My Aurifil Dog

I attended the New Zealand Symposium in Manawatu earlier this year and was privileged to take a class with Melissa Burdon. Melissa transforms photographs into works of art.
I chose a photograph of my beloved Jack Russel, Dougal. He is 13 years old and has become MY dog even though he was a pet for my sons when they were young.

Meet My Dog, DOUGAL

Meet My Dog, DOUGAL

Using the computer program GIMP, the photograph is altered removing colour and leaving a gray scale image. This technique allows a tracing to be made of the subject separating areas by their shading.

My photo after GIMP

My photo after GIMP

For this class, our photos were shaded into 6 levels. Each of these shades translated into a shade of our chosen colour. I chose purple.

The process begins

The process begins

The picture is slowly built up a piece at a time until it is ready to place onto a background. Finding just the right background took some time until I found a print of his favourite thing…TENNIS BALLS.

The background

The background

Once the background was complete and Dougal was fused in place, it was time to quilt.

Aurifil Matches perfectly

Aurifil Matches perfectly

Using Aurifil Cotton Mako 40wt and 50wt threads the ‘fur’ began to ‘grow’.

The 'fur' grows

The ‘fur’ grows

Quilting the Toes

Quilting the Toes

Quilting the Collar

Quilting the Collar

All of the quilting was done with FMQ. Each tennis ball was carefully outlined so they would ’bounce’.

SIT....Good Dog!

SIT….Good Dog!

If you have a photo of someone or something special, have a go with GIMP and create your own fabric photo.

And now for something completely different

I was asked to join a friend and do a workshop learning how to make an art journal with the talented artist Ro Bruhn.  This type of work is slightly outside my comfort zone.   I do love ‘art quilts’ and using different processes to make an art quilt, but a journal was something completely foreign to me.  I hummed and haaaaed for a moment – and then thought it was worth the risk!  It was very self indulgent – it wasn’t going to be for anyone else – but me to enjoy.  Yes – I would go for it!!

We had to take a  mountain of ‘scraps’ – I have plenty of those – and some lace, and buttons, and zips, and braids and wool and envelopes and teabag tags  and anything else you think you could use in a journal-  including some special sacred fabric that you never had used (up until now) was also suggested!

Organised scraps for the journal cover

Organised scraps for the journal cover

I was able to use some of those bits and pieces people give me as they know I like sewing – not necessarily patchwork fabrics – brilliant!

First page in progress

First page in progress

The first few pages were easy enough on the first day but we had to return in a month’s time with more pages.  As the month wore on,  the inspiration and ideas waned a little and it became harder to think of more pages.  Oh – did I mention, that the lovely Ro suggested we try and make FOURTEEN PAGES IN THE MONTH!!    I did realise that 14 pages meant 14 mini quilts.

Some furnishing fabric and some hand made silk paper plus

Some furnishing fabric and some hand made silk paper plus

and this page is nearly finished

Nearly finished this page

And just to show a few more pages

091 and some silk flowers made for a cushion (that I never finished) get a new life!089and a bit of the glitter from braids and trims and an old Indian cushion found in an op shop.097some Kantha quilting with a dyed doily as contrast095Naturally I used Ne 50, Ne 40, Ne 28 and Ne 12 in the art journal construction!094

Discussing it with my workshop classmates we all seemed to have been burning the midnight oil trying to get the cutting and pasting done as well as the sewing.  It was worth it in the end ——- we all produced personal and creative books.  We learnt more about colour and  relaxing with our stitching (raw edge zig zag is encouraged) and ‘wonky’ lines are seen as artistic and not incorrect.

I had the best time – what a wonderful workshop – so free to decide what colour goes with another – not to worry about edges or straight lines or stitch length or neatness. Thanks Ro for the best 2 days of workshop – I am so looking forward to finishing my journal and maybe creating a new one (once I can tidy up some of the scraps (aka mess) in the sewing room.

Hoopla 2

Last month I blogged about displaying work in hoops. Today I want to share another project displayed this way.

I love working with wool felt and Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 12 (on the red spool).  I love the colours available and the ease of sewing. The cotton just glides through the fabric. Aurifil Lana (Australian wool and acrylic mix, also 12 weight and on a red spool) is also ideal for this work.  I decided to make a hanging using  my collection of wool felt in bright cheerful colours and a selection of co-ordinating Aurifil Cotton Ne 12 threads.

I gathered some resources for inspiration and technical know-how and started designing my project.  I especially found the work of Wendy Williams (http://www.flyingfishkits.com.au) and Sue Spargo (http://www.suespargo.com) helpful.

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Design inspiration

I drafted my design on paper to give me an idea of placement and proportion, though as you might notice, I later changed some of the embellishment details.

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A rough draft which I later altered.

I like the addition of rick rack in my projects and so I incorporated this here.

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Using rick rack for the stems.

Next came the first flowers.

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Arranging the flower components and selecting the thread colour.

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Adding the embroidery.

 

Then some  leaves.

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Adding and embellishing leaves.

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Two different leaves and a stem.

I created a large flower.

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Adding embroidery to the large flower.

When I had completed all my stitching I needed to place my work into its hoop and back it.

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Securing my work in the hoop.

I described this process in my previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/hoopla/

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Stitching on the felt backing.

My hanging is complete.

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This was such a delightful little project to make, I’ll definitely be making more items like this!

Recycle, Reuse, Renew……Recover

Last week we were all entertained with ladybirdee’s recovered pincushion.  It was inspired and inspiring, and I have taken this ‘recovering’ theme one step further.

I was in need of a table and chairs and after perusing the furniture stores and not finding what I had in mind, I had a look on eBay. I fell in love with a table advertised there….because of the chairs! I  purchased several meters of fabric from “that Swedish furniture store” to use for recovering the chairs.

Cotton drill fabric for recovering chairs

Cotton drill fabric for recovering chairs

After recovering the chairs, I had some fabric left and the table looked so naked.

Chairs with 'new

Chairs with ‘new” seats

Then, I remembered I had Judy Neimeyer’s Compass Rose table runner paper piecing pattern. The finished size of her table runner was too long for my table so I decided to do some modifications.

Paper piecing

Paper piecing

Using my left over pieces of fabric from recovering the chairs, some gorgeous Reece Scannell cottons and other pieces from my stash,  I stitched my compass sections, using Aurifil 50 wt. cotton Mako (orange spool).  Use a slightly shorter stitch length to make removing the paper after piecing easy.

Aurifil for perfect piecing

Aurifil for perfect piecing

Stash fabric,chair fabric and cotton like SILK from Reece Scannell

Stash fabric,chair fabric and cotton like SILK from Reece Scannell

Triangles were cut over sized and added to the compasses to create squares from my octogonal shapes.

Triangles ready to sew

Triangles ready to sew

One Finished Compass Rose...3 to go

One Finished Compass Rose…3 to go

Sewing these new squares together resulted in the perfect sized runner for my ‘new’ table.

'New' table with a new look

‘New’ table with a new look

This project was quick and easy and ready to enjoy in a few days.

We would love to hear about your adventures with turning something old into something new again.

Transforming

One of my friend’s is very clever at finding the BEST things in op shops.  Before op shopping became ‘trendy’ and when op shops were quite ordinary, in terms of display (now they are often like department stores) and odour (some could be considered musty! – for want of another word) my friend looked for bargains.  She has a good eye for sussing out treasures – not so much clothing, but crockery, great books, vases, etc etc – you name it – she has probably found it!   When she was going through her mosaic phase, she delighted in what she could buy and then take home to break up (destroy) for her art works!

Fortunately for me, I have on occasion, received a little gem from her. A month or so ago I was the recipient of one of her finds. Guess what it was??

StartYes! It was a large pincushion- about 6 inch diameter, covered in an upholstery furnishing fabric, with varnished base in dark brown.   I could see the possibilities in renovation!

Starting to undo

I had to unpick the braid around the fabric. Take out the millions of staples to find out what was underneath.

Nearly there

I decided to stay with the foam inner, as it had a good shape and was fine for reuse.

undone

‘Roughing up’ (I’m sure there is a technical term for this!)  the old varnish to start applying some white paint took some time.  Then repainting it with several coats.

underside

I love the ‘distressed’ look – so back to the sandpaper I went to make some marks ‘of wear’.

Then the fun part started of looking for a suitable fabric to recover it with.  I chose a Kaffe Fasset from my stash and some ribbon that went with it.  A retro button was found for the centre, and attached with Aurifil Ne 12 (see all sorts of using for the thread!).

Top of Pincushion

Da ta!!!  I am very happy with the end result – and won’t lose this one in the sewing room!

Finished

Hoopla!!

The staff at Always Quilting recently discussed using embroidery and quilting frames to display textile work. Embroidery and stitcheries, applique, pieced items and quilting, even a pretty piece of fabric can all be displayed this way. A quick internet search gives you lots of inspiration! Indeed, I was inspired and have since made a couple of items which are displayed in inexpensive embroidery hoops.

For my first piece, I decided to engage in some English paper piecing and fussy cutting and make a small companion piece for a mini quilt made last year and which I blogged about in a previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/always-playing…-fussy-cutting/  You might recall that there was not much fabric left, but certainly sufficient for my purpose.

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Plenty of holes, but still enough fabric for my project!

I used 4x 2-inch clamshells and fussy-cut my fabric, with a small circle as the centre. There are many methods of preparing your English paper pieces, from tacking, to glue-basting, to fusible papers. I discuss one method here. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/english-paper-…agons-and-more/  When using clamshells, I prefer to tack the paper in place as this gives me greatest control over the curve, ensuring it is nice and smooth. When it is tacked into place I give it a good press.

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Tacking the fabric onto the clamshell paper.

Once I had made my clamshells I appliqued them onto my background fabric using Aurifil Cotton Mako 50. As you can see in the photo, I left plenty of fabric around the edges. I then took my little hoop, in this case 5 inches in diameter, and centred my design in it. When I was happy with its placement I tightened the screw so that the work was tensioned with no wrinkles.

 

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Ensure the item is centred in the hoop.

I trimmed the background fabric to a border of about 1 1/2 inches.

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Trimming excess fabric to 1 1/2 inches.

I took a strong thread (Aurifil Cotton Mako 28) and ran a gathering stitch around the perimeter. To make this job easier I did not cut my thread off the spool, but used it directly from the spool. This way could adjust it as required, and I didn’t run the risk of miscalculating the length of cotton I needed, or of accidentally pulling the gathers out. When I had the gathers sitting as I wanted, I cut the threads leaving a tail, then tied them in a reef knot to secure them.

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Gathering the background fabric behind the hoop.

To cover the back of the hoop I cut a circle of felt, using the hoop as a template for the circle. I wanted the felt to fit just to the edge of the blue background fabric, but inside hoop. Finally I stitched the felt in place again using a strong thread, Aurifil Cotton Mako 28. I used an overstitch going from the felt out towards the edge of the hoop as shown in the photo, and I ensured that each bite into the felt was about 3mm and went into the blue background fabric each time.

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Stitching the felt back into place.

And my little project is finished and ready to hang on the wall!

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My little hanging all ready to display on the wall.

In a future post, I will write about another project framed in this way.

 

A Special Treat to Banish the Cold

It is always a special treat when a customer brings a project that they have stitched with Aurifil into the store for “show and tell”.

windflower-scarf

This delightful scarf has been designed by Jan at Windflower Embroidery.

It is just perfect for those wintery days that we are experiencing, a lovely soft angora wool background trimmed with wool applique autumn leaves embellished with Lana wool thread.

Just the description is enough to banish the chill air.

windflower-scarf-detail

Jan has heaps of information, including an Embroidery Stitching Guide for free download, on her Windflower Embroidery website.  Well worth a visit.

If you want to work your own winter embroidery with Lana wool thread, visit our Aurifil Thread Australia website to find a local retailer.

Read more information about Lana wool thread.

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