Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Odds and Ends

I have a finished object!--it's a bead wrap bracelet I'm going to be teaching next year at Homewood Guild.  It's designed by "On the Surface." I couldn't find a website for them.
 It wraps five times around my wrist.
 My EGA challenge piece from last year is on display in a show at Calumet College in Whiting, Indiana. We went to the opening last week and it was fun.
 And after I ran a conference with them last week, the Law Review board presented me with this gorgeous vase and flowers.  I have them at the office, since I'm there more than at home.

Friday, June 26, 2015

EGA Challenge--adding layers

 Layer 2 was plain applique. I pressed the freezer paper pattern to the back and clipped and pressed the seams using the paper as a guide. Then I removed the paper and appliqued the wheel to the ground. I stitched a line of split stitch using Flower Thread around the wheel/gear.
 The next layer is a box shape. I prepared the fabric the same way as layer 2, removed the paper, but I added a piece of medium-weigh pellon to the lower section of the box to add a bit of dimension. To define the box shape, I stitched a row of split stitch in red and an area of black stitches, outlined in split stitch and then filled with open rows of Bukhara couching.
Layer 4. It's pinned on here and I've begun to applique it. I also pressed this layer over freezer paper but this time I'm leaving the paper in as I stitch. It adds a lot of body to this layer. I plan to outline stitch along the edges that overlap the box--perhaps in red. In the original image, the box was very red. Most of it will be covered by subsequent layers, but I don't want to lose that bit of red.

You can see my border stitches here--most of the red that shows now will be covered by the layers or the frame.

Monday, June 22, 2015

More Layers Challenge

As I was figuring out the pattern for each layer of the wheel photo, I decided to look for fabrics in my stash. And I was immediately stuck again--most of the fabrics I had in my stash were prints. There were a couple of solid grays, but not many. And these prints sent off flashes of excitement, especially some steam punk style prints with lots of gray.

But then I realized my final photo had a lot of blue and turquoise in it, so I added a few (and found that cool gray lace to the right below, over the red).
 This was my final selection of fabrics to work with, shaded light to dark on top of the red background.
And here are the same fabrics with my working photo on top for comparison.

Next was the weeding.  Below are my final fabric choices. I put the gray lace over a deep turquoise fabric. Most of the steam punk fabrics that inspired me didn't make the cut.  (I added one back in, you can see a bit of it in the top photo--it's grey type with bands of rust, so it looks rust colored.)
And here are the choices with the photo.
And here's my start. The bottom layer. All I can see of it in the photo is a kind of lopsided circle.  This one I just fused on.
I think it looks pretty awful, but know it will be covered by the other shapes. (I'm not sure if this is right-side up--before I added layer two, I stopped and stitched an outer border basting line and marked the top of the design.)

I also traced each pattern for each layer (I am making 8 layers) onto freezer paper twice and cut them all out (great do do while watching TV).  The next layer will be needle turn applique--I'll press the fabric over the freezer paper to get the shape and make the applique easier to do.  The layer after that is the red boxed shape toward the bottom right--I'll cut that from the rust fabric. I'll use the second freezer paper pattern to cut a layer of thin batting to go under it. 
Now that I've finally gotten started, each layer is giving me ideas for how to do the next.  More progress reports to come.

Friday, June 19, 2015

New EGA Challenge: Layers

A few months ago I signed up for this year's EGA Challenge with a Twist.  This year's challenge is "Layering as a Design Tool" and is led by Judy Jeroy.  Until now, I've mostly been thinking. About layers:  sheers, applique, layers of meaning, dimensional design...

After discussing it with a friend (thanks, Joyce), I decided to start where I did last year, with my photographs, hoping that would spark an idea. I ended up with two that I liked.
 I could quickly envision the design--with a raw-edge applique background of dark green print fabrics and the lily applied on top. I could do the lily padded or dimensional or applique...maybe stitched fabric petals. Silk shading. But it just seemed to me like it came too easily--where was the challenge?
This was my second picture. A wheel from a huge steam tractor from the turn of last century. So I began to play with that image in Photoshop, simplifying it a bit.
And I came up with this and I was pretty excited.  I like the design a lot and had no idea how I would stitch it.  I decided that I was comfortable with the size of last year's challenge (about 8" x 11"), so I began working on a design outline in that size.  I wrote to Judy Jeroy and she had some great suggestions.
I was thinking to start with solid fabrics from dark to light grey and then stitch on them for each layer. I gathered a bunch of FlowerThread that I'd collected over the years--it's dull finish would be great for the dull metal. 

And then I got stuck.  For a couple of months. 

Finally, I decided first I needed to get a handle on the design elements.  I used this version, with clearer outlines, to begin to draw the shape of each of the layers and cut out a pattern for each layer.
I think I'm on my way.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Spring moving toward Summer

Our weather's been a bit crazy here--steam bath one day and chilly the next. Today's on the cool side with on and off rain. But all this rain is making the garden happy.  The catalpa tree in our yard is full of blooms. They smell wonderful.
You can see how the sun was going in and out.
They don't last long and to walk in the yard is to be showered with blossoms.  The light blossoms are blown all the way to the front yard, to make flower strewn paths.
 Below is our back yard.  We didn't intend for the bricks stacked on the sidewalk to become a garden feature, but the walk is too tilted to use and the plants in the bricks flower so nicely....
 A couple of weeks ago Hubby potted these Galliardia plants that have been reseeding around our yard for years. Our neighbor had a tree taken down and, as expected, the workmen trampled where the garden had been.  We were both happy he'd thought to move them out of harm's way.
 For now, they're happy in their pots.  We'll soon move them back into the ground.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Antique shop find

Last weekend we headed out to take a walk only to be thwarted by a huge crowd there. So we wandered over to a nearby antique mall in LaGrange, IL. We used to go antiquing most weekends, but it's become a rare activity now. I found this vintage button card. The buttons are wood. There's a picture of a woman under the buttons, very hard to see, but intriguing.
But this was my very happy find--a book about the embroidered clothing of, I think, Turnovsky. I think it's Czech.
They had me with the gorgeous cover.
And then I saw the two huge pages of patterns in the back cover.
There's loads of detail on the interior spreads.  I'm having fun researching and puzzling it out.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

More needlepoint finishing

I began showing some of the steps I use in finishing a needlepoint stocking here.  Here's the finished stocking and the rest of the instructions.
Here's the finished stocking, all ready for a treat to be placed inside and hung on the tree.
I cut out the backing piece using the patterns I showed in the previous post. I cut one of the seamless patterns from freezer paper and pressed it to the back of the backing.  When cutting the backing you need to be sure the toe of the stocking is facing in the right direction.  

I clipped into the seam allowance and then pressed the seam allowance of the backing, using steam, following the edge of the freezer paper. The paper makes this step easy. Once done and cooled, I pulled the paper out and proceeded. I don't baste the backing because that way I can adjust it to the needlepoint in case the edge changed slightly when I stitched it back on itself (previous post).
I stitched the backing to the needlepoint front going into the very first empty thread of the canvas and then about 1/8" into the backing, to pull the edge of the backing just to the edge of the needlepoint. If done neatly, you don't need to add a cording over the seam (unless you want one).  Each time your needle should only pick up one thread of the canvas--if you take a deeper bite, the backing won't be positioned right.  I make my stitches close, about every other canvas thread. Sometimes I'm going straight from one hole to the next, other times I'm going over one canvas intersection. It depends on the curves of the piece. 

The next step is to line the stocking. If you're doing a solid shape, you can just add a hanging loop and stitch all around, adding a bit of stuffing if you wish--and you're done!  But I want my stocking open to hold a gift.
The next step is to cut the lining. I use my pattern with the seam allowance but I make the top a little bit longer so I have a good edge to fold in and stitch. This is a very light-weight silk so it needs all the help I can give it.
Again, the stocking shape may have changed a bit as I stitched the edges of the canvas down, so to be exact, I traced around the completed stocking front right onto the lining. I just used a pencil.
I didn't want to get the machine out just for this so I hand stitched around the seam, going just about 1/16" inside the line I drew (the pencil added width to the drawing).  Then I trimmed the seam allowance with pinking shears to stop raveling. 
I folded the top edge in and poked the lining into the stocking. It's easy at this point to get the toes pointing opposite directions, so I carefully poke it all the way in to make sure it's right.  I folded in the top edge until it was even with the outer stocking and pinned it all around.

In the meantime, I took a remnant of silk ribbon and used it to make a twisted cord for hanging. I knotted the ends and used a really big needle to thread the loop and pull it through the canvas at the edge of the needlepoint stitches near the back edge.  Sometimes I just tack a loop of ribbon to the canvas to secure the loop.
The last task is to stitch the lining to the outer stocking.  Again, i took a stitch just about every other canvas thread, and about the same spacing on the fabric backing.
All done!