Thursday, 2 July 2015

Dyeing fabric

Since it began, Linda and I have had a stand at Festival of Quilts to sell our wares. Every year except this one! This time we'll be on the Through Our Hands exhibition stand instead and voted that it would just be too stressful to try to divide our time between both.

I must be having preparation withdrawal though because this week, in spite of having lots of other things on the to do list I couldn't help but get some vats of dyeing on the go. The weather's been scorching and here I am ironing in the heat! The results are worth it. I've dyed and over dyed lots of fabric I'd been saving and now I've got a lovely pile of cloth that coordinates and is ready for a new project.

As you can see from the buckets in the photo at the top, I've used a low water technique. I really like the marks that this creates on the fabric.

To achieve these very pronounced markings and hard edges I've put dry fabric into the dye. Not always recommended as you risk getting large areas of white, but this time it's paid off and all the pieces came out beautifully.

Even small scraps and off-cuts got thrown in and have come out in a much more useable state. I almost feel some patchwork coming on. I'm sure that feeling will wear off!

If you're enjoying pleasant weather where you live at the moment I hope you're able to take advantage of it and be creative too.

Bye for now,

Monday, 29 June 2015

10,000 Hours

I think it's said that it takes 10,000 hours practise to get really good at something. It's an interesting thought. Allow yourself 15 hours a week at something and it'll still take nearly 13 years to fit that in. Hmm. What made me think of it were the students in my class last Saturday when I casually say, oh your quilting will get better the more you practise! Luckily I don't think it takes 10,000 hours to get pretty decent results with free motion stitching.

Course it does help if you start early. In between epic 'why?' conversations Amelie's been keeping us well amused with her drawings this week. She's into nature and these are her drawings of owls.

I think these ones are people. I just love them! I've started photographing and scanning them to get some ready to print to fabric.

Thanks for visiting my blog today.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Print, Stitch, Paint, Take 2

It was a bit warm yesterday for being holed up in a classroom, but nevertheless I think the students at the second Print, Stitch and Paint class at Bilston Craft Gallery had a good time.

Apologies for the less than thrilling photography in this post. The photos were taken in haste on my phone!

The students began with monoprint to establish a design. We used a range of simple monoprint methods including the ever-popular natural leaf printing.

I didn't manage to get a photo of this lovely leaf design when it was finished so you'll have to trust me, it turned out beautifully!

With the print session done it was soon time to have a quick clear up and get the sewing machines out. Students worked using free motion and some hand stitch to add quilting to their chosen print. The students have a wide ranging textile background and some had no or very little free motion quilting experience so it was a leap of faith for them but they were very brave and dived straight in.

With a bit of quilting under their belts it was time to add some paint. There's not time in a short class to complete one of these journal size quilts completely so the students aimed to just get one section resolved to such a point that they would feel comfortable completing the rest at home.

 Meanwhile in the beautiful coolness of the gallery downstairs, the children's activity wall that's part of the Through Our Hands exhibition is coming along nicely. There's still plenty of time to visit the exhibition and children and families are very welcome. Perhaps if you take some little ones with you, they can add to our colourful collage quilt!

Through Our Hands at Bilston, details here.

Thanks for visiting the blog today.
bye for now,

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Print, Stitch, Paint

I've have been getting too comfortable teaching from my own studio. I can take it for granted that I won't forget anything, and if students fancy going off at a tangent with techniques it's no problem, we will have the wherewithal to hand. So it was with a little trepidation that I loaded as much stuff as I could fit into my little car to teach at Bilston Craft Gallery for the textile group that meets regularly there. The whole way, I had that nagging feeling I'd forgotten something!

Heads down concentration!

I was teaching a new workshop that I've called Print, Stitch, Paint. I've devised it as an introduction to some of the main techniques that I love to use in my own work.

First I gave a demonstration of the essential monoprinting techniques and then the students launched straight in with making their own prints.

After a quick lunch, the sewing machines came out and we stitched the prints. The group has a range of experience and some hadn't done much free motion quilting before, but all dived in with lots of enthusiasm and bravery!

Finally there was time to add detail and colour with paint.

It was a fast paced and fun day. I'm doing it all over again next Saturday for the rest of the group and some visitors.

This'll be a workshop that I'll be offering as part of my Autumn schedule of classes here at the Wooden House. I'll fill you in more on the details as soon as I can.

Bye for now,

Monday, 22 June 2015

Buttonhole Purse

I love making small items like bags and purses. This one's been cut out waiting for the fiddly task of sewing it up and fixing it to the metal frame. Finally I've got it done.

Buttonhole Purse

Silk and cotton fabrics, machine quilting, hand quilting, hand dyeing and discharge dyeing.
Approx measurements: 14cm x 14cm x 7cm (5.5" x 5.5" x 2.5")
£65 to include postage to anywhere in the world. Email me if you'd like it! Update: Now Sold

It's called a Buttonhole Purse because the main fabrics are embroidered with buttonholes. 

The frame opens right up and it's a generous little purse. The lining is hand dyed, screen printed, and embroidered with my name.

Thanks for visiting today.
Bye for now,

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Summer dressmaking

We went to the Rag Market in Birmingham yesterday and as usual, it didn't disappoint. I came back with 5 bags crammed with fabric, the most expensive being a whopping £2.50 per metre, but mostly £1 a metre. Here's a selection of my haul.

This morning some patterns that I'd ordered online arrived and with such perfect timing I couldn't help but get cutting.

The dress is from a pattern I had purchased previously, the Geranium dress by Made-by-Rae. The fabric is a gorgeous drapey cotton or maybe even rayon, that seems to be printed both sides. To go with, I've made some cropped leggings from one of the Burda patterns. These are in a printed jersey, also from the market. Grand total cost of outfit? About £2 including the elastic. That makes me very happy!

I finished the dress with some vintage red buttons (everything has to be red right now). The outfit is a big hit, phew!

Thanks for visiting today.
Bye for now,

Monday, 15 June 2015

Painting - all done

I've been following a lot of 'Daily Painters' on the internet lately and wondering if it's something that's doable for me. After spending so long working on textile pieces, the relative speed at which a painting can be completed is very satisfying and also provides a welcome change of pace for me. I'm not sure I can fit in a painting a day, but certainly to try to include more painting in my work each week is something that I'd love to aim for.

So far so good. This one is complete:

Shropshire Skies #1
30cm x 30cm (12" x 12")
Acrylic and collage on shallow canvas panel

£75 to include postage. Please email me to reserve. Update: Now sold.

Thank you for visiting today,

Sunday, 14 June 2015


Finally some painting. I like to set my palette out with colours from light to dark across the top leaving a large area for mixing below. In this instance I'm using Titanium white, Yellow Ochre, Quinacridone crimson, Phthalo blue and Mars black, and a puddle of glaze medium.

I've worked on this landscape painting that I began during the workshop last week. I've just been enjoying using paint, but also aiming to capture a dramatic sky with a lighter, brighter area through the central section. It's all a bit wet at the moment so I'm going to let it dry, and add a couple more layers of paint just to darken some areas and soften others. 

When it's done I'll get some decent photos in the cold light of day!
Thanks for visiting.