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Posts Tagged ‘bullion knots’

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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Now I have another section of the bluework piece which is more of a turquoise blue, I’m a bit happier: it’s looking more balanced.

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The lavender now has three layers: a foreground of bullion knot lavender heads, a mid-ground of simple straight stitch lavender heads in a heavy weight perle thread, and a background layer of distant heads in a thin single strand silk.

DSCN6375.JPGNote to self. Stitch the background first – it makes slotting stems in behind the foreground elements ever so much easier…

 

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The bluework is coming along slowly. I’ve added a centre to the lighter coloured flower on the right hand side.

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However, that part of the design has lapsed as I need to redraw the rest of it and I never seem to have my fabric marker handy when I’m working on it, so I went for another section altogether. My first attempt at this type of bullion knot roses with my favourite fly stitch leaves and stem stitch stem.

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That was a relatively quick stitch, so I thought I’d stay with bullions and create some lavender.

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It looked a bit sparse, so I used a variegated perle thread in a similar colour to create some more heads in the background with nested lazy daisy stitch leaves and split stitch stems on the lavender in the foreground.

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I might use some fine silk to put the suggestion of another row in even further away when I’ve finished the perle.

And the bluework so far…

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I do believe I’m over half way!

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It was a pleasure to finish the little Bossa Nova Rose from our Embroiderers’ Guild Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery workshop last weekend. I didn’t follow the instructions when it came to the leaves, going for fly stitch over blanket stitch and not adding the fine pale green edging it suggested because I felt the sheen of the thread gave enough definition.

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And then quickly finished as a card.

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My first sea glass and pocket watch case pendant positively flew out of my Etsy shop and I’ve started another one to go with a harlequin case of a gold coloured collar and engine turned back. I’ve got some tiny pieces of very rare yellow sea glass and some ordinary brown to add to this.

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I also turned some off cuts of hand dyed fabric, the batik I’m using above and some cotton print in shades of brown into some strip patchwork which I used to cover a grotty looking cabochon pendant…

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…turning it into an upcycled patchwork pendant with added vintage lace and flower trim.

Lots going on!

 

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Our October Meeting at Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild was an all day workshop with Ann Stalley on Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery. Knowing that it involved rayon thread, which in my experience is some of the most evil stuff on the planet, I was in two minds about the workshop. However, I can never resist a go at something new and so armed with a big block of beeswax for beating the rayon into submission, I headed off to the meeting to admire Ann’s work…

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…before she told us about her creative  journey. Hard to believe when looking at work like this, that Ann has only been doing Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery for eighteen months.

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She also assured us that the special threads (Edmar) used for this type of work are nothing like ordinary rayon thread (but still I had my beeswax ready just in case!).

Then it was our turn. For the morning session we would practise some of the basic stitches and then stitch a design using those basics in the afternoon. We each had a pack with some of the thread, two substantial milliners’ needles and some calico.

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First, bullions. I can do them but they’re not one of my stitches of choice. We put five pairs of dots in, all about a quarter of an inch apart. Our first bullion was ten wraps and pretty much filled the gap. That’s when I found it easier to work out of the hoop. The second one, to go in the same space, was twenty wraps, then thirty, forty and fifty, getting progressively loopier the more wraps we did.

I take it all back about the thread. The Edmar is a delight to work with. The loops slide smoothly over the needle and even though my bullions could be a lot more even, they were an awful lot easier to work than with ordinary thread.

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Next was a bullion lazy daisy. It’s an interesting technique as the little bullions are formed as part of the stitch, rather than being like the running stitch that tacks a normal lazy daisy down and took some practise.  They also would have been a lot neater if I’d hooped the calico back up!

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Lastly was cast on stitch which once I got a rhythm to casting on the loops, I absolutely loved.

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So much so, that I had a go at creating a sort of flower with cast on stitch petals in perle over lunch. It worked, but wasn’t as crisp a finish and just didn’t stand up as well as the Edmar.

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Using the perle illustrated perfectly what it is about the springiness of the rayon thread that makes the dimensional elements work so well. I was definitely ready to start the afternoon’s design of the bullion rose spray.

However, I struggled to place the first rounds of bullions properly and halfway through, although I was pleased with the quality of the bullions, I wasn’t happy with my scrappy rose.

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Luckily the outer bullions managed to neaten things up, and with the addition of a bead centre, managed to salvage it from being a complete disaster.

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Next the leaves. The design used buttonhole stitch but I love the way close fly stitch works up into leaves and I thought that this would suit the lustre of the thread.

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Very pleased with the result and by the end of the afternoon I had two leaves added to the spray.

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Not much to do to finish, and despite my slight misgivings beforehand, I thoroughly enjoyed the day. I’m seriously thinking about investing in some Edmar threads and I fancy seeing if I can stitch some dimensional sea shells.

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During our Easter holiday in the Lake District we visited Blackwell, an amazing Arts and Crafts house near Windermere and among the inspirations photos I took were a couple of the lovely whitework embroidery on one of the pillows.

Whitework pillow at Brantwood

Perfect to work as a sample for my journal. I’ve used the corner of an old chair back, which is a nice heavy cotton and a couple of different thicknesses of white perle thread.

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It’s meant to be similar, not identical. The grass-type spray is bullion knots with long tails on a stem stitch stalk. The flowers are padded satin stitch, in this case satin stitch over a chain stitch outline. The centres are just five straight stitches with a french knot in the middle.

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Then I moved onto a flower created from a cluster of French knots. I’ve used the thicker perle in the centre and then started round the edges with the thinner perle to give a domed shape.

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First time I’ve tried traditional white work and it’s coming along nicely.

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This is my current obsession and if I can do it in a way which combines textiles/embroidery in some way then even better. If you read my last blog hop post then you will have caught sight of one of my latest pendants which began simply as an old brass pendant mount long missing whatever had been set in it.

Bullion rose pendant 1

 

I used a single strand of variegated silk to embroider a bullion knot rose with French knot buds and whipped back stitch stems on some lovely slubby hand dyed cotton.

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Then I cut a piece of thick felt the same size as the pendant and drew the fabric up around it before using the lugs on the pendant to fit it snugly in place. In real life it’s less than an 2cm long, so it was all a bit of a challenge.

Bullion rose upcycled pendant

A matching chain completes the upgrade from rubbish to wearable!

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Next for upcycling was a gold tone ‘A’ initial brooch. The gold colour was badly worn in one place, so I started to wonder if I could wrap it in fabric. However, ‘A’ is quite a complex shape, so first I experimented with a simple vintage circular silver coloured pendant and some offcut strips of printed Japanese themed cotton in red, black and gold.

I used Modge Podge thinly spread on the back of each piece and as the strips built up, I became quite excited about the effect.

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I neatened off the back with some more of the fabric and used the Modge Podge to seal that layer, which gives it a bit of a shiny look that I didn’t want on the front.

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And I’m pleased enough with both of them that they’ve gone into the new Upcycled section of my Etsy shop.

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