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Posts Tagged ‘running stitch’

I bought some traditional and brightly coloured modern Harris Tweed from eBay back in 2020 and dabbled with this little experimental kantha piece:

It wasn’t a complete success as the lovely variegated thread didn’t really show up, but I really liked stitching into the thick tweed – so much of what we stitch on for hand embroidery is either calico or something of a similar weight and it was a lovely change to work with a fabric that is significantly different both in feel and how it responds to stitch. I filed it away for a possible future idea.

Nearly two years later, that idea has resurfaced in the last two workshops I’m teaching for the Stitch Zone before Easter. Last week we used small tweed circles and stitched straight over them to meld them into the background. Because of the thickness of the wool you don’t get the same sort of crinkling of the fabric that you do with kantha but it does pull the little circles down into the back ground fabric which gives a very pleasing texture.

This week we’re using larger circles and going round them, rather than over them. The sample piece I’ve been working on has taken longer than I planned as I initially used one strand of thread and found that in spite of it being bright blue on grey, it pretty much disappeared into the back ground, which meant I had to go over each stitch again with a second thread to bulk up the stitches enough to be seen.

As there was so little distortion of the fabric in the sample with the parallel lines I was somewhat surprised to find that the concentric stitching around the blue circles pulled it into distinct mounds. I’m not sure if I like the effect or not, but it’s certainly interesting!

There is movement on this month’s Move It On Project too. I found the iridescent cord I’d used for the couched spirals and loops and although I’m not sure where the sewing cotton I used to stitch it down is now, I found a close enough match. I unpicked the cramped area I was unhappy with last week:

And restitched it to fill the space more evenly.

I’ve also added another layer of felt over the nibbled one.

Next stage is to put the grey silk over the top and that means needle-turned applique. I’ve only had one go at this technique before and I did not enjoy it. I think the pieces of fabric I was using were a bit on the small side and I just couldn’t seem to get a nice smooth edge, in spite of my best efforts and smallest stitches. I’m hoping that as this will be a bigger piece of fabric with more seam allowance and gentler curves, that it goes a little better.

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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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It’s been a bit of a miracle but we’re successfully out the other side of panto week.

How we didn’t have an outbreak of Covid in the cast and/or crew I really don’t know, but it’s all done and dusted for another year – well apart from the four massive bags of washing that are currently dominating my hall.

The cow print dress was a huge success and I actually remembered to get a photo of our dame wearing it over a hooped petticoat. As you can see, he’s a big girl!

I spent most of the Saturday get-in darning a j-cloth…

The cleaning costume I made for the Dame in Puss in Boots in 2015 has a gingham skirt decorated with rosettes made from gathered j-cloths and pan scrubbers.

But it wasn’t until I got it into theatre that I discovered that one of the rosettes had suffered a bit over the last seven years in storage. As the j-cloths have faded a bit I couldn’t easily replace it, so I had to go for the mending option.

Luckily it turned out really well and not only lasted the week, but I think if I make sure it’s stored properly this time, could easily do another panto.

There is usually some mending to do as the show goes on but this one was quite mending heavy. One character had a major failure of all the seams on her trousers – the costume was so old the thread had simply worn out so I spent most of the opening night frantically hand stitching all the seams every time she came off stage. Then it turned out that the Velcro I’d used for the back of the cow print dress was either ancient or very poor quality, as after three performances, all the edges started to disintegrate so I had to restitch all the stitching to hold it down and blanket stitch it all the way round to contain the fraying edges.

So unlike 2020, when I had the opportunity to do plenty of my own embroidery, I did very little this time. But I have chosen and made a start on my January 2022 Project – my print to stitch Medieval tiles pieces. I created the printed fabric at a workshop with Jan Dowson in February 2019 and started the stitching on it in October 2020, so compared with some of my other projects it is a relative newcomer!

This is as it stands at the start of its session. Two of the six ’tiles’ have completed spiral kantha stitching and I’d ground to a halt on the third as I’d run out of thread. As usual I have absolutely no idea what it was, beyond stranded cotton, and as I’m trying very hard to work within what I already have, I hunted out a couple of possible replacements and discovered in the process that I am very short of tan/orangey-brown threads.

The printing and the hand dyed fabric both vary in colour so I am trying not to mind too much that the new thread is a bit darker.

I’m also not that taken with the spiral kantha – it feels like there is too much of the motif in the way for it to work well. Also, there isn’t enough of the new thread for me to be able to stitch spirals round the last three ’tiles’ so at the moment I’m thinking I might go with a completely different thread to tone with the slightly darker prints and go back to simple seeding.

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With the outlining done on the medieval tiles piece it was time to make a decision about how to fill the space surrounding them. Seeding was a bit of an obvious go to and something I used in the last print to stitch piece, but I wanted something different. I toyed with seeding in a more distinctive stitch, like a tete de boeuf, fly stitch or detached chain stitch, but they all looked too heavy, so I fell back on an idea I had a while ago of a kantha spiral based on the centre of the motif. Typically, I chose one to start off where the motif wasn’t in the middle of the ’tile’ so I couldn’t quite see whether it was going to work as I hoped – mainly, I think, because the initial rows of single stitches were quite overpowering – until I got to the outside rows.

Stitching in circles and skipping the printed areas has pulled it up into a bit of a dome! I think there will definitely have to be something couched along the motif to try and flatten it. I think I like it. I might need to play with the couched lines before I can be certain one way or another.

I’ve finished the little needlelace sampler. Goodness knows why I thought it would be a good idea to work in wedge shapes and have to decrease as well as working the stitch. It’s not a huge problem with the Single and Corded Brussels, but created some interesting effects with the Double Corded Brussels (DCB) and the Ceylon Stitch.

I really like what happens to the lace as the stitch spacings get smaller on the DCB. The early rows have a lovely open trellis effect with the cord taking centre stage, whereas in the later ones it is much less obvious, becoming a pattern of double stitches and holes. It’s useful to see how different spacings can give you different effects.

The Ceylon Stitch loops were tiny from the start and as the spacing got smaller, I had to decrease in the middle of the pattern as that was where it was the mostly tightly packed.

It is such a lovely looking but incredibly unforgiving stitch that you can see every single place where it isn’t absolutely perfect. It also took forever and so I am not redoing it – it can stand as an useful object lesson!

I intend to carry on stitching some more needlelace but the next sampler is going to be based on rectangles. However, I might work another sample of the Ceylon stitch in a rectangle just to prove I can do it perfectly when I don’t have to keep decreasing!

I’ve not made much jewellery for a while as I’ve been trying to list a backlog of vintage jewellery on Etsy, but when an odd earring I was cleaning came to pieces, leaving me with a rather nice silver mount, I was inspired! I set it with a lovely and very unusual piece of beachcombed Victorian pottery and added a 16″ silver chain to make a unique pendant.

It’s available here in the Beachcombing section of my Etsy shop.

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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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In the end, Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon wasn’t finished for show week and in total, I only managed to put half a dozen stitches in him on stage the entire week, most of which had to be unpicked and restitched later! But ‘The Fifth Elephant’ went well and we had lots of positive comments from Pratchett fans, some of whom had travelled some distance to come and see the show.  No rest for the am dram wicked though – last performance of ‘The Fifth Elephant’ on Saturday and tonight (Monday) is the first casting reading for panto!

I did manage to get some stitching done in the interval though, so all the Bayeux Stitch is completed and I’ve started the couched outline. It neatens the edge up a treat.

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Since the Baby Leaf-tailed Dragon and his frame were props for a scene in Act 1, I had to find something else to sew before curtain up and I decided to experiment with a banner style brooch using an odd kilt pin. I had a few small pieces left of a wool jumper I felted a while ago and turned variously into a cushion cover, a pair of mittens and some earring cases.

I added some commercial grey marl felt and an odd earring drop…

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…blanket stitch, french knots…

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…sequins, a bead, split stitch and detached chain stitch…

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…before finishing with a kantha stitched back ground in shimmery blending filament, a beaded blanket stitch edging which joined it to the grey felt back and blanket stitching it to the kilt pin in stranded silk thread.

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A fun little project and I particularly like the subtle sparkle you get from the blending filament.

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The follow on course from the kantha and boro was boro and sashiko and as well as showing various pieces I’ve stitched over the years, I created a new sample piece for this, illustrating how a piece of boro could start to become sashiko.

First, arranging scraps of kimono fabric and indigo dyed cottons onto a cotton base layer. before tacking them down. The partly stitched piece in the middle is a scrap of unfinished sashiko from a very long time ago (2011 to be exact…).

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Simple running stitch becomes a rectangular spiral.

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The partial sashiko becomes rice stitch and I try my hand at keeping free hand cross stitch regular.

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Putting fabric marks in helped with the cross stitch, but I ended up aligning each row of stitches to the previous row and that worked better.

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The even rows became boxes.

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And a tiny scrap needed some bamboo leaves.

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It’s still not quite finished, but it was a pleasure to sew in that rhythmic, mindful way and I do prefer this type of boro/sashiko to stitching the beautiful but almost ‘paint-by’numbers’ of the intricate sashiko designs you get in kits.

And incidentally, our Fabric Fair was a huge success. Considering this was a relatively niche market in small town North Lincolnshire on a Sunday morning, we had a great turn out with locals and people coming from much further afield. There were some great traders with a wide selection of items and it was really positive to see so many people with a love of textiles gathered together.

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The fish is my name badge for Embroiderers’ Guild and another quick finish. Well, quick is a relative term. Technically it was as long in the making as last post’s hedgerow pinwheel given that I’ve been a member of the Embroiderers’ Guild for ten years now and it’s taken me that long to finally getting round to stitching my name badge…

The fish was printed at a Sea themed workshop led by one of our talented members, Mary, in March 2018 and I actually did the vast majority of the stitching and beading in the workshop.

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I finished split stitching my name and laced the fabric over two circles of pelmet vilene…

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…but so close to the finish, it stalled and languished in my projects bag until Easter, when I finally found the time to finish it with a beaded ruff and a brooch pin.

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I’ve just started working as a casual tutor for North Lincolnshire Adult Learning and taught my first full day workshop on kantha and boro stitching last month. The elephant was my sample kantha piece for the afternoon activity.

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He’s cut from a scrap of Indian printed silk scarf and blanket stitched onto a piece of painted/dyed cotton that I acquired from somewhere. The background is then covered in running stitch using some softly variegated green and purple perle thread.

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I love the way the kantha tones down and smooths out the colours of the fabric behind and it is so incredible tactile.

I also stitched a little modern kantha sample using some circles of Harris tweed in vibrant oranges and golds on a piece of heavy weight cotton.

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Not my usual colour palette at all but it was interesting to move away from my blues and greens and also to stitch with Harris tweed, which is a new one for me.

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That’s just my Kamal Kadai work! I did wonder a few weeks ago what would happen if I used a very tight tension on the needle weaving bit of the Kamal Kadai work and since I had a partly worked piece from the workshop, I decided to find out. This is what it looks like when you ensure the weaving isn’t pulled tight:

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And this is how it turns out when you pull each row up tightly:

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French knot middle in rayon thread. It’s the perfect colour, but behaved appallingly. I really hate rayon thread!

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I’ve also started a piece incorporating found objects – plastic rings of varying materials and ages – and fragments of fabric on a hand dyed indigo background.

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Exploring different ways of attaching the rings.

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It’s exercising my ingenuity and very gently pushing at the edges of my colour comfort zone. I still couldn’t bring myself to use a riot of every colour in the scrap bag but it isn’t just blues and aquas!

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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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