Tag Archives: applique

Bees, Fast Women, Hulala and a Surfeit of Monkeys

9 May

I haven’t posted for a while as I have been otherwise engaged moving house and decorating . Not that I personally have moved house but it amounts to the same thing timewise. Then I started on the Spring cleaning. I say started as although I managed to finish the kitchen the whole process ground to a halt somewhere between the living room and the bedrooms. After that I wasn’t motivated to do anything. However I think I may be back on track at least with the embroidery machine. Hopefully the next stage will be finished quilts.

I received some new Loralie Designs embroideries and did a few for the quilt shows.

Very Fairy

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Hulala

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Bee Happy

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There are also matching fabrics and panels available on my web site.

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Then I had an urge to embroider the MM Embroideries  Little Monkeys alphabet. I finally found a use for some Fabric Freedom fat quarters I had previously failed to utilise .

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I have also made a start on the rest of the Chrissie Down Under by McKenna Ryan. I had cut out all the pieces and then lost interest. I happen to have a bit of time that needs filling next week so I hope to get the rest of the panels ready to sew.

Remember the ones I did do? ( see the post about the quilt.)

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I might even have it finished by Christmas – only the third since I bought the pattern.

Hopefully when these are finished I might be on a roll and back into blogging too.

Dyeing to Show You

15 Feb

If you read my last blog you will have seen my first attempts at dyeing fabric. Since then I can’t stop myself. I have dyed a fabric in every colour I bought and some in more than one. Behold.

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I have also started using them in my applique.

This one makes for rather a busy background but you can’t deny it’s colourful.

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You may remember I used some similar fabric in a quilt I made featuring dragons. In fact it was this fabric that started the interest in dyeing my own.

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close up of fabrics.

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In case you were wondering about the clowns, they are from my new quilt pattern. It will be published as soon as I get the time to sort out the printing.

Here’s a preview.

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Bow Acquires Colourful New String.

30 Jan

As if I didn’t have enough  hobbies and hobbies in abeyance I have started down the road to bancruptcy with yet another. I bought some rather beautiful hand dyed fabrics at two separate quilt shows. They are fantastic for applique as each piece of fabric can yield hundreds of variations of colour and texture  rather than having one overall  pattern or colour.

Although I have several, I got to thinking how useful it would be to have  variations of variations ad infinitum. The rest, as they say is history. I had a bit of an expensive hicccup at the beginning, choosing the wrong type of fabric but even that wasn’t a disaster, just a teaching aid.

My first mistake was to believe the wording on a fabric supplier’s site that stated that it’s RFD (ready for dyeing) fabric was the best it had ever seen. On the strength of that I bought a quantity. I would probably have been happy with the results if I hadn’t had the hand dyed fabric I had bought at the shows with which to compare it. The colours were bright but the finish on the fabric was letting them down. They looked dull when I wanted vibrant.

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Over Christmas myself and Daughters numbers one and two did quite a bit of dyeing of fabrics but we were definitely underwhelmed with the results. I searched the internet to find out how other people tackled the problem. and found several answers and a reasonable consensus on the best way to go about things.

First of all I discovered that mercerised cotton is a better way to go. The treatment of the fabric means that the surface is less hairy and the  fibres absorb the dye better, thus providing the required vibrancy.

I also discovered that it appears that keeping the dye bath warm for as long as possible gives better results. For someone who works from a cellar that is decidedly nippy at this time of year this could be regarded as essential information.

The picture below was taken in said cellar and still you can see the difference.

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The other thing that became apparent was that the way the fabric dyes also varies with the different fabric/methods. There is less of a flat colour with the mercerised cotton. See how the pattern is varied on the bigger sample below.

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To an applique addict this type of fabric is the answer to so many problems.

I used the first fabrics I dyed to finish off my latest design. It is actually a Christmas wall hanging so it’s a bit late or a bit early depending how you view it. The design is actually from daughter number one and interpreted by yours truly.  I am particularly pleased with the fabric I used for Rudolph. It wasn’t planned but turned out to be perfect.

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First the elf that has lost his clothes and the friend that thinks it is hilarious.

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Not quite fiddling whilst Rome burns but something equally dangerous.

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Seasoning greetings.

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Above an inebriated Rudolph.

Below it doesn’t pay to sleep with idle hands in the vicinity.

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At the moment I am working on some clowns using the more vibrant mercerised cotton. I will post pictures to show the difference. I will also do a tutorial based on the things I have learned. Watch this space.

The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Chrissie Down Under.

6 Dec

I have finally started my Mckenna Ryan quilt. I think the one I have chosen – Chrissie Down Under – is probably one of the better ones for my purpose. It is a personal opinion but, art quilt or not, I cannot get my head round the idea of not actually sewing the shapes permanently onto the backing. The advice is to vacuum rather than wash but I guess that depends on how long you intend to use the quilt and, in the case of the Christmas one, whether it will suffer from storage or sticky fingers. I had ideas of ignoring the instructions and satin stitching the pieces on but there are so many layers on some of the pieces that I fear my Pfaff will rebel as it always does given too much bulk to deal with. I think the main problem is the layers of glue from the fusible web but whatever it is it may scupper my plans.

I would also say that these are not patterns for a beginner. This is not because they are complicated, although they are. If you have the determination and the discipline to practise and a modicum of common sense then I think most things in applique are possible. My main contention with this , and presumably her other patterns, is that they are printed on both sides of the pattern sheet. This may not seem a problem if you have not tried tracing them off but if, like me, you like to use a lightbox, it is very frustrating. It is not as if they are cheap and there is therefore a need to save paper to save money. It is not impossible to trace the pieces off but it is unnecessarily frustrating trying to sort out what is the outline of the piece being traced and having to turn the light box on and off in order to determine which side of the pattern it is on. As such it might put a beginner off applique in general.

Despite the above I have just spent a pleasant couple of days tracing and fusing  blocks, at the same time  listening to  the new J.K. Rowling on my iPod. Whilst this would not be any good in the tradition of Dunbar of Catch 22 fame who liked to stay as bored as possible in order to live longer, the combination of the two makes the day fly past. Luckily this is not a problem as I have so many quilts still to make that I will have to live for ever in order to complete them or die in the attempt.

Here are the first three laid out ready to stitch. Having traced the shapes and fused them onto the various fabrics, if you follow the numerical or alphabetical order of the pieces they are actually easy to construct.

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I have not bought the fabrics recommended for the quilt partly because I have far too much fabric already and partly because I want to put my own stamp on it.

I will post the rest as I do them and show what method of attaching the shapes to the background I adopt in the end.

Having a Masked Ball

1 Nov

Aren’t these just the bees knees? When I saw them over on Tiramisues  blog I just had to have a go. I survived  30 years in Africa, amongst  other places and whilst there were a couple of close calls and not all the memories are happy ones, I have always had a fascination with some of the artefacts, particularly masks and I am always looking for different embroideries so these definitely appealed. I don’t think they are all necessarily African masks but that matters not a jot.

If you do any amount of machine embroidery you will know that not all digitisings (is that a word?) are equal. Some stitch out beautifully and some, what can I say – don’t. These particular ones come into the  category of ‘beautifully’. They start with a line of stitching which frames the design and  in effect tacks the fabric to the background.

This was an added bonus for me because it meant I could hoop stabiliser and float the fabric on top without worrying about it moving during the stitching.

This meant I didn’t need such a large piece of fabric because I didn’t need to allow for the hooping nor did I have to work out why the machine was telling me the designs were bigger than they were. (It was telling me an untruth.)  It also gave me a use for the absolutely ginormous hoops that came with my machine. Having had them for over two years without using them I was glad to find they aren’t wasted. The frame is literally just a tack down and it is loose so that it can be removed after stitching.

The  colour charts look as if they have lots of colours but in fact you can use as many or as few as you like. I averaged about 5 colours but you could really go to town on the psychedelics if so inclined. If you have never done any machine applique before it may appear a bit daunting but all you have to do is read through the charts before starting and all becomes clear.The charts supplied make it easy to understand.

I used the diagram printout produced by my software to trace pieces roughly the size needed but as long as the fabric  covers the trace line stitched for each shape it doesn’t really matter unless you are trying to preserve fabric.

For each applique shape the pattern stitches an outline onto which the roughly cut fabric piece is then placed. You can see the stages in the chart above. Look at the main head shape and you will see there are four stages to its completion. The first is to define the shape, the second to stitch the fabric in place the third defines the path the satin stitch will take and the fourth is the satin stitch itself.

Defining the shape.

Placing the fabric.

The fabric is then trimmed close to the line, preferably with a pair of duckbill scissors like these. They make the trimming so much easier and with less likelihood of snipping the threads. This is obviously done without removing the fabric from the hoop as you need it to stay in the same place, although you can remove the hoop from the machine to make it easier.

Trimming.

Ready for Stitching. Ignore the fact it is a different mask. the same principles apply.

The next stage may be the satin stitch that fixes the piece permanently to the background or this stage may be done later with other satin stitch, depending on the design.

I did a test firing so to speak to see how the designs and colours work so I used roughly the same colours as the originals so that I was only worrying about one thing at a time. I shall probably end up doing several versions now I have the measure of it. If you want to see how they all look on a plain background go over to Tiramisue’s blog  (link in the first paragraph above) or her Etsy Page where you can see the whole range and buy the designs if you want to.

This was the first one I tried with a plain background on a stiff fabric so that all conditions were ideal.

Isn’t he a handsome fellow.

Closeup of the stitching .

I have done the rest on a print to show a different way.  I chose a fabric that reminds me of the threatening sky of a tropical thunderstorm. I kept the black for the base of the masks to stand out from the busy background.

Here is the first one with the tacking frame still on. This could be a good guide to square up the blocks too. The design allowed for another piece of fabric in the central part of the design (see the chart above) but I decided just to outline it with satin stitch. With the blue one with the big horns  below I have added the extra layer of  purple fabric.

Here is a close-up.

An even closer up showing the ”beads’ on the alternative version of this mask.

Some more

Imagine the fun you could have making a wall hanging and adding beads and jewels and 3D bits and pieces.

If you fancy a set of these as pictures or a wall hanging or quilt you can get the designs  from Tiramasue’s  Etsy page.

Check your hoop capabilities as they are all large designs.

Here is the finished article.

Shoes, Glorious Shoes

25 Oct

When my family go travelling their suitcase interiors stay sparkly clean. This is due in part to the bright idea thought up by Daughter Number One several years ago. Shoe bags are the secret weapon. In fact they are not only for shoes. I use them for anything that needs to be protected or from which other things need protection. Ergo undies, laundry items, shoes, hair dryers and straightening irons, belts, books etc etc etc. Between DNO, DNT and myself we made hundreds . They are very relaxing to make and rather fetching when finished. DNO visited this week and while she was choosing a selection to sell in a local hotel we came across some appliqued but not finished.

These are not like the sock monkeys I have been appliqueing. These are individually traced, pieced, fused and machine appliqued without the aid of a digitiser. They are a labour of love and I thought you might like to see some of them.

This is my favourite style. Whilst we do not ever do two exactly the same I do rather like this one and so a few have been made in this style with different fabrics.

The Same but different.

Interestingly with three of us choosing styles and fabrics the shoes come out as shoes we would probably buy if available. DNT did quite a few of these and this one is definitely her style.

I rather like this boot.

This is another of my favourites.

This one is appropriately of a dance shoe as the idea originally came from a dancer for use by dancers.

A bright trainer.

Lots of strappy sandals.

Mustn’t leave out the men.

I also made a couple of quilts at one time. Not that I’m obsessed or anything.

I designed quilt patterns to add to the patterns available on my web site.

Remember when you are ooohing, aaahing and why?ing that these are original patterns made with loving care.  Pattern pieces produced by Spotty Chicken, pieced by Bird Brain and appliqued and finished by Speckled Hen. (Don’t ask) They really are quite addictive. If you would like one they are on the website. If you would like to make your own but would like some top notch patterns with which to do them, why not buy a quilt pattern and that will give you six applique patterns suitable for shoe bags as well as a quilt pattern. That’s Christmas sorted. Clever eh!

Sock It To The Baby

12 Oct

As promised in my last blog , herewith pictures of the quilt with the girl sock monkeys. Both quilts come from appliques demonstrated in the blog before that. I divided them into two quilts. These links have links to the original digitising pages.

I decided to keep this one simple too. The appliques have enough character and a design that was too complicated might take away from them. I stayed with plain 2.5″ strips and used the leftover bits for the second border and binding. ‘Waste not, want not’ as my Mother never used to say. It is also nice and bright as only parents like pastels. Babies like bright, stimulating colours. For those that hate matching seams there are a lot less of those to contend with too.

To finish it off –  the label for the girl’s quilt from another Designs by Juju design.

The label for the boy’s quilt.

If you compare the boy’s quilt you will see that it is possible to get two entirely different quilts from the same basic designs.

 

Monkeys From The Emerald Isle.

6 Oct

I decided to divide the monkeys from my last blog into two sets, boys and girls. Conveniently there are six of each. With the first one I decided to do a variation on an Irish Chain.  If you want to do a traditional tried and tested one see this link for methods .

The link above shows you how to do three different Irish Chains – single,

Double,

Triple.

Mine used 10″ monkey blocks (cut 10.5″) and 2″” squares (cut 2.5″).

Note if you are changing the size to suit your blocks – you need to start and finish with the same row. e.g the blue one above starts with two plain and three nine patch on the first row and the last row is the same. If you don’t do that the pattern will not be complete. The same goes for the patterns across. Symmetry is the key to success. As I had 6 boy and 6 girl appliques I had to do another one as I needed 7. Rows 1, 3 and 5  – 1 applique, rows 2 and 4 -2 appliques. I chose one from the jumbo summer collection as the nearest thing to a baby. He looks as if he is wearing a babygro.

Over all I was quite pleased with the result . I have done a different but still simple version for the girls. . The appliques have enough character of their own to carry the quilt.

Introducing the boys.

Here’s the extra little chap.

Here is the centrepiece.

And again.

Some more quilted monkeys.

The label using one of the plain embroideries in a small size.

I have finished the girl quilt too but you will have to wait a while before I show you.

Now – Designs by Juju have brought out a sock monkey applique alphabet. There is no hope for me. I have lots of ideas on using this so watch this space.

The Doll Conspiracy

12 Aug

First an update on my Pirate Quilt. You may remember it. If not here is a reminder. Here is a link to one blog.   Here is another .

In it the ship is small but it occurred to me that a bigger ship on a wall hanging would also be a useful addition.

I also appiquéd the mariners compass as an alternative to an embroidery.

In a former life I made dolls and when I started quilting seriously I relegated the paraphernalia to a small section of my work area. (This small section is the size of many ‘3rd’ bedrooms in estate agent terms). I have been meaning to get in there and sort it out with the idea of trying to offload the moulds and made dolls so that I can put my frame in the room. It was only after I had done an inventory and photographed all the dolls that I realised just how much ‘stuff’ there is in there. What I really need is someone wanting to start a  doll making business who wants to buy a whole working studio. Then I just need to sell the dolls I have already made. In case you think  I am exaggerating take a look at this lot. It’s only a drop in the ocean but it’s a bit overpowering.

Kimmie mould  by Cindy Marschner Rolfe

From the Joey mould by Cindy Marschner Rolfe.

Another Joey

Angel Love by Cindy marschner Rolfe.

Theodore by Cheri Chagall with Donna Rubert 28″ body.

Christina.

Sylvie by Cheri Chagall.

Mimi by Cheri Chagall.

Crystal.

L’il Boo by Cindy Marschner Rolfe.

Lucinda

Cleo

Yvette

Ivan

Jenny

Emily

Chubbins

Sipho from Donna Rubert’s Flossie mould

June

Theodora from Theodore mould by Cheri Chagall.

Hannah Rose by Donna Rubert

Elmo

Aaron

There are some more on my web site nsaaquilting.co.uk

It’s not just the dolls or even the moulds. There are wigs, shoes, eyes, and goodness knows what else.

I  have come to the conclusion that life is too short. There are many more dolls I would like to make but I would have to live  several decades more and still be able to lift the moulds – unlikely. Then there is the quilting. So many quilts, so little time.

Blue Dogs, Green Birds, Pink Rabbits and a Game of I-Spy.

3 Aug

I have finished two more UFO’s this week. If I am not careful I might run out. I am getting the hang of the quilt frame now although I have decided that there is not really any scope for imaginative quilting. The space available is too small. I need to come into some money to buy a long-arm setup but as I have no rich relatives ready to leave me their worldly wealth I guess it won’t happen. That being the case I am getting to be a bit of an expert at meandering. I don’t have too many problem stitches these days but I have also discovered that washing the finished quilt evens up the stitching in the antiqueing effect. It also makes sure that all the years sitting in the UFO pile in various dusty locations are washed away leaving a clean fresh quilt. It has the added advantage that you know how it will look when it is washed.

The first was originally a BOM by Kookaburra Cottage. This link will take you to the BOM page on their site and lots of lovely examples of their particular style of design. I have loved them since the first one I saw. They are a bit pricey as a pattern which explains why I make more than one from each.

Little Macca’s Farm

Someone once told me I should label my quilts. Nothing looked right but then I got an embroidery machine and I have never looked back. Just give me an excuse and I will make a label.

The other quilt is an alphabet quilt. I wanted to use up all the charm squares of children’s fabric I had accumulated. Looking at it again after all these years I see that I made it into an I-Spy quilt of sorts too.

In case you are wondering how I achieved the ‘wonky’ effect, wonder no longer. Starting with the top of the centre square attach a strip of fabric to the edge. Attach another strip down the right side onto the new shape. Then the bottom, then the left side. You now have an ordinary upright  block bigger than you need. Make a template the size you want the finished block then place it onto your straight block at any angle desired and cut off the surplus with a rotary cutter. Easy Peasy.

Mustn’t forget the label.

The monkeys are from Oregon Patchworks on this link. There are lots of variations on the monkey embroidery. This one is an applique but there are some straight forward embroideries on the same theme.

Let me leave you with another set of views from where I live.

View Towards the Beach

The Beach

The Outer Harbour