Embroidered Letters

September 6, 2014 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Embroidery | Leave a comment

On one of my current projects, I needed to add some text that was supposed to be readable and pretty technical. While embroidering letters has obviously a long tradition, often in connection with monograms and samplers, what I needed was a bit different from anything I had seen before. Here’s a progress picture of the quilt in question:

BaustelleneinrichtungsplanSee all that text on the bottom, in nice long German words? This is a relatively small piece, so the capitals are about 1 cm high on the left and 0.7 cm on the right. That’s pretty small to get clear lettering in any textile medium. One obvious solution for this would be machine embroidery. Since I currently don’t have access to an embroidery machine, that option was out.

So, what did I do? After quite a bit of trying different things, I found a solution that worked for me. Let’s have a closer look, first at the text on the right:

Small backstitched lettersAs you can see, this is not a purely textile solution. I used coloured pens to transfer the text on the fabric, and the colour stays visible on the finished letters. Using one strand of standard cotton embroidery floss I backstitched around the contours of the letters, giving a nice crisp finish to each. It does look a bit uneven here and there, but if you look at the piece from a distance, it’s clean and readable.

The letters on the right, being a bit bigger, I did fill in:

Embroidered LettersThe letters were traced with a black pen, then outlined in backstitch as above. For filling in, I used a line of chain stitch in the letters, and French knots for the dots on the i’s.

This piece will be part of a larger project about the construction site that’s taken over my backyard during the last year. For German readers, there’s a bit more here: Hofbaustelle.

Tips and Tricks for Machine Couching

August 30, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 1 Comment
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I seem to have contracted the couching bug lately, looking at my recent projects. First mention of this technique is here, way back in 2010, resulting in this quilt:

 

1001 Nights full viewI also used it in this year’s challenge quilt, and quite recently, to quilt the second incarnation of the arabic pattern from the quilt above.

While doing so, I realized that I have amassed quite a bit of experience with machine couching by now, and thought that some of the things I figured out might be interesting to others as well. So for once, I remembered to take a few pictures of the process. Here’s how the quilt looked like the last time I posted about it:

Crumbling Beauty - LayoutI finished the top pretty much in the arrangement you can see here, layered and basted it, and started quilting by emphasizing the pattern lines with a black thread with some sparkles in it. Here’s a picture of my sample, so you know approximately what I’m talking about:

Finished SampleThe pattern is all straight lines, with quite a few more or less pronounced corners. It is those corners that need a bit of care to make sure the couching thread ends up where it needs to go, and the corners themselves nice and crisp. So, after sewing up to a corner, I’m turning the thread and carefully pinning the next corner, like this:

Couching - Pinned CornerYou can see that I’m not pinning the couching thread itself, but catching the fabric twice, once immediately before the thread and once after guiding the pin over the thread. This keeps the thread able to move up and down, so I can easily regulate the tension, but fixes it sideways. I’m using a normal zigzag stich in my sewing maching to hold the thread down. When approaching the corner, I try to make sure the needle ends up on the inside of the corner before turning. I sew up right to the pin or even just beyond it. This helps to make the corner crisp.

Couching up to cornerAt this point, with the needle stuck in the fabric, I lift the foot and turn into the new direction, stretching and pinning the couching thread to the next corner in the process.

Couching - after turningI then continue sewing towards the next corner, where the process repeats. The result looks pretty good, I think, I hope I can show you the finished project soon!

Storm at Sea, Reloaded

August 23, 2014 at 9:55 am | Posted in Patchwork | 2 Comments
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Storm at Sea

Storm at Sea is still one of my favourite quilts, even though I made it way back in 2005.

So I was excited when Pat sent me the link to her own version of this quilt, and it’s absolutely worth sharing here: Buchheim meets Hokusai in a Storm at Sea. Lovely work, Pat, I’m looking forward to seeing the finished project!

A Textile Jaunt through the Netherlands

June 9, 2014 at 7:17 am | Posted in Museums and Exhibitions | 1 Comment

I’ve been traveling again, and it has become a habit that I’m selecting my vacation destinations by the existence of textile goodies to see. Makes me end up in places with lots of other interesting things as well, so that tactic has served me well so far.

My goal this year was the Netherlands, and I definitely had lots of fun there. Despite being very touristy, Amsterdam is a city not to miss. I spent three days there and didn’t even scratch the surface, there’s so much to see. For textile enthusiasts, I recommend the charming Museum of Bags and Purses, located in one of Amsterdam’s beautiful houses along the canals.

Museums in the Netherlands

A totally different place is the Museum Catherijneconvent in Utrecht. Dedicated to Christian art and culture, there are many different artifacts to see, ranging from the medieval period to the present. Beautiful textiles are naturally a part of the exhibits. The museum is situated in a former convent building that gives a fitting frame for everything that’s inside:

Museum Catharijneconvent

Here’s the page from my travel sketchbook I created at the museum:

Catharijneconvent sketchbook page

The beautiful ticket is on the left and an initial from one of the manuscripts on display on the right. Prices are in Euros, and yes, museum tickets in the Netherlands tend towards the expensive.

On the last day of my vacation, I visited the Museum de Kantfabriek in Horst. Located in the building of a former lace factory, it now has displays of local history as well as a very nice collection of working lace machines, with an emphasis on machine-made bobbin lace, which they also sell through their shop:

Museum de Kantfabriek

And the chicken flies to …

April 20, 2014 at 4:15 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 1 Comment
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I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for how the chicken saga continues. I didn’t want to make you wait any longer than necessary, so I found myself a random number generator and it determined that the chicken goes to Wanda Dotson! Go check out her fabulous blog, and make sure to follow her since she’ll probably be doing a chicken giveaway soon!

Chicken -- Back View

I think it was this picture which gave Wanda the idea for the chicken’s name:

I’d call the chicken Lucky Stripper since you showed her backside in public. She’ll be flying to the United States, the Commonwealth of Virginia, to strut her stuff.

So, I’ll make sure to point her into the right direction as soon as the post offices reopen after the Easter holidays on Tuesday. Have fun with her!

The Chicken Run Continues

April 8, 2014 at 9:06 am | Posted in Patchwork | 17 Comments
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After receiving my chicken, of course I had to go ahead and make mine immediately. Those are just too tempting, and quick to make! When choosing fabrics, I got inspired by the black and white chicken from Granny Maud’s Girl, which I tried to win but didn’t. So I combined a black and white scrap with some binding strips left over from another colourful quilt I made last year, that looking back at my blog I’ve never posted about. I promise to remedy that soon!

But back to the chicken, here’s what I ended up with:

Chicken -- Beauty Shot

And because she insisted, here’s the view from the backside:

Chicken -- Back View

Before we get to the giveaway, while making my chicken I came across a few things that may be useful to future chicken makers that I’d like to share:

    1. When making the log cabin blocks, it is useful to secure the seams in the last round, especially at the side where the tail will be inserted. I didn’t, and it was quite fiddly to get the seam allowances turned for where the tail goes without half the seams falling apart.
    2. That tail seam is one of the places where I found it useful to hand baste the seam before sewing. I tried without that first, and ended up with the tail attached to the upper part and a gaping hole where it should be attached to the lower part. So, after spending way too much time taking out the seam again, it didn’t take me more than 5 minutes to hand-baste that seam:
      Chicken - Basted
      After having that in, it was very quick to machine sew the tail into place, this time without any gaping holes.

So, now you know the tricks I found useful to make my chicken, it’s your turn!

If you would like to win this chicken, you need to do the following:

  1. Agree to make a chicken of your own to give away, so the Chicken Run can continue. If you have a blog, you can do the giveaway there, while linking back to the originator of the Chicken Run, Avis of  Oh Sew Tempting. If you don’t have a blog, you can still play, and Avis will be happy to host the giveaway for you.
  2. Make a comment to this post, telling me how you’d call this chicken if you win it, and which country it would need to fly to to reach you.

The giveaway will be open until Saturday, April 19th. After that day is over in all timezones, I will draw a winner from all valid entries. I’m looking forward to sending this on its way!

 

Look who’s landed on top of my mailbox!

April 1, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 7 Comments

Sunnygirl

Look who I found resting on top of my mailbox when I came home yesterday! Isn’t she pretty? Sunnygirl made her way all the way across the Channel from Squarebird. Check out the other posts on her blog as well, she’s got lots of interesting things going on.

The idea of the traveling chicken comes from Avis over at Oh Sew Tempting, and after having won this pretty one the next step will be to make a couple more of them and to host a giveaway here. I’ll be pretty busy the next days, but they do look fun and quick, so watch this space for the giveaway! I wonder where my chicken is going to live!

TV Sewing

February 16, 2014 at 11:33 am | Posted in Patchwork | 3 Comments
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So, there’s the Olympics going on in Sochi at the moment, which is one of the few occasions where I will spend an extraordinary amount of time in front of the TV. And since I’m incapable of holding my hands still, the long-running hand-sewing project I posted about a few weeks ago is making more progress than expected. Getting some traction there was my official plan for the Olympics, so I did some preparation beforehand:

I finished up the sample I made so many years ago:

Finished Sample

I appliquèd the pattern pieces to the original background fabric I will use on the big piece. I was unsure if that would be successful because of the pointy edges, but it went surprisingly well. I also tried out the yarn I found for quilting. I’m using the old couching trick again, with a black cotton knitting yarn that has some added sparkle. The effect is nice and subtle.

Then, at the last weekend at the studio with my quilt group, I tried to finalize the arrangement of the pattern:

Crumbling Beauty - Layout

When I got home, I plunked down in front of the TV and got to work. To my big surprise, I just took the last stitches on assembling all the pieces, with the Olympics only half over! Things do sometimes go faster than expected, although the usual case tends to be the other way round.

So, the next step will be to appliquè the big piece onto the background. I’m thinking to remove at least part of the paper in the middle of the piece first, in order to see how it really shakes out and to avoid puckers. Question to the experts: good idea, or bad one?

2014 Challenge – Quilting and Finishing

February 2, 2014 at 7:20 pm | Posted in Patchwork | 3 Comments
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So, last week left us with a finished top. Next step: quilting. As I wanted to replicate the strong graphical pattern of the original fabric, I knew a simple black machine quilting line would not give me the effect needed to achieve this. So, I remembered a cone of ribbon yarn a friend gave me quite a few years ago:

Black Couching Thread

The yarn forms a narrow, flat strip, perfect for couching. I’ve done something like this in another challenge project, so I knew I could get the effect that I wanted using this. I consequently started to quilt my top, using a zigzag-stitch to sew down the thread. I added some additional lines, and then quilted all the lines of the pattern:

2014 Challenge - quilted

Here’s the back, so you can see the quilting pattern a bit better:

2014 Challenge - Quilting from Backside

And finally, here’s the finished project:

2014 Challenge - Finished!

Here’s a detail so you can see the quilting a bit better:

2014 Challenge - Detail

That was a fun challenge, for sure! I’m currently working on a couple of very different projects, so I think I’ll dive into one of those for next week’s post!

2014 Challenge – the Patchwork

January 26, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 5 Comments
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So, looking at the strong graphical patterns of the fabric, I though it would work out well to use a magnified section of the pattern as a patchwork block. Some drawing and fiddling later, I had this:

Test Block for 2014 challenge

Since I liked what I saw, I started making the other eight blocks needed part by part. Starting with the easy things, the quarter-sqared triangles:

2014 Challenge - Quarter Squared Triangles

Followed by the squares made from irregular triangles:

2014 Challenge - Triangles

You can already see that I had to be pretty economic in my use of the black and white fabric, since there was so little of it, but I managed somehow.

The half circles:

2014 Challenge - Half Circles

And from that, the completed half blocks:

2014 Challenge - Half Blocks

Combined with the smaller squares from above, I got eight blocks:

2014 Challenge - Blocks

Adding the test block back in makes 9 blocks, which can be arranged into a 3*3 pattern:

2014 Challenge - Center

Looks pretty dramatic and captures the fabric well, I think. Since this ended up being a bit smaller than the required 40*40 cm, I added a narrow white border:

2014 Challenge - Top

It’s now a bit too big, so some of the border will be cut off once it’s quilted. We’ll look at that next week I think, this post does have enough pictures already!

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