Tag Archives: embroidery

More Vintage Photo Fabric Creations

After posting about my last failed attempt at altering a fabric vintage photo, of course, I stewed about how to fix it, how to start again, what to do differently – that’s what I do sometimes when I’m staring at my computer at work.  Some people day dream about exotic vacations, or what they’re reading, or what to make for dinner, or what to wear tomorrow, I fixate on how to fix my projects, or starting a new project, or what kind of a mess am I going to make this weekend.  I may have resting bitch face, but underneath, I’m all about paints, and stitches, and pretty things.

So, here’s how I tried to pretty my failure up:

Again, here’s the big fail:

Time to start over!

Back to the original.  What first attracted me to this photo is the window, and the cuffs on her clothes.  I envisioned hanging flower baskets and french knots on the cuffs.  Why I strayed from my original idea I don’t know, but above is what you get when you don’t trust your instincts.

So, the french knots on the cuffs:

And, kind of weird sort of turkey work on the belt –

And, finally, the daydreamed about plants in the window:

And here she is, in a broken Ikea frame (have to do something about that!) –

 

I’m so much happier with how she turned out.  If I were to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t curve the stitching on the bottom of her dress – I was going for a look that suggested movement, but instead she just looks bloated, and strangely shaped.  Instead of using a bright paint in the windows, I used a subtle, chalk pastel.  The pink chalk pastel on her dress completely rubbed off, but that’s ok.  I thought out doing some bullion stitches on the back of the chair, to add some texture, but I decided that would be too much.  So, I’m basically good with it.  I love how the plants turned out, and I was right about the french knots.  Inspired, I whipped up another one:

Some embroidered silk roses, and a few fabric embellishments, and voila!

On Instagram, someone asked me why the hat?  And I think the better question is really why the wings?  Whenever you download collage sheets, or look at others’ vintage photo alterations, typical embellishments are wings, hats, stripes on socks, lollipops, balloons, etc.  I added the wings, because well, everyone adds wings.  Not such a good reason.  I added the hat, however, because after I embroidered the silk flowers, she really looked like she was wearing one of those oldtime plastic flowered bathing caps.  It wasn’t a good look for her.  The hat changed that look, and also, kind of goes with the rebel theme – that the rebel would wear a crooked hat.  Anyway, in the future, I’m going to try to tell my own story with my altered photos, instead of copying trends, like wings and such.  Of course the hat is from a collage sheet download, and a staple of vintage photo alts, but to me, it works with this photo more than the wings, which really don’t say much at all to me, other than to give it some whimsy.  So, that’s my thought process.

And the polka dots, by the way – to cover up some sloppy slops on the white border – oopsy!

A Fabric Experiment

As you know, I’m a sucker for a sale.  So, when Ivy Newport ran a super duper birthday sale (40% off!) on most of the classes on her website, I took advantage and purchased a class, Fabric in Time with mixed media artist Stephanie Rubiano.

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This was a class I camethisclose to purchasing at full price, but with Skillshare and Creativebug enough to keep me busy, I just couldn’t justify it.  But, can’t beat almost half off, right?  Anyway, the class is chocked full of good advice and helpful tips about how to print on fabric, paint on fabric, and add embelishments to your final piece.  There’s also a bonus lesson on encaustic wax, but setting up a wax station is really not in my budget right now.

This class combines so many of the things I love – vintage photography, painting and embroidery, that I was immediately inspired, and went to work with the products I had on hand.  I can’t remember why, but I bought a set of cabinet cards from an etsy seller a long time ago that were perfect for this project, and I scanned them into my computer.  I then printed out my photos on quilting cotton.  My first attempt went wonky, but the second attempt was pretty good.  There’s a 50% coupon for AC Moore today, so I’m thinking about trying the InkJet printable fabric sheets, but we’ll see.  Then, I went into a creative frenzy, and whipped up my girl before I took any photos.  Because I immediately went to work, I didn’t exactly have all of the supplies I needed.  For instance, I didn’t have any finishing spray – so I had a little problem with the water on my brush mixing with the ink on the photo, but I just moved the paint around, and embroidered on top of any water blotches.

You can see the original photo in the top corner.  And you can see more improvising.  To give the cards structure, Stephanie uses a double sided fusible, and creates a fabric sandwich.  The only double sided stablizer I have is the Bosal Foam fusible, which is really great for tote bags, and quilted wallets and such, but not so great for this project.  While it lends stability, it doesn’t really have that stiffness that painting on a stiff fabric interfacing would have.  But, I made do.

You can see she’s a little puffy from the foam, but eh, it’s all good.  As you can see, I had a bit of a water issue on the edge there, but again, no big deal.  I mean, if I were going to sell it or something, it would be problematic, but for the walls of my craft room, I’m good with it.  The little background embelishments are sequins with seed beads, and the stitching is a combination of lazy daisies, french knots, and cross stitch.  I had to watch a few refresher videos on the stitching, but it came back.

To finish her off, I trimmed the card down, punched some holes with my crop-a-dile, and inserted eyelets.  Then, I used this funky beaded wire that I’ve had in my stash forever and never knew quite what to do with to add a hanger –

All done! I thought about binding the edge to hide the water splotch, but again, eh. She’s just hanging with the rest of the girls on the craft wall, no crafting police here.

I was really excited to start my next girl, but unfortunately, it was back to work on Monday, and then I didn’t get back into the craftroom until last night. By then, I had thought of so many ideas of what to do, and I had a vision of what I wanted her to look like.

Here’s the before:

I had this idea that I was going to embroider hanging flower baskets in the window, and lots of little white french knots on her collar and her cuffs. And then, I went south -I don’t know why – and the further south it went from my vision, the more I messed it up:

I hate how bright the blue is in the window. So, I abandoned my hanging basket idea, and thought maybe I’d cover the whole window with a vine. Then, instead of using my perle cotton thread that I love, I went with a cheap craft embroidery thread because the color was better, and my stitches look so sloppy. It didn’t help that I cut the fabric too small to get good tension in the hoop. Then, the only white paint I had on hand was a fluid acrylic, and that interacted horribly with the ink from the printer, and I got a really ugly stain on her dress. I tried to cover it up and it just kept getting worse. So, then I painted it red. I hate how the red looks with the pink ribbon roses. Sigh. She’s going in the garbage and I’m going to start over. This time, I’m going to print her the same size, but on a full sheet of paper, so I can get the fabric tight enough in the hoop. I’m going to go back to my original vision of the baskets in the window, and the knots on her dress. As for the blue windows – I’m going to stick with the blue, but I’m going to use a really light colored pencil instead of paint, so it’s just a faded outdoor look.  I’m ok with starting over.  Sometimes projects just don’t work out.

And, while I still have a few more cabinet cards to play with, I ordered these tintypes from ebay:

I really love this one:

Since she’s already got the crazy faux outdoor backdrop going, I can see myself embroidering wildflowers or trees or something behind her.  We’ll see.  Of course, when I ordered then, I didn’t really think about putting the tin on my scanner – I’m really afraid of scratching the bed.  I may try to photograph them rather than scan them, but I don’t have a light box.  Another problem to be solved!  But, it’s craft, it’s all good.

Stay tuned!

My Low End High End Ragdoll – Making a Jess Brown Doll

As I mentioned, I decided that before I start winging it with my own patterns, I thought I’d make some tried and true patterns to get the hang of construction and popular aesthetic.  So, over the weekend, I downloaded Jess Brown’s Making of a Ragdoll.

Before I downloaded the book, I did check out a hard copy at Barnes & Noble.  It really is a beautiful hardback book.  The photos are lovely, and give the book a vintage, natural feel.  Much is lost in the digital copy, and if you’re at all interested in this book, I would recommend spending the extra $15 and get a paper copy.  Jess Brown intends her dolls to be “comfort dolls,” and much of the curl up with the book comfort is lost with the digital version.  Also, piecing together the patterns from the downloaded digital version was a total pain in the butt.  The digital version directs you to an online PDF.  The PDF contains instructions for printing, and which options to choose in your print menu for tile printing.  Then, the pattern prints like puzzle pieces, that have to be cut, and pieced together with small x’s as guides.  Cutting and piecing the doll pattern as well as the clothes and the accessories took well over an hour. Oy!


Before cutting, piecing and taping, I did read Jess Brown’s narrative about the birth of the dolls and her love for all natural materials like corn fiber stuffing, bamboo embroidery thread, and non-plastic buttons.  I envied her that her job requires her to haunt flea markets for vintage fabrics and other textiles (as opposed to my job which requires weekly prison trips).  While the story of the dolls served as a nice introduction to the why of the organic materials, I had actually already heard the story told by Jess Brown on the While She Naps podcast, and the podast interview is really so much more interesting than the book.  For instance, in the book, she talks about how the first doll she made for her daughter was sewn from cashmere sweaters that had been destroyed in the wash.  In the actual telling of the story in chit chat way, without the formality of a book, it’s her husband who decided to do the wash that day, and destroyed the sweaters – this teeny tiny detail makes for a better story.  And, in the podcast, she goes into the effects of having Martha Stewart feature her dolls, working on a fashion week installation with life size ragdolls, and how she runs her business, including producing the dolls, pricing the dolls, and her thoughts on actually writing the book.

In this doll quest of mine, I’ve perused Etsy, looking at all sorts of dolls – art dolls, clay dolls, rag dolls, Tilda dolls, etc., and it’s was no surprise that there are a lot of Jess Brown knock-offs out there.  So, it was understandable when she talked in the podcast about how ambivalent she was about writing a book after being approached by Chronicle.  Why should she write a book, reveal her secret sauce to her pattern, and hand the keys to the kingdom over to these copycats when this is how she makes a living?  And, I’m really glad that I listened to this analysis of coming to the decision to write the book, and coming to a compromise of creating a new doll for the book that’s not THE doll.

Yes, the pattern in the book is not THE Jess Brown doll, but a Jess Brown doll.  The doll has all of the elements that make a lovely comfort doll – the simple body, instructions for her signature star eyes and felt heart shaped mouth, and cute patterns for a sun dress, a long sleeve dress, a coat, a hat, a duffle bag, and pantaloons.  But, if you were hoping for instructions on how to make her 22′ inch doll, with arms that are attached with buttons, this is not that pattern.  And, after listening to the podcast, I was totally ok with that.  It’s still a Jess Brown doll.

The pattern itself is pretty easy to sew.  I decided to transfer the 1/4′ seam lines to the backside of my fabric.  To do this, as you can see above, I used chaco paper, which is basically carbon paper.  The photo above shows the back of the doll.  I won’t go exactly into how this works – you’ll have to buy the book, but after sewing the two halves of the back together you have a more rounded head, and an opening for stuffing up the back.   This, apparently, is another departure from THE doll.  From what I can tell from online photos, THE doll has a pretty basic body – and if there’s any shaping of the head, I can’t tell.

Anyway, this chaco paper transfer was particularly helpful on the front of the doll, which does require you to transfer pivot points at the under arm pits of the doll.  If I had one qualm with the pattern it’s definitely these arms.  While the button shoulder arms may be one of the signature features of THE doll, it’s not original, not like the star eyes or the felt heart mouth.  I think she was giving away more secrets describing the eyes, than having separate arms.  But, in any event, having the arms attached to the body leads to a little kink where it joins the body.  Eh, so she has a wrinkle.  But, if you want to create a really simple, accessible pattern, I think it’s much much more simple to sew the arms separately and attach them to the body then sew around this really narrow area, and turn it seemlessly.

And, just in case you’re looking to make a doll like this, or any doll with skinny arms, here’s a good way to flip them rightside out.

1. First, stick a straw in the limb:

2. Then, turn it upside down, and stick a chopstick, or as I’ve used here, the stick that comes with polyfiberfil, into the tip of the outside of the limb, shoving the stick into the straw.

3. Then slowly, you don’t want to poke a hole in the end of your limb, roll the fabric down over your chopstick/stick and voila!

Limbs succesfully turned! Ownward. The next step in the book is to stuff and sew up the body, and do the face after it’s stuffed.  She gives you instructions to do the signature star, pulling the thread out through the back of the head, I guess to be covered with hair.

I opted not to do the star eye.  Confession time – I think the star eye is creepy.  So, what kind of an eye then?  I thought about buttons, but if this doll turns out ok, it’ll eventually be gifted to a 2 year old – buttons not so good.  While thinking about it, I happened to listen to another While She Naps podcast with Christina Platt of Bamboletta, and she talked about the theory behind Waldorf style dolls.  Apparently, the idea is that a doll should be fairly expressionless because this allows for the child to fully access their imagination when playing with the doll – they can imagine the doll to be happy or sad, and they’re not limited by a constantly smiling, happy faced doll.  So, while I didn’t love the star eye, I did want a neutral face, but a pleasant face.  So, after looking at a lot of doll eyes, I used this one, which I embroidered in a hoop before sewing the doll together:

I did go for the heartshaped mouth, because I think it’s sweet. THE Jess Brown doll’s heartshaped mouth is not red, it’s more of a dull yellow.

Anyway, so here she is so far.

Ready for stuffing!  The instructions in the book have you just sew across the front of the doll while attaching the legs, leaving a raw edge.  Since I’m not using any kind of special organic fabric, but kind of crappy but soft cotton from Michael’s, I think I’m going to turn a hem under.

The two year old I mentioned is one of my niece’s on Joe’s side, and she’s just learning to walk.  THE doll, the 22″‘er, came into being because Jess Brown’s daughter was learning to walk at the time she was creating the doll – so she measured from her arm to her feet, so that the doll would be a walking companion.  I like that idea.  So, if this all works out, I think I may make another one that’s more like Tilda – make the body bigger, get rid of the seam in the back, sew the arms separately, make them longer, attach them with a button, make longer longs, with maybe jointed knees.  We’ll see.

First, I have to figure out how to attach hair – because that’s not explained so well in the book.  Stingy on the secret sauce there. Eh, who can blame her?  Not me.

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A One Hour Basket in An Evening

My last one hour basket took oh so much time.    Two days.  But, that was due to aggravation, and ripping out more than anything else.  I’m not sure I would have made another one, but I was already signed up for the One Hour Basket Swap 2 on Instagram, and I was committed.

That didn’t stop me from waiting until the last minute, though.  And, also at the last minute, on Sunday, when the swap had to be mailed by Friday, I decided to attempt my first serious embroidery hoop (I made one before, but it was all backstitch, with a few french knots thrown in for good measure, too simple to count).  On Sunday, I was finally seduced by Bustle & Sew. a monthly e-magazine devoted to embroidery, patchwork, applique and other things of the stitchy sort.  While I didn’t (yet) subscribe to their oh-so-cute magazine, I did get sucked in by their 50% Etsy sale, and I bought my first downloadable embroidery pattern.

Since I’ve been playing around with my stitch sampler, I have tried several methods of getting that downloadable pattern onto fabric, with mixed results.  I’ve traced, I’ve used a transfer pen, and I’ve used a Frixion pen (it magically erases when you hit it with an iron), so I wasn’t totally befuddled about what to do once I downloaded.  But, I did start with the transfer pen – lines were too thick – fail, and then I started over, and went with tracing with a Frixion pen.  Serious embroiderers poo poo the Frixion pen, you can smoosh your stitches with the iron, it doesn’t erase all the way on certain fabrics, if you put your embroidery in the freezer, the lines will come back – it’s not a permanent erase, it’s more like Harry Potter.  You hit it with heat, gone, freeze – back!  Super cool, but I guess for a purest, not so much.  I’m not a purest, and it worked for me.  And, the pens are easily findable at your local Staples.

So, I managed to get the design on the fabric (doubled up, white quilting cotton), and then I went to work . . . slowly.  I’ve said this before, there’s just no speeding up stitching, and it was a real crunch to get it done by Thursday, so I could get it in the mail on Friday.  But, I succeeeded, and I was happy with my imperfect, but perfectly giftable results.

This was a great beginner piece:

IMG_6190.JPGLots of different stitches – backstitch, stem stitch, satin stitch, bullion knots, french knots, detached lazy daisies, and what was called in the pattern, radiating straight stitch – although I’m not sure why it’s not satin stitch.  Anyway, the pattern also called for some shading of the flowers – as you can see, mine’s a bit of guesswork, and a commendable first try – just because I did try.  It’s really hard sometimes, learning things online, little nuances, things where you need an experienced eye to tell you it would look better this way or that way, or that you’re holding your hand wrong, or that you’re not using the right needle, or any number of things.  There are just some things it’s nice to have a live teacher or mentor guiding you in the right direction so you’re not struggling to reinvent the wheel.  In any event, I hope to get  better with the shading thing with this class.  It starts next week, so I’ll let you know.  I got the kit in the mail last week, and I hope I don’t mess it up because it would be a shame to mess up something that’s potentially so pretty.

Oh, and the basket!  Yep, it was a basket swap, after all, and that should have been my focus, but the basket came together pretty easily, and I really did spend most of the week cramming to get the hoop done, which was just a little gift to go with the real swap gift.  To save myself aggravation, I sewed the lining and the exterior piece with the same seam allowance.  The interior lining is supposed to be a tad smaller, but since that’s what gave me a headache last time, I just went with the bigger measurement, and the extra fabric ended up being a pseudo binding around the top, much like my Crafty Gemini tote.  I had been planning to make another Cotton & Steel basket, like my last one, but my partner sent hers out first, and I received a Cotton & Steel basket – sweet!  But, I had to redesign in my head.  So, I went with this Anna Maria Horner fabric from her Dowry collection.  To get one fabric to sit on the top 3/4’s and the other on the botton 1/4, it’s actually 2 pieces of fabric that are the same size sewn together, because most of the bottom fabric is the bottom of the bag.  So, if you wanted to add maybe a patchwork stripe, or an embroidered motif, or a hexagons, or whatever, you can see where your working space would be, in that top 5.5 x 16.5 piece (5.25 after it’s sewn to the bottom piece).

Also, unlike the last basket, instead of fusible fleece for the stablizer, I used Crafty Gemini’s go to double sided fusible stablizer, In R Form Plus.   This thick, squishy but firm stuff, really gives the basket a nice shape, and makes it, I think, more functional than the floppier fusible fleece.  Although, once you fill the basket, it doesn’t really matter.  This basket from cutting to finishing probably took 2-3 hours.  I know I cut my pieces, made dinner, returned after eating, and finished long before bedtime.  So, it was an evening.

I also made a little basket from a Crafty Gemini tutorial, the same night.  By then, I was really tired, and the sewing isn’t the best, but it turned out well enough that I thought once she filled it with clips or something it would look A ok.  I also threw in a quilting magazine, some wonder clips, and a small package of Heat N Bond, and in the mail it went.  Whew!  It was totally cutting it close, but it all worked out!

And now, I’m taking a bit of a break from swappage.  The Crafty Gemini swap this month for Quilt Club is so fun – 1 yard of your ugliest fabric – but I decided to pass.  Even if a swap is easy peasy, sometimes it’s still a pain in the neck to package it up and get it in the post.   And, also with Crafty Gemini, the swaps are not anonymous, meaning you get your partner’s email, and exchange emails before addresses are exchanged.  So, it’s a commitment to a short relationship as well, or a long one if that’s how it turns out.  So, I think I’m out for the summer, but we’ll see.   This swap was my first instagram swap, and the organzier (@heart_stitches)  was really really on top of things.  I was very impressed.  So, I’m glad my first experience was a positive one, because we’ve all heard disappointing swap stories.  I would definitely do another Instagram swap, but probably in the fall.  Tonight I’ll photograph my goodies from the swap, and post them so you can see.

And maybe make up with my knitting, so I can post tomorrow with Yarn Along.  Or maybe it’s still punished, we’ll see.
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  Crazy Quilt Progress

I could be working on my giant Sophie’s – both of them.

I could cast on some of my Maryland Sheep & Wool yarn.

Or, I could even finish something I already have on needles.

And, if I did one of those things, one of those sensible things, I would either have or be on my way to having something that I will love, or at the very least, use, at the end.

But, nope, I’m not spending my time doing anything sensible like that. Instead, I’m having a grand old time hand stitching, and beading, and producing something that in the end, I have no idea what I’m going to do with.

Here’s my before, and almost after – I say almost, because I still have to attempt my silk ribbon embroidery.  I’ve saved that for last.
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Oh, and did I mention, I’m making a mess too!

Look how much is going on! I can’t even tell you how much fun I’m having.

I dove headfirst into my feather stitch, combined with a fern stitch to complete the curlyques, topped off with french knots, and detached lazy daisy leaves. I didn’t even bother to try it out on a sampler first – just plunged right into the block. No fear! Those vintage buttons are hiding a little hole – nice! I found those leaf charms in my stash – now they’re good for something, right? And, that big pin in the middle is probably not going to stay – it’s pretty bulky. But, you never know. I think this is going to be a wall hanging, when I combine it into a four patch, so the bulk really won’t matter anyway. I added some beads to my chain stitch (next time I’ll try to make my chain stitch a bit more even, and probably use a smaller bead, but sometimes you just have to go with what you have), and I still have a bunch of beads to go before I call it done.

Of course, had a practiced my stithes first, they’d be neater. But, as you can see from the photo of my craft table, I’m not all that concerned about neat, and it’s all a big experiment anyway. I just wanted to get right into it, not dilly around with a sampler. Did I just say dilly? Next thing you know, I’ll be saying dally, too, and my word aesthetic will be as off as my creative endeavors.

Once I finish up with the silk embroidery and more beads, I’ll move on to the second block.  Already, the project has totally diverged from my vision.  I originally separated my fancy fabrics by color to come up with a sophisticated palette – cool colors, mostly blues and the like.  I thought I would stitch in the same color palette, creating a more elegant look.  But, I just loved my colorful threads so much, they landed on my fabric canvas, and sophistication went right out the window.  But if the purpose is the process, and the process is about fun, then it’s all good.  Maybe next time I’ll worry about the finished product a little more.  Or not.  We’ll see.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around why I like this project so much.  When I took Rebecca Ringquist’s class on embroidery at Creativebug, I was intrigued with her embroidering on vintage fabric, and on top of already existing embroidery.  What I didn’t like, strangely enough, was the texture of her work, her incorporation of so many different kinds of thread, especially the thicker wools and sock yarn.  Crazy quilting on fancy fabric is similar to what she does, but not as modern, but also not as messy – that texture – the oversized stitches, the bunched up canvas, the stitching on top of stitching – to me translates as mess.  (ok, ok, disregard what I said about mess above – there are areas where messy does not appeal to me).   I do like the fact that I’m stitching, totally freeform, on a colorful, patchwork canvas.  I like that there’s no map, that when I insert my needle into the fabric I can choose to go right or left, bloom into a flower, or turn into a leaf.   While the sampler I’ve been working on is pretty, and has been great practice, I don’t think I like following a printed embroidery pattern.   Or at least, I like this free for all better.

So that’s all the crazy quilting for today.  Tomorrow, I’ll show you the before and after of our kitchen remodel, and give you a few tips about hiring a contractor (learn from my mistakes, padawan).

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Call Me Crazy Quilter

As you may remember, I’ve been working on this Rebecca Rinquist sampler:
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Pretty, right? The buttonhole stitch is finally sticking!

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And, I’ve added the chain stitch, and the detached chain stitch/lazy daisy to my repetoire.

Great!

Now what?

Well, I am always a sucker for a sale, so when Crafty’s put all of it’s classes on sale last week (and it’s still going on – I’m not a Craftsy affiliate, just a fan – and the sale goes through midnight tonight), I decided to check this one out –

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This class seems like it would be a crazy choice for me.  Crazy quilts are not my aesthetic at all.  While I do love all things vintagey in theory, that love translates practically into modern design with a dash of nostalgia.  For instance, I have no problem pairing the modern furniture in my living room with antique picture frames, nostalgic memorablia, and retro cameras.  But, I’m not a lacey, beady, ribbony kind of girl.

On the other hand, what doesn’t quite fit with my aesthetic, completely runs paralell to what I’m doing craftwise.  I love quilting, and especially foundation pieicing, and I’m really enjoing my hand sewing/embroidery.  Crazy quilting combines these things, along with other textiles I’ve used in the past – like beads and charm embelishments, and the process of creating, designing and stitching a crazy quilt appeals to me.

So that begs the question – is it worthwhile to pursue something that appeals to my process side, but not at all to my product side?  For me, the answer is yes, for once I master the process, I can turn it into my own product.  While for now, I am making a wall hanging (or maybe a pillow) as a I follow along with the class, I have ideas about making journal covers – and I think this crazy quilt look will work for me in that medium.  Who wouldn’t want  a beautifully quilted and embelished journal cover – a pretty place to store memories, thoughts and dreams?  Hopefully, everyone will want one  -because if this works out, everyone’s getting them for the holidays!

In any event, I started the class, and I was really inspired.  Again, by the process.  I’m not all that inspired to have a crazy quilt on my wall, but eh, maybe it’ll be a gift.  I have taken many many Craftsy classes – yes, I am a craft class addict.  Some are better than others.   This class, with Allie Allers, has to be one of the best.  Much like Sarah Fielke’s class, Big Tehcniques from Small Scraps, which is also awesome and also covers a gazillion skills related to applique, this class covers so many techniques and skills it will make your head spin.  Not only does Allie cover four different techniques for piecing a crazy block,  she also teaches I think fourteen basic embroidery stitches, and how to combine them.  And, just when I thought class was over, she moved into beaded embroidery, and then ribbon embroidery.  Done?  Not yet, there’s still a whole lesson in finishing and displaying your quilt.  Piecing, embroidery, beaded embroidery, ribbon embroidery and finishing, all in one class.  I have to say, by the end of the class, I was exhausted.  And, then, I watched it again.  I took advantage of Crafty’s 30 second repeat button, and stitched along with Allie – not only while I pieced my blocks, but while I learned the embroidery stitches.  And, today at lunch, I’m going to pick up some beading supplies, so I can rewatch those sections, and stitch along with her.

And speaking of picking up supplies, since crazy quilting has never been on my radar before, all I had in my fabric stash was quilting cotton.  Well, I had to do something about that.  I found this store on Etsy, AnnDanCes and bought her listing for Fancy Scraps.    Buying fabric like this is a crapshoot.  Generally, the photo is generic – a representation of what you’re going to get.  So, you just have to cross your fingers, read some reviews of the seller, and hope for the best.  And, my – was I pleased!  The shipping was super fast – I ordered the box on Wednesday, and it arrived, from Texas, on Saturday.  And, when I opened it, I was literally gleeful – I think I even clapped my hands and exclaimed – goody!

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I dumped the box out on my table, and sorted the fancy scraps into color piles. Not a crazy quilt thing to do, I guess, but a Wendy thing to do, and I made the first two blocks from the class.

This one is flip and sew foundation piecing:

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And this one is the same method, but the pieces are curved –

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Very proud of myself!!

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And these two blocks are perfect examples of how jam packed this class is – I learned how to flip and sew (which unlike paper piecing, involves tracing your pattern onto muslin, and using the diagram as a guide, rather than sewing on the backside of paper), stablizing these fancy fabrics, how to care for these fabrics so you don’t crush them, and curved piecing. If I had just stopped at these two blocks, I would have gotten my $19.99 worth. But, the next two blocks take things even further. The third block is freezer paper applique, and the last block is improvisational piecing. I’m telling you, each block could be a stand alone class.

Anyway, after piecing my two blocks, I did have to try some stitching. I set up a sampler, and practiced some stitches – herringbone, stem stitch, chain stitch, lazy daisy flowers, and using a no fear attitude, I started stitching on the first block:

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And the totally fun thing about crazy quilting – I really have no idea what I’m going to do next.  Each block is unique.  If there are any crazy quilting “rules,” I don’t know what they are – so the only thing limiting me is how fast I can learn my stitches.   And, to help with that, and for additional inspiration,  Allie Aller’s book, Crazy Quilting, is included as a free download with the class.  Crazy right!  The hardback version of the book on Amazon is more than the class itself – bargain!!!

So, if you have any interest in this fun project, check out the class – you’ll definitely get your money’s worth, no question.  And, I’ll be back later in the week with how my blocks are progressing.

You may have noticed there is no Knitting on the Porch today.  I took the weekend off for Mother’s Day, so I’ll be back with a video blog next Monday.

Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day!

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Embroidery Sampler Check In

Progress!  Here’s my issue though – the stitches aren’t sticking.  And, what I mean by that is, they’re not sticking to my brain.  With knitting and crochet, I generally watch a tutorial once, and that’s it – it sticks, it imprints in my crafty memory, and I never have to watch it again (except for kitchener stitch, but that’s a topic for another day – I think my brain just rejects it).  I don’t mean for easy peasy things like back stitch and running stitch, but for the feather stitch, couching and even the buttonhole stitch.  A stitch I may have thought I mastered on Monday, on Wednesday, I find myself going back, watching the video again,  and relearning it.   While I find this disappointing, and of course diagnose myself with early onset Alzeheimers, I think I probably expect too much of myself.  In truth, the areas of the sampler that I complete, and then think, I’m an embroidery super star, really aren’t that big.  It’s not like I did rows and rows of feather stitch before I had to go back and rewatch the video.  I did a little zigzag of it.  Not enough to really etch it in my muscle memory, to the extent, like with knitting, my fingers have a mind of their own.

So here is the bit of buttonhole stitch I did with some variegated thread.  I put it down, and then when I came back to do some more buttonhole stitch, I forgot how to do it.  So, instead I worked on the flower – easy to remember backstitch and satin stitch.  And, I’m sure, once I do a refresh of buttonhole, I’ll get it – again.  And, maybe once I do all of those incomplete rows of buttonhole, it’ll stick and become like habit.

And, here is some elusive feather stitch. Part of the problem with the feather stitch, though, is that there are many variations of feather stitch, and the feather stitch in the Creativebug video isn’t this feather stitch.  So, I found this website, Sarah’s Hand Embroidery Tutorials, and she has a tutorial for every stitch imaginable, I think, so it’s all good.

And, hopefully, I won’t forget everything I learned last night, because I doubt I’ll be picking the sampler up at all this weekend, because this is  wool weekend – Maryland Sheep and Wool.  Tonight, I will pack my big tote bag, charge up my camera battery, figure out what I’m going to wear.  Tomorrow, I will shop, pet sheep, watch sheep dogs, and eat sheep product food at a sheep festival, which always seems wrong to me, but what do I know?  And, hopefully, Sunday I’ll post a video to show you all of my purchases, and maybe a baaaaahhhhhiiiing sheep or two!

Have a great weekend!
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Let the Stitching Begin!

And I’m off!

Actually, any kind of racing analogy is a bad one when you’re talking about embroidery. Embroidery truly is a slow, contemplative exercise, and if it weren’t for the threading of the teeny tiny needle, it would be completely zen-like.

This is the sampler from Creativebug’s beginning embroidery class with Rebecca Ringquist. Rebecca has a new book out, and sells her samplers, both as single purchases and as part of subscription plan, through her Etsy shop, Dropcloth.  Her stitching style is really unique; often, she works on top of vintage embroidery, or her stitches are a combination of different threads and textures. I haven’t fully decided if I actually like her style (although there’s no question I respect it, and I think it’s beautiful, I’m just not sure if that’s how I want mine to look), but the class is great, her instructions are clear, and the sampler is so cute.

So, what brought on this desire to stitch? I don’t know – I’ve done a few minor embroidery projects before – mostly with just backstitch. I took Craftsy’s beginning embroidery class, Design It, Stitch It,  and thought, yeah, that looks like something I could wrap my head around, and I put it on the back burner. When I saw Rebecca’s book on the shelf last week, I decided to take the plunge. So, yesterday, on my lunch hour, I stopped by Rittenhouse Needlepoint to pick up some embroidery needles, and of course, I couldn’t resist a good sale. They had the above lovely little kit of perle cotton from Finca on sale for half price. Sold! Unfortunately, I was so mesmerized by its prettiness, I decided to ignore that it really was the wrong weight. Rebecca recommends a size 8 thread (it generally comes in size 3-8, with 8 being the thinnest), and Rittenhouse Needlepoint, which specializes obviously in needlepoint and cross stitch, only carries 5’s. I figured, well, since Rebecca doubles her 8, that’ll be like a single 5. Which it probably is when you’re stitching through the fabric, but not when you’re threading the needle. Getting that five through the little embroidery eye – oy! #needabetterbifocal!

And so far, that really has been the hardest part, threading the needle. I have some cheap embroidery floss (although, there really is no such thing as “expensive” thread when you compare it to buying yarn for a major knitting or crochet project) that I bought at Michael’s awhile back, and I may introduce some to the project because I really want to learn the stitches, not give myself apoplexy trying to thread the needle. Rittenhouse Needlepoint does carry DMC Embroidery Floss at .85 a pop, so if I get through this sampler, and move on to the advanced sampler, that’ll be the plan.

In the meantime, I’ve added a few stitches to my aresenal (again, war and ammunition is a bad analogy – it’s so peaceful) – running stitch, filled running stitch, and couching. I really love the look of couching. Rebecca recommends using a thicker yarn for these weaving stitches – the filled running stitching and the couching stitch – and even suggests fingering weight sock yarn – so that could be a possibility for some future project. I do have all of my Koigu mill ends stashed away somewhere.

So, that’s all for now! I’m going to try to record a video tomorrow to post on Wednesday – hopefully my new mic will come, I know it’s shipped. I have some sewing to do this weekend, as well. And, the third, and penultimate clue to Earth comes up sometime today – so I’ll have a busy crafty weekend, and I hope you do to.

But, there’s still Friday to get through, and I’m off to county prison!

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