Teaching Feed

Big Weekend

I have had a big weekend.  Big in the sense that I had a lot to do and big in the amount of ideas and inspiration I experienced.  Where to start?  Firstly, the first "Embroidery Convention" was held at the Convention Centre in Brisbane this past weekend.  I saw and experienced so much that I will have to break the writting about this over a number of days.

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I attended to demonstrate Kogin Embroidery for the Embroiderers' Guild.  I was so busy that I forgot to take photos of a display of my work.  It was just full on talking to people.  It wasn't a huge convention but it was all about embroidery and textiles.  There were quite a number of traders exhibiting as well, and they were also super busy. 

Having been ill for the past 2 years I have lost touch with the social side of embroidery and textiles.  At this show I ran into so many people that I haven't seen during this time and it made me realise how much I have missed and how things have moved on.  I am seriously behind the 8 ball.  And another thing I had to acknowledge is that I am still not completely recovered.  Yes, I can walk again and think straight but the fatigue sets in after about 5 or 6 hours.  I am not my old self that could work two jobs and just power on.  I have also fallen behind with what is going on in the embroidery world. I was once good at picking trends and where the market was going.  This past two years has put me right out of all that.  I have to do some serious research to catch up.

One of the traders at the show was Kathy Doughty.  Kathy is a quilter who owns and runs a shop in Sydney called Material Obsession and she is an innovator in the textile world.  Now I see she has embraced embroidery as well.  She also writes a great blog which has been down for a while because she has been travelling and teaching in the USA, but is now back online.  (There are lots of interesting links on her last post.)

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Embroidery, on her stand was labelled "the new vintage", it also features on her web page.

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I bought her new book "Organic Applique" which looks interesting although I have only flipped through it.  I have all her other books in my library and if they are anything to go by this should be good.  I see the title also states "creative hand stitching ideas and techniques", lots to discover here.

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Looking back at the traders displays I see a number had the French General sampler prints I wrote about and they were walking out of the shops.  Every one I spoke to agreed that the quality of the linen was good.  Charlie agreed.  I had some trouble getting my piece back from her!

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What we did on our holiday....

I had lots of activities organised for when my grand daughters came to stay.  I also put all my projects away and set out desk space for them to work on.  In fact I had more activities than we actually needed.  There were other families staying on the island and lots of kids to play with and we had to swim and play at the beach, as well as do activities.

There were a lot of plays to be staged, using Grandma's fabrics as props and costumes and I heard some one say "you should see all the threads she has!!!"

We started with pom poms. 

These are not as easy as they look and I made them draw circles and cut out their owns templates before we began.  I used old tapestry wool that I bought from the op-shop.  Just choosing the colours they wanted took forever.

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The second sewing activity involved learning how to do blanket stitch and how to plait.  The plaiting was a challenge for the 7 year old but she got it in the end.

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Since they have left I found that most of my pins have gone out of my pin cushions.  I did see one cat very full of pins being packed away.

The drawing activity I found on Carla Sonheim's web page.  

She has 5 sets of free classes for kids.  We did the first 2 lessons out of this one.

Screen Shot 2020-01-07 at 12.16.51 pmThey had to find animal shapes hiding in the cracks in the pavement.

Monique's story was called "They lady bugs adventure".

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You know, I looked and looked and didn't see the foxes.

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Then they left and I now have my room back and I can't find anything.

Another revision

This Machine Finishing class for embroiderers is still consuming my thoughts.  I have returned to the first project.  I finished the little bag and as I worked through the process of construction and analysed how I would teach it I came to the conclusion that it wasn't as easy as I had first thought.

So back to the drawing board. 

Question: What did I want to achieve? 

Answer: A quick easy project that used straight stitch only

Why straight stitch only?

Well it gives me a chance to see who knows how to use the stitch and their machine.  That way I can take any remedial action right at the beginning.

It gives the student a quick outcome with a finished item.

Two or three ideas came to mind but this little mini purse, I think, is the best alternative.

The pattern fits on an A4 page. 

It only uses straight stitch.

It can have multiple uses. 

It makes a quick and easy, yet useful and attractive gift.

There are also one or two tricks I can demonstrate that they might find useful in other projects.

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I am using this sample to keep my bus and ferry tickets handy.

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I put a tab on the side to that I could add an attachment. 

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For this example I have added a ribbon so that it can stay in my handbag and is easily pull out when needed.

The hardest part was adding the push clip.  I have decided to invest in some plastic clips and a tool to attach them.

I can now move onto the next technique.



Some feedback

I got some lovely feedback from one of my students, who is also a fellow tutor and judge and who's work I greatly admire.  Alana sent me an image of a piece she had stitched in an advanced class I taught on Kogin using one of my own designs.

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I had stitched it in the traditional blue and white but I just love the pink addition here.  Then she took the pattern and turned it into her own original design in yet another colour way.

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That is the ultimate compliment for me.

All ready, nearly

I have impressed myself here.  All the kits are complete, with the exception of the right size hoops and those have been dispatched.

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I delivered the kits for the volunteers on Saturday which gives them a month to finish their stitching.  Considering that I timed the stitching and it shouldn't take more than a day I am really pleased with that outcome.  The other good outcome has been that I have sold all those extra hoops to another tutor.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with those.  Plus, today I got the BBQ cleaned.  Sunday was Father's Day and the family were all here.  Lots of preparation and lots of cleaning up.  But Bill had a great day so it was worth it.

Oh No!!!

I just received my delivery of 30 hoops for the next Children's Class and they are all the wrong size!

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Not by much but I have already cut all the cardboard circles to fit in the back of the stitching.

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The other thing that is different is the screw fits a Phillips Head Screwdriver.  I will have to get one of those.  So another order has gone in for the right size.  Good thing they are cheap. (about .95c each)    I think I will include them with the bigger decoration just in case there are students that can't handle the assemble of the two circles.

I tried lots of different ways to sew those cardboard circles together.  There always seems to be more work in the finishing than in the actual embroidery.  Wish I had a little elf who sewed them together over night for me.  Because the stitching is laced together it is helpful, (but not absolutely necessary) that the length of the stitches on each piece is about the same.  If you can make them 'exactly' the same the finish is super neat.  But kids and exactness do not always go together.

So here are three tips that I have found will help.

  1. When marking the outside of the stitching circle do this using some dressmaking carbon paper. ( I like the Clover brand because you get a clean mark,) and a dressmakers tracing wheel.  You can usually find these in the haberdashery section, but you might have to ask.

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2. Sew around the marked circle with your sewing machine using a large needle and a thick thread.  When it is  time to stitch you can remove the thread  and use to holes left as a guide.

3. If you wind a thicker thread onto a bobbin and sew on the wrong side the machine couches the thread in position.  

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I use Razzle from Wonderfil which is a thick rayon thread.  This is about the maximum weight that you can use in your bobbin on a Bernina machine, some other brands will take a bit heavier. 

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You can then whip this, just make sure you tie off the ends so that when you pull on it it doesn't come undone.

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.


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.