Fabric Portraits

DSC01658

Its wet and cold outside, so there is nothing more delightful than having a little time sewing and being able to kick back and play a little. I am teaching a couple of workshops and one of those explores free motion embroidery but I thought I would also try a hand at appliqué portraits as an option.

It is a great way to use up scraps as you only need small amounts of fabric. It can be quite interesting to play around with the fabric direction to enhance the shape. I really liked the way this brown flower piece seemed to create an interesting top detail.

Free motion embroidery is addictive! its just a case of dropping the feed dogs, (the metal teeth that move the fabric past the needle), most machines have a little button, most likely your manual will tell you where to find yours. Use a embroidery needle, its not just sharp but also has a strong shank.

Self portrait

I used this picture as a template – I wear a lot of hats and so it is a recognisable feature.

You need to print your picture out roughly the size you want to stitch.

While this photo looks a good choice, the tilt of my head creates an angle for my eyes, and my mouth is slightly tilted you can see what problems crop up in the stitched portrait.

As it is just playing I decided to go with it.

Stitched portait

You can get something called dressmakers’ carbon paper, its used to transfer embroidery designs or simply use ordinary carbon.

Iron your fabric so that it is free of creases it should be larger than the picture.

Lay the carbon paper on top – make sure the transfer side is face down onto the fabric – finally place the picture on top.

Carefully trace the features, eyes, mouth, hair and nose. It helps if you use a ball point pen that shows up in the photograph so you can see what you have traced. Its important to check you have all the pieces because once you lift the picture off, you cannot re-do it.

begin stitching

I find it easier to back the fabric with some iron on interfacing, and a hoop. It prevents the fabric from shifting and wrinkling as you stitch.

Drawing with your sewing machine is easy but different to using a pencil. The needle stays in place and you move the fabric to create the lines rather than the paper staying still and the pencil moving!

Use a darning foot – you can see easier and the loop of the foot prevents the fabric from being pushed through the holes in the footplate.

You may find it easier to work backwards and forwards, moving the fabric quickly results in large stitches, or slowly creates tiny stitches.

applique shapesOnce you have created the features, you can trim it and then assemble the appliqué shapes.

Use the photograph to create the appliqué templates, such as the hat, and the dress.

Use the lines not just to highlight the features, but also to give shading to the hat.

rose applique

Finally I added a rose appliqué, another feature I often have is a flower brooch in my hair – this was a tiny flower on a scrap of fabric, but it really brightens up the whole picture.

I think it is best to simply follow a few lines, rather than go into too much detail. I could have put in the cheeks and little dimple that you can see in the photograph, but it can go drastically wrong! less is more.

As you can see, the tilt has meant my eyes are at a slight angle. I think I can get away with it, but maybe next time I shall try and get a more level photograph.

I do hope you will try this, its so much fun – frame them in an embroidery hoop and hang on the wall.

ttfn x

Advertisements

Cupcake Cushion

My friend was moving  to a wonderful flat situated above a baker shop, we discussed the marvellous delights of waking up to the smell of warm bread and baking on cold mornings it seemed such a lovely place. 
It was while I was making a card for her, using crayons I came up with the idea of a cup cake house, but then I realised it would also make a lovely cushion and a great a housewarming present – since we were coming into Autumn I wanted to use warm fabrics like wool and tweed – there is something really comforting about these fabrics in Autumn when all I can think about is cuddling up on the sofa with a good book as the evenings draw in. 
I love working with tweed, it is so soft and easy but can fray, so I made sure all the appliqué was backed – it is much easier to draw the outline on the fusible interfacing first then adhere the pattern to the fabric – then cut out it seals the edges much better. 
I took a square of fabric, and added a contrasting border – adding side strips first then adding the top and bottom. It was approximately 3 inch strips of pink tweed. 
Taking the hill template, I cut the background green then added the fabric strips on top, I loved the flower cotton and the curved edges added to the overall effect. The pathway was from beautiful textured tweed, which is why this is such a delight to work with. After attaching the hill to the cushion top I simply added decorative stitched lines in green to continue the flow – it looks just like an upturned umbrella! 
The top of the cupcake was made in layers, first I mad the little window, using a reverse appliqué technique topped off with a little machine embroidery.  I added a little roof topping and used black stitching to give the child like drawing to the project. 
The cupcake base had a little curved door and I used stitching lines to indicate the folds in the cupcake adding two more windows. Then it was a case of layering it onto the backing fabric
I found a delightful tiny heart shaped button in my stash that made a lovely door handle. As you can see I was considering using a different background while I was at this stage but in the end decided on the pale blue – I was concerned that the cupcake would not stand out enough but I resolved that by using the black stitching. 
After backing the cushion with wadding, I quilted a cloud with the sun just peeping behind, using a simple zig zag stitch. I used crayons to increase the shading slightly to give a hint of colour change. 
So the top was ready, I machine stitched the edges down now that the cushion had some backing it gave a lovely quilted effect, I followed the edge of the appliqué shape as well which gave it a little more depth. I also stitched my ‘cherry’ red button to the top. 
I felt a button closure was more important and used these lovely wooden buttons from a stash I bought in a charity shop. I always find it easier to mark out the button gaps before stitching otherwise I end up with the gaps either too big or too small! It also means that I have a good spacing, which tends to go awry when I do it by eye! As it was a gift I wanted to get it right! 
So here is the finished cushion, I found it hard to part with it! Maybe I should make one for me too now! 

Laptop case

I made this pretty little lap top case for my mac, it was fun making the swirly cord closures I really do enjoy getting out the glue gun. I designed the geisha using scraps of old fabrics and I used felt tips to draw the face.  I could not resist the bobbled edge I love the combination of black and fushia pink but the lining is such a gorgeous contrast of cyan blue satin. 

Here you can see the detail of the geisha, I appliquéd it onto black felt and then attached it as one piece onto the silk brocade, it is such a delicate fabric I did not want to risk over stitching and tearing the silk. 

 The pin was made using a large round button, an old earring and some black cord.

 I glued the earring in place and then wound the cord round tightly, glueing as I went. It is something that you need a bit of patience with and asbestos fingers as you have to work quickly before the glue dries.

 It is important to finish off the back well, a piece of masking tape keeps the end of the cord secure until you can glue the ends in.

 The rings are made in a similar way, I wanted them to swirl in the same direction, but you could make them spiral opposite ways for a similar effect. I used a pearl bead from an old necklace in the centre.

Cupcake Mansion

A friend of mine was moving into a flat above a bakery, so I decided to make her a cup cake themed cushion. I love working with tweed, it is simply wonderful fabric to use and does not fray too badly for appliqué. Fabricland was once again my supplier, and the flower fabric was already in my stash as was the cherry button at the top. 
The idea came from a welcome to your new home card I had made her, and I particularly liked the little dormer window at the top of the house. 

I used a black stitched outline to give it the feel of a child’s drawing and also created a little sunshine in the clouds. I coloured it a little more using crayons. She was absolutely delighted with the cushion. I think I was too.

A case for vintage re-incarnation

I simply struggle to resist the little napkins and tablecloths that are on the shelves of charity shops for pennies. They are the refugees of an era where families all sat round the dinner table and ate with napkins and linen table cloths. I am so pleased that the crisp white linen table cloths had long gone as my children could never keep their spaghetti on a plate! How they managed to keep the linen in such white pristine condition with no washing machines shows they had skills way beyond my abilities even with my eco bubble samsung! 
I love to find new lives for these poor refugees, and this one is a little needle case. You can gauge how small it is by the size of the stitches. I cut round the appliqué leaving a seam allowance and then used a modern vintage styled fabric that was in keeping, fabricland has lots of different varieties at the moment, all thanks to Kath Kidston. I backed it with the extra stiff iron on interfacing you use to make curtain pelmets it gives the needle book a good solid shape. The button was from my stash, and like everything I remember buying it at one of those craft outlets in Dorset, a small sideline for a potter and so lovely. 

Naughty but nice – Applique

There are times when I am rushing through a project and my sewing machine is going great guns  it is all about getting the project done but hand sewing seems to be the opposite. It means that you have to take your time, enjoy the process of creation one stitch at a time. I made this project one sunny afternoon in our little caravan, the appliqué is entirely hand stitched right down to the beads and ribbon bow, but the bag itself is machine stitched.  I use it to keep all my tights handy as they seem to end up all over the place. It is unashamedly girlie but then I am a girl after all.