playing footsy, sort of

Rather than toss away all those oddly shaped fiddly scraps of felt I’ve been keeping, I free-motion appliqued a load of them into what might become something useful another day. I removed the paper from a piece of Madeira Washaway Avalon Fix and pinned it to some calico, adhesive side up, then added the felt scraps in a very random manner.

I was really testing a new embroidery/free-motion/darning/call-it-what-you-will presser foot. I know, I know, I have several more than enough already of these feet but this one had the largest transparent plate that I had ever come across – approximately 2 cm square! And yes, I did my usual tweak of inhibiting the hopping action (which I cannot abide) and then I modified it further by increasing the viewing area with the addition of a piece of yoghurt carton plastic reckoning that this might allow for even teeny tiny pieces of felt to be stitched without being moved or catching on the foot edge which is often what happens. It was reasonably successful. The smallest piece I measured was less than 0.5 cm long.

Here’s the new foot in its original state, then after the hopping tweak, and lastly with the yoghurt carton addition. 

I didn’t measure the extra plastic before cutting it and it probably doesn’t need to be quite as large as 8 x 7 cm, and if my centre cutout was a smaller round hole (I had used a paper hole-punch), it would be less likely to lift the  points of the smallest pieces when they are not adhered to the ground fabric beforehand. I expect those will be my next tweaks. Honestly, you’d think I had nothing better to do all day.

more mug rugs

I bought a length of black heavyweight fusible interfacing earlier in the year but I haven’t had much success with it fusing to anything. It’s also not what I would call heavyweight. I didn’t get any instructions with it (should have asked, I know), so it’s been trial and error each time I’ve used it. Sometimes steam works, sometimes not. Sometimes the iron needs to be hot, sometimes not. Sometimes I need to keep the iron in one place for a while, sometimes not. Sometimes it bonds to the fabric but mostly it just WON’T BOND AT ALL. You get the picture.

Yesterday I was in the mood to make mug rugs and thought the aforementioned interfacing would be ideal as a padding even if it didn’t bond to the felt I was using but this time it did, using steam. Perhaps it only likes to be associated with felt? Whatever.

4″ square of interfacing bonded to a 5″ square of felt on front and back but only free-machine embellished one side.

where I’m at this week

An emery block was the next Home Sweet Home accessory to embroider and I did begin it but wasn’t happy with my stitching so I put it aside for a few days. That was weeks ago and I’m still not enthused enough about it to pick it up again. It’s not nagging at my conscience though since I didn’t set myself any completion deadlines for this project.

So, if I haven’t been embroidering, what have I been doing?

  • Watching YouTube videos and getting ideas for mixed media things (which may or may not come to fruition).
  • Trying not to be ‘precious’ about things I’ve sewn or made in the past and actually toss them if they’re not worth keeping or re-purpose them.
  • Properly reading and not just skimming through the content of books I have on design and colour and drawing, in the forlorn hope that some of it at least will finally stick.
  • Making a start on a fabric book
  • Joining a newly formed up-cycling group at a local charity shop. More on that as it evolves.

 

I made felt and wired fabric flowers a few years ago for my son and his partner’s coffee lounge but they were looking a tad sorry for themselves by last year so I put them in a bin liner, brought them home and tossed them onto the top of a bookcase. Two weeks ago I finally did something with some of them. Destined to be pages of a kind of reference book made of fabric for finished pieces of work as well as small samples that are currently randomly stored amongst fabric supplies.

Yes, I know that the fabrics in the first piece are not square with each other  – I was after a scrappy random look and yes, the stems are real twigs which will probably snap off in a book but it’s hanging on a wall at the moment, out of snapping danger and we have to experiment don’t we? The background in the second piece was painted a long time ago but why or with what kind of paint I don’t now remember. I free-motion stitched around the edge just to attach it to the stiff interfacing background.

 

new books

I bought the following with a recent birthday gift voucher and I think one will form the basis of my next project although I’m not sure which one. Any suggestions?

I haven’t been able to find the post/article where I saw this book mentioned recently but I was intrigued enough to buy a copy. It’s a 1985 edition, mainly printed in black and white but the diagrams and photographs are very clear and seem easy to follow.

 

A idea for a modern style of raised embroidery on a casket/box has been brewing in my mind for a while and the following two books might help me formulate a proper plan.

 

The last item is a gel printing plate. I’ve got lots of acrylic paint and medium to turn it into fabric paint, and I’ve begun collecting things with textured surfaces to use as stencils and mark makers. Any successful printed fabric will be used for future textile projects – perhaps even for the covering of a box or a bag! My brayer will be wiped of paint onto my sketchbook pages to help avoid the dreaded blank page syndrome.

what if? #2

Using yet another ‘fail’ piece of fabric painting, I placed the cut-out words from what if! #1 underneath and rubbed oil pastels and water soluble wax pastels over them before free machine stitching and couching too. I then roughly cut the piece into strips, and then small squares.

 

This simple six rows of five squares layout used all the squares and that was how I left it overnight.

 

This morning it seemed too safe and boring but more essentially, a pointless exercise if the text couldn’t be read. I also realised that I didn’t need to use all the squares so I selected the text squares, divided some other squares further and settled on this:

It reminds me of graffiti and I like that there are little pieces missing from the text. I also like how I succeeded in turning a fail piece into something I’d be happy to see on my wall.

The painted fabric is blackout curtain lining which doesn’t fray, accepts paint well and stitches through easily. The dark background is cotton sheeting and an additional layer of re-cycled white sheeting was stitched behind that.

zippered pouches

I thought it was time to start using up some of the odd bits and pieces of fabric that I have so I made these little zippered pouches which will go on sale in my son’s shop. Hopefully they will ‘fly off the shelves’ as they say!

fabric bird

I recently bought a secondhand copy of The Artful Bird by Abigail Patner Glassenberg who blogs at whileshenaps.com. The book has 20+ pages on techniques and several on materials and tools and I read through all those pages twice before starting on the wren, which according to the book is the one to master, after which the other birds will come “relatively easily”. I found some parts of the construction slightly challenging, particularly free-motion machine embroidering the wing parts once they’d been made up so I’d do that differently in future.

The book does not state if a particular level of expertise is necessary for making the birds but having made the wren I would say that it’s not a book for a complete novice. Abby recommends that even those with sewing experience read the instructions carefully and I concur! The wren was fun to make and I like the idea of a small flock of fabric fun birds perched around my work room so I’m looking forward to making some of the others.

wren