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Archive for the ‘Upcycling’ Category

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!

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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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‘Pattern’ is the name of the Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild exhibition, currently on at North Lincolnshire Museum. Those of us who took part all chose an object from the Museum’s collection and created a piece of embroidery in response.

When I went in January with four friends, we had an interesting discussion about the items we were drawn to and whether or not we should deliberately work out of our comfort zones and choose an object that didn’t appeal to us. There is definitely a time and a place for that, but I suspect that working on something with which I didn’t have a natural connection might have made it a bit of a chore. So unsurprisingly, I went Roman and chose my favourite thing in the whole museum: The Winterton Cup.

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The Winterton Cup is decorated with rows of enamelled squares on a copper alloy base. Some of the enamel has been lost, but the original pattern of diagonal rows of alternating yellow, red, blue and turquoise can still be made out.  Enamelling on metal is a technique found in the Romano-British tradition which carries on into the Roman period and the Cup is one of a small group of enamelled vessels which are apparently souvenirs brought back by soldiers from Hadrian’s Wall.

The squares immediately said reverse applique to me. I had some amazing silk which was hand dyed with natural dyes and a silk scarf dyed in dark blues with flashes of pink and gold which reminded me of the oxidised metal. I would do the stitching with my sewing machine and it would be a reasonably quick job. Famous last words…

I started by cutting a piece of tracing paper to the same size as the scarf and made a template for the size of squares I wanted so I could draw it all out life size. Then I cut out the hand dyed silks and began laying them in place.

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So far, so good.

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Very pleased with the result.

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Next to pin the scarf over the top, ready for the machining.

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This is where the photographs of the process stop. My beloved Frister and Rossmann decided that this was the one thing that it wasn’t going to stitch and ate the fabric instead. Once I had rescued the silk and managed to straighten out most of the chew marks, this left me with forty-eight squares to hand stitch round as well as attaching the other silk scarf I had chosen to back it with.

Let’s just say that there were a number of stupidly late nights before I got to this stage.

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I am happy with the concept – that is exactly what I initially envisaged, but the double running stitching really doesn’t bear close inspection (as you can see in the photo below – which is the closest I am prepared to show!) and I just didn’t have time to fray check the cut silk, so I am a bit disappointed with myself over all.

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Definitely better at a distance in one of the exhibition display cases.

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A silver Victorian brooch arrived as part of a job lot of jewellery I bought online last week. It was perfect – apart from the central dome, which was badly dented and damaged. I gently tried to smooth it out with a doming tool but the metal was too far gone and I ended up resorting to carefully removing it with a jeweller’s saw.

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After some filing and finishing this left me with a tempting little space to fill and I was soon stitching a minute silk ribbon rose onto some ironed out silk carrier rod.

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The completed rose (with a french knot cluster in the centre and lazy daisy leaves round the outside)  is about 6mm in diameter.

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The brooch is only an inch in diameter but the rose makes it look huge!

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The completed ‘Blush Rose’ brooch is in my Etsy shop here.

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I’ve also started work on another embroidered locket piece – this time a little larger but not much!! My idea for this one was a climbing rose on a trellis. Trellis first. This locket was a bit distressed inside so I lined it with some more of the silk carrier rod which you can see through the hole in the front.

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Next I started on the stems of the rose and because I couldn’t resist, have already put in some vivid scarlet roses (french knots of course) in a shade of hand dyed silk called ‘Tart’s Knickers’!!!

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The colours have turned out a bit dodgy on this photo in spite of going outside to make use of a rare bit of February sun!

If you follow me on Instagram you will also have seen the cushion cover which I made this week…

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… a good antidote to working in miniature! The crewel work embroidery is not mine but came from a ubiquitous suitcase of embroidered household linens which friends recently cleared from the house of an elderly relative.

The embroidery on this piece was finished but it hadn’t been made up into anything so there had been no wear or light damage to the linen and I was asked to make it up into a cushion cover, which having had a well-earned rest from the sewing machine and panto costumes, I was finally ready to do.

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I found some fantastic toning batiks to edge the front and create the back. That pop of turquoise makes the soft green of my beloved suite look completely washed out!

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It’s good to think that all the hard work put in by whoever stitched the original embroidery will finally be on show and admired after probably at least half a century.

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To paraphrase Sir Steve Redgrave, the British rower,  “Anybody who sees me volunteer to costume a pantomime again has my permission to shoot me!”

You would have thought that after the last minute dash to get two World War 1 era evening dresses made for Blackadder Goes Forth in October that I would have had more sense, but no. No sooner had the curtain gone down on Blackadder then I was straight into costuming Scunthorpe Little Theatre Club‘s 2019 pantomime, Dick Whittington.

I did think I was on top of it nice and early, but I had stalls at a couple of Christmas fairs/markets which meant I needed to keep making stock…

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…and our Christmas challenge for Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild which was to make a Christmas themed brooch to fit in a box we were given in September (silk thread and sparkly blending filament crocheted into a snowflake shape and beaded) …

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…the Christmas meeting which was making temari balls with Hazel…

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(my attempt has got no further than this, but I did learn that rayon thread, however shiny and pretty, is a very, very bad thing with which to wrap your temari ball)…

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…and of course, all the extra work that Christmas causes meant that I had very little down time over Christmas. Although I had been working on the costume since October, starting on New Year’s Day I sewed, altered, mended and generally worked like something demented for eight days straight. There are some odd photos of my labours but most have been taken as afterthoughts very late at night so apologies for the randomness and poor quality!

As the dame (Sarah the Cook) was a big lad at 6′ 3″ and build accordingly, most of our stock didn’t fit him so I ended up making a lot of it, starting with a baking themed skirt to go with an existing floral top. The skirt was plain cream and I made some felt gingerbread men and cup cakes to go around the hem.  They are roughly A4 size so they really stand out on stage.

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The sequins caught the stage lights beautifully.

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Then there was an existing red and green skirt but the top didn’t fit, so I remade that using the bodice pattern from the dress pattern I planned to use later. Have to remember to add the length to the sleeves for taller men.

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As it was for the scene where the dame serves in the shop, I added a rosette of medieval silver pennies and tickets to the matching mob cap.

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The main dress was for the ship/shipwreck part of the story and had to be made from scratch. I used a commercial broadly 18th century dress pattern which had a very full skirt to go over the traditional dame’s hoop and was open down the back – ideal for a Velcro fastening and quick changes. I uncovered some ‘Finding Nemo’ fabric in our club store which was ideal and used it for the sleeves and back of the skirt.

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The bodice and front were in two types of toning blue fabric (trying to use up what we had and not buy any more) but I broke up the bodice with a triangle of the Nemo fabric with extra fish added in the spaces and then created a set of felt signal flags to go across the skirt. They actually spell out something and no, it isn’t rude, although I was sorely tempted!

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It was worn with a ‘Kiss Me Quick’ hat before the storm and a very cute octopus (here modelling a miniature prototype bycocket hat for Dick) …

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…who was attached to a head band with crocheted seaweed for after the shipwreck!

We splashed out and bought a sparkly silver and blue walk down costume but when the headdress I had found in stock didn’t fit, I ended up the morning before opening night making a steeple hennin from very stiff lampshade fabric, more Finding Nemo fabric and the floaty veil from the original headdress. I am not ashamed at this point to confess that I used more glue than stitch!

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Instead of a good fairy we had Neptune, but the director didn’t want an old man in a toga, so I ended up designing a more military costume. The basic garment was a tunic created from some fabric that looked watery and amazing but as the crescent moon pattern was created from  a layer of loose threads between two layers of organza it was a nightmare to stitch and I ended up fully lining it with some left over fabric from one of the Blackadder dresses.

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It was worn with scale patterned leggings, tribal style tattoo sleeves with some amazing fantasy style leather armour on one arm, a scrim sash to look like a fishing net and a faux leather apron belt which was a cross between Greek and Roman and based on one worn by a character from a computer game! I had an interesting time cutting it out by eye, hand stitching it to look like separate pieces of leather and then making a medieval ring belt to go over the top.

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I wish I had some photos of the full ensemble. :o(

I also made bycocket hats for Dick…

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…an extravagant turban for the Sultana of Bungahie…

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…based on a 1970s turban hat and dressed up with oddments of pleated metallic gold and blue fabric stitched over the top.

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And a proper chaperon for Captain Cuttlefish to wear in the walk down. I made it as per the real thing, so it can be worn as a caped hood with a liripipe (long tail)…

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…or turned…

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…and worn with the head through the face hole and the cape and liripipe hanging down on either side.

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Another one that I had to cut without a pattern following an image on the internet, but I am delighted with the effect.

The show went very well and the costumes were much admired. Now all I have to do is to wash them all, and put them all away in the right boxes. Fourteen characters with between one and four costumes, each made up from a number of different elements… I might possibly be back before Easter!

 

 

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I just had a couple of items to finish off for the Craft Fair at Gainsborough Old Hall on Sunday, one of which was another embroidered locket. I started off with some silk carrier rod, variegated soft silk thread and french knots and lazy daisies.

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The french knots reminded me of the spires of goldenrod that ran riot in the garden of our old house.

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Lazy daisy leaves in buttonhole twist silk. The twist has a wonderful lustre and always makes me think of the mice in ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’ – no more twist!

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I had plenty enough fortunately and after adding stems and leaves to the goldenrod, the little panel was added to the locket.

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Creating these little embroidered panels to upcycle lockets is one of my favourite things to do and a perfect use for my silk carrier rods. This trio were much admired at the Fair, (although I do wish people would look with their eyes, not their fingers!!) but sadly, only the snowflakes locket sold so the other two are back in my Etsy shop.

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I had a good day and learned a lot, including the need to bring a shawl (we were in Victorian dress and the Old Hall is seriously chilly!) and lights for my stall. It was very gloomy and that’s not helpful when people are trying to look at small piece of jewellery.

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But it was lovely to chat to people about my jewellery. I was quite surprised how many people were actively interested in the upcycling aspect and as well as the sales, I also made contact with a WI who are interested in having me as a speaker and someone local who has suggested another possible craft fair. All good!

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