Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sewing for a Bloke!!!

My #1 son loves chillies!!!  He is also the main 'cook' in his household.  Don't worry, his wife has lots of other duties and attends to them well.  In short, she is a workaholic, and a lovely girl.  For years I have been thinking about organizing some chilli themed napery for their kitchen, and I think today I'm finally going to have the project finished.  The above photograph shows the eight placemats I've made [they have a large wooden table which easily seats eight].  These are reversible, with chilli fabric on one side and green hessian on the other.  I've done a little bit of quilted stitching just to keep the layers together - there is also a layer of green homespun between - I had it here, and the hessian, so thought it would serve my purpose well, and get rid of it!!!

I have also made the eight napkins, hemmed, with corners mitred.  I love doing mitred corners, and I especially love the finished article.  I simply press everything where it needs to be sewn, then sew.  I find I get a really good finish working this way.

As there was quite a length of this fabric [yes, I know, I bought too much!!], I made two centre hotmats as well.  These have an insulated wadding inside, as well as the green homespun.   I needed to use the green homespun under the hessian, as it's loose weave allowed the colour of the insulbrite to peep through.  That really didn't make me very happy!!  I hope the photograph will show the layers I've used.  They are quite nice and thick, and should protect the table if they are used for serving hot food.

I do hope he will be happy with them now that I have them all finished.  I did show him when I'd made the first one, and he seemed impressed, his only comment being that they were a 'bit wild Ma'.  At least they'll be a talking point at their next BBQ if nothing else - perhaps they'll all just have a giggle at his crazy mother.

I now want to get my fruit/vege fat quarters made for the other family.  I know they like bright, country napery, so should not be disappointed when they are handed over.  What a good excuse to get to the patchwork store - I desperately need to match plain homespuns...................  

Thank you all again for taking such a keen interest in my posts, the comments I receive are much appreciated. 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lunch in the Bush

As I've already mentioned in a previous post, our patchwork group met not long ago for the final time this year.  For a few years we have been going to a catered luncheon in our local town, but this year our Club President offered her home for the day out.  For me personally, that meant a trip of over 100 kilometres one way.  It had rained during the night, on some already waterlogged roads, so there were some fast and furious early morning phone calls hither and yon trying to decide whether to cancel, or move the proceedings back to the hall where we usually meet.  Thankfully, the sun shone early, so we decided to give it a go.  We all contributed to the feast, with several different salads, turkey, ham, chicken, quiche, and sweets of course.  Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of the sweets, probably too busy making sure I tried everything!!!  If you enlarge the above photo, in the bottom left corner you will see a type of green aspic salad.  This was made with diced cucumber and crushed pineapple, in a tangy gelatin mould.  I will endeavour to make it again soon, sharing the recipe if anyone is interested.  

These are a couple of photos taken as we were driving into the property, ie one of the surface water storages, complete with tank and windmill, something quite familiar to all of us out here.  You will notice the heavy skies, which kept us all a little nervous throughout the day.  Our hostess has a beautiful home, with lawn, fruit trees, vegetable garden, and many, many garden beds, an oasis in the middle of nowhere really.  One thing that I thought might interest some readers was their mailbox.  I think it was made by their son, and I'd love to see what their mailman did the first day it appeared.  It's just too cute.

The highlight of our day is sharing the stitching we've completed throughout the year.  Some of us don't get as much done as we should.............., but one of our members just leaves us all in her wake.  She produces the most wonderful quilts, wallhangings, table mats, tea towels, you think it, she makes it, and beautifully!!!!  She is also our 'unofficial' photographer, diligently recording everyones' pieces for following generations, and a kind and giving member where sharing knowledge is concerned.  I have two photos of her work, with her permission of course.  The quilt on the left was made by Neitta, purchased in kit form, but she told us some of the fabrics included were not quite to her liking, so she had to make some substitutions.  I have to tell you too that this type of setback is quite annoying for us here, as we just can't run down to the local patchwork shop and grab a fat quarter or two!!!  If this happens, it often takes some time before you have all your pieces together.   I believe this quilt is entitled Rosebud Lane.

Neitta travelled to Dalby one weekend during winter to attend a workshop given by Fiona Hammond.  You can see more of Fiona's work on her website here:
 http://chiatanyadesigns.com.au/    The fabrics had to be purchased prior to the workshop, as some of the block piecing was to be done in advance.   Thank you so much Neitta for allowing me to share these with other ladies, and thank you for being you!!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Give-Away

Today I notice that it is now just one month until Christmas is upon us.  Goodness, where did this year go!!!   Whilst on the subject of celebrations, I must take this opportunity to wish all our US friends a very Happy Thanksgiving Day.  I hope everyone is having a wonderful day with family and friends.

I have just finished two little projects which I am offering as give-aways to celebrate Christmas,  as well as the wonderful friendships I've made through my love of needlework.

If readers would care to leave a comment here before December 3rd, these two scissor lariats are on offer.  I was sent a similar kit by a friend, and find it a useful bit of frippery.  I hope the two I've made will bring some joy to others.  Hopefully, the winners will then receive them before Christmas.  They have not been easy to photograph for some reason, so I do beg pardon for the quality of the images.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fat Quarter Prize

Last week my patchwork/sewing group had their last meeting day for the year, which always takes the form of a Christmas luncheon.  I will share some photos soon.  We always have swap gifts and raffles, etc.  This year I was fortunate to have won our fat quarter raffle.  Each time we attend a sewing day throughout the year we buy a ticket in a fat quarter draw for the day, which I have only won once.  These tickets are saved throughout the year, and then pooled for one draw on our last day.  This year we had pieces donated by our friends Colin & Marg Kendall from THE RED BUS.  They visit us periodically, as they tour around Queensland. 

I remembered buying some of these prints from Marg & Colin, so on arriving home I immediately fished them out of 'the box' hoping I had some that were different.  Well, thankfully, I now have twelve [seven from the prize and five from the purchase] that are all different, and need something done with them.  My initial thoughts are to make a napkin and placemat trim from each, grouping them into two's, with about four, maybe six colourways, ie two with red, two with green, and so on.  I think I have them grouped successfully at this stage, but the jury is still out on that.  I need to visit a store in order to match these with the appropriate plain homespuns.  Wish me luck.

I must also say a big thank you to all who have shown an interest in my close encounter with the bug kind.  I do appreciate the feedback.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Up Close and Personal

After almost three years using my tiny camera, I've finally found the courage to use the macro-digital-zoom feature [appropriate terminology??]!!!  I am not sure if I'm doing everything correctly, but I am happy with some of the photographs I took late last week.  I have done nothing more than apply the feature, point the camera, and move towards the subject until it looks okay.  Please remember that these creatures are not much bigger than the top of a glass head pin, they find it extremely difficult to strike a pose, and for us here, wind is the constant enemy when photographing outdoors [without the benefit of upmarket camera features].  I hope you also enjoy my adventure with the macro zoom and bugs.  The insect in the photograph above is not as big as an ordinary house fly.

One of hundreds of sugar ants enjoying the meal provided by a very large sunflower.

This guy looks like he's off to Ascot in his striped bottoms and tails - perfectly marked and coloured.

 A close relative of the lady bug I presume, and the obvious damage!!

 Not a perfect shot by any means, but this is the centre of a miniature marigold, and part of one very edgey moth.  It's amazing how much pollen adheres to moths and butterflies.  They obviously play an important role in nature's plan.

These photographs appear as they've been taken, ie I have not edited them in any way prior to sharing.  I do hope they are of interest to some readers.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Another Blogging Gift

Some weeks ago I was fortunate to have been chosen a winner on Shirley's blog.  I received this lovely piece of crazy patchwork in the mail earlier in the week, and thought I would share my joy here.  There are so many lovely elements to this piece, I'm overwhelmed.  I am not sure how I'll present it at this stage, but I do hope I can use this gift wisely.  

You can view Shirley's blog here:  http://shirleystwistedthreads.blogspot.com/ 

Please take some time to read Shirley's posts and share her interests.  I have found her to be a most enthusiastic embroiderer, and a friendly and giving person.  Thank you so much Shirley for your generosity. 

I seem to be having quite a deal of good fortune of late.  I still have some lovely fat quarters and a little hardanger doiley to share - more goodies from my patchwork group luncheon. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

Swap Postcard from Germany

A few weeks ago I agreed to a one on one postcard swap with a lovely couple I've met on StitchinFingers.  We decided there would not be a theme, just surprise each other with the package.  I would love to share this lovely postcard from Martina and Klaus.  You can check out their blog here:  http://kjh-at-home.blogspot.com/  They work together on their textile art, and seem to be having the time of their lives.

Thank you sincerely Martina and Klaus.  I hope my postcard reaches you safely, and I must tell you that I've now organized your blog into Google Translate, and can at least understand your posts.  What amazing times we live in!!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mixed Techniques Cosmetic Bag

I've been having fun this week trying multiple techniques, the end result being this rather over the top cosmetic bag.  I honestly don't know if anyone would ever use it, but it was fun fiddling.

I started with a fat quarter of my own hand dyed green fabric, which I sprayed with what I thought was water.  I had forgotten that I had bleach in my spray bottle, and the colour immediately began to lighten!!!  Never mind, I pressed on.  Once I rinsed the bleach out, I over painted with some purple fabric paint, then allowed the fabric to dry before stamping with a crude home made stamp [nine nails hammered into a block of wood].  I then sprayed it with watered down gold drawing ink.  Finally I backed it with wool felt, covered it with a purple chiffon scarf and machine stitched lightly, finally burning away some of the chiffon scarf with the heat gun.  It was then cut into segments using my wedge ruler.  This is the rough draft, ie pieces embroidered and assembled ready to make up.

I cut some circles of fabric out and machine stitched little spider webs, adding tulle and gold fabric behind the stitching so I had  little 'windows'.  I had lots of time playing with some hand stitches that to date I'd avoided trying, ie up and down buttonhole and wheatear stitch.  Herringbone, chevron, and closed buttonhole stitches were also used, as well as an assortment of beading.  I also found quite a nice thick cord I had which was perfect under some machine couching.  I wanted this to have the look of crazy patchwork without the 'twee' factor, hence the use of thicker threads, and larger stitches.

The meandering machine stitching was an excellent guide for some of the hand stitching, something I hadn't planned on.  This was a really great way to use a lot of techniques in one project.  I also found the use of my large grooved piping foot to be of great benefit for the ladder stitch couching over the heavy cord.

This is the flip side of the bag.  I again only used threads, buttons, and beads from my stash.  This little bag has a type of dog-ear treatment at the bottom, making it look as though it has a gusset.   I left the bottom panel void of embellishment, as it would always be unseen.  I have another piece ready to do something similar, the same green without the bleaching........  Now that I have done this one as a trial, the green one might make a nice journal cover.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Norwich for November

When I first challenged myself to complete a needlecase each month for the whole year, I began searching my stitch dictionaries in order to determine a starting point for each of said projects.  From very early in my search, I decided I'd love to try Norwich stitch for November.  You can see how it is worked on this site:  http://www.artsanddesigns.com/cgi-bin/makeGlossary.pl?category=embroidery&section=N  It seemed traditionally a canvas stitch, but I don't really have the time at the moment to stitch enough to cover the whole background area of a needlecase in canvas, so I decided I'd use the stitch on evenweave fabric, trying a linear design.  I settled on this interlocking squares design, using Lugana fabric which I had in my cupboard.  The colour choice was simple - what threads did I have, did I have a suitable lining fabric in my stash, and was there a matching piece of wool felt hidden somewhere here.....................  As you can see, I managed to scrape together something suitable.  I have stated many times how I like yellow.  Well, it has to be a strong golden yellow, something akin to what I term pumpkin.  

After I'd finished the interlocking squares, I marked the perimeter with some running stitches and finished the edges with plaited buttonhole stitch.  I don't seem to be able to find a suitable link with a simple drawing, so hopefully my photo and explanation will be of some help.  It is worked by making the stitch as one would a satin stitch [first movement], and follow up by taking the needle under that stitch and catch the working thread as you would in a normal buttonhole stitch, pull and neaten before moving on.  It makes a firm, decorative edge.

Since making so many of these needlecases, I've found I like using pelmet vilene as a firm interlining.  I first determined lining and interlining measurements, then cut the vilene in half at the postion that would be the needlecase fold, and fused to the wrong side of the lining fabric.  Next the wool felt pages were stitched by machine to the lining [down the centre fold line].  The raw edges were pressed to the wrong side, ready to be handstitched to the back of the buttonholed edge, using the blind applique method.  This takes only a small amount of time, and gives a finish I'm happy with.  I hope my photos and explanations are of interest to some.

The inside lining fabric is one I have had for a number of years.  It is a simple mottled patchwork cotton, with some gold overpainting.  And, yes, you guessed it, I have quite a bit of it!!!  You will also see the golden yellow wool felt I've used for the 'pages'. 

I hope this closeup of the Norwich stitching will allow everyone to see it's wonderful texture.  It looks complicated, but once you have your mind set on it's method, there is nothing to it.  I'm really pleased to have November's needlecase finished so early in the month, as I am hoping to make some Christmas decorations. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mailday Goodies

I've been having quite a field day with mail lately, some gifts arriving, and then of course, some things I had to pay for........LOL......  Above is a beautiful postcard I received as a gift because of my involvement with the TOM on the Three Creative Studios Forum.  You can see more information about the TOM programme here:  http://threecreativestudios.com/forum/index.php  I have had the pleasure of receiving a number of Sue's postcards, and I keep saying it.  She always creates work that is second to none, giving everything a professional finish.  I feel privileged to now be the owner of these little art pieces.  You can see more of Sue's explorations here:  http://suebleiweiss.com/blog/    Do try to visit her blog, as you will be rewarded with an abundance of mixed media techniques.

I was also fortunate to have had my name drawn out to receive a  give-away from Judy.  Judy does beautiful embroidery, has a love of the world around her, and recently rewarded her followers with several lovely handmade gifts.  Not only did I receive this gift, and the card, but Judy included some more fabric, ric-rac, and a lovely handwritten note.  Check out Judy's blog here: http://cjstitchingandblooms.blogspot.com/
Judy has a love of all things pretty and genteel.

Now down to the purchasing part of my mail deliveries.  Recently I have had a splurge on books.  The Gloria Loughman book 'Quilted Symphony' I purchased from a store in Sydney - Oatley Cottage - http://www.oatleycottage.com.au/   The other two books, Drawn to Stitch [Gwen Hedley] and Embroidered Books [Isobell Hall] were both purchased from The Book Depository -http://www.bookdepository.com/
I am thrilled with all purchases, and have spent hours digesting the contents of each of these wonderful publications.

Last, but not least are a selection of things I received from an American store.  I've been trying to locate clear postcard sized envelopes for some time, and thankfully the hunt is over [thanks to Sue Bleiweiss for her generous link information].  Of course, one can't just order one thing now, that would be a waste of good packaging and postage!!  I also ordered black glitter [why!!], some tiny, tiny micro marble beads in purple, and something new to me, ie Mylar paper [I saw reference to it in one of the above books - and a little on how to use it].  The store where these goodies were purchased can be seen here:  http://www.blockheadstamps.com/index.php
This store was exceptional to deal with, handling my order quickly, and even placing a credit back into my Paypal account due to the site calculator over charging on postage.  The order was packed extremely well, and arrived in a very short time.  I'll definitely be shopping with them again.

I hope everyone enjoys seeing my goodies, and finds the links of interest.  I only receive two mail deliveries per week here, Tuesday and Friday.  I am sure our mailman must wonder how it is that I seem to live a reclusive life, yet receive all these wonderful packages.  Oh well, let him wonder.  Thank you ladies for continuing to visit, and comment on my work.  I have been encouraged by the generosity of spirit that abounds in the blogging community.