About Me

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Denman Island, British Columbia, Canada
Jean Cockburn retired from her professional career as an academic librarian in 2008 to become a textile artist living on Denman Island, British Columbia. She draws, quilts, embroiders, knits and crochets, makes wearable art, weaves baskets, dyes fabric, and paints watercolours. Her work has been exhibited locally in juried and group shows on Denman Island, in Courtenay, Comox, and Duncan on Vancouver Island, in West Vancouver, and across Canada with the Surface Design Association.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sort of a selfie of my Vogue caftan trial run

I took this looking into the full length mirror in the closet. Hmmm, the dress looked quite pretty when my arms were down, not so sweet in this position. Anyway, I think there is so much ease around the waist and hips that I will just make the centre front and back pieces narrower, rather than do the pleat in the finished costume. Although the fit around the neckline is better, it is still a wee bit large, so I think that I will reduce by 1 1/2 on each, rather than the 1 1/4 that I did for this trial version.

A really, really bad picture :-(

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Trial run for my wearable art project

Today I finished the "muslin" for my wearable art project. I made it from loosely woven blue solid cotton fabric on hand, and the side front panels from a separate printed voile as there was not enough of the blue solid. I rather like the contrast, which gave me the idea to stencil the dragonflies onto muslin for the side front panels of the real thing which will be made from linen.
I had to take a pleat of 1 1/4 inches on both the centre front and the centre back. I like it as a design feature so I am going to repeat it. The pleats are stitched down as far as the waistline. I found some sweet buttons in my box, so used those on the front pleat as embellishment.
I don't like floppy sleeves, so I gathered these at the bottom and finished with a narrow binding of the printed voile. On my costume I will probably want to embellish the lower sleeves, so will not repeat this.
I turned the hem up twice by an inch, I just eyeballed, and stitched it down.
This is very light and floaty and I rather think that I will be wearing it this summer. On the deck, wine glass in hand, sun slipping behind the western mountains . . .

Large hexagons, whither?

I made many large hexagons (1 3/4 inches on an edge, 3 1/2 inches across widest point) when planning my nephew's quilt. It is a Burgoyne Surrounded pattern, as interpreted by Sarah Fielke in Material Obsession 2. Fielke's version is called Charlotte Sometimes and it features circle of brightly coloured fabric appliquéd all over the quilt. I planned to use hexagons instead of circle, and made lots of them from delightful fabrics. I bought a lot of the fabrics from the Pink Chalk Fabrics sale page.

I finished the piecing of the quilt top at our Thetis Island quilting retreat, laid it out on a large table and started placing the hexagons. My fellow quilters were gathered round, all excited to see the project at that stage. As I put out the brightly coloured pieces, we all began to pull back. Finally I asked, "Does this work"? The consensus was that the potential appliqué pieces added nothing to the quilt, and would make it look too busy. I gulped, and realized the group was right. Time to accept the top as done.

Blurry pic, sorry. The appliqués would have gone where the pins are.
Fast forward, the quilt top has been sandwiched and quilted and the binding is going on. It will be revealed at our quilting guild's June potluck lunch, then it will come to Edmonton with us for the wedding at the end of June.

So, now I have a bag full of lovely large hexagons. I am already in the process of piecing a Grandmother's Garden quilt from 1 inch hexies, so no desire to make another one. I decided to make flowers from the large hexies, and appliqué them to background fabric. I had purchased, also from Pink Chalk, a beautiful pack of fat quarters of Robert Kaufman Quilter's Linen in neutral shades and still had 6 pieces left. I supplemented with a piece of Osnaburg (I got mine from Nancy's Notions) and one of Meadowlark Muslin (I got mine from Fabricland, but they do not always have it in stock) for a total of 8. When I finish the appliqué I will make a beautiful set of place mats. I think that I will do free motion machine quilting rather than hand quilting as the quilter's linen is a bit stiff and would be hard to hand needle.

Appliquéing the hexagons to the Quilter's Linen.

All eight pieces.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Continuing to conceptualize my wearable art costume

I find that when I am making an art piece, I cannot plan the whole from the beginning. It is very much an iterative process for me. As I lay cozy in bed this morning, listening to the haunting calls of the loons out on the water, I realized that the paper hexagons that I was working on will not work for this wearable art piece. I either want some silk in a golden colour from which I can make yo-yo's, and or paper pieced dragonflies. I have a pattern for the latter, and I want to try that. And I want to make piping for the main seam lines, and face the sleeves in a contrasting fabric. And I am still thinking about embroidery . . .
Today I heat set the front panels with the screen printed dragonflies and put those pieces aside with the rest of the pattern pieces while I plan more embellishments. I experimented with colouring the stamps on my practice muslin piece.

Experimenting with colouring the stamped images on my practice muslin. The Sharpie pens bleed in the fabric. The Seta Skribs are excellent and the yellow and blue blend for a wonderful green
And, and - ta da - I finished quilting the Burgoyne Surrounded quilt for my nephew. That was a challenge as the quilt is so big, and such a struggle to manage in the machine. Whew, the last time I machine quilted one that big, I said "never again". But, never say never. I did not do free motion quilting as I thought a) it would be lost on the dark grey fabric, b) the severe lines of the squares in the patchwork pattern are not sympathetic to swirls and leaves and cobwebs that I like for my free motion quilting motifs, c) the quilt is too big to successfully maneuver around the machine, and d) the wee squares of different colours seem best left unsullied by quilting lines. So I basically stitched in the ditch all over the place (boring, boring) and just did a few diagonal lines and some straight lines in the border.
Adding the binding.
I have stitched on the binding, and I am hand stitching it on the back. I like that kind of hand stitching, so I am not in a rush. Now I need to think of a name for this quilt, and make a label. It will need a suitcase all to itself for the plane trip to Edmonton at the end of June. I hope the extra bag cost is cheaper than mailing it.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Working on my wearable art costume

I worked today on my wearable art costume. I am making the side front panels from muslin that I am stamping with dragonflies in gold acrylic paint. I spent a happy morning experimenting with black screen printing ink, this gold acrylic paint and another dark yellow paint, with fabric crayons and with Seta fabric markers. In the end, I decided to go with the gold acrylic paint. When I got it right, which was not always, it showed the best detail, and I liked the look.
For my main fabric, I will be using an oatmeal coloured linen, and I think the gold paint will be a sweeter design than the dark black printing ink.

Spreading the  gold acrylic ink with a brayer on a disposable palette sheet. One of my rubber stamps is ready to use.

I outlined the shape of the side front on 2 pieces of fabric using dressmaker's carbon paper.

I screen printed the large drabonflies and stamped the smaller ones, within the defined shape. 

The gold printed dragonflies are very beautiful I think.

These are paper pieced octagons. I am thinking of using them and small yo-yos for decoration on the sleeves and around the neckline.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sewing clothes

I have not sewed clothes for a really long time. However, after the success of my Shoreline costume at last fall's Wearable Art Fashion Show, I was invited by a fellow participant to make a garment for a Comox groups that gets together once a year in July.
The pattern that everyone is going to make is an out of print pattern Vogue 7335. I was able to buy it online, an unused pattern in sizes 8-10-12, which is a hard to find size in this pattern. And that is because it fits so large. I was forewarned by others in the group who have done a trial run. Even though me personal measurements would indicate otherwise in this case (older patterns have smaller measurements for larger numbered sizes), I cut the pattern to size 8.
Today I used some fabric that I had around to make a first trial of the caftan. And wow, it is large on the bodice. See how the pattern view shows the top as riding high on the neck and covering the shoulders? Well I will have to make a 2 inch pleat on both the front and centre backs to achieve that look. Actually, I think that I will do that on the actual garment, as the pleat, which I will sew down on top and release at the waist, will make a nice design feature.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Watercolour Art Show

The first show of the 2014 season at the Denman Island Summer Art Gallery is the local watercolour group, the Group of Several. I joined the group in January of this year, so had few little pieces on display last evening for the opening. The show is on from May 22 to 27.

Original Design quilt entered in Blogger's Quilt Festival

I am allowed to enter two quilts in the Blogger's Quilt Festival. My first quilt was an Art Quilt, and the second is an Original Design quilt.

This is my queen size quilt Dragonfly Summer, which was shown at the Denman Island Summer Art Gallery in 2013. The centre is hand-pieced 1 inch hexagons joined by hand, that central piece then hand appliquéd with fine silk thread to a piece of bronze coloured silk/cotton fabric. The surrounding squares of solid coloured cottons were rubber stamped in archival ink with various motifs, including dragonflies. The leaf motifs were subtly coloured with Sharpie pens.
The whole was free motion machine quilted with rayon machine embroidery threads.

Note the free motion quilted cobweb in the lower right corner of the central bronze coloured fabric.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Art Quilt entered in Blogger's Quilt Festival 2014

I am delighted to be entering an art quilt in the 2014 Blogger's Quilt Festival.

The quilt festival is an initiative of Amy's Creative Side.


My art quilt is titled It All Comes From the Sun.

This quilt was on display in August 2013 at the Sustainability Art Show at the Denman Island Arts Centre.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Grandmother's Garden hexagon quilt top

I keep working away on the hexagon quilt top. It is pleasant hand work to do in the evening while listening to an audiobook.

Adding to the top becomes more difficult as it gets larger. I have made all the flowers but now I am adding the white path.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Working on nephew's wedding quilt

I made the top for my nephew's wedding quilt at our March Thetis Island quilting retreat. It is a version of Charlotte Sometimes, a design by Sarah Fielke in Material Obesssion 2. The basic pattern is Burgoyne Surrounded. My nephew loves history, so I think this will intrigue him, and the backing is a number pattern fabric from Ikea, which is also appropriate as he is a mathematics teacher.

The wedding is at the end of June, so it is time to get quilting.

It is a large quilt, about 80 by 80 inches I think, so I had a challenging time manoeuvring it as I machine quilted today. However, I managed to stitch in the ditch on the main lines outlining each large block, and started the diagonal lines through the centre of the blocks. After I finished the stitch in the ditch, I serged all around the outside of the quilt, which eliminated the extra annoying batting and backing fabric. I have had bad experiences in the past of accidentally catching that extra fabric in my quilting, and the subsequent unpicking is really not fun. Thus the diagonal quilting was already easier to manage.

I was at the Cumberland Quilt Show on Sunday, and picked up some Superior threads. I am using Bottom Line in the bobbin, light grey, and So Fine on top, dark grey colour. Fantastic thread, in that one bobbin is just lasting and lasting, it is so fine. No tension problems, no breakage, no thread build up, no lint- all that is fantastic. However, I think that the polyester thread stretches a bit, so that is a bit different. But overall, this quilting is going really well, and I think a lot of that is due to the excellent thread.

The serged outer edges of the quilt prior to starting the diagonal quilting lines.

This shows the main sashing lines that have been stitched in the ditch.

Starting the diagonal quilting lines.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Modified Dear Jane quilt top

I took the idea of the Dear Jane quilt and did my own version. The top so far is 12 by 12 squares, each square with sashing is 5 inches.
I think that I will use this as a centre and work borders around it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Red colour!

Every Friday I go into Comox for Tai Chi in the morning at the Little Red Church. Look at the red rhododendron in back - wow!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Community Quilt

I spent the day free motion quilting a community quilt for the guild. Fun to do as it is not too large, so easy to handle in the machine. And good practice for me before I start my nephew's wedding quilt.

Quilting complete. I will pass it on to the next volunteer to do the binding.

Back detail
Quilting detail.

Quilting detail.

Quilting detail.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Framing day today

This morning I finished making the apron and tea towel from remaining fabric. I made the apron from these instructions for a butcher style apron  http://etherwork.net/ejmtph/sew/apron.html  .
Okay, nothing amazing here. I want to make a more exciting apron, maybe patchwork. That is for another day.

I picked up our Guild's latest community quilt from Ann, and will start the machine quilting on it this afternoon.

I went over to Marilyn's and she helped me with the exhibition standard for framing of my few pieces for our May 22 show. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Gaia Has a Green Navel

I have finished my embroidery piece. I have titled it Gaia Has a Green Navel.
As I was adding more french knots last evening, I realized that as much as I love working on this piece, it is done. Any more embroidery would detract from what has already been done. I added a signature cobweb in the lower right corner and my initials. I will add a hanging sleeve on the back.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Studio work

Since I got home I have been framing and organizing art work for the watercolour group show at the Denman Island Summer Art Gallery. Our show opens on May 22.

At home I have been working on my embroidery and on my hexagons.

I ordered fabric today for the Colette Moneta dress pattern, and I made the effort to find a Canadian source for online fabric, L'oiseau Fabrics in Calgary.

As I was getting brain dead from trying to be creative, I cut out an apron from some kitchen patterned fabric that I purchased at Fabricland last year. Yeck, the print is off-grain. I am glad this is only an apron, so not a biggie, but I would be annoyed if this was a dress. I will use the excess for a couple of kitchen towels. Pics tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


We arrived home late Friday from our ten day Alberta road trip that included three separate family visits, seeing our young grandchildren for the first time after a whole year, reconnecting with old friends and sadly, ended in Vancouver with the funeral of a dear friend. It was quite an experience.

I deliberately did not take any creative work with me as I knew that I would not have time to concentrate (plus I needed to read a book, write a review for the Flagstone and submit it  by May 10 - for the Denman Island Readers and Writers Festival - which I managed to do on time, whew) so I was more than ready to make art again when we got home.

I started slowly by picking up a piece that I have been working on gradually over the past year. I am almost finished the final embroidery, and am starting to think of a title for this piece. I am thinking of "Gaia Has a Green Navel" - or maybe "Gaia Has a Green Belly Button" - probably the first one. I have joined the Surface Design Association  and hope that I may be able to submit it for a show sometime.