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sketchbook course - posting 5

I'm coming back to these pages later on in the course and will be adding other things and colour to bring the pages together.

Yesterday I worked on rubbings and used both card and wire. It might be a little different to other people's work who are taking the course, but I love the gesso over the graphite - it makes such a lovely painterly blur!!

Butter knife and fruit spoon.


Sketchbook course - posting 4

Decorative page edge

Self portrait, lifting tones from a page covered in graphite using a rubber. Edges sharpened with pencil.

Sketchbook course - posting 3

Today I zoomed in on my cheese knife, butter knife, and bits and bobs - that prongy thing with the black oval lump on top is for spearing olives.

I have left the second page blank and unresolved as I'm going to come back to both my cutlery pages when I'm a bit further into the course and work on them some more, with fresh ideas and new techniques.

Spoons - sketchbook course, posting 2

Spoons, A4 sketchbook, 5B pencil on cartridge paper. Sketchbook course.


New sketchbook course

We are approaching nearly 4 months of lockdown in the UK, and I'm so thankful that I have an interest in all things artistic. It engages the brain and keeps me busy - I worry that if I stop for too long I'll end up on the chaise longue drinking gin. This is unlikely as I don't have either to hand, but you know what I mean!

G has encouraged (I was going to say goaded but thought better of it) me into a loooong walk each day, and as the spring was glorious, it's been wonderful in many ways. However, he has very long legs and walks quickly so for me it's more like a route march. I have said that I would like to speak to the management about this, and that I have flat feet and a note from my mum, but he can't seem to walk more slowly!!

I digress. I have, as a way of recording things for posterity, and to give me direction and stimulation, signed up for a new sketchbook course with Linda and Laura Kemshall (link in sidebar). Their videos, and website are great and I have had many years of inspiration from them (there are some free videos if you want something for nothing!!)  You also get lots of help and support from them along the way, which is fabulous because they're really nice people to talk to.

I'm hoping for great things of course and will post the odd photo of my work, but obviously I can't share anything more than that - course materials and techniques are naturally for those on the courses only.

So above is a snippet of the beginning of what I'm doing. Fingers crossed I can keep going (part of being on a course that costs money is that you have reasonable motive if all else fails). I'm feeling inspired and excited so it should be a doddle right, and I won't need a letter from anyone!

Update on those Artist Trading Cards

That was fun, but I think I might like to spend longer on them and not necessarily trade them. It's an interesting idea to work on a such a small prescribed size.

And some still unresolved.

I also had a feeling that some of the cards were too simple and I had to add value to them in some way - sticking on a leaf or a ribbon for example. I don't do that in my quilts or paintings so why on earth on these cards! Perhaps I thought buttons and bows and sequins and beads would make them popular. What a div. If you want one, please ask.

Artists Trading Cards 1 - monoprint with Caligo ink

If you look in the sidebar, you'll see a couple of places that I find inspirational. One is Linda and Laura Kemshall and the other is Dan Tirels.

Linda and Laura do online arts and crafts videos, and Dan Tirels specializes in monoprint (amongst other things). I know from Linda that there is a DMTV video coming up shortly about Artists' Trading Cards which I know nothing about, so I googled.

What a fun idea!. Using some of Dan's techniques this afternoon, I had a go! I used 3.5 inch x 2.5 inch mixed media paper cut from a large pad, and Caligo printing inks.

They're not supposed to take you too long - less than 15 mins - or you might not want to give them away!!

Here's my process:

Adding scraps of paper to the ATC

Inking up a piece of freezer bag using caligo inks and a spatula

Pressing the inked bag over the card and rubbing lightly.

Using a piece of kitchen towel to gently rub the edges of the shapes to help them blend in.

I then reapplied the inked bag gently, and used the end of the paintbrush to score lines across the card. See above.

Sew Over It - The Zoe Dress

I've made the Zoe Dress from Sew Over It in Dutch waxed cotton from the Rag Market in Birmingham. The fabric was a wonderful buy and don't be put off by the "waxed" bit because it's beautifully soft and reasonably light weight - not stiff like a Barbour coat!!

The pattern was a PDF one, but there was the option to have it printed onto large sheets instead of doing it yourself at home. It was £9 for the pattern and an extra £4 for the printing. I'd always do this in future rather than sticking together A4 sheets from my home printer, and thought it well worth the money.

The pattern arrived in a few days and was printed onto good quality paper over 2 sheets. The instructions had to be printed off at home, but that was ok. It said that the company didn't allow as much ease when drafting their patterns, so to be sure to measure carefully. Be Warned! They really mean this. I am a size 12 at M&S and found a size 16 in this pattern tight. After a pattern is drafted to a given size, an allowance or ease, is added to enable you to move, sit down etc. This varies between companies and is one reason that sizing is so different between them.

There is a front piece cut on the fold, 2 sides pieces and 2 back pieces; an invisible zip, and 2 sleeve options. There are also 3 pieces that form the facings for the neck, and 2 pockets. The instructions were very clear and well illustrated. It was an unusual pattern for me with all those panels (I am still a beginner dressmaker) but it was perfectly doable - I just had to think hard at one or two points.

The pockets went in well, but I felt they needed to be reinforced at the top and bottom, but this was to ensure that they lay well and pointed happily to the front of the dress. With this fabric the extra stitching didn't show much.

The panels fitted together well and there were no issues. There were bust darts and darts on the back at the neck. I haven't done an invisible zip before so it was a challenge! The fabric sewed beautifully with no problems and it's made a cool, summery dress. I liked the style, but would caution to check your size carefully with the measurements on the back of the packet. If I make again, I will go up a size but ensure I alter the bust darts, and shorten the waist in some way.

Chris Whitty - acrylic sketch

A3 sketchbook on collaged paper. Trying a new way of painting just to find out more.

I've also just received some new fabrics and patterns. Ready to sew again👍

Chris Whitty sketchbook portrait

Just playing around this afternoon with a portrait of Chris Whitty in acrylic paint on top of newspaper clippings. A3 sketchbook.

Laura portrait, acrylic underpainting.

Acrylic underpainting in A3 sketchbook. I'm tempted to go for oils on top of this underpainting (you can put oils on top of acrylics but not the other way round).

I was listening to a conversation the other day (on the TV not hiding behind the counter of M&S spying on passers by!!) between someone and Grayson Perry. It was on styles of painting, and one of them said that if we all "painted what we saw perfectly without any mistakes" all paintings would end up as photographic images. What then would make your style; what would make you different. The answer is your mistakes. It's the mistakes that make your painting yours. Now there's a thought.

Liesl top with Nani Iro fabric

A while ago I treated myself to some orange/rust coloured fabric by Nani Iro. It's linen, and along both selvedges there is a small flower pattern in a grey/blue.

I thought I'd make myself something new to wear and chose the Liesl & Co Gallery Tunic and Dress.

I've made this before a few times and have now altered the pattern to increase the area over the bust, shorten it, and reduce the shoulder size! I might need to trace this onto something more permanent.

The cutting out was a little tricky as I wanted to get the selvedge patterning at the bottom of my tunic, on the cuffs, and on the collar. Turned out it was quite doable, although it took time to get it all out in the 2 metres I'd bought. Here's the results!

Made to measure trousers part 2

After you have drawn your pattern in accordance with the instructions given in the book, you will have a couple of outlines on your graph paper. One will be the back and one the front of your trousers. (NB you have 2 overlapping outlines, because the pattern for the back and the front use the same points to measure from - there are just slight differences.) It's helpful to draw the front pattern in a colour such as red, and the back in green for example.

The next stage is to trace over each of those outlines with tracing paper, so that you have 2 pattern pieces which you can then cut out and use on your calico.  This is where the 2 colours really helps you to see the outline through the tracing paper! Don't forget to add darts and straight grain marks.

Do not cut out the paper pattern yet! You will need to add a seam allowance to the outline. I use a French Curve ruler to help and chose 5/8" so that I had some wriggle room if the trousers needed letting out.

On to cutting out, and stitching a toile for fitting.

You can see that they do fit around the top, but are waaaay too big on the legs, and need slimming down. Not so much Italian chic, more ferret catchers work wear!!

It's very hard to fit these on your own so I found an old pair of trousers that I liked the leg width of, and measured the new against the old. Wow!  Just need to do some alterations to the toile and try on again.

Once I've altered the toile and am happy I can transfer the alterations to the pattern pieces for future use.

Making made to measure trousers

I trotted off the title "Made to measure trousers" more in hope than anything else!

I'm spending a couple of days pattern drafting some trousers for myself in the hope of a good fit. I have a bit of trouble with trousers since I've got older and hope this will solve some problems.

To pattern draft, you first of all need a good book like this one:

It's the go-to for most beginners I believe and is certainly comprehensive, but a little dated in it's choice of shapes; a bit 1970's.

I went on a pattern cutting course with Lee Bojan, who I know still teaches pattern cutting at all levels. Well, he did before lockdown and I'm sure will continue as soon as possible. I can give you contact details if you're interested.

I spent a couple of days with him getting the basics and making a fitted bodice block; enough to give me the confidence to try a pattern block for trousers without help. I chose a commercial pattern block as a basis and then used the diagrams and text together with my own measurements, to draw a front and back pair legs. I will need to add a waistband and side/back opening, but I'm jumping ahead a bit.

Having drawn the pattern, I need to trace onto paper and cut out a toile - a practice garment that can be fitted to the body, and cut about if necessary. Come back in a couple of days to see how it goes!

In essence, you start by measuring your body accurately. Each pattern layout gives you a list of which measurements you need. You then write these on paper for reference or scribble in the book (I really find it's helpful to photocopy the relevant pages so I can do calculations and scribbling without ruining my book).

Starting at 0, which is a mark you make on the graph paper for the start, you then follow the instructions to plot various other marks using your measurements as a guide. So for example, the first line you draw may be from 0 to 1 and might be your waist meaurement. Line 1 to 2 may be your leg length and so on until the pattern shape is drawn. I know that simplifies things a bit as some of the lines involve more calculation, but that's the general idea.

Cielo Top and Dress - Number 20

I lied about the painting! I decided I wasn't quite finished with sewing and had an urge to make something in this new fabric.

The Cielo top and dress, Rome Collection No 20.

  • This is a boxy tee shape (you can have a dress length too). It's got a more intricate shoulder yoke (angled shoulder). It has bust darts but they're not huge making the shape quite loose.

My fabric was uber stretchy and drapey, so I steered clear of the bias neck facing in favour of the facings which are an alternative neckline finish.  There are 2 types of sleeve to choose from and mine is a straightforward short length with a cuff - the alternative was a very full 3/4 length sleeve. I am about a size 12 from M&S and made this as a size 12 and the fit was ok. I could go smaller, but would want to add a bit to the length if I did.

Up And Over - Painting number 3

Back to painting! This one will feature President Trump, The Pope and Harvey Weinstein. Not on chains this time but being trodden on and walked over.

BTW I might also have a chop at my hair today as it's driving me nuts. I wonder if we'll ever be able to visit a hairdresser again!! I believe my friend Laura Kemshall allowed her 7 year old to have a go at hers, but I only have Graham and that way lies disaster and hideousness.

Deer and Doe Hoya Blouse

I liked the style of this pattern but when I bought it I had no specific material in mind. It was to add to the pile to make as and when I had time and felt like a new blouse!

It cost £15 from Guthrie and Ghani (no affiliations). The pattern is printed on thick paper so you could use over and over without a problem. There were layouts - not always an option on modern patterns. The instruction leaflet was comprehensive and gave good step by step instructions with plenty of illustrations.

Some patterns make you feel as if you have made something of quality that will last and last, but this one didn't. I wasn't in love with the neck facing or facing for the bottom of the blouse. They worked of course, but I'm sure there's a better way of putting the blouse together. My fabric choice was tricky to sew so maybe this didn't help.

I wasn't sure how this would fit as according to the body measurements on the packet I needed a size 18 which I found upsetting! (I'm normally between a 12 and 14) So I traced the size 18 onto paper and then made a toile.

The toile wasn't too bad but I altered the shoulder length. I also altered the front lapels and made them cross higher up as my bra was on show. I then added 2 darts into the back so that the blouse didn't balloon out on me and followed my back snugly. I used my Maven French Dart Shift pattern for this, and simply added the back darts to my pattern paper. (Lay the new pattern over the old one matching the arm hole and front where possible. This will ensure the proper placement)

The finished blouse.