Wednesday, 6 November 2019

A weekend treat.

A couple of weeks ago I treated myself to a weekend textile course tutored by Hilary Beattie at a very nice hotel a few miles from where I live.   The theme of the course was 'The Language of Flowers' and we spent the first day doing various drawing exercises followed by more considered drawings of our chosen flower.   We were not allowed pencils for any of this and had to use a fine black pen.  Above is my drawing of clematis.

My piece was smaller than everyone else's as I didn't want to mount mine on a canvas.  However, the work looked very impressive when mounted and each of us went home with a finished piece of work.  I intend to press mine carefully, apply a couple of coats of acrylic wax for protection and used it for the front cover of a sketchbook.
Our drawings were photocopied then traced onto deli paper from which we transferred the design onto our background of collaged fabrics with machine stitching - rather hair-raising as I haven't done any free machining for a long time.  There was a small panel of net behind the drawn image in order to stabilise it for stitching.

These two photos show close ups of the fabric collage behind the drawing.

It was a delightful if exhausting weekend (all that concentrating).  Great tutor, lovely companions, very good food and comfy bed.  One slight drawback for me was the fact that the first night, the couple in the room above mine decided to have a blazing row at about 11pm and went on till 1.30am!  Well, you can't have everything, can you?

Monday, 21 October 2019

A bit more playtime.

I am still looking for more ideas to fill the pages of my needlework fabric book, and in the meantime have started a different project.   Above is the cover decoration for a journal-cum-scrapbook based on Nature.   The little plaque at the bottom reads: For the love of Nature.  I found the photo in a copy of the magazine Landscape.  There was overlapping text in the top right corner which I cut out and filled with a tiny photo of a woodpecker.  I am not going to sell the book so copyright will not be a problem.   I placed a small frayed piece of green silk under the left of the photo and added narrow strips of textured paper along the other two sides.   The main background is a slightly larger piece of Khadi paper over a coarse frayed golden fabric.  I added a large leaf button top left and a small tassel made from the pulled threads pulled out from fraying the coarse fabric.  I wrote the words in fine brown pen, cut them out and fixed them behind the little metal plaque with metal brads.  It is rather dull today so I hope my photo will be clear enough.

This made me think of my Mother who would always ask 'What's it for?' when she saw the samples I made during my time at college.  So Mum, this book will be for the love of Nature!

I haven't worked out quite how to tackle the cover but it will be made from tea dyed cotton sheeting over a base of firm cardboard.  The decoration will be glued in place when the cover is made and all the pages have been stitched in.   The pages are just A4 sheets of tea dyed copy paper stitched together in pairs and folded in half to give A5 size.  I would like it to have a rustic look and ideas are all stewing around in my head. 

This is a new departure for me and will be quite a time in the making, but I look forward to finding lots of beautiful and interesting photos to fill it and maybe there will be snippets of poetry added too.

Friday, 18 October 2019


I saw a similar little wrap-around note book on Facebook and wanted to try to make one myself.
Above is the front of the book.

This is the back.  The base is a piece of cardboard packaging, decorated with patterned paper napkins and other bits and pieces.

The inside of both notebooks are the same.  The pages are stitched in place down the lefthand crease to allow for the wrap over.

This is the outside of the second notebook which is waiting for it's pages to be stitched in place.  I have learned such a lot during the making of these two and hope I shall remember it all as I would like to make something larger and more artistic, with a Nature theme.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Work in Progress.

I thought I should return to my first love of stitching to ensure I hadn't forgotten all I learned so many years ago.   I came across the front and back covers of a fabric book, made a while back, and filling it seemed just the thing to get me started.  The cover is made up from scraps and strips of all sorts of fabric - sari ribbon, lace, silk and cotton - with embellishments such as buttons, lace scraps, paper shapes, beads, etc.

I have always like log cabin patchwork so a square had to be included.  I stitched a tiny sewing machine charm in the centre.

I made a lace trimmed pocket on this page, to house a 
C1950s needlecase which once belonged to my mother.

Here I just stitched on various paper and card haberdashery labels
More, in similar vein.

And again, with the addition of three decorative wooden flower buttons.

I bonded a heart shaped vintage fabric scrap and trimmed it with narrow flowery lace.  In each corner I added a dorset button.

Another pocket and a possibly Edwardian needlecase which once belonged to my grandmother.  It is made from tartan silk and is literally threadbare in places.

This page has a thimble top left, scrap of lace, scissors bottom right, a dorset button and in the centre a tiny wooden cotton reel.   The borders of each double spread are worked in raised chain band over an automatic machine stitch which gives a ladder pattern.

It has been useful to have some hand sewing to do while I sort out my thoughts for more books in the pipeline.  I am often surprised by the way that my books can take over part the way through the making of them.  They seldom turn out exactly how I had imagined them originally.

I am hoping that my next book will be a mix of drawing and stitch, and probably based on the theme of trees.   However, there are still quite a few more pages to make for the needlework one.

Friday, 9 August 2019

Second Childhood?

We paid a visit to a large garden centre recently.  There were various retail outlets under the same roof and shopping was done!   We are not permitted to keep a pet in these flats and I don't think I would want the worry of one any more, and can get plenty of real cuddles with my daughter's dog.

However, at the garden centre there was a huge display of dogs and cats, some of which were so lifelike.  I think they have been cast in resin or something similar.  I would normally choose a dog as a pet but the best ones were too large for a tiny flat, or not really lifelike.  I walked past this puss several times telling myself not to be silly.  When it neared the time to leave I thought 'will I regret not buying it when I get home'?   Obviously the answer was yes.

The top photo is nearer the true colouring but the bottom one shows a bit more detail.  I have called him Orlando, after Orlando the Marmalade Cat from the books by Kathleen Hale which I had as a child.  My neighbours have asked me if he has settled in well.  No need to put butter on his paws.

No, I haven't lost my marbles - just enjoying revisiting childhood.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Rain, Lovely Rain.

I thought I needed a beautiful accessory to show off my new chair, so I borrowed this one.
She is very good at sharing it with me!

I started making this little book ages ago and came across it recently so decided it was time I finished it.  The theme is Spring and I seem to have reverted to childhood and rediscovered all my favourite wild flowers that evoke so many memories.  It must be all this talk of wildflower meadows and roadside verges.
  I didn't much like some of the coloured pages, and found them difficult to paint over.  That is why some pages have the motif painted onto a scrap of plain paper.

I think I had better leave wildflowers alone for a while and find another theme, otherwise everything will get very samey.  Several ideas are churning around in my head - it is just a case of picking one to start with.

I hope your gardens are enjoying the rain.  Someone has told me that next week will be another scorcher.   Summer may have arrived late this year but it is certainly making up for lost time.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

I forgot a very important part of my previous post!

I forgot to say that after lifting the keys from the fabric after it has been steamed, it needs to be rinsed in salt water to neutralise the vinegar.  It would be wise to wear rubber gloves during this bit as the keys are black and need washing too.  When dry they will still be rusty and can be used again, as can any rusty metal bits you may have.

I think that is everything this time!