Thursday, September 22, 2011

Down time

Unfortunately, I am going to be offline for a week or so, as there has been a death in my family. 

Yours in textiles

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Leafy fabric book - progress

As you  know if you have been checking in, I am working on a little fabric book based on a leaf theme  (which is my current work theme).
As it has been a while, I thought I would give you an update on where the pages are at.
I have shown this one before, it just needs a little adjustment.
This one is basically finished, now, except, I think I may go over the word "fern"  in a contrasting colour.
This one is a bit further along.  I have defined the blue tree with some free motion, and now I think I see some yellow grassor bushes under it.  I also found these fish bone leaf danglies which I will embellish with some blue and gold thread.
My wrapped leaves have found a new backing, which suits them better, but I am still dithering over my next steps here.
So, instead of dithering, I just went on to some new pages until the muse strikes.  This one was inspired by the circle, which I have blanket stitched on.  The sequins are a bit lost, although I think their shape and arrangement are good.  I did try stitching on them with green (top left), but it just wasn't enough contrast.  I think I will paint them with pale green gesso. Although I do like the pearly sheen, it doesn't work here.
This page uses some pressed fern leaves my mother gave me.  I liked the three sizes.  They are glued beneath a piece of tulle, which is attached with gold brads.  I will be stitching the leaves down and trimming the tulle with wave blade scissors or pinking shears.
This is a very simple page with lovely fabric and a little gold embellishment.
This one uses a bit of nylon lace curtain in a whorl.

This last one uses some little leaf charms I found with fabric shadows.  Not sure where this one will go.

So there is a peek at where I am at, but of course, if you know me, a peek is not much help, because it is just the tip of the iceberg, since I am into anything and everything vaguely to do with fibres and textiles.  My hubby says he has no idea what I am upto from one minute to the next, but he is exactly the same with his craft.  Two peas in a pod.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Leaf Wall art - Update

Sorry if you missed me yesterday, We had a bit of a storm and lost internet and power.  It happens when you live in the back of beyond.

I have been working on some small wall art collages using sheer applique.
They are all nearly finished, just a little bit of free machining on a few of them.
This one is a Ginko leaf and I have done a little bit of beading on the frayed fabric.  I intend to echo the flower shape and colour in the quilting.
For this geranium leaf, I used fly stitch in the background colours for the hand stitched accent.
For this dandelion leaf, I mirrored two fly stitches then wove two sets of purple thread through the centre, finally doing green french knots to make the woven lines into crosses.  I liked this.
This gum leaf is the least finished.  My intent is to embroider little circles with different coloured centres in two browns.
This one has been shown before.  It was the first one I made.
Now I don'tknow if you have been counting, but there appear to be five of these and I said earlier that they were to be a set of four.  Well, I thought I would do an extra one, just in case I don't like the way they hang together.

I was never a girl guide, but it is better to always be prepared.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Collage sampler

After watching Laura Wasilowski and Frieda Anderson on Sewing with Nancy (here)the other day, I was inspired to do a few small collages.  In one of the segments, Laura made up a pattern sampler of nine small squares.  I started out making patterns with strips and such,
But it was not long before my little squares started to be pictures instead of patterns, lol.
Here are all the little squares up on a felt board.  I have a range of these felt boards, which are just a timber frame like for a stretched canvas, only I have lots of different sizes covered in felt for viewing work on before I make finishing decisions  I call them preview boards.  Sometimes, a black border can give you an idea of what a finished piece will look like.  In any case, I tend to mount my work on stretched canvas when it is finished, so it works for me.
Above, the boards range in size from 8 to 24" square and lots of rectangles in between.
Anyhow, back to the work at hand.
I will just go through each block and show you what I did whilst I was playing.
This one was pretty similar to one of LH's in the video,only I cut some bias strips with my curvy rotary cutter blade and put them in the centre of each leaf.  It looks pretty effective.
This was the next one and it started out as the purple rays on a green background, but I decided it was a bit boring, so I played around with splitting and layering the leaf shapes.
In this one I used bias strips to curve and make wavy lines.  As I was doing it, I thought about how it might look if I put little knots in like in tree bark.
After I cut the bits for the leaf centres earlier, I had a little triangle left with curvy edges.  I decided it looked like a sunflower petal, so I made some more, only this time I used the larger wave blade.
My next experiment was to use the curvy blades to make some water by layering different colours.  Then I added some grass and reeds.
Next, I thought I would make a tree.  A very bloody tree!  At this stage I cut myself with the rotary cutter - as you do!  I did not realise how much my finger was bleeding until I dripped it all over my tree! Yuk!  OH well, a bit of paint or embellishment will fix it.  And for easy identification 50 years from now, it has my DNA.
After a little break, I played with the wave blade and got these cute little leaves by lining up the blade so that the last cut met the first cut and did not stay an equal distance away (like in the leaf centres)  It took a while to get it right, but I had fun with it.
Then, I remembered that I had a scallop template in my quilting templates and I thought - "I wonder if I can make big leaves the same way, and guess what - I did, aren't they cute?
Whilst I was cutting the big leaves, I noticed the patterns the strips of leaves made as I cut them and so I made that pattern, too.  There are actually two patterns on this square.
While I was thinking about what to put in the last square, I happened to look at the scraps left from the tree's leaves and noticed how two of them together made a pine tree, so that became my last square for the sampler.
As you see, it doesn't take me long to get back to playing after a big day doing boring stuff.
Now on to lots of stitching and embellishment.

Friday, September 16, 2011


The other day when I was putting together a leaf collage. I noticed that my fused fabric box was not up to scratch.
It did not have any sheets of fused fabric and most of it was little tiny scraps of colours that I don't use very often.
Also, I was watching Laura Wasilowski and Frieda Anderson on Sewing with Nancy (here) and was inspired to do a few small collages.  My collages can't really be called whimsical like theirs can, but the technique is basically the same, with a few different fabrics and other additions.  I do like to put hand embellishments on, like Laura, and machine embroider, like Frieda, but generally my colour sense is a bit more subdued.  Probably because I am, too.
So, I decided to embark upon a day (and night) fusing fabric to build my stock back up and also to use up a roll of fusible that I hate at the same time (Then I can buy a nicer roll to replace it!)
First, I chose my fabrics, a lot of textures and solids, not too many prints, which is also different from LW and FA.
Here is a first batch of greens, ready to fuse on the sheet below them.  I fuse about a metre square at a time.
And the greens all laid out ready to fuse.  I tack the pieces down lightly with the tip of the iron, and deal with any creases first.
Then I cover with release paper and iron more fully. (In the case of this terrible fusible batch, this means a fair bit of ironing to fuse it)
When cool, (I usually leave it overnight), I peel back the whole sheet.  The longer you leave it before peeling, the less likely it is for it to stick to itself.
After I am done, which in this case was ten and a half metres later, I am left with lots of large release sheets to use.  This is only half of them, since the rest are still curing underneath.  If I need small pieces for release paper, I use Silicone coated baking paper from the supermarket (in Australia), rather than cutting up the big sheets, which are very useful.
Of course, the main reason for doing this is to end up with lots and lots of fused fabric, like this.
And to fill up my fused fabric box, of course.  It looks much more healthy now!
Perfect for me to get into and cut up into pieces for new collages, lol.

Sometimes, to be creative requires a bit of preparation

Thursday, September 15, 2011

some work in progress

Not much to show, today. 
I have pencilled a few designs and spent most of the day problem solving with my longarm.
It is temperamental at the best of times, but has not been used for a few months, while I have been otherwise occupied.
Because I wanted to use it, it decided to throw a tizzy.
It wasn't the upper tension,
nor the bottom tension
Although I checked and redid these many times.
And then, finally...
It was the foot pressure!
Then, I couldn't find my special little tool for fixing this problem.
I searched high and low
But I still couldn't find it I went and nicked one from my hubby.

Ah, breathe a sigh of relief, my machine started to actually sew!

So... I did some work on a collage I started at Cecille's Unique Stitching's workshop at the Melbourne craft fair.

ah... It was a while ago.
Here is a picture of where I got to before the thread broke........
At least I got all the bits stitched down.
Just one of those days

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monoprinting on fabric

I was inspired to do some monoprinting finally by a post on a friend's blog , I had been going to when I got around to it since I saw the article in Quilting arts no 40 by Frances Holliday Allford.  That was three years ago!
So, I got around to it.
I am not going to go into the process here, because there are many ways of making a gelatin plate, or using alternatives such as acetate or plexiglass, and many more ways of using these to make monoprints.  Check my friend's post for a step by step.  Or try quilting arts or quilting arts tv
I will just show you my results.  The eye candy.
This one used very dilute paints that I allowed to blend into each other.
On this one I started with the blue, then drew pink tadpoles and yellow tadpoles. lol
On this one I kept dropping bits of colour on top of the other colours and swirling with my finger.
This one was speckled with a toothbrush.  If the paint is too dilute, the specks just spread.
This one used thicker paints (including a blue with globby bits)  and I just used my finger to create a bit of a marbled effect.
Another one with the thicker paints.
This last one used some very dilute paint, but I liked the effect I created by dragging a rubber brush across it.  I see potential there.
I only did a small experiment with limited colours and did not use a brayer or found objects or stamps, or stencils or any of the million other things you can use with this technique, so there will be more monoprinting for sure.

This was great fun and using my fingers was like being in kindergarten again!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Distressed Fabric Collage

Today, I have a collage I did yesterday to show you.  This one is an offshoot from the collage I did last week.
Both were layered with sheers and had leaves between the layers, but this one is distressed with the heat gun and is constructed slightly differently as a result.
The leaves were all cotton fabric, so they would not burn.  There were three layers of leaves covered with sheer and stitched.
Then came the moment.  And I burned all the sheers back.
I call this leaf litter.
The colours are not really true, Ifiddled around a bit, but I could not get them as bright as the original.  I think it is the way the light reflects off the surface.  A bit more fiddling will be required.

Monday, September 12, 2011

small wall art pieces

I have been putting together some small (4 in square)  wall art pieces for our stall later in the year.   It is also a good opportunity to play with designs etc

The basic design is a leaf silhouette using sheers and free motion, a small piece of fabric with hand stitching and some "quilting" (and perhaps embellishment).
 This is the first step. 
  1. The orange background fabric is laid over a 4in square of heavy interfacing (the fabric size is larger, more like 6in).
  2. The purple accent piece is placed next (within the 4in of the interfacing) It has been frayed along the edges for a bit of texture.
  3. I sketch a leaf shape with iron away pen (this one is a ginko)
  4. The green sheer is placed over the top.
 The second step is to free motion embroider around the leaf shape.  (This is another one, a geranium)
The next two steps are to trim around the sheer leaf and do some handstitching on the accent piece. 
Next the quilting.  Here I have just echoed in a blending thread.
The final step is to mount it on a 4in stretched canvas.  These are quite cheap and easy to get hold of at bargain stores (at least they are here)
I bought four canvasses, so there will be four leaves.  Although the layout is the same for each, the elements of each design will be different, ie colours, leaf shapes, embroidery and quilting, so that they form a larger piece when hung together.
I will show you all four in a day or two when they are all finished.

I might add a few beads, but the principle here was KISS. 
Keep It Short and Simple

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Leaf WIPs

Today was one of those days, so I will just show you some pages I am working on from a fabric journal on the theme "leaves".
These pages are about four inches square and I am trying to depict leaves in a different way with a different technique on each page.
This first one has had the background changed several times and I still don't like it.  I love the yarn wrapped leaves, but can't seem to find the right background.  I had thought of having the stripes echoed in the background and using more of a red and brown....
This one is in it's infancy and is really about the tree I can see in the dye spots.  The yellow leaf outline is for a needlelace leaf, however, I have now decided to do three of them down the right hand side.  We will see how it goes.
This one is much closer to being finished, it just needs quilting/embellishment in the background.  The ferns were drawn with free motion and filled using colour spotting, which gives them darker speckles, especially at the ends of the fronds where I changed direction.

This last one is basically finished except that I want to change the colour of the satin stitching around the reverse applique, and in any case it needs to be wider, since the black satin came loose in places as I quilted by hand. 
I think that this project is helping me practice looking critically at my work.  Because each piece is small, the changes I might make are small.  It is not intended to be a work of art, more a work of reference for me to refer to and is an easy way to try out all the techniques I am interested in without taking risks on a big piece.

I think I will leaf it at that!