Since I've been sewing and crocheting so much lately I haven't been doing much embroidery, and do I ever miss it. I have finished sewing the blocks together for the black and white quilt, but am undecided on the border. Since I cannot just sit down and decide on a border, but must let myself think about it over the course of several days (sort of a stream of consciousness thing), I decided to pull out an old embroidery UFO and work on it.
This is a stumpwork initial kit from one of my classes at Beating Around the Bush in October 2009. The class was taught by Jan Kerton, a very talented, and I must say, entertaining teacher. For each kit, she photographed our chosen initial that she had worked up. That's an amazing amount of work. The kit comes with the initial, stem and leaf placement drawn on the muslin, which we place under the silk fabric. We then worked a running stitch through both layers of fabric to transfer the design to the front of the silk. The muslin layer gives a good foundation for the silk fabric and allows the transfer of the design without actually marking the silk. Jan uses this technique with most of her kits and it work quite well.
Here is my progress so far. As you can see, the initial in the kit is slightly different than the original. We put it in the frame with a layer of lightweight interfacing over the silk fabric, then cut out the interfacing to expose the area to be worked. This is a very effective technique to keep the edges of the fabric around the hoop clean. The wide bits of the initial are padded with felt and worked over with raised stem stitch using Madiera stranded silk. The raised stem stitch is really easy and looks great - giving the initial a bit of texture in the very wide areas. Using a padded satin stitch would also work, but as we all know, it is much more time consuming and difficult to get perfect.
I decided to add some butterflies to the initial, and started them here. These are worked on two layers of silk organza fused together. The design are transferred to the silk as iron on transfers. The right side of the lower butterfly and the flower were done in class where I didn't have my 3X magnifying glass that I use with my extra strong reading glasses, so they are a bit wonky. The left side of the lower butterfly and the middle one are coming along a bit better. I'm hoping that after I fill in the right side a bit more it won't be too bad. These are worked in YLI silk floss, which is extremely fine. We only had a bit of it in the kit, but luckily I had these colors in my stash, so I can make as many butterflies as I wish.
I also started some leaves. These are worked with Madiera stranded silk, which is thicker than the YLI and therefore easier to work with. A bit about the construction: all of the outlines are worked in split stitch, then filled in with buttonhole stitch. With the YLI floss on the butterfly, I found I had some of the fabric showing through, and ended up adding some split stitches in among the buttonhole stitches to give it better coverage.
After I worked on these a bit, I realized that working in the hoop was driving me nuts! So I ordered some nice Evertite slate frames and will attach both pieces to the frames to finish them.
Now that I'm embroidering I feel so much better!