Improvisational Stitching #2

redwoolembroidery1aThe 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.

 

redwoolembroidery2To 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.

Never Enough Embroidery

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Felt Like Gardening #5 by Laura Wasilowski

Soon I’m off to Sisters OR to teach a class at Quilter’s Affair called Felt Like Gardening. Felt Like Gardening #5 above is an example of what my students can make with the many felt shapes they’ll get in their kits.

folkartgardenYou may recognize this piece from a similar project found in Joyful Stitching called Folk Art Garden. Using a step-out or stage in the construction process prepared for the book, I changed it up and added more stitchery.

One can never go wrong with more embroidery.

Hope to see you at Sisters!

Dare I Cut?

flowerbud1This is about as far as I go for this hand embroidery on felt. Or is it? Should I fill in the surrounding blue area with more hand stitchery? Or dare I cut it out with a decorative rotary cutter blade and apply the embroidery to another fabric?

flowerbud1a Here goes nothing! (My big fear is that I cut into the stitching. Then what would I do?)

flowerbud1bSo, gritting my teeth and sending a prayer to the St.Ethel of Mertz, I trim the embroidery and place it on a yellow background fabric. Whew! that was close!

What to Do with Size 3 Thread

couching1Size 3 pearl cotton thread is huge! And by that I mean thick, much thicker than your regular size 8 pearl cotton thread. Size 3 is also a little difficult to stitch through fabric. So how do you stitch this bulky thread to your fabric? Use couching.
 
Couching is a method of securing thick threads, like the yellow Size 3 pearl cotton thread above, to the surface of fabric. The heavy thread lays on the fabric and a finer, easier to handle thread, like a Size 8 pearl thread, is stitched over it to fasten it to the fabric.

Here’s how to add Couching to your fabric:

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  1. Come up at point A with the Size 3 thread using a Size 1 embroidery needle. Come up at B, about 1/4’’ from A, with a lighter weight thread like a Size 8 or Size 12 pearl cotton using a Size 3 or Size 5 embroidery needle respectively. (See the Needle and Thread Chart here.)

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  1. Stitch the big needle into the fabric to hold it out of the way. Bring the smaller needle, used with the finer thread, over the thick thread and insert the needle back into B. Draw the thread through the fabric. The finer thread traps the heavy thread into place.

 

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  1. Bring the small needle up at C about 1/4’’ from B. Insert the small needle on the other side of the thick thread and back into C. Draw the thread through the fabric.

 

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  1. Continue to couch down the thicker thread to make shapes, draw lines, or outline shapes. To end the stitching, bring both threads to the back of the fabric and tie them off.

During the month of June I’ll be giving away a skein of hand-dyed size 3 pearl cotton fabric with any purchase from the Artfabrik store. Give it a try!

Stitch Combo Exploration

stitchcombo2Lately, I’ve been exploring stitch combinations to make my free-form hand embroideries. In free-form embroidery there is no pattern or set of instructions to follow. You make it up as you go along. So I can easily spend hours agonizing over what stitch and what color thread to use on a project.

stitchcombo1I’ve tried to approach this exploration logically and made a sort of chart for various stitch combinations that build line, texture and pattern. They range from the simple Blanket Stitch plus French Knot plus Running Stitch like you see above to more complicated combinations.

stitchalong1aWell, this has turned into a major rabbit hole! There are endless combinations. And even though I’ve tried to limit the number of basic embroidery stitches to use in exploring the combinations, it looks like there is no end. Maybe that’s the beauty of hand embroidery. There are endless possibilities!

Ripping and Reworking

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In preparation for a new class in July at Quilters’ Affair, I’m making multiple garden stitcheries using felt shapes and size 8 pearl cotton threads. This one was going along great until I got a little carried away.

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See all those yellow Lazy Daisy stitches filling in across the bottom section? Don’t you think it’s a little too cluttered? The reason I like working with the felt is that it has a clean, simple look that is easily enhanced by embroidery. But those yellow Lazy Daisies are messy looking. They really bug me!

So I’ll spend a little time ripping them out and come up with plan B. What ever that is!