Sunday, 31 May 2009

200 Today!!

TA DA!!!!
Today's post is number 200! Thanks to everyone who stops by. So, I want to do another give away as a way of saying thanks.

This time I am going to paint one of my abstract flower designs for you on a square of denim. Then you can use it as you wish. Sew it as a patch on a jacket, stitch it into a quilt, embellish it with beads, post it up on your "special things" board, or whatever.
Some of my painted designs

I have yet to determine the design or the colour, but it will be along the lines of one of the motifs from one of the doodles. It will be a completely new one!
I will probably work on this tomorrow. At present, I am thinking just one...but you never know, I could get on a role and make 2 or 3! I will show you when they are done.

What you need to do
... is to leave a comment on this post.
I will collect them and at the end of the week, I will do a draw. When I have listed the winner(s), I will post them...probably next Sunday. Then, if you win, you will need to send me an email with your address. I will be teaching nearly everyday the following week, so I won't have time for chasing up snail mail addies.

PLEASE NOTE: I thought this might be a good time to give a link for people about how to leave a comment. Some might not know how. This page goes through the steps.

Some people do comment, but their email isn't connected to the comment. So, I can get the comment, but I can't reply back to you, as I don't know your email addy. So, if you want me to reply, you need to sort out your profile. There is a good tutorial of how to do this at this blog.

And finally, I do try to reply if there is a question or detailed comment. Sometimes I have just made another comment here on the blog following yours. Not sure if you have gone back to discover it though. Sometimes if it is just a short comment, I recognise it as such. I guess I could fire back something saying "thanks!" but I don't always have time!!

And that's the end of the boring bit. (Aren't you glad?)

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Featured Blog

Today's Featured Blog is the Doodle Day Blog which I have referred to frequently. Helen S gives a prompt - usually at the weekend - and through the week members of the blog post the doodles they have made.

Recent prompts have included Dragons, their counterparts (Knights and Maidens), Butterflies and Dragonflies, Bees, Daisies, Tree House, Owl, and so on.

I have found these prompts good for getting me to try my hand at drawing. I am not intending to create extremely realistic drawings, but just play with ideas. Some of the ideas come out in the form of a story, some I am finding I want to explore in different ways and develop design possibilities. In this post, I wrote a bit of a philosophical ramble about how I was finding the doodling process.

Here is a doodle I did last week. I am still playing with developing some ideas about abstracting flowers to get some retro designs. but, instead of focusing solely on the design, because I am decorating a page, I often find that something else I end up doodling becomes the thing I like and want to take further.
Doodle 7

Getting photos has been the hard part. At first I tried photographs, but I could never get it right. Lately I have been scanning the page. But I am still not too happy with it. However, that being said, I think people get the gist of it.
If you click "doodle" on the labels at the bottom of this post, you can see some of the other doodles I have done. Some are here and some are on the Doodle Day Blog.

*****AND...on another note, tomorrow's post will be 200! Looks like time for another give away! Keep your eyes and ears open!*****

Friday, 29 May 2009

bits and pieces

Today was a bit of running around for bits and pieces for courses. I got some of the glass pebbles for tying into the fabric, some pipettes and clamps.I also got some wood blanks for a magnet workshop for young carers.

AND, you can be very proud of me... I went to Fabricland to get some cotton lawn and habotai silk for dyeing...and that's all I got! I was tempted to look at other fabric, but didn't. Phew...that was hard! ;-p I have been working on my Fast Friday Challenge, but it isn't in a state to show yet. However, I finally found my fimo buttons from the Thames Valley CQ day. I thought someone had tidied them away somewhere...but it was me! I had tidied them into the box with my Endless Possibilities piece that I took to show. I need to make the holes and bake them.

And then possibly design a garment round the idea?

So Blogger doesn't seem to be playing today. I hope this gets posted.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Tie Dye - 2

Here are some of the tie die results while wet. I rinsed them, then washed and dried them in the tumble dryer. They all dried paler. I am going to make a stronger dye solution for the students.
1. Glass pebbles tied in with elastic bands

2. Glass beads tied with crochet cotton (more obvious after machine washing and drying)

3. An oval shaped bead twisted and tied down the length with elastic bands
4. Bigger oval shaped beads twisted and all gathered together and tied with elastic bands

5. Various wrapped, self tied, clamped with buttons, clamped with plastic cut from ice cream container.

5a - Parcels

5b - Self tie
(The resist is not as noticeable. If the fabric were wet, I could perhaps tie it tighter.) Another self tie

5 c - Clamped buttons
(Love this! I will try a thinner parcel clamped next time to get more of the "flower effect".

5 d - Clamped Plastic
This would work well to refold, clamp and over dye for a secondary pattern.)

6. Length twisted on itself and tied with elastic bands . I think the bands needed to be tighter here.

7. Gathered up freely with my hands and tightly tied with elastic bands at intervals.(Space Dyed)

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Tie Dye

Yesterday, being the half-term and being between parts of the teaching training course, I didn't have to do assignments. (Well, I could have got ahead, but then you need a break sometimes!)

So, instead, I was preparing for a tie dye workshop I am taking over from another tutor. It is only 2 1/2 hours, so it will really be just a taster. However, I want to show the learners a few samples so they can get an idea of what things are possible.

So, I stood in the kitchen on the tiled floor and tied fabric most of the day. This was after I stood at the sink and washed all my dye pots...they live in the shed and were rather yuck. And so today, my legs are killing me. Remember, I stood all day on Mon. and painted papers. Oh well.
1. Glass pebbles tied in with elastic bands (also tried a couple of buttons to see what if?)

2. Glass beads tied with crochet cotton (plastic beads would do. They are about the size of pony beads...some a little smaller, some a little bigger.)

3. An oval shaped bead at the point, twisted and tied down the length with elastic bands.

4. Bigger oval shaped beads twisted and all gathered together and tied with elastic bands.

5. Various wrapped, self tied, clamped with buttons, clamped with plastic cut from ice cream container.

Today they are in the dye baths. (I remembered to stand on the rug this time.) I added a few more tied combinations. Some I photographed, some not.

6. Length twisted on itself and tied with elastic bands

7. Gathered up freely with my hands and tightly tied with elastic bands at intervals. As above but "Space Dyed".

I am leaving them in for at least 24 hours, since I am using up some old dye I had mixed. They may not be intense, but will show enough of the tie resists. I will mix up new dye for the class. I use Val Bennett's recipe based on Dylon Hand Dyes. She has a little book that is very easy to follow.

The workshop is on Monday, 8 June 2009. The time is 10:00 - 12:30. It is put on by New Directions, but will be held at the Wycliffe Baptist Church, 233 Kings Road, Reading, Berks. "Learn different techniques of tie-dye and create your own wall hanging." The class may already be full.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

Interesting tecture in a somewhat blurry close up of my rusty saw - one of the bits I use for rust dyeing.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Painted Papers

Sometime back I mentioned that I was painting some papers for a swap. They also needed to be stamped or stenciled, so I finished that today. I used watercolour paper. One side is craft acrylics and the other is Tsueniko Walnut inks stamped with pigment dyes.

One side:
The other side:

Although the size is 8 1/2 x 11. The paper sizes here meant I could only get one from an A3 size piece. So, I painted up the A3 and then trimmed them. It means I have alot of off cuts that I can use myself. Or maybe swap if they are looking for smaller sizes.

The trimmed pieces go off in the post tomorrow. I kind of surprised myself by using autumnal colours. I don't work with those often, and especially when the weather is decidedly Summerish. I even used orange! Very Rare.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

A bit with a piece

So at last the camera, batteries and time constraints allow a photo of the progress of the current skirt I am making.
As I explained I had a bright idea of using the jeans part for a yoke and a flowery cotton pleated onto it with inverted pleats. It is hanging rather funny at this point, but I will get a better photo when it is finished.
Another part of my idea was to have a deep hem. This is why I left the selvedge on the bottom instead of trimming it for a small hem. It will probably be about 6cm(2 1/2 in) deep. The deep hem will balance the design, as well as give a bit of weight to the edge that will help the bottom to hold its shape rather than flop around.

Now that the skirt is at this stage, I need to put buttons down the centre front placket. At the present, large buttons are in fashion. I have found some that work very well visually. (I have a large stash of buttons. Some were bought from an online haberdashery company that was going out of business. It means I don't have to travel hither and yon to find buttons.)

For what ever reason, these buttons have a strange slot centre. It is probably meant to be used in combination with ribbon or something, and it would be interesting to experiment on with that kind of closure. But the buttons are the size and colour I want, and the fabric is busy enough without adding an unusual closure. So, I think I may actually use beads with the stitching to sew them on. I will have to see what looks best and still keeps the buttons on.

Have you ever seen buttons made this way?

I hope to get the hem and buttons done tomorrow. But I might actually take the day to do something quite different all together. It is the Bank Holiday and for once we have lovely weather!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Featured Blog

Today's Feature isn't exactly a blog. It is a website for an artist who does 3D illusion chalk art. A few months ago when I was researching some other art, I came across references to the work of Julian Beever. I was particularly impressed with his Anamorphic Illusions which are drawn in a special distortion in order to create an impression of 3 dimensions when seen from one particular viewpoint.

Here is one example: from one point of view, it looks as if you can see the globe in 3D. But, if you look from other perspectives, it looks like a stretched out image.

Take some time and look through the images of Julian's work. It is awesome. I think the ones which look as if there is a great hole in the pavement are the most spectacular.

So, anyway, when I was going about London today with Maria Elkins and her daughter Lydia, we saw one of these works at Victoria Station. I am not sure who did the work, but it was in aid of a disaster relief charity. So, after the ladies got off to their next destination, I went by to have a better look. What was quite special was that they were willing to take your photo on a part of the image as if you were tottering over the precipice. So, I thought why not! So, here is me falling into the pavement...or not.
I usually reduce image sizes, but this time I am uploading it full size. I think you should be able to click the photo to see it better.
Note: Well I tried clicking to make it bigger, but it didn't work for me. Anyway, I think you should get the idea.

Friday, 22 May 2009

A bit with a piece

I have been working on a new skirt. It is quite a different style than I usually make. I have got it to the place where it just wants a hem and buttons. However, the camera batteries don't want to play. is a cropped portion of a previous photo that shows the fabric I am using.

The jeans fabric is the remainder of the chopped off section from the jeans skirt makeover. The rest is a one metre piece of Rose and Hubble fabric that was part of the job lot of fabrics my friend gave me a while back. I had a bright idea of using the jeans part for a yoke and the rest pleated onto it with inverted pleats. It actually works quite well. I am looking forward to finishing it off.

Sorry you have to wait a bit for a photo. I am out and about tomorrow with Maria Elkins and her daughter Lydia. A while back, Maria said she was coming to England. She wasn't sure about going round London when I suggested it, but in the end, they have come to stay here overnight and I will be the escort tomorrow!

Well, that is if we can get up. I have just been blathering on all evening about all my work and pulling bits and pieces out of cupboards and wardrobes. Well it is fun to have someone to talk about your textile life with who is involved with the same things.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Fabulous Felt Brooches Again

Crafts @the Library yesterday was Fabulous Felt Brooches workshop at the Great Hollands Library. Here are some of the other brooches made.

In fact, Dorothy decided she wanted to make one of the poinsettia flowers. She put a hanging loop on the back so she can hang it on her tree. So... an early Christmas ornament! She did go on to make a Spring-like flower, too, with a hanging loop.

Next month we will make Book Covers. The workshop at Birch Hill is the 23rd June and at Great Hollands is the 24th June. Both sessions are from 2:00 - 4:00 pm.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Fabulous Felt Brooches Again

When I did the Fabulous Felt Brooches workshop with the Family Learning Group, I realised it would suit the learners at the Crafts @the Library workshops. So, that is what we are doing this month. Yesterday at Birch Hill there were several who were on holiday and had other commitments. Still, Norma came and made a lovely pastel colour brooch. Because Norma is good at getting on with things on her own, I started doing one myself. It actually was a combined effort between the 2 of us. I started with dark green petals and then red. Then Norma suggested it be something like a Poinsettia. So we worked together to develop a centre that would be just a bit different to the other flowers. We were quite pleased with the results!
So, today I am at the Great Hollands Library. It will be interesting to see what we manage there!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

LayersPeper and Salt
This is already giving me some ideas for a long thin piece of work. What kind of inspiration does it give you?

Monday, 18 May 2009


Not too inspiring, but the paperwork for the second part of the Certificate in Teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector is now complete...well apart from about 3 more sessions of teaching. I hand it in tomorrow.
The next part begins after half-term, which is next week. It all finishes in July. (Crossing off days on calendar.) Theoretically, the next part should be easier. Well, we will see when we get there.

By the way, I get a chance to teach Tie-Dye in the beginning of June! I think the class is full already, but the previous tutor is unable to do it. Looks like an excuse to play in the half-term! I did quite a bit of dyeing when I was doing my City and Guilds, but it is always useful to refresh your memory. I haven't got much by way of samples, as I used bits and pieces for other things. I use the method taught by Val Bennett from Farne Designs. The topic has been up recently on the Dyer's list. They were talking about teaching dyeing to children, but a lot of the ways teachers found to make this easier will come in useful for a 2 hour session.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt Group

Yesterday was the second meeting of the newly formed Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt group. It really turned out to be an informative and stimulating day. And that was even with the dilemma of tripping the fuse with hair dryers and irons running!

In the morning we had a Focused Show and Tell. Each person had brought something she had made early in her career...or in some cases, when very small. The focus was to either make connections or talk about how the art journey had developed. It was interesting to see how often the journey had gone full circle.

Joanna O'Neill then presented concepts about giving talks to groups. Drawing from her experiences of talking about her felting and discharge work, she spoke about what to and not to do, how to make connections and overcome the unexpected. The ideas presented were great for helping me think ahead for possibilities of doing something like this. I saw others taking notes as well.

We also had an excellent hands on demo session. The members were divided into 3 groups and rotated around 3 demonstrators.

Ros Crouch demostrated her methods of manipulating photos for Paint Shop Pro. Whether you had done much of this sort of thing or were new at it, we all came away with excellent ideas to play with ourselves.

Merete Hawkins showed us how she makes buttons from Polymer Clay. Merete sometimes uses the buttons for abstract representations in a landscape. For instance, she had a postcard sized landscape but the cows in the field were represented by black and white buttons!
Here is a photo of the work from one of the participants. We took our buttons home to bake later.
Penny Armitage demonstrated her explorations of painting on fusibles. Not just painting on Bondaweb type fabrics, but also on fusible interfacing.Penny's samplesSamples of the work of one of the participants.

Everyone seemed to go away with a real buzz about the day. We are looking forward to the next one on 19 September when Margaret Ramsey will talk about blogging and Judy Fairless, who recently stepped down as co-ordinator for the British Quilt Guild - Contemporary Group, will present design development and using sketchbooks.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Featured Blog

Today's Featured Blog is Made By Rae. Rae Hoekstra, a young mum, has quite a few sewing projects on the go. She develops various patterns, including tops and bags. She has just started offering a very popular bag pattern - The Buttercup Bag - for sale in her Etsy shop. She also has a Toddler backpack pattern and a preemie sized baby dress pattern.

Recently Rae had a Spring Top Week, where ladies sent in photos of the tops they had made with her patterns. The tops were then voted on. Out of over 100 tops, a lady from Denmark won the contest with a very smart looking top made in a stripe with white contrast area.

Go have a look at some of the trendy things Rae has been making up.

And from me... here is another idea for a bag. Its another recycle idea as it is made from a pair of trousers. The photo shows one I made to hold a project for City and Guilds. For a very long time, it was the only bag I used for going down to the shops. (Oops, looks like it needs thrown in the wash!)

1-Chop the legs off the bottom of a very small size pair of trousers. This bag was made from a small size pair of stretch velvet trousers. Chop it just above the crutch.

2-Turn inside out and stitch across the bottom.

3-Make straps from strips of fabric from the legs. Pin to see where you like them placed. Then stitch them on firmly.

4- If you like, stitch round pockets, along straps and other areas with a machine stitch or by hand.

5-If you really want to get funky, make a bag pocket and stitch it to the inside parts of the zip...then open the zip to have a cool pocket so you can get to your phone or keys easier.

Friday, 15 May 2009

more makeover

Well, I didn't get anywork finished. Still doing some prep work for the Thames Valley CQ meeting tomorrow.

However, I did get into town to get some more buttons for the problem solving skirt. While there, I popped into one of the charity shops (Oxfam - skirts are £2.99 each) to see if there were some more jeans skirts or whatever.

Well, if I had a bit more money with me, I could have got about 5 skirts! As it was, I came home with 3. What's more, they are all my size!! But all of these are right down to my toes. :) So, when I do get them made over, I can get a normal skirt length, plus have a whole lot left over for something else.
The centre one is actually black linen. It will be interesting to see what it wants to be. I developed several new designs in the past week for my students to use yesterday, so perhaps some of them will be adapted for these makeovers.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Doodle 6

The worshop went very well today. This evening we have a friend staying whom we haven't seen for a long time.
So, here is a doodle I did recently. We will see if I can make something interesting tomorrow!

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Fabric Painting

Tomorrow I have a taster session at an office in Reading. The company is having a Learn@Work day. What a good idea! Besides Fabric Painting, the employees also asked New Directions college for tutors for Reflexology and Holiday Spanish.

I am going to bring my painted skirts and trousers along to show. (Well, I am going to wear the jeans skirt. ) Here are a few more samples I made up. I wanted to show that you could apply the idea to soft furnishings or little gift sorts of things.

I have been busy creating some designs for them to use. I am real chuffed with the blue design. I want to do it bigger on some clothing!

So, back to preparation. I need to cut up some more fabric swatches to paint on.

I am looking forward to it though!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Inspiration Tuesday

Solar lights in the garden. I had to go outside to get the photo in the dark, but from upstairs, they look like runway lights. I wonder what sorts of imaginary creatures use them for practice during the night?

Monday, 11 May 2009

State of Mind

The teaching training course is getting to the end of the 2nd part. So, I am making sure I have all the paper work. Plus, I have ideas for some more "made up in my head" chop-chop-sew-sew skirts.

Plus, I am preparing for a few courses and workshops, including painting on fabric at a Learning at Work Day at a place of work in Reading and the Recycle and Restyle Clothes workshop for June, and Crafts @the Library. I am also beginning to think about ideas for some courses for making children's costumes in the autumn...I am co-ordinating the meeting for the Thames Valley CQ group this Sat...and so on. This week also includes a house guest this week from a far flung country, whom we haven't seen for sometime.

I pulled out these bits and pieces so you could get an idea of what my head is like at the minute!

So, today, you get a photo of my state of mind. I do rather keep things somewhat organised in my own style normally. But when all the file drawers and archives seem to get opened at once, it gets a bit fraught!

Hopefully, it will settle down next week!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Problem Solving - Hem 2

Thank so much for all the input about the skirt and the stamping. The overwhelming concensus was to finish stamping the back of the skirt. This was one of those situations where your gut instinct said to do that, but you were trying to get away with less work!

A few other suggestions came up (not all as comments here, I posted on Wardrobe Refashion and UKSewing as well.) One idea was to do individual stamps in between the clusters. A good thought, but I was afraid it would become too busy. One person liked it as is. One person said I should have left it just stamped at the bottom. I think that would have been just a bit too plain for what I had in mind about updating the fabric.

And so, I have finished stamping the back. However, I knew that the stamping alone was still not enough. It was a bit like "lets stamp this because it is not interesting enough" (well, of course, you say, that is the truth!) However, I wanted the overall look to be "Oh, what a cute skirt!" Not "Did you stamp your skirt?" Do you see the difference?

Some of the buttons I have been using on refashioning.
I have blue stars and green flowers somewhere, too.

Somehow I felt the pink in the fabric had to be brought out in some way. I wondered what it would be like with a pink button in the centre of the clusters (remember, that was one option for the back). I tried a few different ones I had on hand, and the winner was the tiny pink ones from the red selection above. (I get them from Sew Divine who have a haberdashery stall in the Bracknell Market, and a shop in Reading near Cemetary Junction. The online shop is mostly sewing machines and accessories.) These buttons are a variety of the ones I have been sewing on t-shirts etc. The problem was that the little pink ones were too small to make a difference. so, I decided to put 3 in the centre of each cluster!

Well, I did the front. I have to get another pack to finish the back.

And voila! Suddenly it is "Where did you get the cute skirt?"

Not the best photo on the wardrobe!
Perhaps I will do one on the dummy when I get all the buttons on .

What kind of problem solving have you been doing?

Recycle/ Restyle idea: If you find a dress or even a man's shirt with a muted pattern, you could pretend it is just fabric. Cut out a blouse or skirt from the fabric and try doing something similar. Hopefully without the hem fix! But, then again, you will know about what that looks like ahead of time and can plan to do it on purpose!

Note: there is some sort of Blogger outage tomorrow. I can't work out the time difference, but I will try to post if I can.