Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gilding the Lily...

....or in this case; the pansy. This is the first stage of the embellishment. For those who haven't got any embroidery books at home, I'm going to link the names of stitches to Sharon B's wonderful stitch dictionary. The black Chevron stitch on the seam between 1 and 2 was made with two strands of embroidery cotton. This has been overlaid with Fly stitch in some shiny orange rayon thread with a tight twist, and topped with Lazy Daisy stitches with one strand of embroidery cotton from a hank I space dyed in shades of yellow. I shall probably refer to home dyed threads quite often, as I enjoy using them. Some are the result of a day spent playing with a variety of different types of thread and three tiny pots of Dylon cold water dye in a red, a blue and a yellow, others are made using fabric painting felt tips on damp thread, ironed dry to set the colour....but that's a story for another day...

I haven't done anything along the seam between 1 and 3 because it is only a small patch, and I have chosen to fill it with a pattern. Here you can see how far I have done, making stars with two strands of space dyed tan floss. This will be added to at a later stage.

Next you can see the green Feather stitch vine curving up and over the right hand side of the heart. I have tried to match the green of the stem to the green of the pansy leaf. It needed to be darker for an exact match, but I used two strands of the closest green embroidery floss that I had. The leaves/flowers, I haven't decided which yet, are Lazy Daisy stitches made with a double strand of home dyed rayon. This is a complete pain in the backside to sew with, as it has no twist at all, and is composed of many, many very fine strands that fuzz up in no time at all, but it has such a wonderful shine, and takes colour so easily, that it makes up for all the swearing. The space dying of the thread, combined with the use of two strands together leads to a wonderful variation in the colouring that I think brings it to life.

I haven't decided how I shall continue with this, but I may do something like this next picture. Having a good margin around your heart gives you a space to experiment with colours and stitches...
I have used the shiny orange rayon twist to place three Buttonhole fans along the seam of patch 5. More stitches may be added later. The seam treatment between 1 and 4 is a simple shaped Herringbone, first in black, then overlaid with a space dyed peach, each stitch just to the left of the black stitch. To mark the curve I have stitched, I used a strip of micropore tape cut to shape. I love this tape; it stays where it is put, but peels off without leaving a mark. I use straight strips with measured out pencil dots as a guide to keep my stitches even when that is needed. I shall probably add to this at a later stage, but for now I have to decide what to do with that patch of pale yellow shirt on the left. It is too glaringly light at the moment. Do I extend the Herringbone seam? Do I enlarge on the fan? Do I add an embroidered motif or a scrap of lace? A cluster of buttons or beads? Decisions, decisions....I may be gone some time, so don't wait up....I might not come back until next year...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

We have the technology...

....but not the memory capacity. Yesterday's how-to photos were reconstructed using the patterns I made, after I made the decision to blog the process, rather than during the process of making the heart. The next stage I can't illustrate, but at the end I shall give you some links that will explain it better than I can.

I like to assemble my pieces on a fabric background. I use the parts of old sheets that are too good for dusters. Here's how;

1. Chose a piece of cloth that gives a good 2" or 3" border around your heart. I like to try out stitches on the side. Use the negative of your heart as a stencil to draw the outline in pencil on your background. Then draw in the seam lines. If you can't see the end of your original lines on the paper, re-assemble your pattern bits inside the stencil and mark the ends of the lines. You now have your sewing lines marked on your background fabric.

2. Hold your background fabric up to the window, and copy your pencil lines onto the other side of the background fabric. Why? Because there is bound to be someone like me who cuts out her bits of fabric back to front by mistake and needs to make a mirror image....but even if you are too careful to do that, it helps a lot having the markings on both sides.

3. Use the frame you made to choose which part of your patterned fabric you want for your centrepiece. When you are happy, hold down one side of the frame with tape or a weight, and slide your number 1 pattern with seam allowance piece under the frame, until the lines match up, then hold it down while you remove the frame. You can now draw around your pattern with the seam allowance, and cut it out, knowing that as long as you keep your seam ¼" from the edge, your chosen motif will be just where you want it.

4. Tack this piece in place, right side up. I work right next to the window so I just hold the work up to the glass to position it, but you could always mark the seam allowance on your background if you don't want to eyeball it.

5. From now on it is straightforward foundation piecing. Cut out patch 2 with seam allowance. Be accurate along the seam lines, but if you intend to do a lot of embroidery or quilting later, give yourself a little extra along the outside edge; the one marked with a circle.

6. Place piece 2, right side up, next to piece 1, edge to edge, then flip it over, right side to right side, and sew along the seam line. You can pin or tape it in place first if you wish. You can sew by hand or machine from the right side if you are happy you know you can judge ¼", or your machine foot tells you, or, you can turn the whole thing over and stitch along the seam line you have conveniently drawn on the other side. (See, I told you it would come in handy..)

7. Repeat step 6 for all your other pieces, give it a light press, then place your heart stencil over the patchwork and get your first idea of how it will look when it is completed. If you are happy, tack around the outside edge of the heart through the stencil. It doesn't matter now if the outside edge is not exactly where it was originally marked, as long as you have at least ¼" allowance outside your tacking. You can see from my photo that I have changed the angle of my outline, because I preferred it that way.

8. The next step is to decorate the seams with embroidery. This can be as much or as little as you like. You can choose the same colours as are in your heart, or a complete contrast, that is entirely up to you. You can see above that I have made a start with black, because I want to blend the background of the centre in to the surrounding patches. Next time I shall show you the start of the embroidery process. For now, here's a link to a video that might help you visualise what I have been trying to explain, but if you want a Masterclass, hop over to Melissa's Blog, and read through her tute, and see how it should be done!

Monday, December 29, 2008

What kind of needles...

....did I decide on...knitting or sewing? Why not have both? I like embroidery, but these days can only see to do it in daylight, so I usually knit in the evening. I'll show you what I've been knitting another day, but for now, here is the start of a crazy quilt heart. I mean to take step by step photos of the process one of these days, but for now, if you are reading Pam, here's a quick run through of how I got to this stage; I'm sure there are other, better methods, but this is how I got there.

1. Decide on the size of the heart, fold a sheet of paper in half and cut out the shape. Keep both pieces of paper.

2. Choose a piece of fabric for the centre. Here I have used a fragment of an old blouse sleeve.

3. Look through your bit bag for colours that work with your centre fabric. In this case, starting top right, we have cream crepe from a blouse I shortened, rust dyed sheeting from my first experiments, tan cotton left over from a quilt backing, pale yellow poplin from Bossman's discarded shirt, and finally, cream faux suede, again from an alteration job, this time shortening trousers. This should give you some idea of the state of my workroom....

4. Arrange your chosen fabrics until you are happy with the contrasts, then overlap each of them, working your way around the centre, so that each seam end will be covered by the next piece. Using this as inspiration, with a pencil and ruler, draw seam lines onto your cut out paper heart. Hint; a pentagon is usually a good shape for your centre piece.

5. Number each section of the heart, starting with 1 in the centre panel and continuing in the order you will overlap them. In this case, 2 is the centre right bit, three is the tan, 4 is the light patch, 5 is the suede and 6 is the crepe. I then add carpenter's marks as I call them; I draw 2 lines across the seam line between pieces 1 and 2, three lines between 1 and 3, and so on.

6. Cut along the seam lines, then take each piece, draw around it on another piece of paper or card, and add ¼" seam allowances. I add a circle in pencil to the outside edge, so I know I can leave extra fabric here if need be.

7. TIP Take your number one pattern piece again, draw around it, then cut out the centre to make a frame. You can then use this frame to choose which part of your centre fabric fits the shape.

These how-to photos were reconstructed using the patterns I made, after I remembered to blog the process, rather than during the process of making the heart.

Here endeth the first lesson....

Sunday, December 28, 2008

More birthday cards

From Carolyn, with a jolly dotty ribbon.
From Carol with a cheeky feline.
From Chris L with a touch of the Glasgow School!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Some Birthday Cards

I am making a few scheduled posts while I am in the mood. I feel a needle itch coming on, but I don't know if it will be knitting or sewing needles yet...anyway, the first is a fabulous card from Jeannie. I think the dragonflies are peel-offs on fantasy film; the colours of the wings change each time I pick it up to admire it.

This one is from Marion; A Cuttlebug special I guess, with its Swiss dots and scalloped border.
This one is from Pam. So many layers! I love the stitched background with its variegated coloured threads. I'll show you more cards I have received over the next few days.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Cute Card Thursday Challenge #41

Background paper and the swirl are from a free Rhonna Farrar download, layered up by me in PS, then reduced in size and printed. Text plate layer is computer generated as well, using the colour picker to get the green from the swirl. I tend to do these plates in batches on a white background that I later colour in to match the card, but I coloured a couple of this batch before printing. The stamped image came in a swap lot, so I am not sure who it's by. Does anyone recognise it? I coloured it using ordinary felt tips scribbled onto my desk top and picked up with a damp brush, all except the skin; I did that with a watercolour mix of yellow and red from an old box of paints.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In the Bag

Last minute as usual, I was wandering around this morning looking for a present for a friend. I saw a presentation box of her favourite smelly stuff and considered buying it, until I realised how much extra I was paying for the fancy packaging.

Wednesday is flea market day, and there are some lovely stalls selling household linens. I found this creased up pink linen teacloth embroidered with pussy willow for a Euro. OK, it had a small hole, but that didn't matter for what I had planned...

Ta-Da!! A bucket with quilted gingham lining. It can hold her scented assortment now, and afterwards I'm sure she will find something to do with it...

If you are wondering about the blue tartan blanket, I'm sitting here with it wrapped around my legs because it is so cold at the moment. My seat is next to the French window and it is very draughty!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

More Christmas Post

Here we have pricking and embossing from Sheila and Loopy, embossing from Fran and stamping and lots of glitter from Bubs, all CardScraps girls.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Just in case... are wondering why I haven't posted much this week, it is because I have had my head down batch making Christmas cards. Those for the Craft Club girls were handed out at our lunch on Thursday, before I thought to scan one, but were assorted colours of Tracey (Fredshesaid)'s freebie medallion liberally adorned with coloured glitter glue.

The Bowling Club dinner saw me distributing variations on a theme of Joanna Sheen's Elf Sleigh silhouette. Some on a restrained dark green card, some on aqua, some on cream and some, like this one, on a vivid yellow that matched, more or less, the yellow of the halo. The backing paper is the one from the JS disk, but the greeting was made by C&P-ing a rectangle of the picture, deleting the sky and substituting the yellow picked up from the halo. If I was being pernickity, I would have tweaked the yellow to match the yellow of the card, but as these will be in the bin in a fortnight I didn't waste my time. The toppers come on a mixed size sheet, so the larger ones didn't have the backing paper, but had stamped swirls instead.

I have posted an wide assortment of hand made cards to the CardScraps girls, and friends and family abroad; as usual, not scanning in my haste to get them on their way. There now only remains Spanish mainland cards to make and post, and I have until Tuesday to rustle up a batch for the Winter year I think I shall just design something simple in Photoshop and print, fold and stuff.....but then I say that every year, and because I know I won't blog tomorrow, I'm writing this on Sunday and scheduling it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I've lost one of my favourites...

Kathy Staff has died, age 80. Last of the Summer Wine is a great favourite in this house. However many times we see repeats, and there are 243 episodes so far featuring Nora Batty, we still laugh all the way through. Dear Nora, we shall miss you, but I expect you and Wally are having some lovely outings in the motorbike and sidecar...unless Compo has come to some arrangement with him....

BBC write up is here.

Christmas Cards...

...are arriving, but so are birthday cards and anniversary cards as the Teabag family like to get these things dealt with in one fell swoop, and they all fall in the one week...

People in the know make things easy by writing Birthday , Anniversary or Christmas on the back of the envelope, and these are some of those marked Christmas. Those unmarked can wait until Wednesday, my birthday, so I shall have a satisfying pile to open. These are all from CardScraps friends, who know the ropes!

This is from Carol; the red gems haven't scanned as well as I would have liked, but it is an elegant card. This next one is from Marion. She loves her Cuttlebug, and is an absolute perfectionist when it comes to finishing her cards. I wish I hadn't got it slightly skewiff in the scanner, but I have never claimed to be perfect...

Another simple and elegant card. This one is from Jane.

The next card is a beauty. Bron wanted to try something other than traditional Christmas colours, and she thought I would like them. Well she is perfectly correct; I am all for breaking the bounds...that doesn't stop me being jealous of her stamps, though!

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