Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bouquet of Daisies - Online Class

This is one of the designs I have created for the online class I will be teaching in September through the Online Crazy Quilting Lessons at Maureen's Vintage Acquisitions.

The three weeks' class will also offer a revised version of my previous daisy wreath design and complete, detailed instructions for embroidering both designs.

Ever since Maureen first wrote to me a few weeks ago, asking if I would teach a class through her shop, I need to pinch myself every day, to make sure that this is all for real and not just a dream :)

Have a wonderful weekend, Everyone!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sweet Little Hands

Remember this photo? It was taken about two years ago... happy little hands, making their first stitches on my Lady of the Mist.

It is one of the photos that my dear friend, Lee Albrecht used for the sewing box she surprised me with for Mothers' Day a year ago.

Little hands are growing soooo fast, they are "big girl's hands" now,

and they made me this beautiful bracelet for Mothers' Day this year:

The most precious piece of jewelry I have ever had! :)

(except I'm not allowed to wear it:
"You might ruin it, and I won't make you one every day, you know"...
How about that?!)

Happy Tuesday, Everyone!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Little garden on a hill - ready to fly off to Japan

Cast on stitch flowers and French knots made with Antique Rose and Golden Green Chameleon perlé no.12, a chirping little fellow who landed on the wisteria branch,

and white pebbles made using French knots and seed stitches with one strand of white DMC stranded cotton, were my last additions to Hideko's garden. 

Sitting on the garden bench or swing, if you wish, enjoying the spring breeze, the scent of the flowers, listening to the bird's song and the sound of a friend's steps on the pebble paths, coming over for tea... Isn't that a lovely way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Have a beautiful weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It is cold and windy outside, and it has been raining cats and dogs since yesterday, but this little birdie just doesn't care about the bad weather.

She is happily chirping around and in and out her brand new house on Helga's block :)

Some more beading is still to be done, so I am off to work on that while listening to Birdie's chirrup.

Have a lovely day, Everyone!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sneak Peek

This is the fifth round of the Tone on Tone Do Your Block Round Robin and I am working on Helga's pretty block.

My favorite seam treatment on this block is this row of pink-green butterflies with detached chain stitch wings, straight stitch with French knot antennae and bullion stitch bodies.

Helga asked us to add our monograms to the blocks. Here are mine, 8mm "high", stitched with one strand of DMC stranded cotton, using whipped stem stitch. Had to wear my glasses for this one...

Have a beautiful day, Everyone!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wisteria, Quince Tree And Blending Silk Ribbon

The wisteria, worked according to my sketch was finished this morning, but I am not quite happy with how it looks in the big picture. It might need to be extended a bit with another cluster of flowers, I think. I'll leave it as it is for the day and make a decision during the weekend.

After stitching the wisteria, I auditioned about three or four shades of light pink silk ribbon for the quince tree flowers, and none of them seemed to do the trick. I imagined something very close to what you can see in this picture bellow:

I thought that maybe a variegated silk ribbon with very short segments of white and pink would be great, but I have no such thing in my stash, neither have I overcome my dyeing phobia yet... 
Pointing my finger to my temple to think, think, think, while holding one piece of pink and one of white ribbon in my other hand, it suddenly hit me: I could just as well try and thread my needle with two ribbons at the same time. It worked like a charm: as if I had a ribbon that was white on one side and pink on the other.

The French knots made with the two blended silk ribbons gave almost exactly the same result that I had imagined initially, and they also gave a bit more dimension to the flowers.

Here and there I stitched some more French knots with only one "strand" of white or pink ribbon.

Now to add all the cast on flowers to the lavender blue patch on the top, and while working on those, to get ideas for the paths and to decide about the extension of the wisteria...

Have a happy weekend, Everyone!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Planting Flowers

If the weather is nice, and even sometimes when it is not, we go to the park after kindergarten. Yesterday I took a deep breath, packed my Little Garden on a Hill project and took it along. I sat down on a bench, half in the sun, half in the shadow of an old tree, and while the children were playing and the other parents watching me from a distance, I began planting French knot flowers and drizzle stitch leaves. It felt a bit strange at first, but soon I forgot about everyone else being there, and only kept an ear on my daughter's voice.

After a few stitches, children started to come by and ask me what I was doing. I answered all their questions and some of them sat with me for a couple of minutes. Then more of them came and stayed for longer, about a dozen boys and girls, aged from 3 to 9, with their little inquiring minds, wanting to know how and what I was working on, saying that my embroidery was beautiful :) 
Then a little boy said "Can you teach me how to embroider?" I wanted to reply, but his mother interrupted "Why would you want to learn THAT? You are a boy! Only girls can embroider, and what is the point even for them doing THAT?!", she said and stepped away.

But the children stayed. And watched each and every move and stitch I made, fascinated by the way a needle and some thread wrapped around it created a leaf, and then another one, a flower and then another one. They never asked why on earth I was embroidering, or what it was good for, or was it worth the effort... 

Taking my garden along to the park was definitely worth it. For more than just my soul, I hope...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tending the garden

My little garden is growing and growing. This is what it looks like now, after about 4 more hours of stitching:

Today I started with the wisteria branch. Again, I used tissue paper to transfer my design, although the word "transfer" is not necessarily appropriate, as this time I pinned the tissue paper to my block and stitched right through it with stem stitches, using 2 threads of Nina's hand dyed Dark Chocolate cotton embroidery thread.

After completing the stitching, the tissue paper came off almost by itself (I'm definitely going to use this technique again), then I whipped the stem stitches to get the effect I was looking for.

And it was finally time for the tree. For the trunk and the thicker branches I used chain stitches, while for the thinner ones whipped stem stitches, with the same thread as for the wisteria. It still needs some finishing touches-stitches here and there before it grows leaves and blossoms.

I aslo started to work on the flower beds, some more planting still needs to be done there and I also plan to do something about those paths... Pebbles perhaps... still need to figure out how to stitch them :) Any ideas???

Have a great day, Everyone!


Monday, May 7, 2012

Little Garden on a Hill

Taking a break from a larger project that requires more concentration than I am capable of for longer than a couple of hours, I treated myself to a play date with the "snowball" I pieced a few days ago.

Sketching the embellishments was where I left off the last time. Now, with my transparent paper pinned to the block, I realized that, while the green patch on the bottom looked like a nice hill and I could use that idea, it's orientation also gave the block a rather sad look. I solved this by adding some flower beds, getting inspiration from a great Japanese embroidery book I received as a gift from my dear friend, Lee Albrecht.

With the flower beds sketched, it only seemed natural to use a variation of blanket stitches for the seam around the hill, to suggest a little fence. Then came the variation of feathered chain stitch on the right seam, and the feather stitch seam treatment for the lavender-blue patch on the top, both to be taken a bit further by beading.
For the patch on the left I planned a tree with blossom clusters, and to balance the block, wisteria for the patch on the right. And maybe a butterfly in the center...

To transfer the pattern of the flower beds to the block, I copied it on tissue paper, pinned the paper to my block and went along the lines with running stitches. Then I tore away the tissue paper, embroidered the flower beds with whipped stem stitch and unpicked the running stitches.

Now they are ready for flowers to be planted :)

What I am really looking forward to is embroidering the tree. This would be my first one... I'll let you know how that goes.

Until then,

have a wonderful week, Everyone!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

All The Blooming Trees my parents' garden inspired me to embroider this pendant today.

Just a small detail, a couple of branches, loaded with sweet scented ivory-yellow flowers.

Where did you find your inspiration today?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Curved Piecing the Meticulous Way - Tutorial

Most of the blocks in the Snowball Fight swap with CQI being the size of a CD, their shape inspired me to practice curved piecing.

Usually I do most of my CQ piecing by machine, but my sewing machine and I can barely get along for stitching in a straight line, so whenever it comes to curved piecing, we agreed to disagree and let each other be and I piece by hand.
There are various methods for curved piecing that I found on the internet or in books, but somehow I couldn't get my curves nice enough with any of those. Now, after several blocks pieced, I  have found my own way and I can honestly say that I am happy with my curves LOL

Having to piece another CD sized block today, I thought I'd document the process and share a small tutorial with those who, like me, had a bit of a trouble with their curves :)

So this is how I make my "snowballs":

0. On a piece of paper I trace a circle around a CD, for the actual size of the finished piece, and then I trace a larger circle around the first one, for the 1.5-2 cm sewing allowance around the block. Then I design my pattern, drawing the arches with the help of the CD. (Can you tell what I was listening to after I was done drawing the arches? LOL)

Then I lay a piece of supporting fabric (old sheets, in my case) over my drawing and as the fabric is transparent enough, I can easily transfer the design on it.  (I like to keep my support fabric larger, so I can use a hoop when embellishing). Usually the lightly traced lines are also visible on the back of the supporting fabric, otherwise I lightly trace them again on the back, too.

Next I cut my pattern into pieces:

1. Laying pattern piece no.1, right side up, on the right side of fabric no.1, I lightly trace around the pattern, cut the patch into shape, leaving a 0.5 cm seam allowance and pin it in place on the supporting fabric. Now all the curves are aligned, ready for the next patches.

2. Laying pattern piece no.2, wrong side up, on the wrong side of fabric piece/patch no.2, I lightly trace around the pattern and cut out the fabric, leaving a 0.5cm seam allowance. Then, I run a line of basting stitch exactly on the line of the curve to be sewn on. No starting or ending knots here, that stitch is coming out in a matter of minutes.

Then, folding the seam allowance to the wrong side, I pinch the fabric between my left thumb and index finger so that the basting line is right on the "ridge" of the fold, and as I go along, pinching the fabric so that the curve shapes smoothly, I run a second line of basting stitch to hold the fold down.

At this point out comes the first line of basting stitch, I press my fabric, curve and all, and sew it in place on the supporting fabric and patch no.1 with tiny invisible stitches, using the guidance of the pattern traced on my supporting fabric. After removing also the second line of basting stitches I press my piece again.

Repeating step 2 for all the remaining patches, after about two hours of tracing, cutting, basting, pressing and sewing (and taking pictures), I had my piece ready for the fun part - embellishing.

Too laborious? Maybe. But those curves are nice, too, aren't they? I think it is worth the effort...

Now, for planning the embellishments, I place a sheet of transparent paper over my pieced block, trace the pattern and, if the case, even sketch the design of the patterned fabrics or lace motifs I have used on my block. I keep my block under the paper, so I can see the colors, the patterns and start sketching with pencil my seam treatments, embroidered motifs or whatever other type of embellishment I wish to use.

Today I had to stop here, but I can show you the sketch I started out with to make Cathy's Snowball.

Click on the pictures to enlarge.

Hoping that you will find this tutorial useful, I remain, as ever, yours truly,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Snowball Fight

Snow is long gone, but the Snowball Fight swap continues at Crazy Quilting International. My partner for April is Cathy K. at Cathy's Crazy by Design.
Cathy wished for bright colors, "think Kaffe Fassett", she said :)

Although at first i was a bit intimidated by the bright colors of his designs, it was fun and refreshing to try my hand with more color than I am used to.

In May I am playing with Hideko from Japan. I've pieced her block yesterday, it still needs to be embellished, but you can see the block she already made for me HERE.

Have a wonderful day, Everyone!

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