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Friday, October 28, 2011


My second recovery-from-smocking-binge embroidery project was the Kokeshi spectacle case from Inspirations Magazine 71. I must say I feel very pleased with myself for finishing two projects from this issue before Issue 72 arrived!

I already have a spectacle case I made years ago from a kit I bought my mother not long before she died. I stopped using it for a while in the face of arguments for solid cases from staff at my optometrist's, but I find it very convenient. It has a cardboard insert in the lining which provides some protection, but affects the look and feel of the case.

The Kokeshi project uses blanketing - a fabric I haven't embroidered before, although I have a single bed size piece waiting for me in my stash and an idea that's been brewing for about 3 years. I thought the spectacle case would be a good introduction - and I was right.

The very first realisation I had, was the difficulty of marking and maintaining the design on blanketing. Not impossible to mark, but I understand why the designer recommends using a stabiliser to hold the design. I have used stabiliser before ( I used Solvi) and although it works and is OK to use, it isn't my favourite way of working. It encourages me to work quickly, however, because I find it hardens in the air. It softens again as you hold it, but it is a barrier between me and the fabric that I'd rather do without.

The second challenge was needle-felting, something I hadn't tried. I bought a needle-felting tool kit hoping I might also use it with the blanket project. Felting was fun, so my hopes might be realised.
You place the blanketing on the brush and a small piece of roving (combed but unspun wool) on the blanketing and then pound it in with the needle tool.

It's fun to do and you can vary the effect by the thickness of the roving you apply.

It looks amazing on the underside.

The embroidery was mostly long and short, satin and split stitch in a combination of fine wool and DMC stranded cotton. There were 17 different threads - a lot of shades and colours that worked beautifully together. It was quite fine work - the cotton mostly stitched with a single thread.

The main problem was keeping my tension even and loose enough with the thick blanketing and the fine thread - especially hard when working on very small sections, such as the umbrella.
I like projects that are as varied as this. Making up was a matter of stitching the back and front together, then stitching the silk lining back and front together, inserting the lining, topstitching the opening edge and then beading around the seams. I find the variation of these small tasks very satisfying and soothing. There is a lot of incentive to finish each task and the time demands are not difficult to meet.

I am also going to use the finished product. I have several pair of spectacles and find soft spectacle cases easier to use. This one is sufficiently thick to provide some protection, without resorting to cardboard in the lining. It feels lovely to hold.


Jillian Cheek said...

That is beautiful. The needle felting sounds good fun, too.

Anonymous said...

It looks amazing! - katherine