Thursday, 29 September 2011

TV Offcuts

On Saturday, the Thames Valley Offcuts sewing group met up again after a break in August. There was a good turn out. We were very glad for the new wall sockets put into the centre of the long walls. It meant we could spread out a bit rather than cluster in corners.

Here are a couple photos of the busy things going on. Quite a few were cutting out this time, so no machine.
the new big mirror (for dance groups) will be useful for fitting the next time anyone is at that stage. There is a good mirror in the ladies', but this saves running there and back with all your pins falling out!

for some reason Lyn was on her own in the corner.

Just one close up this time...Mavis, doing some esquisite applique.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

a few weeks ago

as I said before, it has been rather hectic with starting teaching this year. and I won't get into it all, but it hasn't really got better yet.


Before all that, and before the MIL 91st birthday, the Thames Valley group met for their September meeting. We ended up in the Birch Hill School Hall because the Community Centre had been double booked.

Annie Hamilton gave a talk about a series of very personal pieces she had made. Each piece represented a place where she had lived and had references of events - either by using a certain colour for certain emotions, or through little images of buildings and people, and also through words stitched into the work.

As you can see in the group shot in the first photo, the Bracknell Town Mayor, Gill Birch visited us in the morning. She said she enjoyed the talk. I think she has booked to come visit on the afternoon of the next meeting, too! She asked if she should wear her chain the next time. I said, if she wanted to. But she was welcome to come as Gill Birch if she wanted to!

One of our members is in the process of getting cleared out for a move up north. So, she was selling off a wide range of felt making equipment, books and so on. I bought several things relating to paper making. something I wanted to do, but hadn't got DH to make a frame. now I have one for a very small fraction of the original price, plus some other bits and pieces as well.

In the afternoon we had an activity centred round the Suitcase Collection: Childhood Memories hired from the Contemporary Quilt group.

A few shots of the A3 size pieces laid out on display.

Jane Glennie ran a very thought provoking excercise in which she had groups of people look at the quilts as if they were to curate a show. They were to think about ways they could be grouped and so on. The pieces could be viewed without looking at the statement or could be lifted using the white gloves to find the page with the artist statement beneath. Some of the stories were very poignant, others were very joyful.

The comments about the activity were quite positive. Some spoke about having a better understanding about what goes on behind the scene and some spoke about how it could help them with upcoming shows they are participating in.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

looking ahead

a Certain Lad is preparing for getting into the interest around Movember in a few months. Hmm.

Pardon the mug shot aspect of the photo, but it was a case of hurrying to take a photo for the grandmas the other day...just before he walked out the door the last time before going off to uni again. Final year!

He went early to help the freshers lug their bags and baggages around campus.

Monday, 26 September 2011

caught the eye

This caught my eye when we were setting up my new classroom...

the bracket for the projector for the 'I hope it gets fixed soon' Interactive whiteboard.

Looks like a sewing machine to me.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Book Project

So, I tried out my idea for the book project. I needed to enlarge 250%. My trial piece was 200%. It is a bit too fiddley and the larger one looks better on a whole page.
also, I learned that these book pages are very soft, so either I need a very sharp tip to my blade or I need to firm the page up in some way. I am going for firming. I need to try a few ideas. I want to colour it in with reference to the bright colours of illuminated manuscripts, so I can't really cover the top surface, but I might be able to do the back.

I might try dilute PVA glue. It just needs something to keep the little edges of the leaves inside from pulling away. Maybe acrylic wax over the letter after?

I also need to be sure the colours do have a difference visually. I had 4 shades of blue, but the very dark and the dark one both read as the same...What about colouring with gouache?

But, one thing I will try is fusible on the back of the page, because I am considering fusing a piece of fabric behind the letter after it is coloured. Here are a few ideas.

I am leaning towards the mottled look, but of course this is a little sample piece of cloth from somewhere, so not enough to do several letters. I may do different bright colours for different letters.

more thinking and experimenting next week.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Whatever Floats exhibition - Review

A couple weeks ago I got a cryptic email from my friend Jane which prompted me to open my issue of the Quilter before lunch.
A great review by Lois Bellew of the Exhibition the Thames Valley group had at the Slough Museum.
That was a lovely surprise.

Also, during the madness of recent weeks, I sorted 2 more things hanging on my cupboards. These 2 blouses were originally dresses I got - reduced to less than a fiver each last year. As they were straight up and down types of dresses and I haven't got a straight up and down body...I had intended to make them into blouses all along. So now they are.
I added the extra ruffle at the bottom of the linen one. It seemed a bit short because of where I had to cut it just above a buttonhole. But even though the ruffle isn't very long, it seems to finish it well. The sleeves on this blouse could have done with taking off reducing in the shoulder/neckline area, but I knew that would have meant it stayed on the cupboard another year. So, I tried smallish shoulder pads in it and they were fine. I had some rescued from something else a while back, and with the remnant chopped from the bottom of the dress, I had plenty to cover them.
I found out I didn't really have blouses/tops to go with the green trousers, but now this does. Nice! makes a change from jeans and a top or t-shirt.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

EquilARTeral and other things

Things have been rather mad around here with popping to Yorkshire for a Certain Mother-in-Law having a 91st birthday, and then a Certain Lad going back to uni. And in the background worrying about my brother who is quite ill in hospital and the most mad...the beginning of college. Which I won't get into as I am trying not to think about it.

So, having a bad head yesterday and a worse head today, I decided to start investigating ideas for the new challenge our EquilARTeral group is doing.

We hadn't done anything together for ages because we got caught up in the exhibition Whatever Floats Your Boat by Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt at the Slough Museum. So, we didn't spend much time together talking about anything else!

But now we are hoping to do something for us again, and we are looking at the idea of using a book in some way.

So, this week I have been investigating Book Sculptures. I frequently follow links admiring this sort of work. So I googled the phrase "how to make book sculptures." Through that I got an idea of what I might like to attempt. You should try it, very interesting things going on out there.

Then I had a look at the rescued books I have picked up here and there.
I have used a bit of this book about writing letters before. So, I decided to combine that with something else I am interested in...Letters from Illuminated Manuscripts or at least from books from the Middle Ages.
At this point I am thinking of using these letters with the writing letters book. They seem to want to go together. I am going to combine some of the letters to create the ones needed to complete the modern alphabet.

I am not sure if we are meant to use stitch, too. But once I get going, I can work that in.

I saved the pages from the Writing Letters book about how to address letters to Royalty! I might need it. HA! Well, at least they might want to be in their own piece of work. ;-)

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

more finishing

A few more of the wearable toiles hanging on the cupboard doors. Really they are on the way to getting to finishing the jacket toile which I hope will finally be the result.

Trousers finished - finally trousers that fit me properly. I know I can go ahead and make more when I get a chance.

Blouse finished...made on the way to getting the dress right. But now I can make some more blouses and tops.

This may not seem so exciting to you, but it is like having a whole boutique available with everything in your size, and also in styles and colours of your own choice.
Mind you the toiles were made of what was on hand and I have finished them to wear.
BUT...the next ones!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Finally, the post about Secret Project no. 3

Dragon Wear
The third garment for the Fashion Sans Frontieres show at the Festival of Quilts was to be Wearable Art. As you might have guessed, I thought...Something a Dragon might wear!

When I was looking for lining for the other garments, I found this net which already would give the look I had thought I would need to do by machine.

I also had an old faded red velvet curtain that a friend had given me ages ago. I hadn't realised how faded and it was quite a puzzle to cut out a long skirt. But with the net over some of the sections where the fading could have been noticed, it was fine.

Next I used patterns from my machine to stitch a grid over the surface. The washed surface fabrics were stitched to unwashed loomstate calico. Then I washed it all and the resulting shrinking of the calico caused the puckering texture I wanted. This is my version of a technique from a Threads magazine a long time ago. I call it shrink texturing.

Fabric after being shrunk

I will pause to tell you another problem encountered...while sewing the patterns across the skirt, my machine began to get confused. In the middle of doing herringbone stitch it started doing serpentine! When I had given it a rest, it still was misbehaving. Even going straight it would suddenly reverse. So, it was time for a doctor. My dealer is very good and was able to replace the board which controls stitches and also the other main board on the warranty (which if taken by the letter of the law had expired last year...even though it is only 3 years old). However, I didn't get it back til the weekend before the show. I was able to use a Pfaff 7570 that my friend has loaned me for a backup machine. So, I did all the rest of the work on the garments with it.

The skirt

and back to the Dragon Wear gown. I had red satin to use for the bodice. It was a more orange red while the curtain velvet for the skirt was a more blue red. But with the net over it, the difference wasn't so clashing. I also fused net to red synthetic organza using black Misty Fuse. I made wing like shapes which I attached in various places on the bodice and skirt.
Bodice front

bodice back

Close up of the details on the garment.

I was going to do a cape, but ran out of time in the end.
But here is the Dragon Wear outfit on display

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Finishing and woking out problems

well, having said that I couldn't put off college things any longer, I found I could. :)
So, on Saturday, I finished this skirt. I had got it right to the place where I stitched in the lining round the zip and needed to finish the hem. Well, that is where I discovered I had used the skirt block that said to add to the bottom, which I hadn't done. has been on the cupboard til now. In the meanwhile, I have made sure I won't make that mistake again.

So, just to get it finished, I decided to take a strip of fabric and just slightly pleat it at intervals. This is the chop-chop-sew-sew method. Get the piece of fabric, notice the extra amount in the middle is just a bit bigger than the amount of each panel at the hem. Try the skirt on and sit down to work out how much to add to the bottom. Cut 4 strips 10cm wide, stitch them together and then match and pin at seams. Pin at the centres of the panels and make a small inverted pleat. Pin at the 1/4 sections of the panels and make more small inverted pleats. Since the measurement at the front is slightly shorter than the back, make an extra inverted pleat at CF. stitch it down, finish edges. et voila!
So, then I started thinking which blouse would go best with it. I liked the idea of a white blouse, but the plain ones looked best, but felt too plain. So, I simply stitched patterns in blue!

Whilst I was on a roll, I decided to finish off the dress I had made as a working toile. It just needed the neckline finished and the buttons added. I had used fairly strong interfacing because I knew I wanted to use the big heavy buttons. I thought that button holes might have to be various sizes for the various shapes and would probably be so big there would be problems with the openings gaping. I decided that because I could get it over my head without unbuttoning, I would just sew the buttons on through the layers. So...I did.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Rucksack prototype

Well for some reason the internet was not working at all yesterday. So, while I could not sort the photos for the secret project no 3 and post them, I did finish the rucksack.

Plenty of pockets

Verdict? It works. It is lightweight. You can use it like a bag if you don't want it on your back.

oh rubbish, blogger just ate the rest of the post.

Problems? It is too complicated - well mainly all the extra contrast bias binding trim.

I wanted to fold down the top corners to make a point, like a bag I saw at FOQ, but I had already put the large pocket on, so when you fold the points down it causes a lot of confusion around the area of the pocket closure.

I wanted adjustable straps, but I seem to have put the buckles somewhere reasonable because 'I never use them' and I guess I put something else in that drawer.

Make the bottom D shaped instead of oval shaped so the oval doesn't poke into your back. This was a clever suggestion from the resident university student who 'wears rucksacks all the time, so I know.' He has also suggested tabs at either side at the bottom to attach the straps to, for some reason of improved wearability which I have forgotten.

But I have a rucksack for the present drawer because I am obviously going to find I need a present for someone and it will be just right.

And now I am off to sew something in preparation for upcoming college units. Yes. It is getting near that time again and I can't put this off any longer.