Sunday, 23 November 2008


I don't know whether you've come across this site but I think it looks interesting. It's called Ragbags and they sell packs of recycled fabric for quilting and patchwork. I haven't ordered anything from them so I couldn't vouch for quality or reliability but it seems an excellent idea. If anyone has tried them I'd love to know what you thought. Obviously being recycled fabrics you are taking pot luck to a degree and have to assume there won't be any more of a special fabric you really like, but if you take that as part of the charm it could be an exciting way to put a project together. It isn't any cheaper than buying fabric new but it is a little greener. They sell fabric in packs eg blue and white stripes, large floral, etc and also some kits.

Sunday, 9 November 2008


I just had to share this with you because it is far, far to good to keep to myself. A couple of days ago I was a-hankering after some more cloth for a quilting project I have in mind. I looked at a couple of the websites I usually visit and saw a few possibilities, but nothing that really screamed "pick me, pick me!". So I googled it as you do and fell over the most wonderful site ... and I am smitten, I am in love. Quilters Cloth is a shop based in Cambridge - I have no idea how lovely the shop is but the website is utterly beguiling. The fabrics and the fabric packs on offer are beautiful and the range of stock is substantial, but it is also the design and usability of the website that are particularly impressive. It really is user friendly and so well planned and organised, everything tucked away in neat little drawers with proper labels - as it were. And I love the way you get three views of each piece of fabric - close-up, mid and distant. How sensible and useful is that?

Well, I placed my order just after lunch on Friday - and by Saturday morning I had my parcel. This is the gorgeous confection I found inside:

You know you are a bit obsessed when...

How do you know when you have become totally obsessed with craft, and making things? There might be a top ten list of symptoms to look out for, but which one is most important? The appearance of which one indicates the point of no return?

I have three that I would like to offer up at least as contenders to join the list:
  • Just like a toddler, you're more interested in the wrapping paper and its many possibilities than the present inside.
  • You see you daughter's new t-shirt covered with lots of funky buttons and already you are working out how long it will be before she's grown out of it so you can harvest those buttons...
  • Rather than admiring the awe-inspiring view you're focussing your camera on an odd shaped stone on the path.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Photoshop alternatives - for free!

This is a fantastic list! It is a list of 10 free and functioning photo editors, yes that's right free! So if you are pining away without Photoshop then pine no more! All of these will do the important stuff Photoshop does, and I would figure that with 10 to choose from at least one will have the tools you would use the most. I haven't explored them all in depth but I have opened each one, and uploaded one of my photos. All programmes opened fine and all looked very good and very professional from a first glance. A couple of them required Adobe Flashplayer which I didn't have time to download, but it looks like all 10 work easily enough, and work very quickly from a standing start. Within a couple of clicks all were open. The one I think looks most fun is no.9 Fotoflexer (although you wouldn't necessarily think so from his description - makes it sound very dull). Within a couple of clicks I had applied some great effects to one of my pictures. So yet again ... go play!! (Some have free photo storage space too).

10 free photo editors

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Further design development work

First of all I tried some samples from the firmest of the fabrics I used for the stitched samples, to test if the bags could retain their shape if constructed directly from cotton fabric. They collapse gently so I need to find something to help them keep their shape.

cotton chintz shapes

I backed the fabric stitched samples with felt and this works. Thinking things through this is going to be the only way to do this if I use textured pieces. I won't be able to sew the felt and fabric at the same time, as one piece of fabric nor will I be able to quilt the fabric - both would affect the outcome of the textures and detract from the effect I am aiming for.

fabric backed with felt

I tried sewing some of the textured pieces to other flatter fabric samples. Making the textured pieces is time consuming (the best and most interesting results come from hand stitching), and as each piece is drawn together at the end to achieve the texture, each piece ends up a lot smaller. So I think their use will have to be restricted to feature panels or even to use as part of an outward facing seam (extreme 3-d effect!!).

samples using textured pieces

I drew some test patterns for the bag side panels:

sketches for bag designs 1 sketches for bag designs 2

Finally I started to add some tonal patterns to some of them to begin the process of finding the right final design. I need to spend more time experimenting here, maybe doing some more samples, especially for areas where I wll end up with several small pieces.

first ideas for designs 1

first ideas for designs 2

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Are you left brained or right brained?

Try this out - it's fun! Most people see it very clearly spinning one way or the other and its very hard to "make" it go the other way. I do know one person who claims she sees it changing direction... hmmm.

The spinning woman