Sunday, 24 April 2016

A Little Indigo Finish

Thank you dear readers for your support for my boro project.  Today I have put it aside for the day because I need to buy some of that lead-filled tape to weight the bottom, so I have finished a much smaller project.
It's a little mat/runner for my bureau of treasures.  I am trying to be fairly minimalist but want to enjoy those few little pieces that I have, some of mine, some from Mummy and Daddy's,
(and keep an eye on them so that they don't multiply as little pieces are wont to do).
And while I am having a little indigo fest I saw these:

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Continuing Life of a Boro

I must first declare that I am prepared for thunderbolts and criticism...
I bought a boro cloth from Japan.  For a while I admired the history of the piece, the poverty of working people that led to repeated repairs and patching of textiles,  the elegantly fading indigo, the large hand stitching.  
I have done a lot of houseclearing lately, and this made me consider what my children think of the tatty blue fabric? Sara will know what it is but I can't imagine she'd want to give it house room.  So, I am giving it a new life, as sympathetically as possible but it still involves....SCISSORS!!
I started by cutting a large section of the cloth, about 6'x3', and hemmed it using cotton thread I dyed with indigo in Fujino four years ago. I used big, soft stitches.  This section will become a wall hanging, so that I can enjoy it everyday. The sides I stitched in sashiko thread, echoing the stitching on the edges of the cloth.  The thread will become less bright with time.
The next stage is to patch and repair the textile.  I have the tattiest end of the boro cloth to harvest for that.
The fabric I cut from the width has made a lovely runner for the bed (or a table), this section has few repairs.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Catching Up

I've mainly been doing household sewing recently, even though I say "I'm a creative textile artist, I don't do domestic alterations!".  I made these cushion using some of my wonderful indigo-dyed fabrics. I must stop anyone in a white shirt from leaning on them.
I have been keeping up with the JQ Challenge and have finished the first four, with a little purple in each.
For the next four months the focus colour is green and do I have disassembled this silk obi and will use some of the green areas as well as some other small pieces of green kimono silk I have.

The "Inchies" workshop was fun but I don't think I'll be making many inchies although I can see myself going to the previous stage and making more pieces like this:
Today is a beautiful Spring day so I'm going to make the most of it and put some new plants in the garden, agapanthus and allium.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Beach Hut Studio Workshop

I had a wonderful day today with members of Country Roads Quilters and Debbie Mitchell at her Beach Hut Studio in Freiston.  We weren't quite sure what we'd signed up for but knew the homemade lunch alone would be worth the journey to the edge of the county, next stop, the sea.
Debbie has many artistic talents and her workshops include painting, beadwork, felting, papercrafts.... Today we could upcycle deceased books into clever sculptural pieces, try dainty papercut designs, make pictures from recycled buttons and beads or upcycle ties.  I went for the ties and selected two beautiful silk ties to work with.  Apparently if you Google "upcycle men's ties" or similar you will find loads of ideas, who knew?
I began by making this little sewing case, other ladies made similar cases to hold their mobile phones.
I have the thin end of this tie leftover and am going to use the fabric to make kanzashi flowers.
My second project isn't quite finished (I was obviously doing too much chatting and too much goody eating) but is going to be a collar or necklace. Debbie modelled it for me so you can get the idea.
And how about this for a fantastic idea? Debbie showed us these tactile mufflers made for people suffering dementia. I think they would benefit a lot of other people too.  I'd like one myself, it would be soothing to have while watching television!  The muffler is made with wools of a variety of textures, there are ribbons, beads, buttons inside and out and even a little pouch of lavender.
I hope you enjoyed sharing my day, now I'd better get that collar finished.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Journal Quilts 2016

I have signed up for the Contemporary Group journal quilt challenge again this year but, as we enter March, I am already behind.  It's okay though as I think I know what I'm doing!  Each JQ has to use a small area of a specified colour, purple for the first months of the year.  My wonderful Indigo Sister, Judi, sent me some delicious pieces of kimono silk and I'm going to use these for the colour element each month.  The rest of the quilt will be in natural colours and focus on texture.

So, my JQ for January has some stitching on it and is making progress.  

My piece for February is set out but not stitched at all.  Aren't the kimono silks fabulous? 

March will follow shortly.

On Friday I am going to a workshop with Debbie Mitchell.  She is a favourite tutor with Country Roads Quilters, not least because her workshops include an almost constant supply of good things to eat!  We will be doing "some upcycling, possibly wet felting and using natural materials, maybe", I'd watch this space!

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

February Tutorial for the Global Piecers - Wavy Seams

Each month this year members of Global Piecers are sharing a favourite technique as a tutorial, with the aim of creating a mini sampler quilt or table topper with blocks of all the different techniques.  I'm sharing my tutorial here, which is on wavy seams.

I've posted about wavy seams before, when I did a workshop with Jenni Dobson in 2009 and when I did a workshop with Magie Relph in 2010.  Have a look at those posts:

wavy seams tutorial

wavy four patch tutorial

I have also found these interesting posts about wavy seams which give ideas about using them in various ways:

and finally a youtube tutorial which shows how to make a block with wavy seams.

The idea of my tutorial is that you learn this technique and then use it in a way that suits you and your project.  You might decide to make a wavy seams block, maybe the wavy four patch that I did with Magie Relph.  I also thought it might be fun to use wavy seams to piece small pieces of fabric and create the border for your finished project, or the backing.  The possibilities are limitless, just have fun.

I also promised to share a pattern for a foundation pieced pineapple block.  If you had fun with Sal's tutorial on foundation(paper) piecing last month then you will enjoy creating a pineapple block.  Here's a traditional way of doing it:

While looking for this pattern I discovered another site which I am including here because although their pattern is for a smaller block (6" or 8") they do include lots of different ways of using the pineapple block to create stunning designs.

And if you do fancy pineapple but not foundation piecing, try this method by Karin Hellaby:

This is the first pineapple block I made, I used the pattern in Lynne Edwards' sampler book.  I'm looking forward to seeing what you all do with your wavy seams and whether you tackle a pineapple.  My tip for the pineapple block is to check the positioning of each piece of fabric before you stitch it, it is easy to end up with wonky pieces and gaps in your seams - hold the work up to the light to position the piece of fabric you are adding.  My tip for the wavy seams is to abandon the ruler and even the pins if you're confident enough, and have loads of fun.  Happy stitching Global Piecers.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Half Square Triangle Hell

It was the first meeting of the year for Country Roads Quilters yesterday and we started the actual stitching (there's been a lot of planning and preparation to reach this point) of our quilt that we are intending to enter at the Festival of Quilts this year.  This is the block I made, apart from the business meeting and lunch, it took me all day!  I so rarely do this sort of patchwork these days that I found it exhausting, but I am pleased with my block and even more pleased that other members produced lovely blocks too.  I think the quilt is going to be a success, we are currently deciding on quilting designs, more planning and decisions!  We are very fortunate that one member, Liz, took on the role of both designer and co-ordinator of the project, she has done an excellent job and continues to do so.
Here are some of us at work, you can see the concentration!

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Journal Quilts 2016

Decision made!  I have signed up to take part in the Journal Quilt Challenge 2016 with the QGBI Contemporary Group.  So, here are the challenge rules:

1.  One JQ for each month.
2.  8" x 10" portrait format.
3.  Include an area not less than ½" square of a set colour, this must be included as a whole, not cut up and used in several areas.
January - April a little bit of purple
May - August a little bit of green
September - December a little bit of orange

I have to say it was the colour rule that made me hesitate about signing up, I'm fine with green but don't usually work with either purple or orange.  So it's a case of the "outside my comfort zone" thing.

My own guidelines will include working with textured fabrics and silks, including hand stitching and some new techniques (new to me that is) and I would like to have an outline design for the year in mind so that the journal quilts sit together as a whole eventually.  So it's a case of finding some purple fabric and watching this space......could indigo be described as purple?!!!

Friday, 15 January 2016

Sew Early for Christmas

Yesterday and today I've had a bit of a production line going.  I have decided that I would like to do more work using silk fabrics and to use fabrics of differing textures to add another dimension to my work.  Inspired by the work of my quilt guru, Teresa, I thought I'd start with a Christmas tree in folded patchwork.  So I made a pile of these.

Then I tweaked them a little to get the points as sharp as I could, pressed them and added some beads.

With the addition of more beads and a ribbon to hang the decoration up, ta dah! Now all I have to do is remember where I put it when Christmas comes around.


I'm sure you know how to make these little folded decorations but here's a quick tutorial for anyone who doesn't.  Using cotton patchwork fabric will give you a neater, more accurate finish, I was using a variety of silk fabrics with differing weights and textures.
1.  Sew two contrasting equilateral triangles
of fabric together right sides together, leaving a
small gap, turn to right side, slip stitch the opening.

2.  Fold each point to the centre and stitch in place.
3.  Turn work over and stitch the centre point
of each open side to the mid point.
4.  Stitching finished, tweak the fabric
into place - 
5.  and press.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

A New Year, A New Toy

Lynda Monk was having a clear out, as we all do at this time of the year.  I am now the excited owner of one of these
although it will be a very long time before I have that many bobbins on my kumihimo maradui.  Here's a short video to show you the basic idea:
I did a little kumihimo weaving when I was in Japan, I've found the posts and then spent quite a while looking back through photographs and feeling very nostalgic for my Indigo Sisters, Bryan, the other lovely people I met in Japan, and the whole experience of the Japanese Textile Study Tour in 2012.

So, one of the things I do this year will be to weave some braids.  Lynda sent me three books of instruction and inspiration too and I shall look forward to my first opportunity to go shopping for threads!  I remember enjoying the rhythmic "click, clack" of the bobbins when I was in Japan, so soothing although a lot of concentration is required.

I am currently trying to decide whether to commit to the Contemporary Group's Journal Quilt challenge again this year.  The quilts are to be larger, 8"x10" portrait, and there are rules concerning colours.  I am pondering.  Other exciting happenings include the quilt we are making at Country Roads Quilters which will be entered in FoQ this year and the current techniques swap we are having at Global Piecers, foundation piecing this month.  There's a lot to look forward to, plus a forecast of snow later this week, finally it might be Winter!