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I am busy sewing new samples for my Machine Finishing class and have taken an applique I did a while ago and turned it into a piped cushion with a hidden zip.

First I had to unpick the old pillow, unpicking is so boring.

 

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This is always a difficult set of techniques to master so I have been on the look out for another way of doing it, and although not simple, I think I have found a new better way.   I'm happy how this has turned out.  There are some improvements I think I can make to the process.

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And how the zipper worked.

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I am also beavering away at my cross stitch and am at the half way mark of stitching the design.

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I also have to go back and have another Covid test.  I'm not looking forward to standing in that line.


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Just enjoyable sewing going on at the moment. 

My friend Carol gifted me her old dressmaking dolly.  I have put CRC (oil) on all the wing nuts and got her working again.  She is now all set up ready for the next garment.

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I finished a friendship block (not due until February) for a member of my Patchwork group.  This applique actually took nearly a whole day to put together , but I am pleased with the outcome.  (Oh that Bernina machine is wonderful to sew with.)

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And I have started yet another friendship block for another member of the group.

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A couple more simple stitched sayings.

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And I have got my knitting out again.  I just have to finish these sleeves on this cardigan.  I put it away because my wrist was so sore so now I do just an hour or so every now and then.  Monique will be coming to stay in a few days so I will be able to get a fitting and finish it.  Then I have to knit something for her sister.

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Everything is slow here.  It suits the humid, windy, drippy weather. 

A bit of simple stitching.

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This looks a bit like 'Sponge Bob'.

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A bit of raised band stitch in the tail.

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And that is one giant gold fish.

More work on the book cover.

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No real plan to this.  Just stitching as the fancy takes me.  It started out as Boro stitching but then morphed into something else.  The satin fabric is fraying like mad at the edges so I decided to embroider over the designs on the fabric.  I quite like those frayed edges.

As stitching is being limited I am taking the opportunity to clear out all the draws in my bed room and sewing room.

The first bag of donation fabrics.  There will be more.

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I said that I wanted to do some more cross stitch, so I did.

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I used a pattern from the Hungarian data base but I just rushed in thinking I would use it in a book cover.  Now I think I would like to use it in the lid of a IKEA round  wooden box.  It doesn't fit.  This one needs some thought.  Might have to be a book cover and I will find something else for the box.  But then I found another box that was just the right size.   I need to stitch a decorative border for this.

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This was one left over from my Children's Classes a few years ago.

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  I am going to up-date the construction of this and work out how I can line the box.

I have also been indulging in some 'slow stitching' with my book cover.  Still some way to go.

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Just a book cover, pot holders, (I found the pattern here,) and little bags for the jams.

 

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This year is nearly finished so time to set up a new diary.   I thought I would play around with some scraps of fabric I had.  No real plan, just stitch and flip.  It fitted the front of my 2022 dairy so I made it into a book cover.  The other fabric I found on a fabric scrap table.  This diary if for my quilting and embroidery meetings, classes and important dates, like the dates of all my friend's birthdays.

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I had a tutorial, back years ago (2011), for this book cover.  Still works.  The only thing I have changed is that I have bound the edges of the flaps, it looks neater.

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The race is on to get all the gifts sewn for the various groups I belong to.  First will be my quilting group, 25 members here.

Book marks, these take time to make but are good small gifts.  (Here is the link to the pattern.)

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Lots of Jam all ready to go.

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Drawstring bags.  All made from fabric I bought from the Embroiderers' Guilds, secondhand rose, sale table to put the jam jars in.

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I have nearly got these all finished.

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I have held on this ribbon for 30 years because I liked it so much.  Time to use it.

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And I need to put a clip on this bag.

 

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But I have written all the cards to go with the gifts, all 25 of them.

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I want all this finished by tomorrow.   I have another  couple of lots to finish for next weeks celebrations as well, but this is the big group and I have another week to finish the rest.


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I have finally finished my first garment as part of the Garment Makers Question Time course I am doing with Phillipa Naylor.

The dress fits well and is perfect for out hot steamy summer days.

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But I learnt a lot of lessons from sewing this one.  ( I will write a separate post about that.)

I am back to making my zippered box bags and will have them completed for Xmas, I hope.  I seem to be doing a lot of unpicking.

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And I am doing some more of those Kogin patterns for the Pin and Needle keepers

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and have cut out a whole lot of bookmarks using this pattern.

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Never a dull moment here.


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All of my work in progress revolves around my dressmaking course with Phillipa Naylor. (This is a link to some videos for you to watch.)   I decided when I retired from the classroom I would never make any more clothing but this course has me remembering how I loved to dress-make.  I think after 25 years teaching teenagers dressmaking and pattern drafting I got 'burnt out'.  When you have 30 teenagers in a room teaching them these skills, the pressure of doing that just becomes too much.  It wasn't that I didn't like teaching them, it was all the other stuff.  Many of the students where there because they couldn't get into their first choice of subjects, especially the boys.  Trying to make it interesting for them, managing the safety and behavoural problems, plus getting every student to finish their garment, took the edge of my love of the subject.  But it did have it's rewards.  Like the pleasure those kids who didn't want to be there got when they modeled their creation.

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Now that I am approaching it, after a nearly 10 year break, all the good things are coming back to me.  I am trying to approach my learning as though I know nothing, following every step to the letter but suddenly I am confronted with something that I know, and all the good memories come back.  An example of this is the tools.  We are using a tracing wheel to transfer pattern markings.  I received my first tracing wheel when I was 12 years old from my grandmother.  I had to go looking for it and I know I was also was given a darning mushroom, which I know is somewhere.  I hadn't realised how beautifully designed this tool is.

 

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The wooden handle fits my hand so well and where the wheel slots into shank there is room for movement so that it just flows.   I didn't notice any of that when I was a kid.  Today's plastic version bends when you put pressure on it and isn't nearly as nice in the hand.

One of the other things I am appreciating is my cutting table, which is fairly new.  I remember sending my husband to stand in a line at Aldi when they were advertised.  (I have never seen them offered before or since.)  I told him to get there at least an hour before the shop opened and he came home incredulous that there were so many people wanting this item.  The table extends in 2 directions which is wonderful for cutting fabric.  No back aches from bending over the kitchen table, or worse, cutting out on the carpet. The only drawback is that it is fairly narrow and you can only fit the width of one pattern piece on it but that is a minor detail.

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I did get a nasty surprise when I went looking for my dressmaking shears.  I found them in my husbands workshop!! God know what he has been using them on.  When challenged he said, " but you said you were never going to dress-make again."  So, I have lost those.

I have taken my time preparing the patterns and then cutting out the toille ready for fitting.  I went to put the extra fabric away and found that I had automatically rolled it, like I was taught in the workroom when I was 17 years old.

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I have also taken the opportunity to make a pattern and prepare a toille for Monique.  Her sewing machine is here and we can sew together after lessons finish.  I do wonder if she will like this activity?

And of course my faithful assistant as there to give me support.

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I just have to be careful I don't trip over him.  So although I haven't done a lot of sewing I am enjoying myself.


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Teaching has eaten into my sewing time over the past week so there is not a lot to report on.  My book cover is progressing, slowly.  I have the elements laid out and the fabric pieces tacked into position.

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The stitching for another needle/pin keeper is finished. 

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I decided to stick with the cardboard form because when I teach this most people with find this more readily accessible.  I have also settled on using 3 strands of the South American cotton on linen 18 count and 2 stands on the 28 count and I have found that if I block the embroidery before assembly the thread 'settles' better.  I am now seeing if I can give the wood a scent by using a essential oil to coat the outside.  This may not work.

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And I am looking at that quilt sitting on top of the sewing machine.  Wish I could wave a magic wand and it would be finished!


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So, the experiments with stitching the Kogin patterns with different threads and fabrics continues.

I tried using 4 threads on this one and although I don't mind it I think that 3 threads works better.

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I used linen fabrics back some time ago and dismissed them because I found that they shredded the cotton thread I was using.  So I tried again with this thread and had no problems.  It is a 28count fabric and I used 2 strands of cotton to stitch.  Only problem here was with my eyes that found the higher count of thread hard to see.

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Then, looking at all those pieces I got from my friend I found that one piece really was not repairable so I have unpicked the stitching and cut out the pieces I can use.  I haven't finished the layout of this just yet but it is starting to come together.  It is for a book cover.

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I found all these little mirrors tucked in amongst the threads.  When I get the layout how I want it i will use a Kantha stitch to hold the pieces in place.  I am having fun with this piece.