Soon I’ll be packing my bags to teach in Sisters, OR. Sisters is the home of the largest outdoor quilt festival in the nation called Quilters Affair. It is also the location of the most fun you’ll ever have in Oregon. And it all began with Jean Wells.
One of the classes I’m teaching is Improvisational Hand Embroidery on Wool. I’m bring the sheep along to illustrate this important point: you can always remove embroidery stitches if you don’t like them. And that’s what I’ve done. The French Knots for the face were removed and replaced with the Long and Short Stitch giving the sheep a smoother face. Note the new ears too. Hope to see you in Sisters!
Dresden Fireworks by Susan
As we pause in the stitching of the sheep, I thought you might enjoy this fine example of how to use my hand-dyed threads. Susan’s donation to the SAQA Benefit auction features hand embroidery through just the quilt top and batting with the backing and machine quilting done later. Here is the link to the Susan’s Blog where she tells you more about her joyful project. Thanks for sharing Susan and Happy Canada Day and Fourth of July!
Vase on the Table #3 by Laura Wasilowski
The hand embroidery on this little quilt gave me a few challenges. See the fabric edges cut with the pinking blade? So far you’ve seen how to stitch the decorative edges found on the wallpaper stripes and flower tips. But how to stitch the yellow band on the vase and the top edge of the tablecloth?
Why with the Fly Stitch, of course! (I admit it took me a long time to realize that the Fly Stitch was the solution.) The yellow band on the vase measures about 1/2″ wide and is stitched with a variegated size 12 thread. Each little pinked edge is concealed with a strand of thread. You can see the process here.
The top edge of the tablecloth is also completed with the Fly Stitch. In this version, the center stitch is elongated into the fabric to make a Y shape. Thus proving that there is an embroidery stitch that can be adapted to any fabric shape you make.
This is what I like about free-form hand embroidery. It challenges you to discover inventive ways to mark fabric. It’s a creative endeavor using simple tools at a slow pace. It’s a quiet expression of art.
Colorado Cactus #5 by Laura Wasilowski
Colorado Cactus #5 is all stitched up and now provides an example of a woodcut quilt for my Creating Graphic Imagery class. In class, students make their own patterns for original designs and we discuss how hand embroidery enhances the quilt. As you can see, the stitching on this quilt transforms flat benign shapes into spiky cactus plants. That’s the power of the stitch!
If you have a chance, please check out this exhibit in Wisconsin.
If you want to draw a really thick line on your quilt top with thread, use the Chain Stitch. This linked stitch starts out like the Lazy Daisy Stitch but attaches to the previous stitch to form a line or chain of stitches. Here you see the Chain Stitch forming bulky cumulus clouds above the tree tops on a stormy day.
Here’s how I make the Chain Stitch: Exit the fabric at point A. Insert the needle right next to point A at point B. Take a short stitch (about 1/4?) and exit the fabric at point C.
Trap the thread under the needle.
Draw the needle and thread through the fabric creating a loop.
Insert the needle tip at point D to the right of point C and inside the loop.
Exit the thread at a new point C (about 1/4” from D). Repeat the steps above to make a chain of loops connected at the CD point.
After you do a lot of Chain Stitches you can become a member of the Chain Gang. This is a group of embroiderers who are doing time for letting their knots show on the back of their work.