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Archive for the ‘Sashiko’ Category

I was asked to come up with three cards for assorted birthdays and anniversaries in short order this week and having no time to start anything completely from scratch, I went delving into a box of assorted bits and pieces and managed to come up with five finished cards in a day!

First was a piece I started at a 2015 workshop on sculpting silk paper with Linda Rudkin. Sashiko stitching on a scrap of indigo dyed sheeting. This one was completely finished and just needed mounting.

Next a couple of cards created from some samples I made playing with a soldering iron. This one has been enhanced with a scattering of silk French knots.

I finished it by stitching it onto the blue silk backing with herringbone stitch in the same thread.

I’d already started couching a frothy white thread round this sample when I found it.

The layered spirals and slashes combined with the frothy white thread made me think of the way artists like Hiroshige and Hokusai represent sea foam in ukiyo-e prints. I carried on doodling with the couched thread and added some split stitch spirals with the cream silk thread I was using to couch it down and two nuggets of sea glass.

Finished as a card.

Next up a piece of crazy patchwork that I stitched at least ten ago. I had half thought about appliqueing it onto a shoulder bag made from the cut off bottom of a pair of jeans. But the upcycled bags I’ve made in past from jeans bottoms and patchwork panels had very little interest when I tried to sell them, so I decided a card was the more sensible option.

And last, one of the back ground pieces from our teabags workshop with Fran Holmes in October 2019. This literally only needed about a dozen stitches into the lace border to finish it!

So not only did I manage to deliver the three requested cards, I actually have some in reserve for upcoming celebrations. Makes quite a change to be beforehand with the world instead of chasing my tail!

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This was great fun to make. The starting point was a flat golden ring which came in one of my usual job lots of broken jewellery. No idea what it once was, but I love something I can use as a frame.

I combined some scraps of indigo dyed cotton with sashiko stitching to make a centre for it. I can’t bear to throw away even tiny scraps when they are so pretty and this boro style of stitching is the perfect way of letting them shine.

I gathered up the boro stitched piece around a circle of buckram and then made another plain one with a lovely shibori pattern running across it for the back.

I ladder stitched them together and then stuck the whole thing into the frame.

I wanted to flank the pendant with some cylindrical boro beads, so I stared with a long rectangle of fabric and wound it round my buttonhole ring stick to get an idea of how much fabric would be visible around the outside of the bead when it was all wound up. I stitched a square of fabric – these pieces are getting progressively smaller and smaller! – onto the outside section…

…and then wound the fabric back onto the stick, pinned it and started to buttonhole stitch around the edges to hold it in place.

Once I’d buttonholed top and bottom I continued the stitching over the raw edge to neaten it and close it up. Then onto the second one.

Once that was finished I could get a better idea of how the necklace was going to look.

I felt the fabric beads needed something, perhaps with a different texture, to keep them away from the pendant, so I started hunting through my beads. These hand made glass beads were perfect – the same colours as the embroidery but the shine of the glass contrasts well with the softness of the fabric.

With the addition of a couple of jump rings stitched to the back of the pendant and a gold plated chain, we have a finish!

Available shortly in my Etsy shop!

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Stitching quicker and quicker as we realise we’re going to run out of thread (or wool – I’ve done it with knitting too…). Why do we do it?! It makes no sense at all – the thread will run out when it runs out!

My bout of Embroidery Chicken happened this week when I started stitching the ‘mortar’ round the medieval tiles, I was using a subtly variegated perle that was a one off skein from a long defunct independent seller.

I started filling in the spaces between the corners and then realised that there wasn’t a lot of thread left. So I started to stitch faster and faster, trying to estimate how much was left and how much I could reasonably get done; which would be the most important lines to do in the primary thread; whether I could find the matching stranded cotton; whether it would be better to match the colour or the thread type… My mind going round in circles until I got to this point…

…and realised that I was going to be able to outline all the blocks after all. Not with a lot to spare, but it was achievable. At which point my stitch rate virtually halved!

Luckily I still have plenty of the silk thread left for the boro pendant. The two sections are now ladder stitched together, stuck into the gold ring and I’ve made a start on the boro stitched cylinder beads for the bib section.

The smaller rectangle on the left of the strips is what will be seen when they are rolled up and that’s where I’m going to stitch. Tiny patches of indigo on indigo.

I’m also back onto birthday cards again and a Lake District themed one for a friend’s dad. Adding autumn colour to a vintage postcard of the Langdale Pikes with French knots in one strand of stranded cotton.

I’m glad I started in good time, because the knots are taking a long while as usual, but it is quite effective and I’m really pleased with the colour match of the variegated thread.

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After a bit of thinking I decided to stitch the medieval tiles piece not as a whole cloth as I had with the paisleys, but to separate each print into a tile shaped block. When I came to draw out the ‘mortar’ lines I was quite pleased that the ’tiles’ weren’t exactly in line with each other. It made it feel a bit more hand crafted in a way.

Then I started on the stitching which is going to be rows of split stitch to give a little bit of texture and hide definite stitch beginnings and endings.

I had a couple of good sized offcuts when I trimmed the printed piece down last week. Actually, rereading that has made me laugh. To me, a good sized offcut is anything larger than a credit card – I think most people would put my offcuts in the bin! Anyway, I didn’t. I decided to turn them into bookmarks for stocking fillers.

I edged the main motif in back stitch and then added seed stitches in a fine thread almost the same colour as the background.

Then I ironed on some interfacing which I dyed with silk paints and blanket stitched all round the edge.

Debbie pointed out that if you turn your head and look at the motifs from the side, they look like reindeer heads. Yup, they do and I can’t unsee it now!

A lovely accident for me is how on the back, the reverse of the back stitch pushes through the interfacing in ghostly lines like parch marks or earth works.

The other scraps I’ve been stitching are really tiny ones, about the size of postage stamps, to make a boro piece for an upcycled bib necklace. The inspiration was the gold coloured ring at the top – no idea what that might once have been.

I forgot to take a photo of it in my hand, but again, it’s small, just not quite as tiny as the recent lockets. Sashiko thread would have been too big, so it’s stitched in cream silk.

I chose a piece of shibori fabric for the back and gathered up and laced both pieces over circles of vilene to give them some body.

Next they need to be stitched together and stuck into the gold ring before I start on some boro fabric beads for the rest of the bib. Not done anything like that before so it’ll be interesting to see how it turns out!

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It seems odd to be thinking about Christmas in the middle of the summer, but I’m currently in the middle of creating unique upcycled jewellery for various Christmas markets I’m booked into.

First, another felted spiral brooch. I have no idea where the initial felted dreadlock came from for this – it’s an interesting mix of colours that I wouldn’t have thought of putting together. IMG_20190718_220121.jpg

Once rolled up and stitched I liked it even more.

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Finished with a beaded edging that echoes the colours of the felt.

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Then with the boro and sashiko work I’ve been doing recently I had the idea of doing a tiny piece with fragments of indigo dyed fabric and a single strand of silk to go into a vintage silver tone brooch. The needle gives an idea of scale – the whole oval is the size of the pad of my thumb.

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Finished and mounted in the brooch.

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It’s available here in my Etsy shop.

Lastly, another locket insert on silk carrier rods. This originally had a trellis behind it but it was too fussy and the trellis looked like it was hanging in midair, so I carefully unpicked it and am going for just the rose bush.

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Still not completely happy with it but it’s getting there. I’m definitely going to try and do more with the boro though.

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I missed almost all of the June meeting with Gilli Theokritoff at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild as I was working that day, but I did make it through the door in time to lay my hands on the kit for the afternoon project which was stitching samples of hitomezashi sashiko, which are more like all over patterns than big designs. I didn’t manage to start the kit until I went down to London to visit my eldest a fortnight ago but it was perfect to stitch on the train.

The difference with Gilli’s method is that she has a piece of interfacing already marked out with a regular pattern of dots ironed onto the back of the fabric. You work from the wrong side and don’t have any marks on the front to get rid of.

The first sample starts as jujizashi (cross stitch). I used a variegated sashiko thread in lovely shades of blue.

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Then you add one set of diagonal lines.

IMG_20190731_202142.jpg And the second set gives you komezashi, or rice stitch.

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The second sample was kikkozashi, or tortoise stitch. This starts with a foundation of yokogushi, which are staggered vertical rows. The horizontal rows are formed by weaving the thread under the opposite stitches to give an effect like the plates of a tortoise’s shell.

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Finally I added some straight stitches in the middle of the ‘plates’.

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They are going to become book covers, so I’ve laced them over some squares of greyboard.

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And am probably going to line them with this gorgeous scrap of Japanese kimono fabric.

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Just need to decide on fabric or paper pages.

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The follow on course from the kantha and boro was boro and sashiko and as well as showing various pieces I’ve stitched over the years, I created a new sample piece for this, illustrating how a piece of boro could start to become sashiko.

First, arranging scraps of kimono fabric and indigo dyed cottons onto a cotton base layer. before tacking them down. The partly stitched piece in the middle is a scrap of unfinished sashiko from a very long time ago (2011 to be exact…).

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Simple running stitch becomes a rectangular spiral.

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The partial sashiko becomes rice stitch and I try my hand at keeping free hand cross stitch regular.

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Putting fabric marks in helped with the cross stitch, but I ended up aligning each row of stitches to the previous row and that worked better.

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The even rows became boxes.

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And a tiny scrap needed some bamboo leaves.

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It’s still not quite finished, but it was a pleasure to sew in that rhythmic, mindful way and I do prefer this type of boro/sashiko to stitching the beautiful but almost ‘paint-by’numbers’ of the intricate sashiko designs you get in kits.

And incidentally, our Fabric Fair was a huge success. Considering this was a relatively niche market in small town North Lincolnshire on a Sunday morning, we had a great turn out with locals and people coming from much further afield. There were some great traders with a wide selection of items and it was really positive to see so many people with a love of textiles gathered together.

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Our February Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was an in-house workshop on sashiko. It’s been a while since I did any sashiko stitching, I was looking forward to it and I wasn’t disappointed. There was plenty of support in the form of loads of sashiko patterns and templates to copy/adapt and crib sheets showing how to stitch the designs corectly.

We started with a 4.5″ square and then had free rein on the design to use in the middle. I wanted a design I hadn’t stitched before but as I hadn’t brought a ruler or compass with me, I needed something I could draw or construct freehand. This fan shape was one element of a larger pattern based on diamonds but I could see it sitting  nicely inside my square.

Sashiko fan 1

It was easy to draw out and the straightforward lines also meant that I actually finished in the time allowed!

Sashiko fan 2

I was pleased not only with the design but that I also managed to use some indigo dyed fabric of my own without having to buy any more, which was an added bonus! Many thanks to our chair, Penny, for organising it.

I’ve also been knitting, both for myself, using up some lovely hand dyed wool I bought ages ago and teaching my youngest. She’s doing really well although the stitches are so tight on the needles that they squeak! So as a result I haven’t done much more than start the next block for the rusting fragments quilt. This one is eyelets and french knots.

Rusting - eyelets and french knots

A mix of hand dyed variegated cotton from Caron and Stef Francis single strand silk. Just doodling around the rusty patches.

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Monday’s response to our ride along the Camel Trail was very close to being finished as well; so a few stitches later this…

…became this.

The top stitching on the ‘river’ is quite random…

…but the pattern of the leaves has turned out rather more in the style of sashiko stitching.

And this handsome beauty turned up in the garden today just when I had the camera in my hand.

He/she is a Peacock butterfly and was resting before going on to enjoy the flowers of our huge buddleia.

What a stunner!

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Now the Christmas crazy patchwork is away, I’ve been able to finish a couple of small projects.

The first was the embroidered rock. Last seen looking like this:

I cut off the excess fabric, gathered it round the edge with running stitch and fitted it over the pebble which had been bound with the offcuts of calico to make it a better size.

You can see the calico underside better in this photo. It’s laced across the bottom to give a snug fit.

The flat embroidery has adapted to the curved surface of the pebble even  better than I hoped.

I used a lovely smoky grey piece of commercial knitted fabric rather than felt for the underside as it was soft and flexible, making it better suited to following the curves of the pebble.

The grey fabric was also gathered with a running stitch but the raw edge was folded inside, leaving the folded edge to be ladder stitched to the calico, just under the line of the embroidery.

I’m very pleased with the finishing. The knitted fabric was very forgiving and happy to be eased into nooks and crannies and the embroidery just fell neatly over the top.

It’s about 4″ long and 2.5″ wide and sits perfectly in the palm of my hand.

The second was a small project rather than finishing an existing one; a card for my husband’s birthday and it proves that the sashiko bug is not yet out of my system.

This time, rather than working a kit, I chose a scrap of indigo dyed cotton and used a shippo variation pattern from Susan Briscoe’s book ‘Japanese Sashiko Inspirations’. I drew it out on paper first to make sure I understood the construction and then used a fabric marker to transfer the design to the fabric.

I stitched the design in some of the variegated sashiko thread I bought at Harrogate in November.

Then I used another piece of indigo dyed cloth to back and frame the piece.

It’s just been mounted onto a piece of card and hidden away until Saturday.

The decks are cleared now for me to finish something that has been hanging around since the summer of 2004. More details to follow!

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