Thursday, March 31, 2011

Italian Smocked Evening Bag

I can hear all you saying this, Oh no, not another black silk dupioni piece! This project is Fiore Bello from Australian Smocking and Embroidery Issue 76, from 2006. The Italian smocking used in this bag is very different from the usual English smocking. It is done with threads that match the fabric and is more about manipulating the pleats into a pattern than having the embroidery floss stand out on the surface of the fabric. I used DMC No. 12 perle cotton for this and boy, was it ever hard to distinguish the threads from the fabric.  I can't tell you how many times I "desmocked" because I didn't get the counting right. With Italian smocking it is crucial to count the pleats accurately. I ended up not tying off the ends until the piece was finished so that I could correct mistakes more easily.

The pattern recommended using the same silk dupioni for the interior, but I found this zebra fabric in my stash and decided to use it to give a bit of contrast inside the bag. I really don't like having to find things inside a black bag. I used a yard of black ribbon for the strap. It's just large enough for a compact, lipstick, cell phone and some cash, perfect for an evening bag.

A quick search on eBay and Amazon turned up none of Issue 76, but Country Bumpkin does have it on their site for AU$13.95. From time to time AS&E does have an Italian Smocking pattern which should be easily adaptable to make into a bag.

I should be home again shortly, and will post about some of my stitching related adventures in London. Right before I left, I figured out how to add pages to the blog, and will work on those during April. I'd like to have links to the various projects, to help with searching for a specific topic. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Stumpwork Initial Progress

Another prewritten post to keep you all entertained while I'm in London. I've been making slow and unsteady progress on the Stumpwork Initial. As you can see, all of the flowers are finished, except for the centers. I'll do those as I attach them to the initial, as I may stack or overlap some. So I can finish up the petals - those are the heart shaped things in the center, do a few more leaves, then call it quits.

I am beginning to get really, really tired of this project. Embroidering all these flowers, leaves and petals is getting to be extremely tedious. I am so looking forward to cutting all these out and arranging them on the initial.

In my last post I was anguishing about running out of the Gumnuts Stars threads that came with the kit. I had planned on driving to Needlepoints, Ltd up in Garden Grove to replace my dwindling supplies. But then I got there and found they haven't carried this line for over five years! Nor do they carry Madiera silk floss. I was so disappointed. But I managed to get some Au ver a soie, Soie d'Alger in 4147 and 2941, very light and slightly less so pinks. The two flowers just right of center on the bottom are made of these. It's not too bad of a match, and will look fine (I hope) once embroidered in place on the initial.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Off to the Royal School of Needlework

Today is Saturday, March 26, and I'm scheduled for my class at the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace in West London. This is the name tag I will wear that I made using leftover thread from my Elizabethan Sweetbag. Of course, by the time this posts the class will be over and I'll be on the way to our flat.

This is a photo of what we'll be making in the class. Isn't is pretty? Lot's of metals and beads, with a bit of silk shading.

Before I left I picked up a photo case from an office supply store and made a wool liner to fit inside. This will be for snipping apart the goldwork threads so they will fall into the case and not go rolling across the floor. I downloaded the ruler, cut out enough to fit inside, and voila! a neat little metal thread case. Now, before you say "Oh how clever!" I have to tell you I got the idea from Mary Corbet's site. I looked around the site for the reference but just couldn't find it, so if any of you do locate it, please place a reference in a comment.

I need to take notebook, so I am bringing along my notebook with its Embroidered Cover. I hope it won't be too tatty to show around!

After I'm back in the US I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Silk Embroidered Heart Sachet & Smocked Hangar Cover Finished

This is the first of the prescheduled posts for the next 1 1/2 weeks while we are vacationing in London.

I finished both of these projects a few weeks ago, but finally got around to mailing them off to my cousin as a thank you gift for hosting me during my visit to Detroit in February. I didn't want to post about them just in case she happened to read my blog. The Smocked Hanger cover is made of some silk dupioni scraps I just happened to have around, and smocked with au ver a Soie, soie d'alger floss in two shades of dusty rose, 4621 and 4622. The pattern is from an old Inspirations magazine, issue 41, which is out of print and not available on eBay or anywhere else I looked. The hook is covered with silk ribbon, not the embroidery kind, that is folded in half the short way and basted down each side to gather. The instructions call for hand basting, but this made the sides gap out too much, so I rebasted using a long basting stitch on the machine. This worked perfectly. The hook goes through a little buttonhole in the smocking, which you can see by looking at the link to the previous post above.

The heart sachet doesn't look nearly as nice, I think. The heart shapes are a bit wobbly, but all in all, not too awfully bad. I made the backing and bias strips from some rose dupioni scraps, and embroidered all around the outer edge in a coral stitch. The strap is a bias strip I made by cutting the fabric on the bias, then running it through one of those Clover Bias Tube makers, then folding in have and stitching down one side.

The lavender came from my backyard plants, only two of which survived our wet winter. I found out the hard way that lavender likes well drained soil. I purchased the empty teabag online somewhere, and they seal nicely with a hot iron.

I hope she likes it!

Please feel free to comment on any of the posts while I'm in London. I will have Wi Fi connectivity on my iPhone, and will publish comments from it. Actually, that's what I generally do anyway, so I can publish from work without bringing up Blogger on my laptop. See you in April!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Long and Short Stitch Tutorial

We leave for London tomorrow morning, so all posts for the next 1 1/2 weeks are written and scheduled for publication. I'm taking along a project designed to help stitchers become proficient in long and short stitch shading, from Mary Corbet's site published in August 2009, which is about the time I discovered her site. The photo is pretty pathetic, right? I put this together for my trip to Australia in October 2009 and this is as far as I got.  I did iron it a bit for the photo but didn't want to spend the time to get all the wrinkles out as I'll put it right back into the hoop. Please visit Mary's site in the link above to see what it's really supposed to look like. 

I even put together the threads from the cards she had available to print. I'm hoping to become more proficient in long and short stitch shading before I tackle Trish Burr's needle painting online correspondence course.

I hope I can manage to make some significant progress on this project during a 9 hour layover in San Francisco. I did purchase the airline club access so we'll have someplace comfortable to wait with internet access.  Wish me luck!

Footnote: What's really odd about our trip is the weather forecast. My little corner of Southern California shows rain for five of the next ten days with highs in the low 60s. The London forecast is completely rain free, with highs in the high 50s. Who would have thought?

Friday, March 18, 2011

iPad Carrying Case

I'm in a panic mode both at home and at work as our departure for London grows near (next Tuesday!).  I did manage to put together this carrying case for the iPad last Sunday. Some of you who have followed this post will realize that the fabrics look suspiciously like my Smocked Pockets Tote Bag with matching business card holder, passport folder and convention name tag. 

The bag has a little hidden pocket in the front, shown here with a pen sticking out so it's easily seen. You can barely see how the velcro has come off the upper tab and stuck on the bottom. The sticky velcro doesn't seem to work very well, so it's needle and thread time. I'll definitely hand sew it so it doesn't show from the front.

You can also see two pockets lurking behind the iPad here.

And here's the pattern. Notice it also comes with an iPad cover, but I didn't get that far in my sewing. In fact, I may just about be out of the lining fabric, and there just ain't no more. But I'll rummage around when we get back and see if I can't make the cover as well.

If you go back up to the first photo you'll notice that it is terribly plain. There are two reasons for this. First, I want my husband to be able to walk around with it, and most guys like plain. Second, I just didn't have the time for any embroidery. I may try to add some later, but it will have to be fairly simple as I'll have to attach all threads from the front. So we'll just wait and see.

I have tried to figure out mobile blogging from my iPhone and iPad, but just can't manage it right now. So I'll try to write up a few posts for while we're away. Luckily I have a three day weekend, then a half day of work Monday, and off to the wild blue yonder on Tuesday!

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Embroidered Blue Baby Dress I

Some time back I took yet another class from Jeannie Baumeister of Old Fashioned Baby in which we made a darling baby dress from her pattern Best Embroidered Baby Clothes One. The dress is made from blue batiste with ecru lace and embroidery.

Jeannie generally uses Anchor embroidery floss, so the ecru color is just slightly different from DMC's version of the color.  This dress has little pintucks, all made by hand. The pintucks aren't deep enough to make any gathers in the fabric, but exist just for the decoration. Notice the little bullion roses and the feather stitching. These items seem to be Jeannie's trademark, and they make the dresses look so lovely and sweet.

Also notice the lace insertion that is stitched onto the fabric by hand with Point de Paris, or pin stitch as we Americans call it. The fabric is not cut out behind the lace, so it looks more solid this way.

I also made a sweet little bonnet to match the dress, with silk ribbons, of course. And this is all washable.
The laces on this dress are fairly light in color for ecru laces. Later on I'll show you another blue baby dress I made with ecru lace that is quite a bit darker. 

Now for likes and dislikes:

I love working with batiste as it's fairly tightly woven and doesn't ravel much at all. Still, I do make french seams on this type of garment and finish every single edge so there can't be any fraying. Even though the fabric and laces are expensive, they wash very well. I tend to get these dresses back from my daughter with little beige blotches on them from milk burps or heaven knows what else. I just soak the dresses in a pasty mixture of Oxy Clean and Kirkland detergent (from Costco), then wash. The stains always come right out and the dresses all look new (after a good session with the iron!)

Dislikes? I honestly can't think of one. Jeannie's patterns all have good instructions and are easy to follow. The embroidery designs are simple and sweet, and are infinitely variable.

I may try to make some of these dresses in Imperial Batiste, which is a polyester/cotton mix. Very few of the young moms in my family has bonded with her iron as I have. Has anyone out there tried this?I don't imagine the Point de Paris will work well on polycotton, but have never tried it. It may work better by machine.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

SAGA Convention in California!

This year's SAGA Convention will be in Anaheim (think Disneyland) and I'll be attending. Well, it will be pretty easy as I will be able to drive up every day. It's only about 20 miles away so that won't be much of a commute. Especially since I drive 65 miles each way to work.

You can see the convention brochure online on the SAGA website. There are so many wonderful classes that it is always so hard to choose which ones to take. I will be the recipient of all the raffle baskets as I was five years ago. This means they are all mailed to my house and I'll transport them to the hotel just prior to the convention. It also means that I get to unpack them, and more importantly, inspect all the lovely items to decide which ones I want to bid on!

I hope many of you can make it to lovely Southern California this year for the Convention.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Online Class with Trish Burr

On Monday, February 28, just two days ago, Trish Burr of South Africa announced that registration was open for her first online correspondence course.

Isn't this just gorgeous! And to think I'll actually stitch it. It's called the Chinese Flower Project, and the bird is a kingfisher. I'm glad I didn't wait to sign up as the class filled up in just one day!  She will mail the kit, which consists of the fabric with the design stamped on it, instructions, and the list of Anchor threads to use. My only issue is that I don't have a convenient place to buy Anchor threads. So I guess I'll have to drive into Laguna Beach to a lovely Knit/Needlepoint store called Strands and Stitches to pick up the floss. It's right on Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH as the locals call it, within sight of the Pacific Ocean (obviously).  Sigh... what a chore.

The class runs from April 1 through October 1, and we are entitled to eight assessments of our progress by Trish. Of course I'll post about my progress, even if it's not very good. After all, this is a learning experience.

If you want to purchase a kit by Trish Burr and are in the US, you can get them from Nordic Needle in Fargo, North Dakota. They specialize in Hardanger but carry all sorts of great embroidery supplies.  Just click on Kits, then Embroidery Kits, and you'll see Trish's kits. They just jump right out at you!

Don't you think this is a wonderful opportunity to take a class from a talented teacher half the world away?