Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Some Holiday Sewing

The hand embroidery projects are set aside temporarily while I get some holiday sewing done. A year ago, I posted how I made a Raggedy Ann for my granddaughter's Christmas gift. I did mention how I would have Andy finished by the New Year; well here he is, all finished only 11 months late. I'm hoping to make another dress for Ann for this Christmas.

Lately I've been trying to learn the embroidery software for my sewing machine, but I think Andy looks a bit confused by it.

I purchased a five-pack of kitchen towels and embroidered an open design on the three that were flat cotton, similar to canvas. I didn't use any wash-away stabilizer on the top, and I think the embroidery is just fine. But I should have used the darkest brown for all three.

On the two waffle weave towels I used a denser design. The one on the right took over 2 1/2 hours as I was constantly misthreading the machine and creating a bird's nest underneath the embroidery with loops on the top. Once I figured out what was wrong and took special pains to thread the machine correctly, the embroidery progressed fairly smoothly and the second towel came together in less than 1/2 hour. I watched a lot of TV on the laptop while taking out stitches. I've just finished watching all of Sherlock, and noticed that there will be a third season, starting in January in the US.

I bought this fabric last year intending to make aprons. Yesterday I washed and ironed the fabric, and found some ecru Battenburg lace for the pockets. I forgot to include it in the photos, but will with the finished articles. These need to be finished by next Wednesday so my daughter, granddaughter and I will all have matching aprons for our Thanksgiving preparations. I also hope to embroider names on the pockets, which will be the darker fabric.

Thanks to alindbergh who alerted me to The Paradise on PBS. It turns out that I have automatically recorded all available episodes (I think the last one airs this coming Sunday), so I've started watching it. The story line so far is a bit dull, but the costumes are wonderful! The only problem is that I have to be downstairs in front of the TV to watch it, so I usually iron while doing so. Right now I'm pretty much caught up on ironing. My husband only works 2 1/2 days each week, so it doesn't take much time to iron his shirts.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Working on the Leaves

I'm trying to work an hour or two on the Embroidered Silk Evening Bag every day or so, and I am making some progress. Here I'm working on the second leaf.

Blending in the light yellow green over the darker green.

The tips of the leaves are actually a gold color, which you can barely see. Well, maybe you can't see it, I think I can because I know it's there. I picked up the thread for the stem and used it to make the vein, which I'm not sure is quite right. Do green leaves have brown center veins?

During the class our teacher, Susan, had us start different items on the embroidery so she could touch on the different techniques. Now that the class is over, I'm trying to stick with the order of work in the instructions, so I'll be doing all the leaves next. This will be pretty dull, so I won't bore you with each leaf's progress.

Those little yellow circles were driving me nuts, so I finished them along with the buds at the ends of the stems. As you can see, I've started on the third leaf. I'm sure I'll need to try something else while working the leaves, so I'll probably finish the French knot berries at the top. Those are fun to do, and don't require much concentration so I can watch TV. I've finished with Merlin and have started Sherlock, which apparently is coming back next year for a third season.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Embroidered Silk Evening Bag

This past weekend our local SAGA guild had Susan O'Connor from Country Bumpkin in Australia over to teach us how to embroider this stunning bag, named Caprice. This first appeared in issue 44 of Inspirations, published nine years ago. Susan was on her way home after having taught in New York and at the SAGA Convention. This was perfect for us who didn't make it to the Convention, as we got a beautiful project from an extremely talented teacher and no travel expenses. The photo above is from the magazine.

The photo is a bit wonky as I placed the fabric on the lawn to get the best light. The lawn really needed cutting, so the fabric isn't too flat. Since this design is embroidered on black silk, marking it is a challenge. Susan gave us some Saral white transfer paper for tracing the design on the silk. It comes in several colors and you can buy it at Dick Blick art supply. I first ran the design through the copier onto a sheet of vellum craft paper, then taped the design and transfer paper to the silk and traced away. It really works beautifully, but does tend to wear off. To revive the design, I bought this mechanical pencil, available at Joann's, after the Saturday class. After marking the design, I fused the fabric to a length of interfacing to help stabilize the stitching.

Since we had the actual bag in the class, I had to take a photo, so you can see how nice it looks in real life. Susan had also stitched another variation but had not made it into a bag, but with my poor photographic skills I don't have a good photo of it. I hope some of the other ladies got a good photo.

All the embroidery is worked in Au Ver a Soie, Soie d'Alger, a wonderful silk floss that is a delight to use. There's just nothing quite like a beautifully design stitched in silk on silk fabric. One of the nice things about taking a class as opposed to working the project from a magazine is all of the extra little tips and information you get. Susan gave us quite a few tips on working the various aspects of the bag which I'll share with you as I progress in this.

This is as far as I got in two days of classes, not much, is it? I plan on concentrating on it while I'm waiting for my threads from Australia to arrive.

Lately while I've been embroidering I've been watching TV on my laptop. I just finished binging on Downton Abbey Season 3, and also have been watching the British TV series Merlin. This is a family oriented version which is so goofy I can't even begin to describe it. However, it's been fun except for the last two episodes (after all, we do know what happens).  Now to find a new series to watch while working.

Since I really don't care for the name of this project (look up the definition of Caprice and you'll know why), I plan on calling this by the very unimaginative name of Embroidered Silk Evening Bag.  Using this name you'll be able to follow along with the project, if you care to.

Friday, November 1, 2013


I've been quite happy lately working on the Celtic Hearts Blanket, adding little rosebuds and leave to the vines. However, I made a very frustrating discovery: I ran out of the thread for the vines. This is Kacoonda Hi Twist Silk thread with very subtle shading. In the last post I mentioned that I ran out of the DMC wool and had earlier run out of the Colour Streams Exotic Lights.

This is as far as I can work at this time. The vine on the right has a little curlicue left to work on the left side of the heart, so I don't want to add the rosebuds or leaves until I get than finished. So now I'm stuck. I did find a supplier who carries both the Kacoonda and the Colour Streams, and of course it's in Australia. So until they arrive, this is getting put away.

Here is a shot of the whole design. I had less than half the necessary amount of the Kacoonda Hi Twist to finish the design. There are supposed to be vines going around all of the hearts on the outside.  So I've ordered several skeins of the Hi Twist, also some silk ribbon just in case I'll need it for the leaves, and more of the Colour Streams Exotic Lights. I want to add some hearts in the corners of the blanket to balance it out a bit. If you would like to see my previous posts on this project, click here.

I find is so very frustrating to run out of threads during a project. I know that many teachers want to keep the costs down on their kits, but I would be happy to pay more to have enough threads to be able to do over some of the work I'm not happy with. But this is ridiculous! There just wasn't enough threads to complete the project. It's especially frustrating because these are threads which are not easily available. I had to hunt for the DMC wool and found it locally, but the others are Australian and not even available in the US. I love the idea of kits, but this one is starting to make me dislike them.  Time to calm down.

Tomorrow I start a new project! Susan O'Connor of Country Bumpkin is coming to our SAGA guild to teach her lovely silk shaded purse, Caprice. You can find it in issue 44 of Inspirations, and I'll post photos soon.