How exciting to be writing about my first experience of an ATC swap! Let me introduce myself first – I’m Julie Briggs, the newer half of the partnership that is The Sewing Directory – and a former editor of Sewing World magazine.
It was my business partner, Fiona, who mentioned the wonderful world of swaps – something I hadn’t encountered before (you will ask where HAVE I been hiding!) I was intrigued and so decided to take the plunge to make something small and achievable!
The theme of this swap ‘Winter Comforts’ immediately struck a chord with me as I had attended a wonderful workshop with quilter and author Gillian Travis – back in the autumn to make a ‘jumper’ needle case inspired by her travels to Scandinavia. I made a few for Christmas gifts and so I had a reasonably clear idea of my mission to create this ATC in the style of Gillian Travis’ work.
Being very partial to a bit of ‘Scandi’ design myself, the workshop had been a delight using gorgeous wool felts in soft muted colours, gently teasing Aurifil Lana 12wt woolly threads to use through the sewing machine (yes, that was quite a challenge – particularly the threading!) and finally getting to utilise some of those rarely used automatic stitches on my Janome. Many of the stitches have that ‘fair-isle jumper’ look that is perfect for this style of project.
Upon measuring out the size of the ATC, I quickly realised that a miniature jumper was going to be more difficult to achieve in ATC size (with fiddly arms WAY too small to work with!), so I plumped for a simple bobble hat shape instead and decided I would include a bit of hand stitching to suggest a pompom! I sketched a very simple shape to get started.
Gillian’s wonderful book ‘Nordic Journeys in Stitch’ (available direct from her on her website shop) explains the process for working in this style and so after getting the basic shapes cut and sorted, it was time to prepare the background. This involved a bit of stencilling with acrylic paints to make it more interesting. I have a couple of suitably Nordic-looking stencils and I love how the orange paint really stands out and ties in with the colour scheme of the felts I used.
Now to add some machine stitching to give a framework, using free machine embroidery. This gave me a rough line for which to add the automatic stitches later.
I then added some decorative free machine zig-zag stitching using the Aurifil Lana threads and a topstitch needle – amazingly it threaded first time and it didn’t break! This started to give the piece a ‘woolly’ look.
The addition of some interesting automatic stitches really gave life to the hat.
No bobble hat is complete without a pompom and so I added this with the Lana thread and some simple hand embroidery.
The bobble hat was complete! I am pleased with it and I hope my swap recipient is too – Gillian’s technique is brilliant and every piece is individual. I can see me making more of these woolly beauties – perhaps a mini quilt like Gillian’s one day!
Thanks to Ali Burdon for the opportunity of taking part in this lovely swap – what’s the next one?!
There won’t be too long to wait Julie! Thanks so much for your lovely guest post, I’m delighted to have been introduced to the work of Gillian Travis, and I can’t tell you how much I love your first ATC!