May 31, 2012

Do you feel like an embroiderer?

Olá! Do you consider yourself an embroiderer - "uma bordadeira"? Do you know that embroiderers are unique creatures? Today I’ll talk about that…
Some months ago I bought a wonderful Portuguese written book, “Bordados e Rendas de Portugal” - "Embroideries and Laces of Portugal", first edited in 1956. The author is Calvet de Magalhães, a great pedagogue. I will refer to this book often in my upcoming posts. But today I would like to share with you what the author writes about the “embroideress’s profession.” I love his words! It was a big challenge translating it as they are written in “an old time” Portuguese but I believe its beauty comes from that, too… Accept it as a “free translation”…

I illustrate these words with my own pieces of embroidery. My first stitches, in 1984, a cross-stitch work following a Rakam pattern, concluded in 1992, and my first pattern designed for agulha não pica.

My first embroidery stitches...We were in 1984!!
My first embroidery stitches many years ago... A recent photo of the sample and magazine I kept.

I begin near the end where the author describes some physical impediments for someone to become a (professional) embroiderer. So curious... For this profession are restricted people whose lungs are not in good condition or who have pronounced anemia; those who suffer of the digestive tract or have predisposition for these disorders (constipation, hemorrhoids, etc.); and those who have nervous disorders, cardiac defects, deviations from the spine, severe myopia or transpire too much of the hands...

Now I suggest that you read this carefully, these are beautiful and wise words...

... An embroideress must have special skills: a refined artistic sensibility and a calm, persistent and patient temperament. She must love the work she executes. The embroideress cherishes and is legitimately proud of her work, she does not get impatient nor exasperated by the difficulties of execution. She is not easily satisfied and strives to always do better.

Those who dedicate themselves to embroidery fall into three groups. In the first group are included those embroideresses who take their job seriously, are willing to start at the beginning and make their own designs. These embroideresses believe their pieces of embroidery can be a work of art and they will spare no time nor work until it really happens.

Into the second group will fall the embroideresses who are willing to devote some time to embroidery, who like to work in the evening and are always ready to devote the necessary time to learn the stitches, although the word "design" terrifies them. They are generally prepared to accept without question any pattern bought in a vulgar store, thinking that the design will be infinitely better than what they could do.


Wedding cross stitch pattern
A Rakam's pattern embroidered by me and offered to my grandparents at their gold wedding anniversary

To the third group belong those who buy a printed fabric (and with the floss already chosen) at a luxury store, bring it home to work on it from time to time, in their spare time during a year or two, and eventually get bored and take it back to the shop for them to finish.

The embroidereress of the first group is routed to be successful, the second by persuasion and encouragement may be willing to take risks and start from the beginning, the third, whom we would not dare to qualify as a serious embroidereress, nothing prevents her from reaching the first group, if she is willing to sacrifice the time and effort required...

Do you know why I empathize with these words? It’s so clear that they were written by someone who has a teacher’s soul… Someone who is tremendously demanding but believes that by sacrificing time and effort anyone can become a superb embroiderer. I do believe in that too…

Paisley pattern - agulha não pica
My first pattern for agulha não pica and improbable color choice... Photo chosen by Faceook friends/fans

Do you have a calm, persistent and patient temperament? Which group do you belong to? I would love to read your thoughts on this…

May 29, 2012

Cross Stitch Twitter Patterns

first shot at #tweetXS

One of our bloggers, Jacinta, is doing a mystery cross stitch project each Tuesday on Twitter. She tweets a pattern, line by line, and you can stitch it right along with her. I think it's an awesome idea for a quick, fun, mystery stitch. Rebecca from The Stitch emporium, gave it a try and blogged about it here.

Check it out if you're into cross-stitch, or even if you're a newbie - the patterns are quick and easy to try. Go to Jacinta's Twitter for the patterns, which should be appearing at 12 PM for U.S. CST peeps, and 1PM EST.

May 27, 2012

Patterns: Jubilee

Jubilee Party
Jubilee Party by themasonbee

Next weekend in the UK is Jubilee Weekend, an extra long weekend to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, so much is planned and there are street parties popping up everywhere. And one of the things I'm loving about all this anticipation, is that as well as all the usual commercialisation (the shops are going mad with all the Union Jack bunting and the special edition products with Union Jacks on, although all that red, white and blue is pretty cheerful), is that there is an emphasis on doing it yourself to, I've seen so many recipes for Jubilee cakes and how-to-make-bunting over the last few weeks. Considering that the Queen came to the throne in 1952, I think everyone is harking back to that era when doing it yourself was so much more common.

So of course, embroidery has to have a look in on all these festivities! The above is a free pattern by Mason Bee (scroll down a little past the other gorgeous free pattern they have). Or how about this extremely patriotic little bird from Bumpkin? I love all the different stitches used.

Great British Bird Embroidery Pattern

Great British Bird Embroidery Pattern by bumpkinbears

And finally, if all this has put you in the mood for some more Jubilee crafting, why not check out The Making Spot's Virtual Street Party!


May 26, 2012

New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns - May

Hello and a big wave to all my fellow stitchers!  I am so honored to be a part of Feeling Stitchy! Toward the end of each month, I'll be writing a re-cap post to showcase some of the beautiful stitcheries being done by the members in the New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns (NEwVP) group on Flickr. Specifically, I'll be sharing the stitcheries from our themed monthly stitch-alongs -- for the month of May we had 4 different themes to choose from!

  • Theme 1:  May 25 is National Tap Dance Day! How fun is that?! So find vintage embroidery patterns with a dance theme! 
  • Theme 2:  May is National BBQ month! Vintage patterns related to BBQ and grilling out, you could even stretch this theme to incorporate the idea of picnics ;)  
  • Theme 3:  May is National Salad month! Vintage patterns related to salads and veggies, and again, you could stretch this theme to incorporate the idea of picnics ;) 
  • Theme 4:  May means flowers! Vintage patterns with a floral theme. Please note, the pattern does not have to be 100% flowers, any vintage pattern that happens to have flowers as part of the design would be just fine.

It's hard to put into words, but one of the reasons I like to stitch up vintage embroidery patterns is because I feel a connection to previous stitchers from bygone eras.  And like any piece of ephemera, to have an original vintage embroidery pattern (preferably uncut and in its original envelope) is to have a tiny piece of needlecraft history.  I feel many of the vintage embroidery patterns give us a glimpse into what life was like during the time they were in-print.  (Click here to read a great article online that gives an overview of vintage embroidery transfers.)  I love that there are modern stitchers giving new life to these old patterns!  Plus many vintage patterns are kitschy and humorous or too-cute not to stitch up!  Like my contribution below!  I could not resist stitching up this cute winking kitty, a vintage Kate Marchbanks pattern shared by Flickr member, barncat1.

Winking Kitty - May Stitch Along 


Mom Walds Place, the founder of the NEwVP group, stitched up this beautiful daisy which is part of a bag she made to store her crochet tools.  This pattern was shared by Flickr member, Embroiderist, and is an antique pattern by Briggs.

Daisy Embroidery May 2012 Stitch Along


Cherry & Cinnamon, a first time stitch-along participant, stitched up this Lily of the Valley.  This pattern was found in the Hoop Love group and was shared by Flickr member mmaammbr.  

Lily of the Valley - Close up


♥Kimberly♥, another first time stitch-along participant, stitched up this cute kitty toting groceries. ♥Kimberly♥ says it is a vintage Aunt Martha pattern, #3733 Kitten Motifs.

May 2012 Stitch Along - Aunt Martha # 3733 Kitten Motifs (1)


Both Oneplaidaunt and Pammy0026 found the perfect patterns that combined two of our themes -- veggies and dancing -- and stitched them up on tea towels.  Oneplaidaunt chose this pattern from Vogart's "Joyous Jive Set" #260. The original text in the pattern said "Vegetable Walz," but Oneplaidaunt changed the words to  "Everybody Dance Now!"

May 2012 Stitch Along, Dance - "Everybody Dance Now"


Pammy0226, a first-time stitch along participant, found this pattern, shared by mmaammbr, in the Hoop Love pool.  mmaammbr simply has the pattern classified as "Design 598b."  Pammy0026 added some fun crayon tinting and a ruffle to her tea towel!  Check-out those lights that are illuminating the stage that the lettuce and tomato are dancing on!   

May 2012 Stitch Along, Dancing Veggies


Please stop by and visit the NEwVP group on Flickr!  There are so many other embroideries to see as our members continue to make new stitcheries with vintage embroidery patterns that are unrelated to our monthly stitch alongs. The details for our June stitch-along will be posted no later than Tuesday, May 29 and I hope many of you will join our group and stitch along with us! If you are like me and don't have a lot of original, vintage embroidery patterns in your stash, don't worry, there are some amazingly generous stitchy people that have shared copyright-free, vintage patterns in the Hoop Love Vintage Transfers group on Flickr.

In addition to our regular monthly stitch-along, our Flickr group will be hosting a contest beginning Wednesday, June 20th with prizes (yay!) donated by the following individuals and companies: Colonial Patterns, Vicki from PatternBee, Emily from The Floss Box, Sublime Stitching, and DMC!  So please check back in with the NEwVP group for all the details on the contest!  This information will also be published here on feelingstitchy at a later date too!

Meet the guest bloggers: Beth

Vintage Pattern Stitch Along - Sept 1 - Sewing Theme

I've been crazy about Bookwormbethie's embroidery for a long time - as a fellow lover of vintage patterns, I'm always ogling whatever new stuff she's got cooking in her Flickr account. So I'm really excited that Beth is guest blogging with us! On the last Saturday of each month she will recap the monthly vintage stitchalongs in the New Embroidery with Vintage Patterns group for us.

A little bit more about Beth:

Although Beth's avatar and online name proclaims her obvious love for books and reading, she is equally smitten holding a needle and thread. Beth began sewing back in April 2009, having already developed a fondness for embroidery a couple years prior. Beth is a self-taught stitcher and is greatly appreciative of the online crafting community for it's help, encouragement, and praise.

When not reading or stitching, Beth loves to bake, spend time with her two favorite guys (her hubby and dog), and play Scrabble and chess. Beth blogs at www.bookwormbethie.wordpress.com and sells online at bookwormbethie.etsy.com


Welcome, Beth - so nice to have you here - can't wait to see your finds! :)

May 24, 2012

Stitches with African/Portuguese Soul

Olá! This week I have a totally different story for you...
Sometime ago I created "agulha não pica club". Usually club meetings are workshops where I teach how to embroider... But the club can meet wherever there is a XL agulha não pica kit - kits created thinking of groups... In August 2011, the club met in a very distant and special place to the delight of many kids and even adults.

Last Summer a friend of mine was going to Africa - S. Tomé and Príncipe - for a month with her family to take care of the children of the Isle of Príncipe while their parents were working in local farms - roças. August is a hard working month in Island of Princípe and children need being cared during the day. São Tomé and Príncipe is a Portuguese speaking island country, an independent nation since 1975. One of the smallest and I believe most beautiful countries in the world.

My friend and the rest of the group had everything arranged in order to have lots of material to play with the children, it was all shipped two months before... Next to the time they were leaving I offered her a XL agulha não pica "lacing cards" kit. It was suited for 20 kids... She said it was enough once they would be offering so many different activities... But in Africa nothing happens as planned... The material only arrived a week before their return to Portugal and I believe we can say the "miracle of multiplication" happened once again.
primeiro

They counted about 150 different kids and even adults embroidering on cardboard during those weeks. The cards I had sent were gone the first day and the wool soon, too. But with hard work and imagination they managed to find more cards and wool, despite being in a tropical country where wool is not a number one need...

At the door...

The club became a great event and my friend was even interviewed for the local radio. Every day there were queues and children waited in an orderly way for their time to begin. The space was not enough, they had to share only 10 cork pads and the bamboo sticks surprisingly withstood all that effort. But everything worked so well... And the results were incredible!

Boys

When my friend arrived home she surprised me with all these incredible photos. It was one of the happier moments in agulha não pica's history... One of those moments we keep in our heart hoping it will be inspiring for a lifetime...

And I believe these smiles are a lifetime of inspiration for everyone!! That's why I'm sharing them with
you... In Portuguese we say "sorriso" for smile and "criança" for child...

Proud II

These beautiful stitches have an African/Portuguese soul. They made me realize how embroidery is really universal... And how happy we can be just having a needle in our hands... wherever we are... And of course as said by a great Portuguese poet "the best in this world are the children"... "o melhor do mundo são as crianças"...

May 23, 2012

Way Back Wednesday

May 2012 Stitch Along, Dancing Veggies

I absolutely adore tinted embroidery. Pammy0226 crayon tinted this vintage pattern and added the cutest little ruffle. I can't believe this is her first time trying crayon tinting. It is a practice that dates back to the 1920's and rose in popularity until the 1940's. I have several pieces from the 1930's that still have their bright beautiful tint to them. If you are interested in trying this technique, there are several tutorials swimming around the internet. It is a super easy way to add a little more color to your embroidery.

May 22, 2012

Tutorial Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

I put together this tutorial and without even planning it, the finished product turned into something I fully intend on using around the house. Hopefully, you will find the same use for it.
There is a family of doves living in my garage and I kept thinking that they needed a house. So, with a few pieces of felt, I put together this little felt birdhouse with embroidery on the front. I have no idea if this can be adapted to be a house for birds in reality, but it is housing something for me now, that makes me feel like this is the best idea I have had, yet! You'll see below.

To make this little house you'll need:
-2 felt sheets at 12x12 inches
-embroidery floss
-scissors
-measuring tape or a ruler

I found sheets of felt by Feltworks at Hobby Lobby. If there is no Hobby Lobby near you, I found the same felt online here.

Step 1: To begin, take one sheet of felt and cut it into 4 squares measuring 5.5 inches a piece. These will be the sides and the roof. Take the other sheet and cut two pieces at 5.5 x 9.5 inches a piece, then cut the top edge to create the slope or angle. Those top sides should be 4.5 each. These will be the front and back panels of the house.
Step 2: Embroider the piece of felt that will be the front part of the house. I free-handed the flowers and vine-type things, but they are available for you here. I found I didn't need a hoop for this because the felt was thick enough to hold a taut as I stitched.
Step 3: Once you have embroidered the front piece of the house, it's time to add the bird hole. I found an eyeshadow pot that was just the size I needed. I lightly traced it onto the felt and stitched through the line.

Once the circle has been stitched, cut through the felt and as closely along the stitches as possible without cutting the stitches.

Step 4: Now the front, back and sides of the house can be stitched together. I used a blanket stitch to attach them to one another. 

Continue with this stitch to attach all sides together. Your house should start to look something like this.


Step 5: Now it's time to add the roof to the top of the house. Take two pieces of the 5.5x5.5 felt and attach them at one edge with a blanket stitch. This will be the top edge of the house. 
Step 6: Attach the roof to the rest of the house using the same blanket stitch to connect all the edges of the roof piece with the body of the house. 
As I was working on the house, I used a tissue box to rest the house on. Which is what made me realize that this little house is the perfect tissue box cover!

If you don't want to use this house as a tissue box cover, you can attach a bottom in the same way you attached the sides and roof. This will require an extra piece of 5.5x5.5 felt. Then string some floss or ribbon through the top and it can hang from a small hook or nail. 

I hope you enjoy this little birdhouse!

May 21, 2012

Become a part of DIY History


The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum has launched a micro-donations campaign to help support acquisitions of work by all the artists in the forthcoming show, 40 Under 40 : Craft Futures.

Donations of $10 or more will be recognized online, and those who donate before July 11, 2012 will be credited in the exhibition. Here is your chance to support the work of artists within our own community who are being recognized by this prestigious and venerable institution - and show that you are a part of it.To give $10, text Renwick40 and your name to 20222 or visit Support 40 Under 40: Craft Futures.

May 20, 2012

Patterns: Do Small Things With Great Love

Do small things with great love embroidery
Do small things with great love by nanaCompany

How pretty is this and an absolutely lovely sentiment to. The pattern is by Amy from Nana Company and is part of a quote from Mother Teresa. You can download the embroidery pattern (which is free) and check out the gorgeous mini quilt that it was part of, here.

May 17, 2012

Japoneira - free pattern

Traditional Portuguese embroidery patterns     
Design sheet and tracing paper, my photo
Olá! After reviewing the book "Traditional Embroidery of Portugal" I was amazed with the design sheets that were included in it. But believe me... What a big confusion! They are profusely filled with drawings which overlap each other and it becomes very difficult to identify and capture a single pattern. But I managed to do it and after some finishing touches I ended up with four sheets of tracing paper filled of marvelous patterns representing various types of traditional Portuguese embroidery. I'm feeling so rich!!! And I want to share my richness with you...

Japoneira - design sheet and embroidery
Original pattern and embroidery, my photo
From all the patterns I've traced from the design sheets, I chose one as a gift for you... It's a motif commonly used in Viana do Castelo embroidery. In this photo you can see the design sheet with the pattern and the photo of the piece of embroidery that was pictured in the book. The original embroidery was inspired by colorful wool embroidered traditional costumes of a Northern Portuguese region, "Minho". The pattern belongs to a larger motif and slightly adaptations were made in order to obtain a single pattern.
It's yours... You can download it here.  Enjoy it!

After choosing this pattern my research work begun... I knew this was very a common motif in Viana do Castelo embroidery once it is similar to one of the patterns I use in my kits. I needed to fully understand what does it represent. And I already know it!! Let me tell you about it. We owe the beauty of this pattern to the women of the Minho which endowed with a true artistic sense invented the gayest and most decorative skirt bands, pockets and bodice backs. Originally this kind of motifs were wool embroidered and its chief characteristics were the use of metallic thread to outline the motifs, beadwork and satin stitch. The motifs were inspired by nature and by surroundings of the embroiderer. These inspirations were reproduced freely, stylized according to personal taste and were rarely realistic. 

Using tracing paper...
Using tracing paper with cork leather, my photo
One of the favorite sources of inspiration were parts of plants as well as geometric elements, and the pattern I'm giving you perfectly matches these two.We call these patterns "Japoneira"- the stylization of a flower known as camellia imported from the Orient - it relates to one of the most common species, the Camellia Japonica. I would love to show you those I have in my garden, but it is a winter flower and they are all gone... As you imagine this motif results from a really free stylization process... And we have to be inventive to look at the motif and see there a camellia...

   Working with cork leather...
Removing tracing paper with tweezers, my photo
These embroiderers, holding a developed artistic sense, improvise in their compositions and are more worried about being faithful to tradition and creating beautiful and harmonious patterns than to truly represent the reality.
Usually the number of petals can go from 6 to 12 and it may arise finalizing a stem (the one I adapted was like this) or finishing a wide spiral. Some small motifs, arranged around it, as small "balls" and leafs, help enhance this motif. There are variations to the design of Japoneiras, recognizable by the trimming of the petals and the large center. You can browse in this document to find many different "Japoneiras",  the document is in Portuguese but the images are great!

I truly love this pattern and I was thinking what could I do with it... I decided this was the time to try something I've been delaying for a while... Frequently I use cork leather in my craft projects but I had never embroidered it...

The Portuguese word for cork is "cortiça" and "sobreiro" for cork oak tree. Portugal is the number one world cork producer... Did you know? Recently new cork products have been created and cork leather is one of the greatest. I love it and I'm so happy that I tried it... It has some limitations... Satin stitch, the most used stitch in wool Viana do Castelo embroidery, is not appropriate and I had to choose other stitches also used in this kind of embroidery like stem stitch, backstitch, french knots, chain stitch and daisy stitch. Another difficulty is to transfer the motif: I decided, as I usually do, to use tracing paper and embroider through it. If your pattern is not too intricate it will work. Be careful to remove the paper, it's better to use tweezers... So here it is my JAPONEIRA embroidered on cortiça.

Japoneira - Viana do Castelo Pattern
Japoneira embroidered on cork leather, my photo
In the coming weeks I will be working on how to apply this piece of embroidery (if you have any ideas let me know) and I'm looking forward to seeing your wonderful embroideries that can be posted in our Flickr "embroidery" group . Feel free to use it in a creative way, I'll pick some to show here!!

Do you like this "japoneira" pattern? Isn't it great to know what's behind traditional patterns? They are full of life... And I hope they gain a new life in your hands... I would love to hear your opinion on this, could you please leave a comment when you download your pattern? Obrigada!

May 16, 2012

Way Back Wednesday

Vintage Showgirl
When my friend Lisa stitched this up, I thought for sure that she found the long lost photos of my Vegas showgirl days. The puffy headpiece, the sparkles surrounding her are just too perfect! It takes me back to the days of the Rat Pack. Ring-a-ding-ding baby! To find out more about this piece and Lisa, check out her fab blog!

May 15, 2012

May Stitch-along Update

We hope you're enjoying this month's fun stitch-along!  (You can find the original post and pattern here.)  We challenged everyone to not only stitch up this precious little pattern, but to think of a way to use your embroidery in a finished product.  A few fantastic projects have already started showing up in the Embroidery pool over on Flickr!

First up, Gemmabelle decided to stitch her little girl up on a black background -- such a great variation.


But wait -- that's not just any old piece of black fabric ... it's a corduroy tote bag!


Great job, Gemmabelle.

The other project that's been added to the group is this fabulous piece by Aimee (daisy eyes).  First, laying out her color options:

FS May stitchalong prep (PC 14)

All stitched up:

pillowcase skirt

And sewn into an adorable pillowcase skirt!

pillowcase skirt

And as an added bonus, Aimee has written up a great tutorial for this skirt.  Check it out if you want to make your own!

Thanks so much to Aimee and Gemmebelle for embracing the spirit of this month's stitch-along, and for providing such great inspiration for the rest of us.  Want to make your own Little Curtsy item?  Just grab the pattern and get stitchin'.  Don't forget to add your photos to the Embroidery group on Flickr, and be sure to tag them with MayStitchalong2012.

May 14, 2012

Starry Stitches



Jessica Marquez, aka Miniature Rhino, just posted this delicate, "starry" portrait of her grandmother to instagram. I love how she's using the backlighting through the holes for the constellation effect. So sweet.

May 13, 2012

Patterns: Lucky

Lucky pattern from Sublime Stitching!!!

Lucky pattern from Sublime Stitching!!! by giddy99

Everyone knows there's a free pattern section over on Sublime Stitching, right? Currently it's the lovely Lucky pattern (stitched so ably here by giddy99) but I don't think it's going to be up there for much longer, as it was a St. Patrick's Day pattern. So, as this pattern could so easily be used all year round I'd hurry over to Sublime Stitching to download it. I wonder what the next free pattern will be?