For those of you who love to hand stitch, I highly recommend hand embroidery on wool. Thread glides smoothly through the cloth, no hoop is needed, your hands are caressed by the fabric, and knots (if you use them) hide in the bulky fabric. It’s a rich, gentle fabric ideal for hand embroidery.
Cut out wool shapes with sharp scissors and attach them to the background fabric with a pin or tacking stitches.Usually I stitch a Blanket Stitch around the edges to hold the shape in place.
Here you see that the Blanket Stitch in red has a second thread (green) whipped through the top edge of the stitch to give more definition to the outline of the shape. I’m also experimenting with stacking Fly Stitches to make leaf shapes using a variegated size 8 thread called Lettuce. Although the Fly Stitches are stitched closely together, it is easy to stitch through the wool.
My favorite source for colorful wool is hand dyed by Tracy Trevethan. The Wooly Ladies also carry wool suitable for hand work as do many of your local quilt shops. In the Rare Songbird project from my book, Joyful Stitching, I use a hand-dyed wool for the background. And many of these free tutorials on my Rare Songbird project from my book, Tutorial Page use their hand dyed wools as well. Give it a try. Your hands will thank you!
Dyed in the Wool by Laura Wasilowski
Recently I met up with someone who has taken on and finished one of my free Stitch Tutorials called Dyed in the Wool. It makes me happy to know that she found the tutorial useful and was willing to give it a try. Where is this intrepid stitcher from? Why the Racine Lighthouse Quilters Guild in Wisconsin, of course.
Meet my new best friend, Sandy. She brought her finished Dyed in the Wool project to the guild meeting and really brightened up my day. Her color choices, beautiful free-form stitching, and sunny personality instantly charmed me. Thank you, Sandy, for sharing your work with us!
Here’s what to love about hand embroidery- you can take it with you. You only need these basic items: fabric, needle, thread, thimble, and a pair of scissors. Hand embroidery is a great vacation pass time!
Which is what I’ve been doing the last few weeks. Relaxing with family, getting sun burned, and stitching. Well, maybe not stitching a lot. As you can see my garden didn’t grow very much while I was on vacation. Vacationing is great but it is also very exhausting so it’s good to be back in my shady studio again.
Flower Vase Stitch Along by Laura Wasilowski
Do you need a vacation project? Then please check out my free project on wool on the C&T Blog the Flower Vase Stitch Along. Or if you need a few months to think about your next stitch project, check out my IQF classes this fall in Houston. I’ll be teaching several classes including Felt Like Gardening in the morning on October 30. See you there!
The blue flowers are very sweet on this improvisational stitchery. But something big and bold is needed for the focal point. Enter the Chain Stitch. Stitched in a size 8 pearl cotton, it curves down the center of the piece. Add a few straight stitches spiking from the chain and we’re in business. Could this be a future big and bold flower stem?
While thinking this through, I’ve added lots of Ermine Stitches in size 8 thread across the base of the garden. Don’t you love how the yellow pops on that rich red background?
Sometimes its a challenge to choose thread colors for an unexpected background color like this. But if you think in terms of contrast in value or hue, it opens up your thread color choices a great deal. Can’t wait to see what the fabric tells me to do next!
The red wool I’m using for my improvised embroidery is a boiled wool. It is fairly thick, a little fuzzy, and ever so easy to stitch. In it’s previous life it was a jacket. Also, in a previous life, I demonstrated how to make these blue Fishbone Stitches on the wool to a student. I think I did it right.
To me the Fishbone Stitches look like something growing which triggers my theme for this improvised piece- a garden. And what does a garden need? Soil of course! The horizon line made with a Couched size 3 pearl cotton indicates the rich loamy soil of Illinois. Add Stem Stitches with a few Lazy Daisy Stitches and the plants are anchored into place. Now its time to improvise even more plants in my imaginary garden.
Today I unearthed this swatch of red wool fabric. The few stitches you see represent my attempt to teach a student how to make the Fern and Stem Stitches. The blue thread shows my attempts at the Fishbone Stitch.
My first thought upon seeing this red wool was “Ouch!, I left a needle in the fabric.” The second was, “Can I make something from this?”
Improvisational or free-form embroidery challenges your brain and tests your ability to surrender to needle and thread. So, for the next few weeks, I’m going to give my brain a work out and try to improvise a design beginning with these few random acts of stitching. I’ll show you the results as I progress and we can lament my lack of brain power together.
Now, where did I put that needle?