Thursday, November 29, 2012

Working on some Bags again

 My old handbag has broken and I'm currently toting around everything on a boxy old video camera bag - not easy to juggle when you're trying to hold onto a small child as well.

So I started working back onto a couple of textiles pieces I made more than a year ago when I wanted a new bag. You can read about the design process previous to this here.

It all looks like a little bit of a mess at the moment but I'm thinking of calming it all down with very plain fabric for the rest of the bag. I'm also going to take that burnt orange rose off - it's just pinned in place at the moment.

I stumbled on this tutorial for making tea-stained roses and wanted to try them out on this textiles piece. 

I'm thinking I might add some more sheer fabric over the top to calm it all down a bit and stop the roses from getting caught on things.

I also made a couple of new bags - it's not my own pattern - you can find it here.

The 2 main exterior fabrics on the gold bag were from scraps I bought in charity shops. The bright orange-yellow is one that I've had for years and looks like it's from the 70s. The interior was taken from an old pair of trousers. I'm pleased I found something to do with all the corduroy in my fabric collection as I don't normally use it.

My old Husqvarna Viking might not do anything fancy but it is awesome at sewing through layers of thick fabric.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Stencils and watered-down Acrylic experiment

The other night I decided to get out my acrylic paints and a load of old stencils my dad had found when he was clearing the old house out.
I used one of his old shirts and just whacked down some watered-down acrylic paint through a selection of the stencils. I was going for some kind of decaying city wall look.

Think I might try a darker background fabric next time or even do some of the flour paste stuff first (check out this post).

I had a moment where I was thinking should I really be using acrylic paint for this but then I thought about how many of my textiles pieces I've actually washed over the years and figured it didn't matter.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Plastic Weaving

Whilst I was tidying and reorganising my craft stash the other day I found this sample I’d made earlier this year and forgotten about.

I’d been playing about with plastic bags (check out my experiments a few posts ago) and I was also looking through the book Raising the Surface by Maggie Grey – which I’ve mentioned in a previous post.

I love the sample in that book made by making a mesh of wrapped grilon thread around a frame and sewing onto it and then melting it in hot water so the thread shrivels up.

I didn’t have any grilon thread (you can get a similar heat reactive thread from Amazon – see below) but I started thinking about plastic bags and how they melt and decided I’d experiment with this much cheaper material.

I made a square frame by bending a metal coat hanger and then I wrapped strips of plastic bag around the frame. Then I wove some bits of raffia, fabric and wool into the plastic. I stuck the whole thing between 2 pieces of baking parchment and ironed it. Then I cut it off the frame.

Whilst it didn’t shrivel up (because of the wire frame) it did make an interesting texture. Not sure what I’m going to use it for yet. I like the idea of stitching into it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Stash Control

It's time to get crafting. 

I tried to start a stash burning project (using things up - not actually burning them) last year and it didn't go well - in fact it didn't really go at all and my fabrics got into an even more unorganised state - well apart from the few things I used to make baby stuff.

Last night I organised my fabric stash again - it was in a complete mess and stuffed into lots of different plastic bags and plastic tubs in our good-sized cupboard under the stairs. It was a good reality check - I have a lot of fabric (well, more than I want collecting dust). Most of it is small scraps (enough small scraps to fill one big plastic tub). I,m slightly suspicious there might be more hidden in boxes somewhere.

I was thinking, whilst organising, that it would be nice to just have one fabric box with mostly small scraps that I could make small textiles pieces with. That's probably not that realistic where I'm concerned but it was a nice idea.

I ended up with one box of big pieces of fabric which I don't currently have any plans for. One box full of my dad's old shirts (he had a lot of clothes to get rid of when he recently downsized), one box filled with scraps, one huge bag full of fabrics I want to either use in weaving projects or experimental spinning projects, one big bag of neutral-coloured fabrics that I wanted to make into a quilt and another big bag of fabric to make my own version of this Montessori fabric sensory box.

Then of course there is all my textiles work that is still at my mum's house and the big box of fabric in my M-i-l's garage.

I've been doing a lot of craft supply buying at charity shops recently so that has to change! I thought I'd remind myself of what I've bought here so that I don't forget and go nuts getting more stuff.

I bought a lot of fabric and some cotton yarn (someone's old project) in our parish charity shop recently. All that fabric was £1! Not sure what I'm going to do with it yet though. A lot of it is like the thin synthetic lining fabric - excellent for melting!

The cotton yarn:

More fabric from a different charity shop - this will be great for the sensory fabric box I'm going to make as it's really thick textured furnishing fabric. I also got this huge lot of nylon/acrylic yarn that looks like it's from the 70s - it's kind of nasty but I love it in free range knitting.

Some more yarn from a recent charity shopping trip. I thought the white was 100% acrylic but when I opened it I found it was 60% wool - should make a nice hat. The green is this mass of beautiful stuff that looks like it might be silk.

And this collection wasn't from a charity shop but an awesome little shop in my local town - Wellington - called Artfully Made. I bought banana fibre, silk fibre and nylon tops. I think these would look great layered up in textiles pieces or spun into art yarn.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Knitting Fabrics

I’ve been knitting a lot recently.

I’m working on one of Jane Thornley’s patternsSunset Bolero. Except mine’s more of an earthy vest.

I’m using some really nasty yarn I found in the charity shop – it’s like 20% nylon – 80% acrylic and looks like it’s been lurking in someone’s yarn collection since the 60s (it’s the sort of yarn that probably spontaneous combusts if it’s exposed to too much friction), some of my first handspun yarn (spun on my drop spindle) and the rest is yarn that I spun out of fabric (the leg of some brown satin pjs and the leg of a pair of brown leggings) and nylon tights/stockings.

I love the way it’s knitting up – I’m getting a nicely textured fabric. I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll actually wear at the moment but I’m having fun with it. When I started I was thinking of a cross between leather jackets, woodland soil, Lara Croft and Helen Cutter from Primeval.

There hasn’t been a lot of sewing going on around here lately, unless you count the stuffed alphabet I made for my little one. I’m currently looking at getting a new sewing machine so if anyone has any recommendations of budget sewing machines that do free motion embroidery, please share. Thanks :)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flour Paste Resist

I saw this and this some time last week and I had to give it a go.

I grabbed one of my Dad's old shirts, cut it up into sections and spread flour paste (just flour and water) over the top.I drew into the paste with a sharp tool and let it dry.  Once it was dry I scrunched the fabric up (creating cracks in the surface) and then painted watery acrylic paint over the top.

This first piece was just plain flour paste with no drawing. I just cracked the flour paste and painted it.

There's still a little flour paste on the fabric (even after a long soak and a rinse and spin in the washing machine) so I need to give it another wash.

A close up of the cracks.

I'm pretty impressed with how soft the fabric is after having acrylic paint applied to it - it never occurred to me before to use acrylic on fabric - now I have all these ideas for painting on fabric.

I drew little sun shapes into this piece (below). It ended up being the least successful one. Not sure why.

This sample (below) was my favourite. I drew little scribbly circles into the surface.

And a close up:

Not entirely sure what I'm going to use these for but I enjoyed making them. Next time I want to try working on top of coloured fabric.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Playing with Gesso

I was flicking through Maggie Grey's Raising the Surface the other day, looking for interesting products to use with textiles, when I found a short section about using "texture media". Gesso was briefly mentioned as a texturing agent and seeing as I had a tub I thought I'd give it a go.

 I grabbed one of my dad's old shirts and slapped down a good coat of gesso. I knew I wouldn't use the fabric for anything else with those stripes running down the cloth.

Once the fabric was well coated with gesso, I drew the basic shape of a dove into it.

I also drew swirls into the background.

I can't remember what I used to make the lines but you can use anything like a dried-up biro or an embossing tool or a screw driver.

I was even able to wash the fabric without it taking the gesso off - I had to soak off the paper I'd used to protect my table top and inadvertently discovered that you can also image transfer with gesso onto fabric.

Once the gesso was dry I used Inktense blocks to colour the image. I'm not sure if the Inktense is permanent on top of gesso but I'm not planning to wash this piece again.

Now the piece can be stitched into.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Plastics for Stitch

I’ve been doing a few crafty things in the almost-year that I haven’t posted here. Hopefully I’ll get around to updating this blog with them all soon.

Life has changed a lot (in a good way) and I’m enjoying experimenting again with drawing, painting, a little sewing etc.

I recently made this lens about upcycling plastics for craft. A lot of the experiments were melted - but with an iron rather than a heat gun.

Here are a couple of my plastic experiments:

This fish looks kind of cheesy but I think there's some great potential for stitched projects here, especially if more work was done on adding individual scales and making it look a whole lot less cartoonish. He reminds me a lot of the Three Little Fishes piece I made years ago.

This was just some clear plastic bag with heavier plastic pieces added inside. Again, this is something that I think would look great with a bit more work - a lot of stitch for example.

I didn’t really touch on stitch but I’m inspired after reading Surfaces for Stitch by Gwen Hedley (one of those gorgeous Batsford books which I’ve had for years) and was inspired by some of the ideas in there for using plastic bags – stitched motif pieces and patches with suspended fragments. 

Must get a new sewing machine soon. I still only have my trusty straight-line sewing Husqvarna.