This detail of my Natural Gardening project shows a favorite way of making artwork. It is a combination of using a pre-cut felt shape with free-form hand embroidery. There is a little bit of structure (using pre-cut shapes on a background fabric) and a whole lot of making-it-up-as-you-go-along stitchery. Improvisational stitchery means making all sorts of arty decisions. Yum!
I recently read an article on NPR which included this quote by Girija Kaimal, professor at Drexel University and researcher in art therapy: “Anything that engages your creative mind — the ability to make connections between unrelated things and imagine new ways to communicate — is good for you.”
Thank heavens art making is good for you cause that diet isn’t working for me.
What’s engaging my creative mind as I stitch? First, what basic stitch is needed to fasten the shape to the background felt? Then, what’s the best size and color of thread to use. And finally, what stitches will enhance the fabric shape and create a wonderful design?
Here’s the solution to my creative puzzle and the order of stitching the pink flower above to a dark green background:
Felt Like Gardening #3 by Laura Wasilowski
I love stitching with felt fabrics like these from Commonwealth Felt. The colorful, perky fabrics that make up Felt Like Gardening #3 are easy to stitch and never fray.
To begin a design, I suggest placing the felt shapes on a background fabric and stitch tacking them in place. After the embroidery is added, the tacking stitches are removed.
The first step in the hand embroidery for Felt Like Gardening #3 is stitching the ground to the background fabric. It is attached with alternating vertical rows of stitch combinations (visit this Tutorial page to find out how to make the stitches). Here’s the order for stitching the ground.
- Stem Stitches with a Lazy Daisy on top that is filled in with a French Knot.
- Fern Stitches with a Lazy Daisy on top filled with a French Knot and French Knots alternating between the spikes of the Fern Stitch.
- Straight Stitches angling up to the left of each Stem Stitch line.
Thank you to all who participated in the felt shapes give-away. I’m happy to announce the winners: Deborah U. and Veronica. There is more felt to be given away in the near future. Please stay tuned!
Felt Like Gardening #5 by Laura Wasilowski
Thanks to the students in my Felt Like Gardening class in Houston last year, I have diminished my piles. Piles of felt cut-aways that is.
Felt Like Gardening #1
You see, many years ago I purchased stacks of colorful wool felt from Commonwealth Felt. The rich colors and ease of stitching the felt by hand seduced me. But alas, I work small with few of my felt creations exceeding 12″ x 12″. Soon I realized I’d never use all the felt I had in my stash.
So I taught a class with the felt and gave away stacks of felt cut-aways, the parts left over from cutting shapes for the class. But there are more cut-aways to be rid of! That’s why I’m giving away a set of felt cut-aways to 2 lucky winners. Just leave a comment and we will randomly pick the lucky recipients. And thank you for helping me with my piles.
And now for the fun part in making this Felt Like Gardening composition. Connecting the flowers with Chain Stitches that curl and loop to the ground adds motion and liveliness to the design. It’s always good to give a composition as little activity.
As I set this aside for a new project, I’m reminded that we all have so many ideas in our head there’s not enough time to finish them all. You have to pick and choose. And sometimes we must give ourselves permission to choose the fun project over the obligatory project. Think we should all go play play with our fabric now!
Thank heavens for my skills of disorganization. As this embroidery evolves (without a plan), I am forced to discover new ways of using stitches and thread colors to enhance the felt. When in doubt, go with old Chain Stitches. They hold down the little yellow leafy things and Straight Stitches make the veins.
Next up: have Blanket Stitches girdle the flower lobes in place. (Girdle, haven’t used that word on years!) Add a few Bullion Knots to top off the flower and a Stem Stitch to outline the bud.
This strategy of not planning too far ahead for a project started years ago. I had a specific look I wanted to achieve for a piece of artwork. That look never approached what I saw in my minds eye. It was so disappointing that I did not live up to my own standards. And so I gave up and chucked my standards. And feel much better now, thank you. Give it a try. Chuck your standards today!
Time to tack down the rest of this grass (or whatever it’s called) on the felt garden project. The bottom of the edge of the felt has been trimmed with a pinking blade so I’ll use the size 8 thread to outline those edges. The ideal outline stitch on a pinked edge is the Fly Stitch. But lets change it up.
Instead of completing the Fly Stitch with a stitch to make the peak of the Fly, turn that stitch into a Lazy Daisy Stitch at the top of the peak.
And instead of completing the Lazy Daisy with a stitch over the top of the loop, add a French Knot to secure the loop.
Next, add a Straight Stitch inside each loop of the Lazy Daisy using a contrasting thread color. That was fun! I love it when I can combine stitches to make new marks. Hurray for embroidery!