Stitch Tip #3: Redesign Your Embroidery

My fingers have gotten a lot of exercise! (Sadly, nothing else has.)

In writing Playful Free-Form Embroidery, I made dozens of step-outs for the photos in the book. I stitched each stage showing how to create a project making up to 40 different step-outs for a single project.

No wonder my fingers are so lithe!

Over the course of a year, I completed the step-outs for 6 projects and wrote directions on how to make the design at the same time. This project, Natural Gardening, was one of the easiest for me to illustrate, having only 14 step-outs.

Today’s Stitch Tip: Redesign Your Embroidery Project

Now, after all a year of work, I can’t just toss those step-outs away!

How can I recycle or use the step-outs to trigger a new design? Maybe by looking at those partial versions of a project in a different way.

Here is one example of a redesign of a Natural Gardening step-out. Most of the background black fabric was trimmed away from the stitchery. The silhouette of the design is stitched onto a turquoise felt fabric using black thread. Even more hand embroidery is added to the surface of all the fabrics.

One of the joys of rescuing my step-outs is that I can improvise designs. I don’t have to write directions. Yipee! And I can create more complex embroideries.

Take a look at your embroidery projects. Is there a way to redesign them? Is there a way to add more excitement to your stitching time?

How to Challenge Yourself Improv #5

When you work small you end up with a lot of scrap fabric that is too wonderful to throw away. During the month of September, I gave away a bag of felt scraps like these with each order placed in the Artfabrik Store. Then I challenged myself to create something from one of those scrap bags.

I’m not a big fan of using brown in my work but this brown fabric was the largest piece of fabric in the scrap bag. So it served as a background or canvas for the work. Slowly the warm brown color won me over.

With the central design complete I’ve cut away the surrounding brown felt leaving about 1/4″ of fabric around the edge. I like how this outline of brown creates an organic border that embraces the design.

Bridgehouse #1 by Laura Wasilowski

To complete the piece, I’ve stitched it to a wonderful green batik. It measures about 6″ x 6″ and is named for the Bridgehouse Museum in Chicago.

Making this piece has taught me a few things. First, challenge your use of color and appreciate those colors you usually shun. Second, give yourself permission to improvise. It stimulates and entertains the brain. And finally, a small piece of artwork can give as much joy as a gigantic wall piece.

Stitches Telling a Story: Improv #4

Every time I take a stitch I’m reminded of how hand embroidery brings artwork to life. How I enjoy these stitches that create a story on cloth!

With a few Stem Stitches water streams under the bridge into the river. Chain Stitches form a boat waiting for the owners of the house to take their trip. And a combination of Chain stitches, French Knots, and Fly Stitches create a sun rising behind the clouds to cheer them along their river journey. It is hand embroidery that brings this story to life.