Thursday, 16 April 2015

Dying for a new lease of life - how to dye leather shoes.

I just love Dr Martens Shoes. I have done since I was about 17. Several years ago I had these tan leather Mary Jane DM shoes, which I wore all the time. You can see from the photo that they had become scuffed and rather tatty, to the point of being unsuitable to wear and they ended up relegated to the backof the shoe cupboard. 

A few weeks ago I was clearing out, and wondered if there was anything I could do to breathe new life into these that wasn't going to cost the earth. After a little bit of research I discovered that dying leather shoes wasn't that difficult and relatively inexpensive.

Step 1. Clean the layers of polish off the shoe. you can buy special deglazer to do this, but I used nail polish remover and cotton pads. deeper scuffs could be sanded with fine sand paper.

 Step 2. The dye. I bought Fiebing's leather dye from Amazon, it cost about £5, but i had some gift vouchers so I used those. I also bought neutral wax shoe polish, this was only £1. You will also need something to apply the dye with. I used a sponge dabber, but a natural fabric cloth or paintbrush would also work well. Gloves are also a good ideas to keep your hands clean.

Step 3. Cover the surface you are using with Newspsper and stuff the shoes with paper too to support them while you apply the dye.

Step 4.  Apply the dye. I worked in sections, starting from  the heel so I could check it was going on ok. This dye did run a little, but that was becasue I put too much on the sponge. apply a thin even layer and allow to dry fully. Depending on the style of your shoe, you may need to mask some areas with tape. I just wiped spills away with damp cotton wool. After the first coat of dye the shoes had a pinky tinge. In total I applied three coats of dye, allowing the shoes to dry completely in between each one. In total I used less than 1/3 of the bottle of dye.

 Step 5. Polish. I applied wax polish and buffed to a shine. I used two layers of the clear polish to achieve a good finish. The colour darkens considerably when the polish is added, so bear that in mind. I'm really pleased with the outcome and feel that these shoes have a new lease of life. can't wait to wear them.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Modern Home Needlecraft

I was fortunate to be gifted this book by a friend. I have spent the last couple of weeks pouring over the pages. There are some amazing techniques, pattern drafting directions and suggestions for make do and mend.
The book was published in 1946 and came in its original card envelope, with the address still intact. it even had the slip inside that stated it must be paid for by return, so maybe it was from some book club. It was published by Odhams Press in London, which I'd never heard of.

Inside the book I found two patterns, one for a child's dress - it's not a printed pattern, but looks to be in very good condition. There is also a knitting pattern for a boy's slipover. I don't knit so cant ever imaging making this.

The book contains a wealth of information and there are a range of techniques covered. Have you ever heard of a Jetted pocket?
There are pattern drafting instructions for a range of simple garments including suspender belts and underwear; mens shirts and pj's; childrens shirts and trousers.

And to top it all off, suggestions to make do and mend. How to make your garments last longer or refashion them. I particularly like the section on disguising underarm shabbiness!

This is an absolute treasure and I look forward to trying some of the techniques and patterns for myself.
Have you ever come across such a gem?

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Developing a Painting

Life has been very busy around here over the last few weeks. I have sewn a couple of items, but have yet to blog them. The creativity does continue though! I've had very little time due to a huge amount of work to complete over the last few weeks, it feels like I've been working non stop!

I arranged last year to exhibit some work at the Newbiggin Maritime Centre during march 2015. And true to form I've been undecided about the type of work I wanted to show. In the end I went with Landscapes of the local area as it's a location that overlooks the bay and would fit in with the setting.

So how do I create a painting?

The canvases were stretched and prepped, I'd collated together photographs and sketches to work from.

I work in a loose and quick method, mostly outside as I like to pour paint and spray the paintings to create a range of different effects and both these create a huge amount of mess.

I'd sketched basic forms on the canvases and laid down the first washes of acrylic paint. I like to cover the canvas with a thin layer to begin with.

From there I begin to build up layers, slowly adding colour - often very bright colour.

I always document my work as it progresses and I often photoshop my work to quickly explore how each piece can develop without committing to the paint. Although I start with  my drawings and photographs my paintings usually abstract themselves dueing the process.

With this image I intensified the colour and added some darker tones to the background.

This is then further experimented with in paint. I love adding in texture and often use a range of different materials to build this. All this takes a couple of days as I layer paint, let it dry, adjust and add washes and details, which helps build complexity and depth.

These are not the final pieces - come along to the exhibition to see them. It's open until the end of March.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Creating a Beautiful Mess.

Last weekend we set some time aside to be creative. John decided to brew. Making his first beer since October last year. My friend Alli, my daughter and I decided to have an arty day. Alli was keen to try some printmaking.

I cleared some space, put a plastic cloth over the table and set aside all other tasks for the day. We started with some simple transfer prints by drawing on a sheet of paper laid over a thin layer of ink, which had been rolled out onto a piece of acrylic sheet, and by impressing objects into the ink and then printing them. The technique is simple and if you are interested I can share a tutorial.

This feather print turned out exceptionally well.

We then started to paint with the ink, rubbing areas away, brushing inks on, adding textures and colours. I worked mainly with landscape images and Alli worked in a more abstract manner. We pegged the prints on the clothes airer, but soon hand more prints and they were laid out all over any spare space.

We used an oil based ink, which generally dries quite quickly, but some areas of ink were very thick and one or two prints are still drying. - Messy but fun and I think i'll work into some of the prints over the coming weeks.

I'm looking forward to trying John's Vanilla Porter, unlike my art work the results are not quite so immediate and it will be several weeks before it's ready to drink.

I'm also working on a series of portraits of family members, these are just the first studies and I may develop and work into them with inks and paint, but I haven't quite decided yet how I want to capture the personalities of each person.

I had left it way too long before having a totally creative day and need to do this more often. What do you find is the best way to stay creative? What stops you creating?

Friday, 9 January 2015

Re-Sew-loutions 2015 - just a little late.

Full of good intentions to post every week in 2015 and already I'm behind - Great start eh?

2014 was a strange year and although I made a lot I didn't post much of it. I just found the time ran away from me. I started a new job in September and it's going great, but i'm super busy andtrying to create my own art and sewing, while finding example and creating examples for my students is tough.

I have an exhibition in March and need to get worked prepped for that. I also want to keep sewing. I made a dress over the Christmas Hols, but more on that another time.

So my resewloutions for this year.
Its dead simple - one thing at a time.
I filled the jar with all the projects I want to complete, when I have finished one. I take out and complete the next one. Hopefully this will help keep me focused!

Now then - back to my drawings...

Soundtrack: Idlewild - The Remote Part

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Burdastyle #114 10/2011

Wow I drafted this post weeks ago and have only just got around to posting it! I was hanging on to get some better photos, but lack of natural daylight and shortness of time has led me to post the original snap I took on my phone. The top doesn't quite look as it does in the photo as I made a couple of changes.

I bought a beautiful lightweight printed cotton from the market a few weeks ago. I spent a while going through my collection of burdastyle magazines looking for the perfect pattern to use it on.

I finally settled on #114 from October 2011. Which was the first issue I ever bought. The style is a classic blouse with pleat front and Peter Pan collar. It has a bound neck opening and long sleeves.mits also a sewing course with this issue.

I did make a few minor adjustments to the pattern.

Firstly I widened the sleeves at the hem, to create a slim bishop sleeve and finished this with a bias bound hem. No placket. This makes the sleeves much quicker to sew.

I then sewed up the pattern as per the rather scant instructions, the construction of the pleated section is rather strange and there could be a simpler and easier way to do this. I found the bound slit at the back to be rather bulky. To be fair I don't like bound slits and find a faced slit is easier to create and creates a better finish, this was my second alteration.

I also ended up redrafting the collar as the draft did not lie correctly. To begin with I made the curved edge more rounded. Then I started with the collar. If you have ever drafted a flat collar, you will know that you need to take out a wedge from the outside edge to prevent the collar sticking up at the shoulder seams. Taking out this wedge helps the collar fit around the neckline more naturally. 

I initially used the pattern as it was, but once it was basted in place I could see the problem. I cut a slit from the outside edge to almost the neckline and overlapped by 1.5 cm, which was the amount I pinned out on the first collar. I then smoothed the lines and recut the collar. Success. I finished the neckline edge with a bias facing and used a hook and eye closure to finished the neck slit.

I was also not happy with the pleats. they are secured in the pattern and my photo with a couple of sets of horizontal stitching. This resulted in some gaping. I ended up stitching the pleats in place and the result is much better. I'll try to get chance to post updated photos nect time I wear this top.

I'm really pleased with the final outcome even if it did take way longer than planned. I just wish the collar draft had been more accurate. 

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Room Revamp

So I have't been sewing much lately. I set myself a slightly more challenging task - to revamp the front room.

My Hubby has been away and I need to keep myself busy so I planned to redecorate.  The room has been looking rather sad for a while and the dado rail was coming away from the wall and some of the shelves were falling down too. The paper had been painted over several times and was also getting rather battered. Time for a new look.

Wallpaper Stripping

I prepped the room over the first two weekends he was away. One weekend I stripped the wallpaper and then filled the walls during the week. The following weekend I sanded the walls ready for papering. I had also been keeping an eye on Freecycle and managed to aquire a new to me sofa, which was perfect for our needs and would replace our rather battered leather sofa. A friend helped collect it and I waited for a week to get rid of the old one. The space was difficult to work around!

On Saturday, my Mother in Law and I went to South Shields market and bought the fabric for the curtains and some fabric for sofa throws; went to B&Q and bought lining paper and paint and we were ready to go.
Walls ready to paint

Sunday morning we emptied the room and set to work painting the ceiling and papering. Most of the paper went on well, but there were a couple of sections that i wasn't happy with the finish and I ended up taking them off and pasting some more on. just putting lining paper on made such a difference, lighter and brighter.

Alcoves and walls painted

Monday we painted. The alcoves were painted "Proud Peacock" and the rest of the walls buttermilk. both by Dulux paints. I used the spirit level to ensure all my top edges were straight. I have a fairly steady hand and only needed to touch up the white paint on the coving in two places.

Impressive art

Tuesday was spent making glossing the woodwork and making the curatins and throws and getting everything ready to dress the room before John arrived home on Wednesday morning. Unfortunately the curtain tape I had was faulty and it failed to gather and the threads snapped, which meant a trip to Dunelm Mills to buy more on my way back from picking John up from the airport on Wednesday. I also needed he assistance in hanging the large painting.

Freecycle Sofa and my painting.

He has said he wanted the walls painted orange, but I decided to include one of the large paintings I made for my MA. It's very orange and contrasts nicely with the feature walls. All in all a job well done, and a nice room to relax in.

Hearth and alcoves

The finished room.


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