Pattern course and a bit of colour!

For the last few weeks I’ve been doing an online course called The Art and Business of Pattern Design. I decided to embark on this because I noticed that a lot of my artwork consists of lots of overall pattern and texture and I needed something to get me organised now that my boys are all flying the nest and I’ve got more time to set up a business in it!

I’m finding it really inspiring and you’ll probably see quite a lot of it popping up in the next few months but just now we’re doing colour and here are a few photos that I’ve dug out to get colour swatches from…. UPDATE: I added the swatches I got from them at the Color Palette Generator

colour-cornwall-cliff2

A cliff in Cornwall (didn’t do one for this as both the colour generators I tried seemed to ignore that gorgeous red/orange and green and focus on the browns/blacks of the rocks).

colour-london-building

 

colorpalettelondonbuildings

 

A building in Bloomsbury in London

colour-london-graffiti

colorpalettelondongraffiti

Some graffiti near Brick Lane in London

colour-london-rain

colorpalettelondonrain

Rainy pavements in London!

colour-london-rain2

colorpalettelondonrain2

More rain!

colour-london-rain3

colorpalettelondonrain3

Yes, it rained a lot that time…

colour-newport-housesetc

colorpalettenewportstreet

Colourful containers in Newport

colour-paris-metro

colorpaletteparismetro

The Paris metro

Can you use an old Singer sewing machine?

Okay, this is a different sort of post than usual, but still textile related!!  My husband is involved with a local charity called Health Help International which sends various supplies/support to Zambia and India.  One of their projects is a sewing studio in Zambia and they regularly send out old manual sewing machines – manual because the electricity supply there is unreliable.  

P1000276 

These machines have been given to me because they don’t work (or in some cases might be because they have one of the older type transverse bobbins which are difficult to get hold of, I’m not sure).  But I’m tripping over them in my workroom and wondered if anyone locally (South Wales) would like one for a small donation to HHI (since they were donated originally I don’t think I should just give them away outright)? 

 P1000277

These are photos of the ones I have and I thought that if you sold at vintage fairs etc you might be able to use one as a display.   I’ve seen people using them for hanging necklaces and pendants on or as decoration in shop windows.  These old machines are very ornamental, aren’t they?

 P1000278

If you are interested or know someone who might be, leave a comment or email me on liz@lizplummer.com and I’ll get back to you.  They will need to be collected from Newport in South Wales.

P1000280

 P1000281

Great British Sewing Bee and some upcycling fun!

I hinted in earlier posts that I’d been doing more dressmaking and upcycling than quilting and dyeing recently, so I thought I’d tell you what I have been up to.

I bought a secondhand Harris Tweed men’s jacket on Ebay very cheaply and altered it. 

harris tweed jacket 

I can’t find any ‘before’ photos but this is it when I had just started and was auditioning that orange silk fabric with it.   First of all I unpicked the lining from the main jacket from about halfway up the front and along most of the bottom edge apart from the back vents where it was too firmly stitched on!   Then I took out the shoulder pads and restitched the top of the shoulders to make them a bit narrower, more rounded and less military-looking.   I then stitched more darts to shape the waistline. 

altered harris tweed jacket  

Here it is just pinned.  I had to be a bit careful not to pull the pocket flap out of shape.  I also made the bottom of the armhole a bit smaller and stitched more tucks in the upper back to take out some nasty puckers that had developed.  Once I was happy with the fit, I restitched the lining and then added a few embellishments.

detail of pocket trim   

This is some of my printed fabric which I stitched on to the top pocket.  I also stitched some narrow burgundy ribbon along the piped top of the bottom pockets and replaced all the buttons with dusky pink ones to make it clear that this was now a woman’s jacket!  I thought I took a photo at this stage but the only one I can find is the one below.  The buttons on the sleeve are pink too.

upcycled polo neck 

The Great British Sewing Bee started last week and inspired me to do a bit of my own!   This pinky mauve top started life as a Landsend polo neck top and after a while I decided I didn’t like to wear polo necks anymore but I still liked the top and didn’t just want to chuck it.  So I took the neckline off and stitched that burgundy satin bias binding around the raw edges.  I also wanted it longer so I thought I’d put a flounce on the bottom.  I wasn’t sure about mixing stretchy knitted fabric and woven cotton, but I thought my hand printed fabric which I made with the wisteria screen shown at the bottom of this page of my blog matched the colour well so decided to give it a go.  I found a webpage on How to make a pixie skirt and it was incredibly easy – this piece is just a square piece of fabric with a circular hole cut in the middle.   A couple of lines of topstitching with a triple straight stitch finished it off and I’m wearing it as I type!

top with jacket 

Here it is with the finished jacket.

  another view of top

Not sure whether to sew this flower on or not…

What I’ve been reading online

I started this post a while ago but yesterday the news came that Google is killing Google Reader in July.   If you read this blog via Google Reader, there are a number of articles about the alternatives … here are a couple of them:

‘Hey Google, we still love Reader’ from Mashable and

Google Reader is getting shut down; here are the best alternatives, from Lifehacker.

If you would prefer to read it via email, you can sign up on the sidebar and Mailchimp will send you one whenever I publish a new post >>>>>

And of course within a few hours of the news breaking, someone had come up with a ‘Hitler hears the news about Google Reader’ on Youtube!

Recently instead of bookmarking all my favourite sites I’ve been using Evernote to keep them synched across my laptop, tablet and phone.  Evernote is like an online pile of notebooks with a really powerful search facility … It has a great series on its blog called Tips and Stories where people describe how they use Evernote for their particular line of business, hobby or whatever so rather than go on about it here I’ll just direct you there.

So what have I been reading online recently?

… about trends in fashion, vintage, fabric…. The Stylesight blog is a colourful and interesting read.

… about the fashion industry and the horrific tragedies caused … Onsies in a rush?

MsWanda’s blog – a great blog about sustainable fashion.

 The Good Wardrobe – The Good Wardrobe describes itself as “your online style-sharing community hub mixing the best of sustainable fashion with services that prolong the life of your wardrobe. The antithesis of fast fashion, The Good Wardrobe loves long-life style.”

Trash to Couture suggests ways to make old clothes into upcycled new ones…

The story of Harris Tweed – one page of a blog called V is for Vintage

Why shopping will never be the same – an article about tecchy innovations in the shopping experience

 The curated wardrobe – an article about paring down your wardrobe to the bare essentials… Maybe I need to apply the principles to my art supplies!

instant fashion software! – a fun webpage where you can draw fashion on a figure and it will turn it instantaneously into a 3d model!

 

What have you been reading lately?

A couple of book reviews

Just before Christmas, Bloomsbury Publishing asked me if I would like to review a couple of their books.  As soon as I saw the titles, I jumped at the chance.

What the publishers say:

 The Vintage Pattern Selector by Jo Barnfield is a practical sewing book that arms the reader with all the techniques and information they need in order to mix and match clothing styles from the 20th century.

Accompanied by a CD with printable patterns for a range of dress sizes, this book is a comprehensive guide to creating contemporary outfits from vintage styles.

  book review    

The book is clearly and attractively set out with lots of pictures and diagrams.  It contains full instructions for printing the patterns, assembling them and making the dresses, with a section at the back covering the basic techniques of dressmaking.  

 book review  

It starts with a timeline of the main styles and trends for each decade between the 1920s and 1970s then goes into more detail about each decade.

 book review

I liked the way it shows the way modern fashions draw on vintage styles, giving examples from different shops.  It also suggests ways to combine particular details of different eras so they work together.

book review

I haven’t yet tried making up any of the patterns but I can envisage playing with a few of them, notably the 1920s flapper dress (pity I no longer have the shape for it!!).

The second book is quite different in style to the first.  The publisher’s introduction to The Story of Colour in Textiles by Susan Kay-Williams -

Colour and shade of dyed textiles were once as much an indicator of social class or position as the fabric itself, and for centuries the recipes used by dyers were closely guarded secrets.

The arrival of synthetic dyestuffs in the middle of the nineteenth century opened up a whole rainbow of options and within 50 years modern dyes had completely overturned the dyeing industry.

From pre-history to the current day, the story of dyed textiles in Western Europe brings together the worlds of politics, money, the church, law, taxation, international trade and exploration, fashion, serendipity and science.

The Story of Colour in Textiles is an introduction to a broad, diverse and fascinating subject of how and why people coloured textiles.

book review

Being a historian as well as a dyer, I loved reading this book.  Again, it is attractively set out with lots of gorgeous pictures, but much more factual information too.  I enjoyed reading Victoria Finlay’s book on the story of colour generally, but this book focuses specifically on colouring textiles in Europe.  It mentions other parts of the world but mostly only as they affected European dyeing.  The book starts with an introduction to the various types of fabrics that were being dyed, mostly natural ones such as wool, linen, silk and cotton.

 book review

Unlike Victoria Finlay’s book which goes through each colour in turn, the author of this book works her way through history with chapters on prehistory, the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, then each century from the 15th to the present day. It was useful to read about them in their historical context, and she draws on contemporary paintings which illustrate various dyeing processes, such as Jan van Eyck’s painting of the Arnolfinis, and the Bleaching fields of Haarlem by Jan van Kessel the Elder.

book review

It is a good book to dip into or use as a reference, but also has a very readable style.  It was interesting to read about the secrecy around new discoveries and subterfuge used to obtain valuable information.  Did you know that a whole mile of coastline around Tyre and Sidon consists of ground up mollusc shells, waste from extracting purple from the shellfish?    Colour as a sign of wealth, power and intrigue….

 book review 

She also covers the use of mordants, the introduction of patents and the development of chemical dyes as well as bleaching and the removal of colour to make white. 

 book review

The book has an extensive list of footnotes at the end of each chapter and a large bibliography for further reading.  Definitely worth buying if you are interested in the development of dyeing and use of colour through the ages.

book review

January activities

snowy garden

This is what the garden looked like last week.  The white stuff stayed there for a whole week (quite unusual for this area), but last weekend a warm front came in and we had torrential rain, thunder, lightning and hailstones and now it’s all gone. The hens were a bit nonplussed by it all, and refused to leave their run even when I opened the door – normally they are falling over each other to get out! And even when they did emerge, they congregated at the back door as if pleading with me to give them their warm mash and shut them back in again…

snowing

This was one night last week when the snow was coming down for the last time.

upcycled skirts made into top

From last October two of my sons have gone off to university, leaving only one at home and it is very strange and is taking some getting used to.  As a result I have been a bit at sea here and feeling rather disorientated.  I have been getting a bit fed up of making wall art/generally stuck and have been exploring alternative ways to use my printed fabric.  Though maybe I’ll just keep it as art cloth… dilemmas, dilemmas….  I have also been getting into upcycling and refashioning clothes.  I made this top using one of Marcy Tilton’s Vogue patterns.  Every now and again I buy a sale ‘goody bag’ from People Tree, who sell fairtrade fashion, but sometimes the clothes they send just aren’t me at all.  I made this one from a couple of ra-ra style skirts in tshirt material plus an old tie dyed tshirt that the boys had outgrown.  The colours are not quite true but you get the general idea!  I still have to finish the arms and face the neckline but I quite like the result.

 

harris tweed jacket

I also bought this gorgeous Harris Tweed men’s jacket on Ebay and am busy restyling it, putting more darts in to convert it into a woman’s jacket. I plan to put new buttons on and add a few more decorative features, not sure yet exactly what.  The dressmaker’s dummy, by the way, was another recent Ebay acquisition which is becoming very useful!

 

rails of hand printed and hand dyed fabric

These are the clothes racks full of printed and dyed fabric that I have accumulated.  I think I may reopen my Etsy shop and put some of it for sale there – what do you think?   I’m not sure whether to experiment with turning it into clothes or sell it as art cloth.

cut out tartan dress pieces

Another thing I did at the beginning of December was to sign up for a Craftsy class called The Couture Dress with Susan Khalje.  So far I’ve made a muslin, attempted to fit it on myself (!), cut out the silk organza interlining and the actual fabric which is tartan Viyella fabric that I bought years ago before the UK textile industry mostly got outsourced to China.  This is the result so far!  I’ve made it very difficult for myself by cutting lots of pieces on the bias so I am unsure how it is going to turn out, but I’m learning lots of useful stuff on the way, such as how to trace patterns.  I doubt if I will ever make another couture dress as it is too slow and fiddly for me (and accuracy doesn’t seem to be within my capabilities which is why I don’t do traditional patchwork and quilting!!).  But it is a useful learning experience…

handmade books

And finally, here are a few handmade books I made recently using the instructions from Sue Bleiweiss’ online class that I took a few years ago…. Hard to believe that those covers started out as brown paper, isn’t it?  It was an opportunity to use up some of the gorgeous raku buttons I have bought from various Etsy people….

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...