Thursday, August 25, 2005

CQ Christmas Stocking

My mini swap partner has now received her stocking so it's time to share the photos here too :)

The first picture is taken after I pieced the stocking but before embellishment. The piecing was done by hand and I found this a much easier way to work than by doing it one a machine. Mainly because the slippery fabrics were more controllable. As you can see, I incorporated lace into one of the seams at this stage.

The next photo is taken part of the way through embellishing. The detail of my first few blocks is shown more clearly in this photo than in the photo of the finished piece. In particular you can see the row of 'daisy' flowers more easily. After stitching the flowers I decided my 'style' is country naive (hehehe). In this photo you can also see that I did all the seam treatments first before filling any of the blocks. None of these patterns or motifs were planned out beforehand - I just picked up the needle and sewed. This freedom appeals to me greatly now although just a few months ago when I started the CQRR it was the sacriest part of CQ.

My third photo shows the finished piece. I had stitched one holly leaf but it looked too dominant and drew the eye too much so I changed it for two smaller ones. To the top right there are three little buds - my first bullion stitches but it's a good job they aren't very clear as I now realise I did them all wrong LOL well I am still learning :) To the top left you can see that I laced the running stitch spiral - what you can't see is that I used a metalic thread to do this. Theis is the clearest picture for the embellishments. I did ponder whether to sew the recipients name in the collar of the stocking but decided against it - she has a very short name! I wasn't sure if she uses her full name either.

This final photo shown the stocking made up, with a ribbon loop at the corner and a simple calico lining, the reverse is a gold satin (from memory). I am glad I took the photographs throughout the process as although the one of the finished piece shows the shape it was not flat (how do you iron cq?) so some of the other photos give a better idea of the embellishments and a truer representation of colours. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole exercise and will probably make more in future.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Face off or face on?

The majority of comments both here and at the flickr group seem to be of the opinion that my Maiden could be left faceless. An archetype - provide your own face viewers! I am not sure that this isn't some kind of cop out for me - self-confessed face phobic? Still contemplating. Evie suggested a couple of interesting alternatives, a mask or a photo like face of a real person. Either of these would involve learning some new techniques which is no bad thing. The second - a real face - I think I will reject, although thank you for the suggestion :), as I don't want anyone to identify her as an individual person. The first provokes a little more internal debate about masks and the conflict between hiding ones identity and my stated intent to make her virginal and voluptuous. Hmm. Very interesting. Need more time to think. I must confess I lean to the blank option at present but I fear this is more to do with my lack of confidence than it is to do with believing this to be the right choice! If two of my figures are faceless it would seem to follow that the third should be also, that leaves me the dilemma of how to indicate age without a face.

Meanwhile, back at the bagface: I have had very little time to work on Maiden today but late this evening made a start on her hair embellishment. So far I have embroidered a meandering running stitch in a toning stranded cotton and threaded this with a lighter pale yellow which contrasts nicely. I may well have a problem photographing this at this stage as my digi camera will only go in to 0.2m in focus. However if I post the photo to flickr it can be enlarged. The main idea behind the meandering stitching is to give the impression of curls - there are spirals and waves, but also to secure the fabric especially at the edges. So far I have only covered half the head of hair so back to it tomorrow.

Today's comment about the Maiden from DD - we went to buy her first bra today - she says the Maiden needs more padding!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Why feedback is so vital

I know some people work in isolation and only reveal their stuff when it is finished. Me, I like to talk :) I know, you couldn't tell ;) I thought I would share some of what has been going through my mind for the 'bags of fun' challenge and thus reveal how important feedback is to me.

Firstly on a very basic level I believe it will help me to complete this piece of work. Today I haven't had the opportunity to sew. Busy morning building shelve (don't ask!) and this afternoon taking DD and kids to the beach. By the time we got back and fed bathed an put the little one to bed I was shattered. But I am disappointed not to be able to show a picture and wait for some feedback to it. I have resorted to adding my WIP photos to the flickr group before I intended to, attention seeking :) Anyway I digress, I think the desire to hear what people think of what I am doing will keep me going so

1) completion.

2) Evolution. I started with my mother figure and through blogging her creation I came to the idea of the Maid and Crone. It was pondering why 'Mother' is so important to me so that I could explain my choice of figure, that led me to consider other aspects of myself.

3)Confirmation. Whilst I had the three of them it was comments from Belle which led me to a lovely phrase like 'stages of womanhood' :) This brilliant turn of phrase, which I have heard before but had not connected with what I was doing, has consolidated my idea for me. Having the appropriate terms makes them real, and other people's positive comments validates my choice too. Thank you :)

4)Deliberations, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Belle and I have had an email conversation about my Crone. She suggests the term 'wise woman' which I wholeheartedly accept. This is lovely. I was stuck at the witch/hag/hooked nose/warty chin/greenskin stumbling block. Was that really what I wanted to represent maturity? No! But I had gotten no further. Belle's wise woman answers the dilemma of giving equal weight to the third of my figures, and of maintaining a positive outlook for my ladies. I still have to work out how to capture those ideas but at least now I start from a happy place.

Back to the practical rather than the theory. My Maiden (again thanks to Belle) was made by tracing a drawing from my original sketch onto bondaweb for the hair. I had started out intending to use freezer paper but all those spiky bits defeated me :) I did use freezer paper for the body though' as I didn't want a blanket stitched edge to the body. Initially I didn't intend to pad the body but in order to make the breasts padded it seemed best to pad the body too. It also tied in nicely with the look of the Madonna/Mother figure. The breasts were made like yo-yos but then padding was slipped in behind them as I neared the end of sewing them on. Nipples are red french knots. The belly button was originally pulled in too tightly by a stitch from the back but I didn't like the way this creased the tummy so I undid that and will replace with another french knot slightly indenting as before.

Work still to do. In order to secure the hair without sewing completely around it I am intending to sew strands of 'hair' on top of the fabric bonded to the bag. The face I have already drawn out on the original pattern will be softened a little by using less threads, maybe only one strand of cotton. I don't want her to be too obvious, but quite delicate. My DD says that if she has diaphanous fabric clothes she will look like a hooker! I jokingly said I would make her a stripper and put tassels on her tits! But the effect I am looking for is more virginal whilst still voluptuous. If that is possible. I hate embroidering faces! So I am very nervous about this. I have drawn the features quite large on the original but may scale things down to make her less cartoony if I can. Hmmm still thinking about this. Rather than adding fabric clothes I am considering making her dress from stitches again still a new idea.

I have already learnt something very impotent - it is okay to take my time, and wait to see what I will think of. Also to know that I will think of something!

Good night everyone and thank you for your help - it is invaluable!

Friday, August 19, 2005

Maid my Day

Sorry, DH and DS have a pun competition permanently running and it rubs off on me sometimes :)

Here are the pictures of my Maid - still the embroidery to do but the basics are done.

DD says I must dress her and I promised not to use ginger hair!
A wider shot to show where she is, and she is the same height as the Madonna
Now rethinking the lace on the other pocket as I may need to place my Crone here. Have no ideas yet for the Crone herself other than that I may make her just a head and no body.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Madonna, Maid and Hag

My Madonna has developed into a triptych :) I have decided to add a Maid and a Hag to my bag as well as the mother and child image I put on earlier. These will be in different styles to the Madonna. I have drawn the pattern for the Maid and she is of a similar size to the Madonna figure, but I think she will be in raw edge applique, with embroidered features. Having a debate with myself now over whether Maid should be 'whore/tart' or virgin, but think the three are supposed to be virgin, mother, and crone - correct me if I'm wrong? The dual identity thing is the virgin/whore with the Madonna being Virgin. May just be getting a bit to complicated so I think I will let this one sort itself out on the bag!

There has been some debate here between DD and myself about whether I will be allowed out of the house with a naked young woman on my bag and I am told I have to put a bikini on her or I will be disowned! I thought she should have nice pert little breasts with french knot nipples :) However, in the interests of family harmony she will be clothed, for the time being, (tart would be more fun to dress). Hopefully will get the basics done tomorrow so I can post some photos. Haven't given much thought to my Hag/Crone yet other that the classic 'witch' idea but still mulling over this one and will come back to it when Maid is in place.

Most notable thing about the whole process for me today is that I drew a pattern and played with it until I was happy. I did draw a figure for the Madonna but she is pretty simple and stereotypical so couldn't really be called a design. But I think my maid is actually the first thing I have designed, ever, ever, ever in my life. So small fanfare for Jacqui, LOL. After that build up I'd better make her good. Hehehehe

Time Check

Got the idea for a clock from here

I use this clock to check the time in Australia a lot so I thought it was 'time' I had one of my own. LOL

Plus, please note :) I finally figured out how to post a link so watch out I will now have you hopping all over the place :)

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Mother and Child

Sometime yesterday I thought of adding a Madonna figure to my bag for the 'bags of fun'. Given that I am a foster carer and therefore a kind of professional 'mother' this seemed appropriate. Additionally when apraising my life last year I realised that 'mother' is the thing that I am good at, and the role that I am happy with. I wondered if it would mislead people into thinking me religious. My surname is Mulcahy (Gaelic) and people often assume I am Catholic, which I am not. I mulled over the idea for a few hours but kept coming back to it's rightness as an image for me. I have let go of worrying about what other people will make of it, and use it as an image of woman, universal.

She is made from cotton. I drew the image onto paper first and then cut out the pieces and used them as a pattern, making a needle turned applique. The faces were lightly stuffed before being sewn onto the body and then wadding was placed behind the image. The whole piece was then appliqued onto the jeans by basting it over the paper pattern prior to sewing it down. Small 'quilting' stitches mark out the simple form. I had originally drawn a simple face with closed eyes using straight lines but found that I was happier with the blank faces. Now anyone can see whomever they wish in her. Just like a mother!

Here is a better picture of the velvet showing the beading more clearly (well, a bit more clearly).

I have just taken a photo of the front of the bag to give an idea of scale. This made me realise that I have a lace motif pinned above my Madonna which looks like a halo - coincidence :) I will move it or I will be misleading people :)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Little to report tonight other than that I have sewn on what was pinned on yesterday :)

I plan to use my 2 hours whilst my foster daughter is at contact tomorrow to get everything ready to do some handwork when she comes back. If I get a move on I may even get some sewing done! How I ever managed to do all that cross stitch when my 3 were little I do not know.

Perhaps I should clear up what may be a misunderstanding caused by yesterday's post. When I said that others would no doubt do work of a higher technical standard,and with more artistic flair, that was simply a statement of fact. SharonB and Sharlee were kind enough to be very supportive and encouraging in response and for that I thank them :) But for me the challenge is very definitely small 'c' and not about competing with the others in the group. What a pleasure to be allowed to be part of something so exhilarating, where my work will be part of the project and I will be valued for what I can achieve. I happily do not feel intimidated by anyone's work. I have never considered myself to be very creative or to be at all artistic.

My mother, who taught me the basics, only every sews for utility, a button, some mending , clothes when we were little. My other female relatives knit and my grandma knits and sews and crochets. I don't think their work has ever been valued other than in a practical way and I am sure none of them would consider it to be art. I think they view me with a tolerant bemusement. I have always loved to sew and taught myself to embroidered many years ago but then stopped because I saw no purpose or use for it. Now I have rediscovered the satisfaction of using a needle for decoration as well a s utility. This is the first time in my life that I have been part of a community of women who understand this and feel the same. It is like coming home.

If someone else's bag is 'better', 'fancier' or more 'artistic' than mine then I rejoice in that achievement. Already the beginnings are an inspiration to go places I have never been before. The joy is really in the journey and in the company. My cup runneth over. I am more than content :)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tentative first steps - 'bags of fun'

Not going to post to the flikr group website until I have some real progress - maybe once a week as suggested by another member there. In the meantime I will record the day-to-day goings on here. :)

Here is a picture of the front with a velvet beaded panel pinned in place ready to sew

and here is the back
with some antique lace over one pocket - again pinned waiting to be sewn.

The velvet comes from an old piece given to me by a friend clearing out her craft supplies - it was a beaded waistcoat and I wanted to keep the piece quite large to preserve the pattern of the beads. The photo shows the inset black fabric against the velvet well but does not show all the beading which surrounds it. The lace was from the same lady.

I am thinking about the bag as I fall asleep and when I wake up in the morning. I have toyed with the idea of a theme; planets, sky, water, sewing? In the end I think I will just go for heavily embellished, rich and pretty. The thing I enjoyed about a recent cq swap was the freedom from planning, or rules. What do I feel like doing tonight? Well, okay then that's what I'll do! This means my work will not follow a predetermined plan nor arrive at a fixed destination. We will just go with it and see where we end up. Strange to think that when I first started the cq RR only a few months ago it was that very freedom from rules and a lack of a pattern which frightened me so and prevented me from starting.

I am sure that the technical execution of some of the other bags will be better than mine. I see that others already have more forward planning and insight into the direction their bags are going in. The results of some of the other sewers will probably be grander/cleverer/more innovative too. But I do think that we will all have fun. Already I am enjoying my sewing and the exploration of uncharted territory more and more each day.

Friday, August 12, 2005

The 'before' shots

Went to the charity shop this morning and bought some rather large (UK size 20) black jeans. Hopefully the black will help the colours sing and not sure why I went large. Didn't mean to - went into the shop with every intension of a 10 / 12 size pair but came out with these large. Going with the flow and large it is. Think I will probably add a base too so that the bag will stand once full. Could be a 'take-this-one-with-swimming-towels-and-costumes-in' kind of a bag, or a 'mum-will-carry-the-picnic-and-blanket' bag. :)

Feeling very happy about the whole thing. Lovely to be making something to keep for a change. LOL

Anyway here are the 'before' photos.


and back

Now ALL I need to do it some sewing :) May start by using some of Nancy's wool to crochet a belt to go through the belt loops (unsurprisingly).

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Stormy Weather

Debra said DD might want the bag back once it was embellished - she wants it back already. I am only allowed to embellish it if it ends up looking 'goth'! I decided I wanted the stitching to make it's own mind up rather than having to plan it all out first and I could not, therefore, guarantee 'goth' so it has been reclaimed. Funny how now I want it she discovers that she really liked it all along. Anyway on the positive side the bag, which has languished unloved since completion, is now being used.

I will charity shop for a old pair of jeans to use - so I am starting again, this time from scratch!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Bags of Fun!

I have joined the 'Bags of Fun' Stitch Along / Challenge being organised by SharonB of inaminuteago.

I made a denim jeans bag for my daughter about two months ago and she was totally underwhelmed and has not used it. So, I have nicked it back again and will work on it for the challenge, don't think it will be a problem that the bag is already made up as I will be doing all handwork. The photos of the groups work are on flickr and one day I will work out how to link to other people's blogs and websites until then I will post them here too :)

This is the front and

this is the back

As yet no surface stitching on the jeans other than what they came with but I start tomorrow. As for all my other projects and swaps well I have decided to give up sleep. Ha Ha. Anyone who knows me knows how I love to sleep and how useless I am if I don't get enough and on that note I think it's time I was off to bed :) Night night all.

Monday, August 08, 2005


Another day where I can't add anything! How frustrating! I am crafting - mainly cq - but it's all swaps at the moment so I have to wait until the recipients open them before I feel free to 'go public'. For one of them in particular I would like to journal the process so I am keeping al the WIP pictures to put on later. Again I have found the process of photographing the work very helpful in enabling me to step back and take an overview of the progress I am making.

Taught my DD and her friend (both aged 12) to crochet yesterday - once you can do something you so quickly forget how hard it is when you are learning! But they persevered and had nice long 'necklaces' by the end of it. Will dig out some beads and bit and bobs to decorate them with tomorrow. Next step how to make granny squares!

Also in the process of finishing foster daughter's 'table tent'/Wendy house. Can't remember if I blogged about this earlier or not but know I haven't added any photos so once the window frame is on and the flowers are growing outside the door I'll do that. All donated fabric so far so a free play tent - the very best kind. DD did remark that when she was little all she got was a blanket thrown over the table! She's right too :)

Monday, August 01, 2005

UFO swap update

Monika has received the swap item which prompted the discussion about UFOs and swaps so I can now put a photo here. Each of the stars is the size of a small dinner plate. The flash takes out some of the vibrancy of the colours but you get the idea. This blanket is crocheted.