Monday, 29 June 2015

More drawing and sewing this week

Laura and I produce a new video for DMTV every week. That's a pretty effective incentive to make best use of any creative time we can find. Sometimes we simply make a video about whatever project we happen to be involved with at the time but more often than not we devise a new idea just for our viewers. That may sound as though it would be a complete diversion from our own work but in practice it is a powerful stimulus and often leads us in unexpected directions we might not otherwise take.


If you'd have told me last week that I'd be drawing gooseberries in every spare minute I'd have been dubious but they're as good a subject as any I suppose. The gooseberries in our garden are not quite ready for picking yet but they'll soon be perfect for crumble and the inevitable custard. He who gardens loves his nursery puddings and it's a bonus if I can draw the ingredients (and make a video) before I cook them! I may even ask Laura and Jamie to print me some fabric from my drawings - they'd make very summery cushion panels for the conservatory.

As you know, I always love to see pieces inspired by our videos. I'd like to thank Liz for allowing me to share the photo of her recent work. These lovely panels were inspired by the recent DMTV video on transfer printing. Looks like she got a bit carried away with the technique but Liz intends to sell them in aid of the Linus project and I'm sure they'll be popular! Good luck with the sales Liz!


We've had lovely warm weather for a few days, and the garden has been demanding, but I had a couple of hours to myself this morning and rather than more planting or weeding (or obsessively drawing yet more goosegogs) I ran this top up for Laura.


She'd cut up a favourite old top to use as a pattern. Once again, the overlocker made short work of the sewing and it turned out quite well considering we had no proper pattern and just a couple of £1 remnants from the Rag Market! My favourite dress shop has its summer sale right now but even at sale prices they can't compete with that!

We're promised the hottest day of the year so far tomorrow. No doubt it will all end in tears and thunderstorms before the week is out. It's the English way after all.

Talk to you again soon - bye for now,
Linda

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Busy and productive day

Last time I posted I said that I'd be making that Marci Tilton top again - well I rummaged through my fabric stash and here's what I made this morning.


I made it a few inches longer than the pattern so it's more of a tunic shape and I used a plain navy jersey for one sleeve just for a bit of fun. I may add a navy pocket, and a striped cuff on the plain sleeve might also be good idea. I don't want anyone to think I simply ran out of the striped fabric!


On Sundays I usually make enough bread to keep us going for the week ahead. People seem to think you have to be patient with bread making because it takes so long. Well it's true it takes around 3 hours from start to finish but you don't have to watch it! I set the dough to prove and take my timer with me to the workroom. By the time it's ready to be turned out and shaped I've cut the fabric out and made a start overlocking the hems. I finish the sewing while the loaves have their second rise and try my new top on as the bread bakes and the kettle boils for a well earned cup of Lady Grey.


Sundays are also a day for gardening, especially at this time of year when there's so much to be done. It's very satisfying though when you enjoy the rewards of the hard work. I can barely move after weeding and planting most of today but as well as the sense of a job well done there are beautiful flowers to look at and fresh salad to put on our plates!


By mid afternoon, although the spirit is willing (and there are still plenty of weeds!) the body is weak and there comes a point when any more bending is out of the question. A gentler activity is required.


I was glad to sit in the warm sun and try out some new pens I've treated myself to. I usually draw in a very tonal way so it's a challenge for me to work in a more linear style. I'm working from a botanical illustration that has gorgeous depth of colour so I couldn't resist adding a wash over watercolour pencil. This is just a start, I'll be adding more drawing and colour if I get a few minutes tomorrow. It's helpful to see the photo - shows me just how much darker those shadows on the gooseberries need to be.


I also did this quick pen drawing with watercolour pencil and wash. I apologise if you're offended by it looking like a bottom - it's meant to be an innocent little nectarine!

Talk to you again soon
Linda x

Friday, 19 June 2015

Not to be outdone

If you follow Laura's blog you'll know she's in dressmaking mode. It must be something in the air 'cause my younger daughter is being really creative in that way too. Not to be outdone I've spent a couple of hours each day over the past 3 days to make a new outfit.


Here's a view of the dress front.


And the back.


I always love Marci Tilton's designs for Vogue.


And I'll be making the the long sleeved T shirt that's included in this pattern over and over again. Took me all of an hour to cut it out and sew it together tonight! Brilliant!


This is the little baby that makes it all so possible. My Husqvarna overlocker. If you're serious about dressmaking then you just have to have an overlocker. I bought one for my younger daughter's birthday last year and she says it's the best present she's ever had!

I'm feeling very satisfied about my dressmaking tonight - hope you are finding time to be creative too!

Love Linda x


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Dotting the 'i's and more from 'The Book'

If there's one thing I can't stand it's unfinished business. During the making of our DMTV workshop videos we often need to have two or more versions of a work in progress and the danger is the extras  just get cast aside once the video is complete. There comes a point when the heaps of bits and pieces offends my eye, to say nothing of them covering every surface and making the workroom totally unusable. It has reached that point where action must be taken!


Here's the first candidate - a compressed sponge print using metallic acrylic paint on hand dyed linen, perfect for a frantic bit of quilting on the PowerQuilter.


And trying not to sound too smug - here it is a couple of hours later sitting with the original pomegranate print cushion in the conservatory. Nothing cheers a place up quicker than a new cushion or two.


With the bit between my teeth, unfinished item number two is already under the needle.


The moths were discharged by printing the paste onto the fabric with a few different sizes of  compressed sponge shapes. I'm stitching swirling patterns with turquoise Madeira 50 and plan to add linear detail in a dark grey thread as a contrast next.


Finally, I had so many responses when I showed a page or two from my recently acquired woman's book that I have to include another page today. I hope you can zoom in close enough to read the advice about not over exerting before breakfast and the need to rest after lunch. Gosh, it's exhausting being a woman isn't it?

Thanks for reading........
Linda x

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Life's a beach

Well it was a couple of weeks ago when we spent a few days at the seaside. Laura took some amazing photos of the beach and I couldn't resist using them as inspiration for a DMTV video workshop.


I've used a raw edge appliqué technique using scrappy strips of all kinds and weights of fabric including silk, velvet, cotton and scrim. I loved quilting it on the PowerQuilter and this version only took me a couple of hours.


Having enjoyed the process I made the journal sized version on camera. DMTV members can see the appliqué part of the workshop from today and the stitch techniques I used to complete it next week.


The quilting in this mini quilt was done on the Pfaff GrandQuilter. It's a great machine for free motion and deals with all the different thicknesses of fabric without a murmur of complaint. This was supposed to be a bit of a stash buster but I have enough scraps left to make lots more quilts (and they're so much fun) so watch this space!


Thursdays are always busy for us but with the latest video up and running and the newsletter scheduled to go out later today, we popped over to Bilston Craft Gallery to see the Through Our Hands exhibition. Although it's been open for a while now it was my first opportunity to visit as I missed the official opening. It was also good for Laura to see the exhibition without the clamour and excitement of the opening. We loved it all and I honestly couldn't pick a favourite exhibit -  every single piece looked incredible. I don't want to offend any of the artists involved so if I don't include your work it's simply because we want as many people as possible to go and see the exhibit for themselves. Here are just a few images to tempt!


Bobby Britnell


Sandra Meech


Els Van Baarle


Clare Smith


And of course, Annabel Rainbow


My word that girl can paint!


And stitch!!

Just a taster of what is on offer until July 25th. Hope you can make the trip!

Love Linda

Monday, 1 June 2015

Couldn't resist!

I've mentioned our forays around the local flea market stalls before. It's pretty much a weekly occurrence and one where we never go with a shopping list - we simply buy the unusual and the irresistible. Never know what we'll come home with!


This week there was no way I could resist this book!


Published in 1911 it has practical advice on every page - not sure I'll ever need to know how to fold a pair of combinations but never say never!


I always knew there were good reasons for not spending too much time with housework but it's reassuring to see the thought reinforced in black and white.


And also good to know I can probably cope with household duties without a servant.

I rarely read books these days unless they relate to my work but I have to confess, this one has me enthralled and although it's a huge volume I shall devour it all! Be warned - no doubt I'll be quoting from it on a regular basis.

Back now to Chapter 2 which is all about the house, its contents, how to decorate the library and choose the essential piano.

Only just over a hundred years ago but a million miles away!
Bye for now, Linda

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Holiday, what holiday?

It's a long weekend here in the UK and I guess lots of people are enjoying the opportunity to be out and about. We never go anywhere on a public holiday because we prefer to avoid the crowds. Instead of taking a break we probably work even harder than usual. The garden is calling quite seriously at the moment and I'm writing this post with a twinge in my back after too much bending and kneeling today. Never mind, it'll mend and it is so satisfying to see some new veggies in the ground.


Here we've got spinach, beetroot and chard. I know they don't look like much at the moment but the plants will soon fill out. Pity we have to resort to the protective wire but rabbits are a constant problem. Much as I love to encourage wildlife in the garden I'd rather eat the produce than let them have it all.


Our broad beans are looking promising but we've no idea where that rogue purple one came from. Wonder if the beans will be purple too?


He who gardens always grows hundreds of marigolds. I think they're a bit vulgar but they do provide a colour hit when we plant them in the blue glazed pots. Just have to wait a bit longer for the risk of frost to pass.


As soon as we've got all the vegetables planted we'll deal with this lovely geranium. After all the exertions of the morning I've been wandering round the garden this afternoon looking for a space for this new purchase.


Ironically, a lot of the colour we have at the moment comes from things we haven't planted at all. Even when they've spread like this we're too soft hearted to pull the Forget-me-nots out until they've finished flowering and the Honesty will stay put till the seedheads form even though that purply pink clash with the red Acer really offends my eye!


This beautiful clematis is doing well this year. Pity it's in the hedge where no one sees it unless they go round the back of my workroom to turn the hoses on.


These favourite giant alliums are just on the point of opening. They'll soon look gorgeous in front of the dark Ligularia and will happily be just colourless seed heads by the time the orange and rust day lilies appear!


To relax after gardening I've been doing a bit of sketching. The shells and crabs we found on the beach at Aberdovey recently were perfect subjects to try out my new watercolour  pencils.


Who knew crabs were such complicated creatures? I made the drawings using a waterproof artist's pen then coloured them in with the pencils before adding a wash of water to blend the colours.


The Faber Castell pencils are described as ideal for older children but I don't know why they should have all the fun - they worked well for me too!

Tomorrow means planting brassicas - if the back and knees cooperate. Wish me luck!

Thanks for dropping by - hope you're having a lovely weekend.
Linda x