Monday, May 6, 2019

Nocturne Block 5

It's important to notice a few important things about this block:

  • First, see the leaf pinned at the top?  I'm saving it to add after Block 3 and Block 5 are joined together.  
  • The branch extends all the way to the right edge of the block. This way I'm certain that the tree will cover it.
  • I could have continued the top berry stem to the edge but if the tree doesn't cover it I can easily add a few stitches.
Large Bird:
When you trace the Bird template onto freezer paper, include the beak and upper curved portion of the top wing.  This will give a base for the woven picot to be stitched onto for the beak and help in placement of the wing.

The bottom wing is covered with Closed Buttonhole Stitch.  I began at the point of the wing and stitched along the bottom edge of the wing to the curved edge, tying off the thread in back.  Begin the 2nd row right above the first and stitch from left to right as with row 1.  If you are left-handed, begin on the opposite edge. 

Trace the entire tail onto freezer paper and cut out.  Iron the freezer paper onto the Turquoise wool and cut out.  Remove the freezer paper from the Turquoise wool and cut away the outside tail sections from the freezer paper.  Iron this "reduced" freezer paper template onto the Plum wool.  Remove the freezer paper from the wool and again cut away the side sections from the freezer paper.  Iron the center of the tail onto the Chartreuse wool.

Stack the 3 tail pieces as in the above photo, and whip stitch in place.  This method gives more dimension and since all the colors are cut from the same template there's no fussing to make them fit.

Leaves and Stems:

I absolutely love the variation in colors on the Macke Pearl Cotton that I used to embellish the leaves and berry stems.  This thread  brings all of the colors in the block together.

The stems from the leaves to the tree branch are stitched with this same thread using a Stem Stitch.  Add a double Lazy Daisy Stitch for small leaves on the stem.  Stitch a Lazy Daisy (detached chain) making the anchor stitch just a little longer than usual.  Bring your needle and thread up from the back in the same beginning hole and slide the needle through the anchor stitch, then take it to the back.


The berries are outlined with Bullion Knots that are slightly overlapped.

Joining Blocks:

Pin the "top" of block 5 to the "bottom" of block 3 and sew together by machine using a 1/4" seam allowance, press the seam open.

Add the leaf saved from Block 3.

Stitch the vine that extends from Block 3 to Block 5.  
  • Mark a line for the vine with a white chalk pencil.  
  • I found the easiest way to stitch the vine was to begin at the end (away from the Block 3 branch).
  • Stitch a Lazy Daisy for the end of the vine and 2 more on each side of the drawn line.
  • Move a little bit down the line and stitch a Lazy Daisy on each side of the line.
  • Make 1 Back Stitch from the 1st set of Lazy Daisy "leaves" to the next set.  Continue in this manner along the line.
I hope you are having a wonderful time with Nocturne.  There is just 1 more block for the branches then we will begin the garden with Block 7.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Nocturne Block 4

It is so tempting to stitch Block 2 and Block 4 together so we can get started on the funny little gold Looney Bird. Let's take it a step at a time to make it easier and save the best for last.

Begin by appliquing all of the motifs in place including the Looney Bird's tail feathers.  Notice that the tail feathers run under the branch.

The small leaves at the base of the flowers and 2 of the leaves on the upper branch are embroidered with Fly Stitch in the center of the leaves and outlined with Back Stitch using size 5 Pearl Cotton.  The 2 leaves at the end of the branch use the same thread but are stitched with Buttonhole Stitch running along the center and French Knots on the other side of the leaf.

The flower stems are Palestrina Stitch using the same size 5 Pearl Cotton.  This variegated thread color is Macke by Painters Threads and I love how it picks up the other colors in the block.  

Tip:  To achieve more definition in the Palestrina
Stitch don't pull the stitch too tight.  I like to
use a Bullion Knot needle for this stitch.

I have made a short video to show how to stitch the bottom of the green flower base which you can find "Here"

Pattern Correction
Use a Bullion Knot Needle when outlining 
the flower with Sea Grass.
The Drizzle Stitches are made with Rousseau #8.

The head feathers are 2 double Fly Stitches.  This just means that there are 2 fly stitches very close together, one on top of the other.  Add a Lazy Daisy Stitch inside the "v" of the top Fly Stitch.

Don't be afraid of the the bird's wing.  In the above photo notice that I began a row of cast-on stitches at the bottom left of the wing and continued working to the right until I reached the top of the wing.  The next row is begun once again at the left side and continues to the top of the wing when completed.

Continue in this manner until the wing is covered.  Notice that you can see the wool under the rows of stitches.

Another oops:  The final step to 
completing the bird is to outline the body with 
Back Stitch except for the breast which
has Fly Stitch.

Sew the bottom of Block 2 to the top of Block 4 by machine with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Use pins about every inch to avoid stretching the wool as you sew.  Press the seam open

Now it's time to applique the Looney Bird in place.  Use a chalk pencil to mark the wings and then Back Stitch with the Frida Shimmer Floss.  The same thread is used to Fly Stitch in the center of the wings and the tail feathers.

Drizzle Stitches give this bird some wild head feathers.  He makes me smile.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Nocturne Block 3

I really love the pretty birds on this branch.  There is some "free-form" embroidery on their breasts which is going to be much easier than you may think.

The above photo shows the leaves and small red flowers that extend from Block 1.  Wait to add these applique motifs until Block 1 and 3 are sewn together and it will be easier to line everything up and stitch the stems.

Note:  I recently started using a Chenille #22 needle
for the embroidery where the pattern calls for a size 24.
I find the #22 is easier to thread and there is less
wear on the embellishment threads.

Let's start with the bird on the left side of the branch.

Back stitch around the top and sides of the tail.  Make 2 Fly Stitches at the top and then Back stitch a line down to the wing. Change to the contrasting colored thread and weave through the Back Stitch on the inside of the tail.  Add a Lazy Daisy in the "V" of each Fly Stitch at the top of the tail.
That was easy and your confidence level is now high enough to tackle the flowers on the breast.

Breast - left bird:
1.  Place the upper spider-web flower by making 5 Lazy Daisy stitches.  These stitches will be the foundation to weave over and under to make the flower - the Lazy Daisy stitches should be large enough that the ends extend past the weaving to indicate leaves.

2.  Use the same technique to add another flower below and a little to the left of the first flower.

3.  Add the blue Lazy Daisy flower between the wing and the spider web flowers.

4.  Add the curved line of Wheat Ear stitches, ending the line at the flowers.  Add color to this line by adding Back Stitch and French Knots or Colonial Knots.

5.  Now just fill in the spaces with French Knots or Colonial Knots in several colors.

I just like to eyeball where to place the flowers and vine but it's OK to mark lightly with a chalk pencil.

Breast - right bird:
1.  Begin by stitching the Bullion Rose. I'm not embarrassed to say that I can never stitch 2 Bullion Roses the same - but I always love them.  Start with 2 or 3 French Knots (2 wraps) or Colonial Knots for the center.  Look closely at the above photo and you will see that there are 3 Bullion Knots that wrap around the center.  Just keep adding Bullion Knots around the center until the "rose" is the size you want.
2.  Add the woven Spider Web flower between the bullion rose and the wing.
3.  Add "filler" stitches:  short stems using stem stitch, fly stitch, Lazy Daisy, and French Knots.

Right Bird Tail:
Back Stitch around the outside of the tail and then add a row of Wheat Ear Stitch down the center of the tail.  Change to a contrasting color and add a Bullion Knot in the center of each loop and a French Knot at the end of each straight stitch.

1. Begin by Back Stitching a line across the wing.  Change to a contrasting colored thread and weave over and under the Back Stitches.
2. Using the same color thread as the Back Stitched line, add Fly Stitches above and below the line.
3.  Add a Lazy Daisy inside the "v" of each Fly Stitch with the same color used to weave the Back Stitched Line.
4.  Outline the wing with Bullion Knots, adding 3 long Drizzle Stitches at the wing point.

When you have finished embellishing the leaves on the branch and the birds, sew the TOP of Block 3 to the BOTTOM of Block 1 by machine with a 1/4" seam allowance.  Press the seam open, being careful not to crush any embroidery stitches.

Note:  I recommend using a Strip Stick when pressing the seams.
If your local quilt shop doesn't carry this handy tool 
you can buy it by clicking here and there is even a video 
on the Strip Stick website.

Leaves and red flowers:
Applique the leaves and red flowers than continue from Block 1 and stitch the stemswith Palestrina Stitch.

See that small green leaf pinned to the left side of Block 3?  I will add that to the bottom of the branch when I sew Block 3 to Block 5.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Block 2 Nocturne

Until recently I wasn't familiar with the word "errata", which means a list of corrections to a book.  Unfortunately, I now need to use this word as I have found several errors/omissions in the Nocturne pattern as I make my second Nocturne.  Block 1 was ok but there were 2 omissions on Block 2 which I will include here.

I began my embellishment with the leaves as they are the same as the leaves on Block 1 and won't be damaged as I wad up the block to do the remainder.

This little red bird works up quickly with just a few stitches:
I've received some comments about Satin Stitch being difficult.  Cut out the full bird body including the beak from the red wool.  This will give you a nice base and guideline for the Satin Stitches.  Take it slow and begin at the wide end of the beak, making sure your stitch is straight up and down.  Add the next stitch as close as possible and continue in this manner to the point of the beak.

Blue Birds:

Left Blue Bird:
The "collar" on her neck is 2 lines of Basque Stitch that is then whipped with a second color.
I'm right-handed so I started this on the left side working to the right.  For you lefties, start on the right side.

When the first row is finished turn the block around so the head is "down" and stitch another row.

Now change thread colors and whip the center line where the 2 rows of Basque Stitch meet.

Right Blue Bird:
I make every effort to be clear with my instructions but in the case of this tail a picture is worth 1,000 words.  
The first step is to stitch a line of loops (detached chain or lazy daisy) connected by a straight stitch.  You can start at the base of the tail as in the above photo or at the end of the tail - whichever is easiest for you.

When these stitches are complete change thread to Blood Moon Rising SP5 and Fly Stitch from the end of the tail towards the wing.  See how the "arms" of the Fly Stitch are between the loops?

1st Omission on pattern:
To complete the tail add a Colonial Knot (or French Knot) at the end of each loop and several more under the wing with the Blood Moon Rising SP5.

Silk Ribbon Vine:
This vine is the last thing you stitch on this block.  I used a #18 Chenille needle with the 4mm silk ribbon so there would be less wear on the ribbon as it slides through the needle eye.  Use only about an 18" length of the ribbon at a time as you stitch the vine.  It will take the entire package of silk ribbon (3 yds) that was in your kit to stitch the vine.

Draw a line for the vine with a chalk marker and stitch in the same manner as the loops and straight stitches on the Right Blue Bird's tail.

2nd Omission on pattern:
I forgot to include directions for the stitches outlining the flower which is Pekinese Stitch using the Grandma Moses pearl cotton size 8 for the back stitches and Hummingbirds & Hollyhocks SP5 for the weaving.

Several weeks ago I included a post in "Kerry's Crazy for Embellishment" Facebook group about dye lots and how sometimes the same color threads/wool will look just a little bit different for each dye lot.  As you can see from the above photo the Grandma Moses was quite light and turquoise, matching the center circle.  The newest batch I received is darker and more green in hue.  I used the new one in the Nocturne I'm now making and can assure you that whichever dye lot you have is going to be beautiful.

Are you wondering about this bird's head that you can see in the Block 2 photo?  Well, it's a Looney Bird that will be added when Block 4 and Block 2 are sewn together.  Cute, isn't he?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Embellishment Thread How-To

I love using different fibers to embellish my wool applique.  Silk, cotton, mohair, linen, all have a different texture and sheen to bring your project to life.  My newest design, Nocturne, was completed with a selection of hand-dyed threads from The Thread Gatherer and Painter's Threads from Threadnuts.

While making Nocturne I kept careful track of each thread to prepare a list for the pattern and how much of each color to include in kits.  Below is a list of tips for handling your threads so you don't run out.

The first tip is quite obvious - don't use the thread included in the kit to practice or on a different project.  Keep a scrap of wool in your sewing box when you need to practice a stitch and try to use a similar weight of thread.

Here's how I get my thread ready for stitching:

The above photo is a skein of Silken Pearl #5 from The Thread Gatherer tied to a tag showing the color and yardage (15 yards) in the skein.

First step is to cut the thread tied to the tag.  Don't cut into the twisted skein of thread.  

As you "gently" untwist the skein you will see that the 2 ends of the skein are knotted together.  Although there are 15 yards of thread, it is just 1 piece of thread that is 15 yards long, looped and the ends tied together.

Don't be scared. Cut through the entire skein where the ends are tied.  Now you have 15 pieces of thread that are each 1 yard long.

Forget what Grandma told you - we are going to thread a needle with a full length of this thread.  That's right - a full 36" length.  This is strong, quality thread and shorter lengths waste more thread.  And who wants to stop and thread a needle?  Not me.

Thread one end of the threads through the tag and store in a plastic bag until you need it.  I like to use the small bags sold in craft stores.  All of the threads used in Nocturne can be handled in this manner. 

I hope you're getting excited to get started.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Nocturne - A Magical Nighttime Garden

Nocturne is my new wall hanging design featuring felted wool applique with embroidery embellishment.  I had a lot of fun designing and stitching this project and hope you plan to join me either by registering for a block-of-the-month (bom) program or using your own stash and my pattern.

Midway Wool is offering a bom for Nocturne with kits beginning in February.  If you are interested in just the pattern, it can be purchased through Midway Wool or my Etsy Shop.  

There are many good embroidery stitch books available and my favorite is "The Right Handed Embroiderer's Companion", by Yvette Stanton which is also available in a Left-Handed version, available in my Etsy Shop.

I used 100% hand-dyed felted wool (not felt) for the background and applique designs.  A complete list of colors and sizes is included in the pattern.

The embroidery is the "whipped cream and cherry on top" finish to Nocturne so I selected only the finest silk, cotton, wool and metallic fibers.  The pattern includes a listing of the threads and colors used for each block.

I will post tips for making each block "my way".  Now I know that some of you may have used different methods in the past.  Of course you can do it "your way" but your results may be a little bit different than mine.  

Are you ready?  Let's get started.  Read the pattern for block 1.

First up - I said it's OK to do it "your way" but I really want you to try "my way" and PLEASE don't use any fusible product on the back of your block or the applique designs.  Any glue or fusible interfacing will make it more difficult to stitch through and you will lose the wonderful texture of the layered wool.

The pattern includes full-sized drawings of the applique designs.  Trace the applique designs onto the matte side of freezer paper with a pencil, cut out each design on the drawn line and iron the freezer paper to the appropriate colored wool.  Cut out each piece right along the edge of the paper.  The freezer paper will peel right off without leaving any residue on the wool.

Notice in the above photo that I have included the beak and the portion of the wing that extends above the bird body.  This gives a foundation for adding the stitching on the beak and also gives a reference point for wing placement.  The wing will be placed right on top of the bird and appliqued in place giving some nice dimension.

Here you can see that I've drawn the circle berries using a circle drawing template and pen - so much easier than drawing on freezer paper then cutting out.  My templates for the Large Bell Flowers include the entire flower from this color.  

Now I have cut away the top and bottom portions from the freezer paper template and ironed only the center strip to this color.

I've layered the purple wool on top of the flower shape.  By using this method the strip fits exactly and I don't have to fiddle matching seams.  Again, I have some good dimension in the flower.

Cut the background block the size shown in the pattern, 11 1/2" x 15 1/2" for block 1, which includes the seam allowance.  There's no need to "oversize" the block before applique.  Just don't pull your stitches too tight.  If you decide to wait and cut the block down after it's finished, you may find that the ruler smashes down the embroidery.

Note:  Take a close look at the photo of the finished
Nocturne.  Block 1 is at the top left.
The center tree will be placed on top of the
center seam after all blocks are sewn together.
It's very important to leave enough room to place the
 tree trunk which we will do in Block 11.  

I traced my block drawing onto Vellum paper and pinned it along the top of the block, leaving room on all sides for the 1/4" seam allowance.  By lifting this (see through) paper slightly, I was able to place each applique piece exactly where it should be.  

Note:  don't cut a template for the tree trunk
from the block drawings.
This is a separate pattern that will be added in Block 11.

All of the pieces have been cut out and pinned in place on the background with small applique pins.  Notice that I have also cut out the top leaf and will save it to applique in place when I work on Block 11.

I prefer using a small whip stitch to applique each piece in place with matching thread.  I use a wool/acrylic blend thread in a #24 Chenille needle for this step.  There are several brands available including Aurifil, Wonderfil and Genziana.

You don't have wool thread?  No worries, a cotton thread will work just fine.  DMC embroidery thread comes in every color and is a good alternative.  Just remember, we want to hide the applique stitches and show-off the embroidery stitches.  Make the whip stitches small and don't pull so tight you crimp the edges.

The Nocturne pattern includes detailed instructions for embellishment, including the thread and needle used for each stitch.  In addition to the book referenced above, another excellent resource is Mary Corbet's Needle n Thread for online video instruction.

Please join my "Kerry's Crazy for Embellishment" Facebook Group to ask questions and share your progress.  

Most importantly, relax, have fun, enjoy every stitch of the journey.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Solstice Dream - Borders

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.

Before we begin with the borders, let's talk a bit about stitching the blocks together.  I stitched the blocks together by machine using a 1/4" seam allowance.  It's important to pin the blocks together - say 5 or 6 pins on a 6 1/2" side- before stitching to avoid having the wool stretch as you stitch.

Also, make certain that you don't catch any embellishment stitches as you sew the blocks together.

I used steam in my iron to press the seams open and suggest using a Strip Stick under the seam allowance as you press.  This handy tool helps you to press the open seam flat without flattening the embellishment stitches.  

Adding Borders:

Option 1:  Cut the strips to size then applique and embellish as much as possible before sewing the strip to the block section.
Advantage to Option 1 is that a strip is easier to handle for applique and embellishment than the entire quilt.

Disadvantage to Option 1 is that you must be careful to pin the pieces in place so they line up when the strips are stitched to the block section.

Option 2:  Add the border strips to the block section before adding the applique and embellishment.
Advantage to Option 2 is that it is easy to match up the vines and leaves as they turn around each corner.

Disadvantage to Option 2 is that you must be very careful to avoid crushing the embellishment on the blocks as you work on the borders.

I have made 3 Solstice Dream quilts this year and tried both options.  When the advantages/disadvantages of each option are considered, decide which method will be easier for you.


Beak:  Using Silken Pearl #5 in a #1 Milliner needle, stitch a Woven Picot (page 158) over the beak.  Take a small stitch with the same thread at the point of the beak to secure it in place.

Using Sea Grass in a #1 Milliner needle, Back Stitch (page 10) a line across the wing.  Add 3 Fly Stitches (page 91) on each side of the back-stitched line.  Thread Dazzle into a #24 Chenille needle and whip the back-stitched line and add a Lasy Daisy/Detached Chain (page 46) in each Fly Stitch.

Outline the wing with Sea Grass in a #1 Milliner.  I like to use the Milliner needle with Sea Grass as it can act as a laying tool to keep the Sea Grass from twisting as you stitch.

Tip:  To keep the Sea Grass flat it may be ironed or run through a thread conditioner such as Thread Heaven before stitching.

Using Shimmer Floss in a #24 Chenille needle, Fly Stitch (page 91) along the bird's belly.

Outline the bird (except wing and beak) with Pekinese Stitch (page 13) using Silken Pearl #5 for the back stitches and Dazzle for the weaving.

Eye:  My eye beads have just 1 hole in the yellow center.  I use a regular cotton thread to come up from the back, through the eye bead, then through a small black seed bead and back through the eye bead to the back - repeating several times to make certain it is secured.

Using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle outline the outer and inner nest with Chain Stitch (page 43), adding a row of Chain Stitch below the inner nest (see above photo).

Using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle outline the egg with Coral Knot Stitch (page 64).
With the same thread in a #1 Milliner needle, stitch a Bullion Knot (page 18) rose inside the egg.

Outline all of the berries with Bullion Knots (page 18) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #1 Milliner Needle.

Small Leaves:
With #5 Pearl Cotton in a #24 Chenille needle, Fly Stitch (page 91) the center of each leaf and outline with Back Stitch (page 10) (refer to photo of nest above).

Large Leaves:
Using #5 Pearl Cotton and #24 Chenille needle, add Back Stitches (page 10) about 1/4" from the edge of the large leaves.  Fly Stitch ( page 91) in the center of each large leaf with the same thread.

I hope you have enjoyed the photographs of the amazing machine quilting on my blocks.  The extremely talented Cindy Paulson of Quilted Connection quilted Solstice Dream for me, adding her creative touch to make my quilt awesome.  I asked Cindy to quilt the following words in the border:
Grow wings - left border
Take Flight - bottom border
Soar - right border

A variety of threads and stitches were used to embellish Solstice Dream in an effort to add dimension to each block  I also added a copper tag to the bee skep in Block 6 which is now available in my Etsy Shop.

I sincerely hope you have enjoyed making the Solstice Dream.  I loved making every stitch - and yes, the third was as enjoyable as the first.

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