Thursday, February 27, 2014

and yet more texture...

yep, i'm a texture fiend

i've loved folds and tucks and gathers since i was small, and my favourite book of all things creative is "the art of manipulating fabric" by collette wolff

funny thing is, i haven't made anything out of it yet... rather, i've been stumbling across some wonderful tutorials on the internet

the latest is courtesy of threads magazine:

it's a wonderful tutorial and so very easy to do...

i love the look of ribbon manipulated in this manner, and when i laid it on my work table i realized there seems to be a bit of a recurring theme going on in my mind these days... this ribbon is very reminiscent of the dragon-scale smocking i did a little while ago

the gold version is silk fabric, a long 1" wide strip, cut so the fraying sides of silk are the short ends
it's soft and squishy, can be crushed ever so slightly, or coaxed back into the beautiful tucks and valleys

i also tried it with 1' wide satin ribbon

the ribbon is much stiffer and so gives a definition to the ribbon that the silk just doesn't have - i'd use the ribbon as an edging but the silk would be wonderful within a piece, and could easily be enhanced with embroidery

i chose to use 1" wide strips but this technique works with any width

 i also like how bendy it is... it takes curves like nobody's business, and doesn't lose it's shape

i carefully matched the stitching thread but you can't see any stitches at all; it's as if they aren't even there, like magic

i was looking at my ribbon box the other day, thinking i really must do something with all of it, someday...

i think someday might have finally arrived for a few of them

 and i just saw another tutorial over there, when i was finding the links for this one...

did i mention i may or may not have an addiction????

Thursday, February 20, 2014

if not now, when?


what a question huh?

"if not now, when?"

those four words have been running through my head a lot lately, relating to all manner of things... but it started here, with what you see below

 in amongst the busyness of finishing off some gifts long overdue, i take mini-breaks and work on samples for my little stitch history book

the grandmother's flower garden quilt pattern figures prominently in my quilting journey...

my mother-in-law gifted gifted us with a hand-pieced, hand-quilted one shortly after we were married, and it was the first pattern she taught me when i expressed a desire to learn to quilt

{she made me templates from a popsicle box and the other day i found one of them - so cool, and now it will be added to the book as well}

for my book sample i needed something small, so i dug out some 1" pre-cut hexagons and began basting fabric to them, using favourite scraps and even a little bit of the silk i purchased at john lewis whilst on our trip to london last year

once i had pieced enough together to make me happy i cast my eyes around my fabric stash looking for a suitable background... nothing looked good - nothing

finally, in desperation, and more for a lark, i laid it on my tweed fabric from pitlochry, scotland

it was perfect

perfectly perfect

but i didn't want to use it - i bought only one metre and some has already been used in the christmas stocking i made for my son
i was saving it for something special...

and then those words came along... if not now, when? and for what?

after a little dithering, and yet more searching amongst the stacks and piles, i finally gave in

trimmed out with pinking shears, i am smitten

 then to my stash of sampling i have done from my simply stitch 3 class
{which was absolutely awesome, by the way... simply stitch four begins on monday - yay!}

laying things together, trying this and that... precious bits of cloth, all working together, impossible to choose

i'm so glad i decided now was when

another incident that prompted that same thought... i had knee surgery in november and the verdict was bad arthritis

with the dire threat of a knee replacement at some point in the future i need to work hard at flexibility and strength... i've been waiting for it to get better before joining a gym, but i finally realized it's gone as far as it will without some extra effort

one of the local hotels sells memberships to their athletic club, which comprises of a small gym, an indoor-outdoor pool and an outdoor hot tub, all with magnificent views of the lake and mountains

i had pretty much decided i wouldn't join this gym -  i have dodged bathing suits and pools for many years

but as i thought about it and realized how much i loved the water as a child and how much i have missed it, i decided it was a true shame not to experience the joy of the water again

so today i bit the bullet

 i swam for fourty-five minutes - i had the whole pool to myself and it was - well, i just can't quite describe how i felt - pure joy, it was

sewing room purge, using favourite fabrics, getting back to childhood joys - now is finally when, and i can't wait until the next time those words pop into my head - i just know there will be something amazing afoot...

so i ask you, what are missing out on that would make them pop into yours? 

Monday, February 17, 2014


yep, expansion is what's on my mind these days

i've been trying my hand at smocking

shell from the raspberry rabbits  did a blog post about the wonderful embroidery of michele carragher who has done some exquisite work

 on michele's website she has a tutorial for making dragon scale smocking

and as i love anything to do with smocking i had to try it out

my first attempt was interesting but not at all like michele's

the right side, after pressing

i thought i figured out my error so i tried again, in a smaller scale

right side, smaller scale, before pressing

 after pressing
 my second attempt was also wrong - the scales are far too spaced out - i still like it, but not what i was after...

 after studying her pictures closer, and ignoring the written instructions altogether, i made another stab at it

third attempt, right side, before pressing
 the third was the charm
(isn't it always??)

third attempt, after pressing

below are all three versions
looking at the photo it would seem my first attempt was pretty good after all, and number three needs more pressing... but i am so thrilled with them anyway

i'm going to make one more sample on muslin and add some embroidery, and then try it out with silk 

and so... back to expansion... i was thinking about that word as i worked on this - it's smocking but the way i did it, it doesn't expand much - there are stitches that aren't meant to be gathered so i knotted them

i don't mind that it doesn't stretch, it just makes me think i either am doing it wrong, or else it isn't "smocked" in the traditional manner

it doesn't matter, i like it anyway

Saturday, February 15, 2014


 thinking about the meaning of "confine" these days

it isn't my word for february, although it certainly would have been a good one... but i'm re-visiting words from 2012 and this month it's "prudence"

which i have also been pondering a lot and beginning to discover the two can go hand in hand

"confine" first though
{as it's prudent to only talk about one word at a time!}

"to restrict, to keep within limits"

the little heart below, the beginning of an angel

the lace edging providing a beautiful and delicate border, confining the buttons to the "body-heart", keeping them from the "wings-heart"

funnily enough, our hearts are something that know no boundaries and true love cannot be confined

 as i wrote my morning pages the other day, this was the view; from a distance, the curtains confining my view of the snowstorm outside

a small, narrow glimpse of a big, wide world


getting off the chair, taking a few steps forward, the view expanded, and as i leaned forward to the glass, it became unending

lean back, the view narrows, lean in, and you get expansion...

and so i leaned in to my sewing room

i spent the rest of the day removing all the excess "stuff" from the closet, the floor and the bookcase, finally understanding that i had been fighting all these years to try and make that poor little room accommodate how i prefer to work, when what was really needed was that i change how i work to fit that room

light bulbs lit up, bells rang and all that was missing was the hallelujah chorus bursting into song


intellectually i've always understood that when you let go of what you want to be true, what is true will be shown

the proverbial "aha" moment

well, i finally got mine

and at the end of the day, i had arranged and purged and tidied and dusted and was blessed to sit in a room that was finally organized to suit it

and in the quiet hush of the snow falling gently, i finally understood...

it also finally suited me

Monday, February 10, 2014

making books...

these are two of my favourite books i've made - i don't own either, but i am content with my memories of making them

as requested, i've prepared a tutorial for sewing the pages together and i've placed it in a permanent spot up under the header for my blog so you will always have easy access to it

i'll warn you - it's a long one

lots of pictures, lots of words
hopefully it will all make sense

there is wonderful information on the web you can easily access just by googling "book-binding instructions"

 if you have any questions, drop me a note and i'll do my best to help

i hope if you decide to try this and make a book of your own, you will discover what a joyful thing it is to hold a book in your hands of your own making

for me, it has been a truly wondrous thing

Sunday, February 9, 2014

blue on blue...

i think i pretty much like all the colours
{excepting for bright purple - i cannot abide bright purple...}

but i do love blue

if i had to pick only one, for all time, it would be blue

as i auditioned different silk fabrics to place behind this bit of paperwork, everything looked positively drab until, and after, i tried this blue

the frayed bit most certainly gave it an edge - ahem - but it was the colour that decided it

 i also got to work on the fabric for the spine area of my stitch history book...

i took the last big piece of that wonderful calico and created a surface from all manner of left-over bits of lace, silk, linen and cotton... left-overs... who knew?

little bits of embroidery here and there, melding cloth and scraps together

 i could have stitched on this for ever, it's addicting really
 every little bit you do leads you to a new area of the cloth and the urge to prettify it takes hold

good word huh?


below you will see the book cover all put together... and now hopefully understand what i was striving for with adding the bits of white and cream to the calico...

fabrics extending

 normally, the book cloth for the spine area of a book is made of linen, for strength


mine is muslin, with cotton, with bits and pieces, fused to tissue paper, the edges cut with pinking shears, in the hopes of a frayed, organic edge

 the centre "cameo" area was purposefully left rumpled... this book is to house my history in stitch and i want it to have a well-worn, comfortable, "please can i touch it" look

 the back i left fairly plain, letting the lines be a little more distinct

and finally, the inside

 these bits will be all covered up when the book block is in so for posterity, here's what it looked like

it doesn't bother me to cover all this pretty stitchery with paper glue - it's still there really, i know it, adding layers 

the picture tutorial on sewing the signatures is almost ready - photos taken and edited, just the text remaining... i'll be back with that tomorrow for those who requested it

Sunday, February 2, 2014

sunday funday...

beautiful sunday...

sundays are always happy days for me, today, especially so

we're going to a friend's for dinner, and she is an amazing cook, and hostess
and rack of lamb is on the menu

i recently purchased a book on 17th and 18th century fashion in detail... if you know me at all, you know i am all about the details

it's a lovely, lovely book and in it, i discovered fly fringe

i'm hooked!

first though, i'll share some close-ups of my lace paper...

it needs hand-stitching but i find myself distracted yet again...

pretty though, huh?

and sure as anything it distracted me from something else...

for now it's the perfect back-drop for my fly fringe 

first i made one using green and white for the base and blue with a strand of yellow for the flies

today i started another, using more strands to add a little weight, and tied double flies

coral in two values

laid on top of each other, they begin to give the effect i'm looking for

fly fringe is like a happy little garden dancing along a sleeve, frill, neckline, anywhere really - there are some lovely dresses over in pinterest and i've started a new board of my own called "pretties"

isn't it just the cutest thing?

 i think i'm hooked

the tutorial i found advised using a knotting shuttle but the ones i found online had such high shipping costs i thought i'd try without one and see how i fared - working with a smaller length, about 12", i didn't find it any trouble at all - fiddly, but not hard
 i've been told a tatting shuttle would probably work but i don't have any of those either so i'll keep on using my fingers

next up is to dig out some of over-dyed silk floss... the colours are far more muted than what i have used so far but i think this fringe would look adorable in just about any colour combination

so there i am, tied up in knots and loving every minute!