Tuesday, 31 May 2011


I saw this dress in a charity shop a couple of weeks ago - when it was still there today I decided to buy it. (I have a tendency towards procrastination - should have bought it when I first saw it.) It's a Wallis silk dress - UK14 - looks rather like a sack - but I love the fabric and the colour. I'm now trying to think about how I'm going to refashion it. As it's only a couple of sizes too big, there's not enough fabric for a complete remake. It needs to be an adaptation. I'm thinking along the lines of a shift, no sleeves and slightly more fitted. I don't have any suitable patterns, so I'll need to draft something or pin and stitch as I go.
I'm going out with my mum and sister soon and would like to use this dress. I suppose it depends how successful it is. Any suggestions gratefully appreciated.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Car Boot Sale

Today I went to the first Car Boot Sale in years. up in a little hut, down the road - I wasn't expecting much, but got a linen tunic dress and a shirt for the grand total of £1. they might need some adapting, but are in pretty good condition. must do more of this sort of thing

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Broom Skirt Refashioned

My Friend, Alli, brought me one of her skirts and asked me to do a remake of it. She found it a bit old hat and decided that she's like it remade. So I had a  go. I left the waistband and zip intact and cut large zigzag shapes from the top layer of the skirt. Then I cut square sections from the rest of the skirt and essentially sewing them on the bias. deliberately making the hem uneven and the skirt length varied. I then hemmed the raw edge with a small hem, and top stitched some of the seams. This is the finished skirt - What do you think Alli?

Top Remake

I was given a few items to remake this week. one included a tiered top. it didn't suit me so I decided to make a dress for my daughter.


The fabric was a type of jersey and the machine I have doesn't seem to like this type of fabric - so I ended up taking ages to do what should've been very simple.

The Final piece wasn't bad - but certainly not my best! I'd definitely do some stuff differently next time: zip rather than elastic back and use full straps rather than bias straps - they stretched too much with this fabric. Well you live and learn don't you?


Friday, 27 May 2011

Amazing 2

I came across Meg Hannan's "Fabric Jewels" while browsing for textile ideas. I love the idea of rolling fabric and cutting slices off. I wonder how I could use a similar process in my painting? How could I use this to add textures to my work - could it add an extra dimension - I might just have to experiment!

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Claire & Alli Make Art

My good friend Alli is one of the most creative people I know. She writes amazingly and her photos are stunning. However, she has always been afraid of putting paint on canvas. Not so long ago she attended some of my workshops and caught the art bug. Having bought canvas and paint Alli and I set aside some time today to make art.

The aim of today - to enjoy painting, not worry about the outcome and get messy (which I still am - having paint all over my hands as I type). Alli is just getting used to handling paint and mixing colour. I didn't really have a clue as to what I'd do. Often I start from a representational image and go abstract. Today I found myself doing the complete opposite. I don't often paint landscapes, but that is what I've achieved today. Its a far cry from my usual work.

So plenty of coffee, chatter, music, tomato and basil soup and the odd pause to assist with the mending of the washing machine constituted a great creative day.

Alli and her finished painting

My completed painting

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Amazing 1

I just love Devakrishna Marco Giollo's work. 
I particularly like his use of texture and found objects to create these abstract images - and the colours are absolutely stunning.
Find him on Saatchi Online or Here.

Which Sewing Machine?

I have a rather significant birthday this year and have decided that I'd really like a new machine. I need this to be a machine that will last me years and years. I've never bought a sewing machine before, but used many. As a teenager I used my mum's New Home machine; when I became a student my mother in law bought me a second hand Jones machine - which I had till just a few months ago; and a friend gave me an old Toyota basic machine - which works fine, but doesn't have all the functionality I need.

As a teacher of art and textiles I used Bernina machines and found them great. I now have a good understanding of fixing simple problems with a machine after doing this as part of my job. - however I digress! What to buy? Let me give you an idea of what I need my machine to do, and if you can offer any recommendations as to what is a worthwhile buy:
  • A good selection of stitches, including an overcast stitch
  • 3-5 needle positions
  • Drop feed to allow for freehand embroidery
  • Variable stitch length and width
  • Single step buttonhole
  • Able to handle heavier fabrics
  • Stretch fabric settings
  • Free arm

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

...to skirt

Here it is  - Finished! and it fits really well. if I was doing it again, I'd put in a longer zip and make the skirt just below knee length, rather than just above. Comments please!
Sorry about the pic. I chose the wrong time to photograph outside - too many shadows.

From shirt...

After several days considering what I was going to make from this shirt, I decided on an A Line skirt. I normally just make it up as I go along, but often find the clothes don't fit properly. This time I was determined to do it right, so I used Sew-Mad's tutorial on drafting an A line skirt. It's an excellent tutorial and very easy to follow. I just used newspaper, a long ruler and sharpie pen to construct the pattern pieces.

I pressed the shirt open after removing the sleeves and cutting along the shoulder seams. As this was a XXL shirt, there was plenty of fabric to work with.


Sleeves removed and cut along shoulder seams
 I carefully cut the skirt front and back pieces, marking the darts with a pin. I also cut a facing in the same fabric. The lining was new curtain lining, saved from when I shortened some ready made curtains that my Mother in law had given me.

Skirt pieces and lining
 I've made enough skirts to know how to construct the pieces. I neatened all edges that would be left open and stitched the darts and seams. I did this with the lining first to check the fit, then did the skirt outer.

I sewed the skirt and lining together at the waist, clipped the seam, pressed and top stitched the waist. I reclaimed a concealed zip from an old skirt. I hand stitched this in place as I don't have a zipper foot for my machine. Turned the right way around and pressed.

Almost there...
After turning a small hem on the skirt I made the hem on the lining about 4 cm shorter, so that it would not show beneath the skirt.... so now it's complete, next post will be finished skirt.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Getting Ready

I have a lovely shirt that my hubby used to wear - it's much to big for him now. I love the fabric and was wondering what to make from it. I tried wrapping it around myself, trying to visualise it as a top - and decided it was far to big a pattern to get away with. I've decided to make it into a skirt - A line, the type you might find in Fat Face or White Stuff. So I've been busy trying to locate my patterns. I know I had loads and loads of patterns - but have a feeling I may have got rid during a moment of madness - either that or they are under a load of junk in the loft!
So - as I can't find them - I decided I'd have a go at drafting a pattern  - I know how a skirt is constructed, but i've never made my own pattern - i've just cut the fabric and hoped for the best! This time I need to be careful or I wont have enough fabric to complete the skirt. so I found this post on Sew Mad, showing how to construct a skirt block - so this week I'm giving it a go. Look out for updates as I upcycle this shirt into a stylish skirt.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Cardboard Man

My Mum, who is a fantastic watercolour artist, brought this to my attention. This is a sculpture by artist Donna Bramall. She has used cardboard to create this life size figure. You can find out more about her work here .

Cardboard Man - Donna Bramall

Tuesday, 17 May 2011



Refashioned Sweater

refashioned sweater
A few weeks ago a friend donated some clothes to my family. Most of it was stuff for the boys. There was this sweater. It was long sleeved and thigh length - the sort you'd wear with leggings - it also had a cowl neck. It didn't really look great on, but I loved the colour and the fabric was soft. so out came the scissors.
I cut off the bottom of the sweater at an angle; slashed the cowl to make an asymmetric collar; shortened the sleeves. reattached the off cut - upside down to create an uneven hemline and used the sleeve off cut to make a decorative flower. to finish. I hemmed the raw edges using embroidery thread and blanket stitch. Voila - new sweater.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Ragbags - batch 1

crochet rag bag - first attempt

Rag bag

and the other side

woven fabric and machine embroidery

small messenger style bag - recycled jeans and summer skirt

and under the flap

Crochet shopper - old t shirts

crochet bag - using King Cole Riot wool - not recycled
These are my first attempts at creating bags from recycled fabrics. I've used a patchwork effect, woven fabrics together and crocheted strips of fabrics to make a bag or two. I'm not sure they've all been successful and I will adapt the designs. feedback greatly appreciated.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Almost there

This is where I left this painting yesterday. I'd added more layers of acrylic. in the process I managed to hide areas I actually thought worked well. However the whole piece lacked detail, so today I began to work into the surface with oil bars. This is oil paint in stick form - it's relatively easy to apply, but as I had only a few colours, I found it didn't give the desired effect and was rather too soft. Instead I began to blend oil pastel (much harder and more waxy) with the oil bar medium and use them on their own; this has allowed me to add the detail. I think I'm going to leave this for a while. I need time to look at it from a distance and consider what if anything I need to do to it.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


A couple of weeks ago I began a painting of Church Point at Newbiggin by the Sea. After spending several hours working from a small sketch in my sketch book I decided I didn't like the work, so this morning I began again. I resizing the image and added brighter purer colour. You can still see the original painting on the first image. I'm not done yet and intend to make this a mixed media piece. I've used acrylic to create the base colour and will build on that using oilbar, alkyd colours and possibly some collaged material. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Creative Family

A work of art in the making
The Finished Painting - Now hanging proudly on her bedroom wall.
It always amazes me how creative my family are. Not only are John and I creative but our children  have an immense amount of creativity, although they don’t always realise it. Often creating amazing LEGO stop frame animations, LEGO constructions which are intricate and detailed, paper constructions, drawings and a whole lot of creative mess!
The painting above is one that my daughter made while I was preparing work for my MA degree show. She watched how I layered the paint, poured it and tilted the canvas to create various effects and asked to be able to have a go herself.

Hello and Welcome

It's been a long time since I wrote a blog. Time to start again I think!
I've just completed a few textile experiments, but non that I'm completely happy with yet. dresses, bags, Suffolk puffs. when they are working they will appear here in my posts.
Time to wait and see...


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