A Finished Box and a new SAL Project

July 24, 2016 at 6:20 pm | Posted in Embroidery | 10 Comments

Today I don’t need to pretend that the Rosebud Box is finished, because it finally is, and I can even show the inside!


And another view of both the box and the lid:


So, with that out of the way, I needed a new SAL project, and it’s quite different from the last one. Here’s the state it was in when I pulled it out of the WIP pile:indian_pillow_before

It’s a silk pillow cover with a printed embroidery pattern on it. I fell in love with it because of the paisley patterns when I found this in the remainder bin at a needlework shop in France a few years ago:


For the price tag, I couldn’t resist. But of course there were reasons why it ended up so cheap. It’s not because of the material, which is nice. Have a look at some of the flowers in detail, you can see the silk shine:


But you can see the problems in this picture as well: The pattern is printed in dark ink and not very clean, so as much as I try, I won’t be able to hide all of the ink under stitching. In addition, it’s printed on a fully finished pillow cover, French seams and all, and you can see how close to the edges I’m stitching there. While I can use a frame in some places, in others I pretty much have to do without. And I have to navigate everything through the opening at the back, which is big enough for that, but still. I have thought of undoing the seams and putting them back together when finished, but with silk, I don’t think that would make anything better.

I still like the design enough that I’m going to finish it. It’s pretty simple stitching with just two thread colours, and a combination of satin stitch, stem stitch and some back stitch. The little motifs work up pretty quickly as well. Here’s where I’m today:


Three more flowers done. Since this is a pretty portable project and vacation time is coming up, I hope to be able to show you substantial progress next time!

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Wendy, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose, Christina, and there’s two additions to the list today: Welcome to SusanP and Kathy.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

Finished? – Not quite!

July 17, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Posted in Embroidery, Patchwork, Quilting | 2 Comments

My Mexican Bird project is progressing nicely. In fact, I took a picture a couple of weeks ago that I could easily sell as the finished quilt:

Mexican Bird with Binding

The machine quilting is finished, and a nice pink binding added, but I’m not quite there. If you look at the picture of the painting this is inspired by, there’s lots of white highlights:


I’ve added the tiny feathery lines with machine quilting before binding the quilt, and I’m now working on the stronger lines in some of the leaves and the dots between the stems and the leaves:


The spiral on the leaf is worked in chain stitch, the dots are done in French knots. Here’s another area where you can see both:


While the effect is subtle when seen from a distance, I think it really makes a difference, here’s an area where the dots are still missing for comparison:


I’m also thinking about highlighting the centres of the petals of the pink flowers, since they are a bit flat currently. Lots of TV stitching ahead!

The Rosebud Box – Almost There!

July 3, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Posted in Embroidery | 8 Comments

I didn’t think I had even the slightest chance at a finish, but after yesterday’s soccer match including extra time and penalty shootout, I was almost there. So close that we could pretend this picture is of the finished box:


Unfortunately, when you lift that box, the bottom will fall out, but I’m sure that’ll  be fixed at the next soccer match at the latest.

The construction was almost as fiddly as I expected, here’s the story in pictures:

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The little plastic clips you see in quite a few pictures are marketed for quilters, but I never found a good use for them till now. They’re indispensable when trying to construct something like this box, where you’re short a few hands all the time.

So,  some more pictures of the really finished box next time, and a new project!

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Wendy, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate, Debbie Rose. There’s also a new member to check out today, welcome to Christina!

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

The Rosebud Box – Embroidery Finished

June 12, 2016 at 5:44 am | Posted in Embroidery | 12 Comments

As predicted, I managed to finish the embroidery part of this project since last time:


And here it is finished and photographed in decent light:


Per request, I also managed to take close-ups of the flower sprays. First, the top of the box:


Second, one of the sides:


I also got a bit of a start on the assembly, but I’ll include that in the next post. I was asked for process pictures, and I’ll try to get some. Unfortunately getting decent light for pictures in my apartment just got more impossible then ever, since there’s scaffolding in front of the south-facing windows that will stay for the rest of the year.

And a little service information for WordPress Users: I was asked why one couldn’t click on the pictures for a bigger version anymore. I didn’t know, since it used to be the standard when inserting a picture. After some experimenting it turned out that nowadays I have to add the link with the link button after inserting the image. Should be working again on the last two detail pictures!

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Wendy, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate. There’s also a new member to check out today, welcome to Debbie Rose!

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

Mexican Bird – Paint by Numbers

June 5, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Posted in Patchwork, Quilting | 6 Comments

I’ve got quite a few pictures to show you, but very little blogging time at the moment. I’ve been busy on the Mexican Bird Project, though, with what turned out to be a case of “Paint by Numbers”.

So, here’s a gallery of progress pictures going from a sketch on fabric to a quilted and painted piece. Sorry for the wonky and occasionally blurry pictures – the lighting conditions were not always ideal.

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I ended up using the Inktense blocks like watercolours, which gives the quilt the impression of being painted rather than drawn, which I like. I managed to get away with very little bleeding, after being worried about that with my samples.

Currently I’m adding the quilting that goes on top of the paint, and then I’ll need to pick the right colour for the binding.


The Rosebud Box 3 – SAL Update

May 22, 2016 at 9:36 am | Posted in Embroidery | 11 Comments

As I suspected, last week’s travel left me with quite a bit of stitching time, so I made good progress.

I went from here:


to there:


I got all the flower motifs done as well as most of the blue stitching. I’m currently in the middle of adding the golden trellis stitches. I like the effect, stitching with the metallic thread is a pain nevertheless, but I’ll persist. After that is finished, there’s another row of dark blue half-crossstitches to add, and some blue backstitching. I hope to be able to finish the embroidery part of this project for the next update, then it’s off to the finishing, which I suspect will be a major part of this project.

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Wendy, Lucy, Jess, Sue, Kate.

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

Afghan Embroidery – How do they do it?

May 8, 2016 at 7:04 pm | Posted in Embroidery | 3 Comments

Last week I had the opportunity to see the Forest for Ever exhibition – one of a series of projects coming out of a German-Afghan non-profit initiative that aims to strengthen and preserve the traditional needlework skills of Afghan women while giving them the opportunity to earn some extra money with their stitching. You can learn more about this project at their website.

I admired the embroidered pieces as well as the creative uses the European needleworkers and quilters had made of them, and as is inevitable at those events, fell in love with a set of embroideries that were for sale together with the invitation to take part in the next such project.

Here’s the piece I ended up with:

Afghan embroidery motifs

While most stitching consists of some variation of satin stitch, these ones were special in using a kind of openwork in the left two motifs, and I think that is what drew me to them. Here’s a close-up of one of them:

Open-Work Apple

Most of the stitches used can be recognized immediately: There’s satin stitch, buttonhole stitch for the edges, some stem stitch and chain stitch for creating lines. Things got interesting when I took a closer look at some of the wider satin stitch areas that were obviously tacked down in some way in the middle. Looking at the variegated areas you can see that the stitch is worked line-by-line and not in several passes.

Afghan fruit with zigzag

When looking at the zigzags on the left, you can see the blue one in satin stitch, and the brown, yellow and green ones below with that little tacking stitch in the middle. When looking at the backside in order to find out how exactly this was stitched, I was surprised that there were no stitches at the backside in the area where the tacking stitches are:

Afghan motif with zigzags - backside

I was stumped for about half a day until I remembered running across a stitch like that when looking for ways to decorate my raw-edge appliqué a while back. I found it in Art in Needlework, a needlework book published in 1900 that I prepared for Project Gutenberg together with other volunteers from Distributed Proofreaders a few years ago. The stitch is fittingly called “Oriental Stitch” there. Looking at the oriental stitch sampler, you can see the same effect we see on the Afghan motifs, especially on letters A, B and C:

Art in Needlework - Oriental Stitch Sampler

Here’s the backside:

Art in Needlework - Oriental Stitch Sampler - Back

And here’s how it is worked:

Art in Needlework - How to work Oriental Stitch

Fits the evidence perfectly, doesn’t it? There’s a reason why I’m passionate about preserving those old needlework books! I don’t think I have seen this stitch anywhere else, and that includes the very thorough Encyclopedia of Needlework.

So, now the riddle is solved, what am I going to do with those pretty little pieces of art? I already have about half of a crazy idea, so watch this space for more!

The Rosebud Box – SAL Update

May 1, 2016 at 9:31 am | Posted in Embroidery | 7 Comments

Not a whole lot to show this time, I fear. Last time I was here:


About 5 minutes after I published the post, I realized that I hadn’t in fact finished the narrow border for the lid – half the metallic embroidery was missing! I added this and promptly was out of motivation to continue for a couple of weeks. I finally got around to at least make a start on the wider border for the box itself and stitched the background for the first of four flower motifs:


I’ll be busy for the next weeks, but there’s some travel involved, and due to its tiny size, this project does travel well, so I hope for some more progress.

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing: Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Wendy, Lucy, Cathy, Jess, Sue, Kate

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.


Flanders Lace – another Finish

April 23, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Posted in Lace | 6 Comments

With the weather not being very cooperative right now, I got the chance to finish another project carried over from last year today.

The strip of Flanders lace I started after my vacation to Belgium last year is 110 cm long:

Flanders Lace - Finished

Here’s a closeup, so you can see the details in this delicate lace:

Flanders Lace - Bean Pattern, Detail

The little “beans” are surrounded by a thicker thread, which is one of the characteristic traits of this kind of lace, together with the background patterning. I enjoyed making this very much and am already playing with the thought of making another strip in this technique, with a different pattern.

Embroidery SAL – First Update

April 10, 2016 at 7:49 am | Posted in Embroidery | 11 Comments

I’ve been on a major cleanup spree in my craft room, and while I was at it, I have found several half-done embroidery projects that sat almost forgotten in a box. So, decision time: Finish them or give them away to somebody who appreciates them more? Having made that all-important decision, there’s the additional problem that I need to do something with the intention to finish them instead of putting them back in the box. Accountability to the rescue! Avis has been running an embroidery SAL for a while now, and I’ve been admiring the participants’ progress from afar. Time to join in in the fun and make some progress of my own, I think.

So, the first project I’m working on is a tiny little box kit I bought at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham <cough> years ago: The Rosebud Box. The finished box will be only 4.5 x 4.5 x 3.5 cm large, so you can imagine the tiny scale I’m working on here. But that’s not the reason the project was stalled, as I soon noticed. Here’s the “before” picture, which is actually taken after I did some needed surgery I’ll explain in a minute:


The box lid on the left was already finished, and I had made a start on the sides of the lid on the right. Unfortunately, I had blindly followed directions to leave at least 1.5 cm around the motives on all sides and had started to stitch the lid sides 3 cm to the right of the top. I noticed after a bit that there wouldn’t be enough fabric on the far right to finish the strip. That was the point where I put the thing in a box and forgot about it for a couple of years.

So, before I could start making actual progress, I needed to take out the start of the strip and position it correctly. The red thread in the picture is the guide, and it looks as if there’s enough space after all to get the whole strip in! A few hours of stitching in front of the TV later, and the sides of the lid are actually finished:


It doesn’t look very impressive, and that’s another challenging aspect of this project: There’s a lot of stitching with dark blue thread on dark blue fabric. Working with the metallic thread for the cross-hatching is also fiddly. The thread is fairly high quality, and I’m using much shorter lengths than normal, but I still struggle with it. On top of all that, all the stitching is done with only one strand of embroidery cotton. But I do like the result, so I’ll march on. Next up: the sides of the box, which is a strip of the same width as the strip for the lid, with a smaller version of the flower motif from the lid on each side. Let’s see what I can get done till the next Update!

Here are the other members of the SAL who are posting today. Make sure to check out their work, it’s amazing!

Avis at http://sewingbesidethesea.wordpress.com
Claire at http://claire93.wordpress.com
Gun at http://rutigt.wordpress.com
Carole at http://aslightobsessionwithbooks.wordpress.com
Wendy at http://thecraftersapprentice.blogspot.co.uk
Lucy at https://lucyannluna.wordpress.com
Cathy at http://nanacathydotcom.wordpress.com
Jess at https://everthecrafter.wordpress.com
Sue at http://sewingmagpie.blogspot.com
Kate at http://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com

If you would like to join in please contact Avis, who will give you full details.

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