textiles Feed


I am hard at work preparing my kits for my last class.  I seem to have been cutting bias binding forever! 

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 5.22.21 pm

Well, the thing is once you have cut that fabric on the bias there isn't a lot you can do with the left over fabric.  It sits in the draw trying to fool you that there is more fabric there than there actually is.

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 5.22.36 pm

So, I have cut up all the left overs.  I'm going to have a lot of items with blue edges!

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 5.22.50 pm

I always worry that students will think I am charging too much for the kits.  This kit will cost $25.00 for 6 items one of which is a pipe edged cushion.  Then I found another class offered elsewhere where the class cost $105.00 and you had to buy the materials yourself. ( My class is only $60.00.)

Screen Shot 2022-07-04 at 5.27.33 pm The best tutorial I have every seen for sewing pipe edged cushion with a hidden zip is on You Tube from 'The windmill workshop'.  I always include a link to this site with my class.  The zip, in particular has to be done numerous times to get the technique memorised.

(My class in now full.)


Still Cleaning

I am still enjoying this slow cleaning.  I got to the tea-towel draw and found many with stains, so, into the soaking bucket.  Unfortunately a lot had to be put into the rag bag, which was a windfall for my cleaner.  I thought that I would just replace them with new ones from Ikea but found that there is a supply chain problem and there was not one to be found.  I then thought I would try the Thrift shops and not only did I find two new ones for $1 each I also found some old embroidery.  My thinking was this would be something I could use for my collage work.

The tea towels were either a gift or of great personal value to their previous owner.  Neither had been used but folded and stored carefully.  One was from Sicily,

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 11.40.42 am

Trinacria was the earliest known name of the island of Sicily and that is the symbol in the corner. 

 (The head refers to Greek mythology, it is said to be Medusa, a gorgon (monstrous creature) with a head of snakes, a beautiful woman seducing men who, upon looking at her, were turned into stone. In the past, it was customary to place a trinacria behind the home’s door as a symbol of protection for the house - the Medusa would have turned to stone whoever wanted to hurt the family living inside.

The hair on the head of the gorgon is a snake intertwined with stalks of wheat, to which three legs bent at the knee are attached. The arrangement of the three legs refers to Eastern religious symbolism. The three legs represent the three capes of the island of Sicily: Peloro (north-east), Passero (south), and Lilibeo (west), which form the three points of a triangle.

The three stalks of wheat were added in Roman times, when Sicily was a major wheat provider of the Roman empire; overall, they symbolize the fertility and prosperity of the region.)

The other from "Etruria" in Italy.  This is the ancient country, before Rome, and takes in modern Umbria and Tuscany (Toscana).  I have very pleasant memories of Florence and love the embroidery from this region.

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 11.40.32 am

Someones Nona had died and things that were of value to her, but not her children, were passed onto Vinnies.   I think the embroidery was probably her's as well.

One piece I will use for collage. (It cost me $4.00)  There are many pieces like this in Thrift shops.  The lace has holes in it and the cotton fabric will take printing ink well.

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 12.12.31 pm

The second table cloth is another story.  I don't think I can cut this one.  It is all hand stitched.  (It cost $8.00) Someone has put a lot of time and love into this, I imagine it was part of a 'glory box' and stitched as part of the household goods brought to her marriage and then to Australia.

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 11.41.30 am

The cotton fabric of the cloth is of a type I have not seen before.  I'm pretty sure it is cotton and not linen.  It has a fairly heavy weight to the fibre and although the weave is plain I think it has been woven on a mechanical loom.  The stitching isn't fine, rather like something a teenager would have stitched, especially the edging.  (Oh, how I remember trying to get my scalloped edges all with regular stitches at that age.)

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 11.41.21 am

The cut work motives are beautifully stitched with what I think would be a fine pearl thread.

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 11.41.08 am

The detail in the middle of the flower also speaks of a teenage stitcher.

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 11.40.58 am

I think the stitcher began in the middle when they were enthusiastic about stitching this or it was stitched by a more experienced person.  You can see that they were just glad to get it finished when they got to that scalloped edge.

So this piece stays to honour the life of the stitcher.  I will thank her each time I look at it.

Screen Shot 2022-07-02 at 1.55.43 pm

Norwegian Craft Tradition

For someone who is giving up teaching I seem to be doing a lot of lesson preparation!  But that is how it goes, I still have to fulfill the commitments that I have  for the rest of the year.  Making the decision to give up has taken a lot of emotional energy.  Added to that some of my health problems have come back to haunt me, so I haven't done a lot of stitching.

I decided that even if I wasn't feeling well I would continue some of my research into traditions of peoples who live around, or close to the Arctic Circle.  I was looking for indigenous peoples but came upon a series on You Tube called "Norwegian Craft Tradition"  by Arne and Carlos, who are knitters.

Screen Shot 2022-04-10 at 1.45.26 pm

You Tube 

It is very "laid back" , which each video about 1 hours in length.  It isn't a slick presentation but I have learnt so much from it.  One of the people they interview is

Government Grant Holder and Recipient of the King’s Medal of Merit, Annemor Sundbø in Ose.

Screen Shot 2022-04-10 at 1.57.57 pm

She just knows so much about Norwegian knitting and embroidery. Just what the embroidery designs mean, why they are certain colours, why they are stitched a certain way and how modern examples have overlooked the original meanings and just gone with style.

Each program looks at a different craft and interviews craft persons working in that discipline and they are in English or have sub-titles. That is so good because sometimes Google translate leaves a lot to be desired. Annemor's books are also published in English as well as Norwegian so they are on my wish list.

Screen Shot 2022-04-10 at 2.07.31 pm

Once I am feeling better again I want to get back to my Norwegian pattern darning and these programs are filling in a lot of the backgrounds for me.

Moving On.

Well I have completed my last Kogin class.  Rather sad about that, but, I know it is time to move on.  I took  my vintage Kogin jacket off the wall and donated it to the Guild Museum Collection.  The high humidity here isn't good for the fabric.  I could have sold it I suppose but I didn't want to do that. 

That left a rather large void on my wall.  I have quite a collection of vintage and antique textiles and decided on another "Guatemalan woven Huipil" to hang in its place.  I love this old design.  At first glance it looks embroidered but it is woven and on a backstrap loom no less.  That cat like motive is interesting.  I have seen that in work I collected from Peru.


Screen Shot 2022-04-04 at 2.56.14 pm

I hung a sash on one end of the rail and a belt on the other.

Screen Shot 2022-04-04 at 2.56.02 pm

The belt is all representative of local fruits and vegetable.  I used it as a hat band.

Screen Shot 2022-04-04 at 3.08.14 pm

The belt has the most amazing tassels at the ends.  They hang down so at first you don't see the colours.

Screen Shot 2022-04-04 at 2.55.33 pm

Screen Shot 2022-04-04 at 2.55.47 pm

The shafts are some kind of metal covered with wool.  I'm not sure of their significance.  The ends of the sash has a very, almost modern design motive woven there.

Screen Shot 2022-04-04 at 2.56.28 pm

Whilst deciding what I would hang here I came across a number of antique pieces I have from India and I think that one at least needs to be incorporated into a wall hanging.  That is a project for the future.

Back Home

Well I'm home again after my little trip to the country where I have been judging at some country shows.  I do love doing this.  You meet the nicest people and get to see some wonderful work.  The weather was considerably cooler, and that was very pleasant.  It was cool enough to have a quilt on the bed at night.  I also get to look in shops that are new to me.  I saw a lovely writting desk that I would like for the townhouse.  My son won't like it, (he lives there) but it would be great in my bedroom.  The town house is modern and Guy often works from home so he has the living area set up to take all his computers, so it wouldn't fit there at all.  It would be an indulgence for me as it is an antique and not that cheap.  (I'm trying to talk myself into this.)  I didn't buy it but if it is still there next time I go up I will.

Screen Shot 2022-03-18 at 10.53.02 am

The other thing I like to do is the op-shops.  Only Vinnies this time but I still managed a good haul. One thing was this lovely doll for my grand daughter.  Cost $4.00.

Screen Shot 2022-03-18 at 11.14.18 am

And this mat that I will unpick for the embroidery to repurpose.  I have a machine finishing class soon and this will make a good demonstration piece.

Screen Shot 2022-03-18 at 11.17.29 am

See the price? 50cents!!  You couldn't buy the buttons for that.

(I bought lots more which I will keep for later.)

The next generation

I didn't give my daughter a subscription to Phillipa's sewing classes for this to happen but I have to say I am chuffed.

She has made me a woollen jacket for when the weather turns cool, and I love it.  She made a toille first to get the fit right and then the jacket.

Screen Shot 2022-03-04 at 10.44.49 am

Screen Shot 2022-03-04 at 10.45.02 am

She has completely fallen for Hong Kong seams.  I think the over locker has become redundant.

Screen Shot 2022-03-04 at 10.45.15 am

Even the pockets got the treatment.

Screen Shot 2022-03-04 at 10.45.29 am

I have some serious catching up to do.


Another recommendation

I have had my "Machine Finishing" class brought forward a couple of months so I am updating my samples and notes.

As a trained teacher I am very aware of the "presumed knowledge" that books, commercial patterns and teachers, and in fact all types of teachers, think that students already have.  This also applied in the classroom when I was teaching high school students.  But a lot of basic knowledge has not been passed on to learners, of all ages.  I know my own Mother didn't know how to sew or use a sewing machine and she would have been over 100 years old today.

So, as I am working on my notes all this is running through my mind.  There is just so much basic knowledge and skills that my notes were turning into a "major novel."   On visiting Phillipa Naylor's web site I found that she too has been thinking about this "presumed knowledge"and has called it "Basics".  She has put together a whole series of videos about this for students to read prior to taking her dressmaking course. There is much here that doesn't apply to embroidery but it is all really important information for anyone that works with textiles.

These are presented under four headings.



Patterns and

Sewing Machine Basics.

Screen Shot 2022-01-16 at 1.13.09 pm

The blurb at the top of the blog says:

Philippa Naylor shares her thoughts and advice on foundational tools and techniques required for garment making. We will be adding new videos to this series as we come across foundational topics which would be usefully covered by Philippa.

All these videos are free

So now my class notes refer students to these videos.  I will highlight the ones I think are pertinent to my class and set them as background viewing.  They are a wonderful resource.  (Not that long ago I would have said background reading.  Haven't times changed?)


Bright fabric

I was looking for bright fabric to use to make a gift and came upon this Kafe Fassett designed fabric in my stash.  It was called 'Artisan'.  Heaven knows why I bought it, I think it was on sale.

Screen Shot 2021-12-07 at 11.49.01 am

I know I bought it from a quilting shop but it wasn't really suitable for quilting, would have been better to make clothing with but I didn't buy enough metreage.  I have used it to make an exchange gift for a member of my quilting group.

We were given a list of patterns we would like to have made up as our gift and were asked to select one.  This list was then mixed up and we were given another members name and were asked to make what they had selected.  I was given this pattern to make up for a member I know loves orange and bright colours, hence the search in my stash.

I have changed the pattern slightly by adding a thicker and softer interfacing.  Reason?  Well I think it could also be used to store jewelry and for that you need a bit thicker wadding and I didn't think she would use it as a sewing equipment holder and when I gave it to her she agreed.

Screen Shot 2021-12-07 at 8.35.36 pm

I just had to work out how to attach the brightly coloured clip that holds the cover together.  I bought a set of plastic clips and a tool to attach them but I just couldn't get them to work.  I had to do it a few times but I finally got there.  This is going to be a useful tool actually and the clips are very strong much stronger than I had thought.  I will be using them instead of the 'sew on' ones in future for this kind of project.

Screen Shot 2021-12-12 at 4.33.41 pm

Only three functions this week, as if that isn't enough! At our quilting group we got hit with this horrendous storm.  We could see it building up over the city in the distance and were hoping it would head south.

Screen Shot 2021-12-12 at 3.49.50 pm

It just seemed to intensify.

Screen Shot 2021-12-12 at 3.50.04 pm

Still, we were all set up on the verandahs and one of our members had stitched bunting with each of our names on them.

Screen Shot 2021-12-12 at 3.50.17 pm

Because of COVID we self catered with some of our members doing the cooking, which was delicious.

Screen Shot 2021-12-12 at 3.50.29 pm

We had a visit from one of Santa's Elves who was actually my God-son's boy Leo. ( Leo has MS so we all raise money for research into this disease.)

Screen Shot 2021-12-12 at 3.50.43 pm

Then the heavens opened and this fierce storm descended on us and we had to beat a retreat inside.  Little did we know, but only a short distance away, at the Hungry Jacks Take-away, which in right in the centre of all the shops where we all had been at some time, a car was washed away from the parking area and a women drowned. This creek also ran through the playground of a school where I taught.   It is just something you don't expect to happen at the local shopping centre and there are many other shopping centres who's car parks border creeks.  I'm afraid that this has shaken me.  I will be very careful in all storms now.



Wild Weather

For years it has been dry.  Now the cycle has changed again and the rain is falling.  Along with this we have been having really severe storms.  It is cyclonic.  The kind of storms we used to see up north but there are some here that I think are worse.  We have had several weeks of rain, a couple of clear days, when you get the garden straightened and the lawns mowed and then bunker down again.

Screen Shot 2021-11-28 at 2.01.36 pm

I have to make a woollen skirt as part of my Garment- Maker's course.  Goodness, wool!!!  I haven't worn wool in years.  And then I got thinking about that.  When I was a teenager and into my 20's I did wear wool and even in my 40's.  School's can be cold places so woollen slacks were called for.  But there has been a steady increase in the temperature over the years and there is no need to wear wool.  The change has been gradual and I, and I guess most others, have just adjusted and forgotten that we once wore woollen clothes in winter.

Then I thought back to when I did make woollen garments.  I remember that we used to bind the seams and hems with a tape.  I haven't laid eyes on that for years.  I suppose we use overlockers now and we  hemmed  woolen garments with herringbone stitch.  I was mulling over all this, and then, in the middle of the night, I woke up and had this thought, moths!!  They could ruin anything.  They usually got into your clothes in the summer months and that was the end of your good woollen garment. And then there was 'dry-cleaning'.  I don't know where I would find a dry cleaner now.

Still, I made the trip into Fortitude Valley to the Fabric Store to get some  fabric.  They had sent me an Email saying the had 'short ends' of wool fabric.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 3.59.52 pm

Short Ends are the ends of bolts of fabric from designers.  They usually sell these off cheap to clearance houses.  If you are quick you can  get some beautiful fabrics at a good price.  And I did just that.   It is an treasure trove that place.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 4.00.15 pm

  So this is the fabric on the bolt  that I bought and I got a lining as well.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 4.00.49 pm

Problem with 'short ends' is that  if you don't buy them when you see them you never see them again.  So I bought a few.  Well, I know we will probably be making shirts and blouses, so I will need the fabric for them.  In amongst them is this silk fabric, (the stripe) it will make a beautiful blouse, along with some Liberty Lawn.

Screen Shot 2021-12-05 at 4.08.31 pm

But I have now remembered that there can be problems sewing with fine, silky fabrics.  I seem to remember I used tissue paper to get an even feed into the machine.  Oh boy, this is a whole new world!!

Some lessons learnt

The dress has re- taught me some valuable lessons.  I had forgotten some of these things in the 10 year break I have taken from dressmaking.

Screen Shot 2021-11-28 at 2.26.37 pm

No 1.   Know the fabric you choose.

The fibre content and weaving technique will determine just how that fabric will behave. 

My fabric was labled100% cotton.  It wasn't 100% cotton but a cotton mixture and I think the other part was rayon.  I should have picked this because it felt too soft but I said to myself it must be some kind of finish added to the fabric because the label says 100% cotton.  I should have followed my instincts.

Knowing the fibre content will also dictate some of your sewing processes.  In my case once I realised what kind of fabric I had I knew it would fray if I nicked or notched any of the curved edges.  This in turn called for different sewing techniques to counter this.

 Supervised the sales assistant when they was measuring the fabric.

I didn't and I missed a discolouration in the fabric that I didn't notice till I had finished and It was right across the front.  It isn't a terrible flaw, but it is a flaw and I will see it all the time.

Screen Shot 2021-11-28 at 3.34.36 pm

Check the selvedge

I missed this and if I had seen it when I was purchasing the fabric I would have taken more notice of other things. 

Screen Shot 2021-11-28 at 2.00.58 pm

Today many fabrics are woven on Water jet looms.  This results in a fluffy selvedge where the thread is cut between each pass of the shuttle. This leaves a weakness in the fabric as every weft thread has been cut, not rewoven as a continuous thread as in traditional weaving.  There are also side by side looms where the shuttle is sent across several warped looms and then this is cut, I think this might have been how my fabric was woven.  Using these processes has considerable savings for the manufacturer, making their profit margin higher and can result in a good fabric but it is a warning sign for the buyer that the fabric could have problems. 


No 2. Be careful what you say to your husband (or other family members)

I said I was never going to dress-make again.  This gave permission for my husband to take my dressmakers shears and use them in his workshop.  That was the end of their usefulness for me.

It also gave permission for my daughter to take my dressmakers dummy.  I've lost that one as well.

But I must have known I would come back to the dressmaking because I had hidden my Gingher Scissors.  There they were just perfect and ready to use.

Screen Shot 2021-11-28 at 2.00.45 pm

I am looking forward to the next class.