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Posts Tagged ‘whipped running stitch’

Since half term at the end of October, I’ve finally been picking up some supply work. It’s been much needed financially but quite stressful with all the different Covid protocols that each school has and it’s difficult not to resent the way it’s eaten into my stitching and jewellery making time.

However, I realise I’m lucky to be getting work at all and so I’m working hard at appreciating a few minutes or a few stitches here and there and trying not worry about how slowly (if at all) some of my projects are moving.

So quick finishes are good, like the broken bracelet sections I upcycled into this sparkly pair of drop earrings with the addition of silver tone maple leaves and sterling silver ear hooks.

I’ve been taking some stitching into the schools where I’ve been working so I can take advantage of any spare lunchtime to sew. This initial will be filled with whipped running stitch stems and lazy daisy stitch flowers and leaves in variegated single strands of silk thread on silk dupion. It’s a potential workshop idea or if I’m not convinced, it might become a birthday card for my middle one.

I found this cross stitch motif which I must have stitched well over twenty years ago, in a workbox at the weekend.

I rather liked it. What if I could somehow stitch it onto another piece of fabric so none of the aida shows? The stylised cross stitch could be an interesting contrast with more textured embroidery stitches…

Subtly variegated silk thread french knots make great bushes and the sheen of the silk complements the more matte quality of the cotton thread I used for the tree.

Bushes and grass at the bottom are relatively easy but I can’t surround the whole tree in them, so now I’m experimenting with satin stitch sky. Apologies for the horrible photo. Today is grey and rainy and this is the best I could do indoors. The sky won’t end there. I might use a version of long and short stitch to extend it and I am planning some trees and/or clouds as well.

Making it up as I go along!

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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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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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I was very taken with an article in Stitch magazine some years ago (still available online as a downloadable PDF, I’ve just discovered, with a little light googling) about making something called a bushkiri bag from a folded embroidered square of felt. After doodling a design, I stitched one with cotton perle threads on felt.

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It was a nice little project for children and I taught it a few times at school. When I cleared out my sewing things I found I had a few partly worked pieces left, so thought they would be fun and straightforward to stitch while we were on holiday over half term.

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This one had the central woven spider’s web, an off centre line of running stitch and  some of the radiating wiggly pink lines already stitched, so I just evened those elements up, added some chain stitch, lazy daisy stitch and blanket stitch fans in the corners…

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…and blanket stitched a piece of grey poly cotton to the back for a lining.

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The pink one just had a diagonal line of large wobbly running stitches, so I took that out and made it neater before finishing it as whipped running stitch in the cafe at Honister slate mine.

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I also managed plenty of plein air stitching at Stagshaw Garden, with a blaze of azaleas behind me…

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…and a gorgeous view of Windermere in front.

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Despite the midges, I stitched happily on…

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…adding alternate rows of chain and whipped running stitch.

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This one just needs a lining and then I can start on the lighter blue one. It already has a square drawn in the middle so I think I’ll probably go with that and develop it into a pattern of overlapping squares.

Some nice, steady holiday stitching.

 

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Only four of us in the group this time, so this one, stitched for Sandra in keeping with her flowers theme, is my last page of the round. I enjoyed discovering new stitches when I stitched Val’s leaves last month, so I went for the same Sue Spargo inspired idea in turquoise and purple/pink.

First new stitch courtesy of Mary Thomas: Braided Edging Stitch. It looks like blanket stitch from the top, but has a lovely chained effect on the edge. Getting the tension right was interesting initially, but I really like the effect.

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Then whipped running stitch ‘petals’, using a very slubby pure silk thread for the whipping.

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I filled two of the ‘petals’ with Trellis Stitch…

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…the top one with Vandyke Stitch (not too happy with the stitching on that, but I needed to work in a thickish thread – the full 6 strands of stranded cotton – to get the right sort of coverage)…

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…and the two bottom ones with Buttonhole Filling and a Woven Spiders Web Wheel to hide a multitude of sins in the middle!

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The second flower had Berwick Stitch with its lovely edging knots round the outside and then I couched down a line of fabulously soft, thick, loosely twisted, variegated silk to follow the shape.

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I decided to use the same thick, soft silk to work Back-stitched Spiders Webs in each of the petals. Foundation stitches first, using a template to make sure they were all the same.

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Then adding this glorious silk.

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Lastly I filled in the centre with a chain stitch spiral and they were good to go!

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Nobody’s book to complete this month so hopefully I can get stuck into the bluework.

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I’ve had flu for the first time in years and it’s been a bugger to shift, so my involvement at last Saturday’s Scunthorpe Embroiderers’ Guild meeting was limited to sneaking in half way through the afternoon to hand over Val’s Travelling Book and pick up Sandra’s, staying by the door and keeping my germs well out of the way. Everyone looked like they were happily stitching though, so I hope a good time was had by all.

For Val’s book page I worked a piece inspired by the work of Sue Spargo. I bought some gorgeous heavyweight pure wool felt before Christmas and cut simple leaf shapes in a soft green to go on a cream ground. I wanted to use the uncluttered shapes to showcase the embroidery, particularly new stitches.

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Then I got out a whole pile of books on embroidery stitches and started to stitch! The blanket stitch round the outside of the first leaf is actually called Berwick Stitch in the book I used and is a blanket stitch with a sort of added french knot where the needle enters the background fabric. Very nice to work and the knot gives a lovely finish. Then a row of running stitch and the dark green is twisted chain.

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After I’d worked the line of twisted chain I felt the gap was too big between it and the running stitch, so I added a row of split stitch in variegated perle. Inside the twisted chain I stitched a row of whipped running stitch before finishing it off with a row of closed fly stitch.

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Leaf two was held down with Knotted Buttonhole Stitch. It’s a lovely looking stitch but working the knots at the start took a bit of practise. Then a neat row of chain inside that.

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I wasn’t happy with the lone line of running stitch on the first leaf so at this point I went back and whipped it. Much better.

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Back to leaf two and courtesy of Mary Thomas, Portuguese Knotted Stem Stitch. Another new stitch to me and a gorgeous one (once I’d got the hang of the tension). I really like the way this sits on the fabric.

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The inside was finished with stem stitch, back stitch and Pekinese stitch.

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I mounted it up into the book and added my inspiration page which included a printout of a photo of the leaves labelled with the different stitches.

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This was a complete joy to stitch and a lot of fun finding new and interesting stitches to add to the old favourites.

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We had the OFSTED call this week. That acronym might not mean much to anyone who hasn’t been involved in the British education system but OFSTED carry out school inspections. And anyone who has been involved with them will know that they pretty much sow terror, despair and misery in their wake.

I head up our Nurture/Learning Support team and am also the behaviour specialist so it was decided by senior management that the few hard core behaviour problem children we have in school would be taken out of their various classes and corralled in the Nurture Room where instead of lessons they would do something interesting, arty and creative for the duration of the inspection (a day and a half) under my tender care. What I think about this is pretty much unprintable, but as these six boys are often violent and abusive, no one wanted to risk the outcome of the inspection on one of them kicking off.

So I decided that we would felt. First  I showed them some pieces of handmade felt and demonstrated how to pull tufts of fleece and lay them out in layers to form a big piece of flat felt (about 70cm by 70cm) for the base of the design. They used blue and white fleece to create a stream running diagonally from one corner to the other and I showed them how to ‘paint’ with tiny wisps of different coloured fleece to make pebbles in the stream.

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Then they added different greens all around the stream for grass and bushes and started to create the felt. While they took turns in pairs to roll the huge sausage of felt, bubble wrap, net curtain and fleece, I started the rest off rolling fleece around small balls to make flowers. Once the fleece had felted tightly around the balls I cut slits into the top to make petal shapes and they carried on rolling, watching the slits become holes and the felt gradually shrink further and further down the balls until they became little tight cup shapes.

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The next day they made a piece of green felt about 40cm by 30cm and designed some leaf templates. I cut leaves out of the felt while they added stitches and beads to make the centres of the flowers.

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Most of them had never embroidered before so we had to give quite a lot of initial support, but several of the boys really took to it and once all the flowers were done they began to add central veins to the leaves with whipped and threaded running stitch.

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Once each element was finished they told me where they wanted them putting and I needlefelted the flowers and leaves in place, which worked brilliantly and was much quicker than stitching!

The finished piece:

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They are extremely proud of it and I’m just pleased we managed to keep a powder keg dry for the best part of two days.

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I love lemon verbena. The smell from the fresh crushed leaves never fails to lift my spirits and inhaling the aroma of fresh lemon verbena tea while you snuggle your hands around the mug is simply wonderful. Dried isn’t so good, but on holiday last year I bought a small packet of lemon verbena tea by the Cornish tea specialists Tregothnan. Somehow that also had to be incorporated into my journal!

The packet the tea bags came in was first up, and with an apt quote on the back as well as the elegant design on the front, I didn’t want to stick it in. I also love that scrap of tissue paper on the page behind, and didn’t want to cover that up either.

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Yet every page in this journal is needed to carry something, so I blanket stitched the edge of the packet to the edge of the page so it’s now a flap with access to both the quote and that lusciously foresty scrap of paper.

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Then the teabag. I wanted to stitch on one that I’d actually used, so I carefully dried it, slit the bottom to get the leaves out and then put a small piece of fabric inside to help stabilise it and give it a bit of weight. I found a single leaf shape cut from a piece of translucent green vintage fabric from something I did ages ago with fused fabric and that seemed perfect.

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Toning silk thread in simple zigzagged double running stitch to form the toothed edge of the leaf, with whipped running stitch veins and a bullion knot stem. Stitching through all layers, I wanted the back to be as neat as possible.

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The bottom was finished with a piece of silk ribbon and blanket stitch and it lives happily in the pocket created by its packet!

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This was so much fun to do!

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In the wonderful haul of craft stuff I got last autumn I picked up some rollers for pricking holes in paper for stitching patterns and with a page in my altered book talking about the “richly embroidered and jewelled copes of the cathedral clergy” I had the perfect place to experiment with them.

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There are three different rollers: one gives a grid pattern of holes which can be used for a variety of stitches, as well as the cross stitch I used here, one gives the looped pattern and the third, little scallops.

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I used a bronzy green chainette, various stranded threads in different shades of pink with glittery filaments and a variegated green-blue stranded silk for the Pekingese stitch across the middle.

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Then, after the stitching, I used Stewart Gill paints to further bling up the page!

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Lovely metallic Byzantium paints  to highlight the key words and glitter medium in pale gold and sky blue.

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The completed page:

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And the full spread.

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There’s something very satisfying about stitching through paper and it’s a great place to use the sort of gorgeous threads I’ve been hoarding but unable to use because they really don’t like being pulled through fabric.

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Early in our holiday we walked the Camel Trail from Wadebridge to Padstow and while in Padstow visited the National Lobster Hatchery as my youngest wanted desperately to adopt a lobster. I bought a gorgeous retro-styled tea-towel in the shop which came with a hand stamped tag depicting the two lobsters of the Hatchery logo that I had to incorporate into my journal.

Lobsters hiding in seaweed was my first thought.

I started with a base of light-weight hand dyed calico with splodges of deep green and then added some strips of dark green hand dyed scrim, which was all bunched up and curled up on itself. I stitched the scrim strips loosely to the background with blanket stitch and then cut round the fronds I’d created with a pair of sharp scissors, also adding some fronds of the base fabric to fill in any spaces.

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I had some of the pale green silk organza ribbon I’d used to edge the cover left, so I cut it into shapes and used it to back some of the fronds by couching a line of green chenille thread down the middle of the whole frond.

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I pierced holes in the edge of the tag and stitched through them with a simple running stitch in turquoise which I then whipped twice with a slubby thread.

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With the tag in place on top. The stamp hadn’t quite printed the whole image so I completed it in pencil and added black ink later.

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Next, I cut a lobster claw shape from vilene and coloured it with water-soluble oil pastels. Reaching cautiously out from under the seaweed…

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Stuck in place in the journal.

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And the full spread.

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Just need to add some text, possibly using one of the tags I made when I created the journal.

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