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At each CraftAlive show, I conduct a series of hands on workshops as well as demonstrations alongside those presented by the various stallholders.

Over the past couple of years I have been delighted to have had the opportunity to share the fun of working with the Siena Adorn Needlefelting machine and encouraging show visitors to try their hand at making  postcards using this great little machine.

 

Del and her first postcard

There have been many “postcard” students over the past couple of years who have discovered how quick and easy these cards are to make and how much pleasure they can bring to the recipients.

In preparation for this year’s shows, I thought I would make up some other items using the Siena Adorn to make needle felt…..and I have incorporated the use of a warm water washaway also available from the Siena Adorn Creative Products range.

This is a sneak peek at just one of the items that will be on show at Dubbo CraftAlive in a couple of weeks time!

Needle felted tiny treasure box

Needle felted from merino, silk, kid mohair and silk throwsters waste on Siena Warm Water Washaway.  Embellished with hand dyed emu feathers, assorted beads and ribbon.

Over the past few days my post box has been filled with stuff from the UK – it seems the postal problems they were having over there have now eased and I am in receipt of cards from two swap partners.

This is card number #7 in the Stichin’ Fingers Autumn/Thanksgiving exchange and it comes from Jane – she has cut and fused then hand stitched layers of autumn leaf shapes over an autumn fabric base:

Leafy autumn colours from Jane in UK

Thanks, Jane!

My swap partner in the Stitchin Fingers ATC swap was Lorna who is also in England – her lovely ATC arrived in a week from the posted date!  Lorna’s card has layers of sheers in varying colours some of which appear to have been melted.  These have been FME’d into place with lovely sparkly thread and then crusted over with some seed beads.  Sandwiched in amongst all the fabric is a copper foil leaf.  So much detail!

Copper Leaf ATC from Lorna

These swaps are so inspiring…..there is so much to learn from each piece that arrives.

This morning the mail box contained another card from the group exchanging fabric postcards based on the Thanksgiving and Autumn theme.  Now that six have arrived, I thought I might share with you the beautiful work I have received from all over the world.

This is such a great way to see different techniques being used – its inspiring and motivating!  Its especially nice to receive something so wonderful in the mail.

My thanks again to Barbara Lockwood in California who initiated this exchange on Stitchin Fingers – this is Barbara’s card:

Autumn Leaves from Barbara

Then there was Dakota who managed to keep us all informed whilst Barbara was away and to provide repeat copies of the mailing list to those whose email programmes swallowed the originals without leaving a trace! Dakota’s embroidered and beaded card:

Embroidered and beaded card from Dakota

Even though similar techniques have been used to create Dakota’s and Gina’s cards, this card from Gina shows how different fabrics can create a truly individual piece.  There are some vintage cotton fabrics here!

Gina's stitched and beaded card

Painting and stencilling my own fabric has been something I have not tried all that often, so it was delightful to have the chance to see close up this painted card from Allyson in South Africa.  The colour subtleties are such that the camera does them no justice….it really has the most beautiful shimmer.  The appliqued leaf has also rendered quite differently in the photo…it has a gold shimmer to it in natural light.

Allyson's hand painted card

Marja’s card was today’s mailbox delight – this is a needlefelted piece that includes some stitching detail.  I had not considered using pieces created using my Babylock embellisher – perhaps this will be the prompt I need to get it out and start playing!

Marja's needlefelted card

The last card in this batch is an embroidered piece from Leslie in the UK.  Having seen some of the other cards Leslie has sent, I am so impressed at the amount of work that has gone into each one…I find this has a Jacobean feel about it….love it, Leslie!  Thank you.

Leslie's embroidered card

Thank you all so much for these wonderful pieces – this has been a great opportunity to share in some great talent.  I can’t wait to see what the final three will look like!

In between all these shows, traveling and office sitting, I have managed to make and send off nine postcards to stitchers taking part in the Thanksgiving swap on Stitching Fingers organised by Barbara Lockwood in California.

Not being in the US and having a Thanksgiving tradition, I opted for creating cards that reflected the season in the northern hemisphere – autumn.  It seemed rather incongruous to be stitching autumn leaves cut from Lutradur in 35 degree heat!

Autumn Swaps

Lined up for their pictures in the spring sunshine

Each card featured a base “Bali” style fabric over which was stitched a red Lutradur leaf.  Laid over that was a layer of “needle lace”.

The needle lace was created from knitting yarns and decorative threads laid between two sheets of wash away embroidery stabiliser.  These were then free motion stitched over using several different variagated threads.  the whole piece was then tossed in the sink and washed until all the stabiliser had dissolved. Once the piece had dried, it was lightly pressed and sliced into postcard sized sections.

The gold Lutradur leaf was then free motion embroidered onto the surface of the card and all the layers held together with a satin stitched edging.

Autumn#4

Whilst in Adelaide at the Craft and Quilt show, I obtained a product called “Magic Foil” and I thought it might add a little special touch to these cards.  It is applied using a special glue which is dabbed or painted over the areas where the foil is required and, when the glue has dried clear, the foil sheet is rubbed over the fabric to apply.

Each of the cards was treated to a sprinkle of copper highlights.  Given appropriate drying times, these foil embellishments are apparently washable and permanent.

I had just about finished my photography when I was distracted by the phone… and it seemed my cards needed to be supervised in my absence…

Helping Hand

Smudge ensuring that cards don't escape!

Apologies to any of the ladies who find stray cat fur on their card, but Smudge couldn’t resist the temptation, it seems.

On my return from Adelaide there was another card from the Stitchin Fingers Birthday Swap waiting for me.  This one has come from Allyson in South Africa. Allyson has stitched tulle over fabrics and threads and then added beads and sparkles by hand on the top.  The postal service managed to injure a couple but they have mainly survived – including  getting wet somewhere in its journey. This card had a tough trip!

Thanks Allyson – I love it!

Allyson's Card

Birthday card from Allyson in South Africa

October’s postcard swap theme is Crazy Patchwork – neither Penny nor Kay had tried their hand at traditional Crazy Patchwork so this was a great opportunity to try it out.  Kay just loved the chance to get back to some hand embroidery – something she really enjoys.

Peggy’s card arrived in the mail for me late last week:

Crazy PAtchwork Card from Peggy in the US

Crazy Patchwork Card from Paggy in the US

My cards were all made with the same fabric and thread palette, although every one took on its own particular look.  The fabrics included antique kimono fabrics, silks, furnished and after five fabrics and silk/polyester blend patchwork fabrics.  The threads included DMC stranded cotton, Kremick silk, Madeira Metallic embroidery thread and other specialty threads.

Crazy Patchwork Card

Crazy Patchwork Card

I raided the buttons and the bead containers for seeds and delicas in a range of colours…plus there are some charms, sequins and shell buttons in each of them.

Detail#2

Detail from Crazy Patchwork Card

I have really enjoyed making these cards – crazy patchwork has always been a favorite of mine!

My post office lady, Kaye, was most taken with this particular batch of cards….luckily, there was a spare, so I took one in especially for her!

In August, I signed up for a fabric postcard swap organised by Leslie in the UK – the swap group have committed to send each member a fabric postcard to celebrate that member’s birthday.

The first swap took place in September when cards were dispatched from all over the world to Allyson in South Africa.  Allyson’s card can be seen here.

October it was my turn….as well as that of Marja in The Netherlands.  Marja’s card was sent to her from Broken Hill – I hope it makes it safely!!

Hope your birthday is fabulous, Marja!

Hope your birthday is fabulous, Marja!

Whilst I was away, the MATH was clearing my post office box and was being advised by email that the surprises were waiting for me when I got home.  There were more to collect from the box over the ensuing week…. nothing like having your birthday stretched out over a couple of weeks….;)

These are the fabulous cards I have received from the girls in the swap….this is such a great way to build friendships worldwide!

Crazy piecing card from Aida in Canada

Crazy piecing card from Aida in Canada

Marja's brilliant orange mulitmedia piece

Marja's brilliant orange mulitmedia piece

Raw edge fabric weaving with embroidery and embellishment from Leslie in the UK. Leslie even included my birth date!

Raw edge fabric weaving with embroidery and embellishment from Leslie in the UK. Leslie even included my birth date!

Pauline's card was handpainted and stencilled before being embellished - so many delicious layers of colour!

Pauline's card was handpainted and stencilled before being embellished - so many delicious layers of colour!

Bold and striking fabric, cleverly highlighted with beading and thread... a delight to receive from Sheila in Scotland.

Bold and striking fabric, cleverly highlighted with beading and thread... a delight to receive from Sheila in Scotland.

These cards give so much more than just being remembered for your birthday… they are such a fabulous source of information as the techniques used vary so widely.  There is no right or wrong way to make these pieces….just make!

Mildura CraftAlive was held in a new location this year – the Sport and Community Centre at Irymple.  As the show was timed to coincide with the Country Music Festival, there were a large number of visitors in town, some of whom made their way to the show.

One of my students over the weekend was from Queensland….she had been away from her home base for several months and was on her way home when we met.  The fabric postcards concept really appealed to her as something she could do whilst traveling.

Del and her first postcard

Del and her first postcard

Del was hooked from the very beginning and now is very keen to become involved in postcard exchanges. I decided I would make and send her a card from Broken Hill if I wasn’t too busy.

Del's Card

Del's Card

Del’s card had a strip pieced fabric base, a layer of loose threads, braid and ric rac covered with black tulle  topped off with some machine stitched detail. She used a variagated thread that combined lime, yellow and orange which looked fantastic!

Over the past month there has been a flurry of activity on the Fabric Postcard front – I have dispatched a round of cards to friends taking part in the “Stitch Me A Rainbow” swap and I have also sent off my first “Birthday Swap” for a Stitchin’ Fingers  exchange.

In the mail I have received these cards from Rainbow swappers:

Al things Purple from Penny

All things Purple from Penny

Under the Blue Sea from Kay

Under the Blue Sea from Kay

Both of the above cards were made in a “how to class” – the base fabric was made using strips sewn onto a 13″ lightweight interfacing square and flipped…. then they were covered with a selection of knitting yarns and threads.

A layer of black bridal tulle was pinned over and free form quilting/embroidery using variagated threads then stitched. A layer of heavy weight iron on interfacing was applied to the back of the piece before the stitching was started.  The piece was then cut into six postcard sized and further embellished.  This was the first time either of the girls had made cards and I think both Penny and Kay are hooked!

This picture is the card sent to Peggy in the US –  the technique is similar but instead of capturing  the threads under tulle, I stitched each one in place – sometimes using a decorative stitch and/or sewing thread.  Some yarns were stitched in place while the piece was still 13″ square and others were added once the piece was cut down into individual cards.  Decorative embroidery stitches were added to each card individually.

Traces of Teal sent to Peggy

Traces of Teal sent to Peggy

The first card I was to make for the Birthday Swap needed to be into the post quickly as Allyson’s birthday was September 6 – however she is in South Africa and apparently there is a postal strike (at the time we were notified it had been running for two weeks)

Happy Birthday Allyson!

Happy Birthday Allyson!

This card was made using die cut felt pieces I found at OfficeWorks, believe it or not! Each felt layer has been machine stitched in place after the purple ribbon stem had been stitched down. The quilting is a very fine stipple using a Guterman Sulky variagated thread and the centre button hand stitched in place.  Plain Guterman Purple Sulky thread was used for the satin stitched edging.

In class, we plan to explore some Crazy Patchwork techniques over the next few weeks so our next postcard exchange will feature Crazy Patchwork.  It is planned that this exchange will take place by the end of October if there are any takers to join us for this swap.

Wodonga Craft Alive has just finished and I am now back home.  This year the show moved to a new venue at Catholic College Wodonga.  It appears that all our visitors loved it – warm, friendly and an inviting atmosphere saw many people return every day to enjoy what the show had to offer.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to introduce some of our crafters of the future to the delights of making postcards and stitchery.

Stitch Me a Rainbow

Stitch Me a Rainbow

These two lovely young ladies are both 12 – they had a great time mastering the sewing machine and completing their postcards.  One plans to send hers to family in the UK and the other to a relative in Queensland. I’m sure their families will be delighted to receive these original cards from the girls.

Not all of us are skilled at sewing and there are many who are in fear and trembling when confronted by the electronic marvels that masquerade as sewing machines these days.  When Helen tried to sell the idea of making a card to her friend Doreen; Doreen’s first reaction was “I don’t do sewing machines!”

Helen prevailed and they each selected their favourite colours and sat down to make the cards.

Helen satin stitching the edge of her card

Helen satin stitching the edge of her card

From the instructor’s perspective, Doreen made the ideal student – she was not fazed by anything!  As soon as I had shown her how to do something, she was off!  For a supposed non-sewer, she was fantastic.

Doreen's first postcard.

Doreen's first postcard.

Helen has decided she will make more and took away some extra packs of supplies with her at the end of the day (she had more than one favorite colour – this way she didn’t miss out!)

Helen's pink card

Helen's pink card

It’s always great to catch up with students I have taught in the past and this year was no exception.  Another of our young crafters, Hannah, was back again this year and it was hand embroidery that she decided to try out this time. Helen and Patty also decided it was time for some hand stitching and out came the needles and thread.  The “Little Miss Dot” design seemed to be the favourite design on offer.little_miss_dot_2

My challenge for the weekend was how to help devise a method for teaching someone who was blind how to knit.  The query came from a lady at the show who had a blind friend she was teaching to knit – how could we help her to stop  dropping stitches?  That tested the grey matter a bit – but between us we devised a solution based on how she held the needles and using feel in your thumb to control and count the stitches as they came off the left hand needle. It seemed to work!

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