I made this

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Hillarys Blinds Country Crafts Competition

textile dog by Julia Laing

When I read about Hilarys Blinds Country Craft Competition on Craft Blog UK  I immediately started thinking about what I could make…The challenge was to choose a fabric from their Country Retreat fabric range, get creative by making an original craft design using one metre of the fabric, then write about the creative process. So here goes:

The colours and abstract design of Calluna Amethyst stood out to me so that’s the one I had to have!

I made a few scribbled notes of what I could make. Initially my ideas were, a notebook cover, a bag with a cat design on the front and a dog doll.

First I tried out the bag, using the fabric as the main body of the bag. It actually worked very well but I wanted to see just how versatile the fabric was so I went back to the drawing board and came up with a sketch for a dog. I thought the fabric design was perfect for the project because it was the right weight and the pattern suggested the flecks you see in some Spaniels coats.  I felt slightly out my comfort zone because I’m more of a cat person. However I enjoyed the challenge of drafting a pattern. You can see from the photo I made a few revisions. Originally it was quite a bit longer… And so, Charlie Pup came into existence!

Step by step:

 

 

  1. I laid the pattern for the main body on the fabric and cut out 2 pieces. The fabric was folded in half vertically, so the pattern pieces would match.
  2. The dogs ears were cut out from felt. I like to recycle so used a pre-used felted wool blanket but commercially made felt would work just as well and is widely available in a vast array of eye-catching colours.
  3. I cut out three pieces of scalloped edged felt strips for each ear. They were approx 3/4″ x the width of the ears. Then, pinned the first piece on to the bottom of one of the ears and stitched it in place, using a zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine. I carried on until three pieces were layered onto each ear.
  4. Next, I made a dart in the top of each ear. Top stitched it and trimmed the excess from the back of the darts. This made it less bulky and so much easier when it came to attaching the ears to the head. At each side, I  folded about 1cm under,  towards the back and then top stitched from top of ear to just over the start of the scalloped layers, trimmed off  the excess fabric, (as shown in the picture.) After that, I lightly pressed it, to smooth out the shape, using a damp cloth so as not to damage the felt.
  5. The next step was cutting out the dogs tail. Using sharp scissors, I cut into the bottom edge to create a fringe. I made a dart, in the same way as I did on the ears.
  6. Using a pencil, I drew all the shapes needed for the face, in reverse onto Bondaweb. Ironed them onto pieces of felt in suitable colours. Removed the paper backing and placed them onto the main body fabric (as shown in the picture.) Then ironed them in place. They were then stitched in place, using white thread, and a short running-stitch with my sewing machine.
  7.  I gave the doggie a twinkle in his eyes by embroidering a small star on each of them. Used back stitch to create his mouth.
  8. Then I folded his ears in half and pinned them in place, with the ears extending about 0.5cm beyond the edge of the body piece.  I attached them with a row of stitches, close to the edge, trimmed back the excess ear fabric to a neat edge. Pinned the tail on as shown. I used extra pins to keep ears and tail away from the areas to be stitched.
  9. I pinned front and back pieces together, with right sides together, using many pins, to keep both sides neatly together. Tacking together is also a good idea but I never have the patience!
  10. Carefully, I stitched round the dog pieces, leaving a gap at the back, starting from the bottom of the tail to the start of the back leg. I used quite a short stitch and made another row of stitching very close to to the first just in case the first row burst when I was stuffing the dog.
  11. Next, I clipped the curves all the way round the outer edge. This makes the seams lie more neatly when it is turned the right way out.
  12.  I turned the dog the right way out by carefully pulling it through the opening left in the seam.
  13. I used an old chop-stick to make sure that all the seams were poked out fully. I don’t advise using anything with too sharp an end because it could accidentally pierce the fabric or seam.
  14. Using polyester toy stuffing, I filled the dog.  This was the fun part, when the dog started to come to life.
  15. I like to make my dolls well padded, so I made sure the stuffing got into all the little nooks, using the chop-stick again when necessary.
  16. When the dog was fully and evenly stuffed I pinned and stitched, using matching thread and as tiny stitches as I could manage to close the opening.
  17. To neaten the ears, I folded their edges together, at the start of the scalloped layers. Pinned it and used a few small stitches to hold the edges together.  The last stage was to press the ears and tail down. I used a damp cloth with the iron so as not to damage the felt.
  18. FINISHED!

Laing craft dog design

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Cat Face Sewing & Other News

cat face sewing in progress

Busy, busy at the moment so here is just a little peek at what’s on my desk today….It’s not going to be what you might think! Will reveal all soon.

This week I’m working on a few prototypes for new products. I really want to make some new things for my shop but haven’t had the time because I’ve been concentrating on my envelopes. A change is good as a rest, so they say!

There’s also something very exciting I’ve been working on behind the scenes, with a few other local artists and designer / makers. We are planning our first open studios day in the area, which will be happening on the 10th of May. There are still loads of plans and preparations to do but we do have 5000 leaflets, a facebook page and website, which is a great start! I’ll be letting you know all about it here soon, in the meantime if you live near Midlothian and would like some leaflets to share with friends, or at your work, please give me a shout, I have plenty to go round!

One last thing. If you’d like to win one of my handmade bunny purses and a matching brooch, there’s still time to enter the March Giveaway!

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Help – Hand-Embroidery WIP

help hand-embroidery hoop

(c) Julia Laing 2014

Something I’m working on just now…(don’t worry, I’m fine.) It’s going to become part of a new mixed-media envelope.

embroidery close up

Embroidery close up (c) Julia Laing 2014

My sewing machine hasn’t seen much action so far this year but I’ve been thoroughly enjoying getting back to hand stitching. Just working at my own pace. sometimes I like to sew in silence. At other times I have Radio 6 Music, or YouTube for company. I’ve adopted a new working routine since the start of the year and it seems to be paying off. I’m dedicating more time to writing / organising / admin because there are things I really want to achieve that will never be done if I continue just muddling through. It does mean there’s been slightly less time to sew but I’m hoping the ‘little and Often‘ approach will pay-off in the long run.

Had a great response so far to my February Giveaway. If you’d like to win a voucher for £15 to spend on anything in my shop and a brooch made from gorgeous silks and hand-stitched by me, please join in by signing into the widget. There are a number of different ways to enter and you have until the 28th to join in!

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Materialised Textiles Back In Stock At The Barony Centre – Christmas 2013

textile cat dolls

3 Cats Together

I sent these guys off to the Barony Centre in West Kilbride, Ayrshire, last week, along with a few purses and brooches.

Cheerful Purses

Cheerful Purses

Perfect timing for West Kilbride Yuletide an evening of late night shopping & festive fun happening there Tomorrow, Friday the 6th, as recommended by Visit Scotland. It really is a fantastic place, which has craft right at its heart! Hope its a successful night for all involved.

Colourful Brooches

Colourful Brooches

handmade kitten dolls

Ornamental Textile Cats

This week is flying by at an alarming rate. Been so busy making for the fair I’m at on Sunday…still lots I would like to make before then but I’m juggling that with keeping my Etsy shop stocked. As ever what I think I should be able to do and what I actually manage are two very different things! Looking forward to my last fair though and will hopefully be able to add some more to the shop after that :-)

Had our first snow here today…just a quick flurry. Hope you’re all keeping warm folks!

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