Friday, 31 October 2014

Testing, sampling, recording

Having wasted  yet another hour or two looking for a sample for a technique I know I tried, I am attempting to be more organised in keeping samples.  When I was at Raystitch last week, I liked how they had samples of fabric sewn on to pieces of card and hung up in the shop.  This reminded me of the mounting of my samples from the printed textiles courses at Morley, and a question to myself as to why I wasn't using that technique to keep my samples.  Therefore, 

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testing out the trapunto technique from the workshop with Philippa Naylor , using folded fabric flowers from "Fantastic Fabric Folding" by Rebecca Wat.  In the end I starched the fabric for these flowers before folding them and that made the technique much more manageable.

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The trapunto gives a good dimensional effect when the background is quilted.

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Next up, was testing out the trapunto technique on bias strips of varying widths. 

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Phlippa has a very straightforward technique fin her book, Applique Mastery for getting these single strips to vary in width down their length.  How straightforward this will be on strips longer that A4 remans to be seen, and may call for some "design solutions."  The lower strip has the trapunto, and even without background quilting, the raised effect can be seen clearly.

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As part of the searching, I did find various blocks and bits, that in the spirit of " Found and Finished", have gone off to Project Linus as a contribution.

One of Philippa's comments on the workshop was about why she makes one quilt / year.  Admittedly she is a professional, and makes her living out of teaching, based around her quilts. but her comment about making one excellent quilt, rather than lots of OK quilts really rang true.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Poppies - go and see them if you can

No Morley this week, so I met a friend and we went to see the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, and Sculpture in the City.  We both found the poppy sea very moving, despite the crowds due to half term.  I hadn't appreciated that some of the poppies are laid flat on the earth, rather than being on stems.  This meant that several of them had been placed on ledges and on steps within the moat.  Seeing the autumn leaves among the poppies added to the poignancy.

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There have been mixed reviews of this public art work, positive here, negative here, but it all seemed very positive to us on Tuesday.

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Weekend in wonderland with Alice

Many years ago, I was a reasonably accomplished dressmaker, and made my own wedding dress.  ( We had a low key wedding.  The stylish orange bucket in the background typified the event: photographs taken by friends and family).

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Wedding dress front

Due to many factors: lack of time with a young family; difficulty in accessing good fabrics; increasing availability of petite sized clothing; problems with fit of commercial patterns; I have not sewn any garments since then.  That is now about to change due to a superb weekend on pattern-cutting with Alice Prier at the beautiful classroom of  Raystitch in Islington.

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Alice helped us use the method developed by Anastasia Vouyouka to make a block to our own measurements.  There were 4 of us on the course, all different sizes, and it was like magic to see how accurate the pattern was that emerged from the measurements that we took of each other.  Day 1 focussed on measuring, transferring the measurements to paper, and then cutting out the toile in calico.    An absolute light bulb moment was when Alice went through how to move darts on a bodice to give different effects, while still maintaining good fit.  I have watched videos of this on youtube, read blogs demonstrating this, and read about it in books, but Alice made it very straightforward and simple to understand.

Day 2 was then an exploration of how to use that block to either adapt commercial patterns, or to develop our own patterns.

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Alice was an excellent teacher, enthusiastic, amusing and very encouraging.  She brought some garments from her own collection to show us how she had used a standard block to make a customised pattern.

The team at Raystitch looked after us very well, with drinks, lunch and cake provided on both days.  We had a few minutes to browse their lovely collection of fabrics and notions.  A useful tool that we worked with during the weekend, the Prym pattern drafting ruler, is now on my Christmas list.

One of the participants, Jane, impressed us all by wearing her own makes on both days.  Her blog, handmadejane.co.uk, has great detail of her sewing projects. 

If you want to take the plunge in to making you own clothes, I can recommend this course 200%.

( and if you are wondering if I still have the dress?  Not in its original form, but the bustle became an evening wrap, and the roses sometimes appear on a coat lapel when I am feeling dramatic).

 

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sketchbook

So, the drawing is still nerve wracking and I sometimes need to revert to a bit of paper cutting, but some of the efforts from this term are below.

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The one above , done from this photo.  Horizon is all over the place, but I'm quite pleased with it otherwise.

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Sketchbook Alston Hall

Sketchbook boxes

Fantasy flower, drawing and cut paper

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Monday, 20 October 2014

Philippa Naylor workshop piece, quilting completed

Even although the sun was shining on Sunday, I stayed in to stitch.   Guilt did kick in… a bit….. but I feel I've done my bit of compulsory being outside when our sons were young.  I completed all of the stitching on the piece started at the workshop with Philippa Naylor.

Philippa Naylor workshop

I love the fact that all of the colour on this piece comes only from the threads used ( Bottomline, Superior Rainbows, Alcazar, Lunatic Fringe for the heavy couching in the central symbol).  The workshop has given me the confidence to try out much more elaborate machine quilting patterns, to use the decorative stitches on the machine for quilting, and to understand that it doesn't all have to be done in a single line - it is possible to stop and restart with new thread.  Details below,

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Just the binding to do now.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Modern glass

Alston Hall ( see previous post) has a very jolly commemorative stained glass window in the little chapel.  I first noticed it when I went for a walk on a very misty Sunday morning.

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From within, the colours glowed

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Then today, in the Morley College Gallery, there was an exhibition by the Guild of Glass Engravers ( on until 23rd October).   I've never been sure about glass engraving, as a lot of it seems very formulaic and a bit repetitive, however, the pieces on display were very inspiring.  Glass is very difficult to photograph well, but the galleries of each of the artists have excellent representations of their work.

Greg Sullivan

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William Saltmarsh

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Katharine Coleman

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and very movingly, Alison Kinnaird, " The Unknown"

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All that, after a lesson on two point perspective, and attendance at a talk last night by Barbara Chainey about her huge collection of pieces made by the Tentmakers of Cairo, was much food for thought.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Inspirational weekend - sculpture and stitching

I have been away to the Contemporary Quilt Group Winter School at Alston Hall.  What a treat.
On the way, I visited the Yorkshire Sculpture Park to see the work of Ai Weiwei , Ursula von Rydingsvard and James Turrell.  Wow, on all counts.  The works by Ai Weiwei are as thought provoking as ever, the scale of Ursula von Rydingsvard's work is astonishing and the Skyspace is a mesmerising experience.  The Yorkshire countryside was at its autumnal best, so the sculptures were seen in glorious light.  This park is on such a scale, it is worth planning a weekend around it.
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Iron tree, Ai Weiwei
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Ursula von Rydingsvard
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Skyspace
Nature provided its own shapes and colours
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Blue and orange
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Toadstool - thanks to my brother, now identified as a shaggy inkcap.
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Toadstool
Then on to meet over 30 textile-obsessed women, all there to learn.  Seventeen of us crammed in to  a rather small room, with voluminous quantities of equipment, to learn about machine trapunto with Philippa Naylor.  Philippa is a generous, encouraging and inspirational teacher, so if you ever get the opportunity to do a workshop with her, grab it immediately.  Her new book , Appliqué Mastery, is full of tips, as well as a full size pattern for her award-winning quilt.
The view from my bedroom was inspiration in itself, changing as the light of the day changed.
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The trapunto was a surprisingly straightforward technique, and I managed a whole weekend without breaking a single size 60 needle - Philippa's recommendation.  This needle made a huge difference to the quality and density of the machine quilting I could achieve on my machine.
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I have of course come away from  the weekend with another object to finish, so the "unfinished list" has just got longer.