Getting ready for the exhibition

Next week is Canberra quilters annual exhibition.  For the first time in years I have had the time to enter something and make stuff to sell. The theme for the challenge this year is “Red plus 1” – as in one other colour.  As soon as I saw this I thought of the Keep Calm and Carry On posters.  So I made my own take on this.  I also used the theme to make some needlecases to sell, and I just remember I did a bunch of postcards, which I had better unearth from the piles of stuff in my studio and package up ready as well.

My Tiny Treasure entry was done on my embellisher.  I first distressed some synthetic organza stuff then arranged various yarns and stuff on a piece of really thin batting, then laid the distressed organza over that and ontop arranged some more yarns – then gave the whole thing another run under the embellisher to mesh it all together.  Then I did some hand and machine embroidery and sewed on some beads, shells and doodads.  I finished it with a facing.  It is 12 inches square.  Click on the image for a close up view.

There is always a section for handmade Christmas ornaments, so I made some little selvedge edge Christmas trees.  I don’t claim that this was an original idea, I Googled selvedge edge ideas and saw several similar, so decided to have a go.  Surprisingly, it took me about four goes to get an end product I was happy with in terms of finish and construction technique, but I got there in the end.

I still had some selvedges left so I made some needlecases too. I found I had lots of bits of selvedge with nothing printed on, so decided to print some of my own!  The tape measure strip on the foreground needlecase is a piece of plain selvedge I printed up using my tape measure thermofax screen.  I also used selvedge printed that way to make the tab closures – again, click for large image.

This pretty much used up my meagre store of selvedges, so I put out a call on my online quilt group to see if anyone had any they wanted to offload and several people kindly sent me some, so I can do some more playing.  I think a journal cover will be next, and I will definitely explore the idea of printing up some of my own.

The other thing that has kept me occupied is setting up a blog for the local quilting group  – Dalmeny Quilters.

Once the Canberra Exhibition is behind me I can clear the decks and start doing some of the other things on my to do list.  I am also waiting for warmer weather so that I can get out the dyes and wet stuff – its too darn cold for that at the moment.


A bit more play

I painted up some lutradur (the heavyweight one), then cut it into strips, using my woodburning tool. While I was in a pyromaniac mood, I pulled out some sheers, laces and other synthetic stuff and sliced them up using the tool. Then I pondered what to do with these bits, and found some good background fabric in my stash. Then I remembered that I had some black Misty Fuse, which hadn’t been opened, so bonded that to the background fabric, laid out the bits and pieces, fused it down, then put the whole thing on a piece of felt for stability and machined it. I had thought about adding some foiling at the end, but decided that some of the fabrics were already glitzy enough. Instead, I embellished some yarn on the surface to see how the embellisher felt about lutradur and other stuff – didn’t seem to mind.

Yo-yo update #2

Well, it has been pointed out to me in the nicest possible way that I am a complete idiot! Although in my defense, I don’t think the instructions/illustrations in the pack are as clear as they could be – but never mind, thank goodness for the internet. If you do buy the thingie, I’d recommend throwing away the instructions in the pack and going here for downloadable pdf instructions, with colour photos!
Also, check out Sara Lechner’s blog to see how she has combined yo-yos made with the tool with her embellisher to apply them to a background.
I see that Clover are coming out with other shapes – such as hearts and a five petal flower. Not sure about the hearts, but you can easily make a petalled flower (3, 5 or whatever you like) from an ordinary round yo-yo. Make and gather up as usual, then put the needle through the middle of the circle shape to the back and bring the thread up over the outside edge and put the needle back through the centre again. Pull firmly and the thread will ruche the outside edge down towards the centre. Do this at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock for a four petal flower. Can’t see that you would need to buy a separate thingie to do that!

Fabric dyeing and TAST

For years I vowed never to get into fabric dyeing – way too messy – I could see myself splattering stuff everywhere – I have always found the concept of being creative whilst remaining tidy too bizarre for words. However, I recently relented and invested in some Procion dyes. I got some undyed yarns from here. And then I had a play! This photo is a little dark, but I dyed some cotton and some scrim/cheesecloth and a few different yarns.

And here is what I have started making. I embellished the cheesecloth onto some dyed cotton, with a thin layer of dyed merino between – I texturised it quite a bit, embellishing from both front and back – I like the way the little cheesecloth loops come through to the front – then I used some of my coordinating threads to do some of the TAST stitches. I bought a spray of fake flowers (why do they call them silk flowers – who are they kidding?) and pulled them apart – they were white, so I painted them with some Setacolour paints and have embellished them in the centre to hold them down – but the petals stand proud of the base. They aren’t very firmly attached – they will need some french knots/beads in the centres.
Obviously this is still a work in progess – needs a lot more stitching – but its a start. And I am quite addicted to dyeing stuff!
The Texere order was shipped promptly, although postage from UK to Australia was a bit steep. Does anyone know of a supplier of undyed yarn closer to home?

Nuno (sort of) Felt

For no particular reason I decided to have a play with some bits and pieces and do my own version of nuno felt – or at least what I think that is, which is wool felted over fine silk so that the wool grabs the silk and pulls it up, sort of like ruching?
Well I didn’t have any fine silk, but I did have some hand dyed cheesecloth, so laid that down then arranged strips of torn silk, some merino wool tops, and some other bits and pieces – what are those shiny curly bits called? – oh, and some of the silk ribbon I dyed last week, chopped up – oh well, easy come, easy go! The first picture is all that laid out.

Then I covered it with some nylon curtain stuff I got from the felters group – they told me that is what you put over the top before you wet it down and start massaging it all, which I did. When I had done enough so that it wouldn’t all move about I rolled it up inside a bamboo placemat with a wooden rolling pin inside and rolled it back and forth. That didn’t last long, as I have problems with my back and neck and it has been particularly tetchy this week, so after half a dozen rolls I thought, forget it.
I rinsed and dried it (outside – its a stinker here today, so took no time at all to dry), then went to my trust embellisher and needled it all over from the front then some from the back. Then I took it back and gave it another wet felting (coz I just can’t stand those needle holes showing!) – I kind of massaged it rather than rolled it a lot. It was shrinking up pretty well, but I decided it needed more, so I got out my trusty washboard and rubbed it on that – well, that did the trick – it shrank up before my very eyes!
Here is what the finished piece looks like from the front

and this is the back. I quite like the back – the colours are nicely muted and I like the ruched texture.

TAST week 2 – Buttonhole/blanket stitch

Here is my little piece for week 2. Pre-felts embellished onto some upholstery fabric, blanket stitched with three strands of Wildflowers variegated silk thread. I had an offline discussion with Sharon B about the difference between buttonhole and blanket stitch. According to some traditions there isn’t any, but to others, there is. This link illustrates it quite well.

Right at the end of the post it mentions Hedebo embroidery. For more info on that, check here
I think I took a lesson in this once – it is very precise (read, tedious!), so naturally, I didn’t get very far with it. But a friend of mine was interested in the potential of those little rings, so my husband, who is a woodworker, made her a ring stick like the one illustrated and she made beautiful little 3-D flowers using the end of the stick to fashion little ‘cups’ which became daffodils – unfortunately she doesn’t have a blog (in fact, she does’t have a computer!), so I can’t show you.

I hope to get a couple of other pieces done later today, but at least I have done something!
BTW I have found upholstery samples to be a good source of backgrounds to embellish on, using my Janome Xpressions – I can pick up big bags of samples from the local furnishings store for a couple of dollars. This one is that sort of faux velvet stuff used in upholstery – the sample pack had a whole range of colours, sort of like a colour wheel, with at least six different shades of green and the pieces are about A4 size, so quite useful.

embellisher work

Here is a landscape I did on the embellisher – starting with a lightly wet felted background – I HATE the needle holes in skies if I just do the whole thing on the embellisher.
Next step is to add some machine embroidery – or maybe some hand embroidery!

If you were lucky enough to get an embellisher for Christmas, there are two books due out shortly to get the creative juices flowing – Dale Rollerson’s Surface Tension, and Maggie Grey and Val Campbell-Harding’s Embellish and Stitch