Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Well, I have finally got my swaps done.
The first is a needle felted postcard.
I desided to do a scene instead of a collage and I felted onto crushed velvet.  I had a lot of trouble with my satin stitched edge, but I have worked that out (my machine always wants to chew up the corners) and will redo the edge before I post it tomorrow.  I really liked the velvet as a background and will use it again.
The second is an ATC which needed to use turquoise and purple and be about peace.
I am not happy about the puckering that happened when I washed the stabiliser off and I need to finish the edges and a few extra bits tomorrow.  Also, my dove was a little too big,  but since these were the first swaps I've done this way, I'm reasonably happy with what I did.

“The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.”
H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Felting and Lutradur 3

Continuing on from yesterday,
Here are my colour samples for the rocks
On the left are three browns, a dark and medium shade and a red brown.  These will form most of the rocks.  On the right are two shades of a warm grey (pinkish rather than blueish) which will form the rock highlights and the foam over the rocks.
 I used a wide zig zag, both open and closed (satin stitch) over the rocks, using the darker colours first, then adding highlights on the left of the rocks with the lighter colours.

Finally, I added beading to the foreground sand.
You can see here the selection of beads I used, mostly clear seed beads, but with some coloured and some larger beads.
Before beading,  I  loaded monofilament in both upper and lower feeds and put in a size 60 needle (A size 70 will work for most seed beads, but not all). The machine is still set for free motion, and if you are using a darning foot, you need to remove it.
Beading is done in a hoop with the foot lever down, but no foot attached.
I add beads to the hoop one at a time.  If you add more, they will jiggle all over the place as you stitch.  In the above picture I have picked up a bead on a very fine stilletto.
 Before picking up the bead, I hand turn the sewing machine so the needle is about  a half a centimetre or and eigth of an inch above the surface (enough room for the needle to clear the bead) and on it's way down.
Above, you can see I have placed the bead close to where I am going to put it.
Now, I hand turn the needle, slightly moving the hoop if needed, so that the needle goes into the bead, but not yet through it, or touching the work surface.
At this point, I can move the hoop and position the bead wherever I want using the needle.
When it is in the correct position,  I use the foot pedal and make three to five stitches, the first one or two inside the bead and the rest outside.
The bead is attached and this is repeated for each bead.

This seems, complicated, but after a bit of practice, you will be doing it quite quickly.  In reality is is only slightly faster than doing it by hand, but I find it more efficient, and there are less threads on the back of the work.
HINT:  Always hand turn the needle into the bead.  You will find that you can manouever the bead to standing if it is on it's side and move it where you want it easily, more importantly, hand turning also helps to weed out the misformed beads, because if the bead is too small, you will feel that the needle is not fitting, and be able to remove the bead before the bead cracks, the needle breaks, or the thread breaks, all of which will happen if you use the motor to sew into a too small bead.
 Above, I have added a few clear beads to the top of the wave crests.
And here are the beads in the sand area at the bottom.  I have mixed these beads to give an impression of a pebbly shore.
And here is the landscape at the end of the embroidery and beading.  You could just frame your work like this, but next week I will show you a quick way to layer and quilt it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Felting and Lutradur 2

Finally back to your tutorials, hopefully the routine will be correct next week.
As a refresher, we were working on a felted and embellished beach scene using lutradur
We have laid down the main elements and added felting.  In this tutorial we will add embroidery and beading.

I usually start at the top or the furthest away part of my scene.

Prior to embroidering, I test out the threads I have selected for suitability.
These were the first three threads I chose.  The first was a pale blue solid thread, the second was a tonal variegated with a short change, and the third was an ombre variegated.  I chose to use the ombre because the sky shades from dark to very light at the horizon and since the colour change was a long one, I could move from area to area depending on the shade.
I used a wide zig zag and moved side to side in a diagonal fashion.  This is very like stem stitch, which was covered in my machine embroidery stitch lessons.
You can see above how I moved around depending on the shade.
Next, I moved on to the sea.  I know the distant headland is next down, but it will be dealt with when I do the rocks, later.
Here is my colour sample for this section.
The first thread was a pale blue green, the second was an ombre variegated in blue green and the third was a white thread specked with  dots of other colours, which I tested to use in the wave tops.
Again, my choice was the ombre for the water, not because of any colour change in the water, but because it will give the water depth.
 I have used a straight stich in a wavy overlapping, back and forth manner, across the water.  This gives it both depth and texture.  Now for the frothy bits.
Still using a straight stitch and using the flecked white thread, I filled with  a variable granite stitch, and a bit of scribbly stippling thrown in.  I did not work over the grey and brown areas.  These will be done next in the next post, tomorrow and I will spend the evening  picking out the beads for the sandy area.

Good to be back!.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bye Bye Bebe

If you have been waiting for some work this week, I am very sorry, but it has been a very sad one for me and I have not felt up to doing anything.
My beloved cat, Bebe was ill earlier in the week and passed away on thursday morning, when I was at AQC.
He was my constant companion, from birth
I remember him as a kitten, playing with Rubin, our dog, who believed he was his mother
 And always with me,  constantly talking to me in his little voice and loving me as much as I loved him.

Rest in peace my beautiful, gentle, loving companion.  I will miss you so much.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Back on board - Just

I am back blogging, but only just.  Before I get back into the tutorials, I have three swaps - yes three swaps that need to be posted by the last week of April.  So this week, I will be posting a little eye candy for you.

The swaps are not large - an ATC, and two postcards, and if you are my partner in any of these swaps, hope you are not disappointed with my choices.

In my misguided efforts to get my google reader under control I found a few great posts.

I want to refer you to some lovely work by Judy Cooper, a textile artist from Canada.  Her landscape work is just beautiful.

Take a look at this page!  These fabric jewels are gorgeous and made by Artist Meg Hannan.  I realised something like this would be a perfect technique to put in my first Tangled Textiles challenge.  Maybe they look like something.....? but you'll have to wait to see the whole thing on June 15.

and last, Have a look at this great tutorial from Jane LaFazio on painting flowers.

Also this week I am starting an online class with Susan Sorrell on organic designs for embroidery, so there is more eye candy!

And I got a lovely pack of supplies from Workshop on the web as part of a prize I won, which also includes tutorials.  It also contained a piece of work from Maggie Grey - wow!  So I am inspired to get on with those tutes, now, so I need to pick up some silk roving at AQC on thursday.

Unfortunately, although I am starting back working (or else go mad without my sewing machines),  I am not posting any pictures of my studio until it is totally finished.  The move has been partly accomplished, but there is the matter of paint and flooring and design walls before I can post anything.

On that note,

All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.
Calvin Coolidge

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The DH made me do it

Unfortunately for you, but very fortunate for me, my partner woke me up this morning and told me we were going to move my old studio into the new studio.
This has been on the cards for a while.  I hurt my back a few months back when I started doing it.
So, I am putting the blog on hold for a week.  I will be back, so no deserting me, now.
I have also joined an international challenge group, and will be posting there.  Our first challenge starts on Monday (Tuesday in the southern hemisphere), so that will be exciting.
Have a great week and I'll see you next week


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Time out

Tonight's blog is short.
I have been at quilt group all day and been making charity quilts.  Autumn has finally arrived here and it is very cold today.
It has been a very busy week and very eventful, and today's tutorial is not ready, but I will post it in the next few days.
I have two swaps starting on Monday, so I will post my progress on those, as soon as I get going.  One is a free machine embroidery ATC and the other is a machine felted postcard or ATC.
As Well, I have joined an international fiber art challenge which will be up and running very soon.
I have a course with Susan Sorrell in a week or two and am reading my first lesson for maggie grey's online class for mixed media new studio techniques
Tonight, I am going to read two new books I got down in Melbourne, a few days ago
Dimensional Delights by Liz Aneloski

Embellished Applique, by Patricia Converse

Also, I need to reorganise my Google reader and get myself up to date.
Tonight is also the end of daylight saving here, so I'll need to reorganise all my times for online shows like
cool to craft

Artistically speaking

C&T Digital Lounge

Creative edventures


Create mixed media

Etsy labs

So as you can see, a creative life is very full, and that's the way I like it.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. 
Sir Winston Churchill (1874 - 1965)

Friday, April 1, 2011

Burned fabrics

I thought I would experiment a little with my heat tool and see what I come up with.  There are lots of places to go for information on burning textiles, but my favourites are Kim Thittichai's Hot Textiles and Quilting Arts Magazine.
Here are a selection of synthetic, from lace, to felt, to lame'
Below, I have traced around a motif in some lace with the straight tip on the heat tool.  It creates a sealed edge that can be appliqued without fraying.

You can trace/cut around quite complicated motifs this way.

It works extremely well on Lutradur.

This lame' frays very easily, but  the shape burned out will not fray.

The same is true for this satin.
You can also use some of the other heads to emboss, or burn patterns into fabric.  This works really well on velvet. Above tou can see a flat circular head and a nine patch sort of head.  If you want to emboss instead of burn you need to be able to lower the heat on your tool.

Here are some applique leaves and motifs cut out.
  1. from very thin chifon/organza
  2. from plastic garbage bags
  3. lame
  4. a shot satin
  5. silk
  6. several layers og garbage bag plastic (seals them together)
  7. Lace
  8. crushed velvet
  9. satin
  10. an embossed satin

Using the circular head on plastic at a hot heat, then layering two colours
 Cutting out bubble wrap then melting the bubbles over a foil base

In these two lutradur samples, I have cut out a design with the straight tool, and burned with the shape tools.
In this satin sample, the melted fabric made strands as I pulled the tool away.  I definitely need to repeat this.
In this lutradur sample layered over a purple background, the left circles went totally through, whilst the right citcles only went halfway forming a fine lace.  I liked that.
In these to samples I was experimenting with getting the leaf to stitck to the fabric underneath.  It wasonly a partial success.
These two are embossed crushed velvet.  because the velvet was black, It is very hard to see the embossing here, but it is very visible when looking at it in reality.

Here I have both fully burned and partially burned lame.  The sample on the right is burning lame onto felt, which requires a higher heat to melt

If you look carefully, you can see the embossed circle on this shot satin.

Lame and organza on felt.
Here is the large lace motif burned out.
These textured satins were perfect for cutting geometrics out.  This would be a great addition to some cut work.
These two examples on black silk (which also needs a higher heat) were some scraps of fused fabrics I had.  I was not sure if it was a good idea to use them, but I am glad I did.  Since these were sheers, I put a little angelina between the two layers, I wanted to see if I could trap the angelina in between.  It worked, but I also discovered something else.

If the top fabric has fusible on the back, when you burn around it, you also fuse it to the background (so long as the background has a higher melting point).  Wow!  I found this such and exciting discovery that I tried a lot of fused fabrics on some brocade (below).

  1.  grey satin
  2. green garbag plastic
  3. white metallic organza
  4. textured satin
  5. loose weave organza
  6. velvet ribbon
  7. lutradur
Now let's see who is thinking out there.  There is no way I could have ironed the fusible on to some of these fabrics, so how did I do it?
I simply put a piece of fusible larger than the shape (without the paper backing), between the two layers before I burned the line and it worked! So not only does this fuse the fabrics to the background, you don't have to iron any fusing first.
I would not trust this to be permanent, since the fusing is only a fine line, but for me it was a great discovery.
Using this method, you could have beautiful synthetic appliques (which are usually fiddly because the fabric is slippery, and can't be fused because the fabric will melt).  The appliques would easily stay in place for stitching, and because the fusible is not ironed in the centre, they would stay soft.
I will have to experiment with washing after stitching to see what happens to the unironed fusible, but my guess is it is so fine, it would not bea problem.
WOW - I feel like shouting Eureka!   I am most certainly going to use this in my secret activity that I told you I would tell you about soon.
Did you hear that girls?  Here's my first technique.

So excited.  No quote today
Oh and I got the book I won from workshop on the web yesterday

I am really enjoying reading it and looking forward to doing the free online tutorials that go with it.