textiles Feed

A visit from a friend

My friend Angela came for an overnight stay.  It was great to see her and we hit the shops together.

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Of course nothing was plain sailing.  The builders were supposed to finish the new built in wardrobe in the guest bedroom.  No, the doors didn' t arrive.  Plus builders are so messy.  I spent a lot of time after they left, which was the night before her arrival, just cleaning up.  I do have nearly finished cupboards out on the rear patio but there is still work to be done here as well.  It has been 3 years since her last visit and this had to happen.  Talk about Murphy's Law.

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I only have a couple of patchwork shops in my area but both are good.  Bayside Stitchery is a great store.  Good stock, with a whole range of notions that leave other shops behind.  Only bought a couple of fabrics here.  Not sure how I will use them.

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Then onto the shop at Capalaba.  Angela, who is a long arm quilter found the supplier for extra parts for her machine and I found a whole lot of COTTON gingham.  I have been searching for pure cotton for so long and here I found it on special.  Had to have a metre of each.

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Now I have found it this will be used for a Chicken Scratch in children's class next year.


Not very strong willed

I have run out of batting.  That was something I never thought would happen but I went to cut some and found there was non.  I received an Email from one of my fabric shops saying they were going to have some on special this week so off I toddled to get a bargain.  And I did, get my bargain and the batting I needed.

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BUT, the store was empty and they were unloading some Tilda fabric that I had used in the last block and it was so much cheaper than what I had paid and it looked wonderful.  I had to buy some even though I have enough fabric to sink a ship.

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I couldln't find any more of those little birds in the colour I wanted.  There was also no white on white background fabric.

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Driving home I thought I would go another 10 K to my patchwork shop down on the bay.  They didn't have the birds or the background fabric but I did find a nice light blue batik that will do the job.  I have to say a quilt with lots of white in it isn't all the practical so I am happy with what I chose.

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I really should finish that other quilt I have been working on before I start this one.


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.


Back in my bed again

I have had another relapse, which is usual with this virus, so have had to take to my bed again.  I am sick of sleeping in the single bed, even though it is a king sized single so I have moved to two singles together to make a king sized double.  Charlie isn't squashing me anymore and I have room to put my books and knitting on the bed.  But what I didn't have was a cover.   So I took two Indian quilts and made them into a new bedspread.

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One quilt reached right across the top of the two beds but had no overhang on the side.  So I cut the two sides off the second quilt, neatened the cut edge and attached them to either side of the first quilt.  I kept the hand stitched edge on top and attached the other pieces at the back of this.

(This is a bit hard to see because of the fabric pattern but it is the pattern that is just over the edge of the bed..)

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This left me with one piece of left over fabric from the centre of the second quilt.  I decided to make this into a reverse sham to cover the pillow.  I had thought about making more scatter cushions but I thought the change of direction of the fabric would make a nice contrast.

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These Indian cotton quilts are made with two layers of thin cotton that are 'Kantha' stitched together with a cotton perle thread, great for hot weather.   Everything is hand sewn with means that nothing is accurate.  I had to put a few tucks here and there to get things to fit.  I have a couple of other quilts like this and they wash well on the cold cycle of the machine and dry fairly quickly on the line.

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So now I can have my relapse in comfort.


Monday

My bed has been seeing a lot of me since last week.   I just lay there and read because that is about all I can do.  I have re-read Robin Hobbs  Farseer Trilogy and I must have read them so quickly last time or not really took in all the detail.   It was almost like reading new books.

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When I could get up and do something I have been working on the wedding dress.

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I am so afraid of making a mistake that I am taking it very slowly but I am nearly there.  I have tacked the 9 layers of net ready to cut the skirt to the right length.  I don't have a dressmakers dummy to work on so it is very slow.  The alteration to the shoulders is finished and tomorrow is the final fitting.

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Keeping the white dress clean has been a constant worry but I worked out that it was better to extend my sewing bench with an extra table up here on the 2nd floor.  I can keep the floors clean and the white fabric white with no red soil marks on it.  She is getting married here on the island so I suppose it could be all stained around the hem by the end of day.  I have attached a hanger to go over her wrist to keep that train up.  Hope it works.

 


Jet lagged

Well I'm home again after my month on the road.  I'm tired and a bit jet-lagged and my mind is full of all the sights, sounds and experiences of the last 4 weeks.  I have to sort through all my notes, organise my photos and get all the information into some sort of order so that I can move on.

So what was the one most outstanding event of the trip?  Well there were so many that it is hard to pick but I personally liked meeting the Embroideress in the markets at Solola, Guatamala.  I saw lots of women who spun and wove but she was one of the few I found who stitched. I saw lots of embroidered garments and there were lots of women buying threads and patterns but she was the only one actually stitching.  Her long hair was wrapped with ribbons and lace and she was beautiful.

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There she was in the market and as an embroiderer I appreciated the skill with which she plied her needle.  All of the hand woven fabrics are produced from back-strap looms.  This means that there really isn't enough width to the fabric to construct a garment.  So traditionally this was overcome by embroidering lengths together.  (The same as you see with faggoting.)

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They use a frame which is about 1" in depth and the tension is balanced by a spring, rather than tightened with a screw in the European way.  The needle is huge by our standard but the fabric they embroiderer on is a lot thicker than what we are used to.  In the past the best garments were embroidered with silk but commercial rayon thread is used a lot today.

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The stitching that she was engaged in was for the traditional skirt.  I bought a second hand fabric length stitched in this same manner.

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Although this piece had been stitched with cotton thread.  The different patterns used today have become somewhat of a fashion statement with the women and all the different groups use different patterns.  When you see the finished pieces on display, like those in the image below, it is easy to forget that a woman, like my embroideress, actually sat and stitched them.

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I found that the quality of the embroidery was far better in the older pieces of work and I fear that as technology and the Western world influences the Mayan culture hand embroidery will be replaced by the machine and people like my embroideress will fade away and no longer be part of this rich culture.

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Moving on

This is my last night in Antigua.  Tomorrow I am moving inland to the lakes in the highlands.  It has been an interesting few days filled with new sights, sounds, tastes and emotions.

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One old love I have revisited is horse riding.  And boy have I found lots of lost muscles.  The knees have had a work out as well.  We went up to visit a volcano and getting up the mountain involved either walking or riding a horse.  I took the horse.

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The getting onto the horse was a bit of a challenge but once on I was able to get on and off without too much trouble.  I just made sure that I was near a rock or a wall.  The other challenge was the saddle, which was wooden.  Actually, the horses name was Carmello and he had a great temperament.  He knew the way and only tried to get away on the way up not the way down.  That was because he got fed at the top and was looking forward to that.  Coming down the mountain the track was narrow and very close to the edge of the precipice.  I just looked ahead and prayed.

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The ash field around the volcano was just like the description of Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings.  The dust and smell of sulphur stung the throat but the views were fantastic.

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I have not been neglecting my textile study either.  The following images are a selection of the embroidered hupils or blouses that I have been photographing.  They are all hand stitched and the amount of work that goes into each one is amazing.  Like most of South America Guatemala has a strong tradition of backstrap weaving and everywhere you go women are working at the loom.

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The above image is really interesting because it depicts the same scenes that are seen in Mayan sculptures.
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I think one of my favourite images is of the flower seller.  She has taken flowers from the jungle and is selling them on the streets.

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I may not be able to post for a while as I don’t think there is much internet where I am heading but there will be lots of adventures.


Some singlet dresses

I had to replace the foot pedal for my over-locker and whilst in the Bernina Shop I saw some children's singlet dresses on the wall that they had been teaching as a project.  I immediately thought of my grand daughters and quickly bought a couple of ecco cotton tops to make them one each.   Now there are lots of  instructions for these dresses on the internet and they are quick and easy to make but I made a couple of changes to get a better look.

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I like this tutorial for a toddler but I wasn't happy with the look of how the bodice and skirt joined.

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The things I considered first were:

  • The choice of fabric,  I used some Liberty cotton because it gathers, drapes and washes well. (The fibre used has a long staple - expensive- which means it doesn't crease like cheaper cottons that have a short staple - cheap.)

        But there are lots of fabric to choose from.  Most Mum's these days do not iron and hand washing is a thing of the past.  So if you don't want to spend a lot of money on fabric choose one that has a small amount of polyester in it.  Pure cotton is going to crease.  It will look good to start with but after the first wash it will be creased if not ironed.  After a couple of minutes in the dryer that fabric with some polyester in it will look great.  (The heat slightly melts the polyester in the fabric taking out the creases as it is thermoplastic.)

  • The amount of fabric.  Most instructions tell you to use the width of the fabric but this varies between fabrics and the weight of the fabric will effect just how it gathers.   I think pleating would be better for a heavier weight fabric and extra width is needed if you are using a light weight fabric.
  • The distance between the underarm and where you cut the t shirt.

This changes with the age of the child.  For a toddler I would cut the T shirt at about 9cm (3.5").  A toddler has a bit of a tummy and this will hang better over it.  For my girls, who are 5 & 6 years of age I made the cut longer 12cm (nearly 5") .

 

Then there was the construction.

After I cut the T shirt I ironed a 4cm (1.5") strip of light paper iron on interfacing above the cut to stabilise the knit fabric.  This also allows you to use a straight stitch when you attach the skirt.  After sewing you can easily peel the stabiliser back to the sewing line and trim it off.

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The gathering.

Most instructions will tell you to lengthen your machine stitch.  I only slightly lengthen the stitch but I also loosen the tension.  This makes that bobbin thread easy to pull up.  (I sew on the right side and gather on the wrong side of the fabric.)

I also sew 2 lines of gathering.  At the end of the first line I sew down 3 stitches and come back the other way.  (This is about the width of your presser foot. 

This allows you to pull up an even gathering and you can then sew the bodice and skirt together in between the 2 gathering lines.  To pull out the gathering threads you just have to snip the thread on the bobbin stitched side back at that 3 stitch turn. The loose bobbin thread pulls out with no fuss and the top thread just falls away.  This also means you do not disturb that line of stitching where you joined the bodice and skirt.

Make sure you mark the quarter and half ways points on the top of the skirt before you pull up that gathering thread.  This will then make it easy to line them up with the seams and centre front and back of the T shirt.  I then neaten this edge by over-locking it.

I thought about top stitching the join but decided it wasn't necessary.

The hem

If you want to allow for growth, and all kids grow ,  set a wider hem you can let down.  You could machine it but I like the hang of a hand stitched hem.

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The girls put the dresses on and refused to take them off.  They love the feel of that Liberty fabric.  They couldn't stop touching it.  Now there will be nothing to compare to this fabric.  I bet they are hooked for life, just like me.

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Parcel in the post

There is a little shop, nearly at the end of the road to the water, at Kingston Beach in Tasmania, called Wafu Works.

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(image from Wafu Works website.)

There is so much to see in there and so much that I would like to buy and not just textiles.  I really want this tea set.  I'm just not sure it would get here in one piece.  Every since I read the stories of the girl in the moon and her rabbits I have loved this type of design.

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(image from Wafu Works facebook page.)

 On their web page there is an image of an appliqued lady on paper.  You have to see these, they are quiet beautiful.

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I have just bought a bundle of vintage cotton fabric to use in a gift  I need to make and the parcel has just arrived in the post.  Problem is, they are so beautiful I won't want to give it away.

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Now I realise that I have a whole lot of gifts that have to be finished for Easter.  March is going to be a VERY busy month.

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Loot

I  took a trip up to Warwick this week.  A long drive, over 3 hours each way.  I left early to miss the trucks going up Cunningham's Gap and there were only a couple of other cars on the road.  Last time I went up here there were road works caused by rock falls.  Non this day thank goodness.

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I wasn't so lucky coming back as there were lots of big trucks crawling down the range.  Once you get up the range you enter thick rain-forest and then out onto rich farm land.  This is where the headwaters of the Condamine River begins , that joins into the Murray-Daring exiting in South Australia.

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I was visiting friends who were staying at Glenrose which is on the fringe of the city.

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They host sewing retreats and you have to book well in advance to get in.  They have 4 cottages sprinkled through the garden and a great conference/sewing space .

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And I very quickly found their patchwork shop before I even found my friends.  And then I found some of my other friends in the shop.  It is a great shop and I came away with quite a bit of loot.  ONLY things I need.

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I bought the red fabric for the pin cushions but I also bought some scented ground nutshells for the filling.

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And two different types of mesh for using in one of my classes.

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This fabric was reduced and only $10 p.m. so I had to take all that was left on the roll.

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And the book was a gift from a friend.  I'm looking forward to getting into that.

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It was unbelievably hot up there, 39 degrees, so I stayed in the air-conditioning as much as possible.  When I got home I found the wind had changed direction and things were cooling off a bit.

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We have now had some rain.  Great for the garden but it has brought out the sand-flys  so repelant is in use again.

 

 

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