Saturday, November 30, 2013

Rotary cut thread lace leaves

Yesterday, I attended a Pfaff workshop at our local Pfaff dealer. I found the Pfaff rep to be very knowledgeable and enjoyable to learn from. We were in a small room with 7 in attendance but her relaxed and quiet manner resulted in a lovely paced class. We also had plenty of time to finish our project with space in the middle to go for lunch at my favorite cafe.
I did work on one of the mid range Pfaff machines that is presently on special; however, I did not get to try any free motion as there wasn't a free motion foot available. Anyway, the rep told me it would not be suitable for my needs and she recommended 2 other models which both have an auto tension feature. It being a small shop, those machines would have to be ordered. So, I'm not sure what to do yet.

We made a fun little case for the I Pad and got to experiment with some embroidery stitches which I don't have on my basic machine.
Today, my sore throat seems worse again, so I've stayed at home. This morning, I cut up vegetables and set them to simmer for a veggie stew. I'll add dumplings to it shortly.
This afternoon, I finished all the stitching I plan to do on the background and foreground trees. I had to stop myself before I added too much detail. It was supposed to be sort of minimalist!

I've taken a few pictures of my process to make the needle lace leaves. This is something I've shown before that I learned a few years ago at a Laurie Swim workshop, but this time once I'm all done, I will try to add it under my tutorial heading at the top of my blog for future reference.
The first step is to cut up a bunch of tiny bits of different shades of red fabric with a wavy rotary cutter. I generally cut diagonally in one direction and then the other, making some in different sizes.
Above you can see that they are layered between 2 pieces of Saran Wrap Plus and hooped.

I next did a free motion meandering all over, making sure all the little bits of fabric are connected by the thread.
That's as far as I got for today. I will iron it between 2 sheets of newspaper which melts and removes the Saran, and then it will be ready to cut up and stitch onto my piece.
Now, I'm going to take a break with a cup of tea and my book before it's time to mix up the dumplings.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Some free motion shading

I hope you'll feel like bearing with me in this process as I slowly add free motion shading and highlights to my birches. It is a slow process. I spent about an hour and a half today adding some darks and lights in both a free motion straight and zig zag stitch. Here I've added some whites and medium grey/blues. Sorry, there's a bit of a glare from my window.
Next, I added some darker greys and then some black.
I have to admit that I'm anxious to get to those red leaves but I must finish the background first.

Tomorrow, I'm going down to the local Pfaff dealer to take a workshop where I'll also be trying out another machine. I hope I'll be feeling OK, as today I seem to be coming down with a sore throat. Fighting off any illness with Addison's disease can sometimes be tricky, often requiring more rest than a normal person. It's not an early start or a long day so I should be OK.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Birches and bluejays

I added the finishing touches to my zippered pouch that i showed yesterday and had just enough time to do a little free motion stitching on my birch trees piece.It's going to measure about 10" by 10" when finished.
I've stitched down the trees so they won't move as I work on the background but I will be going over it later with free motion shading in a zig zag.

I only had time to start the background trees and I couldn't resist auditioning some red leaves that I'll add to the foreground at the end. I think they'll have to be cut a little smaller. you get the idea. They are quite striking.

Here is one of the reference photos I'm using.

This past weekend, we put out our heated birdbath and a feeder  of sunflower seeds on the deck. It doesn't take the birds long to find it. The bluejays can be bullies but I sure love their coloring. They really stand out against the wintry grey background. Perhaps they'll be fodder for a future piece.
The feeder sits only a few feet from my kitchen window and i so enjoy watching the birds there all winter.
I'm linking to The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mono printed and stitched zippered pouch and bookmark

Oh my what a frigid windy day we are having again! I did a few errands this morning and decided it is too windy for a walk. I've had to resort to my exercise bike and my Zumba DVDs for the last several days. Milder but messier weather is coming. Hopefully, I'll be able to get out soon.
This afternoon, I fused a backing to the canvas bookmark and added a zig zag border. I also went over it with a coat of matte medium. These little items are labour intensive but fun for gifts!

I sewed a lining and a zipper into this little bag. Usually, I sew across the corners on the bottom but opted to leave it flat this time.
It would fit sewing supplies or would be good for a sketchbook and some drawing/painting supplies.

Now, all that remains is to add the zipper tab and top stitch around the outside.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Last night, I pulled out this shibori print that I did to go along with my Quilting Arts article April/May 2013. I added a few branches and some dark grey paint here and there. Then I fused on the 3 trees. I also added some shading with paint.

It's sandwiched and ready to stitch.
I just got back from my trip to try out Janomes sewing machines. There wasn't a lot to chose from really. Nothing between $500 and $2000. The cheaper one cannot handle all that I would like it too. The more expensive one did but is a little over my budget and for that price it didn't have everything I wanted, like for example, the integrated dual feed that the Pfaffs have.
I'm taking a Pfaff workshop next week where I'll get to try out some other models. I'm coming to realize it's not so simple to buy a machine when you're a fiber artist looking for versatility.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

a little paint, a little stitch

I'm having another productive day despite a poor sleep last night. I met friends for coffee on my way to the grocery store and got home in time to wipe out my oven which I had sprayed before I left. It wasn't a huge job, just a small spill.
I added a bit more paint to some bare patches on my canvas. I have two pieces this size and plan to make a zippered pouch once I'm done stitching on it. As you can see I've just gotten started.
 I really enjoy free motion zipping around the canvas, especially with a machine that goes smoothly!

While I was at my paint table, I added a touch of gold screen printing to a natural dyed silk scarf that I dyed  in early fall. I plan to get it in the mail this week. It's a Christmas gift.

Finally, I've sewn down the binding onto my garden piece and took it out on my deck for photographing. I can't decide if I should call it Moonlight Garden or Fantasy Garden or if I will put it up for sale.

I even got my fresh air, opting out of a walk but cleaning up a few more garden cuttings and tying up a few more bushes. We may get snow on the weekend!
I'm linking to The Needle and Thread Network.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Productive Monday

I'm feeling much better today. I took my machine back to the store. I have not taken money back yet but can if I want. I am waiting until after a workshop being given on another machine by the Pfaff rep which is in less than two weeks. I think I've also decided to make the one hour trip to a Janome dealer this week with an assortment of my threads in tow. I'm going to see how they work. I do own the mini Jem Gold and like it.
Also, this morning, I vacuumed, did some wash, made muffins, and delivered some used clothing while I was out.
This afternoon, I sat down to my trusty machine and free motion quilted shells on a current project. How relaxing when it works. There were no broken threads the whole time, just smooth stitching.
The only reason that I wanted a new machine was to get some of the fancier stitches. I can afford to wait and make sure the next one will do what I want.
Now for some hand stitching time. I've some bindings to stitch down.
Happy Monday!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I've been a little thin on the blog posts for two reasons. One is that I'm trying to finish up a few Christmas presents which I can't show. The second reason is my new sewing machine is still not cooperating. I thought I might have worked it out but, not so. Regular sewing seemed to be ok; however, free motion quilting continues to be a problem.
I thought it was better after I talked to the rep and got the right needles. I'd be free motion quilting when all of a sudden the thread would start breaking or the tension would go whacky.
This morning I got fed up and pulled out my old machine. After picking out the stitching I had a go and stitched this whole piece, no problems on my old machine.

I got the directions for this from Alicia Burke's site under her tutorials.
Now I have to see what to do about the machine. I hate confrontations! Once I started stitching on a machine that behaves, I could see that something was wrong.

Today is my husbands birthday and he's going out to the golf course for a couple of hours. It's freezing and the pins are all taken out, the crazy man. Probably the ladt day though.
I've made minestrone soup for supper which we'll have with his favourite lemon meringue pie. No, I didn't make it. I rationalize that if I make it, it' s a large pie, where as if I buy it from the bakery, it's smaller.
I hope upright Sunday is going well. I'm trying to talk myself into going for a walk in the damp cold.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Playing with mono printing

While reading blogs the other morning in bed with my tea, I came across this intriguing method of mono printing. I've always admired Alicia Burke's style and how she paints with such abandon and exuberance. While I have a somewhat loose style, I find it hard to really let go, so I was intrigued with a tutorial she gave on plastic bag mono printing.
I have a couple of projects in mind which is why I used a heavy canvas and my colors did not print as distinctly as hers. I'm sure if I'd used paper or plain cotton, I would have gotten brighter results.
This is after a first layer. Very plain.

I wasn't sure I liked where it was going so I started to add layers of green with leaf shapes drawn into them. Still wasn't sure but I kept layering.

Then I changed to adding a layer with black flowers and finally a layer with purple flowers.
I didn't clean the Baggie off in between either. I used my fingers to rub with.
This is what the Baggie looks like after applying it. I just kept adding paint and drawing into it again. It was really fun!

Here is the finished canvas. It will make a fun background for some stitching.

I think I had more fun with this than even printing with the Gelli. Definitely going to try it again!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quiet weekend of remembrance

My son and fiance were home for the weekend which has been lovely. We all talked via Skype with my daughter this morning who is in Korea . I have spent the day at home quietly giving thanks for my children and for all the sacrifices that were made for our countries.
I've not spent a lot of time in my sewing studio. Last night and this afternoon I've been working on finishing up the final details in my garden piece. I'm sure some of you are getting tired of seeing it. I had a few little details that I was stuck on but resolved while out walking the trails yesterday. I hadn't liked the section with the moon and decided to pick out the stitching that was there and add Angelina fiber with some lace for the moon shape. Can you see that I used a lace with embroidered flowers on it? I like that little detail. I also added hand stitching with some beads in a curving line across the middle.

I'm happier with it now. While I was at it, I added some Angelina fiber to the small round shapes below and a few beads to the pink plant.

I've finished all of the quilting, adding a darker thread around the free motion flowers pictured below. I had used a paler pink thread and they didn't seem very well defined.
All that remains now is a small bit of final beading in one spot and then I will add the backing and binding.
I promise to make the finished piece my final photo!
It's a rather dark and rainy day today, with a few snowflakes here and there. I'm going to go sit with my beading now. I'll have to search for some good lighting.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Finishing Indian Island

Although it is lovely to wake up to the light since the time changed on the weekend, I can feel the sun getting lower at this early time of 3pm. My sewing studio where I sit to write this email is slowly darkening and when I shortly head out to retrieve the clothes from the line, there will be a noticeable chill in the air. I just came in form a walk which does help to get the blood flowing at least.
My son and his fiance are coming this weekend, so this morning I did a little extra house cleaning, wiping down the shower and doing some floors. It's a good thing we have company once in a while or the place would go the dogs!
I sat down just before lunch to put the last bits of hand embroidery on the fiber art piece of Indian Island that I started later in the  summer. In between my Christmas projects I'm trying to get some art pieces done. After lunch, I sewed on the binding and pressed and pinned it.
A detail.
Now that I'm sitting here at my old computer with my tea, I'm going to continue going through my picture files and cleaning them out. Since I primarily use my I Pad, I'm not ready to get a new computer. There was a bunch of stuff saved on it and I've been clearing it out giving the disc more more space. It should hepl it to last a bit longer.
I hope you're having a nice Tuesday!
I'm linking to The Needle and Thread Network
I'm also linking to Off the Wall Friday. Lots of interesting stuff there.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A walk at Daley Point

Being a sunny but chilly 2C today, we bundled up for a walk at a local bird sanctuary after we did one yard job (trimming a pine tree).
There was a nippy wind but it was warm enough once we got walking and were protected in the footpaths. There are several very pretty birch stands and I love the red of the rose hips in front of them.
In some sunny spots the rose hips were glowing.
In many places most of the colorful leaves have fallen to the ground and faded already.
I guess that's what makes these brilliant reds stand out so much. There are so few and against the starker greys and whites they're stunning!
Still, I found the greys and silvers of the birches with the Pearly Everlasting which has gone to seed quite enchanting.

Even the softer colors of the marsh and the lacy leafless trees are pretty this time of year.

All of these would be lovely done in fiber art! I need to get some of my current pieces along with my Christmas projects done so I can try one.
I hope you're enjoying your Sunday, gettig some fresh air and relaxing.
What do you like to do Sundays this time of year?