Needlecase community workshop

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Needlecase project and ‘maker’ essential equipment.

Last year I worked on a large project to create the Shipley Art Gallery Centenary Quilt, whilst doing that I worked with a small, lovely group of women who were part of the ‘Syrian Family Group’ who met up regularly in Gateshead. The women made about 10 of the hand stitched patchwork squares for the quilt that is now on display at the Shipley Art Gallery.

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Hand stitching a needlecase.

Recently, the women have asked if I could work on developing some other projects with them, to help them get back into sewing. We decided it would be helpful to make up ‘sewing maker packs’, so that everyone had the essential equipment to get them going back at home. The pack included and pair of scissors, needles, thread and pins. So it was decided to make a needlecase as the first sewing project, to keep the needles and pins safe.

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Sewing flower designs onto the needlecase.

The needlecase was made with felt, so that it was practical, versatile and gave a lovely finish. The cases could also be further embellished with buttons and extra stitching.

We meet this Saturday at the Shipley Art Gallery and had a very busy afternoon. When crafting in groups, I always love the social aspect of it: lots of nattering, laughing and cups of tea!

Here are some of the finished hand stitched felt needlecases made by the group on Saturday.

 

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How to: English Paper Pieced Patchwork

Patchwork has a long tradition of using precisely cut, paper pieces to ensure that the complex geometric designs fit neatly into place, ensuring fewer mistakes and more economical use of fabric – which was and can be expensive.

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Finished, hand stitched Pinwheel design.

Follow these simple instructions below to help you with your own English Paper Pieced patchwork.

Patchwork 1

Stage 1

  • Pin the backing paper to the ‘wrong’ side of every fabric patch.
  • Fold over the seam allowance and pin it so that the paper and fabric are the same size.
Patchwork 2

Stage 2

  • Tack around this edge – contrast cotton works well as it can be easily removed later.

TIP: When sewing the corners, use your nails to ensure you have folded the fabric neatly to the points, then create ‘wings’ in the excess fabric, which will remain on the underside of your patchwork piece – giving you a neat sewing edge on top.

Patchwork 3

Stage 3

  • Place two patches, ‘right’ sides together, line them up carefully so that each corner you are going to sew from matches.
  • Pin along this line.
Patchwork 4

Stage 4

  • Then sew a very small whipstitch/over stitch, sewing this edge together – try not to sew through the backing paper.
Patchwork 5

Stage 5

  • Continue placing new pieces together.
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Right side of English paper Piecing.

  • Looking at the ‘right’ side of the fabric, you should be able to still see the hand sewn whipstitch you used to sew the two pieces together. This gives it it’s authenticity and adds beauty to the piece.
  • The tacking stitches you can see around the edge (and the paper inside) will eventually be take out, once all of the patchwork/quilt has been pieced together, before the backing fabric is placed on.
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Finished, hand stitched Pinwheel design.

 

Learning resources for local museum.

Over the past ten years, whilst working as a freelance textile artist, I have been fortunate enough to work considerably with the Hancock, now known as the Great North Museum. It is a fabulous Natural History Museum, with even a full size T-Rex skeleton. Over that time, I have made Habitat Bags and Dinosaur Bags to be used by schools. The textile bags illustrate the theme of the self-led workshops and contain lots of fun interactive pieces inside.

This week, during the school Easter half-term, I’ve temporarily had the bags back as all their handles needed repairing. The Learning Officer at the Hancock, told me that the 13 bags I have made are used, on average, by 10,000 school children a year on self led school workshops! This is a remarkable number and the photos I have taken and used on this post show how the bags look today – almost like new!

Under the Sea, Octopus Bag

Under the Sea, Octopus Bag

One of the most fun bags I’ve created was the Octopus Bag, which not only meant I could work with beautiful colours and fabrics to evoke the colours of the sea, but that I could also have a great time with freeform crochet to make an octopus hat for the school children to wear whilst taking about and exploring the octopus habitat.

My youngest daughter modelling the Octopus hat!

My youngest daughter modelling the Octopus hat!

Camouflage is an important aspect of the way ac octopus lives, so I also create a mat to aid teachers when introducing the idea of camouflage.

Octopus camouflage mat.

Octopus camouflage mat.

Another very popular bag, deals with the Arctic and that’s the Polar Bear bag and as you can see from the photos it is great fun! I ensured that when I made the polar bear paws, they were accurate in size to help the school children understand the enormity of the creature!

Polar Bear Bag.

Polar Bear Bag.

My youngest daughter modelling the polar bear nose and paws.

My youngest daughter modelling the polar bear nose and paws.

Squirrel for the Woodland Bag.

Squirrel for the Woodland Bag.

Squirrel's 'Drey'.

Squirrel’s ‘Drey’.

Above is a picture of a squirrel’s ‘Drey’ or nest, with other elements like crinkly sound making leaves and acorns.

Meadowland Bag, the Durham Argus butterfly.

Meadowland Bag, the Durham Argus butterfly.

Dinosaur pre-history bag.

Dinosaur pre-history bag.

This coming week, I’m making some additional elements to the dinosaur bags, to help school children with the visual understanding of fossils. These photos show some of the bags that these additional pieces will be put in. The bags deal with the swamps, the nests they built, creatures that evolved in the seas, reptiles and amphibians.

Evolving creatures.

Evolving creatures.

Evolving creatures under the sea.

Evolving creatures under the sea.

Besides the Hancock Museum, I have also made the Animal and Habitat Bags for Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and the Victoria Museum and Art Gallery in Liverpool.

Marsh Harrier habitats bag contents.

Marsh Harrier habitats bag contents.

Marsh harrier mask and wings.

Marsh harrier mask and wings.

Owl bag and contents, including dressing up wings and mask.

Owl bag and contents, including dressing up wings and mask.

Once I have completed the new pieces to go into the dino bags this week, I shall then begin fabric painting a banner to be used for schools to be used as a resource in the Egyptian workshops. The image will show a section from the weighing of the heart in the Book of the Dead.