About Me

My photo
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.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Artistic endeavours; one watercolour and the rest textile

Some new art projects on the go.

On Tuesday our watercolour painting group worked outside at Fillongley Beach. We all worked on painting the wonderful clouds on the eastern horizon. 
This will be a wallhanging. The background is a beautiful handkerchief linen. I am teaching myself how to needle turn appliqué leaves. My points are not perfect, but it is fun trying. I have been making fabric circles using Karen Kay Buckley's Perfect Circles templates, and I will add those next, then lots of embroidery. I am incorporating techniques that I learned from the Soupçon Quilt Along from the wonderful Karen H and her excellent blog Faeries and Fibres.
Lat year I made about almost a hundred 4 inch blocks from scrap fabrics, fabrics left over from making my It All Comes From the Sun wallhanging. I loved the combination of subtle blues and yellows, with the occasional dark brown and medium green so much, and could not bear to discard the leftovers. So I made the squares just because, and they sat in a box for a year. Then this week, when other projects were done and I could creatively play, I took them out and worked on my design wall. I was inspired by the Surface Design Association's call for entries for The Edge of the Forest exhibition. The size limitations are 16 inches wide by 28 inches tall, max. So I can use 28 blocks each for three different compositions, and I have 4 blocks left over to make a sampler to test quilting stitches. Meant to be!

First composition pieced. I think of rays of sunlight on water.

Second composition pieced. I think this is a summer meadow.

Third composition pieced. This is forest trees, deconstructed.

Starting the thread work on the third composition. I have quilted in some tree shapes and am thinking where to go next. The thread drawing comes more easily to me than drawing with a pencil.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Completed Moneta Dress

I finished my Moneta dress today.

The fabric is Stenzo Jersey Knit from L'Oiseau Fabric Shoppe. It is 92% cotton and 8% spandex.
The Moneta dress certainly easy to construct, with excellent instructions and a very nifty technique for lining the bodice which is excellent for a sleeveless dress. I spent the most time altering the pattern. My first muslin showed serious armhole gaping, which I experience in every sleeveless dress that I purchase - it has to do with my low full bust in ratio to my narrow shoulders. I always make an inconspicuous dart of fabric in the armhole and sometimes the centre back as well,  including the facing and without any deconstruction of the garment, and I hand sew the dart on the inside. It works well for an after the fact alteration.
Devon Iott, who is giving excellent instruction with the Moneta Sewalong, recommended making a dart of the excess armhole fabric, then redrawing the pattern to eliminate the excess. I was doubtful that would give the refined fit that I want to achieve in a hand sewn garment. I found this link on the Burda Style page, that was developed to remove armhole gaping from another Colette pattern  http://www.burdastyle.com/techniques/get-rid-of-a-gaping-armhole  .

Here the excess fabric has been folded out of the armhole and transferred to a newly created bust dart. I used Pellon pattern tracing fabric, a light weight nonwoven that is perfect for patterns, and is much easier to use than tissue paper, to retrace the pattern. I use Medipore medical tape to tape the alterations. It is basically the same fabric in a tape, and can be ironed and written on.

Here I have folded and cut the dart edges, and redrawn the armhole with a French curve.

Here is my lined Moneta bodice with the bust darts. It fits very well. I like the double fabric on the lined bodice as it is less clingy and drapes nicely.

Presentation bag for the wedding quilt

Yesterday I put the binding, label and a hanging sleeve on Blue Girls on the Beach, a hanging sleeve and label on Forest Birds, made a lined bag as "wrapping" for the wedding quilt and started on my Moneta.
The studio is much tidier at projects get finished, and I like things to be tidy and organized as I contemplate new projects. I do not work well with the distraction of piles of fabric and patterns. And I have so many ideas in my head that I want to work on - especially dyeing and printing.

The wedding quilt all nicely snuggled inside its presentation bag.

Blue girls on the Beach before quilting and binding.

Forest Birds. I am thinking of submitting this piece for the Surface Design Association Edge of the Forest exhibition open to Canadian artists.
I started on my Moneta dress from Colette patterns. I have some unwanted knit fabric that I used for a muslin for the bodice, and I am really glad that I did that before cutting into my good fabric. Unlike the Violet blouse, which fit oversize, the Moneta is cut close to the body, in fact the pattern indicates with negative ease. This makes for a sleek fit with the knit fabric, but I don't want my back bra bulge showing, so I will add a bit of ease to the final cut. And I was able to reshape the front bodice armscye to remove the some arnhole gaping.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dragonfly Wearable Art Costume

I will be participating in a wearable art group in Comox at the end of July. The group agreed to all make the same vintage Vogue caftan pattern.

I was able to purchase this vintage pattern online. It was unused, and in a smaller size range, which was important as the pattern fits very large. I had been warned about this ahead of time. As I normally wear a size 8 or 10, this was important.

I made a prototype, a muslin as it were, of the pattern, and published a selfie photo here http://whenyouloveblue.blogspot.ca/2014/05/sort-of-selfie-of-my-vogue-caftan-trial.html .

As a result of the prototype, I realized that although I had sewn a size 8, and taken a tuck of 1 1/4 inches at both the centre front and centre back, the fit was still sloppy. For my finished project, I cut both the front and back 1 1/2 inches smaller from top to bottom, that is I reduced the width by 3 inches. That said, I sewed the side seams at about 3/8 inch so that I did not need to trim the underarms. The other important adjustment was that I removed 1 inch along the centre of the sleeves, which raised the front and back necklines and made the armscye smaller. This vastly improved the fit so that I no longer look like I am swimming in an oversize nightgown. And ii fits much more like the image shown on the front of the pattern, where the neckline is quite high, although mine is much narrower than the neckline shown on the model, who must be a football linebacker to have such wide shoulders.

I love the dragonfly fabric that I created by screen printing and stamping with gold acrylic paint on Meadlowlark muslin. I used this fabric for the two front side panels.

The main fabric is a lovely semi-sheer oatmeal coloured linen that I bought I know not where. I bought gold coloured silk fabric from Fabricland that I washed so it was very pliable, and I used that for the piping, the neck facings, the sleeve cuffs and the hem binding.
I sewed

I constructed the garment using Aurifil thread and topstitched with Guttermann metallic thread with which I used a Schmetz metallic thread 80/12 and had no problems as I stitched in the ditch along all the piping.

I made paper foundation pieced dragonflies from the gold silk and muslin, using a modified pattern from the book  "Paper Piece a Flower Garden" by Jodie Davis. Then I backed my pieces with batting and muslin and free motion quilted with the gold metallic thread. I used my mini quilts as outside facings on the front and back of the neckline. Once the garment was finished, I added beading to the front dragonfly motif.

Handworked Irises Wallhanging

I found this unfinished project in a box, and decided that it was too beautiful not to complete. It dates from several years ago when I did all my stitching by hand. Hence this pattern, from Ruth McDowell's book Pieced Flowersis entirely hand pieced and hand quilted with #8 perle cotton. I made the piping and applied the binding by machine. I made hanging triangles and have cut dowelling to fit.

Irises wallhanging

The back with hanging triangles

The triangles are made from linen scraps

The piping adds a lot to the beauty of the wallhanging

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Dolly with a Red Dress On

Today I made a single feature dolly, using Barb's instructions from yesterday's class. This piece is much larger. The single blocks yesterday were about 5 by 8 inches. This piece is 14 by 22 inches. I gave her grey hair so she would look like me, and you know, I do have a really small head, so maybe this pinhead is a likeness ;-)

"Dolly with a Red Dress on" pinned, waiting to be quilted.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Making dollies with Barb

Our quilting group had a wonderful day, learning how to piece dollies from our super quilting teacher, Barb Mortell.

Here are my dollies, lollygagging at the beach. Now, should I hand quilt or machine quilt? 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Sewing Violet blouse by Colette

The availability of attractive clothing patterns from new independent pattern providers, such as Sewaholic,  Colette, By Hand London, and blogging trends like Me Made May have renewed my interest in sewing clothing.
I ordered the Violet blouse pattern and Moneta dress pattern from Colette. Colette is sponsoring a Moneta sewalong which I am looking forward to.

Today I finished sewing Violet in a rust coloured linen with facings from a nice quilting cotton. I used a fusible knit interfacing on the facings (I think fusible on the face fabric too often looks bubbly) and sewed the interfacing and facings together right sides together along the outside edges, then turned and pressed for a finished edge on the facings. I topstitched the facings from the front side of the face fabric so they lie flat and are comfortable to wear and easy to iron. I also lined the back yoke, and made french seams on the sides. These extras were not listed in the pattern instructions, which I consider a drawback, as they make a much nicer garment. I can buy ordinary clothing cheaply ready made, so I think the point of sewing for yourself is to make something special.

I cut a size 8 on the top, and widened to a 12 around the hips. I think that the pattern fits large. I could have cut a 6 on top and 10 around the hips, but still I like the fit of the blouse and will probably make it again as is.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Pleated tote bags

Yesterday and today I made tote bags as birthday gifts. I used Osnaburg fabric for the lining, facings, the top edges and the handles. I used a linen type fabric printed with large birds for the main fabric for one tote, and my own screen printed muslin with dragonflies for the second tote.

I used this free online pattern from The Long Thread by Ellen Luckett Baker  . It is a great pattern, and sews up beautifully. The only change I made was to add magnetic snaps to the top of each tote bag.
One issue that I have with the final result is the bumpy surface of the main fabric as a result of the uneven bonding of the fusible fleece. I found this advice on a tutorial on using fusible fleece:
"It is essential, in my opinion, to first fuse some regular interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric. Why? There are two reasons:
  •  See the bloated, wavy (and ugly) aspect that the fabric takes when you apply fusible fleece directly. Applying a layer of regular fusible interfacing first will prevent this.
  • The other reason is that, particularly for bags, this extra thickness of stabilizer further improves the firmness and durability of the bag."The advice above comes from the Sacotin.com website and goes on to give excellent pictures and notes on using fusible fleece. I did not follow that advice in this instance, but I will when using fusible fleece in the future.

Two tote bags ready to be gifted.

"Mountain Spring" nephew quilt finished

I have completed the quilt for my nephew's wedding and named it Mountain Spring. The grey fabric with the spots of colour look like wildflowers in the mountains in springtime, and the diagonal lines of blue across the quilt look like cascades of snow melt in the mountains in spring.

Mountain Spring Quilt.
I finished the quilt with free motion quilting in the wide borders. I did three rows of leaves and swirls, and a big cobweb in one corner. I try to put a cobweb into all of my free motion quilting designs.

Here is the cobweb on the reverse side of the quilt.
The cobweb design on the front of the quilt is subtle because I used dark grey thread to blend with the fabric.
The back of the quilt is fabric that I bought at Ikea a few years ago. It is numbers spelled out in words, which is appropriate at my nephew is a mathematics teacher.

The back of the quilt

The quilt label.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Adding to the nephew quilt

I finished the binding on the nephew wedding quilt last night, spread it out on the floor and thought - hmmm, that Sarah Fielke knows what she is doing with this design. It does need some colour pop and circle shapes to counter all those squares.
I got out my collection of 1 inch hexagons and laid them out in the sashing. I tried 2 inch hexagons first, and they did not work, but I really like the look of the smaller hexies.

It does look nice with all those extra pops of colour!
So, here we go! I am appliquéing hexies like crazy, and hand quilting around them at the same time. So two passes for each hexie, using dark grey 50 weight poly Gutermann thread; first I appliqué the hexie, then I go around the outer edge of it, through all layers to hand quilt. Fast this way, and it looks nice.
Whooee, the wedding is in just over 3 weeks, so I have to move it!