Wednesday, October 24, 2012

"Seasons Of Sneezes" - A Place Getting Piece

My creative stitching group has been running a challenge "Changing of the Seasons". Two of the girls have done all the hard work in orgainizing it, and it was open to all members of the Embroiderer's Guild. Members of the group entered as well as other members of  the Guild, and entries came in from as far as Victoria and Queensland. Last Sunday was the day of presentations, and I was astounded to recieve a third placing.

My piece, "Seasons of Sneezes", is a depiction of my allergies that change as the seasons change. In winter my skin goes dry, no matter how much moisturiser I use. As the season changes to spring, my nose will start to run, my eyes will get itchy and I will be sneezing with hayfever as the flowers of spring emerge.

The balckwork pattern is my own, developed from a pic of a snowflake I found, and stitched with a combination of variegated and blended threads. The reticella section is also my own design, developed from a drawing I did of a flower.

Originally the piece was going on a book cover, but time was short so it is just mounted it on core board with a hanging string at the back. It will be a while before it comes home, but when it does I may still change it to a book cover.

All the pieces are currently on display at the Concord library her in Sydney.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Piecing for Charity

My local ASG Sewing Group, the Georges Hall Sew'n'Sews, is sewing for charity. Every meeting, one of our members brings along her huge bag of fabric scraps and  we try to put together fabrics to turn into quilts. Some of the hard work has already been done, where embroidererd squares and possible fabrics to go with them have been bagged together. I brought two of these bags home with me last month to see what I could create from them.

In the first bag were some lovely digitized machine embroidered squares, with some very girly handbags and shoes. All stitched onto pink polycotton fabric.

In the bag with the embroidered squares were pieces of other fabrcs, some large, some small, some prints, some plain. All were off cuts, some with odd shaped pieces already cut from them.

So, what to do with it all? How to put it all together?

I started with borders around the embroidered squares, then added some sashings, a fine floral border to tie them all together, then a wide pieced border of plain pink with a pink and white check. Overall effect, not bad. The quilt still needs to be layered with batting & backing, then quilted & bound, but that will happen sometime in the future. I am sure some little girl somewhere will be happy to cuddle up to this once it is finished. Now on to working out what to do with the second package I have.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Quilting For Charity

My new sewing group is on the road again, sewing quilts for charity. This one was embroidered and  pieced by one lady from donated and cut squares , and I offered to quilt and bind it. It is now finished & ready to be donated to a deserving cause.

Sharing the work load of a project like this is interesting. Some of the squares were cut on bias and  some of the strips were not cut straight. Therefore the quilt top is pulling in all kinds of directions because the different grains are fighting against each other. We knew this from the beginning, but we figured it was going to be loved & dragged around for comfort by some grateful child so we continued. The quilting was fun because of all the grain changes, but I still managed, and the bind may not be quite straight, but we figure it will be loved anyway. I have two more to do, both need to be pieced, so they are next on my agenda.

I might add here that our new sewing group is going great guns. We have 16 members on our books, ranging from beginner sewers to experienced dressmakers, and we have plenty of room for more. So if anyone would like to come and join us, all info is on the Australian Sewing Guild website. Just look under the "groups" tab, then click the drop-down arrow in the "select a group" section. Scroll down and select the Georges Hall Sew'n'Sews, then click the "select a group" button. This will give you meeting times, dates, a contact, and also a map of how to find us. We'd love for some new members to join us.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Byzantine Lefkara Lace

Just over a week ago, I had the absolute pleasure of participating in a two day workshop in Byzantine Lefkara lace with Christine P. Bishop. The workshop was a private one, organised by a lovely group of ladies, and participants were by invitation only. I felt so stoked that I was on the invitation list! The two days were full on, and my eyes were complaining by the end of day one, even though there were plenty of rest breaks with copious amounts of tea & food, especially on the sweet side. On the morning of day two  I thought my eyes had recovered enough to start stitching again, but even my brain had frazzled a little, and I couldn't count as well as I had in the past. Consequently, there was much reverse stitching and not as much progression as I would have liked. However, I still learnt plenty, and now have enough knowledge to finish the piece.

By the end of day two I only had two of the nine squares above filled with the appropriate fillings, the other six fillings have been worked over the last week. There are many more squares of fillings yet to go. When completed ( yes it will be completed!) it may not be exactly the same as the teacher's, as I plan to work a different edge than the one on her sample. I think that is called "individuality". Watch this space to see how it turns out.

I must add here that I have possessed a book on this type of work for a number of years and am glad that it is finally getting some use.

I had a fabulous time at this workshop, and it was the first time I had participated in one run by this tutor. Christine was an excellent tutor and I would love to do more of her classes.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Coral Calypso - an Exhibition

A week ago, my local embroidery group held an exhibition. We only hold one once every five years so that there can be enough work to show off a really fabulous display. I personally had 10 pieces in this one, the most I have had in any exhibition I have been involved in. So here I will show you the ten, some you have seen before, some not, and some you have seen in progress.

Piece 1 - The above white table mat featuring reticella, measuring approx 50cm x 36cm, this piece is my pride & joy. It took five years from conception to completion, including designing, sampling and one failed attempt where at the last minute I changed the design, and didn't think it through before starting to stitch. The consequence was my reticella design wouln't fit the space. You can read about that story here and see the result here. Then there was the twelve months that the piece sat there waiting for me to cut into it. After one failed attempt already, I was scared it would happen again, even with all the extra counting & thread marking I did this time around. Luckilly all that counting paid off & the design worked, to the point that I am extremely proud of the end result.

Piece 2 - Is an experiment in combining pulled and drawn work as well as in design. I had come across a book showing how to create and use mandalas in patchwork, & thought I may be able to use the same concept as a base for some drawn work. The piece of fabric was a scrap that I had aquired from somewhere, and there was not much room for sampling stitches, that is if I wanted the end result to be square. The square also presented a problem with designing, as I found six sided shapes didn't sit well, they needed to be four sided. So I played with a drawing program I have, overlaid a number of four pointed star shapes, then set about eliminating lines until I was happy with the resultant design. Then came the fun of stitching. Pulled work is not something that I have done much of, so the stitching had to be simple. Satin stitch, eyelets & four sided stitch, it is amazing the effects these three simple stitches can have when combined together, used in differnt counts, or used where some threads have been removed. Over all I am happy with the result.

Piece 3 - This little bag is also a combination of pulled & drawn work. It bagan as a holiday project, one where I threw a piece of fabric, some threads, and mabe a book or two for inspiration, into a bag & see what I could come up with. As soon as I started stitching, I realized the fabric was open to pulled work, but I had only brought drawn books with me, so I started on drawn work which kept me busy for my holiday. The pulled work background came later, and the lining & twisted cord came two days before it had to be handed in for exhibiting. Nothing like leaving things to the last minute. Am I happy with it? Mmmmm,......... it's cute and functional and I intend to use it as a little work bag.

Well, the above pieces were all new, the rest have been seen here before, but I will show you them again anyway.

Piece 4 - A cream table mat also started when on another holiday.

Piece 5- My first piece of reticella, which has now been in a few different exhibitions. Might be time to retire this piece, even if I am still very proud of it.

Piece 6 - My Seahorse Sanctuary, which took pride of place by the front door. A piece of creative drawn thread work done a few years back for a course.

Piece 7- My first full piece of Tenneriffe lace. This piece was designed for, and given to a special friend for a special birthday. I so want to do another piece, one for me to keep. A slightly differnt design though.

Pieces 8 & 9 - Bookmarks, both of which are a form of drawn work. The one on the lft is filet, while the one on the right is an all over filling, something that I want to play more with.

Piece 10 - A bobbin lace fish that went to Japan for an OIDFA dispaly. A huge challenge for me to work as he is double sided

For those of you that made it to the exhibition, I hope you enjoyed what you saw. For those of you that didn't, you missed some stunning pieces, so I hope you enjoyed seeing what I had displayed. Anyone see a common theme happening here in my work?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seasons of Sneezes

My creative stitching group, Stitchers Plus, is hosting a challenge. The challenge is "Changing of the Seasons" & works are limited to A4 size. Any member of the Embroiderers Guild can enter, & works will be exhibited at the City of Canada Bay Library, Concord Branch, in October 2012.

The above is just a snippet of my piece ( just to tease you all), the piece can been seen in full at the exhibition. It features Reticella lace work combined with modern creative black-work, and was inspired by my changing allergies that change with the seasons.

I do hope you can all come to see it in full. Otherwise you will all have to wait for some time before I post it in full here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Baby Blanket UFO

There is nothing like a new baby in the family to spur on the finish of a UFO. This little baby blanket started life quite some years ago as a little baby matinee jacket. At the time it was earmaked for another little girl, but once I started it I felt that I wouldn't like the yarn up against a new born baby's skin, it wasn't soft enough. So I pulled it all undone & started this blanket instead. It is simple chains & blocks of trebles & I very soon got bored with it. Consequently it soon got put aside for more interesting things & so became a UFO. Then last Monday I got an early morning call to say a member of family had given birth to a little girl. Mmm..... time to pull it out & finish it. It was only about 1/3 done, so there was still lots to do, but I had it completely finished in three days & handed over to the proud parents. Congratulations go out to S & A on the birth of their beautiful daughter & I hope they find the blanket useful.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Georges Hall Sew'n'Sews - Our First Day

What a great morning I  had yesterday. It was the first meeting of our new Australian Sewing Guild group, the Georges Hall Sew'n'Sews. We were all a little anxious, being a new group, a new venue, wondering how it would all go and what we were going to do. In hindsight we shouldn't have worried at all, it was just a fabulous meeting. We had thirteen in attendace, 1 appology, and one person walk in off the street to see what we were doing. By my maths, that makes 15 people, and they are all talking about comming back. Yippee!

The first adventure was unlocking the door and getting it to stay that way. In the end we just clipped the door back with the hook provided. It was only a door into an entry, and as there was another door into our hall space, the cool weather oustide wasn't a problem, especially when we found the airconditioner button. Once that was pushed it wasn't long before we were all warm and cosy.

The second adventure was the lights. So many light switches! They were all labelled, it was just a case of finding the ones that we required. Easy to find for the next time.

Then came the tables and chairs, and I am pleased to note that everybody helped. At first we only got out three tables, thinking it would be plenty for the people we knew that were comming, but it wasn't long before we were putting up more to accomodate all the newbies.

Now that was just the setting up, the real guts of the meeting was yet to come. We talked about what people wanted to do, what they wanted to get out of the group, and came to decisions as to how the next few meetings would go down. There was show and tell aplenty, including the quilt blocks at the top by Margaret. So bright and fabulous, all made from scraps.
This quilt was also by Margaret, full of beautiful applique.

Jenny J was off to a special function and had made this stunning outfit to wear, including the matching bag. Somthing that would cost $$$$$ in any little boutique.

There were also these fun tissue box covers by Jenny J that will be for sale, great for that special place or person.

 Then there were the conversations, so manyof them I couldn't keep up with them all. There were conversations about quilts, quilt blocks, quilting and how to get quilting designs onto fabric. Paper pieceing, mitered corners in binds, making personalised dress forms, how to choose  threads, pants fittings, taking patterns from a garment, how to read commercial pattern instructions, sewing machines, sewing machine mechanics, scissor sharpening............and that's just what I was a part of. There were conversations happening all morning, everyone was chatting and it was all about sewing. All the new people were made welcome and were included in on conversations. Just fabulous! In the end we were havng to push people out the doors because our time was up. Now that's what I call a sewing meeting. May there be many more to come.

Photography - Helen N

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Fix

Some of you might remember the counted thread band sampler round robin that I entered into way back in late 2006. Well, this was mine as it was returned to me. You can read my thoughts about this in this post.

 I have a motto that "everthing is fixable" (well almost everthing) and I have been deliberating on this one for a while. Now has come the time to share how I fixed my sampler.

Step 1. Identify the problem. In this case it was 4 broken threads in the fabric.

Step 2. Mark with thread where the broken threads are so they would be easilly found when required.

Step 3. Carefully remove the stitching. Appologies to the lady that did the stitching but it had to come out so I could get to those broken threads.I had to use my magnifier and  good light so I didn't do any more damage. The unpicking left a few holes from the stitching, but these will come out later either just with handling or by easing the threads back in place with a needle.

Step 4. Carefully un-weave (is there such a word?) the broken thread back to an anchor point. In this case the anchor point is the buttonhole stitch of the hardanger band. Care muxt be taken not to break the thread as it is removed as we need as much length  as possible. In this case I had only a few mm.

Step 5. Turn the work to the wrong side .

Step 6. Finish the end under some anchoring stitches. In this case the end was far too short to thread into a needle so I pulled it under with  a fine crochet hook. Ideally I would have liked to have done some double stitching in under that buttonhole stitching but the end was far to short for that. I'll settle with it just tucked underneath.

Step 7. The other end of the broken thread also has to be removed back to an anchor point. This was my initial delema as to where to take it back to. There was a  band of blackwork which wasn't really the best anchor point. I could have used it if I was desperate, but Mandy had kindly left me some space to work with so I worked a row of satin stitch to give me an anchor point. The row of satin stitch will be decorated at a later date.

Step 8. This time it was easy to to put that fabric thread into a needle & anchor it under the satin stitching.

Step 9.To replace that broken thread that I had removed, I took a thread from the side of the fabric. I'ts the same as what I just took out, only in one length, not broken.

Step 10. After threading that side thread into a needle, I anchored the end in underneath the buttonhole stitching.

Step 11. Then I very carefully wove it into the space that was vacated by the broken thread. Care had to be taken to go under and over in the right places to keep the weave correct.

Step 12. There was more anchoring to do at the other end once I had woven that thread back in.

This is that one broken thread all fixed. The weave is correct but my tension isn't the same as the original, it shows as a pulled thread. Hopefully over time with some handling, the fabric threads will work themselves around and it will be less noticeable. Having some stitching over the top will certainly help, but that is for another day. It is certainly better than no holes. In the process of fixing this one, I found another two, that makes six broken threads in all. Now to fix the other five (and any more that I find) and to think about what will go in the space.

At this point I would like to add that this fix is not suitable fo all mistakes. Each error has to be assessed in it's own surroundings to work out which is the best and least noticable way to.

Three cheers to my motto -  "Anything is Fixable" . Hip, hip hurrah.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Sampler Re-Visited

I've been working slowly on my band sampler & have added another band. This is the sampler that was part of a round robin over the last 5 years, & came home with a problem.

The band I added is another blackwork one, one that I designed myself to go on another project. This time I only used part of the design, & played with alternating colours. The motifs have been placed in a row to form the band.

I think it has helped to bring the sampler together a little more & I am loving the overall look that is happening. You may have noticed that I have also removed some stitching ready to fix the delema I was left with when the sampler come home from it's world travels. The delema I was left with can be read about here. Now all that remains is to fix the broken threads & work out what I will place beside Mandy's fish. I do have a plan of how to fix it so watch this space & I will teach you how.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Quilt Donations

Well, we finally made the paper, the local paper that is. The  local Sewing Guild Group have been stiching up quilts to donate to the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and  the story has finally been published 5 weeks after the quilts were presented. The article can be read here, where the qualitly of the print is much better than this copy cut from Wednesday's Torch. Scroll down to page 29 (Page 29?) yep, that's where they decided to put us, & click the page 29 link underneath.

What the article didn't mention was that the quilt project was instigated by Margaret W, who also produced over half of the quilts that were presented. Another lady, Jenny J, also produced quite a large number of quilts all on her own. I did some of the work,  some piecing, some applique, some quilting & a few binds, but not near as much as these two ladies.

Something else that the article didn't mention was the fact that the group has now split, with the two ladies mentioned above, myself, and a few others forming a new group at Georges Hall. What caused the split? Well everyone was starting to complain about lack of parking due to the new units being built next to the Guide Hall. A suggestion was made that we move, some research was made & then the opposing arguments began, & it all got a little political. A number of differnt halls were found & we settled on Georges Hall Community Center. It is a lovely hall, fairly new, large, bright, sunny, well lit, huge big windows with vertical blinds that can be opened to let in the light, air conditioning, parking ouside the door with flat entry to the hall, multiple toilets that are well lit & have locks that work, a big kitchen that we have access to including continuous boiling water for tea & coffee. All these assets are a far cry from the Guide Hall, & the best part is the  rent is cheaper!

Anyone interested in joining this new goup can contact  our group co-ordinator via this page. What would be the advantages of joining a group like this? Well lots of course, including the company of us lovely ladies who have sewing knowledge galore, & just want to share. We are going  to  encourage young sewers to perfect their skills and pass them on to future generations to come. Why not come join us?