Sewing tools of note 3: Sewline glue pens

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Part of a series on my favourite sewing tools.

I love these glue pens. Other brands (which may be cheaper, but I’ve never looked so I don’t know!) are available, but I am loyal to Sewline for a few reasons.

Sewing tools of note Sewline glue pen

First of all it’s really easy to get hold of refills, second, the glue is blue-ish (but dries clear) so is easy to see when it’s on the fabric, and thirdly, it has a narrow tip, so is easy to apply to fiddly bits of fabric.

The key to this glue is that you can use it to temporarily hold bits of fabric, to other bits of fabric, or to paper, in places where it is difficult (or just cumbersome) to use pins. And it is unnoticeable or just washes away when you are done.

I use these glue pens to hold zips in place when I’m making zippy pouches, and when I’m making pockets in tote bags, and when I’m stitching zips into cushions. I use it when I’m doing foundation piecing – it’s a great way to hold the first piece of fabric in place on the paper or foundation fabric. I also use it when I’m doing raw edge appliqué (to hold motifs in place) and needle turn appliqué (again to hold motifs, but also to temporarily hold the turned edge in place whilst I stitch).

You can also use a glue pen for basting fabric to paper pieces when you are English paper piecing – Sue Daley is the queen of this technique, and you can see her video on how to do it just here.

Textile Artist Trading Card with using selvages or selvedges

Here’s my glue pen in use on one of my current projects – my ‘Say Something’ Artist Trading Card. I am using bits of selvedge/selvage with fun, positive words and building them up on a base fabric. Later on I am going to add some hand and machine stitching, but in the meantime, the glue pen is doing all the hard work of holding these bits of fabric until I apply the needlework. Brilliant stuff, you’ll wonder how you lived without it.

Support the work of very berry

Dragonfly Fabrics - Designer Dressmaking Fabrics

I love the new range of Schnittchen sewing patterns at Dragonfly – there are some fab looking projects for all range of skill levels. I particularly like this Katha tunic pattern – which I think would be fab with this brilliant cotton lawn with a sweet parakeet print:

Parakeet lawn fabric and Schnittchen tunic pattern at Dragonfly

Dragonfly are also hosting another shop open day on July 8th (save the date).You’ll be able to browse fabrics, get advice from the team and meet other dressmakers while enjoying free tea, coffee and cake. Look through their fabric ranges at your leisure and choose your sewing patterns with their expert help – there will also be exclusive offers. All of that plus the lovely East Sussex countryside and the pretty village of Mayfield to explore – sounds like a great day out.

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Black Sheep Wools

Meanwhile, Black Sheep Wools have a great yarn bargain for you, with 15% off all cotton yarns – you just need to use the code COTT15, which is also valid for cottons in the Clearance section too. Bargains upon bargains! If I wasn’t already in a terrible guilt about unfinished knitting projects, I would be much tempted by this glorious shawl pattern (not in the sale) and some lovely Noema yarn (cocktail coloured, but there are other lovely shades available if you aren’t a bright colour fiend like me!) from Louisa Harding.

Neoma yarn and shawl pattery by Louisa Harding from Black Sheep Wools

And finally, and very deservedly, Black Sheep Wools have been nominated for FIVE different awards in the 2016 British Knitting Awards. Congratulations to them, and please do go along and support them with your vote, if you are a Black Sheep Wools customer.

ATC Guest Post: The Creative Process

This week we welcome Catherine of Knotted Cotton, to talk about the way she put her Artist Trading Cards together. Catherine is another long term swapper, and I am a huge fan of her lovely free motion embroidery and her use of beautiful colours and contrasts. I am so glad that I am not the only one who covers furniture with sewing equipment and fabric…   

I’ve really enjoyed reading the other guest posts here about other swappers’ process for making their ATC cards and hearing how they organise their thoughts, and getting some practical tips too.

For me it starts with the thing I really love about taking part which is lying in bed in the middle of the night thinking about the theme for the current swap. (That doesn’t mean that I don’t also think about it obsessively during the day!) It’s not only fun thinking about what images the theme conjures up, but there’s also the challenge of making it work in such a small space.

I think about it a lot and always leave making my card until the last minute before I commit to an idea (panic! panic!) but by the time I get down to it an image has crystallized fairly clearly in my mind.

My own process is not very organised, or consistent. Sometimes I do a detailed sketch with notes, and pull fabric to go with it.

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Once I found the perfect excuse to buy myself a bunch of flowers and staged the idea!

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Sometimes it’s helpful just to have a rough sketch for size and proportion. I’m planning on making at least two cards this time as I’ve volunteered as potential swap angel, and for one card I have made a very basic drawing (cosy armchair, a cat, a cup of tea and an open book) and started getting together some materials.

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In that plastic bag I keep any little pieces of Bondaweb left over from other projects. The tub is full of tiny scraps of fabric, mostly too small for anything else. Both are perfect for ATCs.

Making a card is a great opportunity to try something new but I seem to have settled into a preference for applique with a bit of free-motion machine embroidery which fits the kind of pictures I like to make and means I can fuss with the image and the layout of pieces, adding and removing things before sewing them down. They start to take on a life of their own.Here I’ve started to build up the picture making changes as I go along, using a scrap of calico at the back to stablilise it a bit when I sew pieces down. I hadn’t thought about the floor but felt it needed one…I’m playing about with where the cat should go…Then I saw a tiny frayed scrap of silk in a pile of trimmings I hadn’t swept off my table into the bin. A lucky accident – an antimacassar! There is a point at which I start worrying that it’s not any good but you have to power on through!

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Quite often I just start working on the card without any other preparation and that’s what I did for my first card for this swap – I was thinking about Winter Comforts for a bird, rather than a human being, and I just cut and sewed and added bits until it looked okay. Sometimes I think the card is finished and then worry about it – maybe this one could do with some blue in the sky, I don’t know!

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Whatever I do, it always involves an amount of mess that is disproportionate to the size of the card, and quite often results in the family having to eat a strange dinner made of whatever is lurking in the fridge because I’ve been so preoccupied that I have forgotten to shop. That’s if they can find room on the dining table….

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Once the front of the card is done, I use various methods to finish it off. One is to sew it face to face with the backing and turn it right way out before inserting whatever I’m using to stiffen it. In my case this tends to result in rounded corners and the gap where I have sewn up the turning hole is never as tidy as it should be. The neatest way by far I’ve found is to place the finished front on a piece of card/stiff interfacing, pull the edges to the back and glue them down as per Ali’s tutorial.

The most difficult part of the process is saying goodbye to the card and sending it off to its recipient because by that point I’ve usually got quite attached to it… but the fun then is waiting for another card to arrive.

It wont be long now until everyone is having to say goodbye to their cards! Don’t forget to let me know when you have sent and received… Thanks all and thanks Catherine for this lovely post. 

The Blues: An ATC Swap guest post

This week’s guest blog post about our Artist Trading Card swap is from lovely Abigail of Cut and Alter. I am sure that you will agree with me that I can’t wait to see how her beautiful indigo plans work out!  Abigail writes:

This was the image that got me started on Very Berry’s ATC swaps. I saw it over on Knotted Cotton. I had been aware of ATCs before when I helped organised a Quilt Exhibition for my local club in New Zealand. There was an ATC category and I saw some beautiful pieces of art.

Abigail ATC 1

They sounded fun and I wanted to join in. I kept an eye out and then saw Ali launch the Winter Sparkle ATC swap. I signed up immediately. The premise for an Artist Trading Card is simple – produce a piece of fabric art which is the same size as a business card, 3.5” x 2.5”. The majority of it must be fabric but how you make it and what stitching you do is up to you – patchwork, applique, beading, stitching, crochet, printing – anything goes! However, the working in miniature was something I found quite challenging.

The card I received in the first swap was this one:

Abigail ATC 2

And the card I made was …. Whoops I was running somewhat late for this one and did not take any photos, either in progress or as a final piece. I was crocheting a lot at the time so I got some very fine white cotton and a very small crochet hook and crocheted a star. I placed this on some deep blue fabric and stitched out designs in white and silver with some bead embellishment. It was supposed to represent the night sky full of stars and frost. I made it oversized and then trimmed. I put it together with backing and a thin piece of wadding. I decided I would sew it bag style and then turn out to neatly top stitch around the edge. I’m kind of good with things like that and I thought I would get a lovely finish – that’s one of the drawbacks about working in miniature. I ended up with quite a fat little thing that was rather bulky at the edges!

Onwards and upwards to my second swap – Home Sweet Home. This was the card I received:

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And this was the card I made (I made sure to take a fair few photos this time!):

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The finishing on this one was the more common finish I had seen around and I realise why. The backing was placed right side down, then a piece of curtain lining with the finish top piece facing up. I then oversewed the edges with a satin stich. Or that’s what it would have been if I had been able to do it neatly. It turned out to be an uneven zig zag/satin stich kind of finish.

So for my third attempt – how will I finish it? I am not quite sure yet. I think I had better come up with a design and produce a finished top before I worry about the finishing. Design may sound like I know what I am doing. When Ali was looking for some people to write about the process she stated:

 …contribute a blog post on their ATC progress – with maybe sketch plans, work in progress, ideas behind the planned ATC…

and that made me laugh. I would describe my process as organic, flexible, on a whim, totally made up …… It takes all sorts doesn’t it? At least this time I had an idea. I knew that I was going on an indigo dyeing workshop before the ATC needed to be sent out and blue really is my favourite colour – so I thought that could easily fit into the My Perfect theme. Because I offered to write this post I have been thinking about it a bit more than previous swaps. Blue to me is wonderful. Cerulean, azure, turquoise, lapis lazuli, midnight sky, sky blue, aquamarine, cornflower, forget me not, the words are so descriptive and so many shades including the innumerable colours of the sea ……

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So I have the starting blocks which are the fabric bits I dyed on the day. A variety of cotton, linen, vintage, new and yarn all dyed in the same dye bath but all resulting in different shades of indigo.

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I have some ideas in my head but I guess once again it will evolve and grow (but not too big I hope) as I actually make it.

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Thanks so much Abigail – good luck with your plans as they come together… your work process is much like mine! Still haven’t started sewing my ATC…