Monday, March 30, 2015

Red Good Fortune Cookies

My mother is celebrating her 90th birthday next weekend, and I was given the job of creating something as a party favour for guests coming to the event. We agreed on some criteria - a small item, not too expensive, not chocolates or lollies, preferably handmade, and something reflecting my mother's heritage and her birthday. I thought of  fans with a photo, a small clay plaque, small boxes with customised ribbon, chopsticks... then I saw felt fortune cookies on Pinterest!. Tick all the boxes and  thank you, Martha Stewart  for a step by step description.
photo from
I used Martha Stewart's instructions to guide me....
1. Cut felt circles - the ones I cut are 10cm diameter. 
2. Cut pieces of wire and ribbon to fit inside the circles. 
3. Clean up, but dilemma - will I keep the scraps of felt for another future project? 
4. Embroider.... 

5. Count ... 
6. Glue the wire covered with ribbon on the inside of the circles. 
7. Glue the circles into closed semi circles, leaving a space for the paper fortune.
8. Having checked the wording of the fortune, print and cut out the fortunes.
 ( thanks to my niece for designing the birthday theme logo )
9. Fold and insert the  fortunes. 
10 "Bend" the fortune cookies. 
The first batch of a total of 70 red good fortune cookies. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Creative Embroidery Correspondence Course - Border Patterns

Border pattern   ( February 2015 - Wilma Simmons) 
Was this on my bucket list ?  No,  not really, but after completing Stages 1 & 2 of the Creative Embroidery Correspondence Course with the Embroiderers' Guild about twenty+ years ago, this year I decided to enrol in Stage 3 - finally.  As I want to record what I do, I am sharing each month's exercises with you right here. If you are unfamiliar with these courses, what you get each month is an envelope with instructions, handwritten comments by your assessor and some threads and fabric and then the completed work is returned to the Guild each month for assessment.
February's threads and fabric 
For February's lesson, the theme was inspired by border patterns, emphasising the way stitches turn into patterns when used close together to fill shapes and spaces. Besides the embroidery, there were drawings to do - three border patterns and three square patterns like tiles. I love doing this part, but then to choose one or two,  and  interpret the designs into stitching.... ?
Drawings ( February  2015 -Wilma Simmons) 
To make life easier for myself, I  photocopied  my drawings onto freezer paper and ironed them onto the fabric. I then machine stitched around the lines to provide the "shapes" for stitching... 
Machine stitching the outlines of the shapes 
Work in progress 
Work in progress 2 
Square pattern ( February - Wilma Simmons) 
I used two different approaches ...  The stitching on the square is done within the shapes. With the border pattern, I appliqued some previously  hand painted cotton  and stitched the background in the colour scheme provided with different filling stitches. 
Border pattern exercise ( February 2015 - Wilma Simmons) 
There is nothing better than the feeling of having completed the exercises on time and then getting back the assessor's positive comments! 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wise Words on Wednesday

" Some people make a difference, some people make you different" - Saleem Sharma

make a difference

to have an effect It is exciting to do something that really makes a difference in your community. People don't realize that their vote can make a difference.
Usage notes: often used in the form make no differenceIt makes no difference to me if the game is televised or not.
See also: differencemake
Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2003. Reproduced with permission. from
Can someone else really make you different? Or is it that some people  can empower another to be different? 
I'd be interested to hear if someone has made you different? Or ,at least, empowered you to be different? 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Adeline - Boho Banjo Art To Wear

Adeline featured in Aspiring Designers Challenge 
Pearl Red Moon is an amazing designer and artist with her own  label," Boho Banjo" .... and again Pearl let me test her new pattern, "Adeline". Previously I tested "Zelda " - you can read about that first experience of testing Peal's patterns here. But, let me tell you about Adeline .... this is one of the easiest patterns I've made and it's stylish , versatile  and most of all  comfortable. The pattern comes in multiple sizes and two lengths. I made the small pattern ( suitable for sizes 8-12 Australian) and the shorter length. Even though I am definitely on the larger end of the small scale and very short , I was very happy with the fit and the length.

Adeline pattern available from Kollabora
The pattern comes as a downloadable PDF file. While you can get this printed off locally at your favourite print/photocopy shop in large sheets - 2 A0, I opted for printing off  the A4 sheets on my own printer and sticking them together. This is the most time consuming part of  constructing this garment, but I don't mind it at all. Somehow, you get to know the pattern very well and Pearl's instructions of putting the pattern together are very clear and easy to follow. 
"Adeline" scraps even look artistic! 
"Adeline" can be made in light woven or stretch fabrics - something with a bit of a drape looks great. I chose an overall patterned fabric, with a very light stretch. The only variation I made to the pattern was that because the fabric had such a light stretch, I cut the neck and armhole bands on the bias. (This instruction is given in the pattern when using woven fabrics. )

Thank you, Pearl for designing "Adeline" and especially for letting me test this great pattern.
Go to Pattern Revolution Aspiring Designers Challenge  to see more pattern testers' versions of "Adeline"and an opportunity to enter a giveaway. To purchase this fantastic pattern  and other patterns in the Boho Banjo Art to Wear range , please visit this  Kollabora site .

Monday, March 9, 2015

"Letting Go" on International Women's Day

I celebrated International Women's Day on Sunday, 8 March by  participating in a very happy and colourful textile art installation - a 72 square metre fabric tile mosaic  which was the culmination of many months of innovative  planning and creative workshops at Timeless Textiles Gallery, 90 Hunter Street, Newcastle East (NSW, Australia) ....  You can read more about the project in  my previous blog post.
"Letting Go" was such fun with hundreds of women, led by community leaders, textile artist coordinators and  a well known Aboriginal artist and elder, scattering the fabric tiles to the wind.

The mosaic followed Elsie Randall's  Aboriginal design of four large butterflies, and while it took many hours to prepare on the footpath outside The Lock Up Cultural Centre , it was exhilarating to see the fabric tiles scattered with  happy abandon by one and all.

People came from far and wide to participate, and it was great to see visiting textile designer and artist, Abigail Brown  enjoying the event.

It was just a wonderful memorable  experience and I am grateful to have shared it with lovely friends and family. I'm very interested to hear about how you spent International Women's Day or of other creative IWD celebrations - please comment below.

Post script : And what happens to all of those 2,000 odd tiles?
Two exciting creative  events are planned:
1. Rachel Daireaux, A French textile artist will be in Newcastle, creating a large figure of humanity, by knotting many of the tiles together. To see Rachel's work go to :

 2.  At Timeless Textiles Gallery, we will be holding free workshops making fabric birds from a design by UK textile artist , Abigail Brown ( . The birds will be created from the remaining tiles and  sold, with proceeds  donated to women's and children's refuges in the local area - Jenny's Place, Carrie's Place and Warlga Ngurra. This may be the focus for International Women's Day 2016... can't you just see 2000-3000 birds in the Norfolk pines out the front of Timeless Textiles Gallery? 

STOP PRESS 10 March 2015  - I have just heard that Rachel Daireaux has cancelled her trip to Australia, so another artist is being sought for the task of textile sculpting / knitting/crocheting/ weaving a large figure. Are you the artist we are looking for? 

Friday, March 6, 2015

International Women's Day 2015 - Newcastle

Some of the fabric tiles with the small drawing of Elsie Randall's design for the entire mosaic. 
Newcastle’s Timeless Textiles Gallery will mark International Women’s Day on 8  March with an innovative and collaborative exhibition – Letting Go – which will include the placement of a large-scale art installation outside the Lock-up Gallery and Curve Gallery, Hunter Street , Newcastle East. 

The installation, a 72-square metre fabric mosaic designed by local Aboriginal elder and artist Elsie Randal, will be placed on the footpath outside the historical gaol to symbolise the need for Australians, and people from other nations, to cleanse and heal historical pain.

The Letting Go installation is inspired by a community ritual held in a small Italian village each year, where townsfolk colour bark chips and scatter them in the square. A respected community elder then leads a walk through the chips, scattering them as a symbol of cleansing and letting go of old enmities.

Over 350 people have created approximately 1800 fabric tiles.. printing, mark-making, stitching and felting, by attending workshops, run by local fibre artists Naomi Wild, Wilma Simmons and Ruth Spence.  NCEATA- Newcastle Creativ e Embroiderers and Textiles Artists- have  also spent many hours stitching creating part of the design.

“Layers of stories have emerged as people explore their creative expression in the workshops,” Anne said. “Individual life experiences, a strong local sense of place and a collective of thoughts on the global issues facing women today have all been represented by group members.”

The resulting works will be on exhibition for a walk-through on Sunday, 8 March as part of the Letting Go International Women’s Day celebration at 2pm. Individuals, families and community groups are invited to participate in Letting Go – collectively, creatively and meaningfully. The walk with be led by Lord Major, Nuatali Nelmes and Elsie Randall.

NCEATA working on the project 

Lisa from Curve Gallery assembling part of the installation. 

A sample of the 1800 + fabric tiles. 
If you live in or near Newcastle NSW, I hope to see you at our International Women's Day art  event. Celebrate the achievements of women all around the world. Protect  and the support the women and girls who are still living in the shadows of others in fear.   Make it Happen !  Happy International Women's Day to all! 
Make It Happen : IWD theme 2015. 
PS Watch this blog space for photos of  Sunday's event. - 8 March : 2pm

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Where are the Songs of Spring?

eco print - marigold, grevillea leaf on khadi paper 

Today is the first day of Autumn in the southern hemisphere 
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness 
Close bosom friend of the maturing sun....  
And still more,
Later flowers for the bees, 
Until they think the warm days will never cease... 
Where are the songs of Spring ?
Yellow in all the earth and in the skies 
The world would seem
 Faint as a widow mourning with soft eyes 
And falling into dream .... 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep 
But I have  promises to keep
And miles to go  
Before I sleep ..... 
Words by John Keats, John Shaw Neilson, Robert Frost
Images by me -  (Wilma Simmons, Empress Wu Designs) from my handmade book, Where are the songs of Spring?
gum leaf captured between tea bag paper , dipped in beeswax 
eco dyed wool with handstitching 
tea bag and hand stitching 

eco dyed wool, felted and hand stitched with wood button 

eco print  leaves on watercolour paper 

eco print leaf , with feather, wood button and stitching 

print, machine stitching, on tea bag paper applied to cotton fabric.