though I am not well enough I prepared a class for the Guild to teach yesterday.  I had most of the notes already prepared but I had to put the effort into preparing the kits and supplies.  I enjoy this activity.  I like to think my students will be surprised and delighted by the little extra's that I add to the kit.  I am unable to just give a list of requirements,  I always found that such a chore to get it all together.  Far nicer to get a surprise bundle.

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So off I headed into the city.  I enjoyed teaching the class but boy I was tired when I got home.  Still it was worth the effort.


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.

 


Applique - 2

Another friendship block to finish for my patchwork group and this time I have just put my fabric onto a double sided heat and bond and then assembled on a piece of bake paper.  After this it is easy to lift off onto the background fabric and fuse into position with the iron.  That sounds easy if you have done it before but there are a number of steps.

Firstly you must reverse your pattern then trace it onto the heat and bond and then fuse this to the back of your applique piece.

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Cut out your shape and then score the paper with a pin to remove.

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If you have a pattern place this under the bake paper and then assemble your pieces on top and fuse together on the bake paper.

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These will then just lift off as one piece and

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you can then  fuse them to the base fabric.

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But I see a problem straight away with my cup cake.  I should have backed the icing on the cake with another fabric to get rid of that shadow.  Still I have a crafty plan to deal with that.


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Next I zig-zagged the edges down.  Before I did this I put a piece of interfacing on the back to stablise the stitching and before I actually stitched I did a few practise lines to get the width and density of the stitch correct.

 

I pull my bobbin thread to the surface to eliminate tangles.

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Bottom and then the top.

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Then turn to the back and cut away that interfacing.

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My crafty plan for that shadow was to embroider and embellish the design.  It takes your eye away from the shadow.

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I used straight stitch, pistol stitch and French knots.  The fabric for the icing is by Odile Bailloeul, I just love her fabric designs.


Applique

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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A cutting tip

I have been working on my 'A good idea at the time" bags and have been asked  how I get pattern on the fabric to match so well.

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I don't do any thing fancy like pattern matching, I just put my selvedge edges together and cut through both pieces.  I am only using the fabric the way it was printed and it is usually printed edge to edge.

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But beware of the fabric where the print runs in the other direction, it just will not work.  You are going to have to pattern match this one.

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I think I am back!

This last week has been so intense that when I sat down to write this post I thought it had been weeks since I had been here not days.  I have such a backlog of tasks to catch up with and a huge pile of others waiting to be attempted.  What has got me so off balance you ask?  Those Children's Classes! 

On reviewing  I feel that the embroidery designs were good but there was too much to do in the making up of the projects, especially that purse frame.  I still have a small bundle of purses to put together and post out to students.  That has only happened once before.  I think the problem was that we had such a large class and I 'assumed' that my volunteers knew more than they did.  That is one to put down to experience.  Having said that those children were delightful.  I do like teaching kids no matter how frazzled I get.

Starting with my big girls, who are now on the brink of becoming young women.  (How time flys.)  They were not very taken by pineapples.  So, out came the books and they came up with something that suited them.

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Another crop of stitchers who have great skills to now move on into the world of embroidery.  This is what teaching is all about.

The younger ones did like pineapples and they stitched their little hands off.  Some stitched so fast I had to quickly come up with a design for a back panel to keep them busy.

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The images are not as good as I would like.  I have a new camera and getting the images onto my computer is a unfamiliar process.  Plus, Apple keeps sending through more upgrades to the operating system and I have to work out how they work!  They say they are improvements but I'm not sure.

I have a break now till the next class and this time the assembly is going to be a simpler.