Friday, August 26, 2016

Two Inch Squares

Hello there! Yes I am back. It may have been a while since I have been here, but there has certainly been some creating going on the background. I just couldn't show some of it until today.


These are my version of a two inch square. Nine of them in all. Two inch squares was the theme this year of one of my stitching groups. We could stitch what and how we liked, the only stipulation was the finished size had to be two inches square.

At first I took a while to think what I would do, then it dawned on me that I always wanted to try square Teneriffe Lace, so I did.

It was easy to make up my little square pad, then I collected together some scraps of Perle 8 thread from my stash and started to play. The first attempts are the pink, blue and cream squares. The last of these was the square on the top left, and I just loved the pattern that it created. So all my squares after that were in the same pattern, just different colour combinations.

I want to make a few more of these squares using the same pattern, and mixing the colours up. I have a project in mind that I want to use them on and I will need fifteen of them in all, so I have a few more to do still.

For the moment, these little squares, along with others that my stitching friends have done, are all on exhibition until this Sunday. The exhibition is being held at The Masonic Hall, 315 Concord Rd, Concord West, here in Sydney. It is open from 10am - 3pm today, tomorrow ( Saturday) and Sunday. So be quick if you want to see them.

I have other things to show you all too, but not just yet. I am waiting for a few things to happen first.


Friday, April 29, 2016

Digitized Machine Embroidered Multihooped Scallops

Behold! My first project that involved multi hooping!

I have wanted to know about multi hooping for a while. What is multi hooping you ask? It is where a whole machine embroidery design has to be hooped more than once to achieve the final result. The trick is getting it to join smoothly and without the join being noticed.

Then one day I discovered a new canvas in my upgraded digitizing program. It was a hooping canvas. Previously, I had only had an artwork canvas and an embroidery canvas, now I had a hooping canvas as well. I decided to play, and the only thing to play with was a big design that needed multiple hoopings.

I had asked a lady I know who is very good at digitizing. All I knew was that there were registration points for matching purposes, but I didn't know how or where to put them.  The only clue that A---- had given me was to start small, and had suggested to start with a flower that need a long stem. Mmmmm.......... what would I put a flower on? So I go thinking, what else could I do that would need a long line, take little matching, and that  could be used if it worked? So my scallops were born.

I started looking through my files to see what scallops I had. I did have one, but it was too small for what I wanted, so I set about digitizing a bigger one. I was going to stitch them out onto white fabric, cut the excess fabric away then use them as a trim of a bag. Sort of like a lace trim inserted between two pieces of fabric. They didn't need to be too strong just for a trim, but I still wanted them strong. So there are two different underlays under the scallop, as well as interfacing ironed onto the fabric. Hopefully this will be strong enough so the scallops wont stretch, or tear at the points.

The program automatically made them with the stitch angle at 45 deg. This was not good so it needed to be changed. I put it at 90 deg,  It was fine at tip of the scallop, but  did not look good at the points. I had discovered an 'add stitch angles' button which I decided to play with. I am sure I had it before the upgrade, but had never used it. It came in good use now. I inserted multiple stitch angles into my scallops to be at 0 deg at the points, and 90 deg at the tip of the curve. This made the stitches curve beautifully around the scallop.

OK, so scallop done, it now needed to repeated so it stitched out in a smooth stitching sequence. Time to adjust start and end points before repeating. In all, I repeated the scallop so I had a line about 19 inches, that's nearly 50 cm in length. A length  that I could use, and definitely had to be multi hooped.

In the hooping canvas, I learnt how to position hoops, add hoops, add splitting guides and a lot more that in reality I didn't need. It certainly was a learning curve. According to the program, I had one splitting guide, and two hoopings, but when I came to stitch it out, the machine told me that the design was too big for the hoop. Mmmmm........ not according to the program. This is where I found out that I could change the hoop size, and when I put in the hoop size that I had on the machine, I now had three hoopings!

OK, so now I was about to start stitching out this design. I had searched on line for resources on multi hooping, and read tutorials and watched You-tube videos. One of the tutorials said to use sticky backed stabilizer. I had seen it, but never used it. Could I buy it? Yes I could, but I chose not to. Instead I used my trusty tear-away. Lesson leaned, not a good choice.

The program had split the file into three different parts. I had to stitch part 1, re-hoop, match up registration points, then stitch part 2. Part 1 had registration points in the stitch out, and I was supposed to match the registration points in Part 2 to those in Part 1. The problem was that because I had used a tear-away stabilizer, it tore at the registration points! I tried to match them up when stitching out Part 2, but of course I was out and things didn't match. Mmm....... lesson learnt. I was out by about 2 mm, not a huge amount, and my scallops overlapped so at least it was still usable.

When I came to stitch out Part 3, I didn't even use the registration points, I just moved the design on-screen and matched the start point of part 3 with the end point of Part 2. Perfection!

That's when I decided to stitch another line of scallops, the could be used on the other side of the bag. I have trimmed them now, and they are ready to trim my new bag.

OK, so my first try at multi-hooping was a huge lesson. I have learned heaps. Would I do it again? Absolutely! So watch this space for more multi hooping adventures and of course my finished bag trimmed with my own stitched out scallops.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Grace's Garden


"Grace's Garden" is the name I have given to my latest finished creation. It is a quilt that I made for a family member for her birthday. The quilt was born of scraps, with just one added fabric of flowers that blended in with the scraps.

The tiny coloured squares were produced by cutting strips,  sewing the strips together in an order, then cross cutting. This produced a strip of coloured squares separated by white ones.

Overall, the quilt was planned in my quilting program, which is attached to my digitizing program. I could insert fabrics, work out the size of the strips to cut, and have a virtual vision of what the finished quilt would look like.

As I worked on it, the quilt started to talk to me as to how I would quilt it. The flowers won out. Stitched in pink, they were stitched through paper on which I had drawn the design. The paper was then easy to tear away. The sashings were ditch stitched.


The label took nearly as much time to do as the quilt itself. It has been digitized, and I wanted to continue the flower theme into the label. It was these flowers that took the time. I wanted them to 'radiate', and this meant learning about the 'star fill' feature in my digitizing program. In the meantime, my PC crashed and I had to sit patiently and wait for it to be fixed.

The PC is all fixed now, the quilt is finished, and has been gifted. Hopefully the new owner will get plenty of warm cuddles from it over many years to come.

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Mother of the Bride Dress

After some discussions recently on an on-line sewing group I am in, I realized I hadn't shown you all the Mother of the Bride dress that I made towards the end of the last year.

This lady was supposed to make it herself, but she was running out of time and asked me to do it. She had already bought the pattern and the fabric, so what could be so hard?

Mmmmmm............. The fabric was sequinned, something I hadn't really sewn with before, and the pattern, well don't get me started on that! It had seven, yes seven, horizontal seams in the skirt alone, then more in the bodice! The idea was that parts of the dress were left sheer, and the way this was achieved was to cut the fabric, and back only parts with lining. Mmmmmm.......... this might work on some fabrics, and be very pretty too, but not on this lovely sequinned fabric.

My first thought was to reverse engineer the pattern back to a basic shape to reduce the number of seams. This proved to be a nightmare, and I thought it would be easier to pattern make it from scratch, so I did. After many discussions with the client, we took out all the horizontal seams, and put in panel lines. The original shape was kept and the panel lines let me control the fitting, as well as give her the flare on the skirt that she wanted.

OK, so pattern done, toile fitting well, the lining was made and fitted well. I proceeded to lay the patterns out  carefully on the lace, only to find it was a one way design and needed to be cut singly. I had made 1/2 patterns that are used when we cut things on a fold or mirror, so now I needed to make double patterns to make sure there was enough fabric.

I had assumed there was enough fabric, and when I placed all the patterns out, I was missing one panel!  I tried placing them down the length of the fabric as well as across the fabric, and still there was not enough fabric!This was not possible! The mother of the bride could not go to her daughters wedding with one panel missing from her dress! OK, so I needed to find a solution.

Solution 1 - buy more fabric. Fabric stores that sell this type of fabric will not sell  just 30 cms more. Besides, the client had bought all the shop had.

Solution 2 - reduce the flare. This helped a little, but not enough.

Solution 3 - make it shorter. At the clients request, I had made the length 15 cm longer than the original pattern, so I started folding up all the hems by 10 cms, and yes, it made a difference! I could cut all the pieces!

Remind me not to sew with sequins again. Once I cut into the fabric, I had sequins everywhere!

I had been told to cut all the sequins from the seam allowances before sewing, so I tested a sample with my nail scissors and started snipping. What a tedious job! The sequins were so small! So I tested a sample just sewing a seam without removing the sequins. It worked without an issue.

The dress only had two layers, the lace and the lining. That was all the client wanted. That only left me with binding the armholes and the neckline as a finish.   I had planned to bind the seams of the lace with organza as well, but this actually looked awful so they just got over locked, it looked so much better. I had been panicking about the hem, and in the end I faced it with the organza.

Overall I was happy with the final effect, but not as happy as the client. She was over the moon. Would I make another sequinned dress again? Probably, especially if the client would pay me more. My thanks must go out to Christine M for all the help and advice she gave me over the phone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A New Work Bag

Behold, my new work bag!

This bag was born out of my local sewing group. One of the ladies had so much fabric she decided to cut up a huge pile into squares, and the members of the group could piece together colours of their choice into a bag. At group day, I chose my pieces, and got them all sewn together but one seam. It them came home and sat on my sewing table. I had one brainwave that my bobbin lace fish could adorn this bag, so set out stitching him onto one blank square, then promptly left the bag rolled up, unfinished, in another bag, on my sewing table. I found it again in my clean up last week, so decided to finish it.

It only needed one seam to sew, lining, quilting, a bind and some handles. The lining was scraps, donated by the lady who cut the squares. There was enough of it, it just needed to be be joined to make a piece large enough. The batting was scraps left over from other quilts that I had made. Once again joined to make a piece big enough for what I wanted.

So I made my quilt sandwich -  backing, batting and bag outer, and pinned it all together. I even checked that my fish was in the best place for viewing. Then I decided to have a play with the quilting and do something I had not done before. Because I had added my bobbin lace fish, I thought it might be fun to quilt fish shapes and waves on the bag. I had quilted  plenty of straight lines, shadow quilting, and stitching in the ditch, but stitching shapes and other lines like this was something new. I had tried once before and outlined the marks on a quilt in pencil.  As a dressmaker I should have known better because the pencil has never washed out, and as a result I have stayed away from free form quilting. This time I traced the fish shapes and waves into a tear-a-way, and quilted  through that. Wallah! Fish shapes and waves and no pencil markings! Why didn't I think of this before?

I was on a roll, and my bag was looking good, until I started to join it together into the bag shape. My bobbin lace fish that had taken sooooooooo long to do, was sitting at the bottom! I nearly cried! He couldn't stay there, he would wear, so he had to be moved. But how? All his working ends had been taken back through the green fabric and finished off. There were dozens of them, so he was not moving from that piece of fabric. The only choice was to move the square, but that meant unpicking quilting! So that's what I did, unpicked the quilting, swapped two squares around, then re-did the quilting. Sounds easy right? Took me a while, but I got there and my fish can now be viewed well and is safe from wear.

The bag was formed, seams on the inside bound, once again out of scraps. Then I made my handles, once again out of scraps. They contain slotted waist banding for strength and ease of making, and a layer of batting for some padding.

All in all I am happy with my new work bag, and will use it with pride. Amazing what can be made from other peoples unwanted fabric and one's own stash of scraps.


Monday, January 11, 2016

A Soft Toy

Say hello to Mr Anteater. At least that's what we have been calling him. He is with his new owner now, so I can show him off to you all. S_____ can call him what ever he likes, or rather his parents can, because he is way too little to talk about anything yet.

The pattern came from a magazine that I was loaned by a friend, a knitting magazine I think, though this little fellow is crocheted. I made him from an acrylic yarn that I had in my stash. I had two 100g balls, one blue and one variegated, and I thought this would be enough. it was, just I was pushing it at the end. Just enough to do his eyes!

He had to be stuffed along the way, and I thought I had a bag of fiberfill in my stash. I looked everywhere, but what I thought was fiberfill was actually scraps of batting. I did harbour thoughts of cutting the batting up into tiny pieces and using that to stuff him, but thought he may turn out a bit lumpy. Then I found some old cushion inserts that were waiting for new covers, so they are not cushion inserts any more! The filling of one has become a bag of toy filling!

Anyway, he is finished now, and being cuddled by his new owner. He was certainly something different for me to make, and the first soft toy I have made for a very long time.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Sampler Nearly Finished

I have been working on my sampler again. Yes, this is the same one that has been going on for nearly 10 years! It it that long? Well, considering it started way back in 2006, the maths does add up!

Beginning as a Counted Thread Round Robin that travelled the world, this sampler has had a little hic-up along the way. The main one was the broken threads, but that can be read about here.

The broken threads have been fixed for a few years now, and every now and then I pull the sampler out and add another band to it. At the beginning of this year, I made a resolution to myself that it would be finished this year. Mmmmmm............ maybe not finished, but it will be close.

Over the last few months I have added a few new bands, some narrow, some wide, trying to add some interest as well as light and shade. I have kept with the original pink and green colour scheme as I think it looks fabulous.

So far I have added in a Wessex band to cover up the fixed broken threads, a fine back stitched border with contrasting four sided stitches, a counted zig-zag band with back stitched border, another row of  back stitch with contrasting intermittent cross stitches and half cross stitches, a row of coloured needle weaving, and finally another row of back stitch spaced with back stitch diamonds that have been filled with a contrasting four sided stitch.

I started yet another band on Saturday, only to find yet another broken thread! I wonder how many more I will find? This broken thread was nowhere near the last group, and so far seems to be the only one. It's been fixed now, an easier fix than the last group, so I can continue on with my stitching. This row will be the final one on the right, then I have a space of about 8cm to fill at the other end before it is finished. I have even found some fabric to line it with and turn it into the bag that it was always intended to be. So watch this space, this sampler will soon be finished!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wild Socks

How are these for my new socks? A little wild for me but under my jeans and in my boots who will see?

These socks are my latest finish. Made from Schoppel Wolle Crazy Zauberball 4ply, a 75% wool 25% nylon yarn from Germany, which I purchased from Morris & Sons. They will be so warm!

The pattern is the Lupine Lace Socks, put out by Fiber Trends, which I purchased from The Wool Inn.

I had a lovely time knitting these socks. I had also purchased a new set of double pointed needles made by Knit Pro while at The Wool Inn, and I must say these needles are a dream to knit with. Much better than the bamboo ones I used for my last pair of socks. These will be all ready for when the snow hits nearby again. Now I will be able to get on with my shawl.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pretty In Pink


This pretty pink scarf came about from scraps. One of the ladies in my local sewing group was having a de-stash, and I found this lovely piece of pink embroidered cotton voile. It was long and narrow, perfect for making a scarf, so I tucked it away in my stash with a little note as to what was to be done with it. That was way back in the beginning of last year.

Then a while back, I needed a quick project to do one group day, so pulled this pink fabric out, found some matching thread, took it to group day and proceeded to hem it.


The hem is a very fine turned zigzag, to me it is much quicker and easier to do than threading the over locker to do a rolled hem. As I was hemming it, I was thinking of what to decorate the ends with. It did come to mind that I could add some free standing digitized lace flowers, to match the flowers in the embroidery. More work, but hey, I could handle that, and it would be a good challenge.

When I got home, I searched through my stash and found a ball of crocheting cotton, that was the perfect pink. So rather than going to all the time and effort of digitizing some free standing lace, I decided to crochet some flowers instead.

The flowers add another dimension and some weight to the scarf, even if they do get tangled. I crocheted the flowers first, then added a chain length to add them to the ends of the scarf. I had previously added a little edge in crochet all the way around to help give it more strength and weight, and this is what I attached the flowers to.

Pink is not a colour I normally wear, but it may jazz up a navy or white top in spring or even jazz up a hat in summer. Whatever it goes with, it is finished, and I have something off my to-do list.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fingerless Gloves

Behold, my new, made to measure, fingerless gloves. I would prefer to call them half fingered rather than fingerless, after all they still have fingers, just not to the tips.

I have never really wanted a pair of these until our last cold snap. There was snow on the mountains not too far away, and although the sun was shining, the wind was icy, and I was trying to sew. My sewing space is at the back of the house which loses the sun fairly quickly in winter, and my hands were so cold they could barely guide the fabric under the machine.

 Light bulb moment!I needed a pair of fingerless gloves! I had never needed a pair before, my theory being my fingertips are the first to get cold, so I prefer full fingered gloves. I had seen what they call "smokers gloves", where one hand is full fingered, & the other has the thumb, index and middle finger short, but I needed all the tips clear so I could guide fabric under the machine.

Made in 100% pure wool in 4 ply, I have made them to fit my hands and my fingers, leaving from the first knuckle free to grip whatever. When I finished the first one, I wore it knitting the second one, so all should be good. I should be able to guide the fabric through the machine, thread the machine, and yes, I can even type on a keyboard with them! They might just become my new winter accessory.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blue Socks

Another pair of hand knitted socks to the collection.

This pair was started because I needed something crafty to do on a recent weekend away. I always have to think about where I will be going, how long for, what's the reason I am going, etc etc to know what to take with me to do. If I know I am going some place where the lighting is good, I can take stitching. But if I am not sure about the lighting, then knitting is always a good choice.  Depending where I am going and for how long, I have been known to take lighting with me.

My original plan was to knit a very plain pair of socks, that way I wouldn't have to think. To begin with it was just a rib, then plain stocking stitch. As it was only a weekend away, the harder thinking of the heel would happen when I came home.

When I did come home, I found this pattern from Knit Picks and it was free.  I am always a bit wary of free patterns, I tend to think they have a problem somewhere, but hey, I am clever & could overcome any problem. So I pulled my started plain sock undone, and started on this pattern.

Mmmmmm.......... my instinct about free patterns is correct. It wasn't that there was mistakes, it was just hard to read and I feel it could have been written clearer. The fact that I left the pattern digital, and worked from my tablet may have something to do with it too, swiping back and forth to read the pattern wasn't fun.

There were a few other issues along the way, some pattern related, some needle related, some yarn related, but in the end I got there. They are made from a 4ply pure wool, and I didn't quite have enough for my socks, so hence the toes are a slight different colour. But who will notice? They will be hidden inside my boots keeping my toes warm.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Baby Accessories

This is some quick knitting I have done for a new little baby girl.

The yarn is Shepherd Baby Wool Merino 4ply. The pattern for the booties and mittens came from an old book in my library called "Payton's Babytime", while the pattern for the hat is one I made up by myself.

In the pattern book the hat was a bonnet, and I am not sure that babies seem to wear bonnets any more, the fashion seems to be little hats or those horrid elastic head bands with flowers. To me, little hats are much more practical and comfortable for tiny newborns.

So what did I do to arrive at this little hat? I had a collection of baby hat patterns that I had found on the net, and I searched through them until I found one in 4 ply. Most of them were in 8 ply believe it or not! Who knits things for little babies in 8 ply? Anyway, once I found a basic pattern, I adjusted the stitches slightly to accommodate the pattern. It was only a change of a few stitches larger which wasn't a big deal, better to be too big than too small. From there I followed the pattern in my book to arrive at the pretty picot edge and rows of patterning. Then I jumped back to the basic hat pattern for the height and shaping at the top. The shaping was off at the beginning by a few stitches, but cannot be noticed in the finished article.

This cute little set is now with it's new owner.


Tuesday, May 05, 2015

A Baby Mobile

A cute little baby mobile that I made for my new great niece.

The inspiration for this mobile started two years ago when another of my great nieces was born. I had made her this baby shawl, and when visiting, asked her mother if she needed anything else. The answer came back "a mobile". My niece had been trying to make one, but with a new baby she was having difficulty. So the conversation started about colours, and what she wanted on the mobile...... ........owls. I possibly would have done something different, but owls were, and still are,  very poplar.

I needed inspiration, so hunted around on the net for owl pics. Of course there were heaps, I just had to pick one. Once I chose a pic, I had to work out fabrics and how it was actually going to be constructed, etc etc. I had fabrics of course, that was no drama, and working out the pattern for the construction of the owls was no big deal. The eye area and the chest pieces were to be appliquéd, but what about those half moon eyes, the beak, and the feet? They were all so tiny! I thought about using  felt but how to apply? Glue is messy and I thought they would be too fiddly to hand stitch on. Then one day I had a brain wave that I could use my digitizing program and machine embroider them!

Digitizing is a whole different world, and these little eyes and beaks needed to be an exact size and spacing. It took me two attempts, the first one being slightly too big and slightly too far apart, but I eventually got there. Scanning my pattern and placing it as a backdrop in  my digitizing program  certainly helped. Thank goodness for testing first! I also digitized the eyes and beak in two different colours. This would stop the machine so I could put whatever colour I wanted in the needle.

So once I had the eyes and beak sorted, I could make a start. The owls were going to be double sided and slightly padded, six hanging, so that made 12 owls total. I wanted them all the same, but all different, if that makes sense. So they were all the same shape , size and design, I just changed the colours around and put different designs on their chests.


The designs on the chest were just fancy machine stitches, stitches I very rarely use. I started playing to see what effects I could get if I mirrored or flipped the patterns. Yes, my sewing machine has this wonderful feature available. At first I had picked out sewing threads and machine embroidery threads in plain colours to match the fabrics, but then I dug out a variegated machine embroidery thread that I had dismissed previously and tried it on a sample. Why didn't I use this before? It looked so good!


One of the fabrics had a small pattern of circles on it. I had to be careful which machine stitch to use on it so that it enhanced the circles, not conflict with them. So I chose an eyelet that I found in amongst all the buttonholes. I think it worked well on the printed fabric.

Once the chest pieces were decorated, I could appliqué them to the background, appliqué the eye sections, then stitch out the eyes and beaks. At this stage they were still on squares of fabrics and they were screaming to be made into a quilt, but this was not the end purpose, so I soldiered on.

The owls were then carefully placed back to back with padding in between, so everything matched, then carefully stitched around the owl outline, and cut to shape.  It was at this stage that I placed the feet . I had agonized over these feet the same as the eyes and beak. Once again  I had thought of felt, but as the feet were hanging, I thought the felt may pull out, it was very tiny. So another brain wave said digitize! This time it was the feet outline, in a small stitch length, stitched onto two layers of fabric vlysafixed together. I felt that this would be stronger than felt. Once digitized, stitched and cut out, they were stitched onto the base of the owl, then satin stitched in place as I satin stitched the edges of the owls. Finito!

Well not quite. Once again I had agonized over how to hang them. My initial thought was dowel, painted to match, with tiny holes drilled to tie the owls to the dowel with fishing line. I wanted them to turn and swing, another problem to solve. DH to the rescue with his  fishing and hardware knowledge. 

I had found an old lampshade ring in my stash, so ended up padding it and covering it with matching fabric, This saved drilling holes in tiny pieces of dowel and messy painting. My part done, the rest was up to DH who supplied fishing swivels to let the owls spin, fishing line to hang, and the knowledge of how to tie knots so they didn't come undone.

This is a one of a kind mobile which is now entertaining is new owner. Would I make another one? Maybe, but it would have to be different. At least I now know about the uses of fishing swivels.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Filet Dragonfly

Behold my filet dragonfly! I am very proud of him as he is my own. Drawn on paper, transferred to a graph, then worked onto my own hand made mesh.

The mesh is made by drawing two threads, leaving two threads, in a pattern, both vertical and horrizontal. The remaining threads are then whipped together for strength. Making  this mesh takes time.

Using my dragonfly graph, I then worked out a weaving plan for linen stitch. This weaving plan has to be precise, as one incorrect turn of the needle, or one skipped over or under, will throw the rhythm of the linen stitch out.

Watch this space as there will be more filet to come.