Friday, August 31, 2007

Some quilt progress

I have finished the twin needling and have removed the stabiliser from the embroidered pieces. I am still playing with the layout and have not yet cut the background to size.

I went back to the Melville Art Awards yesterday and took some photos of pieces I really liked. This is one of them, made by Timothy Wells. It is created from pieces of recycled and distressed metal and I really love it. If I had the money (and a suitable place to hang it) I would buy it.

I am going to a quiz night tonight with Helen. Haven't been to one for years.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


I have spent almost all day on organising the big events that will happen in September and October.

First is the Designing Women Retreat. We have this every September at a wonderful purpose built venue in Dwellingup, an old timber town SE of Perth. The group has been going there since 2001 and it is a highlight of our year. I finally got all the details together and sent them off to everyone who is going. I think we'll have a great time again.

The other event is not my responsibility - only getting there with what I need is! It is the Aeoteroa Fibre Forum on the Kapiti Coast in NZ. I booked my own fare some time ago, but have just received the details of a post-Forum tour of the South Island. I have dragooned a somewhat reluctant Kevin into coming to Wellington after the Forum and doing the tour. He has also decided to visit some of his E course classmates in Brisbane ( a hiatus of 46 years since he has seen some of them) so the logistics needed a bit of juggling. I think they are all in place now.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Slogging away

I had a disaster this morning. I set up one of the pieces for embroidery, pressed Start and much to my horror found the machine was stitching out one of the designs I had decided was too dense. Though I stopped it quickly, it proved very difficult to unpick and I ended up with a hole.

So out with the BJS, soak some silk, delete the designs from the memory stick and replace them with the revised versions, iron the silk on to freezer paper and print the backgrounds again, ready for embroidering. This time all went well. The embroidered bits look good, and I have started the twin needling on the foundation.

However, I have also had thoughts about another quilt - in fact I woke up this morning with its design clear in my mind. I have been battling all day to keep it from occupying all my attention. I can enter two quilts, so it's not a question of which one. I am determined to finish this one, then the other can take centre stage.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And more good news . . .

I trotted off to the hospital this morning. Four X-rays and two hours later I was given the all clear. I am so relieved.

Have been working on the quilt this afternoon. Yesterday I decided to redo some of the designs because they were too dense. I think I have fixed them now, but I may have to do another print of one of the photos where I had to unpick some stitching. I had better treat some more silk just in case.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Good news

I sold the piece I put in the Melville Art Awards!

I went to the Council Chambers today to look at the exhibition and was told when I got there that my piece had sold. The exhibition was very interesting - I think the standard of entries has improved in every category except painting. I think I need to go back with my camera and take some photos of pieces that grabbed me.

I wasn't much impressed by the piece that won the textiles prize. I don't think that metallic wire can be defined as a textile, even if textile techniques like plaiting and weaving are used.

I went to the Embroiderers' Guild book sale today and bought 3 books for Designing Women. I also succumbed and bought a book for myself - a facsimile copy of a 1920's book on ribbonwork dimensional flowers. Cost me $1. Also bought 2 metres of black rayon for discharge experiments.

And my quilt? I have cut out the background fabric and the wadding. I have found another fabric to use for the backing - I am hoping for some visual transfer of colour/shading. Tomorrow is sample day.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Little Progress

I went up into the hills with Kevin today to pick up a computer from a guy who has donated several before. It is a "lampshade" iMac and he gave it to Kevin for $50 provided Kevin also took away a laser printer! We haven't decided what to do with the computer yet, but there are always plenty of deserving people, not necessarily in third world countries.

Because of our excursion I have not done much on the quilt. However, I found the fabric I want to use for the background and there is enough to use it for the backing and binding as well. I also found the wadding. I am planning on twin needling the background fabric and the wadding together, then applying the embroidered photos and tying it all to the backing. Some experimentation needed first - it might be better to do the twin needling on all three layers.

I don't think I will get much done tomorrow either. The Embroiderers' Guild is having a book sale. Personally, I need more books like a hole in the head, but there is always the possibility of picking up something that would be good for Designing Women's library. Plus I need to go to the Art Awards - I forgot the opening was last night. And the Save the Children book sale is also on at the University of WA - maybe we could fit that in on Tuesday if I don't have to spend all day at the hospital. I have already put Tuesday aside as a lost day and it would be a bonus to go book hunting.

I am planning on finishing the quilt by next weekend. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Work has started

on my entry for the Australia Wide Quilt Exhibition. I am planning a collage of photos I have taken, each embellished with freemotion embroidery (but repeatable if I have a foulup because I have done it with 4D Sketch). I finished tweaking the pictures on the computer yesterday and started on the embroidery designs. I finished them this morning and printed them out. If they look as good on fabric as they do on paper I will be really pleased.

Then I prepared the fabric for printing. I already had silk and silk organza that had been treated with Bubble Jet Set so I just had to iron the pieces to freezer paper. The first print went really well on our new Canon printer, but the second one jammed. Ouch! The fabric was not really damaged, but the printer no longer works. Since it is only a few weeks old, we hope it will be covered by warranty.

The printer I use for my laptop is an HP which isn't a straight through printer, so I have been reluctant to use it with fabric. I shouldn't have been! It worked beautifully and I now have 10 prints, 2 each of 5 photos, one on silk and the other on silk organza. Tomorrow I will either start the embroidery or prepare the background. The required size for the quilt is only 40 cm x 40 cm so I should get it finished really quickly.

One not so good thing happened today. I got a recall for the mammogram I had on Tuesday. They have found something in the picture of the right breast that is suspicious, so I have to go to Charlie Gairdners (hospital) next Tuesday for more pictures and possibly other diagnostic procedures. I am concerned, of course, but not too worried. A couple of friends have recently had recalls and have been cleared, but I will not deny the possibility of disease. If I have something wrong I want to know and learn what options I have. In the meantime, I have a quilt to finish.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Finishing things. . .

I have decided to enter the Australia Wide quilt exhibition which closes in 3 weeks so thought I needed to finish a few things from my UFO pile. I also wanted to have some Show and Tell for tomorrow's meeting of the sewing club.

The first thing I finished was the stitchout of the design we developed last Friday at the computer workshop. I am quite pleased with the result - now I have to find someone who likes purple so I can give them an embroidered teatowel.

Then I attached the fabric butterflies to the embellished background and the organza ones to the painted felt. I quite like both of these, but the photos are dreadful!! I am not sure what I will do with these - possibly frame them.

Then I finished off a piece that has been at least at least 2 and a half years in the making. I had made a flower on copper shim in a workshop with Carol Redlich back in April 2005 (actually on the day we started moving into this house). Last month's Machine Embroidery was on using metals in embroidery so I cut out the flower and applied it to a painted and crumpled tissue paper background along with some purple and copper yarns and another flower piece. Today I enamelled the centre of the second flower and used the piece to cover a notebook.

This is the front - the back is below.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hidden Treasures

I cleaned up the sewing room today. The table is almost bare - two piles of works in progress/ UFOs and lots of vacant space.

Unfortunately, I also discovered a couple of piles of old magazines and I have spent most of the afternoon paging through them. I remember exactly how I acquired them: a gold coin donation at sewing club accounts for some, Dale donated a pile to Designing Women and we had a sort of auction then, a friend gave me a pile to be passed on - but I have to look at them first, don't I?, the Embroiderers' Guild had 4 for $1 at the last meeting . . .

I have found the single issue that I was missing from my collection of the Australian magazine Machine Embroidery and Textile Art. Looking at the back issues, I wonder why I am still buying it - the older issues had so much more interesting stuff than the latest ones. And I am due to renew my subscription - I suppose I will, but perhaps I should write a Letter to the Editor first.

I also need to decide whether I will renew my subscription to Threads. I have been a subscriber since 1991 and I have kept every issue. I often find stuff in old issues that is relevant to current projects, but I am finding that I am becoming less and less involved in each new issue as it arrives.

I love books and magazines, but maybe I should stop collecting, let the years of accumulated ideas percolate through my brain and thereby immediately become a creative dynamo. . . .

"Tell her she's dreaming " - an apothegm from the movie "The Castle" ("Tell him he's dreaming"). And what is an apothegm? Look it up.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Rainy Day and Housework

It bucketed down today - lovely!

I had thought to do a bit more on the blue butterfly piece, but when I actually looked at the house I realised that there was some major cleaning up needed in the kitchen/dining area (which is where I do most of my planning, note writing etc) and the laundry (the painting, heat gunning, soldering iron area - and I do do the washing and ironing there too occasionally), not to mention the state of the floors. So I sorted all the piles of papers and filed a lot of them, paid some bills, and the dining area looked almost tidy! Then I tackled the laundry. There are still piles of stuff on the bench, but the paints and tools are back in their allotted places and I can now see some actual bench. I really need some shelves so I can get stuff off the benches for more working room and (hopefully) greater tidiness.

By the time I had done all this and swept and mopped, I didn't feel like attacking the sewing room. I have spent the rest of the day revisiting the computer design work we did on Friday and finishing the partial stitchout we did. I have fluffed out the fringes and hooped up for the second part of the exercise. I will take it to Club day on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Judy next door has just come over with some birthday cake and a bottle of bubbly as thanks for letting us park their kids' cars here overnight so there was more room on their drive and lawn for the guests . It really wasn't a hassle, especially since we can't close the garage door and the cars offered another line of defence against possible villains. The party was amazingly quiet. Everyone should have neighbours like this.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I put the label on at 11.45 after stitching a few more butterflies to fill in some of the gaps. Then off to Booragoon to deliver it.

I decided to reward myself with some sushi and a leisurely stroll around Garden City. Best laid plans . . . Kev rang me on my mobile to tell me the garage door had cacked itself and would have to stay open. Knowing he had planned to go out too, I gave up the plans for shopping and instead headed to Phoenix for more mundane stuff like meat and prescriptions.

Until the door is fixed, probably on Monday, we think we need to have at least one car in the open garage at all times . . . no cars equals nobody at home, and while we think this is a good neighbourhood, there is no sense in setting ourselves up for opportunistic villains.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Taking a Break

I ran away from working on my Art Award pieces today and did a 4D workshop with Pam at Bestway. We digitised a floral fringe design and border, then stitched out the border part using the Endless Hoop. I learned heaps as usual, especially about the digitising. And I really should use the Endless Hoop more - it has enormous possibilities for more than just adding a border.

I have two new books which Dale sent to me and which arrived yesterday. I haven't had time to do more than just flip through them, but I'm really looking forward to some indepth reading. One is "The Painted Quilt" by Laura and Linda Kemshall. There doesn't seem to be anything new, but there's some great eye candy and it's good to see how people use various techniques.

The other one is by Jane Dunnewold, Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan. I copied the blurb below from the Thread Studio catalogue.

A transatlantic collaboration between Jane Dunnewold, Claire Benn and Leslie Morgan, this books aims to help those who are seeking a surer artistic voice by providing practical exercises and guidance on different ways forward.

The book is divided into four key sections:

How to Get Started: whether you're full of ideas or running on empty, how do you begin the process of designing?
How to Move Forward: getting to grips with the principles, tools and language of design, plus strategies to solve design problems.
How's It Going: everyone gets stuck now and then. Here we offer a strategy to evaluate the problem, contemplate the solutions and make the needed changes to get going again.
Going Deeper: exercises to do when you're seeking to make your work purposeful, or seeking to push through to a deeper place.

Both an inspirational and 'how to' book, the 64 pages work hard to act as a guide to accompany artists on their journey. Each exercise is clear, written in Plain English and well illustrated with photographs and examples. We feel it's user-friendly enough to encourage beginners to get started and help more experienced artists to re-focus.

I think I will get a lot out of this book. I have long admired Jane's work and have both "Complex Cloth" which is still one of the best and most comprehensive textile "How -To" books around and her earlier "15 Beads". And goodness knows I really need to work on my almost non-existent design skills.

I have decided which piece is going into the Awards - mostly because the deadline is 1pm tomorrow, and I will be able to finish this one without enormous stress! I have painted a readymade frame for the painted nappy liner/distressed felt/digitised embroidered butterflies piece, layered the bits and cut it to size. Tomorrow I will put it all together, add a hanging wire and take it to the Council offices. I WILL take a photo first, I promise. And I intend to finish the other one too - it will go better, I am sure, without the pressure of a very imminent deadline!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Work in Progress

I have ended up with two possibilities for my entry in the Melville Art Awards.

I started with just a title: Wings. I decided to work with digital embroidery and spent some hours customising and digitising butterfly designs and images with the 4D software. It is so easy to use that I ended up with about 20 designs that could be stitched out.

I made a couple of backgrounds. Wings suggested blue skies. The first is painted felt. The second has strips of organza and wool fibres needle felted onto pale blue felt with the Pierrot embellishing machine.

While playing with digital butterflies, I customised multiple designs from an embroidery card by Margit Grimm, removing backgrounds, and positioning and overlaying the various elements. I thought I would use this as an overlay, so I stitched it out in mostly metallic threads on cream bridal tulle, using 3 layers of Vilene 541 as a stabiliser. Though there were more than 65000 stitches in the complete embroidery it worked fine. However, the darker metallic threads did not, and I spent many hours rethreading. The end result was good, but was not exactly what I had envisioned.

OK, put it to one side, stitch out some of the outlines I had digitised. The silver metallic thread worked like a dream and several designs were stitched onto pale blue organza, then the same designs were stitched onto a fabric sandwich: threads and Angelina fibres layered between 2 pieces of organza. Cut out the sandwich pieces with a soldering iron. Nice results.

Now, put it all together. Ugh! The organza dulled the backgrounds and the designs stitched on it could not be positioned in an effective way.

Back to the stitched butterflies on tulle. Could I use them if I made another background?

I rubbed Shiva sticks on to a nappy liner and ironed it onto acrylic felt. Not the result I wanted. So I zapped it with the heat gun and turned the whole bit into a sort of distressed lace. Tried some metallic fabrics behind it - copper lame looks good.

So - what piece do I take to a conclusion?

I have a workshop tomorrow, so I can't do any more till tomorrow night. Entries are due in on Saturday - deadline 5 pm. I should make it, which ever piece I decide to finish.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Computer Printing on Fabric

I gave a demonstration today to the Contemporary Quilt Group on printing photos onto fabric. I did not actually do any printing - the printer I wanted to use had died and I didn't want to use the new one without at least a couple of prior prints. The demonstration was well received and I had several requests for notes so I am going to put them on this blog. I do not claim any extraordinary expertise in this area so please don't flame me if you don't get perfect results when you first try this fascinating technique.

* Inkjet, not laser
* Straight through printing path is preferable - fewer rollers and places for the print to be caught.
Apparently some newer printers use dye, not ink, and don't need pretreated fabric - I know nothing more than that.

* Acquire by scanning or download your own photos.
Be aware of copyright. Don't use images that are not copyright free.
* Adjust image in a photo-editing program (there is one sold with every digital camera). I use PhotoShop and adjust size, brightness/contrast and colour balance. You need a strong image for most purposes. You can also use filters to modify the picture to achieve various effects.
* If you cannot add text in your photo-editor, copy picture into a Word document and add text there.

a. T-shirt transfer.
First method developed. Final image is reversed, so if using text, mirror image on the computer. Some printers let you select 'Tshirt transfer' as a media option, which mirrors the image automatically.
ALWAYS do a test print on paper first.
Ironing: Follow packet instructions. Leaving sheet till cold increases amount of transfer, so fabric will feel plasticky. Never iron directly on top of a transfer.
COST: approx $3 sheet

b. Ready to Use Fabric sheets
Various weights and fibres from silk organza to homespun. Availability: some quilt shops, mail order from Punch with Judy, Australian Country Quilts, the Thread Studio.
COST: from Craft Show special ($29.95 for 10 sheets cotton) to Extravaganza (silk organza 5 sheets for $45)
Note: Since these sheets usually come from the US, they measure 9-1/2" by 11" - a bit wider and shorter than A4.

c. DIY - Prepare your own fabric
* Bubble Jet Set is essential to prevent ink running [example below of a print on silk that was not pretreated]
* Natural fibres only - silk, cotton, wool
* Directions on bottle are very clear. Follow them. Use gloves and a clean tray.

i. Cut fabrics slightly larger than A4 (I use a file envelope), place in tray and saturate in BJS. Leave 5 minutes, drain off BJS back into bottle. Leave to dry. In a hurry? Roll in a towel, use a hairdryer.

ii. Iron on to carrier sheet. (Freezer paper from quilt shops approx $1/metre - iron onto shiny side, heavy sheets -US letter size from Punch with Judy $17 for 50 sheets, Celcast sticky (really good for organza) $3 sheet - packet of 5). Make sure edges are secure, iron both sides.

iii. Rotary cut to A4. No whiskers allowed. Slightly smaller is OK. Do this immediately before printing.

Be prepared for failure. ALWAYS DO A TEST PRINT. Mostly use plain paper setting, but envelope setitng may work better.
Wrappers for photocopy paper (provided they have a shiny inside surface) can be used instead of freezer paper. I don't think they work as well - a bit too thick.
No whiskers - trim sheets immediately before printing. You may need to do this to purchased sheets too.

* Shelf-life. BJS - 5 years+, Treated sheets - supposed to use immediately, I have used months later with no apparent difference in results.

* BJS rinse. I never use this. If there seems to be excess ink on fabric (after 24 hours) rinse in plain water or a solution of 1 drop dishwashing detergent to 1 cup water.

* Costs. DIY is much cheaper, but needs time and effort.

* I have read on the Internet that you can use fabric conditioner instead of BJS. I have never done this.

I hope this information is useful to someone.

[Sunday, 19th August. Annie (thank you) sent me a link to a blog with details of using fabric conditioner instead of BJS and I just got round to looking at it. Something else to try . . . ]

Monday, August 6, 2007

Planning a design

Before we went away I sent in my entry form for the Melville Art Awards. Fortunately no detail other than a title and medium was required - no pernickety requirements for size or (shudder) photographs. My entry is in the textile and mixed media sections and is titled 'Wings'. The finished piece is due on or about the 23rd August - I will need to check the exact date.

When I sent in the entry form I had no idea what I would be doing, but I thought the title was so vague that I could do almost anything. I still don't know exactly, but after several hours of Googling I am beginning to develop a couple of ideas.

One involves layers of organza printed with winged creatures - angels, birds, butterflies.

Another also involves layering, but this time the wings would be separate pieces constructed using various techniques attached to a printed or painted base fabric.

I have started sketching and note making - tomorrow I may start collecting bits of usable materials. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Claremont Craft Fair

Dorothy and I headed off to the Craft Fair this morning. I had a wonderful time - not just looking at the stalls, but meeting heaps of people I know. I think Dorothy got a bit bored with meeting new people and hanging around while I talked, but she said it gave her plenty of time to look at stuff.

I caught up with Dijanne Cevaal for a short natter, and intended to go back, but we had to leave a bit earlier than anticipated. I loved the quilts in the Across Australia exhibition and would have liked to take some photos.

Once again I went without my camera. After three weeks of carting it around I decided this morning that it made my bag too heavy - silly girl! I did use the camera on the mobile to take a few shots of the Art to Wear. It was really great to see the work from school students - the stuff they are doing is advancing in leaps and bounds. I wanted to spend a lot more time there than I could manage. Because of our time pressures we did not go to any of the workshops, which was a pity. And I did not buy much - just some silk threads from Dale and some great wooden beads.

I intend to write a bit more about the US trip, but not tonight. I think this will be another early night.