I have been a keen member of the Bath WI for quite a few years now and am delighted to have been asked to make our contribution to Avon Federation of WIs string of bunting.
Between my day job, wedding and birthday cakes and general life, 2016 was not my most productive year…threadwise. However, it was a year in which I feel my freemotion embroidery skills took a step forward and I found my own style.
The year started with some seasonal appliqué.
Then there were the days I woke up with an idea in my head and couldn’t wait to put it on fabric.
Miniatures inspired by the Very Berry ATC (artist trading card) and mini hoop swaps.
Much of my time…and my heart…has been invested in portraits of pets and wild creatures.
I am still in love with the beautiful city of Bath, and want to many more cityscape and landscape embroideries in 2017.
I am a big fan of nature and wildlife. I do enjoy embroidering city scenes too, but free-motion embroidery works so well for fur and feathers I keep returning to wildlife.
Today was my last stock-making day before King Edward School Christmas fair on Saturday 26th November (North Rd, Bath 10 – 2) as I am in the office for my day job tomorrow. I embroidered a sleeping fox – a little bigger than the mini hoop I made earlier in the year…
Oh my! Where has the time gone? My day job keeps me pretty busy, but I have managed a wee bit of creative stuff (even if I haven’t managed to reopen my online shop)
I am still in love with miniature work and have done a couple of Very Berry Handmade hoop and artist trading card swaps…as well as a gift of some really minute embroidered brooches.
I love embroidering animals – particularly birds and this kingfisher was one of my favourites.
There have been a few cards and pet portraits…
…and the days when I wake up with an image in my head and just want to give it a go!
A couple of my friends have had babies…which always calls for turning soft gloves in to cats and dogs!
However, the outstanding memory will be my ‘Summer of Cakes’. I only make cakes for friends and family – not a business – but there have been quite a few this Summer. I have been decorating cakes since I was a child; my first wedding cake being my sister’s wedding cake when I was 16.
This Summer’s wedding cakes called for modelling…both in fondant…
…and in paper.
And now? Well now it is full steam ahead towards Christmas!
The Winter is such a busy time with craft markets and Su and my ‘At home’ – not to mention a busy time in my day job and lots of Christmas baking…
I rather thought the New Year would be quieter all round, but actually all aspects have been decidedly busy – not least with commissions (and gifts) of appliqué and free motion embroidery portraits of pets…
..and even horses!
Applique and embroidery landscapes and seed heads…
There are more commissions but I can’t share photos of them until I know they have been given to their final recipients.
I spoke to my mum today and she asked if I still have a website…erm…oops. Life has become very busy as I have moved from full time textile artist to part-time textile artist and part-time office manager at Demuths Cookery School. It’s quite tough fitting everything in to my week, but there are definite perks…like getting to take part in the Andalucian Spanish Tapas class to see it from the students’ point of view!
As well Demuths, the Bath WI is still taking up a lot of my free time…all very exciting though as Gardeners’ World came to film our garden in the Bath Botanical Gardens and our Kitty showed Rachel de Thame how to pickle runner beans!
Of course there is still time for sewing and the odd craft market. I went to Corsham Creative Market for the first time and had a lovely time – back there again on 7th November.
Still loving freemotion embroidery…with a miniature artist trading card and an embroidered washbag.
I so enjoyed the challenge of last year’s Hillary’s Blinds craft competition that when I was emailed about taking part again this year, I jumped at the chance! I was given the choice of a metre of any of these fabrics:
I think all four are lovely and was particularly tempted by Rayna Apple, but the lovely colour and foliage print of Safi Turquoise won me over. As anyone who reads my blog cannot have escaped noticing, I love bugs and bees and wildlife so I decided to use freemotion embroidery to add a few bugs to the fabric and then to use it to make a shoulder tote. I almost always make things for other people and decided this one is for me!
One of the nice things about upholstery or curtain fabric is that it is more substantial than a quilting cotton and is a good base for free-motion embroidery. Mind you, to be sure there would be no puckering, I added a stitch and tear stabiliser to the back of the fabric before I began stitching. Free-motion embroidery is rather like drawing by moving the paper instead of the pencil. I love it; totally addictive.
Once the free-motion embroidery bee, dragonfly and ladybird were complete I could tear away the stabilising fabric.
The other benefit of upholstery fabric is that it holds its shape and does not necessarily need lining. I am a big fan of French seams – stitched once with wrong sides together, trimmed, turned inside out and stitched again, so all the raw edges are enclosed within the seam.
Once the body of the bag was complete I turned over the top edge twice and machine stitched two neat rows of stitches. The bag is finished with long handles, so the bag can be worn on the shoulder. I used two narrow lengths of fabric for each handle, ironing the raw edges to the centre and sewing the two pieces together with the raw edges tucked neatly away in the middle of the fabric ‘sandwich’. The handles are sewn to the bag with two layers of stitching for strength…and ta da!
This is a really simple way to make a bag – if you have a sewing machine you haven’t really tried using, a big like this is a great way to start sewing. In fact this is a method I teach at Grownups Playgroup, as it is great for beginners to take home something they can use and be proud of. I am keeping this bag, but feel inspired to embroider more bugs and beasties on bags and zip pouches in the coming weeks.
I have loved seeing how differently everyone approaches this challenge; have a look for yourself on the competition’s Pinterest board: Hillary’s Craft Competition 2015
[Oh and I just realised, this is my 100th post since I switched to WordPress…may push the boat out with a celebratory alcohol free lager…all that’s in the fridge]
Last year I started taking part in a few artist trading card swap with other stitchers, via lovely Ali at VeryBerryHandmade, and got hooked on making things tiny. The latest swap was on the theme of ‘home sweet home’. This was the one I made and sent off:
…and this is the little piece of gorgeousness I received from Cynthia:
All this working in miniature inspired me to try some well known views of Bath and frame them in 3″ flexihoops…my version of Bath bubbles!
I also embroidered a few more birds…
All were very well received at my stall at the Larkhall Festival on Saturday – had a lovely time; thank you to the organisers and all the lovely people who came to support me (and Su selling her willow work). We also had lots of interest in our Grownups Playgroup craft workshops!
Last weekend I ran a Fun with Freemotion workshop with Grownups Playgroup – it was so much fun! We started with tea and homemade biscuits (of course) while I chatted about the basics of freemotion applique and embroidery and we had a bit of practice with paper and pencil, to get used to moving the paper rather the pencil. Then it was time to move on to a calico doodle sheet…one of the most fun things to do with your clothes on! Seriously, just let your imagination run wild and sew whatever shapes and squiggles and pictures pop in to your head, making use of fabric flowers I had spent an evening cutting out in preparation.
Once everyone was comfortable with whooshing the fabric about under their needle and darning foot, we moved on to the pieces to be finished in an embroidery hoop. I had provided some applique templates in case anyone was short of ideas and it was so nice that everyone had their own designs in their heads…and they completed them beautifully! Moose, robin and dog.
It was just a half day workshop, but it seemed nice to finish with a tasty, veggie-friendly meal…lots of chat, and afterwards we had a tour of Su’s garden and admired her tadpoles (and willow work, of course!)
Finally, don’t forget to come along and say hello at the Larkhall Festival craft market (New Oriel Hall, Saturday 2nd May, 12.00 to 17.00)! Su and I will also be in Alice Park on Monday 4th May…being willowy!