Monday, 6 July 2020

Ladybug Valley Stitchscape Kit

I've been able to use this lockdown period to catch up on quite a few projects that had been put on a back burner, waiting for a chance for me to think about and crack on with whatever it is. A couple of years ago I designed a ladybird themed Stitchscape kit to be sold exclusively at The-Stitchery in Lewes using fabrics, threads and trimmings that were sold in the shop. This special kit sold out several months ago now and so I have taken back the design and the template pieces, sourced fabrics and trimmings myself and amended it slightly, giving the ladybirds a fresh new look!

The ladybird fabric itself is exactly the same as I managed to find it online. It's actually a poly/cotton blend which I wouldn't normally use but the pattern is just so sweet it's hard to resist and I have commented on the composition of the fabric inside the kit booklet itself in terms of ironing instructions. Other fabrics include the lovely Linea stripe from Makower (the green stripy fabric), and polka dot and floral fabrics from Rose & Hubble, both really lovely suppliers of fabrics with good quality cotton.

I wasn't sure on the combination of fabrics at first. The floral wasn't singing in perfect choral tones, but the alternative floral fabric I have (another Rose & Hubble design destined to be in another kit pattern which I haven't designed yet) got lost in the green of the image and became a bit bleurgh (technical term!). The flowers sung out a lot more and through the embroidery stitches used and thread colours chosen, it has become more embedded into the design and balanced throughout. I've pulled the purple flowers upwards into little crosses in the polka dot, and the red and yellow used for the ladybirds has been used in the flowers at the bottom.

There's certainly been a lot of inspiration around for this kit! I was stitching through one of the hottest weeks so far and snapping quick photos on my phone as I went. Hours spent in the garden were very pleasant, although we do have a couple of neighbours who seem to think that their lawns need near daily strimming so the out of tune harmonies of strimmers and lawnmowers were drowning out the much nicer bird song and buzzing bees.

The trimming used for this piece is actually a wide woven hessian tape which I have cut in half, stripped completely and then twisted some of the strands as I've stitched along, catching it at the top to secure the twist. I later went back to it, because I wasn't happy with the way it was sitting proud on the surface of the fabric, and teased out some of the bottom edges, pulling them down and securing them with a stitch. I could probably have done this a bit more neatly and discreetly if I'd known what I was doing when I started but this was a proper experiment! I have no idea how I'm going to explain what I've done through diagrams either! There may have to be an accompanying kit video to go with it haha.

I've added little sprays of pink french knots up into the striped layer to help blend it in. The pink matches one of the printed colours of the flowers below but I didn't want to add any more stitching to that layer as it was already quite full so I've used the colour to edge the fabric instead. Where flowers ended halfway through the fabric cut line I've carried these on up as well so it's all quite wild and random at the bottom there.
It could have looked very different as The Mother wasn't keen on the little pink knots and was concerned that I hadn't used the bullion knot flowers that often appear in my kits (at the top of straight stitch stems). Initially I did start adding in some stems and knots to see what it looked like but it was all messy and too linear and I pulled the stems out and went with my gut.

I've added a couple of new-to-Stitchscape-kits stitches as well so this one has split stitch (around the leaves on the ladybird layer) and colonial knots (the black knots in the flowers). I've decided to try and start adding some new stitches or new techniques to my kits where I can so that 'Stitchscapers' who want to use them as a way to learn new things can progress and try out lots of different stitches in a safe way. If at the end of the day you decide colonial knots aren't for you, swap them out for french knots, and if you don't like split stitch then go back to stem or back stitch, it really doesn't matter.

These are very fuzzy photos, sorry about that, they were all snapped on my phone when I finished the kit as I was so excited - it took me a while to get my head around this one and I kept falling in and out of love with the design which happens every now and then. I think we've ended on good terms!

So, the stitches used in this kit include; satin stitch, detached chain stitch, colonial knots, french knots, bullion knots, split stitch, back stitch, seed stitch, running stitch and straight stitch. Lots of easy stitches combined with a few ones to work on and practice.
As always the fabric choices mean that each kit made will be unique. not every flower placement will be the same and I've also suggested (much like in Woollydale) that you might not want to follow my template to the letter in terms of cutting out the ladybirds. I forgot to cut around one of mine so ended up trying to make up the other half where I'd cut through but it might be easier for you just to cut around them all so you have whole ladybirds to work with!!

I'm halfway through writing the booklet to accompany this kit, as well as drawing those tricky diagrams to tell you how to do the twisty thing in the middle. These ladybirds are so sweet though, I hope that you will all like them when I'm able to add them to my shop!! I was asking for inspiration on a name for this kit and had lots of lovely ideas sent to me - one follower suggested a Loveliness of Ladybirds as that is their collective noun, how pretty is that? I'd already decided on Ladybird Valley so didn't use it, but I'm still going to talk about my lovely ladybirds!!

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