Thursday, 18 October 2018

A Mackintosh Inspired TGIFF

Last weekend I attended the first of our Embroiderers Guild workshops for the coming year, which was on the theme of a homage to the Glasgow Architect and Designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh. It is now150 years since Mackintosh's birth, so there are lots of celebratory events being held in my part of the world.

Our tutor, Marjorie, brought along some examples of her work to kick start our creative process.

We were given lots of examples of Mackintosh designs to pick from for our own piece.I chose a flowing leaf design and then set to attempting to draw a pattern for my embroidery.

Next up we picked a piece of hand-dyed silk for the applique pieces.

We used our design and a lightbox to create the applique pattern pieces on Bondaweb.

Once the applique pieces were applied we were ready to couch the cords. We had two thicknesses of cord to work with, so I chose to use the thinner cord to outline the leaves.

Then used the thicker cord for the leaf stems.

Once the embroidery was complete I felt that it was a bit flat so decided to add some beading to the piece.

I didn't want to detract from the clean, uncluttered lines of the piece so only stitched some beads between the stems.

And here is the finished piece ready to be stretched and framed!

So, that is my finish for TGIFF now it is your turn to link up and share your Friday finishes. As ever a bit of encouragement is always welcome so check out your fellow linkers and share some of the celebrations around. Include the TGIFF blog button in your post if you link up so that your followers can check them out too.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Stitching and slashing

Welcome to September's New to Me link party, your chance to share your experiences good or bad when trying something for the first time this month.

This month I attended my first ever Quilt Retreat and took part in my first (and maybe only!) Drum Workshop!

I have also been trying out a New to Me tool.

 A Slash Cutter, as I have been having a go at some Chenille squares.

Some of my stitching on this square was so close together that the cutter wouldn't fit through so I had to resort to using scissors, but I am really pleased with the effect that was achieved, so will definitely be having another go.

Image result for San Sebastian Map

By the time you read this I will have chalked up another New to Me, a New to Me city - San Sebastian in Northern Spain. I am really looking forward to visiting such an amazing region.

So, that's my New to Me's for September now it is your turn to link up and share the trials and tribulations of trying out something or somewhere for the first time. We keep it real here so whether it works out or not we want to read about it :)

As ever the Link Party will remain open until the end of the month so if you have been procrastinating over trying that new technique, consider this a nudge to jump off that fence and give it a go!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

Sounding the Retreat

Several months ago I signed myself up for my first ever Quilt Retreat, and as the time to head off drew closer I began to regret my decision! So, I headed off with a car boot stuffed with sewing supplies and some trepidation. Getting lost on the way there did nothing to ease the apprehension I can tell you :)

The Retreat, which was held in Netherurd the Activity Centre for Girl Guiding in the Scottish Borders, is tucked away down a country lane hence the difficulty in finding it. There were 21 of us on the Retreat, only a couple of whom I had met before hence too, some of the nerves :)

Once I was set up in the bright and airy sewing room things definitely began to look up. My companions were a delight and the securing of an agreement to share a bottle of wine that night certainly lifted my spirits :)

Despite these being in close proximity spirits were the only things being lifted though :)

We had a visit from the very enthusiastic proprietor of Biggar Stitches who brought along a lovely selection of pre-cuts for our perusal

as well as these lovely quilts to showcase the charm squares, layer cakes and jelly rolls. Needless to say some retail therapy might have been indulged in!

On the second night of the retreat the organisers had arranged a mystery activity for us that everyone had to participate in.

You can probably imagine our surprise when we entered the room to find lots of these laid out for us! Nomad Beat a local music charity had been booked to give us a drum workshop, well we certainly weren't expecting that :)

It was a brilliant way to spend an evening with lots of laughter, noise and fun even if my fingers were looking a bit bruised the next morning.

Well that is my excuse for not actually finishing the project that I had taken with me, although I did make some progress so it was not entirely a lost cause in terms of stitching. (It was in terms of photographs as I completely forgot to take any of my project whilst I was there!)

Fat Stash Brit Bee blocks received

These are just some of the blocks that I took with me and I am pleased to report that the quilt top is now 5 rows long and ready for the borders.

We ended the Quilt Retreat with a Show and Tell (naturally!) and confirmation of the dates for next year. Where do I sign??

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Picking a pocket or two!

A few weeks ago we celebrated National Stitch Day here in the UK. Naturally, my local branch of the Embroiderers Guild had to be involved!

It will be the Branch's 20th Anniversary this year so they are celebrating with an Afternoon Tea Party later this month. They decided to keep with the Afternoon Tea theme and host an Open Day for the National Stitch Day celebrations with the projects all being Afternoon Tea related.

First up though we were asked to create lengths of bunting to hang around the town to advertise the Open Day.

We were given a template for the triangle bunting that you can see in the background, but I decided to come up with something a little bit different as you can see!

I unpicked the pockets from several old shirts, then appliqued letters spelling out Big Stitch and the name of the hall onto the shirt pockets. Some of the letters were machine blanket stitched and some hand stitched to reflect both of the interests of the EG members.

They looked quite effective flapping in the breeze :)

Inside the hall members were busy stitching up and embroidering chocolates, cupcakes and doughnut pincushions. The doughnut pincushion above is made from a tea-dyed white sock with the toe cut off and then rolled around some toy stuffing. The end is stitched down and then a scrap of white felt is stitched over the join. I chose to embellish my doughnut with lots of brown seed beads to resemble chocolate sprinkles as you can see :)

As I was manning the door this was the only project that I had time to make!

It is also the closest that I will get to a doughnut as I really don't like them. Childhood memories of seeing doughnuts sizzling in large pans of oil on a weekend trip to Blackpool have scarred me for life as far as eating them is concerned. Isn't it funny how some experiences can have such a long lasting effect? Fortunately I have never come across anything in the chocolate making process that has had a similar effect upon me :)

What about you? Are you a doughnut fan or not?

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Getting Shirty!

Welcome to this month's New to Me link party, your chance to share the highs and lows of a new experience.

This month my New to Me's are all gorgeous grandson related :)

I have been wanting to try my hand at making a shirt for the gorgeous grandson for a while but hadn't come across a pattern that I liked (and that looked doable for my limited dressmaking skills!). Recently, though, I came across the website YouCanMakeThis which sounded pretty encouraging, and found this shirt pattern by Pox Couture which seemed to fit the bill. One download later and I was all set.

I had some sale fabric in my stash that was perfect for my first attempt at a shirt, so set to work.

There were a couple of moments where I was a bit confused by the instructions but I suspect that a seasoned dressmaker would have had no problems. I was feeling very proud of myself -  until I was sewing on the last button....... when I realised that I had managed to put the buttons and buttonholes on the "wrong" side!

Still, it is at least recognisably a shirt :)

Spurred on by this success I pulled out more sale fabric to create a second holiday shirt for the boy. Second time around all of the confusion felt in the first attempt was gone and it was a really straightforward process.

Until I got to the buttons and buttonholes!

For some reason the automatic buttonhole function on my sewing machine refused to co-operate on one of the buttonholes. Every time I tried it on a spare piece of fabric it was perfect and then it stopped in the middle of the process every single time on the actual shirt! The only thing that I could think of was that the pocket was somehow stopping the foot from moving properly to create the stitch, but even when I turned it around it wasn't any better. The solution in the end was to turn the shirt inside out and work the buttonhole from the back instead of the front. Not ideal I know but by this time I was ready to throw the machine and the shirt in the pool!! I didn't get a chance to take a photo of the finished shirt but I am sure that you get the picture :)

Of course, during all that angst what I had also failed to notice was that despite checking several times I yet again managed to place the button and buttonholes on the "wrong" side again !!!!!!

Fortunately, my other New to Me for this month was a happier experience :)

I am listed in a catalogue for the first time!

The organisers of the Embroiderers Guild Page 17 exhibition decided to create a catalogue for the exhibition as a lasting reminder of the range and style of the exhibits, so I was asked if I wanted to include the details of my piece in the catalogue (Yes!!) and to purchase a copy (Yes again!!). It arrived in the post a couple of weeks ago so I have something to show our son and daughter-in-law when they wonder when they are ever going to see the embroidery based on Hairy MacLary that has been promised for several months now for the grandson's wall!

So those are my New to Me's now it is over to you to link up and share your experiences good or bad (!) when trying our anything new this month. As ever the link up will remain open until the end of the month so there is still time to try out that new technique and let your fellow bloggers know how it went. As always too check out the linkers and give them some plaudits for moving out of their comfort zone even if it wasn't entirely successful! 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Spiralling through time

It is time for the next reveal for the Endeavourers and this time the theme is "Spirals",  yet again this has been both inspiring and challenging.
My initial thoughts on the theme were mostly nature related and Mother Nature definitely loves a spiral :)

I struggled to think of a way to interpret these amazing ferns in a quilt form, so started to cast around for another form of spiral to use as inspiration.

As you might have guessed from my blog name I have always had a love of Celtic Art forms and when I realised that the spiral was an important element in Celtic Design, I knew that I had my inspiration!

We recently visited Islay, an island off the West Coast of Scotland, renowned for both its whisky and as the home of one of the finest, if not the finest, surviving Celtic Cross in Europe.

Kildalton Cross, above, was probably carved in the second half of the 8th Century A.D. It is pretty amazing to be able to stand in front of and touch something that has been around for so long! Celtic spirals, though, predate this Celtic Cross by several centuries.

The spiral imagery used by this whisky distillery not far from the Kildalton Cross first began to develop in the later part of the 5th Century B.C. Who would have thought that it would still be in use so many hundreds of years later to sell whisky??

I knew that I wanted to combine these two aspects of Celtic imagery for this challenge (not the whisky although it was delicious!) but couldn't quite pin down what to do with them.

 Then I came across a project in this book and it all became clear!

I have called this quilt "Echoes of times past" and if you want to find out how it was constructed head on over to the Endeavourers blog to read all about it and to see how my fellow Endeavourers have met this challenge.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Painted Cloth

It's the 25th of the month, so time to take stock and reflect on those New to Me experiences and encourage my fellow bloggers to share their trials and tribulations too!

This month I have been messing about with paints!

Acrylic paint

and thanks to a workshop a couple of months ago with Moira McLennaghan, of the Guild of Silk Painters, silk paints.

After the workshop Moira encouraged us to take away small squares of silk that she had traced a design on with Gutta, to enable us to have a go at home. I picked a design of fish swimming amongst coral with the intention that once painted it would be more wall art for the gorgeous grandson's bedroom.

The silk paints flowed easily on to the silk and filled the areas confined by the Gutta, so I was very pleased with myself.

Then this happened!!

The colour washed over the line of the Gutta and flowed into the next space. I tried diluting the space with water in an attempt to remove the colour but as you can see it wasn't especially successful.

I am debating whether to fill the frame with colour but worry that it will bleed in the other direction into the fish. I haven't set the paint with the iron yet (mainly because the iron blew up the last time I used it!) so don't know if that would help or hinder. If you know the answer I would be delighted to hear :)

I used the Acrylic paint to transform this lace from this

to this

and also this. They don't look so attractive now but trust me they will make more sense when the project I am working on is finished!

Next up is a play with these Metallic Wax Crayons! First though I need to replace that iron :)

So, that is my New to Me attempts this month, now it is your turn to link up and share anything that you have tried out for the first time in July. As you can see we keep it real here, so whether it was a success or not don't be shy, it is always a learning experience. Well that is what I am currently telling myself!

As always the New to Me link party will remain open until the end of the month, so you have time to try that technique or write that post! I look forward to seeing what you have been up to and, hopefully, coming across some helpful tips or techniques too :)

Thursday, 12 July 2018

A beast of a finish!

Today I am hosting the TGIFF link party, so if you are new to the party welcome I hope you enjoy your visit.

My finish for the party has been a long time in the making, I blogged about it nearly a year ago here when the front was finished but then the project hit the proverbial brick wall. There is nothing like a looming deadline for a completed project to concentrate the mind though is there :)

I am always annoyed with myself when I finally getting around to finishing a project that I have been putting off for a long time and find that the actual finishing is fairly quick and very straightforward. Needless to say that is what happened here!

I used this tutorial by Chris Dodsley for the hidden zipper at the back. I have used this technique on several cushion backs now and really like the clean lines and neat finish that it achieves. I also like the pop of colour that I end up with on the back of my normally plain cushion covers. The front fabric is a grey linen and the back is a light grey quilting cotton with the dark purple band for the hidden zip. I am fairly sure that I kept enough of the purple patchwork pieces used in the reverse applique on the front, to make a hidden zipper band but, of course, couldn't find it when I went to make it. I shall probably find it in the next day or so :)

The cushion was originally intended for our eldest son's wife, who loves purple, but as our youngest son has just recently moved into a new flat and he is a big fan of Stag decor then it only seems right to gift it to him instead. He is not the gentlest of users of a handmade cushion so I am hoping that the reverse applique will stand up to the wear and tear. Having said that he has moved in with his lovely girlfriend so I am keeping my fingers crossed that this and any future cushions will fare a bit better under that much more benign feminine influence :)

So, that's my finish for the TGIFF link party, now it is your turn to link up and share your finishes. As ever a bit of encouragement is always welcome so check out your fellow linkers and share some of the celebrations around. Include the TGIFF blog button in your post if you link up so that your followers can check them out too.

Monday, 25 June 2018

And then there were six!

Somewhat surprisingly we have been basking in sunshine in my part of the world recently, not something that the West coast of Scotland is very well known for :)

So it was definitely time to have a go at Brindille and Twig's Banded pants pattern to rustle up some smart new shorts for the gorgeous grandson, who has also been enjoying the summer sunshine. I bought the pattern in April when it first came out, but this was my first attempt at making the shorts.

The gorgeous grandson is not yet 2 but I made the 2 - 3 size as I was worried that the 18 - 24 months size might be too small. (Turns out I was right to make the bigger size as they are not too big at all!)

I rummaged through my knit fabrics and had enough of this blue/black knit to make my first pair. As always with Brindille and Twig the pattern was really straightforward and quick to put together.

So, I had another rummage and discovered that I had enough of the grey and white stripe from an earlier t-shirt for the boy to make another pair of shorts.

Then I came across this great spot knit! I had to be a bit inventive with the cutting on this one so the front has an extra seam up the middle but I was delighted to have eked another pair of shorts out of the remnant.

By now I was on a roll :) I have lots of this plain green knit as the original order from Fabricworm had an ink mark down the middle of the yardage, so they sent me a complete replacement for the original order. As some of the original order was salvageable for these tiny size clothes I ended up with a lot of spare fabric. Can't fault the customer service from Fabricworm I have to say!

Next up another plain from a previous order from Fabricworm. Can you tell that I was having great fun rustling up these little shorts??

Finally a dotty grey with cream ribbing to round off the set!

They should keep the gorgeous grandson smart in the sunshine for a while wouldn't you say, and I didn't even buy any fabric to make them :) Now I need to get cracking on some t-shirts to go with them! Now, that might involve some fabric purchasing because there are just so many great knits around!

So, my New to Me this month is trying out that new pattern from Brindille and Twig, what have you tried out for the first time in June? Regardless of whether it was a roaring success or dismal failure link up to this month's New to Me link party and we can share your pain or celebrate your success!

As always the Link Party will remain open until the end of the month so you still have time to write up that blog post and share your experiences with your fellow bloggers.

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