Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Post Card Crazy

 This was  a week to make and send postcards in my birthday swap fabric postcard group.  The three themes were 'anatomy', 'flowers' and 'purple'. 

Fun to make these and play with different ways of making them.  Actually, this FMQ hand was sewn earlier in the year when I cut up my hand quilted block but didn't want to show it in case it gave the game away to the recipient!

As well as these I've started a bit more hand work too - I've managed to get seven stitches behind (that's seven or eight weeks!) on my TAST samples again.  I know that this happens when my finger joints are a bit sore, as I just stop doing hand sewing in the evenings, but it does always surprise me how long these flare ups last.  Still, back up and running and ready to get to grips with it all again, so perhaps a progress photo next week.

 I've also ordered some Christmas fabrics.  I thought that I'd never be in a position to say that, as I'm not usually a fan of them, and seem to spend the run up to Christmas trying to use up any that I have on small projects (I don't usually have yardage, I usually have small amounts that have snuck into charm packs or FQ packs....).  This year, though?  I remembered that last year I'd promised to make my DIL a Christmas tree wall hanging with my left over bonda-webbed fabric snow flakes....and that Christmas was fast approaching.  A quick check revealed that her Christmas colours were red and green, so a order to Doughty's followed, and I will soon be able to reveal a new wall hanging.

In the meantime, I also need to think about other projects that need to be finished for Christmas.  I'm hoping that there isn't anything else that I've committed myself to for 'the big day' as I'm feeling a bit behind on other Christmassy things like writing the cards, and I can't see how to give me enough time in the day to do everything!

Hope that you're fitting everything that you'd like to to do into your weekly leisure time!

(PS did you notice the photos?  no streaks?  Why?  no idea!  Maybe I should just stick to taking photos of small pieces!)

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Sew and burn away - short tutorial

 Did I tell you about my cousin John?  He takes the most amazing photos of birds - and has a site devoted to them which you can see here.  You will come away from it inspired, I'm sure!

I decided to try out my 'sew and burn' technique to try and reproduce one of his photos to use as a cushion front.  I took some photos along the way in case you wanted to try out something that you feel drawn to too.

This is the finished cover, showing the Nashville Warbler in all its glory.


This is how I started.  I made a fine line tracing of the image, showing just the main areas.  I then turned this over and masking taped this to the back of the fabric that I was going to use.  This time I used linen.

 This is the other side - I covered the bird shape with yellow and brown organza and pinned them into place.  You need to think carefully about which colours you use and in which order!

Sewing from the back, I FMQed the basic bird shape and the main areas inside the bird shape.

Next I heated up the soldering iron, and carefully burnt away the brown organza around the shape. You can see all the yellow still untouched.

Next I burned away the yellow all around the bird, and the brown from over the yellow belly of the warbler.  I should have taken photos of this bit (it can be tricky to lift the top layer of organza far enough off the bottom layer so that you only burn through the layer that you want to.  It helps to use a pin or even a darning needle to give you that lift.) but I was using both hands and couldn't hold the camera as well!

Then it's a question of layering more colours on as required.  Pin them to cover the area you want, sewing around them from the back before burning away the excess fabric from the front. 

Although it's called 'burning' the fabric away, really it's more like cutting with heat, as you only make a narrow cut, you don't burn away the whole of the excess fabric.
This is the warbler once I'd applied white and silver layers for the beak, lower belly and legs.  After I'd done that I added a little background detail - again sewing from the back following the original tracing which was still taped onto the back.

Finally I took the paper off the back (easy, as it was perforated along the stitched lines).  The last steps were to add some 'thread painting' over the top of the organza colour blocks to blend them a bit better - the colours are fairly true on this photo.
I then went on and created a quilt 'sandwich' with this basic picture, wadding and a backing fabric, before stipple quilting around the motif and adding the name of the bird (look carefully, bottom right).
Fancy trying this?  I just use an ordinary battery soldering iron (less than £10 from my local electrical store) rather than one of the fancy fine tipped craft ones.  Normal rules apply: be careful where you put the hot tip down (inside an empty mug on it's side works well), clean 'gunk' off the tip regularly (I use wire wool stuffed into a small pot), your workspace should be well ventilated.
Once again apologies for the odd banding on the photos.  I STILL don't know why it's happening!
If you give this a whirl let me know how you get on - it's a really fun way to make quick applique with almost no preparation!


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

All together now!

Not suggesting we all sing (although that would be nice, something rousing with a good chorus would be nice) but telling you that the FMQ samples are neatly put together as a sample quilt and hanging on a newly created bit of wall space (following redecoration and the purchase of a new cupboard.....).  It may not stay there forever, but it fills the space in a pleasing manner at the moment!

I don't think that I've properly tried 'quilt as you go' before.  My way of doing it (zig-zag the squares together, cover this seam with narrow tape on the back by sewing down both sides, then add the 'sashing' at the front by sewing down each side of it) seems secure and fast, but not desperately attractive from the back.  I'm not sure that doing it this way is something that I'd want to take on to larger quilts, but it's interesting to try.

As you can see, I still can't work out why Blogger is splitting my photos....I've tried re-sizing (reducing the pixels in each direction) - this is 1/4 of the usual picture that I use - but to no avail.  I might try photos from my phone next time to see if that makes any difference.

There have been other minor sewing projects this week - using an embroidery machine gifted to my DDs by the lovely Benta, and sewing Christmas felt ornaments with Richmond and Kew Quilters on Monday evening.  No photos to show either yet, though - perhaps next week when they are looking a bit more finished!

I've also spent a little time on GIMP - a freeware image manipulation programme - following the first class with Sharon Boggon who is offering a course for textile design.  I'm quite excited about it!

Hope that you are enjoying some sewing or other creative time!

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Can you bear another sample photo or two?

No, honestly, I'm not doing this for fun - but Blogger is still telling me to add purple overlays to my (in real life) white quilting samples!

This is my free form feather with stippling - nothing particularly exciting, I'm afraid, and not one of my best feathers, although I was trying to balance each blob with a partner one and I did at least manage to get a matching number!
This was the other sample that I've sewn this week.  It was fun coming up a continuous line quilting pattern based on one of my designs from my last C&G module on media......  You can still see most of the elements from the design if you look carefully between the two photos, although some parts worked better than others after I'd simplified it!

I'm not sure that I'm going to manage more than samples this week either..... particularly not if I'm going to try and find out why my photos are upsetting Blogger so much!  perhaps Blogger thinks that mostly white photos are too dull? I'll try more colour next week, perhaps!