Friday, 18 May 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 29 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Machine Applique and reverse applique
May 18th 2018

It has been a busy few weeks here at Busy Bees and the reason I haven't blogged for a while.
The ladies have been very busy catching up with work as we head towards the last few weeks of Level 1, I can't believe how quickly this time has passed and so much wonderful work has been produced, I am really looking forward to the exhibition on our workshop programme open day on Saturday 21st July 2018.

This week and next week we are covering machine applique and reverse applique. Two very exciting techniques that are probably the most used techniques when it comes to textile art. Applique meaning to apply one fabric to another in a decorative way either by applying a shape such as a flower or bird.
Most people when thinking about machine applique will be familiar with the words satin stitch, a close zigzag that firmly holds the shape to be applied in place. To achieve this stitch on your machine as long as it has a swing needle (not a straight stitch machine) you will need to be able to alter the length and width settings to achieve this decorative stitch. Not all machines are able to do this so check your manual first to make sure. The general settings for most machines is to set the pattern dial or from the digital display select the zigzag pattern and then adjust the  length 0.5 or close to 0 but not too close because setting the machine to 0 tells the feed dog to sew on the spot, but you need to be fairly close in order for the stitches to sit side by side. Always test first on a scrap of fabric and if the foot moves freely and the stitches are close then you have found the right setting. To set the zigzag either change the numbers to 3.0 or 3.5 or turn your pattern dial so that the bars are set just above the middle position. Most mechanical machines have a width maximum of 5 which relates in size to 5 mm. A computerised machine generally will have a setting of 7 mm.







Always test your settings because things can change when using thicker threads or fine threads, or thicker fabrics etc. Applique is such a useful technique to learn, you can be so creative with it, from your choice of design through to your choice of fabrics and threads.  It can be intricate in pattern or cover large areas the possibilities are endless!

Before the invention of wonderful Bondaweb, (a sheet of glue attached to a carrier sheet that bonds through heat application) applying shapes, especially small shapes would take a considerable amount of time and skill. Bondaweb a brand name for this mesh of glue, securely holds the shape in place while stitching, it also prevents fraying on fabrics of that nature so applying any type of fabric now need not cause too much concern. The carrier sheet resembles tracing paper and the design can be traced onto this cut out roughly around the shape and then bond to the reverse or wrong side of the fabric to be applied. Cut out the shape when attached to the fabric, peel away the paper and then place onto the background fabric right side up and iron into place with a medium to hot iron, making sure the glue on the reverse is well and truly adhered to the background.
When you have applied your shape, with machine set correctly and the satin stitch foot on the machine continue to sew around your design making sure that when the needle of the machine falls into to left position that it passes through the applique and the background and that the right fall of the needle only goes through the background material. Covering the raw edges of the applique shape. 
When it is time to turn or work your way around a curve if turning clockwise, leave the needle in the fabric on the right fall and pivot back into position rather than dragging the fabric around, this will cause the material to pucker! If your turning anti clockwise then leave the needle in the left fall and pivot for that direction. If you find the material is puckering you can also place a piece of stitch and tear interfacing to the reverse to give more substance to that area. Satin stitch has a tendency to pucker the material especially fine fabrics because of the concentration of stitches, changing the tension to a lower setting can also help with this problem, again testing first will throw up these problems so that when you approach your finished work all problems should be ironed out.

I might go on a bit about testing but unless you give the machine a chance to do a good job by adjusting this and that, then you cannot expect it to know exactly what you want. Too often we blame the poor old machine, but in fact we just haven't given it the right foot, the right needle, the right settings etc to do the job! In industry machines are set up with one job to do eg putting in a zip on denim fabric with a size 50 thread and 100 standard needle, it will do that all day long with no problem at all,  now think how it would fare without changing those settings and ask it sew silk chiffon?  Food for thought ......

Next week I'll explain a little about reverse applique and how it can help apply fabrics in a more intricate way.  Here are some pictures of what the ladies have been up to recently, not so many now as pieces are being finished and we only have a few more techniques to cover.

Some samples of transfer painting. 

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Stencilled with Markals 

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Trying out Markals on different surfaces including sticky back plastic, scrim, and lutradur.

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Stencils with Markals

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Rubbings with Markals from Indian block prints

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Below, a rubbing with markals from a Garden seat no less !!!

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Inspiration is all around us even where we sit! Keep your eyes and mind open and you will be surprised what comes to mind when looking at an object in a different way.  Celia had some old keys and they have come to tell a story about the suffragettes and the emancipation of women. The key in her piece is a representation of the women who chained themselves to railings to fight for the cause, a key was needed to release them from their chains physically and metaphorically! It will be quite a profound piece when finished.



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Well I think that's enough for this week, hope you find some time to stitch this week or maybe start a sketchbook of ideas, jot down some ideas or little drawings and scribbles see what come to mind.
Enjoy the sunshine while it's here too!

Best stitches
Beccy
  

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Week 27 Discovering the beauty of Markal Paintstiks Level 1 City and Guilds Textiles @Busy Bees Patchwork Studio

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 27 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Markal Painstiks

May 2nd 2018

First let me apologise for the absence of last weeks blog! We had such a busy session learning about transfer dyes and how to use them by the time I looked at the clock it was time to go home and no time to take pictures. I thought perhaps a blog with no pictures would be pretty boring so I decided not to and make up for it this week.
Although our sessions are 3 hours, time just seems to fly! and yet most people feel that their best work is done at home in the comfort of their own surroundings, where you can take time to think over the process or technique and tailor it to your own design.
We all work in different ways and I always found that I loved going to class, meeting up with my fellow learners, learning the technique for the week and then going home to put that new found knowledge into practice. Meeting up with my fellow enthusiasts gave me a boost, seeing how others approached the same task, mulling over the different fabrics, threads and paints, listening to other ideas and points of view to me was a very important part of the whole journey.
Unlike school I hated missing weeks because of half term, but I suppose my teacher deserved a break but I really missed going to class. Although going to class was the best thing, I could never produce any thing I was happy with in those few hours, my best efforts were always at home in my little sewing room, crammed to the ceiling with all my lovely stuff around me like a bird in a nest! I guess we all work in different ways and some people prefer distance learning and some may not have the luxury of having a centre close by to attend but for me, the camaraderie of class mates really makes the whole experience of learning extra special!

This week we are discovering what effects we can gain from using Markal Paintstiks.
In essence these are oil paints in a crayon form. When you first use them from the packet you have to remove the outer dry skin which forms naturally when the paint is dry. These little bits of dry oil paint can be collected and melted between two sheets of baking parchment to form random splodges of paint or you can blend them with a stencil brush.
Once the dry outer casing is removed you then use the sticks to make rubbings onto paper or fabric. The colours are very solid, not very vibrant but they do look great on a dark fabric or paper, because they are opaque. Dark fabrics are notorioulsy poor for printing on because the ink sinks into the fabric but the Markals seem to sit on the fabric surface and adhere like glue. Within 48 hours the paint is cured or dried and is then permanent and water proof!


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They come in a huge variety of colours, and
unlike other paints they last for years, because
they have this self sealing habit, so when
you remove the skin they are ready to go!
The solid colours can be mixed like other paints
so yellow and blue will make green and so on! 





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They also make an iridescent oil stick,
these are really super and leave a beautiful
shimmer. They can be mixed with the solid
colours too!
If you like a little bling or a subtle shine, these
paints are really fantastic!

Both Paintsticks work well on any fabric type,
once dry they are soft to stitch into and are
permanent and water proof.



They are a considered purchase, but a little paint goes a very long way!
They are definitely worth a try, don't be disappointed with your first attempt, because most techniques need to be tried more than once. Quite often we want something to work first time but unfortunately to get the best out of any skill it needs to be attempted more than once. Can you remember learning how to write as a child, or learning to drive or getting to grips with your first job, we only get better at something when we do it over and over again. That's why I am giving the ladies another week next week to appreciate the paints a little more. There are so many techniques to learn whilst on the City and Guilds course there never seems to be enough time to really explore certain techniques to the full. Hopefully they will use these paints more in Level 2 !


Here are some of the results of our time together today!


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Already I can see some wonderful works or art in the making, the one just about is just gorgeous! This could be used as a background for stitching into or if a shape cut from the fabric it could be appliqued as a sea turtle's shell or butterfly wings. 

I am sure next week with a little time to themselves they will come up with some amazing ideas. The best results from today's experiments probably came from the rubbings taken from blown vinyl wall paper.  It comes nowadays in so many great patterns to make rubbings from but also when we applied the oil paint to it, it was thought that perhaps we could even use the wall paper to stitch into and I am hoping someone will have a go, because I am definitely going to have a go when I get some spare time.

Everyone was impressed with using stencils and a stencil brush, the bristles of a stencil brush are shorter and flat at the top, the paint is applied to the fabric or paper by either stippling or swirling.  Stippling gives a speckled effect and swirling gives a lovely blended effect, the paints can be blended to give a lovely depth of colour. Further paint layers can be applied to give a more solid colour.

I think I have covered everything we have done today and if you have bought these in the past from shows I hope this blog inspires you to get them out of the bottom draw and have a go. Find some stencils, wood block stamps or even take a rubbing from the living room wall paper or better still, pop down to your local DIY store for some samples and see what you come up with, feel free to post them on our facebook page I'd loved to see how you get on.

Here are some results from last weeks session on transfer dyes, another week of playing and look what they have come up with!

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It's always difficult to learn a new technique, getting your head around something you are not used to is very demanding but I think these are just stunning for just 2 weeks trial.  These may not end up as embroideries but future projects will certainly be inspired by them I am sure.

That's all for this week I hope you will have time to be creative and maybe get out those transfer paints or Markals and give them a go.

Level 1 is nearly coming to an end, if you are interested in applying for Level 1 I am taking names now for September 2018. I only have 10 places available and already have 4 people interested so give me a call at the shop to register your interest. We have our exhibition coming up on the 21st July at Duffryn Community Centre, Newport, South Wales, you will be able to see the girls work in the flesh and chat to them about the course as well as me.

Take care and speak to you soon!
Best stitches
Beccy x






   

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

Your centre for City and Guilds Textiles and Patchwork
in South Wales

 Week 25 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Transfer Dyes and Crayons

March 18th 2018

Easter is now a distant memory, children are back in school and true to form the sun has decided to shine! Over the past two weeks I hope, the ladies have been working hard finishing off pieces of work and updating their files because we only have officially 11 weeks left to complete year 1. Yes, two thirds of the way through and we still quite a few techniques to master. Transfer dyes being one of them. Now I have to say when I first tried transfer dyes I wasn't that impressed but having revisited these paints I see more potential the more I play with them.
Basically the paint has the quality to be transferred to fabric in many different ways by using the heat of an iron. They come in powder form or already mixed in liquid and are ideally used on man made fabrics such as polyesters or rayons. When used on Polyester fabrics the colours are vibrant and strong, if you apply them to natural fibres they are duller and more subtle. Recently you can buy a solution called transfix, which you paint onto natural fabrics so that they take on the same bright colours that you gain from man made fabrics. There are so many man made fabrics that are produced to resemble natural fabrics such as silk although nothing can repalce the real thing truly, but they are half the price and easily produced. Some have a very high sheen, some with a slub, some see through, and also different weights which are suitable for different craft applications. Choosing fabrics can be a little daunting, with the choice available to us today. But when you are out and about, check out the fabric stores and get a stash of different types so that you can try and sample them to understand their properties such as the sheen, fluidity and strength so that you can purchase an appropriate fabric for your piece of work. Trying out different materials will help you to make the best decision especially if the piece of work is to have a function, no good choosing a crepe de chine for a shopping bag or a fine georgette for a winter coat. As you get to know different fabric types you will learn how their inherent properties lend themselves to certain projects.

The one thing which is very strange about transfer dyes is their colours, from pot to paper the colour does not resemble it's true hue until it is transferred to the fabric! First you must paint the chosen colour onto a sheet of a4 photocopy paper or similar. Any thicker than this and the paint does not transfer very well. You can use the "dry" painted paper then in many ways.

Painted papers at the bottom, the top row is how they turn out when transferred to a 100% polyester satin fabric.

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Doing a little trial before you begin is probably the best advice I can give!

You can experiment with sponging, dribbling, using a brayer, spattering etc on your original paper sheet, this will give you different textures to your backgrounds, the paint is not as smooth as others and can be unpredictable but I think that's part of the excitement you will never get two the same for sure!



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Above I have used a stencil which I have made from 190 micron stencil mylar. I have used it as a resist which means I have put my piece of fabric on an ironing surface right side up, placed the stencil on top and then put the painted paper, paint side down and rubbed the iron gently over the paper using quite a high heat. The mylar will withstand the heat and the paint only gets to the areas where the daisies are cut out. You could also use a piece of card board or another piece of paper with a desing cut out. It takes a little while to transfer but keep the iron moving other wise you will get marks from the steam holes in the bottom of the iron transferring as well even though you will be using it as a dry iron NO STEAM ! Keep rubbing the iron over and lifting the paper to see how the transfer is progressing, when you are happy with the depth of colour you can stop.

I have recently designed some stencils and they will be on our our website very soon!

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I really like this one, it looks very ethereal, and has been made in the same way as above but using a circle stencil, with 4 layers of coloured paper on top of each other each time moving the stencil so that the circles are not in the same place.

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This is fab, I just love it!!!! done in a slightly different way using the positive shapes from the stencil and layered and over lapped, which gives this great depth like looking into a pond.



Below I have cut out a shape from the painted paper, you can see how roughly I painted it from the brush marks. The colour looks like a muddy brown but when transferred to the fabric it completely changes into a vibrant orange.



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From yucky to vibrant yellow it's like magic!!!


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I painted some abstract tulips very roughly in red, yellow and lime green for the leaves and this is how it transferred to the fabric.


Quite remarkable transformation! 
Remember to flip your design, especially when using words!

Next week we can see what the ladies have produced from their transfer dye papers, and hopefully time allowing I will have been trying out some more controlled ways of using these paints.


Now for some eye candy of the stitch variety, some more finished pieces of the ladies work they have been working on over the Easter break.............


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Some outstanding pieces of work I think you will agree. For your chance to see these pieces make a date in your diary for Saturday 21st July when Busy Bees has it's workshop open day! All the City and Guilds work will be exhibited at Duffryn Community Centre, where you can view and sign up for City and Guilds level 1, there are limited places so if you are interested you can get in touch before by calling me at the shop 01633 810801 or email me at beccy@busybeespatchwork.com.

The work shop open day is our biggest day of the year where you can sign up for day classes in all aspects of sewing crafts from Patchwork and Quilting to felting and hand embroidery, take the opportunity to come along and chat to some of the tutors who will be teaching over 2018/2019. It's a great day to come and chat to fellow stitchers over a cup of tea and a piece a cake and be inspired by all the lovely work that will be on display.

In the meantime, make some time to sew put a side the washing and ironing for a while and set your self some time to do something creative. The benefits of doing something creative can really be very therapeutic, don't say you don't have the time! you have to make time even if it's only a couple of hours a week.

Best stitches and looking forward to next weeks installment!
Beccy xxx