Friday, June 29, 2007

The time has come

We are all packed - except for a bag of toiletries which will have to be put in the case in the morning. The alarm is set to 4.15 am and the clothes are set out ready.

We have weighed everything and we think we will just squeeze in under the 70 kg we are allowed (Garuda gave us an extra 10 kg because we are taking donations).

I managed a bit of sewing this afternoon and have now finished my outfit for THE wedding, except for hems on the pants, pressing and a bit of hand sewing of fasteners. What a relief! The only textile deadline I have now is for the Melville Community Textile Art project and I think I can easily do that before we leave for the US.

I hope I will be able to do a little Bali blogging from an internet cafe, but if I can't I will certainly have plenty to write about when we get back late afternoon on July 7th.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

GTG at Gidgegannup

Annabell and I went up to Mem's for lunch today. Maureen was supposed to come too, but her dog had a stroke yesterday and she had to stay home to give him medication.

Mem's house was full of injured people and pets. She had surgery a month or so ago to repair a collapsed thumb. It is still in a cast, though the pin is out, and she can't do handsewing. One of her cats had to have its left rear leg amputated a few weeks ago (bone cancer) and is still needing TLC, the other is stone deaf and getting quite scruffy. Still able to give you the evil eye though if you disturbed his comfort zone.

I did, flapping a quilt a bit close to him when I was refolding it after Mem's show and tell. She had four lovely ones which she had had quilted by Kathy Costalls. The one that disturbed the cat was made from Japanese fabrics with a off centre panel of a Japanese lady. Her sister Faye (who was also present today) had stamped the navy backing fabric with bleach which had discharged to a rose pink. It looked very delicate.

I was most impressed - the times I have tried stamping with bleach the results have been very splotchy. Faye said she used Domestos, so I will have to try again. I have had most success with bleach when I have folded or tied the fabric, then immersed it. I like doing discharge. I also like working with soldering irons and heat guns to distress fabric. Chenilling is another favourite. Maybe I just like destruction.

Annabell had brought along some of her applique blocks. She is making one of McKenna Ryan's designs and it is beautiful. Definitely not something I would do though. She also had a collection of postcards that members of the Jewish quilters list on the internet had exchanged. They were really interesting. Maybe I should join a postcard swap - I love swapping ATCs.

I took along some bits I had made on the embellisher and the quilt I entered in QuiltWest. I promise I will post a picture one day. Again I forgot to take a camera.

The trip home was not pleasant. The forecast showers had arrived and the beautifully sunny day we had had in the morning vanished as if it had never been. It is a long way home (more than an hour) and the traffic was very heavy. I really tense up driving in the rain and was exhausted when I got home. I reneged on going to sewing group tonight - Sheila's house is at least 25 minutes away and it is still blustering outside.

I am cooking pea soup - must go look at it. It is smelling wonderful.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dressmaking hassles

I can understand why so few people make their own clothes these days - if I were a more standard size I wouldn't either!

The top is nearly finished. I have put a folded bias binding around the neck and armholes. The binding is sewn on the wrong side , then folded over to the right side. I made up a sample piece and have tried several ways of stitching it down. I am quite happy with one method, but I wish I had done this before I stitched the hems - maybe I could have used the same stitch on them. Oh well, I'm not about to start unstitching! Once I stitch down the bindings the top is finished except for a button and loop at the back of the neck.

The pants are also close to complete. I need to put in a hook and bar before I stitch the waistband in the ditch, then hem the legs and they're finished.

I have busy days tomorrow and Thursday, but Friday was set aside for packing. I should be able to find some time to finish this so the US to do list can have another item crossed out.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Sewed all day today

and made considerable progress on THE wedding outfit. I would have made more progress, except I managed to sew wrong sides together instead of right sides, not just once, but three times!!

I estimate there is about four hours solid work left before it is finished. I hope that means that this time tomorrow I can crow that I am finished.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

No progress

I have made no further progress on the wedding outfit. When I laid out the pattern last night I remembered that I had not been happy with fit of the top the last time I made it. It was too wide in the shoulders. Alter the pattern? No, go buy another.

So this morning I went to Spotlight and bought a bias cut pattern. I am going to cut it out in some light weight fabric, tack it together and check the fit before I make it up. I will start on the pants though - I am happy with that pattern.

I am going to get started NOW - no more procrastination.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Inchies Off

I've done it! The six sets of inchies were posted today.

Here are the nine sets all together.

I took one from each set, stitched all nine to a piece of card, much the same as buttons are packaged and put each card in a small plastic bag.

It is a huge relief to have them finished and out of the way.

Now I just need to clean up my sewing table so I can lay out the fabric for the wedding outfit. With luck I'll get it cut out today.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Exercise and a Dinner Party

I went off to water aerobics this morning , but since I was the only person there the class was cancelled. None the less I did 45 minutes of exercises from previous sessions, so I felt I had accomplished something.

Then I went shopping for the dinner party tonight. We haven't given a formal dinner party for at least 20 years. We used to have lots of them in the 70s and 80s, then stopped doing it - I don't know why. Since then we have only had barbecues or entertained rellies - which is definitely not the same as inviting friends.

I am going to make tomato soup from Kevin's tomatoes, a posh fish pie with scallops and prawns in it as well as fish plus broccolini, green beans and carrots for the vegetable accompaniments. Dessert will be a fancy commercial icecream.

Before I start cooking I shall have to do a quick cleanup and vacuum. Could get in a few steps doing that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Finished one, two to go

I went to sewing club at Bestway today - I had to choose between that and water aerobics yesterday so opted to go to club today. I plan to go to water aerobics again tomorrow.

There were some excellent pieces of work. The best bits were probably the projects that were made after last month's demonstration (which I missed because I was so ill) and Ronnie's wool scarf, embellished with circles of wool rovings. More ideas for things to do, alas.

When I got home I attacked the inchies. I finished the beading, then decided I might as well cut two more sets to make a total of nine. I wish I had thought of this in the beginning - I could have made nine sets of six to meet the requirements. I stitched buttons on two sets and little brass fake coins on another.

All finished - I will take photos of all the sets tomorrow, sort them into bags so there is one of each set in the bags for swapping, then send them off to the coordinator. There will be about 20 left over and I shall have to think of a way to use them up. There's no hurry for that - it will become just another UFO . . . .

That leaves two projects to be finished before we go to Bali - I know I won't have time between that and leaving for the US. I have to make my outfit for THE Wedding. I have the fabric, I have a pattern and I am hoping that I will have the time on Friday. I also need to do my pieces for the Melville Textile Art Project. I know what I want to do and it shouldn't take too long to do when I finally attack it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Machine and Hand stitching

I am a machine girl: love those machines. The count is creeping up again - I tried to sell my Designer 1 but no takers. I will try again after we come back from the US.

At present I have 13 machines. Many of them are tucked away and unused: two treadles and a handcrank in the entry and kitchen, 3 old electric Singers in the laundry, a Featherweight, Elna Lotus and Grasshopper in the linen cupboard. The others are all in use (except the D1).

Today I started embellishing my inchies (all of which are cut from embellished fabric - are we going round in circles here?)

I have beaded 3 sets and started on a fourth. Then I think I may do some running stitch on another set. There are two sets that I think are complete without additional embellishment.

Yayy!! I think I'm nearly finished. I hope to post these off before the end of the week.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Very little fibre, lots of other things.

We went for a long walk this morning. It wasn't very early, the sun was quite high, but it was COLD. When we came home I spent a lot of time on the computer, trying to finish the organisation for our various trips.

I then accompanied Kevin on his search for various bits to take to Bali. We were successful in finding most of what he needed.

As well as this, we collected our tickets for Bali, then went to Murdoch University to collect tickets for the Steely Dan concert in September. The internet is great for booking things, but you have to eventually front up for most of the stuff you have booked. While we found the place we were looking for eventually, Murdoch University is definitely not user friendly for the casual visitor.

Tomorrow is bin collection, so I attacked the roses. This is not "the annual pruning", just a tidy up. I will do a bit more next week, then finish the job after we get back from Bali.

The fibre? I have unpicked the gold stitching I did on the piece I made at Embroidery Guild last week. I think it looks much better. It is still only a base fabric. though.

And I have exceeded 10000 steps for the first time in nearly a month!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Winter's Day

Though we need rain, today's weather was fabulous. Clear blue skies and warm enough for a Tshirt if you were in the sun (and out of the wind). This shag was enjoying the sun along the Claisebrook inlet in East Perth, close to the gallery we visited today.

I dragged Kevin along to an exhibition at the Holmes a Court Gallery. The exhibition is of bark cloth (tapa) from Oro Province, the last area we lived in when we were in Papua New Guinea in the 70s. The area it came from was the mountains - specifically Mount Lamington which is a now dormant volcano about 20 miles from Popondetta.

While we were in Popondetta I used to buy tapa from women who made it, for the girls at the Vocational Centre to use in making items to sell to tourists. The tapa makers were from the Tufi area, which is on the coast, and I was not aware of any tapa being made locally. I would love to have seen some of this Omie tapa 30 years ago.

The pieces are quite beautiful, but I believe that though they may use some traditional motifs the makers have been greatly influenced by other traditions as well as commercial considerations. The catalogue tells of how the Omie (especially the young men) are becoming aware of the value of the art produced by the older women. I suspect that the Omie have been exposed to visitations from Business Development groups. This is NOT a BAD THING, and I hope the Omie reap the benefit (look at the prices asked!).

However I am concerned that the major beneficiaries will be the galleries, as has happened with Australian indigenous painters, and that the buyers are not fully aware that these pieces are not traditional tapa, but contemporary bark paintings.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A couple of exhibitions

I finally got to see the exhibition of Lois Woollams' quilts at the Old George Gallery. The gallery space is perfect for quilts and they are beautifully displayed. There are some other things there as well by various artists: paintings, sculptures, scarves and handbags. The exhibition closes tomorrow.

The quilt collection is quite eclectic, ranging from the traditional hand applique using pastel hand dyes through children's quilts to bright coloured contemporary works. I loved a little piece where sheer fabric dyed with disperse dyes had been layered on top of cotton and kantha stitches in various colours worked all over the surface. This one had an interesting hanger as well - two old railway ties, quite rusty, twisted together.

Afterwards I went to the Fremantle Arts Centre to try to find a wedding present in the Craft Shop there. I was taken with quite a few things, but they are either too expensive or too heavy for air luggage! Still looking.

While I was there I had a look at the current exhibitions. Two of them did not greatly appeal to me, but I loved the third. It is a short film titled The Diabolical Doctor Pancoast. It is reviewed in the Arts section of today's West and I concur with the critic - unusual, because I usually think the reviews are so much hot air! It is on till July 15 and I will try to go again. I may even try to drag Kevin along - I think he would like it too.

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Arrival

I bought this on Wednesday. It is the most wonderful book.

The Arrival won the WA Premier's Prize and Children's Book Award in 2006. In 2007 it won two Aurealis Awards - the Golden Aurealis for Speculative Fiction and the Young Adult Award, then the NSW Premier's Book of the Year.

It is a book without words, but the images are so powerful that you need hours (days?) to pore over them, each time finding something new.

Shaun Tan is a West Australian and his website offers a fascinating view of his work. I think I will need to find his other books as well.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Purely Purple

At the Machine Embroiderers' Group workshop today we played with using silk and wool tops to alter and embellish base fabrics.

I have lots of silk tops in many different colour ways, but I decided to limit myself to a very confined purple palette. While four different techniques were demonstrated, I only managed to complete one sample. In this one silk fibres were laid on top of a patterned fabric, a sheer was placed on top and the sandwich stitched.

I used a multicoloured cotton with a gold print, gold yarn, purple organza on top and gold and variegated purple thread stitching. I think I need to do more gold stitching or else remove it entirely - the piece is not working at the moment.

I have another sample using a different technique pinned ready to stitch. I have no idea when I will find the time to do it.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

4D Software Workshop

As promised - my report on the introductory 4D software workshop. Pam did a great job coping with people with an enormous range of experience.

I was glad that I had done most of the exercises in the books - I made a few booboos but was able to catch up quickly.

Probably half of the participants had no experience with the software at all. It seemed that some of them were inexperienced with computers even. This meant very slow progress through the sections of the programs.

In a way, this was a bonus. When I wasn't catching up, I was able to repeat the exercises a couple of times before we moved on to the next one.

I am looking forward to playing more.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

This and That

Not much accomplished in the way of fibre today, though I did cut out another set of inchies. This is the fifth set cut out. Still nothing done in the way of embellishment though.

I spent quite a lot of time playing with the 4D software. I am going to a workshop tomorrow and I don't want to be the dummy who can't keep up. I will report tomorrow on whether this strategy worked or not.

I went to water aerobics. It was quite strenuous today, so I may have a few twinges tomorrow. The hotel booking was confirmed so I paid for the Bali trip. All in all quite a busy day.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Trip to Bali is happening

I spent a bit of time on the Internet yesterday, looking at flight availability for both Bali and New Zealand. I found what I wanted for NZ so booked on the spot for the trip over to the Fibre Forum in October. Kevin hasn't decided whether he will go to Brisbane to meet up with people he knew in PNG in the 60s while I'm at the Forum, or just join me for a tour afterwards, so nothing booked for him yet.

I ended up with a couple of possibilities for Bali, so marched off to the travel agent this morning. One of the possibilities was not - while the website said 2 seats were available, the bookings office said there was only one. In the end we ended up with two possibilities - getting to Bali via Jakarta on June 24th or a direct flight on the 30th, returning just a week before we set off to the US. We have decided on the latter and now just need to wait for confirmation of the hotel booking.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Still the Blues

Today I cut up some of the backgrounds I made yesterday. This is one that I didn't post.

I embellished some organza on a piece of felt that I had stitched with metallic thread in decorative patterns some time ago.

I got out the soldering iron and melted the organza on top of the lines of stitching. It is quite a subtle effect. Then I cut out the inch squares.

They are SO small!

I also cut out some from the piece where I had layered Angelina between organza. While these are quite firm, I think I will need to stitch the edges to hold.

I found some beads and tiny metal sequins for embellishment on the first lot of squares and some blue beads for one of the other pieces. I shouldn't have much trouble meeting the deadline.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Blue Backgrounds

I got three pieces done on the embellisher at the Designing Women meeting today. Debbie had also brought along her embellisher (she has a Janome) and was working on wool tops. There was quite a bit of interest from other members and at least one has decided that an embellisher is a "must-have".

My first piece was done on a heavy felt that is used to cover pinup boards. I can't remember the name (I keep thinking RoundUp, but I know that's wrong). The embellisher handled it very well despite its weight. I meshed silk and silk organza pieces on to it (also some moire polyester which did not mesh very well), then added some fluffy yarn. This piece is so stable that I don't think I will have to finish the edges - just cut the inchies and add a bead or two (or something) to each one.

I used velvet for the second one, covered it with organza and then added two different yarns, plus some carpet yarn ends that I unravelled. This one will need a backing and probably some kind of edging. I may add some hand stitching as well.

The third one is a sandwich of an Angelina sheet between organza. There was some text stitched on the organza and I now think I will add some more text before cutting it up. The inchies from this bit will need some kind of edge, but I think are firm enough not to need a backing.

I am feeling a bit happier about finishing 63 of these inch pieces to fulfil the swap requirements.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Contemporary Quilt Group

The theme for this month was "holes" and since, as usual, I had not managed to do an A3 size piece I took along my "Fragments" series. This is acrylic felt carved with a soldering iron and mounted on board sprayed with Moonshadow inks (walnut ink with added metallics). There are three of them, but I only took a picture of one.

I have done a small journal quilt using the same technique, but it is somewhere in the Eastern States along with four others of mine, travelling from exhibition to exhibition. For that quilt I attached the distressed felt with vliesofix to a hand dyed background fabric and then stitched around the holes and curves with a variegated thread.

Tomorrow is Designing Women and I plan to work with the embellisher to produce some blue background fabrics for the 1" swap I have rashly committed myself to.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Does Washing Count?

Apart from a little stitching on one of the rainbow pieces I have done nothing related to fibre today. I have done a session of water aerobics, the washing and the shopping though. Close to 7000 steps recorded.

Why did I stitch on the rainbow piece when I have other challenges and this is not appropriate for any of them? Why do I procrastinate anyway? I have planned my base fabrics for the inch swap. Nothing concrete though. Apparently one of the participants has already finished, photographed her bits and sent them off !!

I WILL need to get moving on this - it is due a couple of days before we leave for the US, which would be plenty of time EXCEPT we need to take a trip to Bali to try and salvage a computers for schools project we undertook in 2004. I know, a trip to Bali is not hard to take, and I know we will have quite a bit of relax time, but Kevin is stressing re the logistics.

We plan to fly business class so we will have 60 kgs of baggage allowance and can take a computer, a couple of printers and various other bits and pieces. We have also been told by other people who have undertaken projects that we can request a few kilos bonus from Garuda if we ask in advance. However, the travel agent is not all that helpful and seems to regard us as just another couple of baby boomer holiday makers. I tried to book on the internet, but Garuda doesn't allow bookings that way. At the moment we are wait listed and still waiting for the agent to contact us.

If it works the way we want we will fly to Bali on June 16th, go to the school on the Monday to try to fix things (ie dump any of the computers we installed in 2004 that can't be made to work, plus install the others that were sent last year and apparently are just sitting there) and teach a few students the basics, then return on the Thursday or Friday to see if we can do anything else to keep the computers going. Please keep your fingers crossed. The school is up in the hills, no-one speaks English and we don't speak Bahasa. We do have an English speaking driver lined up and hope he will enjoy the challenge.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Scquilters' Gathering

Four of us met at Teena's this morning: Bobbie, Stephanie, Ruth (agog in Temagog) from NSW and me. Two and a half hours later we broke up the party. We talked a lot!

Bobbie showed us the blue and yellow quilt she had made for display in the shop. It was very simple - cobblestone blocks made from 2-1/2 strips. Around the edge and held in place by the binding were folded triangles each held down by a tiny button. Really pretty and fresh looking. The strips were part of a "Jelly Roll" (40 prepacked strips) and Ruth succumbed and bought one for herself.

Stephanie showed us the appliqued patty cake blocks she is making for a swap. She is doing two kinds: one pastels on cream and the other brights on black. They will make great quilts for children. Neither Ruth or I had any show and tell.

It was a very pleasant way to spend a morning. I enjoyed myself and I hope Ruth did too.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Moebius knitting

I finished unravelling the knitted object I mentioned a few days ago and am now ready to recommence it.

I toyed briefly with the idea of making a moebius shawl. I have done Annie's scarf workshop and I have Cat Bordhi's books which are fabulous inspiration.

But I had so much trouble commencing the actual knitting when I did Annie's workshop that I am loathe to subject myself to so much stress again.

On checking Cat's book I find she recommends a really long circular needle - one between 48" and 60". That's between 120 cm and 150cm! I don't know if I have ever seen one that long - the longest one I have is only 80 cm and that's what I used and struggled with in the workshop.

I have decided that if I can find a long needle I will attempt another moebius scarf. If I can't I will try to find one in the States when we are there in July.

In the meantime I plan to reknit the unravelled yarn as a large rectangle, give it a half twist and graft the ends. Moebius for cheaters.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Play Day

I spent some time today with Angelina (fibres) and my iron. I have signed up for a 1-inch fabric charm swap that uses blue. Blue is not a colour I use a lot so I decided to make some Angelina sheets for possible use in developing the base fabric. I had two Hot Fix colours: a deep blue with quite coarse fibres and a much finer paler blue.

I tried the stamping technique where you put Angelina fibres on top of a textured surface and iron. The technique worked well with the paler finer fibre, but was not successful with the coarser one.

I also decided to try ironing velvet over a wooden stamp and had some success. I don't think I will use these pieces for the charms, but they might be useful for ATCs.

While I was pulling out fibres I found some yummy rainbow ones and some previously made Angelina sheets so I also made a couple of TBE (to be embellished) pieces by ironing the fibres and Angelina onto vliesofix.

I have ironed one onto Vilene 541 ready for machine stitching.

I think I will lay this second one on felt and use the embellisher.

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Last year I made an object - lap rug or shawl, I'm not sure which. I used two yarns - a multicoloured smooth yarn and a very textured yarn in much the same primary colours. As it grew I became concerned that I was going to run out of the smooth yarn, so I inserted some rows of plain yellow, red and blue yarns interspersed with the multi. I didn't like the effect, especially with the yellow, when it was finished and the whole thing was bundled up and shoved in a cupboard.

A few weeks ago I found another ball of the smooth multicoloured yarn and bought it. Today I started unravelling the object. I will reknit it and hope I like it better when it is finished.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

4D Sketch

I played a bit with this software program today. The first start up exercise was very easy - I had done all the bits before and breezed through it.

I was looking forward to the second exercise which uses the decorative stitches on the machine - a function that wasn't available in the previous version. I must be very thick - I just could not get the program to do what it was supposed to do. So I gave up for the nonce and will try again, perhaps later tonight (though I have a new book calling me) or tomorrow morning and make sure that I don't skip anything. It is usually something quite small that messes up the result!

I loved the previous version and did quite a lot with it. Here is one of the A4 journal quilts I made last year for the Aus-NZ art quilters internet group. It is made from leftovers (test pieces for my entry to the Melville Art Awards).

I took some photos at the beach of vegetation that was thriving in barren beach sand, printed the photos on silk dupion and silk organza and used Sketch to make a freemotion design to stitch on top of the photos printed on dupion. One of the test stitch outs of the grass head was done on a piece of silk that had not printed properly, so I cut it out and appliqued it to a piece that HAD printed correctly but was not needed for the main piece. I also fused on a bit of an organza piece that was not up to scratch. The background is twin-needled to represent the furrows made by wind in the sand.

For me the best thing about this program is that you can use it to make free machine embroidery designs that you are happy with, then play with various backings and contexts and not have to worry about whether you will be able to replicate the work you have done. And if it doesn't work, you can always tweak it.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Prince of Ties

A few years ago (?must be at least 10, now I think about it) I caught the tie collecting bug and amassed quite a number - two copy paper boxes full in fact. I sorted them into blues, reds, greys and browns, greens, yellows and planned to make several somethings, sometime.

At that time there were quite a lot of magazine articles and books about using ties in patchwork. I seem to remember a skirt made from ties that had been unpicked and then joined together so the wide ends made a flared hem?

So way back then I unpicked, washed and ironed about eight ties from the green/brown group and started some strip patchwork on calico for a teddy bear. I remember I was also making quite a few of those at the time in various fabrics. Even sold a few.

I completed a few pieces, then the project lost impetus and was shoved in a cupboard. Nearly four years ago we moved house and the teddy pieces were unearthed. Too much done to throw out so I resumed work on it, this time embellishing each strip with pattern stitches from my sewing machine. His ears and paws were made from a leather skirt I had discovered in an opshop while I was tie hunting and I made him a golden cloak from glitzy scraps stitched on water soluble. He turned out to be quite a regal fellow.

Why am I talking about him now? Erica sent out a call for strip patchwork quilts for possible publication in a future issue of DUQ. I knew he wasn't suitable, but I took a few photos any way. Here they are.


A closeup showing stitching

And the boxes of ties? On looking through them I find that most of the ties are silk. I must have been a discriminating buyer. I still don't have any ideas of what to do with them though.