Monday, October 8th, 2012

Felt Embroidery #10 – filling with chains

20120915 111652 Felt Embroidery #10   filling with chains

This color scheme is one I love, a mix of pale blue, sand, blue grey and grey. I think I love grey because our school uniforms were grey when we were growing up and I learned to love its possibilities – it’s a soft and warm color for me and this wool felt is beautiful to sew – the dark grey color felt is very textured with light fibres in it – like the wool hasn’t taken the dye so it has more interest than just plain felt.

Here I sewed a wheel of stitches to fix the bead – each was finished with a french knot.

Row 1: This is (I think) blanket stitch done not on the edge but stretching over the edge and arranged so the ‘bar’ is n the middle. Well, I think it is this but I’ll have to try it again to see if I can duplicate it. If it is not that, then it is probably Open Cretan Stitch – need to sort this one…

Row 2: Blanket stitch – an old standby stitch which never loses its attraction – though I did read a post recently which suggests you use it on bigger pieces and not on small ones because it doesn’t do sharp corners very well – a plain straight stitch is actually better around corners – I think I agree, but here it works just fine.

From here I added some chain stitching as a filler. I think it’s nice and in future I will probably do one with more chain stitching still in varied colors and perhaps even lace it.

Row 3: This is feather stitch, arranged so most of the stitch is on the outside with only one of the stitches catching the inside piece. I haven’t used Feather stitch much as it isn’t technically a stitch you would use to join two pieces of fabric butI think it makes a nice edge stitch here.

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

kitchen towel from fingertip towels diy opener DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

I love the $1 section at Target there is usually something that can be used in the studio or repurposed and the other day there were some fingertip towels with cute designs on them. One set was green with apples and the other set purple with owls.

While I was tempted to buy them they’re not the sort of towels that we would typically use but, on the other hand, we did need towels for the kitchen. I want some towels that can hang on the stove handle and that I can use to dry my hands. I saw the potential in the Target towels so I bought two sets of the towels – two towels for $1 – not bad.

I also bought some ribbon in the same $1 area because coincidentally it matched the towels, there was some green ribbon with apples and some other ribbon with owls – so far so good.

Back home I plundered my fabric stash to find some fabrics that would go with the towels. I found some assorted red fabrics to go with the green towel and a yellow fabric to go with the purple.

To turn the towels into kitchen towels I made a template that was around 4 inches wide at the base and about 6 inches long. I drew it on paper, cut it out and tested it over the stove handle to make sure it would work (I’ve learned my lesson there!).

To gather the towels I started out by cutting off the top of each of the towels and I then ran a set of long running stitches through each of them. I pulled the thread to gather the fabric and knotted it so the towels were gathered to around 4 inches wide.

I then took pieces of fabric that were around 12 to 14 inches long and wide enough and folded them in two to use for the towel tops. I turned under one bottom edge of the fabric and pinned it to the front of the towel so that both front sides were facing the same way. I machine stitched along this line to not only anchor the towel to the fabric but also to hold the gathers in place.

kitchen towel from fingertip towels diy step1 DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

Then with the fabric right sides together and the pattern pinned on top of the fabric I stitched around the outside of the pattern. I kind of like making paper patterns like this because you can use them as a stitching guide and then reuse them over and over again.

kitchen towel from fingertip towels diy step2 DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

Once I’d stitched outside the design I unpinned the pattern, trimmed the fabric to shape and then cut small darts into the stitching line around the curves so that they would fold correctly.

kitchen towel from fingertip towels diy step3 DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

With three sides stitched I turned the fabric topper inside out so that the right sides faced  outwards and so it fitted over the front of the towel with the towel securely contained inside.

Then I pinned around all the sides and machine stitched around the top of the towel. I find this row of stitches helps keep the top of the towel flat later on when it’s being washed and it won’t twist and you won’t have to iron it.

kitchen towel from fingertip towels diy step4 DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

Across the bottom of the fabric topper the stitches secure the towel yet again.

To finish off I hand sewed a piece of ribbon over the stitching line to hide it.

I ironed a small piece of adhesive Velcro to the inside of the towel topper so it would attach to itself over the stove handle and I sewed a small button on the front of the towel to use as a faux embellishment. The towel isn’t actually held in place with the button but it looks like it is.

kitchen towel step5 DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

I didn’t have enough of the same red fabric for both towels so I used a different fabric and a plain ribbon from the one dollar pack for the second green towel. For the purple towels I did exactly the same thing this time using the owl ribbon from the ribbon pack and affixing some wooden buttons ( from JHB to the front.

kitchen towel from fingertip towels diy step6 DIY Kitchen towels from Fingertip Towels

I’ve already put the lot through the wash and they’ve held up really well. The result is some highly useable kitchen towels and my sole investment was time, some scrap fabric and some buttons from my stash.

It’s a cute project and the towels look just great hanging in the kitchen. You could use the same process to turn any inexpensive towels into kitchen towels.

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

Felt circles #9 – Red and Green

20120914 185711 Felt circles #9   Red and Green

When I was growing up we learned that “red and green should never be seen”- it just wasn’t done to combine the colors – in fact they go together quite well as you can see here. Usually I will combine similar values of red and green – with Christmas like results – here the combination is deep red with a pale green and added yellow and tan to the mix. It’s a fun and interesting color scheme.

The bead is sewn on using a woven circle – to do this you must have an odd number of ‘spokes’ to the wheel or it fails!

Row 1 – individual lazy daisy stitches interspersed with french knots – I am really liking doing french knots – the more you practice with them the easier they get.

Row 2 – running stitch on an angle or straight stitch? what to call this – it’s simple and fun and a change to do something easy.

Row 3 – blanket stitch all around with some of the bars in the stitch enhanced with lazy daisy stitches to make faux flowers – it’s a great way to ‘fill’ a large area with some decorative element.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.