Cactus Stitching #3

cactus7There are few ways to use a Size 3 pearl cotton thread, it being too bulky to draw through batting and fused fabrics. But Couch it down and distinct shapes like this spiraling sun appear in a desert scene.

cactus6A few last stitches complete my cactus landscape including this stretch of light purple desert land. The Lazy Daisy stitch topped with a French Knot allude to a scruffy plant holding out against that blasting sun. Hope to show you the final quilt soon.

Dyeing Buckets

dyeing9Ah, I live such a glamorous life! Here you see my buckets all lined up to catch the water exiting my washing machine. As I do the laundry, I collect the run-off water for rinsing my hand dyed threads.

threadwashoutThread rinsing must be done by hand. I know this because I once accidentally dropped a bundle of thread skeins into the washer and washed them. What a tangle mess that was! I’ll be lifting lots of heavy buckets to rinse the dyes from the threads in the next few days. But here’s the good news: it’s good exercise!

Stitch Series #3: Marking for Stitching

birdstitching5Here’s a little trick for marking your fabric for stitching. I’m about to add the cap to this bird’s wing and I need a line to follow. By scoring the fabric with your fingernail or tip of a needle, there is no need to draw on the fabric. Score marks also iron out if you change your mind.

birdstitching4The Blanket Stitch is a really versatile stitch. Here I’ve used it to create feather shapes to form the cap of the little bird’s wing. A combination of the Blanket Stitch and the Outline Stitch¬† added around the wing finish the edges and add even more feather shapes. (A Size 12 Peas in a Pod thread with a Size 5 needle are used.)

Already I’m thinking of other stitches to decorate to the tail and wing. Maybe in a clear orange or yellow colored thread? What do you think? More tomorrow!

Stitch Series #2: Tail Feathers

birdstitching3 What bird doesn’t need some flashy tail feathers? Our little bird’s body is neatly finished with the Blanket Stitch. Next a combination of the Blanket Stitch and the Outline Stitch are added around the tail. This time I’m using a Size 12 thread called Peas in a Pod with a Size 5 needle.

You’ll notice that the Outline Stitching is done on the pink background fabric. By snugging the stitches right next to the blue tail fabric, you get a neater look. Also, skim stitch just through the fabric layer. No need to go through the batting layer to the back. We’re adding embellishment, not quilting the piece. More tomorrow!

Stitch Series #1

decquilt21 My studio time in December yielded many small art quilts that are now ready to hand embroider. Here they are stacked and pinned to my design board. Impressive, huh? Not really. My goal was to design a quilt a day in December.

As it turns out, there are several holidays during that month when I had to babysit, socialize, and actually cook a meal. Who knew?

birdstitching1Maybe 12 quilt tops were completed in December with an additional 5 that need  more design work. My resolution this year is to stitch them not only in the evenings but during daylight as well. Here is our first stitch victim.

birdstitching2The hand embroidery begins with the focal point, a Blanket Stitch around the little bird. The Size 12 Aquamarine thread repeats that color in the flower stems and contrasts nicely with the bird body and background. Stay tuned for more daytime stitching this coming week!

How to Manage Those Glorious Thread Skeins for Hand Stitching

lauraandfriedaThat pile of hand-dyed thread skeins you own are beautiful to look at and can make great fashion accessories. But for those of you who actually want to hand stitch with them, I have a few tips on how to manage those glorious thread skeins.

threadskeins1. Skeins of thread from Artfabrik arrive at your house in a pretty twist. If you want to see the color sequence and spacing, just slide the end loop out of the other end loop. Most threads gradate or change colors every 2 – 3 inches.
2. The information tag is attached to the ends of the thread. It tells you size, colorway, and my contact information.
3. To return the thread to it’s pretty twist, stick a fore finger into each end loop of the skein. Twist the skein with one finger until the twist is tight. Then slip the end loop into the other end loop. The skein will twist back on itself.

threadring24. To store the thread and make it easy for hand stitching, you’ll need a metal binder ring or smooth bracelet. Open the skein and place an end loop into the center of the metal ring. Then pull the other thread loop through the first loop to secure it around the ring.
5. Now comes the scary part. You have to cut the thread. Insert your scissors and cut the skein in half at the far loop. This way the thread is the right length for stitching and won’t get tangled.

threadring36. To remove a strand of thread for stitching, gently pull a strand from the center of the skein where it wraps around the ring. Pull the thread slowly and it won’t tangle.
7. Now get out there a do some stitching!