Thursday, November 27, 2008

The End of the World

Well it really does seem like the end of the world. I went to order more fabric for dyeing today and found that my supplier has given up trading! And I have no idea where the fabric came from originally. I know he used to go and pick it up for me so it can't have been too far away but I'm here in Cornwall and he was up there in Colne or there abouts. I am gutted as it was such lovely cotton poplin, 60 inches wide, mercerised and cheap! The nearest I can find is twice as expensive! Oh woe is me! If anyone can give me the address of a good supplier of fabric for dyeing then I shall be eternally in their debt. I know about Whaleys and will probably end up using them if I don't find anyone else. Wolfin textiles are good also but again more expensive.

This is a picture to cheer myself up! It is of my Christmas Cactus which sits on our bathroom windowsill. It is an absolute picture and matches the paint on the walls. The leaves have such interesting colour variations too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Little Boxes

These little boxes are so easy and quick to make. Each box takes a square of fabric bondawebbed to paper. An eight and a half inch square makes a 3" box. The size to cut for the lid is always 1/4" larger than the base. The little box above was made from 5.5 and 5.75 inch squares. Start by marking the centre by folding the sides together. Then fold each corner into the centre as shown in the diagram below.

When all the corners have been folded into the middle fold each corner up again to the crease mark already formed as shown in the picture below.

Now open up the square and cut as shown below stopping at the centre square. Only cut on one set of opposite corners.

Now fold the corner in and then fold it again. Make sure that each fold is creased well. Do this on the two sides that weren't cut.

Unfold this second fold to the first fold and crease back the edges on each side as shown in the picture below. Then fold these 'flaps' in towards each other.

Now fold the end over and crease the tip flat onto the base of the box. A dab of glue can be put under this flap to hold it in place or a square of plain paper can be placed onto the bottom of the box and glued to hold all the flaps down and make it look neat.

Here are a few of the boxes I've made and decorated. To make a box once the paper and fabric have been bonded takes about 10 minutes. To decorate can take longer as one can get carried away! I hope you have fun!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This year's table runner!

One year I made 13 of these table runners as Christmas presents for various friends and family. They were quick (fairly!) and easy to do and very effective when finished. The one I kept for myself was going to be blue but because my sister changed her colour scheme at the last minute I ended up with a very elegant one in grey and black with lovely pinky red flowers. However this wasn't Christmassy enough to use as a sample for my recent workshop so I made another one. In fact I made two! The one you see above plus one in Christmas fabrics in green and red. The one above is a piece of a Japanese cotton print with sand and rust strips in silk dupion. They catch the light beautifully and look different depending on where they are viewed from. I hadn't made this version of a table runner for a couple of years so brought it out of retirement. I'm glad I did as I've now ended up with one that goes with my colour scheme! There is a silver lining to everything I find.
I have become addicted to free machine applique. I spent the whole of yesterday evening machining my lemon block and got quite carried away. My Bernina 180 is a joy to sew with and even manages to work with some of the odd embroidery silks that I have bought in the market which come from the far east somewhere. These threads are in lovely colours but not known for their ease of sewing being liable to fray at the drop of a hat. I find if I use a metallic or top stitch needle they behave themselves.
My copy of The Quilting Arts Book arrived last week and it is a wonderful book full of great ideas and techniques. Just the kind of book to sit in front of the fire dipping into and being inspired. Also I had a book on quick makes taken from the Threads magazine. I have always enjoyed the page in the magazine where they showed a quick make and this book has collected many of these together. One that quickly caught my eye was the pattern for a small origami fabric box. So quick to do. I cut out a square of paper and practised in front of the fire while having coffee with Martin and my mum this afternoon and it took all of five minutes! Cool! Obviously this was very basic but once one has bondawebbed some fabric to paper and done some embellishing on the fabric it wouldn't take much longer to create the real thing. And then embellishing the lid would be fun too! The one I did made a 3" box but I shall try other sizes. Pictures when they are done but don't hold your breath as I won't have any time for a few days. And instead of fabric one could bondaweb hand-made paper to a backing instead. Oh the possibilities are endless!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Prickly Visitor!

Now that it is dark when I come home from work I am not really aware of anything other than putting my key in the front door. I did wonder why someone had left a brush on my step but something made me look more closely and I saw I had a prickly visitor. Usually we have hedgehogs in the back garden and it was quite unusual to see one at the front. I wanted to take him/her round to the back in case of him/her being run over on the road but Martin said that I might be taking him/her away from it's loved ones who might not be in the back garden. This made me feel so sad that I left the little hedgehog where it was and hoped it would be sensible and not wander off to the road. As I didn't see a squashed hedgehog this morning I am assuming that he/she knew where he/she was going! I hoped to get a better photo but I rather felt that if I went up close the hedgehog might roll up into a ball.
There are now only about 6 weeks to Christmas and I have at least nine cushions to make and three sets of table mats. Some of these have been started but the faux chenille cushions are still just a thought. First I have to dye some mandela fabric in the right colours and then make the faux chenille squares. It is amazing how long it actually takes to cut the fabric and then wash it and all this before actually making the cushion! So I am going to be very busy especially as I am also working on the fruit applique blocks for class on Fridays. No more reading of books for a while! But I do now have a CD player in my workroom so I could listen to books on disk. What a good idea!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Christmas is over at last!

I feel as if I've been running a marathon. For the last few weeks I've been making Christmassy things as if there were no tomorrow. But today I ran my Christmas workshop which was great fun and I can now relax. As well as the tree decorations shown above I also did table runners, cards, gift boxes,sachets and star hangings. There was something for everyone. The most popular item was the gift box which I had done in several sizes. Also the yo-yo tree decorations. I had sprayed some branches in silver and used those to show case the various items. Why is it that good branches arn't around when one wants them! Now I can relax and get back to the ordinary stuff. But first a grand clear up! And I have to say that my new SewEzi sewing table came into it's own as I was so cramped for space I was able to set it up and use if for cutting out on. Brilliant!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Dyeing Fun!

I had a great afternoon yesterday doing some dyeing. I have to dye nearly every week to keep up with demand and ensure that I have a good supply of fabric at all times. Yesterday I decided to experiment. It was pretty cold but I mixed my soda ash with quite hot water so that the fabric was warm when it went into the dye and I mixed the dyes with a warm salt mix. So warmth all around except in the air!

This piece crumpled and folded and I just dripped the dyes on indiscrimately. I am very pleased with the results which would be good on a piece of faux chenille.

Another randomly dripped piece but what isn't so easy to see is that I sat the fabric on a piece of plastic mesh and the mesh marks are visible if one looks closely. I want to do more with this technique and see what other marks I can make the dye show.

This piece was truly experimental in that I sprinkled the dye powder directly onto soda ash soaked scrumpled fabric. I was a tad heavy handed but I like the effect very much. I shall do this again and try it especially with black and brown dyes which have so many colours in them.

I was truly experimental here as I sprayed soda ash soaked scrumpled fabric with aluminium car spray paint to see what happened. Then I spooned two blues over the fabric which pooled in the hollows and ran off the aluminium. When I came to rinse it out after curing the aluminium stayed fast so I was quite excited to see what would come out of the washing machine. I wash my fabric on a 60 degree wash with extra rinses so it is quite hot and takes nearly two hours. Sadly the heat did for the aluminium and it all washed out - wouldn't have done if it had been on a bit of clothing! However the result is lovely and I will try using aluminium spray paint again as a resist with a bit more planning!

This was another multi-coloured dye piece with a mixture of pleating and scrumpling. As is the piece below which has a look of feathers about it.

This piece was very successful in that I wanted to portray rocks and rocks is what I've got. However can I do it again?

And this last piece was using up left over dyes without any thought as to colour mixing. They were just thrown on as I emptied the jars. The colours I was using were mustard, turquoise, slate blue, tarton green and violet. I also had a Christmas red on the go made from cerise and orange but I don't think any of that went into this mix.

All in all I was pleased with my results and it will be hard to let them all go. I shall want to squirrel a couple away for my own use.