Exploring Etsy with loadofolbobbins!

Hello there everybody and once again welcome to my little corner of the information super highway, ‘Exploring Etsy’. After the exciting exploration of punch needle embroidery in the last edition it’s time to look at another exciting and equally stabby technique that perhaps you’re all more familiar with: needle felting. Without further ado let me introduce you all to the lovely work of Gemma Bee and her Etsy shop ‘Buzzy Feltz’.

Spotty Pin Cushion Ring by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

Spotty Pin Cushion Ring by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

 

Sailor Bear Necklace by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

Sailor Bear Necklace by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

As a mother to two young children Gemma is just starting to find the time to be creative again. Studying ceramics at A-level and getting a degree in Printed Textiles, felting has become a happy medium between the two. She first discovered felting three Christmases ago when she was given a kit and a book as a present, can I just take this moment to personally thank said gift giver, they did the creative world a huge favour! Ever since she has been exploring all things felt, the epitome of a resourceful crafter picking up books from the library and watching some of the fantastic tutorials out there on the interweb. I don’t know about you but I think she’s an absolute natural!

White Mouse and Flower Bowl by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

White Mouse and Flower Bowl by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

 

Meadow Coin Purse by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

Meadow Coin Purse by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

What is your earliest stitching memory?

My earliest memory of stitching goes back to when I was quite little, watching my Nana making clothes with her overlocker. My Grandad custom built her workbench and I loved how the colourful waste bits fell down a shoot into the bin on the floor. She made a little outfit out of some spare jersey for one of my teddy bears that I still have to this day. She also had a collection of buttons that I always got out and made pictures with on her workroom floor. I inherited those buttons and have used some of them to create my button rings. My Nana was also very into her cross stitch. My favourite one of hers was a large portrait of a female native American in a feathered headdress. Her walls are still covered in her creations though sadly she is no longer with us, they all trigger little happy memories of her.

Giraffe Sculpture by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

Giraffe Sculpture by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

What fires your imagination?

I get a lot of my inspiration from nature, the flowers, leaves, bugs and animals feature heavily in my work. I have always had a love of colour, usually bright colours and being daring with the colours you use together. I also get inspired by my children, kids have great imaginations and it helps to think like a child once in a while. We read a lot of books together, we love a well illustrated kids’ book in our house. I think this is why I like making the little characters. I don’t always start with a concrete idea of what the creature will look like, they sometimes just grow out of the wool. I always add the eyes last though because I don’t feel like I am stabbing a real creature until it has eyes! I make little finger puppets for my children and I have to hide a lot of my creatures as my youngest thinks I make them all for her.

Bear Sculpture by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

Bear Sculpture by Buzzy Feltz (Needle Felt)

Once again I urge readers old and new to head on over to her shop to check out all the other wonders on offer – I mean who can live without a pincushion ring now they’ve seen one!!

P.S – Hope you don’t mind this minor interruption to normal proceedings folks, but today is not only special because I get to share yet more gorgeous creations with you all, but because it’s marks a very special persons birthday…..HAPPY BIRTHDAY MUM!!

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Jessica Taylor aka Loadofolbobbins is a Textile Artist and Illustrator based by the sea in Portsmouth. At her happiest with a needle and thread, with a passion for genealogy she often explores old photographs in her textile art. With her fingers in many creative pies she loves to experiment with new techniques, creating illustrated and stitched goodies for her new Etsy shop.

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Millinery Operations with Emily Moe

I’m going in a different direction today. I’m getting political, in a hat-centric way.

As it says in my bio, I’m an Etsy seller. I’ve been an Etsy seller for a very long time. I’m also captain to a group of Etsy milliners that number over 500. I say this a lot, I know, but in this case I kind of want to make sure that my level of experience with Etsy is right up front. It is my primary storefront..

We milliners have been begging for additions to the categories for years. We have sent email campaigns. We have done online petitions. We have sent humans into Etsy HQ to try to get additions to the categories so that we can be found. If we can’t be found, we can’t sell our goods. And neither we nor Etsy makes that sale.

Here is the current list, a screenshot of a part of Etsy.com.

Etsy Categories

Try to fit a fedora like this in there. Where does it go?

Sinatra Fedora

 

How about a top hat? Made of silk?

silk top hat

 

A cowboy hat? For girls?

marilyn monroe cowboy hat

 

A straw hat?

annex_-_hepburn_audrey_breakfast_at_tiffanys_09

 

A bowler?

Charlie-Chaplin_l

 

Or a hat for the races?

My Fair Lady Audrey Hepburn

 

There are no categories here for classic hat styles or millinery techniques. I understand that coming up with a really coherent list of what we want these categories to be is difficult. There are over 500 milliners in my group alone and hundreds more that haven’t found us yet. We don’t all have the same names for things. Say “trilby” in the US and people look at you like you’re loopy. But if there are so many milliners, not knitters, that means too that there are this many artists making hats that are getting lost. That’s a lot of people to be alienating.

There are words that we can agree on. We could simply add the word “millinery” to bring discerning customers to our way of working. I know that word tends to be mysterious, but it is what we do. 

We could add “felt” and “straw” to bring customers away from things that are knitted or crocheted. Basic shapes that women and men have been wearing for centuries and recognize immediately. There are humans looking for fedoras. That’s a great word to put in the categories.

Off the top of my head, and scanning my house:
Bowler, Porkpie, Top Hat, Homburg, Veil, Cocktail Hat, Panama, Beret….. 

Help me add to this list in the comments, please, so we have something concrete we can present.

But more importantly, help us get Etsy to listen. After all of our efforts we have been utterly ignored. In this post I’m bringing a problem from behind closed doors out into the light. Etsy isn’t terribly fond of light, but maybe in doing so we can get their attention and get a response. Any response. Tell us why this is hard. Tell us why you can’t do it. Or better yet, help us get this done.

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Emily Moe is a milliner who, since 2007, has slowly been taking over the world of Millinery and captains the Milliners of Etsy, a collective of artistan hat-makers from around the world. She lives with her husband in Minnesota and gets up to all kinds of creative mischief.

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Mr X Stitch presents Phat Quarter Finds

The Phat Quarter is our Flickr group where you can share pictures of your best stitcheries!

It’s also the place where we host our legendary swaps to coincide with our Fifth Friday Festivals of Fabulousness!

Here’s the latest 20 pictures that have been added. Why don’t you come and join us?

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Nuido It Yourself - Japanese Embroidery with Madeline Scharpf

Happy Sunday to you! Today our topic is a technique called 刺し子 Sashiko (pronounced: sa-sh-ko). Sashiko falls under the category of “functional embroidery”. Sashiko is sometimes found on clothing because it reinforces cotton fabric and can be stitched quickly in attractive patterns. Today, Sashiko is mainly decorative and often seen on napkins and place-mats or hung as artwork.

 

You can find this book on amazon.com

You can find this book on amazon.com

Basically, Sashiko is artfully placed running stitches in (usually) geometric designs for the purpose of mending or reinforcing fabric. The Japanese people are not wasteful and believe, if something is broken then it can be made more valuable with mending. You may have seen this practice with Japanese tea cups and bowls. If something breaks, instead of ending up as garbage, you mend it with gold and now it’s more valuable than it was before. The Japanese philosophy of embracing imperfection is called, “wabi-sabi”. In my opinion, this is a positive outlook for many things in life.

 

When an item is mended with gold it's called, "Kintsugi".

When an item is mended with gold it’s called, “Kintsugi” (wikipedia.com).

Don’t have anything that needs mending? Well, that’s ok! Sashiko’s decorative use is equally as amazing as it’s function. There are all sorts of kits and patterns you can find throughout the webs. If you’re handy with a ruler, designs can be simple enough to make your own. Here’s a super cute DIY idea.

 

Photo credit to wildolive.blogspot.com

Photo credit to www.wildolive.blogspot.com

Make your own Sashiko Sampler bracelet with some old denim. If you have kids, then you probably have tons of perfectly good jeans that they’ve grown out of. Get to work and make something for yourself!

 

Photo credit to sew4home.com and Amy Barickman.

Photo credit to sew4home.com and Amy Barickman.

Traditionally, for Sashiko you need a long needle and a special thimble that sits in the palm of your hand.

 

Photo credit to www.purlbee.com

Photo credit to www.purlbee.com

Use the long needle to make several running stitches at once, how ever many you can handle comfortably. The proper proportions are 3:2, with the longer stitch on the right side of your work. I’ve also seen Sashiko that has a top stitch 3 times the length of the underneath stitch. This is awesome because who likes hard rules anyway? Creative anarchy!

 

Testing my Sashiko skillz with an octopus design.

Testing my Sashiko skillz with an octopus design.

Now before you get too carried away, Sashiko does have an important stitching lesson to teach us:

To avoid puckering, leave a small loop of thread at your turns.

 

This is a fabulous example showing how to make beautiful Sashiko.

 

Photo credit to http://www.designbyaika.com

Photo credit to http://www.designbyaika.com

 

See, I left little loops at the turns.

See, I left little loops at the turns.

I followed her Sashiko tips on how to turn and how to make intersections to create this lovely octopus using a design I picked up during my February trip to Tokyo. Since I made a hair clip last month, I’ll turn this one into a badge. I fashioned the octopus in the same way as my leopard ribbon hair clip. It’s just a couple felt layers, some fabric glue and a pin back.

 

My finished Octopus Love Badge

My finished Octopus Love Badge

That's all there is to it!

That’s all there is to it!

If you prefer a modern method, Baby Lock makes a Sashiko sewing machine.  I haven’t tried one yet, have you? They look like they’d be a total blast.

 

Photo credit to Baby Lock

Photo credit to Baby Lock

Next month, I’m going to be in Japan! That’s right, we’re off to Tokyo were I’ll be shopping, eating and on the hunt for embroidery. We’ll comb the vintage fashion district of Shimokitazawa, check out handmade pillows in Oshiage, take a stroll through Harajuku and oh, so much more. If you can’t wait until the 4th Sunday of September to see what I’m doing, just follow me on Twitter @Allons_yAlice (we leave for Tokyo on September 19th ) where I’ll post pictures of Japanese thread / craft / fiber / awesomeness.

 

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Madeline Scharpf

When she’s not gallivanting overseas (usually to Japan) Madeline is making things at home in the Oregon countryside where she lives with four dogs, a pig and her human family. You can keep up with Madeline’s endless fiber projects and find her travel blog at www.madelinewonderland.com as well as visit her Etsy shop.

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Mr X