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Posts Tagged ‘applique’

As is always the way, the final leg of the stumpwork garden only took about half an hour. First I finished the last of the kale/chard slubby silk picots. I was a little uncertain about them to start off, but they’ve worked up into a very healthy looking clump.

Then the courgette leaves. I’d already decided I was going to cut them out of some painted fabric. However, when looking for a source picture, I found countless photos of courgette leaves online, all different, which didn’t help and was probably why I left this job until last.

The first tentative one looked OK in terms of size and shape so I cut out another couple and laid them over the courgettes. They weren’t quite right. They looked flat and completely obscured the courgettes, which is what the leaves do in real life, but I didn’t want to lose the stitching underneath. I was resigning myself to stitching in minute veins to make them look less 2D when Debbie, one of the friends I was stitching with, suggested I put a tiny pleat in the base.

It was like magic. Suddenly the fold suggested veins and depth.

As there was to be no stitching of veins, the last stage passed in a flash. I pleated each leaf and used the thread to attach each one to the courgette plant. Pleating the leaves also meant they would no longer lay flat and solved the second issue about covering and losing the courgettes.

The leaves stand up beautifully (the fabric is backed with a light weight interlining to help stop it fraying which helps) and are only connected at the base of the leaf so as you move the stitching you can still see the courgettes, even though the leaves cover them. A genius solution!

My completed vegetable garden. It’s been a delight to stitch and had a lot of interest (for me!) on Instagram where it’s currently my most interacted with post, so other people seem to love it as much as I do.

I also ought to post a shot to give you an idea of scale.

And against my hand – please excuse the state of my fingers – it’s that time of year when I seem to be constantly peeling and prepping fruit and veg from the real garden.

I’m definitely going to offer this as a workshop. I’ll suggest some different vegetables and lay outs so not everyone has to stitch an identical copy and it’s a good introduction to some raised embroidery techniques. Anyone interested, shout up. Contact details are on my workshops page (tab at the top).

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After having stitched the next section of ribbon for the glazing bars of the Temperate House at Kew down with stab stitches, it was clear that the original blanket stitches had to come out. Much better.

This has made it less bulky, so I decided to take Rachel’s (VirtuoSew Adventures) advice and run the bars right across the background.

Next I need some white thread for the thinner vertical bars, but there is white and white, as I found out a few years ago when I stitched a whitework piece and discovered that the threads I thought were identical under artificial light certainly were not in daylight! So I’m leaving the thread matching for a day with good natural light.

I’ve just added this sweet little upcycled sea glass brooch to my Etsy shop. It was one of those satisfying moments when after having trawled through a large pile of sea glass finding pieces that were almost but not quite right, I picked up this gorgeous green oval and it clicked into the vintage brass brooch setting like it had been made for it.

As if I didn’t have enough projects on the go, this week I’ve started a little or nué design of an acorn. I painted it onto some indigo dyed calico, left over from the Persian Chandelier piece with my Inktense sticks, which I love.

Then I started couching down the gold threads, using Pearsall’s ‘Gossamer’ thread. It’s so thin, it’s literally like stitching with spider’s web, so perfect for the job. It was a bit challenging to make the gold thread turn as tightly as possible at the ends , but so far, so good.

As I approached the edge of the acorn, I realised I hadn’t made things easy for myself. I was going to hit the acorn at an angle, rather than straight and this was going to potentially make it more difficult to get the shading right.

However, considering the amount of time it had already taken me to get this far with the gold, I have decided to keep on and see what happens. If nothing else, it will be an important lesson and remind me to do a bit more research before I blithely jump into a brand new technique!

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The snowflakes brooch take two is completed and has worked much better this time around. The blue silk makes the snowflakes really stand out and the actual snowflakes are definitely better executed. I finished it by gathering it round an oval of buckram to stiffen it…

…and then made another plain piece to cover the gathers on the back. I ladder stitched them together and then stuck the resulting ‘sandwich’ into the brooch setting.

I also got round to making the practice piece for the Chihuly Reeds to trial the alcohol inks. I was concerned that they might either run off the metallic fabric and bleed into the back ground or the applique stitches would wick the ink down into the fabric, but in fact, neither happened. There is some bleeding, but that was where I touched the tip of the brush onto the fabric – not easy to avoid, given the size of the piece.

Onto the main piece, feeling much more confident. I did catch the background fabric in a couple of very minor places but I think the variegation of the back ground fabric helps to hide it.

Then I added the dried grass around the bases. I’m really happy with the way the combination of the metallic fabric and the translucent inks has captured the shimmering glass. Success number two!

And success number three is that the lovely The Old Stables Studio in Horncastle is going to stock my upcycled jewellery! I had a scenic run out there last week and met Kate, the owner, who is passionate about upcycled and handmade and happy to stock a selection of my jewellery. So that’s where Snowflakes Take Two will be going, as will this underwater themed locket which I finished this morning.

Fingers crossed – that’s all I can do at the moment.

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This piece, which I gave you a preview of last week, came together from a whole host of ideas that had been swirling around.

Firstly, I’d been wanting to return to a bit of stumpwork for a while but the nature of the memory journals I’ve been working on means that they have to close, so anything bulky either has to go on the cover or the back page and even then it can’t be too three dimensional or the book just won’t sit right.

I was looking for the fabric for the dragonfly’s wings when I found some patchwork offcuts, including the autumnal coloured fragment I’ve used for the background in this piece. I’d seen some lovely Hallowe’en/autumnal themed crazy quilting some years ago on the internet and really fancied the idea of a stumpwork pumpkin.

Finally, when I opened a bag of broken vintage jewellery I’d recently bought on eBay and found an unused gold tone vintage pendant frame in it, everything just fell into place.

Initially the pumpkin wasn’t quite the right colour, but as it’s very small as usual (that’s a three inch hoop in the photo), I went with the right fabric – one that was fine enough to gather up. Then I added some stalks of wheat behind it in detached chain stitch and straight stitch.

I know that they’re a bit big in comparison with the pumpkin, but it’s artistic license!

Then I used my Inktense blocks to turn the pumpkin a vibrant orange.

Next the leaves and the trailing stems of the pumpkin. Initially I wanted to do some free-standing needle lace leaves but I couldn’t make a wire outline fine enough, so I had to fall back on some scraps of the hand painted fabric I used for the leaves in ‘It Rained’. As they are so tiny, I stabilised the fabric with textile medium so it didn’t fray but was still stitchable.

The stems are in split stitch, which is the only stitch I can get to make tight curls and twists at this scale. A few more stems and a second leaf completed the design.

I gathered it round an oval of buckram to give it body before I put it into the pendant frame and added a felt backing.

After the horrible weather last week it was wonderful to wake up to blue skies this morning and have autumn sunshine to photograph it in for my Etsy Shop.

It’s available here in my Etsy Shop with free UK postage and packing. A little bit of autumn!

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Slow progress on the Reeds piece for my Kew Memory Journal but still progress – remembering to move forward one stitch at a time.

But other things have been happening. A beach day on the Lincolnshire coast with my youngest before she returned to school.

Experimenting with embroidery on a cut silk cocoon…

…and a chunk of driftwood.

At the moment it looks like an embarrassed octopus but I plan to add bead, pearl and coral dangles to the ends of the ‘legs’ and stick it down close to follow the contours of the driftwood chunk. I love the black scribbly spalting on the bottom. Then, hopefully, it will become a pendant.

I found a couple of commercial pouches when I was clearing out a box and offered them to the friend I made the pouches for a few months ago.

She asked me to add embroidery to the fronts so she could use them for tarot/oracle cards. A triskele on the silver one and a dragonfly on the indigo. Triskele first with a base layer of chain stitch in lovely heavy weight variegated green perle.

Then whipped in a green/pink/copper variegated perle to give it even more weight…

…before blanket stitching it onto the front of the pouch.

I’ve drawn the dragonfly out onto some shibori dyed cotton I did at a course years ago but have stalled looking for a scrap of iridescent fabric I want to use for the wings. I was sure I knew where it was, but am having an increasingly nasty feeling that I ‘tidied it away’ during the recent deep clean of the lounge…

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Firstly, the Niijima Floats piece is finished – all apart from stitching on the press studs. I had initially thought about continuing the lines of the trapunto onto the binding to try and disguise what to me had become glaring errors, but Debbie pointed out that by doing that I would lose the lovely contrast between the smooth binding and the furrows of the trapunto.

Then I found the sycamore leaf template I used for ‘It Rained’ in the Tattershall Journal and had a bit of a brainwave. I cut two leaves out of a very fine felt I made for a project that ended up not happening, stitched on veins and popped them strategically onto the binding.

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Not only do they hide the mistakes, they balance the colour pop in the top corner and remind me of the beautiful Japanese maples around the garden. It’s been a long slog, but I think this piece has finally got there!

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This gave me renewed enthusiasm to tackle the reeds again. It’s going very slowly as I put the tiniest of stitches in to attach the silver fabric, but at least it’s going and I’m starting to enjoy the process.

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And lastly, I trekked out to Cleethorpes in torrential rain on Friday to get the first batch of my upcycled jewellery into Arttopia – an amazing shop full of all sorts of art and craft by local artists.

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What with the pandemic and all sort of other issues, it’s taken a long time to get here, but I’m delighted to finally be part of this group of talented people.

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Great position right next to the till – I just hope the customers like my work enough to buy it!

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In spite of having more than enough projects to be getting on with, I’ve done virtually no stitching this week. To be fair, there were three days when I was either out or doing household project jobs but I’ve struggled to stitch and it was starting to get to me. The first binding for the trapunto piece for the Kew Memory Journal I did several weeks ago was too narrow and so I had to unpick it. The second was far too thick, so that got unpicked too.

The third one was a piece of fabric patterned with Japanese parasols and I got all the way to pinning the back before I realised it wasn’t right. It’s badly uneven, the pattern was too big and so ended up lost and the colour took the eye away from the trapunto.

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I couldn’t face unpicking a third binding, so I just left it.

I did have a desultory attempt at another of the pieces I wanted to create, based on one of the Chihuly Reeds installations.

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The idea was metallic fabric over some sort of padding – originally felt but I couldn’t cut it thin enough. Then I would use alcohol inks to add the vibrant oranges and golds and the metallic would give it shine. I cut out some of the metallic pieces – most only a few millimetres wide.

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I even got as far as stitching one in place. Instead of felt behind I worked a line of chain stitch in perle along the middle of where I wanted the piece to go and then stab stitched the metallic fabric over it with fine silk thread and a beading needle.

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It’s not bad, but I don’t feel excited about it, not like I did with the trapunto.

Then it suddenly occurred to me this morning that I have Embroiderer’s Block.  Like Writer’s Block but with more needles. As I’m also a writer (check out my book details on the About page) I realised that Writer’s Block mirrors the issue I’m having with my stitching perfectly.  So now I know what it is, I can address it.

There is no magic fix to Writer’s Block. Professional writers don’t have the luxury of waiting for their muse to strike or for their ‘mojo’ to return. Basically you unblock by writing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s utter rubbish, or something better than that. You sit down and put words on paper, one after the other and, at least for me, it always works. So this afternoon I sat down with the trapunto piece, unpicked the binding and bound it a fourth time in a piece of the same silk noil as I used for the top layer.

It’s not good. The edge is uneven, the mitre in one corner somehow isn’t one (and I’m not quite sure how that happened) and the join is lumpy and obvious but it’s at least the right fabric for the job.

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But instead of keeping it on one side and waiting for the planets to align, I got back down to it. I put stitches into the fabric one after another like words onto a page and I have at least something to show for that. I’ve had some ideas about mitigating the state of the binding so I intend to work on it a bit more tomorrow and possibly the day after. Working through my Embroiderer’s Block one stitch at a time.

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Mainly the title, which is finished, and some more on the bricks micro quilt. For the title I wanted to use part of the little folded information sheet you are given when you get your ticket. Partly because it had Tattershall Castle on it, but mostly because I loved the geometric design superimposed over a soft focus image of the bricks and I wanted to stitch over it. I put a piece of fabric behind the paper to strengthen it and started to back stitch over the design.

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I wasn’t completely happy with the stitching somehow, but I stuck at it, hoping that by the time I finished inspiration would strike. Eventually I realised that I was finding the holes in the paper quite large and intrusive so I whipped the back stitch with the same thread, which smoothed out the lines and made the holes far less of a feature.

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I added some black thread to the thicker strokes of the lettering to finish the piece.

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The micro quilt cover has all the bricks blanket stitched down and all the names split stitched. Just the dates to do and then I can start to make it into a tiny quilt.

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Not much embroidery progress this week because I have been making a load of double drawstring pouches for a friend to store her crystals in.

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Using up all sorts of odds and ends of silk kimono fabric, sari fabric, silk dupion and fleece. I will be glad to get away from the machine and back to hand stitching!

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I finished the Tattershall canvaswork brick piece a while ago but forgot to show it.

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I managed to find a very subtly variegated grey/beige/white stranded cotton which was perfect for the mortar.

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So on to the third brick inspired piece, but these are more metaphorical. I was very taken by a couple of hangings in the impressive Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity at Tattershall which you pass on the way from the car park to the castle. The idea was that people who make up a community are like bricks that make up a wall, so I decided to put together a miniature hanging with appliqued bricks, each one signed by the people who were part of the visits.

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I planned to put the dates in the two half bricks but there was still a full brick left over until I had a brainwave.

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It’s a tyre track drawn on with a fine liner and then each section is back stitched round in black thread. It represents Rupert, my beloved Volvo S80 who took us there on both occasions. He is definitely part of the family!!

Next stage is embroidering over the signatures in split stitch and blanket stitching the ‘bricks’ down.

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As usual this is tiny – the hoop in the picture is just 4 inches in diameter!

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Onto the second side.

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The applique felt cloud shape echoes the concrete seats at the Cloud Bar with split stitch silk thread clouds on indigo dyed sheeting sky and seeding on the crinkled gold satin sand.

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I’ve used pulled thread work and specifically irregularly worked diamond stitch for ripples in the sand before and it’s one of my favourite styles to work so I decided to use it for the back ground to some beachcombed finds – seaweed, a tiny bit of drift wood and a shell with a very convenient hole already drilled into it.

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At the end of the walk was the lovely Anderby Beach Cafe and I used fabric paints to copy their clever logo onto a piece of fine cotton, turning it into a sort of receipt to remind me of the posh hot dog (local butcher’s sausage) and latte I had enjoyed for my lunch, partly obscured by an appliqued splodge of tomato sauce!

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I’ve also started another memory journal for a visit to Tattershall Castle last summer which is inspired by the bricks it’s made from.  The pelmet vilene base for this one has been covered in an appropriate fabric rather than being painted and it will have six slightly larger panels rather than the eight for Anderby Creek which will fold slightly differently.

DSCN7868I’m considering batik, canvaswork and reverse applique to record my memories of this visit.

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