Picture framing course

Recently I attended a day workshop on how to build your own frames.  It’s not something that is necessarily feasible for me at the moment, but it’s definitely something I would like to try in the future. Continue reading

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Christmas makes 2016

Just a quick post to reflect on some of the makes I have made this year for Christmas!  There are a few which have been good or challenging which I wanted to share.

The upcycled t shirt cushions

My dad suggested that his old Hard Rock cafe tshirts should be transformed into cushions about two years ago but I wasn’t convinced and didn’t do it until this month.  They have come out much better than I expected!  I was worried that they were too faded, but I simply cut out the designs and appliqued them onto calico and created envelope cushions!

 

The 1940s tapestry bag and purse

This is another gift which had been on my mind for years but I had never got round to creating.  However, I finally created it this year, even having time to create the matching purse (from Making Vintage Bags).

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Hare bag

I wasn’t intending on making a hare bag this year, but when I clapped eyes on the fabric, I had to make something with it for one of Phill’s relatives who loves hares.  I followed a free pattern online but I was a bit disappointed with the depth of the bag, which I would have preferred to have been a bit deeper, but I added a magnetic clasp to it to make it more like a shoulder bag.  I did find a preferred tote bag pattern but I don’t have a photo of it yet so will write about it another time.

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Oscar glasses case

This personalised glasses case was fun to make as well to add to my grandad’s collection of Schnauzer based gifts over the years.

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Baby Showers Mobile

My biggest challenge was making this mobile for my niece!  I gave my sister the choice of patterns for a baby mobile, and halfway through making this mobile I felt a bit of regret at doing that!  However, it was a great challenge and pushed me much further than the other choices (and it looks much more impressive too)!  I adapted the pattern from Chloe Owens (All Sewn Up) to what I had available, using Christmas tree decorations for the raindrops instead of jewellery chain.  Glittery sequins were attached to the butterflies, which make light bounce off it.

I could not follow the pattern precisely as I could not get a needle through the fabric flowers when assembling as the fabric glue made it too hard.  Instead, the embroidery floss was attached securely either side of the flowers.

I greatly underestimated the many stages to this mobile!  I would recommend starting far in advance to ensure you make this in time to avoid the last minute stresses of making gifts!  Fortunately, my mum helped ensure the clouds were sewn securely and to help with the final construction stage.

Recent inspiration – Jane Hunter’s ‘Haud Oan’

Since learning some free machine embroidery this year and combining it with appliqué, I have found it to be a great outlet of creativity.  However, when I heard the news on 24 June regarding the EU referendum, I found it very difficult to produce anything.

Jane Hunter’s new piece ‘Haud Oan’ is a great inspiration as a result.  She created it as a form of therapy to deal with the news that day.

I like how all of the yellow “remain” threads are held taut as they hold on in the direction of the centre of the EU.  The blue “leave” threads have no tension and fall loosely to the bottom of the frame.  It seems to symbolise how parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland have voted to cut their ties from the EU.

It’s a great piece because it’s so simple yet effective in its message.  It’s matter of fact about the situation, and communicates the vote clearly away from words.  The fact that it doesn’t include any words helps me relate to it because I found it difficult to find any words to discuss the EU referendum on the day for a while.  Moreover it simply shows how this vote has created such divides in the UK.

Free Motion Embroidery – drawing and writing with my sewing machine

Got your eye on an expensive yet impressive embroidery sewing machine?  Think again!

I’ve been admiring the lovely embroidery machines with their numerous stitch options and the possibility of embellishing handmade gifts with a name at the touch of a button (or a few).  I remember watching a demonstration of someone programming in a word and then watching in awe as the machine punched out the letters perfectly.  All I wanted to do was justify the cost of buying a sewing machine which did this!

Well, my bank budget (and boyfriend) will be relieved to know that I no longer have this impulse!  While embroidery machines are amazing – especially the ones where you can put your design into the computer and then transfer it to the machine to stitch it – I discovered free machine embroidery this year through a local course.

I signed up to this course without much thought about what it entailed.  I’ve always wanted to do a textile based course, but they’ve always been a long commute away or I hadn’t been able to justify the cost at the time.  This course was a reasonable price, within walking distance, and with my new working hours, I could make the time of the session.

Free machine embroidery (also known as free motion embroidery) is when you drop the dog teeth on your sewing machine, which normally propel your fabric in one direction (away from you).  You attach a new type of foot – a darning foot – and reduce the upper thread tension a little.  You can do it without a presser foot attached, but it’s a lot safer with one!  You use an embroidery hoop to keep your material firm and you’re ready to go!

It’s best to move the hoop really slowly and have a play at first.  It takes time to learn to keep your hands smooth and steady as you stitch.  Originally, I practised drawing lines with the machine, then made loop patterns and some basic shapes.

first attempt

My first attempt at free motion embroidery!

In the course, we learned shading, appliqué, writing and using water soluble fabric (which is a whole other aspect to discuss another time).

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Some shading added to this cat drawing

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Some abstract layering of different fabrics using appliqué and free motion embroidery

I really enjoyed all of it, but I am quite fond of writing with stitch.  I love looking at people’s handwriting, and I used to enjoy writing stories as a kid, which may explain my fondness of handwriting.  I have used writing in combination with other free motion embroidery techniques in producing the designs for some of my Etsy items– cards in particular.

Ultimately, the reason I’m addicted to free motion embroidery is that it is creates personality and individuality in makes.  Embroidery sewing machines are programmed to be perfect, but I am always going draw something with stitch a bit different every time I use it, which makes it more interesting.

It’s also a great stash buster!

Here are some useful resources and artists to look at if you fancy a go:

  • Craftsy has a useful ‘how to’ on creating embroidered works of art.  It’s very clearly laid out in simple steps
  • Poppy Treffrey does some lovely free machine embroidered items, focusing mainly on the seaside and animals
  • Lou Gardiner is another amazing free machine embroiderer and describes how she creates her work well on the introductory video on her site
  • Jane Hall focuses on nature in her work
  • Rosie James has a lovely book on drawing with stitch

Upcycling jeans – the sewing pinny!

One of the projects I made during #miymarch16 was the upcycled pinny from an old pair of jeans.

jeans before

A very creased pair of old jeans!

I got these jeans for my 21st.  I’m a bit of a hoarder, and while they had a tear in them where the fabric was so thin and worn out, I hadn’t had the heart to chuck them away.

When I met up with my mum and sister in March, they suggested cutting them up into something new.  Due to the location of the worn out section, a skirt was not suitable!  However, we came up with making a tool belt.

jeans initial cut

One of the best parts of making something from something you’re prepared to throw away is that it doesn’t cost you anything and you have a lot of freedom to just go for it!  I simply placed a ruler over the jeans roughly where I thought the length would be good and took a rotary cutter to it!

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As you can see, I curved the back to make it more apron like, but also so I could keep the back pockets.  Jeans lend themselves to being a belt because of all the pockets!!  I added some patches to the back pockets and then added a pom pom trim and ribbon border.

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I wanted to add more decoration, and following my recent addiction to free machine embroidery (which I will go into more detail at some point in the future), I drew out some sewing related appliqué onto bondaweb!

pinny complete

Et voila!  Here is the end result!  I added some random buttons to the front pockets and stitched additional detail on the appliqué.  Now I put my scissors on a bungee rope so they’re always with me but I do think I need to add a scissor holster to it to improve it.