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!