Spoonflower top!

In September 2013, I won a Spoonflower giveaway: a Wiksten pattern for a top and 3 yards of Spoonflower fabric printed in the design of my choice. Exciting! At that point, I hadn’t had much experience with Spoonflower or putting designs into repeat but I knew I wanted to use my own design on the fabric so it took me a while to take advantage of my win and actually order the fabric. I wanted to get it right so before I ordered the actual yardage I got a few swatches made.

A row of Spoonflower swatches

A row of swatches of my fabric designs – it works out cheaper to put them in collections and order several at once.

The swatches are printed on silky faille which is a 100% polyester fabric and is really drapy and prints the colours very faithfully to the image. I finally decided which designs I wanted to order so I got a yard of the fabric below:

The fabric printed by Spoonflower that I used for my top - I called it 'Fairy Garden'.

The fabric printed by Spoonflower that I used for my top – I called it ‘Fairy Garden’.

and two yards of this one, which was the one I originally thought I would use for the top:

Spoonflower fabric called Watercolour Kaleidoscope

This fabric was based on a painting made wet on wet using inks – I called it Watercolour kaleidoscope.

I received the fabrics last May and since then have been looking at them, stroking them and being afraid to cut into them!! I finally came to the conclusion that Watercolour Kaleidoscope would be a better design for large drapes or cushions and that I would make the top out of Fairy Garden. It was a bit of a tight squeeze to fit the pattern pieces on to one yard of fabric but I think it was the right decision.

The completed top.

The completed top – one of our cats, Ziby, decided he wanted to get in on the act!

Here it is hanging over my printing table.

Close up of neckline

A close up of the neckline

I experimented with which binding to use – the fabric is quite slippery and needed quite a bit of care to stitch properly.  I rejected silk or polyester fabric for the binding and in the end used this red lawn fabric which is made of very fine cotton – this was a lot easier to control than the polyester.  I ended up putting it round the hem as well as the necklines and armholes because it was easier than trying to fold over the curved fabric twice – and it meant that I could make the top that much longer.

The red binding pinned on to the neckline ready to be stitched.

The red binding pinned on to the neckline ready to be stitched.

Another view of the top.

Another view of the top.

It fits really well and I’m pleased with how it looks.  Well worth the wait!  By the way, if you fancy buying some of either of these fabrics, they (and others) are available in my Spoonflower shop.  And now I have started filling it, I intend to continue adding to it!

3

The 10 best posts of the last 10 years

I started this blog on 21st January 2005, exactly 10 years ago today, so I thought I’d have a dig in the archives to find 10 articles that I wrote, one for each year.  Okay, maybe they are not the absolute best of the posts for that year but they encapsulate what I thought summed up that year for me.  So here goes!

1.  The best post of 2005 (and arguably of the whole blog) has to be one I wrote right at the end of the year.  It is a photo tutorial I made on the spur of the moment during a brief respite from Christmas preparations.  I called it How to Make a Concertina Book .  It is also my most popular, mostly because it was noticed by an origami blogger, Eric Gjerde who submitted it to Make Magazine. It still gets pinned on Pinterest today.

concertina book opened up

This little concertina (or accordian) book is a nifty way of displaying your painted papers

 

2.  In 2006 I did a lot of dyeing fabric and thread.  Here is one of the blog posts showing some of the results.

dyeing fabric scrunched up and colourful

Fabric scrunched up in a cat litter tray being coloured – low immersion dyeing or tray dyeing

 

3.  In 2007 I compiled the Google map of textile museums and a list of those online too.  Some of the links are probably dead after all this time but it would still be worth delving into if you like fabric related museums.

4. In 2008 I did a lot of Gocco printing (remember that?).

Lots of postcards printed with the Print Gocco

I’d obviously had a good session with the Print Gocco machine here

 

5.  In 2009 I was selling on Etsy and wrote a post for the Ecoetsy team about How to reuse Scrap Paper for journalling, packaging and tags.

Lots of printing going on

I’d had fun printing grids and embossed pizza bases amongst other things

 

6.  In 2010  I did a lot of screenprinting in 2010, mostly on layered on fairly large pieces of fabric.

Screen with wisteria leaves painted on with screen filler.

Screen with wisteria leaves painted on with screen filler.

 

Also it was the Year of the Reeds, – I took a walk each month in a local park where they grow along the river, and posted photos taken throughout the year showing how they changed over the seasons.  Here is July’s and – if you’re particularly interested in reeds – here is a link which lists each time I mention them….

reeds in the sunlight

Reeds in the sunlight

 

7.  In 2011 I documented a walk around Crindau, an area of Newport.  I started walking a lot around that time and explored the city to discover quiet back streets and alleyways.

Lots of terraced houses in Newport from the top of some steps

You can see lots of rooftops and chimneys from the top of this flight of steps looking towards Crindau.

 

8.  In 2012  I took 12 photos of 12 things to celebrate the year.

12 watercolour crayons arranged in a circle

12 Stabilo chunky watercolour crayons sitting on some rust dyed fabric

 

9.  In 2013 the blog languished, but I did a lot of upcycling clothes inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee, and I took the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design course which kickstarted my pattern designing.

Close up of Harris tweed jacket

Detail of some hand printed fabric stitched on to a Harris Tweed jacket pocket.

 

10.  In 2014 – at the beginning of the year I took part in the Paper Love Bloghop with lots of pictures of all sorts of paper!

Lots of colourful printed and dyed paper

A selection of the paper I’ve collected or printed over the years.

 

Well, there we are, I hope you enjoyed that quick run through the last 10 years – I wonder what the next decade will bring?  Well, some train ticket art no doubt!

2

Round the World Blog Hop

I have been invited by Shirley Goodwin of Dyeing to Design to participate in this Round the World Blog Hop.  Shirley is a dyer and fiber artist from New Zealand who has recently completed a Bachelor of Applied Media Arts (Visual Media) degree in Invercargill and I have loved watching her progress.  Shirley and I have actually met – she came to stay with us for a few days when she visited the UK in 2010 (I can’t believe it was so long ago, Shirley!)

The rules of the Blog Hop are that we have to answer some questions about our work, show what we are doing, and then nominate some other bloggers to do the same.  (I’m going to cheat on this one, Shirley, sorry!  If you read this and fancy joining in, go ahead, please!  I have only just come across the Blog Hop as I’m a bit out of the quilting loop so I’m not sure who has already participated).  Please leave a message in the comments if you do so that I can add a link to your blog.

Here are the questions:

1. What am I working on? 
If you’ve been reading this blog regularly you’ll have seen my #trainticketart challenge – one altered train ticket every day.  So far I’ve kept up pretty well with it. Here’s a few of my latest pieces.  It has been very freeing just to play, and a small card the size of a train ticket is not daunting.
train ticket art (recent)

A mosaic of my #trainticketart challenge

 

I’ve also been designing patterns digitally by scanning various painted and printed motifs and layering them in Photoshop – here is one I designed in the summer.
I designed this pattern based on a theme of jewels; I did lots of printing with gouache and played with it in Photoshop.

I designed this pattern based on a theme of jewels; I did lots of printing with gouache and played with it in Photoshop.

 I recently put it in repeat and had it printed on fabric at By Hand London – they ran a Kickstarter campaign earlier this year to buy a digital printing machine.  The colours weren’t as bright as the RGB ones in the photo above but I like the way it turned out.  This was printed on cotton.
flower garden fabric based on jewels design

I think it looks more like a flower garden than jewels here, what do you think?

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
I think my style is very textural and layered (in fact I often can’t stop layering and wish I had stopped a few layers before – this is where Photoshop is useful as I can just turn off a few layers instead of having to get the discharge paste or bleach out!   I am very inspired by reflections and shadows and I think this emerges in my work quite a lot.
spoonflower fabric with nasturtium flowers developed from a photograph

This ‘fairy garden’ fabric was printed by Spoonflower on its silky faille fabric which is polyester – the colours seem to be much more faithful and vibrant on polyester perhaps because it is a different printing process than for natural fibres.

3. Why do I create what I do? 
 Because I love colour and I like being in the community of artists and makers online.  I like messing about with paints and seeing watery colours run in an unpredictable manner.
4. How does my creative process work?
Well, I’ve been trying to get into using sketchbooks and moodboards more, but up till now I have tended just to add layer after layer intuitively, waiting between layers to see what the design seems to want next.  I recently took Rachael Taylor’s course, the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design and learnt to use moodboards to gather inspiration and become more focussed from the start.
Moodboard with lace, doiley and flower fabric

This is a small moodboard on my design wall at the moment, sort of a victoriana theme going on, lace, doily and flowery fabric. The sock is there for colour inspiration.

Over to you!  If you want to see what other people have been saying in the Round the World Bloghop, the easiest way is to click on the link to Shirley’s blog and work backwards; there doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive list of bloggers who have taken part.  Please tell me if there is and I’ll link to it.
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