Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Tone and value - on paper and cloth

I started a new job last week, hence the gap in blogging.  All well, but everyone in the household is adjusting to a revised routine.  

The Morley class this week was about tone, and capturing a likeness of an individual using only tone.  I really understood this, mostly as the tutor was very helpful and started us off with very pixellated black and white photograph, so no 3 dimensional issues to contend with.


( The sketch in the upper right corner was me trying to capture the design lines on a dress that one of my classmates was wearing).  

As this was charcoal, I tried to protect it on the way home and got another faint, inverted impression of the same photograph.


This was a useful lesson as it also showed me where I had not included enough contrast of tone in a couple of blocks made for the round robin challenge this month.

Not enough  contrast of tone






Friday, 7 November 2014

Adventures with pencil and thread

Continuing explorations and sampling, I played around a bit this week with putting colour on cloth using watercolour pencils and Inktense pencils.  I'm still undecided about the Inktense, as the colours are so bright - and I usually like bright.  

As you can see, I am not a tidy worker.  Initial trials were with freezer paper stencils with water-colour pencils and ink pads.


This gave quite accurate and pleasant results.


The on to using Inktense on some of the quilted samples from the Philippa Naylor course, following the instructions here. I experimented with water only, water and textile medium, and textile medium on its own.  Water causes a lot of colour bleeding, could be good in some contexts, and the most refined results came form a mixture of water and textile medium - petals 1-6 in the flower on top right.


I needed some stitch work after that, working at my mobile sewing station.


Some postcards appeared for a swap next week.  The metallic threads on these proved very temperamental but isn't that fabric appropriate for this week?.


I have forced myself to get down to more drawing, I'm Ok with these results.


I've called this, " Will I keep them?" as I am still undecided about these shoes.  They are Clarks, and have actual Linton tweed in them, so I would be supporting two aspects of the British economy by keeping them.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Drawing dried up buddleia - and Grayson Perry at the NPG

Today's task at Morley was drawing dried out buddleia flowers, using three different methods of drawing - outline with pencil, shape with small circular movements of the pencil, using ink and a brush.  I was Ok with the results of the pencil drawings, less happy with the ink and brush.



Ink and brush


I restored my artistic sanity with a visit to the Grayson Perry exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.  I thoroughly enjoyed this and the pieces seemed very familiar having watched the first two episodes of his current series on Channel 4.  I particularly liked the way the pieces are placed on a path through the existing collection in the National Portrait Gallery, rather than all placed together in one exhibition room. This made me look at some of the permanent collection in a different way, particularly the collection of black busts in room 21, the display of suffragette photographs and articles in room 31, and the portrait of the Bronte sisters.  As ever, I did ponder who does the embroidery on Grayson Perry's hand-embroidered pieces.  In this exhibition, the number of French knots on the piece about the Ulster loyalists, " Britain is Best" is mind-boggling, and I don't think these can be done by machine.    The Scottish pedant in me couldn't help but notice the mis-spelling of Hogmanay on the tapestry " Comfort Blanket", but perhaps this is deliberate.  On until 15th March 2015 and,  perhaps because the pieces are distributed throughout several galleries, not too crowded, and it is completely free.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Grids and trapunto

I've been exploring grids in combination with the trapunto technique.  My first attempt was a wonky grid with no trapunto - made in error by trying to follow this tutorial, but quite a useful sample to make, as it seemed to be very difficult to match up the corners of each wonky square in the grid.


The second attempt was much more successful, as I had the tutorial on screen as I cut and stitched, and I now need to work on making longer strips.  The setting-in of a sleeve at the pattern cutting weekend certainly helped with stitchings these curves.

Grids and trapunto

I was experimenting with taking the grid in to the background and emphasising it with corded trapunto and blocks of quilting, this worked well.  


Not working so well at the top, was extending the grid lines  with quilting - not sure what to do after the point where the lines meet.   It doesn't help that I quilted one of the lines completely off where it needs to be.


The trapunto under the checkerboard strip shows up really well on this sample.




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, 


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.


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


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


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.


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.



R1033283  Version 3


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


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).

Wedding dress front 0002

Wedding dress front 0001

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.


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.


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,, 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).