Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Bit of Progress on the Christmas Wall Hanging

The wall hanging for my mother is coming along slowly, but I have to admit it's moving faster than my Chinese Birds and Flowers Project, which is languishing, but I'll talk about that a bit later.  In my last post about this project, I mentioned that I would try to jazz it up a bit by using stitches other than backstitch and French knots. As it turns out, I'm using stem stitch almost exclusively, at least so far.

I also mentioned that I used Transfer-Eze to mark the embroidery pattern. I have mixed feelings about this product. It runs easily through my ink jet printer, but the sheet size is just a tad smaller than the standard 8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet, so it's tricky to get a large pattern, such as this one, copied correctly. I had to make four transfers to get the whole pattern copied, and there were overlaps. On this photo you can see where I didn't trim it quite perfectly where the four corners meet. This product is supposed to adhere right to the fabric, but the edges all have a tendency to separate from the fabric, which makes matching the patterns on the edge of the sheets difficult. This is a "folksy" piece of embroidery, so not a great deal of precision is required. On an embroidery piece on which a more precise pattern is required, I would have a  problem with using Transfer-Eze, and would likely pick a more reliable transfer method.

One of my sewing friends swears by the stuff. She says that now she only makes kitchen towels for gifts because she can use Transfer-Eze and work the embroidery without a hoop.

This is the final selection of colors that I've chosen for this embroidery. I'm using DMC 355, the next to the darkest, for the tree trunk and the branches. I'll use the darkest, 3777, for the electric cord, and a mixture of the lighter colors for the needles, bird, snow and heart. I'm also thinking of adding snowflakes with gold bead centers to the sky around the tree. I think a little bling is always welcome, don't you?

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I haven't made much progress on the Chinese Birds and Flowers Project. By the time I get home from work, there isn't much light left outside, and my sewing room is completely packed up and put away for the ceiling work. If you remember, I signed up for Trish Burr's Little Bee Eater Project, which starts this Saturday! I hope I can find it to start on it!

Today the last of the ceiling treatment was removed, so there is a fine layer of dust all over the house. It's been fairly hot, but if I run the A/C or even the house fan that will just redistribute dust all over the place. But I'm not complaining, at least there are no hurricanes here. I hope all of you affected by Hurricane Isaac are safe and sound.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lost, but Now Found

I had despaired of ever finding this little outfit I made for my granddaughter four years ago. My daughter had sent several boxes of clothes to store for her, and I rummaged fruitlessly through each one. But when Mr. California Stitching came back from a recent trip to visit her, he brought it home in a bag with several other outgrown dresses. So after a quick session on the ironing board, here it is.

This is the second of the Wendy's Embroidery Club items I made, and the first complete kit I bought from her. Wendy Schoen has discontinued the club, and this pattern is no longer available on her website. The first club item I ever made was the Toile Eyelet Dress, but I purchased the fabrics for that one myself. If you look at that post, over two years ago, I said that after I made it I would purchase kits from then on, and if I ever found the other one I made that year I would post about it, and this is the post. This outfit was so fun to make. The fabrics are just delicious, it's completely lined, and all the embroidery is done in DMC floche. The pin stitching is all done on the machine. This fabric is just a bit heavy for hand pin stitching, which is better suited to fine cotton batistes and handkerchief linens.

The embroidery  is not difficult, as the stems and leaves are all back stitch and lazy daisies (detached chain stitch). The roses are bullion roses, with Wendy's excellent instructions and drawings in the kit. She was a graphic designer before turning to embroidery, so her illustrations are well done and very instructive. Of course, if you want to recreate this embroidery there is always the A-Z of Bullions by Country Bumpkin for great close up photographs of the step by step instructions.  What's that slightly dark spot in the center of the pink check? Coffee dust! I had just made a nice cappuccino for myself before the photography session, and didn't notice it until just now.

Even the diaper cover has lace on the legs.

Here is the little angel wearing it almost four years ago. The outfit is a size 9 months, so it just may fit my great niece, who turns 1 year old in two weeks but is a bit small for her age.

I'm off to do some laundry, grocery shopping, all that great weekend stuff. I hope you can get some stitching time in! Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Slight Progress

I meant to show you the progress on the lower left leaves, but somehow I got ahead of myself. Mind you, this rarely happens. So here are the leaves all stitched, and the veins stitched with split stitch.

Here I've started on the lower left flower, and decided to outline all the petals at once so I don't get confused as to which petal is on top. The two lower petals are the top, looking perpendicular to the fabric. I thought the first petal came out a bit dark.

Looking at the photo in the instruction booklet, it's much lighter than what I embroidered. I thought I read the instructions correctly, which said to use the three darkest shades, Anchor 1025, 10, and 9, on the first petal.

This is a close up of the completed flower. Obviously it has some of the lighter shades in it. I can't make mine much lighter as it will then have a bump near the base of the petal. So I think I'll make the petal to the right similar in color, and the three front petals progressively lighter. It won't look quite like the original, but I think it will do.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bits of Bullion Bubble Finished!

I almost finished the Bits of Bullions Bubble, from a class I took in late April from Kari Mecca. Kari has a way with bullions, making them into all sorts of different shapes. What an imagination she has!

As usual for me, the most challenging aspect was making the buttonholes. Even though I have a pretty nice machine, a Husqvarna Viking Designer I, I always cringe when it's time to make these darn things. They never seem to come out on the garment as nicely as they do on the sample piece. These aren't too bad for once.

The only thing left to do is to add some baby rick rack to the seam joining the bodice to the bottom. It's all done by hand, so I can sit on the patio and watch the birds fight around the feeder while I do this. My great niece won't be big enough for another couple of months so I have plenty of time (famous last words, right?).

This fabric is mint green baby lined pique, and it irons beautifully. I had thought my niece (baby's mother) wasn't much for ironing, but when she gave me back some infant clothes they were washed and beautifully ironed.

Some of my favorite bullions: the strawberries in the upper left are pretty hard to get shaped just right, but I love the color combination of dark pink and light green. The worm and candy are made using two colors of floss in the needle. I would never have thought of that! It is pretty difficult to keep the strands side by side while wrapping around the needle, and I wasn't very good at it, but the striped effect came out pretty well. See the cute spider?

I love the mouse and the snail, two pretty disgusting creatures in real life. I have predator snails in my front yard, they eat the large garden snails and consequently, are my buddies.

My all time favorite, the firefly, which we don't have here in California. It doesn't look much like a real one, but the color combination is very pretty.

And finally, here is the whole garment. There is only one thing I didn't care for in the pattern, the crotch seam is sewn in with no snaps to make diaper changing easy. I didn't realize that until I had sewn it in. But then the way my great niece goes through clothes it probably won't last through more than one diaper change anyway. If you would like to follow the entire project, just click here. Kari teaches classes all around the US, so check out her class schedule on her website! She's a great teacher!

Many of you who live outside the US wrote to ask me what in the world is popcorn on the ceilings!  It's an acoustic treatment applied to ceilings from the 50's through late 70's and is now thought to be extremely ugly and a major detraction from selling a house. Some of the treatments applied prior to 1977 even have asbestos, making it a hazard to remove. My house was built in 1978, thank goodness!

Usually it's removed by spraying with water then scraping it off, leaving a huge mess of gloppy plaster all over the plastic on the floor. My contractor is dry scraping, which has left a fine dust all over the house. This photo shows the popcorn partially removed. After it's all removed, then the gouges in the drywall need to be repaired, a new, more subtle treatment applied, then painted. So everything is going to be a mess for quite some time. I've carefully packed all my silk fabrics and threads away, and only left out cotton and linen projects which are easily washed.  Yesterday I vacuumed four bedrooms and the hallway, and had to empty the cleaner three times. I keep telling myself how nice it will be when finally finished.

Happy Stitching! None for me today, I'm working a bit in the morning then taking a few hours to take my mother to lunch, today being her 82nd birthday. Then it's back home to dust and to call in to a late meeting at work. Then, more dusting.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Little Rosebuds

Over the last few weeks I dug out an old project that I haven't written about, or even worked on, in some time. This is the Rosebuds and Hemstitched Baby Dress from a class at last year's SAGA Convention taught by Jeannie Baumeister of Old Fashioned Baby. When I last left this project I was still working on the hemstitching for the sleeve. Since then I have finished all of the embroidery on the sleeves and the dress front. I washed the dress front and ironed it to show you all the little rosebuds. I added the little rosebud swirls on each side of the center panel, just to be a bit different.

The photography is quite a challenge. I took this with a flash at night on my ironing board cover over two white shirts to disguise the pattern on the board. If you click on this link you will find out why I needed the shirts. The pattern on the ironing board is pretty dark and would show right through the light blue linen.

I embroidered all of these while riding in the car on the way to work. They were pretty easy, at least compared to the bullions in the Bits of Bullion Bubble. Sometimes it really is handy to have a long commute, especially if I don't have to drive every day and can get some stitching done.

I'm at home all this week, working part time while the popcorn is removed from the ceilings. Well, most of the ceilings. The contractor won't get to the cathedral ceilings in the living room this week, we'll have to save that for another time. So it's really dusty and icky around here and I'm constantly packing things up and moving them around. And on top of that, it's hot!

Have a good week, and I hope you can all get some stitching in.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Christmas Sewing

Unbelievably, I'm starting a small Christmas project. As I mentioned in a previous post, I attended the International Quilt Festival in Long Beach last Sunday. However, not only did I leave the camera at home, I left the phone in the car and was much too lazy to walk back and get it. So, no pics! I did buy a few things, one of which is this darling Christmas table runner pattern and kit. Not being much of a quilter, I'm more interested in the market than the quilts on display, although many are quite marvelous. As all of you know, I'm also not much of a photographer, which is a skill that I definitely have to improve to be a successful blogger of embroidery. I'm working on it...

But isn't this little guy adorable? Oh, where shall I plug this in??

I plan on making this into a hanging for my mom's apartment, so it will have to end up somewhat smaller than the table runner dimensions as originally designed.

The pattern suggests fabrics using Christmas red, but the kit I bought is much more subdued and "country-like" with a lot of brown tones in the reds. While I'm not a big fan of the folk art/country look, I do like this selection of fabrics, and besides, as I've mentioned so many times before, I just love kits. The floss didn't come with the fabric pack, so I pulled a set of matching colors from my almost complete collection of DMC floss. Thank goodness for the DMC color card, it's unbelievably useful. I was able to match several shades of the floss with the fabric easily.

The instructions in the kit say to color the body of the bird (and the heart ornament, I think) with crayons to give them some subtle shading. However, I think I'll just try to add depth using the lighter shades of floss. The kit calls for one shade to be used for all the embroidery, but I've pulled several others to add some nice detailing. I will also try to jazz it up by using stitches other than the recommended backstitch and French knots, but we'll see how that goes.

Some months ago I purchased a pack of Transfer-Eze, so I figured this would be a good time to try it out. So far I've copied the pattern onto the Transfer-Eze, but haven't yet applied the printed film to the fabric. There is a pretty good reason for this, as I have cleaned out the sewing room to have the acoustic ceiling treatment (aka popcorn) removed. So I've been pretty busy with sewing related tasks, but not much that's very interesting. I did manage to set aside a few projects to work on while the remodeling type is going on, and I hope to post some progress on those projects.

It's hot here, in the 90's. Don't roll your eyes at me, I'm completely spoiled living in Southern California so near the Pacific Ocean with the mild climate.

I mistakenly posted this article a few days ago without the photos, my apologies to those of you who saw it and were confused.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Ripping out Needle Work

I absolutely hate ripping out needlework! Especially after spending so much time getting it right. In this case, I had only stitched in one color, so maybe 20 minutes was all that I spent, but still, I don't like it. In the first of the Chinese Birds and Flowers Project, the little bud you see being dismembered was to be stitched in Anchor 2, 6, and 9. I outlined the bud in split stitch using 6, a light pink, then proceeded to stitch the tip of the bud in the same color. After all, it was already in the needle, right? Wrong! It's supposed to be 2, white, for the tip and 6 and 9 for the lower parts.

So out came the trusty seam ripper to remove the offending color.

Now the bud has the right colors, and I'm much happier with it. Now that I thing about it, I could have stayed with the 6 on the tip and just made the whole bud a bit darker, using 9 and 10 for the bottom instead of the original 6 and 9. Oh well, it's done and I'm pleased with it.  I'm now on the next section, the partially finished leaf on the right. This has an interesting blue-green color it it that I'll show to you once I get a bit more of the stitching in.

Notice the drawing of the embroidery is now blue instead of the barely visible pink from the previous post?  Some time ago I purchased a four pen set of Martha Stewart Crafts writing pens. These are 0.1 mm thick and are archival quality pens. The four colors are indigo, charcoal, sepia and moonstone, with indigo being used here. The ink flows very smoothly and the pens are a delight to use. You can get these at Michaels, and probably Hobby Lobby or Joanns (the Superstore, at least), and are always available with a 40% off coupon. The MS line does tend to be a bit expensive, but this is a case in which you get what you pay for. They are really nice pens.