Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cutwork and Ruched Silk

I added the hand ruched sample behind some cutwork.  This will be the front of my needlebook.

I fell in love with this project by one of Karen's former students and it inspired me to create something similar.  I'm loving how this looks so far! 

Cutwork and ruching on the front of my needlebook

I'm still struggling to make the buttonholing on my cutwork look really even and tidy.  It didn't help that silk dupioni frays like mad as soon as you touch it; I needed a sturdier edge. 

For the middle circle I tried something different.  I used chain stitch instead of running stitch, and also added chain stitching around the edge that would be cut out, to minimize the fraying.  I think it made a difference to the finished look but I still need more practice.

Chain stitching on both edges for cutwork

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ruched Silk Chiffon By Hand and Machine

These are ruched samples of silk chiffon by hand (top pics) and machine (bottom pics).  I stitched basic grids without worrying about how even they were.  For the machine sample I set my sewing machine on the largest stitch.

I love the hand ruched sample!  It has a looser organic look, and most of the threads are hidden.  I started with a piece about 12" x 17" and ended up with a usable area about 2.5" x 5.5".  The threads were easy to gather tightly in both directions.

The machine stitching was much faster but it's very difficult to gather the threads tightly in both directions so most of the threads remain visible and there's more of a linear look.  I started with a piece about 12" x 17" and ended up with a usable area about 2" x 9".

Hand stitched grid (top) and finished ruched sample (bottom)

Machine stitched grid (top) and finished ruched sample (bottom)

Sunday, July 12, 2015

UPDATE: Testing BIC Markers on Fabric

I had to try more testing of the BIC Mark It 36 pack of markers because I love the colours. Tested on unwashed cotton muslin and silk organza.

The sizing on the unwashed muslin makes a BIG difference.  I'm thrilled!  I can create precision lines and shapes without any bleeding.  The only problem was a dark ring showed up when filling in shapes (see arrows on the first picture).  It didn't happen when I worked very quickly by outlining and filling in the shape all in one go so I was working wet-on-wet.  When I outlined the shape first then went back and filled it in, the ring appeared because the outline was dry by then.

Same result on the silk organza regarding the ring.  But no precision is possible on the silk; they bleed and spread intensely. 

I'm excited by the watercolour effect on the silk!  And I'm thrilled that I can use these on cotton!  Other than the ring issue I like these more than the Zig 'Writer' Memory System markers because these colours are far more saturated on fabric, they act like ink.

Permanent when heat set with an iron. 

BIC Mark It markers on unwashed cotton muslin.  Note the arrows pointing out the dark ring

BIC Mark It markers on silk organza.  Note the arrows pointing out the dark ring

Fabric Haul

This is a small fabric haul from a South Asian sari shop.  I was so tempted by all the gorgeous colours and prints!!  But I needed whites so I stuck to whites (and my budget!).  I got small cuts - some 1/4 yard, some 1/2 yard.

Top - very fine cotton with subtle machine broderie anglaise

Left - machine embroidered poly cotton drapery fabrics

Right - silk chiffon and silk organza

Design Sheets - Pocket Squares

Another idea for the 'pockets' theme of the Embroidered Pockets class - pocket squares on men's jackets.

For the figure sketch I used my usual method of tracing the major outlines from a picture in a magazine.  I tried and tried but just couldn't get the facial features to look right (hence why he has no nose and the lips are wonky).  I'm pleased with these sheets but I need to practice faces.

Design Sheets - Pocket Squares

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Testing BIC Markers on Fabric and Paper

UPDATE:  See updated testing on unwashed cotton muslin and silk organza in this post

Testing a 36 pack of BIC brand 'Mark It' markers on cotton and paper.  They're permanent and acid free. 

BIC Mark It set of 36 markers

Fabric test results:

Top - Very thin cotton.  Top two lines using a ruler bled badly.  Diagonal lines were quickly and very lightly drawn, a bit of bleeding, and stop and start points look bad.  The doodles bled very badly.  The dots are huge and I barely touched the tip to the fabric

Middle - Quilters cotton.  Diagonal and squiggly lines were drawn quickly and lightly, hardly any bleeding but the stop and start points look bad.  The box shape and the doodles bled badly.  Once again the dots are awful.

Bottom - Quilters cotton.  Lines using a ruler.  Bleeding on the stop and start points but the lines are smooth.

Verdict - Terrible for doodles on fabric.  Okay for basic lines on quilters cotton as long as you're careful with the stop and start points.  Could be nice for watercolour effects on fabric, I'll have to test that.

 Paper test results:

Saturated colours, no bleeding.

One major caveat - they're marked as fine tip but they're not.  For comparison, the tip is similar to a Sharpie tip.   The line ends up at least twice as thick as Stabilo Point 88 fine liners.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Design Sheet - Paisley

This design sheet is the first piece of work using the cut up cloth.  I am SO PLEASED with this!  I'm grateful to the class group for encouraging me to cut up that fabric and move in other directions.

We learned how to make the gathered pocket in Karen's class; it's a very versatile technique.  You can see some stunningly beautiful examples on Karen's blog here and here.  That's the type of embroidery I aspire to create one day.

Design sheet with paisley motif.  Fabric, stitch and markers on watercolour paper
This was the first time I stitched on paper; I used a 185 gsm watercolour paper.

Needlebook - change of plans

I added buttonhole wheels and french knots.  Not digging the results - I want something more delicate looking as a needlebook.  It feels like my taste is changing; I've been exposed to some beautifully elegant embroidery in the Embroidered Pockets class and I'd like to move in that direction.

But this fabric won't go to waste!  I've already started cutting it up and using it in other ways.

I was initially conflicted about not using it as intended and cutting it up, but then I re-read Elaine Lipson's 'Slow Cloth Manifesto' and the first point jumped right out at me - we should take joy in the process.  Using this as intended would not give me joy, and the class group encouraged me to follow my instincts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Cutwork embroidery on my needlebook

This is my first attempt at cutwork embroidery.  I love it!!  The fabric insert behind each circle was added after the buttonholing was finished, secured with backstitch right along the edge of the buttonholing.

The first few circles are VERY wonky.  I considered re-doing them but I'm learning to let go of 'perfection' and enjoy the learning process, so I'm sharing these pictures because they may help other cutwork newbies.  I wasn't keeping a good tension on the thread, and I wasn't packing the stitches close enough together.

I added blue marker to the seam allowance of each circle so the pink fabric wouldn't show through. The doodles are Zig Memory System 'Writer' markers, heat set with an iron.

Some very wonky buttonhole cutwork!  But practice makes perfect.....

Much better!  There's still room to pack my stitches even closer.  I'm learning as I go along.

This is a cropped picture of my kitchen table with some of my sewing stuff spread out.  The cutwork is finished, the next step is adding more embroidery.  I'm planning my next project around these hankies that my grandma gave me years ago (they're not vintage - they're from the 80s - but I love them).  I think I can incorporate these leftover triangle patches from an old quilt project; I adore this turquoise fabric. 

The cutwork is finished, ready to add embroidery to the open areas.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Doodle Book Ledger

Part of the Embroidered Pockets class is keeping a ledger.  I considered many beautiful coffee table books on art, architecture, astronomy, landscapes - but this simple children's book is the one that called to me:

A concertina book called "Is This The Longest Doodle In The World?"

More pages from the concertina book "Is This The Longest Doodle In The World?"

So far, I've added paper cutouts and origami.  The paper pockets formed by the origami kites were serendipitous!  It fits the class's pockets theme:

Paper cutouts and origami kites added to the ledger
I realized after the fact that the hinge on the kites page is visible on the front (it should have been hinged on the back).  In the past this would have REALLY bothered me, but the huge thing I've learned so far from Karen is to treat our ledgers and stitch samples as learning tools - they're not meant to be masterpieces, they're a tool to learn from.

I plan to add stitch samples, doodles, fabric swatches...lots of different media can be added to one's ledger.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Needlebook with Pockets

This will be a needlebook, for the Embroidered Pockets class.  The next step is to transfer my circles design with markers, then add embroidery.  After the embroidery is finished it will be lined and I'll insert a few felt pages in the center.

I inserted two invisible zippers to create pockets, and by folding it over two more pockets are created. I have zero dressmaking skills but this brilliant tutorial that I found on youtube made the process foolproof! 

It took awhile for me to figure out the design and dimensions on paper but I'm very glad that I took my time.  It turned out just how I wanted it to, the sewing came together easily, and I conquered my fear of inserting zippers.  I got to use two sewing machine feet that I hadn't used before - invisible zipper foot and variable zipper foot.  I'm quite pleased with this so far:

Needlebook when open (left) and when closed (right).  Note the invisible zippers running vertically, near the center.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Circles Design Sheet on Fabric

Testing a fabric doodle using my circles design sheet for the Embroidered Pockets class.  Hand dyed cotton fabric (left) and watercolour paper (right) using Zig Memory System 'Writer' markers.  I tested them and they are colourfast when heat set with an iron.

Zig Memory System 'Writer' markers on hand dyed cotton (left) and watercolour paper (right)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Design Sheet - Snowflakes and Flowers

I created these design sheets for Karen's Embroidered Pockets class, for my ledger:

Design Sheets - Snowflakes

And I played around with paper cutouts:

Flower petals, and the negative shapes

The candle holder was my template.  The flower will also go into my ledger, but I want to attach the petals so they remain 3D.

The 'negative' shapes on the card stock looked too cool to discard so I used this sheet to test my Zig Memory markers.  I smudged them before realizing they need a minute to set.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Classes with Karen Ruane

I've been hugely influenced by Karen Ruane, an embroiderer whose work makes my heart flutter.  I signed up for two of her classes - Embroidered Pockets and Swathed in Stitch (links here).  Her work with paper and ledgers in particular has really fired me up.  She combines paper and stitch beautifully.

I purchased a few things for my sketchbook and ledger work:

The Stabilo Point 88 set of 20 fineliners are lovely colours and write very smoothly.  I much prefer fineliners to the pencil crayons I used to use.

The Zig Memory System 'Writer' acid free permanent markers will used on fabric.  I'll heat set them with an iron, and I'll be sure to test them first.  They're double sided, one fine point, one medium point.  I'm not sure how I feel about them on paper so far.  Some colours are smoother than others.

I've never used watercolours before, but I'm excited to try this basic Pentel set to add washes of colour to my ledger pages.

An idea was sparked while I was cleaning and I temporarily stacked some fabric baskets.  I wondered if I could do something with cut outs on a design sheet.

So from this imagery:

Stacked fabric baskets

Detail of stacked baskets

Detail of stacked baskets

I created this design sheet:

It's just card stock.  I used the basket holes as a template and cut out the shapes with a small utility knife.  I need way more practice to get smooth shapes! 

Two pieces of white card stock with identical cut outs, a coloured piece of card stock underneath, and slits cut on a piece of paper.

The piece of white card stock that's on top is not taped down and freely moves around to create different views through the windows.

Another window.....

And another window.

I'd like to expand on this idea with both paper and fabric.

This one is just practice, it's sloppy.  I'll make nicer ones for my ledger.

And last but certainly not least, I've started collecting images to develop design sheets based on the theme 'Masquerade'.  I've had some ideas for this theme scribbled in a sketchbook for years, but it was one of Karen's embroidered pieces that gave me an 'Aha!' moment.  And I'm currently reading Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard series, so this theme is prominent in my mind.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Harlequin Crazy Quilt

I've had zero stitching mojo for a very long time.  This year's Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP2015), plus this antique crazy quilt, were just the inspirations I needed.  I love both the geometric layout and how beautifully the embroidery 'pops' on the black patches.  

I've started creating foundations, and Gerry Krueger's excellent tutorials - here and here - reminded me to leave a generous fabric allowance past the finished size.  I've also employed Allie Aller's tip to use knit fusible interfacing on the backs of all pieced foundations as well as the backs of 'difficult' fabrics for stability.  It makes a BIG difference.

These will finish at 6.5" x 11". 

I found this machine embroidered black cotton fabric on sale for 5 bucks per metre!  (I bought 5 metres)


The middle patch looks wobbly because of the lighting but it does lie fairly flat.

I'd really, really like to make this bed sized.  I may get bored before it reaches that size, but I'm going to try hard to reach that goal.  I plan to make this my 'slow cloth' project.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cream Jeweled Cowl

I love this pattern so much!  It's easy yet elegant; it drapes beautifully.  Beading is always fun and it gives knitted lace a nice amount of zing as well as a little extra weight for nice draping. 

This is a free pattern called Jeweled Cowl by Sachiko Uemura.  Details on my Ravelry project page

P.S. I changed my mind about frogging the Colorblock Shawl - I'm so used to lace that I just needed to get used to draping/styling something thicker. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Colorblock Shawl

I've been on a knitting kick!  I have two lace projects on the needles, I'll be sharing those soon, but here's a scarf/shawlette I just finished.  It's Jennifer Pfeiffer's free pattern Colorblock Shawl

I love the concept but the final project doesn't wow me when worn - details here on my Ravelry project page.

This is going to the frog pond.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Nebula Wall Hanging

I loved that arc too much not to rework this wall hanging:

Much better!!  The arc is now defined and this piece is telling me it's a slice of night sky, a nebula.  I haven't decided the next step - add embroidery?  beading?  just quilt it?  And what kind of borders?

A few months ago I wouldn't have pulled out all that stitching and started over but I've learned to trust my instincts.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Work In Progress Wednesday and Some UFO's

I found two very old UFO's in my stash.  

This small wall hanging isn't the greatest composition but I have a soft spot for it because I adore the hand dyed fabrics as well as the arc created by the light areas.  I decided to be 'spontaneous' and play with running stitch using #8 perle cotton:

Lesson learned:  'spontaneous' does not jive with my style of working, nor does it produce results I like.  The wonkiness of the stitch lines is driving me nuts! 

I also dislike the red stitches in the upper right - they will come out.  I'll extend the yellow stitching right across then decide where to go next with this piece. I'd like to emphasize that 'arc' somehow.........

I also found this little beauty hiding in my stash.  I don't remember what I had planned to do with it but I do remember how much I loved these hand dyed fabrics.  I'll use this for some TAST stitches.