Category Archives: Tips

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! 

CHLOE THE CAT…Steps 1~4 and an Unfortunate Stitching Accident…

    So onto steps 5~8…After finishing steps 1~4 I strayed back to the directions. One thing that I wish Trish had written in her directions was to half the three petals in the middle. Now she did have a line printed in the middle but just as with “Katerina the Cat” I did the “Padded Satin Stitch” all the way across. Then I realized I should have halved them on each of these petals to allow for a line of running stitch or back stitch. You would of thought I would remember from my first foray with Katerina but “no such luck. Still came out okay although I am the type of person who needs more guidance at times. Yes…I did read and reread this time.  I backstitched these lines in later and it was difficult not to create more of a “bunching” effect. Thankfully I am okay with it and will “not be redoing it”.

     The other thing that happened which is never a pleasant thing is I stabbed myself with the needle and guess what happened? It created a mess and it was enough to make it so I needed to remove a smudge of stain. If you haven’t heard about this trick it is logical in a way…You need to use “your” saliva on a piece of tissue or cloth and the stain will blot right out. When I found this out I wanted to bottle it…but we know that is impossible.. it is however available at a moments notice. Who would of thought women would have an excuse to “spit” like men do all the time.. It does bother me but it works.. You’ll never find out where this mess happened…so isn’t that wonderful! Actually this is the first time this has happened to me with an embroidery so I count my self extremely blessed! 

ooooooh….A new Cat from Trish Burr… “CHLOE THE CAT”

   Since embroidering “Katerina the Cat” ..Trish Burr has now come out with another “Whitework in Colour” called “CHLOE THE CAT”.  Of course I purchased the mate from her shop Trish Burr. You can get the kit or go to her digital shop Trish Burr Digital and get a digital copy.

  

    I purchased the kit without the threads as I have amassed a complete set of DMC threads. I was glad to receive the instructions in a booklet form and the design preprinted on a nice piece of fabric. Whew one less thing to think about! Also included was a needle. The booklet gives you the DMC color numbers you need with a printed “color block” next to each one.. Nice! The first thing  to be done after hooping up your design is to go through the steps in the booklet. The first one takes you through steps 1–4. I just finished number 1… it is a “Padded Satin Stitch”. Forgetting how tedious (albeit enjoyable) it can be doing the padding I have to use the same color throughout the process so where the floss goes can be wearing on the eyes. 
   I know that this is my method to help me keep some semblance of order so out came my “air erasable”. First thing is to outline the area with the outline  running stitch and then fill in the object with straight stitches opposite of the way the satin stitching is going to be placed. After the first layer is done I chose to mark my next layer with the marker to help differentiate the first layer from the second one. Followed that with the third layer also. This is the only way I am able to keep my focus on where I have stitched while using the same color.


Now I finished the padding and did the satin stitch on top and below is what is finished.There are some other outlines but they come later on…I am actually “reading” ahead…hopefully for the better in the long run!


I will show more when I finish a group of steps to show progress… I know it will be fun! 

Just so you can see my “KATERINA THE CAT that was finished a few years ago here is a picture of the one I stitched…For some odd reason I like eyelets and both of these have them so will be doing them with pleasure again! 

Talking about a Fix for an Embroidery (paying attention to directions)

  You’d think after all the years that have been spent sewing, doing handwork, cooking etc…(let’s just say over 50 years) one would finally….always read and pay attention to what one is doing…well the  Jenny McWhinney’s design I am working on now “Little Dog Dinner Time” was suggested as one of her easier ones.. and it is… except for “me” who just plods along and jumps to conclusions and this one was a definite no no…Thankfully I had used my trusty  “air erasable marker” to draw the lines. Ahhh…but what lines did I draw? Unfortunately the wrong ones…I drew the ones that show what “color wool” I was supposed to use…my brain had faded….it was sad…sad…so sad. So I have to wait for the lines to disappear because there would be to much confusion with the “other ones also there”.  Decided to mosey on a bit and just stitch the bowl and bone in the meantime. The lines will disappear by tomorrow more than likely.

Below is what I am supposed to draw for the stitching lines….

   Now this is what I did with the air erasable.. I know that not everyone loves these air erasables so it is a personal choice. For me they are so handy…There is always the possibility if you pressed it the mark could become permanent, however I use these markers for drawing in these types of lines….so who would see them! Okay I am really feeling the “old age” creeping in! Need to slow down and pay more attention!

As you can see here in this photo after waiting the lines have just about faded away, so now onto the “correctly drawn stitching lines”!

Here are the redrawn lines….feeling much better now…they are solid ones but it really does not matter…..these old eyes need more to see anyway!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day…mine will be “now”!

In the Scheme of Things…Color makes a Difference 

   First a confession…looking through my Jenny McWhinney “Mini Kits” I noticed that I was mistaken about how many I have to finish!  It is my pleasure to let you know that I have “three” not two more to go… (one was buried) . There is an owl…a dog…and a bird..That said…I feel better. Wishing I had only two left would have been nice but also realizing that these kits stitch up quickly it is fine by me. I am enjoying these as a change of pace. I will get back to Trevelyons Cap in a bit..

   Soooo…I started the owl this morning…and the eyes were first up.  Nice black pupils with a yellow/orange rim around that.  I am not done. What I want to share is about the yellow/orange rim. In the pictures below you can see the difference between the two eyes and their color. One has the orange and the other one doesn’t. I was intrigued at how much the eye looks different with the orange applied. These little nuances of color in a project really makes it. I had not read the directions fully. I admit being in a hurry for some odd reason..( not a legit excuse 😬   …always should read, read, all before one starts…) Now needing to add the orange was a bit of a challenge but it was worth it. The subtlety of colors together make the eye pop.

   You can even tell the difference from a distance as compared to the closeup. The left eye is stitched with the yellow and the right eye with the yellow/orange. I just found it fascinating. Thought I would share. I get excited about the simple nuances that make up an embroidery!