Earlier this month it was my good fortune to travel to France. This gift from my sweet husband fulfilled the number one item on my bucket list: seeing the Bayeux Tapestry.
Photos of the work are not allowed (this is a photo from a book).
The Bayeux Tapestry is hand embroidered on linen with wool thread. It illustrates the story of William the Conqueror, Harold, Earl of Wessex, and the Battle of Hastings in 1066. Using the stem stitch and “Bayeux Stitch”, it was embroidered in the 1070’s and measures about 70 meters long and 50 centimeters high.
It is amazing!
I spent a thrilling hour viewing the tapestry. And later attended an evening event in the Bayeux Cathedral. In a vivid light show, moving images of the work were projected on the columns and balustrades of the cathedral while a narrator told the story of William the Conqueror.
Entrance to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum
What a thrill to see this historic piece of artwork first hand! To know that it was preserved for centuries and is a treasured piece of textile work overwhelms me. It reinforces my belief that telling stories through hand work has great value not only to the viewer but to the maker as well.
Windy City #18 by Laura Wasilowski
Yippee! Now that the hand embroidery on Windy City #18 is complete, it is bound and machine quilted. For this little fused art quilt (14″ x 9.5″) I’ve used a pillowcase binding method.
Then the quilt is machine quilted using a titanium or chrome coated embroidery needle and free-motion stitching. To add free-motion stitching, drop the feed dogs on the machine and guide the needle around all the organic shapes in the design while moving the quilt.
To compare, here is the quilt before stitching. See what a difference a stitch makes? The hand embroidery and machine stitchery bring the quilt to life. This is what sets quilting aside from other art forms: the joining of surfaces with a stitch. It’s all about the stitch!
As I stitch around the sun in my little Windy City quilt, I meditate on the amazing variations of the Fly Stitch. The Fly Stitch is an open looping stitch that is easy to make and has lots of stitch possibilities. Here’s a few you can try:
- Extend the center thread of the Fly Stitch to make a Y shape like branches in a tree,
- Use the Fly Stitch with a pinked fabric and the thread follows the pointy edges and tacks down fabric shapes at the same time,
- Add a French Knot between lines of Fly Stitches (like those on a pinked fabric edge) to build pattern and add hits of color,
- Stack Fly Stitches to make leaf like shapes, or
- Use a French Knot to hold the center of the stitch in place. This is also known by those of us who are fast food connoisseurs as the French Fly.
And finally, surround a group of French Knots with Fly Stitches to make a flower. Ah, the Fly Stitch, so much talent in such a tiny stitch.
The embroidery on my little Windy City quilt continues with a favorite stitch, the Fly Stitch, around the light green fabric. Use the Fly Stitch with a pinked fabric like this and the thread follows the pointy edges and tacks down fabric shapes at the same time,
Can you guess why I’m using an Orange size 8 pearl cotton thread? The size 8 is larger than the size 12 threads used on the other parts of the design so it gives a nice bold edge to the fabric shape. The color orange is also in strong contrast to the surrounding fabrics and repeats the orange color found in the design. Two great reasons to use it on this pinked edge.
It’s that time of year again,Thanksgiving. So put on your powdered wig, buckle your shoes, and grab your knickerbockers! We are about to learn the Colonial Knot. (OK, the knickerbockers reference may not be historically correct but grab something.)
Colonial Knots are faster to make than French Knots and you can easily toss them in as a background filler with the Scattered Seed stitches like those above. (It also gives you an excuse to wear knickerbockers.)
Here’s how to make Colonial Knots: Begin the thread on the top of the fabric at A. Form a small loop like a backwards letter C with the thread. With the needle to the right of point A, slip the needle tip under the thread coming out of A. The shaft of the needle will lay on top of the lower end of the thread.
Shift the needle tip in front of point A. Wrap the thread across the needle and slip it under the tip of the needle. It should look like a figure 8 around the needle.
Gently pull the thread around the needle as you scoot the needle tip across the fabric to insert it back into the fabric. Insert the needle tip very close to point A. Draw the needle and thread through the fabric.
Congratulations! You are now an official Colonial Knot Maker! You may now remove your knickerbockers and invite the neighbors over for Thanksgiving.
My next stitching challenge for this little Windy City quilt is to tackle the looming purple shrubbery on the horizon. But first let me show you the steps to make looming shrubbery from a fused fabric.
- Cut the fabric into a shrub shape.
- Flip the fabric over and cut on the fused side. (This is so the glue does tack to itself when cutting.)
- Wedge the fabric into the crux of the scissors with your finger tip. Remove your finger tip.
- Snip out a wedge of fabric.
My stitch choice for the shrubs is the lazy daisy stitch. It replicates the oval shape of the snip out and adds another stitch texture to the quilt surface. I’ve also chosen a light blue size 12 thread so the shrubs look less ominous. Looks safe to go home now.