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Posts Tagged ‘raised embroidery’

Well, the lonely courgette now has some friends and as they are almost big enough to be called marrows, I left the flowers off.

I used the same interfacing backed painted cotton for the leaves as I did for the original stumpwork garden and the same method, which has scaled up very satisfactorily.

Next, I added big blowsy cabbages in a 1cm wide bluey-green silk ribbon. I made sure I worked the woven spider’s web stitches nice and loosely and let the ribbon twist and bend to give a more natural look to the leaves.

Lastly, a patch of radishes. As this garden is about three times the size of the original I needed to enlarge the original tiny line of detached chain stitch pairs. This time I gave the radishes at least four leaves each and increased the weight of the leaves by using a thicker thread and nesting one detached chain stitch inside another. I gave each one a little pink base to the leaf stalk to hint at the crunchy pink radish growing just under the surface.

To give an idea of how much bigger I’m working, here is the garden so far side by side with the original version. The hoop is 6 inches in diameter – this is practically enormous for me!

As it’s the end of the month, time for the update on May’s Move It On Project. Unfortunately I didn’t get as far as I had hoped with the Casalguidi work, although for a nice reason this time. Last week was half term, so we’ve had a lovely family holiday in Northumberland and all the stitching I did was to go in my holiday journal. But the overcast trailing is finished and more importantly, I have a book I can use for the flowers when I pick it up again.

June’s Move It On project is well out of my comfort zone. I’ve seen and admired a lot of Ruskin Lace during our holidays in the Lake District and for our holiday in 2015 I created a very ambitious altered book/holiday journal which I still haven’t finished! One of the things I wanted to stitch for it was a Ruskin lace sample.

I bought myself a Ruskin Lace book but after reading the first chapter, I bottled out big time. I hate the thought of cutting, withdrawing and weaving threads back into a piece of stitching and these are core skills for this type of embroidery. But I also hate the thought that it’s getting the better of me and recently managed to get as far as hemming a piece of linen following the instructions in the book before I gave up again. I’m determined to move the 2015 journal on and I’m hoping that once I’ve got my head round the cutting threads bit, the needlelace element should be more enjoyable.

This is where I am at the moment, cutting threads to form an internal border.

I’m using some of the linen I usually use for pulled thread work and am a bit worried that it’s going to be too open, but that’s what the Move It On Project is designed for. If it works, then that’s great – if it doesn’t, I’ll have learned useful lessons. Fingers crossed.

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This month’s Move It on Project is a sample I started at a Casalguidi workshop for what was then Scunthorpe branch of the Embroiderers’ Guild back in May 2017. We ordered one of the Guild’s folios on the subject to have a look at some examples…

…and then started on our own samples which we could use to make the front of a little pouch or lavender bag. All traditional Casalguidi embroidery is worked on top of a background of four-sided stitch and that was my starting point. I have a bit of a mental block where this stitch is concerned. I have to really concentrate to work it with the stitches in the same order because if you don’t the stitches lay differently. But I persevered and from this, which is all I managed to stitch in the workshop:

…by the following August, eleven months later (!) I had finally managed to complete the background panel. Now time for the more interesting part of the design.

But in the end it took until April 2019 before I got round to adding some stem stitch bands.

Then I started the trailing overcast stitch, working over a bundle of stranded threads and simply meandering across the panel.

To say it’s effectively a very narrow padded satin stitch, it’s surprisingly difficult to keep neat and even.

So that’s where I am at the start of this month. I plan to finish the overcast trailing, add some needlewoven bars and picots for leaves and smaller flowers and perhaps make one of the big statement needlelace flowers if I can find some instructions. A quick look for online Casalguidi tutorials seems to mainly focus on the big raised stem stitch bands so that might be a bit more of a challenge.

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With this month’s Move It On project safely put to bed, I’ve been able to think about other things, including a piece inspired partly by a recent trip to Withernsea beach which always turns up some interesting beachcombed treasures, and partly by some recent images that caught my attention on Pinterest of densely encrusted stitching around seashells.

I rediscovered a fabulous piece of silk matka which looks like a hessian sack but feels like velvet, some scraps of organza to add subtle shading to the background and some assorted shells and literally started to doodle in stitch.

I had an odd pony bead and I knew I wanted to cover it in stem stitch band like one I did for the North Cornwall Wallhanging. I used a much thicker thread for this one but it still has the sea urchin sort of look that I was looking for. The raised cup stitch that was so successful as poppies on the Harvest Wreath was a complete disaster here, so I filled them with seed beads and started to surround them with French knots to try and blend them in.

Next I added feather, threaded chain and Palestrina stitches over the strips of organza to hold them down and continued to build up the French knots and add some little mottled sandy coloured beads.

I love the depth and texture of the stitching.

More French knots interspersed with bullions and pearl beads. I liked the shaded effect on the needleweaving on the left from the variegated silk threads I was using so I added some more of those.

Finally finished. Well, in the end I had to tell myself to put down the needle and walk away. With this sort of free form stitching it’s so tempting to just add another dozen French knots or another seaweedy frond. The hardest thing is knowing when to stop!

I finished the Mothers’ Day card in good time too and am told it went down very well with the recipient. Despite my best efforts the the tea bags did shred a bit and the whole thing had to be restabilised by stuffing scraps of Bondaweb under the flapping areas and ironing carefully. You can see some spidery areas of glue but it’s less obvious in real life and was much better than having bits dropping off!

Next job is to decide on April’s Move It On Project and I’m torn between revisiting an existing project or starting a kit that’s been hanging around for a while and of course, also needs moving on.

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Much to my surprise and delight, the Chihuly chandelier is working! I’ve not done very much more as there have been a lot of other time-sensitive things this week, but all of a sudden, I can see my way clear. I realised that the edges of the ‘frilly plates’ were quite pointy-looking, like the points of the spokes of the back-stitched spider’s webs, so I’m not filling the spokes completely to echo this.

I’m so pleased with the way its coming together that I’m slightly resentful that other things have kept me away from it and also rather sheepish that it stalled for so long in the first place…

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about this underwater scene which I’d stitched onto dyed pelmet vilene and set into a silver Victorian coin brooch. I just felt the seaweed was a bit flat on its own and it needed a bit of something else.

One of the ideas I threw out was to add a silver fish and the more I thought about it, the more it felt like the answer. I had some tiny offcuts of textured eco-silver left over from the band of a ring I’d created when I did my silversmithing course back in 2013.

The right hand side of the bottom piece already looked a bit like a fish, so I used that line as a starting point and I carefully cut my fish shape out.

I filed, polished and refined it and added a simple drilled hole for an eye.

I realised that it needed to go behind at least some of the seaweed, so I took out one of the lines of feather stitch, put the fish in place and stitched the feather stitch back over the top.

I also added another line of Palestrina stitch in Sylko thread to hold the tail down before setting it in the brooch.

There was a little tube on the back of the brooch and it occurred to me that if I could get a jump ring through it, then I could make it transform into a pendant as well which would give it twice the opportunity to be worn. In the end it needed two jump rings, but I think they work well as a bale and a silver chain completes the transformation.

Unfortunately this weekend hasn’t been the best time to take decent photographs of it!

This is going to be a piece that will be very hard to part with and it was so good to get back to the silversmithing again. I’ve called it the ‘Silver Darling’ and it’s in my Etsy shop here.

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It’s been slow and very steady but I’ve made a start on February’s Move It On Project! One of the ideas I’d had for representing the fluted plates of the chandelier was to crochet miniature circles in some wonderful Mulberry silk thread that I’ve been saving for a special occasion with one of my collection of tiny Victorian steel crochet hooks.

As I was making a prototype and wasn’t really sure if it would work or not, I ended up using a coton a broder rather than potentially damaging the precious silks. I made a simple chain ring and then added rounds of double crochet, finishing with little chain picots and it worked!

Happy that crochet circles were going to work for the 3D element of the chandelier, I went back to thinking about what I wanted for the surface stitching. Initially I was thinking about using woven spiders web stitches, but when I looked more carefully at the fluted circles, I realised they are quite heavily ridged.

So more like a back stitched spiders’ web. And there is the added advantage that you can work partial back stitched spider’s webs, which would work for the elements that are side on. The crochet circle isn’t in the final position, just there for scale.

It all looks a bit sparse and not very flamboyantly Chihuly at the moment, but the most important thing for me is that it’s a start.

Most of the rest of my stitching this week has been very uninteresting. Needlelace samples for a workshop and trying to put together kits for the Ribbon Rose brooches which at the moment just looks like a pile of papers and boxes!

But I have finished a couple of pieces of upcycled jewellery. First is a lovely pair of broken vintage Mexican silver clip on earrings which had had the clips sheared off. I filed the rough edges away and then drilled a couple of holes in the top of the silver settings and attached a pair of new silver earhooks. They can be found here in my Etsy shop.

Then I removed the mechanism from a lovely single 1950s French jet (black glass) clip on earring and combined it with a vintage 1970s stainless steel ring blank to make what I think is a very elegant cocktail ring. The facets really make it glitter when it catches the light. It’s here in my Etsy shop.

I’ve also turned some lovely vintage teddy bear buttons into stud earrings.

They may be a bit battered and worn but I think they are still very cute!

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Last week, I was at a bit of a standstill with the print to stitch medieval tiles piece which I’ve chosen as January’s Move It On Project having completely run out of thread that was anywhere near close. However, thanks to Debbie who has an affinity for these lovely warm autumnal shades and a huge collection of appropriately coloured threads, I now have a bobbin of the right coloured stranded cotton and no excuse not to move things on! I finished off the tile I was stitching in the darker thread and as it’s the outer ring of stitching, I don’t think it looks out of place.

I was also toying with the idea of giving up on the spiral kantha and going back to seeding for the back ground of the last three tiles but having trialled it, it looked odd, so I’ve continued with the kantha and now completed four out of the six tiles.

The beauty of this piece is more in the way it feels with the wool felt backing and the dense stitching than the way it looks, so I’ve been working on my Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch harvest wreath, which is a bit prettier! Last time I shared it back in October, I was most of the way through adding the Raised Cup Stitch poppy flowers.

I’ve since finished them and given them all French knot middles.

So next I’m adding some leaves, using a free form of fly stitch which I’m stitching back into to fatten up parts of the leaf. It’s a slow job, working in a single strand of stranded cotton, but I think the wreath needs it for balance.

Lastly I’ve added a new Flotsam pendant to my Etsy Shop.

It’s a lightweight and easy to wear combination of Suffolk driftwood, Seaham sea glass and a lovely chunk of beach pottery and comes with a new faux leather thong with a sterling silver clasp.

Available here in my Etsy shop.

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The other day I wondered to myself, as you do; what if I worked Raised Stem Stitch Band in a spiral? I think this came from something I’d seen on Instagram but when I went looking I couldn’t find anything so it was time to experiment. I’m sure there are probably a handful of tutorials on YouTube but it was good to work something out independently. I started with a sketched spiral and a thick bundle of grey perle a little longer than the spiral to give me room to plunge and finish off the ends.

I used the same grey perle to couch the bundle down.

So far, so good. The thread was rather wavy from having been in a plait for donkey’s years but the couching controlled it effectively. At this point I was quite surprised at how easily and neatly it formed the spiral and even plunging all the ends in the centre wasn’t as difficult as I expected.

For the stem stitch, I chose a Stef Francis coton a broder thread in subtly variegated shades of orange.

I love the way stem band works up and the slightly corded coton a broder gives a beautiful texture to the stitches.

I was pleased with the coverage of the grey as well, having remembered a bit too late that the padding sometimes can show through, and the way the edges of the spiral have become three-dimensional.

It started out as a ‘what if’ experiment but now there was only one way to go… Meet Dylan the Psychedelic Snail.

His body is outlined in back stitch which was the foundation for his Corded Brussels stitch needlelace body in this fabulous rainbow thread.

Couched down green chenille gave him a bit of grass to slither over and his antennae are short lines of split stitch topped with French knots.

He’s adorable, even if I do say so myself, and a really nice project on which to practise some fairly straightforward stumpwork and needle lace stitches so I’ve added him to the workshops I offer – just click on the Workshops tab at the top to see the full list.

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As you can see if you go to the In The Stitch Zone tab at the top of this page, we’re back!

The first session last week worked very well and it was lovely to see so many people returning after so long. The room is airy despite having no external windows and we were able to spread out quite well while we caught up and experimented with some Rhodes Stitch hearts and butterflies.

This week I’ve been playing with samples for our Hungarian Braided Chain Stitch workshop. It’s been a new stitch to me this year and I’ve utilised it in a number of different pieces and with a variety of different threads. I decided to try working it in a circle for the first two samples and use perle, which seems to have been the most successful type of thread and I find gives the best definition of the lovely braid effect.

First a very heavy vintage green perle. The braid was good, but I struggled to join the ends of the wreath and I really wasn’t happy with the messy join at the bottom.

It was giving me serious Christmas vibes at this point so I wondered what would happen if I added straight stitches around the inside and outside to make it look like fir branches.

Much more successful than I hoped and even better, it disguised the horrible join! Next tiny gold beads…

…and a bow.

The second wreath used a variegated lighter weight perle (8) that reminded me of autumn wheat fields.

The join isn’t quite as bad on this one but it’s still lumpy and I really need to think of a better way to manage it. As the braid starts with a vertical straight stitch, and continually needs a chain put into the working end to fill out the pattern, it’s quite tricky to join up.

At this point it suddenly occurred to me that if you extended the initial stitch, short sections might make rather effective bull rushes. I put the wreath aside and this happened:

So yes, they do! Back to the wreath.

The harvest colours made me think about wrapping it in poppies. I used split stitch for the stems and then another new stitch to me – Raised Cup Stitch – for the poppy heads with French knot middles.

I had been thinking about something along the line of Rosette or Oyster stitch for the flowers but I much prefer this more raised effect. The flowers are created by literally tying knots around a base formed from three stitches in a triangle as you can see on the right. They are very forgiving if you can’t quite see where to put the knots which suits me perfectly!

I may add some little stalks of wheat in among the poppies too but just a few so I don’t lose the braided effect of the wreath.

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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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And not a lot else! A few more have appeared as kale-like leaves in the stumpwork vegetable garden. I was initially unsure about them, especially as unlike the other vegetables I had no idea what they were! However, as I’ve added more, they seem to fit in better. I think I need a few more near the path and perhaps another couple at the other end.

The other picots have been used to finish off the upcycled poinsettia pendant I was working on back in July. I finished adding the picots for the second layer of bracts…

…and added a cluster of French knots to the centre. Next I needed to cut the pelmet vilene behind the poinsettia to fit the missing section of the pendant.

I ended up cutting a plain one as well, as the section was deeper than the thickness of the vilene. It was doubly useful as I was able to use the plain one as a template for cutting behind the poinsettia before I set it in the pendant.

There was a nasty moment when I thought I’d nicked one of the poinsettia picots.

But it was a false alarm and it works exactly as I’d envisaged it in my head, spilling over the edge of the pendant.

Finished off with a black thong with sterling silver mounts.

I only sold five pieces of jewellery at Normanby Country Fayre on Monday and once again came home wondering if there is any point in carrying on. But then I have an idea for upcycling a piece of jewellery that is too pretty to go into landfill and I have such a great time creating it, like this one, that perhaps I’m not ready to give up just yet.

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