Tag: on the work table

the hexie project

hexie scrap sewing project

hexie scrap sewing project

It’s a perfect plan, here’s why: You can do it in bed, all you need are some scraps, the most basic sewing ability and paper. Plus it has a calming effect, for me anyway. The first thought was to use only pale, small prints. But then the idea of playing with scale and color was appealing – using large prints in these little hexies. That dissolved into abandoning all constraints and going with a fully random assemblage – no planning, no thought, inviting serendipity.

I also didn’t really have a plan for what they would become, that evolved too. At first I thought I’d patch a quilt with them- I love it when hexies or groups of them just turn up somewhere. And I used a few in my mending.

mending a linen smock with hexies

I like making them so much though I want a legit hexie project. The current plan is to just keep going and going. Instead of a fully random situation I’ve begun to plan some color transitions and shapes and lines, still taking a meandering, “yes and approach” and  not laying out a design beforehand.

The idea of approaching a hexie project in a painterly and abstract way is super duper appealing to me. It’s also super duper appealing that it will take an immense amount of time over days, months, years…

hexie scrap sewing project

They are simple to make.  There are tons of detailed hexie (english paper piecing) methods, tutorials, tips and ideas on the interwebs to explore, I’ll give you some basics on my process  here. I started with template paper that was precut and later made my own paper templates using magazine pages. My shape is 2 inches at the widest point. Place the paper on your fabric and cut about  3/8th of an inch from the edge.

Fold one side over the edge and finger press the fold.

Fold an adjacent side down, finger press the edge and stitch through the fold to hold it in place. Don’t stitch through the paper.

Keep your needle attached and fold down the next side and finger press the edge.

Stitch that fold and continue around until all 6 sides are basted.

hexie project

After I get a bunch I press them. To stitch them together place 2 with the right sides together and whip stitch the edge. Keep adding hexies stitching one edge at a time.

hexie scrap sewing project

After a bunch are assembled I’ve been pressing the whole thing and taking the paper out to use again – snipping out a couple stitches and using my needle to lift out the paper. This may be controversial…. I think you’re supposed to leave them in until it’s finished.  Feel free to share your opinion.

I’m working on it every morning, marking these strange moments with hexies. I so recommend it. If you’d like to join me use #hexiesforsanity on instagram. Make something small, make something big, make a design or go free form or both – that could be awesome. I’ll be updating you regularly on my progress.

Onward,
ann

PS – if the idea appeals to you but you’re not on instagram let me know in the comments – I’ll try to put together another sharing option.

PPS – If you have tips for making and assembling hexies please share in the comments.

Be sure to check the comments for great tips!

 

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.


the hexie project

making a cardinal or other crested bird

cardinal sewing pattern

cardinal sewing pattern

It’s surprisingly quick and easy to create a fabric crest for a cardinal or bluejay or tufted titmouse etc. etc.. The tutorial that follows was created for my songbird sewing pattern – but you could adjust the size to fit pretty much any bird pattern.

cardinal sewing pattern

We made cardinals in a workshop in Vermont a couple weeks ago. You know, in the old days when we could still travel and gather and felt pretty secure about how much rice and toilet paper we owned… It was a great weekend and the cardinals are awesome. Check out more about the workshop at the end of the post.

The Cardinal Modifications

songbird sewing pattern

You can find the songbird pattern here

– or use any bird pattern you like and adjust the template size.

 

download the crest template

 

how to sew a cardinal

1. Download and cut out the templates.  Cut the face cover and 3 crest pieces from fabric.

2. Place the face cover on your bird –  around the  beak – trim and adjust the size however you like – for this demonstration I left it full size.

3. Pin it in place – overlap the top corners to make it fit snuggly and stitch in place.

4. Pin the head cover in place and stitch around the edge.

5. Pinch the pointed end of the crest 1 piece.

6. Pin in to the top of the head and stitch around the edge.

7. At the back stitch the sides of the opening together – just at the base.

8. Pin the crest 2 piece the same way – on top of crest 1 and stitch around the edge.

9. Again stitching the edge together  – just at the base.

cardinal sewing pattern

10. Add the third crest piece. Optional – fray the edges or make a few stitches through the crest layers. Stitch simple eyes onto the face cover.

So easy! If you try making a crest I’d love to see! Use #annwoodpattern on instagram

A couple more workshop highlights – 2 students brought a pin girl for everybody!! I love them – find the free sewing pattern to make your own here.

pin girl sewing pattern

fabric cardinal workshop with ann wood

cardinal sewing pattern

cardinal sewing pattern

 

extreme mending and how to make a front bustle and scrap binding

binding mad from scraps

mending clothes with scraps

The Second Annual International Scrap Festival comes to a close today!  Thanks to everybody who participated – you can checkout some of the swaps and projects here. I’m already planning the 2021 festival…

You can’t have a scrap festival without talking about mending. I love my mended sleeves and knees, it has nothing to do with being practical or frugal, although I am both of those things. Pretty much. I get nostalgic and attached about clothes and the practice itself, the mending, the meandering stitches and serendipitous layers, is a daily meditation for me.

mended linen smock with front bustle

And I like an interesting hem, not sure why, but it might be at least in part because I’m pretty short (you may not have noticed this because I project quite tall). The hitched up skirt has a little lengthening effect. And it fits right in with my middle age art lady personal style ( #contemporaryhollyhobby). I stumbled onto the front bustle, or bustled hem idea idea while mending this dress.

The first bustle was a simple button and loop. I’ve just button bustled my ancient and  beloved  cal patch smock. The mending on this smock is so extreme it will eventually be nothing but mends.

mending a linen smock with scraps

I have a flannel shirt (purchased for 25 cents at the Herkimer NY Goodwill) that’s like that too – just can’t let it go. Plus it keeps getting more interesting. The edges near the buttons were shredded so I made edge binding from scraps.

binding mad from scraps

Check out this tutorial on how to make your own. It’s super easy.  And it begins with “iron your scraps” so you know it’s a winner. I’m making a bunch of this for frayed pillowcase edges too.

Back to the bustles. I tried a different method on an antique linen nightgown I got in France last year (it started out ivory – I dyed it blue with woad).

make a bustled hem

I’m using a strip of cotton fabric that’s about 3 inches wide. You can make it any length you like – depending on how bustled you want to be. I made the cord from very light weight fabric  – you could also use ribbon or twill tape, any sort of cord you like. I started with about 30 inches of cord and trimmed it .

bustled hem tutorial

Fold the side edges under and press, then folded the top and bottom edges over twice and pressed.  Pin the piece to the skirt.

Sew a U shaped channel in the center –  about one half inch wide. Sew the long sides down as well- I used a tiny whip stitch along the edge. Be sure to leave the top and bottom edges open.

Use a large needle  to thread the cord through from the top.

Come out at the bottom and go back in and come out at the top again. Once the cord is in you can stitch the bottom closed (being careful not to catch the cord) or just leave it open – I left it open.

bustled hem tutorial

bustled hem tutorial

Trim the cord and knot the ends. You are bustled! If you bustle a hem I’d love to see – use #contemporaryhollyhobby on instagram.

how to maker a bustled hem

elegant rag dolls

PS – There has been serious naked lady rag doll progress – The pattern is almost done – I’m in the tiny adjustment/improvement stage. This process involves making tons of dolls and some of those, in various states of dress, will be in the shop  soon.

bustled hem tutorial

scrap flowers and cardinals on my work table

cardinal made from red fabric

Is there a color, or colors you have a hard time working with? For me it’s red. It’s not that I don’t like red, it just hardly ever seems to find its way in to anything. Until lately, all of a sudden lots of rich red scraps have been turning up (or maybe I’ve just started noticing them) and my worktable is covered with magnificent reds and crimsons.  

hand stitched cardinal and flowers

stitched cardinal

I’m working on two projects to share at the Sugar House Retreat in March. a cardinal, and a fabric necklace.  The cardinal is made from the songbird sewing pattern with a few modifications. I love all the varieties of red and pink that turn up in cardinals and I’m working on a few. 

stitched flower necklace

The necklace is a scrap project, most of them collected in France this summer. It’s a jump in without a plan sort of process, step one is just cutting some circles.  I’m adding little bits of green too. I like the idea of using color as a starting point and a constraint and I’ll probably use the scrap necklace project ro experiment in other shades. I’ve started collecting some teal scraps for another.

sugar house retreat

If you’d like to join me in Vermont for the Sugar harvest and lots of projects, exploring and fantastic food and friends you can find more details here. It’s a small and super friendly retreat.  I had a fantastic time last year and you can checkout some images from that here. Or checkout out #warmbrookbarn on instagram.

abandoned quilt tops and stitched crows

fabric crow

It has some great moments and some highly questionable choices (worn towels…). All of it is very nostalgic for me.

salvaged quilt top

I’m always on the look out for  vintage or antique quilt tops. They are frequently super cheap and a great source for unusual little bits of fabric, perfect for all sorts of small projects (including doll quilts). Or if you find something  with no objectionable moments or issues you can take it across the quilt finish line. The quilt above (found on ebay) was probably assembled in the 70’s and has lots of sweet calicos. Another I found recently is pale and has a mix of small turn of the century and depression era prints salvaged from garments. Both are coming to workshops in LA with me.

needle book pages

I’m using the older quilt for needle book pages. I’ve been stitching up lots for the class.  You wouldn’t think machine sewing a ton of rectangles would be appealing but it is. I’ll probably get over it but right now I can’t get enough. It’s peaceful and satisfying to stack up the finished pages. Also I’m thinking of offering the pre-sewn, ready to embellish  pages as a kit this winter – what do you think?

stitching crow wings

Besides needle books we will be making paper ships, beetles, mushrooms and crows. I’m bringing lots of old garments to work with.

fabric crow

carved beaks and an edwardian skirt

paper ship

find workshop details and sign up here

 

basket of edwardian lawn gowns

And as soon as I get back to Brooklyn I’ll start shooting steps for a crow sewing pattern. In other pattern news the large rag doll and soldier patterns are coming soon too – I have a major do-over to deal with but hope to have at least one of those ready before the holidays.

stitched beetles

stitched beetles made from scraps

I wonder what they talk about – somebody seems pretty bossy…

a misbehaving beetle, homemade spray starch and 4 more little joys

a guilty little beetle up to no good

a guilty little beetle up to no good

He’s done something. I’m sure of it. It’s all over his face.  More about this naughty little beetle  in a minute. First I want to tell you about some simple things that are bringing me joy this spring. Since you found your way here they might be up your alley too:

sewing in bed

1. sewing in bed

It’s always on the joy list, such a gentle way to wake up. Get something ready to sew the night before and there is nothing at all to think about. Just start sewing. My current bed sewing is sails and needle books (I can’t stop making those little pages). Simple, meditative stitching.

 

tiny rag doll gardening

tiny rag doll sewing pattern

2. the adventures of althea

This is sweet, and beautiful and funny. Dawn Smith has created a magic world for her tiny rag doll  and she photographs Althea’s adventures daily.

Follow her while she has tea and visit friends and gardens. It’s awesome.

 

lilacs in my studio

3. lilacs

It’s such a glorious smell and gone so quickly. When I wake up to the cool spring lilac air I have no choice but to sew in bed. It’s the only responsible thing to do.

 

how to make laundry spray starch

4. homemade spray starch

It’s easy to make, cheap, works beautifully and it is non-aerosol and packaging free. Most importantly I did not have to leave my apartment when I ran out of spray starch for my sails.

I love to iron.  I’ve been sorting through sail fabric for ships, ironing it and making neat little piles. This is also called procrastination.  Productive procrastination but still…  Anyway the homemade laundry starch adds even a little more joy to the ironing party.

recreational ironing

The starch is just cornstarch and water. Add a couple drops of lavender oil (or whatever you like) for a glorious fresh laundry smell. Laundry is right up there with lilacs for me smell wise. Plus I feel super thrifty and oldschool.

make some laundry starch:

  • Whisk 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch into 2 and ½ cups water. You’re already almost done.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, boil for about a minute while stirring.
  • Remove from the heat and let is cool to room temperature, add a couple drops of scent if you like and pour it through a strainer into a spray bottle.

 

5 sketchbook

My daily painting and drawings. It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times, such a huge pain in the a**  when I’m super busy.  But the joy wins. And it makes me a better thinker.

 

yogi tea

and a little bonus joy:

I love this tea! I drink buckets of it all day long. You can find it in most grocery stores I think.

 

what’s on my work table this week

hand stitched beetle

You have met the guilty beetle, the naughty little fellow is regretting his mischief.  He is made from gorgeous and very old French scraps. I’m working on lots of misbehaving little french anthropods.

so long little beetle

And ships. I love living with them and have been without a personal fleet for too long. This one has a final layer of old paper collage. Come make beetles and paper ships with me this October – I’m teaching several workshops in LA at French General – find info and registration here.

paper mache ship collaged with antique paper

PS – What are you working on? Have you made a doll bed? What smell transports you?

homemade laundry starch

extreme mending, sledding lambs and the 100 day project

patched and mended sleeves

patched and mended sleeves

Extreme mending, that’s what happens when you can’t let go. I can’t let go of this giant flannel shirt. I got it for a quarter at the Herkimer NY Goodwill in 2010. I started mending it a couple years ago, mostly just worn edges. Last winter it had some major sleeve blowouts and other serious issues. It was barely a shirt anymore but I remain too attached to part with it. I spent my 3 hour train ride to Vermont (more on that in a minute) stabilizing it. And now I’m plugging leaks. Besides my ridiculous attachment to it I like the process of this kind of meandering mending. And I like the result, the unexpected layers and combinations that turn up.

I’m mending my linen smock too where I have worn it thin, keeping it mostly pale. I’ll never part with it either and it will eventually be all patches. I’m good with that.

pale patches on a linen smock

100 days of creativity

The Hundred Day Project starts on Tuesday April 2. It’s a free art project that takes place online. Every spring, people all around the world commit to 100 days of creativity. Are you participating? I sort of am. I do a little painting or drawing everyday anyway so I think that counts. All you need to do is commit to a project (big or small or very small) and tag your instagram posts with #The100DayProject. You can do anything, You could mend something if you like.


This blog started with a similar experiment. It was a little different, I committed to making 100 cardboard horses. I made one Monday through Friday and gave myself the weekend off.  Much like my daily practice now, somedays I loved it and some days I most certainly did not. But I know now I need it.

If you decide to participate I can offer you some of what I’ve learned:

* Be realistic about time. The amount of time you commit can be very small and still have lots of benefits.

* Have a plan for the bad days, a minimal but acceptable effort. And accept the bad days. Everybody will have lots of them. I have some very bad days and post some real stinkers.

* It’s helpful to do it around the same time everyday. Your subconscious gets on board after a while and shows up with ideas.

* Think of it as an opportunity to listen to yourself and maybe get glimpses into your singular and powerful imagination that you would not otherwise get. Plus new instagram friends.

And if you feel like making your daily art a cardboard horse feel free – there is a whole tutorial here. And as an added bonus when you’re done you have a stampede.

Back to Vermont.

I took the train up to Warm Brook Barn in Vermont to teach at their Maple Harvest retreat with French General. The group was lovely and intensely creative. We made silk necklaces, talismans, beeswax candles, wax seals and lambs in pants. There was a beautiful snowstorm of almost exactly the right duration and intensity and It was all generally a blast. And I loved exploring all the fabulous details of the old houses.

fabulous dresser at warmbook barn

PS- If you’d like to make a little sled it’s super easy – I found a tutorial here.

And PPS – A rare occurrence – I’m usually like a ninja, a lamb in pants making stealthy ninja. I was captured in the wild in Vermont, caught in the act, sneaking up on a sledding lamb in pants for a photo.

caught in the act

domestic sewing : confronting the throw pillow situation, a re-write and little paintings

vinatge and antique fabric pillows

ann wood's brooklyn studio

It’s pretty New Yearsy around here. I’ve got all sorts of plans and aspirations for the year ahead. Before the end of 2018 I made myself finish a personal project, I confronted some domestic sewing.

Like you, I wanted to start the New Year with a solid throw pillow situation. It has been kind of a mess for a while, definitely not bringing me joy. I had a bunch of ideas to make it better but they had been lingering on my someday list. For years. Deadlines are awesome. Making the dawn of 2019 the due date got me motivated to churn out some decorative pillows. Once I got going it was fun.

couch cover from antique grain sacks

And I made a cover for the seat too, from grain sacks I got in France last summer. They got super soft after I (machine) washed and dried them and I pieced my favorite parts together. They have lots of beautiful mending and I love the colors.

vinatge and antique fabric pillows

throw pillows

I made the pillow covers from old fabric from friends (including some glorious and ancient things my friend Ching sent me) and more things I picked up at French flea markets last year. By the way there is one spot open in each of my trips to France this summer  – click here for June 21-28  and click here for July 1-8. Come to France with me! And then go home and make some throw pillows…

ann wood in a mended dress

With the couch in happy condition my first official work project of this year was a long overdue re-write of my about page. Especially if you are a new visitor it’s a good place to start.

And also in the New Year’s department I re-committed to my daily painting and drawing project. So far so good. Daily practice is no joke, it’s brutal sometimes but I know I’m better off doing it in lots of important ways. The positive effects on my thinking, creativity, idea generation and focus are huge. I’ll scale back to drawing when traveling probably but if I flake on this again you should yell at me.

small art, made every day

The holidays were unusually happy and slow and peaceful for me. I spent a lot of it in pajamas eating cookies with a cat on my lap (I regret some of the cookies). It was pretty nice but I’m happy to be back to business as usual now. How bananas are you? I’m pretty bananas. I require huge amounts of time by myself to think and work and I like routine a lot. I’m luxuriating in time and space and ordinariness now, percolating all sorts of ideas….

tiny sewing for good mental health

little rag dolls on my work table

little rag dolls on my work table

There is always something and often someone in my pocket waiting to be stitched. I’d be lost without this sort of thing. When I wander away from it for too long things go badly, when my pace gets too frantic the magic evaporates.

stack of tiny doll clothes

It’s the thing that steadies and focuses me, all the tiny sewing. This is a pile of mental health. A little stack of tiny pinafores and nightgowns and satchels and jackets and bloomers. I’ve been sewing little folks here and there for the past few weeks. I take them with me for the in between times.

tiny rag doll with satchel

tiny lamb rag doll in pants

Wear them high, wear them proud lamb friend. The lambs in pants crack me up every single time. Something about those little trousers and how happy he seems to be in them…

lamb doll - stitch head cover

If you would like to make a lamb he is made from the mr. socks sewing pattern pattern with these modifications.

 

bundling up the tiny doll folk and imagining their world

embroidered felt doll hats and jackets

embroidered felt doll hats and jackets

When faced with a stressful situation small sewing is good medicine. This weekend we made some big tech improvements to ann wood handmade that were sort of terrifying. I’m thrilled with the result – especially the speed.

embroidered doll cap

While all the scary work was being done I lingered in the details of tiny felt jackets and hats and slow stitched talismans. Besides needing to distract myself from the website work it has been cold and snowy, all the more reason for cosy hand sewing and bundling the little dolls up. I sure do love to bundle things up.

small stitch experiments

embroidered felt doll jacket

tiny rag doll that fits in the palm of your hand

Find the free little jacket pattern here and the tiny doll hat here.

The folky little winter ensembles make me curious about tiny doll world, the details and history. I’m going to investigate that over the next few weeks. You may recall I explored the world of a family of cosmopolitan ants a couple years ago.

beaumonts christmas

ant family christmas

It was probably the most fun I ever had. I’m looking forward to imagining a world for the tiny doll folk. Stay tuned.

dastardly owl laboratory and the silly bug club

owls on my work table

lots of hand sewn stuffed owls in progress

Update : find the owl sewing pattern here

The bodies are piling up as the owl shape is getting fine tuned. I’m preparing for owl workshops (PS – 2 spots have opened up in the 10/20-21 class) and ultimately a print and pdf owl pattern so every detail and dastardly proportion is being examined. I’ve started with the body shape. There are two construction methods I use for making owls, I created two patterns that produce slightly different shapes, one more rubenesque and another more sculptural and a bit more realistic. I might be the only one who can tell the difference. I tried to choose one to work on but ended up with a hybrid.


owls on my work table

The next step is to test and revise again and again until only what is essential is left, the shape is expressive, the pattern pieces assemble perfectly and any fussiness is removed. After each prototype I adjust and resew and if the adjustment is successful it is further refined in Adobe Illustrator.

stitched owl shape

I arrived at the body shape that feels just right yesterday. And the body pattern pieces feel good too, it snaps together like nobody’s business. Even with difficult fabric like this odd tweedy stuff from mrs. brown’s skirt. I’ve been making things from that turn of the century skirt for 8 years and I’m sorry it’s is almost gone now. It has made lots of wonderful owls and rats and spiders but the weave is loose, thick, ravely and a little slippery, super hard to sew.

hand stitched owl feathers

I’m ready to move on to the feathers, feet and features. As I finish my little pile of owly bodies I’ll experiment with those details until each is transformed into a teachable technique and or pattern piece that produces reliable results.

And the silly bug club! Thanks so much to everybody who showed up for the challenge. I drew a name from a hat and the winner of the mosquito rag doll is @bonniecapaulgallery ! I’ll message you on instagram for address etc. I hope you keep making and posting silly bugs, this was fun and I’ll offer you another challenge soon. Have a beautiful weekend and I’ll leave you with a few highlights from the posts and you can check out all the silly bugs here.

pick up a thread and follow it, small stitch experiments

Part of the  day today was devoted to waking up the experimenter in me. It needs some encouragement so I gave it an assignment, an easy assignment. I’ve been filled with reasons why I can’t do things lately so it’s a baby steps approach: make something small, make something fun, start without knowing.

One thing leads to another, if you let it.  But first you need to start. Sometimes without knowing where you are going. If the experimenter in you needs some encouragement too please join me in the little assignment.

Start by gathering things, inspiration, things to think about and things to work with.  Arrange and rearrange and look for happy accidents.

fabric and found things for inspiration

ammonite fossil(P S – the fossil above is an ammonite. It was a gift and I love it.)

And then try something, listen for the whisper of an idea, pick up the thread and follow it. Follow it around corners and into shadows and back into the light. Keep following and keep responding and noticing.  Be curious.

There are no mistakes, only information,  a yes and, why not, lets see what happens process.

hand stitched amulets

I like what turned up today, my little stitch experiments feel like amulets to me. And they were indeed medicine.  I had fun and lost myself in the process. And I’m just getting started, the idea has momentum and there is lots more for me to explore here. If the amulet idea appeals to you as a shape for your experiments I hope you try it and I’d love to see what you come up with.