Red Socks

This pair of socks turned out nicely, I thought. Great colours in the variegated yarn and the contrast is almost an exact match with the turquoise in the red yarn.

I’m happy with these socks.

And Now There Are Ten

I finished the edge stitching, embroidery and leaves/stems on the last of the ten pieces this morning. I removed the excess stabilizer from the back and pressed each block.

Now each needs to be mounted on a 6×6 stretched canvas panel. I still have to decide whether to place batting beneath each before securing the silk to the back of the wooden frame. I’ll cut out a few pieces of batting and see how it looks. I also have to trim the silk panels to remove excess fabric so they’ll attach smoothly to the framing.

That’s for another day.

I survived Hurricane Fiona – the NE winds howled and pounded rain against my windows for a couple of hours. This storm was as severe as Hurricane Juan in 2003 – even though landfall was about 150kms from Halifax (Fiona came ashore at Canso) – in 2003 the city took a direct hit. Nevertheless winds here were strong enough to do significant damage. We were given ample warning – emergency measures folks were concerned about damage from falling trees because they still have all their leaves. They weren’t wrong.

I didn’t suffer a power outage, although a good portion of the city is still without electricity and for some it will take days before repair crews can get to them. A friend came over this morning to shower and do a bit of laundry! She’s hoping to have her power restored before Wednesday (which is her predicted date!).

6×6 – Six Finished

I’ve been procrastinating the past week – no idea why – but today I got back to the two 6×6 pieces I had 1/2 finished and completed them.

There are now six. [The outline is done with a Frixion heat-erasable pen. I’ll remove it when I’m ready to mount the individual pieces on the 6×6 stretched canvas frames.]

6×6 Six Finished

I have another couple of hours this afternoon – there are four 6×6 prepared – I’ll get a start on the edge stitching for a couple of them.

iPhone Case – Revised

I’m scheduled to teach a class at Sew With Vision in a couple of weeks on constructing a smartphone carry case. I’ve written about the simple version I started with that had a single zippered side pocket. This version has two zippered front pockets as well to hold credit cards and other cards like health card, driver’s license, car insurance – the stuff you need to have on hand (not just photos on your phone). With these two additional pockets I no longer need carry a purse.

I made this case 3/8″ wider than the previous version to make it easier to slide cards into the zippered pockets. Both of these cases are “right-handed” – that is the zippers are positioned to be easily opened using your right hand. To make these cases “left-handed” reverse the closed position of the front zippers and place the side zipper on the opposite side.

I fully intended documenting the process while making the leather case but the process took over and I didn’t have the photos I needed to describe how to make the case. I made a second from linen (using fusible batting to stabilize the linen). I thought about adding embroidery but because the case is for demonstration purposes I decided it wasn’t worth taking the time. The only “decorative” feature are the bi-colour front zippers (the side zipper is a single colour because I used zipper tape and a pull).

The basic construction is still the same as the earlier version with the added work needed for creating the zippered front pockets. Here’s a link to the instructions for

iPhone Case With Two Front Pockets + Side Pocket.

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes. My measurements are for an iPhone 12 Pro (3″ x 6″). Measure your phone and modify the specifications to work with your phone.

Phalaenopsis

It’s that time of year when nights are cool, but not yet cold, to put your dormant phalaenopsis orchids outdoors so they can experience a noticeable nighttime temperature drop for a couple of weeks. The stuff I’ve read says the cool nighttime temperature (anywhere from 10-15/18 C) persuades the plants the season is changing and it’s time to flower again.

I have 20 dormant orchids – I placed them in two large tubs and put them out on my balcony five days ago. I missed this cool period last year and the temperature on my window ledge wasn’t cold enough so I had but a couple of spikes form. This year I think I’ve timed it right and, fingers crossed, I’m hoping for maybe 15 (could I be lucky and all will spike?) of the plants to create spikes. I plan on leaving them outdoors for at least two weeks (weather permitting and so far it’s looking promising).

The plants are healthy in spite of my benign neglect – however, I’m going to feed them judiciously as well as soon as I bring them in, in the hope that will further encourage them to bloom.

The process is slow – I don’t expect to see spikes until February/March.

Phalaenopsis In Bloom (last winter)

Wouldn’t it be nice if I were to get 5-8 blooms from each spike?

Here is some helpful info if you want to experiment with your orchids.

Carryin’ On

Block #4

This morning’s project was to complete Block #4. I’m getting more efficient at embellishing the raw edge appliqué, applying stems and leaves, and signature. A bit less than three hours. I’ve built up a library of “edge” stitches, and “leaf” shapes so I’m not spending time browsing and modifying my machine’s stitches to find something to use.

Block #5 tomorrow.

Sweatshirt Makeover

In just under two weeks I’m teaching a class “Sweatshirt Makeover” – intended to explore remaking and/or embellishing an old sweater, plain jacket, or sweatshirt to give it new life.

I did a couple many years ago:

The “Iris Appliqué” was my very first attempt at raw edge appliqué! I added irises to both front and back of the shirt. Several years later my sister brought me two molas from Costa Rica – I fused this bird mola to the front of a black sweatshirt and framed the edges; I still have the fish packed away in a drawer.

There are two aspects to a sweatshirt makeover – you can embellish it (taking particular care to fuse fabric over old stains or holes you want to hide); or you can remodel it – turn a pullover sweatshirt into a jacket with buttons or zipper or snaps. You can remove cuffs from sleeves or hem. Change the neckline. Lots of possibilities.

I didn’t have another old sweatshirt on hand so I went to Mission Mart (a local used clothing depot) to see what I could find. I came across a grey zippered fleece jacket (which was on the small side). So I decided to take out the zipper, remove the collar, shorten the sleeves, reshape the front edges so they’d hang better when I added two centre panels which I intend closing with buttons.

The next decision was how to embellish it. I decided simply to use the “modern flowers” theme I’ve been working on for the 6×6 wall art. I selected a bunch of batik circles, fused them onto the back and fronts of the jacket. Today I started edge stitching the circles and I added stems and leaves to finish the left front.

At the moment, I don’t know what to use to widen the front of the jacket (I need about 5″ in total for the jacket to fall loosely). I have a couple half-yards of wool fabric which might work with the fleece – I have to make a trip to Fabricville to see if I can find a double sided grey fleece (or some other colour) that might work with the jacket.

Or I may never do any more on this project – I’ve done enough to illustrate how you might think about doing a makeover and take this project as is to the shop to put on display to advertise the class.

Latest Socks

Finished this pair of socks last night:

I liked the colour combination as soon as I had completed the first repeat on the first sock! The light turquoise contrast works beautifully to brighten the whole sock.

These have gone in my sock drawer!

The Challenge – Part 2

Two more 6″ x 6″ blocks completed.

It’s taking about three hours to do each block what with the edge stitching on each piece of fabric, free motion stitching in the stems, stitching the leaves (which are decorative stitches) and embroidering the centres (which is taking way more time than I expected – for some reason my top thread is fraying when I’m embroidering so I get stops where I have to clean up the mess, backtrack the embroidery, then continue stitching.

So far, the signature is stitching out without breaking the thread! After I’ve pressed the block, I’ve redrawn the 6″ outline with a Frixion (heat-erasable) pen so I know where my edges are.

Three more left of the original six I prepared. When those are finished (in about a week or so) I’ll layout the remaining four.

Making Progress

Blue Socks Added To Stash

Finished this pair of socks on Friday and began a new pair that I think I might keep. The stash keeps growing – I will definitely have plenty of socks to share for Christmas. Last week I contacted the gal who wanted 4 pairs of socks from me two weeks before last Christmas – I told her this was the time to place her order. She said no socks this year. Do I really believe her? When she asked last year I just squeezed her order through – I had to take one pair, remove the toes, lengthen the foot by an inch, reknit the toes – she was lucky I had enough time to do that. I’ve already put aside a couple of pairs with someone’s name on them. I’ll just keep knitting as usual.

The Christmas Show Challenge

I finally made a decision regarding the 6″x6″ blocks – to use the textured raw silk for the background, to fuse batik circles of various sizes to the background to simulate “modern flowers”. I cut out ten 10″ blocks from the raw silk I have on hand, backed it with sewer’s dream to stabilize it, marked 6″ squares in the middle (using a heat erasable pen). Next, I added fusible web to a pile of batik scraps and cut out a lot of circles. I have started arranging and fusing circles to the raw silk.

Six Blocks Laid Out (but not yet fused)

Because all ten blocks will be shown next to one another, I’ve worked to vary placement, even cropping some of the flowers so the appearance of the blocks is different. I have to edge stitch the cropped edge so there are no raw edges at the edge of a piece.

I’ve completed one of the blocks

First finished 6″ Block

The slight wobble at the bottom of the block will be eased out when I mount the fabric over the stretched canvas.

Looks like each block will take me between 2 and 3 hours to embellish. It doesn’t look like a humungous amount of stitching but it takes more time than you think to edge stitch each bit of batik, then to add stems and leaves, and signature. The stems are free motion. The leaves are decorative stitches each requiring careful placement. The flower centres are embroideries which want precise positioning and often involve thread changes. It all takes time.

I’ve got another block sitting on my machine waiting to worked on tomorrow.

Another Idea

Appliqué on Raw Silk

In my stash, I have several metres of raw silk – I bought it in Toronto in 2008 to do wall art. I cut a strip, backed it with sewer’s dream – light weight woven fusible interfacing – to stabilize the weave of the silk and to eliminate some fraying at the edges, then cut the strip into 7 1/2″ blocks. I also had some fabric with these roses which I thought might work as appliqués – I backed a piece of the fabric with Pellon 805 fusible web, fussy cut these two flowers, fused them to the silk, thread painted them, added a signature, trimmed the block to 6 1/4″, bordered it, finally I mounted it.

Again, those corners are driving me crazy! Adding the black silk border adds quite a bit of bulk at that critical location and makes it nearly impossible to get a tight, square fold at the corner so while the fold look OK when you look at it from the side you can see the “pointy” bit sticking out when you look at the block face on.

I’m not sure how I feel about the raw silk – I think it has a bit too much texture compared to the woven silk I used on the other flower piece:

Also, I think I prefer the whimsy of the “Modern Flowers”.

I can’t source anything close to this woven silk here in Halifax; I’ve ordered several different types of silk from two different suppliers. Until it arrives (10 days/2 weeks?) I’ll keep playing with the raw silk squares, making more Modern Flowers arrangements. I think that’s where I’ve landed. Because I’ve cut the raw silk at just 7 1/2″ (8 1/4″ is what I need for wrapping around the stretched canvas) I’m going to have to trim and border the blocks but I want to explore different leaf types and lots of different appliqué placement.

Still experimenting!