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.

Wool:
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.

Threads:
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.

It's very important to leave enough room to place the tree trunk in Block 11.  I traced my block drawing onto an 11x17" piece of Vellum paper and pinned it along the top of the block (leaving room for the top and bottom seam allowances).  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.

Applique:
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.

Bird:

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.

Wing:
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.

Body:
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.


Nest:
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).

Egg:
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.

Berries:
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.

Quilting:
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.






Pretty in Pink - Block 15 Solstice Dream


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.


We are ready to stitch the final block in Solstice Dream and you have already used all of the stitches in earlier blocks.

For the large pink flower I chose a Kaffe Fasset cotton fabric named Roman Glass which was appliqued in place with the needle-turn method.  I recommend that you do not use a fusible product on the back of the cotton as it will result in a flat flower that is difficult to stitch through when you add the other layers.

Flower center:
Stitch French Knots (page 94) with 2 wraps in an oval shape using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle in the center of the dark pink.

Tip: Draw an oval shape on freezer paper and iron the shiny side onto the dark pink.  Stitch the French Knots around the freezer paper to obtain the oval shape.

Remove the freezer paper and with a contrasting color of Silken Pearl #5, fill the oval with more French Knots.

Add Pistil Stitches (page 94) of varying lengths radiating out from the oval using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle.  

Outline the dark pink flower center with short Drizzle Stitches of 5 wraps (page 81) using both Silken Pearl and Dazzle thread in a #1 Milliner needle.

Outline both the orange flower center and the large pink flower with Bullion Knots (page 18) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #1 Milliner needle.

Stem:
Use Sea Grass in a #24 Chenille needle to add side-by-side Fly Stitches (page 91) along the stem.

Leaves:
With the same Sea Grass, Fly Stitch (page 91) along the center of each leaf.

Bees:  
Follow the same instructions as on Block 2 using Dazzle thread in a #1 Milliner needle.




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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Take Flight - Block 14 Solstice Dream


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.



Sometimes in art, items don't always need to be in scale.  For example, in reality a bird is very tiny compared to the size of a tree.  However, as you look at this block you see a bird flying over a tree even though the scale is off.  Keep that "permission" in mind next time you want to draw a design.

By now you are familiar with most of these stitches and will be able to embellish this block quickly.

Bird:
Wings:  Outline the front wing with Bullion Knots (page 18) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #1 Milliners needle. Switch to a #24 Chenille needle and Dazzle thread to add feather stitch on both wings.

Belly:  Using Silken Pearl #5 and a #24 Chenille needle Back Stitch (page 10) around the belly.  Begin at one "pointy" end and count your stitches as you proceed to the other "pointy" end.  Continue around making certain that you have the same number of Back Stitches on both sides of the belly.  Weave through the Back Stitches using the same thread in Double Pekinese Stitch (page 14).

Tip:  I prefer a #1 Milliner needle for this weaving, using the eye-end of the needle to avoid catching the fabric as you weave.

Using Dazzle thread and a #24 Chenille needle, whip the Back Stitches to add a bit of contrast.  Add 4 Fly Stitches (page 91) between the woven belly and the tail.

Tail:
Make 3 Double Cast-On Stitches (page 40) at the tail with Silken Pearl #5 threaded in a #1 Milliner needle.

Beak:
Use Silken Pearl #5 to Satin Stitch (page 132) the beak using a #24 Chenille needle.

Eye:
I used a small bead about 1/4" in diameter stitched in place with a cotton thread.  Surrounding the eye is a Bullion Loop (page 20) stitched with an Extra Long Darner needle and Dazzle thread.  My eye bead required 35 wraps on the needle.  I secured the loop in place around the bead with a few stitches using the same thread.

Outline:
Pekinese Stitch (page 13) around the bird using Silken Pearl #5 for the back stitches and Dazzle for the weaving in a #24 Chenille needle.  Don't add this stitch around the beak or the front wing.

Tree:
Leaves:  
Using a #5 Pearl Cotton and #24 Chenille needle, Fly Stitch (page 91) in the center of each leaf.  Add a French Knot with 1 wrap at the end of each stitch using Silken Pearl #5.  Outline each leaf with #5 Pearl Cotton.

Lady Bug:  Refer to Block 12 for instructions on stitching the Lady Bug.

Stems:
Using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle, cover each stem in Herringbone Stitch (page 100).

Just 1 more block to go!




Sunday, November 5, 2017

Block 13 - Curvy Caterpillar

 
Caterpillars don't appeal to me in real life and I only like looking at them from a "safe" distance if they have interesting colors.  Although, I do love this curvy caterpillar making its way up the stem of the flower.

There are a few tricks to this block so 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.


Flower:
Outline the flower in Buttonhole or Blanket Stitch (page 22) using Silken Pearl #5 and a #24 Chenille needle.  

Tip:  Notice in the above photo that I did the Buttonhole Stitch with the straight stitches extending out into the background.  Just a little different twist on this stitch.

Using a contrasting color of Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle, whip the Buttonhole (blanket) stitch.

Outline the inner flower with Bullion Knots (page 18) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #1 Milliner needle.

Beginning in the center of each small circle, make 8 Straight Stitches that extend towards the outer edge.  Begin each straight stitch in the center using a #24 Chenille needle and Dazzle, coming up in the same hole.

Outline each of the small circles with Back Stitch (page 10) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle. 

Stem:
I appliqued a length of small ric-rac from Painter's Threads in place for the stem. 

Leaves:
Outline all of the leaves in Chain Stitch (page 43) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle.

Fly Stitch (page 91) down the center of wings with Silken Pearl #5 in #24 Chenille needle.  I curved the Fly Stitch in the top leaves.  Whip along the center of the Fly Stitch with Pearl Cotton #5 in a #24 Chenille needle.

Caterpiller:
Thread two #1 Milliner needles with Silken Pearl #5, one with the red color and one with the yellow color.   Stitch Bullion Knots (page 18) along a section of the stem, alternating colors.  My bullion knots each had 10 wraps.

Tip:  There's no need to knot off the thread after each color bullion.  Just pull the thread out of the way at the back and make the next stitch.   
Make the caterpillar head by stitching 1 Bullion Knot in a dark Dazzle in a #1 Milliner needle.  Using the same Dazzle thread in a #24 Chenille needle, add small straight stitches for the legs.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Solstice Dream Block 12 - Autumn Leaves


Outside my window leaves are changing to their autumn colors making it very timely to continue our stitch along with this block.

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.
 
Green Leaf:
Thread a #1 Milliner needle with size 3 pearl cotton and outline both the inner and outer leaf with Back Stitch (page 10).

Using Sea Grass in a #1 Milliner needle, Fly Stitch (page 91) around the inner leaf (see photo).





Lady Bug
The lady bug is a series of Bullion Knots (page 18).  Thread two #1 Milliner Needles - one with an orange shade of Silken Pearl #5 and the other with a brown or black shade of Dazzle.

  1. Begin with the orange color in the center of the body, making 2 parallel bullion knots (5 wraps for each stitch). Don't cut the thread - just move it out of your way on the wrong side of the fabric.
  2. Add a Bullion Knot with 3 wraps using the dark color close to the center Bullions.  Since these stitches are shorter that the center Bullion Knots, place them equidistant from the top and bottom of the orange Bullions. Knot off the dark thread on the back of fabric and cut your thread.
  3. Add an orange Bullion Knot with 10 wraps to curve around the dark bullion knots by bringing your needle up at the top of the dark bullion and taking it down at the bottom of the dark bullion.  The extra wraps will cause the stitch to curve.
  4. Use the dark thread to add 2 horizontal bullion knots for the head.  The knot closest to the body will have 5 wraps and the next one has 3 wraps.
  5. Add 2 straight stitches at top of head for antennae and 6 straight stitches on either side of body for legs.
Circle:
Cover the wool circle with Chain Stitch (page 43) using a #24 Chenille needle threaded with size 8 Pearl Cotton.  Begin at the outside of the circle and work towards the center.

Center Leaf:
Thread a #24 Chenille needle with size 8 Pearl Cotton, Fly Stitch (page 91) the length of the inner leaf, with the "arms" of the Fly extending to the sides of the inner leaf.

With the same needle and thread, add Detached Chain Stitch (page 46) at the end of each arm on the outside leaf fabric (see photo).

With the #24 Chenille needle, change to a contrasting size 8 Pearl Cotton to whip the center and arms of the Fly Stitch.

Inside each Detached Chain Stitch, add a Bullion Knot using size 8 Pearl Cotton in a #1 Milliner needle.

Outline the outer leaf with Back Stitch (page 10) using size 3 Pearl Cotton in a #1 Milliner needle.

Leaf with 3 circles:
Randomly place Tete le Boeuf (page 91) stitches on the inner leaf using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle.

Fly Stitch (page 91) around the inner leaf using Sea Grass in a #1 Milliner needle. 

Outline both the inner and outer leaf in Back Stitch (page 10) using size 3 Pearl Cotton in a #1 Milliner needle.

Make flowers on each of the 3 circles with 6 Double Cast-on Stitch (page 40) using a #1 Milliner needle and size 8 Pearl Cotton.  Outline the circles with the same thread in #24 Chenille needle and Pekinese Stitch (page 13).


Stems:
Cover all stems in Thorn Stitch (page 151) using Silken Pearl #5 in a #24 Chenille needle. 
 


 
 






 

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