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Archive for the ‘Upcycling’ Category

…are one of my favourite stitches. I must have worked hundreds of thousands of french knots from the odd few dropped into something else…

Summer meadow brooch 5

…to the full on french knot extravaganza that is the (still unfinished) Victorian box project.

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I find them invaluable in upcycling jewellery. I’ve added them to rings, earrings and pendants and the lovely textural quality of the closely packed knots never fails to get people’s interest. This one is set in a vintage silver setting and is available here in my Etsy shop.

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So when a friend asked me to upcycle a pair of earrings for her, my first thought was french knots. The earrings were a pair of sterling silver creole hoops which had been partly channel set with some baguette cut marcasites. Unfortunately the marcasites appeared to have been stuck in with school glue and most had fallen out. A local jeweller told her that it would cost far more than the earrings were worth to have them reset properly. So rather than scrap them, she asked me to work some upcycling magic!

I cleaned them first, to get rid of the glue residue and bring up the silver.

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Then I worked a row of french knots in silk thread on a piece of dyed pelmet vilene, carefully cutting it down to fit the channel which is about 2mm wide!

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Breathe, be grateful and relieved that you haven’t cut the thread or trimmed the vilene down too far and do the other one!

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As she lives locally I was able to take a slight detour on my daily walk and post them through her letter box. She was delighted!

I also found an interesting pendant when I was sorting a lot of broken jewellery and immediately thought french knots.

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I used some variegated silk thread again and stitched one french knot through each hole. Each knot has two wraps and is big enough that it won’t slip back through the hole.

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They fill the space nicely.

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The purple and gold of the thread made me think of drifts of pansies.

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So that’s what I named it and it’s just gone into my Etsy shop here. I think it will be a long while before I get fed up with these gorgeous little stitches, which is just as well, considering there is a still a long way to go on the Victorian box!

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Cleaning a load of broken vintage jewellery the other day I immediately spotted two obvious opportunities for upcycling in the form of the two brooches in the middle, both missing the central focal stone.

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And both crying out for ribbon roses! First the gold and pink diamante brooch.

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This has a silk ribbon rose stitched onto coloured pelmet vilene with nested detached chain stitch leaves and a shiny rayon french knot nestled in its heart. Available in my Etsy shop here.

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If the round brooch was small, the bar brooch is even smaller, with the central bezel tray I was looking to fill measuring just over 1cm wide!

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Time to scale down to 2mm wide silk ribbon and single strands of silk thread to create a tiny spray. I love the way this turned out – even though I know it’s stitched, at first glance it looks like micromosaic!

Also available in my Etsy shop here.

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I was playing with some scraps of upcycled felt a while ago that I’d made in the washing machine from some 100% wool garments that were past wearing. I added some broken jewellery pieces and a kilt pin that had been part of a job lot of broken/unwanted jewellery and came up with this little pendant brooch.

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From this brooch came the idea for a workshop and some more samples. Firstly, an octagonal piece of broken earring, a scrap of felt and sheaf stitch, detached chain stitch and french knots in a funky variegated thread became this brooch. Finished off with beaded blanket stitch around the edges and blanket stitch to attach it to the pin.

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I realised that some little metal tags from my found objects box looked like the bodies of fish and so I started another sample, stitching them down with long and short stitch to create flamboyant tails.

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Palestrina and feather stitch creates fronds of seaweed and also helps hold the ‘bodies’ of the fish in place, and french knots form the sea bed.

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I like all my samples, but those fishes have a special place in my heart – they came out exactly as I’d imagined them!

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Sorting some of my beachcombed treasures led to a couple of pieces of jewellery. First was a chunk of school ruler which had frosted beautifully in the waves. I paired it with a piece of beachcombed metal swarf with a lovely milled texture to make a brooch, now available here in my Etsy shop.

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Then I managed to find two vintage panel bracelets which are great for setting with sea glass and pottery like this one. There is just something about blue and white sea-washed china that I love.

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I also like to use panel bracelets to turn groupings of odd vintage earrings into unique assemblage bracelets. The theme that developed here was floral soft blues and greys with a central enamelled dragonfly. Available here in my Etsy shop.

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I also managed to list the brooch I made during show week from a scrap of felted woollen jumper, a vintage kilt pin and an odd earring drop and it’s available here.

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Definitely in my blue period!

I’ve also had a bit of a spurt with one of the pelmet vilene accordion book memory journals I’m working on. This one is based on a visit we made at the end of March to the North Sea Observatory and Anderby Creek beach in Lincolnshire. The shell strewn beach was unlike anything I’ve ever seen on the North Sea coast and then we had a stroll along the sand dunes to the lovely Anderby Beach Cafe for lunch before heading back home.

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I stitched a fragment with cast on stitch and one of the big flat holed oyster shells in the summer but then things lapsed until a piece of evenweave gave me an idea to do a piece of pulled thread work. I used natural coloured silk thread and Diamond Stitch to create a random pattern like ripples in the sand.

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Then I added some dried seaweed, a clam shell with a hole in and a little piece of driftwood.

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I love the very clever Anderby Beach Cafe logo which uses part of the structure of a traditional deck chair as the initial ‘A’ and the hot dog I had for lunch that day, using local butcher’s sausages was delicious. So that quickly led to a hand painted and stitched applique ‘receipt’ on calico, featuring a splodge of ‘tomato sauce’ to remind me of how much I enjoyed my lunch!

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Ideas forming for the North Sea Observatory and the Cloud Bar…!

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In the end, Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon wasn’t finished for show week and in total, I only managed to put half a dozen stitches in him on stage the entire week, most of which had to be unpicked and restitched later! But ‘The Fifth Elephant’ went well and we had lots of positive comments from Pratchett fans, some of whom had travelled some distance to come and see the show.  No rest for the am dram wicked though – last performance of ‘The Fifth Elephant’ on Saturday and tonight (Monday) is the first casting reading for panto!

I did manage to get some stitching done in the interval though, so all the Bayeux Stitch is completed and I’ve started the couched outline. It neatens the edge up a treat.

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Since the Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon and his frame were props for a scene in Act 1, I had to find something else to sew before curtain up and I decided to experiment with a banner style brooch using an odd kilt pin. I had a few small pieces left of a wool jumper I felted a while ago and turned variously into a cushion cover, a pair of mittens and some earring cases.

I added some commercial grey marl felt and an odd earring drop…

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…blanket stitch, french knots…

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…sequins, a bead, split stitch and detached chain stitch…

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…before finishing with a kantha stitched back ground in shimmery blending filament, a beaded blanket stitch edging which joined it to the grey felt back and blanket stitching it to the kilt pin in stranded silk thread.

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A fun little project and I particularly like the subtle sparkle you get from the blending filament.

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Are all you need to make jewellery! I bought a lovely vintage fruit spoon at a car boot sale recently. The heavily raised pattern of fruit and foliage in the bowl reminded me of some glass and polymer clay fruit beads I had been saving for just the right project.

First I removed the handle and smoothed and shaped the stub left.

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Next, I drilled holes in the stub and the end of the bowl to take jump rings for the chain and the beads.

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The beads were clustered with some fabulous little polymer clay leaves onto a head pin to echo the cluster of fruit in the centre of the spoon bowl.

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Lastly I added a vintage silver tone chain. It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

The zip pulls came from a Studio Ghibli ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ backpack that my middle one had used to complete destruction but the heavy brass zip pulls, each embossed with Totoro were still in perfect condition. The rest of the bag was only fit for the bin, despite my best efforts, but with the addition of two picture jasper cushion beads and some vintage brass coloured findings, the pulls became these:

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Also available here in my Etsy shop.

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It seems odd to be thinking about Christmas in the middle of the summer, but I’m currently in the middle of creating unique upcycled jewellery for various Christmas markets I’m booked into.

First, another felted spiral brooch. I have no idea where the initial felted dreadlock came from for this – it’s an interesting mix of colours that I wouldn’t have thought of putting together. IMG_20190718_220121.jpg

Once rolled up and stitched I liked it even more.

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Finished with a beaded edging that echoes the colours of the felt.

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Then with the boro and sashiko work I’ve been doing recently I had the idea of doing a tiny piece with fragments of indigo dyed fabric and a single strand of silk to go into a vintage silver tone brooch. The needle gives an idea of scale – the whole oval is the size of the pad of my thumb.

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Finished and mounted in the brooch.

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It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

Lastly, another locket insert on silk carrier rods. This originally had a trellis behind it but it was too fussy and the trellis looked like it was hanging in midair, so I carefully unpicked it and am going for just the rose bush.

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Still not completely happy with it but it’s getting there. I’m definitely going to try and do more with the boro though.

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I first had the idea for putting a pamphlet stitched booklet inside the cuff of a shirt or jacket about 6 years ago and although I’ve since seen images on the internet, I’m proud to say it was it was an idea I had all by myself!

Denim cuff books

It’s a great method for making notebooks to carry around in a bag or pocket as the button (or snap) on the cuff holds the pages closed and you have the length of the cuff to decorate.

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So I was delighted to be asked to teach it as a workshop for Brigg Allsorts group last week.  Men’s shirts, my main source of cuffs, often are patterned in stripes or checks and the patterns are a great set of guidelines for keeping your stitches straight, so I chose a checked one and decided to have a go at some chicken scratch embroidery with cross stitch and rice stitch.

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I also replaced the boring button with one covered in scarlet silk. It’s fascinating how adding even simple stitches can alter your perception of the background design so much.

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One of the early projects on the seven week crazy patchwork course I’m running for North Lincolnshire Adult Education at Ashby Link was to piece three tiny scraps of fabric together with feather stitch and enhance them with stitches to make a crazy patchwork brooch. This is my example. Black and gold silk covered with lace on either side of a scrap of printed Japanese style cotton with a gold coloured metal motif stitched onto it.

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Kantha stitch knocks back the brightness of the print in the middle. Whipped back stitch and threaded chain stitch to the left and bullion roses with stem stitch stems and nested lazy daisy leaves on the right.

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I went for a very closely worked blanket stitch edging as the pieces of silk fabric were fraying very badly. It took a lot longer to finish, but I think the neat effect is worth it.

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One thing about teaching these courses, I have to get things finished to keep up with the learners!

 

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