Saturday 28 July 2018

WW1 Sawdust Hearts Project- The Embroidery

It's finally finished. This is the secret piece that has kept me busy for the whole of July. A piece I feel very emotional about, and one that truly captured my heart.

This is my contribution to the Untangled Threads Sawdust Hearts Project. My piece will form part of the Sawdust and Calico Heart Exhibition at Woodend Scarborough from the 3rd to the 30th of November 2018. This is a commemorative exhibition and public event to be held on the centenary of Armistice Day 2018. My heart is one of 1568 handcrafted hearts commemorating 100 years since the armistice. It represents day 218 of the 1568 days of the war; the date the 2nd of March 1915. On this day the British Battleship HMS Canopus joined in the assault missions on the Dardanelles.

The Embroidery

The stitching on the piece (bird and trees) features a single strand of Gutermann black silk thread.  The stitch techniques used are satin stitch for the trees and a variation of long and short stitch for the lark.  Both techniques were sewn using the Crafter's Collection Beading Needles by John James.
These needles are short, sharp and leave no holes in the fabric as you work. They are a size 10 and can accommodate fine glass beads (as depicted in the image above) with ease.


My piece features the pinning technique; dressmakers pins are used to adorn my piece.  This technique is often used for lettering or constructional detail.  My piece features pinning for the lettering and also as part of the scenery under the trees. I used black nail varnish to colour the headpins for the landscape but left the pins naked for the lettering.

Some information about my piece:

Title: Hope Soars on the Wings of a Lark.

Medium: Acrylic Paint on Canvas with black embroidery silk. The piece is adorned with beads and pins.

Inspiration: The vivid red colour used in my piece forms the memory of how I imagined the poet's world looked on hearing the words to Wilfred Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum Est, at the age of 14. A piece I studied in English and one that I can still recite to this day.

The bird depicted in my piece comes from the poem by the English poet George Meredith, and the piece composed by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams; The Lark Ascending, this piece is often interpreted as a piece about the war.

This piece is dedicated to my Great Grandfather William Rae (1888-1951). He served as a fireman for the Merchant Navy aboard the SS Lady Salisbury during WW1. A Merchant Seaman all his life my Great Grandfather died of a Cardiac Arrest on the 4th of July 1951 aboard the SS Tourmaline and was buried at sea, off the coast of Spain.

P.S. the idea and artwork for this piece can be found on my other blog Squirrels Knitting Conquests.

Wednesday 11 July 2018

The Birdie Bomber Jacket

This is the beautiful Birdie Bomber Jacket pattern by Annie at Sew this Pattern. Made in a soft, comfortable medium weight polyester fabric called Field of Flowers by Adam Ross Fabrics.

This pattern has been on my wishlist of makes since I found Annie's website back in 2017.  When I first noticed this pattern online, I instantly knew I wanted to make it, but because I haven't worn a bomber jacket in years (since I was 18,  I'm now 47 but feel like I'm 5), I wasn't even sure if it would suit me. But, I downloaded the pattern and pieced it together and then browsed for some fabric. In the back of my mind, I thought if I make it and don't like it I can always gift it to a friend1

Anyway,  the Field of Flowers fabric was bought on a whim, as you do, and it wasn't destined for any pattern. I primarily bought it because I loved the print. We've all been there, right?

Whenever I unwrap fabric, I tend to put it in the wash straight away (a quick 15-minute cycle at 30-degrees, usually does the job), so it's ready to use when inspiration hits. If I think the fabric is going to fray badly, then I will usually overlock all the edges to stabilise them.

Once washed, I will leave the fabric sitting in a strategic area where I will be able to touch, drape and look at it.  I usually do this for about a week, and if a pattern or design doesn't come to me after that time, then the material is placed in my stash for a later date.  There's no point in cluttering up my craft area unless I need to.  I can cause enough destruction just by standing in the room, never mind crafting in it...snigger!


The material was easy to cut, bit slippy when it came to piecing together, but I used the tissue paper technique, to help put the fabric through my sewing machine. With these issues out of the way, I sailed through piecing the front panels and back panels together, so far, so good. But, I then found when trying the piece on that the body and sleeves were too long.  At this stage I'm issuing a warning- DO NOT CUT OFF THE EXCESS, as everything turns out just fine when you place the bands on, you need the excess to hold the bands in place2.


At this point I also noticed the fabric was a bit too flimsy to be a bomber jacket, so, I stopped sewing to order samples for a lining.  I was originally going to go for a black lining, but when I received the three different colour samples, I decided to go for two meters of the Charmeuse in Aubergine.  I liked the way this Charmeuse made the darker colours of the floral fabric pop.


Cutting the lining out was a bit tricky; very slippery. To rectify this I sprayed my cutting board with spray starch (stops fabric from sliding). I made the lining a bit bigger than the outer piece and then looked online to see how to attach it.  I was going to bag my jacket to place the lining in, but there was a flaw in this idea-the jacket needed to be near finished for this to work, and having never used this technique before I didn't want to muck up the piece at this late stage. So, I made the lining piece up just like the main jacket, slipped the lining sleeves into the main piece, matched the front and the back and tacked everything in place. To my surprise this actually worked a treat. There was no tweaking, taking seams in or cutting, it went together like a dream.

There was a lot of ohhing and aghhing over the cuffs and bands for this piece. I bought some ribbing samples before I purchased a meter.  I initially had three sample choices and managed to whittle it down to two.  I was very fussy, in my head I knew what type of fabric I wanted for the cuffs.  I wanted the bands to have a bit of a sheen to them, not dull and heavy knitted, and nothing too cheap and nasty looking either.  I looked on four different websites before finding the perfect edging at My Fabrics. 


Having never used ribbing before I expected it to come in one straight length.  It doesn't or this one didn't. My ribbing came in a tube form! Which had me scratching my head, as the waistband and neck asked for the pattern pieces to be laid out on the selvedge.  There was no selvedge, just a tube! Hoping someone on social media could help me; I asked the novice question of how to find the edge on this material and someone came up trumps.  By laying the fabric out flat, I would see two natural folds. When I cut along one of the folds, the selvedge would appear. Hey, presto! It did. How cool is that?

I fitted the cuffs, waistband and neck in, using my overlocker with the blade engaged.  This helped me to cut away the excess.  I had measured previously to this point and I was able to figure out how long my sleeves and jacket body should go. I just love the finsh this machine gives, and I'm always in awe of what it can do.  Although I should be learning more about what it can do.  I might look for courses to do with that.


And then, last but not least the zip.  This part gave me nightmares.  How was I going to attach an opened end zip.  I had fitted invisible zips, jean zips but never an open zip! In my head I kept thinking if I sew one side on and then I sew the otherside on, are they going to match and are the teeth going to line up properely.  Silly I know, but that's what I was thinking.  The zip was fine in the end.

My thoughts; this design was relatively easy to construct and I was amazed at my ability to piece it all together. To say I'm super proud of this make is an understatement.


1This is now not going to happen because I'm selfish and in love with it.

2 Only when you have attached them may you cut to your heart's content. My sleeves were pinned up, pinned down, they moved between my hand, wrist, knuckles you name it until I was happy with the result.