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Posts Tagged ‘fabric’

eco1_01

Gosh, where do I start?  This post is long overdue so I’m really having to scrabble around in my memory, bear with me if I ramble a little!

Earlier this year some of India Flint‘s beautiful work caught my eye on Pinterest (I have no idea what I’d originally been browsing for, I’d fallen down the Pinterest rabbithole).  I was intrigued so I did some more browsing and then thought “I must try that.”

Which is all well and good, but you’re quite possibly wondering “what is eco-printing?”

Eco-printing is the process of producing an image on fabric* using plant matter** , usually with the aid of a mordant***.  The plants are placed between layer of cloth and then bundled and/or rolled tightly to apply pressure.  The bundle is then processed, usually through steaming, so that the colour and form of the subject is transferred to the fabric.

*or paper

**although apparently beetles and larvae may also be used

***a mordant is a substance, usually a chemical salt but things like vinegar or soy milk may also be used

So I did, but not immediately.  I thought about it a lot and decided I wanted to discover it slowly, and experiment as I went, to see if I could a) get pretty results, and b) replicate them as required.

Ok.  Let’s do this.  I then carried on researching and making notes of techniques and tips, as well as a list of potential subjects.  Most of my research was online but I also bought India Flint’s book, Eco Colour, and it was hugely helpful.  Finally in late July I was ready to give it a go.

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Never underestimate the importance of taking notes

As I hoped I’d be able to replicate any successful results I decided to keep detailed notes, and to minimise the number of variable as far as I could.  This meant keeping things (like fabric type, mordant type, and length of time the bundles were steamed) to a constant.  I also took photograph.  Copious photographs.  Photos of the plants laid out on the fabric before bundling and steaming, photos of the wet plants on the steamed fabric after it had been unrolled, photos of the wet fabric once the plants had been peeled off, photos of the fabric when it had dried, and then yet more photos once the fabric had been rinsed and pressed.

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Probably about 1% of the photos I’ve taken

That’s a lot of photos, but I don’t trust my memory and I wanted to make sure I didn’t mix up my printed pieces when it came to labelling them.  Oh yes, labelling.  A very important part of the process!  I ended up sewing paper labels to each sheet of fabric as that seemed the most foolproof way to keep them organised.

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I’ve also ended up keeping my fabrics rolled in their batches.  No particular reason other than it works out easier that way.

That’s the first part of my adventures in eco-printing.  I have procrastinated the past few months away so the next part will be published some time in January.

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evelyn needles_01

When I visited Edinburgh in September a friend very kindly gave me her late mother’s collection of knitting needles.  I was hugely touched, and also very excited as my own knitting needle collection is pretty small.  When I got back to London I sifted through them and quickly realised that I needed to sort out some kind of storage for the double pointed needles, as those are the type I use most often.

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The regular needles will, for now, continue to be stored in the whiskey jars.

I had a look around online to get an idea of what I ought to be doing and liked the look of this tutorial.  Now, accurate measurements are something that I don’t seem to do when it comes to projects involving fabric so I just went at this a bit like a bull in a china shop.  I kept it simple and used the fabric I had left over from the bag I made in September.  Given I didn’t measure properly it came out very well, I did have to undo it and make the seams smaller though as it was about half a centimetre too short for the tallest needles, but that wasn’t too much of a drama.

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I love the clean lines of it, the utilitarian style is very me!

A couple of weeks later I decided to make another needle roll, this time for my Knitpro Nova needles which include both DPNs and circular needles.  I was feeling a bit braver so I decided to try out a more colourful combination of fabrics (I had bought the fox one that weekend, and was desperate to make something with it).

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Here are the two rolls side by side, you can see that the one for my Knitpro Nova is a lot smaller (which was another factor in using the fox and polka dot fabric – I didn’t need very much of either).

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This has been a wonderful project for helping to build my confidence with the sewing machine, and I’ve ended up with two useful (and attractive) items.  A happy ending 🙂

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I’ve finally got my computer back again, after not having access to it for a month.  I have to say I’ve not really missed it, apart from my e-mails and the fact that it’s a lot more fiddly to write blog posts without it (I can do it from my phone, but it just takes so long).

Anyway, week before last I went to The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia, and normally I would have blogged about it straight away… but here I am, late, and the show is long since finished but that doesn’t mean I can’t still show you some pretty things.

There were an awful lot of beautiful knitting goodies available, and I noticed that gift sets seemed to be quite a big thing this year.  This make-a-doll set was pretty cute…

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…but it was these luxury knitting hampers from The Little Knitting Company that really had me drooling.  Sadly well out of my price range, but a girl can dream can’t she?  I also loved these rosewood or subabul knitting needles (handmade and ethically sourced, for those who like to know these things).

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Is it time for a gratuitous teddy bear yet?  I think it must be…

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This incredibly soft and fluffy bear (and really, you have to feel him to believe just how marvellously soft and fluffy he is) is by TOFT, and made from real alpaca fur.  Don’t worry, no alpacas were harmed in the making of this bear (he’s the byproduct of a young alpaca that died of natural causes).

Anyway, I didn’t buy any yarn this year.  Nope, not a single ball or skein.  Yes, you heard that right!  What I did buy was ALL the fabric…

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…as well as some pretty buttons and ribbons…

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There was a plethora of beautiful yarn to choose from, but as I don’t have any specific knitting/crochet projects on the go at the moment (and my current stash is already a little on the large size…) I thought I would be a good girl and buy fabric instead.  These will all feature on notebooks in the future, so keep your eyes on my shop in the months to come.

The show was great fun again, and I not only got to indulge in shopping but also got to sit down and have a natter with Mr X Stitch himself.  He’s a lovely bloke and I really enjoyed chatting with him and some of the other people at his stand, plus I got to do a little cross-stitching too

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I’d forgotten how much I enjoy cross-stitching (I’ve not done any for at least a year), but my goodness did it give me a bit of a backache!  I’m proud of my little space invader though, and will probably add another one to that piece before I’m through.

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spoonflower_1

I’m the first to whinge when I receive poor customer service (although, to be fair, I have experienced some truly shocking service from certain companies in the past).  So I thought I would take this opportunity to shout loud and proud about some very good customer service I’ve just received.

Way back in April 2012 I ordered some fabric from Spoonflower.  Not much, just a couple of yards which were destined to become a quilt.  I used the leftovers to make some notebooks, and they were so popular that at the start of December I thought I’d place another order with Spoonflower.

My first order took just two weeks to arrive, which I thought was pretty darn good, so I eagerly anticipated having my new fabrics by the start of 2013.  Christmas and New Year came and went and there was no sign of them, but I assumed it was just the usual festive delay.  Alas by the end of last week there was still no sign, so on Sunday I contacted Spoonflower to ask what might happen next.

On Monday I received a reply from a very nice lady who apologised for my order having gone missing en route, and assured me that a replacement order would be despatched on Wednesday.  I was pleased with this, although a bit disappointed as I just assumed that it would still take a week or so to reach me.

Boy was I wrong.  My doorbell rang at just gone 9am on Thursday, and it was a FedEx man with my replacement order.  My jaw certainly hit the ground!  The shipping date on it was 22nd, so they had definitely rushed the replacement out in super quick time, and I’m over the moon about it.

This is good customer service: they were swift to respond when I contacted them, they were apologetic (even though it’s no fault of theirs that the first parcel had been lost in the post), and they dealt with the matter super efficiently.  Top marks to Spoonflower for having an excellent range of fabric designs with which to attract customers, and the good service to retain said customers in the long term.

So, what did I actually buy?  Well…

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I’ve had two of these fabrics before (the ones in the middle), but these two are a first for me:

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I love these and have already made a start on making some books with them… watch this space for further updates!

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It’s been a long time since I did any quilting (the last occasion being a mini quilt for my bears), but back in March I decided I wanted to make a quilt for my fella’s nephew.  He’s nuts about Dr. Who so the theme was easy to choose, and I bought some great Dr Who themed fabrics from Spoonflower.  That was a while ago… the fabrics arrived and I put them away safely and as I’m off sick at the moment I finally got round to paying them some proper attention.

Having already learned the hard way that you should always iron fabric before cutting it (see here) I spent quite a lot of Wednesday morning with an iron in one hand and a frown on my face.  It was worth it though as I got the squares cut and stitched together pretty easily after that.

As you can see, I decided to use the patterned fabrics sparingly, and used a plain cotton (in a shade called 30s Yellow, from this seller) which I thought showed off the patterns nicely.  By the end of Wednesday I had sewn all the squares together and the quilt top was finished.

This morning I hauled my poorly self up to Hobbycraft in search of wadding/batting – they’d had a rush on, I was the fourth customer before 11am to buy some!  I also picked up some red cotton to use as the backing.

After yet more ironing I laid out the back, the wadding and the top and basted them together with pins before taking the whole lot down to the studio…

…where I discovered that quilting on a small machine, in a small space, is tricky to say the least, and requires quite a lot of faffing around.  I had to roll the quilt up so that I could get it on the machine, and keep rolling/unrolling as I went along.  Plus more faffing as my desk butts right up against the wall of the studio, so I’d get so far and have to (you guessed it) roll the damn thing another way so I could keep going.

Another problem I had was that I can’t lower the tracks (dogs?) on this sewing machine, so they kept gripping the backing fabric.  As a result it’s not quite as smooth at the back as I would have liked, but probably no one except me will notice!

Several hours, and almost 200m of cotton thread later, the quilt was finished.

Pretty quick, but that’s because there’s not that much in the way of quilting.  I stitched in the ditch across the whole thing, then sat back and looked at it for a while trying to decide what to do next… and went for the very simple option of criss-crossing each of the yellow squares whilst leaving the patterned ones alone.  Partly for aesthetic reasons, and partly because this quilt is for an eight year old, and I could just imagine him asking why the dalek has got lines all across it.  As it stands I think it works really well: the red thread shows up beautifully on the yellow fabric, and there’s nothing to detract from the Dr Who-ness of the other squares.  The edge of the quilt is simply the red backing fabric folded over the front and hemmed (not as neatly as I wanted in places, because the backing wasn’t perfectly flat).  Simple, but striking 🙂

This will now be folded up and kept safely until Christmas, and I will have to report back then and tell you what young Archie thinks of it!

I’m glad this little project is finished, it’s given me a bit more confidence with quilting, and also taught me the limitations of my sewing machine.  The quilt I started making earlier this year (see here) is still languishing in pieces, but I will have to finish it at some point, and it’s going to be a much bigger quilt than this.  I need to get over my fear and use my mother’s scary industrial sewing machine instead, as it’ll be really important to keep the backing fabric from ruching up on such a large quilt, and I’ll also struggle to get the whole thing through my little machine as I’d like to use fleece as the backing fabric for extra snuggliness and I don’t think the little machine will cope with the additional thickness.  I’ll report back in a few months as I need to shelve quilting once more and go back to some of my other projects first.

Update 18/10/2013: I’ve been meaning to edit this post with an update for absolutely ages!  Better late than never, here is the recipient of the quilt – he loves it, and as far as I know it lives permanently on his bed!

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Many thanks to Sarah of VintageRetroKitsch for the photo 🙂

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