Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Great Jumpers of our Time # 8 - A Favourite Old Jumper

A favourite jumper here that I bought quite some years ago on holiday in St Ives which quite frankly had seen better days. It had just got too bobbly and a bit small or maybe it was just me that had got bigger.  Anyway another Phd/WiP is felting old jumpers, either my own or from charity shops (or should I say vintage shops) with a view to sewing them up into  - yes you may have guessed by now if you read my previous blog - a throw!  You might think too that I am surely running out of old sofas for all these throws but you can never have too  many throws. So chucked it into the washing machine with the weekly wash (jeans are good for this - the more friction the merrier) plus a blast in the tumble drier and it felted up a treat. 

It was a lovely lady called Hilda Haarhoff who first got me interested in felting old jumpers. She came to do a talk at the Solihull Embroiderers' Guild a couple of years ago and she has a fantastic  little wool shop at Earslwood Lakes Craft Centre where she stocks some really great yarns not usually seen on the high street, not that there are that many wool shops on high streets these days. There is a dearth of independent wool shops in Birmingham and don't get me started on the demise of the so called haberdashery department in my local John Lewis in Solihull where the bathroom cabinets and fancy rolls of wallpaper seem to be ever encroaching into the wool and fabric department. Hoping for greater things when the new John Lewis spaceship lands in Brum in September and considering the Great British Sewing Bee is back on our screens again making sewing and dressmaking popular there aren't many independent fabric shops around either. Anyway back to Hilda again who champions the great art of knitting and crochet by running workshops from her shop. Power to the pins!!

So onto the next stage then which is to open the jumper out by cutting the side and underarm seams then cut into squares.  I used a 6 and 1/2" square template and a rotary cutter.

Which ended up like this little bundle ready to be sewn up with contrasting squares to create a colourful throw something like the one below which is one of Hilda's that I photographed in her shop.

Felting the wool creates a firm fabric which does not fray at the edges so can be machine stitched together using a zig zag stitch.  Hilda uses a combination of her own felted and hand-dyed machine knitted squares and felted vintage woolly jumpers found in charity shops. 

And the story so far on my bean bag project is inner lining sewn, stuffed with poly beads but needs more so waiting for more poly beads to arrive.  5 cu feet needed in total for adult size bag. 

Outer sewn ready and waiting for lining stuffed with beads. Watch this space

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

WIPs, UFOs, PhDs

So it seems a bit late to be posting about New Year resolutions but at the start of this year after having a busy and frankly quite frantic 2014 taking part in an exhibition, a talk for Worcester Embroiderers' Guild, an art trail, two day artist residency in Ikon shop, and completing two commissioned quilts I promised myself that I would invest much more time to completing my own projects.  I have so many WIPs (works in progress), UFOs (unfinished objects) and PhDs (projects half-done) cluttering up my work space that I have decided this is the year to try to get them all finished and to clear up some valuable space. So in no particular order here are some of the ones I have earmarked for completion (and believe me this is just the tip of the iceberg - there are lots more lurking on shelves and hidden in boxes waiting to pounce and shout out "Why am I not finished and making your sofa or walls look nice?") 

So first up and one I have been wanting to make since buying the fabric in 2012 from Hole in the Wall in Walsall is to make my own bean bag. Lining is almost sewn together so I just need to fill it with the polybeads and then sew the outer. I am reliably informed by a friend that stuffing the bean bag with the poly beads can be a bit of a nightmare and recommends doing this part in someone else's house. Her mother-in-law is still picking up the beads years later.  I might try this outside but look out for snow storms in the Shirley area.

This bargain stash of fabric remnants is destined for a throw for my worn out sofa.  Cabbage Patch Fabrics is a country barn stuffed full of the most wonderful soft furnishings and quilting fabrics deep in the Scottish Borders countryside just south of Biggar, Lanarkshire on the A702 to Edinburgh.  A sign saying 'Fabric Sale' just happened to jump out in front of the car so I had to stop and take a look didn't I?  It would have been rude not to. 

I got the idea from seeing a lovely throw there which had been sewn together by a young boy student who works there just on Saturdays. I just love the combination of colours and fabrics above that he has put together.  I was really inspired then to make my own. One thing I do find though about throws is they are lovely thrown over a sofa until someone sits down.  I do tend to spend a lot of time straightening my throws and have been tempted sometimes to throw out the throws. 

Last year at the Festival of Quilts I could not resist buying some Liberty fabrics.  One of the stands was selling reasonably sized off cuts of Liberty Lawns for £1.00 each so I splashed out on a tenner's worth here.  It was like a rummage sale with several other ladies frantically trying to bag the best prints with only about ten minutes to go before the show closed. Panic buying of the finest order.  Amazingly, it transpired afterwards, was that one of the other lady rummagers who I had been fighting with for the best bargains was none other than famous fabric designer Amy Butler and who had spoken to me about hoping they took credit cards as she had quite a stash to buy. I have yet to decide exactly what to do with these beauties but I think they would make excellent patchwork cushions.  

My stash or (SABLE) Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy expands every year as I can never resist buying up the odd Fat Quarter or six.  I think there are several quilts in this little lot. You can never have too many fat quarters! 

This is my denim stash.  I have not thrown any jeans away for years. My long term plan was to completely recover my old sofa (instead of those annoying throws) with covers made out of jeans something like this one here:

A little too ambitious perhaps but I made this cushion a while ago and have a mind to cover an old  chair. 

More do-able than a sofa I think.

This is a quilted sampler made from scraps of fabric from a workshop I did a few years ago.  Think I am going to make it into a cushion with some other scraps to make the back.


And some old shirts I have been collecting for ages with a view to making curtains or a throw.
Plenty to keep me occupied till Easter then.

Happy stitching!