addendum

I added some more colour to this little landscape by way of flowers. I tried sewing a mouse but it was too small to be recognisable and a snail just looked like a bunch of threads being unravelled. The spider at least looks like a spider, albeit short of a leg or four.

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handy with a broom

I gave myself a week’s respite from the latest stumpwork portrait as I wasn’t happy with the body shaping or the costume but over the weekend I made a hand to wrap around the broom that the lady will hold. The broom was the first thing I made for this latest stumpwork piece and I might finesse it a bit yet.

 

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portrait three

Yesterday I began a third stumpwork portrait, another man this time, wearing a striped blazer and carrying or wearing a straw boater. I tried the Jan Messent method for his hat-holding hand but I wasn’t happy with the result. To give the fingers form, the book says to use “cord or smooth string no thicker than 1mm (1/16in)” but I used a soft crochet cotton of a similar diameter which I only had in a green shade. It all went well until the final stitching around and between the fingers. I used fine 100% nylon lingerie and bobbin thread so that I could make really small stitches and the book doesn’t give any suggestion as to what to use. I’m not sure if the lingerie thread was the main fault or I just didn’t take enough care over it (I really shouldn’t watch television and stitch at the same time I know) but it’s not suitable for this portrait anyway. A hand in this position is more often seen resting on a lady’s lap and not for doffing a hat, which is my intention.

 

I promised photographs if I ever made a hand the Messent way so here’s three in one, showing the process. Top left: lay a piece of stiff vilene on a base fabric, draw a hand and fingers outline then lightly glue the cord fingers in place. Lower left: add a little light padding over the back of the hand when the glue is dry then cover with the actual hand fabric. Centre: stitch around and between the fingers using small back stitches. Cut out close to the outline stitching using fabric glue/fray stop on any raw threads.

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On the other hand (ha ha), here’s the stumpwork hand which is much better for my purpose. Each finger wire was bound with two strands of embroidery thread then the tip was bent over and the whole finger bound with thread from the tip all the way down to the “wrist” before securing the thread end. All the fingers and thumb were then bound together. With this method it’s possible to shape the fingers with small pliers to make the hand more realistic. I’d never made one of these hands before and I didn’t pay too much attention when I was wrapping the hand itself (blame Foyle’s War for that) so it’s a bit rough and ready. Still, it was only a test and I like how they could be made larger or smaller depending on the gauge of wire used or how finely or thickly they were wrapped. I still think that there’s something about these hands that make them look a little creepy, but we can’t have everything, can we?

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new pockets

I was playing around with more free-motion machine embroidery yesterday but instead of just tossing the samples into a folder, I used them this afternoon to make two more tissue pockets. This evening I’ll be doing more shading practice before I attempt to hand embroider a flower or two from Trish Burr’s book, Needle Painting Embroidery.

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off-limits

As from 8am this morning my workroom was off-limits so that repairs can be carried out to the ceiling and walls following water damage in December. This means that JP and I will be sharing the living room during the day for the rest of this week, something we haven’t done since I claimed an empty bedroom for a work room!

Before I emptied the workroom of all things craft related, I made another small scissor fob needlecase, using an isosceles triangle as my template. It will hold several needles but it’s not too big, thick or heavy and an added bonus is that I haven’t lost my scissors once since I began using it on Sunday!

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I finished the Olive project this afternoon. It could be better in some areas (as could the photo) but overall I don’t think my stitching is too bad. Some of the greens look slightly blue in the photograph but in reality they’re fine. The three wired leaves are edged with buttonhole stitch although the latter isn’t easy to see, plus some fiddly needle weaving with single strand embroidery cotton for the flower petals.

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The next project in the book is Chives, and I’ll be starting that as soon as I’ve published this post.  All the embroidery experts recommend using both hands to embroider so I finally succumbed and I ordered an embroidery lap stand yesterday. Will using two hands to sew enable me to double my output speed? Only time and practice (of which there is bound to be plenty) will tell. Lap stand is an oxymoron – it will neither be on my lap nor standing. It has a base board which is designed to be sat upon. The stand I really wanted to buy is waaaaay over my budget at several hundred £s and only available from America and I might be fed up with hand embroidery next week, so I’ve settled for a lighter, smaller, collapsible, and ever so much cheaper model which should be with me in just a day or two. It feels a bit like Christmas!