Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

A tool in the design technology department at Radley college

These facinating templates or whatever caught my eye. What I really wanted to do was to have them to try various things like resist for sun dyeing or rust dyeing! I wonder where you could pick up some old ones for next to nothing?

Okay, now I am getting giant necklaces vibes coming through.

If you had some, what would you do with them?

Monday, 30 March 2009

Think Outside the Box

I am typing up a handout for my students about developing design ideas. The big thing is "What if?" What if I did this or that, changed a shape, line, whatever for something else. Do you do "What if?" to your ideas? If so, you could take them further!

The other thing is observation. That's why I do Inspiration Tuesday. It is how you get a head full of ideas in the first place.

Someone recently left a comment about whether I would use an Inspiration Tuesday photo for my work. Well, perhaps not straight away or even in an obvious manner, but at some point, it may influence something I do. I know I did take other photos that day which I could immediately think how to use the idea. But, mainly I go round observing. Opening my head to ideas that can jostle round, combine and come out as something unique...no one else will have the same stuff mixing round in their head. (I see my friends nodding emphatically!)

For instance, all those years watching Extreme Sports with a certain young man in my house....well, not always watching, but stopping in midstride to see the action...came out in this design.
To me, this fabric looked like icy snow on a mountain slope. So, I used said young man's boot to do a rubbing with paint sticks in various places over the skirt.

Not easy to see, but there to make someone think if they discovered it!

Got any outside the box ideas to show me?

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Happy Birthday - 20 year old!

Hardly seems 20 years ... from this wee one...
to this clever, active, handsome young man!
We are proud of you!

Many happy returns of the day.
God's blessings for all the best in the future.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Featured Blog

Today's Featured blog is called Taniwa, and is written by Tanya Watanabe. Tanya is an American who has been living in Japan for longer than I have been living in England.

Tanya likes traditional quilting. She is very prolific, even though a great deal of her work is done by hand! She has several other hobbies and responsibilities, including teaching English in a kindergarden, and a houseful of cats!

I really like the mixture of interests represented in Tanya's blog. If you are interested in finding out about life in another country, she often goes into detail to explain the customs which are a part of day to day life.

I find it fascinating to see how people learn to blend into an adopted country. Maybe it is because I have done the same... and yet have seen plenty of people who attempted it, but never quite managed. I suppose part of what makes it easier is if part of the family is from the adopted country to start with. Tanya's husband is Japanese and my husband is British.

I don't know if Tanya prefers Japan now that she is so much a part of it. I know I prefer living in the UK. In fact, I prefer not to go anywhere else, even to my country of birth if I can help it!

As you know, I try to show a connection between me and the Featured blogger, so...
Speaking of interesting customs. Here is one from the UK you may not have heard of:
Morris Dancing.
Colourful Morris Dancers in a town near where I live.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Jeans skirt Makeover - Part 1

When I went to Houston for the Quilt show and Bernina fashion show, I met my sis there. She gave me this jeans skirt that didn't suit her.

It does fit me a bit, but is kind of long. Besides, it is a bit boring. front

So, I am going to do a makeover on it. I want to use paint, etc, but til today, I hadn't worked out just what I wanted to paint on it.

This will be done in and amongst the teaching and assignments, but will also be a sample for one of the day long classes I will teach called Decorate Your Clothing. (Okay, I didn't make up the name. I probably would have said Funky Duds or something equally off putting.)

So, watch this space. Hopefully the gaps between makeover posts will not be too great!

Thursday, 26 March 2009


Today I am wading through paperwork in preparation for next weeks session on Texture. The paperwork isn't about texture...it is about end of course evaluations and so on. (I am finishing teaching the course for someone else.) On top of everything else, I am being observed, which has it's own set of paperwork! Fun...Not really.

No wonder teachers moan about all the paperwork!

However, I am finding I can cope with days away from the sewing machine or from creating something by doing a doodle page as I think about beginning the day.

I am also working through the C+G logbooks for the students, so I can understand exactly what it is they are meant to achieve. (It has changed slightly since I did this course.) although it could be tedious, I am finding it useful.

But, I am afraid the doodle page is all the visual interest you get today.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Texture - Decorative Techniques

I worked on a few more samples for a course yesterday.
I took one of the textured fabrics I had made a while back, and then did bobbinwork over it. With bobbin work, you have a thicker cord wound onto the bobbin, and then work from the back. Depending on the settings, you get different effects. But, for the most part, it is like subtle machine couching.
I used different stitch lengths and tensions, making note of each one on the back. I quite like the pink and grey colours together.

When I do bobbin work, I don't change the bobbin tension. Instead, I by-pass the tension and thread the cord through the little hole in the bobbin case. This cord was almost too thick to run smoothly. So, it was happier with a tighter top tension and more like a normal stitch length.

I think this would look good for areas of a garment like a yoke, etc. What do you think?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

Wonderful brick pattern high up on one building at Radley College.
There were several interesting windows at the college. This was on a newer part of a building, but still great. What I liked was that even though the buiding had this tacky aluminium siding, the window person showed creativity.

Tell me, what would you do with these patterns?

Teaser:I'll show some of the other windows another day. I seem to have gone for the patterns in round shapes!

Monday, 23 March 2009

dragon study - tail Part 3

Here is the finished dragon tail and the doodle which I worked on to help me get the loops and patterning right. as you see, I decided to change a few directions. I thought it would be more positive to have the tail point upwards.
And now, off to do paperwork for courses and assignments for the teaching class.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Out and About

Yesterday I went to a small quilt show with my friend Helen. Besides quilts from various groups round the area, there was a featured display of Delia Salter's work. Delia is helping with the new Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt group that is starting up.

Fascinating Clock tower.

The show was held at Radley College, near Abingdon. I had a wander round the grounds. There were several interesting things I will save for Inspiration Tuesdays, but I thought you might like to see some sculptures some of the students of the boys school have done. I think the garden theme must have been myths and legends. (I left off a rather gory minotaur and some disturbing surreal ironwork/plaster bodypart structures.)

The first thing to catch my eye was in the Design and Technology room where the fabric sale was. A prop from a past play?

I love how the use of straw in these sculptures give a realistic "animal" look to these creatures.
And around the corner near the side of a builing? A dragon of course!

I am glad I went back to the car for my coat from a different exit! I would have missed all this.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Featured Blog

Today's featured blog is Vintage RicRac, written very wittily by Jodi in Australia. Sometimes she is known as the Selvedge Lady. You should see the awesome things she has made from selvedges. The Big Project previously was a selvedge dress! And recently Jodi has out done herself with a selvedge chair!

And then if you do selveldges, why not tape measures!

She also makes soft toys, but not your bog standard soft toys. All of these have a wonderful whimsical unique appeal. I mean, racing snails? What fun!

I don't like to pinch photos from the featured blogger, so I like to show a little something I have made in the past that links in a way to what they are doing.

So, here you have Piney The Pinosaur. I was asked to make up a mascot from a drawing by one of the children at the school where I used to work. I made up the pattern and even satin stitched over stripes to get just the right colour for Piney's shirt. It was originally the pale yellow strip that the shorts are made of.

And yes, there is a hole in the back of the shorts for the tail!

Not such a great photo taker in those days.

Friday, 20 March 2009

dragon study - tail Part 2

Here is more about the dragon tail. As I said, the split complementary is blue with red-orange and yellow-orange. You can see the yellow-orange (gold) silk clouds in this photo.

I haven't got a close up of the wing, but I used a similar method to how I drew patterns in the tail area of the dragon. Then I trimmed it.

You can also see how I attached the tail. I used a fine Free motion zigzag. This still leaves ragged edges, so I trimmed close to the first zigzag and then did another pass with a slightly larger zigzag. Still Free Motion (feed dogs down and darning stitch settings).
As you can see there are the odd bits that don't get caught down. If you are lucky, you have a felt tip/marker the same colour as the thread. Just go along and paint the wispy bits with the felt tip/marker. I used a fine tip Sharpie I got in America.
After this, I went round the shapes with the same blue thread, but regular Free Motion stitch this time. I also quilted blowing wind bits like on oriental work.
And here is the final piece with the binding...but I still have to hand stitch the binding down.
What I would do different? Fuse things before stitching. There are a few too many wobbles in the fabric, and I didn't want intense stitching to tame it.

Don't ask me about the "design element" at the corners of the binding. I tried using the continuous binding method with straight strips...it doesn't work.

But it does give you an opportunity for creating a design element.

Even if you don't want one.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Scented Sachets again

Another great workshop today! We had Crafts@the Library at Birch Hill Library today. Here are the industrious ladies making their scented sachets.
And here are some of the finished products. Glynis, who works at Birch Hill Library joined in with us. Somehow I missed photographing her sachet. Perhaps it was when she was serving a library customer, but I assure you it was lovely.

Police Community Support Officer - Hilary Hyslop had promised to stop by and give a bit of support. She also took time out to make a sachet for her locker at the police station! Very well done! We spoke of the library and how it is a wonderful safe place to meet up in the community.

The next sessions for Crafts@the Library are:

Great Hollands Library - 22 April, 2009 -2-4pm and

Birch Hill Library - 28 April, 2009 - 2-4pm.

You are welcome to come along!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Scented Sachets

Today I taught the Scented Sachets workshop in the Crafts@the Library Series. We were at Great Hollands this afternoon. My friend came along so she could help to draw others in. Simon and Lynne, who work there also got involved. Partway through, we also had a lady come along who decided to make something. Even though she started late, she easily caught up.
Others library clients, dropping off books, mentioned their interest. Maybe they will come to the next one.

Here are some photos of the work.

Well done! It sure was nice and smelly in there when we finished!!

Tomorrow, Crafts@the Library will be at Birch Hill Library. 10:00-12:00am.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

The past 2 days have been lovely and Springlike. Loads of flowers are now out. I have a family of Great Tits in my bird box. Although they say it will get a bit colder later in the week, everyone is enjoying it.

So, I took a walk around South Hill lake to my favourite tree. It is a very old chestnut with nobbles and boles all over. Some are very interesting shapes. Some look like animals. One part of the tree looks like a wise owl. I wanted to get some photos before all the leaves started coming. This photo is of a hole quite a ways up. I had to put the camera on extra zoom to get the photo. Other holes like this had bits of the old branch sticking out. I can't work out if this one has a bit of the old branch or if it is the tail of a lady blackbird. If it is, she was very still the whole time.

What do you think it is? Don't you love the rough texture of the bark and the smooth area around the hole?

Monday, 16 March 2009

dragon study - tail Part 1

I am working on a new dragon study for the Fast Friday challenge. This month I am behind, since I was working on lessons when the challenge was set. However, the Art principles and colour themes were S- Curve and split-complementary. S-curve goes nicely with dragons. And I thought I'd do blue with yellow-orange and red-orange for the split-complementary.
One detail of a dragon I have been wanting to do better artistically is the tail. So this is a study of the tail.

I have shown you a few doodles I have been doing lately. I discovered that I could use the doodle concept to work out design patterns. One of these I have been developing is the shape and pattern for a dragon tail. After I practiced, I then worked on sketching the tail and getting it right on a piece of paper the size of the final piece - 6x12in. (Remember, I am also using these for journal quilts with the Contemporary Quilt group.)
Then I traced it through with the light box, and then started thread painting. Here is the start of the tail. It is on a red-orange coppery coloured glazed cotton. This is layered onto a thin wadding. When the thread painting is finished, it is trimmed and then put onto blue silk dupion. I want the effect of just catching a glimpse of the end of the dragon as it flies across the sky.
Here is the tail thread painted. I hope you can see the patterning. At this point, I am not sure how I will do the wing. So I have not trimmed the piece of red-orange with the wing traced.Here is a detail of the patterning. I will have to stitch the thread painted tail to the blue background. Because the blue will be the top of more wadding and a backing fabric, when the tail is stitched on, it will stand out a bit. Before I do that though, I want to put clouds, somewhat like some oriental dragon embroideries have. The clouds will be of a yellow-orange silk rescued from a silk charity shop blouse.

I will show you how I get on later in the week.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Silverstone Half-Marathon

Today my son did the Silverstone Half-Marathon! Good time for him 2 hours 10 minutes.

He and some friends are training for the London Marathon in April. They will be raising sponsor money for a stroke charity. One of the friends had a stroke in the past. (We are talking 19/20 year olds.) I have met her, but never realised about the stroke, so how wonderful she recovered! She was going to run with him today, but had a virus. I think it was brave of him to run on his own. Actually, she had planned to drive them, so my husband took him up last night and he stayed at a Travel Lodge. And this morning he walked cross country from there to the race! About 4 or 5 miles!! He got there about 1/2 hour before the race started. I guess it was a good warm up!

We had teaching responsibilities this morning, so left here as soon as they were done to go up there. I think he had just gone over the finish line when we got to a position where we could try to find him. So, we missed that part. But the atmosphere was great. Here are some more photos.Tired looking, but really he was fine. Not even limping! We just wanted a shot in front of the British flag boxy thing in the back.The famous F1 race track.

Well done! Good luck on the training!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Featured Blog

Today's Featured Blog A Dress A Day is at times overwhelmingly humorous! But, it is sewing related humour. For instance, this week, Erin McKean the author, has been making up stories from the fashion illustrations on the front of vintage patterns. She also has a series of blog posts about rescued vintage dresses and the stories of what might have been their past. They are called "The Secret Lives of Dresses". (Scroll down the side of the blog to find the links.) Erin has a book coming out soon with more stories like the ones on the blog.

Erin is an lexicographer who has edited some very prestigious dictionaries. (Yes, she has her own wikipedia entry! Her dictionary blog is http://www.dictionaryevangelist.com/ ) She is interested in sewing...and particularly in vintage sewing. She loves unusually patterned fabric - like a crossword puzzle print - and if done up with a big skirt 50's style, even better. However, it must have pockets!

So, in Erin's honour, here is a photo of one of my vintage patterns.

Got any ideas for stories like Erin's?

Friday, 13 March 2009

Special parcels!

Today a received a parcel with a lovely handmade book in it. I love blank books. This one is special because I won it on a give away at Amy Nelson's blog, An Li Na Designs .

Amy has been posting tutorials of how she makes her books. She is also one of the organisers for the Stretching Art exhibition, and has been posting step-by-step photos of one of the dolls (A Dragon!) she is making for the exhibition. Go over and have a look.

Amy and I actually met...well, nearly. We were both in Hollis Chatelaine's dye painting class in Houston. I "knew" her from the Stretching Art list, but we didn't find out we were in the same class til we were back home!

Also, Louise, who was one of the winners from the give away I had, left me a message that she posted a message to her blog about receiving her squishy parcel. I started reading the blog and discovered I may have met her at Houston as well. She was demoing in the Misty Fuse booth. I stopped by there a couple of times to blather on about my Bernina Garment, since I had used Misty Fuse in a few different ways in constructing it.

I wonder how many other blog followers I have just about met?
UPDATE: Hey! Sue B is a Misty Fuse girl, too!

Here is a bit of a mention of how I used the Misty Fuse with the mystery fabric.

The Mystery fabric works well when fused with Misty Fuse over a print or a too bright fabric to knock it back. I used it in red on the backing for Lady Sew-Forth, and I am using it in beige on Zoom:Letter, to "age" the brocade pattern which will be the border. I also used it in the ancient document print to pull the features of Zoom:Language together. These are all fused with Misty Fuse.

The ancient document mystery fabric and the beige and some of the brown are all part of the Endless Possibilities triptych, but not fused.