Thursday, December 10, 2009

Christmas Decorations

I have just made these 2 decorations for swapping with others in the Designing Women group at our last meeting for the year. Both were made up as I went along. The hexagonal paper and beads decoration was made by painting one side of several red card hexagons with gold paint. Then I made a template hexagon for the placement of the holes for stringing with the beads. I pieced the holes by using an awl and with a protective mat on the table.
The star was made by nipping off the sharp ends of 5 satay sticks and holding them temporarily together in an over/under/over fashion with sticky tape while I tied the points. Then I tied several strands to make a pattern and make it more secure. I made sure I tied all ends at the points of the star so that I got a fluffy effect at each point. Once I had a pattern of threads I twisted a few extra strands around them to make them thicker. I twisted a few strands of gold thread around all the threads and the sticks, and last of all I tied some extra strands at the points to make them "fluffier". I quite like the subtle, almost natural look of this one. Painting the sticks first and using red thread with gold highlights would work well too I think.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Houston Quilt Show 2009

Inspiration plus! I've just been looking at the videos and photos from the Houston 2009 Quilt Show at
To see the videos click on the Ruby Slippers and then on Videos.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quilt of Belonging

The Quilt of Belonging has 263 hexagonal blocks representing 71 Aboriginal groups and 192 immigrant nationalities found in Canda. It is 36m long and 3.5 metres high. Each block has been photographed and info about it recorded. I haven't looked at them all yet but thought you might find it interesting too. The website is and I'm going to add a permanent link in my links section of the blog.

Monday, August 10, 2009

WAFTA "Naturally" Exhibition

The WAFTA "Naturally" exhibition is wonderful, with a huge variety of work presented as either a 3.6m hanging banner or as a sculptural work. The exhibition is at the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery, 46 Henry St, Fremantle, Western Australia. It is on from 8-16th August 2009 and open 10am to 5pm every day.
I’ve got 2 pieces in it which I only finished by the skin of my teeth (2.30am!) because I also did the invite, the catalogue and the floor sheet (with lots of input from Kate, Louise and Alison). The exhibition is well worth the trip to Freo - that's a cut lunch and a water bag from here! The opening was last Friday night and I had no idea that so many people went to exhibition openings. The catalogue is a gold coin donation but other than that entry is free.

You can download the invitation and floor sheet for the exhibition, and read more about it here
All of these photos were taken by Louise Snook, President of WAFTA. The "Hanging Committee" are... L to R Front: Louise Snook, Mandy Harwood, Rosie Whitehead and Tanya Peters. L to R Back: Wendy Lugg, Liz Arnold, Anne Williams, Kate Weedon-Jones and Trudi Pollard. The middle photo is of Mandy and Mark hanging works using cherry picker. The last photo is a sneak preview of the exhibition.
The thank you section of the catalogue reads: Thanks go to the exhibition organising sub-committee: Liz Arnold, Alison Barrett, Mandy Harwood, Kate Weedon-Jones, Lia Overman, Tanya Peters, Helena Pollard, Trudi Pollard, Louise Snook (Chairperson), and Anne Williams. Thanks also to the WAFTA general committee for all their support, especially Heather Morton and Lisa Repsevicius. Additional thanks go to Brian Thompson of Snap Printing.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Yesterday at Designing Women we swapped ATC's. The burgundy and tan set is my set of 20 before swapping. I made a stamp using a block of wood to which I glued some foam shapes. The fabric is silk that was rust-dyed at a friends house last month. Then I hand embroidered each one using 2 strands of cotton with the aim of making each one unique. I put my signature, website and blog address on the back by printing onto T-shirt transfer paper. The edges are finished by trapping a thin embroidery wool under a satin stitch.

The multi coloured set is what I received from the swap. Not everyone finished all 20 cards on time so those who swapped this weekend have only 12 so far. The rest will be swapped as they are finished.
I enjoyed making these. So much so that I made another set! Not sure who I'm going to swap with though...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I Can Post Photos Again!

Well, the computer technician fixed it. A couple of weeks ago he changed a firewall setting on the router - today he changed it back to it's original setting and now I can post photos again. Hurrah!
This is the pile of fabric pieces and the cache of buttons I ended up with once I cut up 10 of Russ' old uniform shirts. I have been busy since then folding, binding and clamping the pieces ready for the Rust and Tannic dyeing day at a friends house on Tuesday. I'll post a photo of the prepared fabric tomorrow.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

No photos

I don't seem to be able to post photos to my blog anymore. I'm getting very frustrated with it. I've read the FAQ's. I've cleared the cache. I've changed the pop-up window setting. I've reduced the size of the photo. And I can't see how to email blogger for help. It seems to be since we upgraded to IE8. Where is the computer technician when you need him?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Recycling Old Uniform Shirts

I've decided to create another piece for the WAFTA Exhibition. Scream Savers changed their uniform ages ago so I have 10 old uniform shirts which I've been hoarding that I plan to chop up for the fabric. I figure with 10 shirts I should get close to 3.5m x 50cm of fabric just from the single later bits. I'm going to stitch or bind each piece to give a resist and then I'm going to have a go at the rust and tannic dye bath. One of my friends has invited me to play at her house in 12 days time so I've got quite a few evenings to do some interesting binding. Once they're dyed, washed, dried and ironed then I'll assemble the pieces into one large piece of fabric. I also have quite a large piece of muslin gauze which I might pop into the same baths so I can be sure I have enough pieces of fabric to produce the required 3.5m.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Recycling, Restyling, Reinventing

On Thursday evening I went to an inspiring talk entitled "Re-invent your wardrobe" by Jody Pearl at the Salvo's Store (op shop, thrift store) in Willetton. As the title suggests, Jody recreates, redesigns and reinvents existing garments into unique wearables. Clothes that are too small can be taken apart and added to. Two tops could be combined to make one. A skirt could become a top. Mens ties may be made into a dress. At the end of the talk we had the opportunity to browse the store and buy clothing with a view to making our own unique wearables. I found a denim skirt which looked to be about my size and bought it with the idea that I would add some strips from some old jeans I have hoarded ("filed" according to Jody) for years to make it longer. But when I got it home and tried it on I liked it just as it is so I'll wear it like that for a while - I can always add the strips to it later when I get bored with it.

After that success at one op shop I went to a couple of others the following day. I loved the fabric of this dress that is way too big for me. I bought it with the idea that there is enough fabric there to make a skirt for myself. I also found a pair of jeans that were a perfect fit and look like they've never been worn. I bought another pair of jeans which were a baggy style with lots of pockets - these might become a skirt at some later date.

I made the burgundy skirt last week. I quite like the fit, but I'll probably make the next one a few inches shorter. I'm making patterns for simple skirts with the idea that I'll make lots of skirts from the same pattern. Hopefully they will all look very different due to the fabric and embellishments I use. I've got lots of ideas for making unique fabric - which obviously takes quite a long time. So I want to perfect the pattern first in order that I can be absolutely certain of the fit, and I only have to make the minimum amount of fabric necessary.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Artist Trading Card Preparation

Designing Women are going to swap Artist Trading Cards (ATC's) in July. So I need to make some. So far I have ironed some heavy interfacing to the back of some of the rust-dyed silk I created at the WAFTA "inspiration" workshop a couple of weekends ago. I have 19 that have interesting marks from the stitched shibori resist and 22 less interesting ones. I'm not sure how many we're going to need for our swap but I thought it would be good to have a few on hand so I made up as many bases as I could from the fabric and scraps of interfacing that I had lying around. The final size is to be 2.5 by 3.5 inches so I've cut these 3 x 4 so I can cut them to size once I've decorated them. I've stitched around the edges just to make sure the interfacing stays in place while paint/stitch or whatever. I'm planning to use the stamp I made with circles on it for some of them. I may add some gold or glitz to the ones with the less interesting background. I'm planning to emphasize some of the marks with stitch on the ones with a more intersting background. I have decided to put my website and blog address on the back but I haven't decided how I'm going to do it yet. I may print on t-shirt transfer paper. I may actually get a rubber stamp made up with my logo on it as well. Or I may just opt for the good old-fashioned pen and ink method :-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Current Reading

I have just read "Patterns from Finished Clothes - Re-creating the clothes you love" by Tracy Doyle. ISBN 0-8069-4874-4. Published in 1996. Tracy shows you how to analyse and copy an existing garment for a good fit, and offers suggestions for adding detail or making modifications. If you like to make your own clothes, or are interested in the current trend for recycling and restyling clothing, I'd put this on your "must read" list. I'd give it 5 stars.

Monday, May 18, 2009

WAFTA Exhibition "inspiration" workshop

On Sunday I went to a workshop held by WAFTA which was an informal "have a go" day to get as many members inspired as possible to enter the Member's exhibition to be held in August. We are to make a piece 3.5m long (with hanging sleeve it will be 3.6m) by 0.5m wide in muted colours. The work will hang from rafters in the centre of the Moores Gallery in Fremantle which means the work will be visible from both sides so we need to bear this in mind for the finished piece. There were 3 dye boiling vats, set up on the stove by Bernadette Aitken, of eucalyptus leaves, puffball (a fungi), and loquat leaves (Bernadette has a CALM permit to collect plant matter). There were rust, tannic, and caustic dye baths set up outside by Trudi Pollard. Trudi also had some of these dyes thickened with Guar Gum so they could be painted, stamped, stencilled or squirted onto the fabric in a more controlled manner. Kate Weedon Jones had a demonstration table of stencilling, stamping, screen printing, flour paste resist, discharge, and a few other techniques for putting images onto fabric after dyeing so that we could create additional interest on our fabric.

I took along some kimono linings (obtained from Sanshi ages ago) which proved to be silk since they took up the various dyes so I was pretty happy about that. I didn't have a go at the stencilling/stamping as I've been doing a bit of that at home, but found Kate's samples and work books to be really interesting and inspiring.

There was plenty of discussion throughout the day about techniques (including Shibori), and discussion about the exhibition with some people bringing along some show & tell of what they were making.

All in all it was a very enjoyable day - now I just have to start stitching! I also need to make some Artists Trading Cards (ATC's) for another group that I belong to and I'm thinking some of this silk might be good for that purpose too.

Friday, May 15, 2009

New stamps made

I made these 2 stamps over the last few days. I found some wood scraps, sanded them smooth and varnished them. I gave them 2 coats of varnish with a day between to dry. I stuck some foam shapes onto them, making sure that I picked shapes that were similar in thickness. I gave that a day to dry too. Then I made a test print and while the stamp was still on the paper I drew around the block of wood on the paper. I later cut this print out on the line and stuck it on the top of the stamp, so that I will know where the foam shapes will print on my fabric. Today I will sand the edges of the block/paper and then I will varnish over the paper print to seal it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Back to the Gym

Today I went back to the gym. I joined originally in Jan 08. I went for a few months and then stopped going. Wonder if I'll keep going longer this time. I booked in to do classes at specific times this time whereas last time I just went on my own whenever I felt like it. I'm hoping the booking will make me more likely to attend regularly. Time will tell.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


At a WAFTA meeting a few months ago I watched, fascinated, while the person next to me twiddled scraps of silk fabric into string. It was beautiful string - not merely utilitarian string. She showed me how it was done - and I made a few samples once I got home. Then, at the last WAFTA meeting, the guest speaker Lynn Marshall talked about the baskets she'd made - mostly from handmade string and items picked up from the bush or garden. The activity after the talk was to have a go at making string from raffia and fabric strips. It is really very easy and I am amazed that I can have lived 52 years and not known how this was done! I showed my God-Daughter how to make it, and she created a lovely thick rope of lime green, aqua, and blue with a sprinkling of bright reds and orange. When I showed her how it was done I happened to choose a wild hand-dyed rayon and a rust-red cotton. I fell in love with this colour combination and will keep going until I run out of fabric so that I can have a go at turning it into a coiled basket.

Friday, March 27, 2009

New Sewing Machine Table

I had been having some pain in my back/neck for quite some time when machine sewing. I was using my sewing machine on top of an office desk and thought my posture when sewing this way might be partly to blame. I already take regular breaks from stitching and do some stretching exercises, and, although these help a great deal, I was still experiencing pain. I tried raising my chair, using a footstool etc but none of that seemed to make any difference. So I started looking at the various options for dropping the machine below the top of the table surface so that the needle is at normal table height. I knew I didn't want a cabinet as I wanted to be able to change my sewing set-up to suit whatever I was sewing at the time. I had heard good reports about the Sew-Ezi portable sewing machine tables on the Scquilters email list and the idea that I could take this to classes and sewing groups as well as use it in my home or a studio (on the wishlist!) was very tempting. The insert that goes around the needle plate of the machine is tailored to each specific machine and if you intend to use it with more than one machine (or if you buy a new machine) you simply buy another insert.

I bought the Sew-Ezi table from and it was delivered quickly with no hassles whatsoever considering I'm on the other side of Australia. I also bought the wooden insert that converts it to a normal table when there is no machine in it, and the clear insert so it can be used as a light box by putting a portable lamp on the machine hanger shelf. It was easy to assemble.

I have used it a bit now. With my old set-up there was absolutely no vibration when using the machine at full speed because the desk was ancient and built of solid wood - I just about needed a crane if I needed to move it! And when I used the machine at full speed on a folding trestle at sewing circle there was a lot of vibration which made it difficult to focus on the stitching. So I was a bit worried that there might be a lot of vibration as the Sew-Ezi is a fold-up table too. I was pleased to find the vibration is minimal.
All in all I am very happy with the Sew-Ezi table and the flexibility it gives me to change my sewing set-up as required.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Away too long

I knew I hadn't posted for a long time... But, 6 months is REALLY way too long! Will try to get back into an (almost) daily habit.

September, October and November I was reorganising all my sewing area(s!) and clearing space in the house for my Father in Law to stay for 3 months. He arrived at the beginning of December and stayed until almost the end of February. We got on very well - which was good because the long term plan is that he will come to live with us, assuming he is granted a permanent visa.

He did heaps of odd jobs while was here. He built three great boxes on castors to go at the bottom of the pantry. I cannot believe I have lived so long without these - no more crawling on hands and knees trying to see what's there. I've started making a list of jobs for when he gets back :-)