Sunday, 12 December 2010

Our house

I have to share this amazing dolls house with you, go HERE for details. It has been hand made by my friends Dad. I love it and I only wish I had some cash to treat us. I would love to furnish this beauty and can see a Coraline like character living here. Suzy makes the most amazing Polymer figures so you can really see that she has inherited her Dads talent It really does run in the blood I'm sure. x

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Me and my shadow

Here are my latest samples for my City and Guilds. I can honestly say that I would never have tried shadow work off my own bat. It's not that I don't like it, but you know how you stick to the things you know well? Anyway I started with the daisy in traditional shadow work. The petals and centre are worked by appliqueing another fabric to the reverse of the design and the leaves with a closed herringbone stitch. It was so enjoyable and the very fine cotton fabric came from a blouse I bought over ten years ago and couldn't bear to throw away! It needs a good damp stretch before it goes for assessment. Next I had a go at a more modern take, I made a large paper cut from a heavy Indian paper. I sewed this to some voile, this was also very enjoyable, I do like sewing with paper and plan to use some folded paper in my blanket stitch exploration. Finally I had to do battle with my nemesis of Bondaweb. I cut some bondawebbed paisley shapes and applied these to a space dyed base. I topped this off with wadding and a layer of very sparkly shot organza-(might it be called crystal organza?). I quilted around the shapes and within them and then cut back the organza to give a variety of surfaces. I added a sprinkling of Indian cup sequins and feel it could take even more.

I am waiting to hear if I have done enough to have shadow work signed off, but to be honest if I need to do some more samples it won't be a hardship and I wouldn't even mind if I needed to break out the 'web of doom' again!
Other crafting is progressing well- a Christmas present should be finished in time and I have sewn a Christmas garland this very morning. I am at the slightly excited- slightly more panicky stage of Christmas preparation, I need to cross off a few more jobs from the 'to-do' list before I can get properly wibbly and tearful about the whole festive affair- but don't worry, it will happen! xx

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Have yours-elf a merry little Christmas

I'm still here, in case you were wondering. I'm still beavering away on the City and Guilds, a tiny bit behind due to going to town on a shadow applique sample- but that has got to be the best reason for getting behind- getting totally caught up in it all. I have also been feeling a little festive. We had the Sandwich Christmas carnival last night. The school joined in and it was a really lovely evening. This year was a walking procession lit by lanterns, torches and various novelty wands/torches etc. The atmosphere was great and although it was very cold I managed to get four layers on each child under their costumes so although they looked a bit porky no one froze. We popped in to the off licence on the way home for a bottle of restorative for the grown ups and a sweet treat for the elf and the fairy. Anna chose peanut M&M's, I was a bit surprised as we haven't had them before but all became clear when she whispered, 'because they're the ones that talk'. If you've seen the adverts you'll know what she means. She wasn't too disappointed when they didn't chat to her, thank goodness, though if they had it might have freaked her out a bit!
Today we have been to a local garden centre where we chatted with Santa for a while, had a romp on the soft play/sipped Elderflower fizzy stuff (guess who did which!) and looked for some new Christmas decorations. We are having a particularly exciting Christmas this year as my family are coming for the first time 'en masse' and we want to make the house look really nice. I was really disappointed by the selection though. Everything was very co-ordinated and samey. I wanted something to hang from the ceiling and possibly a garland for the fireplace, but I refuse to pay £30 for a bit of plastic tree....(I am now officially my own mother!). I couldn't put my finger on why I was getting grumpier and grumpier trying to find something when I realised that at the back of y mind was that nagging voice..'Jenny, Jenny, you know you can make something much nicer than this Jenny'. So whilst the kids finished getting punched by other children, which seems to be the true point of soft play areas (don't worry they so enjoy being outraged it does count as fun!) I mooched off to the 'Works' which has a concession in the store and bought the worlds cheapest felt and some little bells to make my own garland. I thought I'd seen the idea on Bugs and fishes but can't find it there now, but it's worth popping over for other cool festive ideas!
Gosh I have waffled on haven't I? I think I've been missing this blogging lark!

Look after yourselves all- keep warm and happy! xx

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Al these things that I've done

I just had a quick glance back over my recent posts and have realised I haven't shown you any of my City and Guilds 'work' for ages- how very remiss of me! I have been keeping up the pace with some traditional pattern darning, and some contemporary which I will show next time.

I have used the machine in ways I never dreamed possible to applique a large area with fabric snippets. I hate Bondaweb so the realisation that I could still achieve a quick and free background into which I could stitch and embellish was really liberating!
I also completed an exercise sewing lines of long stitches across a piece of fabric then having fun weaving between and around them. What a quick and even decorative edging this would make to a cuff or around the hem of some trousers for Anna!

I showed you some samples of running stitch last time, but was challenged by one of my tutors to really let loose and allow my stitching to distort the fabric. I have made a tiny Kantha before but wanted this to be even more extreme so worked from all angles. I have so many ideas I'd like to pursue, and it's good to keep the momentum going. This week I am playing with shadow work, and completing some more design exercises on line. I am also mucking about with blanket stitch to try to get some more interesting samples together.

Oooo look, I've just scrolled down and found this little photo of some Assisi work- sort of reverse cross stitch- filling in the negative space. Honestly I have produced so many samples in just a few short weeks- goodness knows how much will have by the time assessment comes around! Still I am keeping it all neatly filled- and am looking forward to utilising it in some practical way when it's all finished with

Friday, 12 November 2010

Devil inside, devil inside, every single one of us has a devil inside

The mistake which could not be rescued on the back of my mohair lacy shrug? The devil himself must have done it.
The gorgeous new shoes....the devil made me do it.

Monday, 1 November 2010

She may not be a lady- but she's all woman.

So here's the doll- do you see what I mean about her face being a bit too subtle? Although the photo perhaps doesn't do her complete justice? Anyway, she was a joy to make, the book does have a doll with boobs and I do think future dolls will have a pair! The hands have pipe-cleaner stuffed fingers so she can be 'posed'. I really enjoyed using little bits of treasure to make her, snippets of ribbon, beads and tiny bells. She really looks little an Autumnal girl to me- perhaps a snow fairy should be next as the book has instructions for making the most beautiful wings.
Anyway this dolly has left the building as I made her as part of my swap with Maria, I do hope they get on well!

I am continuing to be adsorbed by my City and Guilds and will show what I've been up to next post.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Got myself a crying, talking, sleeping, walking living doll

Introduction to Making Cloth Dolls by Jan Horrox contains fully illustrated step-by-step instructions for making three different cloth dolls. Each doll is also shown in two different colour ways to demonstrate the variety possible from the basic patterns. I made the simplest doll, her face is flat, rather than sculpted and her hands are ‘mittens’ without separate fingers. There is plenty of advice on suitable fabric, thread and stuffing, so I felt well supported even though this was my first doll. I drew my face with fine line permanent pens a white gel pen and some watercolour pencils. I think my dolls features were a little too fine, the ones shown in the book are much more exaggerated. The dolls take only small pieces of fabric so I used some precious scraps for the body and legs. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily the doll went together, her arms and hips are button jointed so that she can sit and wave! The dolls skirt is made of layers of sheer fabric and this was really good fun, building up colours and textures. The best bit had to be adding the hair, which really gave the doll her character, and allowed me to go to town with all the mad novelty yarns in the stash.

I didn’t have any specialist doll making equipment apart from a very long needle and although I have no doubt that some long tweezers would have made life easier I can’t say that anything was much of a struggle with just a usual sewing kit.

I thoroughly enjoyed making this doll, so this is another book with which I will not part! I can see myself using further dolls and making them in all sorts of weird and wonderful characters. I would definitely make the facial features more prominent in future, to balance up all the extravagance elsewhere!

I'll show my efforts next post!

Hope you are all well and having a good weekend. x

Friday, 22 October 2010

Wonder woman!

A sneaky swap, just between friends, just for fun. Maria very kindly offered when I was having my 'what am I for?' wobble. I'm really glad I couldn't resist! Maria sent all manner of sweet stuff; a pot of cute buttons, a piece of amazing pink fabric and a roll of spotty ribbon which the camera went all wonky on so remains a secret, this most amazing heart hanging, so cute,
a very smooth and special angel, some ticking type ribbon, very swish and these dear chicken egg cosies. The children often have eggy in an egg cup so these will become a regular fixture on our table I'm sure.

the parcel was wrapped in this holographic, iridescent film which I have quickly ferreted away before any sticky fingers got to it. I'm sure I will use it in my course, but if not it brings back happy memories of 1980's Sindy outfits! A big thanks to Maria, I have enjoyed this swap so much and even more now my parcel is here and is so ace! I am now to make the decision as to where my hearts hanging should go so that it can cheer me up on a daily basis.
Half term has now officially begun so look after yourselves! xx

Thursday, 21 October 2010

It's all right- babies coming back

The Right-Handed Embroiderer’s Companion by Yvette Stanton is the sequel to the left handed version. I am right handed but have a copy of the left hand edition which I have previously reviewed here. These books are exceptionally clear in their directions and stitches are shown worked in all sorts of different ways and in sample to really give inspiration for their use. I am finding

this book invaluable in my City and Guilds stitch samples. I have already got a few stitch dictionaries in my library, including the classics, but this is my first choice now as it is so bright and light

and well indexed. I would highly recommend this for other students and teachers. Both the right and left handed embroiderer’s companions are superb.

The samples pictures are those which I've completed for my running stitch exploration, showing traditional use and more free use. I have masses of these samples to complete for all variety of stitches so I can see my copy of this book getting well thumbed over the next few months!

Monday, 18 October 2010

S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G we're shopping

Despite finding the Knitting and Stitching show slightly less ace than in the past I still managed to buy some bits and bobs (!). Thanks to Mum and Dad for some spending money and to Simon for letting me do my own Christmas shopping! First shown buttons from Textile Garden. More exciting than a sweet shop!

Then I visited a lady specialising in sequins for Sari silk and...well sequins...lush!
I got a bargain bag from Oliver Twists which contains some opulent velvet and some new (to me) fibrous stringy stuff.
I also got some coloured pencil roving to have a go at some wild Italian corded quilting.
This is my purchase in response to the challenge to make the best use of a pound. These little squares are printed and are the zingiest colours.
I also bought a thread inspiration pack from Thredfairy who I have bought from on E-bay many times,the cocoons were from Steff Francis but I like the colours together.
Steff Francis also provided the opportunity to make up another inspiration pack based on some space dyes cotton felt. I added beads from another stall.
More cotton felt awaiting a quilting experiment and some sari yarn from the sequin lady which just matches beautifully!
I bought equipment too- pens and pipe cleaners for doll making and some transfer paints.
Finally I couldn't resist some £2 a metre cotton fabric. So the shopping was tempting enough, not too much which I hadn't seen before. I found it all a bit crammed n and again have resolved next year I will try to get to Harrogate instead. I had a task also to speak and to take notes from the showcase stands, this was a real challenge. Luckily the first lady I spoke too was very lovely and chatted about her work, I asked if I could take some photos and bought some of her postcards. Unfortunately as I progressed to other stands the reaction was very mixed. Some exhibitors were friendly and charming and gorgeous but others were very shirty and stand offish. I can only assume that as it was Sunday they had show fatigue, or that they had had some terrible experiences with visitors in the past. It was strange though that some people weren't selling postcards, had no handouts and didn't allow photography. I can't imagine that lots of visitors take a pocket stuffed with cash to buy art, perhaps I'm wrong, but how are visitors supposed to remember who's progress they want to watch, who they might want to have as speakers at their guild, who they might want to buy from in the future? Perhaps I am missing the point- but I do remember Harrogate being a darn sight friendlier.
Sorry rant over, I did get some amazing inspiration and see the work of some fabulous artists. I have already used some of my purchases in my course work- more of that soon. Hope you are all well and happy. xx

Monday, 11 October 2010

A rush of blood to the head

I have been consumed by the course. I actually had to force myself to stop for lunch today- unheard of! Last weeks task was to produce samples of traditional quilting, finished and unfinished. I used some traditional patterns and followed instructions to return to good quilting habits- I tacked rather than safety pinned my layers and worked in a hoop rather than in the hand. I was really pleased with the result I will definitely be 'hooping' more in the future!

I also had to produce a sample using Trapunto and Italian corded quilting. I used a complex Celtic knot work pattern and it was quite time consuming to sew the channels for the wool. but I think if this was stretched properly it would look pretty ace. I also really like the back where the little loops of quilting wool show every inch or less. I have so many ideas about further samples, but to be honest doing these three took nearly a week! I did manage to get my first stitch samples done. Here is traditional running stitch. I will be working on a contemporary sample when I next get chance!
I am now working on some design tasks- all about line. I must admit to this terrifying me. I don't really know why but now I have got stuck in I cannot tear myself away.
I have some treasure from the knitting and stitching show to share next post, if I can put my pencils down for long enough!

Friday, 8 October 2010

yo-yo ninja girls

Yo-Yo Quilting contains 27 projects which contain yo-yo’s or ‘Suffolk puffs’. There are instructions and templates for making these gathered circles and for joining them, Then the book starts on the projects each page is in colour with large photographs and step-by-step instructions. The majority of projects have a seasonal feel with Christmas decorations, place mats and characters. There are also ideas for home, quilts and more toys. I am a bit of a yo-yo fan and have the clover templates to make sewing them super easy, I had a go at making a yo-yo Christmas tree decoration which came together well. There are a good few other ideas in the book which I would have a bash at, I like the idea of making a quilt incorporating yo-yos and the yo-yo noughts and crosses board might be handy to keep in the car for travel play. There were some projects which appealed less, I am not a big fan of yo-yo legged toys, but I think that might just be down to the scary clown I had as a child! If you are already a yo-yo fan this book might allow you to stretch their application, if you are new to the technique I would have a flick through the book first to make sure there’s enough that appeals before you jump in but then at £6.99 it’s not too much of a risk.

I am offering the book as a give away to the first commenter who fancies it.

I will be posting very soon with photos of my first samples for my City and Guilds which I am totally absorbed by. It literally is my first thought in the morning and last thing at night. It has kept me going through a pretty grim week, for which I am very grateful. I will also need to show you the treasure I bring back from Ally Pally (just to cleanse my soul-you know how it is!?)

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Ladies in red

I couldn't get along to last months guild meeting, which is a crying shame. It was the branches' ruby anniversary and there was dressing up and cake and all sorts of fun and games. I also didn't get to see my lovely friend Sylvia who sent this fabulous bag for me. I gave Sylvia the dress I'd made for a friends 20's/30's fancy dress party, I thought it might be useful because she makes costumes for the local players and indeed Sylvia tells me that it was useful in a recent production, I honestly didn't expect a pressie, so it was a lovely surprise to have this handed on to me.
The lovely lady who usually gives me a lift to the meetings very kindly took along my entries into a competition which was being run, again to celebrate 40 years of our branch. The brief was to make a fabric postcard and/or a 'small object'. I made both. The entries were voted on by fellow members and I was lucky enough to win this fabulous book for my fabric postcard;
I made a biscornu as my small item. I have seen these intriguing little cushions around and about in various magazines etc. and fancied having a go. They are simply two identical sized squares which are sewn corner to mid-side to offset the shape and make a kind of humbug. They are really cute! The Floss Box has a tutorial patterns for sale and loads of free patterns to choose from.
I added beads to mine and could see it being used a diddy pin cushion. I hadn't done any cross-stitch for ages and it was nice to do some again- only one error- can you spot it?
The fabric postcard hasn't photographed very well but it is a felt base- put through the embellishing machine with a layer of red organza. I added flower cup red sequins, secured with french knots in a variegated stranded cotton and a scattering of chain stitch leaves as a foil to all the red. Edging it in green on the machine did cost me a needle when going over a sequin but it was worth it as I'm really pleased with the rich design. It has come out quite crunchy but if I was planning an extravagant wedding wouldn't a bodice in this look ace......but lets not get carried away!
Talking of getting carried away is anyone visiting the knitting and stitching show next week? I am going up on Sunday.

I have a list of little tasks to complete as part of my City and Guilds studies which began this week. My little fuzzy head is buzzing with ideas and when Simon has finished lesson planning at the dining room table I am all over that baby quilting away and sampling to my hearts content!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

tea for two

Knitted Mug Hugs by Val Pierce is another title in the 20 to make series so again is available at £4.99. As the title suggests there are twenty patterns here to make mug hugs, (think a mini tea cosy type affair to keep your drink warm) all are knitted with various embellishments and are shown in different colour ways to give more ideas. I must admit to being a little sceptical about the practical application of a mug hug, although I remember the early days of having children when a ‘hot drink’ was always enjoyed cold some time after I intended to drink it! I think what is nice about this book is that it would introduce a range of knitting techniques to a new knitter; cable, fair isle, i-cords, appliqué and gives an opportunity to make something cute with very little yarn needed, in super quick time. Maybe an older child would enjoy making them as gifts for Christmas? I also like the fact that one could make good use of all the cute novelty buttons that accumulate. There is no reason why these patterns couldn’t be knitted shorter as cool cuffs or wider and with more buttons as cafetiere cosies. I had a go at knitting a Fair Isle heart mug hug and found that the chart and number of stitches in the pattern didn’t match. This wasn’t a problem once I’d realised but it might really throw a new knitter. My tension was shot as I was using wools of a slightly different weight and was watching Diagnosis Murder but the hug did come out at a size to fit most mugs in the cupboard. I can’t see all my mugs wearing hugs anytime soon, but I can see this book does have a lot to offer and again at a really good price.