Crazy Patchwork

I’ve been trying to finish a few projects this week, tidying up loose ends before I start my next big project. Last Monday at my Skipton Stitchers meeting we had a workshop on Crazy Patchwork, we had to prepare a square before hand using a pattern provided…

We then took a selection of trims and threads to the meeting to start embellishing the square, this was my selection, as you can see I went with a bee theme and a range of buttons, beads, trims and threads in blue and gold mainly.

Our first task was to embroider and trim the seams. I really enjoyed this, picking out the detail in the trim to guide my embroidery. Having stitched all day, I then carried on at home and by the end of Monday evening I’d finished the seams…

Next to stitch was the shapes themselves, I found this more difficult. trying to decide how to embellish it. ..

The bee in the centre I left unstitched as I liked the bee and the leaves as it was. The bee to the left I embroidered over the flower head with French knots, stitching the stems with stem stitch and fly stitch at the top. It’s embroidered but it keeps the feel of the original fabric.

The other three fabrics took a bit more thinking about. I decided to stitch a chain weaving round the white flowers. I added the French knots and then the wheatsheaf stitch in between. I used chain stitch for the little leaf clusters and then found some matt sequins for either end. The beads were added right at the end.

Next to be stitched was the soft spriggy one on the right. This one was the hardest and actually it’s probably the only one I would change if I did it again. I stitched three sprays of flowers to fill the triangular shape and then added the bee button. These buttons are made by JABCO and they’re rather pricey over here in the UK so I only have a couple, but they are sweet, it’s that small I needed a beading needle to stitch it on!

For the final dark blue shape I decided to do some more subtle embroidery, keeping the colours similar so the whole piece didn’t get too busy. I split stitched and then whipped the outline and then wove the grid with tiny stitches to hold the crosses in place. The outline of French knots picks up the dots around the leaves of the fabric. It needed a little something so I stitched a bead in each square, it’s just enough.

So here’s my finished square…

I found two books really useful, the first one is Hand Stitched Crazy Patchwork by Hazel Blomcamp which was already on my bookshelf. The second one was recommended by the member who was teaching us, Joyful Daily Stitching Seam by Seam by Valerie Bothell, I ordered it on line and I love it, full of different stitch combinations, nothing complicated, just pretty standard stitches, but put together in an effective way.

I’m hoping to use my square either inside or on the cover of a textile book I’m planning on bees.

I’m linking upiwith Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday, please follow the link to see what others have been stitching,

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Stitch Club

I’ve been on annual leave this week so it was perfect timing when textileartist.org announced a week long free workshop with Gwen Hadley. I did a couple of their free workshops last year and it certainly pushes me out of my comfort zone and this was no exception.

Each day a ten minute video was released where Gwen explained each step. The first day was making marks on fabric, basically painting and stamping to create abstract designs. Mine were very abstract and random!…

We then had to cut them up and mix them together to make a new design, hopefully finding connections between blocks which we could then embroider. Whilst I liked the darker blue one as a piece, I just couldn’t get it to work with the other colours, it was too dominant. In the end I just used four of the lighter ones as I liked the way the swirls could be linked up.

Our next task was to embroider to link pieces together, often just simple straight stitch or running stitch.

As you can see I started with running stitch along some of the swirls, linking them together and adding extra loops. I also put wadding behind the piece both to give a bit of support and to add texture to the stitching.

Gwen then started to add other textiles to create the effect she wanted. Her style is very much abstract with colours, shapes and textures. I’m not very good with total abstract!

I then had an idea and ran with it…

Our next exhibition with Skipton Stitchers is called ‘There is no Planet B’ I’ve been thinking about various embroideries I could do about bees, as without bees there is no food and therefore no us, so we need to look after them more. I’ve planted a rose hedge on the side of our drive as a sort of nature pathway, there is much talk these days that we need nature corridors that will link one natural area to another, so birds and insects can easily forage along them. I decided that the yellow ribbon could represent a nectar path which we need to join up by planting nectar rich flowers.

I stem stitched the yellow ribbon and then just used running stitch to connect the two ends. I tried embroidering petals onto the yellow spots to make flowers but I didn’t like the effect. I then found the pattern from Raggedy Ruff which includes echinacea like flowers and cut several out of gold quilting fabric. I arranged them so the gold spots became the flower centres. I was originally thinking of trying to make the dark spots into bumble bees. It then came to me that I have some bee fabric…and they were perfect size. I did some free motion embroidery on the flowers and the bees and my piece was complete!

I trimmed the wadding and backed the piece with a dark blue batik and added a bee ribbon and a charm to roll it up and secure.

If I spot a suitable wooden reel I might stitch it on there, in the meantime it can roll up neatly and sit in my sewing room.

This workshop was a perfect example of trying a workshop that’s a style you wouldn’t usually try, it’s good to be pushed occasionally into a different style, even if you then retreat back to comfort. Textile Artist .org run a stitch club where every fortnight a different tutor releases an on-line workshop, several of our Skipton Stitchers members are in the Stitch Club and they love it. Membership is only opened every so often, usually preceded by a free one such as Gwen’s. I’d love to do it but I think at the moment I’ve too much on to be able to give it the commitment it requires to balance with the monthly cost. If you fancy being pushed and trying lots of new techniques and ideas, do have a look at it and follow the link.

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Silver Linings

They say every cloud has a silver lining…my OH tested positive to covid on New Years Day, luckily we had celebrated New Year on zoom, rather than meeting up with friends. I was banished to upstairs to reduce the risk of me catching it.

We live in a dormer bungalow, so our main bedroom and bathroom are downstairs but we have three further bedrooms and a shower room upstairs…and one of the bedrooms is my sewing room! So I spent a week in my sewing room, such a hardship as you can imagine! Luckily he wasn’t too poorly with it and, touchwood, I haven’t caught it.

I did manage to make two skirts. At the Knitting and Stitch show in November I picked a remnant of cotton ponte, it feels really nice (especially compared to synthetic ponte) and it’s a lovely weight too, really drapey. I decided to make a skirt.

I went to my pattern boxes, looking for my favourite jersey skirt pattern, Simplicity 8474, I’ve made it up a few times now and they’re lovely to wear…

Instead I found a different pattern, Newlook 6269 which on the surface looked very similar. I decided to try it. I even got my newly serviced overlocker to work!

Everything looked fine until it came to the deep waistband. It was too big and bulky, even for allowing it to be an inch below the natural waist. I was very disappointed as the fabric is so nice. I decided to try and rescue it by recutting the waist and the top of the skirt pieces using the tried and tested pattern.

It looks 100% better, it’s not as full as the other two skirts and the waistband is deeper, but with the right top on it looks fine and I like wearing it. I’m getting brutal with my patterns though, the Newlook one is already in the bin!

The second skirt was made from some fabric my sister gave me a few years ago when she was clearing out a lot of her stash. I’m not sure what fabric it is, it feels like a fine suede on one side and satin finish on the other. My first decision was which was the right side, I couldn’t even tell by looking at the black embroidered pattern! I decided the suede side was more me.

I decided to use Vogue pattern 9090. It’s one of their Very Easy Very Vogue range. I made it in the summer in a cotton poplin and it turned out really nice, the picture on the envelope really isn’t very inspiring but it’s actually a lovely pattern. Here’s my summer version…

…I really need to start varying the tops I wear for photo’s! I’ve also realised the difference between my OH taking photos and my daughter. Helen will suggest I pull my cardigan down a bit or jumper up a bit…or comb my hair! Whereas my OH at the most says hold your belly in – I’ve found it’s very difficult to hold your belly in and smile at the same time!!

I quite fancy trying it in a light weight wool and this red fabric was a good test of how it would turn out. It went together beautifully, I even had a fair attempt at pattern matching down the back seam though as only the dots have come out on the photo you can’t tell! It fit’s nicely and it even has pockets!!

I love it, I’m just going to have to be careful the first few times I wear and wash it. I’ve never had dye come off fabric just from handling it! I now have a red tinged ironing mat and cloth, even my sewing machine is pink on the corners!! I’m thinking of getting some Retayne or equivalent to soak it before I wear it – I dread to think what could happen if I got caught in the rain, or sat on a light coloured sofa!

Other than the colour issue, it’s worked well in the heavier fabric, so I think I’ll try one of my Abraham Moon fabrics next.

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Travelling Pages

I’ve taken part in travelling books several times, both with Skipton Stitchers and internationally, the idea is that you start a book on your chosen theme, put some embroidery in it and pass it on, you take it in turns to do a piece of work for each person’s book. When your book finally come’s back to you it’s full of beautiful embroideries from your friends.

This year at Skipton Stitchers we are doing Travelling Pages. I think it’s a great concept… each month there is a theme, quite deliberately broad but generally along the theme of our next exhibition which is called ‘There is no Planet B’ Those of us who wish to take part do a small embroidery (to fit in an A5 book) on the theme for the month, pop them in a plain envelope and then swap it for another envelope at the meeting. This way we will gradually each have a unique collection of embroideries.

This month the theme was oceans.

When I thought about oceans, I felt that really oceans are still one of the great unknowns, there’s so much under the sea that we have no idea about. I’m very interested in the natural world, I’m always trying to extend my knowledge on birds, trees. flowers etc, but when I thought about it, I know very little about oceans and their creatures. Even something fairly common like shell-fish…how do they make their shells? Do the rings on a shell indicate age like the rings of a tree? Does the shell grow as the fish grows? How long does it take to make a shell?????

I decided to do an embroidery of a scallop shell. I chose some suitable blue fabric for the background and drew the outline of a scallop shell.

I decided to use spiders web stitch in order to get the ridges effect of a shell. I’ve always liked the effect when I’ve stitched them in cross-stitch projects, however this was a much bigger area. I stitched the supporting threads in a fan shape across the shell and started stitching.

What I hadn’t anticipated was that it’s actually a large area to cover with this stitch, and despite using a hoop, it was very difficult to maintain any sort of tension. I persevered, changed thread colours to add interest, included beads and sequins, partly to add texture, but also, if I’m honest, to fill the area a bit – it took a fair bit of stitching.

As it grew, although I was initially disappointed with the effect of the spiders web stitch, I decided it looked a bit like the distortion you get seeing things through moving water. The colour changes, by chance, also looked like a beach and sea scene…

I was fairly pleased with the final piece, I trimmed it to about 5″, backed it with interfacing and blanket-stitched round the edge. I popped it in an envelope ready for the meeting.

It was quite exciting choosing an envelope and looking inside to see what treasures someone had stitched.

My chosen envelope contained a stunning embroidery of coral by Dee Pollitt, it’s gorgeous, I’m in awe of all the French knots and bullion knots, piled on top of each other. It reminds me of a trip we did to the Great Barrier Reef on one of our holidays to Australia.

Next month’s theme is species at risk, so I’ll have to start thinking about that one soon.

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Skipton Stitchers

It was my Skipton Stitchers meeting on Monday. We had a workshop held by one of the members on crazy patchwork. We had to prepare a block in advance so we just had the stitching to learn. This was my block. I took along various threads and trims, buttons and beads…

With crazy patchwork the seams are embellished first and then the individual shapes can be stitched. I stitched the seams in the order they were stitched together so I didn’t have to faff around inserting ends into seams. I started off pretty simply with the ric-rac attached with beads on every point.

I then got into the swing of it, using the embroidery to extend the trim out into the piece, following the design of the trim to decide what to stitch. By Monday evening I had embroidered all the seams…

Next I will be embroidering the individual shapes, I’m still pondering how to do each block, but so far I’ve really enjoyed this piece.

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Making a Mark

Painting is not my forte, my mum was a brilliant artist which is not always a help! I’ve got two textile workshops on the go at the moment, both of which required paint! This was my cutting out table earlier today!

This week on TextileArtist.org there’s a free week long workshop with Gwen Hadley, I really enjoyed the mini free workshops they held last year so I decided to have a go. They have all sorts of different textile artists doing workshops in their stitch club, I’d love to be in Stitch Club but I know at the moment I haven’t the time to commit to the stitching, maybe one day…in the meantime I’m enjoying their occasional freebie.

The first video was released yesterday, it’s all about making a mark, we had to choose three colours and collect various fabrics and mark making tools beforehand. I chose denim blue, gold and grey, I’m hoping if it turns out OK I can incorporate it into another project I want to do this year. This was my collection of textiles;

We had to use acrylic paints and make four samples using two of the colours, two were to be heavily painted, the other two lighter. I have a basic set of acryllic paints which I bought for fabric printing and never used. I mixed the blue first and then used a mixture of brushes, sponges, sticks etc to make random marks…I never have been keen on random! The blue wasn’t too bad, but then I tried to mix the gold colour, my first attempt came out too orange, that’s the one on the far right of the photo. I tried again adding a little viridian green to the cadmium yellow, much better…but not a lot of paint left! They are now going to be cut up and rearranged…hopefully they will look better then otherwise I’ll be covering it all up with other fabrics and stitching!

My second attempt at using paint on textiles is for something completely different…

For quite a while now I’ve admired the work of Nicki Franklyn of The Stitchery, she does gorgeous embroideries of gardens, trees etc, very pretty. She has just started a series of workshops on line called Stitch a Garden in which she’s covering embroidering trees, flowers, garden buildings and stuff like watering cans. The idea is that you can stitch a picture either of your own garden or one you like, she’s doing the garden at Hilltop (Beatrix Potter’s garden) as an example.

I’ve decided rather than a picture (I’m running out of wall space!) I’m going to stitch a book, with embroideries of the three different areas of my garden and hopefully lots of mini embroideries of some of the features.

The first couple of videos have been about getting inspiration from different places, making a basic design and transferring that onto fabric. I’m still mulling round in my head how to do the designs, I think I’ll wait to see how it pans out before I start anything. However, this week she also explained how she colours fabric with watercolour paints, gave us tips about mixing colours and suggested we coloured some fabric ready to use on our designs. I think she uses them for things like trees, appliquing them in place. I’ve made one piece of fabric with greens, blues and browns, all merging into one another so I can pick the bit that works!

This looks much more like my cup of tea!! I’m looking forward to the next stage.

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Seaside Quilt HQAL

It’s six weeks since I last shared my progress with the Seaside Quilt, a design from the book of the same name by Kathryn Whittingham of Patchwork Katy. I completely forgot to do a post on Boxing Day! Last time I was skipping round having just finished the quilt top…

I love the top, it’s such a happy quilt, it was a delight to stitch.

My next task was to sandwich it ready for quilting, I didn’t have a big enough piece to just back it in one piece and I am trying to reduce my stash a bit so I looked at the decent sized leftovers from the quilt. I realised I could piece the remnants together in a sort of sea scape design with the sandy colours beneath the blue sea fabrics. Time will tell how straight I managed to get the horizon once it’s quilted, I did try! The dark blue is quite faded in places, it’s odd really as it’s right across the fabric, not just in the areas exposed when folded, I bought it out of the back of a car very cheaply (literally! someone was selling a stash at the stitching weekend I went on last year) Hopefully once it has quilting lines on it it won’t be quite so obvious.

I have just started the hand quilting. I’ve had a general idea in my head for a while, but I think I’ve finalised it now. The large embroidered blocks are just having simple straight lines round the borders, I will see whether I also need on just inside the embroidered blocks too, I’m using a variegated dark blue sulky thread for the blue border and a creamy one for the sandy border. So far I’ve just started stitching round the lighthouse block in the centre of the quilt…

OK so I’ve not done much actual quilting but I’ve started and I have a plan. I still need to regain my rhythm with hand quilting so I can relax into it.

I found with the Cottage Garden quilt that I found it much easier with designs I could quilt in one direction, in other words, not trying to stitch towards me or constantly turning the quilt. I stitched a corner to corner quarter circle arc which could make petals or leaves, but importantly could be stitched right to left. I decided to use the same basic pattern but just stitch rows so it looked like the sea waves, sort of a scalloped line

I then had the dilemma of which looked most like waves, all the points up in line or staggered! Helen didn’t help when she looked at the options as she said it would look more like a wave with what I would call a scroll design, which missed the desire for all the quilting to be stitched in one direction! I then realised that with the points staggered it was basically a clam shell pattern…which is equally apt on a seaside quilt! So that is what I’m planning for the rest of the quilt, I have another reel of sulky thread in mid blues and greens. I’ll probably still do a square round the little embroidered blocks and I’ll have to do something different with the star blocks in the corners as they are a different size.

Hopefully next time I’ll have a bit more to show you, now I have my quilting chair set up on the landing with all my threads, thimbles and needles to hand.

Hand Quilt Along Links

This Hand Quilt Along is an opportunity for hand quilters and piecers to share and motivate one another. We post every three weeks, to show our progress and encourage one another.  If you have a hand quilting project and would like to join our group contact Kathy at the link below.

KathyMargaretDebNanetteSharonKarrin, and Daisy

I’ll also be linking up with Kathy’s Quilts for Slow Stitching Sunday.

Posted in Quilting, Stitch-a-long | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Crazy Times

Our programme for Skipton Stitchers has had to change this month as the lady who was teaching it is now isolating, so next months workshop on Crazy Patchwork has been brought forward. This meant I had some prepping to do. The workshop is concentrating on the embroidery and embellishment side, so we have to prepare a patchwork block.

We’ve been given instructions on how to make the block so everyone is working on the same design. It’s put together like foundation paper piecing but stitched onto a calico backing fabric. It confused me at first as rather than stitching it from the back through paper, the pieces are accurately cut using freezer paper and then stitched on the front in order. I only cut one the wrong way round so not too bad really!

We chose five coordinating fabrics, my starter fabric was one of my favourite bee fabrics, I’m thinking of using this piece for the front of a fabric book I have in my mind on bees. I used another bee fabric too which doesn’t coordinate as well but I’m hoping I can bring it all together with the embellishments.

We’ve to take any trimmings, buttons, beads, threads etc along to the meeting so I started having a rummage through my stash. I’ve just started bobbinating various embroidery threads and storing them according to colour, these are the non DMC threads, there’s linen thread, perle, finer threads. Hopefully I’ll use them more stored in this way. I’ve chosen two or three of these to go with some DMC threads.

This is my collection so far…

Looking forward to the meeting as always.

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Skipton Stitchers Workshop

At our Embroiderers Guild meeting we usually had a speaker at each meeting on a wide variety of textile topics. Since the demise of the guild set-up and the loss of our funds we have started having mini workshops at meetings run by members, I like it just as much if not more, we get to try out lots of different techniques such as Brazilian embroidery (November) and Kamal Kadai embroidery as we did in December.

Kamal Kadai means lotus embroidery in Urdu and Hindi languages (guess whose just googled it!) It’s a form of simple embroidery which is often used to embellish traditional Indian garments such as sari’s. We were taught a design which looks like a poinsetta, very festive.

We were given half a large cotton ball to work on so afterwards it would be a useful pincushion. I didn’t realise until half way through the morning that these are actually dryer balls, bought very cheaply and cut in half! Ingenious idea!! I came home with a spare one too!

The basic stitch is a form of needle weaving, we used perle thread so it was a decent weight and had a nice sheen to it. The difficulty was trying to get the poinsetta central (failed!) and stitching the supporting threads evenly and long enough (not bad for a first attempt!) I think it might have been easier to mark the main points with pins before hand to get an even shape, but even nature isn’t perfectly symmetrical! I didn’t take any progress photos I’m afraid, so just two finished views.

I was pretty pleased with my poinsetta. I decided to embroider a border with feather stitch and added a few red beads too. With the border stitched round the edge my poinsetta looked very off centre so I tied a red ribbon bow to fill the gap.

I was trying to decide how to finish it, others have put them in bowls or on a small dish. My bottom wasn’t flat enough, so someone suggested a felting needle on the back would compact it down again. This will have to be done at a later date as I haven’t got a felting needle. I then had a bit of a brainwave…I have a 3″ embroidery hoop left from a course I did, with a bit of encouragement it just nicely frames the pincushion. Once I get the bottom levelled I’ll make it a bit more secure with some glue and a card on the back.

This month we’re doing crazy patchwork, so I’ve some prepping to do.

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Gingerbread House

I’m trying to get a few things finished before I start anything new, I like having several things on the go but every so often I feel I need to clear the decks a bit. Last night I managed to finish putting my gingerbread house together, it was a bit fiddly but I love it.

Last time I shared my progress I was still stitching the roof…

The roof needed some red and green stitches in the white squares and a gold bead in the brown square. I realised fairly quickly that I wasn’t going to have enough beads, I still had the baubles on the Christmas tree to do too. I counted up and I was 24 short. I sent an e-mail to Nutmeg Designs on bank holiday Monday, they replied with an apology on Tuesday and the beads arrived Thursday, pretty good service, especially knowing they are based in a little village in Swaledale, miles from a post office! I think someone got the quantities mixed up as I had loads of the clear beads left. Anyway, by Thursday night all the beads were stitched on.

The shapes are laced onto precut plastic canvas, this makes quite a good base as it’s bendable when you are trying to sew it, but once it’s all stitched together it’s fairly solid. The string of beads were stitched onto the edge of the roof and the porch at this stage too. I actually do wonder if the ones round the roof would be easier stitched on at the end as the thread was regularly catching on them.

The walls were stitched together to make the square building. That bit was easy enough. Next was the roof…third time lucky is the most apt phrase I think! The instructions do say this is the trickiest bit and they’re right! I think possibly my roof wasn’t 100% true, so when I tried to stitch it on the lower edge was very uneven. In the end I started the roof a couple of stitches above the gable end and that seemed to do the trick. The porch roof was a doddle after that!

Finally there was a square of brown felt to lace around a square of plastic canvas to make the base. Stitching this in really solidified the cottage.

I really enjoyed making this kit, I’m hoping in time to make the others in the collection, a chapel, a house and a tree, I’ll just give myself a bit more time before the festive season! If you fancy having a go at a 3D cross-stitch, do have a look at Nutmeg Designs, they have some lovely kits.

Posted in Crafts, cross-stitch, kits | Tagged , , , | 13 Comments