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Friday, December 23, 2011

Japanese fabric iPad pouch

 In November I had the chance to buy some Japanese textiles from amongst those listed in David Pike's blog. I bought three pieces, without knowing what I would do with them.

They are woven brocade and Dave believes they come from temple ceilings, from constructions like this one.

I decided to have a go at making another pouch, this time padded to protect my iPad. I chose the one with the single medallion (chrysanthemum maybe?) because it was square to start with and required no cutting at all.

I bought some bottle green dupion from Eastern Silk in Adelaide and took the plunge.

I managed the measuring a bit better than I did last time. It is not, however, perfectly straight.

I lined it with the same dupion and put a layer of polyester batting in between.

I quilted the edges in shapes roughly mirroring the border pattern, using dark green Madeira silk thread and a fine gold metalic thread together.
 I quilted around every second petal in the flower using the dark green Madeira silk.

I then folded it and stitched the edges with cotton and embroidered them with a mixture of Madeira and Gumnut silks.

I finished it off with a corded edge and a button Dave had kindly sent me.

I am really pleased with the result. I works brilliantly for my iPad, even though it is square rather than rectangular, and provides good protection. It hadn't occurred to me until I began using it, how Christmassy it looks.

I will always remember when I made it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Gingerbread family ornaments

While making the ballet bears for the Christmas tree I was conscious that they would not appeal to my 6 year-old grandson. There wasn't a lot around that were as attractive for a boy, but  a kit for a Gingerbread Family came up on special at Herrschners, so I took a chance.

I have been working on it this week.

The figures come already cut out in three little cellophane packages, with thread included. The beads and a beading needle come in a separate cellophane bag and serve all three figures.

The fabric is stretchy teddy-bear material which I haven't worked with before. The bodies could have been stitched on the machine, but mine is packed up at the moment, as we have visitors, so I worked it all by hand. The instructions offer glueing as an alternative to stitching, but I am much more comfortable stitching!

There is a gingerbread chef-father, shown here before his second wrist was done.

There is no shortage of bling!

The gingerbread mother has a frivolous apron,a ruff and a bonnet, while the child has a spectacular vest and splendid scarf. In the pattern the child has a bow in her hair, which I managed to turn into a small cap for a gender change. My only criticism is that the vest has no back - a bit skimpy when working 3 dimensions.

They look quite jolly on the tree. Will they compensate a 6 year old boy for ballet bears? We will know fairly soon!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My batik top

One of my ambitions since retiring from full time paid work, has been to make some useful, comfortable clothes for myself from some of the material in my stash, much of it collected while travelling. With this in mind I went on a search for a pattern that I could use for making pants and tops - ideally a pattern I could adapt to smock some of the tops.

I wanted to try out the pattern by  making a top in the fabric my friend gave me on her return from Indonesia - the fabric I used to line the Alison Snepp pouch.

Eventually I found McCalls M5862 in my local fabric shop, but alas, the only size they didn't have was mine! Not to be defeated, I searched online and eventually ordered and received it from McCalls Australia online. This, annoyingly, cost considerably more than buying it over the counter, but saved me a lot of running around and I will use it many times.

I didn't have quite enough to use the border as a frill around the bottom, but I managed to use it around the sleeves. I added loops on the inside shoulders to clip a bra strap.

It is a simple pattern, but works really well - loose and comfortable, just as I had hoped (not the best photo in the world - best I could do taking it myself in the mirror!).

I have now cut out another one in an African fabric to smock around the neck, allowing a little bit extra for pleating. More soon on this, I hope.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Ballet Bears for Christmas tree

After my binge last year on Bucilla felt stockings, I bought a kit of Bucilla ballet bears thinking my granddaughter might like to make them. I realised as soon as it arrived that it was far too difficult. A few weeks ago I decided to make the bears to hang on this year's Christmas tree.

There are two each of three different bears in the kit - and the usual Bucilla sequins abound.

I find these kits a lot of fun. I like the variation - embroider a bit on the pre-stamped pieces, cut out, bead, applique, stuff.

This one didn't have a lot of embroidery and quite a bit of stitching limbs to torsos so you get a good sense of the figure emerging.
The first bear has her eyes closed in dance ecstasy, while the second one trips  along in a double-layered tutu.

The third one is wearing leg-warmers - clearly a seriously ambitious ballerina!

It is easy to vary the poses and decoration so each of the six bears is individual. 

I think these are going to be a big hit on the Christmas tree. I put them up this morning.

I think the children will be happy to take them home on Christmas Day.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkmen embroidered pouch

In the midst of making things for Christmas (blogs of which will have to wait until after the event!) I treated myself to a project I've been itching to try - Alison Snepp's Turkmen embroidered pouch from Inspirations Magazine Issue 69.

I've been gradually gathering fabric and threads for this  since I first saw it. I love the colours, the concept and the combination of stitches used.

The lining fabric Alison had used was distinctive and I couldn't find anything quite like it locally or online, but when a friend, recently returned from Indonesia, gave me, out of the blue, a piece of batik in maroons, greens and blues, my immediate thought was it would work brilliantly for this project. I had already purchased the deep red sateen base fabric and found a deep olive green cotton drill in my stash for the third piece.

The next step was where I went wrong. I think I need to go to some quilting classes to learn how to cut and join accurately, because, although I measured carefully, the three pieces did not fit together as intended. In the end, I trimmed the larger pieces to end up with a three-layered square, but the proportions of the border did not match the instructions.   The border should be the same width as the green squares, so I needed to adapt the running stitch zig-zag on the border .

One of the things I enjoyed about this project is the variety. The green fabric is hand-stitched to the red, the resulting piece is machine-stitched to the lining,  then the running stitch squares and border pattern are created by stitching through the three layers.

The little pinwheels are then added to some of the squares before folding the fabric to form a pouch.

Every stage is interesting and exciting, as you layer one effect on another.

You then embroider along the joins with corded blanket stitch bars and stem stitch.

The opening is finished with a cord and - the most interesting bit of all - embroidered with chain stitch in alternating colours, using a needle threaded with two colours. Magic!
The embroidered gusset - introducing a third thread colour - is a nice finishing touch, outlined in stem stitch and filled with double chain stitch (also known as turkmen stitch).
The blue and ecru tassels are as per the instructions. It was meant to have three tassels made from the red cloth also along the bottom, and one on the flap. My  cloth tassel was disappointing as the fabric was not dyed on the reverse side, so I decided to substitute a red thread tassel on the flap.

I loved doing this project, and I'm really happy with the result. I intend to use it as a knitting bag.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Mochi Mochi

My father was fond of telling me "Your eyes are too big for your belly" - meaning I put more food on my plate than I could eat. I think I should now adapt that to "My eyes are too big for the hours in the day"! In recent weeks I have fallen for some well targetted bookshop marketing of knitting books.

One of these is a book called Tiny Mochi Mochi, which features little figures - animate and inanimate - knitted on four tiny needles. Since I had bought some sets of 4 x 4 inch knitting needles last year when knitting the Andean bags, I thought I'd give this a go.

My starting project was two elephants, using bright acrylic.

You begin by casting on 6 stitches and distributing them over three needles. You increase and then decrease to form a ball shape.

You then stuff it before decreasing and sealing the ball.

The ears, trunk and feet are added by picking up stitches on the ball.

The instructions are pretty clear.

I stitched safety pins on to form little brooches. They would make fun necklaces as well - or a mobile for young children.

The first one took me 2 hours, the second one about 80 minutes. I reckon I'd make a third one in an hour.

 My next attempt was a mermaid. I used two-ply wool for this. It would have been better doubled, I think. The very fine wool doesn't quite cover the joins between the three needles and needed to be over-stitched. Easy enough to do, but better to get it right first time.

The mermaid is very cute - especially her long hair and her bra!
She took me a couple of hours in front of TV. I reckon I could do it in an hour with no distraction - and she was a hit with my granddaughter!

When I have a break in the projects lined up on my priority list I might make some more of these!