Wednesday, 16 January 2019

2019 Art Challenge

So here it is, something a little different...

A bit of background:
1. I am an art teacher. I love drawing and painting, but getting all my art kit out to make work can take up to an hour to set up and I don't have space for all my printmaking and painting stuff to stay out all the time. My sewing stuff sits on a small desk and is easily accessible. Hence I do way more sewing that art as my equipment is to hand and I can grab 5 minutes at a time if I want.

2. January is Manic! Once the schools have gone back we get into 3 rehearsals a week for Panto and the show week is next week You can book tickets here. Coupled with parent's evenings and CPD sessions I have very little time to prep and sew anything major (all I've done is mend my son's jeans).

3. My hubby bought me a new sketchbook for Christmas. Its an A4 spiral bound book made by Pink Pig sketchbooks.

So I decided that my challenge would be to try to draw every day, knowing that over these next few hectic weeks that I won't manage every day. I'm trying to follow a few Instagram prompts to keep me inspired. The idea is to draw something every day in any style, media, size and keep it in my book. I'm using the term 'drawing' as loosely as possible as I'm aiming to try a load of techniques I haven't done before or are not part of my normal art repertoire.

So 2 weeks into January and here are some of the things I've been up to.
You can follow more of my progress with this over on Instagram

Monday, 31 December 2018

Makers Review 2018 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

 Lots of good, not much bad and ugly.

So what did I make in 2018?
I made 33 different items

The Eastern Jewels Blanket - just finished

Art, Felt and other crafts
Several needle felted brooches
Lots of printmaking
A self-portrait and 70+ pieces for my exhibition

Sewing -
1 1/2 quilts - haven't finished the 2nd one.
11 Dresses
11 Tops
3 jackets/ waistcoats
1 skirt
3 jeans/ trousers
2 pairs of undies

That's quite a lot of stuff, of these things about 10 were made for others.

First up, the bad and ugly. These were the fails of my year.

I made a Gingham cami top from a Burda style magazine pattern. Nothing really wrong with it. I just didn't feel comfy in it. It's not really me - Never worn.

Secondly was the ruffle dress I made. I really liked the pattern and the fit was fine. I think I chose the wrong fabric for this make. I used a polyester slinky jersey for the dress and it looked fine, but I decided that the colour was not quite me and I really don't do well in polyester. I'd love to make this again, but in a darker fabric and not a synthetic, something I can team with boots and tights. - gifted to a friend

The third was a brown cropped Jacket that I embroidered. I didn't make this. It had been sat in my wardrobe for a couple of years and I just hadn't worn it. I thought if I embroidered it I'd actually wear it, but it just didn't seem to look right with any of my other clothes so despite loving this I gifted it.

What about the Good?

These were the successful makes of the year. Some I've worn a lot, others not so much, but I do love them.

Most worn: Pigs Might Fly dress. My hubby bought me the fabric for Christmas last year and I made the dress in January. I've worn it all year.

Surprisingly successful make, Ikea Fabric Culottes.  A friend gave me a boatload of fabric including a panel of Ikea fabric. so I made the culottes and wore them all summer. Going to make more.

Love but not worn much: The Sew Over It Eve dress in Royal Blue and my Franken pattern shift dress. I love both of these and need to wear them more.

Successful Refashions: First up was my wedding dress, which I refashioned for our 25th Anniversary. I've worn it a couple of times since and I think it will get some wear over the summer.

Secondly: Refashioned Cambie. I made the Cambie a couple of years ago from some Ikea fabric and found the bodice just didn't suit me, so I made a new front bodice with some spare fabric and used the existing back of the dress. I wear this a lot for work.

Best pattern: The Assembly Line Hoodie Dress - I've made two and I wear them a lot - so comfy, I'm planning a summer version without the hood.

Finally, I made Ginger jeans. the fit is pretty good for a first pair, but the fabric is not the best quality. However, they get plenty of wear. I'm wearing them right now.

So what have I learnt about sewing? I want to make more for others. I'll be making a prom dress, wedding dress and another shirt for my hubby this year, and more besides. I also realised I hate ditsy florals - fine for lining, but really not into it. Big bold abstract flowers are fine, but chintzy style stuff is not me. I do love spots, I love big prints and unusual designs. I love plain fabrics. I love the feel of natural fibres on my skin and I wear cardigans with everything so I really should learn to knit.

Saturday, 29 December 2018

Solo Exhibition - A review and an opportunity

I've finally got a chance to blog about my art exhibition. It took place in October/ November and ended up being extended for a week in the end.

The work I exhibited is part of my ongoing project "Scar Tissue'. I began thinking about this work about 3 years ago and seriously started making work on this theme in the autumn of 2017. I have found that my initial pieces seem to form around monoprints which I work into, adding paint, stitch, fabric and other items. I was really interested in the story of healing and how we view the scars we have, do we see them as positive things or are they a reminder of something unbearably painful. I set up a survey and asked people to contribute their stories of scars and healing. You can read more about how it started here.

Contributions came in from friends and those I've never met. some of the stories were inspiring and hopeful, others were incredibly sad. some were written from wholeness and yet others were still very raw and early in their healing journey. Contributors gave me permission to use their responses alongside and incorporated into my artwork. this finally came together in October when I exhibited over 60 pieces in this project.

The exhibition at Newbiggin Maritime Centre was a snapshot of this work at a moment in time. Just like healing, this project isn't done yet and I feel it has more to say. I think it might go in another direction, but I'm giving it some space before I explore its development. I have to do this as part of my art practice. I really need times of reflection in order for my ideas to have time to coalesce, form and develop.

I really would love to hear from arts practitioners, organisations, galleries and individuals if you would like to collaborate as this develops further, or if you would like to exhibit some of this work as it is at the moment.

I'm not gonna lie...

... It's been a heck of a year, so much has happened and it's flown by. It doesn't seem like 5 minutes since Christmas last year. I think it's really important to take stock of life and to review the good things that have happened over the year, otherwise, we're in danger of not seeing the blessings that we have in our life.

I am truly blessed to have a wonderful family surrounding me. My husband, John, is my rock. he will call me out when I'm being a complete fathead but will support me and make sure I take care of myself, I feel truly blessed to share life with him. Our three children bring joy (and sometimes frustration). Our Eldest started University this year and I'm proud to see him grow into a caring and independent young man, even if I don't really want to hear of the student night out exploits!. Our Younger son seems to get taller with every passing day and is a funny and caring young man. He has a cutting wit and it's safe to say I'm often on the receiving end of it. My daughter grows in confidence and is beginning to be an assured young woman. This year has seen lots of performances and drama opportunities and she is beginning to think about what she'd like to study after GCSEs.

Once my husband completed the 2nd year of his Baptist Ministry training he entered the 'settlement process' (the process of finding a church to serve with), it's safe to say it's very unsettling and quite exciting too. We don't know quite where we will be at the end of this academic year, but we are trusting that God has us safe in his hands and that wherever we end up we know that we'll be serving him. This year is certain to bring some changes and maybe even a house move, we will have to wait and see.

I'm always busy with work and enjoy my Art making and sewing when I'm not at work. I had a solo exhibition this year and spent a lot of time working towards this. I tend to work in cycles and go between thinking about making art to making it to refining it, to developing the ideas to making more art and so on and so on. More about the art project in a separate post. I've sewn a lot for myself and quite a few things for others this year too and I have a sewing review post which says more about that.

January started off well, My daughter and I took part in Panto and thoroughly enjoyed it. We're doing it again this year and I really should be learning my lines! I was scheduled for an op to sort out the FAI on my right hip in April, but got a call mid January to say they had a cancellation so I ended having my op on 31st January, which meant some time off from work, longer than anticipated, but my recovery was steady and I've had good results, life is a lot more comfortable.

While I was off work I did a lot of drawing and hand stitching, things I could do on my knee. I also planned all the finer details of our school trip to London, which took place in early July. It was a fantastic trip, lots of arts, theatre, circus, drama, but London was very hot and our accommodation did not have air conditioning!

Our summer was quite full, we spent a few days in Devon visiting friends that we hadn't seen in years and had an amazing time with them. Both John & I helped out at a youth camp run by the Church of England up in Seahouses called Staying Alive. We both ran workshops, haled in a scratch performance and John was part of the band too. Our eldest got his A-level results and secured a place at his first choice of university. Towards the end of August John and I had a couple of days away in Dumfries and Galloway. beautiful scenery!

Once September came around the world seemed to go mad. John was back into college with a bang, We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a wonderful meal at the House of Tides in Newcastle and saw Ieuan safely deposited at his halls of residence in Leeds. I was so excited for him.

As usual, I took on too much and by the end of October, I was starting to feel the pressure. It just seemed like I didn't have any time to myself and I ended up feeling stressed and frazzled. Lots of things all coming together at once. I don't really handle this type of thing well any more and was really starting to feel very down and on the edge. If I've learnt anything over the year it's to be a lot kinder to myself and allow time to chill and have a bit of self-care. I hoped I'd be able to make it to the end of the school term without crashing, but the last couple of weeks took it out of me so much that I started to feel run down and by the Wednesday of the last week the cold that I'd been fighting off finally beat me and I ended up spending the Thursday and Friday in bed with a horrific sore throat and the headache from hell that I just couldn't shift. Thankfully by Sunday I was starting to feel a bit better and was able to enjoy Christmas, although I still have a hacking cough a week later.

So I look forward to the new year, I already know that January is hectic, but after that, I'm not booking anything in for a while, just the sort of things that feed my soul. I'm prepared for next year to be a challenge as John finishes his training and the youngest two kids have important exams on May/ June. And at the moment I'm ok with the uncertainty of where we'll be this time next year, whether it be in the same place, church, job and same house of whether it will be the other end of the country. it will be an adventure and I can't wait to live it.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Slinky Party Dress

My next post for Minerva Crafts Blog is up today and it's a dress I made in the summer. Modelled here by my beautiful daughter. I can't wait to wear this in the Christmas party season.

It wasn't all plain sailing with this make and you can read the full post here.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Burda Button-up

I've had it in mind to make a button up shirt for some time. I'd been considering the Kalle, but realised that in my extensive stash of Burdastyle magazines there were a lot of shirt patterns.

I particularly like sleeveless tops as I can layer them really well and they work for all seasons. so once I spotted this beautiful indigo batik cotton at The Natural Fabric Store in when I was on holiday in August I knew it was the perfect fabric for a sleeveless button-up shirt. The fabric is a narrow lightweight cotton. I bought 2m. Plenty to make a sleeveless blouse and there's enough left over to squeeze out a Sorbetto too.

I chose #103 from the June 2013 issue. Although this pattern is sleeveless, it has the same pattern pieces as a shirtdress from the same issue so you could add sleeve if you wish.

The pattern only calls for one yoke piece, but I cut two so I could enclose the internal seams. I didn't really follow the instructions and instead followed the Grainline Archer method of sewing the collar.
This provides a neat clean finish to the neckline. The armholes are finished with bias binding made from my fabric.

I made a size 38, which is my go-to size for Burdastyle and didn't make a muslin. the only change I think I'd make if I were to make this again is to raise the bottom of the armhole by about 1cm. If you were adding sleeves it is perfect as it is, but I think just a tad higher for a sleeveless garment would improve this pattern. I've already worn this with my new Ginger Jeans and will wear it a ton in the summer months.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Gingers - finally

Last Christmas my Hubby bought me the Closet Case Ginger Jeans pattern. Ever since then I have been on the lookout for some stretch denim of a decent weight. I finally got my hands on 2m while at #sewupnorth at the end of September. This is an inexpensive denim and it does show. I don't think these will last too long but for the first experiment, I didn't want to spend a lot of cash, just to have a failed project. But these are a success and they will get worn  -  a lot!

It's the first time I've attempted fitted/ skinny jeans and the stretch fabric does really make a difference. this denim has about 20% stretch and I was unsure at first how the stretch would affect fit. I thought these might bag out really quickly or be super tight like jeggings. however I've worn these for a couple of days and they have softened quite a bit and relaxed, but are still comfy. The creases are from a day's wear.

I decided that I didn't want a skinny leg and fancied some flared jeans, so I added width from the knee to the hem, making the inseam about 33 inches in length. I have not sewn with a Closet Case pattern before and went solely by my size. I cut a size 8 at the waist grading to a 12 at the hip and leg. I assembled the front of the jeans and then basted the remaining pieces to assess fit. I did make quite a few changes before sewing up the jeans and topstitching.

Changes made:
1.5 cm from the side seams between the pocket opening and the fullest part of my hip. about 20cm in length grading to nothing at either end.
1.5 cm from the width of the thigh at the inseams. I also shortened the inseam by about .8cm front and back.
I took out at a total of 6cm from the CB at the top of the yoke. I didn't grade this quite evenly enough and ended up with a bit of a bump. I'll smooth it for next time.

This meant that my waistband was too long. I should have stretched it to fit a little more as it is still a tad too loose.

I used the sew-a-long on the Closet Case website which is a fantastic guide to sewing jeans and goes over some of the fitting issues and how to solve them.

I'm generally pleased with the fit of these and can see me using them as a starting point for my own designs. I chose the high waisted version, but it's not too high waisted at all, but then I do have a long torso. these are super comfy, even without a belt. There was no way my machine was going to handle 8 layers of denim in order to stitch the belt loops on - so I left them off. I can safely say that, despite a slightly loose waistband, these are the best fitting jeans I have.

I do think there is a bit of twisting on the leg, which I was quite surprised about as I cut out the fabric in a single layer and used a ruler to check that all my pieces were on grain. However, this isn't too noticeable and will not stop me wearing them.

Today I have them paired with my newest blouse, converse and a hand knitted cardigan (made for me by my sister in law - I can't knit).


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