Monday, December 20, 2010

Floral Skirt Finished

It took several days to free machine embroider all the flowers. The edges have been left raw so that when I wash it the edges will fray slightly to give it a softer look. I stitched round the edges of each flower twice so the fraying won't go beyond that. I'm pleased with the result - not too "folksy" at all (grin). I'm thinking of making a similar skirt but in a riot of colours next time. I embroidered the t-shirt a while ago with beige lazy daisies so it goes quite well with the skirt.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Floral skirt

I spent a few days cutting out flowers and circles from muslin and gauze to stick all over this plain 3/4 circle skirt. The skirt is very lightweight cotton so drapes beautifully but of course is also a little bit transparent with the light behind it. That's why I'm putting flowers all over it :-)
My young friend Andrea helped me cut some of them out when we stayed at their place over the weekend. It took another few evenings to iron them all on. I plan to machine embroider over all the flowers with another shade of browny-beige. I'm hoping at the end it will look sophisticated beige rather than boring beige :-) I just hope it doesn't look too "folksy".

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I went to hang out the washing and this beetle was just sitting there on the wall. He stayed long enough to let me dash inside, grab my camera, work out where macro was on the menu, and take a few pictures. It's a bit dull but I didn't want to use flash in case I scared him off.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Obscure Thoughts

My young friend Andrea has started a new blog with all her creative things on it. Poetry, machine quilting, Zentangles etc. It's worth a read and can be found here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Designing Women turns Ten

Designing Women turns 10 this year. To celebrate we are making artworks inspired by the word "Ten" which will be displayed together as part of our exhibition in November. There were 3 sizes of canvas to choose from and I chose to do 2x 12inch ones. These are detail shots of my work in progress. The first is the stitching of the fabric to the stabiliser and the second is of all the machine couched threads. I'm planning to add lots of colonical knots by hand to create the look of a gathering storm. I have limited my palette to 10 threads/yarns. I used a cording foot to keep the lines straight. The work will be stretched over the canvas once finished.

Friday, June 25, 2010

T-Shirt Rejuvenated

I spent around 6 hours stamping bleach onto this t-shirt on Wednesday. It was an op-shop find originally that had a slight but large fade (maybe from the sun) mark on one arm - it was only visible if you really looked but because the fabric was a solid brown once I knew it was there it sort of jumped out at me. So I thought I'd try fading it deliberately. I assembled an assortment of plastic lids of various sizes (vegemite jar, coffee jar, mouthwash bottle, toothpaste tube etc) and sanded the edges on a sheet of sandpaper so they were smooth, level and had a bit of "tooth" for the bleach to cling to. I opened several windows in case the bleach fumes got too much for me. I put some old sheeting on the ironing board and between the back/front of the t-shirt. I poured a small amount of neat bleach onto a sponge sitting on a plate so I had a stamping pad. Then I smoothed a small area of the t-shirt and stamped a few circles. I waited a minute or two until they were the colour I wanted and then dried the bleach with the iron. I did small areas at a time.

The bleach fumes weren't a problem - I used a lot less bleach than would be used to clean benches, floors etc so the fumes were minimal. Once I had finished I rinsed the t-shirt by hand in cold water, then rinsed in water to which I had added a product intended to remove chlorine from tap water to use in fish aquariums as this was a tip I had read somewhere and I thought it sounded "sensible". Then I washed the t-shirt in the normal way with the next load of clothes. The circles aren't visible on the inside of the t-shirt so I doubt very much that the entire thickness of the fabric has been affected by the bleach - I'll let you know if the whole thing falls apart while I'm in the middle of the supermarket or something :-)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Denim Skirt for Andrea

This is Andrea and her Grandma (my friend Joan) on the patio at their house. Andrea is wearing the skirt that she designed - I drafted the pattern and then stitched it. It fitted better than I hoped and she said she loved it. Thank goodness for that :-) This photo was taken in March and I've just realised how long it is since I wrote a blog post! I will do better...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


My Father in Law made this lucet for me out of Jarrah (an Australian wood which is very hard and has a fine grain). He smoothed it with a very fine sandpaper and used beeswax to polish the surface so that it is nice to handle and the yarn will slide over the surface of it easily. It still needs a hole at the base of the handle. A lucet is used to make cord with a square cross-section. I'll take another photo once I've made some cord.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Denim Dress Alterations Finished

These are the changes I've made to the Denim Dress. I removed the sleeves and collar by unpicking (rather than cutting) so that I retained the maximum amount of fabric and the original neckline and armhole shapes. The large shoulder pads were also removed. I restitched the shoulder seam, making it wider at the shoulder tip and narrower towards the neck. I tapered the seam so that I took in about 1/2" at the neck and 1-1/2" at the shoulder tip. This raised the dress slightly so the armhole didn't gape and awful lot. At the underarm I took in about 1" tapering to zero just above the gathered skirt seam. This gave a better fit under the arm. Then I removed some width from the back and front panels so that the shoulder seam ended just in front of the shoulder tip. I tapered this fabric removal to zero about 2" behind and in front of the side seams. I removed fabric from the neck area to give a slightly scooped neckline. I was careful to cut so that the existing button closure was in a "sensible" place for both stitching the facing by machine and as a fastening. I cut bias strips 1-1/2" wide from the sleeve fabric and used these to face the armholes and neck edge. For seams I stitched with blue thread and then changed to a tan thread to match the existing "visible" stitching. I'm quite pleased with the result - a good, everyday "working" dress which doesn't look quite as "Anne of Green Gables - ish" as the original. I'm debating whether to shorten it and also whether to dye it with some red dye so that it becomes purple - although I do like this shade of blue denim.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Blue Dress Altered

This the "after" photo. This was a linen dress I bought many years ago. This dress used to reach my ankles and the skirt resembled jodphurs - there was such a pronounced curve at the hip on the side seam. Because the length restricted movement quite a bit and the hip curve looked a bit odd I didn't wear it much.
I decided that taking in the skirt side seams and chopping 10" off the length would be easy to do and I might end up with a dress I could wear more frequently. I like the easy fit of this dress so much now I'm planning to make a paper pattern in a similar style. As it is such a basic dress shape and uses minimal fabric, I can imagine the pattern will be very useful. I like the neckline and it fits well under the arms.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Denim Dress Restyling Challenge

This dress has been taking up space in my wardrobe for who knows how long. 25-30 years perhaps, judging from the shoulder pads! The only reason I don't wear it is because it is out of style - and has been for some time :-) The fabric is still perfectly good with no stains, and because of the style/loose fit it should be relatively easy to modify by removing bits (in my mind adding bits seems more difficult). I like the pintuck detail on the front. I'm going to remove the shoulder pads, unpick the collar and the sleeves and then try it on again to see what modifications it needs. I'm planning on a sundress or short sleeve dress so it will be interesting to see how much gapping there is around the armhole, how much the dress 'drops' and/or drapes towards the centre without the shoulder pads, and what changes I'll need to make to the neck. The long sleeves means I have some fabric to play with if I do need to add some (eg under the arms) and to make bias strips/facings for the neck & armholes. If all else fails it will make a brilliant art/messy crafts apron and I will have gained hanging space in my wardrobe!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Andrea's Denim Skirt Finished

I was talking with Andrea a few weeks ago about the pattern drafting lessons I'd been doing and while we were chatting I said I would draft a pattern and sew a skirt for her if she came up with a design. I finished it this morning so all it needs now is a body to find out if it fits and whether she likes it! The stretch denim I used is lovely - very soft to the touch so it should be very comfortable to wear. And I've quite a bit left - plenty to make a skirt for me (different design of course). Andrea drew the zip at the side but the fabric is quite thick and I thought it might look a bit lop-sided if I put it on the side seam, so I moved it to the centre back.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Felting Workshop

These felted pieces were created during a WAFTA 2-day workshop with tutor Lee Anne Davis. We made pre-felts, layered prefelts with various fabrics, and stitched into the result with various yarns. The idea was to experiment with as many fabrics and yarns as we could. Then the whole assembly was fully felted. None of these are finished as the idea was to further embellish the fully felted pieces with more stitching. Most of the class were working with beautifully fine soft Merino fleece - I had coarser hand dyed Corriedale (I think) which had been given to me by my friend Joan years ago when she moved house. It worked just as well for the techniques but wouldn't be quite as nice to wear next to the skin as the Merino. I measured the blue and orange sample prior to felting so I could record the amount of shrinkage. Prior to felting the design measured 5-3/8 inches, after felting it measured 4-7/8 inches. All of my fabrics were synthetic and solid colours - patterned silk chiffon or georgette pieces work brilliantly with this technique and complement the softness of the Merino. Thank you Lee Anne for sharing your knowledge so generously and graciously. It was a wonderful workshop - I had a great time despite the heat. Have a look at the WAFTA website here to see some images of Lee Anne's work.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Skirt from old jeans

I drafted a pattern for a twelve gore skirt for myself. I cut each panel from the "good bits" of old worn out jeans. Once I stitched the panels together and tried the fit I was a bit worried it might be a bit too straight for walking so I added a pleat at the back. I recycled the waistband from one of the pairs of jeans so that it had a "real" jeans button. The seams have been embroidered with a cross stitch embroidery stitch available on my Pfaff in order to really flatten them, strengthen them and finish the raw edges all in one operation. The embroidery took ages and I probably won't use that stitch again just for that reason. I'm pleased with the result and plan to make another twelve gore skirt with a little more flare in each panel so I can eliminate the pleat. I made this one mainly to test the fit around the waist and hips, and that was very comfortable.

Overdyed Skirt

I bought this skirt from the local op shop. I liked the style of the bold print but not the colours of cream, light turquoise and greenish blues on a navy background. I liked the shape of the skirt and the way it fitted me. It had a navy polyester lining and the print fabric was cotton. So I decided to buy it anyway and try dyeing it. I used a weak solution of Rubine to turn the cream pink and the greenish blues more purplish. I like the colours now so that little experiment was definitely worth doing. The uneven hem is an illusion caused by the breeze moving the skirt around while Russ took this photo - the hem is actually level.