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Posts Tagged ‘whipped back stitch’

Term has started and with it a three day a week supply teaching commitment which has at a stroke annihilated my stitching opportunities this week. I’m now teaching right across the primary age ranges from Early Years to Y6 and having to be involved in some planning and assessment as well, which has to be done at home. It’s a Catch 22. I can’t earn a living from my upcycled jewellery and textile art, so I have to take on supply work to pay the bills, but supply work doesn’t leave me with enough time to develop my creative side as a business so I can’t earn a living from it. Add to that my first cold germ of the new year, I’m feeling very frustrated and sorry for myself.

So, dribs and drabs of stitching is all I have to share this week. Last week I managed to find some more of the thread I needed to finish the leafy greens in my stumpwork garden. The last time I blogged about it back in July, it was looking like this:

Since then I’ve added more French knots to soften the hard edge of the path as well as finishing off the leafy greens and making a start on the weeds.

No movement on the buttonhole rings piece but I have done a tiny bit more on the Brantwood wallpaper motif. I’m glad I’ve continued with silk, but the thread is so fine I’ve been struggling to keep the satin stitch neat. I might try two strands in the needle and see how that goes.

I’m also trying to keep scratching the itch of wanting desperately to create upcycled jewellery. I came across this mid-century mother of pearl-set ‘Hollywood’ brooch in a recent lot of jewellery I was processing.

It was missing a section and it wasn’t that exciting anyway, so I decided to find something much more interesting with which to replace the mother of pearl discs. I cut six petals from a piece of hand made felt and added veins in whipped back stitch.

To hide the back of the stitching and give the petals a bit more body, each one has a back cut from some heathered green commercial felt.

They hide the little coloured diamantes, but I like the effect much better.

I’m connecting the two pieces of felt with a beaded blanket stitch in pale gold seed beads which are almost identical in colour to the metal of the brooch.

I’ve only had time to do one, but it’s come out so well I just want to get stuck into doing the rest!

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Despite the lack of space, the peas have fitted in nicely and don’t look too squashed or too small. I started with rows of variegated brown feather stitch ‘pea sticks’ and added the stalks over the top in whipped back stitch.

The peas are two straight stitches which start side by side at the top and go into the same hole at the bottom to give a point. I’m always up for some ‘plein air stitching’ and started adding them on a trip to Lincoln to meet up with Karen (Lincs in Stitches).

Once the peas were nicely spaced over the stalks, I finished them off with a trio of tiny straight stitches in a single strand of stranded cotton to create the calyxes. Next I need to find some 2mm silk ribbon for the leaves.

I know it’s not really the best idea to start yet another project when there are other things on the go and especially when I’ve not made any progress on my June AND July Move It On Project, but I need something straightforward to stitch while I’m out and about and Ruskin lace definitely does not come into that category. The Ruskin lace is to go into a 2015 holiday journal which needs some other stitching doing for it, including a version of the wallpaper in John Ruskin’s study at Brantwood, near Coniston.

It’s quite light and modern for a Victorian wallpaper and I particularly liked the motif with stars on the right so I chose it as one of the pieces to stitch for the journal.

I originally planned to do it in applique, but when I came to look at the design I’d printed out ready to go, it was clear that the stems were going to be far too narrow, so I’ve revised my idea and it will all be embroidered. We were up in the Lakes for the weekend a couple of weeks ago and as we visited Coniston, it seemed appropriate to start the stitching there.

The lines will be in split stitch to give the right sort of width and each leaf will also be outlined in split stitch and then satin stitched over. Nice and straightforward, easy to take out and about and it’s still moving old projects on.

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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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As I suspected, finding the right white for the vertical glazing bars of the Temperate House was a pain. I ended up with a selection of white threads, ranging from good old Anchor stranded cotton to some fabulous Gloriana 12 strand silk called ‘Fresh Snow’ which is too perfectly white, silky soft and beautiful to use!

After standing in the sunny garden laying threads out alongside the ribbon and seeing how just one or two strands compared with the way the thread looked in the skein, I finally settled on a Dinky Dyes stranded silk in ‘Natural’.

I initially used back stitch rather than my go to split stitch as I wanted a stronger line but I wasn’t happy with the breaks between the stitches, so I whipped it to give more solidity.

The lines are similar rather than identical to the original, but when I referred back to the source photo, I realised how subtly the spacing and angles of the bars changed as their perspective to me altered. Had I drawn this from memory, all those lines would have been parallel and evenly spaced. It was a very useful lesson in observation.

I’ve also continued with the or nué acorn and started the coloured couching in single strands of stranded silk. Despite my initial concern that it was at an angle to the gold, I felt the first part of the cup worked well. It was only when I came to add the highlight that it started to get a bit challenging.

I wanted the highlight to curve round the cup, but working in straight lines makes that difficult, especially as this piece is so small. Not really knowing what else to do, I just carried on stitching to see if I could make it work out. By this point I had started the acorn, so things were ramping up on the difficulty scale, not least having four needles on the go at once.

I know I have the tendency to overcomplicate things, but I did think an acorn would be a relatively simple thing to stitch! Once I had sort of wrangled the highlight on the cup I realised I needed to add a lighter colour to the acorn. Unfortunately I think I should have introduced it at least a row previously…

It wasn’t working and I needed help to see where the shading was, so I added some lines to give me an idea of where the changes need to happen. Suddenly I feel more confident about it.

I think I will have to go back and unpick some of the darker green on the row or two above and add the mid green, but I’ve decided to continue and finish the design first and see how it looks. This is very much a first attempt at a new technique and it will do me good to not obsess about everything I do having to be perfect straight out of the box.

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Podcasts at the ready, I got stuck into some of the more tedious stitching this week. All the motifs on the medieval tiles piece are outlined and I’m very happy with the alternating light and dark outlines.

The intersections are interesting too.

As is the back, where you can really see the subtle variegation in the threads.

I’ve still not completely settled on what to do for the background of the tiles but I’m inclining towards adding something to the inside of the motifs. Not sure if that is prevarication or not!

I had a couple of offcuts from when I printed the main piece.

I made one into a bookmark for a Christmas present and am turning the second one into another bookmark. This time I whipped the back stitch outline of the motifs and am pleased with the raised effect. It looks almost like I’ve edged them with a very fine cord.

I decided to add the more straightforward highlights to Baby Leaf-Tailed Dragon’s wings while I was still dithering about the circles on his neck.

Emboldened by that success, I started the circles. Not sure the first one is fit to be seen, but the second and third are reasonably presentable.

I’m definitely ready to finish these projects and get on with something different, especially as I unearthed some rusted embroidered fragments the other day that I’d done ages ago with the plan of making an art quilt and posted some on Instagram. They got such a good response I’m tempted to get the quilt underway again…

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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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More from my Lake District 2015 Holiday Journal. A very simple lay out this one, just to remind me of the well-earned drink we had at Sticklebarn on the valley walk we took at the second attempt!

Sticklebarn layout 1

Sticklebarn layout 2

Whipped back stitch around the shadows of the fells in the background.

Sticklebarn layout 3

And moving swiftly on…

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I’ve been playing with small things over the Christmas period, like this single earring drop and a section of a felt sample I made for a lesson at school. Combined and embroidered a bit more, they became the front of a brooch.

Lavender brooch 1

Whipped back stitch to hold down the drop with a scrap of thick silk thread couched down underneath it.

Lavender brooch 2

 

The plain lilac felt back was secured with a beaded blanket stitch using some greyish purple delicas…

Lavender brooch 3

…and then the natural (deliberately wobbly) bottom edge was finished with a fringe of delicas, seed and pearl beads.

Lavender brooch 4

A nice quick little project and a good way of using up odds and ends of beads, threads and felt.

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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.

Bullion rose pendant 2

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!

Bullion rose pendant 3

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.

Japanese print wrapped pendant 1

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.

Japanese print wrapped pendant 2

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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This is Fuchsia.

Fuchsia Fairy

Fuchsia and my youngest fell in love with each other at a craft fair in Polperro where we bought her from the lady who created her. Being very small (and easily rolled over on), I was told that Fuchsia needed a sleeping bag to keep her safe in bed. Pink was the first choice of colour, but I only had a small strip of pink, so Fuchsia graciously agreed that green, trimmed with pink would be acceptable.

I had the perfect piece for her sleeping bag – a scrap of hand-dyed green cotton with its original lace border onto which I planned to appliqué the pink, probably embroidered first. So this was the main bit of sewing I did on holiday this year; Fuchsia’s sleeping bag.

Fuchsia's sleeping bag 1

The hand dyed pink cotton is embroidered with French knot rosebuds with lazy daisy stitch leaves and a whipped back stitch trailing stems.

Fuchsia's sleeping bag 2

Then I feather stitched the embroidered panel onto the green fabric and hand stitched the whole thing up into a pouch shape.

Fuchsia was delighted. So was my youngest.

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