Monday, March 12, 2018

Feature article.

Many of you know that I have a collection of toy and miniature sewing machines. I was recently asked to compose a short article about my collection and well....about these little gems in general. The article appears in the current issue of The Canadian Quilter and I just noticed that it is also a "featured" article which means there is a link to it so that it can be read online. If you would like to take a look, you will find the link here.....look for it under the heading for Canadian Quilter Magazine Spring 2018

If you would like to see individual photos of the machines in my collection (well most of them, I still need to post more photos) You can click the "Toy Sewing Machine" button on my sidebar
But here is an overall look at the photos of my machines that I have posted there.

Monday, February 26, 2018


This quilt was made with the intention of  "busting my stash". It is finished, but my stash is only slightly dented. I find it interesting to see how the wonderfully all the fabrics work together as this quilt is made up entirely from a wide variety of fat quarters I had accumulated over the years....the exception being the duvet cover I used as backing and that neutral grey I purchased for the sashing/binding
you can find the earlier posts about this project here.

I made pillow shams to carry out the same look of the quilt. The backs are primarily made up of the last bits of scrap from the duvet.

Like the quilt, I did "big stitch" hand quilting using Aurifil's 12 wt  variegated cotton, these lovely threads were also part of my stash.

I cut a gentle curve at the edge of this 106" x 90" quilt, so there is a lot of  hand stitched bias binding.

Not sure why this one took so long, (might have something to do with hand stitching through layers of batiks and fusing) but for the most part, I suppose it kind of got forgotten and left on the back burner for a while, but it is finally finished .......hmmmm......but....there is still more stash waiting to be used.  :-)

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Plain fabric doesn't have to be plain.

A few posts back I showed you a test piece I did where I created surface design by “removing” colour from a knit jersey fabric. Today you will see the same design...but this time, I created it using a DIY stencil, Jacquard textile paint and a sponge.

A friend showed me the work of Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin so you know this piece was somewhat inspired by her work but I am not planning to handstitch my garments together. I love hand stitched embellishments, don’t mind taking time to cut stencils and enjoy playing with surface design, but I am not really interested in handstitching all my seams. I recently ordered her book and am looking forward to seeing what her methods are and how I might want to adapt some of them for use in my own garments.

Now, for the most part the Alabama Studio way to apply paint to fabric is with an this point in time, I do not have one and it seems like a lot of trouble to keep clean and so on. For now, I am using a pretty basic technique by dabbing the paint onto the fabric using a small sea sponge.

I lightly marked my fabric to know where the edges of my pattern pieces would lie and stenciled within that area. To keep the fabric stable, I pinned it in place onto a piece of foam core which also gave me a slight "cushion".

Once the paint was dry, it was then heat set with a dry iron.

to add more interest, I began doing a simple running stitch with 12wt variegated cotton thread around the outer edge of each motif.

Next I cut out all of the pieces of my garment. 

and assembled the tunic. (I own sewing machines and I know how to use them LOL!)

I created the cord using this vintage korking set

looks like someone named Jason owned this before me :-)

This is actually quite an interesting way to enhance a dull, boring fabric.

I have a number of ideas floating about in my head for future projects.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Building a Drop Spindle.....some assembly required

This past summer I spent some time learning to "spin". Not only did I want to spin my own yarn, but I also wanted to make my own spindles. I stuck with the k.i.s.s principle and kept it simple.

What I did not already have on hand only took a trip to the hardware store, where I was able to pick up some wooden wheels, beads and dowels.
Now, they don't need to be pretty to function.....but heck, why not make them nice to look at too! I decided to try colouring them, wanting the beauty of the wood grain show through, but not wanting to go buy several cans of wood stain (would have been expensive and wasteful) I found that my transparent textile paint worked just fine. I used Seta-Colour transparent paints thinned with water.

Once the parts were dry, the spindles were assembled and a couple of coats of varnish were applied. I pre drilled a tiny hole to make it easy to screw the cup hook in the center of the dowel. In order to get a nice tapered end, I just used a pencil sharpener.  Told ya I kept it simple.

Not only do my spindles work great, they are a little less boring to look at now.

I find it interesting that a few bits of wood and a cup hook can transform a pretty pile of fluffy fibres (this is a Merino and Tencel 50/50 mixture) to a beautiful finished yarn ready for my needles.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Book Review - Sewing Knits from Fit to Finish

If you sew at all, you have likely made a garment or two, if not for yourself, perhaps for your children or grandchildren.....and if you have sewn garments of any sort, you realize rather quickly that there is a lot to learn about fabrics, threads, handling, finishing techniques, patterns, fitting and more.

Garments made using knits are especially nice to wear, more and more of them are finding their way into our closets and drawers. Sewing with knits presents it own set of challenges, but being armed with the right information can take the apprehension out of buying and working with them.
That's where this book comes in. I received a copy to review and was immediately impressed with lovely presentation and wide range of topics within.

Sewing Knits from Fit to Finish
Proven Methods for Conventional Machine and Serger
Author. Linda Lee

Anyone wanting to sew garments using knit fabrics will find this book to be an excellent resource.

The subject matter covered in this book is extensive and impressive
In addition to the expected construction techniques, (which are terrific) you are given in depth information about the different types knits available, providing guidance on how to identify which knits work best for the type of garment you intend to sew.  Covering the individual characteristics and properties of each, their fibre makeup and what you might expect when working with them such as ease or difficulty of handling, and what of the “hand”?, is it soft, drapable, fluid or firm and stable, will the knit unravel easily or have edges that curl? and how to determine the amount of stretch your selected knit fabric has.

With so many choices, shopping for knit fabrics can be a bit confusing, this book takes the guesswork out of making a fabric selection that will best suit the garment you wish to make. There is even a chart giving you the estimated yardage required by garment type and fit.

Contents Page
Sections on fit, basic pattern adjustments and understanding ease are all extremely helpful. Provided in the book, is a measurement chart not only telling you what measurements you will need, but also good descriptive and visual information to help ensure these measurements are taken as accurately as possible.
You will be guided through the sewing process with options for using a conventional sewing machine, serger and or cover-stitch. In addition to the topics touched on above, sections covering fabric preparation, interfacing, pressing, marking, needles and thread choice all come together to put you on the path to success in creating your garment.

In addition to clear, detailed instructions accompanied by wonderful photographs, you will find helpful tips scattered throughout the book. So if you are thinking this is the year you plan to make some flowing summer dresses, a few tees, or something a bit more challenging and want to know more about working with knits, I think this is a great reference guide.

Find the book and more reviews here on Amazon and Quarto Knows  or head on over to the author's web site The Sewing Workshop for patterns, tutorials and more.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Drawing Daily

Sometimes, it seems so difficult to settle on what to draw that I end up drawing nothing at all. I have done prompts in the past, but I don't think I have ever done a "series".  I do enjoy working in the mandala form so December saw me designing/drawing snowflakes, one snowflake each day.

Drawing this way (in a series) meant that even when the stylus was not in my hand I was thinking about what I wanted to design next, an excellent way to keep the creativity flowing. These were all drawn on my iPadmini2 using Concepts.
Thank you to  Singing Bell for allowing me the use of their music for this video.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Going in Circles......Stash Busting

Does this happen to you?.....sometimes you see something and you just gotta try it for yourself?.... that is how this all started. One day I saw an image of a floor mat made by wrapping fabric strips around rope and stitching....and you know I felt compelled to give it a go.

I started with the strips.....lots of them, including selvages. The basic method is simple, wrap the fabric strips around the rope, begin by creating a small coil, as you build the circle, a zig zag stitch binds the rounds together. It is the same basic process as making a rope "bowl" and there are plenty of tutorials to be found online. The big difference is that when making a floor mat you need to make sure that the whole thing is being supported on a flat surface. The bigger you want to make the mat....the trickier this can become.

To set up, I placed my machine on an old wash stand that got the bed of my machine matching the height of my work table, in front of that (behind the machine) I built up an area that would be at the same height as the machine and the work table beside me. A combination of things were used, a sturdy cardboard box on top of a large plastic bin worked out just right so that I now had lots of support space

here it is finished, it is 48" across

But wait.....there's more! I quite enjoyed making this and decided to try a different approach. Instead of one large circle, I began making lots and lots of smaller circles in a variety of sizes.

butting them up against each other and "joining" them with that same zig zag stitch
In order to keep everything together in the design pattern I had worked out on the floor, I pinned them together by inserting pins in opposite directions.

and joined them
The process does require a bit of planning and some careful handling, but because the pieces are essentially "hinged" together, it is not that difficult to manipulate under the machine

I had a particular spot in mind for this project. The carpeting in front of the patio doors sees lots of traffic in nice weather but a regular area rug would not work because of the placement of the floor vent. By creating this one out of the circles, I could shape it to suit my needs.

Practical, kinda funky and a great way to bust that stash.  (who am I kidding.....gonna have to make many many more to put a dent in the stash.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Another Trish Burr Transformation.

I have been unbelievably fortunate to have had several opportunities to design for embroidery artist, designer, author and instructor, Trish Burr.  Each and every time she works her incredible magic with needle and thread to transform the doodle I send her into a spectacular piece of art.

Last year (right around this time) Trish contacted me with a Partridge design in mind. After a bit of consultation, I got to work. This design was drawn on my iPad mini 2, using a brilliant app called Concepts. The beauty of drawing this way is that I can make requested changes quickly and easily.

Recently I have noticed images popping up on social media sites that told me the design is now "out" there. 

It can be found in the latest issue of Inspirations magazine

As you can see, Trish tweaks the design I send her to make it more stitch friendly.....she removes and adds elements, then begins the process of creating the actual stitching and writing the pattern instructions. It is quite the process from idea to published product and I am ALWAYS astounded to see that final result!

you can see and read about some of my other designs transformed by Trish  here

Copyright Jill Buckley