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
It’s nice to pause and reflect back over the year before looking forward to the new year, so here are my highlights and lessons from 2016:
- Ceramic buttons!
I don’t have any plans to continue ceramics at the moment, but a highlight for me has been making ceramic buttons! So far, I have only used one (which may be part of the reason I have decided to leave ceramics for the moment from my stream of hobbies) but I have plans in the new year to use more of them.
- Free machine embroidery
Free machine embroidery has increased the use of my sewing machine greatly. Since taking a 10 week workshop at the beginning of the year, I’ve struggled to stop! I find it very fun and an easy way to personalise makes without the use of an expensive embroidery machine!
- Man Engine Stitch
Following on from my discovery of free machine embroidery comes my most focused project using the method – The Man Engine stitched. It took a day – from editing a photo on the computer which I took in St Austell – to stitching the design onto calico.
I hadn’t really used instagram until this year and I have found it a great way to connect with other crafters and keep up to date with designers and artists.
- Poppy Playsuit (by Sew Over it)
The Poppy Playsuit is my favourite make of the year garment wise (just a shame that the UK isn’t ideal weather-wise for it!)
- Upcycled pouffee
The new cover for the inherited pouffee makes me smile!
- Baby showers mobile (from Chloe Owens All Sewn Up)
Probably the longest and probably the most complicated make of the year! However, it does look nice now it’s finished (and I should have started it much earlier than I did)
- Upcycled t shirt cushions
Another Christmas gift make to be shortlisted are the t shirt cushions. They came out much better than expected and it has been great to get them out of my stash!
- Sewing with knit fabrics
The main points I learnt were to use stay tape to stop seams stretching too much and to use a walking foot.
- Starting presents much earlier!
I did learn this lesson a long time ago, but I still struggle to adjust my working pattern accordingly! A couple of years ago, I made everyone’s gifts well in time for Christmas. It hasn’t happened again, but it will be something I strive towards in 2017. While I always argue that I need the deadline looming to be motivated, I am going to try new methods to get that motivation working much earlier to make it less stressful!
- Don’t always follow patterns blindly
I had trouble making the baby showers mobile by Chloe Owens as the fabric glue made it too hard to attach the flowers at the end. In the end, I had to adapt the pattern anyway.
I mentioned in my post on the stitching, sewing and hobbycrafts show about my purchases for block printing and I thought I’d review the tools purchased.
I bought two blocks from The arty crafty place stall at the show. Also, I picked up some leaf shapes from another stall which I felt could be used for block printing.
I didn’t buy the tempting starter kit, as I felt i had enough tools at home. I have fabric paints which I was inspired to buy from taking a textiles class last spring, and I have tray from a lino printing kit. I found a foam sheet to place beneath the fabric and sacrificed a new washing up sponge for the activity too.
Using a tray is beneficial as you can mix your colours to produce new colours or you can create blends as you print. below is a selection of samples I produced from the blocks.
I hate to waste samples though, and I ended up transforming this sample into a birthday card. As I hadn’t intended to turn it into a card originally, I had to think about where to cut the piece.
I decided to use free machine embroidery to stitch around the shapes. I began using metallic threads and then tried some others to create a bit more definition.
Naturally, the blocks from The arty crafty shop worked better and were easier to use than the cheaper leaves I bought, but they both proved to be effective with practice. The arty crafty shop have so many lovely designs and I could have easily chosen many more, but I feel that the two selected will be versatile for a range of uses.
At the end of September, I bought my first air erasable pen and thought I’d share my first few weeks’ experience with it.
As you can see from the images, there are two ends to this pen. There is a fine point and a thicker nib. the difference between these two nibs can be seen in the image below:
I like the use of two different thicknesses because it suits the purposes I use it for very well. I can use the finer point to create much more precision on intricate machine embroidery designs which need to be mapped out on the material before stitching. However, the thicker nib is useful for making marks dressmaking as it show up better and doesn’t disappear quite so quickly! However, I have used it for larger embroidery designs. For example, I have begun making some new tote bag designs for Christmas which include larger stitched words than I normally produce. I write with the machine freehand in general, but as the words are a lot bigger than I’m comfortable with, it was good to use the thick nib of the pen to draft it out before I began.
The directions for this pen advise that the markings will disappear between 24-48 hours in general, but it depends on the location. Humidity plays a factor, and I found that the stag design markings with the fine point disappeared within 24 hours. Cornwall is quite humid, so I expect that other locations may find the markings last longer! I think it depends on the fabric too.
The time it takes to disappear can be an advantage and disadvantage. For me, it’s great for a project I am going to make straight away, as the markings are there for as long as I need, and will disappear on their own without the need of water, which removes the risk of shrinking the fabric (if it gets to wet) or causing the thread to run. However, it would not be so good if you used it for a dressmaking project which you could not complete within a weekend, as there’s a good chance your markings will disappear if you take too long! In this instance, I’d probably stick to the water soluble pen variety, which tends to last much longer in my experience.
Overall though, this pen has improved the way I make certain items and I have used it a lot in a short space of time. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts before I need to purchase a new one!
For my first #pic2stitch challenge, I decided to focus on The man Engine.
For anyone who missed it, The Man Engine is a mechanical puppet of a miner which is 4.5 metres tall when crawling and 10 metres tall when standing.
We were lucky to be able to travel to St Austell during one of the puppet’s transformations. There was a big crowd, so we couldn’t see at first, but the organisers were really good in encouraging the crowd to keep moving to let people further back view it too. Phill managed to take some pictures and it was from one of these pictures that I decided to create my first picture to stitch transformation.
I wanted to create more of an outline of the Man Engine, so i used Photoshop Elements to edit the picture. I erased a lot of the background data to make it easier to work out which parts were Man Engine and which weren’t!
I quite liked the image on the left, where I’ve used the water paper effect after deleting most of the background. However, I stuck with my original plan, and used the photocopy effect to create a black and white version of the photo.
As this was a big project with much detail, I decided to use a water soluble pen to mark out the details on the edited photograph. With the pen and a window, I traced the design onto calico.
The photo selection, editing and then transfer to calico took around 3 hours. In the afternoon, I began to stitch the design, which took around 4 hours, including short breaks to relax my eyes and wrists! I took a couple of hours to decide how to frame it, looking at different frames online and trialing the design in ones I had at home already. In the end I went for the box frame below, which is a 3D frame, but is the perfect size for it.
Here is the end result. I was considering using some embroidery strands to highlight the puppet’s ropes, but in the end I decided to leave it how it was. I did add its name, the year and my initials – I can’t seem to resist a bit of freehand writing with stitch!
I really enjoyed this make. It was nice to spend the day on it and finish with a completed piece.
If you would like to view how I made this finished piece, I did record the machine embroidery section and have uploaded it onto youtube here. I will warn you that it’s quite a long video despite speeding it up to ten times the actual time it took me!
For more information about the Man Engine, there is a useful article on the BBC website. There was a website set up for the Men Engine’s tour but it now advises to check Facebook and Twitter for an update on what’s next for it. There’s also the Cornish Mining Heritage website, who funded the project.