Thursday, November 28, 2013

Auckland Art and Craft Fair

It's time for the wonderful Auckland Art and Craft Fair again this Saturday and I've been so busy getting ready for it that I've forgotten to blog about it! I'll be there with a full table loaded up with my new Felt Bird Kits, Hoop Wall Art Kits, a range of new pouches and something else that's new and exciting: my Embroidered Card Kits.  It's been all over my Facebook page this week, but for the non-FBers, here's an example of the Snowflake card:

The kits come with a heavy kraft card and envelope, plus a punched card to embroider, a needle and thread. Have a look over on Etsy for more information and to see the range. I'm so happy with these geometric cards and I hope shoppers will be too...

I finally got myself a smartphone and the first thing I did was join Instagram.  Here's my page; feel free to follow me to see what I get up to at the studio and around the house.  I'm still in the experimental phase with all the filters, so it's all over the place while I'm like a kid in a candy store. Here are a couple of of my stock-taking pics from today.

I'll be sure to post photos of the fair on Saturday, but it's really much better to be there in person.  It's at the Aotea Centre (inside, not on the square, so come regardless of weather) between 11 and 3.  I'd love to meet you, so remember to say hi if you come past my table :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Whipstitch tutorial

Whipstitch is so easy, it doesn't really need a tutorial.  Just pass your needle and thread around the edge of your fabric and you will have done whipstitch. My favourite example of this stitch is around Jessie's hat (from Toy Story, of course).  Except this is what whipstitch looks like when it's animated; just a bit cuter than in real life.

Here's some whipstitch in the real world, warts and all.  

And here is how to do it.  On the front: 

 And the back:

My stitches are quite vertical on the first photo, with the stitches on the back being diagonal.  If you would like both sides to be diagonal (like on the double-sided edge of the felt birds), insert your needle at the top of the zig-zag, a bit further away from where it came up at the bottom of the zig-zag, like in this photo.  

You can also see my whip- and blanket stitch video over here, and read more about the felt bird kits here

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Blanket stitch tutorial

As promised, I'd like to show you a few embroidery stitches.  I'll start with blanket stitch.  For my felt bird kits, I used this stitch mainly around the outer edge of the bird, but it can also be used to decorate or attach the breast and wing like here:  

Here's a detail of the tail with blanket stitch used around the edge. Notice how I treated the corners.  You might also see where I started a new thread on the bottom left side of the tail.  I've explained a bit more about that in my tips below. 

If you're really new to working with embroidery thread, watch this sweet little video of Embroidery 101 by Jenny Hart from Sublime Stitching.  

In fact, you can just spend time watching all the amazing videos over on her site and ignore this B-grade attempt I made below! But it's out there now and even on my own channel, so you can watch it if you like and see how I do blanket and whipstitch.  

There are a few tricks to getting blanket stitch looking great on an exposed, double-sided edge. My tips are:
  • Start with a small stitch on the back (or inside in this case), run your needle through it and then start making the loops.  You will see in the video that I run the needle to the right, underneath the thread, in the opposite direction to where I actually want to stitch. This is so that the first stitch looks just like a real blanket stitch with right angles, not an odd little diagonal stitch in the middle of all that straightness. 
  • Make all your stitches the same length and width apart.  Your work might look even from the front, but also check to see what your needle is doing in the back.  You might bring it up at an angle, which will create shorter or longer stitches than on the front. 
  • You'll need to finish off a piece of thread and start a new one more than once if you're going right around the bird. I like to hide the starting knot on the inside of the bird. When I finish the thread, I make a tiny knot into my last stitch, push the needle down into the body and hide the thread tail on the inside of the bird.

I don't think I gave the whipstitch enough attention in my video, so in the next post I'll talk you through it (with photos this time). It's pretty late at night, so I'm not sure this all makes sense. I hope my instructions and video will help somebody, and as always I'd love to hear from you if you have any questions or feedback. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Felt Birds

If you follow me on Facebook, you might know my badly-kept secret already, but here it is: I've got a new craft kit! It's something I've been thinking about for a long time, and I'm very happy it's finally done. It's been a long road, but here is the story of my new Felt Bird Kits.

It started a few years ago, so long ago that mine were the first kits on Felt and there was no category for it. I put together a Felt Bird kit and when they did quite well and I finally ran out of felt, boxes, and other bits, I thought about repackaging it and making a bit more 'now'.

My colour scheme was inspired by this rug I found on Pinterest.  The colours were so unexpected; I particularly loved the minty blue and fuchsia combo, so I chose those two and toned it down a bit with a rich dark blue.  My accent colours for thread are orange, yellow and purple.

I found the most divine sequins and they also add to the fun: 

Then the big job of cutting, collating and stuffing began.  This is what my production line looked like last week: 

And this is what the finished product looks like in a bird cage.  They also look pretty cute on a Christmas tree, on a wall or in a window.

Every kit contains everything you need to make 3 birds (felt, stuffing, needle, DMC thread, sequins and illustrated instructions) and as usual, it comes in beautiful packaging, ready to give as a gift.  I also have a refill kit to make 3 more, because you will have thread left over and I hope you'll want to make more! If you really want to save money though, especially on postage, get the Combo.  The kits are aimed at all ages, and as with my Hoop Wall Art kits, you can decorate them as much as you like, according to your ability.  

To make it more affordable, I've made the decision not to wholesale these kits through other stores. That means you can only buy them through my online shops or at the few markets I'm doing these next few weeks. 

You can get yours on Etsy and Felt .  Use this code in both shops for a 10% discount until Wednesday: FBK10. 

I'll be doing a couple of video tutorials this week to show you how easy it is to do the stitches you need for these birds.  Here are the links to blanket stitch and whipstitch, and a video tutorial for French Knots.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Pinterest board like no other

Here's a little something to keep you entertained; my favourite Pinterest board: My Imaginary Well-dressed Toddler Daughter by Tiffany Beveridge. Join her (imaginary, obviously) daughter Quinoa and her friends Chevron, Branding, Washi, Hashtag, Ombre and others as they wear expensive clothes while thinking about very important issues like accessory overdose, having bad hair dreams and drive-by Holga shootings. Priceless. Here's a screenshot:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Sew your First Garment Workshop

My next sewing class is coming up soon and I've still got a couple of spots left. We will be making a top from a commercial sewing pattern and this will happen over two workshops. 

1st workshop Sunday, 13 Oct (10-12) $20
We will cut out the pattern in class and look at things like sizing, reading pattern symbols, adjusting a pattern (lengthening/shortening to fit your body) and choosing fabrics for this project. 

This workshop is optional if you have worked with patterns before. 

2nd workshop Sunday, 20 Oct (9.30-12.30) $30
We will sew the top together in this class. We will look at how to make and finish your top, which shortcuts you can safely use, alternative ways to finish the neckline and how to adjust the top if necessary.

These workshops are aimed at new sewers (not complete beginners, but this is perfect if you've done a few simple things on your machine and would like to move onto clothes). 

You will need your won machine and pattern; email me if you'd like to book or want any more information. 

On inspiration

It's been so long since I've last posted, Blogger asked me to sign in to prove that I'm actually me... I'm in now, so let me share with you something that really tickled us here in the Webb house. This weekend I came across a wonderful little video about an inspiring artist called Blair Summerville. He lives near Invercargill in the South Island of New Zealand and makes his art from found objects.  You really have to see it to believe it. I particularly liked what he said about inspiration:

It seems such a redundant question when you're alive to be asked that (where he gets his inspiration from), because there's so much going on everywhere, so much to react to... Life's inspiring, you've got this chance to do stuff, be creative and experiment.

Here's the video:

Lost & Found from Joey Bania on Vimeo.

After we watched it, Joshua wanted to make something. I got him to draw and explain his idea, and later Craig helped him to build it, and here it is: a frame with crank-handle, just like something Blair might have made as a boy. I find this creative spark that bounces off people so exciting; even more so when it's realised and you have something to hold, something that was just an impulse an hour ago.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A giveaway

I've reached 500 likes on Facebook and to celebrate, I've decided to do a blast from the past giveaway.  You can win a rebound Little Golden Book, a decal, zip pouch with my 'In the neighbourhood' screenprint and a pocket mirror and pouch.

Enter below or head to the giveaway on Facebook, answer a question (what's your favourite Ruby in the Dust product from the last 5 years), and get an extra entry for liking my page. As simple as that. International entries welcome. Entries close on Saturday.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 2, 2013

This week

Happy Friday! I want to show you some pictures from this week, as I'm noticing a new color sneaking into my work: orange. I never used to like it, just like I never liked yellow (which is now my favourite).   

The plate was an op shop find ($1, Broadhurst Ironstone 'Medina'), which I thought cute but way too boring just in brown, so I added some colour with permanent markers and porcelain paint. Obviously this plate isn't destined for the kitchen :)

This is my current big job; and if you've been following my blog for a while you might recognise where this is going!

I've been playing around with paper the last few days and loved the back of my project.  I found the sticky tape in the Japanese $3 shop; it's not washi but just as nice.

Finally, my Facebook page is almost at 500 likes, and when I get there I'll do a giveaway.  If you haven't already, I'd appreciate it if you clicked the 'like' button over on FB :) Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Make a Zip Pouch Workshop

Sunday's workshop was so much fun, we decided to keep going! My students wanted to do a slightly more advanced project, so I thought I'd do the Zip Pouch workshop again. There are only 3 spots left, but if enough people are interested, I'll organise another class for early September.

This class is perfect for all levels from beginners with some experience (you need to be able to thread your machine and sew straight lines) to experienced sewers who would like to practice inserting a zip, lining and boxing a bag. You need your own machine (with zipper foot).

The class is 3h long and costs $30, and starts at 9.30 on Sunday the 25th August. It's held at Highbury House in Birkenhead again.  You can email me for more information.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Paying it forward

Well, what a dry month it's been for this poor blog! All I can say is it's been a busy one at home with sick kids, school holidays and life in general.  I've had so many things I'd like to write about, but come the end of the day I just want to blob on the couch and admire my newly-rearranged lounge.  Small things...

One thing I don't want to forget about though is that I've been very fortunate be be featured in the UK Cross-stitcher magazine this month. They did an article about the talented Liz Smith from the Stitchsmith and asked her to name a few NZ stitchers whose work she likes, and I was one. Click on the images below to have a better look.

How nice of Liz! I also like what they say about my embroidery kits: 'neon shades agains a grey fabric: NZ chic'. I did not pay them to say that, honestly!

I am so thankful that my work is getting out there and being seen by more people, so I thought I'd do my own little showcase of some great textile artists that I've been following.

Jane Denton
Jane is a New Zealand jewellery and now textile designer, based in Wellington.  I love her use of colour and the woven look of her latest work, plus the fact that she makes embroidery into art.   (Photo from her website).

Another very talented designer from Wellington.  I was so surprised to meet Flora at Handmade last month because I had fallen for her designs online and didn't even know she lived in NZ. She is also a super-amazing illustrator with a keen sense of colour. Just look at her website for evidence if you don't believe me :) This is one of her screen-printed tea towels from her Etsy shop.

Karen is a textile designer, weaver, embroiderer and teacher who lives in Chile.  Her blog is full of beautiful photos that she takes of all her projects and experiments. I am blown away by her work ethic and consequent body of work.  This is her Copihue design (Chilean bellflower) on a tea towel (image from her shop).

It's getting late and I'm getting silly. I have a heap more people to write about some other time, so let's leave it here and I'll say goodnight. See you soon xx

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sewing for beginners: Ruby in the Dust DIY

I've decided to run a few sewing and craft classes and the first one is aimed at sewers with their own sewing machine.  I have a few friends who have been given a machine or bought one and haven't had the courage to use it, so with them in mind I've created a 2 1/2 h workshop teaching you the basics of using your machine and putting together a good toolkit. I'll guide you through the process of making a boxed tote bag in class and teach you what you need to know to use your machine for simple sewing projects. Hopefully you will leave inspired to make more bags or even come to my next class ready to learn how to make a simple garment. Email me to book or if you have any questions. 

The first workshop is on Sunday the 28th of July, 10-12.30 at Highbury House in Birkenhead.  $25 per person, with a maximum of 10 per session. 

Apart from teaching these workshops, I'm also available for smaller sessions: one to two people (two adults or a parent and child) working on a chosen project which could be anything from sewing to print-making on fabric. An hourly rate applies, so if this sounds like something you might be interested in, please contact me as well.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Testing and reading

I've just had some technical issues, so some people might have received a few silly emails with desperate links to Bloglovin.  This one works, so if you'd like to follow me over there when Google Reader has gone to the virtual afterlife, click on the following link:

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I'm linking to Bloglovin, but to be honest I haven't really tried it.  I've been using Feedly for a while, but am having a hard time figuring out how to use the page properly, so now I'm testing the water with this annoyingly-named reader. Will see how it goes, but my first impression is that B'lovin has very short links to posts and you have to open a new browser to read them, compared to full posts on Feedly.  I like reading or scanning the whole thing in one go, so prefer Feedly for that. I'll link here to my page on the latter when I can figure out how.  Have a nice weekend, by the way!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

At work

I've been spending most days in my studio, where I am surrounded by all my fabric and things, but not my computer, which explains my sporadic blog updates.  I'm having a great time thinking of new ideas and rediscovering materials that I can use in my projects; a creative growth spurt, so to speak.  

Ballantynes, Christchurch

In my internet trawl late last night I came across this: Facebook evidence that my kits are indeed now for sale at Ballantynes in Christchurch. In early May I sent them three big boxes full but it feels so long ago that I've had to pinch myself to make sure it's really true. I hope people down there will brave the cold to visit the shop and get a little project to do in front of the fire.

I've never been to Ballantynes, but I know it is one of New Zealand's grand old department stores, like Smith and Caughey's in Auckland and Kirkcaldie and Stains in Wellington. I feel so honoured to be in there; I can't even begin to tell you how much.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Hot off the press: Mollie Makes

On Sunday morning I had a quick look at the Mollie Makes website, to see if there might be an online preview of the contents of the new July issue (#28).  And there it was, my 'Home' sampler on a page in this beautiful magazine. You can imagine how I felt... This is only a screen shot; I am waiting patiently until it hits the shelves here in NZ (which might be ages) so I can frame that page and one day take it to my grave :)
If you have found me through the magazine and would like to look at my products, you can see them in my Supadupa or Etsy shops.  The first has prices in US$ while Etsy lists prices in your local currency, which might suit you more if you are perhaps from the UK. And if you are perhaps here from the UK, please sit down and make yourself at home while I get you a virtual cup of tea :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Handmade 2013: The Lowdown

I've been back home a few days now but I'm still buzzing from teaching at Handmade. This was my third year, and favourite so far: I taught five 2h-workshops, attended a masterclass with Rosemary McLeod and a workshop with Melissa Wastney, managed to catch up with a few friends and make a few new ones.  A great weekend in my books.

A highlight for me was my Vintage Embroidery Zip Pouch class. I had full classes both days and was a bit apprehensive about teaching so many people at once.  I needn't have worried; my students were all superstars and almost everyone finished their pouch in class. My favourite moments were when somebody who thought they were a bit behind or less experienced than the rest, realised they could manage and did.  I honestly love that feeling that I've helped someone do something new. I wish I had photos to show you, but it was busy and I didn't have my camera, but they were beautiful, those pouches! Looked just like this one:

I was really glad to have some juniors and their mums in my Hoop Wall Art embroidery class, plus of course adults of all ages.  The girls were around 8 to 9 and managed beautifully; I was very impressed with their skills.  Something I never considered before about embroidery was how a left-handed person would approach it, but with the help of a few left-handed ladies in my class, we worked it out. Pretty much exactly the opposite way I do it, so I had a little brain gym in the afternoon sessions! Here are some gorgeous photos taken by one of my talented students, Laura.

It was so nice to spend a couple of hours stitching, and most people were well on their way with the hoop by the time we finished. I had a lovely small class to finish my Saturday teaching, Applique and Print a T-shirt.  We had a great time working with freezer paper and fabric paint, and embellishing it with embroidery and appliqué. Fun!

What I love about Handmade is that it feels like a national conference for all us crafters. Every year, we get to hang out and inspire each other with our ideas and creations and every year there is a bigger pool of experts and people keen to take on a more creative life. I left feeling desperate to start a(nother) new project, maybe a bag with heaps of zips or a skirt for winter or a dress-up cape for my boys. So far we've managed making a few stamps, inspired by Melissa's stamp carving class.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Oops: Embroidery Bird Kit at Handmade 2013

I have so much to write about this past weekend's Handmade, but before I do, I have a public announcement.  If you bought any Bird Kits in my workshop or the Handmade shop, please email me so I can send you the missing teal thread. Human error crept in and I only realised this in my workshop on Sunday afternoon. My sincere apologies! Thankfully this only affects the packs sold this weekend, so about 20 I guess.  I hope I hear from everyone; please pass this on if you know someone who might be affected...

Monday, May 27, 2013


Before I get too busy getting ready for Handmade this weekend (!), I just want to show you what I've been up to the last couple of weeks. Background: when I got my new computer last year, I also got Adobe Illustrator and have been teaching myself new things as I need it.  I've really come to like the programme and use it a lot.  When I heard about a Skillshare course taught by the brilliant illustrator Brad Woodard, I just had to enroll. It's called 'Learn the Ins and Outs of Illustrator'  and for our project we had to copy a print ad.  The idea is of course to learn new techniques from great art, not to rip anybody off. I wish I knew who the illustrator behind this beautiful Anthology cover is, because I'd love to buy them a cup of coffee:

I chose this picture because I could see that I would learn how to do gradients, texture and work with shapes. I really enjoyed the process and the challenge of getting my lines to match the texture of those in the original, use fonts that have the same feel, generally do the right thing by the beautiful artwork. The biggest obstacle was the masthead font. I wasn't going to buy it just for this exercise, so to save myself $60 I traced it by mostly using the pen tool. If you're not familiar with digital illustration, believe me when I say it was quite painful. Worse than getting a tattoo, in fact. Anyway, here it is; my version of the most gorgeous Christmassy picture on the interweb.  If you're interested in the process, you can read more about how I went about it on my project page. While you're there, have a look at all the other amazing projects.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Handmade 2013: an update

There's been a change to the programme at Handmade 2013 and I'm pleased to tell you about my new class: Applique and Print a T-shirt (scroll down the STITCH page to find it).  In this 2h workshop I'll show you how to decorate a t-shirt with fabric paint, thread and fabric.  We'll be using different techniques like stencilling, reverse applique, beading and embroidery.  When you do this type of applique on a knit fabric, you end up with a very strong, stretchy fabric that works perfectly for t-shirts. The feather shape above is one of the designs you could work with, but there will be more designs to choose from. 

While we will be working with knits, these techniques are also easily transferred to fabric like felt or wovens.  I made this day-glo example using felt after finding inspiration in some Golden Hands magazines from the 70's; can you tell?

Here is the class description; as you can see you only need to bring a few things along as I'll provide the freezer paper, embroidery thread, beads, buttons, fabric paint, brushes and extra fabric. I hope to see some of my lovely blog readers there :)