July 30, 2007

Interview with Amy


Q. Amy, how long have you been embroidering and how did you get started?

A. I didn’t start embroidering until I was 22. I remember seeing Jenny Hart’s embroidered portraits, and all the cute patterns she had for sale on her website, Sublime Stitching. I think she had all of 8 to 12 patterns back then. I was so inspired, and knew I had to learn how to embroider. My mother had embroidered since she was a little girl, so I asked her to show me some stitches to get started. She took out one of her tea towels and showed me the split stitch, back stitch and the French knot. I hated the French knot, and really didn’t master it until after a year of stitching. But now, 6 years later, it’s just as easy as a back stitch and one of my favorite embellishments.

Q. Are you most attracted to any particular style of embroidery?

A. I am most attracted to free style embroidery. I often compare embroidering to drawing or coloring in slow motion. It allows me to add certain elements that might not have been seen in the original design outline. I’ve always been one to venture outside the box, testing boundaries. Although, I do think counted thread work such as cross-stitch and needlepoint are very lovely, free style embroidery is a better match for me.

Q. What are some of your favorite crafty places to visit on the Web?

A. Oh geez, don’t get me started! Don’t get me started! I’ll limit myself to a Top 5 (in alphabetical order): Craftster, Craftzine, Etsy, Flickr, and Sublime Stitching.

Q. What other interests do you have besides crafting?

A. When I’m not crafting, I’m probably cooking. Being a vegetarian and part-time vegan, I’ve learned to become creative in the kitchen. Other good things include, tattoos, photographs, reading, gardening, playing board games, and reality television. I’m addicted to Bravo TV’s reality drama.

Q. I noticed from your flickr photos that you are a wife and mom of a beautiful family, how do you balance these roles with your crafting?

A. Aww, thank you! My family is wonderful, and forever supporting me and my crafting. Since my daughter is still so young, nap times are prime crafting times. But of course, when she’s awake, I work on my projects occasionally, because I want her to grow up seeing and loving embroidery work. She too will learn the craft someday.

Q. What would your perfect day be like, what would you do?

A. Ahh, my perfect day would be waking up after a night of uninterrupted sleep. I’m talking a full 6 to 8 hours. Sleep is a sweet memory, hopefully to be a reality again once my spoiled beast is a little older. Seriously, waking up after a full night’s sleep, a caramel macchiato, Indian food, and embroidering while watching a Bravo reality TV marathon, equals my perfect day.

Q. It looks like you have a thing for sweets, you are embroidering and baking them..yum! Give us the scoop on that or is it just a coincidence?

A. I have recently become obsessed with sweets. I don’t know many people who don’t like sweets, and I’m always cautious of people who say they hate them. How could you?! Cupcakes and other baked goods are just as appealing to the eye as they are the mouth. I can’t think of many other foods that I would call, “cute.” So it only seems right and natural to combine embroidery and baked goods.

Q. What advice would you give to those interested in learning to embroider?

A. Buy yourself the Stitch-It Kit by Jenny Hart. In my opinion, this is a great thing for a beginner to have. It comes with everything you need to get started. The instruction book is very easy to follow, and you’ll probably have a finished project by the end of the day. Also, embroidery is supposed to be fun, not frustrating! So if you can’t master the French knot in a day, don’t beat yourself up about it. This goes with any and all other stitches. It’s beautiful, because you made it! Have patience and have fun, young grasshoppers.




This was for a Hedwig and the Angry Inch swap through Craftster. It was my first embroidered portrait, and I stitched this two years ago. I was pleased with how it came out, and I really liked mixing fabric paint and embroidery. This project ended up going to a good friend of mine, making it easier to part with.



This is my most recent project. The embroidery work is finished, but the project itself is still a work in progress. I'm attaching the felt patch to some vintage floral fabric, and it will be a pillow. Soon to be for sale in my Etsy shop!

Check out more of Amy at her blog, sew wabi-sabi, and her flickr photos. Thank you, Amy, your work is wonderful and we look forward to seeing more of it!

July 25, 2007

embroidery pool- makes me hungry

I love food, and food embroidery combines 2 of my most favourite things!

This cake teatowel by Skitzo Leezra is great.




Lizziebat has framed these gorgeous little Japanese delights.



Our own Floresita has made some really cute little napkins with Mexican food.



This last one is a detail from a great tablecloth made by Monica Andrade.


I can't wait for lunch!

July 24, 2007

Technique: Slips

Slips were a technique used widely during the Elizabethan period for decorating household furnishings.

In this technique a picture or image such as a flower or animal was drawn onto a linen ground and then worked with silk thread. It was then cut out and applied to a ground fabric, usually a luxurious and expensive fabric such as velvet or satin.

A famous example of this type of work are the Oxburgh Hangings, partly worked by Mary, Queen of Scots. The Oxburgh Hangings were produced by making slips and applying these to a velvet ground.

The main stitch used for this technique is tent stitch. It is basically a half cross stitch. It can be worked in several directions. It creates a strong, hardwearing surface, both on the front of the work and on the back. As such, it was often used for making cushions, bed valances and other items that would receive heavy, day to day usage.

Once the stitching was complete, the embroidery was backed with a piece of linen which was glued in place. This helped to consolidate and stabilize the stitching. It was then cut out and sewn onto a more luxurious fabric. Any rough edges were then covered by gold thread which was couched around the entire edge of the piece. The advantage of this technique is that the delicate silk embroidery could be removed if the backing fabric became worn or needed laundering or airing. They were also often worked over low count fabrics, so they were quick to produce.

Examples of Tent Stitch Slips:
Below is an image of a slip I am currently working on. It is being worked on 14 count linen canvas using flat China silk thread.

Additional Info:

As far as the cutting process goes, when the shape is cut out, a few threads of unworked area are left around the edge of the design. This unworked edge is then used to sew the slip onto the new background fabric and that is then covered by some sort of couched thread, in historical examples, usually gold thread. This acts as a second layer of sewing and covers the rough, cut edge.

As far as gluing as supporting fabric on the back, I'm not sure of the exact process, I am still doing the research! However, I plan to use a fine, lightweight linen to back the completed work. It will cover the whole back and I will use a spray adhesive as the glue. This should give the required support without saturating the stitching and causing bleeding. I will post more if I find anything during the research.



July 20, 2007

Florals for July

Today I chose a theme for the mosaic that must be one of the most common motives in embroidery. I hope you enjoy these flowers in earthy colours, next time I will pick a brighter bouquet!

Find out more on flickr:
1. embroidery, 2. flower, 3. a flower, 4. Pohutukawa, 5. Flowering detail on apron..., 6. another try, 7. Carrie Cahill Mulligan Embroidery with French Knots, 8. Embroidered Cushion 2, 9. Mirror orange flowers, 10. stylized flower embroidery, 11. Dingley Dell, 12. Embroidery, flowers, 13. simple stitched flower, 14. embroidered magic flowers on linen, 15. alien flower parade, 16. laura's embroidery

July 14, 2007

Embellishing the embellishment

Sometimes a project needs just a little extra something. In this case I embellished (embroidered) my embellishment (ribbon). In just a few minutes time I turned a nice enough project into something I like so much better.

Before:
After:

Grosgrain ribbon is good for me because the pattern makes it easy to space the stitches.

July 9, 2007

Interview with Floresita



This was my first pillowcase made from the Stitch-It Kit and it started my obsession for embroidering pillowcases. I loved the “calavera” pattern and the banners that reminded me of the art of Frida Kahlo
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Q. Floresita, I would first like everyone to know that you actually started the flickr embroidery group plus the feeling stitchy blog. So could you tell us your ideas about starting these groups and forums for embroidery enthusiasts?

A. Basically, I caught the embroidery bug big time –I hung out at the Craftster embroidery board a lot and tag-stalked by doing Flickr tag searches with embroidery. Then it hit me: there’s no Flickr group for embroidery! So I started a group and invited everyone I ran across. After the group was open for awhile I wanted to take it a step further – there were so many talented bloggers and crafters and I wanted to showcase our talents and inspire others… so I started Feeling Stitchy and recruited 5 awesome co-bloggers. I really wanted to encourage the other bloggers to just run with it and make it their blog – I did the layout and design and I blog on Thursdays.

Q. How long have you been embroidering and how did you get started?

A. Hmmm…. technically I started embroidering when I was 8. I begged my mom to buy me a little kit with stamped muslin, a hoop, and thread. Most of it was cross-stitch – I was such a perfectionist and I re-did those little x’s a gazillion times. I hated it. Later when I was 12 my sister-in-law got me into counted cross-stitch, which I did off and on for years. It was a guilty pleasure but all that counting gave me headaches. It was really Flickr that got me into embroidery again – I bought a set of Aunt Martha’s cat patterns, and just started embroidering. All the kind comments and words of encouragement kept me going, and I just couldn’t stop. Along the way I discovered Jenny Hart’s work, and Sublime Stitching, and I have to say it’s her aesthetic that appeals to me most – she’s so incredibly artistic.

Q. On your blog and your flickr photos I noticed some great sketches. Did you draw them? Have you studied art?

A. Um, yeah! Art is a really integral, vital part of my life. But I’ve always felt I have this artistic side and a very, very practical side that kind of … quarrel. Most of the big pastel sketches you see are early stuff, from high school and college. Most recently, I took Graphic Design classes at Parsons where I really got into web and print design. At some point in my life I’d love to take a painting and drawing class and just do that for a few months. But at this point, I just do a few sketches here and there…

Q. Another one of your contributions to the online embroidery world is your blog, Vintage Transfer Finds, where you catalogue your collected vintage transfers and have some free patterns for others to print and stitch. How did this collection get started and where do you find your patterns?

A. I bought a couple of Vogart patterns on Ebay and I just couldn’t stop. Basically everything I get is from Ebay, and I give myself a 20 dollar monthly spending limit to keep from going nuts. Several generous people have even mailed me patterns from their own collection! I scan the front and back of the envelope, so you can also get a “taste” of the language – it’s such a great peek into our social history. Also I scan a free pattern so you can see the characteristics of the design – just studying those motifs alone would be an awesome social history project – what we find cute and appealing and why.

Q. What inspires you to create?

A. Without a doubt, other creative people inspire me to create! I grew up in a very creative family – my sister paints, crochets, and crafts, and my brother was always working on a poem, a drawing, or lettering. My best friends are also really creative – writing, drawing, acting, etc. When I moved to New York, I felt lonely and missed them so much. But Flickr and blogging inspired me in ways I hadn’t been inspired in years. You see so many amazing projects and interact with such inspiring people – and the underlying feeling is always “You can do it!”

Q. Do you have any other projects up your sleeve? Or shall I say, what are you currently working on that you would like to tell us about?

A. Ha ha, I always have something up my sleeve! I’d like to put together a Frida-inspired doll pattern to sell, and maybe even a few dolls to sell, so keep your eye out for that. I’m also brainstorming for embroidered artwork to honor the women of Juarez – the murders and violence against women there are a social issue that really needs to be addressed! Other than that, I typically have a gazillion projects in my head that I’d like to do…

Q. What is an average day like for you?

A. He he. Well, I wake up, grab a donut and coffee and go to work where I am lucky enough to do HTML and design-related stuff 9-5. I come home at rush hour, switch on an old movie (40’s, 50’s and 60’s are my faves) and craft. Then I typically spend 3-4 hours on my laptop checking out the Embroidery group, comments on Feeling Stitchy, and comments and emails from my own blogs. If I have pictures to upload or patterns to scan that adds another hour or so to the computer time. Then I usually try to read in bed which equals me falling asleep on my book and drooling all over it. Yeah, I drool. :)

Q. There is definitely a rise in interest in the crafting arts, embroidering, quilting, knitting, all of them. What are your thoughts about this rekindled love for the needle arts?

A. I think it’s wonderful. When I was in high school and college crafting was such a guilty pleasure – it would have never occurred to me to learn how to quilt, knit or crochet. I really thought all that stuff was “for grannies.” What I love most about this new movement in crafting is precisely that it puts you in your grannie’s shoes! People of every generation have so much to learn from each other, and there is something so meditative about making things. I also love the creative side – that it inspires people to create, to tap into themselves artistically and define “art” for themselves. It’s not just knitting, sewing, crocheting or embroidering – it’s using all these tools to create works of art that really say something about you, what you think is beautiful and what you think is important.


This was a plush haunted owl card I made for a good friend of mine. All the doors and windows open and close, and there’s a greeting inside. It was so much fun to sketch and plan this and even more fun to actually stitch…

This was for a swap with the amazingly talented Ellia of greenbeanbaby. I used her free template for inspiration, and used felt instead of paper. I worked for hours on this, and I’m really proud of how it came out…

This piece I probably love most of all – it’s a work in progress that I’ve added to little by little. I love how the detailed stitching feels like “painting” – I’m using words in Spanish to talk about feelings of sadness.

To see more of Floresita visit her flickr photos and her blogs, things I've made and Vintage Transfer Finds.
Thanks for your time, Floresita! You have inspired many of us!

July 4, 2007

embroidery pool-ness

I've been on holidays for over a month now and glad to be back. I haven't updated my own blog yet - maybe soon... no promises. I've been keeping up to date with the fun stuff happening in the Flickr Embroidery Pool and noticed that I've been drawn to some simple designs embroidered onto natural linens. Mmm linen.

First up - a detail from a gorgeous bag made by Moline from Mexico (I want to go to Mexico!). The full bag and the making of it is also featured in Yvonne's stream.

How cute is this book cover by rosaechocolat from Portugal? (another place I really want to go). There are more photos in her stream showing the work in progress.



Hmm. Obviously a month in Turkey has only fueled my travel bug. Too many countries, not enough salary...
Til next week.

July 2, 2007

The Satin Stitch

Karen, one of our readers, commented that she was never happy with her Satin Stitch. She said she would like some "helpful advice on making satin stitches look good." I hope this will help Karen and many others, including me, achieve a smooth and even stitch.


Generally worked from left to right, come up
through fabric and insert needle on opposite
side of shape. Work stitches close together
following the outline of your shape.





- Here are some tips on the Satin Stitch which I have gathered from various hand embroidery books and websites.

1. Fewer threads will result in a fine surface with more stitches close to each other.
(Hip to Stitch)

2. To get a satiny finish it is important to keep the tension of your thread the same throughout. Don't pull too much or too little with each stitch.
(The New Crewel)

3. This stitch is suitable for small areas. If you need to cover a larger area divide the shape into smaller workable areas.
(Sharon B's, In a Minute Ago)

4. First, outline the shape to be covered with back stitch or split stitch. This ensures an even edge around the shape. * Here is a great video tutorial of outlining the shape and filling.
(Needle N' Thread)

5. Start in the middle of your shape and work towards one end first.
(Heritage Shoppe)




This photo is from Nessy, a flicker member. She demonstrates a beautifully smooth Satin Stitch.



This photo is from Margaret, another flicker member. She demonstrates an understanding of direction and following shapes with the Satin Stitch.