Category Archives: Surface Embroidery

Size of Thread and Needle….Needle Grabber To the Rescue…

   Working on “Chloe the Cat” there is “alot” of “padded satin stitch”. I mean alot! The thread that is used is DMC blanc floche…which is much thicker than just one strand of DMC floss.  After threading up the needle with the needle supplied and then starting to do the padding underlayment….I found I was having to really fight getting my needle through the fabric plus the previous layers that make up the padding. Here comes the needle grabber! It is just a round circle of lightweight rubber with a rough like surface which you can then pull your needle through instead of fighting and hurting the old fingers. The one used here is green but they also come in other colors. I know you could cut up some solid heavier shelf lining to make your own. These little things are great finger savers.  


   Now in the picture above I am also showing a needle that is threaded with my blanc floche. I changed my needle to a bigger one mainly because I have always felt it makes more sense to use a needle a similar size of the thread…less tension and stress on the thread when constantly pulling through fabric. Does it make a bigger hole in your fabric? Yes, it does.  As with any project one just needs to weigh the options and use what works to get the best result and I found the larger needle works fine here. Also there will be a outline that will “ hide” any so-called holes. I really do not see much on this piece so I am happy! When you use a sewing machine and thread up you also should use the size needle for the size of the thread.. it makes a huge difference in helping to lay the thread on the project neatly ….and that is for either machine or hand sewing. The picture below shows the laying of the satin stitch with the larger needle. I know I have shared before one has to use what works for you and this works for me!

    I am getting on with the next steps with “Chloe the Cat” and will update that soon. I want to get back to my “Trevelyon Cap” which is getting close to being finished! I get a feeling all three projects that I am working right now will be done around the same time… I am already rubbing my hands together and itching to work on something else.. 

A Surprising Use For a Needle Minder

    I love accidents when your stitching and a light bulb goes off then it’s…. “Now why did I not see that before and boy it is a nice way to do this!” Accidentally tracing some of the elements for Alison Coles “Victorian Elegance” …upside down… the wires were reaching out to the center of the hoop which caused no end of frustration. Yes, I tried the twisting around the pencil and covering them and that was just fine…But…then purely by accident “of course” they would get caught on my “needle minder”. Just so much magnetism! This usually happened as I was starting the wire wrap around the shape then to be couched down.  Just as I was about to do my twist with the pencil I realized I could just send the wire up to the “needle minder” and “voila” it  stayed there with all the magnetic glory and out of the way “in the middle of the hoop”! I am thrilled to find another way to keep the wires out of the way! Sure I will use any method depending on the element to keep those pesky wires out of the way. Happy to have found another “idea” to help and another way to use the “needle minder” ! If I ever do another “Stumpwork” piece I hope I will remember this trick and maybe..just maybe… I will trace all my elements upside down!!!! Love it!!!


You can see the twisted wire here in this photo and the element traced with the wire towards the outside of the hoop.


This photo has the wires all just attached “magnetically” to the Needle Minder! Worked great!  I do try to keep all of my stitching covered as I work so therefore all the “ Glad Press n Seal”.

Wish I had Remembered This Earlier!

  All of us who embroider and sew love the tools that make the project go “easier”. I for one have accumulated all kinds of tools relating to my hand embroidery as well as machine sewing through the years. Now, for the interesting part… I do organize my tools of the trade so I can find them and/or see and grab them at a quick glance… whether they are in a drawer/case that is specifically labeled or just hanging around on a shelf out in the open. I am very fortunate to have some wonderful furniture passed down to me by my mother-in-law who was a fantastic sewer and very talented. So many of my items that I stitch are on the shelves being displayed including tools that are unique and used in the embroidery craft.  

   So a number of weeks ago I went to a class with “Alison Cole” as the tutor, and had a fabulous time. All of the elements are stitched with a hoop. I basically “hand held” my hoop for the class.  I did have an small Irwin clamp (need a much bigger one) to attach it to the table but the clamp was just to weak to hold the hoop. So I suffered holding it.  We only worked on just one element at a time so it was not to bad. Came home and started to work on the elements to get them finished. Ummmm…fast forward and guess what …my hands started hurting! This was unacceptable so had to take a few days off for recovery.  In the meantime I am in my “handwork area” and reorganizing things. Then something said  “Look Up”…so I did and then it hit me… I have this sit on frame up on the very top of my furniture that I could of used for my class as well as here at home. It “CLAMPS HOOPS”! I remember thinking ages ago how do I use this embroidery stand….never once thinking that it would work for the class I took…(not going to tell you what I was thinking when I realized I could of used it at the class…some major mumbling went on) .   Sooooo…now you probably know I am using it for finishing the embroidery and therefore less stress on my hands and arms.  Such a relief…thank goodness for “tools of the trade”.

   This is a Sonata Frame and I remember purchasing it, but when….that’s a blank…. What is neat about this frame it raises and lowers, tilts, clamps fairly wide hoops and best of all you can spin the hoop over to the back when you need to fix something or end off.  There are “wing nuts” and they even supply a wooden tool to tighten these down so you are not going crazy and hurting yourself…Here are some pictures of the hoop…. I am estatic to have this in my tools of the trade now that I know how to use it. Something wonderful that I wish I had remembered earlier to make my stitching life easier! I was so disappointed in myself in having forgotten this tool. I already have other projects I will use it for in mind!


Lots of knobs for twisting and turning to get it so you can be comfortable stitching!

And “yes” that is one of my cats lazing on the deck ! She is now 14 years old. My other one is going on 18…


This is the frame flipped to the back… 

A Different Way to “Store” Floss

   Over at Mary Corbett’s Needle ‘n’ Thread awhile back there was a neat way to store your floss. If you click on the link you can see it. It was mentioned that maybe one could use just the ‘metal hangar bars” that are used for file folders to put the “Comb Binders” on and then hang your floss from them. Well….I really  really liked the idea of getting my floss hanging and more organized using a file box. My thinking cap went on and I came up with the following…(it took some trial and error) Once you make one of these it does go rather quickly. Just thought I would share. I thank the lady who came up with this as mentioned in Mary’s blog. A light bulb went off for me.

  This first picture are the items needed to make the comb binding floss hangars. You’ve got the 3/4 inch comb binder, a piece of fiber core board cut to about 5/8 inches wide by 10 1/5 inches long and the metal file hanging bar. These hangars fit inside a standard size file box ( I used a plastic one with a top) Plus you need “double sided permanent sticky tape. (Glue would just be to messy.) 

  Now you take the foam core and place a piece of sticky tape half on and half off one of the long edges. The part that hangs over gets folded over and stuck to the upper top of the foam core. I know the tape is hard to see but it is there!


Now place the metal file hanging bar on the lower half of the double sided sticky tape at the very edge of the top of the foam core.


   Here comes a bit of a tricky part. If you haven’t pressed the upper half of the tape down do it now. This is where you push the whole thing through the “comb binding” being careful that you keep the upper sticky part from attaching to it along the way. It worked well for me to keep the sticky part to the open part of the comb, less to stick to. 


   When the metal file hanging bar and the foam core is all the way through…line up the foam core with the front (the side that will open to hang your floss. Press down hard across all of the “comb binding”. If you have used permanent sticky tape there should be no worry that it is going to come apart with the lightweight floss.  See how the metal bar is pushed up against the plastic solid piece…You may need to figure out a way to balance the thing because it is wobbly. I have it stuck here on some tape to hold it for taking a picture.


   You can use a labeler or just a sharpie or whatever works for you to number each individual plastic binder. Then you can just slip each of your flosses on the correct number and them them hang all protected! For me I know this will make my life easier in the long run especially as getting older it is harder to remember where things are. I had begun labeling things long ago because I just do not want to have to think about all of it…There is way to much stuff up in the old brain as it is. If it’s labeled I can find it. Below is what it looks like finished. I plan on doing as much as I can with all my threads so they are all stored in a nice manner. You will also note I put rings on my floss so I can take them out and then put them on a bigger ring that will be used for a specific project so everything stays together. I even put more than one skein of the same color on a ring. I even pull my floss from here with the ring on. Here is a link to the article on how I use my rings for my floss. Using rings on my floss. I got these rings from a company called The Ring Lord..They supply these nifty plastic snap rings for people who make chainmail for those who are involved in the Medieval role playing …they can be painted etc. Works great for what I use them for.  


Chloe the Cat..Steps 11~13

    Finally sat down and finished the next section of “Chloe the Cat”…designed by Trish Burr …There is “padded satin stitch….overcast stitch…split stitch and long and short stitch” used in this section. I am still struggling a bit with my long and short stitching. Not neccessarily afraid of it at all, it is just a matter of having not done it in a while so skills and hand memory need to be exercised again! 

    What is interesting in this section is the overcast stitch. You need to pad it with a “double running stitch” underneath to help give it a raised effect. Overcast is just basically  a “satin stitch” that is used to make a line. You can see it in the photo below. It was hard to get all the stitches even. I think the “real thing” looks better.” The long and short stitching actually look pretty good here. I tried not to overthink what I was doing.  The “split stitch”, used for the outlining, I generally do as a “back split stitch” so I can control where my needle goes more easily. Makes sense to me even if one uses more floss to have it look neater. 


    Now for a peak at what I have finished so far….then onto the eyes….and rest of the head! I think when the head is done I will be about halfway!


    I’ve been working on reorganizing my floss so it is protected and then will more easily find what I need. I will share that probably later this week. I feel “joy” when I see the final result so that is a good thing!

Brilliant Idea…I hope so…Wires on parade…

    When one is working on a stumpwork project wires go haywire. You are using them for shaping a leaf or other wonderful objects to add to your embroidery. The ends are long! Remember these wires will be pulled to the  back later on..Whilst stitching a number of objects for stumpwork these wires catch the thread, then fray and basically drive one nuts because it stops the lovely thread from sliding through the fabric with ease. (Made me think of the scene in “Sleeping Beauty” where the Prince is hacking through the thorns!) Now here are my two solutions to the problem. (By the way knots happen too!) I am sure there are many other solutions out there but so far this works! 

First  take a pencil or other round object and wrap the wire around it like so….

Next press it flat gently near the object one is working on. 


    Then you can either place a piece of “Glad Press and Seal” over the the wire or you can use “Painters Tape”..just to hold it in place and keep any thread you use from catching whilst one is working. Ahhh…blessed relief! Mainly I use the “Press n Seal” when I have a whole bunch done and want to protect the stitching and then the painters tape when I am working on one so now “that dag nabit” wire is no longer in the way. Now I can move onto the next object! As for leaving any kind of residue since you trim these out your good to go. I have used “Painters Tape” for many years and have yet to have it cause any problems for me. I still am careful where I use it so my go to is still the “Glad Press n Seal”. These products are just tacky enough and have found there to be no pulling on any of the stitching that I do. What is nice though it will just grab the “hairs” that might get on ones project and also some of the bits of loose threads left behind.

     
I’ve been accused of thinking to much…well sometimes I am glad I do! 

Alison Cole…A Class in Stumpwork & Goldwork

   I had the opportunity to take a class with Alison Cole this past week and it was “soooo” worth it! We all need that boost every once in awhile and I definitely needed one. This particular project is called Victorian Elegance and the instructions are “for me” perfect. Being able to understand what a teacher writes makes a huge difference and I am sure I will or have repeated that many times. As we all learn in different ways I found Alison refreshing! She has a wonderful “self published” book out called The Embroiderers Little Book of Hints and Tips which enhances more of what is being taught in her class. Since she is “self published” this allows “no constraints” that the big publishers can put on one and on the plus side the editing is hers. There are no surprises when she is finished. It is her work! The drawings are a lot different than one would get as most publishers use what they feel would look best. I especially like her “long and short stitch description” so will go back to that one constantly. I thought I was doing mine correctly in the first place (which I was!) and Alison just enhanced it and tweaked it for me! Yea…She thinks way outside the box and basically teaches there really is no box! Is this a blatant push for her product…yes…when I find someone who speaks to my personality I love it and will share it! By the way the book above is a great read in and of itself she is quite quirky and therefore funny. The links above will take you to Alisons website and those specific pages for the kit and book.

   Now to some small bits of pictures of what we did in class. This project will be take a bit of time to finish as there are “many…many….many…did I say many elements! Below is just some hints of what is involved.  Since I haven’t done some of this type of  stumpwork in a while there will be some growing pains.

   Here are some “stumpwork” detachable petals and leaf that were worked on,  I am redoing some as I learned a lot and want to remember how to do them “better” so need to do that quickly!  What a teacher has shared can go out of the old brain rather quickly!

As you can see below this is padded bud on a silk dupioni background…elegant! 

  

A very slight bump in stitching road…

Sad news which can always make one reflect… a very wonderful friend passed on suddenly and stitching time has stood still for a couple of weeks. Tam commented on this blog quite often and we had many laughs together as I knew her personally through my sewing journeys which encompasses about 20 years. Her humor just made me lose it (it went both ways!) Will miss her wonderful spirit!
To share a bit also to move on…next week I have the opportunity to sit and stitch with “Alison Cole” from Australia. I will share as the class goes on if I can. It is a two day class and we will be learning about how she approaches “stumpwork. I thoroughly enjoy seeing others approach to a technique. I have done some but am always up for learning and seeing how others do their stitching as we all glean from their insights and then apply to our stitching what works for us!

Chloe the Cat..Step 9~10

Lots of “padded satin stitching”. The challenge is to keep the satin stitching all going in the same direction.  The first part was the padded center of the flower which was nice to do. What the photo shows below is that even though there are “5” different “split stitch” lines of color around the center I needed to add more. We all stitch different so when I got to the outside part I had to add a extra line or so to fill in the area. Maybe my tension is to tight or I am just a “small stitch stitcher”!

Next is the finished portion ..again I am pleased how this one turned out. I still think I need better glasses!

And now for a picture of all that I have finished so far! The month of July has been a bit hectic for me and it has been sooooo…relaxing when I have had some moments to sit and stitch.

Chole The Cat..Steps 5 ~ 8

    Although trying to be happy with the results of the satin sitch this time around…for me the success was less than I had hoped for. Maybe the magnifying makes one to be more critical. There were, however, some tiny areas to work or I was just trying to hard..and believe me I am “not” doing over… ! (Maybe I need new glasses again!) I try my hardest but have learned I will never be a perfectionist…(am to lazy!)

    When working this design there is an outline around some of the elements which gives an all over much smoother appearance to the design and it also makes the “satin stitching” look smoother around the edges. Trish Burr has been designing her “Whitework With Colour” with these outlines. I like it because it helps to “hide” some of those imperfections. This particular section was “tight”..meaning some very small crowded stitching. I have put below the before and after pictures of this section so one can see the difference without the outline and than with.  

                                                                 
     Makes a difference. When I was really into machine embroidery I noticed that outlining gave a nice finished edging to a piece. Not all machine embroidery designs do the outline but for me it was effective. Kind of like the outlining when coloring in a coloring book when I was a child. That outlining I always thought made a picture stand out more and gave it some kind of “shadowing effects”. Well on to steps 9~10!