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Archive for the ‘Crazy patchwork’ Category

This is pretty much how I feel about most of my current projects. I’ve added one line of highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon and bottled out of the circles above it because they are tricky to stitch accurately and I’ve realised that although the gills of the mushroom are now going in the right direction, the reason it still looks odd is that the stem should go up to meet the edge of the cap. This will mean either stitching more stem over the gills or, more likely, unpicking the gills completely and redoing the whole lot. I do love both projects but at the moment we’re not speaking.

The medieval tiles are moving slowly. Outlining the motifs in back stitch feels like it’s taking forever simply because they have so much outline, and I had a moment of real love-hate when I realised I wasn’t going to have enough thread for them all. Luckily I had managed to outline three and after a major trawl through my threads (not a quick job…) I was back to the problem I had the last time I played embroidery chicken with this piece – do I go for a similar type of thread or a similar colour? This time I’ve gone for similar type in a rich subtly variegated dark brown. I was a little unsure about how well it would work, but after having stitched my first motif in the darker thread, I’m happy with it alongside the lighter outlines.

At the moment the best thing I can say about it is that I’m over half way through the outlining.

I have managed to stitch one thing this week that I love, which is a scrap of crazy patchwork representing my comfort zone. I’ve been working through some bags of scraps with the idea of using them up and had my eye on the bag of purples. But one by one the scraps weren’t quite right. Too pink; too patterned; not the right weight. The only one I wanted to use was a piece of colour catcher (top right) which was a sullen grey -purple. Then a piece of patterned blue and black silk caught my eye and I was off on a completely different track into the bag of blacks and greys.

Comfort zone means feather stitch, some kantha and french knots and somehow it became a response to the current snowy weather courtesy of the Beast From The East 2.

Good to have made something I love – now back to wrangling the other projects.

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I seem to have had a spell where I keep finding the right pieces of jewellery to successfully upcycle and last week I managed a hat trick of embroidered pieces.

First of this batch to be upcycled was a vintage pendant mount I bought a while ago from the sales table at Guild and which has just turned up in the bottom of my sewing bag. I have a small bag of patchwork quilt trimmings which I bought a while ago from eBay and they are a great starting point for embroidered pendants like this one. I used the mount as a viewfinder to pick what I thought was the best area to embroider.

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And a few hours and a fair bit of unpicking later, I had an embroidered oval to go into the mount – with a thumb for scale!

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The kantha on the middle strip was an easy stitch, as was the lazy daisy floral section on the left, where I just followed the fabric pattern, but I had more of a problem with finding the right weight of both thread and stitch on the heavier fabric to the right. The Palestrina stitch in a teal perle was fine, but I tried various stitches in pink perle and pink stranded cotton which were just too heavy before I settled on more lazy daisy stitches in the same fine variegated silk as on the left. As the pendant had never been used it was easy to mount it into the frame using the folding metal tabs and very effective I think it looks too.

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Taking the embroidered section away from the rest of the patchwork enables you to really focus on the stitches and somehow the three completely different pieces of fabric become a harmonious whole. It’s currently available in my Etsy Shop here with free UK postage and packing.

Next to be upcycled was a lovely brass filigree brooch which seemed to be missing something in the middle. I had the very thing – a gold tone rope edged odd earring, also missing its middle. Despite probably a good forty plus year age gap, I think they go together perfectly.

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I embroidered some silk ribbon rosebuds onto a piece of silk carrier rod and gave them split stitch stems and lazy daisy leaves in fine silk thread…

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…before setting the tiny piece into the earring centre of the brooch.

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It was nice to do a variation on the blowsy ribbon roses I usually stitch and it’s now available here in the Upcycled Brooches section of my Etsy shop with free UK postage and packing.

The last of the week’s hat trick was an upcycled locket and this turned out so well I’m almost tempted to keep it. I’ve done a few lockets with rose bushes and trellises and I was keen to try some lavender. I chose a piece of my hand painted pelmet vilene which looked like a summer sky for a background…

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…and then chose some hand dyed stranded silk with a wonderful sheen for the flowers and a bluey green cotton thread which was a good match for the foliage. I’ve no idea where the green came from – I found literally one needle full in a tangle of oddments and was sweating the whole time I was stitching that I would have enough!

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The silver tone locket was a perfect setting.

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And it too, is available here in my Etsy shop with free UK postage and packing.

And a quick update – the Singer 28 is now with its new owner and she loves it. I think the lady from Number 12 would have been pleased…

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I didn’t get round to replacing the Totoro bag zip in the end, I dug deep and made my first ever pair of loose curtain linings to replace the ones I discovered had rotted when I tried to wash them back in May. My mum is the curtain maker and I had always assumed that there must some sort of mystery to it. Surely it’s not just a large rectangle of fabric, hemmed and with heading tape attached? Well, yes, it is and the only mystery is how anybody would be able to sew more than one without dying of boredom as the sewing machine chugs along through miles of lining fabric. But I now have a lot less light coming through my bedroom curtains and they look and feel so much better.

I’ve also had a bit of a dabble with some Harris Tweed, another first. I fell for some oddments on eBay and had also bought some punched tweed circles in fabulous colours, planning to use them together to make some kantha pieces and possibly small kits. The trapunto Niijima Floats piece has stalled again as I can’t find the right fabric to bind it (I’ve stitched and unpicked two bindings already) and I wanted a nice quick calming stitch.

I chose a gorgeous hand dyed green shading to purple stranded silk for the stitching and I thought it would show up against the grey but it really didn’t.

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Close up it is gorgeous…

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…but from a distance that subtlety is lost. Oh well, I still like it, it’s only a sample piece and all learning is useful.

I’m going to see my middle one for the first time since December at the weekend and you may remember that she laid claim to the Singer sewing machine that I rescued from the skip back in May so I thought it was probably time I got it out of the garage and investigated properly. Having checked the registration number I believe it to be a Singer 28, made in 1937, so ten years younger than my Frister and Rossmann.

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It stitched straight out of the box – for a while – and then the bobbin thread gathered up and broke. It wasn’t running easily in the shuttle, so I referred to Google and was soon deep in blogs and sites about looking after old machines.

As a result, yet another first and one that I am even prouder of because it was mechanical and I don’t really do engineering type things. I managed to work out why the bobbin wasn’t rotating (build up of lint in the bottom of the shuttle), take it apart and clean it.

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Clean as a whistle! Then I cleaned and oiled the whole machine and finally with my husband’s help, freed up the rusted pull out section of the bobbin winding mechanism. It now sews like a dream and I did it all myself!

However, it was very interesting to compare it with my F&R and to be honest, there is no comparison. The F&R is full of little details which make using it so much nicer. I’m afraid the Singer looked and felt a bit crude by comparison. Beautiful it is – just look at that engraved head plate:

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But I wouldn’t swap what somebody once called my ‘Cleopatra handcrank’ for the world. Boosted by my success with the Singer, I then serviced the F&R like a pro. It always sews like a dream but after I’d finished, I swear it purred!

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I first had the idea for putting a pamphlet stitched booklet inside the cuff of a shirt or jacket about 6 years ago and although I’ve since seen images on the internet, I’m proud to say it was it was an idea I had all by myself!

Denim cuff books

It’s a great method for making notebooks to carry around in a bag or pocket as the button (or snap) on the cuff holds the pages closed and you have the length of the cuff to decorate.

Leaves book cover 1

So I was delighted to be asked to teach it as a workshop for Brigg Allsorts group last week.  Men’s shirts, my main source of cuffs, often are patterned in stripes or checks and the patterns are a great set of guidelines for keeping your stitches straight, so I chose a checked one and decided to have a go at some chicken scratch embroidery with cross stitch and rice stitch.

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I also replaced the boring button with one covered in scarlet silk. It’s fascinating how adding even simple stitches can alter your perception of the background design so much.

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One of the early projects on the seven week crazy patchwork course I’m running for North Lincolnshire Adult Education at Ashby Link was to piece three tiny scraps of fabric together with feather stitch and enhance them with stitches to make a crazy patchwork brooch. This is my example. Black and gold silk covered with lace on either side of a scrap of printed Japanese style cotton with a gold coloured metal motif stitched onto it.

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Kantha stitch knocks back the brightness of the print in the middle. Whipped back stitch and threaded chain stitch to the left and bullion roses with stem stitch stems and nested lazy daisy leaves on the right.

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I went for a very closely worked blanket stitch edging as the pieces of silk fabric were fraying very badly. It took a lot longer to finish, but I think the neat effect is worth it.

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One thing about teaching these courses, I have to get things finished to keep up with the learners!

 

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I was delighted to get a stall for this Sunday at Gainsborough Old Hall Christmas Fair.

 

It’s a big new thing for me but I am looking forward to chatting to people about my upcycled and hand made jewellery and hopefully selling some!

So this week it will be a mad rush to get everything organised and to finish off some pieces of jewellery that have been put to one side for various reasons, one of those being my snowy stitching.  One of our local churches has a Festival of Trees organised by the Rotary Club every Christmas. Organisations in the town and surrounding area put together Christmas trees decorated in such a way as to reflect their organisation as well as being Christmassy. This year is the first year that Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild has had a tree and in September, Ruth, our chair, gave us all a plastic hoop with the simple instruction to stitch something suitable. I went for a mixture of blue and white fabrics and a snow/snowflakes theme.

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The big snowflake is crocheted in coton a broder and stitched down with lazy daisy stitches at the points to finish it off.

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The commercial embroidered silk got a bit of a make over with back stitch outlining and french knot snow.

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Then I had fun with stitch combinations to create snowflakes. Mostly fly stitch and straight stitches.

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A seeding of smaller snowflakes in straight stitch and french knots on a metallic fabric.

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And finished with a couched down border of a fancy white thread.

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It all ended up being a bit last minute as usual, so I don’t have any photos of the finished. neatened version but I really like the way it turned out in the end and looking forward to seeing it on the tree next month. Back to the fair prep for me now!

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After September’s AGM, Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild were back with needles in hand for our October Meeting, which is designated ‘Friendship Day’ in memory of the members we have lost over the years. It’s usually an all day workshop and often, as last Saturday’s was, run by our talented members.

This year, a small group led by Val introduced us to the world of embellished seam treatments and crazy quilting. I have done a fair bit of crazy patchwork, but I only ever use feather stitch along the seams and for me, it’s the embellishment of the patches which is the focus. My patches are also raw edged, unlike the neat seams of crazy quilting, so I was looking forward to doing something a bit more precise than my usual method of working!

It was a busy weekend on the am dram front as I organised both our annual Hallowe’en costumed trail at the local museum on the Friday and our first ever Spook-tacular Scare Walk in the grounds of Normanby Hall on the Sunday, so I grabbed the brown and indigo left overs from the Indigo Diamond quilt I made last June, a handful of toning threads and I completely forgot to pick up any needles! Thanks to Debbie for letting me scrounge some of hers.

First job was to cut three pieces of fabric and to stitch them onto a calico backing. As the block only consisted of three sections, we stitched the seams by hand, which was nice quiet repetitive work, especially when you can chat to friends while you’re doing it. As well as the blue and brown I also picked up one of my rust dyed fabrics for the third colour.  All ready to embellish the seams.

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I wanted to echo the curved lines in the rusted piece, so I used a cotton reel to trace half circles along my first seam, alternating between the blue and the rust, and used a heavy almost corded cotton thread in rusty browns to cover it in chain stitch.

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The thread was almost too heavy to use, but I love the effect.

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Next, to take it a bit further. I wanted something fan-like in the semi-circles so I decided on buttonhole wheels.

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Nice idea, but not happy with the execution. The wheel was a bit uneven, so I tried to hide it by filling the middle with a smaller, woven buttonhole wheel. Then I stitched the second one (on the right) and it came out much more like I had imagined.

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So the first one is in the process of coming out!

It was a lovely workshop. We constructed our blocks in the morning, leaving the afternoon for the creative fun of developing the seam treatments and there were some gorgeous results.

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Really looking forward to finishing this piece now Hallowe’en is out of the way!

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The lovely acorn tile black work design that I started at Guild a week last Saturday has grown steadily from this:

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I’ve just got the interlaced border to complete and as I’m enjoying it, I’m in no hurry to finish!

One other very lovely thing that happened at last week’s meeting was that I received my prize for winning the Yorkshire and Humber Embroiderers’ Guild regional competition for a piece of embroidery to be made up into a card: this fabulous book.

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For our July branch meeting we were asked to submit pieces of embroidery for the Regional Competition, the idea being that one piece would be selected from each branch and those pieces would go on to the regional AGM to select a final winner. I entered my North Cornwall Wallhanging, a piece of crazy patchwork that I pieced over several summer holidays in Cornwall and finally made up a few years ago into a hanging.

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I’ve blogged about both the individual pieces and the making up and if you’re interested you can search ‘North Cornwall Wallhanging’ and find a load more posts and photos.

Anyway, to my utter amazement it was selected by Scunthorpe branch and taken off to the the regional AGM where it was chosen as the final winner. Apparently, because there is so much going on, instead of just having one design, they are going to choose different areas and do several. I know which bits are my favourites, so it will be interesting to see what other people choose!

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I used little iridescent green delicas to create the beaded feather stitch on the right hand side of the piece. It’s a stitch I’ve used before but with ordinary seed beads and I’m not completely happy with the angular look the delicas give but I didn’t have any suitable seed beads and time was ticking on so it had to stay.

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The addition of french knot buds/flowers and lazy daisy leaves softened it a bit.

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More star stitched spotty birds outlined in chain stitch.

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And the whole thing is starting to fill up nicely.

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Lazy daisy flowers in two weights of Caron Christmassy red and green variegated thread with beaded middles.

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But then ‘stuff’ happened and on the night before our last meeting of the year I was only this far on!

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The beaded fly stitch leaves were still to be finished before I could even start to mount it in the book so I set my alarm for early on the Saturday morning and grafted! By lunchtime it was completed and mounted and I was able to head off (slightly late) to our knot garden canvaswork workshop.

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It was slightly too big for the page so the fabulous Indian trim I’d found for the border has encroached on some of the designs a little too far and mitred corners would have looked much neater but time had pretty much evaporated by this point. I hope Elaine likes it anyway. I really must pace myself better in future!

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Next to be added was the large lace motif on the left in a rich deep red…

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…which I stitched down with a variety of decorative stitches in contrasting green and complementary red.

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Then a gold chain stitch spiral to match the paisleys already on this piece of sari fabric and fill in the middle space.

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Next ribbon roses in an unusual tubular thread (Caron I think) with fly stitch leaves.

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I decided to ring the changes and give the next spotty bird stars on his spots.

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And with a start made on the spotty bird at the bottom, I felt it was going well.

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Only three blocks to finish and I’d already made a start on the experimental beaded fly stitch leaves for one of them so I was feeling really positive. Parting with this one was going to be probably the hardest of the lot!

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We finished the last round of our Travelling Books at Embroiderers’ Guild in July and despite some people’s misgivings at the start, most people thoroughly enjoyed the process and we’re planning to continue in September. For my last book, the prompt was just something very colourful, so I decided to return to the roots of my renewed interest in textiles – crazy patchwork.

I chose fabrics in tones of red, orange, gold and green including sari fabric, African batiks and sunprinted cottons and got patching. I always use raw edged pieces and feather stitch for the seams.

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It was lovely choosing brightly coloured thread for the seams and then as I worked, planning what I was going to do in the patches.

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Had a lot of fun surrounding this bird’s french knot spots with lazy daisy stitches.

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He’s a bird in a field of Brussels sprouts!

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