Monday, 27 February 2012

Stumpwork Blackberry Slip

Hi!  Today I finally had a go at creating a simple beaded berry slip and, as I took photos of the whole process, I thought you'd enjoy sharing it with me.  I decided to have a go at a blackberry as you can get a few more colours of bead in the berry than with a raspberry, but this process will work just as well for plainer red berries too.  You don't need to use all the different colours I did, I just thought it would be fun to do so. Even as few as one single shade of bead will work out just fine.  Here are the six packs of Mill Hill seed beads ready to use:

First, mount a piece of fabric to which you will stitch your beads into a small hoop.  You really should use a colour of fabric that will blend in with the beads (black would have been ideal here) and you'll see why later on.  For photographic purposes, a light background is helpful though.

Thread a beading needle with an appropriate colour of sewing thread - I used black this time - and begin to stitch down your beads.  Make sure they stand up on end (not taking the securing thread back down into the fabric too close to the bead helps), and adjust them with your left thumb if they try to sit flat (assuming you're right-handed, that is.  If not, then swap over if it works best for you that way).

Continue until you have a closely packed gathering of beads slightly larger than the area you want to cover on your main fabric.

Stitch a circle of running stitches all around the edge, a couple of millimetres (that's about 1/10 of an inch) from the edge of the beading, but don't secure the last stitch yet.

Then cut out the berry about the same distance from the stitches on their outside.  Here there is slightly too much fabric for this size of berry, so I had to trim some more off.

Pull on the thread to gather up the whole  berry and secure on the back.  Here you can see me using the thread to neaten in any loose edges of the fabric that would otherwise stick out and show.

Here's the completed beadwork all ready to be attached to the main piece.

I still had the gathering thread attached at this point and used it to begin sewing the berry down.  This can be quite tricky and regular slip stitch may not be convenient here.  You'll need to make sure you can really manoeuvre your main fabric frame in order to get the berry secured.  Don't be afraid to take the securing thread up above the first row of beads if need be.  It looks fine.  See how your stitches lie and take it from there.

Here's the berry stitched down totally, but showing that you can never pack your beads closely enough and really should use a fabric that won't show so clearly through the beading!!  Whoops!  But, as I said above, it was better for tutorial photographic purposes, so all is not lost.=)

Here you can see me beginning on the second of the sepals, working with #12 pearl cotton in an needle-based open-based picot (another time for that one, but I'm sure you can find a tutorial somewhere if you can't wait!!!LOL)

And here's the finished berry:

I think it'll pass for a first attempt, don't you?  If you do a much larger berry, then you can stuff it with a little toy stuffing/fibre fill during the attaching process to make sure it sits up well.

During this process I learned quite a bit, not the least of which was the importance of using a suitable colour fabric to hold the beads!  I tried drizzle stitch for the sepals, but boy is that one hard stitch to master!  I need to have another go, and to do that one in #8 pearl cotton as #12 is really too fine for that.  I also learned that, yes, I would use some more useful greens in #12 and plan to get an order in soon!

Next time I want to have a go at berries worked directly onto the fabric over something like felt padding and also tiny berries with no padding at all.  Will report back when those are done too.

© Elizabeth Braun 2012

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Making a start on the stumpwork rabbit

Do you remember the cute rabbit from my 'forthcoming attractions' post?  This little guy?  Lovely, isn't he?

This is the trace-off pattern from the back of the book, ('A-Z of Stumpwork')

Here's the main outline transferred to a piece of hand-dyed poly-cotton that I still have from the old City & Guilds classes about 3 years ago.  I like to use it if I possibly can and it seemed to suit the theme quite well.  I don't stretch to any fancy transfer methods, I just trace the pattern onto the fabric with a sharp mechanical pencil.

And here you can see the fabric mounted into an 8inch Q-snap plastic frame.  It seemed that it would be easier to work it in this than a hoop this time.  What you can also see here is some iron-on interfacing, (probably medium weight), which I apply to help the fabric hold the weight of the relatively heavy embroidery that's to follow.

Moving on to the felt padded areas and, as you can see, again, I don't use any complicated or 'correct' methods of getting the right shape.  In Jane Nicholas' books, you'll find that she recommends applying the tracing to the fabric you'll be cutting the padding shape from with fusible webbing (Bondaweb, Pellon etc) and then cutting around the shape.  I'm afraid I go for a quicker and simpler route.  I just pin the tracing paper onto the felt and then cut around the shape.  As shown below, there is a pin in each shape, so the tracing stays still.

And when they're cut out, they fit over the shapes I traced them from perfectly adequately.  Stumpwork isn't a very exact science much of the time, so half a millimetre here and there won't hurt.

Next up is applying the felt shapes to the fabric, getting out the fabric for the detached ear and getting that traced etc. and also, which I'm amazed I haven't done yet, getting out the threads for the project!!

Oh and PS:  Silvia loved her bookmark!=)

© Elizabeth Braun 2012

Thursday, 23 February 2012

TAST Week 8 samples and the finished bookmark

Again, nothing very exciting about the TAST stitch samples, just 3 short rows, mostly in variegated #8 pearl cotton.  The first is interlaced with a beige #12 pearl cotton.  I liked the look of this in the book I got it from and it isn't bad in real life too.

The second row is just plain chain stitch, but the third I've been wanting to try for a while, (just can't think of much to use it on in the type of work I often do - could do for borders, I suppose), and that's the 'magic' chain stitch.  I couldn't see how it could work, but except where I got the threads too twisted to pass through properly, it did work!  I did this one in strand of plain turquoise #8 pearl and one of mixed turquoise and lime shades.

So, not a great deal to show, but I did like them nonetheless.

I got the bookmark completed and finished up ready to deliver this evening, all being well.  Can you see who it's for?  Well, possibly not as it doesn't show up too well!!  Never mind, I'm sure she'll love it anyway.=)

I now have a new stumpwork in progress, so look out for posts on that starting on Thursday morning....  Dohh!  I thought it was Tuesday all day, but no, I meant Saturday morning!

© Elizabeth Braun 2012

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

FanTASTic catch up!!

Well, perhaps not so wonderful, but I couldn't resist using TAST like that in a title some time!!

I've been catching up with my stitch samples from the last 3 weeks of TAST and here they are:

This is week 5 with 3 versions of herringbone stitch - only the first one having been worked properly!!  The second row, the double herringbone stitch I should have woven the second colour in, but didn't follow the instructions correctly.  As for the interlaced version.....  I got the base double herringbone row right that time, but the interlacing is a nightmare and working it in a variegated thread was a mistake too.  Well, I can't see myself using that one again!

Here are weeks 6 and 7 together on a new piece of Aida.  The top row is, of course, just a simple chevron stitch done in a great multi-coloured thread that, for the first almost half of the row changed colours just in time for each stitch to show as a new shade on the front! =)  I liked that and was sorry that the dyed sections got longer later on!

Underneath the chevron row are three samples of detached chain stitch, aka lazy daisy stitch and the first TAST samples I have managed to actually work on a Tuesday!!  The first four stitches are just simple lazy daisies, then come four long-stem ones then I couldn't resist trying a little daisy with two circles of stitches, the inner one being another of my beloved Anchor multi-colours (all pearl cotton #8), then two long-stemmed lazy daisy stitches worked in a light green pearl #12.

Speaking of pearl cotton #12, I recently discovered to my joy that Anchor has revamped its colour range for this very useful gauge of thread.  There used to be a very sparse selection of shades with only the blue-est (or most vibrant and unusable) of greens, no yellows or oranges and only one or two beige shades with no real browns.  Now there are lots and I'm trying to decide which colours I'd use most before I give in to the temptation to put an order!  I've seen them for sale at 2 UK on-line stores, but the US ones I know of either don't sell it, or still have the old selection.  The funny thing is, some of the old shades have been discontinued and so I have some 'collectible' balls of pearl 12!=)  Also, a few years ago I ordered a number of shades that couldn't be bought in the UK from an American retailer, so I was interested to see that many of those colours have not been included in the new selection either.  So, some good aspects, some not so good, but on the whole a really good thing I think.  On mature reflection though, I had really better see if and how I would use the gauge in stumpwork etc before I go and place any order as I am trying to use things up (thus the scraps of Aida for my TAST samples etc) and, ideally, plan to reduce my possessions by as much as 50% before we move another time.  So, I'm reading up books, selling things and using stuff up for all I'm worth!  I recommend it to anyone.  Most of us really have FAR too much stuff.

Here's how far on I am with the cross stitch bookmark I mentioned last posting.  It's coming on in slow sections as that cold I was complaining of that time retreated only to gather reinforcements and struck again and I've just been plain too tired to feel like stitching much.  (In case anyone's thinking 'That's a bit much for a cold!', I have a sort of burn-out/exhaustion condition, which means I have very low immunity and am rather a weakling!!! NO sympathy, please - I only mentioned it as an explanation.=) )

I was reading an interesting section of a book on stress and exhaustion the other day and it encouraged one to think what one would do if one had only 48 hours left on the planet before taking up an irresistible opportunity elsewhere in the universe.  It mentioned a lady who had the 'no-one could ever be perfect enough to marry my son' type of mother-in-law and who considered writing this MIL a letter telling her what she thought of her, then realising this would take too long, reduced it to yelling obscenities on her doorstep.  The lady concerned made real strides when she realised that her 48 hours were too precious to waste on someone so unpleasant and actually unimportant to her.

What's the point here?  Apart from that many of us have things in our lives that get TOO much airtime when they are very small and not what we really consider important, I thought of it in connection with stitching and re-vamped the 48 hours to: If someone could give me perfect health in exchange for my complete stash, but would allow me to stitch one more piece, what would it be?  I realised that it wouldn't be anything I felt compelled to do or that I didn't really love doing and that then led me to wondering why I was spending any time making myself stitch stuff I didn't love?  So, I took the Embroidery Journal Project/TAST January piece out of the frame, unpicked the one line of blanket stitches I'd done and put it all away realising that I was forcing myself to do it in order to keep up with a challenge that had seemed like a good idea at the time, but that I didn't really want to do anymore.  Not only that, but the piece sitting there telling me I 'should' do it was stopping me from doing any embroidery!  So, I won't be doing the EJP after all and will do an extended TAST sample only when I'm really taken by something.  The weekly TAST samples will continue though as they're small enough to not be a big deal.

Something I have done recently is to re-vamp one of the pages - the one formerly called 'The Embroideress'.  It's now called 'About' and the old section is still there.  However, there's now a kind of blogging policy on there too, which I'm re-posting here as I thought it may be of interest to some, esp. new subscribers:

Sew in Love was started back in June 2005 as a personal record of getting on with and completing a number of half finished things I had hanging around at the time.  It's now in it's 7th year and seems to be increasing in both scope and popularity, both much to my delight!=)

You will find here as regular features:

*WIP photos and reports on the projects I have on hand, sometimes including design notes (where relevant) and where things went right or wrong.
*Finished projects
*My work on any community challenges I've joined in at any given time, i.e. TAST 2012.
*Good quality posting with good spelling and grammar and without great big gaps (too much whitespace) - hopefully!=)

From time to time I post:

*Tutorials on aspects of embroidery that people are most curious about, especially raised work/stumpwork.
*Articles on subjects I know at least a bit about!!
*Links to others' work that I've found especially interesting and/or to retail sites where you can get supplies that are not so easy to track down, (such as wire for stumpwork etc.)
*Something amusing that isn't stitchcraft related, but that is harmless and that may spread a smile.

Things you won't find on blog include:

*Third party advertising of any sort, such as Google Adsense, sponsors (of which I have none!) or businesses.  I do, when relevant, mention if I'm selling things on e-bay etc and, once I get my own stumpwork and creative kits etc going, there will naturally be info on how to buy those.  I also have some group logos in my sidebar, but all are non-commercial and free to join.
*Giveaways of any type, either my own things or from third parties.  I have no objections to these in principle and have tried for several on others' blogs myself, but I don't chose to run them myself, esp. as I feel that there are a good number of folk who only sub to popular blogs for a chance at freebies.  If a reader enjoys my content, I hope they will subscribe to or bookmark my blog without any further incentive.  My aim is to have a site that is so good that no extras are needed.=)
Please note that the above does NOT constitute a criticism of those who run giveaway events, carry advertisements etc, (or an implication that their blogs aren't worth reading otherwise), it just explains that I choose not to do so myself!
*Personal information, news, details and so on.  I deliberately avoid discussing personal issues on blog as they are of limited interest to most readers and, frankly, I think there are many things that bloggers publish which are not suitable for public reading:  Details about their children, verbatim conversations - even on sensitive matters - with friends and relatives, their opinions of their families, colleagues etc, all of which have HUGE trouble potential!  Some have been victims of jealousy campaigns, nasty comments and all manner of things by getting too personal on their blog.  I long since decided to avoid these things by staying 99% on topic.
*Gimmicks - either technical or content
*Poor post editing quality (I hope!)

Posting 'habits':

I have no regular posting schedule as I have no really regular stitching habits these days - those days are long gone!!=)  I post when I have something to share and, yes, that means that sometimes there are some gaps.  This can occur for several reasons, some of those in the past have been travelling, illness (which is a common problem with me), being very busy with other things, intermittent loss of enthusiasm (which always returns - fear not!) and so on.  I would like, in the fullness of time, to return to my old Monday and Thursday update posts, but I think I'll never announce that as a reliable posting schedule as, you can be certain that, as soon as I do, it will go straight to the wall!!!=)LOL

Anyway, the major point here is: If you don't see a post for a couple of weeks, don't un-sub!  I don't promise daily posts, but things will come in time.  There are plenty of other blogs to read on my quiet days!!

Oh, what would I stitch if it were to be my very last piece?  I think it would be a stumpwork piece with several small elements so that I could enjoy all my favourite things in one go - padded and raised petals on small flowers with goldwork 'chip' (Bright Check Purl) centres, needlelace and beaded berries and some couched goldwork threads for some stems etc.  What would YOU choose if you could only work one more piece?  There's no time limit, the 48 hours doesn't count for this 'exercise'.  I'm sure not I want to know what some folk might do with the last 48 hours on Earth though.....LOL=)

© Elizabeth Braun 2012