Monday, March 31, 2008

Yes, I finished it

I decided to treat today as if I were going to work in paid employment. Got up, had a shower, read some of the paper while I ate breakfast and then entered the sewing room.

Start time: 8.15 am.

I set up both of my machines to do different tasks. The Orchidea was for free motion quilting with transparent thread; the SE was to do edges with a copper metallic thread. I finished all the stitching by 2pm and I had had two breaks as well. Very proud of myself. Now to assemble it.

The next three hours were less fruitful. I eventually decided to drop my original idea of using eyelets. The ones I had bought were meant for paper and were too small to work on a sandwich of 2 layers of fabric with heavy interfacing between. I even went down to Teena's to look for others, but they were much too big.

Got out the accessory reference book and learned to make an eyelet with the machine. Yay, another technique! Better, but still too big. OK, rethink connections.

Faggoting! The Spanish hemstitch foot is a breeze to use and the results were great. So by 6pm my entry for Stitched and Bound was finished, except for a label and the photography. That will happen tomorrow so it can get into the post tomorrow evening. I do hope it is accepted.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I've done it again

There is less than a day's work left to do on the fan - even though brainstorming with Juliet has made me make some changes in the overall presentation.

So what do I do? Drop it and focus single mindedly on another project!

I had always intended to enter the WA contemporary art quilt exhibition Stitched and Bound which will be held later this year. It is a juried exhibition and only completed pieces can be entered. I have been planning my entry for a long time.

Yesterday I decided that I either needed to forget about it or try to produce the piece that I have in mind. The deadline is this Friday - April 4th.

My piece is based on photographs printed on fabric. I had already done most of the preparation - sizing and modifying the images. I finished that on Saturday. Printing was this morning's task.

Of course the printers wouldn't co-operate. Running out of ink, refusal to accept refills, difficulty in getting the rollers to pull the prepared fabric sheets through - every problem I have ever had with printing on fabric occurred today.

Eventually it was all resolved. I have the images I want printed on fabric, I have made a sample using a couple of the failed prints, the interfacing is cut, I have scrounged some essential construction bits from Alcira (who leaves for Argentina tonight - thank you so much for fitting in my request) and I think I am ready to go. I calculate eight to ten hours work to get it ready for photography.

I will report in tomorrow.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fan finished

Well, almost. I layered backing, stiff interfacing, the top layer and another layer of painted silk.

Stitched around the shape. Trimmed and graded the seam:

Cut into the back facing:

Turned it through and hemmed the facing. (No photo yet)

It's spending the night under a heavy layer of books. Tomorrow I will attach the leaves.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Big Night

It's all over! The textile project has officially been unveiled. It was quite a show - probably 150 people present and lots of speeches heaping accolades on Juliet and Iris, which they had definitely earned.

Good wine and nibbles too. I was rather embarrassed at having a fuss made about my contribution. Juliet and Iris gave me a bunch of flowers and a voucher for the Thread Studio. Wow! I never expected any more than a mention in amongst the many who contributed.

The panels looked fantastic. When we arrived (rather early) they were flat against the wall and I wish we had taken a photo then. There were so many people milling around that it was hard to get a good shot.

This is the best of a rather poor lot. Kevin's will be better, I hope.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My part is done

and the Melville Textile Art Project is almost ready for the official unveiling on Thursday.

We had the last two panels to finish off today: we needed to trim and hem the sides, then do the tops and bottoms. Iris was with us today. We had just finished cutting the sides when we got a phone call. The guy installing the hanging mechanism had arrived at the Civic Centre , and we needed to take the finished panels down to check that everything was OK. It was a thrill to see a completed pair of panels hung, but rather boring as holes were drilled for the rest of the hangers. I kept thinking that I was wasting my time and should be sewing.

Juliet agreed and took me back to her house where I set about hemming the sides of the last panels. I had finished three edges by the time Juliet and Iris came back. The hangers were all installed, but one of them was not right, so it was going back to the workshop.

We finished the sides, then pinned the two panels together and, after measuring three times, cut the tops and bottoms. By then it was 6 pm. Juliet says she will finish the two panels completely tonight, so they can hang all of them tomorrow when the hanging guy brings the faulty hanger back. I am not needed, thank goodness, so I can finish off the fan at last!

Here is the first panel pair with the hanging guy preparing to install the second hanger.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Family Gathering

My sister Dorothy and her husband Mick came to lunch, as did Helen.

We had a very pleasant afternoon.

Helen brought a lot of stuff for us to store. She is moving into a beachside unit at Cottesloe with friends and is going to rent out her own unit. So we get to look after the unwanted stuff.

Dorothy brought dessert. Pretty impressive presentation.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The End is Nigh!

Full day's work today on the project.

Yesterday I called in to Juliet's after the Innovative Stitches session (great workshop on box making - thank you so much Helen) and found her worried about the wagyl tail. It didn't look right. We had trimmed quite a bit off the right side in order to finish the edges and we had not thought about how that would affect the overall appearance. We decided an equivalent trim on the left would do it, I took it home, cut the new shape with the soldering iron and finished it.

Today the binding was partly sewn on and we cut the tops and bottoms of the eight finished panels. Tomorrow Juliet will finish the tops and bottoms and the binding. This leaves 2 panels to go which we hope Iris will have finished by tomorrow afternoon. The wagyl bit is cut so it just needs to be sewn on, sides cut and stitched and then top and bottom finished.

Tuesday should see it all done. I am taking tomorrow off for a family gathering.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


I returned the blue panel to Juliet. She was a little stressed.

The guy who is doing the hanging mechanism was supposed to have it ready by today. When Juliet rang him he was rather offside - couldn't get it up before Wednesday next week. OUCH! that meant there would be less than 24 hours to correct any errors before the official opening on Thursday. I think Juliet vented a bit and he will now have it ready on Tuesday.

We will be working hard all over Easter. Tomorrow I will help with measuring and pinning to correct length the finished panels and with pinning and stitching the bindings that outline the wagyl. Whatever we don't get done we will do on Sunday.

Today I went shopping - everything is closed tomorrow. I got all the food stuff we will need for the weekend. Time to fiddle with fibre.

I started free machining leaves on vilene 541 for "THE FAN". Murphy's Law - the metallic thread broke and got sucked into the machine's innards. Lots of searching with torches and tweezers. Thread still lost. I rang David at Bestway for help and took it in for emergency surgery. Thanks, David. I wish these new "you beaut" machines were easier to fix when you had thread tangles and tension problems.

Finished 2 leaves and started the third. Thread problems again, so have stopped to let the machine recover.

I am doing a workshop on Saturday morning. Of course I hadn't checked the list and I needed some stuff from Jackson's (art suppliers). The machine problem meant I could detour and get what I needed - well, mostly. Bunnings is open all weekend for the rest.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Eight days to go

before the Melville Textile Art Project has its official public presentation.

Juliet finished the bindings on the blue panels yesterday. They look great and no-one (who doesn't read this blog!) will know that these are in any way different to the rest. I brought one of the blue panels home to modify the wagyl section so it finishes before the edge. In its previous incarnation it would have ended up in the binding.

A fairly simple job - unpick the previous stitching, tack a new cutting line and cut with the soldering iron, then restitch. Not so simple. I had tacked with black polyester thread and the soldering iron melted it as well, making ugly black bits along the edge. Freehand cutting was needed to get rid of them, but it's finished now.

Today we cut and tacked the edges of the red panels, and tacked the orange ones we cut the other day as well. Juliet reckons these are straightforward and she should finish them tomorrow. Four of the five panels almost finished.

The next major task is the bias binding to outline the wagyl. Juliet will make these strips, then I will help her pin them in place for stitching. I think this will be Sunday's job.

I went to aquarobics this morning for the first time in over a week. I thought I had hurt my back, but I now think I may have had a virus. Feeling good now, though.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fan background finished

Since I last posted about this I have changed my ideas again but the overall concept is still related to "Place". The two fans I made in the workshop both have this as a unifying link. I wanted this fan to relate to an iconic part of WA - the karri forests of the South West - so I based my background on some photos we took some years ago.

The background started out as monoprints, which were not all that successful. Then I started to slap paint on it. I was planning to cover this with a layer of free motion embroidery on organza, but decided that the embroidery should be on the background. There will still be a layer of organza. Here is the piece at its present stage.

And a detail

I was able to finish the embroidery today because Dorothy is ill and couldn't make the Art Gallery. If Juliet doesn't need me tomorrow I will do the organza layer.

Monday, March 17, 2008

On the edge

Juliet and I tackled a very important step in the project on Sunday. The finished panels have to have the edges cut straight and then be hemmed.

We carefully pinned the two green panels together, measured not once but three times and cut. They looked good. The process had taken nearly three hours though.

I took some of the offcuts home along with one of Juliet's samples to test settings on my machine to see if I could replicate the required hem. I was able to obtain the required depth quite easily, but had problems keeping it straight. I probably need to use a walking foot because Juliet has a Pfaff and is not having any problems.

Today we did the orange and blue panels. Pinning, measuring and cutting the orange one went well and was accomplished in far less time than yesterday. However the blue panels were a major problem. They were the first ones done and have quite narrow edges - too narrow for the hem allowance we are using. What to do? We decided that there was just enough fabric that the hem could be substituted by a binding and that this wouldn't be too noticeable. So we cut the edges. Amazingly all the layers were included, though it was by the barest whisker in a couple of spots.

We tacked to hold it all in place and called it a day. Only 5 and a half hours, but we did have couple of breaks - for lunch and for a quick trip to Textile Traders for some T-pins. Somehow we managed to buy some fabric too. Silk chiffon at 50% off. We are going to do some nuno felting once this project is out of the way.

Juliet is going to work on the panels tomorrow. I am going to the Art Gallery with my sister. Guess who will have the easier time?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So slack

I haven't posted for nearly a week. No excuse either.

We went to the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition yesterday morning. There were some very interesting pieces. Kevin has a series of photos on the family blog.

I loved the wagyl made of knitted wire that twined through a group of trees and was particularly taken with the seashells made of felt. They were nestled amongst the rocks of the groyne and fit beautifully into the landscape. I don't know who made them because the kiosk that sold the catalogues wasn't open. We also didn't get to see the sculptures inside the Surf Club, as that didn't open till 9am either, so I don't know what else we missed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I've been tagged

Erica has tagged me so I guess I need to respond.

These are the rules...
1. When tagged, place the name of the person and URL on your blog.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 7 things about yourself.
4. Name 7 of your favorite bloggers.
5. Send e-mail letting those bloggers know they have been tagged.

Here are 7 things about me:

1. I am a champion procrastinator. Almost anything will serve as an excuse for not getting down to whatever I need to do - uni essay (fortunately long in the past), exhibition item, workshop sample . . . Cleaning the toilet, sweeping up leaves, doing the probably unnecessary washing are all excuses not to buckle down.

2. With a deadline looming I become more creative. Whatever ideas I had tend to be discarded or modified and a new concept demands attention. Unfortunately these ideas are often too complex to carry out in the available time!

3. My favourite time waster is reading, though the computer comes a close second.

4. I am still going to water aerobics and trying to do 10000 steps a day. Not too successful with the steps.

5. I love cats, but have not yet found one to take the place of Squeek who died at 17 and a half years of age a couple of years ago.

6. I am currently spending a lot of time on the Melville Community Textile Art Project. The deadline is March 28th - see item 2 above. Fortunately I am just an assistant: Juliet and Iris have to come up with the ideas.

7. I have just unearthed a quilt top that resulted from an internet swap in 1996 (or 1995 - I think I still have the details somewhere). I will put on some borders and display it at the Scquilters' Retreat in May. Could be the oldest UFO!

I am supposed to tag 7 other people. I mostly lurk on other people's blogs so I hope I will be forgiven for tagging Annie, Andrea, Brenda, Dijanne, Linda, Maureen and
Pam .

This post has taken me ages - I hope I don't get tagged again any time soon!!

Friday, March 7, 2008


on the panels for the Melville project. I needed to hand sew a backing patch to three of the pieces on the blue panel to stop the Wagyl print showing through. I finished that, then pinned the fabric I cut out yesterday to the two panels. Juliet is going to bring some of the invisible thread the project has been using to the DW Group meeting tomorrow.

I finished just in time to shower ready for the annual gathering of female teachers and ex-teachers from John Curtin College of the Arts (formerly John Curtin Senior High School) for International Women's Day. It was as enjoyable as ever to catch up with ex-colleagues. It is noticeable that more and more of them are joining the ranks of us retirees - I hope that Maria will keep it going even when she retires - or find someone else to carry on.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Working . .

The background fabric piece for the fan is finished. I cut out a window of paper to look at it and I think it's really good. Monoprinting the organza overlay hasn't worked so well so I will have another go. I have starting the stitching for the top layer and so far all is well.

I finished writing the instructions for the workshop project on Saturday and went to OfficeWorks to photocopy them and the workshop notes. Also did some photocopying of images to try a technique in the latest Cloth Paper Scissors magazine of using transfer dye to transfer photocopies to fabric. Don't know when I 'll get around to that!

Then I went to Juliet's to pick up two of the project panels and the fabric she has dyed for the Wagyl pieces. She found some plastic webbing and it has worked so well as a resist for Genesis dyes. The fabric is a polyester so it can be cut with a soldering iron so the edges are sealed and don't fray.

When I came home I got right into it. I cleaned the outdoor glass table which gets really dusty, Kevin found me a large piece of particle board for protection and I was away. It was a bit fiddly pinning the pattern to the fabric to ensure it wouldn't slip, but the cutting was a piece of cake. Now I have to stitch the cut pieces to the back of each panel with invisible thread.

I can see a bit of multitasking happening over the weekend.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Getting down to it

I have discarded all my previous exercises for the Fanning Creativity exhibition to be held in July in Brisbane.

Today I did several different monoprints on some silk dupion and silk organza. It's starting to look good. Tomorrow I will do some more. This will be the background.

I have drafted the design that I intend to free motion embroider as an overlay.

I was panicking that the deadline (end of February) had passed so I emailed Janet de Boer. A very gracious response - no problems, deadline whenever.

I have established my own deadline: the fans will be in the mail next week.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Workshop Sample

On Saturday I am doing a workshop for the DW Group about using computer printed images on fabric. I was asked to develop a project, rather than just having people make samples.

I have done several demonstrations/lectures on the techniques before, but this is the first one where people will be using their own images to print on fabric. We will be using both transfer sheets and prepepared fabric sheets.

The logistics are a bit scary. I will have 2 laptops with printers attached, but I am not sure that I can let people loose on them without supervision. I have tried to minimise fiddle time by asking for images to be emailed to me so I can adjust them ready to print. Only a third of the group has done this. I also asked for images to be sent by snail mail so I had time to scan and modify. No-one has taken up this offer.

I really hope that lots of people don't turn up with stuff on Saturday that needs to be scanned and modified. Printing is easy (though always keep your fingers crossed). So is modifying images, but that takes a bit more time. I have some of my own images ready to go just in case.

Anyway, this is the sample I have prepared. It's a basic shopping bag, but a bit more upmarket than the generic green bags. I took the photo in Mauritius in 2005.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

4D Embroidery Software on a Mac

We bought a new MacBook before I went to New Zealand in September last year. The justification was to make it easy to connect to wireless hot spots to access the Internet. It had proved too difficult to set up my PC laptop for wireless. Once we got back the MacBook was rather on the shelf.

However it has an Intel duo core processor which means it can run both Mac and Windows programs. Fine. But you have to decide how you are going to do this. There are various programs, some free and some expensive. I asked a question on an Internet mailing list and got a heap of replies from people who are using Macs to run the 4D embroidery program.

As a result we installed Parallels and I then installed the 4D Embroidery Pro programs. Success. Everything works fine, except 4D Sketch which requires a graphics tablet. The tablet that came with the 3D Sketch program only has a Windows driver. I did a lot of googling and couldn't even find the model for the tablet on the Wacom pages, so I emailed customer service and got a really prompt reply (Well done, Wacom!)

I downloaded the suggested driver but couldn't get the tablet to work on either the Mac or Windows side. Our own computer guru thought that the problem could be that the tablet just wasn't designed to work with Macs. Maybe a new tablet that WAS? I rang the major Apple reseller and the guy there was gloomy about the prospect of it all coming together.

Today I went to another, closer retailer and bought a new graphics pad. I was assured that if I couldn't get it to work I could take it back.

It has taken about three hours in all, and quite a bit of a work around, but now the tablet works with the program. I have written myself notes so I can replicate the accomplishment!