Thursday, 22 March 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

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

 Week 23 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Machine Quilting

March 21st 2018

We are into our second week of machine quilting, last week we were exploring using the machine with the feed dogs in place and the universal sewing foot. When stitching through many layers i.e. top layer, wadding and backing, holding all the layers together can become quite a chore and something that many a quilt maker would steer well clear of. I know so many people who enjoy the patchwork piecing and yet the quilting or sewing the layers together is far from enjoyable. I'm the other way around I enjoy the quilting but stitching all those tiny pieces together is not my bag at all. I guess, they really are two separate skill sets and some people will enjoy the whole process of making a quilt and some will not, but there's nothing wrong in that you just need to pair up with a quilt buddy so one makes the top and one quilts it. Problem solved except who gets to keep the finished product? now there's a conundrum !!!
As a textile artist rather than quilt maker we are more open to the art quilt where precision doesn't have to play a part, we can think outside the box and experiment with the traditional approach to quilt making. I am not saying that as an artist we are not open to precision I love a neat and exacting finish but I can also appreciate a more open approach. For instance, applique for many was tiny pieces. hand turned and stitched with the most minute needles. A skill that would take many hours of practice to perfect, but now we accept raw edge applique with loosely stitched free motion sewing in a sketched like effect, and so it goes on evolving as new artists bring old traditions to the 21st century. This does not appeal to all and I sort of get that, hand skills are changing and they seem to be changing with our lifestyles. In order to produce art in a traditional way takes many many hours and is not appreciated as it should be. New methods means that for some they can make a living from their artistic ventures, using fabrics, threads and the machine or hand stitching in a freer more painterly way!

Below I used one of my cram jar dyed fabrics and drew out some stylised flowers and leaves with a frixon pen. Frixon pens are a great way of marking designs on to some fabrics (always test first especially on very pale coloured fabrics), once drawn they can be removed with heat such as an iron or hairdryer. (I am sorry this is not the best picture I have ever taken) I have used a gutermann cotton variegated thread with the feed dog up and using a universal foot. I wanted to show that even if you can't or don't like free motion stitching that you can achieve a drawn like effect with the feed dog up. It requires, I think a little more skill and patience than free motion stitching and there will be a lot more thread ends to deal with, but all in all I enjoyed the process. Using the feed dog does mean that my stitches are all the same and I can change the length of the stitch to create different effects. This was a small piece about 18" x 12" a large quilt would have proved a lot more difficult to manipulate, because of the amount of turns needed to make the pattern. 

This is Mels piece of quilting using the feed dog, She has used a piece of silk fabric which has been shibori dyed. I love her design for stitching which emulates the dyed design.
Just Fabulous!!

More pictures to come as the girls finish their work.

Now on to free motion, and I have to say this is one of my favourite things to do. Setting up the machine for free motion can be a chore so I have the perfect answer, one machine set up for normal sewing and one for free motion, problem solved. Well for me it is because I probably do as much without the feed as I do  with. I am very lucky to have some lovely machines but I also like using a little 30 year old Jones machine that was very generously given to us to use in our workshops and it doesn't have a drop feed but if you reduce your stitch length to 0 and use a sprung loaded darning foot, you can still achieve very nice stitching as long as the work you are doing is not too thick.

Below Rosie is practicing vermicelli. Sid the Bernina was having a little tension wobbly but we
worked it out in the end. Vermicelli is like riding a bike once you get the rhythm and the movement right, you never forget how to do it. Good luck Rosie I hope the penny drops and you'll be vermicellying everything in sight.   

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Below Celia is using the machine to draw branches and foliage on a hand dyed background.

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Below I have been playing with my cram jar dyed fabric. I was going to use the fabric portrait but when I turned it to landscape it looked so much like a coral reef so I just had to fill it with beautiful tropical fish.

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Here are a couple of finished pieces by Sonia and kay.

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Sonia has hand sewn these shells in the needle weaving method, she was inspired by a gate made by a local blacksmith. Such a lot of work Sonia it's a beautiful piece of work.

Below Kay has pushed the boundaries with her black and white mark making piece. Each individual square can be moved to a different position meaning that news and media is constantly changing and moving with the times. The background was painstakingly made by cutting up sentences from newspaper and on the back of the canvas is a magnetic sheet. On the reverse of the embroidered squares are also magnets so the pieces can be moved around.
I love the idea of this, to have a piece of work that is interactive is such a great idea. Very well done indeed !!!   

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Next week we'll be practicing some more free motion, trying out some different techniques, learning to use the tension correctly and generally getting used to the machine with out using the feed dog. 

Let's see what next week brings???

Make some time to stitch and don't forget to leave a comment we would love to hear your feed back.
Best stitches

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Busy Bees Patchwork

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

 Week 22 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Machine Quilting

March 14th 2018

After a couple of weeks of red, blue and yellow hands the dye is starting to wear off!! Going shopping with hands the colour of a smurf is not really what you want to be doing but sometimes we have to suffer for our art. Wearing gloves is preferable but sometimes restricting especially when unwrapping tight threads from bound fabrics.
There were so many examples to photograph there wouldn't be enough space on the blog to show you them all but I can tell you there were some stunning results indeed, some surprising and some, well we don't talk about them we just over dye them!

Needless to say, they have got the dyeing bug and we will soon have to replenish stocks of procion dyes in the class shop. We have listed some of the items on our website but if there is any thing on this blog that you would like to purchase then please call the shop for more information (01633 810801) as stock is changing all the time.
We have been using colourcraft products which is a well known company for dyes, paints and mixed media products and all things arty.

This week we have embarked on our 4 week sewing machine appreciation course, considering most of the ladies are, lets say, less than best friends with their machines it is my intention to break the fear and become more adept at using their machines.  Having worked with machines of all makes, from basic to top of the range of computerised embroidery machines for many years now, they all have one simple thing in common............. .....................a needle, without which they would be deemed completely and utterly useless. I have had the privilege of using many a beautiful machines, each having super functions that make sewing so much smoother, easier and those that produce incredibly detailed embroidery which just blows your mind but without a needle they are nothing. A little piece of metal with a hole in it, you wouldn't think was so important and so integral; that we forget the whole purpose of a sewing machine was to replace hand stitching. If you break it down a sewing machine is a motorised needle. It took some time to perfect this process but from that simple beginning to the amazing super dooper machines of today it still bewilders me how important that little needle is and how much we take it for granted.

I run several workshops on learning how to use your sewing machine.  I also undertake private tuition as well from basic to professional level, if you are at all interested call Busy Bees Patchwork shop and ask for Beccy.

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Here Celia has joined together a batik jelly roll that was lerking in her stash, using the machine with the feed dog in work she is using a traditional style of quilting by sewing straight lines relatively close to each other diagonally across the pieced 2 inch strips.
Making a start that's all you need to do and build up the design as you go along, I am sure this is going to turn out to be a very vibrant piece of machine quilting.

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In this shot Sonia is exploring using the machine with the feed dog in place to sew leaves. Learning how to manipulate the fabric around curves without distorting the stitches or pulling on the feed dog. You should always allow the machine to make the stitches without pulling and tugging or forcing it through to go faster, this only results in distorted stitches and in time can break the machines feeding mechanism! If you can handle speed this is the best way to move the fabric in a curve but quite often that can lead to disaster if you are not used to it, so take it slow and if it is a tight curve stop and pivot with the needle in the material as many times as necessary to get you around that curve. 
Unnecessary pulling and tugging when your quilting is not a good idea  either because this will result in the fabric layers shifting as well again not what you want.

The link below will take you to my quilting course on Saturday 12th May 2018

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Ann is sampling using straight stitches to create a more free approach to quilting. Ann is very happy to use her machine so I'm looking forward to see what she produces. I have asked them to make the stitching the star of the show, so no layering, applique just the fabric, wadding and stitch. Quite a challenge.

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Linda's lovely bright coloured dyed fabric really shows the effect of quilting here. With the darker thread you can see how the stitches flatten the wadding leaving the puffed up area next to it. It's such a comforting look, you just know that't going to you warm and snuggy on a cold wintry night.

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I love the effect of the thread on Sonia's other piece, she was only playing around with contouring and yet I can see this depicting a sky or water.

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Kay as always likes to take a more scientific approach, a bit like me I like to see what happens if I do this or that, change the length, change the needle position, how could this improve my work, what thread should I use, shiney or matt. I'm sure that Kay's will be thought out.

Well that's all for this week folks to quote old Bug's Bunny, now I am going back in time! 
I hope you have enjoyed my blog, please leave a comment below we would love to hear your views on our blog.
If you want any information on City and Guilds textiles then don't hesitate to call!
Best Stitches

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Shibori and Procion Dyes Beccy Paget City and Guilds Tutor Textile Embroidery at Busy Bees Patchwork

Busy Bees Patchwork

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

 Week 21 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Shibori and Procion Dyes

March 7th 2018

Shibori is the Japanese word for a variety of ways of embellishing textiles by shaping cloth and securing it before dyeing. It is a process of manipulating fabric either by tying, folding, scrunching, wrapping, pleating which provides areas of resist where the dye cannot always reach, creating wonderful patterns sometimes with the most surprising outcomes.

This week we attempted four different styles of Shibori dyeing. Arashi, Nui, Itajime and Miura. Each style has its own unique effect and can be used as a design in it's own right or used as a background for embroidery or cut to piece together as in a patchwork quilt.

Nui shibori 

There is a beautiful book available called Stitched Shibori by Jane Callender, which is now in my basket on Amazon waiting for me to push that purchase button. My attempt was a little feeble this week but then I didn't have a great deal of time in class to stitch a master piece and as I say to the girls I am not an expert in every field of craft there is, I would love to be but that is impossible and probably very pretentious.

To demonstrate this beautiful craft I very roughly stitched a spiral with a crochet cotton and pulled it up to gather the stitches, this helps form a resist where the dye cannot always reach creating a paler colour or staying it's original colour if the resist is tight enough.  A little disappointing but still a pleasing effect, check out the book it's mind blowing! I just wish there were 48 hours in a day so I can just experiment and experiment!

Arashi Shibori

We had a few titters over this technique in class as it requires a plastic pole! can't see what's funny in that? any way I won't say more this is a serious class!

The larger your pole (stop it !!!) and the more fabric you can wrap around it! Well the better really, but again in class we don't have the luxury of time and so a small piece had to suffice. Wrap your fabric around the pole squashing it down to form ridges rather like Nora Battey's tights or scrunch the fabric and then wrap any old way you can think of really and secure with string or rubber bands. Thanks to Linda! Using a brush add the dye, make sure it soaks in well and truly or like mine the first bit you wrapped won't have much colour. My artistic brain now is telling me to wrap it from the other side now and over dye it hmmmm might be a plan!

Kanoko Shibori

This type of tye dyeing is probably the one that people mostly recognise. It was very popular in the 60's and 70's, probably because it's simple and easy to do. Pull the fabric into peaks and wrap with thread or rubber bands. Small ones, larges ones, thick thread or thin thread and then soaked in dye for a few hours Voila pretty spider web designs or large flower heads. I tie dyed a whole outfit like this in school, and I loved it. 

Itajima Shirbori

This is a shape resist technique, I'm afraid I cheated slightly with my sample and just folded the fabric into triangles. Technically the fabric is folded and sandwiched between two pieces of wood and clamped together or bound. But you can use plastic shapes, jam jar lids or old cd's. I like the way mine turned out, but with further experimentation I think you could get some very dramatic patterns. Throughout I have also used one colour and traditionally it should be indigo but I have used a purple just to be different. You could also use multicolour too or over dye the possibilities are endless.

Any one of the above techniques would certainly suit all types of stitching projects. In the next month the class is going to be concentrating on machine embroidery. We are going to be exploring quilting with and without the feed dog in use. Using the machine to draw with and also some water soluble fabric work too! I hope that we will be using these dyed pieces as inspiration for our work.

Here are some of the samples from last weeks cram jar dyeing session Plenty of inspiration here!! 

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Absolutely Stunning I'm sure you will agree, so I'm hoping they have got the bug and dyeing fabrics isn't as difficult as it seems. You may have blue or purple hands for a week but who cares when your creating amazing works of art in the meantime.
Hope you got to have a go at snow dyeing and I also hope yours turned out better than mine! a complete washout literally when I washed it all the dye came out, not sure where I went wrong but I think it's because I used a poor quality calico that I didn't thoroughly pre wash and some old dyes which I thought I would use up.
Never mind as we always say "we can always over dye it" nothing wasted!!!!
Take care until next week and make some time to stitch the washing up can wait!
Best stitches
Beccy x 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

Procion Dyes Week 20 Level 1 City and Guilds textiles at Busy Bees Patchwork

Busy Bees Patchwork

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

 Week 20 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

Procion Dyes

February 28th 2018

An exciting morning playing with Procion dyes. What are procion dyes, well they are a dye that can be used on fabrics that contain cellulose fibres such as cotton and linen but they also work well on silk, rayon and viscose fibres too. They are also known as fibre reactive dyes and soda ash is used to fix the dye into the fabric to make it permanent. There are many ways of using these dyes and over the course of the City and Guilds levels the students will be learning different techniques for using these versatile dye powders.
In our class we used a very simple method, because we were only dyeing a small amount of fabric, our little 10g pots from Colour craft (which we now stock at Busy Bee Patchwork) would dye approximately 2 metres of dry weight fabric.

I chose to use PFD which is a beautiful quality 100% cotton that has been prepared for dyeing hence PFD, this means there is little or no sizing in the fabric to hamper the strength of colour. The quality is what you would expect from a high end 100% cotton patchwork fabric. Of course when practicing you may not want to go the this expense so you could use old sheets, calico, muslin, scrims, linens or anything you have at home as long as it is not an animal fibre where acid dyes are recommended.

Where new fabric is purchased, it must be washed in a detergent with no softener added to remove any sizing that may be in the material, sizing is like starch it gives the fabric a crisp feel or handle sometimes disguising poor quality fabrics. I expect this has happened to you where you've bought something and then washed it and it turns into something that resembles an old dish cloth, been there, done that, and got the t shirt come to mind!
But that's okay too because we are a resourceful bunch, we textile artists and to me even an old dishcloth could find it's way into an amazing work of art.

In our simple method we used plastic pint glasses to mix our potion; to one teaspoon of dye  we added one teaspoon of soda ash, okay what is soda ash? It is the chemical that helps the dye powders to fix to the fibres to make them permanent, again in cheaper made fabrics often the dye runs when washed causing the rest of the wash, to turn a paler shade of the offending item, now who hasn't done that before now? Lastly we added 2 tablespoons of salt, good old fashioned table salt and this helps the fibres to absorb the dye into the fibres. Add a small amount of warm to hot water (not out of the kettle you will melt the plastic, if using glass containers it would be okay) mix thoroughly with a plastic spoon or brush until you form a lovely paste then add 100ml of warm to hot water,
again mix until the salt dissolves.

We mixed up 3 colours Red, Blue and yellow the three primary colours and from this we were then able to mix the 3 secondary colours orange, purple and green. Now, depending on which red, blue and yellow you use will depend on the colour of secondary colour you get and each maker of procion dyes may have their own names so if you are serious about dyeing your own fabrics and want to repeat colours then I suggest you use the same make of dye. Even then there are combinations of the primary colours, for example golden yellow, utramarine and scarlet, lemon yellow, vermillion and navy. It can become a very intense science.

Above is a sample of grading colours and mixing the secondary colours. On the left are 3 primary colours, going from dark to light. I think I might do this again using a longer piece of fabric so I can see more clearly the difference in colour intensity. The three colours on the right are the result of mixing two primary colours again this wasn't as successful as I would like so I think I will try this again on bigger pieces of fabric. 

My success came from the cram dyeing technique firstly with two colours and then with 3 colours.
I absolutely love them and will definitely will be using this method again. The random effects of cramming the fabrics causing a resist in the creases and the blending of colours is so satisfying!

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I don't profess to be well adversed in the techiniques of dyeing, it is a whole qualification in it's own right and I take my hat off to those who do this craft every day, but this quick little method will certainly go a long way to making some gorgeous fabrics for all sorts of applications. I really like the creased effect as well.

Over half term the ladies have been producing some gorgeous things!!

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Celia's super amoebic stencils and machine stitched detail is going to be turned into an evening bag!

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr !!!!!!

How effective is this, Kay has stencilled the lion onto a woven background which I may say at it's conception she hated ! Printed onto the background and has machine stitched detail into the lions mane with satin stitch and free motion stitching. A quilted background also breaks up the original woven fabric. Now it's one of her favourite pieces. 

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Mel has been working her little socks off and has produced this wonderful piece inspired by Klimt.
Focusing on the colourful cloak and the patterns that adorn it. She has applied cut fabrics and machine stitched the background, this piece has leant itself very well to the woven fabrics, it is so surprising how all these pieces have turned out so different and diverse.

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Above Mel has taken inspiration from a picture of a garden in Morocco and my word ! you just want to be there amongst the tropical plants and sat by the cooling fountain, just wonderful. Raw edge applique and free motion detail make up this colourful work of art.

Another beautiful piece from Mel, she has been putting in the hours at home. The layered watery organzas give the appearance of a clear stream, home to this little fish happily swimming around his part of the water. Hand stitched detail Just beautiful!!

I love Linda's sunset, I hope you don't mind Linda but I photoshoped a silhoette to show the picture off at it's best. Linda has painted the background fabric and freemotioned stitched the sea over small snippits of oranges, ochres, yellows and oranges and used lighter colours in the centre to show the sun setting over the sea in Kefalonia. A wonderful reminder of a lovely holiday Well done Linda a really super piece of machine stitching!!!

I think that's it for this week, if the snow continues I'm going to be trying some snow dyeing as opposed to ice dyeing. Here's what to do if you fancy a go too.
Wash some fabric in detergent no added softner!
Soak in soda Ash or soda crystal for 10 minutes prior to dyeing. 2 tbs to 2 gallons of water.
Get a bowl or cat litter tray and place on top a wire rack (old cake cooling rack)
You will not be able to use these again for food preparation!
Scrunch up fabric, fold fabric, pleat fabric and pack with snow or crushed ice, cover completely and sprinkle procion dye onto the snow. Do not use too many colours and a small amount of dye goes a long way, but not enough will result in a very wishy washy pattern. You will have to judge this.
If you have problems with breathing such as asthma then wear a mask over your face and use throw away spoons such as coffee sticks to sprinkle powder.
Cover your area well so as not to get dye over work surfaces, wear plastic gloves and leave the snow or ice to melt over night, the patterns can be quite amazing. Good luck if you have a go and let me know how you get on.
Keep warm, Keep safe and take advantage of the bad weather to do some stitching!!
Best stitches

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Why take level 1 in City and Guilds Textiles

Busy Bees Patchwork

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

 Week 19 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

February 14th 2018

Catching up week

We are just over half way through year 1 and the ladies have made remarkable progress in the past few months. The energy in the group is very encouraging and it shows in the work they have produced so far.

I had an enquiry today about participating in City and Guilds and she asked me what was involved and how long was the course. Well the second part was easy, Level 1 is spread over 1 year, following the scholastic school year there are 36 weekly sessions, each session being 3 hours. Level 2 is the same and level 3 is spread over 2 years.
Each level is divided into units which can be passed separately. The first part of her question wasn't so easy to answer, as the course involves a great deal.

I thought about this a great deal when she left and while sat in a traffic jam trying to get onto junction 28 of the M4 where the road works are causing absolute mayhem, it occurred to me that level 1, not only teaches you textile techniques and finishes, hand embroidery stitches, machine embroidery techniques, the basics of design, mark making,
using different mediums, cutting, shaping, collaging, layering. Learning the basics of fabric identification, fabric choices, thread choices, tools and equipment and so much more. It teaches you most importantly time management, how to think about your work as an artist. I try to encourage the students to think of themselves as a designer, to encourage their confidence and bring worth to the items they are making.

Unfortunately the art world still finds it difficult to accept art made with textiles is an actual piece of art, I don't know how they can make this assumption when embroidery on garments, furnishings and tapestries in history were so expensive that one garment could cost an embroiderers whole years wages. May be it is simply because these wonderful items have not survived as paintings and sculptures have, but to say the skills involved in embellishing fabrics with intricate stitching is less skillful than painting or sculpting to me is absolute nonsense! To be very sexist, if the task of embroidery was solely a man's labour as it was in Opus Anglicanum times and kept as a man's craft such as painting or sculpting then may be the story would be different. There is a very enlightening documentary "The Story of Women and Art" by Professor Amanda Vickery on how women have been shunned from the art  world in the very early years and how some women fought to be recognised as artists equal to their male counterparts, of course these days there is less of that but it still goes on and some day hopefully textile art will be revered as much as paint upon a canvas.

In essence then, Level 1 gives you a great grounding for level 2 and 3, it's where you begin to learn the basic skills and the confidence to bring value to your talents. It encourages growth of ideas to design in culmination to a finished product that encapsulates your interpretation of a given subject, be that an abstraction, an impression or a realistic view.

This week we were catching up, I think since Christmas we have learned quite a lot of techniques, so as not to be labelled a slave driver I am giving them a rest from anything new until after half term.

Although Ann, I have to say you are a Wiz, I am not entirely sure how you manage it but time management is not something you need any help with it seems. I wish I had your sense of work ethic. Below is a wonderful machine embroidered panel that Ann has adapted from another pattern and put her own spin on it. Beautifully sewn and executed with lots of techniques in one piece. Applique, shadow applique, decorative machine stitches, lace application to name a few. This will form 1 of the 6 finished machine pieces required for level 1.  Ann has produced a sample that is over and above the size that is required, but shows her enthusiasm for the work she produces.  

Ann has also made this lovely cover for ipad

Ann has a computerised embroidery machine where by she can take a drawn pattern and digitize into an embroidery. Many people feel that using these machines is cheating but there is another level of skill involved when making your own digitised patterns. Computer skills and knowledge of stitch infills, and line design is not something that is easily achieved with the wave of a magic wand. 
Well done Ann I love your little froggy I think he's gorgeous and well done for bringing computer embroidery into your ipad cover.

Below we have one of Kay's finished machine stitched pieces. She has used the weaving strip method as her background and highlighted some of the areas with satin stitch, printed on quavers and semi quavers and then overlaid on the top appliqued notes from a piece of music that reminds Kay of her father. The stave is satin stitched and then outlined with a row of silver straight stitch and unfortunately the picture doesn't show this off nearly as well as it looks in real life. 
A wonderfully simple but evocative piece of work Kay stunning !!!

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Way back we did a workshop on couching and printing. Kay has made this most wonderful tote for her hairdryer. The fish have been printed from an indian wood block and embellished with beautiful hand embroidered satin stitch in a chevron pattern and the cords around the tote that help the give it structure have been hand couched. This piece will be one of  three of Kay's finished hand embroidered samples required for level 1.
Super work !

A work in progress now from Celia who used  last weeks stenciling session to embellish her woven background. Celia has named this piece "Early Marine Life"  the amoebic like patterns have been taken from the pattern on one of the fabrics used in the woven piece. Celia is now going to use her machine to embellish the piece further. Celia will admit that machining is not her favourite method of stitching but I am hoping to change her mind in the coming weeks as she has already nearly completed all three of her hand embroidered samples required to complete level 1.
Can't wait to see the completed work.

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This is Linda's work in progress, she has woven these lovely lavender grey and damson colours together  and now embellishing with a super variety of hand stitching in tonal threads, She has printed flowers onto the background and used her machine to satin stitch some of the fabrics to highlight certain areas. Well done Linda keep adding the stitching and make it even more scrummy!

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No blog next week, we're having a break for half term! If you want to know more about the course please pop into Busy Bees Patchwork and I will be happy to explain the contents of the course. Better still keep Saturday 21st July 2018 free and come and see our exhibition at Duffryn Community Centre and be inspired by all the wonderful work the ladies have crafted over the year.
Back on the 28th February!
Best stitches

Friday, 9 February 2018

Designing with Stencils Week 18 City and Guilds Level 1

Busy Bees Patchwork

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

 Week 18 City and Guilds Level 1 Certificate in Textiles 7161

February 7th 2018

Designing with Stencils

Golly February already and we're still feeling that wintry cold weather. Still nothing like being cwtched up at home with a piece of embroidery in your hand watching Dancing on Ice.  

The Girls have been very busy this week obviously doing just that!!!

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Ann's lovely woven piece has taken on a new lease of life, she has added shells, pebbles, applique fish and a gorgeous little seagull flying above the sea. Ann always surprises me at how much work she can produce in a week, here is another piece of work she has been beavering away on.

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There is so much hand embroidery on this piece, she has covered every inch in sumptuous stitching. Lazy Daisy, pistol stitch, french knots, finger rings, Brazillian embroidery and beading to mention a few. Superb !!!

If you remember from last week Ann was dedicating this piece to her Grandma who taught her how to sew, I think she will have made her Grandma very proud indeed with this wonderful picture machine stitched with a little bit of computer embroidery too with the Singer brand name, something that I'm sure Ann's Grandma would have loved. 

Celia's piece has advanced from last week with lots of hand embroidery, embellishing these gorgeous fabrics which she has rust dyed herself.

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I love to see the progression every week of each piece of work, everyone encourages each other, take ideas from each other, offers of advice and sharing of skills. I love the colours in Celia'a work, the orangey, yellow with the black seems to go so well. 

Sonia has taken her woven piece and take inspiration from the fabric to complete her embroidery which she is going to make into a book cover.
If you remember from last week she had printed on some clouds and over last week she has hand stitched them to highlight the clouds and has made a castle from felt embellished with hand stitches which will be a focal point for the front of her book cover.

Sonia has also completed a piece on needle weaving, she started this a couple of weeks ago if you remember, and she has added more pebbles in graduating size and has coloured the background so that the pebbles feel like they are under water. The needle weaving is beautifully stitched and the colour combination is wonderful.

This week we studied the options of stenciling a design rather than printing, it caused a little confusion because designing a stencil is much more difficult than it looks. In printing a design any design that protrudes from the holding block will print but with a stencil what is cut away forms the design.
This has to be thought out quite carefully when you want a more intricate pattern. 
The whole design cannot be cut away other wise you are left with a solid outline of a design, so the design has to be drawn as separate shapes that still connect to reveal the desired pattern as in the samples below.

So we had a go and this is what we came up with .............

Who's a pretty boy then ?

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You can use many things to make a stencil, Mylar is a plastic sheet that most stencils are made of, it is very durable, water resistant and will last many years if you look after it. But to buy it is very expensive. We can substitute Mylar with card board or strong paper covered in PVA glue, Manilla card which is coated with a waxey substance, laminate sheets, clear plastic from gift boxes or in our case we used Freezer paper it's not very strong but you can iron it onto fabric and therefore it doesn't move around and helps to stop the paint from seeping under the stencil giving smudged edges. With care you can reuse the stencil several times.
We also use acrylic paint for our trial pieces but fabric paint can also be used if the piece you are working on needs to washed.

Why don't you have a play and see what you can come up with, it's not that difficult and who knows we may start another stenciling revolution like the early 90's when every wall and piece of furniture was stenciled within an inch of it's life. I like it, it's great fun and you can achieve some great designs for stitch!

Don't forget make some time to create! and speak to you again next week.
Best stitches