Saturday, 30 March 2013

TAST design challenge, or disqualified?

For the first TAST design challenge of the year, Sharon of Pintangle, suggested we made something with four of these stitches:

Herringbone Square
Laced Herringbone Square
Back Stitch
Straight Stitch
Chain Stitch
Detached Chain Stitch
French Knot

After I had made the Crown of Thorn with the Breton Stitch, I thought I'd make another crown for the TAST design challenge. This one with gold, gem stones, pearls and all the works:

I used purple (royal, you know) velveteen and Herringbone Squares, Laced Herringbone Squares, Chain Stitch, Detached Chain Stitch and French Knots for the precious metal and stones.

Then I started thinking, (a bit late, eh?): 'Wait a moment, Sharon said FOUR stitches and I have used FIVE'.

I left school a long time ago, but obviously I have not learned to read yet!!! So I am disqualified from the start, sigh!

The Crown of Fools

Friday, 29 March 2013

TAST #59 Breton Stitch

It is Easter week and I have been working on the Breton Stitch which is one of the Herringbone Stitch family. It is also the #59 TAST stitch.

First I put some rows on my sampler.

As I worked I found the stitch has a twiggy, branchy, twisty look about it so made a Crown of Thorn by weaving the various threads in and out of each row:
I used Perle 8 in brown, smooth silk in beige and the wonderful blue/green variegated silky thread from De Haviland. The drops of blod were made with a Japanese thread of Egyptian cotton used for sewing kimono slips.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

WIPW - SSE embroidery

Since I completed the 'Bellaflora' quilt I have not worked on any of my UFOs for the Work In Progress Wednesday. Instead I completed the first part of the Sumptuous Surface Embroidery course I am now doing with Sharon Boggon.

It is a GREAT course which I warmly recommend to anyone who wants to 'keep on loading stitches' to  a flat surface. Anything goes, and I tell you you can use up all those odd bits of thread, yarn, beads, buttons that might be cluttering your workroom.

First we learned a lot about design and I mean it I learned a lot!
In the first leg of the course we are working in monotone, and I had a lot of light blue and grey thread left from making TASTy bird; selecting the shade was easy!

The rectangle measures 17 cm x 12 cm.

Looking at it I can see I need to improve my linear stitching; should I name this piece Wonky Hearts? I need to take a lesson in Backstitch from the Queen of Backstitch, Jacquie Harvey!

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Felt flowers

The cherry trees in Toyo are at now their best, here against the glass architecture of a business complex

or placing a Buddhist temple in a cloud of pink petals

or prettifying the fishing boats near my home.

The cherries put me  in a 'blossoming mood' and I made some fantasy flowers in felt for a birthday card.

Friday, 22 March 2013

How to manage the Drizzle stitch

I am taking part in Sharon Boggon's excellent online course 'Sumptuous Surface Embroidery'. I have learned a lot and am enjoying the course tremendously. I can recommend it warmly.

Sumptuous Surface Embroidery of course means using a lot of the highly textured stitches, such as Needlewoven Picots, Buttonhole Wheel Cups and so. One stitch that is most appropriate, but tricky to work, is the Drizzle stitch.

May I share my way of managing this stitch?

The best needle to use is a Sharp or Milliner's needle. The even thickness of the shaft makes it easy to pull the thread though the loops. However, the needle has to be re-threaded each time, and here comes a problem - the thread frays easily, making it hard to re-thread. So here is a tip:

Things needed:

  • a Milliner's needle
  • thread (Perle #5)
  • a hard pin cushion, a cork or a piece of piece of polystyren
  • bond
Dip the end of the thread in bond and twist between thumb and index finger to make a sharp point. Let dry, (it only takes a minute).

Take the thread up from the back of the embroidery. Pull out the thread from the needle.

Place the pincushion (or other support) underneath the embroidery. Stick the needle straight up.

Cast on the loops. It is easy with the needle standing straight up supported by the pincushion.

When you have loaded enough loops on the needle, re-thread with the stiff bond-coated end of the thread. Easy peasy! Pull through.

Have fun!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

WIPW - or should I say Completion Report!

Work In Progress Wednesday. This week I can finally report on a finish! Believe it or not, the bias tape quilt is completed! I have even given it a name, Bellaflora.

I began this wall-hanging in July 2010, so it has taken a L O N G time to complete, but I can now finally hang it on the wall.
It measures 105 cm x 105 cm.


It all started with this contribution to the 2011 NHK Partnership quilt blocks:

I really enjoyed framing appliqué pieces with bias tape and then embellish the tape with embroidery. Why not make a quilt for myself?

With no clear idea of how I wanted the quilt to look when completed or what size it should become, I set about making four central blocks of flowers.

After stitching them together I added the stems and leaves.

What follows is a brief description of the various borders, if you want to read more in detail please click on each link to go to previous blog posts.

A first border was added, embellished with an undulating bias tape onto which I have stitched sequins and embroidery.

Not satisfied with the size I added another border. By this time I had found inspiration in the pattern of an elegant old teacup and was very happy to add this design.

In a drawer I found a length of Jinny Beyer border print and used that for the next, narrow border. Then another border was added, with ric-rac and a central ornament.

Out of my stash I pulled a lacy trim which I stitched onto the next border with extra embroidery and ornamental corners. The second last border has chevron squares and sequins.
Last is a border of the remaining Jinny Beyer print, which I have simply quilted as it is quite attractive in itself.

Finally I turned the backing of the quilt to the front, overlapping the top and stitched on 848 blue and orange beads.

Monday, 18 March 2013

My blossoming cherry tree

This has been the coldest winter I have ever experienced here in Tokyo. It also felt so LONG, and the plum trees started blooming way too late.

So it is surprising that the cherry trees have started opening their buds early, too early, record breakingly early. This is what the tree outside my house looked like this morning:

So I needed to switch decoration inside the house as well. Out came this old crazy quilt:

and these two TAST projects from last year, 

Satin stitch.
Oh, I have learned so much during the year and I am sure I could now do much neater stitches than these!

Stem stitch.
Don't these look rough, too?

Poor flowers, the originals, blooming outside my door are the best! Now if we could only get some warmth, too, PLEASE!

TAST #58 Woven Detached Chain

Woven Detached Chain is #58 of the TAST stitches. The name says it all; it is a Detached Chain stitch that has been needle woven. It makes for a interesting look and can be used for leaves or buds. See how beautifully Sharon has used them on her cq block here.

I, however, simply made a row of stitches on my sampler where I joined them with last week's Sailor Edge stitch worked in an uneven fashion:

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

WIPW - The Last Spurt!

For this week's Work In Progress Wednesday I am happy to report that I am on the last spurt.

The edge of the bias tape quilt is now quilted, I have turned the backing towards the front and stitched down the top edge. I am now adding the final beads on this area and hope to have the hanging sleeve on by next week!

Sunday, 10 March 2013

TAST stitches #56 and #57

Two TAST stitches, that is what Sharon of Pintangle gave us for this week:

#56 Sailors Stitch
which is a combination of Buttonhole stitch and Chain stitch

# 57 Sailors Edge Stitch
which is a Buttonhole stitch anchored with a Chain stitch.

You can see them (#56 in rose and #57 in brown) on my sampler, underneath the garland of Buttonholed Herringbone:

I also made some scribbled lines:
Can you recognise the design?

I had my design tools out and just traced the outline of  my French curve ruler...

Thursday, 7 March 2013

More on Twists

On the post for TAST stitch #55 Buttonholed Herringbone stitch, I discussed ways to control the twist in threads while stitching.

Since then there has been a lot of talk about this. I was reading the blog of Lins Arty Blobs and a comment made by Shirley, who points out that there is a way of twisting the Buttonholed Herringbone stitch on purpose. Shirley is quite right. In the excellent book A-Z of Embroidery there is a good illustration of how to do this. I thought I would show it here with my own pictures:

Work half the bar with Buttonhole stitches, keeping the thread pulled downwards, towards you.

Then change the direction of the thread and pull it upwards, away from you.

Continue to add Buttonhole stitches until you have filled the bar, pulling the thread upwards.

You have a beautiful twist made on purpose.

However, for beautiful Buttonhole garlands and any other stitch that has a tendency to twist, this is how I  roll the needle between my fingers while stitching:

The index finger is pulled to the right...

so the needle moves in a clockwise direction.

This is the movement for an S-twisted thread (most threads I would say). For threads with a Z-twist, roll the needle in the opposit direction, anti-clockwise.

(As you can see I often use these rubber tips to get a good grip of the needle, especially when I quilt or stitch 'tough' fabric. Not necessary for this photo shoot, but to lazy to take them off!!)

Happy rolling, happy twisting, happy stitching!

WIPW - Turning the last corner

I am a day late... but here is my Work In Progress Wednesday report on my Bias Tape Quilt.

I have turned the last corner and have just one more side of the quilt's edge, approximately 120 cm, left to quilt.

For more information on WIPW and what other progress has been made, click here read the post, and look at the comments.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Lagging behind TAST

I am lagging behind! Here, finally,  are the last three TAST stitches.
Herringbone Square #53, Laced Herringbone Square #54 and Buttonholed Herringbone #55

The most difficult part with the Buttonholed Herringbone was to keep the thread free from twists. If there is too much of a twist on the thread the garland is not hanging neatly but curls in an unruly way. You can see that in the light green section of the upper row of Buttonholed Herringbone stitches.
There are two ways in which you can avoid this:

  • Let the thread dangle (with the needle as a weight)  from time to time and untwist itself.
  • Learn to roll the needle between the thumb and index finger while stitching. For S-twisted thread like the perle I have used, roll the needle clockwise.
Here you can read what Mary Cobert writes about S- and Z-twisted thread and how to sew with them.