Friday, 19 July 2013

Sun Printed Feathers

I just had to try out sun printing with feathers and here's the results below. They are quite tricky as they curve up so you have to make sure they are well pressed down and the fabric is wet enough to keep them in place. The two feathers on the left were flat and the detail is quite good but the one on the right was curved so it left a very soft edged print. I added some leaves but a wind got up and blew them about so I have framed the best composition in the hoop ready to add some stitching. I'm hoping to create some more larger leaf prints over the weekend.

Sun printing with feathers on linen fabric

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Background Stitching

I'm currently working into the background of my sun printed leaf piece. Having outlined the leaves I have started to add seeding, straight stitches, woven and whipped circles, detached chain stitch, French knots and fly stitch to the background to add texture. I am also going to add some small embroidered leaves here and there too. I love how the cloth feels now that I have started adding the stitching it just changes it's overall texture and the linen is now less stiff and formal.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

My Studio Space

Today I thought I would do a blog post about my little home studio! I have been re-organising it for awhile now and I finally feel I have created a relaxing space in which to let my creativity flow! It's not a huge space and it may not be one of those fantastic cottage studio's by the sea you see in glossy magazines but it suits my lifestyle! It's in the attic but has natural daylight from a skylight, my really old architects drawing table that I have had for years! A table for my sewing machine etc. and there is even room for my easel for when I get the urge to paint! Another good thing is that at night times when the kids are asleep I can pop up there to do some work with Benji my border collie lying at my feet!

Me at my drawing table doing a spot of knitting!
Lots of things on the go!
Things hanging everywhere and the sewing machine table
Embroideries, lace, hand dyed wool and paper bunting
Jars of threads, spools, pins, sequins etc.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Sun Printing and Hand Embroidery

Last week it was gorgeous here in Todmorden! The sun was blazing out on my back yard so I thought I would have a go at sun printing using my Setasilk paints. This is a great technique and on it's own it is really cool for making silk scarves, cushion covers etc. However it's also great with hand embroidery and if you can't draw what a great way to add some shapes to your fabric that you can then embroider into! Here is a bit of a step by step on how I did it and what you need to have a go yourself!

What you need:

  • Pebeo Setasilk Paints or any Sun Printing Paints
  • Wide Brush or Foam Brush
  • Water Spray Bottle
  • Wooden Silk Frame or Plastic Sheet
  • Pins or Tacks
  • Fabric i.e. Silk, Linen or Cotton
  • Leaves from the Garden
  • A Sunny Day! Not Windy!

Setasilk paints, water spray, leaves and brushes
Step 1

Ok, hopefully you have a sunny day but not a windy one or it will blow your leaves off! First gather your equipment together and get out on the back yard. If using a frame like mine set it up and stretch out your fabric pinning it at all four corners and the sides pulling the fabric tight. Spray the fabric with water. You don't want it to be absolutely soaking wet, but wet enough for the paints to bleed into each other and make a nice effect! The fabric I used was a white linen and this seemed to work really well as you will see in Step 4.

White linen fabric on silk stretching frame
Step 2

Next paint the wet fabric with the silk paints. You need to work quickly as the sun will start to dry the fabric and set the paints, you need it to be still wet when you put down your leaves. The Setasilk paints come in squirty bottles and can be used straight from the bottle so I just squirted brown, yellow and green onto the wet fabric and let it soak in and bleed into each other. I then used a wide brush to spread it around a bit to cover the whole surface. (I forgot to take a pic of just the painted fabric as I didn't want it to dry!)

Step 3

Once you are happy with your painted fabric add you leaves etc. I used blackcurrant leaves as they are nice and flat and this is really what you are looking for, as you want them to make as much contact with the fabric as possible. Lay out your leaves in a pattern or just randomly as I have done in the photo below. I used different sizes of leaves to make a pleasing design. Press each of the leaves face down to get as much contact with the fabric as you can. Work quickly as the sun will set the paints! Once you are happy with your design leave it for 15 to 20 mins for the sun to work it's magic!

Blackcurrant leaves lay on the painted linen fabric
Step 4

If you can't wait anymore check the paint has been removed from under the leaves by lifting a corner of a leaf! If it has worked and hopefully it has, you should be left with the leaf silhouettes on your fabric! Take off all the leaves and let the fabric dry. Once dry remove the pins and set the paints by ironing with a dry iron for 5 mins. I covered the piece with a cloth before ironing. Be careful if using silk fabric not to have your iron too hot!

Sun printed fabric!
Step 5

That's it once your finished sun print is ready you can leave it as is or embellish with embroidery stitches. I have decided to outline all the leaves with white stranded cotton and I'm going to work into the background with various other stitches to add texture and interest in greens, browns and yellows. You don't just have to use leaves for sun printing you could use any flat object that will make a silhouette or cut some out of paper!

Adding back stitches around each leaf in white embroidery cotton.
Completed hand embroidered leaves.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Yorkshire Tea Not Just For Drinking!

I have been experimenting with dyeing wool with tea and thought I would try out some good old Yorkshire Tea! Well I am really pleased with the results and Yorkshire Tea is not only the best tea for drinking it also makes a fab dye too! The colour is a fabulous deep brown with dark brown flecks here and there (this I think is due to the dye sticking more to these parts and not anything I did on purpose!).

Tea dyeing is really easy to do and I achieved the resulting colour by first boiling 8 used tea bags on the stove for about 30 mins. I then let this cool down, removed the tea bags and added my pre-soaked wool. I like to soak my wool in warm water with a bit of washing up liquid for about 30 mins or longer before dyeing. I have read online that tea doesn't need a mordant (something to fix the dye to the wool with) but I added about 4 tablespoons of vinegar to be on the safe side! I then simmered the wool for 30 mins making sure it didn't boil! I checked on the colour and switched off the stove and let the wool cool overnight to soak up more colour. In the morning I removed the wool and rinsed it in the sink with some more washing up liquid and then hung it to dry! The result is the ball of wool below!

Hand Dyed British Wool With Yorkshire Tea!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Currently On The Needles

The weather is fantastic at the moment here in Todmorden and it is set to be with us for the next two weeks, yay! I've been dyeing some more yarn in bright colours and here's an image of what is currently on the needles! I'm also working on some knitting and embroidery samples too, which I will take pics of soon.

Two by two ribbing - hand dyed double knitting wool

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Dyeing My Own Yarns

Now that I have started to use 100% pure new British wools for my hand knitted products I wanted to take this a bit further and start dyeing the wools too. I have started experimenting with dyeing wools in a solid colour and also dip dyeing parts of the hanks as well. Living in Todmorden, West Yorkshire we are surrounded by fields of sheep and I love the idea of sourcing local wools to use in my products! I think the next stage would be to start spinning the wool myself too!

The wool in the dye bath
Drying outside on the line
First balls of hand dyed wool ready to knit with
Teapot sweater in hand dyed self-striping yarn!