Thursday, August 29, 2013

Just sketching with machine and thread

To draw or in my case, doodle with machine and thread is the best fun. It really is playing in the best sense! 

After having just finished stitching a hexagon quilt with thousands of tiny little stitches stitched entirely by hand, I decided that a quickie quilt was to be the order of my day. This fun fabric jumped out at me a couple of weeks ago and I decided that it would be the impetus to make a table top quilt, incorporating oodles of 'drawing with machine and thread'.

 I love the scene on this fabric, the houses, the trees, the wrought iron fences, the street lamps and the trees. I envisage 'drawing' an abundance of quaint houses, children playing in the street, perhaps a stylish and chic lady or two, puppy dogs, children climbing  trees, children flying kites....and whatever else is required to make a happy streetscape. Goodness gracious golly gee whizz me.....did I say that this was going to be a 'quickie' quilt........mmmmmm....perhaps I exaggerate...just a little......oh alright then....a lot!!

Have you ever drawn with your sewing machine? 'Tis a bit nerve-wracking at first but once you get into the groove of doodling with your machine, it is so liberating. It really is just like drawing, only with the sewing machine; and the messier and scribblier the better. Hang on.....did I really say "the messier the better"??? Goodness me, what is to become of me, quite a deviation from my usual persnickety self! I am a gal that is ever so finicky with whatever I create! Believe you me, it took a while to espouse this new attitude of unshackling the chains of fussiness and just freely scribble over fabric to my little ole heart's content! But now, that 'sewing within the lines' mindset is but a fading memory in the deep recesses of my rather foggy cerebrum!
'Tis good to practice this technique a little on a scrap of fabric until you are feeling confident, but in no time at all you will be feeling rather like an artiste. It is also beneficial to practice a little, giving you an opportunity to adjust the tension if need be. 

 I always go over the stitching several times to give a delineated, scribbled appearance.

When freehand stitching on your machine, you will need to drop the feed dogs on your machine. This enables you to move the fabric under the needle in any direction, as fast or as slow as you want. You will need a free-motion embroidery foot, also called a darning foot. This stops the fabric from lifting as you sew. It is helpful to put your fabric in an embroidery hoop whilst you sew, keeping the fabric flat and taut preventing any puckering. You can purchase special hoops for machine embroidery, or you can also use  the traditional embroidery ones.....both work well.

I draw my pictures on to the fabric with a disappearing ink quilting pen......though I must admit, more often than not, I 'draw' freehand with my machine and thread, straight onto the fabric. It just depends what it is that I am making and of course how intricate the design is. If it is a naïve picture that I am 'drawing', then I usually go with the flow and make it up as I go.

Set the stitch length on the machine to zero and 'draw' away. Start slowly to get the feel of the stitching. The fabric is the paper and the needle is the pencil. Switch your brain in to reverse are moving the fabric to stitch your design.

My thinking at this stage is to use the metre length fabric as the central piece with a border of chevron and stripe and then a wide cream border of freehand machine drawing around the perimeter. Of course this could change as I am just making this quilt up as I go.

I have gathered a few resource books to have a bo peep, to attain some ideas on the look of my urban streetscape.

Here are some of my sketches (and a few traceries) that I have drawn that I might add to my streetscape.

Of course these are just a few ideas running around and colliding in my brainpan!! This is definitely a 'making it up as I go' quilt and let's see what eventuates.

Anyway.......enough of this doodling with paper and pencil and rubbing boo-boos out with my faithful rubber! I'm off to jump from the secure stitchery precipice, hurtling down, down, down, into the valley of free-hand machine stitching, where there is no safety net of rubbers, nor where my trusty unpicker is of any use (it takes an eternity to unpick free-hand stitching....oh believe me...I have tried)!

It’s fabric, thread and machine doodling................that awaits me!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

'Tis good....this thing they call life!

I am continually amazed where the yellow brick road of my life leads me. If someone was to tell me five years ago; when my husband, daughter and I packed up all our worldly goods, and took possession of a strange li'l olde abode in the far rural outposts of northern Tassie; that I would stroll along my sunny, botanical-inspired hallway to my 'office' each morning and design and play with a plethora of pretties, stitch to my li'l ole heart's content; and teach little earthlings the art of stitching every weekday afternoon......I would've thought that they were stark raving mad!


It seems that one's life journey is always preparing one for the curious twists and bends; to the next signpost of the road. For the previous 8 years I was employed at a before and after school workplace, where each morning I would drag myself out of bed in a semi-comatose state and lug myself off to school (at the most ungodly hour of the morning) put on my happy face (I H A T E mornings) and greet the wee folk each morning, prepare their breakfast and chit chat with them as if they were the most important people in my life!!!!! Oh....and they were most see, I was quite the professional!!

Oh, how I miss those benumbed mornings.....NOT!!!! At the time of accepting my child care position, I was also offered a position in a legal office as a legal secretary but I chose the child care route.......a job, it seems, unbeknowns to me, was preparing me further along my bendy road. 'Tis the funny thing about this thing they call life.....every experience no matter how small or trivial, every person one meets along the road is significant and meaningful. 'Tis what makes life an adventure!

This country life is so, so different from my previous city life. Here, it seems that everyone knows me and everything about me......and what they don't know they just make up anyway!! This country life, in this little rural town, is rather akin to a Hollywood stage production, where all the players are waiting in the wings, ready to walk onto the stage, ready for their moment of fame.....or perhaps infamy! Sometimes I feel as if I have been plonked right smack in the middle of the Twilight Zone!! At times, living in this far rural outpost can be so very, very hysterical!! There is  bounteous amounts of fodder for page after page of a very funny memoir. Of course, one would have to change names and places or one could be burnt at the stake! 
Not before too long there were whispers that the quirky lady who lives in the purpley, bluey, grey house with the bright pink door, that sits atop a hill; could sew!! Glory be.....imagine that...wonders will never cease!!! All manner of people with varying stitching requests come aknocking on my front door. Sometimes there are those that stay for a chat and after leaving one feels as if  a new friend has entered one's life; indeed might I say, a kindred spirit.

One such gorgeous lady, Vanessa, came avisiting a couple of weeks ago on the proviso to order a bouquet of fabric flowers for her gran's 80th birthday. Instead of giving her gran a bunch of flowers that within a week would metamorphose into a pongy mass of organic matter, Vanessa wanted to give her an everlasting bouquet of bright and witty flowers that would bring a smile to her gran's dial forevermore. We chatted and chatted and enjoyed a cuppa and throughout the course of our chat Vanessa found out that I taught children to sew at the 'Kim Sharman School of Stitching Excellence'.........(well it is....of course my tongue is quite firmly stuck in my cheek)!!! Vanessa asked if I could teach her how to stitch.....and of course I answered with a resounding, YES!

When Vanessa visited for her first lesson, she brought along a glorious hexie that her nan had begun to stitch years ago, before her death; but hadn't finished. Be still my beating heart!!! Now those one or two of you who read my drivel of a blog, know that I have a penchant for hexagon quilts. You know that I drift into a state of apoplexy when my li'l beady eyes catch a glimpse of a hexie quilt.....even more so with one that has so many familial memories and love, stitched into every hexie! So you can just well imagine my state of mind when I saw this treasure!

Vanessa said that as a little girl she would sit with her nan and cut out all the hexie shapes out of old calendars, paper and whatever else was at hand.  There was no slipping out to your favourite fabric shop and purchasing a packet of paper hexagons ready for EPP. Vanessa could tell me the provenance of every itty bitty scrap of fabric. Her aunt's ball dress, another aunt's debutante dress, her sister's track suit, her nan's first dance dress, dresses that she wore as a little girl. So, so many wonderful memories it seemed, of every fabric that  represented  an article of clothing that had at different stages of life been worn by members of Vanessa's family. This quilt is a precious time capsule of fabrics that were in vogue in different eras.
In the bag were hundreds of hexagons ready to be used. The paper is still inside tacked to the fabric. There are even hexagons pinned to the sorted fabrics, where the pins have rusted! Just a little aside..... whilst having a 'bo peep' at the assortment of hexagons, I found a hexagon piece of calendar with the date '7th November, 1994' which just happens to be my much-loved nan's birthday (whose name Elizabeth 'Lizzie' is the name of my blog....the other name, Sarah, being my other nan). Oh, and another was Melbourne Cup day that Tuesday in 1994.....the annual horse race here in Australia that stops the nation!! (I just know that you were hanging on the end of your seat to glean that tidbit of information, weren't you??)



There are indeed many, many hexagons that need to be carefully cut out and replaced with new ones. I predict many an enjoyable hour enjoying a cuppa, listening to Vanessa's stories of her family  whilst I teach her the art of stitching and as she gains confidence in her new skill, blossom into a competent gal who happily stitches.....(afterall, those who attend The Kim Sharman School of Stitching Excellence graduate with honours)!!
Yes indeedy, I am fascinated by this thing they call life! I am fascinated where life leads me, the gorgeous people that I meet along the way and share my path for a little of the journey. Yes indeedy, I am blessed living in this far rural outpost of Tassie where everyday brings a new experience and a new story for that memoir! Aaaaah....yes.....'tis good, this thing they call life!