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Posts Tagged ‘buttonhole stitch’

I’d almost finished the experimental combination of the cross stitch tree motif and free embroidery when I lost confidence in what I was doing. I’d left a small section on one side possibly for another bit of tree and then wasn’t sure if it would be too much so I left it here…

…and moved it around on my workbench while I did some other small things. I added some flowers.

That seemed to break the deadlock and I went straight into the tree section without any more agonising.

Just like that it’s gone from something I was unsure about even finishing to something I’m really pleased with. I don’t regret leaving it alone for a fortnight, even though there were literally only a few minutes worth of stitching left to do. I suspect that if I’d carried straight on I would have ended up unpicking it. I just had a gut feeling that stopping was the best course of action.

One of the other small projects on the workbench at that time was an upcycled brooch. I’d had the basic brooch – a simple hand made padded circle covered in fabric with a felt back – for a while and not got much further with it beyond knowing that I wanted to add a beaded edging. Again, I suppose, the skill of knowing when to leave things alone until they naturally come together and that happened when I came across a little vintage gold tone rose which was possibly once a pendant or part of a brooch.

I used buttonhole stitch to cover the stem; partly to give it a bit of colour, partly to tie it to the colours in the fabric and partly as a way of attaching it to the brooch. Then I added the beaded border and was pleased with my quick and straightforward finish.

I photographed it and that meant looking more carefully at it. Not happy. The green for the stem was pale and insipid and worst of all, the rose was too far up. I tried living with it for about an hour but my gut feeling that it wasn’t right was too strong and before I went to bed I took the rose off. I redid it today with some darker green silk and I’m much happier- it feels right now.

It started me thinking about how often I stop and start projects, often not consciously, but because my intuition has told me to just hold on a little bit. Comparing the amount of stitching time a project actually takes with the time taken including the thinking and putting it on hold can be quite alarming, but on the other hand, unpicking is frustrating and potentially causes damage. I’d like to think that I’ve learned to trust my intuition over the years and come to recognise what a valuable tool it is in my creative process.

And lastly, wherever you are and whatever sort of system you’re living under, I wish you all a safe and settled Christmas as the days gradually start to get longer and we head towards the light at the end of this tunnel.

Stay safe and take care.

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I’ve been trying to get on with some stitched fragments for my accordion memory journals for a while.

Firstly, the Kew Gardens journal. My plan is for this to document the visit I made at the end of July and focus mostly on the incredible Chihuly glass exhibition. I have a list of ideas for pages and started the title page last week which is part of a leaflet backed on a piece of calico. I’ve put a line of whipped running stitch through the middle of the letters and am outlining them in back stitch.

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Outlining finished and beading started. I am really pleased with the effect of the random blue bugle beads over the stems and am looking for some iridescent seed beads that I know I have somewhere for some of the teardrop shaped ends.

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The Anderby Creek journal from the end of March has also finally been started with a scrap of crinkled fabric which I love for its suggestion of ripples in sand and a holed oyster shell. I attached the shell to the fabric with long stitches through the holes which I then buttonhole stitched over to make buttonhole bars.

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I wanted a bobbly effect like seaweed, so I used cast-on stitch pulled round to make little circles along the length of the buttonhole bar.

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Completed and stitched into place in the journal. One page completed, seven to go!

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Last summer my middle one bought a Tintin t-shirt from a lovely shop in Durham when we were on holiday and to her delight, it came in a paper carrier with a bold graphic of Tintin and Snowy on each side. I think she liked that as much as the t-shirt and I promised to make her a notebook from it. I bought some Tintin postcards to use as the covers and finally a couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to get on and make it.

I laminated two pairs of postcards back to back for the covers.

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Then I carefully cut up the bag so I could use every bit of the graphics and the Tintin wording up the sides.

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I had to add an extra piece of paper from a 1970s educational poster (The Pied Piper of Hamelin to be exact) to make the signatures even,

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…but I was pleased that I managed to include all of the main panels of the bag.

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I used waxed white polyester thread and Coptic Stitch to bind the book.

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Finally a job off the list and a daughter delighted.

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This is a project I started with a group of girls whom I call ‘Tall Poppies’. Bright, articulate children who often experience negativity from their peers due to their abilities. Coming out of the classroom to do some sewing gave them chance to chat in a safe place where no one was going to belittle them for being amazing.

I’d seen some lovely little felt pouch necklaces on Pinterest with hidden positive messages and decided that this would be a great project to work on.

I made various templates and they used pinking shears to cut them out of felt. Then I showed them how to stitch on a snap, keeping it as neat as possible on the other side before they created their own designs, largely based on lazy daisy flowers, thinking about the three sections of the pouch and what would be visible when it was stitched up. I always sew alongside them and this is my pouch.

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After scattering simple lazy daisies across the lower front, I decided to create a more complex design on the back, nesting lazy daisies inside each other to make bigger petals and adding chain stitch tendrils.

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I neatened up the stitches attaching the snap with rings of buttonhole stitch (on the flap)…

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…and chain stitch on the underside.

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The lining is a scrap of gorgeous hand dyed silk dupion which has been caught down with the blanket stitch along the sides, tiny running stitches along the front edge which you can just see in the photo above, and blanket stitch under the flap.

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I’m not sure now about using blanket stitch to sew up the sides and am probably going to take it out and use a neat double running stitch instead.  On the front it looks nice, but I don’t like the effect on the back.

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Seeing something through a photo is so good for showing up the issues you don’t seem able to spot with the naked eye.

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I finally decided what the waves needed to finish them off for inclusion in my Travelling Book. As usual it was very last minute but in terms of effectiveness and being exactly what I wanted, it was worth waiting for inspiration!

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I chose fine white perle crochet cotton, two tiny steel Victorian crochet hooks (one of which belong to my great-grandmother) and a canvas needle to create the foaming white tops of the waves.

The top one is a line of slip stitch worked directly into the machine stitches (seriously tricky!) with a row of double crochet on top of that and then a layer of several trebles into each stitch to give the ruffle effect.

On the right I whipped each machine stitch, went back with a row of buttonhole stitch, returned with longer buttonholes and then put 5 or 6 more buttonholes into each loop.

Bottom left is a lacier affair with lengths of chain caught down with trebles.

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The others are all minor variants of these in either crochet or buttonhole loops.

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Then the piece was stretched over card and mounted into the book with an extract describing the waves which I love from Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony with words by Walt Whitman.

By this point I was working against the clock and instead of being able to tea dye the music I had to give it a quick wash of watercolour which was the wrong shade. :o(

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But I at least made the deadline and I’m really excited that my book has gone off on another adventure!

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I enjoyed the canvaswork knot garden so much I carried on planting my beds.

More knot garden 1

Rhodes stitch on the left and a composite stitch of upright cross stitches within boxes in green with diagonal cross stitches over the top in variegated orange on the right.

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Crossed cushion stitch – I love this one, especially as I was able to use a thinner thread over the top and so let the threads underneath peek through.

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Final beds planted top right and bottom left with a Smyrna cross stitch variant. The Smyrna crosses are worked in a trio of variegated green/yellow/orange threads. This leaves space for little upright crosses in between the larger ones, which I added in using the russety coloured stranded thread that has turned up in most of the designs.

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Just the central section to go. The original design was for a glass shisha ‘pond’ attached with shisha stitch, but I only had large flat sequins at home and they were nearly as wide as the central space so I cheated and covered a brass ring with buttonhole stitch to hold them in place.

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The space in the corners was filled with French knots in the same thread.

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Ready to make up now, but it’s been put to one side by two new projects. Firstly, turning this Country Living freebie notebook into a holiday journal:

Notebook

And secondly, winning this sad and sorry box from eBay.

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As you can see, it’s lost a fair amount of veneer and someone has had a cunning plan to encrust the spaces with odds and ends – an old watch face, a couple of broken earrings, a Renault emblem and other esoteric fragments. It must have once been beautiful. What’s left of the flame mahogany veneer is stunning – or could be, with polish and tlc.

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I couldn’t resist and it was mine for a little over a fiver, including P&P. Off have come the oddments.

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And I’ve made a template for the missing piece of veneer on the lid with some pelmet vilene.

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I’m going to make it beautiful again.

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This month our Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was a full day workshop run by a couple of our members on abstract stumpwork, focussing on getting to grips with some of the stumpwork techniques such as creating slips, needlelace etc. In the morning we practised techniques and in the afternoon we worked a little sampler piece about 6cm square using a variety of the techniques in a colourway of our choosing. Blue of course, on a lovely piece of indigo dyed calico, for me.

Stumpwork sampler 1

I’ve done raised stem stitch band before and loved the effect, so I was keen to use some variegated sashiko thread as a base and start with a line of that. But something went wrong and instead of a lovely closely woven surface, I ended up with something more open. Moral of the story: don’t assume that having done something once (in 2009!) that you can automatically do it again without the instructions!

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Anyway, I quite liked the lacy effect, with the variegated thread underneath so ran a couple of lines on chain stitch down each side to tie it in to the fabric and got on with the next element, using a lovely lustrous silk thread to buttonhole stitch over a washer, which I then attached to the fabric with well spaced french knots.

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My third element was a lovely piece of soft blue leather over which I’m working detached buttonhole bars in a variety of threads.

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Not quite finished but despite the small size, plenty to go at!

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We spent a wonderful day at The Eden Project during our holiday. I’ve been before but it was all as fresh and new and even more awe-inspiring this time round. So as a textile response, did I soar to the heights of the tree canopy in the rain forest biome?

Eden Project rainforest biome

Quite the reverse, but very much in keeping with the Eden ethos, I feel. 

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Near the den building area, one of the friends we went with found a chunky, heavily rusted washer on the grass. Knowing how much I love things like this, and the rustier the better, he picked it up for me.

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I had some rusted soft cotton with me and a scrap of fine, floaty silk in a pale rust colour. They went together beautifully and the washer was attached with long straight stitches in hand dyed turquoise stranded silk thread.

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I did needle weaving around some of the bars and buttonhole stitched others to vary the density of thread to washer.

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Then fly stiches around the outside, lining them up with the straight stitch spokes of the washer…Eden rusty washer 4

…and meandering lines of running stitch in a rusty coloured stranded cotton radiating out from the point of the fly stitches to the edge of the fabric.

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A thing of beauty from a used and discarded object.  A tiny, tiny echo of the ethos of the Eden Project.

 

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I’ve been soldering, polishing and finally getting some of my pieces close to being finished as well as starting some new pieces which I’m really excited about.

First the green encrusted pendant.

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I just needed to trim the bale rod, as I’d soldered the bale slightly off centre, and polish it before slipping it over the fabric and crimping the partial tube closed.

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The two bales I cut and shaped from sheet brass were soldered, finished and polished as well.

Brass bales

Then one was stitched onto the first pendant. I used orange stranded cotton and ran it through the bale and the fabric several times before buttonhole stitching the section on the right where the asymmetric nature of the piece means that it doesn’t sit flush to the fabric.

Fire pendant finished 1

Organza ribbon and rattail in warm gold and beige in place of a chain.

Fire pendant finished 2

And here is the start of my new piece – in fact, new pieces, as at least two different ideas have come out of this one piece of reticulated brass.

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It’s interesting cutting through reticulated brass with a piercing saw as the surfaces are so heavily textured and also the thickness of the brass varies widely. It’s actually harder to saw through the very thin layers as they just twist and break, often taking the slender saw blade with them.

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And I’ve still got another circle to cut from the large waste piece.

So, the very start of one new project…

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… and another.

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And hopefully I should soon be able to show you what I’ve done with this:

Volcano

So exciting!

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