Sunday 28 April 2013

Dandelion Bookmark

Do you have an interesting book to read at the moment or a favourite one that you can read over and over again? I do. A few to be exact.

The bookmark is ready to be used. It turned out to be much better than I anticipated. I was a bit concerned with the stitching of the dandelion head and seeds because the embroidery thread seemed to be too pale, but it turned out to be just right.

I used two types of fabric for this bookmark - heavy duty cotton for the front and Japanese printed cotton in light blue and pale gold for the back. I had a choice of four prints. From the left: first two were too bright and overpowering for the dandelion, the delicate print of the third one was lost in everything neutrally coloured, but the forth one was just perfect in my unprofessional opinion.

I am happily surprised with the end result and already have a few ideas on my mind to keep me busy for some time. 

Thursday 25 April 2013

Sashiko Frustration

A stitching note to self - remember what you wanted your embroidery to look like in the first place.

Have you heard about Sashiko? I had not until not long ago. I definitely saw this particular style of Japanese stitching or decorative reinforcement embroidery, as it is properly called, but I never paid much attention to it and I did not even know how it was called. Well, I was not interested in any kind of embroidery not long ago.

Working with cotton and linen fabrics in natural colour as a base for my stitching made me think about using a darker colour fabric with a white floss. After some searching I came across Sashiko technique that I instantly fell in love with. I realised how many household items I own that have some elements of Sashiko. The simplicity of the lines and the complexity of traditional designs won me over. And of course I could not wait to give it a try.

One particular pattern that caught my eye was a picture of a Bamboo, similar to an ink painting I did a long time ago. So I thought why not start with my own bamboo painting and try stitching it on indigo linen with white cotton. I absolutely ignored the fact that the embroidery I saw was done by a machine.

Well, it was a good idea that did not go that smooth after all. Why? Because I am not good at reading and following instructions, I loose patience quickly and tend to do things my own way but, unfortunately, quite often I have to redo the whole thing because of that. In this particular situation it was a good thing. I do like the look of Sashiko designs but while working on it for the first time without any instructions, I came across many problems and my frustration grew stronger with every uneven stitch. But at the same time I kept thinking that it's not really what I wanted to do in the first place. The reason why I do not call my embroidery "embroidery" but simply "stitching" because I want it to look like a sketch on fabric, one tone, maybe with a splash of colour, thin pencil-like lines. Sashiko embroidery is far from it.

So after all the hours spent in vain, I gave up and left this idea till some other time when I have a better understanding of Sashiko basics, till I have more time to experiment with new techniques but for now I will stick with my own way of embroidery or stitching how I like to call it.

Monday 22 April 2013

Work in Progress: Dandelions

Do you like dandelions? I do, I always did. I like them when they are in bloom with their bright yellow caps covering green fields. How much fun it was making flower crowns, chains or necklaces and bracelets; little matchstick people with a flower  head and curly hair (split the stem, put it in water and see what happens). I like them when they get old and the yellow caps turn into delicate, almost lace like, head pieces. They used to bring us, kids, so much joy and happiness. Simple things, not fancy toys. And of course, dandelions meant sun, warmth, summer holidays and a lot of fun.

So no wonder why I sketched dandelions the other day, a call from a long time gone childhood. The drawing just appeared on paper, it was not planned but I have an idea for it already.

I have got many pieces of cotton and linen fabric in natural colour, most of them are narrow strips. They are too small to be used for notebook covers or heat bags but for bookmarks they should perfect. Just an idea I am going to try out. I am quite excited to see the end result.

Thursday 18 April 2013

Fabric Envelope

The Little Girl chasing butterflies... The envelope has been completed. The colour of Molly's dress and the lining is so bright and vibrant, it almost glows. I am sure Molly is very happy now, she is surrounded by flowers and butterflies. What else a girl might need?

This simple envelope is a great storage solution for a sewing corner. It's pretty enough to be displayed on a working desk or on a shelf. It's perfect for keeping fabric, sketches, notes or any other supplies you might have in your studio. It can be easily made with old offcuts of fabric that are not big enough for anything else and can be decorated with any stitching design or appliqué. The possibilities are endless.

I am working on a few projects at the moment and one of them is going to be a fabric envelope tutorial. If you are interested, please keep your eye out for it.

Fabric Stash Additions

Just a quick stitching note - some new additions to my fabric stash. I know that I already have more fabric than I need for my planned projects, but I simply cannot help myself especially when one of the shops is conveniently located and has some nice finds.

I mostly use linen or heavy duty cotton as a base for my stitching so you can imagine that shopping for this type of fabric is nothing exciting. The printed cottons are primarily used for linings of notebooks and envelopes and small pieces are used for appliqué. Just a tiny splash of colour. This is why I am not fussed about the releases of latest fabric collections. But still I feel really happy when I come across something cute. Two fat quarters from Flying a Kite collection (in pink and orange) by October Afternoon for Riley Blake is my favourite. It's a last year collection but it does not matter, this fabric is still so pretty.

I just love looking at my stash, the colours and patterns are absolutely pleasing to my eye, the little bolts of fabric neatly stacked on a shelf or tiered up with a cotton ribbon - it's an endless joy for a fabric addict and a source of inspiration.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Tutorial: No Knot Cord Ends - Cute Ball

Here is one more way of finishing off the ends of the cord of your drawstring bag. This method does not require a sewing machine, it's all done by hand. If you know how to make fabric Yo-Yos or Saffolk  Puffs, then you won't have any trouble with making this cute little ball.

Note: for this tutorial I am using a single cord but if you are decorating a drawstring bag, you would have to complete every step twice for each side of the bag. 

Step 1: Use a round template 5.5cm in diameter. Put the template on the wrong side of your fabric and trace it. Cut out the circle.

Step 2: Place the fabric on working surface with the wrong side facing up. Fold over the edge about 0.5cm. Make sure to use a strong thread of a matching colour. Secure the thread in place with a knot and stitch all the way around the edge using a running stitch. For the better result, all stitches should be of equal size and run very close to the edge.

Step 3: End your stitching right next to the starting point. Gently pull the thread to gather the folded edge to make a cup. Do not cut off the thread yet.

Step 4: Wrap the stuffing material around the ends of the cord giving it a ball shape. Insert the wrapped cord ends inside the cup. This step is a bit tricky so you might need a bit of practice before stitching the cord in place.

Step 5: Very carefully pull and tighten the thread. You have to be very gentle to make sure that the thread does not snap. Stitch the cord in place by pushing the needle all the way through the cord and the edge of the cup a few times (from right to left, from left to right, from back to front...). Make sure that you insert the needle between the folds of the cup to hide the thread.

Step 6: Once the cord is securely stitched in place, make a knot and hide it. Cut off the thread. You are done!

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Work in Progress: Molly

Just wanted to share a little work in progress with you. Have you met Molly? The little girl chasing butterflies?

She is getting a new dress today. I still have not decided whether to go with the flowery appliqué dress or the polka dot stitched one. Or maybe something different altogether? Not an easy decision. But Molly seems to be totally oblivious, she does not care, the butterflies is the only thing she can think of right now. So I better get back to work as well.

Sunday 7 April 2013

Tutorial: No Knot Cord Ends

Here you will find two ways of finishing off the cord ends of your drawstring bag. It takes just a little bit extra time to add this cute detail to your bag and gives you an opportunity to use any leftover fabric. I am going to show you how to make square and pentagon ends.

Note: for this tutorial I am going to use a single cord but if you are decorating your drawstring bag, you would have to complete each step twice for each side of the bag. You decide what shape you like the best and start stitching away. Here we go.

Step 1: For the square shape: Cut a piece of matching or contrasting fabric 4cmx8cm each. For the pentagon shape: Use the cut off corner (triangle) from Step 5 of Bento Drawstring Lunch Bag Tutorial.

Step 2: For the square shape: Fold the rectangle in half with the right sides together. Stitch the right and the left sides separately using a 0.5-0.8cm allowance. Backstitch the beginning and the end of each seam. The folded side is going to be the bottom of the square.

Step 3: For the square shape: Turn the rectangle the right side out carefully pushing the corners out with a chopstick. Iron. For the pentagon shape: Turn the triangle the right side out carefully pushing the corner out with a chopstick. Iron.

Step 4: For the square shape: Fold in about 1cm from the top and iron well. Now you should have a small square.  For the pentagon shape: Hold the triangle in your left hand with your index and thumb fingers. With your right hand push the right corner to the left. Now hold the triangle with your right hand with your thumb, index and middle fingers. Push the left corner to the right on top of the right corner. Make sure that the sides are symmetrical. Iron well. It might seem a bit complicated and tricky but with a little bit of practice you would be able to do it easily. Fold in about 0.5-1cm from the top and iron well again.

Step 5: For the square shape: Insert the ends of the cord inside the small square, carefully push the ends to the very bottom. Make sure that the cords are placed in the middle and that they are not twisted. Pin in place. For the pentagon shape: Insert the ends of the cord inside the small pentagon, carefully push the ends to the very bottom. Make sure that the cords are placed in the middle and that they are not twisted. Pin in place.

Step 6: For the square shape: Stitch around the perimeter of the square close to the edge starting at the left top corner. Remove the pin. At the corners, lift the foot of the machine and turn your work 90 degrees clockwise, lower the food and stitch to the next corner, continue with all four sides. Backstitch at the end of the seam, tie a know and cut off the excess of thread. For the pentagon shape: Proceed as above with all five sides. You are done.

Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions regarding this tutorial. I would love to hear from you. Happy stitching!

Tuesday 2 April 2013

More Notebook Covers

Just a quick stitching note - two more notebook covers that were finished quite a while ago but did not get a chance to be photographed at the time. This one is a digital pencil sketch of my not so Little Boy when he was really little.

The one below is a copy of a photograph from a very old newspaper that my grandma kept for years among some of her precious things because the photo of this little girl reminded her of me for some reason. So as you can see the covers have a bit of a sentimental touch to them.