Sunday, January 30, 2011

I'm So Excited!

Over the past few years I've made a point of dragging the hubby out of the country on a real vacation. This spring we decided to travel to London. Then came the news of the Royal Wedding, which made me dread even thinking about going. Luckily, the date, April 29, was announced right away and we could proceed with our plans.

So what does news of a London vacation have to do with this lovely, glittering goldwork dragonfly? I've booked a Saturday class in goldwork at the Royal School of Needlework. This is one of the projects they may teach. The teacher (or tutor, as they say in the UK) has not been announced for  this particular class, and each one has a different design to teach.

I booked our airfare before even looking at the RSN site to see what is available. Luckily, this class was listed for the Saturday we will be there, but there were no seats available. I emailed the contact asking to be put on the waiting list, and almost immediately received a response that a seat had become available. So I was able to snatch it! I have no idea of what supplies or tools to bring, so I'll just start reading all the various goldwork info out on the web and my trusty A-Z of Goldwork to figure it out. 

Here is a link to the history of the RSN, I hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stumpwork Initial

Lately I've resumed working on my Stumpwork Initial, I started at Beating Around the Bush in October 2009. I'm determined to get this finished and framed.

I have managed to get sidetracked, but in a good way. Instead of making one initial, I've decided to make two, one for me and one for my granddaughter. I'm making the butterflies, flowers and leaves on a double layer of silk organza fused together, and didn't want to waste fabric, so I decided to embroider as many as I could on the square of fabric that came with the kit. I mentioned in the previous post that I ordered some Evertite frames to better use the fabric. These came and as you can see, I've mounted the silk on them. I probably could stand to put a few more tacks in the corners.

These frames are very nice! If you have never come across them, I encourage you to try them. Mary Corbet of wrote a fairly comprehensive article about them, so I won't repeat it here. They are great for this type of application, in which I'm trying to get as much use out of the fabric at hand.

Embroidering these little bits is fairly tedious, so to give myself a break, I'm devoting some time on the initial. You can see the raised part on the left side of the C where I restarted the embroider. I'll "comb" these stitches in and hide any leftover bumps with the flowers.

This view of the underside of the embroidery shows how the design is transferred. Our teacher, Jan Kerton, silk screened the initial backwards onto a piece of muslin. The muslin is then placed under the silk, but not fused to it. We then work a running stitch along the lines, then backfill the running stitch so there is a continuous line of stitches on the silk surface. You can barely see this in the photo of the monogram that is right side up, look at the unfinished curlicue. We then work a whip stitch around the running stitches to give some dimension to the narrow lines. You can see this in the finished portions of the monogram. This is a great way to transfer simple designs, but would became way too tedious and complicated for fussier designs.

I hope to get a few hours of stitching in today. Here in Southern California the weather is lovely, with a high in the low 70s. So I really need to get some gardening time in while the weather is still nice.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New Project - Smocked Hanger Cover

One of the two SAGA chapters that I belong to just started a smocked hanger cover project, so naturally I had to participate. After all, who could resist this lovely project?

This project is from Australian Smocking and Embroidery, Issue 41 from 1997 and yes, we did get permission from Country Bumpkin to make copies to distribute to our members. I didn't make it to the meeting last Monday evening to pick up a kit, so I decided to work on it at home. Instead of the Imperial batiste called for in the kit, I found a bit of ivory silk dupioni, and pleated it according to the instructions.

Instead of the Imperial batiste called for in the kit, I found a bit of ivory silk dupioni, and pleated it according to the instructions. That little bump just left and above the center is where one of my pleating needles broke, darn it! I'm hoping that I can hide it by some fancy smocking.

The original instructions called for a narrow hem on each of the long ends of the fabric, but I added a fancy touch by rolling and whipping some tiny swiss embroidery edging to it. Here it is smoothed out a bit so you can see it better. I do need to add in a buttonhole for the hanger to slip through, so I guess I had better get around to it before I start smocking.

The pattern calls for two shades of DMC floss, 224 and 225, both slightly different shades of pink. But since I'm smocking on silk I generally like to smock with silk floss. This is what I dug out of my collection. The Soie d'alger floss colors are 4621 and 4622, both are "dusty" colors, sort of antique looking. The Kreinik Silk Mori colors are 1032 and 1033 and are both more "pinky". I haven't yet decided which I'll choose, but am sort of leaning towards the Soie d'alger. What do you think?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Little Bo Peep Quilt

My little granddaughter has three quilts that I've made for her, one of which is a pink heirloom quilt that I've already shown you. Today I am showing you another Wendy Schoen kit, the Little Bo Peep Quilt, from Wendy's Embroidery Club of 2006.

The kit included white cotton for the front and all of the colors for the applique pieces. Originally, the pieces were supposed to have been appliqued to the white cotton by hand, using needle turn applique. This consists of cutting out each piece with a 1/8 to 1/4 inch margin, basting it in position, then turning the margins under by sweeping it with the needle and at the same time, taking tiny stitches to attach the piece to the ground cloth. The objective is to teach the stitchers the needle turn applique method while making this adorable quilt. Several years earlier I had made 12 appliqued quilt block using this technique, so I decided I already was fairly well trained. Instead I cut out each piece right on the finished outline, and machine appliqued them in place using a buttonhole stitch with matching thread.

If you click on the photos you should just be able to see the applique. Needless to say, this made the construction much, much quicker.

I quilted little lambs and clouds by making a template of the shapes and marking them on the white cotton with blue washout markers


The backing is this cute pink pique with little lambs on it. If you like this fabric, Wendy has some extra for sale on her website at a reduced price.

Now for the likes and dislikes:

It is a very cute pattern with the usual high quality materials Wendy always has in her kits. Once I decided to go with machine applique the construction was fairly simple. This would have been a very good beginner's project for needle turn applique.

Unfortunately, Wendy no longer offers the pattern or the kit for this project. The only other thing I didn't like was the blanket binding that came with it. It is the Wright's polyester blanket binding that you see everywhere. I decided to self bind it with the backing fabric, and I like the way it came out.

This quilt I've always kept here at home for when my granddaughter visits, but now I have a problem. She is 2 1/2, and will be graduating to a real bed sometime this year. This means she'll need a new quilt!

I'm sure you are wondering about the 12 needle turn blocks I've made. Some day I'll get them out, photograph them, and post about them. Then maybe in some future day I'll actually make them into a quilt!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Jinglebells Christmas Stocking

My daughter brought out the Christmas stocking I made for my granddaughter, Bridget, this past visit so I thought I would share it with you.

It is from a pattern in Inspirations #60 designed by Jenny McWhinney of Australia. I happened to have the fabric on hand, and ordered all the yarns from Needle in a Haystack in Alameda, California. They are a mixture of Appleton Crewel Wools and Paternayan Yarns. This looks complicated, doesn't it? But it is surprisingly easy to work up. Being used to much finer cotton and silk threads with their exacting placement requirements I was pleasantly surprised at how "loosey-goosey" this was to stitch. Woolen yarns are very forgiving to work with, and this design can tolerate non-exact placement of the stitches, you just add new stitches here and there until it looks right. Jenny advocates a very interesting method of design transfer. You trace the embroidery design onto water-soluble stabilizer, and tack it to the fabric. Then stitch right through the stabilizer. I used the really heavy Super Solvy which made the tracing very easy. Once all the embroidery is finished, soak in water until the stabilizer is dissolved and let dry. I added the gold lacing on the name afterwords. Luckily, all the wool yarns for this project are colorfast. Don't try this with silk and some of the DMC cottons without checking for colorfastness first!

I embroidered the name with chain stitch in the red yarn, and I have to admit I went a bit overboard on the gold interlacing. Oh well, pretty flashy. The holly berries are made by wrapping yarn around 1/4 inch beads. Everyone who has seen it asks me what is that robin sitting on? Most think it is a frosted Earth. I have to explain that this is a design by an Australian, and I think they must follow the English custom of steamed puddings for Christmas dessert. While I was in Australia for Beating Around the Bush in October 2009 I asked Jenny to design one with a pecan pie for the Americans. I doubt she will consider this, but I think it might be kind of cute.

My likes and dislikes:

I really love the pattern, even with the odd pudding. The wool yarns are very easy to work with, the design stitched up fairly easily and it looks great. You can compare it to her kit and see for yourself. It is available on Jenny's website at a discounted price of AUS$60. It contains everything but the fabric, which is pretty easy to get anywhere.

What didn't I like? Ummm, nothing! This was a great project, and I even bought a kit for a different stocking, one with candles, just in case I get another grandchild. Wait - the only thing I didn't like is that the stocking is huge, measuring 22 1/2 inches top to bottom.  With the precedence set, I will have to make one this big for every grandchild. Depending on how many there will be, this could get expensive for the parents (and grandparents) to fill each year.

You can barely see the date due to the fold in the fabric, but it says "2008" which was her first Christmas. I actually finished this in early spring 2009, but I don't think she will remember. Several of the jingle bells have fallen off so my daughter will be sending this back to me for some repair work.

OK, no more Christmas stuff until I actually start on Christmas 2011 projects.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Forward 2011!

Finally, I'm writing my New Year Post. All the Christmas decorations are packed up and put away, and I've been pretty busy lately with things other to do with stitching. Now it's time to look ahead to stitching opportunities for 2011!


A very serious Bridget wearing her Christmas dress is contemplating taking a cookie from the tray. Just so you know, she didn't want one and ended up eating a cheese stick instead. Or rather, playing with the cheese stick. I'm not sure how much actually went down.

I have a great many projects for this year, and am listing them in order of priority:
  1. Finish my son's new bed quilt. When I last posted about it, I was piecing it together. Well I finished the piecing and the unfinished top has been hanging over the upstairs banister ever since. Now it is time for borders, then quilting. 
  2. Finish my Stumpwork Initial that I started at Beating around the Bush back in October 2009. I have actually made some progress on it, and will post about it eventually.
  3. Remember my Elizabethan Sweet Bag? I actually have another one that is almost completed. I just need to stitch the borders and the cords. 
  4. Finish the Bullion Wrap Dress in time for Easter/Passover. And make a matching jacket for it.  If you recall, I was having issues with the fabric wrinkling under the bullions. Most of those are now taken out, ready for rework. 
  5. Organize the sewing room. I started this in September, but work is stalled for a variety of reasons.  I need to get this back on track.

Now for those items in no particular order:
  • Work the Embroidered Snail, along with all the other little projects I've collected from Thistle Threads
  • As my granddaughter will be graduating to a double bed this year, she will need a new quilt, along with embroidered sheets/pillowcases, an afghan for the winter, and all sorts of things.
  • Finish crocheting an afghan in my youngest son's school colors. I started this a few weeks ago to have something to do while watching our new TV. 
  • Finish my other Beating Around the Bush project, a lovely embroidered blanket which I have yet to post about. 
  • Stitch some sort of gray cat ornament for my Christmas tree, which has all angel ornaments.  When our Labrador Retriever died 9 years ago, I found a black Lab ornament which we hang every year among the angels. All three of my children and my husband reminded me we now need a cat ornament. 
  • Design and stitch something completely original! This may be a stretch, as I'm a firm believer in stitching from patterns and kits.
  • Sew a garment for myself. I really want to get back into garment construction.

And as if all this isn't enough, list all my UFO's and post in a prominent place so I can see what needs to be done. I hope that this will prevent me from buying and starting new projects, but I doubt it.

Whew! I'm tired just writing about all this. I will now get to work, and throw the fabric for the son's quilt into the wash. It's a start!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Very Old Blanket

Laurie Anderson from SewNso's Sewing Journal is having another Linky Party, this time the theme is Weathered and Worn Wednesday. She must be describing me!

I just happened to come across this old blanket in my linen closet a few days ago. It was embroidered by my grandmother for me, so it's well over half a century old.  It is a very sweet blanket with appliqued kittens frolicking among some flowers. The embroidery is in pretty good shape, but the blanket edging is beginning to fray a bit. As this can be very easily replaced, it is not a worry.

The embroidery consists of running stitch with detached chain leaves and daisies, french knots, a stem stitch pink flower, and lots and lots of straight stitches. In fact, the kittens are appliqued on with straight stitch, not blanket stitch. The whisker on the right is beginning to come apart, but black is pretty easy to match so I am confident I can manage to mend it without it looking like it was fixed.  The blanket fabric must be cotton blanketing material, and it is pilling quite a bit, which cannot be repaired without destroying the blanket. But it is still fairly soft so it is usable. I think that after I replace the edging and repair a few stitches, I will make it into a wall hanging for the next grandchild, assuming there will be one.

Hop on over to Laurie's site and check out all the entries!