Making Flowers on Silk #3

silkflowers27Hand embroidery is a slow process. So it gives you plenty of time to plan your next move. The focal point of my design is a giant flower and I’m having a great time imagining a stitch plan.

The Blanket Stitches (placed row next to row to create a grid) make up the flower center and the next step is to fill in the boxes with healthy French Knots. To make this sunny flower on the blue silk fabric, I’m using a Size 8 pearl cotton thread in the Sunflowers colorway.

silkflowers28Using that same Size 8 thread, Lazy Daisy Stitches fill in the petal areas. Note how the loops of the stitch drape over the drawn lines to conceal the ink.

Did you know that the Lazy Daisy Stitch is also known as the Detached Chain Stitch? I much prefer the term “Lazy Daisy” as it suggests a no-account-disinclined-to-exertion stitch that resembles a flower.

Making Flowers on Silk #2

silkflowers25The silk fabric is fused to a wool batting and I’m ready to start my stitching. Do you see that dark line on the fabric? You may want to draw a few simple lines on the silk with a very fine marker to help guide your stitching. When you draw, keep in mind that every line drawn has to be covered by stitches. That’s why you keep it simple.

There are two kinds of fine markers I use: Prismacolor 05 Fine Line Markers (acid free, permanent, water resistant) or Staedtler .3 Triplus Fineliners (superfine, water-based). They both come in a variety of colors, so test the edge of your fabric to find the color that works best for you.

silkflowers26The focal point of the design (a giant flower) begins by outlining the center of the flower with a Stem Stitch using a Size 8 pearl cotton thread. Stitch right on the line and you conceal the ink from the marker. The center is then filled in with a set of Blanket Stitches placed row next to row to create little boxes. As you can see I’m not the neatest stitcher but I do enjoy my color!

Making Flowers on Silk #1

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Flowers on Silk by Laura Wasilowski

Free-stitched hand embroidery is just that- free. Like any improvisational art form, you work within a set structure (stitches) and you play off that structure to make new art. There is no pattern or preview of what you’re making. However, for this piece, my play with free-stitched embroidery did begin with a universally loved design theme- flowers.

silkflowers15This week I’ll show you how to make new flower designs using basic embroidery stitches. Would you like to join me? Like any other textile art, it starts with gorgeous fabric and thread. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1.  A 8″ x 11″ piece of silk fabric. Silk has a glow to it and compliments hand-dyed pearl cottons (sizes 8 and 12) perfectly. Any color of silk (or if you prefer, cotton) will work.
  2. Sizes 8 and 12 pearl cotton threads in a variety of colors.
  3. Size 4 and 5 embroidery needles.
  4. A 6″ x 9″ piece of wool batting fused to the back of the silk. You need something easy to stitch into and wool batting won’t beard through the silk.

silkflowers16Your first step is to center the wool batting onto the fused side of the silk and fuse the batting right to the silk. About 1″ of fabric will hang outside of the batting. We’ll use that to finish the edges.

We start stitching soon!

Ah! Those Chicken Memories

Chicken Dreams by Laura Wasilowski

Chicken Dreams by Laura Wasilowski

About 20 years ago I made a series of quilts about chickens. Like many of you, I had caught chicken fever and was enamored with their bright colors and charm. But soon my chicken mania diminished, and I put them to bed thinking they were silly and not so charming.

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Chicken Music and his friends being packed for their journey.

But I’m over that now and am so happy I have my collection of chicken quilts. In fact, these fine fowl are on their way to Oregon for the Friday evening Picnic in the Park celebration at the Quilter’s Affair show in Sisters. I’m the guest speaker this year and will happily show off my hens and sing a song or two. Hope you can be there!

Cactus is Done!

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Cactus Landscape by Laura Wasilowski

Let’s consider this as an experiment in how to use embroidery to make a landscape. For a while I was stuck on how to do the mid-ground between the mountains and foreground. Until finally the mountains, made with the Satin Stitch, gave me the idea for the mid-ground texture in a pink and yellow variegated thread. As these mid-ground satin stitches progress to the foreground, they are spaced more loosely to reveal the fabric underneath. A few “desert plants” in the mid-ground are added to give the illusion of distance.

Soon I’ll be teaching a new class called Free Stitched Embroidery Landscapes in Sisters, Oregon. My students will receive a kit of hand dyed silk fabric and pearl cotton threads for their projects. Each student also gets my booklet on how to make embroidery stitches for the pieces. I hope to have even more examples to show them. Wish me luck!

Here’s an Exhibit to See

bluechairinthelibrarybigI’m so happy to see that my mystery quilt, Blue Chair in the Library with a Candlestick, is enjoying itself. It is part of a SAQA exhibit called “My Corner of the World” at the Stratford Perth Museum in Stratford, Ontario, Canada now through September 5, 2016.

SAQA has prepared a really great web page with artist and venue information where you can read more.  Visit “My Corner of the World” page here.