A Disarster Averted!!

Oh dear, I am still shaking at what might have been.

I was teaching a class on Saturday at The Embroiderers' Guild and being the weekend the ferry and barge time tables change.  No barges till 8am and the first ferry is 6:45am, which is the one I had to catch.  When I lived in town and was teaching I just carried my requirements out to the car and drove to where I wanted to go.  Here I have to walk 1k to the ferry and then 900metres from the ferry to the car.  On Saturday I was talking to another resident on the ferry and up the jetty and I got held up.  Then I rushed up through the park to get to the parking area over rough ground because it was threatening to rain.  My bags were held on the trolley with a 'bungy strap' but the bottom bag must have slipped out somewhere along the way.  (In fact it dropped out behind the public toilets where I had taken a short cut.)  The strap was still tight when I put the trolley in the car and I didn't realise that I had lost a bag.

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Realisation dawned when I went to put up the display of samples for the class.  No samples.  This was all my TAST work from 2010 - 2015 plus other embroidery samples I had made.  All I could do was ring my husband and send him out looking.  He had no luck.  So, I put a post up on the island Facebook page and within 5 minutes someone was posting that they had found the bag and handed it to the Post Mistress.  Then the Post Mistress was on the phone to say she had the bag and would deliver it to my home. 

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There are great advantages to living in a small community.

Class preparation

My life has been taken over by preparation for an upcoming class.  I wasn't sure that it would go ahead and suddenly there was a rush of enrollments.  This project includes 26 different colours of thread.  For a participant to have to buy that many threads would make the cost prohibitive so I have bought the thread and will divide it between those doing the class.

This little bundle was $190 then there was another $60 of thread I got from England, plus the linen fabric.  Granted I have paid retail for this.  I am going to have to be more careful with my needles as they now cost $1 each.

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I have a great stash of threads that has been fed constantly over the years and haven't noticed how much it cost.  I look at the cost of embroidery kits and think how expensive they are but after this exercise I will look with new eyes.  Embroidery is an expensive hobby.



I have classes rushing up to meet me but I have taken some stolen time to do a bit more stitching on my 'Peace' embroidery for this month.

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When I did the drawing for this piece I envisaged it as layers of colour, like you see in some illustrations.  But threads are not paint and the process of stitching gives a different effect.  It is the very light colours, especially the pink, that I have found difficult.  It shows every imperfection of my stitching.  As it is only the second layer I am hoping the other colours will distract from this.  I put the most prominent colour, dark blue, on first thinking that this needed to be toned down. The light blue is only maginally better than the pink but the mid blues look as though they will be fine.  I'm wondering if I should have made the pink the first layer?

War Quilts - 5

This quilt (or table cover) is the second of two that were made by a tailor(s).

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This is the work of a very experienced stitcher or stitchers.  No soldiers sitting around and sewing in their spare time here. Although, it is made from the same woollen fabric as those in use in the English Military at that time.

In the central image, (that was copied from a painting) you can see the face of every person and put a name to each face the images are so good.  The whole of that image is inlaid work, not applique.  This is similar to the Prussian Quilts and although no one knows how these techniques moved from Prussia to England this quilt was made at the time by a tailor with a German name surname, Zumpf ,when Queen Victoria and her consort Prince Albert (who was German) was on the throne.

What I was attracted to was the two outer borders which were first inlaid with fabric and then embroidered with silk thread.

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The inlaid work gives the perfect shapes but laying the silk thread and then embroidered.   The satin stitch over it is perfect and would have taken a lot of skill.

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All the details are so perfect on this quilt.  The horns of plenty that have been placed in each corner mirror each other to perfection.  Even to the use of a lighter green thread on some of the tips of the fronds.  The silk shading manages to give dimention to some of the flowers.

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There must have been a strong tradition in the German States of this kinds of work for some time.  This level of skill and finese doesn't just appear from nowhere.  Then it is blown away with the tides of history.  The unification of the German States, industrialisation and the World Wars.  We are left to sit and wonder.

Some inspiration from the Stitches and Craft Show

I was trying to rationalize the photos on my phone and came across a group that I had taken at the show.  (I had a concussion at the time and don't even know how I got to or from the place.)  There were a number of displays and I know that this one took my fancy.   It was a group of small quilts by Maxine Fry.

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Some of her work reminds me of Gwen Marsden and it was these pieces that I liked best.  In the exhibition the 'process' of her work was on display.  From the torn paper mock ups.

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To the prototype.

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To a finished small quilt.

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What a great way to refine a design.

Inserting and joining piping in a seam

The most common time that you want to put piping into a seam is usually around the edge of a pillow and there are lots of good tutorials on You Tube for this.  But for the embroiderer sometimes the scale is a whole lot smaller, as in pin cushions.  The diameter of this one is only 3".    (There is no way I would go any smaller than this.)

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You could just cross over the ends of the piping but it you want an invisible join it isn't that easy and is certainly not for the faint hearted.  In fact I probably should have put piping at the bottom join as well to make this look balanced  but as this is only a demonstration I chickened out and only did the top edge.  It is the small size of this piece that raises the level of difficulty.  So how do you do it?

I start by selecting a couple of contrasting fabrics.  Once for the main and a contrast for the piping.  I allow extra for the seam allowance, usually 1/4" and cut 2 circles for the top and bottom and a strip about 3" wide for the sides.  Once you put the top and sides together you can adjust the height.

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Select a width of cord that is in proportion to the piece you are making.  My cord is fine. I laid this around the line I drew on the back of the top and bottom circles.  I make it a little bigger to give myself some  margin for error. (I do this by laying it on the outside of my line.)

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  I cut my contrast fabric on the bias 1" wide and attach one end in the middle of the bias binding.   This is just to hold it in place. (I will remove these stitches later.)

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Fold the bias strip in half to enclose the cord and stitch about 1/4" from the edge.  Again, this just holds the cord in place, you are not stitching up close at this stage.

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Mark the centre of your cord with a pin.

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Pin the covered cord around the edge of the top circle, pining either side and working out from the centre mark, on the right side of your fabric Inside the line of machining and snip your edges to allow the piping to stretch around the circle.

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.  Check that you are matching this to the line your have drawn on the back.

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Continue until you are able to join the covering fabric.  You will need to keep the ends of the cord out of the way and join with a bias seam so that the fabric will measure exactly.  Take time to do this.  Rushing will just mean unpicking.

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The next step is to join the cord.  On a pillow you could just butt the ends together and sew around your piping but on this you have to butt the ends together and then darn the join.    If you join it with a seam it is just too bulky and if you join it in the usual manner the ends come apart because the curve is so tight .  Nothing else for it than the darning.

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Sew the binding edges together and pin in place.

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  Now tack that covered piping to the top circle. Compare the pinned image above to the image below.  You can see how much better that piping sits.  This will make sewing the piping in position far easier and it will be a lot more accurate.

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Sew the piping in position on your tacking line.  That is inside your line of machining.  This will make your piping sit better in the casing and give you a reference line when you come to join the side. Trim up your edges so that they are all neat.  Remove your tacking.

Join the seam in the side piece to make a tube and pin in position.

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If your are new to this I would suggest tacking the edges of your top circle with the binding attached and the sides as well.  These edges are known to move.  Sew around the edge using the stitching line that is there as you guide.

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  I normally stitch one needle width inside this.Your piece will look something like this.  Now is the time your can adjust the height to suit.

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Sew the bottom circle to the sides.  (This is a lot easier without the piping.) Nick the edges to allow the seam to sit better.

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Open your side seam enough to allow you to pull the fabric through to the right side.  Stuff if fibrefill or what ever filling you select.  Close the opening with a ladder stitch.  (Gee I'm glad that is finished.)

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This is a lot easier if your piece is larger.  Darning the piping cord ends together before your cover the cord will give you a better finish  that isn't bulky and you will not see the join or the raw ends.



War Quilts - 4

There was one small quilt, the only one in the exhibition, made by a woman.  She used her husbands old uniform from the Boar War, to make a quilt for her baby.   It wasn't fancy, just a geometric pattern but it was beautifully pieced.  It was hung in an odd corner so wasn't all that easy to see but there seemed to be something about it that caught my attention.

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The card with it suggested to because she was a Methodist she probably didn't want to waste the fabric.

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Somehow that doesn't seem to ring true.  Flora would have been of the same era as my own grandmothers.  They had already been through 2 depression in the late 1800's and I know that they made an impact on them.  .  To attribute her reason for making the quilt to just one cause seems a bit simplistic.  Then there is the fact that the quilt has survived in perfect condition.  I feel there was a lot more than just economic reasons for making this quilt.

And just an update on the Selesian Quilt I wrote about in War Quilts 1.  The applique at the bottom of the quilt depicted an old German children's song and my friend Angela has sent me a copy of that song.

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I think that I have got the translation right for the first 2 verses but the last line in the 3rd verse just isn't right.

"Fox, you have stolen the goose, give it back otherwise the hunter will get you with the shooting gun.

His big long rifle.  He will shoot you and you will be stained with red ink and then you will be dead.

Dear little vixen let friends guess she is not just a thief.   (this is the part that I'm not sure of.) Take, need not roast goose, with the mouse do."

I can't see any mouse in that applique. 

Thinking more about it I think it means "Don't think about roast goose just stick to mice."

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Too much time spent teaching and not enough on my own work, or that is how it feels.  It is Easter this coming weekend and I am teaching the following week.  Still I love teaching and I keep coming up with new ways to teach old techniques.

So the only work I have done is a little stitching on a prototype.  I like this gentle type of design that you see in modern Japanese stitching so I thought I would have a go at designing some of my own.  I have decided to just use DMC stranded cotton for these pieces,  there will be three in this set.  To be a bit different I decided to use  2 strand of cotton for the lettering and Portuguese Stem stitch.  I think it could have looked just as good in Back stitch or stem stitch, but that was too easy. 

All the rest of the stitching will be done in 1 stand of DMC cotton and I am experimenting with stitching in layers.  This is something different for me so I am enjoying the experience.

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Zippered bag tutorial

I am late with today's post as I have been teaching all weekend and have more classes this week.  I tried to come up with a different way of putting a zipper and lining into a small bag and as I had a bundle of lace zippers decided to use one of these.  Lace zippers are more delicate than your normal zip  so don't pull to hard or they will rip.  I am sure there are other tutorials like mine as this type of zippered bag is quite common. 

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You can vary the size to suit your zipper length by moving the centre line right or left.  I don't think I would make it any smaller than about an 8" zip but you could make it bigger.  (This drawing would fit on an A4 piece of paper.)

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When I ordered these zippers I thought I would get pretty colours like I had received before.  This time they were dark maroons and browns.  I thought of throwing them away but just couldn't do that.  So I have had to change my approach.

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I went to my stash and found 2 fat quarters that I didn't know what to do with.    The main fabric was very light so I ironed some interfacing to this, then cut out my pieces.  There is a bit of wastage after I had cut out the bag but I striped these and added them to my box of strips.

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With right sides together  sew the upper edges of the lining and main fabric together with 1/4" seam and then trimmed it back to 1/8" .

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Take a bit of time to do this next bit.  Open the seam flat and iron seam allowance towards the main fabric.

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Then re-iron the edges so they sit together.  You are going to add your zipper over this so taking time to get it right makes inserting the zipper easier.

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Position the opening end of your zipper with the edge of the fabric.  (I find these little clips great for this job.)  My zipper is longer than the opening so I will have to shorten it.

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Sew the zipper to this upper edge using your zipper foot..  Now that is easier said than done.  If you sew it too close it gets stuck in the teeth.   I position the edge of my fabric so that I can see through the top line of holes in the lace.

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Open the top ends of your zipper to make getting around the pull easier.  Once you have done this close the zip again.

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Iron flat using an ironing cloth, those plastic teeth can melt.

The next step is to sew the side seams of the main fabric and lining together but first make sure you zipper teeth are sitting high.

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Once your have these in position join your side seams using a 1/4" seam..

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Sew the bottom seam on both the bag and lining.  Leave an opening in the lining to turn your bag through.

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Opening the lining seam and press open this will make stitching it closed easier.

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Next step is to box the corners.  Now you might find that all the corners look like this.

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But sometimes you get one that looks like this.

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Just cut it so the both side are the same. (2" each side)

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Match you seams and sew across using a 1/4" seam.  On the main fabric put the thickness each side of the seam.
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On the lining open the seam and sew across.

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Now we are ready to turn the bag through.  I would do this next to my iron.  As you turn it to the right side iron those boxed corners flat before you sit the lining in place. You can now ladder stitch the opening in the lining closed.  You have nice sharp edges to make this easier.

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Then iron the triangle in the ends in place and along the bottom edge.  Get inside your bag with your iron and make sure that the fabric sits flat.  (Sometimes a little spray starch can make a big difference to your finish.)

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And there you have it.

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I quite like that dark zipper now.

After the storm

There is still a very strong wind blowing here and I am being careful just what trees I am walking under.  Things seem to be falling from the sky all the time.  The other disturbing thing is that many large fish are drowning.  That sounds stupid but the amount of soil being washed down the rivers is so thick in the water that the fish are drowning.  We are taking bets between each other about how long it will be before the water is clear again.  My husband has his money on August I think May but if we have another big storm it could be even longer.  Still, it is school holidays and there are lots of people out fishing.  I don't think they are catching anything.

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The electricity suppliers sent their trucks over to the island this week to clear trees  away from the power lines.  After the storm.  Would have been better before the storm I think.  Anyway, it was interesting to watch them get that long arm up into the trees.  Some of the trees are just way too tall and my heart was in my mouth a few times as that rotary saw spun near the power lines.

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Looking up, lovely blue sky, through the trees, brown sea.  There is some interesting moulds grown on the tree bark as well.

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Going over to the mainland I noticed that the channel markers don't mark the channels any more.  Oh boy, that is going to be a big job for someone.  All the maps are going to have to be re-drawn.