A TECHNIQUE DRIVEN Blog dedicated to mastery of surface design techniques. First we dye, overdye, paint, stitch, resist, tie, fold, silk screen, stamp, thermofax, batik, bejewel, stretch, shrink, sprinkle, Smooch, fuse, slice, dice, AND then we set it on fire using a variety of heat tools.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Maggi Birchenough

Towards the end of last year, I started contacting the resident artists to see who wanted to take a month this year. I received an email from Maggi telling me she had been diagnosed with cancer. I sent occasional emails checking on how she was doing. In the last one, many months ago, she told me of a new treatment that she was trying and that she was feeling much better.

Sadly, yesterday I received an email from another former resident artist telling of Maggi's passing. I only knew her through emails but you could sense what a wonderful and sweet person she was. 

This is the beginning of Maggi's month last year. I am going to go through her posts and thank the Universe I knew her briefly. Thank you Maggi.

Monday, March 28, 2016

One of Those Weekends..

..starting with a student telling me how sick she was, and then giving me first refusal on her germs..
Been babysitting an elephant in the chestal region, and breathing hedgehogs ever since (do Americans get hedgehogs? If not, think porcupines, but smaller)

And my daughter gets married in a few days time, so I had to make my Dearly Beloved Other a new waistcoat.. He's been eating my food and has gotten much to big for the old one.
Anyway, I was doing this finishing-the-front thing and it struck me that Pockets, while not really a Quilty Thing, could be a fun way of adding to a piece.. So, here's today's offering

Nicely Finished Pockets (with no hand stitching...)

Ground fabric, pocket top, and lining. I'm using some nice linen and a cotton lining

Sew the pocket-top in half, right-sides in, and trim the corners

Turn out and press nicely

Mark where you want it to go, draw a line if you like. Exactly the length of the turned-out pocket top

Pin the  raw edges of the pocket-top to the right side of the ground, with the top facing downwards, then the lining on top of that, matching the edges.  I cut my linings generously

Sew edge to edge and back-tack. Just where the pocket-top is, not a stitch more, please

Cut a slot. Make a Y shape at the ends to make a letter-box shape as shown

Turn the lining to the inside, and matching the edges, sew the lining to the other side of the slot..

Tip the lining down into position, the sew the sides, catching the little triangles as shown.. Keep it neat, small stitches, make sure everything is tidy.. Trim any vast excess. Repeat on the other side

Should look like this from the outside

Tip the pocket-top into place and sew down neatly

Finished - now, I can think of lots of textiley uses for these apart from keeping your change and pocket-watch safe

And here's the waistcoat... Just needs buttons...

Thursday, March 24, 2016


Here's something really simple, with all sorts of applications
I cut two squares (these are about 4 inches, but it's not crucial)

Fold one on the diagonal, and attach to the other around the sides (you could just pin if you wanted to sew to another piece)

The bias edge is flexible - roll it back

Here I have sewn it down with a small zigzag - this also looks nice if hand-sewn

Sew two on top of a third, roll back, instant leaf! Note that I have tacked the top layers in a little from the edges before rolling...
These are sewn through all the layers, but if you just sew the fold to the top layer, you get nice pockets

Now, take two bias strips (2-1/2 inches here) and press in half, right-sides-out
(A digression -  many fabrics are really much more interesting on the back, don't you think? )

Attach at the edges as before, this time all around

Here I have sewn across with my machine, but you could tack these in the centre at intervals by hand

Loose, pressed, sewn with zigzag, sewn with straight stitch...
Apologies for the bad pressing...

More tomorrow

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It Never Rains...

...but it pours
Dress crisis (my daughter is to be married in a few days time)
Funeral (I am only going to make friends with young healthy people, I think)
And a student graciously gave me a cold, so I'm coughing and wheezing like a particluarly cross grampus

On the whole, it may be time for bed, but here's the latest

I thought it might be nice to do some handwork

Mark a grid (1 inch intervals here)
With a doubled thread, pickup a square of points, with the needle facing inwards at each corner

Draw the thread up and fasten off with an over-stitch

Keep on keeping on, picking up each set of four in fairly systematic fashion.. Let the thread sit untightened between the groups. This is the Top Side, and could be tidier

And here the Underneath.. I prefer this, so might try it again with the connecting threads run on the other side

This time, I drew circles in slightly random fashion

Hand-stitch around, but don't draw them up till you have done all of them

Pull.. Start in the middle?

You know that one about reducing the stash? The fabric gets Real Small, Real Fast
Top side


Hoping I feel better tomorrow.. Sleep well!

Saturday, March 19, 2016


Tired tonight.. Been a very long day, I have a broken foot, and I've been running an International Quilt Day, which was fun-but-hard
Soooo, I've done a very simple thing that has endless possibilities

Scrap of batting/wadding

Lay the Face of your intended shape Face Up

Draw the intended shape on the Back of the Back, and lay it Back Up (see what I did there? That's what we Englishpersons call a Play on Words...)
In the middle of the shape, cut a wee slit..

Apologies for the odd light on some of these..  My old Bernina, while resolutely treadled, has an electrical light, with LED bulb - it took me a couple of attempts at this and the colour is decidedly peculiar.. However
Sew all around, small stitches, start and finish Not on a corner, overlap the ends and ignore the thready things

Turn over, trim wadding/batting real close to the stitches

Trim the fabrics to 1/4 inch or so

Snippety-snip.. Snip all the curves, paying particular attention to the inward corners..

Turn out through the slit (remember the slit?) and press....

Here's a bonus - Neat Start Couching
I started with a doubled embroidery thread, rather long

Sew two or three small zigzag stitches over the threads

Pull the back end round to the front

Twist together and continue to oversew with the small ZZ stitches

Finish with some leaf-veins in ordinary stitch.  No end to darn in or force through the fabric..


Other shapes work - here's a basket of unfinished cats

Finished fishes and felines... Button eyes...

Silk fishy

Brocade cat..

Bigger and better - Merman and Mermaid in muslin/calico

Small boy comes into the shop and gazes raptly
"That lady's Rude!"
Me "Why is that?"
SB "She hasn't got her vest on!"
Time for fire, chocolate, and cat-on-lap...