Garden of Flowers (detail) by Laura Wasilowski
Tired of dreary old winter? Then its time to make your own spring bouquet! By combining simple embroidery stitches you can create recognizable shapes like flowers. The spiky yellow blooms in Garden of Flowers are made with five Fly Stitches placed in a circle with the points facing out. A mound of French Knots in turquoise thread fills in each center. Notice how the blue background fabric also plays a role in creating the shape of these sweet little flowers.
Red Belly Bird (detail) by Laura Wasilowski
Like sketching on fabric, combining a few stitches can also suggest a simple leaf shape. The leaves lining the Red Belly Bird’s nest are a combination of the Fern Stitch and Straight Stitches. Each branch of fern stitches is trimmed around the edge with straight stitches to make an enclosed leaf shape.
All it takes is the combination of a few simple embroidery stitches to make shapes on fabric. What’s your favorite combination to create shapes?
On occasion I like to look organized. This doesn’t happen often, so I’d like to share this rare moment with you. Here you see my hand dyed pearl cotton threads neatly stored in drawers. They are sorted by size (3, 5, 8, 12) and colorway. Organized, right?
And then there’s this. Never wash your skeins of hand-dyed thread in the washing machine or people will think your are disorganized. How do you keep your threads organized?
Announcing a major feat! All of my dyeing is done for the Fall! Yes, every colorway of fabric, every skein of thread available on the Artfabrik website is in stock. I shall dye no more. (Or at least I won’t be dyeing any time soon.)
Dyeing fabric is akin to a factory job; that is, labor intensive, repetitive work. Sure the colorful results are worth it but try telling that to my feet and hands.
Ironing by Laura Wasilowski
What’s most extraordinary about this event is that ALL of the fabric is ironed. It’s ready to ship, travel as a trunk show to wherever I’m teaching, or ready to display at the International Quilt Festival in Houston. Now it’s time to make art!
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.