Thursday, 24 September 2015

Catch up

Not sure what happens to time these days but I thought I'd let you know what I've been doing recently.  On Saturday there was a workshop by Joanna O'Neill put on by my local Embroiderers' Guild called "No Scissors Needed".   Using freezer paper stencils, an old toothbrush and Markal sticks we spent the morning playing
Both fabrics look alike but the top is black and the bottom pale lilac.
The holly leaves were silver and look more like silver in the photo than they do on the fabric.  Apparently the best thing to do when putting metallic Markel on a black fabric is to put white on first, I didn't know about this until it was too late.

Although I used this technique when doing my C&G Joanna has refined the process and some of her works are absolutely stunning.

Joanne gave us all a 'Blue Peter' one (for those who don't know about Blue Peter its one done earlier).  Markel takes at least 24 hours to cure before you can do anything with it.  

Monday saw me printing on fabric again, this time with the Plus4 group.  A friend had given me a dozen or more Indian printing blocks so I took them along for us all to play with.  The challenge was to print on calico and make a tote back from the results.   This is mine.

I haven't made my mind up whether to overdye or not.

Yesterday I got a request from my son to make him a pencil case with a roll out pencil roll.  He'd seen one on the net he'd like but thought it a tad expensive. He thought it would be useful when he went out on site.  Any colour he said would do other than pink, cos the big boys would laugh at him. This is where Mum comes in.   It was also his wife's birthday last week and she wanted a set of coloured fountain pens that are erasable.  I ordered them and when the arrived I was disappointed to find they were loose and not in a box or case.  So naturally I had to make one from some of my left over quilt block scraps.

After I'd made it I thought it would have been a good idea to try making one that Marc wanted.   All I have to do now is find some suitable fabric for Marc's and refine the pattern.

Just hope she like it.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

More scraps

I've now got 52 of the 56 blocks I need for my scrappy block quilt but I'm running out of steam.  I will get the other four done before Christmas as I want to sit and hand quilt the blocks when the nights draw in.  Just need a push.

Today is my birthday and I must say it was much happier than last year, last year was very bad.  It was the first anniversary since Keith died but worst it was our shared birthday.  So this year I had decided I wasn't going to have one but my friends and family decided I was.  I've had a lovely day, my friend Anne took me out for lunch and cards and presents seem to have been rolling in day long.  Today has been a happy day.  I now feel much better to carry on, I miss his lordship badly, worse on some days than others but on the whole I'm getting on with life and have joined one or two things where there are people to talk to and have fun with.

Two weekends ago I went to Whitchurch in Shropshire where Marc was doing his first half iron man triathlon.  He was challenging himself rather than aiming for a fast time, he just didn't want to come in last, and he didn't.  He did a very respectable time of 7 hours 8 minutes for the 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles bike ride and the half marathon run.  It took me all day just to walk round the field and back...  All I have to do now is work out how to upload the photos I took of him finishing from my new phone.  Be back soon.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Scrap bag

Wow I hadn't realised it had been so long since I last blogged, mainly because I had nothing new to say.  But I have been busy travelling around visiting people and places in the last few weeks.  My muse must also have been on holiday as I just have not had any motivation to get up and do something.  Until last week when I saw a block on the Pinterest that I thought would make a good scrap busting exercise.  So despite saying I was not going to buy any more new fabrics this year I went to Craven Crafts and bought lots of white fabric.

Then I tackled my scrap bags (or rather boxes) and decided to make some scrappy blocks ready to hand quilt-as-you-go this Autumn.  My Winter project is to make myself a king sized quilt to fit my bed.  Just hope I'm up to it.  Not sure how I'm going to quilt them yet but I will put them together on this side with plain white strips. I have yet to decide what I'm going to back them with but probably one of the fabrics from the front.

This is the basic block, fairly simple but using quite a few scraps. Each one is made up of monochromatic scraps..  So far I've made 24 blocks in six different colours.  I've used left over fabric from other projects and fat quarters I no longer like, these hide very nicely amongst the others.  You need 8 different fabrics for the flying geese and centre circle but if you use fat quarters you can get enough scraps to make 8 blocks, not counting the white fabric.

I've got another four sets cut out ready to sew.

I've made a start on sewing the one inch strips for the purples, these will make the stripped circles in the middle of the block.  It takes longer to make these than the rest of the block put together.  I have still to do the other three sets.

I am going to need another 4 sets of 4 colours once these have been sewn together.  Once I've cut these out I'll have enough for 56 blocks.  All I need to do next is find enough scraps to make a border lol.    As you can see it takes quite a lot of scraps.  I'm quite enjoying myself, maybe my mojo is back from holiday.

Friday, 29 May 2015

French Street Cards

Some time ago I made a postcard for our EG French Street exhibition and got the size wrong.... So I've made another two, I just couldn't be bothered to redo the first one.  They have to be in for next Saturday so at last I got my finger out and finished them.

 The background of this card doesn't show up very well at all but its a mosaic of tiny scraps of fabric in colour bands.  I covered the whole piece in organza in co-co-ordinating colours after I bonded the Eiffel tower to the background.  I wanted to achieve a sort of Monet affect and it works, except in the photo.  I took the idea from a photo taken when Keith and I were last in Paris.  There is an area, forget where it is, that you get a great view of the whole of the tower.  In the photo were other people viewing the same scene and I used the back view of one couple.  It's not strictly an authentic view as I've added trees and some quilted buildings to the background.
 This one is a again from a photo taken somewhere in Southern France, forget the name of the village.  I have wanted to try out fmq on a patchwork background for some time and thought this would make another card.  Not really pleased with the doorways.
This last one was the first one I made and it is 5" x 7" but the other two are the correct size of A5

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A bit of this and that

May hasn't been a month of activity, sewing wise that is but I have managed to do the odd bit of crafting.  I finally got round to making a mat for my Janome sewing machine to sit on when I take it to workshops.

I used a piece of batik fabric that I'd been 'saving for something special'.  I really need to use up some of the stash I've collected, I can't 'save' it all.

Last Saturday Nicky Dillerstone was giving a talk to our embroiderers guild and in the morning she had agreed to hold a mini workshop, called "Textured Frames".  I hadn't a clue what to expect but signed up for it on the basis that it would be fun just to do things with friends.  We were all given a pack of bits and pieces, mainly papers, string, thread, bandage and scraps of fabric.  Along with six four in square pieces of card with a 2" hole in the centre and a book cover.  We were given permission to play, to create frames that could be made into a small book.  We all finished six pages but had to take them home to complete and bring back to the guild next month.

Well I managed to get mine finished, I had to create a couple more pages to fill the book cover out but here it is.  My theme, after much deliberation, was based on walking by the sea and along the coastal path near home.

I covered the book cover in crumpled brown paper, edge it with a piece of lace and later spray dyed it and finally gave it a coating of acrylic wax to make it shine like leather.

First spread is a view from the coastal path and sand dunes.  I haven't a clue why Blogger has decided to turn the rest of the photos on their side but try as I might I can't get them to print in the correct orientation.  Sorry you will get a crick in your neck looking at these.

 Looking through the grass at the sea and the harbour side.

 Rockpools and the sea and the lighthouse from the dunes.

The lighthouse again with a rock pool and a view of the moors from the dunes at sunset.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Oh what a lovely weekend

It seems ages since I blogged but sometimes life just gets in the way.  I have just spent a lovely weekend with my family.  The boys planned it as a treat for me and it was wonderful to have the whole weekend to spend with them without one of us needing to go somewhere.  On Saturday we strolled through the West End shops then had a meal at The Real Greek before going on to the theatre.  Where we saw "The play that went wrong" at the Duchess Theatre.  It was so hammy and silly that it was hilarious and all of us enjoyed it very much.

On Sunday we took a taxi to Kings Cross to leave our luggage and we had the rest of the day ahead of us to enjoy.  It was Shakespeare's birthday celebrations and they were opening the Globe free of charge and we'd heard there were various things planned for the day.  So we thought we'd make that the next stop.  After that we were heading West to a wholefood market. And this is what we told our driver when he asked about our plans.  He then told us of the demonstration that was planned for that day in aid of legalising cannabis.  He said that there would be demonstrations on the Southbank and the West End and warned us to keep an eye on the time we needed to get back to the station.  He also said that the buses were being rerouted and some Metro stations closed from 1pm until pm.  That left us in a bit of a quandary as we did not want to get mixed up with the demonstration.  Our knowledgeable driver advised us to go North to Camden Market as it was not far from Kings Cross.

We took him up on his offer and had a wonderful time.  True to his word the Metro at Camden closed at 1pm so we walked back along the canal to the station, tired but happy.
Everywhere we went the Cherry Blossom was in full bloom and this year it seems better than ever.
Me and my girls in Covent Garden, look for somewhere to have coffee.
This window caught my eye it was full of old sewing machines.
Mad Hatter's Tea Party in Camden High Street

It was very busy and these photos don't do it justice but we enjoyed trying all the street food, not to mention all the other stalls.

The day ended with a lovely walk back along the canal side.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Burning back

Some time ago I saw Margaret Beal layering synthetic fabrics and using a soldering iron to burn the layers back to create patterns.  Kathleen Laurel Sage layers sheer fabrics, stitches a design onto the layers and burns back some layers to create colour variation.  Just recently I've seen Susan Lenz use a combination of both techniques to create her own version of stain glass windows.  I've taken courses with both Margaret Beal and Kathleen Laurel Sage in the past and the technique fascinates me.

This is the piece I made in Kathleen's class with a close up of one of the flowers, that's beading in the centre but I think it looks like a button.  I've always planned to make a larger piece, perhaps using four of the above pieces to create a window hanging for my small landing window.  But so far its just a 'maybe'.

I don't have any of the pieces I made with Margaret, they were largely button's and odd shape pieces and have now all been used on other articles.  But this is a good way of making bits and pieces to add to your creations so I will be restocking sometime soon.

I thought I'd try Susan Lenz's combination idea to create a "burning back" piece which I think will end up on the front of a book cover.  This is my February journal page. Not sure whether I would layer on felt I rather like the more delicate look of the fabric only piece.

I started off using Margaret's layering on an acrylic felt background method, then free motioned a design over it, some edges were straighter than others.  Then I burned back some of the layers and finally sewed the whole piece onto a bit of glitzy fabric to show off the holes and pull all the colours together.  The acrylic felt made a very sturdy fabric, much easier to manipulate than the flimsier fabric of Kathleen's.  It would make good book covers and boxes where you need a bit of added strength.

What with Lesley still being in hospital I have had very little time to do much of anything.  She is slowly improving, still dehydrated though and they are still continuing to give her fluids intravenously   Her blood count isn't back to normal either but she is looking and sounding a lot better.

Now I'm going to make some small triangular purses to put mini eggs in for Easter.  So far I've made two.

I made one of these to put my Ipod headphones in. I also want to make a few cable wraps as I seem to have so many power cables etc for my various readers, cameras, phone etc.

This is one I made earlier.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Catch Up

You know those days, busy all day but with very little to show for it:  well I seem to have had a few weeks like that.   I have done some sewing but not a lot.  First my Bernina B710 developed a fault, it wouldn't switch on.  Apparently it needed updating and I'm waiting at the moment for it to be returned.  In the meantime my old trusty but very weighty Bernina 1630 finally got the better of me. Loading it into and out of the car, carrying it, setting it up in workshops left me breathless and with an aching back.

To cut a long story I finally agreed to take a pre-owned (owned for one week by an elderly lady who couldn't manage the complexity of the machine) Janome TXL 607.  The lady had bought the quilting package of table, walking foot and extra feet so these came with it.  It arrived last Thursday and I love it.  It's light, well half the weight of the 1630, and comes with all the functionality I wanted plus many more stitches than I anticipated.  I haven't been able to do as much sewing with it  as I was due to leave for Kent the following morning and had company at the time of its arrival.  But one bonus is that it fits on a small table I have so I can use it and watch tv at the same time, yehhhh

I have been promising to visit my friend Judy for some time and on Friday morning I set of to stay with her for a long weekend.  I only got lost once trying find the right platform at St Pancras.

The weather wasn't too good in Kent, it was much better at home in the North East, but we did our best to get out and about.  The village of Wye where Judy lives is lovely with a lot of medieval buildings,misshapen and high pitched roofs.  The walls also have lots of quartz in them, similar to those I've seen in Lincolnshire and Norfolk.

 This is the oldest part of the College, I just love the doorway.

The local church had long bench covers detailing aspects of the village.  I've only shown three parts of one as I took so many it became boring.

Sunday we went into Canterbury I wanted to see the tomb of Thomas Beckett but once again I was unable to do so.  Last time there was an international synod taking place and the cathedral was closed. This time it was a different function but with the same result.  

After dinner with Judy's  family we arrived back to find on my mobile two messages for me to ring my brother and nephew urgently.  My sister had been taken into hospital seriously ill.  She had apparently taken ill on Friday morning downstairs in her kitchen where she was so exhausted she fell asleep on the floor.  She can't remember so we don't know if she fell and landed on the floor or whether she lay down.  She struggled upstairs where she thought she would take a bath. Having got into the bath she couldn't get out and spent the rest of the time lying in an empty bath until her son found her on Sunday evening.  They blue lighted her to hospital where she got the treatment she needed for dehydration, confusion and hypothermia.  I spent a very worrying Sunday evening and journey home the next day. I went straight to the hospital to find her sitting up in bed, tired but happy to see me.  She will be in hospital for several days yet and I am hopeful that the help that has been offered before she will now accept.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Keith's Jeans

So far I haven't been able to face clearing out Keith's clothes and may not do so for a long time.  But I have been recycling some of his stuff.  This time I turned a pair of his jeans into a bag for Julie and another smaller bag for myself (not yet photographed).  I'd been promising to make her one to take to work that would hold her lunch (and sometimes breakfast) as well as odds and ends.

I've had the handles, feet and clasp for Julie's bag some time as well as the material for the pockets and lining.  So they are recycled as well.  All I needed was the jeans to make the bag from, Keith came to the rescue again.  Apart from the outside pockets, on both sides, there are two more denim pockets inside to hold water or juice bottles.

Julie likes it and apparently so do a couple of her workmates so that should please Keith that his trousers are admired by ladies......

My Kindle has gone haywire.  Don't know why or how.  It was working one moment the next it wouldn't stay on despite the battery being fully charged.  I decided to restart it and return it to factory settings (not that I'd touched those) and lost all my books.  Still it now starts and stays on but I have to re-register it so until I do that I can't re-download the books I bought from Amazon.  So guess what my next job is.  I really miss my Kindle I've had it for approximately four years and its been very, very very well used.  I get through around 3 books a week - mainly reading in bed.  I've had to revert to listening to books on my Ipod.  Problem with that is my eyes don't get tired so instead of putting the book down and going to sleep, I keep on listening to it until the early hours of the morning.  Either that or I drop off to sleep still listening and miss several chapters which means I have to backtrack, not always and easy thing to do.

Went to the cinema this week to see Shakespeare's "Loves Labour Lost" which was being broadcast by the RSC directly from Stratford upon Avon.  It was a completely different experience from watching a film, much more akin to actually going to the theatre.  I loved it and me and my friend Gill are off on the 4th March to see the companion play to this "Loves Labour Won" or as its better known "Much Ado about Nothing".

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Spot the Difference

Spot the difference it wasn't until I had uploaded the photo of my French cafe scene that I realised I'd missed a couple of elements off.  Can you find them?

One of the things I had promised myself this year was to make a monthly journal page.  Well it started out as a journal page:

but ended up as:

A pot to stand next to my computer.  At the moment its holding the various cables I use when I want to connect my Kindle, Ipod, Ipad, phone etc to my computer.  Well at least its tidied themup.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

French Cafe Scene

Our EG group have been asked to create 5"X 7" postcards depicting France which are to be exhibited there sometime towards the end of the year.  Taking advantage of a 'no dog, day I set off to create something.
I found an image I liked from one of our photos.  This one was taken en route to a holiday in Spain. Going through France we stopped in a small town for coffee and too this photo. I've just noticed that  I've forgotten to embroider cafe on the card and create a menu to go on the wall!!  Must do that as soon as I've finished this post.

I resized the photo to 5 x 7 inches and turned it into a black and white image.  Then traced the main lines.  From that I created pieces and ironed them onto a cream background.  Once that was done I outlined everything in black and tried to create ironwork.  I quite deliberately didn't try to be neat with the outlining, I wanted it to have a hand drawn appearance.  Leaves were cut by hand and bonded onto the background and the bike and table are clip art images printed onto shrink plastic and glued on. I may make another one using much more traditional embroidery later.

Buster is appreciative on his travel rug when used in my sewing room but still isn't too keen to lie on it on laminated floors.

One more thing that has been finished is THE wall hanging, yehhhh.  Marc and Alix were very pleased with it and took it home with them last night.  They had come up to have a meal out with Sy and Julie as it's Sy's birthday tomorrow (2nd).  Naturally I forgot to take a photo but Alix has promised to send me one when its in its pride of place on their wall.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

More recycling

Recycling just 'happened' I was really looking for something to do and found several wip and decided to finish at least one of them.  Several metres of scrap fabric later I got fed up with feeding small bits of fabric into my machine.  Then I took Buster to see my sister who has laminated floors.  Now Buster and laminated floors just don't go together.  He hates the fact that his feet just seem to slip around on them and they are hard on is old arthritic bones.  I thought this is going to be a major problem as Buster just doesn't like being left on his own since we lost Keith, he howls all the time I am out (unless I feed him treats before I go - not good for his weight!!).  I can go out for a couple of hours without him creating havoc but anything longer and he gets very distressed.  He also doesn't like sitting on the floor of my sewing room as it is covered by a thin carpet, again a strain on his old bones.  So last night as a pair of thick quilted over trousers fell out of the wardrobe for the umpteenth time a light bulb went off.  Why not turn these quilted trousers (very very large pair) into a travelling mat for Buster.  Then I saw Keith's old cardigan with a fleece lining, hmm he wouldn't mind if I cut that up too.  So armed with scissors I set too and took the garments to pieces.

Buster now has a lovely cosy travelling mat to lay on when we go to visit friends/family etc and for use in my sewing room.  He loves it.... no more howling, no more shouting at him to shut up and no more downtrodden looks from him when he encounters laminated floors to lie on.

 Buster likes the fluffy side up
but is okay with the quilted side too.

It rolls up quite small and I shall make a bag to carry it in when we go visiting.