April 30, 2007

Chicken Scratch



Chicken Scratch is embroidery worked on gingham fabric. It is also known as Snowflake Embroidery, Amish Embroidery, Depression Lace, or Gingham Lace. The three primary stitches used in Chicken Scratch are: the double cross stitch, a straight running stitch, and the woven circle stitch. When many of us think of cross stitch we visualize counted stitches on an even weave fabric that was so popular in the 80's. However, cross stitch is also done on linen and looks great on gingham fabric. Just look at the embroidered gingham aprons in this photo! The picture is taken from Kristin Nicholas' book Colorful Stitchery. Kristin mentions that decorating gingham aprons with cross stitch was very popular in the 40's and 50's and that sewing aprons was one of the basic projects a young girl was taught in a home economics class. Well, there are many apron lovers out there today and making a Chicken Scratch apron is a fresh approach to the age-old cross stitch.


This picture of an apron embroidered with Chicken Scratch is borrowed from Linda B.'s photo stream on Flickr. It is a great example of the stitches that adorn vintage aprons.




To the right is an illustration of the double cross stitch. It is a simple stitch that is wonderful for the beginners as well as the more seasoned embroiderers.

Chicken Scratch, however, is not exclusive to aprons. Pillow, curtains, and tablecloths made of gingham and decorated with these primary stitches are all wonderful ways to showoff your skills.

Now go out there and Chicken Scratch!

April 28, 2007

Working with felt

One of the questions I'm most often asked is if it's difficult to embroider on felt. Actually, wool felt is my first choice for 99% of all embroidery I do. I love wool felt. Felt has no raw edges and does not unravel. I don't usually embroider wool using a hoop, as the wool is sturdy enough not to. I also draw my designs right on the felt with a disappearing ink marker. After stitching I use a wet paper towel or washcloth and blot out the marker. Then let air dry.

If you are putting your finished project on an item that will be washed please prewash your wool felt. I've never washed 100% wool, but I'm sure it will shrink quite a bit. I have washed wool-blend felt by soaking it in warm water, squeezing out the excess, and drying it in a dryer. The more wool in the blend the more shrinkage will occur.

Are you allergic to wool? So is Alice over at futuregirl.com. She only uses acrylic felt. For a great tutorial on hand sewing felt (wool, blend, acrylic, etc.) stop over and visit Alice.

There is no shortage of felt embroidery projects at Flickr. Here are a few of my favorites:
1. 'Strawberry Sundae' wall art, 2. Holiday wool felt ornament, 3. Embroidered Daisy Pouch, 4. Embroidery Envelope, 5. owl for paperbag swag swap, 6. Wooly Reindeer, 7. pincushion_01_o, 8. Daisy Detail, 9. swap2, 10. Scribble Pin Tuffet, 11. Piney Slim, 12. Intuition, 1997, 13. Islands of Green - another view two, 14. Freeform Embroidery on Felted Cloche View 1, 15. hand embroidered, 16. happyrat

April 27, 2007

Embroidered people

I found some great guys and girls for you in the pool today! Happy weekend!

April 26, 2007

My First Embroidery...


Originally uploaded by honeyflake.

Laurie's post about her daughter's first embroidery reminded me of all the wonderful "first embroidery" projects I've seen on the web...






You don't have to be an adorable tot to be doing your first embroidery - some of us are learning as adults! Over on Craftster I love to click on every post labeled "my first embroidery," you really find the coolest stuff, like these awesome pillowcases by tilliev...


And there are oodles of "first embroideries" to be found on Flickr:

first embroideries by talented Flickrers!

1. first embroidery project, 2. Stitch Lesson, 3. First embroidery project!, 4. My first embroidery!

Here's how I got back into embroidering... And, well, why don't you show us your first embroidery! :)

April 25, 2007

embroidery pool-ness

Some of my favourites this week. All these works have been posted only recently.

Embroidered canvases from Merwing. What a fantastic idea! How cool do these look?


I love this picture embroidered by Wardi. The picture of a wardrobe and round chair are based on something from a magazine. What I love is how it has been embroidered onto an old sheet or pillowcase. Another great original idea.


Raspberryfairy has created beautiful fields of green. Her mosaic shows how cool the series looks together.

April 24, 2007

Sources of Inspiration - Modelbuchs

Modelbuchs or modelbooks are the name given to the early printed patterns books that became widespread in the mid-16th Century. Most are divided into two or three sections, in no particular order.

The first type resembles modern cross-stitch patterns. They are worked on a grid in black and white. They could be used for any number of counted-work techniques, such as long-armed cross stitch to produced Voided or Assisi work or needlepoint.

This is what my interpretation of the above pattern looks like:

Reversa Table Runner Detail

The second type is designed for making needlelace, a forerunner of modern bobbin-based laces. An example from Paganino:


The third is free form patterns, which could be used for a variety of things, including use on chemises or shirts or for goldwork on outwear such as bodices, doublets or capes. From Shorleyker:

Here are some examples of what you can do with the spot motifs. I made these small scent pouches filled with lavendar to give away to people at events.

Largesse - Elizabethan Motifs

So, if you are interested in some free patterns (and I know you are!!), why not try some of these online modelbuchs below and don't forget to post images of the finished product in our Flickr Embroidery group!

Online modelbuchs:

Printed Modelbuchs - Modern Reprints:
  • Bassee, Nicolas. "German Renaissance Patterns for Embroidery: A Facsimile Copy of Nicolas Bassee's New Modelbuch of 1568, with an introduction by Kathleen Epstein". Austin: Curious Works Press. ISBN 0-9633331-4-3.
  • Gesner, Konrad. "Curious Woodcuts of Fanciful and Real Beasts: A selection of 190 sixteenth-century woodcuts from Gesner's and Topsell's natural histories". New York: Dover Publications, Inc. ISBN: 0-486-22701-4
  • Hofer, Hans. "Ain new Formbuech'len der weyssen Arbeyt". Nieuwkoop, Netherlands: Miland Publishers, 1968. (Facsimile of the 1545 edition published in Augsburg)
  • Nourry, Claude and Saincte Louie[sic], Pierre de. "Patterns: Embroidery - Early 16th Century". Berkeley, CA: Lacis, 1999. ISBN 1-891656-16-3.
  • Shorleyker, Richard. "A Schole-House for the Needle: Produced from the original book printed in 1632 and now in the private collection of John and Elizabeth Mason". Much Wenlock, Shropshire: RJL Smith & Associates, 1998.ISBN 1-872665-72-1.
  • Sibmacher, Johan. "Baroque Charted Designs for Needlework". New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1975. "This Dover edition, first published in 1975, is an unabridged republication of the 1880 edition of Newes Modelbuch . . . . Inn Druck verfertigt, a work originally published in Nuremberg in 1604. . ." ISBN 0-486-23186-0.
  • Vinciolo, Federico. "Renaissance Patterns for Lace, Embroidery and Needlepoint (An unabridged facsimile of the "Singuliers et nouveaux pourtraicts" of 1587)". New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1971. ISBN 0-486-22438-4
  • Newell, Kathryn. "Needlework Patterns from Renaissance Germany: Designs recharted by Kathryn Newell from Johan Sibmacher's Sch?n Neues Modelbuch, 1597". Boulder, CO: Costume & Dressmaker Press, 1999.

April 21, 2007

So proud

My oldest daughter was so excited to start her first sewing project with a "real" needle. It was just about this time last year. She made a Mother's Day card for Grandma Mary.

She started with a piece of felt and drawing a simple picture with a disappearing ink fabric pen. She was ready to go.

Here is the finished embroidery project after it was attached to a card.Be patient with kids who are learning to embroider. It may involve a lot of helping remove stitches, making knots, and finding the needle when it's dropped...on the carpet!

Here are some kid's embroidery projects I found at Flickr:
1. Kid Embroidery, 2. First Embroidery Project, 3. Embroidery Samplers, 4. more embroidery

April 19, 2007

More redwork!


Originally uploaded by Redwork in Germany.

I thought I'd share with you a little more about redwork, and show some more fantastic examples from our group...

This photo is from our resident redwork expert, the extremely talented Etja.




Originally uploaded by Lemon Tree Tales.

Are you wondering why redwork is only done in red? Well, back in the day, not all threads were colorfast - meaning they'd run all over the place when you washed them. :(

The first color-fast embroidery threads happened to be red, hence the beginning of the "redwork" tradition...



Originally uploaded by dotti black.

Check out these adorable pillows - one by Lemon Tree Tales and a pillow dotti black received in a swap - it's amazing the beauty and variety you can achieve working in just one color!

Any line drawing would do well as a redwork pattern, but if you're looking for some cute free patterns, try these freebies.

April 18, 2007

colourful embroidery

One thing I love about crewel embroidery is the solid colour you can create with the thread in imaginative ways that bring out texture and shapes and movement. I've found some examples from the flickr embroidery pool showing what I mean.

This close up of a circus embroidery from Merwing is absolutely gorgeous. I love the colours she has chosen for this work.


Misslilamae's freeform embroidery is great too. Her experimentation with the stitches in summery colours looks a little like a funny fish or face ala Picasso (If he had ever embroidered).


Robot from Beetastic. She's also just embroidered a really cool tea towel.


Tiggywinkle started this amazing bird, but apparently got tired of all the orange. Hopefully she'll feel inspired to finish it one day.

April 17, 2007

Book Review: "Art of Embroidery" by Lanto Synge


This week I've decided to do a quick review of Art of Embroidery: History of Style and Technique by Lanto Synge. This is the type of book that acts as a corner stone to a good specialized collection.

This is a new work, a descendent of his earlier work Antique Needlework published almost 20 years ago. Lanto Synge has had a long association with the Royal School of Needlework in London, so has had access to an extensive collection of needlework, both old and new. This access shows in the depth of styles and techniques covered in this book. This is an historical survey of embroidery through history and not a how-to book.

The book is arranged chronologically, beginning with a general introduction, then moving onto early needlework, Medieval, post-Medieval periods and then by century to the present day. There are side chapters on specific aspects of needlework, of particular interest to me is the chapter on Heraldic embroidery. There are also sections on costume, furniture, Chinese and Indian work.

Each chapter looks at the major stylistic movements of the time and puts embroidery within this as well as wider political, social, economic and religious contexts. For example the impact of the Reformation on embroidery was huge, due to the fact that the Church had always been a major customer for and receiver of commissioned embroidery works. There were also major stylistic changes in the designs and techniques used.

The vast majority of the illustrations are colour, with only a few black and white. There are images on almost every one of the 352 pages, with most having more than one image, in addition there are several full page images which give greater detail of selected pieces (there are even images in the bibliography and index!). In addition to the text and images, there are informative end notes (useful for further research), a 4 page glossary, bibliography, acknowledges for images and finally an index.

For those like myself with an interest in pre-17th century embroidery, a bit more detail. The chapters covering early, medieval, post-medieval and heraldic embroidery take up approximately 78 pages. Images of interest include: full page image of Coptic roundal (silk on linen), full page image of 13th Century German chasuble (good illustration of typical Germanic motifs used for many centurys), 12th Century English mitres (images in black and white), variety of 14th and 15th Century copes - Pienza, Bologna, Syon and Steeple Ashton Copes, mourning cape with heraldic design, 16th Century tent stitch French bed valances and great examples of various uses of heraldic display in embroidery.

Why I Bought the book

My training and passion is history. I love it and that is reflected in my embroidery. My focus is historical styles and techniques. Because of where I live, I don't have access to any historical works in person, so I rely on books. So when a book like this one comes out, it goes to the top of my lust list. This book has lots of info and pics about a period that doesn't get covered much except in highly specialised books or journals or out of print works that I can't access.

As far as an "Aaahh" moment, it was seeing a whole chapter dedicated to heraldic embroidery. I am involved in the SCA and one of the main applications for embroidery in that context is in heraldic display in various forms. So any book that shows use of embroidery for heraldic display is going to get my attention!

So it was a combination of the above that finally pushed this one over the line. Don't get me wrong. I had to visit the book several times at the book shop before I bought it, but it is a solid bit of historical writing and that is something I am always interested in. On the whole my taste tends to run to about books, not how-to books. I tend to design my own stuff, and I like to be historically accurate as possible, so this sort of book is important in giving me data on which to base my own work.

Even if you don't specialise in historical embroidery, there are so many great images and information that it's bound to give everyone inspiration for their own work.

Details:
  • "Art of Embroidery: History of Style and Technique" by Lanto Synge
  • Hardcover: 352 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.29 x 11.26 x 9.04
  • Publisher: Antique Collectors Club; (July 2001)
  • ISBN: 185149359X
  • Cost: $120AU or about $100US

April 16, 2007

Redwork Revival

Redwork, also known as Penny Squares, is hotter than ever. Ok, maybe not as hot as it was in the early 1900's but it's definitely attracting the eye of a new generation of embroiderers. And there is no mistaking this style of embroidery with it's bold choice of red thread on white fabric. It is a style that was introduced in the United States by German immigrants. They brought their beautiful linen pieces embroidered with Turkey red thread across the Atlantic from Europe. The name Penny Square was coined (pun intended)because one could purchase a muslin square with an embroidery pattern printed on it for a penny. Those were the days!


Today there is a slew of material that is dedicated to Redwork.


American Jane patterns

~ The book, Historical Penny Squares, gives a complete history of Redwork, describes the types of patterns used, and provides patterns for creating your own square.

~ A Redwork Embroidery Primer is an educational site that gives the lowdown from A to Z on Redwork.

~ American Jane Patterns has vintage patterns and a Block of the Month club where you can purchase a block and use it to create anything from a quilt, to a wall hanging, to a pillow. The possibilities are endless.




~ Patternbee has an extensive supply of iron-on embroidery transfers ranging from flowers to children at play.



Lottie Dottie redwork pillow

~ View the accomplishments of Redwork in Germany. She is a regular contributor to the Flickr Embroidery Group and her embroidery will definitely motivate you to try Redwork yourself.







See the Flickr Embroidery Pool where I posted the square I made and post one of your own!

April 13, 2007

More birds!


More wonderful bird finds from the flickr embroidery pool. Have a nice weekend everyone!

April 12, 2007

Sublime Stitching Tea Towel Tour


Originally uploaded by IamSusie.

A few weeks ago, Jenny Hart started a thread on Craftster asking every one to describe their ideal tea towel. Behold, the birth of the Sublime Stitching Tea Towel Tour! 10 participants signed up faster than a lightning flash and agreed to stitch the towel within 2 days and mail it on to the next stitcher... These lucky ducks also got a free pattern set from Jenny!



Originally uploaded by cbcyr.

The tea towel has already made the rounds of numerous stitchers, including 3 Flickr embroiderers, IamSusie, Sarahland, and Carol, who was apparently in a rick-racky mood. :) Wanna see what the towel looks like now? Check it out! This a great way to get acquainted with all those talented Craftster embroiderers!

April 11, 2007

Embroidery Pool inspiration

A very new contributor to the Flickr Embroidery Pool is gurgledeegoo from Los Angeles. She has posted some really cute stuff - including this adorable little bee, which I thought was great.


This wedding piece was based on an illustration drawn by her friend (the groom) of himself and his bride for their wedding. How sweet!


Anyone who loiters around the Flickr Embroidery Pool would have to have noticed the colourful and original work by Bordados DaAna. Another of our top contributors, her gorgeous notebook covers are all amazing. I love watching new posts from her (and wonder where she finds the time let alone come up with all the original designs).

An artist I've discovered on Flickr who I find really inspiring is Geninne. She is a visual artist and illustrator, as well as a very talented embroiderer. Geninne shares a lot of photography of her beautiful studio/classroom and corners of her home too, which I think is really cool. Her house is so impeccably clean and light and spacious - I'm completely jealous. Also check out her blog.

April 10, 2007

How To - Couching

Bayeux Bird - Detail

Couching is a great form of embroidery for the beginner. There are several types of couching:

Surface Couching - To Work Surface Couching - Lay down the thread to be couched, and with another thread catch it down with small stitches worked over the top.

This can be used for very simple line designs or can be used to outline other pieces of embroidery. If you have appliqued a design onto a ground fabric, use this stitch to cover the seam line or decorate it, if you use a fancy thread or gold thread.

Laid and Couched Work - Laid and Couched Work is a form of embroidery where a thread (usually wool ) is laid on a ground fabric (usually wool or linen). This stitch is created by laying a set of ground threads, that work from one side of the pattern to the other (Fig a). Over these threads, in the opposite direction, are laid another set of threads at regular intervals (Fig b). These cross threads are then held down by a series of couching stitches (Fig c). The whole process results in an area completely covered in thread. This technique allows for large areas of pattern to be covered very quickly. This is the stitch which the Bayeaux Embroidery (previously known as the Bayeaux Tapestry) is worked in.

Klosterstitch - Klosterstitch, a form of single thread couching is also known as Bokhara or Roumanian couching. It was widely used in 14th C German states, especially in works associated with convents, hence the name "kloster" or convent stitch.

To Work Klosterstitch - Klosterstitch is worked with one thread and needle. A straight stitch is made across the ground material and the needle and thread re-emerge to stitch the long thread down on the return journey (see diagram). Small, slanting stitches are worked over the laid thread or yarn to hold it in place.

Underside Couching - To Work Underside Couching - In the embroidery technique of underside couching, thread (usually gold) is laid on the surface of the ground fabric, couching threads are then passed over it. As each couching stitch is worked over the gold thread, the needle is carefully re-inserted into the hole in the backing fabric that the needle created on the way out. The couching thread is pulled tight and a tiny loop of the gold thread from the surface drops through the hole in the backing fabric to the underside (thus giving the technique its name).

This creates a hinge in the gold thread, allowing the fabric to bend and giving it a great flexibility. Fabric worked with gold thread in underside couching has much more drape than fabric with surface couched gold, thus making it a much better technique for working objects which will be worn, such as ecclesiastical vestments.

Why not use one of these techniques to work this funky peacock pattern (taken from the Bayeux Embroidery).

anglo_saxon_roundal_j

April 9, 2007

Embroidered Clothes

The Egyptians were doing it. The Chinese mastered it. And your grandmother probably did too. Are you embellishing your clothes with stitches? Embroidered clothes have been around since the beginning of history and were once considered a sign of wealth. Today it is all about aesthetics and making a piece of clothing unique.


Throughout history, embroidered clothing has undergone many changes and is now filling our shopping malls, boutiques, and adorning couture fashion. With the increased interest in the needle arts, many of us are now embroidering our own clothing. All you need to do is look at the flickr embroidery group and you will see many women transforming an ordinary tank top into something very distinctive. There are many places to seek inspiration for altering your clothes, such as walking through shops, flipping through fashion magazines, and looking at embroidery patterns.


With spring here and warmer weather approaching, you might be looking to uplift your wardrobe. Check out anthropologie which has dedicated a section of their website to all things embroidered, including this sweet "bohio smock."


Here are some tips for embroidering clothes:

1. Use a stabilizer which adds support and eliminates sagging or pulled stitches. This is especially helpful when working on t-shirts or fabric with a lot of stretch.

* Sulky has a whole line of wonderful stabilizers.

2. Use an embroidery hoop that is sized to the area of fabric you are working. For example, if you are working on a neckline or sleeve use a very small hoop.

3. Don't feel like you need to do small, detailed work around necklines. You can use the back of a shirt and embroider a fabulous motif. This was very popular in the 70's ranging from the very sweet to the completely rock-n-roll!

4. Start with an item of clothing you found on sale or already have in your closet so there will be no tears or curses if you mess up.

5. Have fun and post your shirt, skirt, hat, or whatever on the Flickr Embroidery Pool.

April 7, 2007

Mommy, can I try that?

My heart did a little leap for joy when my daughters expressed interest in my embroidery. I must admit that I wasn't sure about giving my 3-year-old a needle.

Lacing cards are a nice introduction to the actions of sewing and embroidery. Here's how to make your own:

Supplies
Lightweight cardboard (I cut a side out of a shoe box)
Marker
Hole punch
Shoe string

Draw shape, name, etc., onto cardboard. Punch holes, following lines of drawing.

Tie knot in one of shoelace and let your little one start stitching!


Once our lace-up cards were worn out we graduated to this:

Available here

For more ideas use your favorite search engine to find lace-up cards, lacing cards, or sewing cards.

April 5, 2007

Inspiring Flickr Sets


prettiesillie: stitching and felting
(one of our newest group members)


golly g: Embroidered

Also, check out this unbearably cute bunny and chick from cupcakes for clara, just in time for Easter:


bunny
Originally uploaded by cupcakes for clara.

chicklet
Originally uploaded by cupcakes for clara.


Happy Easter, you guys!