Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Block 6 - Thorn Birds & Bees, part 1

When I began stitching Solstice Dream this is the block I started with.  If you are doing the blocks in order, the only new stitches are the Feathered Chain and Turkey Work.  Let's get started!

The stitch along instructions and tips for Solstice Dream blocks include the needles and types of threads used in this project.  Thread colors are included in the pattern.  Book pages refer to those in the Right (or Left) Handed Embroiderer's Companion available in my Etsy shop.

Applique the ric-rac in place with a matching cotton thread.  Using Pearl Cotton #8 in a #24 Chenille needle, make a small Pistil Stitch (page 94) on each peak of the ric-rac.

With Pearl Cotton #5 in a #24 Chenille needle stitch a Feathered Chain (watch my video here) down each large leaf beginning at the point and continuing to the rounded bottom.  

Don't pull the chains too tight.  We want them rounded so we can add a Bullion Knot (page 18) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #1 Milliner needle into the center of each chain.
For the small leaves use Pearl Cotton #5 in a #24 Chenille needle to Feather Stitch down the center of the leaf.  Add French Knots (page 94) inside each feather stitch with Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle.

Outline all leaves using Pearl Cotton #5 in a #1 Milliner needle with Bullion Knots (page 18).  

Purple Leaves:
Couch (page 66) a length of Pearl Cotton #3 for the stems using either a #1 Milliner or #18 Chenille needle.  Outline each leaf with Back Stitch (page 10) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle.  With the same thread and needle add a Pistil Stitch (page 94) in the center of each leaf and add 2 small Pistil Stitches to each side of it plus a French Knot (page 94) at the tip of the leaf.

Center Flower:
Begin by using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle to Back Stitch (page 10) around the small petals.  Using the same thread and needle, outline the large petals with Crested Chain Stitch (page 58).  The Needle 'n Thread video is easier to follow on the  Crested Chain Stitch

Tip:  There are multiple steps to this stitch.  Practice on a wool scrap with the Silken Pearl #5 to learn the size of the chain and the small stitch for the knot.  I made small stitches and yes, it took some practicing to get it just right.  The crested chain is stitched on the flower, not the background.

Highlight the large petals with a line of Sea Grass using a #1 Milliner needle.  If you don't feel comfortable "eyeballing" this line as you stitch, draw a line to follow.  

Tip:  Run a length of Sea Grass through Thread Heaven a few times or iron it to keep it flat as you stitch. I also like to make the Sea Grass back stitch just a little bit longer.

Using the same Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle, Fly Stitch (page 91) on each flower sepal and down the entire length of the stem.


I used a fun thread to embellish the birds called Shimmer Floss in a #24 Chenille needle.  Fly Stitch (page 91) two rows along the body and then Back Stitch (page 10) two lines on the tail.

Outline the bird with Back Stitch (page 10) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 chenille needle.

Add a bead for the eye or here's an easy way to stitch a similar looking eye:
  1.  Thread a #1 Milliner needle with Dazzle thread and make a Bullion Loop (page 20) with 25 wraps. 
  2. Add a few couching stitches with the same thread to hold the loop in place.
  3. Inside the loop add a French Knot (page 94) with a darker color of Dazzle.
I've been stitching a second Solstice Dream for my good friend, Julie.  She loves to applique but isn't too crazy for embellishment.  I missed stitching on my Solstice Dream so much I asked her if I could do the embroidery for her to which she immediately said "yes".
When I finished this block for Julie I added Satin Stitch (page 132) to the beaks using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 chenille needle.

I'm going to take a quick break while you catch up.  I promise to get back soon to finish up with the fun fuzzy bees.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Solstice Dream Block 9 - Nest Building

The instructions and tips for Solstice Dream blocks include the needles and types of threads used in this project.  Thread colors are included in the pattern.  Book pages refer to those in the Right (or Left) Handed Embroiderer's Companion available in my Etsy shop.

This pretty little bird just makes me smile, from the frilly tail feathers to the wing detail.  

When the bird body and wings have been appliqued in place, Couch (page 66) a stem for the small leaves using Pearl Cotton size 3.

Bird Body
Begin by threading a #24 Chenille needle with Dazzle thread to stitch 2 slightly curving rows of Fly Stitch (page 91) along the tail section and a short line on the neck.

Tip:  If you don't feel comfortable "eyeballing" the curved tail rows, just draw a line to follow.  I like the Fons & Porter mechanical pencil with a white lead.

Satin Stitch (page 132) the beak with size 8 Pearl Cotton.
Switch to a #1 Milliner needle and the same Dazzle thread to outline the bird's body with Back Stitch (page 10).  Don't stitch the end of the tail.

From the point of the beak to the front edge of the lower wing,  Pekinese Stitch (page 13) in the Back Stitches. 

Tip:  I use the Milliner needle to make the Back Stitches a little bit longer to accommodate the weaving.  When weaving use the "eye" end of the needle to avoid catching thread or fabric.

With the #1 Milliner needle and Dazzle thread, add tail feathers with Drizzle Stitch (page 81) using 12 wraps for each stitch.  I added a Pearl Cotton size 8 in a coordinating color for some of the drizzle stitches just to add some interest.

Thread a #1 Milliner needle with Silken Pearl #5 and make 3 Cast-On Stitches (page 39).  Secure the cast-on stitches in place with a Pistil Stitch (page 94) using Dazzle. 

Tip:  Practice this on a scrap of wool to determine how many times to cast on for the desired size.  I would begin with 10 or maybe 12.
Use 2 wraps for the knot on the Pistil Stitch.

Outline each leaf with small Back Stitch (page 10) using Pearl Cotton size 8 in a #24 Chenille needle.  Use the same needle but a contrasting color of Pearl Cotton size 8 to add 1 Pistil Stitch (page 94) in the center of each leaf.

 Begin the layout by stitching a circular flower at the top of the wing (1/2 flower on the upper wing).  I used Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle and a Lazy Daisy Stitch (page 46).

Tip:  I used 12 Lazy Daisy stitches on the full flower, beginning at 12 o'clock, then 6 o'clock for even spacing.  Continue with 3 o'clock, then 9 o'clock.  Now that you have 4 of the stitches in place continue adding in this manner.

Beginning near the tip of the wing and curving to the flower, make Tete de boeuf Stitches (page 91) using Pearl Cotton #8 in a #24 Chenille needle.  Next, thread the same needle with Silken Pearl 5 and add a small Back Stitch where the tete de boeuf stitches intersect.

With the Silken Pearl add French Knots (page 94) at the end of the tete de boeuf "arms".  Add french knots where needed to fill in the design (see above photos).

Outline the wings with Bullion Knots (page 18) using 8 wraps on a #1 Milliner needle and Silken Pearl size 5.

I used small hand-made beads for all of the birds' eyes and if you have purchased the Block of the Month kits from Midway wool, these eye beads are included in your kits.  I stitched them on with regular cotton thread in a Short Darner #11 (or #11 straw) needle as follows:
  1. Double the thread and knot at the end.
  2. Bring needle up from wrong side of wool block going through the hole in the center of the eye bead.
  3. Take needle through the seed bead then back down through the eye bead.
  4. Repeat once or twice and knot thread on the wrong side of wool block.
If you don't have the eye beads here's an easy way to stitch a similar looking eye:
  1.  Thread a #1 Milliner needle with Dazzle thread and make a Bullion Loop (page 20) with 25 wraps. 
  2. Add a few couching stitches with the same thread to hold the loop in place.
  3. Inside the loop add a French Knot (page 94) with a darker color of Dazzle.
With a #24 Chenille needle and Dazzle thread, make 3 Pistil Stitches (page 94)to accent the eye.

For those of you participating in Midway Wool's block of the month, you will receive Block 6 - Thorn Birds & Bees in August.  I hope that many of you will finish your applique on this block in time to attend my class at Midway Wool on September 29.  The class will focus on embellishment for Block 6 and any other stitches you would like some help with.

For more information on the class contact Midway Wool here.


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Big Bloom Satchel

Whether you have already started making the Solstice Dream wall hanging or still thinking about it, this new satchel is just what you need to hold a few blocks with patterns, threads and notions.

The pattern is made to cover a newly designed Yazzii bag that is 10" wide x 12" long x 3" deep.  As you can see in the above photo it zips open completely to prevent that "digging around" looking for the right thread and has a handy divider.

The 4 removable pockets have a variety of dividers that fit spools, scissors, thimbles, needles, etc. and the see-through pockets keep the guess work out of where you put that needle threader.

I have made a limited number of kits that include the pattern, hand-dyed wool, cotton, batting...... well, basically everything you need to make this handy project bag.

Kits will begin shipping on July 10, 2017 and can be found in my Etsy shop HERE 


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Block 8 - Pollen Gathering

The instructions and tips for Solstice Dream blocks include the needles and types of threads used in this project.  Thread colors are included in the pattern.  Book pages refer to those in the Right (or Left) Handed Embroiderer's Companion available in my Etsy shop.
This block works up quickly with stitches we have used on previous blocks, so let's get started with a few ideas on the applique.  

  1. I use a hole punch to cut out the 1/4" circles for the buds.
  2. From the teal wool cut out the entire flower (including the red base portion) and then place the red wool flower base on top of the teal wool.  This method will give more texture to the flower and eliminate any variation in the thickness of the red base that can occur if you only slip a small portion of the teal wool underneath.  

The red buds above the flower may be appliqued in place or simply attached with a French Knot (page 94) using a #24 Chenille needle and just 1 wrap with Silken Pearl #5.

Add a stem from the buds to the Teal colored flower using #5 Pearl Cotton and #24 Chenille needle with Back Stitch (page 10).

Thread a #1 Milliner with Sea Grass and Back Stitch 2 rows on Teal flower.  See tips for using Sea Grass on Block 7 - Woven Petals.

With Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle, add 5 rows of Chain Stitch to the red flower base (see above photo).

I began my chain stitching by placing a small pin in the top center of the red wool to guide me.  Next, I chain stitched along each edge of the red wool and then the row between the center and edges to get the proper spacing.

The inner leaf is embellished with Fly Stitch (page 91) using Pearl Cotton #5 in a Chenille #24 needle from point to point.
Outline the outer green leaf with the same Pearl Cotton in a #1 Milliner needle stitching Bullion Knots with 8 wraps.

 The lower peach colored leaves are woven with Silken Pearl #5 in the #1 Milliner needle.  Begin by making 7 evenly spaced Straight Stitches  from the top to the bottom of the leaf.  Next, weave 3 lines side-to-side across these stitches.

To finish the lower leaves and secure the weaving, stitch a small X using Pearl Cotton #8 across each intersection (see top photo).
 Pollen gathering requires bees so follow the instructions in previous blocks to add 3 or more bees.

Block 7 - Woven Petals

Do you ever get going in so many directions that you forget what's next - or what you have done?  That's me!  I finished writing the tips and directions for Block 7 of Solstice Dream a few weeks ago and forgot to post it.  Only when I sat down at the computer to write Block 8 did I notice.  Well, here goes.....Block 7 quickly followed by Block 8 and then a new pattern and kit.

Let me start by reminding you that the page numbers listed for each stitch refer to the Right (or Left) Handed Embroiderer's Companion available for $29.00 in my Etsy shop Here.

Begin this block at the top with a #1 Milliners needle threaded with Sea Grass and Back Stitch (page 10) around the outside of the dark pink flower, close to the edge. 

Sea Grass Tips:
  1. Keep the Sea Grass flat by either ironing it or running it through Thread Heaven a few times. We want the fiber to lay flat.
  2. If necessary, use the needle to smooth out the thread by running it underneath the stitch. 
  3. Make the back stitches a bit longer than with other threads and don't pull too tight.   
Stitch 3 rows of back stitch on the dark pink flower beginning about 1/4 inch from the outside edge and spacing the rows about 1/4 inch.  No need to mark, just use the outside edge of the flower as your guide.

Outline the light pink flower center with individual Fly Stitch (page 91) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle.  With Pearl Cotton #8 and the Chenille needle, stitch a Detached Chain Stitch (page  46) inside each Fly.

Following the instructions in previous posts, stitch a bee on the light pink flower center.

Flower Base and Stem
Thread a Chenille #24 needle with Pearl Cotton 8 and Chain Stitch (page 43) along the outside edge of the flower base and 2 rows inside the stem.
Tip:  Don't make the stitches too large - see photo above.
With a Chenille #24 needle and Pearl Cotton 8, begin at the outside tip of the leaf and Feathered Chain Stitch down to the stem-end of the leafThe instructions in the book for this stitch are for a perfectly straight line and proceed in a direction that makes it difficult for me to visualize.  Instead, I have created a short video that I think makes it easier - and we all love easy.  Just click here:  Video instructions.

Inside each Chain Stitch use Silken Pearl #5 and make a Straight Stitch.

Outline each leaf with Back Stitch (page 10) using a Chenille #24 and Pearl Cotton #8.

Woven Petals
Along the top of the flower base are 8 Woven Picot (page 158) petals using Silken Pearl #5.

Woven Picot Tips:
  1.  Using a #1 Milliners needle makes the weaving easier. 
  2. As you bring the center thread up to wrap around the pin before weaving, pull the thread as tight as you can around the pin so you don't end up with a loop at the pointed end of the picot.
  3. Weave with the "eye" end of the needle so you don't catch the fabric underneath.
  4. Don't hurry.  Pull each weaving thread "slowly".  It's important not to pull the weaving stitches too tight.  Keep the triangular shape - we don't want picots with waistlines.
  5. After each row of  weaving use the eye end of the needle to gently push the threads down tight against the previous row.  
  6. As the weaving gets close to the wide end of the picot it will be easier to weave if you remove the pin.
  7. When the picot is finished, give it a little curl around your finger to give it some dimension. 
Another beautiful block finished.  
Wondering how to keep all your Solstice Dream threads organized?
Here's a sneak peek of the Big Bloom Satchel, perfect for threads, needles, etc. and kits will be available in my Etsy shop soon.  Watch here and on our Facebook Stitch Along Group for the announcement. I'm just waiting to receive 1 more thread to complete the kits.



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Solstice Dream - Block 5 "Marsh"

The dragonfly is one of my favorite elements on Solstice Dream and easy to create.  Several of my friends delayed making this block thinking it was going to be difficult and were pleasantly surprised once they got going. 

Iron the freezer paper templates onto the green wool for the lily pad and the ribbon for the dragon fly wings.  I was very careful when ironing to the ribbon to avoid melting it.  My ribbon was a sheer organza type and there was no need to add fray check around the edge.  

The dragon fly body is not cut out of fabric.

Pin the lily pad and wings in place on the background and either pin or iron the body template in place, slightly overlapping the inside ends of the wings for correct placement.  Once you are comfortable with the placement, remove the freezer paper template.

Dragon fly:
Applique the wings in place using a #4 metallic braid and small Buttonhole Stitch (page 22).  With the same thread, begin at the outer end of each wing and Feather Stitch down the center as shown in this Mary Corbet video.  

For the next step it may be helpful to pin the body template in place over the wings and lightly mark around it.  Remove the template after marking and using Silken Pearl #5 stitch a row of French Knots (page 94) with 3 wraps on the marked line.   Fill the center with French Knots using Dazzle and 3 wraps.  

The dragon fly's tail is 6 sections of Bullion Knot (page 18) using Silken Pearl #5 separated by a Bullion Knot using Dazzle.  The first section has 4 bullion knots, followed by 5 sections of 3 bullion knots and then 1 section with 2 bullion knots.  All of the bullion knots have 10 wraps on a #1 Milliner needle.
The end of the tail is a Bullion Loop with 25 wraps that is secured with a couching stitch and the same thread.

I don't use a hoop when embroidering for fear of crushing the wool or previous stitches.  I also don't mark but "eyeball" my stitching as on the dragon fly legs and lily pad.  But, that's just me. Perhaps I'm too lazy to find a marking pencil.  If you feel better drawing a line to follow, go ahead.

I used Dazzle to Back Stitch (page 10) the legs on the dragon fly and add straight stitches for the antennae.

Lily Pad and Frog:
Using pearl cotton size 8, Back Stitch 6 lines on the Lily Pad.

The frog is a series of Bullion Knots with silken pearl #5 and I found it easiest to begin with the head.  I started the Bullion Knots at the edge of the lily pad and extended them out onto the background.  The outside stitches have 4 wraps and the center stitches have 6 wraps.  Add a French Knot for eyes with 2 wraps using Dazzle at the end of the short, outside knots.

The frog's body is another 4 Bullion Knots all with 8 wraps.  Each front leg is 2 Bullion Knots with 8 wraps and the rear legs are 2 Bullion Knots with 10 wraps.  Add 3 toes at the end of each leg with 3 small straight stitches. 

Cat Tails:
Stitch the tops first to get your placement right by stitching a Bullion Knot with 10 wraps using Silken Pearl #5.  Overstitch the Bullion with small straight stitches and add a vertical straight stitch at the top.

Making sure to leave room for your seam allowance at the bottom, Stem Stitch (page 146) the cat tail stems with #5 Pearl Cotton.  Add long leaves using the same thread and Lazy Daisy or Detached Chain (page 46) stitches secured in place with a couching stitch.

That was easier than you thought! 

The next Stitch Along will skip to Block 7.  Why?  If you are taking part in the Block of the Month from Midway Wool, 
you will receive Block 6 in August just in case..... wait for it.... you want to get the applique finished and join the class I will be teaching for My Girlfriend's Quilt Shoppe/Midway Wool on September 29th where the focus will be embellishment on Block 6.  If you are unable to attend the class I will have the Stitch Along for Block 6 here in October.

p.s.  I just noticed on Midway Wool's website that the BOM is sold out but Jennifer has told me they are starting a waiting list for another group if there is enough interest.



Monday, May 15, 2017

Solstice Dream Block 4 - Burst

For this block we get to try a new thread from Threadnuts and some fun stitches.

Flower Petals:
The top and side petals each contain another flower complete with bloom, stem and leaves.  Let's start with the circular bloom which is Spiral Trellis Stitch (page 154) using Silken Pearl #5.    
  • Begin by cutting a circle from freezer paper (1" for the top petal and 3/4" for the side petals) and fold it into quarters.  Unfold and press onto the petal.
  • Make small Chain Stitches (page 43) close to the outside edge of the paper circle, making certain you have the same number of stitches in each quarter.
  • Remove the freezer paper and follow the instructions for Spiral Trellis Stitch, catching only the inside edge of each chain stitch for the first row. 
  • When the Spiral Trellis is complete, whip the outside edge of the chain stitch with a contrasting color. 
  • Using Silken Pearl #5 make a long Bullion Stitch (page 18) from the round flower to the pointed bottom of the petal.  I used an Extra Long Darner needle and 50 wraps, then couched in place with the same thread.
  • Each leaf is a Double Cast-On Stitch (page 40) using Silken Pearl #5.
  • Outline these 3 petals with Bullion Stitch and Silken Pearl #5. 
Tip:  I like each bullion stitch to be distinct with a slight curve.  For this look each stitch is approximately 1/4" long with 8 wraps of Silken Pearl #5.

 Diagonal Flower Petals:
  •  The small circles inside the petals have 4 straight stitches from the center of the wool circle to the outside edge using Silken Pearl #5.
  • Outline the circles with Back Stitch (page 10) using the same thread.
  • To outline the Diagonal Flower Petals I used Silken Pearl and Back Stitch.
Flower Stem:
  • Now for a fun new thread - I used Painter's Shimmer Floss from Threadnuts in a Chenille #24 needle for Palestrina Stitch (page 117) down the length of the stem.
Tip:  After bringing the thread up from the back side of the block at the base of the flower petals, the first step is a small horizontal stitch.  Go down on one side of the stem and up on the opposite side.  This stitch takes a little practice as each stitch has 3 steps but it is a lovely knotted stitch.  As with all stitches, don't pull it too tight or you will lose the dimension of the knot.

  •  Beginning at the rounded end of the large top leaves, Fly Stitch (page 91) using the Shimmer Floss.
  • The smaller leaves are embellished with Fly Stitch using Pearl Cotton #8.

Several friends have been a bit intimidated about stitching our next block, Marsh.  No need for nervousness - both the dragonfly and frog are very easy.  

If you haven't purchased a kit you will need some shimmery rayon ribbon (I bought mine at Joann) and Painter's Metallic Braid #4 from Threadnuts.


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