Thursday 25 October 2018

Wabi-Sabi Sewing Book Hop: Helping Hands

Welcome to the second stop on Karen Lewis' new Wabi-Sabi Sewing Book!  This book tour flows between blogs and Instagram accounts. Check out #wabisabisewing on Instagram to find posts related to the book.  'Wabi-Sabi' is a Japanese aesthetic celebrating beauty in that which is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. It embraces flaws, irregularities, wear-and-tear and finding contentment in what we have.  Karen has created twenty home decor projects embracing a wabi-sabi approach and covering a range of techniques (piecing, applique, sashiko for example).  She uses a variety of natural fibre textiles -barkcloth, linen, quilting cotton, denim- and a restrained colour palette to make a beautifully harmonious sewing book.   

I chose to make the Helping Hands mitten-style pot holder.  Part of the book's ethos is to use what you have so I used offcuts from a couple of projects- barkcloth from a dress and a heavy Art Gallery denim from a bag- along with thread, large eyelets, small hammer style rivets, leather, insulated fleece and wadding scraps all from my drawers and cupboards.

There are cutting plans, photos and diagrams alongside the written instructions so it's a quick, simple make. You can't tell from the book photos, but the upper section is shorter than the back section to make it easier for your hand to slide in.

I added some hand stitching in linen thread as I had such a lovely colour match, I couldn't resist fitting it in somewhere!  

I used a single rather than a double binding as the fabric was quite thick.

For me, Wabi-Sabi Sewing is a springboard type of a book where looking through it leads me on to make something inspired by it, so, after making Helping Hands,  I made another potholder- standard rather than gloved and with other fabric scraps.  This time I used linen left over from my Burnside Bibs and some Japanese print kitchen-themed scraps. I pinned the scrap on to the top layer, frayed the scrap edges and used running stitches and linen thread to attach one layer to another.

 I've recently been trying the Clover open-sided metal thimble for any hand sewing where I need a bit of push and I really like it!   It does leave a bit of a metallic scent on the skin but it is strong and with the adjustable prongs at the front, I found I could easily adjust it for a close fit.  I used a size M.

The quilting was the same sashiko stitches pushed through the layers.  The lines are a little wobbly and uneven as hand quilting is not my strongest sewing skill, but the effect is soft and textural.  For the loop, I used Prym snap pliers to cut out a little hole in the potholder corner and in the leather before slotting the small rivet pieces in and using a hammer to close them together. I've had these rivets for ages and I've put off using them as I wasn't really sure if I'd need a special too, but it turns out that a wack with a hammer is perfect!

Wabi-Sabi is such an appealing idea. We could all do with finding perfection in the imperfect, rather than constantly striving for more.  Wabi-Sabi Sewing is a lovely gentle book which guides you through the projects; nothing too challenging but still plenty to learn, and there are fast or slow makes depending on your mood.  The photos are pure eye candy with Karen's trademark blues, greys and mustards flowing through the imagery, gorgeous! I've got a copy of Wabi Sabi Sewing to giveaway today on Instagram today @verykerryberry and watch out for other's doing the same in the book tour.

Large Eyelets
Small rivets
Wabi Sabi Sewing book - Amazon, Book Depository, signed copy
Insul fleece
Linen thread
Prym Vario Pliers
Clover metal thimble

Monday 22 October 2018

October at Eternal Maker and Plush Addict

Time for a visit to my sponsors, Eternal Maker and Plush Addict and rummage through their new arrivals...

Eternal Maker

  1. Essex Linen Classic Wovens Navy Check.  Timeless, large woven check, love it!
  2. Comic Book Heroes FQ Bundle.  No shop puts together a curated bundle quite like Eternal Maker.  These fabrics are also available singularly but the easy route is buying them in a quilt-ready stack like this!
  3. Snowy Polar Bears Japanese Cotton.  I find these softly coloured cute Japanese fabrics irresistible, especially as the weather gets cooler.
  4. Equations in Black, Science Fair, from Robert Kaufman.  A great take on a text fabric, also available in white.

  1. Mammoth Flannel in red from Robert Kaufman.  Extra squishy cotton flannel fabric, ideal for adult lounging PJ pants. Not a huge amount left of this, just saying!
  2. Stretch Cotton Jersey- Swans in Yellow.   Cotton lycra blend so good recovery and ideal for tops, dresses, leggings etc.
  3. Riley Blake Blue Carolina, 11 Fabrics.  This is the first time I've seen this collection from Christopher Thompson, The Tattooed Quilter and there's a pleasing mix of pretty prints.
  4. Sevenberry Leopards in Black. Leopard print seems to be everywhere in the shops this year so I couldn't resist this print. 

Monday 8 October 2018

Tips and Tricks for Taking Part in an Instagram Photohop

If you are a sewer and on Instagram, chances are that you've taken part in at least one photohop. These usually take place over a month, are themed (e.g. quilting, dressmaking, sewing) and you post a daily photo following a daily prompt from the organiser and have a hashtag so you can search and meet other people taking part.  There may be giveaways and prizes which are sponsored by fabric shops/companies/designers as an incentive for taking part and aiming to complete all the prompts.

This September, I co-hosted the  #GreatBritishQuilter photohop with Sarah Ashford.  This involved us each posting a daily prompt at 8am plus posting our personal response to the prompt, whilst also prepping the images and texts for a month of prompts and giveaways! September was a busy month for me so I knew I had to get organised and along the way, I discovered some tips and tricks that were helpful as a participant as well as a host. Instead of my previous photohop experience of scrabbling around on the day of a prompt trying to create a particular image, getting frustrated and usually abandoning the photohop or posting intermittent responses, I felt more relaxed, I could actively read comments and 'meet' the other people taking part and I really enjoyed it!  Here are my tips and tricks...

1. Print and Plan
Before a photohop starts, the organisers post an image with all the prompts.  For the #GreatBritishQuilter I posted a PDF in a blog post so this could be printed off at a large size.  If this is not the case, screenshot the prompt post and print it off so you can write on it and plan your photos.  This may sound time-consuming but a little time spent doing this before the photohop starts will save you time and stress on those difficult days when the unexpected has happened and finding an image of your favourite fabrics is not going to happen!
Read through the prompts and have your phone/tablet/laptop/desktop or wherever you have the majority of your photos stored.  The likelihood is that you'll already have some images that will work for the prompts- I've shown these below with an asterisk.

Now you don't have to use these older images, you could take a new one, but it's good to know that if push comes to shove, you have at least something to hand.  I did this mainly on my desktop computer so I made sure that all the photos I thought I might use were copied into an iPhoto folder.   For example, I found a photo from a family holiday in Amsterdam a few years ago that was perfect for prompt 27. Show Us a Rainbow:

This image ended up as one of my most popular posts!  Although there's no fabric, there's a definitely a rainbow and it was a great example of how quilt inspiration can be anywhere! 

Next, look at either a week or 10 days ahead at the photos you will need to take.  These are marked 'To Do' on the prompt sheet above.  This gives you a focus so that you can think, ok, on the next day with good light, I need to get my fabrics out and take a pic, or,  I need to walk to my local fabric shop and take a photo of the outside.  If you can get ahead,  work out what you have and what you need, a photohop becomes so much easier!

2. Cloud Storage: Dropbox
I found straightaway with my old photo search that I had some images on my phone, and others on my desktop (they'd been long deleted on my phone).  Because Sarah and I were co-hosting, we also needed all the prompts and text files in a place we could both access and Sarah had already done this using Dropbox.  I already the free version of Dropbox as Cloud storage for files on my desktop and I have the app on my phone, so we had a GBQ folder for the prompts images and text files, and we separately had our own folders for our personal images- for me this was KGBQ.  I copied all the photos I thought I might use into this from my various photo devices and numbered them to correspond with the prompt number. On the Dropbox app, when you open an image and hold your finger on it, an option comes up to 'save to camera roll' - this is on an iPhone, I assume a similar/same option for Android- and then the image on your phone and easily available to post on Instagram. 

There are other Cloud storage websites and apps, choose the one that works best for you.

3. Utilise Current Projects

I was making a quilt for an exhibition in September so I maximised the number of prompts that this project could cover, it was 7. My current WIP, 11. Project Last Finished, 20. Walking Foot, Free Motion or Hand Quilting, 28. Quilt Basting,  with different photos as appropriate. 

4. Get Creative
Some prompts can make you scratch your head- how will I show that in photo form.  For me this was 'Quilty Quote'.  I didn't want to repost a meme I'd found on Google images, so instead I used the Over app and wrote a quote from one of my favourite sewing songs, Coat of Many Colors by Dolly Parton.

On many of the prompts, people came up with all sorts of visual and linguistic interpretations and it was part of the fun of reviewing each day's responses!  Don't be afraid to get creative with a prompt!

5. Try Something New
There's usually a prompt in a photohop that may mean you need to try something new- whether this is   creating a Boomerang video or working out what a 'Flatlay' is.  Google is your friend here,  do your research, google what it is and have a go.  Some of the first time Flatlay images in #GreatBritishQuilter incredible!

6. Instagram Drafts
I had no idea about Instagram drafts before co-hosting #GreatBritishQuilter and when Sarah mentioned it and how helpful it could be, I was straight onto Google and working out how to do it- this video tutorial is helpful.  This a relatively recent addition to Instagram and now I've found it, I use it all the time!  It allows you to prep a series of posts, edit them as many times as you need to and save them as drafts.  When it comes to posting, you tap drafts instead of your camera roll photos and you can post quickly and easily.  A revelation!  The carousel feature which allows you to post multiple photos in a single post is also very helpful if that's something you've not found yet- example of how it works here

7. Use a Photo Editing App/Website
Sometimes you want to add something extra to your prompt image like additional text, or collaging a series of images and there are lots of websites and apps available for this, many offer basic features for free.  I use Picmonkey and Layout App and Kim recently suggested Canva which is a free app to create images and designs.  I made the first image using Canva for the first time!

8. Use the Suggested Hashtag
Follow your hosts and use their preferred Hashtags.  It means they can find your posts, like and comment on them, and other people taking part can do the same.  Photohops are all about finding new people in your tribe.  I met loads of new-to-me quilters in #GreatBritishQuilter, found out new tips, shops, books and so much more.

I hope these have been of help and also encourage you to get prepared and take part on a whole month of photo prompts.  I found #GreatBritishQuilter got me through an emotional month as our daughter got ready to leave for University and gave me fresh creative inspiration.  If you have any additional tips, please share in the comments!