Tag: textiles

strange specimens and bird work

seedpod and lace fly

hand stitched mushrooms

Spongy and irregular. That’s what I’m looking for, in mushrooms anyway. Strange specimens, just yanked from the earth. I want you to smell the fungal forest air.

hand stitched mushrooms

The fabric on the mushroom with the puffy and stripey undercap was made using the bleach printing method we talked about a few weeks ago. I did one thing differently this time and made the bleach marks with a paintbrush after sewing and before stuffing.

hand stitched mushrooms

A good place to start with sculptural/ 3 dimensional sewing (like toadstools) is by experimenting with sewing spheres. Play with the edges, taper one end, experiment with the number of pattern pieces, cut them in half etc. and see what sorts of shapes you can create.

For a complete guide to mushroom making try the little mushroom sewing pattern.

ann wood handmade sphere patterns

The free sphere template above will help  get you started. This mini seed pod is made from the 3 part sphere template (printed much smaller) and elongated a little at one end.

hand stitched botanical expeiments

seedpod and lace fly

Tiny fly inspected, tiny fly approved.

songbirds on my work table

I’m getting ready for songbird and botanical workshops in Los Angeles in April. There are two botanical experiment classes, root systems, fungus, and rare exotic species and one songbird class. Come make birds and fungus with me!

hand stitched songbird

What are you making? Have you tried the needle book or the tiny dishes? I’m putting together a post of things made from my patterns and tutorials. You can send photos to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com or tag your photos in instagram with #annwoodpattern.

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….

the dastardly owl sewing pattern is in the shop

a sewing pattern for a dastardly owl

a sewing pattern for a dastardly owl

Make this owl. This imperious and condescending owl. He measures 9 inches tall  from disgruntled talon to sinister horn. And the pattern scales well if you would like to try a larger owl.

The PDF pattern download is 31 pages long and has more than 130 color photos.  You’ll learn how to construct the basic body shape and talons as well as my system for creating owl-ish layers of feathers and a dastardly expression. Every element is broken down into steps and fully explained.

page form the ann wood handmade owl pattern

a gray soft sculpture owl

owl sewing pattern back feathers

owl sewing pattern : stuffing the legs

The pattern has all the top secret tricks I’ve come up with over 12 years of making ill tempered owls. And I’ll share this one with you here:

When the layers are fully assembled spritz with water or spray starch if you like.

smoothing owl feathers

And run a hot iron over the feathers. I do it to his face too (so rude) to adjust his dastardly expression. It has a magic effect, un-ruffling the feathers and giving the layers extra owly-ness.

I’m so excited to share this pattern with you! I’m so glad it’s done! I can’t believe how much work it was!

And I hope you make owls!

You might like these too:

         

the fruitless search for the ultimate organic dot and the diy solution

The quest for the perfect organic dot fabric for toadstools is never ending, I’m always on the look out for fungal feeling dots, speckles and marks in general and I’m super particular. Shopping in LA a few weeks ago there was lots of nice batik stuff that was close but no cigar. I described my dream fabric to my friend Molly and she said “dude you could totally make that”. That is such a good attitude. Yesterday I experimented a little. And dude, I can totally make that, so can you.

making marks on cotton fabric with bleach

Gather some cotton fabric, bleach, wax paper and tools for mark making. I tried all sorts of things, rubber stamps, pallet knives, brushes, straws, cardboard, spools, on and on. Also put on an apron and some gloves and do this somewhere very well ventilated or outside.

marking with bleach on fabric using a pencil eraser

I had one little dish of straight up bleach (you just need a little) and another diluted about 2 parts bleach to one part water. I put wax paper under the fabric and started making marks. My favorite tools ended up being a pencil eraser, putty knife, a stiff bristle brush, a toothbrush for splattering and a little spool that I glued a piece of wool felt to one end of. A cork would have been good too – just thought of it.

spool with wool felt glued to one end for bleach printing

cotton fabrics printed with bleach for making fabric toadstools

The marks take a moment to begin to “develop”. I let most of the fabric sit for about 20 minutes before rinsing. I have googled/pinterested around and there are all sorts of interesting things you can do with this technique and you can get pretty fancy about it. Find a great tutorial here and another here. 

We will be playing with this process in my botanical workshop in Kentucky next November (at this moment is is wait list only but if you’d like to go jump on the wait list – stuff happens in a year).

toadstools made from fabric

toadstools made from fabric, brown and red with spots

find the mushroom sewing pattern here

I love how they turned out, the bleach prints are so perfect for little fungi.

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.

an entirely satisfying activity involving scraps

lace scrap spools

garlands made from lace scraps

All you need are scraps. And a sewing machine. It is the kind of thing you could lose yourself in, the next thing you know hours have gone by and there are miles of it. It’s a meandering process and an invitation to happy accidents, there are no mistakes, it is not careful (except keeping your fingers away from the needle) and there is no planning. The perfect thing if you are feeling the need for something spontaneous. Just start and keep adding stuff.

garlands made form little scraps of fabric and lace

My approach was pretty bare bones and I had lots of fun. What is your scrap situation like? I’ve got tons and lots of it very small.  I dumped the whole thing out and started pulling out the tiniest scraps, the un-sewables, the little whispers I can’t let go of.

 garlands of scrap lace

Start with one piece, add another and another, machine stitching through the whole thing, sometimes bunching or curving the little pieces. I can’t stop. And they don’t need to be lace, I’ve got cotton scraps too and I’ll try those next.  And you can add other stuff and get super intricate and detailed – find a tutorial here.

You could use the garlands for packages or hang them (maybe with some twinkle lights and paper mache ships) or stitch them onto doll clothes or your clothes or make a crown for somebody little.

I made a mini one  to use as a roiling sea for this little boat.  Find the free mouse pattern here and the free  little boat pattern here.

very nice mice free sewing pattern     

woodshedding birds and owls

hand stitched birds

hand stitched birds

I’m in the woodshed with songbirds. Evaluating the pattern and steps, testing and adjusting little things – using what I learned teaching the workshops last month to make the pattern all I want it to be.

pale blue textile bird

My friend Mickey introduced me to the term woodshedding and I love it:

“The ability to conjure up a feeling of wonder in others, to create a sense of awe, has always fascinated me. And while I do believe that magic can just “happen” under the right circumstances, creating magic is a much different story. It involves a lot of hard work, endless study and a constant refining of process and craft. In music, they call these periods of intense practice woodshedding, referring to the time spent honing skills privately out in the woodshed.”

Mick Riad  –  Creative Director, Fortuny

I think it is my favorite place to be, in the woodshed with something. Discovering, testing and refining. Deep in a learning process.

handstitched birds on my worktable

crimson and puce bird

hand stitched bird details

velvet fortuny owl

I’m also woodshedding owls to prepare for the dastardly owl workshops this fall (I think there are 2 spots left).  Eventually they will also become a pdf and print pattern too.

What’s going on in your woodshed?

Update – the songbird and owl patterns are available in the shop now:

a sewing pattern for a dastardly owl      sewing pattern for a textile songbird

fly inspected, fly approved and a tip for sewing with difficult fabrics

a tiny handmade fly inspecting fortuny velvet

a tiny handmade fly inspecting fortuny velvet

Most people don’t realize that all of Fortuny’s fabrics are inspected by a tiny Venetian fly.  A diligent and thorough fly.  It is careful and slow work requiring long hours and true dedication.

a tiny handmade fly inspecting fortuny velvet

It’s a big job for a little and old bug but he has been content in his duties, happy even, for many, many decades (no one knows exactly how long, it seems he has always been there).

a dragonfly and fortuny printed velvet

Lately someone new has started showing up, a dragonfly, all huge and full of himself and suggestions, the sort that has come and gone before….

fortuny printed velvets

I’m making owls from the new Fortuny printed velvets. They are exquisite, the colors, the feel, the patterns, everything. Velvet is difficult to sew sculptural forms with and I very rarely use it for shapes.  Even with lots of pins things tend to slide around and the weight and pile make it unforgiving, mistakes show and are hard or impossible to adjust by stitching from the outside.

a handmade velvet owl in progress

I discovered that stapling the fabric together (don’t tell that tiny fly) works magnificently well and does not harm the fabric. I stapled right at the edge, outside the seam line, and everything stayed in place as I sewed.

staples in a hard to sew velvet instead of pins

I’m very happy with the shape, he is round in all the right places, the pattern pieces snapped together perfectly and he already has a bad attitude.

a velvet owl on my work tablea sewing pattern for a dastardly owlget the owl sewing pattern

A note on the beautiful pins – they are entomology pins.  They come in lots of sizes and colors, the quality is excellent and I love the way they look. You can find them here.

I’ll share finished velvet owls and some other new creatures with you next week.

Onward,

ann

happenstance, chance, accidental beauty

boro textile

boro textile

Why does this stitching, born solely of necessity, produce such compelling and powerful compositions? Does some perfect rhythm, some harmony with the universe reveal itself if we get out of the way?

And intertwined with the aesthetic appeal there is another sensibility about these patched and mended textiles.  Stephen Szczepanek refers to Boro as having soulful beauty.  I think that’s perfect, their unassuming and utilitarian nature and their absolute integration with life communicate an intimacy and humanity that is exquisite.

I chose some of my favorite examples of patched and mended old cloth to share with you below – click the images for the larger versions (all photos by Sri Threads).  

There is beautiful evidence of time and use everywhere. I’ve been photographing my paintboxes for years, to record  their transformations.

Like the Boro pieces I love them for their accidental beauty and for inspiration – there are so many things to think about and so many places to begin in them.

Note: this post was originally published in 2015 as part of my big creative year series and was edited and updated with new images on 4/6/2018

color story : mineral shades

antique textiles in rich mineral shades

antique textiles in rich mineral shades

Vibrant color with some smokeyness to it.  Worlds and continents and centuries overlap in this little collection of textiles. Antique garment fragments from Japan, 18th century silk and velvet and shimmering patterns from Venice.  And all of them found me.  Marvelous serendipity.

textile songbird in crimson and pink

I like thinking about all the things that had to happen in the world across hundreds of years for this bird to be, a crimson and scarlet girl who had her beginnings in the 1700’s.  What has she seen, what does she carry with her.

textile songbirds in jewel tones

songbird sewing patternFind the songbird sewing pattern here.

I spend huge amounts of time selecting fabrics, lingering in the choices, it slows me down in a way that I need to be slowed down sometimes. I have always loved to do it. Ask my sister, she will tell you that I loved to spend hours in the attic on a rainy day sorting through endless bags of scraps (I come from sewing people)  imagining what I might make.

detail of textile bird eye stitches

I’m doing lots of slow songbird work still. trying things, taking notes and making tiny adjustments. The part I most look forward to teaching you is transforming the basic shape into a bird, adding layers of feathers and details. There is so much opportunity for happy accidents.  An imperfection, one wing a little askew  or a tail feather poking out can suggest the funny, expressive little motions of a perched bird.  Birdness.

teal textile bird

teal and slate textile birds

The deep mineral tones are spilling into other work too. I interrupted the bird work to make a toadstool because I was in need of some immediate gratification.  Toadstools are quick to make, especially the minis, this is made from the sewing pattern printed at 75%.

textile mushroom made from antique fabric

teal textile toadstool

soldier rag doll with bicorne hat

And The Major, in aubergine, charcoal and graphite with little bits of silver and warm rose. I love him. Especially his fancy bicorne.

quilts with problems and a feature in homespun magazine

quilts, plants and twinkle lights

quilts, plants and twinkle lights

Cozy is my specialty.  I love twinkle lights on pearly gray days, lots of plants and lots of quilts. Three of my favorite old quilts have serious and progressing issues.  I’ve been thinking about fixing them for a while and one of them has reached a point that demands immediate attention. It’s a quilt emergency. The other two are technically coverlets, no batting,  so their problems can wait a while.

quilts with problems

quilt repair

The largest and most seriously forlorn quilt is loosing stuffing all over the place.  More of it is falling apart than not. It is probably not reasonable to try to fix it. And I know once I start it is a life long commitment, that it will spring new leaks and eventually be almost entirely repair with just little bits of the original fabric peeking out. I’m fine with that.

patching and mending an old quilt wabi sabi style

I’m motivated partly by my attachment to it, partly by a love for fabric and also because I think it might get interesting. I’m approaching the repair wabi sabi style, boro inspired patching and a meandering stitch.  Some patches with turned edges and some with raw edges, an improvisational yes and process embracing happenstance.  I started by basting muslin over the big problems and then working in and around those areas with smaller patches. I like doing it and I like what’s happening to it. I will keep you posted as it develops.

homespun magazine

In other quilt news the latest issue of  Homespun Magazine (Australia)  has a pattern for the quilt block on the cover and lots of other projects. They always have an impressive array of projects and patterns in every issue.

homespun magazine : ann wood

And I’m in it too! Thanks so much Homespun. Digital copies are available here.

 

serendipitous beginnings, avocado dye and pattern work

indigo owl made from Japanese textiles

indigo owl made from Japanese textiles

Sometimes I begin with somebody in mind and go looking. I spend a long time choosing, experimenting and thinking about just the right combination of texture and pattern and color. The indigo for the blue owl is all from Sri Threads. I love the variety in the blues.  Some other lovely old cloth from Sri is below, miraculous color and  wonderful mending stitches by other hands.

japanese textiles

The black and dark greens for another little owl are mostly Edwardian garments. I love the way the blacks fade, usually leaning purple or green as they do.

owl made form edwardian garments

cotton and wool fabric

Sometimes the beginning is entirely serendipitous, a suggestion from the universe. A combination I had not thought of and I was not looking for appears and I get an idea.

fabric boat and rabbit doll

I saw a sailboat and mrs. rabbit and made them immediately. They are both quick projects and  a good break from some slower work. Mrs. is made from the mr. socks pattern. I added long ears and reduced the size of the head cover by one quarter inch all around.

small rabbit rag doll

I’m also working on sewing patterns. I’ve got a bunch in progress and they are all a little stuck so I’m applying a creative sprint to the two that are closest to finished this weekend: the captain charmley doll and the mushroom print pattern. I can’t wait to share my method for creating his head and hair with you. So easy.

captain charmley : soldier rag doll

I’ll focus on just those two until they are done. After that I’ll start working on others again including a print version of the paper mache ships. It is a massive undertaking.

pink fabric dye made from avocado pits

And pink. A soft, moody pink. Just right. It’s made with avocado dye. I had no idea. This came up in the comments section to last week’s post (thanks Alicia). I made guacamole and then boiled and simmered the 5 pits for a couple hours. I love it. Have you tried this?