Sunday, December 29, 2019

Art and organizing intersect

Going through clothes, winnowing, selecting for upcycling, found this ancient t. My artwork. But an indelible black walnut stain.



So now it's dusters and a future phone purse.


Jacket done almost. A brisk walk down memory lane.

So here's the jacket, hemmed, pockets not yet attached, waiting a day to see if I still like the idea.


 I'm a happy camper with how this came out. It involved delving into dressmaking memory to figure out a few skills I'd forgotten.

And while I was pressing it, up in the studio, I started casually shoving stuff around for future organizing.




And came upon this tiny quilt. Made 50 years ago as a bed toy for Handsome Son, from bits of the coveralls I'd made for him. The turn-back shows the stripy crib sheet I first put him on as a newborn.

He played with this for ages. Since he recognized all the patches, he got a lot of pleasure with it.

I wrote a freelance article about it, which was published in one of the many mags I used to sell to. I used to write features regularly as a second income, back when there were many print magazines to submit to. I usually had about 20 pieces in circulation at any one time.

 I taught feature writing for years too, at the yw, for women going mad at home with kids,and needing to develop new skills for themselves.

Some of them got published, too, very proud teacher. It was a lot of fun, and as usual with the arts, a great revelation to students just how hard it is. But how wonderfully satisfying too.  Very similar to later when I taught art to adults.

I could always tell who wanted to "be" a writer or artist from the people who needed to write or make art.

Then back to the quilt, after that spring-loaded jaunt into the past: over the decades, it was chewed on by various dogs. Then it became the blanket under the litter box. All in all, it's earned its keep. It used to be stuffed with a piece of blanket, long since abstracted by pets.

And now it's washed and just sitting in the fabric scrap crate. That fabric really held up under years of onslaught. So did its owner!

And I guess its maker, too.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Cool new thought

Whoever said pockets had to be one on each side?



Here's a rough draft. Poor light, terrible photo  requires forbearance, but I was excited and wanting to post this.

Jacket with hem pinned ready to stitch, no trim. Instead, trim on two pockets, placed one over the other. The pockets are all made up, ready to attach.

 I really like this, a bit different.  Pinned for now, need to try on tomorrow and see if the placement works.

Times like this it would be cool to have a dress form.

Now I'm definitely stopping.

Upcycling continued

I decided how to use the trim, and here it is, attached to the two fronts. The bottom ends are open because if I decide to trim the hem, that trim needs to go under the side trim. So I'm keeping that option open for now.

 Outside



Inside, which will show since it's an open jacket. This looks bumpy because it wasn't pressed yet.

The reason I have to finish the hem is that the ribbing pulled the sides apart, not good. So I cut it off, and may make patch pockets with it, maybe even use a bit of trim there..hm.  It works better now, as you see.


And you see the open ends, waiting till I decide how to do the hem. This one was photographed in cooler light, hence the color change. And it's steampressed, looks much more finished. Heat and steam are your friends.

I may end up doing a narrow rolled hem, since I'm not a fan of edging everything. Trim on the fronts and a bit on the pockets might work better.

Now I need to rest my hands a bit. I love to sew, and can never remember to stop in time.

Pot of tea now. Maybe a bit of YouTube in search of more trouble, I mean, great ideas which I have to do NOW.  After the piecing I'm still on.


Friday, December 27, 2019

So, upcycling is about to happen

Here's the lovely cashmere sweater that goes in the twinset.




And I find it's too warm to wear next to my skin. So it's going to be a short sleeve cardi, after I cut it up the middle and bind the cut edges. To wear over a top.

I thought about what fabric I have, for binding, and remembered this completely stitched and finished section from a silk sari. Easy to apply. Lightweight even though it's two-sided.





I just have to decide which side I like. Should both sides match? Contrast? Use the lighter colored side? The darker side? Decisions, decisions.

I haven't even got the scissors out yet. But I will end with a short sleeve jacket and a long sleeve cardigan. They don't have to go together after all.

And if one sweater is too warm, imagine two layers of cashmere together. Great for bitterly cold English stately homes, though. In one of which I don't live.

I've been watching clever young women on YouTube upcycling thrift store buys. I've been doing it for years, because you get what you want to wear, cheaply, kind to the Earth, too. And it's really fun. So I have a lot in common with them.  Except they have high end sewing machines. That's a difference. I have a range of sewing needles.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

Another Izzy shows up

Here's a second Izzy doll, interesting hair yarn donated by Anne in knitting group.


More to come.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Surprise treasure trove

In today's mail, a wonderful surprise package of fabrics, fat quarters, precut and pinked squares, beautiful batiks, solid cottons, all just saying pick me! pick me!



Thank you so much, K, it's lovely, and now  I have to go make a pot of tea and play with my new toys and all  the ideas they suggest.

Support like this is so helpful in keeping a person going.  I often seem as if my energy is endless, but I do flag sometimes, and this kind of boost is just the ticket.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Silk appliques ready to attach, on hand dyed silk square

So after all the cogitation, I moved away from the sari fabric, and I'm using this silk square as background for the appliques.

I dyed it, among other squares, for a stitching workshop a few years ago, and it wasn't used. So here it is, ready to be part of a painting in silks.



If you peer closely you'll see that the pieces are safety pinned, ready to stitch. And the shabby edges here and there will be turned under, as I stitch, so you will see a nice regular sharp edge. This is pretty much a rough draft. In fact, I moved one piece after taking this photo.

The pic is not great, since I don't have the light and distance needed to do a better one, without getting shadows. But you get the gist.

Making these appliques was pretty challenging, since they wanted to fray and skid away, but as you see, they do lie fluidly,  as I'd hoped. You can't get this sort of movement with cotton, or with anything that isn't transparent, come to think of it.

So I'm quite pleased here.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

More motifs made

It's good to be using the silk printouts finally.  I've made several using motifs from my own art, drawing, goldwork, weaving, and my frugal soul likes having another use of the pieces this way.

Daffodil drawing, which I ran a line of stitches round, then cut out and overstitched. No need for a template here.


Here I'm using a template to make another of the motifs I adapted from the Indian sari






I need four, to arrange in relation to each other. This one is a printout of a bit of weaving.

The template I made only one of, since, after each motif is stitched around, it's stable and will be appliqued, not attached to the other motifs, so I can remove the template and use it on another motif.

These are not easy to cut, fine silk being slippery and changing shape even as you cut. But the close overstitching will take care of the couple of places where it was too close.

And I thought those readers with full sewing rooms and all sorts of materials and storage methods would like to see my entire current work area



And the drawer below, with everything else.



In the studio I have about a six inch pile of fabric bits. I'm not in a welter of materials!

And I still can't find stuff.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Transparent motif in progress

I'm making a variety of motifs to applique to the hanging, using the printed out silk images.



Here's a motif from a scan of a line drawing I made years ago, in ink. Daffodil head.

I ran a running stitch around the boundary (the hoop is covered with bias binding, to protect any fragile fabric) then cut the motif out and now I'm overstitching the edge. I'm about halfway round. The interior lines will stay as is, I think.



I love the delicate lively edges and I may end up framing rather than not, so as to preserve the movement.  Better than stitching it flat on the background.

As you see, many changing ideas as I work!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

First steps in the wallhanging

Here's the figure from the hanging, executed in silk chiffon. Overstitched all round the edge.  Released template in the lower pic.




The design is a printout of an artwork of mine originally made in Tyvek and beading and long since gone into a collection. Since I still have the scan, I can print more if needed.

It's not yet pressed, and I may think about whether I want to press it. It's lively this way.


And here's a look at how it might work in multiples, using the magic mirror. Here it's still on the template, and you see how different it is before it's released.

Quite a few possibilities here.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Well, that resolution lasted all of half a day

I was determined not to make art today, so as give myself time to think about it.

Then as I was reading about crafters and artists and chatting with neighbors and walking, I realized I needed to go up to the studio and cut out the wallhanging, then the motifs I wanted to apply and to get ready to make templates for the silk pieces.

So I did that, and it's starting to shape up.
The motifs will be cut in silk to apply, and will be appliqued as is, and I'll do some reverse applique using silk in the background. You see solid and silhouette cutouts lying on a piece of silk, laid on top of the hanging,just to test parts of the idea.



Now that I've cut the hanging itself I know how much spare fabric I have to work with.
I realized I can make templates in quite complex curves now that I know how to do epp in simpler pieces like the rosettes.

It's interesting to learn the design of the sari piece as I go. It's sinuous and not evident until you give it a chance.

All the pillows were a learning experience so that I can do this now.

Wheee!!!

Yellow onion dyed linen

The linen now has a lovely variegated golden color.


The heavy glass lid holds the fabric down in the dye overnight.

And after pressing, here's the output



And a shot of the pillows with the new fabric for comparison.


 No stitching today. I'm enforcing a day off, so as to let ideas percolate.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Silly pillows done

The frivolous pillows, called Confetti, are done and ready for company.




This was fun. I ended up postponing the reverse applique for another project, and did regular applique again, leaves and coins.



The back shows the shibori design more. As always, both sides are designed, because why not.

Now I'm off to dye the linen with yellow and red onionskin dye.

After I've watched The Lady in the Van, Maggie Smith, written by Alan Bennett.

Hit publish too soon, today's dyeworks

Yellow onionskins and a few red onion skins simmering to make a nice golden color.



Linen now simmering in alum bath.

By tonight I can get on with dyeing.

Iris-dyed cotton lawn

Two sections cut from too-long shirts. I had to photograph them against white paper to show the color. It's delicate, green, with pinkish areas here and there. It looks more brown in the picture.



This will be a good addition to the piecing collection.



And in the course of organizing my small fabric stash, I found more silk pieces that can join the collection for the wall hanging.

Now I'm deciding what color to dye the linen piece I mordanted along with the cotton.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Two new things pushing in



So here's a bunch of linen and cotton lawn, steeping in washing soda, to be boiled a while then left overnight. Then it's ready to dye


Tomorrow I'll test out this iris dye from the freezer, and for once I've remembered to get it out to thaw ahead of time. It's the remains of a vat of paper pulp I made from my iris foliage.

It made great paper and the leftover liquid might work nicely as a dye. We'll see. No shibori this time, just dyeing. This is a muted green. If it works, fine, if not I can add in pink dye from red maple and red onionskins. We'll see how it goes.

So that's one idea under way.


And this is the other, the  start of a wall hanging I've been thinking about for ages. Donated silk fat quarters, thank you Cindy, and an organdy wedding  sari, thank you Girija. There are two finished edges, which is helpful, because they're nice and squared up.

Ideas are like buses, a bunch of them arrive at once, honking and shoving and being loud and demanding.

Tomorrow I finish the appliques for the current work,the frivolous pillow, install it on the sofa, then this will all start to happen. I've already stored away the pieces from it for future reference.

Much more to do here, involving paper piecing and transparency. Tiny needles  and silk thread, and probably 60° diamonds. No hexies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Patchwork applique in progress

Here's the start of the applique caper, using patchwork coins and the leaves I overstitched a while ago. There will be more to this, but this is where it is right now.



The other pillow I'll do differently, cutting the fabric to reveal the patchwork behind, forget the name of that technique. The idea will be that they'll work together but not duplicate each other.

This is really awkward work, because it's a completed pillowcase, hard to work without catching the back of the fabric into the stitching. I tried a hoop which was no help, and now I'm working with a magazine slid behind the stitching surface and that's working better. As is slowing down and breathing.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Dyeing results

This worked a treat. Color is very soft yellow in daylight, and a kind of citron in artificial light. It varies across the  fabric.The circles are subtle but there.

It didn't exhaust the dye, so it's back in the freezer, I'll never use it all up!




Patchwork, applique, shibori, making friends

So I woke this morning knowing what the patchwork I've been stitching away at, will be.



As you see, I've stitched, recut, restitched, getting more complex as it goes. There are several layers in this pic. And now I know what I'm doing.

I'll cut the PW into coins of various sizes, and applique them to two pillow cases for the loveseat that visitors sit on. With pillows inside, yes.

However, the coin theme is going into the cases as well. I'm shibori dyeing them, even as I type, using beads, rings, other rounded shapes, to make the ring shapes.

The dyebath is a mix of red maple from my patio tree, black walnut from the giant trees out back and turmeric from my spice shelf. I'm looking for a warm background for the bright primaries of the patchwork.

After boiling in washing soda for an hour, to remove any sizing or insecticide that would block the dye, then rinsing


Here's the doings ready


And the tying done then  immersing in the dyebath for an hour plus, we'll see how the dye works.





 Typically it's subtle, once it's rinsed, when you use natural dyes. So we'll see how it looks  in a while. Ages since I dived into the freezer in search of dyes.

I still have quite a bit of iris, that's green, dye in there..and plans occur to me now.. different project..

Meanwhile, back to stitching.

Friday, November 15, 2019

First Izzy doll, latest batch

So today's doll is finished, and the pattern duly noted by my knitting group friends, so we may have more people interested in trying their hands.

He's the first of a group. More to come, watch this space.

Monday, November 11, 2019

A day of wild stitching

I seem to have used up a lot of scraps, and it looks as if today is yielding either the start of that bigger piece, or a pillow, or a bag, depending on future energy and supplies.




  • Explosion in a cotton mill. These are nine  blocks, assembled but not attached together, pending future thinking and the return of sanity. They're not pressed yet either.


It's fun just to blunder forward and see what comes of it.

And tomorrow I may make a miniature of this using smaller scraps. I'm in the mood for frugality. Did I mention I'm also using up my stash of sewing thread? I'm on my fourth reel. Or maybe fifth, remembering the earlier pillows.

I have the feeling that the winter quilt I keep going on about is receding as these other ideas push their way in. But it's still there on the horizon.