Monday, 29 August 2016

Magazine Gifts (Part 2) Homemaker

As I mentioned in my last post I was gifted a subscription to Homemaker magazine last Christmas. There seem to be a great many craft, stitch, knit, home magazines on the market now and I was introduced to Homemaker magazine by a friend. It has brought a lot of pleasure this year as it dropped through the letterbox each month. This month it had a small pack of fabric attached in bright colours.

There was also a leaflet with ideas and instructions of how the fabric could be used. This included hexagon bunting, lavender bags, camera strap and other fun suggestions.

Last year I began to create covers and panels for notebooks and journals, which I sold at craft fairs along with other crafty handmade gifts. 

AnnieOBTextiles Felted Panel Journals

For a variety of reasons I have not attended any craft fairs this year, but recently decided  to build up my stock again and maybe do a few fairs in the run up to Christmas. 

AnnieOBTextiles Linen Notebook Covers

The bright and bold fabric of the magazine gift suggested notebook cover to me immediately. There was approximately an eighth of a yard of each fabric so together with some cotton and linen fabric I like to use, it worked out well. The cotton and linen gives some body to the cover and works as a good base for applique decoration.

I used the bright yellow fabric as edging and cut out sections of the blue pattern to create flowers on the cover and the page marker.

The inside is lined in the blue fabric and a piece of the yellow makes a good pocket for little notes or bits and pieces.

As luck would have it there was a toning blue ribbon in my stash for the page marker and book ties. 

I am really pleased with how it has turned out. The fabric is much bolder and brighter than the ditsy cotton fabrics I usually choose but I love it. Maybe I need to be braver in my fabric choices.

The free machine stitched slogan of 'Sew Happy' really sums up my mood. I shall be looking for more bright, cheery fabrics in the future 
(or is that just a good excuse to go fabric shopping!).


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Magazine Gifts (Part 1) Mollie Makes

Magazines have always been a treat. Since I was a child and allowed to walk to the newsagents for a Bunty comic, a new magazine has always held excitement. I am not sure if it is the crisp new paper or the anticipation of new ideas, but I still get pleasure from opening a brand new magazine. Long ago if the Bunty comic had a dress-up doll to cut out on the back page it was extra special. The tabs to hold the clothes on the cardboard doll never worked but that did not matter. It was the process of cutting out and making that was important and I often designed my own clothes from scraps of paper and colouring pencils for the bendy, wobbly doll.

Many (many!) years later I still feel the same thrill of a new magazine and if there is a free gift attached, even better. I was given a subscription to Homemaker last Christmas and it is always a surprise when it pops through the letter box each month. Recently I took out a subscription to Mollie Makes, mainly because it was an excellent offer that included the latest Great British Sewing Bee Book for free. I had planned to buy the book and the magazine offer was cheaper than the price of the book so it would have been crazy not to. (That is my excuse and I'm sticking to it!)

Last week my first Mollie Makes magazine came through the door and it had a free crochet gift attached. Inside the envelope was a card with five brightly coloured yarns and a small plastic hook and inside the magazine were instructions for making a Flower Garland designed by Hannah Cross.
As soon as my chores were finished I took it out into the garden, wound the wool into balls and had a go at creating some of the flowers. The fact that I have several "works in progress" including socks for Yarndale, a knitted shawl and a crochet blanket, to name just a few, that all need attention, I had to try out the "free kit". This probably indicates I have never grown up properly and quickly revert to the child cutting out the dress-up doll.

There did not appear to be very much yarn, not unsurprisingly as it fitted into an envelope, and I was doubtful about how many flowers could be created. So it was great to find there was enough for each of the flowers and leaves illustrated and spare yarn to make some extras. I used a metal hook rather than the plastic one provided.

Garlands are not really my thing so decided to make a small summer wreath instead.
There were enough flowers and leaves, when set out, to add to a hoop.

A 6 inch embroidery hoop was just about right and I used the same method as the Attic 24 Mouse Bower I had completed earlier in the year.

The Mouse Bower was a plastic hoop frame with a hanger but as I did not have one I opted for a wooden embroidery hoop. I seem to have a stack of these acquired over the years. 

Strips of cotton bound round the edge gave it enough padding for the crocheted sleeve.

The yarn for the crochet sleeve was left over from my ripple blanket as the colour blended with the cheerful flowers quite well. Sorry about the rubbish photos but they were taken in the late evening.

After some thought and messing about, I was happy with the placement of the flowers with the help of some pins and stitching began.

Stitching the flowers on was rather fiddly but not as difficult as getting the mice to sit on the bower had been!

Here is the finished wreath complete with a crocheted loop to hang it up. It looks very cheerful on my workroom wall and fits in well with the felted poppies.

Now I really must get back to those Yarndale socks........

Friday, 19 August 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016

This week has flown by and it is hard to believe it is a week since I visited the Festival of Quilts (FOQ) at the NEC Birmingham last Friday. Normally I visit this exhibition with friends each year but this year owing to holidays and other factors I went alone. So that I could share the experience with friends I took lots and lots of photos and was astonished when I got home and downloaded them. There were 205 images! Far too many to share here so I have picked out a few of favourites. 

A section of the winning Group Quilt

The wonderful thing about the FOQ is the exhibition combines amateur and professional exhibitors. The range of styles and techniques is breath taking and includes anyone who has the skill, talent and enthusiasm to take part. The picture above shows some of the detail of the winning group quilt. I was unable to discover the makers as so many people, unsurprisingly, were clustered around looking at the fine detail.  

Children are encouraged to take part too either individually or as a group.

Under the Tropical Sea by Matilda Tate

This super colourful quilt was from the Age 5 - 8 category.

That's The Way to Do It by Holly Neeve

This cheerful beach scene was from the Age 9 - 11 category.

The ideas and skill from such young people is just amazing. One can only imagine what they will be producing in 10 to 15 years time. 

Lobster Pots by Shenley Brook End Primary School

This lovely underwater scene came from my local Primary school, which was a lovely surprise. I did a double take when I saw the label and wondered if any of them would like to join JETS?!

Unfortunately I did not record the maker of this wonderful traditional quilt.

Other Places by Sandra Newton 

This was a miniature quilt and the detail was amazing. The quote stitched into it also attracted me:

take me
to the places on the earth
that teach you how to dance

Memories of Times Past by Ann Beare

This art quilt by Ann Beare was very evocative of places in my past too.

Part of the Medieval Quilts created by the Magna Carta Quilters Group
 This is part of the Medieval Quilts created by the 26 members of the Magna Carta Quilters Group as part of the celebrations in 2015 of the 800th Anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta at Runnymeade. There were four Medieval Quilts telling the story of how the Magna Carta came to be, and four Legacy Quilts, celebrating key figures who represent aspects of Human Rights over the centuries. 

The detail depicted in applique and embroidery was exquisite.

There are a number of Galleries within the FOQ showing the work of international textile artists and groups. Information about all the different groups can be found here.

The one that drew me most this year was Art Textiles: Made in Britain: Concealed.
I am probably biased because it featured work of some of my favourite Textile Artists. 

I love the sketch-like quality Hilary Beatties stitchwork.  

Hilary Beattie

Hilary Beattie

Hilary Beattie

The combination of plant images and graffiti in the  landscape having their own beauty captured by Louise Baldwin.

Louise Baldwin

Louise Baldwin

Louise Baldwin

 Rosie James work: The hidden threads that join us, was very thought provoking.

Rosie James

Rosie James

Rosie James

The depth of Cas Holmes work always captures me, particularly the focus on hidden meanings and emotions expressed in her work. 

Cas Holmes

Cas Holmes

Cas Holmes

Cas Holmes

Cas Holmes

This is only a tiny selection of the wonderful FOQ exhibition. I have been attending the event for a number of years now but this year seemed to be exceptional. 
A great day, a great experience and many happy memories (and photos) to reflect on.  

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Summer Flower Needlecases

The garden is always an inspiration for my stitching and much of my work seems to feature flowers. This is the latest set of Needlecases that have been completed this week.

Liberty fabrics have always been a favourite and a pack of off-cuts have sat in the fabric drawer for some time. (So long that I am not sure where they came from!) Instead of getting them out, admiring them and then putting them back "for another time" I decided to use them. 

Strips of Liberty fabric were added to linen and cotton fabric leaving a space for some hand embroidery. This was backed with felt to give a soft but firm foundation. The best bit (to my mind) is creating the embroidery, deciding which  flowers to create and colours and stitches to use. This is normally freestyled because although I know I should sketch and draw more, it is not really my thing. In fact I  am a little afraid of drawing, which is very silly and wish I could be more relaxed about taking pencil to paper. Sketchbooks of a sort do exist but are generally used in fits and starts, normally for  particular projects or when attending a workshop.  Although I have frequently started a routine of drawing for 10 minutes a day, enthusiasm wains after a week or so...... 
........ perhaps more discipline is required.

Once the embroidery is complete, construction can take place. More pieces of Liberty fabric were used to line the needlecases and the edges bound with twisted embroidery floss. Felt is cut for the inside leaves, one white and one in a colour that tones with the cover and is stitched into the centre. A rolled elastic loop and button are attached to fasten the completed needlecase. 
All they need now are some needles and pins.

Marguerite Daisies

Tulips and For-get-me-nots

Blue Daisies


Echinacea and buttercups
It has been a while since I have been in a stitching mood as finding the time to concentrate for any length of time seems to have escaped me. Completing this small project has helped to get my mojo back and there are lots of ideas buzzing for new Journal/Notebook covers. Hopefully they will be ready to share soon.

The needlecases are now in my Etsy shop
or you can find them over on my Facebook page.