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?
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.)
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!
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!
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 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!