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Posts Tagged ‘feather stitch’

Some stitched vegetable gardens came up on my Pinterest feed a little while ago and as I love stumpwork ideas, I saved them; whereupon more appeared of course… So naturally the only thing to do to get them out of my system was to stitch my own garden. It’s tiny – the piece of silk dupion it’s stitched on is 6cm by 10cm, or about 2.5″ by 4″.

Garden path first. I used satin stitch in varying scraps of greyish brown thread for the uneven slabs.

Then a darker variegated brown to edge the slabs before I started my strawberry patch. This has whipped back stitch stems, trios of lazy daisy leaves, scarlet French knot strawberries and loose white French knots for the strawberry flowers. Working French knots deliberately loose so you can put something in the centre is a little more tricky than it looks. There is a fine line between getting a firm knot with a space in the middle and a scribbly pile of threads!

Next, the peas. Feather stitch pea sticks for them to scramble over and then whipped backstitch stems. The pea pods are two parallel satin stitches and once they were completed (all 32 of them) I used a very fine pale green silk thread to give them tiny calyxes.

Then I half hid them with silk ribbon lazy daisy stitch leaves.

Onto the rows of veg next. The peas had taken a long time building up the various layers, so I went for a quicker result and three dark green silk ribbon ‘roses’ (woven spider’s web stitch) became a row of blowsy cabbages.

These were quickly joined by a little row or emerging seedlings in fine silk lazy daisy stitch – probably radishes – and then I started a group of cauliflowers with clustered French knot florets and overlapping cast on stitch leaves.

It was fiddly to work the cast on stitch leaves in such a small space and at such a small size, but leaves come in various shapes and sizes anyway.

The loose French knot practise on the strawberry flowers came in handy for the carrots.

My idea was to stitch loops which I could then cut to form feathery foliage, through the centre of the carrot tops. The smallest section of my cordonnet stick was the perfect size to stitch the loops over.

Loopy carrot tops.

Each set of threads has been fastened off separately underneath so they shouldn’t come out once I cut them. Very pleased with the result!

Lettuces and courgettes are next. It may only be a tiny piece of stitching but it’s taken a lot longer than I expected. Working small doesn’t always mean finishing things off more quickly…

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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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I’ve been wanting to create some more watch case pendants for a while and last week I finally got round to hunting out the box they live in. I was also determined to do one at a time that I could actually finish, rather than planning all of them at once and overfacing myself.

I had a lovely little rounded piece of driftwood that I wanted to use for this one and teamed it with a pretty gold flecked batik cotton.

Seaweed first, in good old feather stitch and some overcasting with added cast on stitch picots to help hold the driftwood in place.

Then some maidenhair stitch and beading. Maidenhair stitch is a feather stitch variant where you stitch three loops gradually increasing in size on the same side before stitching three on the other side, rather than alternating as in ordinary feather stitch. It’s a new stitch to me and I really like the effect it gives, especially when you curve it like a plant stem.

Some more feather stitch and Palestrina stitch to give a different texture.

After one more swirl of Palestrina knots with a touch of purple, time to add the sea glass. The sea glass nuggets are held in place with a dab of superglue just to make sure they don’t go anywhere before I work the holding stitches over them.

Lastly I gathered the design over a piece of pelmet vilene before setting it into the watch case.

It just needs a silver plated chain attached (somehow…) and it’s a finish.

My not so little, little one turned 16 at the weekend and as I was completely out of inspiration for an original card, I used a pattern from the internet to cross stitch one of her favourite characters from Star Wars:

I was reminded how long it takes to cross stitch even a relatively small and simple design (best part of four hours for this one and I don’t think I was stitching particularly slowly) but it was worth it – she loved him.

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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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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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Cleaning a load of broken vintage jewellery the other day I immediately spotted two obvious opportunities for upcycling in the form of the two brooches in the middle, both missing the central focal stone.

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And both crying out for ribbon roses! First the gold and pink diamante brooch.

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This has a silk ribbon rose stitched onto coloured pelmet vilene with nested detached chain stitch leaves and a shiny rayon french knot nestled in its heart. Available in my Etsy shop here.

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If the round brooch was small, the bar brooch is even smaller, with the central bezel tray I was looking to fill measuring just over 1cm wide!

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Time to scale down to 2mm wide silk ribbon and single strands of silk thread to create a tiny spray. I love the way this turned out – even though I know it’s stitched, at first glance it looks like micromosaic!

Also available in my Etsy shop here.

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I was playing with some scraps of upcycled felt a while ago that I’d made in the washing machine from some 100% wool garments that were past wearing. I added some broken jewellery pieces and a kilt pin that had been part of a job lot of broken/unwanted jewellery and came up with this little pendant brooch.

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From this brooch came the idea for a workshop and some more samples. Firstly, an octagonal piece of broken earring, a scrap of felt and sheaf stitch, detached chain stitch and french knots in a funky variegated thread became this brooch. Finished off with beaded blanket stitch around the edges and blanket stitch to attach it to the pin.

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I realised that some little metal tags from my found objects box looked like the bodies of fish and so I started another sample, stitching them down with long and short stitch to create flamboyant tails.

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Palestrina and feather stitch creates fronds of seaweed and also helps hold the ‘bodies’ of the fish in place, and french knots form the sea bed.

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I like all my samples, but those fishes have a special place in my heart – they came out exactly as I’d imagined them!

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One of the stitches that my Stitch Zone embroidery group wanted to explore was Palestrina Stitch; also known as Double Knot Stitch. Palestrina is a line stitch with regularly spaced knots, often looking like a line of beads. It’s reasonably challenging to work initially, but once you get the hang the overs and unders, it has a pleasing rhythm to it. Mary Thomas shows it worked left to right, but I find it much easier to work vertically downwards where gravity helps with the loops you need to work into.

I started off with by stitching a sampler, experimenting with a variety of different threads, different spacing between the knots and varying the length of the stitch through the fabric, which gives ‘legs’ either side of the knot.

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I like the chunky knots you get with the heavier perle threads but also was very pleased with the effect of finer threads, such as the very fine perle second from the left in the photo above.

Learning a stitch that gives you a knotted line is all very well, but I wanted to use it in ways that exploited the texture and shape of the stitch. My first experiment was using it to echo the texture of bark and I used a variegated perle-like silk thread to embroider a winter tree.

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The stitch worked really well for the bark and I’m curious as to what it would look like if I filled in the spaces between the lines of Palestrina with satin or split stitch in the same thread. Something else to experiment with in the future perhaps.

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I also wanted to try beading the stitch and that led me to working a more typical sea themed piece.

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I used two pieces of perle to make a really heavy line of knots and then a single piece of the same thread with random seed beads. The bead goes on first and then the knot is formed as normal into the stitch after it. I think you lose the knots to some extent, but it’s an interesting variant.  The feather stitch is to vary the textures and lighten the design.

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I also used it to stitch down a holed scallop shell and found it surprisingly easy to work. The stitch through the fabric serves to hold the shell down and then the knot is worked into the thread where it comes out of the hole, exactly as you would on a flat piece of fabric.

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It was great to do some experimenting to find just a couple of ways of developing this stitch and I’ll definitely keep it in my repertoire.

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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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I’ve just started teaching a monthly embroidery class at Jaylaurs, a fabulous fabric and sewing shop in the nearby small market town of Brigg. I worked with three lovely ladies at the end of last month, all of whom enjoyed experimenting with some new stitches and I hope that they and some others will come along to the next one on the 30th of November. I created some more Stitch Play samples using more basic stitches, mainly based round running stitch, chain stitch and split stitch…

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…but it was the more complex stitches like knotted buttonhole stitch, Pekingese Stitch and feather stitch that they wanted to try out!

Jayne, who runs Jaylaurs, asked me to create some purse flyers to give to people who expressed an interest in the classes and while looking for some suitable images and ideas I found some work I had done as examples of lessons I taught to Y5s and 6s a few years ago based on couching and whipped and threaded variants of running stitch.

They had been doing some batik and I wanted to get them to embellish some of their test pieces. This one is my sample piece with simple leaf shapes.

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I had just bought a load of fancy threads for textile work and threaded and whipped running stitches were great ways of using threads that were far too thick and slubby to be used to stitch with themselves. The chenille thread on the left works particularly well.

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The other sample was again to use the fancy threads, but this time couching them down in various patterns.

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The thread with the fluffy ‘flags’ was very fine, so I remember couching it down backwards and forwards along the line to build up a thicker layer and seeing where the ‘flags’ fell as I worked along the thread. I hadn’t planned it, but they seemed to always end up together in clumps!

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And then I found this: an early bit of found object work, using various bits and pieces that I had picked up around school. It includes an odd stud earring (flanked by two short screws) that was never claimed after PE and finally found its way into the school piano and a broken trouser fastener (centre) kindly donated for use in the piece by the lad in my class at the time. His trousers had suffered a catastrophic fail as a result of an overenthusiastic tackle in football at break and he spent the rest of the day in his PE shorts. The fastener was recovered from the playground following the incident.

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A bit of fun and some good memories of some of the amazing children I have taught over the years.

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