Saturday, June 30, 2012

Take A Stitch Tuesday

I keep seeing TAST, (Take A Stitch Tuesday) entries all over the place. I see them on other blogs, on Pinterest, on Flickr, everywhere! Since my love affair with embroidery began, I have wanted to join in on the fun. This week, I did just that. I'll add it to her site, PinTangle.

This week's challenge is the Palestrina stitch. I've never done it before. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard of it. Luckily, it was in my book and of course on my two favorite stitch tutorial blogs, Mary Corbett's Needle 'N Thread and Sarah Whittle's blog, Contemporary Embroidery. Actually, Sharon B, the author of Pintangle and her blog, In a Minute Ago, has an extensive Stitch Dictionary. It's a wealth of information on each stitch, variations and beautiful examples. With all that inspiration, I had not one excuse not to learn something beautiful.

So I watched a few videos, something I highly recommend when learning a new stitch and I gave it a try. I first did a few dry runs on a hoop. I rarely use a hoop, but I could not see doing this one without the fabric being held taught. Like any stitch, it takes some getting used to. I find that repeating a stitch until I can do it without referencing the instructions is necessary. Once you find a rhythm, it starts to take on a life of it's own.

My creative process is really simple but it works for me. Once I do something new and feel comfortable with it, I stop working. I put down my needle and floss and walk away from any visual cues. I grab a pencil and something to draw on, usually my sketchbook. I usually sit outside on my balcony. I like to be surrounded my flowers and away from the TV or computer. I close my eyes and picture the stitch. I think of it's shape. I think of how it sits on the fabric. Is it a linear stitch? Does it fill a space? Would it be a good outline stitch or does it remind me of something?

The Palestrina Stitch is basically a line with knots on it. The knots make turning corners a snap. It can be worked in a very straight line. It can be thin or it can have long extensions at each knot. It can be worked side by side to fill in an area. It offers great texture when it is a solid piece. By itself, it feels like bones, or barbed wire, or even like the stem of the plant.

Here is an image from In A Minute Ago on the Palestrina Stitch...

Here is how beautiful it looks in a project. This image is also from Sharon's blog.

I came up with Christmas tree lights. Here is a detail shot of how the Palestrina Stitch makes a perfect wire. All you need to add is the bulb and of course those little cartoon slash marks to show that they are glowing. I also beaded the Palestrina Stitch and used it plain on the tablecloth.

I used a few other stitches in this little scene. I outlined each section with running stitches. I used the back stitch on the table cloth and the chair. Chain Stitches are used on the poles. I added lazy daisy stitches on the tablecloth and to create little fire flies, (lighting bugs). French knots are used as stars, as decorations on the little cake and on the chair. Just a few star stitches add a little magic in the sky. I worked on recycled wool and scraps of cotton.

My sample may not be polished but it was fun and I learned something new. Isn't that what defines a good day? Hope you give it a try. Click on Mary or Sarah's sites. Visit Pintangle and enjoy!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Daisies and Lavender Pincushions- The magic is in the details!

Black Eyed Susan Linen Pincushion

Lavender and Linen Pincushion

Sometimes it you need to add that one last detail to take something from average to extraordinary. Perhaps it is adding function and ease of use, sometimes it means you need to pop on one more detail in the design.

I've had a lot of requests for this pincushion. Its so nice and big and pretty. I began with the Lavender design and just finished the Black Eyed Susan version.
This particular design is simply the "classic". You can find that tutorial on my blog.

What makes this one better than the rest is the embroidery. Its simple yet really pretty.
I even hand embroider a covered button to completely customize this design.

A standard detail in most all of my pincushions is the pocket of emery enclosed in each cushion. It adds just enough emery to keep your pins sharp, without over-polishing them to the point that the finish is worn off.

The emery pocket is simply a small disc, made of muslin. Its filled loosely with emery and stuffed inside each classic pincushion. You can feel it if you give your pincushion a squeeze. The emery is surrounded by polyester fiber fill. This gives each pincushion a lofty, plump appearance. It also provides a safe way to store your pins and needles long term.

To find out how to go about creating the button for this pincushion, go to my list of tutorials on the left side of my blog.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Two Pear- The Joys of Collaboration

Two Pears for Two Pair
The Crazy Quilted Bosc Pear

Perfectly Pink Pear

I really love the collaborative process. I wish more people would contact me with their ideas. Often, the best projects involve working with other artists, but it doesn't always have to be the case. Anyone with a favorite color and an image in their heart is a great partner in creativity.

I've done so many apple pincushions in my shop and I really love thinking of new ways to adorn them. But, every once in a while, its good to shake things up. Thus, the pear pincushion. I have so many beautiful images of pear pincushions in my Pinterest Board called- Stick with Me- Pincushions as an Art Form. I love how the shape reminds me of one of my favorite aunts. Creating a pattern was very hit and miss. I still don't know if I really have the right slope.

One of my best clients is always filled with ideas. She has favorite fabrics, loves vintage mother of pearl buttons, civil war reproduction prints, and so many things I really have enjoyed discovering. She usually picks out something I've made in the past and see's it in a different fabric, with different adornments, etc. I've been fortunate in my life as a portrait artist to explore the same process through paint.

Crazy Quilt Pincushion with robin's eggs

So, whilst visiting my blog or shop, or Pinterest board, please feel free to let your mind wander. Either to find your point of view in something you see and try it out. I don't mind if you try to do what I do, only if you do it your way. Let me be a stepping stone to something amazing. If you are not the type to sew what I sew, ask me to give your idea a whirl. It would be my honor.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Strawberry Stumpwork Needlecase

Stumpwork Strawberries!

Stumpwork is a technique I have long admired and so ready to try. A few attempts fell flat, (no pun intended). The secret to stumpwork is to create dimension on a flat surface using traditional embroidery stitches. I always stumbled on the turned edge. Either the fabric frayed with all the stitchin and would not turn, or my stitches along the edge were never close enough to the edge.

Let me tell you my secret. I actually stopped trying to wing it and actually read how to do it right. I can be kind of like a man who doesn't pull out the directions until I can't figure out what to do with all the extra nuts and bolts. I like to dive right in and fly by the seat of my pants. Of course, a lot of trial and error doesn't hurt. Sometimes a technique takes more than a few tries before it works. I have a long way to go before I reach a level of those works I often admire. It just feels good to figure out something new and actually love the end result.

Here you can see how far the strawberries stand up off of the surface of the foundation. You can use wool or fabric or even felt. It does help when the edges of the fabric don't easily fray. I tried it with a loosely woven linen with disastrous results.

Add some pretty, standard embroidery stitches, some pretty vintage buttons and your project comes alive!

This is my new needle case design that I really love. A tri-fold design offers some nice sewing features.

The inside cover includes a stuffed wool pincushion lining. I added a little pocket and felt pages to hold even more needles and pins.

Here is another needle case in gray wool with sweet vintage buttons. You can find it in my Etsy Shop- Fiberluscious.

Here is another with a more modern flavor.

I hope you give stumpwork a try. A small project or sampler piece makes learning fun.