Sunday, 25 March 2018

Still #inthehooping

I'm still going with my #inthehoop 'scapes! This is the latest little finished one, based around these rather alien looking plant pods. These fabrics go so well together and I've loved used those zesty greens!

It looks almost quilted with the different thicknesses of back stitch filling in the plain green sections and following the lines of the grey plant form and satin stitch pods. I used to draw around my hand and fill the middle of the hand print with drawn squiggles and swirls that look just like this fabric!

The flowers are very simply followed with detached chain stitches, satin stitch, mini French knots and tiny back stitches with single strands of straight stitch in the leaves. It's a very happy fabric print!

I have used a variegated blue thread for the seed stitch which creates areas of light and dark without any effort from me at all. The geometric triangle print is either filled with satin stitch or with several lines of back stitch, some sitting inside the other which is something I really like- perhaps I can take this further and actually fill a shape with multicoloured rows of back stitch.

I'm trying not to sound boring but the top layer is also back stitch! A single strand of the darker green and two strands of the light green, following the line of the stripes, with more back stitch following the curve of the raw fabric edge. So, all that I have to do now is to sew a felt circle to the back and we are good to go!

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Summer Meadow Stitchscape

A big one finished!! It's been an age since I did any stitchscapes bigger than 15cm in diameter, but I was prompted to prepare some larger pieces in the run up to my demonstration event at Closs & Hamblin Tunbridge Wells a couple of weekends ago as part of their 'Make-It March' event. At my recent visit to the Ardingly Quilt Fair, I ended up collecting a whole bunch of very sunshiny and sunny fabric prints, and as one of them was a print of a giant sunflower, this theme kind of brought itself together! The layout is a second attempt at my Fields of Flowers Stitchscape which you can find an image of over on my website, with the bottom half splitting out in a fan and the top half staying as the more traditional horizontal layers. I think that this has worked really well, and has allowed me to try different types of stitches in each 'slice'- especially some that I have been practising in my #inthehoop 'scapes.

This technique with the repeated detached chain stitches worked so well last time I just had to do it again here, and this time used a dark gold, and a variegated yellow thread to get the difference in shade and the lighter/darker tones.

Originally I was just going to keep this section quite plain with just the whisper lines of single strand back stitch, but actually it looked empty against the more tightly packed sections so I added in some pistil stitches in the same colour variegated thread as in the Dahlia section which blends the two fabrics together nicely.

Variegated threads were out in abundance here as I think I used at least four of them. The thread on the right hand side has all of the colours of the batik print fabric; pink blue, green and yellow, and these have been worked into satin stitches covering the splodges in the print. It has worked better in the small splodges I think as the larger ones show the stripes of colour rather than blending in. The thread on the left hand side was also chosen for its perfect match of colours, and has been used for both the back stitch stripes following the strong lines of colour, and as rows of French knots following tidemarks. I like to think of them as Sunflower seeds being planted in rows.

The sunflower print has been treated with some messy satin stitch in various block coloured threads and is quite simple. I haven't touched any of the green colour, and have splashed out on French knots in the centre- incidentally matching those in the Dahlia print. A nice bit of continuity there.

Up at the top things are much simpler and less shouty. Seed stitch, French knots, running (kantha) stitch and lime green satin stitch splodges complete the sky section. I really like the splodge fabric here actually as the colours bring the top and bottom together nicely.

The middle is more chaotic with waves of fancy yarn grasses, posh ric rac hedges and a solid line of suede cord, couched down into a discreet fence. I went a little overboard with my embellishments here but I love it! The way the looped fancy yarn has been set out helps give some perspective and creates an inviting pathway into fields beyond. The bottom of the loops has been bedded down with French knots, and some golden pistil stitches add a splash of colour to an otherwise very dark green section, helping light the way like little streetlights. The harshness of the straight cord has also been disguised slightly by the golden pistil stitches in the foreground, helping to blend the two sections together.

So there we have it. This one is, unsurprisingly, called Sunflower Meadow is and is super sunny on this grey day. Even the back of the embroidery is sunny and joyful- it actually reminds me more of the beach from the back. What do you think of this addition to my Stitchscape collection?

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Stitchscape Pebbles

Now these are cute, even if I do say so myself. How do you feel about Stitchscape Pebbles? Little tiny nuggets of stitch focusing entirely on my bullion knot flowers and French knot blossom sticks. It was an idea that kind of hit me very late one night when I was trying to go to sleep and the brain goes to strange 'shutting down' places. Does this happen to any of you? I have to keep a notepad by the side of my bed to write down some of these ideas sometimes as they turn into burning things that keep me awake until I do write it down and can then forget about it until the morning.

I can't quite remember what the original idea was. Broaches perhaps that were little and sweet? These could be used as broaches if a safety pin was stitched to the back, but I have kept them as they are. Totally pointless but rather pretty!
I can fit eight of these chaps in a 20cm (8") hoop (much easier to work in multiples, a little bit like the Stitchscape minis) and I draw out the shapes to use as a guide before starting. There was a bit of trial and error with some card cut-outs and a off-cut of calico, trying to figure out the best shape and way of making them, and I have some rejected initial attempts that were made of layers of quilt batting, card and heavy vilene. I eventually hit upon the method of toy stuffing to pad out the pebble, with a layer of card to keep the shape when the fabric was pulled up, the back is then neatened with a layer of felt that is also padded with toy stuffing to keep the roundness. It's a bit fiddly but well worth the effort.

My next thought is to take these slightly bigger as they currently stand about 4cm (1.5") tall so they are really diddy! It has been good at using up my scraps of fabrics though and there are some slightly strange combinations put together that I really like. Again this is so rough and ready! The backing fabric is just laid down (sometimes not even pressed out beforehand) and tacking stitches hold it round the edges. The stitches are then worked within the template space and when finished, the shapes are cut out on my template seam allowance line which leaves about 1cm to thread a running stitch through and gather the fabrics up.

I have also had a request for some sheep themed pebbles which is an interesting concept so I might try that- I've just started cutting into my chicken and swan themed fabrics so perhaps I should have a wool and feathers series of pebbles.

I stuck with a just a few well known stitches in these- you don't really need anything fancy. So, here we have; bullion knots (of course), French knots, pistil stitch, straight stitch and fly stitch. That's it!

They will eventually be for sale, and I'm looking into little organza bags to present them in, but I'm having problems trying to come up with a price for them because they are so tiny. They still take over an hour to make each!

Monday, 5 March 2018

Tilly Tea Dance

I was surfing Pinterest the other day- love Pinterest, are you on it? It has ideas for everything and is jam packed of fabulous fashions, food, art, homewares, DIY, cute images, beautiful photos....there is nothing you cannot find there. Anyway, I was randomly swiping through things and came across a beautiful image of a felted landscape with a couple of adorable needle felted sheep happily living in it. One of the best things about Pinterest is that most of the images come from internet sites and are linked back to the page they came from. It's especially good for linking Etsy shop images so you can buy the items you come across, as was the case here! I clicked the image and ended up in the Etsy shop of Tilly Tea Dance, stuffed full of beautiful felted and embroidered art. In this modern age of being able to buy things just by clicking a couple of times on your phone, I found this beautiful framed piece in my basket, and then...ordered!!

I just had to share it with you chaps as I am now trying very hard to restrain myself from buying a couple more little frames to build up my flock. They even arrived safely through the snow!! Hardy little beggars. Anyway, Tilly Tea Dance (owned and created by Maxine Smith) is based in Shrewsbury, Shropshire and runs workshops and parties (if only I were nearer!!), details of which you can find on her website here. She also has a great Facebook page, and takes commissions alongside her Etsy shop which has been linked to above.


Sunday, 4 March 2018

Things Occuring

Good Morning Chums!! I have so much whirring around in my crazy head that I'm not sure where to start and what to do next! A couple of things have been finished off this week including the latest in my #inthehoop series. I really like this vibrant blue addition to the collection, with its little patches of sunshine in the form of yellow flowers and metallic golden printed swirls. It's a little bit beachy perhaps? I can see the whooshing waves and sand dunes under the cloudy blue sky, in an abstract kind of a way.

This piece took me a while to complete in the end as these past couple of weeks were kind of up and down and all over the place with getting #inthehoop Spring kits ready (which are now in my Etsy shop!), sorting out admin things, craft fairs, snow days... it was all going on!

I am thoroughly enjoying satin stitch at the moment!! The fabric print these stitches are covering is that of giant blue tulips and wherever the print has shading or highlights, I have applied this to the stitches as well, and the patches add gorgeous chunks of touchable texture! Much like the stitches in my recent Northern lights inspired #inthehoop 'scape.
Other stitches in this piece include French knots, straight stitch, colonial knots, running stitch, back stitch and whip stitch, and I have played around with weights of line as well. The swirl print has a delicate single strand back stitch mixing in with the two strand chunkier blue strands, and the chunky DMC Coton Perlé running stitch at the top has been whipped over with a couple of strands of DMC Mouline.

Now, what do you think of these? A little idea struck me very late one night (the best ideas always seem to arrive just before sleep comes); to focus on my favourite bullion knot flowers and make them into little tiny pieces. For Christmas or a birthday I was given a collection of tiny squares of fabric, only about three inches wide, with lots of different patterns in. My thought was to use these and any other offcuts from my bigger pieces to make these tiny little 'pebbles'. I tried a couple out yesterday and am still trying different ways of finishing them off at the back. Currently they are filled with a couple of layers of quilting batting (something I had to hand) and a layer of cardboard, backed with either felt or stiff sew-on vilene, but I have a couple more ideas to try out as I'm not completely happy with the finish. I do still really like the idea though!

And one of my more recent ventures was finished off last night! I came across some tiny little frames in Sainsburys (other supermarkets are available) with a double mount, and thought they would be perfect for some tiny little stitchscapes. The internal measurement is 10cm (4") square so they are quite little- I seem to be focusing on mini things at the moment!

I bought four frames to start off with and this is the first finished one with its glittery threads and Japanese metallic cotton prints. The dahlias are really lovely I think- each little petal has been filled with a sort of rough satin stitch, leaving the border line of metallic gold free to shine through, and the central petals have been stitched in a lighter colour which sort of matches the blue print underneath.

Leaves have been very simply stitched with little straight stitches so as not to hide the gold and the layer has been finished off with matching dark blue crosses at the bottom and dark blue thread couching down my metallic gold embroidery thread. This is the stand out layer so there is a lot of focus here whilst the other fabrics have been less obviously worked.

From the top down we have bullion knots, running stitch, whip stitch, seed stitch, bullion knots, satin stitch mini splodges, bullion knots and straight stitches. Nice and easy! I'm looking forwards to filling the other three frames.

Now my final most recent idea is The Naked Stitchscape Kit. (Something else that had a light bulb moment late at night.) Clearly it was something that had been slowly processing at the back of my mind after my last craft fair where someone was talking to me about how I put fabrics together and being able to take my kits and totally personalise them. My thought is, that if I give you all of the tools necessary to make your stitchscape, you have a lot more free rein to decide where you want to position your fabrics and the 'overall look' you are trying to create. If I provide the calico, strips of matching or colour co-ordinating cotton fabrics, some matching threads and maybe some ribbons or beads to add a bit of something extra, you will be inspired to follow your own path! I have been putting together an inspiration guide with how to make all of my favourite and most used stitches, and diagrams of different ways to treat different kinds of patterns, for example, turning a polka dot into a horizontal stripe or a cross stitch base. 
I don't know when these will be ready to go yet as I still have to finish off the guide, but they are in the near future!!