Friday, December 31, 2010

HAPPY 2011

I have friends and family that right now are living in a different decade to me - how weird does that sound! By this time tomorrow we'll all have joined them there :)  Generally at this time of the year, everyone makes some kind of resolution for the new year and I've been thinking about what I'll be doing next year.

I'll definately be dyeing, felting, making yarn, knitting and crocheting. I'll be playing with "hot fabric", embroidering and beading. I hope to start painting again and have another go at making metal jewellery. There are a couple of exhibitions I want to be part of and some shows I'd like to see. I think I might teach a few workshops too.

In May 2011 my book will be published, I'm looking forward to that, and in the first few weeks of 2011 I'll still be involoved with the final touches for it.

Not really resolutions, I know but I do know that 2011 is going to be a wonderful year and I'm looking very forward to the begining of a new decade filled with a new energy of love and hope and a better life for everyone!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

It's HOT!

I've got a new toy to play with, it's a Dremel Versatip (2000-6). It's a portable soldering iron / hot air gun / cutting tool/ torch that runs on butane gas. I've spent the last couple of days having fun. It's great because I don't have to be near a plug or have an extension cable across the floor. I can work anywhere - even outside, so I don't have to worry about ventilation either.

I started off with a number of synthetic fabrics, layered them and free motion stitched them together. I drew my pattern on and used the cutting tip to cut the shapes out. I then used the soldering tip to carefully burn back some of the top layers and make marks and holes as part of the design. I added some metal shim, embroidery and wire. It'll be a project in Stitches some time soon.

I've also fused some lovely organza together, which will be used for butterfly wings.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just Coasting - Last Minute Gifts

Just Coasting
©Dana Biddle

Do you still have a few last minute gifts to make for Christmas? These little works of art can be made in no time and are suitable for everyone. They will be visible all the time, well except for when they’re protecting your table from a hot cuppa something, so make each one extra special. There is just one challenge when making them, all embellishment must be smooth and flat so that a cup or mug won’t wobble. Also, try to make them washable – just in case!

You will need:
Cotton fabric of your choice for base
Timtex – craft Vilene
Commercial felt
Appliqué paper
Embellishment – fabric scraps, tulle, fabric motives, felt, threads etc...

Coasters may be made individually or a few could be made on one piece of fabric and then cut apart later.
Measure and draw the outline of your coaster/s onto the Timtex. Each should measure 10cm x 10cm.
Fuse the Timtex and the base fabric together using appliqué paper.
Using thread that will be visible on your base fabric, stitch along the outline drawn onto the Timtex. (If you prefer to work on each coaster individually, cut them apart now.)
Embellish each coaster as desired, remembering to keep your embellishment smooth and flat.
Fuse the coaster tops to the felt using appliqué paper.
Cut the coasters apart.
Finish the edges as desired.

Coaster 1
The hut was drawn onto the Timtex, top thread was placed in the bobbin of the sewing machine and the design was stitched using free motion stitching.

Coaster 2
The sheep face and body shape was cut from felt and then applied to the coaster using an embellisher (felting machine). The eye, legs and curls were then machine stitched using free motion stitching.

Coaster 3
A fabric motive was fused to the top of the coaster using appliqué paper. Stitching around the shape was done using free motion stitching.

Coaster 4
Fabric scraps were cut into tiny pieces and randomly arranged on the coaster top. This was covered with a piece of black tulle and all held together with free motion stitching.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ColourSpun on Facebook

Hi Everyone,

I've been really busy meeting deadlines for the February issue of Stitches, it promises to be a great one!  I have opened a ColourSpun community page on facebook and would like to invite you to join and use it to ask questions, leave comments, post your photos of anything fibre related. Join the community here and/or join me here

Since it's nearly Christmas, I thought it would be nice to share a last minute idea for some personalised baubles.

Father and Mother Christmas
© Dana Biddle

These baubles represent Santa and his wife but you may prefer to make them to look like members of your own family.

You will need:
A4 piece of cardboard
HB pencil, Compass, Ruler – a school math set comes in handy here
Calico fabric – 15cm x 30cm for each bauble
Cream quilting thread
Polyester stuffing
Micron pens
Pastel pencils
Curly Mohair for hair (available from ColourSpun)
Elle felting needles and a square of foam rubber about 30cm x 30cm x 10cm
Red Perlé cotton.

Draw a circle with a 14cm diameter on the cardboard. Cut out. This is your pattern.

For each bauble:
Draw 2 circles onto the calico and cut out.
Thread a needle with a fairly long piece of quilting thread and knot the ends together securely to make it double.
Work a row of running stitch all the way around 1 circle of fabric about 5mm from the edge.
Place some stuffing in the centre of the circle and pull the threads to start gathering the circle.
Continue stuffing and gathering until it is firmly stuffed and the gathering has closed the circle at the back.
End off securely, making sure that the front of the stuffed circle is smooth and has no puckers and is a nice round shape.

Repeat with the 2nd circle of fabric.

Place the 2 stuffed circles together with the gathered edges inside and using another doubled quilting thread and an invisible stitch, attach them to each other.

Now’s where the fun starts!

Very lightly using an HB pencil, draw a face onto the bauble -use the photos as a guide. When you are satisfied, outline with the micron pens and colour the face in using the pastel pencils.

You can leave the face as is or if you would like to add some contouring stitches do so now.

With a single quilting thread and using tiny stitches, insert the needle through the back of the head and bring out on the outside corner of one of the eyes. Making a tiny stitch take the needle out at the back of the head and pull the thread tight to make an indentation, repeat on the inside corner of the eye and then on the other eye. Do the same with the mouth.

For the nose, start on the side of the head and bring the needle out on the opposite side of the nose in the middle. Making a tiny stitch, push the needle straight through to the other side of the nose and tighten thread to lift nose. Then bring the needle out at the top of the nose on the opposite side and pull thread tight (be careful not to tighten too much here). Making a tiny stitch, push the needle straight through to the other side of the nose and tighten thread to lift nose.

For the nostrils, start at the top of the head and bring the needle out in the 1st nostril, making a tiny stitch take the needle back out at the top of the head and pull tight. Repeat for the 2nd nostril and end off securely.
Use the curly mohair for the hair. Arrange it on the head and very gently needle to attach it. (Remember to work on the foam rubber to protect your needle and keep your fingers out of the way!)

Roll 2 tiny bits of mohair between your fingers to form a sausage shape. Place these on the eyebrows and carefully needle into place.

For Santa, roll another small bit of mohair into a sausage shape and needle the middle of it just under the nose to form his moustache. Needle some mohair to his chin for his beard.
Cut a piece of perlé cotton about 30cm long. Leaving a 15cm long tail, attach it to the top of the head with a tiny double stitch, which should leave you with another tail of about 15cm. Tie the ends of the tails together to form a loop for hanging.