box of birds part 4

It only took me an afternoon and evening to stitch the second bird. It’s based on a dipper (cinclus cinclus) but I changed the colours slightly. As per the nuthatch, beak and legs will be added once it’s appliquéd to the final background fabric.

box of birds part 3

The little nuthatch slip is now finished and I think I did right by leaving out the padding.

box of birds part 2

I’m calling this latest project ‘box of birds’ so that I can look back through my posts easily to remind myself how I solved any problems and to no-one’s surprise, there have been problems already! The bird on the left in the image below shows quite clearly the difference between having padding on the head, throat, and breast, and none on the wings, and when I’d finished them I thought the wings looked too flat. I had followed Lala’s instructions but her wings don’t look sunken so I’m not sure why mine do.

I’d already ripped out the throat and breast stitching once but only when I’d stitched them for a second time did I realise that the difficulty I’d been having with the roumanian couching was because I’d been attempting to stitch it with my left hand in the same way that a right-handed person would. (If you’re left-handed like me, you’ll appreciate the confusion between brain and hand that this causes!) Rather than rip them out again, it was quicker to just restart, stitch the couching correctly as a leftie, and omit the padding altogether to avoid the sunken wings look. The plan has always been to pad the birds when they’re being appliquéd to their eventual background as a slip, so the initial padding shouldn’t really be necessary.

If you’re interested in learning about the ‘slip’ technique, this video by Malina GM embroidery shows a slip being stitched and attached to a mitten, and The Floss Box also has a very good written tutorial.

box of birds part 1

My new project is a box with embroidered panels on the sides and top. Nothing like being ambitious – in three different ways no less! Raised embroidery slips will be appliqued to hand-painted and embroidered backgrounds, and last but not least, make the box itself. In my mind’s eye, it will all work out beautifully but the reality might fall a long way short.

I bought a sheet of greyboard from a local art shop to test my box-making skills and you can see the result below. I liked the construction method (a YouTube video) but my measuring was slightly off, even though I thought I was being extra careful – measure twice, cut once and all that, but for a first attempt it’s not all bad and I do have a usable container even if the lid is a bit wonky.

I like birds and I like stumpwork, so the box panels will each have a raised embroidered bird on them as well as some greenery. The first bird is a little nuthatch from Lala Ward’s Countryside Embroidery book again but I’m going to attempt to wing it (excuse the pun) and draw the rest myself.

bag request

An embroidered calico bag is not included in the Jenny Rolfe book mentioned in my previous post but it fits the bill for a small gift bag that a family member has requested. The celtic knot pattern is from Michaela Learner’s book, Borders & Motifs. The book includes reusable iron-on transfers but I thought I might smudge it when ironing it on so did my usual method of taping a tracing of the design to the back of the fabric and then drawing the pattern on the fabric front with a light source behind. I really ought to invest in a good lightbox but feel that the number of times I’d use it wouldn’t justify the expense.

Unusually for me, I used six strands of embroidery cotton for the green chain stitch as well as for the red french knots. The star is machine topstitch thread. An enjoyable few hours stitching and an excellent exercise in stitch length control while I continue to dither over my next major project.

applique portrait pt2

Gosh, this course module class seems to have taken the longest time to do but I’m happy with the end result. Stitches used were back stitch and straight stitch, with buttonhole stitch only to appliqué the red pinafore because the wool cloth frayed badly.  I re-stitched all the face in a brown thread, finer than the black I’d used when stitching through the tissue paper (see previous post) and the lighter thread colour and closer stitching enabled me to put in more detail. I have to confess that I’ve given my mother brown eyes here instead of the blue that they really were but if I hadn’t told you, you’d never have known. Call it artist licence. Size is approx 12 x 17 cm. I’m off now to write up my notes for this module, put this little portrait with my other samples, and then have a look to see what’s next on Sue Stone’s online course which is almost at an end!

applique portrait

After six weeks blog silence I’m happy to be able to post about my stitching adventures once again.

The latest module for Sue Stone’s online course that I’m doing is about bringing to life the previous hand-stitched images we made with the addition of appliqué and further stitching. I wanted to keep my original image sample just as it is and instead chose the photograph of my mother that I’d used as the basis for the portrait quilt I made in 2015. (The quilt was made with the image in reverse.)

Sue gives suggestions on how to indicate hair using simple stitches but I was having difficulties interpreting her method for my photo even after several trial pieces so I opted for a sort of raised embroidery/stumpwork/appliqué combo, lightly padding some loosely woven crinkly fabric with strands of knitting yarn to indicate volume and then over-stitching with three different coloured strands of sewing machine thread in the needle to imitate the highlights of the hair. I will probably re-stitch the facial features at a later stage but the next thing to do is add appliqué for the clothes and background and embellish those with more hand stitching.