Archive for September, 2012

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Felt circles #8 – a knotty problem

20120914 182731 Felt circles #8   a knotty problem

This is another of the color schemes I put together after my holiday and it combines fluffy grey felt with a dark turquoise, straw and light blue. I added a red bead – the bead supply is dwindling – there are 2 times as many plain beads as colored ones and only a few red ones so I sort of save them up and only use them when I am inspired.

Actually this project failed on so many levels! The hardest circle to embroider yet. I started off trying to stitch the bead on as if it were a small mirror like you see on some fabrics from India. The stitch is called shisha but I call it Big fail stitch! I had lots of stitches, holes everywhere and the more the stitches I made, the more the bead fell off. I finally undid it all and just did a simple spoke style stitch.

Row 1 – this is a cable chain stitch – it ends up looking like a chain so it is pretty but takes some time to get it looking even.

Row 2 – Laced running stitch – this one is easy peasy, just do one row of running stitch then lace a contrasting thread in and out of it. Biggest thing to be careful of is sticking your finger with the needle if you do as I do and use the wrong end of the needle to work it.

The next ‘row’ is just three sets of partial lazy daisy stitches – always a great way to add some detail to a piece.

Row 3 was horrible. It is a knotted blanket stitch. Instead of wrapping the thread around my finger I just made a loop to make the knot – but the problem with this stitch is that the knot is in the thread and has to be just in the right place – if the knot were made in the fabric it would be so much easier. I had to handcraft each stitch and pullout a few of them and undo some knots that had pulled tight to fix them. Never again, the result might look nice but they are way too difficult and it doesn’t really feel like embroidery when you are making the stitches so I’ll find some other way of making more interesting blanket stitches in future – I am thinking picot edging might be cute?

links to this post

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

Felt Circles #7 – Pretty in Pink

20120914 182610 Felt Circles #7   Pretty in Pink

This color scheme was one I chose after a long holiday – I think I was feeling relaxed when I chose it. It certainly prompted me to expermiment with some new stitches. I love brown and pink as a combination and the pink, dark gold and brown threads work well with the combination.

The bead is stitched using a whipped circle – if I had done a woven circle I’d have needed an uneven number of ‘spokes’ but the whipped version not only looks great but you can do it with an even or uneven number of stitches which is great.

Row 1 is a row of plain running stitch.

Row 2 is two rows of running stitch – in this case I did the first set and then stitched the second set so they lined up in between the spaces made by the first – this is critical as you need the same number of stitches in each row. Then I did a herringbone ladder stitch over the running stitch. Usually you’ll do it over back stitch so there are more loops and so they are closer to each other – this way it takes on a more open and decorative look – particularly when stitched with two colors.

Row 3 – this one took an age to sew – it is buttonhole loops. It is easy to sew but there are a lot of stitches there! I really love the finish – it looks lacy and curved but as I sewed it I though each loop looked messy as it was being sewed but somehow when they blended into a series they look even and very professional.

links to this post

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Felt Circles #6 Garden greens

- and the secret to doing seed stitch -

felt circles embroidery stitches 5 Felt Circles #6 Garden greens

This color scheme was a real challenge, green isn’t my favorite color and this combination didn’t really work with the threads I had – or so I thought. Actually it has turned out to be one of my best pieces. Just goes to show what you can do if you try!

The stitches were all new for me too. I did a up and down blanket stitch for the first row, it’s a little fiddly but once you get used to it there is a certain logic to it. Then in the second row I did the scroll stitch (not too happy with the instructions so I need to check these for accuracy). And the third row was a double knot stitch which is pretty easy and sort of curvy.

In between I finally nailed the seed stitch. I’ve tried to do this stitch a few times before and I’ve always pulled it out in disgust because I thought the results looked cheesy and untidy.

However, I was watching an iTunesU episode on stitching tailored jackets and they were showing a similar stitch that is done under the collar on the reverse side of tailored jackets and they did it in a fairly orderly way almost all in the one direction. It ended up looking like seed stitch. Watching it I realized I’d been trying to make my stitches too different in orientation. In fact they look better if you don’t try too hard – yeah! The secret to seed stitch. Finally I had a biggish area to work with and an approach to try and it all worked really well.

links to this post

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

Felt Circles #5 – winter warmth

felt circles embroidery stitches 4 Felt Circles #5   winter warmth
This color palette is alive with warmth and I love it though I can’t claim it is mine since someone else chose it for me. The cream felt circle is a lot less daunting than the white one of the earlier Halloween inspired colors post. Funny how just killing the brightness of pure white and making it cream changes it from cold to warm and instead of wanting to cover it up, I want to show it off.

Today’s stitches:
Row 1: Straight stitch.

Row 2: Blanket stitch – the bead is held down with alternating colors of thread and each stitch is finished with a french knot.

Row 3: Blanket stitch done so the stitch is more decorative than practical. It is all about how you start the stitch that defines how it looks and sometimes I undo the first few stitches a couple of times until I get the design I want to use. Then, every third stitch I’ve done three lazy daisy stitches.

links to this post

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Felt circles #4 – simple stitches

felt circles embroidery stitches 3 Felt circles #4   simple stitches
I loved the color scheme of this felt piece and I stitched it, like the most recent posts as I travelled through Scotland and Scandinavia. I always take a project with me and this time, it is a small embroidery kit. I used an old Qantas pack that I got years ago when I got upgraded to Business Class on a flight to Sydney. It’s a perfect size and because it has two zips you can open it from any place and not spill its contents. For the trip I packed a hand made felt cupcake pincushion – it is built on a drink bottle cap so the needles don’t go through the bottom and so it stands easily. I packed some pins, a few needles, thread, and precut circles of felt. I also have a tiny but cute and functional pair of scissors – so far the kit has gone through airport security without issue.

The threads are mainly on plastic spools on a book ring. This is very practical for traveling as I store my thread on these spools anyway. In one pack of spools that I bought there was included a huge book ring. Now I can just grab the colors of thread I need and hook them on the ring and I’m all set to go. When I get home, the spools just go back into my thread box.

felt circles embroidery stitches travel kit 6 Felt circles #4   simple stitches
Here are today’s stitches:

Row 1: Lazy daisy single stitches alternating with french knots.

Row 2: Herringbone stitch.

Row 3: Back stitch, actually I cheated on this and did it as two rounds of running stitch, the second round simply fills in the holes left by the first. It is a simple design but I think anything too complex will take away from the beauty of the herringbone stitch.

links to this post

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Felt circles #3 – Halloween inspiration

felt circles embroidery stitches 6 Felt circles #3   Halloween inspiration
These aren’t my typical colors but because I am posting a bit out of order, I’ve done quite a few of these circles already so I’m branching out. One way to do this is to have others choose the colors for me. They choose 4 colors then I decide what gets cut at what size. Here I gave myself a very large bit of white that I regretted as soon as I saw it pieced together. So,I made up a stitch to try to fill it in a bit – I like the result and it is certainly bold but it does have a Halloween look about it with its dark purple colors and the spiderweb style stitches.

Row 1: Star stitch – the stitches holding the wooden bead have french knots at the end of every other of them.

Row 2: Running stitch.

Row 3: Lazy daisy single stitches and a small “V” shaped stitch between each of them.

Row 4: I just sewed long straight stitches radiating out from the center – I found this easier to do if I held the thread where it should go to test the rotation before sewing it. Then I sewed long stitches the other way, stitching around the radiating stitches to hold them down every second one. Finally I added cross stitches in a second color over the overlapping stitches where they hadn’t been already sewn down. I like the result and it’s one of the most freeform sewing I’ve done yet.

links to this post

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Felt circles #2 – Winter colors

felt circles embroidery stitches 1 Felt circles #2   Winter colors

I love the felt colors used here. I always use wool felt when I can and I buy mine from Etsy. Wool felt not only feels nicer to work with but it doesn’t tear when you stitch close to the edges and it self heals when you undo stitches. Seriously, when you have used wool felt you won’t want to go back to the plastic stuff for embroidery.

Today’s stitches are my own sort of. The first (inside) row is a triangle stitch just made up for the purpose. Then blanket stitch but so the edge is off center and used more decoratively Then a row of lazy daisy and every second one has a second stitch and a french knot. Finally a row of chain stitch to finish off and because it repeats the color from the first row it holds it all together better visually.

links to this post

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012

Stitching circles in felt #1

felt circles embroidery stitches 2 Stitching circles in felt #1

Recently I came across a picture on Pinterest of some felt circles sewn with buttons. I liked the idea but the stitching was very plain and so I developed my own version.

You will need four colors of felt, a button or large flat bead with a single hole if possible. Mine came from my recycled jewelry stash. I had bought a wooden necklace around ten years ago but had never really found a good use for the wooden beads until now and now they are being used a lot. I am using DMC thread – the twisted one which comes in lots of colors. I bought a heap of various colors of them. They are pricey and a bit of a nuisance to work with because I have to unwind them and wind them onto paper spools before I can use them as they come in twisted skeins but apart from that, they are wonderful to sew with and their slightly lustrous appearance makes them look richly embroidered where 6 strand thread would not. I buy solid colors but the size 3 thread I use comes in variegated colors too.

Cut your felt into 4 circles. I drew patterns using various containers for the sizes – the smallest is bigger than the button and the largest is around 4-4.5 inches across. They aren’t consistently sized so the difference in size from circle 2 to circle 3 is bigger than the others but this was a choice. I use four different color circles and usually 3-4 colors of thread. I use the pieces as a way to play with color and to practice stitches – the size is small enough that if you mess it up you aren’t wasting a lot of materials.

Start by stitching the smallest two circles together using a stitch of your choosing. Blanket or running stitches are good but anything goes. Then attach the button using long stitches through it and the two circles. Then stitch it all to the third circle and then to the fourth. I put my circles a little offset so it isn’t all centered but you can do it as you like.

Over the next few posts I will show you some of the circles and the stitches I used.

For today’s circle I was playing with color and for the first row, lazy daisy single stitches with straight stitches to make a V shape between.

Second row, running stitch. Third rows, cross stitch then a row of French knots and finally single lazy daisy stitches. Where there isn’t room, just leave off part of the stitch or make it smaller.

links to this post