Learning to experiment

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on 18 Jun 2012 7:07 AM

I have to say I am not a sewer, my mother has always told me so so I just didn't try.  I work in lots of different mediums but mainly mixed.  The problem is that I collect fabric and I need to get my act together and start using it before it takes over the house. 

I love experimenting and am buying a sewing machine that will do basic free motion embroidery.  I bought a basic machine last year but have already learnt after using it several times that it is not adequate for what I know I want to do. I don't really have many sewing friends to ask general advice from.  I do spend a day a month with a friend who is teaching me tie dyeing but I am interested in fabric art, the wilder the better. I have an embellishing machine but really don't know how to use it properly.  Have done some felting and have lots of wool and after making some major mistakes, haven't done any for ages. I do plan to use my bits in fabric collage but haven't started yet.

The community art centre that I run in country Australia has a wonderful textile exhibition in at the moment and I just want to get started.  I planned to put so much in the exhibition and I just ran out of time. Only a couple of abstract pieces using finger stitch.

I am hoping this forum will give me the get up and go to do just that.

Thanks for the forum.

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Muppin wrote
on 18 Jun 2012 8:13 AM

Hello Yvonne-

A good sewing machine shop will let you test drive the machines for free motion quilting, so hopefully that will let you get to know a machine that will do what you want it to do.

Good luck and feel free to ask questions here on the forum.  Welcome!

Cheryl / Muppin

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on 19 Jun 2012 2:39 AM

Hi Cheryl,

I have put a new machine on layby so will pick it up in July.

I  guess I need someone to take an interest in what I am doing so that I get the motivation to experiment. There is nothing worse than making something and nobody being interested. It would be nice if I could write or show what I am doing and get some feedback.

Thanks for replying,


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Posts 277
Dale Kathryn wrote
on 19 Jun 2012 3:26 AM

Is there any chance you can pack up your sewing machine and move to Vancouver Island, BC, Canada? I think I understand exactly what you are saying!


"To create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage." - Georgia O'Keeffe

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Muppin wrote
on 19 Jun 2012 8:37 AM


Feel free to post here and we're all happy to see your work!

Cheryl / Muppin

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on 19 Jun 2012 8:42 AM

My husband would love it as he visited Canada for 6 months in 1984 and continually talks about it. He stayed at a guest house called Craigmyle in Victoria when he was there. I don't know if it is still there. Having said that, I guess I will have to work out another way to getting feedback rather than moving to Canada. 

Probably my best talent is that I am not afraid to experiment so anything can come out of my brain.  Generally the art that I don't know where it comes from is the ones that sell.  I just have to get away from my feeling that I am not an artist because I don't draw/paint in the traditional way.

As I said, I am not a sewer and had no encouragement to improve with my mother unpicking my sewing and redoing it.  I always said that i would wait until she wasn't still here before I work on my sewing but she still seems that she is going to be around for awhile yet, even at 95. So I have decided that I can't wait any longer so I am starting to experiment.  I really like anything experimental and love seeing abstract art quilts.  I can't see myself doing traditional sewing or quilts but I want to play.

I have a friend who is teaching me tie dyeing but only once a month which means it is a long time before I see someone to show/ask advice, etc. I feel that if I know someone who is interested, then I will do something and use my fabric stash which is threatening to take over my house.  The art centre that I run has a beautiful textile exhibition on at the moment as I just stand there and wish that I can do it.  Luckly one of the artists put me on to Interweave and the communities.

At the moment , my hands are covered with ink as I have been doing a book making course and they have to go into an exhibition in a fortnight's time.

Thanks for replying.  I don't know the difference in time between our home and yours but it is 11.10 Tuesday night here and I have to get up early tomorrow and I will catch you later.



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on 19 Jun 2012 8:48 AM

Thanks Cheryl,

I have to work out how to do that, both in textiles and also in learning how to post pictures.  I am not particularly computer literate.  I need to get some work done on my computer before I can put photoshop on it. It is 11.15 on Tuesday night here and I don't know the time difference between us.

Thanks for replying


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on 23 Jun 2012 2:30 PM

Welcome, I want the whole world to see my art.



Sorana Gallery

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on 24 Jun 2012 6:48 AM

Hi Jenna,

Thanks for replying to my request.  What sort of art do you do? I haven't had a chance to check out your website as life has been fairly chaotic lately.  I had decided that I have a new motto. "Life gets in the way". Then I can't fret too much if I don't get time to do all that I want to do.

It is getting late here in South Australia on Sunday night so I will wait until later to tell you what I am involved in.  You can probably read it on the forums anyway as I don't know exactly how they work.

I will catch you later.


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RaeVivienne wrote
on 30 Jun 2012 9:03 PM

Hullo, Yvonne,

Where are you in SA?  I live in Atherton NQ and have done some on-line classes with Dale Rollerson of The Thread Studio in Perth.  There are other people in SA who may be near you - a bit of personal contact would seem to be a helpful idea for you.

I can recommend downloading a workshop or getting a dvd from Quilting Arts/Interweave.  An excellent one is Rebel Quilting by Jamie Fingal, or any of the Quilting Arts TV series.  They are offered as specials and are well worth the cost. 

I make 'arty' small quilts, scrap bed quilts and quilts for my and other people's grandchildren.   Also felt etc as you have described for yourself.  An interesting web-site to look at is Sherrill Kahn's Impress Me and the one inspiring me now is Alicia Merrett - she has a set of 3 demos which come up if you Google her name, and they give good free looks at how to start with something simple and a few pieces of fabric.

The main thing is to start - make a space near your sewing machine, take 3 or 4 pieces of fabric you like the look of and a pair of scissors, and cut a few 6 or 8 inch squares or rectangles.  Stack a few together, cut through to make a few strips, and then lay them out on your table and play around.  Sew some together (seams or overlapped), then sew another bit on at another angle.  Just play around  until you see some shapes you like and then stick, pin or sew onto a "background " - another piece of fabric, a piece of plain paper or even newspaper.

If you aim at about A4 size, you can get a "picture" that pleases you with little time, cost or wastage, and start to get some idea of what you are looking for.  You don't have to 'end up' with anything, and you never have to show anyone else if you don't want to.

Good Luck,


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