Show and Tell

[singlepic id=151 w=320 h=240 float=right]My version of Gilda Baron’s project shown on Talking Threads is my show and tell.  Everyone at club thought all my substitutions were a hoot.  Where fabric paints were recommended for the sunset and mountains,  I used finger-paints , leftovers from my home daycare.  Sticky dots are another thing not to be found at ten o’clock on New Year’s Eve- so I cut tiny circles from painter’s tape.  These were used for the sun and flower tops.  Corrugated cardboard was something I thought I had left over from Christmas packaging, but no such luck-I pulled cardboard boxes apart and stripped off the heavy paper layer that covers the corrugation.  This worked really well as a stencil for the flower stems, again with finger-paints.  Bubble wrap I did have, but for some reason the bubbles were covered with a protective layer, which did not peel off.  The end of a pencil dipped in finger-paints and used as a stamp was a great substitute to make more flowers.  

I was so impressed with Gilda Baron’s segment on Talking Threads that I bought her book, “The Art of Embroidered Flowers.”  From this book I took her idea for using Pearle cotton to make French knot flowers.  The cotton should have been dyed, but  I painted crochet thread with the finger paints for my substitution.  Also I finger-painted muslin instead of dying it for the cut out flower heads.

I guess it was  funny to listen to all my improves,  but I just wanted to try it right then.  I had a blast making this project.    Maybe it might have been better using the suggested materials, but I thought it was ok for a first attempt.  What better way to welcome the New Year?  Has anyone else tried any of Gilda Baron’s techniques?

Sashiko Embellished Dress

[singlepic id=148 w=320 h=240 float=right]It is so easy to embellish a little girl’s holiday dress using the Sashiko.

Let’s dive right in and explain how we created the mini piece of art.

To add a touch of elegance to the bodice of  this cotton velvet dress, a rectangle large enough to cut the bodice from is sewn with a metallic silver thread.  This is done by first drawing a line at a 60 degree angle from one bottom corner of the fabric to the top. Using the Sashiko, the silver thread is sewn on this line. A second line is sewn one width of the presser foot away from the first.  The third is sewn approximately one inch from the second.  Repeat the spacing of the second and third lines across the fabric.

Moving back to the first line, go in the opposite direction and repeat the spacing of the third line and then the second line until all of the fabric is done .  Once all these parallel lines are sewn, you will go to the other bottom corner and draw another 60 degree line to the top.  This line will intersect the other lines.  The same spacing sequence is repeated in this direction also.  These threads add a very subtle glitter within the pile of the velvet.   From this newly created fabric the bodice is cut.

After the entire dress is constructed in the usual manner, rows of Sashiko stitches can be sewn above the hem.  These rows were sewn in pairs to simulate pintucks.  This adds a touch of sparkle to the skirt.

Finally, a  rose bouquet can be made from silver ribbon and bows with long streamers to add the little extra pizazz that every little girl loves.

You can view other projects made using the Sashiko.  Everyone has different ideas.  What are yours?  Want to share some?

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Confetti Landscapes

[singlepic id=147 w=320 h=240 float=right]Noriko Endo, from Japan, is truly an artist.

Ms. Endo started by making traditional quilts and has progressed to these wonderful confetti landscape naturescapes.  She says she derives her inspiration from walks in the woods and always has her camera with her to take photographs.  From these photos she creates her quilts. What is really incredible is that she makes them from scraps of fabric cut up into toothpick size pieces. She creates a color palette of these cut scraps to match her photo and it really does look like confetti. It’s amazing!

Ms. Endo lays clumps of color on top of batting that covers backing  fabric. After she has all of her confetti laid out that represent the foliage and background of the photo, she adds her tree trunks, covers with black tulle, and long arm quilts it all in place.  After the quilting she may add more fabric for trunks and with free motion embroidery, bring the work to life.

Really,  even if you are not a quilter, which I am not, take the time to view  her interview with Alex Anderson.  Ms. Endo makes it look so easy,  I can’t wait to try her technique.  The interview is in 3 segments, so make sure you scroll down and click next to see it all.  This really is worth your time to view.

Temari Balls

[singlepic id=96 w=320 h=240 float=right]Last spring I came across a title Japanese Temari by Barbara B. Seuss.  Having no clue what Japanese Temari was,  I did an Internet search.   This produced a website that shows the  most beautiful hand made balls.  They are works of art.  I am captivated.

Japanese Temari are an ancient folk craft first made by mothers and grandmothers to be their children’s toys.  These balls have either a batting or Styrofoam ball at the core, which is wrapped in yarn and then thread.  Once the wrapping is done, it is then divided into segments with a contrasting thread and either embroidered or wrapped in decorative threads in some pattern.  Some are very simple, others complex.  All are gorgeous.

After viewing the website I purchased Barbara Seuss’ book.  She  takes you through in a step-by-step manner that progressively builds your skills.  The directions, diagrams, and photographs are extremely clear and easy to follow.   Her book is excellent.

There is also an article in the Australian publication Inspirations (issue 62) featuring her Oliver Twist design.  All the information necessary to complete this design is given.

If you enjoy handwork,  then check out Temari balls.   I am making some to be used as Christmas ornaments for my grandchildren.  Try this craft and let us know what you think.

Talking Threads

[singlepic id=95 w=320 h=240 float=right]For the past six weeks I have been following a British program called Talking Threads via the internet.  They feature a different fiber artist each week with a personal  interview followed by a sample class. The  artists so far have been:

  • Jill Kennedy- a fabric or silk painter whose class was so interesting,  I would love to try her techniques.  She gave enough detail in her class to get anyone started.
  • Gilda Baron-an artist who combined fabric dyeing and machine thread painting.  Her project was fantastic and I could see such possibilities using her methods.
  • Di Wells-a patch worker or quilter.  I am not a quilter, by any means, but I was intrigued enough that I tried her procedure for using paper as your fabric and made a sample that looks great as a greeting card.
  • Kim Thittchai-an experimental or hot textile creator.  She made the most interesting surfaces by heating different fabrics and materials.  This was what I would call outside the box, very fascinating.
  • Fay Maxwell-a slasher and crewel embroiderer.   She took chenille techniques to a higher level.  I have already started digging through my fabric containers to try this process.  I really enjoyed this segment.
  • Linda Miller- a free style machine embroiderer.  Her pictorials were Grandma Moses-like thread paintings.  If you can drop the feed dogs in your machine,  give this a try.

This program is worth taking the time to watch.  I see it as a springboard to new areas of interest and creativity.   Hope you tune into Talking Threads an expand your horizons too.  Watch and let me know what you think.

2013-04-22 UPDATE: Talking Threads no longer exists.

Well-check or Repair, What To Bring

TechWorkBenchWhether you are bringing your sewing machine in for a well-check or a repair, there are certain  items  you need to bring with it.  These are:

  • the machine (of course)
  • the foot control
  • the power cord
  • the bobbin case
  • a bobbin
  • a presser foot

If it is your embroidery machine, you will need to include;

  • the embroidery unit
  • an embroidery hoop

If you are bringing your machine in for a repair,  bring it in set up  the same way you were using it,when the problem occured.  It is very helpful to the tech to see what you were sewing on, with what thread, and what needle.  I usually include a note saying what was happening, when the machine had issues.  The more information you provide, the  faster the problem can be targeted.  You also can ask to have it cleaned and oiled, while it is in the shop.

Remember it is always better to have yearly well-checks , than to have waited too long and need a major repair.  In the long run the cost is usually less and you extend the life of your machine.  Also, plan on scheduling this maintenance  for  when you won’t be needing the machine to make a time pressed  project. Have your machine serviced regularly and it will last you a lifetime.

Construction Anyone?

Vinyl-SidingLast weekend as my husband, Randy, and I were helping our kids finish siding their house, I couldn’t help but notice how much putting up vinyl siding was like sewing.

My daughter, Lauren, and I were cutting mitered corners for the trim around the windows- so similar to a quilter’s miters on their corners or a sewers on a garment’s corner. Or how about the cuts to go around a window with the vinyl, it was like putting on a facing or making an alteration. Using a level to make sure the pieces are straight was very similar to straight of grain arrows or pulling a thread or squaring up. Our fabric was stiff and made out of vinyl, but we still measured and cut it to fit.

Granted we did sweat, but who hasn’t sweated over a particularly dear or complicated project.

One difference and a real draw back would be the hanging off the side of a ladder for second story work- that is scary. Honestly though, the whole business was just like sewing!

Have a similar story? Tell me in the comment section. I love stories!

Baby Lock’s Sashiko – a full review

[singlepic id=71 w=320 h=240 float=right]Sashiko is an ancient Japanese technique. It was originally used to join layers of fabric together for warmth. As with most things Japanese, a practical application developed into an art form of great beauty.

The Sashiko is one of Baby Lock’s newest sewing machine, very nonconventional. It forms a stitch that looks like a hand done running stitch, mimicking the ancient technique. Only one thread is used and that is in the bobbin. I saw the video of how the stitch is formed, but the explanation is beyond me. You can change the actual stitch length and the space length with levers, while the machine is in operation. It takes thread from 30-100 wt. The presser foot height can be adjusted for easy fabric manipulation. Each stitch is self locking. It also can use some of the Evolove attachments – bias binder, plain hemmer, and feller.

I really enjoyed sewing with this machine. It was so easy to make beautiful geometric patterns. You can sew loops, circles, echoes, pivots – whatever design or pattern you’d like. The only thing you can’t do is sew back over a line you just did. It is just a fun machine.

At Baby Lock Tech there were gorgeous samples of Sashiko designs on clothing, pillows, quilts, table runners, and wall hangings. The possibilities are limited only by our imaginations.

The only downside to the Sashiko maybe the cost — for only one stitch, it might be a little pricey. We’ll need to see what they actually list for. Just looking at it work, you can see a lot of engineering technology went into its production – hence the cost.

Bottom line – I really had a blast sewing with it. Have a question about Baby Lock’s Sashiko? Ask it in the comment section.

UPDATE (Oct. 21, 2009): Baby Lock created a video explaining the Sashiko:

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