Wednesday, 25 June 2008

May TIF - Embellishment 2

I wasn’t entirely happy with the blue flower beads on the blue lace; they simply didn’t show up enough. I removed both these and the blue bi-cones from the blue ribbon seam and switched them over. I’m much happier with this arrangement; the bi-cones are dark enough to show up on the lace and the glass look so pretty on the pale blue 'ribbon'.

I also had concerns about the flower sequins on the blue lace. I know that I had originally thought about backing them with a pale pink sequin. When I looked again at that option I could see why I had rejected the idea - the sequins are too big for this location so I left the flower sequins as they are.

They lilac ribbon seam treatment is heavily embellished. Above the ribbon there is a row of silk ribbon flowers - rose buds alternated with daisy like flowers. On the original, the ‘dasies’ look like small metallic flower beads. I could not find any thing similar so used the coppery seed beads to create the flowers. On the original, small buttons are stitched below the ribbon with swags of seed beads strung between them. The buttons I have looked too heavy in this space so I substituted them for the clear flower sequins sitting on pale pink sequins and secured with a pale pink seed bead.

These are the same sequins used above on the lace; you can see them much better on the sequins. I quite like to use some components in a different way in two or three places; I think it helps to connect the separate areas. There are a lot of things I like about this seam treatment. The blue area of the central ‘fabric’ is adjacent to another pale blue ‘fabric’. On its own the lilac ribbon helped to separate them but the embellishments make this seam treatment much broader, gently breaking up all the blue and adding lots of textural interest.

The pink area of the flax leaf fabric has a button cluster. I am very uncertain about button clusters. Done well they can look stunning and add a lot of interest. My only previous attempt looks clumsy and contrived. To be successful I think you need either a huge stash or a carefully co-ordinated supply of buttons. My small supply of buttons was selvedge from various garments plus a selection of Mother of Pearl buttons picked up here and there. I found it difficult to come up with a pleasing assortment and then to fit the arrangement into the available space.

I don’t think it makes for a very interesting arrangement despite spending agonising over it. I love the metal button. It came from my Nan’s button tin many, many years ago. I used to rummage in her tin frequently and remember asking her one-day if I could have four buttons - this one and its pair and two square MOP buttons. I didn’t have any use for them; I just wanted them. This button is slightly squashed, its pair is more rounded but I thought the flatter one suited this arrangement.

Happy Stitching

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

May TIF - Embellishment 1

Time to embellish! All of the beads for the blue lace were purchased to match those on the original as closely as possible. There were also some very pretty pink beads that I was unable to match so I used some clear flower sequins that I purchased in India. They are very pale pink but that is completely lost against the blue lace; in fact the sequins hardly show up at all but they catch the light and add a little sparkle. I altered the arrangement of the copper seed beads slightly to fit the scale of my block. The blue flower beads below the picot leaves are beautiful and I am slightly disappointed that they do not stand out more.

The embellishment on this seam treatment is very simple. The blue bi-cones stand out really well on this paler blue ribbon.

I whipped the main stems of the feather stitch vines to try to emphasis them more then added pressed glass flowers.

I still think that this is a little lost against the background.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, 23 June 2008

Karahana, another petal

I determined to make some time for Japanese Embroidery this weekend and was able to complete the third petal on Karahana.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

I have got used to my varifocal glasses now and I think the stitching on this petal is better than on the second petal.

© JEC/Carol-Anne Conway

This is how it looks so far. The remaining three petals should take rather less time to stitch than their larger neighbours. I just have to determine to make time more often!

Happy Stitching

Thursday, 19 June 2008

May TIF - Seam Treatments 1

Thank you so much for your comments, I am finding them very encouraging. Susan asked "will you do 'seam treatments'?" Funny you should ask that!

The basis of the first seam treatment is a couched 'ribbon'. I used a single strand of DMC floss long satin stitch the full length of the seam to create the ribbon. These stitches are held in place by a two rows of herringbone stitch that replicate the ones used to couch the ribbon in place on the original. The threads used for the herringbone are both a 2-1 made from DMC floss. The longer legs of the blue row are tied with a short straight stitch.

The second seem treatment also begins with a ribbon; this one is stitched in the same way using DMC Satin. This ribbon is secured with detached chain stitches along each edge. A 2-1 twisted thread in the woven through the chain stitches.

The third seems begins with a trailing vine of featherstitch in variegated Anchor stranded cotton. Initially I used a single strand but the stitching did not show up against the background. I removed that and started again using two strands.

I still don’t think the stitching shows up as well as it could but I don’t want to use 3 strands, I think that would be too heavy. The lace on the original is denser than my flax leaf design so this segment appears to be more white than pink and the stitching shows up better. This seam will be embellished which may make it more prominent. In fact all three will be further embellished but I don’t want to add any beads until all the stitching is complete.

Happy Stitching

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

May TIF - Lace 3

The third piece of 'lace' was very charming but I could not envisage a way to stitch it effectively. This prevented me from progressing until I accepted that my intention to interpret the lace in my own style rather than produce an exact copy. On the original, the lace covers two thirds of the pink fabric and this segment is very lightly embellished. I decided to use a technique that I learnt on my Phase II Japanese embroidery – Suehiro. The technique is called flax leaf effect (asanoha-gake). First a grid of lines is stitched at three different angles to form a design of equilateral triangles. I used a single strand of the same DMC floss that I used for the foundation.

The grid is used to form the six-pointed stars that represent the flax leaf. A stitch similar to fly stitch is made into each triangle, with six stitches radiating from the same point to form a hexagonal design. I stitched some of the design in white to represent the area covered by lace and the remaining third in the same colour as the foundation stitches. As before, these stitches are as much to stabilise the foundation as to add interest and texture to this segment.

This is how the block looks with all the 'lace' stitched.

I really like that each piece of 'lace' has a totally different texture and weight to it.

Happy Stitching

Monday, 16 June 2008

May TIF - Lace 2

For the second piece of 'lace', I used the same method as for the first. This lace was much simpler to chart and the simple lattice foundation was easy stitching. I used a 2 into 1 twist of DMC floss throughout on this lace.

When the foundation stitches are in place the threads of the waste canvas are removed before the decorative stitches are added.

On a fabric crazy quilt block the lace adds interest and varies the texture. On my stitched block it serves the additioal function of stabilising the long foundation stitches that create the fabric. Some of the threads that form the lattice are also rather long; I used small tie stitches where the lattice stitches cross to hold both the lattice and the foundation in place. To alter the texture, in places I used a cross-stitch across the squares formed by the lattice.

The original lace had small 5 petaled flowers. I used chain stitch to create the petals but they were not substantial enough; to give them more body I used needle weaving to turn them into woven picots.

This lace is not as 'pretty' as the first lace, but I think that it balances this corner with other elements on the design and it will have further embellishment later. I also like the colour combination of that blue on the buff background.

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Comments and Tags

First I would like to thank you for your recent comments. I am really enjoying the May TIF but your kind words and support is hughly encouraging.

In addition to comments I have been tagged and been received an award. Thank you JoWynn for your interest in me and Marjorie for honouring my blog with the Arte y Pico award, I am very flattered - I will pass on the award in a seperate post.

JoWynn's tag required me to answer these questions.

What was I doing 10 years ago?
Well, career wise, I had just started an new job - on June 1st to be exact and I am still in that job today. Two months earlier I had been made redundant from a job that I loved, following a merger. I had decided to temp until I found a job that I wanted to do rather than jump at the first thing that came along. When I first saw this post advertised I thought that it was beyond me, but my previous boss and good friend convinced me that I was up to it. I had a steep learning curve and this time 10 years ago, I feeling slightly overwhelmed but pleased that I had taken on something that would stretch and challenge me. I hadn't expected to stay for 10 years but here I still am!

Needlework wise, I was in a very different place than today. I was doing a fair amount of dressmaking, some knitting and my embroidery was nearly entirely tapestry kits. I knew nothing about either Japanese Embroidery or the Embroiderer’s Guild. I had learnt some embroidery stitches as a girl but it would be a couple of years until I purchased a magazine (attracted by the cover design) and began my love affair with surface embroidery.

Five things on my To Do list today
A little housework, mop the kitchen floor at the very least!
Gardening, cut down 2 dead branches from the lilac, shred some garden waste, and tidy up the waste land that is my back garden.
An hour on my Japanese Embroidery. I have stated an intention to spend 1 hour doing JE every Saturday and Sunday, I don't always manage it, but I am still commited to it!
Go and buy icecream, I forgot it yesterday.
Cook dinner for my Mum and Dad, it is Father's day in the UK so I have invited my parents to dinner and Dad likes icecream with his desert.

Snacks that I enjoy
Cheese and onion crisps (but I try to avoid these!)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire
The thought of having that much money terrifies me. That much money must surely change your life and I really like my life the way it is. Please don't offer me a billion pounds, I might just be foolish enough to accept it :(

Places I’ve lived
My parents moved to a temporary home in Oxford weeks before I was born, they are still there and I lived there for the first 30 years of my life (except for six months)
House sitting for family friends with my older brother for six months - 2 miles from my childhood home.
My first home of my own, a one bed terrace house 12 miles from Oxford for 10 years.
My current home with my partner in a lovely village 5 miles from Oxford for 7 years.

People I'd like to know more about.
Susan from Plays with Needles. I first found Susan over a year ago while search for other Japanese embroiderers. At the time, Susan was taking a break from blogging, then one day my RSS feed told me that Susan was back and is now blogging frequently and I am learning that there is much more to Susan than her beautiful Japanese embroidery.

Elizabeth of Sew in Love. I discovered Elizabeth through the Fine Embroidery Web Ring. I can't imagine how Elizabeth finds time to do such beautiful embroidery in her busy life.

Megan of Elmsley Rose. I first visited Megan's blog via a link on The Embroiderer's Story.

Maggie of Maggie's Textiles. Maggie says she is new to embroidery but my goodness she is a natural tallent.

Happy Stitching

Saturday, 7 June 2008

May TIF - Lace 1

This first picture is nothing to do with lace; the original fabric had a woven pattern. To emulate this I sketched the design into tissue paper that I tacked into place over my stitched foundation. Using one strand of DMC Mouline I stitched through the paper and the back ground. Most of the design is worked in stem stitch or out line stitch with some detached chain and French knots for the flowers. I don’t know anything about DMC Mouline, it says that is 100 per cent cotton but I don’t know how it differs from DMC floss; it appears to be a loftier thread.

I wanted to do a stitched representation of lace. I began by charting the design on squared paper (in pencil, rubbing out and trying again several times). Once the chart was finalised it was relatively easy reproduce the design in backstitch using waste canvas.

I expected removing the waste canvas to be a delicate operation so I first trimmed the canvas as close to the stitching as possible. Unfortunately I caught the pink linen foundation with the scissors. I will have to rework a part of the stitching but at this stage it is easy enough to do.

When the waste canvas was removed some of the stitching appeared a little slack but I had deliberately allowed for this as I intended that the outlines would be worked in Pekinese stitch. Pekinese is word in two steps, first a foundation backstitch is worked, and then a second thread is threaded through the foundation stitches creating regular loops (the same thread can be used as for the foundation or a contrast thread for a different effect). I used Coats mercer crochet #60m for both steps.

This has worked out exactly as I hoped it would and I am very pleased with my stitched lace.

Happy Stitching

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Beaded Bracelet

A member of the Oxford Branch of the Embroiderer’s Guild makes lovely beaded jewellery and occasionally holds beading classes.

I attended one of Ann’s classes on Saturday and made a crystal and pearl bracelet using a right angle weave.

I had done a class with Ann about two years ago when I made a crystal and pearl necklace that matches this bracelet. I learnt the right angle weave on that occasion so even though I had not used it since then, I picked up the method quite readily.

I also started a second bracelet but have very little done, so far.

When I first got up on Saturday, I had a thumping headache and very little enthusiasm for doing a class of any kind but I didn’t want to let Ann down. There were six taking the class: Kate, who I know from Embroiderers’ Guild and who also did the necklace class I mentioned earlier, two friends of Kate’s - Sarah and Bethan, and Nadine, a jewellery maker who had attended a different class with Ann. Ann told us that the sixth lady, who had attended the same class as Nadine, would be joining the class a little later. In fact we were still selecting materials and just settling down when she arrived. I had my back to the door when she came in and Ann introduced Angela to the group. When I turned around to greet her, I was totally amazed to see a really good friend of mine. Angela and I worked together for 10 years and have stayed in touch over the 10 years since we were made redundant. Angela has always been interested in jewellery but not in making her own until she saw Ann’s work at a craft fair and enquired about her classes.

It always amazing me that everyone produces such different results even though we are all making the same thing.

The top braclet is Sarah's see embellished hers with seed beads between the crystals. Bethan embellished her green bracelet with pink swags, Bethan is just 13, I love the way young people are so unconstrained and simply go for it. Speedy Kate add two extra rows of crystals and pearls to make a wide cuff. I added just one extra row of crystals and pearls to mine. Nadine brought with her a beautiful selection of crystals in shades of green and fresh water pearls to make her braclet. Hers and Angela's lovely blue bracelet (which would go perfectly with my denim skirt) stayed true to Ann's directions but I don't think she minded the rest of us rebelling!

My headache remained with me all day, but sharing the day with like minded people, doing the things we enjoy, always lifts the spirits and the unexpected pleasure of spending time with Angela made the day extra special.

Happy Stitching

Monday, 2 June 2008

May TIF - Foundations 2

I can hardly believe that it is June already and Sharon has announced the next challenge. I still have a lot of work to do on May. I have already missed March, but I am really not worried about it. I’d like to do March and June but if they don’t get done, no matter. My reason for doing this challenge is to stretch myself and enjoy following a design through from conception to completion. If I complete all 12 months that will be a bonus, but I would prefer to complete one month than to start them all.


I was particularly keen to create foundations with different textures. I had high expectations that a new thread would give me a very different look to the DMC Linen and the DMC Floss used on the previous segments. I have never used DMC Satin Thread before but have read a couple of favourable reviews.

DMC Satin is a stranded rayon thread with a soft hand and incredible shimmer. I have used rayon threads before and found them difficult to handle, this thread did not cause me any of the problems that I have encountered before. I used a single strand to satin stitch this segment and I really like how it stitched out.

This thread really does give a satin effect. I am very please with how it stands out against the other segments,

The final segment is stitched with DMC Floss but this time I twisted the thread to alter the texture. This is a 2 into 1 twist and I have then used a single twisted strand to satin stitch the segment.

This is how the ‘block’ looks with all the foundations stitched.

Now I will start to embellish the block.

Happy Stitching