Saturday, 31 August 2013

Something Different

I'm still trying to finish projects and WIPs so I can tidy my summer sewing stuff away. I found an unfinished project from years ago when I was putting some felt offcuts away. Hopefully, this link will show some of the pieces I made, if not search my photostream for 'embellished'. It inspired me to finish it off and make some more. So I had a rummage through my offcuts and found lots of nice ones, so many that I started to think that maybe I wanted to do something a bit bigger, like a notebook cover (surprise, surprise!). I found some thin pieces of felt to use as a base and sewed them together. I really wanted to make something the complete opposite of the carefully measured and carefully and neatly sewn notebook covers I usually make. So after spreading all the felt offcuts out, I got some contrasting sewing thread and set to work attaching the pieces to my felt base. I didn't expect it to take as long as it did and I got through quite a few episodes of Foyle's War while I sewed :)

When I'd attached all the pieces, I attached a piece of thin blue cotton fabric to hide all the stitching and thread. Then I folded the flaps in, machine stitched them in place, then hand stitched the top and bottom edges. I think you'll agree, that it's nothing like what I usually make :)  This is the front:

And this is the back:

I tried hard to make sure nothing matched, and that it wasn't too neat or even, including the top and bottom edges, I just followed the edges of the base felt. This is the cover opened out:

I didn't attach felt pieces to the base where the flaps would be, I didn't want it to be too thick. The felt I used for the flaps was originally white merino and cotton which I experimented on with direct dyeing.

I also made a strap closure for it in much the same way as I made the book:

It just fits around the book and clips together with a Delrin clip.

I thought it'd stick out like  a sore thumb in my etsy shop, but surprisingly it doesn't. But maybe that's because it probably has a little offcut from almost every other piece in there with it!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Notebook Covers

This first notebook cover that I finished this week took ages to make. My temperamental sewing machine keeps refusing to catch the bobbin thread with the needle. Occasionally I can force it to, then it runs for a while, then I go to turn the piece I'm working on and realise it was just making sewing noises and everything I thought I'd just sewn is loose :(   I kept going back to this until it was finished, then put the machine away so it can't annoy me anymore. I had a collection of felt pieces I'd made with natural coloured wools and plant fibres. None of them were big enough for notebook covers and either too thick or too thin for coin purses, so I thought I'd make a few natural coloured collage notebook covers. Or just one as it turned out. I used some unbleached calico as the backing fabric to sew the pieces onto. I really like the way this turned out. This is the front:

Some of the grey pieces are from a piece of felt I made for Karen's Weather Challenge on the Felting and Fiber Studio site, using grey Gotland Locks for rolling clouds. This is the back:

I machine stitched the top edges together, then finished off the edges and the flaps with some grey/brown thread I spun myself. It was quite chunky for a thinnish thread, but I like the way it looks.

This next notebook cover is probably the nicest one I've ever made. I used a piece of nuno felt that I made for my Beyond Nuno book. It has some gorgeous flowery blue synthetic fabric nuno felted onto merino tops. I made a little tie for the front from an offcut of the nuno felt. I cut a strip about 8-10mm wide and wet it with soapy water and rolled between my palms until it formed a cord. I used a spring toggle as the fastener. This is the front:

This is the back:

I really love the colours and the way the fabric rippled so nicely.

SuperMacro texture close up:

I'm getting better at letting things go and listing them on etsy, but if this doesn't sell before the listing expires, I'm keeping it!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Eco Printing Onto a Silk Chiffon Scarf by Terriea Kwong

Over on The Felting and Fiber Studio today we have a great tutorial written for us by guest writer Terriea Kwong. Terriea gets amazing results using plants like Eucalyptus, Rose and Maple to colour and print onto fabrics like silk and wool. Click here for the post and click here for Terriea's blog :)

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Finished Pieces

I'm still going through some unfinished projects at the moment, mostly blanket stitching, hand-sewing buttonholes and fighting with my machine :) I used one of the pieces of felt I'd made for the Australia Challenge on The Felting and Fiber Studio site to make a glasses case. I lined it with some orange cotton fabric and stitched around the edge with the machine before blanket stitching. Side one:

Side Two:

Earlier this year, when I made my coppery bronze felt, I had some pieces of commercial art yarn left over. I made a couple of small pieces of felt to use the pieces up. One of them just had pieces as embellishment just below the top layer of merino  and they extended out of the sides. For texture on the top of other piece, I made twists of merino and yarn. The felt pieces didn't look big enough or thick enough to make anything practical out of them, they weren't even the same size, so I thought it wouldn't be a waste to sew them together to make a funky camera case. It turned out better than I expected really :)

I used the piece made with twists as the back as it was smaller.

I did manage to finish off another purse that I started a while ago, another one made from felt and silk paper. I kept the natural edges for the front flap:

I was glad the felt piece was big enough to use the same felt for the inside pockets, I know only a little part of the back one is seen, but I think it'd look wrong with a plain piece.

If you go over to the Felting and Fiber Studio, we now have a 'Community' section to the website. If you hover over the tab, you can see from the drop down menu that we have pages for the Studio Challenges where you can find links to the original challenges, and also gallery sub pages to see all the art work created for the challenges from everyone who took part. If we've missed you off, we do apologise, there were quite a lot of posts here and on the forum to go through to find them. Send us a message via the Contact Us page if you want us to add your entry. Feel free to use the challenges at any time, they're great for for inspiration. There are also pages for finding links to interviews with guest artists and suppliers and also articles by guest writers. We have a really great article coming up this week from Terrie Kwong showing us how she gets her excellent results using plants for eco printing.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Catching Up

I've been trying to some of the projects I started before I began working on my polymer clay e-book. I had a few purses and glasses cases cut out or part sewn up. The first one I finished was a ruffle camera case. It hadn't even been cut out, so I did some measuring and cutting then discovered my electric machine won't work :( I cleaned out the bobbin case and took the parts off and wiped them and put them back, but the needle won't pick up the bobbin thread. From what I can tell it is timing or something and I don't think it's something I can fix. So, out came my ancient electric Singer without the electrical parts. It's slow going but it works, for straight stitching anyway :)  This is the front of the case:

And this is the back:

This was one of the purses I hadn't even blanket stitched, it's made from the same piece of felt as one I made earlier. It's a slubbed wool which I added some cotton and silk threads to and some strips of rolled edges from silk scarves. Front:


The felt this wool makes has a really nice texture. Back:

A piece of coppery bronze felt that I made a while ago was just big enough to make a purse and matching glasses case:

I have to edit a few more photos then I'll be able to add the pink ruffley camera case and the bronze purse and glasses case to etsy later today.

Do you have piles of WIPs at different stages?

Monday, 5 August 2013

Running A Small Fibre Business

Over on The Felting and Fiber Studio today we have a guest post by Lyn from rosiepink about running a small fibre business and things to consider. Even if you're not thinking about running one yourself, it does give an insight into what the people we buy from have to do in order to keep us in supplies :)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Playing With 'Natural' Dyes

Have you tried 'natural dyeing' or dyeing with things you commonly find around the house such as tea, beetroot or food dyes? I had a bit of a dabble this week. I made some camera cases out of felt which was made with natural white/cream coloured wools and fibres. I wanted to blanket stitch them with natural thread, but only had enough for one case and didn't feel like spinning any more up. The white cotton perle 5 thread and white embroidery floss I had was super bright white. This is the Perle cotton with my handspun natural thread.

I had lots of white embroidery floss, so I thought I'd see if I could colour them with what I had available. The first thing I tried was tea, I put a couple of used tea bags in a tub with boiling water and put the thread in. It looked too pinky, I rinsed out as much as possible but it wasn't right. The next thing I tried was coffee, I left some ground coffee 'brewing' in hot water for a few minutes, then sieved out the grounds.  I just left the thread in a short time and rinsed well, it was more of a beige, but still on the pinkish side. The Coffee is on the left and the tea on the right, with a bright white for comparison.

I left another skein of floss in coffee for longer then tried some onion skins. I've been saving red onion skins for a while so I thought I'd give them a try since I was making a mess anyway :) I broke up some of the papery skins and added hot water, I put the thread in and left it while the skins 'stewed' for a while. It turned out a nice light pink. The onion skins is on the left and coffee on the right.

I also left a skein of yellow in the brewed coffee for a while, to take some of the brightness off. There's a skein of the original colour for comparison.

The next thing I tried was turmeric. I know from making curries and dahls that turmeric stains plastic containers, so hoped a small amount would tint my thread. I sprinkled a small amount in a tub and added hot water, it seemed to dark, so I added more. And more. I dipped the end of some cotton perle 5 into the tub and rinsed immediately, but even this quick in-and-out stained it a bright yellow. I put the whole lot in and left it about 30 seconds and rinsed.

The turmeric was a gorgeous colour, nice and bright, but much more natural than the dyed bright yellow, the turmeric is on the top, the bottom is the bought dyed yellow:

I don't know what to try next. I tried bleach on a cotton thread the colour of sweetcorn silks, but it didn't change. I might just have to get the spindle out, but does anyone have any ideas for what I could try? Actually, any tips at all for 'natural' dyeing would be great, it'd be nice to be able to make some custom colours now and again :)

Coming up on the Felting and Fiber Studio site on Monday we have a guest article from rosiepink about what running a small fibre business entails.