Greetings from the Midlands

Well, those couple of months I said I would need to settle in in my new home in the Midlands quickly stretched to nearly a year and a half. I’m really sorry about that. Suffice it to say that I have been spoilt with the additional free time my new job provides and have been using every free moment to craft.

As I no longer work in an office and am home based the majority of the time, my need for new, smart outfits has diminished. There have been a few new dresses, jeans and t-shirts made in the last year but generally my dressmaking activity has reduced.    However, my work desk at home is in my sewing corner and the desk with my machines on it is next to me whenever I’m working, meaning that, if it’s quiet, I can sew while I’m being paid.   I always said I wanted to be paid to sit at home and sew all day, and now I do.

Sewing a whole garment when you could get an urgent call at anytime is not ideal, however, and there have been occasions when a half-finished maxi dress has been hanging from my sewing machine for more than an hour with a seam half completed, just because work has picked up.   This meant that I needed to find something I could do when on shift to keep me occupied in the quiet periods but that was easy to put down if I had a call come in.   I started hand embroidery completely by accident when I was trying out some free motion embroidery with my machine and I couldn’t get it to do something and had to resort to sewing by hand.   In the last year I have produced quite a bit of hand embroidery, particularly for gifts over the Christmas period, and my skills have increased.   Here’s a few examples.

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This week I finished a piece based on the woodblock print “The Great Wave off Hangawa” by Hokusia. Which has completely taken off on Instagram.

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I’m used to getting about 65 likes maybe on Instagram but when I posted this piece I went on a 4 hour drive and when I got home I had over 200 notifications on my phone and climbing.   I wasn’t sure what was going on and eventually the likes stopped at just over 4000!!!!   My followers also more than doubled in a week.   This gave me the hint that a few people out there might like my embroidery work and I thought I ought to kick this blog thing back into gear and tell you more about my embroidery.

When I decided to make this piece I was in a creative slump between projects and had no idea what to make and had little inspiration.   My husband had recently relegated several pairs of his old jeans to my fabric pile and so I had quite a bit of denim to work with.   One of the styles of embroidery I have been learning more about recently is Sashiko and with it’s Japanese origins for some reason Hokusai’s wave popped into my head and I thought I could combine the denim, Sashiko and the Wave into one piece.

The background was achieved using free motion machine raw edge applique and embroidery and I added wave peaks using a stitch called detached woven picot.   Here‘s a YouTube video on how to make these stitches.   I then finished off with some French knots.   This piece is not at all what I had in my head when I started it as I had envisioned using some beads and pearls and possibly even some lace to add to the frothing wave heads, but halfway through the woven picot occurred to me and I thought it mimicked, but didn’t duplicate, the fluid curls of Hokusai’s waves so beautifully that adding anything extra to it would be excessive.

I hope you like this piece.   I hope to post more of my crafty endeavours in the coming weeks, certainly before another year passes.   Catch you soon.

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First attempts at free motion machine embroidery

I’ve completed my final project before we move house.   As the kids have gone back to school, I didn’t want to fork out on school insignia emblazoned uniform and accoutrements as I’m going to have to buy it all again for their new schools (yet to be sorted out and we move it 2 weeks! Eeeek!). However they still need to take their PE kits in and a carrier bag just wasn’t going to cut it.   I had some bits and bobs of canvas in the stash so decided to whip them up a couple of personalised bags, using this tutorial.

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To personalise the bags I decided to try a bit of free motion machine embroidery.   My results weren’t amazing but not bad for a first try. I struggled with moving the fabric under the presser foot, even with the foot pressure set to the lowest.   It didn’t help that Eli’s name was stitched over a bulky seam line.

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I lined the bags too.

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The materials, including cord were ntirely from my stash too, so zero cost.

My sewing stuff all got packed away after I finished this project. The conversation with my husband went something like this.

Me: I think I’ll pack my sewing stuff. I won’t do any sewing now until we’ve moved.
Tobi: Yeah, I’m not sure I like that idea.
Me: Why?
Tobi: I like you reasonably stable.

For me, like many, sewing is a form of therapy. A mindfulness exercise where you can be nowhere other than in that moment. When I’m feeling particularly anxious, worried or low Tobi has been known to usher me towards my sewing machine as he knows he will get his level-headed wife back at the end of the evening.

I’m not sure I’ll have anything to post between now and the start of my new job in mid-October. But I’m hoping to make it to Charlotte’s (English Girl at Home) SewBrum meet-up on 31st October as I will only be half an hour away on the train. Fingers crossed the rota for my new job has me off on that day.

Until then, adieu.