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Remembrance

Remembrance

I promised after I made a small poppy piece for the first quarter challenge repurposing a piece of nuno felt, that I would make a bigger piece in the same style.

This piece is large, somewhere in the 30″ length and 18-20″ width. This is the layout and I have sprinkled the cut up orange nuno felt over the base layer of green wool. I made sure that the orange bits were roughed up so they would stick down better.

Here is the piece after felting. I have pinned some larger poppies in the foreground made out of painted silk paper. I was distracted by the yellow in the direct center in the sky. I decided to add more yellow so that the one area wouldn’t stick out as much.

I needle felted some yellow across the left portion of the lower sky and a few wisps up higher. I also added some lighter/paler silk paper to the poppies as I felt they were too dark in the first try. Then I added some green locks to the foreground for foliage.

And here it is after finishing and “matting” on green fabric. Now Remembrance is ready to go the framer. Now I just have to find a new gallery to carry my work, easier said than done.

On the Swan

On the Swan

Recently, a local woman asked me to create a river view in felt for her. I created several watercolor sketches she could choose from so that we agreed on what the landscape would look like and what to include. The client lives on the Swan River here in Montana and decided she wanted a view similar to what she has behind her home.

After hand carding and blending colors, I started on the layout. I used a commercial prefelt background and mostly short fiber merino batts. Somehow, I wasn’t thinking correctly on shrinkage as I went with the idea that it would shrink 30%. But I forgot that I don’t normally full my wool paintings very hard as they don’t really need intense fulling.

I continued working down the picture laying out the distant trees, the river with the trees and mountains reflections and then into the foreground grass and lupines. At the same time I was laying out the big piece, I also laid out a smaller sample. That way I could try different options with final details and stitching. This shows the birch trees from silk paper that I was trying to decide upon. Luckily, I had made the birch tree silk paper several months ago at one of our local group meetings.

Here’s the small sample that I made. I tried the left tree trunk in prefelt and then used free motion machine stitching for the dark areas. The right tree trunk used silk paper which was painted for the dark areas. I also tried out some FME for the branches and the lupines. I didn’t feel that the FME was what I wanted for this piece and opted for the silk paper birch trunks. I had also used some brown/tan wool for the distant shoreline which was way too much if included in the original wet felting process. I ended up cutting out a portion of this sample so that the brown wool was showing much less. I then stitched the two pieces of the sample back together to give the feel of what I wanted in the large piece. This sample really saved me from making some big mistakes!

Here is what I had after wet felting. I had to full this piece very hard as the request was for a certain size. I don’t normally worry about size on my wet felted landscapes and I ended up cutting the edges because I had not figured the shrinkage correctly.

Next I started adding in needle felt details. I added more definition to the distant tress, added a shoreline and added some lines in the water to simulate movement.

Then I stitched some grass in the foreground and stitched down the silk paper tree trunks.

I continued on with details. I added some paint to the tree trunks, I couched down branches and added leaf details with needle felting. I added hand stitching in front of the trunks and some leaf details for the lupine.

Here’s a close up so you can see a bit of the detail in the foreground.

Then I found I already had enough green fabric that worked to finish the piece. My client is getting it framed with barn wood, so this is how I delivered the piece. And the wonderful thing is that she loved it. I’m so happy it worked out the way that she wanted.

Update on the small picture and the studio

Update on the small picture and the studio

Where did the time go? I looked at the posting schedule and thought I have lots of time to get my post ready but here I am down to the wire,….. again.

I did manage this week to make some progress on my small picture. I started by adding some grass/stems/leaves/. Starting with a very Christmas green.

Then adding other shades

It looks ok but it’s way too short. What am I going to do with the other 2/3 of the picture? So, remembering Ruth’s advice on the last stitch project when I wasn’t very happy with it, she said  “just keep adding more”,  I decided I was not taking the stitches out. I would just keep going. The next batch of grass was longer.

At this point, I notice the bottom edge was starting to curl a little. This is because I was stitching into the bottom edge. I didn’t want the bottom of the stitches to show entry points on the top side of the bottom edge. I noticed some of the threads were a little loose too. To remedy this I ironed it with steam. I think it helped.

The next step is the flowers. I was originally thinking stitched flowers, then thought maybe seed needs would be good. I asked opinions at my guild social and everyone seemed to think I should do both. I probably will.

And now the Studio Progress.

The walls and floor have been painted. The place that hasn’t been painted is where the ductwork will go for the heating. It will then get drywall put over it and it will be painted. Notice one of my favourite things about this space. It has a center floor drain. The electrical box will get a cupboard built to hide it.

 

Yes, the floor is covered in blue speckles, for non-slip and to hide the floor repairs.

Next are the sinks, the ductwork, painting my selves, bookcase and small table. They will be boring white, once the books and wool are on them they will be colourful enough. The table gets the microwave so it will not be seen much either.

That’s it for now. I plan on doing the flowers for the next post but I am not sure what else. I am sure I will find something to keep me busy and out of too much trouble.

 

Small felt

Small felt

As some of you know I am moving my studio. I am not moving far, just from one end of the building to the other. I will gain some storage space, another room and a direct entrance. And importantly I will be closer to the bathroom.

I have packed 90% of my studio into boxes and they are piled up in the extra room. Consequently, I do not have a lot to work with. I did make a box with a blob of each colour of merino I have. and collected a bag of prefelts etc.

So there I was on Monday, wondering what on earth I would post about today. I was looking at my inspiration file and going through e bags of prefelt and I found this small odd-shaped one.

This is the back of it because I forgot to take a picture before adding wool to the front.

 

I added some sky

A blue sky is pretty much one colour. light at the bottom but not a mix of colours. The grass on the other hand is not one colour. so I mixed some up using my dog brushes.

 

 

this is the finished background. the needle is to give you an idea of the size. Jan thought it looked knife-shaped I thought it looked like a bullet train.

 

 

I want to add some flowers along the bottom. I wasn’t sure what thread to use. I hat unpicking so I grabbed a piece of fulled sweater off cut and covered it in green to try out some different threads.

 

the dark pink is Filtex. these are very old spools they are shiny rayon, like fake silk.  the orange is 1,2 and 3 strands of embroidery thread., the blue is an embroidery cord and the green is a different kind of silk or fake silk embroidery yarn.

 

Here’s a picture of the back. You can see what each thread looks like a little better.

Next is doing the stitching. I think I will use the green to add a few bigger leaf shapes. the orange and blue worked well. I will try using 2 and 3 threads of the pink to see if they show up better. stitching on felt is odd. you have to make your stitch about twice as long as you want it to get it to show up the size you want. It must be because of how soft the surface is. Does anyone else also find this to be true?

 

Completing Montana Sunrise

Completing Montana Sunrise

Here is where I was when I left off in my last post about my latest nuno felted landscape. I decided the next step was to create more evergreen trees to add to the left hillside.

I used some green wool sandwiched between two pieces of water soluble fabric and free motion stitched some trunks/branches. These were then soaked in hot water and gently felted. I started adding them into the foreground. I decided I didn’t have enough so I went back and stitched more several times until I was satisfied with the volume. I also added in a few areas of lighter trees to give a bit of contrast. Once I had those arranged and pinned down, I started looking at the yellow brown area in the middle of the picture, part of the closest mountain. It seemed to have too much contrast and due to being the same color as the foreground, it “moved” that mountain too far forward.

So I added a couple of pieces of sheer nylon scarves, one deep red and one purple over the area. That’s better! I try a lot of different things as I’m working and take quick photos on my phone. I’m not showing all the photos as it is hard to tell the differences in some of them. But I use the photos to see how the piece looks from a distance and find any glaring problems. At some point in here, I added some sheer black fabric behind the foreground mountain as there were bits of black wool that were drawing my attention too much.

After I stitched down the trees with a variety of blue green threads and a bit of feather stitch, I started working on the foreground. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the details a bit better. The grass is a combination of raffia, burlap and cheesecloth. I also was bothered by the “driveway” of green on the middle right. At some point, I tore some of the wool from the surface so that it wasn’t such a line.

I arranged the grass bits numerous times and then started stitching them down. The photo on the left has the “clumps” stitched but I was trying various pieces of raffia on the very bottom and had them pinned in place. I also decided the raffia was a bit too light so I colored it with a felt tip marker in light browns, greens and dark brown edges. The photo on the right shows the piece after completing the foreground. Next up was the sky.

I wanted to “move” the colors in the sky around a bit with some stitching. But how to do that? I first thought about couching threads to the surface. The photo on the left shows that idea being tested. I wasn’t happy with that but couldn’t decide what to do. So I reached out to Antje (who has authored posts here in the past), and she made several good suggestions. I decided to use running stitch. I used variegated colors and mixed several strands together to not have such a solid color effect. Click on the photo on the right to see the starting of the running stitch. The point of adding the stitching was to soften some of the harder transitions in the sky. Thanks Antje for your help!

Here is the finished Montana Sunrise (16″ x 30″). It definitely has a bit different feel using a mosaic type of nuno felt instead of one piece of dyed silk. I think it is much less abstract than some of my other recent pieces. Now I have to find the right fabric for it’s matting. What color would you use as the matte?

Brooches, bags, booties and other stuff: in search of the elusive bamboo mat.

Brooches, bags, booties and other stuff: in search of the elusive bamboo mat.

I decided to return to basics and take an introduction to wet felting course.  I am hoping to become a training mentor with the International Feltmakers Association and thought that rather than observe the interaction within this course; I would throw myself into it.  Despite felting for the best part of 10 years I will readily admit I am learning loads – happy days!  The course involves sampling various breeds of sheep for, among other attributes shrinkage rate and required finishing the fulling by rolling the sample in a bamboo mat.

I knew I had them somewhere in my workroom – you might be familiar with the process – one puts something away safely for use in the future and then one promptly forgets where it is!  My room was a disaster area after the Christmas holidays as it had become a dumping ground.  It was quite the miracle that I could even find the work table let alone the bamboo mat.  A tidy was on the cards.

As I started tidying, I uncovered a number of unfinished projects which I reckoned would fulfil the criteria of this quarter’s challenge.  Let’s just call it as it is, repurposing something stuck in the back of a closet into something a bit more useful.  Those unfinished projects started with great enthusiasm then put by when I ran out of steam!

First up was the unfinished silk throw which I started in June 2021.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I had inherited lots of fabrics from my husband’s Aunt Kathleen.  In amongst them were small lengths of beautifully coloured wild silk which I had cut into squares and sewn together.  I had gotten as far as putting wadding and a backing on to it so I added a binding and machine stitched (diagonally)  through the layers to complete the throw.  Sorry that I forgot to take a photo of the piece before I attacked it – just one of my work in progress and the finished throw.  I have to say I just love the richness of the colours!  I took the throw out into the garden to photograph but it was so windy it was difficult to catch so this photo does not capture the sheen off it.  You can just about see the pattern from the diagonal machine stitching.

 

Back to the presses where I discovered a pile of felt that I had made up – not sure for what reason – long forgotten.  Some of it was plain and I had experimented by nuno felting various silks onto another piece.  One piece was a beautiful red and it inspired me to make a heart brooch.  I cut out my shape and then put it through the sewing machine a number of times using a zigzag stitch on the edge.  I then sewed a brooch pin on the back.  Here is the result in time for Valentine’s Day (note the bottles of champagne in the background which still have not been removed from my workroom):

I then cut a rectangular shape from the nuno felted sample and zigzag stitched around this in a similar manner to the heart.

These were quick and easy to make (once the initial felting was done) and they have potential for selling at Christmas fairs or including in cards as small gifts.

I keep my handbags in my workroom.  I have a beautiful black leather bag that I paid a fortune for in the 1990’s and have worn it to death.  The colour of the bag is now nearly grey and it’s scuffed – it is normal wear and tear – I don’t believe in using something I love only on occasion.  I had enquired about having the bag renovated but the quotation from the one place I knew who did this kind of work was way up in the hundreds so I did not want to go there.  Instead the bag greeted me forlornly every time I walked into the room.  It was like it was pleading with me to put it back to work again.  I headed off to our shoe menders who said that there were no guarantees that any leather dye would work on bags (they are apparently specifically for shoes).  I decided to take a chance as I did not want to scrap the bag.  It was time to redeploy it.  I used two coats of spray on the bag and now it is as good as new.  I am so pleased.  Unfortunately I did not take a ‘before’ photo but this is how it turned out.

Back in the day when my daughter was at college, she worked in a high end retail store.  Like her mother she fell in love with a leather bag and spent most of her week’s wages on it.  Within a month it looked worn out as it scuffed easily and the colour came away.  So she talked to the buyer and got a replacement only to find the same thing happened.  Disappointed the bag was discarded as it was not fit to be seen.  She told me to throw it out as she felt she would not insult a charity shop by donating it.  Armed with my new confidence I headed back to the shoe repair shop and purchased another dye.  This time I opted for a paint rather than a spray on dye and got to work painting on two coats.  I left it to dry thoroughly for a couple of days and then presented it for inspection.  I have to admit I fell in love with it and I was hoping she might hate the slightly changed colour so I could keep it.  She loved it (secretly I am delighted as she is a fussy lady) and she is now never without it on her shoulder when she is heading out!

 

Then I found a cheap carrier bag that I had purchased while on holidays a number of years ago.  I remember that it cost €1 (which is less than £1 and around US$1).  The handle was torn and the zip, which was used to tidy the bag when not in use was broken.

It was a bit of a sorry sight but I liked the plastic coated fabric and the challenge of repurposing it.  First of all I removed the zip to see if there was any life left in it.  When I was examining it I fell in love with the rainbow effect of the colours on the teeth and made up my mind to salvage it if I could.  I then unpicked the outer pocket that housed the folded bag  and dismantled the bag by cutting away the side and bottom seams and the handles.  This left me with two pieces of material and I cut two rectangles from these, using as much of the fabric as I could.  My intention was to double over the material so that the bag was self lined.  In effect, the bag would be half the size of the cut rectangles (less seam allowance) and I would be sewing through four layers.

Next, I removed the broken tag on the zip using a pliers and I opened the little hook on the mechanism as wide as I could so that I could fit in a fabric tag as a replacement.

I hand sewed the top and the bottom of the zip, cut the zip to size and then covered these areas with remnants  of the bag fabric. Here’s a photo of the mended zip:

I drew a line at the centre of the rectangles of fabric  and sewed through the two rectangles using a big stitch in preparation for inserting the zip (as per Teri Berry).  Then it was time to tackle the zip so I did this using the method Teri outlined in her post of 12th January (thanks Teri, it worked a treat).

I then sewed the original outer pocket back on to one side of the rectangle.

I turned the bag inside out (you might recall that the bag is self lined so the material is the same inside and outside.  I used quilters’ clamps and pins to hold the pieces together and sewed through the material rounding the corners.

I then used my sheers to neaten the seams.

So here is the finished odds and ends bag.  I hope I have added value to it and it will sell for more than its original €1 price tag when it hits the charity shop.

Did I ever find that elusive bamboo mat?  Yes I did in the very last box in the room.  It was worth the search.  I am feeling virtuous (or is that a bit smug) with my finished projects, ‘new’ leather bag, happy daughter and completed upcycling project.

Oh yes and tidy workroom.  Bets are on as to how long that lasts!

A little post script which happened since I uploaded the post.  A friend of mine asked if I could help out with a handmade gift for a new arrival.  Something small, so in the end we settled on booties.  I wanted to keep the price as reasonable as I could for her so I searched through my stash of felt samples.  In the middle of it I came across a hat which I made in my early days and which was waaaay too small for my head.  So out came the scissors and I took over the role of shoe elf (part time).  Thankfully I could work during day time when the real elves were asleep.  I found a free pattern on Pattern Bee (https://patternbee.com/_images/free_stuff/FELT%20BABY%20SHOES.pdf) and got to work.  So here is the result.  I hope my friend and the new parents like them.

I will readily admit I spent quite some time out of my comfort zone putting together this post.  Cutting into things does not come easy to me and I have fabrics that I caress every now and again, afraid that if I make that cut I will destroy it.  But it was good to let go on items where I had nothing to lose if things went wrong.  New things created from old things discarded.

Have you anything that you recently repurposed?  Perhaps this post has inspired you to finish off a project that has lingered in the back of the cupboard.  Perhaps you make do and mend.   If so, we would love to see your work.  Here is a link where you can upload a photo and write a brief description of what you have done https://wp.me/P1WEqk-cJX .  The process is quick and simple and it’s just one click away.   I would love for my next post to feature our reader’s work.  Let’s get this conversation going.  We can all inspire each other.

I am running behind so…..

I am running behind so…..

I declare throwback Tuesday. I seem to have run out of time this week so I thought you might like to see this post from 2017. Jan posted some pictures in our guild group and it reminded me and I thought it was worth another look. I hope it and the links to the other 2 posts about it will give you lots of inspiration for your own work.

Ann

 

This is the 3rd and final set of pictures from this exhibit. http://mvtm.ca/?exhibition=colour-unboxed the first is here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/18/colour-unboxed-by-out-of-the-box/ and the second here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/26/out-of-the-box-part-2/ Again I apologize for some of the odd angles as it was very crowded with people enjoying the exhibit. In the last picture, you may find it hard to see but there is a very long weaving draped across the ceiling.

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Another Nuno Landscape Completed

Another Nuno Landscape Completed

I have been working away on my nuno felt landscapes this winter. I always sell more work in the summertime, so it’s good to get ahead of the game and get work ready to be framed in the spring. So what to do with this background. I felt like the diagonal lines of color felt too “tie dyed” and needed to break them up. The colors reminded me of summer flowers so that’s where I decided to go with this background.

I played around with a variety of cotton fabric and cheesecloth and laid these out on the nuno background.

I added a small bud to the small, lower right hand flower.

I pinned the pieces in place and added interfacing to the back to provide support for the machine stitching. I could have fused them down but I find that I don’t like the way the fusing flattens the fabric and doesn’t allow “movement” of the fabric with stitching. This is a personal preference and it is easier to stitch if everything is fused in place but I prefer to pin or baste the pieces in place. I also was looking at possibly bringing some of the dark blue up into the area above the flowers. I tested this out by cutting some small bits of #5 perle cotton and laying it down to give the impression of blue flower stalks.

I free motion machine stitched all the green first. I used two different shades of green to give a little depth to the stems and leaves.

I used three different shades of thread in the centers of the flowers and two colors on the petals. I decided to bring a bit of the burnt orange down into the petals to give a look of a bit of shadows near the centers. Last, I added dark brown to the bottom of the centers which definitely helped define the centers.

Lastly, I added blue French knots with #5 perle cotton thread. I then stitched it down to the background “matte” fabric and laced it on to card. So it’s ready to frame. I decided to call this one “Summer Fireworks”. I have run out of nuno felted backgrounds so I guess that will be my next project.

 

A little more stitching

A little more stitching

Continuing on from stitch camp I have started stitching. I like the pieces with a lot of negative space best but thought I should try to do something outside my natural inclination. So I picked one with mostly yellow but a nice distribution of blue too to start with.

I did a bit of stitching but decided it was too soft and floppy to work well. The stitching was distorting the fabric even though it wasn’t pulled too tight.   Another thing I could see, that might happen, is the messy stitching on the backside might show through the white fabric. Iron-on interfacing would solve both problems.  I know I have some……somewhere. And the Iron, I have one of those too, I am sure I saw it recently.

I found the iron first, but not before a mouse had found it. The mouse (the one we caught in the fall,) had chewed up the cord. Not a nice chew in half or in one spot but all the way along. You can tell how often Iron because the mouse was caught in the fall, late September or early October. Well, I didn’t like that iron anyway it tended to leak. I will have to buy a new one. Sorry, no picture of the chewed-up cord. I tossed it out on garbage day.

 

I never know what to buy, so I picked the middle price and the one that says it does not leak on the box. I was tempted by the one with the retractable cord but it was digital with little buttons. I don’t think my iron needs electronics.

Then I found my one-sided iron-on interfacing.

                                          

 

I am less thrilled with the pieces than I was so I picked 3 of the double pieces and one of the singles to use and I will see how that goes. If I start liking them better I can do some more.

 

I have 2 ironing boards. on is under siege in the spare bedroom and the other one, the small one,  disappeared into the packed things. so I had to do it the old-fashioned way with a wool blanket on the table. I used a small piece of sheeting for the ironing cloth.

 

Stitching with the interfacing is better.

 

 

    

When I did this bit of badly done satin stitch, I noticed the distortion starting. Adding the interfacing and ironing seems to have fixed it.

I don’t know what stitching to do. I know it’s all just an exercise but I still want it to look good. I did some seed stitch and that is probably my favourite so far. I thought it was done but looking at it now it needs something else across the join down near the bottom between the woven circle and the yellow seed stitch I think.

 

 

Since I started writing this post I started the second piece. One of the more blue ones. I decided to use some green thread as there are some green spots where the blue and yellow paint crossed.

 

 

 

 

So far so good.  I find it hard to decide where to stitch and what to stitch. I am enjoying it and I hope my stitching will improve with the practice. I find it hard to get my needle to go in or come up exactly where |I want it to. I am using a rounded tip needle. Perhaps a sharp one would work better but I didn’t have one with me. Another thing to look for. It is probably stuck in a piece of foam with some felting needles in a project bag or box.

It wasn’t until I started editing the pictures that I noticed this piece has a parrot in it. It is funny how we don’t see things until we take a picture of them. Do you see it too?

 

 

Mixed Media Stitching

Mixed Media Stitching

This last week I joined a free to everyone stitch camp not knowing what we would be doing. The idea being that you get a short instructional video every day for 5 days and it will be a surprise and inspirational and push you to think outside the box. I knew there was cloth and pain and stitching so it seemed interesting.

I gathered some cloth and paint and things to make paint marks.

 

The idea was to make one painted piece leaving lots of open or negative space and one with only a little negative space. separate colours with a little of the other colour in each. I picked a white background and yellow and blue as my other colours as I could get that paint and had other pieces of cloth in those colours too. I was going to do turquoise but the store was out of it.

 

I like the one with more negative space the best.

 

Next was to cut them up and piece them back together. I cut them into 3×5 inch pieces.  I was going t make one long piece and then do stitching on the whole thing. as I tried to piece them together I was not happy with them so I made two shorter strips. I didn’t really like them and wasn’t sure I would bother doing the stitching. Ruth suggested making a book with the pieces instead of a long strip and I think I like that better. I forgot to take a picture of them before I unpinned them.

 

I reassembled them as pairs to sew together. I will do some stitching on them and then attach them to a backing and make a book. Not sure if it will be a regular book or maybe an accordion book that could stand up on its own. I will see how it goes.

and these are some individual pieces I liked but couldn’t find matches for

I enjoyed the process and the camp Facebook group was inspirational. If I was going to do it again I wouldn’t use a white background. I would make fewer blocks of paint and more shapes. I would also mix the colours more and aim for something between a little and a lot of negative space. I know some of you joined the stitch camp. Did you enjoy it? how far along have you gotten?

 

 

 

 

 

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