22 July 2015

It's ok to Change your Mind...

As most of you know, during term time I am learning hand embroidery. One technique on my 'must try this' list was Whitework. Way back in December 2013 Mary Corbett of Needle n Thread reviewed this adult colouring book, I bought a copy soon after
and stitched the scarecrow pattern

Mary decided to embroider the Hummingbirds design, you can read all her project posts here:
She mentioned that she may also stitch a Whitework version, so following her instructions, I traced a simplified version of the design onto some lovely Linen
I was not stupid enough to think I could attempt such a large design as my first whitework piece! so I drew a monogram to practice on.
With help from Sophie my teacher, I planned the stitches and made a start
The above is about 20 hours worth of the most tortuous stitching I have ever done! I really don't like whitework!! Sophie assured me that technically it was fine, but I really, really, really struggled to see white on white, even with a magnifier. This sample piece will go into my stitching journal to remind me of the process, and I will start over on a coloured linen. I think pale blue with white threads? I just need to find the perfect fabric.

Meanwhile, what should I do with my traced hummingbirds? Coincidentally Sharon at Pintangle has just restarted Take a Stitch Tuesday. Each week she posts instructions for a different embroidery stitch. You can find all the info here: http://pintangle.com/tast-faq/

I really want to learn some different stitches, so I will use my hummingbirds as a stitch sampler. I struggled to come up with a fun bright colour scheme, so I turned to one of my favourite books on colour...
You may remember I attended a class with Trish at the RSN a couple of weeks ago, this photo was taken by her daughter, I am in the blue - not sure what I was saying, but I remember a really fun day with lots of chatter and laughter!
Using Trish's book for inspiration, I have pulled some DMC in Turquoise-Teal; Pink-Magenta and Gold. I used to do cross stitch years ago and I have lots of DMC left overs!
Week one of TAST was Fly stitch, I have stitched a closed version for this leaf
Week two is buttonhole, so I have used it for the two smaller leaves
The design is symmetrical and it will bother me if I don't stitch it that way! so I repeated the stitches on the other side, a small beginning to what I hope will be a fun, colourful learning piece.
I have kept notes in my stitching journal so I can remember what I was thinking!
There is a Flickr and Facebook group with lots of really inspiring TAST photos

Project Notes:
Design - Johanna Basford "Secret Garden" Adult Colouring Book
Fabric: 55 count Kingston Linen in "White"
Threads: DMC in Teal: 747; 964; 959; 3814; 991; 500 Turquoise: 3766; 807; 3809; 924
                            Pink: 948; 967; 957; 962; 602; 3805  Magenta: 819; 963; 605; 3608; 3607; 3804
                            Gold: 746; 677; 3822; 3821; 729; 3829 Brown: 3371

17 July 2015

Scarecrow Padded Pouch

I have finished stitching this fun Scarecrow design
from Johanna Basford's lovely adult colouring book
I appliquéd his clothes and foliage first
Then I added some embroidery details, it was a really fun stitch!

I found the perfect lining fabric in my stash
and made a padded pocket for my embroidery hoop

14 July 2015

Basted and Ready to Stitch!

I went to one of my favourite quilt shops with a friend last week; I was supposed to be helping her to chose fabrics for a new project, but I couldn't resist picking up a few pieces for my Auntie Green. The nice thing about going to a real shop as opposed to buying online, is that you can see the true colours of the fabric and they will cut 10cm/4" strips. Lots of variety for not a lot of cash!
I spent ages cutting out pieces and playing around with the layout, I have changed the centre so that is more like the original quilt, I redrew some of the pieces and scaled up others from the Judy Day pattern to fit the oval on Irene's pattern.
I wasn't happy with my first attempt, I thought it was too heavy on the dark blue
I tried making all the flowers pink, but it was still too blue
I am happier now that I swapped out some of the darker blues for a lighter tone
I stitched the basket separately, I really liked the lattice basket of the original, it wasn't difficult to do, as it's just 1/4" bias strips stitched onto pink rectangle. I have used Roxanne's glue instead of pins to keep everything in place. It is a large piece to work on and I wanted to be sure of the colours etc before I start to stitch.

I have gone back to my favourite needle turn for this quilt. I draw around either a freezer paper or plastic template with a Gelly Roll pen. The silver coloured ones work best for me as I can see the line on all fabrics. These pens wash out and as they are a roller ball, drawing around the shape not only gives a line to turn under, but it also creases the fabric so it is easy to get smooth curves. I am off to pick my mum up from the airport, I hope to get some of this sewn down while she is here.

06 July 2015

Colouring Auntie Green

While I am waiting for my background fabric to arrive from the US, I have been giving a lot of thought to the colours I want to use for the appliqué on 'Auntie Green'.

One of the reasons I want to make this quilt is that our main bedroom is having a bit of a makeover; we have just bought a very comfortable, huge brass bed and I have ordered some lovely Chinoiserie fabric to make new curtains.
This is Pillemont Toile by Sanderson (DPEMPI203)
I did think on making a blue and white quilt but I don't want everything overly matched, and I know I will get bored only working with two colours! The first thing I do when I am choosing colours for a new project is to refer to this handy 3 in 1 tool, it lets you see easily which colours go well together.
The colours in the curtain fabric I have chosen are shades of Cerulean Blue. I always 'shop my stash' first before going to a quilt shop. I started by pulling all the pure blue fabrics I had and then adding tints (pure + white) and tones (pure + black)
I then pulled shades (pure + grey)

I have a nice selection of fabrics that I have collected over many years and I try to top them up when I can! I very rarely buy more than a fat 1/8th or 1/4 which is a perfect size for appliqué.
I added some yellow green next, again trying to pull tints and tones as well as pure colour

At the moment I think I will use shades of the green for the bias stems etc to calm everything down. Our eyes are naturally drawn to pure colour, they are like the prima ballerinas shouting "look at me" I think you need some of the more duller shades to allow them to shine and to give your eye a place to rest.
I then turned to my red drawer. Blue, Red and Yellow-Green sit at equal distances apart on the colour wheel and play very nicely together!

I have also pulled a few patterned fabrics to stop everything getting boring!
I know this looks like a lot of fabric, but most of these pieces are small scraps. I am hoping I have enough variety of lights and darks to keep this interesting. I think I will start to prep some pieces while I am waiting for the background.
After all of my experiments with different forms of machine appliqué, I have decided to go back to my old favourite needleturn! I spent so long on the prep for the other methods that I think this will probably be just as quick!

03 July 2015

Playing with Auntie Green

The Auntie Green Coverlet made by Mary Ann Wellen in 1860, has been on my radar for some time. I first saw a photo in Quiltmania magazine a few years ago.
Judy Day came up with a pattern for the centre which was published over three issues of Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine.
Brigitte Giblin has a version in her book Feathering the Nest
Then a couple of years ago I came across this pattern for most of the quilt by Irene Blanck which I duly bought.
I think I am well set up with inspiration and patterns! I would like to make a version of this quilt, at the moment I am not sure what I will do, I will definitely change it around to make it my own. I have ordered a bolt of Moda Bella Solids in 'Snow' which is a lovely soft cream colour. I think I will buy a couple of 1/2m of fabrics for the bias and stems and then use as many of my scraps as I can, I have several baskets filled to overflowing...
While waiting for the background fabric to arrive from the US I have been thinking about how I would like to make this quilt. My first love is handwork, especially needle turn appliqué, I have practiced a lot over the years and am happy with my stitching, however it is not the quickest method in the world! I decided to spend some time this afternoon playing around with machine appliqué. I am not a huge fan of fused blanket stitch appliqué as I don't like the stiffness. After reading up and watching several tube videos I had ago at invisible machine appliqué.

The first job is to prepare the pieces, I am using Floriani washable, iron on, water soluble stabiliser
I traced the pieces on using a permanent marker - big mistake as it showed through - I should have used a washable blue pen or cut inside the line more accurately!
ironed them to the back of my appliqué fabrics and cut them out with a scant 1/4" seam allowance
Then using my stiletto and purple thing I glued the edges under
Hmm... not really that great but everything is glued down so I decided to try the actual machine stitching
I used the blind hem stitch (No. 3 on my Bernina) length 0.8; width 0.9; upper tension 2; No. 70 needle; needle down; mirror image; open toed foot; aurifil in bobbin; invisible thread on top

Phew! Had to write that down before I forget!

I like that the stitching is not noticeable except close up

The appliqué felt a little stiff with the stabiliser. I washed it well to remove all the glue etc and it softened up considerably, I think it will soften more with each wash.
However after washing you can see where I missed stitches! The problem with invisible thread is that it is really hard to see lol!
Overall I am not that happy with my first try

machine stitching is faster than hand
the stabiliser softens so you don't feel it
Using invisible thread means I don't keep having to change colour with each fabric

The prep is slow and I don't like using glue
I didn't feel my edges were neat but maybe that's just practice
it is easy to skip a stitch, but again maybe down to practice, or I could widen the stitch

I think I will use this method again, but I need a better way of preparing the appliqué pieces, I thought about hand basting, but then I would be quicker with needle turn! I have plenty of time to practice, I expect my background fabric will sit in customs for a while :(

Any experts in machine appliqué out there? thoughts? advice? opinions welcome! should I keep trying?