Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Catching up

Well it has been a while since my last post that is for sure! Over and above all of the craziness that the world has gone through in the last 18 months, life at the home of Celtic Thistle has been more full on than most. 

Two of our sons, their partners and our two grandsons all ended up living with us over the summer as their house and country moves dragged out. With 4 of them working from home as well, not to mention an overlocker service that ended up taking 2 months instead of 2 weeks sewing was very much on the back burner :)

It wasn't a complete write off though, I managed to make these two half-zip hoodies for the boys before they arrived. First time sewing in an invisible zip! More practise is probably needed on that though :)

Before the overlocker disappeared into the black void that was a supposedly quick service (!) I whipped up a few pieces for the boys.


So we had Tractors

Pirates


Seagulls (very apt for their holiday by the sea!) and rainbow submarines

Surfboards and campervans, especially appropriate when you enjoy sitting in the drivers seat of your Uncle's blue campervan!


Rainbow animals,


 


blue crabs,



nosy Highland cows



and parachuting penguins!


Some pirate boardshorts, first time using boardshort fabric too - very slippery! 

Jellyfish leggings! These have even been worn to school on a "Pantosaurus" day, so I think he likes them :)



Naturally there were a couple of underpants and boxers run up to use up some of the scraps! 


By the time that my overlocker was finally returned my friend's daughter had had a baby boy, so these outfits were soon hot off the needles. I had forgotten how tiny clothes for new babies are :)

It was a busy summer and we were so greatful to be able to spend so much time with our family after spending such a long time apart :)





Sunday, 16 May 2021

A Meandering Needle

 To mark the demise of our Embroiderers Guild Branch, the members were invited to swap stitched Artist Trading Cards. We were given a theme of "What the EG meant to me" and the dimensions but no other requirements. 

Being a member of the Embroiderers Guild has given me opportunities to try things with a needle and thread that I would never otherwise have had.

 


 I contributed to the Hardhome Embroidery for the launch of Game of Thrones Series 5 box set, (earning lots of kudos from my sons!)



entered an embroidery based upon a Hairy MacLary book into the national Page 17 exhibition,


made a fascinator for my daughter-in-law to wear to a friend's wedding and 


entered a local craft show competition with a canvaswork piece made for an exhibition and came 2nd! 

So, I decided that my theme for the ATC would be exploring stitches as that is what all of these opportunities have given me. 

I used a piece of a curtain fabric sample for the background of the ATC and gathered together some odds and ends to incorporate into the piece. My intention for the piece was to create an impression of a garden border of blowsy flowers on a lazy, late summer, sunny afternoon. 


As well as using stitches that I was already familiar with through the pieces I have previously created thanks to the Guild, such as French Knots and Chain Stitch, I also wanted to explore new to me stitches too. 

Having recently purchased Sharon Boggon's "Creative Stitches for Contemporary Embroidery" I didn't have far to look to find some new stitches to explore :)

 


 The green stitches climbing up the left of the card are Pistil Stitch, to suggest stems and seedheads bowing gently in the breeze. The open circle on the right hinting at an overblown flower is Padded Satin Stitch and the pink fronds of the fern like element in the middle is Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch. The pale pink flower shape you can just see in the top right is Whipped Long-Tail Chain Stitch. Can you tell that I really enjoyed letting my needle wander with these new stitches? 

 

So, this is my homage to the opportunities that membership of the Embroiderers Guild has provided me and to the many new experiences that I have enjoyed during my membership. Hopefully, the new textile art group that is planned to replace the Guild in my area will be just as stimulating and inspiring!

 






Thursday, 13 May 2021

Not quite summer

There is a saying in Scotland "Ne'er cast a clout till May's out!" which basically means May might be officially a Summer month but that doesn't mean it will be warm :)  

I have had some softshell fleece sitting in my sewing room taunting me every time I walked past it for a couple of months now. Given the less than summery weather we have been having lately it seemed like the perfect time to finally break out of my comfort zone and make the rainjackets for the grandsons that I have been dithering over.

 

 

I did it! It was definitely a challenge working with a fabric that doesn't take kindly to pins or ironing (I found that one out the hard way!) but the end result was worth it. That is not to say the jackets are perfect by any means but fortunately their owners are not bothered by the imperfections :)


The pattern is once again from Ottobre Design in the 4/20 issue so I have been procrastinating over making this for several months as you can see. 


The original pattern includes a hood that can be attached and detached with snaps and I did intend to make them too, but when I came to that stage I realised that the layers of the collar were a bit too thick for the snaps. I managed to fit one snap at the front but only just so rather than tempt providence I cut my losses and did without the hoods. Next time I will trim the seam allowances inside the collar stand so that I have a bit more room to work with! 

You can see one of my other problems in the photo above, the two sides of the separating zip (a first for me!) are attached separately and I managed to get the alignment slightly out of sync on the bigger of the two jackets. It meant that, originally, the zip was sticking at the top where it was overshooting the teeth on one side but some vicious pulls with pliers to remove another tooth on the higher side and oversewing the ends eventually sorted that out. I have never had to shorten a zip by removing the teeth before, it was not quite as quick and easy as the YouTube tutorials make it seem :)

There are several zips on these jackets, as well as the front zip closure each of the two pockets have zipped closures too. Installing a zip without pins or the ability to iron the fabric was pretty nerve-wracking I can tell you. I am really pleased with how they turned out given how much winging it went on in their construction!


 

I try to avoid changing the threads on my overlocker as much as possible, because it is a bit of a faff, but I couldn't resist using this lovely rainbow thread for the jackets and I think it looks great, don't you? 


Two perfectly matching bright zip pulls from  Northwest Knots to finish the jackets and they were ready to send off.

I am pleased to report that they both fit their recipients (always a worry when I try a new pattern) and have been thoroughly tested in an extensive puddle jumping test, which they passed with flying colours :) 


Now on to some t-shirts and shorts for when May's out :)



Saturday, 1 May 2021

Breaking the Rules

 It is time to reveal the latest Endeavourers Challenge quilt, this quarter the theme was Colour Theory. I thought that I had this theme sussed when I bought a postcard of Munsell's Colour System in a Dundee museum nearly two years ago! Hah!, no such luck, when I started researching the Colour System I realised that it would take a lot more research and a lot of fabric, or fabric painting to do the theme justice, so I ditched that idea :)

Not being of a particularly scientific bent, I wanted to avoid tieing myself up in knots with systems and schemes for this Challenge, so instead based my Challenge quilt on a much older (and simpler!) theory of colour - folklore. 

So, here is my Rulebreaker quilt and the rule that it breaks - the old saying "Red and Green should never be seen". In Scotland that is commonly followed by "except upon an Irish Queen" but it seems that is not the case everywhere. Some suggest that the red and green refers to ships lights at sea when the sight of a red and green light together means that you are on a collision course with another vessel! That sounds like a sound basis for a saying, don't you think?

 

Indeed, when I started looking in to the saying I found that there is some confusion as to what two colours it is that "should never be seen", in some versions it is blue and green, so I placed my red and green dresden plate on a blue background to cover all of the bases :) Other versions advise that blue and green should never be seen without another colour in between too, so it is all as clear as mud :)




Just in case there wasn't enough rule breaking going on with the Dresden fans, I quilted the petals with concentric circles of red and green thread too.

I found the perfect fabric for the centre that had a large multi-coloured check where the adjacent colours were mixed in alternate squares and, fortuitously, that included a red and green mix with plain red and green beside it. I used the same check fabric for the back of the quilt and brought the fabric forward to the front for binding. 


 

Compared to some recent quilts I have made for the Endeavourers Challenges, this was a nice, quick project, although there was some drama when my iron did that to one of the petals after they had been joined together. Swift delivery of a new iron and everything was back on track :)

I am sure, as always, that I will be amazed and inspired by my fellow Endeavourers responses to the theme, head on over to the Endeavourers blog to be amazed and inspired too!






Friday, 2 April 2021

Challenging Corduroy

 My stitching up of clothes for gorgeous grandsons continues!



I am a sucker for a good fabric for boys so when I saw the Dinosaurs in Diggers and on Scooters fabrics at Flamingo Fabrics I couldn't resist :) Two more tops from that, by now, well-used Jalie pattern. I think these are the 15th and 16th that I have made from this pattern.

 


 Tops are only half the story though, a boy needs trousers too! These were my first ever attempt at sewing with corduroy and it was a messy business, there was fluff everywhere. I was really worried cutting out that I would get the nap going the wrong way somewhere, but fortunately it all worked out fine. The pocket fronts are supposed to be running parallel to the legs in case you are thinking that I hadn't noticed :) 

The elasticated ribbed waistband was a real struggle to get on, so I think next time I will attach the ribbing back and front with a gap at the back to thread the elastic through rather than trying to attach the waistband with the elastic already stitched to it. 


Both these and the smaller pair are patterns from the December issue of Ottobre I do like flipping through each issue deciding what I would like to make. I thought the fluff from the gold corduroy was bad but there was bits of wine coloured fluff everywhere by the time that I had finished these :) 

Now that looks like a full outfit for a boy doesn't it? Well wait there is a bit missing!



Granny-made underpants to complete the ensemble! These are made with the free Speedy Pants pattern from Waves & Wild and were another first for me. The fabrics were remnants from last year's t-shirt making so they were a very cheap make indeed. Our grandson was so happy with his surfing koala pants that he sent me a photo of him wearing them with the matching t-shirt :) I think there might need to be Speedy Pants tucked in with all clothes parcels from now on (as well as a little something chocolatey!).







Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Small stitching

 Recently I have been enjoying myself with some new embroidery projects. I have long wanted to improve my free machine embroidery but never really known where to start :( However, a few months ago I had an opportunity to watch classes with  Wendy Dolan and Pat Archibald which were the perfect opportunity to kickstart that wanted improvement. 

As it happened I already had Wendy Dolan's book Layer, Paint and Stitch and just before lockdown last year had purchased a Pat Archibald kit, so having the chance to take a class with both of them (albeit remotely) was too good to miss. 


The Pat Archibald kit was called "Twilight on the Moor" and was really straightforward to do. As you can see it involved piecing the strips of fabric together and then some wavy line quilting to attach the pieced fabric to the backing. You can just see at the bottom of the piece the beaded embroidery embellishment. The kit also contained metallic foil and glue granules to add a bit of shimmer. I wasn't overly happy with how that turned out as it took a couple of attempts and the glue granules seemed to be concentrated in the same spot so the shimmer is not quite as light and random as I would have liked! Overall though I am pleased with it and would definitely give the metallic foils and glue granules another go. After I had completed this I came across a video tutorial in which Pat Archibald recommends using an old salt shaker for scattering the glue granules and I think that would probably have solved the problems I had with the granules clumping together.


It was possible to buy a kit for Wendy Dolan's class too but I decided to go with what I had on hand. The background is painted calico and the sea is free machine embroidery with various threads and scraps of organza. I really enjoyed having a go at this. I used a mix of metallic and polyester threads for the machine embroidery and scraps of whatever organza I could find. It was difficult at times to get the tension right with all of the different threads being used but I got there in the end. 

 


 

Here on the West Coast we are lucky enough to experience some amazing sunsets so I would like to have another go at these techniques with a palette similar to the above sometime.


Emboldened by the classes I have been using free machine embroidery in the Embroiderers Guild Artist Trading Card swap I am taking part in. The theme for the first one was January brings the Snow, and I used FME for the bare trees in the foreground.


February thaws the frozen ponds again was the theme for the second one. The ripples in the puddle are hand-embroidered with beads for the splashes and the boots and legs are Free Machine Appliqued. I really enjoyed this one :)


March brings breezes was the theme for the latest one. I could not get my head around this one for ages so it ended up being very last minute :) I had lots of ideas about dancing daffodil fairies but in the end went for a pieced background with a hand embroidered wind when I ran out of time! 

Whilst this swap was in progress the Embroiderers Guild pulled the rug out from under the membership by freezing all the Branch Bank Accounts and advising members that Branches would cease to exist! As you can imagine tensions ran high with legal challenges being proposed and petitions being set up. It has been an interesting few weeks :) 






Monday, 1 February 2021

Lost Connections

 The start of a new month and it's time for another Endeavourers  reveal and the theme for this quarter is Memories. As ever the problem is pinning down a project for the theme from the multitude of ideas floating around in my head :)

 


 During my deliberations I kept coming back to Alzheimer's devastating effect on my Dad's memory in the last couple of years of his life. Lost Connections above is my attempt at representing some of the confusion and frustration that he, and we, felt as the disease took an ever stronger grip on him.

 


 I started by creating a collage of family photos which were then printed on to fabric by Print me Pretty 

 


Then I pulled fabrics from my stash to represent the layers of confusion behind which my Dad's memories were hidden.

 

I decided to use the same technique for this quilt that I had used for my Tucked Away Treehouse for the Endeavourers Improv Challenge, so these fabrics were layered up over the background photo squares for 6 of the 9 blocks. 



Then using the techiques from Ann Small's Layered Cloth, the fabrics were stitched together and the layers then slashed. As you can see I used a mixture of parallel lines, squares and concentric circles for the stitching and slashing. 




Two of the remaining 3 blocks, my parents' wedding photo and a photo of my Mum, were backed and outline quilted.


 The final block, a photo of my Dad, was also backed and outline quilted but it was covered with two layers of organza before being edged with a zig-zag stitch. 

These three blocks portray the strongest recollections my Dad had during this time. I suspect that if he had lived longer it may not have remained the case, but throughout his illness he did not lose the knowledge of who and what my Mum was to him. 

The strength of that connection is also portrayed in the thick, multi-coloured thread joining the two photo blocks.


I used this Newspaper Yarn (from Oliver Twist) to connect the blocks vertically and when one of the lengths snapped as I was stitching I decided to leave it in place as an apt accompaniment for the fraying blocks. 

Once again this Endeavourers Challenge has been a really interesting and thought provoking project to work on. Each step of the process makes me question and ultimately justify my choices of technique and materials to best represent my chosen theme. Needless to say there are always things that I might do differently were I to repeat the project. Unusually though, this Lost Connections quilt is pretty close to the idea I had in my head at the start of the process so I can't ask for better than that! 


As always my thanks go to Catherine and Janine for hosting the Endeavourers Group and organising these challenges so well. Head on over to the Endeavourers blog to find out how my fellow Endeavourers responded to this theme.


 



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