Working wood in the hills


making wood buttons

I traveled to the hills yesterday to visit family and do some work with wood.  Willow is a great source of wood as it is quick growing and managing through pollarding, pruning the upper branches to encourage new growth, increases it’s lifespan and encourages specialist wild life.  So I also collected some green wood from the family willow tree for a willow weaving project.  Once the branches were cut I trimmed the parts too old for weaving and stripped the leaves and then weaved them into circles.  It’s surprisingly hard work as the less flexible parts of the wood need a significant amount to pressure to bend them into shape.   So after finishing a couple I decided to finish the others later at home.

Having the larger parts of the branches left over gave me the idea to try and make some buttons from them.  This didn’t workout as the wood was too green and so was too full of sap to saw successfully.   Luckily wood that had previously been pollarded from the willow had been stored to allow it to season, that is dry out so it can be used for wood working.  The wood that had been stored for a couple of years worked really well and could be sawn into even round segments.  I kept the bark on because I think it adds to the look.  After being sawn the buttons are kept in a tub with olive oil to seal them, this also made the surface smooth enough that it didn’t need sanding.  I’m going to leave them to soak for a while before drilling the holes for the button threads.  It was really nice to catch up with my family and I’m thankful for all the help, entertaining conversation and great food that was on offer.

Pollarding Willow

Woven willow circle

Willow circle

Wood store

Sealing the wood buttons

cutting buttons

Wooden button drying in the sun

Tansy beetle bag competition and top design


Tansy beetle print on black

Tansy beetle

Tiny Tansy beetle

Openwork top

I’m pleased to announce that the winner of Tansy beetle bag giveaway is Julie b. Congratulations, the tansy beetle bag will be winging it’s way to you.  Thanks to everyone who entered it was great to see so much interest.  I also have good news about the Tansy beetle I saw another one very near my house on a green, which is an area of special scientific interest. I haven’t seen them there before so I think it’s a good sign.

I’ve been working on a new design for a woman’s top using fabric with a woven pattern.  It’s organic cotton woven on a hand loom in India and has stripes of openwork, little holes like lace, it’s very pretty and quite fine.  I’m trying a different shape for the top that flows out at the bottom but sewn so it still hangs flat.  If it works I’m hoping it will show the shape when you move in it.  I also had a couple of ideas for decoration around the neckline and bottom but the design on the fabric may be enough as I don’t want to make it look too fussy.  I’ve also got some plans to make the arms longer so that the fabric covers the cuffs, I’m hoping this will make it look really special.

Open work fabric

Red stripy seaside bag


Red stripy seaside bag

Having some free time over Easter gave me a chance to finish the bag I’ve been making for myself.  It’s made with red stripy material that give it a nautical feel, I’ve made it even more seasidey by painting and embroidering seagulls.  I had some problems with my original handles as they were fiddly to finish so I decided just to add a simple strap, it’s also longer than the original which I prefer.   I gave the bag a sort of crescent shape reminiscent of a ships’ bow and constructed two pockets, one for my iphone and one for other bits and pieces.  I’ve taken the bag out and about and it’s working great, it’s durable and roomy.  Now I just need to visit the seaside to test it fully ;).

Creating a bag - lining and seams

Shirt


Shirt fitting

Fitting of the check shirt

I had the second fitting for the shirt I’m making yesterday which went well, although some adjustments were needed.  The green check fabric is really nice to work with and hangs well.  I’ve started sewing some of the main seams even though I still haven’t finalised the exact look of the collar.  After reviewing the look of the shirt I have decided to created visible turn up seams on the bottom of the shirt to match the sleeves.  I think this will add some volume to the shirt and creates an extra detail to balance out the decorative buttons.  I also like the style it gives to the shirt, the turn ups on the sleeve remind me of the 50/60s and shirt sleeves being folded to keep cigarette packets in.  I’m hoping to get the hemming done today as I’m looking forward to relaxing for Easter.

Judo bag and Dragon drawstring bag


Dragon bag and judo bag

Dragon bag and judo bag

The second of the draw string bags I’m making is finished this one is with thicker green fabric printed with welsh dragons.  I like this fabric and it doesn’t fray as easily as the stripy fabric I used for the first drawstring bag.  I have a strip of fabric left over from cutting this bag and have been thinking of what to make with it, I’m tending towards making a wallet from it.  The judo bag has now been finished and tested as well.  After I’d finished the bag I thought of a useful addition so I made a ribbon using the same fabric and sewed one end into the inside seam.   This allows rings to be tied to the bag so that they can’t fall out during judo training.  I’ve also finished tacking the shirt I’m making ready for another live fitting this evening.

Earth Day giveaway


Tansy beetle bag for giveaway

Tansy beetle bag for giveaway

I’ve taken the beetle fabric I printed yesterday and created an envelope bag which I’m giving away to celebrate Earth Day on the 22nd April. I’ll put the details about how to enter at the end of this post.

Yesterday I wrote about creating the fabric print that’s featured on the bag and I’d like to tell you a bit more about the beetle that inspired the design. I first saw the iridescent green beetle by the River Ouse a few years ago. I took a couple of photos but didn’t think much of the bug until some time later when I decided to find out what it was. That’s when I found out about the Tansy beetle. The beetle is endangered and extremely rare in the United Kingdom, and it’s shell is so shiny that people say the Victorians used it as sequins.

Tansy beetle

Tansy beetle

It is an endangered species and in decline due to environment changes that effect it’s ecosystem. It is so scarce that the only place in the UK it is known to survive is along some of the River Ouse centered on the stretch that runs by my home in York.

So, this weekend when I was walking by the river and saw a Tansy beetle shining green and gold I was very glad that these beetles were still hanging on. This tenacious Tansy inspired me to create the design as a celebration of its survival. I thought using some of my organic fair trade cotton to create a giveaway for Earth day would be cool and a reminder to everyone about the reaches of the environment just outside our doors as well as across the whole planet.

The bag that I’m giving away is made from organic fair trade cotton and is printed with water based ink. 27 cm by 20 cm. The material is called santeen unbleached and was undyed until I added the pattern. It’s fastened with velcro at the top and although the fabric is sturdy it is probably best not to put anything too heavy in it. The beetles are each individual arranged in a unique pattern and printed in green with a touch of gold. I like to use these sort of bags when I’m shopping to separate smaller items, such as cotton reels, within my bigger bag. It could also be used to store a notebooks, as a kindle sleeve, a clutch bag or to keep an ipad in (although I haven’t check the size as I don’t own one). It’s unique and individually hand made and printed by myself.

To enter comment on this post and include the words “Tansy beetle”. The giveaway ends at midnight (00:00 GMT) on the 26th of April 2011 so only posts before then will be entered. I’ll contact the winner by email so make sure the email address you fill in when you comment is accurate. Only one entry per person and the winner will be chosen randomly from everyone who enters.

Creating Beetles


Green Beatles print

Beetles print

Yesterday I read some sites about earth day and about doing something to celebrate the day.  I decided to use some of the organic fair trade cotton I have to make something and give it away on my blog.  As it’s for earth day I took inspiration from my walks by the river this weekend and decided to feature the Tansy beetle which lives along the river.

I always find drawing from life interesting, observing how creatures move and their foibles leads me to a more creative picture then if I just drew a standard image.  After doing some pencil sketches and looking at the photographs I drew the image I used for the prints.  I chose that picture because I thought it looked more dynamic then the others.  It takes some consideration to make a sketch suitable for printing as it’s the places where the ink doesn’t appear as much as where  does.  Once I’d sorted this out I printing the beetles in green with gold highlights.   Hopefully I’ll have finished sewing by tomorrow and then I can start my first giveaway.

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