Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Red skirts

I cut out another girl's skirt. I will probably cut out a few more and then stitch them all up at once.

I have had this red for ages. It was £1 a metre! I made a skirt from it and wore it out. So with some of the rest, I thought I would do a girl's skirt from it. Holding out on the rest for something for me, now that the other has gone into the toss it pile.

and then while I was at it, I cut a red wool skirt from some I found in the stash when I was organising.

Not sure how this one got there! Either given, or I suspect from the National Needlework Archive Fabric sale. anyway, I think it is wool flannel. Anyway, it is a med-light weight. I haven't got enough red lining, but I like interesting linings anyway, so I am using this black. Just enough...especially since I decided on a kick pleat at CB.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Girls Skirts

When my friend Karin was here I asked her about clothes for the children. She said they get quite a few donations for the under 10 year olds, but not much for the older children.

So, using some of the suggestions, like length(they like them midcalf) - and ease(elastic waist is easier to fit and they are happy with them), I have drafted a pattern using the standard charts for 10 year olds in the Winifred Aldrich Metric Pattern Cutting for Children. If I had access to a 10 year old, I would have just drawn round a simple skirt and made a pattern from that.

From time to time people give me fabric, so I am using some of that to make up some skirts. When I get enough for a small box, I will send them on to Ethiopia.

I have cut a version from some lightweight voile type fabric. Okay I don't like it at all, but Karin said they would like it. Basically it will be a prototype. I can send it in an envelope and get feedback. The children are not as developed as British children, so it may be that this 'size 10' may fit someone much older.

I cut a bit of shaping on the hips, and then divided and spread the pattern about 10cm in the back and 7 cm in the front. This is what WA calls slightly gathered skirt. I have drafted some pockets, too. What kid doesn't like need pockets!

If this plan works, I will have a go at shorts for the boys as well.

I have been very tired lately, so this is all I managed to do today. :( but then sometimes you just need to rest, I guess. Off to bed then!

Friday, 23 November 2012

name badges

Next week the ladies from our church are hosting a Ladies Christmas tea. There will be somewhere between 50 and 60 ladies. So, tonight some of my friends met to make name badges. We even had one of the husbands cutting out wee aprons!

The little gingerbread ladies have been cut out of fused green fabrics - using Misty Fuse -, little aprons have been cut out of fused white fabric. Loads of little red bows have been tied. Next step, fuse the aprons on the ladies and the ladies onto the red felt, not forgetting to slip a bit of ribbon or glittery string onto a safety pin and then between the layers before fusing. Then cut the whole of the badge out of the felt. Glue gun the bows on for a splash of colour.
Make sure I have enough pens for guests to write their names on the apron!

The pin string bit means it can be hung on the tree at home. Fun!

Everything gathered from my stash!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Fleece Refashion

So, I had this black fleece with a hood. It was a pullover. The only reason I got it was because I had to have an MRI and needed something without metal on it. and as the appointment was at 7:00am, I knew I would need something warm.

Here is what it looked like on.
Flattering - not!

So, keeping in mind I may need another MRI at some point, I decided to make it so I could actually use it this winter, but keep metal off of it.

I had some lovely tartan blue/green/purple fleece, so I cut a strip from it. Then I cut the fleece open to make it more like a cardigan, I removed the edging from the neck and hood part...just cut it off. Then covered the edge with the tartan fleece. It had a kangaroo pocket, but I had chopped right through it, so putting the edge on, closed it up on both sides.

Then tried it on. Okay, long arms. But, it was mostly because the shoulder was too big. So I pinned where my shoulder was, took it off and added about 2cm more to that for shoulder length. Then I cut it up from the point where you would generally find the front notch, but through both layers. you can see that it has removed a wedge.

Then I cut the wedge off, and inserted a folded strip - like flat piping. Here is the strip pinned in,

and the result of it stitched into the shoulder.

I had a bit more strip left, so I put it on the edges of the pocket.

The arms were still slightly long, so I chopped off the hem that was there, and bound the edge with more of the the tartan fleece.

And here I am! Much happier. It is warm and the black doesn't make me look like death warmed up.

I cut a few scraps into squares and stitched them on the front for decoration.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Another idea - bead on again

So, I still didn't know where to head with this "And the Bead/Button goes on..." idea today. But into the post popped my sketchbook for the Sketchbook Project 2013.

And I remembered the little book I made from the trimmings of last year's sketchbook.

So, I have started putting beads on the pages. I will see how long I can carry on while I consider what I really want to do for a full year of something.

If you want to see the Sketchbooks I did for 2011 and 2012, you can go to my page on the Art House Co-op pages. If you want to see some of the other projects, you can go to the Digital Library.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

And the bead goes on...Off? week 2

In the interests of full disclosure, this is what my bead area has been like all week....

Nothing has actually shifted except for getting out further possible fabric.

The questions in mind:
Is this becoming a chore? - what? after I managed one week! I do enjoy it when I get to it, but making 7 beads on a Sunday evening is not really doing a daily bead, is it?

I had a very busy week with unexpected events. Do I need something that would take even less time? Irene suggested using my plan B - buttons, on alternate weeks. This is a good possibility. But around the time I read her comments, my friend was already coming, so I didn't get a chance to set up a button plan. What do I sew the buttons to?

So, rather than sitting here doing 7 beads to show you. I will go sort out a button plan and see how I get on with it this week. How does 'And the button goes on...' sound?

Now I see why Kathy Loomis says to try it out first.

Saturday, 17 November 2012


Today was the November meeting of the Thames Valley Contemporary Textile group. We had a very inspiring talk by Mary Crabb who does innovative basketry.

Mary told us about her background and how even family engineering efforts have shaped her life and informed her work.

Later in the afternoon Mary talked us through how to start a basket. First she showed us the basic twinning technique using a sturdy plastic drink cup slit to become the struts or warp.

Everyone's work was slightly different which helped you see what else could be done. Use thin threads or thick threads, the result is different.

From there, we moved on to actually starting the base and working from there.
Some did a flat weave like this sample, some did a 3D version which was more like a pod.

Some worked small like I did and some used rope like warp (I can't remember what she called it!) and so had something pretty substantial.
I was concentrating too much for photos of the others work on this part! but here is my bit I have started.
I am linking this to Nina Marie's Off the Wall Friday. A different sort of creative effort. I am already getting ideas how this could be used in my work. Of course, needs a bit more experimenting, but hey, that is part of the joy!

Friday, 16 November 2012


So, I have had a busy but lovely time with my friend. As usual, she fitted right in at home with us again.

The two of us went out and about looking for things for her to take back to the children. Children's DVDs from charity shops were the main thing. So, we also had one relaxing fun afternoon watching the Borrowers.

I also showed her my cupboard full of textile art pieces. She had some good ideas on how I could get them out of the cupboard for a further life!

And before we knew it she was off again. She is in London this coming week for meetings for the board of the Abraham's Oasis.

Monday, 12 November 2012


At the event Saturday, I turned to say something to my friend who had just arrived to help set up. And I had such a shock!
Unknown to either my husband or me, our special friend who works with orphans in Ethiopia had come all the way to be part of our celebration! I was overwhelmed!
Karin used to live with us when she was getting more experience in nursing administration. We seldom see one another, but when we do, we just pick up again where we left off.

So, any plans I had for sewing have gladly been tossed for the week. Karin has come to our house for a few days. She is getting some much needed rest as well. She has some meetings and business to take care of next week, but for now we are wandering around charity shops looking for children's DVDs for her to take back, popping in Boots the Chemist for medicine for triplets they are caring for and devices to extract poison from scorpion stings, and sitting and chatting about children...my young man still at home and her 60 children of varying ages - from a few who have just gone to uni to the premmie triplets who inspite of a difficult start are doing well at 6months.

My friend Karin. Below is some of her story.

Karin is a nurse from the Netherlands. While she was with us in the UK, she became drawn to work in Ethiopia...initially thinking she would help re-establish a hospital in the North of the country where there was so much damage following the war with Eritrea.

But after she got there, one by one she found or was directed to children who were orphaned, abandoned, or living on the streets. She also developed programmes to get young teenage women off the street and back in school or in a business where they could earn money. Eventually after moving to larger and larger premises and with the blessing of the local government, she was able to get land and start a whole village! They have around 60 children now. But they also have a school which children from the community come to. They include special needs children in the school and have several who are doing very well. They have programmes to help children in the community who are orphans but have some extended family member who they can live with.

Another lady (Ruth, from Scotland, who we also know) has 'retired' from working in a hospital where ground breaking surgery was being done for fistula paitents in a hospital in the capital city, Addis Ababa. Now she works with Karin. Most of the fistula patients were able to go back to their villages after successful surgeries, no longer outcasts. But for some, the surgery could only do so much because of the damage. But these young women now have more hope because they have become the mothers for the children in the Village near Shire, Tigray where Karin is!

There is also a school in the village where children from the surrounding area come. They have been able to accept disabled children as well. One of the older blind girls from the village was recently chosen by the local government to run in the area youth Paralympics. She had not done running before, but they chose her because she was blind. So, you know how well those Ethiopians run? Well, she won the regional competition! So, then they began to train her more and she was taken to compete in the Nationals. Maybe we will see her in the future Paralympics...2020?

If you want to know more about Grace Village and what they are doing there, you can go to this website. Abraham's Oasis The background stories can be found on the side links.

As you might guess, I might not be on here to post for a few days.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

And the Bead goes on...week 1

Daily Bead trial project so far.
I got out another mixed bead packet, but I like the glittery ones a bit better - at least on this colour.

This is how I fuse them. Roll up on the knitting needle and press here and there to hold it together. I added some purple strips to these because I was getting bored with the reddish fabric.

I learned that you don't want to work hard to get it all pressed securely because it becomes very hard to stitch through with the thin beading needles. You won't have to fret about it coming undone, because you are stitching through a few layers. I also stitch on each fabric bead while it is on the knitting needle. It is actually a lot easier than holding on to the little bit and try to stitch it.

I usually try to keep from going right down to the core when stitching, just thinking it might be difficult to keep from tangling when and if you actually thread them all together on a cord.

Confession - I didn't do very well with doing this every day. I will try a bit harder...but I have a guest this week. Perhaps I need to do this longer than 3 weeks to see how it evens out before I decide for certain to do it for 2013.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Something on Saturday

Today we had a celebration at our Church in honour of my husband who is now the Pastor. It was such a wonderful day. This is the only photo I was able to get because I was so busy meeting friends from years past. And look at the glorious flowers done by our friend Jan, not easy for her to do something so large and heavy, as she has MS, but she has a special gift with flowers.

But this was the indulgence for me when we planned the event. Please could we have Graham play the cello? And so he did!

Friday, 9 November 2012

Blueberry Pie - 2

Yesterday I mentioned some steps for the last blue piece for the CQ journal quilt challenge. If you have come over for Off the Wall Friday, just scroll down and you can read yesterday's post first to see the steps I took to develop the design.

I was pretty happy with the layout and began to think about the stitch. But then I remembered the rule about up to 25% of another colour. Okay, there is a lot of white on this. SO, I wondered if a fine layer of blue over all would work.

This paperlike fabric is something I use quite a bit. The places where I have purchased it don't exactly know what it is. I have called it the Mystery Fabric. I suspect it is a Spunbonded Fabric similar to what is used for bouquets of flowers.

I laid it over and decided
1-it gives just enough of a blue tint to the white.
2-it actually works to bring everything together even more. The writing on the organza and the blueberries on top of that. Somehow this puts them all together...perhaps in a way that layers work when merged in a photo programme?

So, I pinned it on and stitched through it, sticking with horizontal stitching on the bold blue lines and then Free Motion stitching round the berries.

Then I went round the edge with satin stitch like I usually do. But I felt the colour of blue was too blue compared to the rest. So, I went round with a lighter blue and didn't change the bobbin. Even with a further reduced top tension, the bottom blue was coming up around the side, but I actually liked that look. For me, it is more like the 2 tone blue of the berries.

And there! That's me done for that year of Journal Quilts. I wanted to get this one done early because there is a lot going on between now and the end of the year. It is one less thing to worry about. Also, I would like to try working on something larger. This way, I won't have to stop and do a small piece.

I am linking these posts to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Blueberry Pie - 1

I mentioned I had started the last blue journal quilt for the Contemporary Quilt challenge. My own challenge also meant it needed to be a fruit.

So, I originally come from a place where blueberries are grown. But, I don't really like them. So, at first I was going to go with something like Mission Figs, which have a blue cast to them. Or some strange Asian blue fruit that starts with Q and is about the size - as far as I can tell - of blueberries.

At the end of the day, I decided to just get on with it! We have 2 blueberry plants my husband has been growing. He made blueberry ice cream with the small handful we got this year...it wasn't that bad to be honest! Maybe all these years later my tastes have changed. Either that, or it is the comparison with the ever present Blackcurrent the Brits are fond of. That I Don't like!

The blueberries were printed onto the cotton printer fabric. I had set up the original print for Pepper with the blueberries in the extra space in order not to waste the fabric sheet.

So, here was the beginning idea. Use this blue stripe shirting with blueberries scattered on it..some reference to musical notes came to mind.
But, really it was scattered blueberries on blue stripe fabric!

It needed something special. I thought about the blue striped shirting being like note paper. SO, I emailed my sister Kathy and asked her if she minded sharing her Blueberry Pie recipe. Kathy won a prize at a Blueberry Festival with her pie made from this recipe.

She graciously gave permission and typed it up and sent it to me. She said I didn't have to obscure any secret parts with carefully placed berries!

I formatted and printed the recipe onto prepared organza printer fabric. I thought this would still allow the blue stripe to show through. It works pretty good! I went over the title with a blue fine sharpie to make it show more.

And then I positioned the blueberries and fused them. Here it is ready to be stitched. I haven't got photos yet, but I have tried to do stitching that wouldn't take away from or obscure the recipe.

Further developments tomorrow!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Awards night

Yesterday I said I went out in the evening. I had been invited to the Awards evening for New Directions where I used to teach. The specific interest was that my student Frances was being recognised for achieving her City and Guilds Fashion Level 2 Diploma - with Distinction!

Unknown to me beforehand, I was also called up to be recognised for guiding her and the other students so well! So, I haven't got photos of that part.

But Frances was called up again because she had won the prize for Adult Learning in the Art and Craft department!

I was sitting way in the back, so the photo is fuzzy (yeah I think this is the fuzzy photo week!) But here is a close up as well.

Along with other New Direction Students, Frances will be put forward for Adult Learner Awards on a National level.

So did you notice a familiar costume/uniform on one of the people on stage?
New Directions were able to have Naomi Riches, Paralympic rower and gold medalist, as speaker. Naomi actually took jewellery lessons from my colleague, Jim Pooley. (Shown here introducing Naomi) This was not the easiest thing because Naomi can't see colours and has distance judgement problems because of problems with her eyes from birth.
Naomi Riches with her Gold Medal

When I went up with Frances, photos were taken of us with Naomi and also a Reading Councillor. I hope to get copies. But later I was cheeky enough to go ask to have a photograph taken.
Naomi gave me the Gold medal to hold! Like loads of others, I was surprised and said 'It's heavy!'

I got a few other photos of Frances. She was wearing the dress that she designed for the Dress Factor contest. She was one of the top 5 finalists. The dress looks great on her. She had to use a different fabric than she had first chosen, but I think she has done well with it.

I had her twirl a bit to get a look from all sides.

The dividing line means the topic changes! Today's post happens to be number 1000! That is pretty amazing! A special thanks to my friend Helen who helped me to get started. In looking up the first post I discovered that I passed the 4 year mark in October.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


Sorry in advance - fuzzy mirror photos. No time for a photographer because I was going out. Tomorrow I will tell you about that!

Here is the dress turned blouse being worn. edit for a better photo!

Here is the Cardigan not so easy to see black, but it fits and feels nice.

And a detail of the button beads treatment on the lapels. (Thankfully not a mirror photo.) Subtle but interesting.

Monday, 5 November 2012


One of the things I have wanted time for was to do a bit of refashioning. Actually I have a pile of things that aren't quite right. I have given several bags of things to charity that I know I won't be able to change or won't wear. But now I have a bit of time to do begin this pile.

The question was...where to start! So, finally I settled on this dress.

Which you may recall I made earlier in the year. Looks fine standing up. But when I sit down, I am very uncomfortable with how far above the knee it ends up. I got a brainstorm the other day. Rather than trying to think of a way to make it longer...just chop it off and wear it for a blouse.
Much better. I will try to get a photo wearing it tomorrow and will add it onto this post.

The rest of the day I was getting ideas for sorting out this cardigan I made from a remnant of t-shirt fabric. I originally copied a cardigan I already had.

Only there wasn't enough to do the sleeves on the lengthwise grain so I did them on the cross grain. I seldom work with knits and it wasn't till I tried to get it off and all the sleeve seams popped that I realised the stretch was not around the arm, but up and down. So, I used some old shoelaces to sew on the seam as stay tape. That was fine, but at the time, the sleeves still were quite too snug.

also I was trying to copy a refashion idea I saw where someone opened up a t-shirt into a cardigan and put lace on the edges. Their's worked...mine...well it was a bit too twee.

I dug it out of the cupboard thinking to chop it up and use it on something else. Well, in the meantime from making it, I have lost weight and the sleeves aren't snug! So, I have unpicked the lace and have been auditioning ideas for what to do instead. I still feel it needs a bit of something. I think I have found the answer, but as I had a meeting tonight, I will need to stitch it tomorrow and show then.

Do you ever revisit garments you have made? something isn't quite right and eventually you think of a way to go in and do something so you are more likely to wear it?

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Creative Daily - Trial

I mentioned that I am interested in the idea of a daily creativity prompt. Kathy Loomis suggests having a go with your idea before it gets to the New Year to see if you have chosen something you can stick with. Is it too complicated? Is it too time consuming? Is it portable for days you are away?

So, I thought I would try a few things out. Here is my attempt at one idea.

Fabric beads.

Interesting. Check - I could make all sorts of varieties. These were made from a scrap that already had fusible web on the back. I wrapped them round a thin knitting needle and fused them while on the needle with the iron.

Portable. Check - Fabric scraps, little packet of beads. Beading needle. Beading thread. and if I need something to snip the thread, I can use nail clippers. (Not likely to go on a flight) I can fit the made beads in the container. It could hold a week or more of beads if I have to go away.

Complicated? Not sure. I will have to see how I get on for a couple weeks. I think I could look at the idea of wrapping interesting threads round instead of little beads.

And another thing...for me they need to have a final purpose. Check. In order for me to stick with this for 365 days, I need to know it can be used For something.

Other thoughts...
I think I like the idea of being flexible, getting ahead or catching up if you have a life something that might interrupt. Maybe the daily thing will actually be decorating them? I made a few ahead to decorate another day. If you have the scrap and have the iron on, you may as well do the roll round the knitting needle thing for several rather than heating it every day.

This time I used a little packet of mixed beads. I am not a mixed beads person. If I am doing something, I want to know I have enough to complete. I don't want to fish around in the mixture to find the right colour. But for this, a mixed selection gives me enough to mix or match...and it uses these up without me 'sorting' them...which I have been known to do!
But as to 'rules' I don't think I will restrict myself to mixed packets.

Anything else I should think of? Suggestions for a catchy name for the project?

I have another idea I want to try. Then choose between them. I think I will give this 3 weeks and then the other one 3 weeks. and see what I think.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Something on Saturday

Smells lovely in the garden.

My husband is cutting back the lavender.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Blue Flowery blouse

Just a mid project shapeless on a hanger view of what I sewed today. I am having a bit too much pain today, so slow progress. It will have a front placket, cuffs and a mandarin collar.

However, I am excited about the blouse. I cut it out last Saturday at TVoffcuts October meeting. Now that I have a blouse pattern that works, I am finally getting round to making a blouse from this lovely flowery print. My sister sent me the fabric for a present at least 20 years ago!

I love the shades of blue in the flowers. It has been one of those fabrics that I didn't want to make up if I didn't really wear it. So, soon I will!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Dragon spotting - a mystery adventure

Yesterday I went to help take down the TVCT Whatever Floats exhibition from the National Needlework Archive. Each time I am there, I try to take note of the various banners they have displayed. I presume they change them regularly as I know I would have spotted the dragon before!

Sorry about the state of the photos. I think my battery wants charging.
Anyway, I saw this dragon and wolf/dog fight on the banner.

I thought, that warrants investigation! There is bound to be a story in it somewhere.

The banner says West Clandon.

So, here is an interesting tale about a dragon blocking the road at West Clandon. A soldier charged with desertion escaped from the death penalty and his path took him (with his dog) through West Clandon. Together they got rid of the dragon. You will be glad to know the soldier was pardoned from the desertion charge. (!) The dragon and dog are on the town sign.

Elsewhere, following the story, we learn there is a woodcarving in the local church. There is a bit more to the tale about the dog.
"A dragon which was giving the locals a hard time was killed by an ex-soldier and his dog - the dog leapt onto the creature's face, while the man decapitated the wyrm."

And why didn't I know there was a chalk dragon on a hillside? Come on, who knew and didn't tell me? and now that A Certain Young Man is no longer at Guildford uni, I haven't got a 'real' reason to go find it.

But I shall anyway, sometime.

I think the chalk dragon on the hillside is 'just' the shape I have been looking for as inspiration to 'go large' with my dragon series.

What fun to discover this story! Hope you enjoyed it!