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Friday, March 29, 2013

Cross stitched Samurai

I have been working on a cross stitched Samurai that I bought a few months ago, thinking my grandson would like it and I could use it for a box lid for his birthday. I bought it as a kit - with threads, diagram and 18 count aida.

I began work on it a couple of weeks ago. The finished piece is 7ins x 5ins, and I thought I was timing it quite well with Fionn's birthday a few days after Easter.

It's a while since I've worked something with so many colours (28) so I dug out my thread holder, separated and stripped all the threads and set up the colour card.

I also set up a new lap frame that I bought in January this year. It is called Eziframe, patented and manufactured in Australia by a company called Stitch Ezi. It caught my eye while looking for some thread online and I ordered the 6" version (it also comes in 10"). While I really like my sit-on frame, there are times, especially with smaller projects, when having the frame on my lap is more comfortable.

Although the Samurai is larger than the 6" frame, the piece of fabric supplied is too small for an 8" frame, so it is a good chance to try the Eziframe.

The setting up took me the best part of a day and then I was right into it.

I began in the centre and the belt, working down, putting in the skirt shading to give me guidelines.The shading in the red/pink area is quite hard on the eyes.

I sketched in the edge of the skirt border, but left the filling in until I move the frame down. I then filled in his left shoulder and jacket and some of the detail of his hand and sword.
I find that part of the interest in cross stitch projects is in deciding where to go next - how to vary the concentration required and give myself a boost by seeing something emerge, or doing a section that allows me to move around freely.

A really concerted effort yesterday saw the sleeves go in. I now have a lot of incentive to keep going. It has taken me longer than I had anticipated to get this far and the birthday is fast approaching. Will I finish it in time (not to mention the box to put it on!)? At the moment I don't think so - but I haven't given up yet!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A cushion from my own mola attempt

While I was making the cushion from the San Blas mola I also dug out the mola I had made last June in a class at the Embroiderers' Guild.

Although it would not be mistaken for a San Blas mola, it didn't look too bad seven months after it was made.

I figured I might as well turn it into a cushion too. I had enough of the bluey-purple layer to create a border, and bought another fat quarter to make the back.

My new cutting table makes this work a lot easier because the height eliminates bending.

Once again, this is slightly rectangular and smaller than most cushions, so I made the infill cushion rather than buying one.

The cushion came up well. I rather like the small size. It makes a good conversation piece in my office.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mola snake cushion

While sorting out my fabric for my drawstring bag binge, I identified and set aside a mola I had purchased some time ago from Rita at Mola Art and Crafts. I had intended to make it into a cushion, and had some matching cotton to make the back, so I found that as well.

So, using my new cutting table, I cut borders for the Mola and attached them.

I bought a zip, and made a cushion. Since I wanted it, like the mola, rectangular rather than square, I made a calico insert and filled it with some wool filling I had purchased for pincushions.

The result was very pleasing and is just the thing for our new sitting area.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Ahwahnee Table Topper

This is a travel project - a pre-printed cross-stitch table topper (or what my mother and grandmother would have called a supper cloth) I purchased from Herrschners in a sale because I liked the pattern and could work on it while travelling without too much gear or too complicated a pattern. I dug it out recently when I needed to travel interstate.

The cotton fabric is a nice quality and the print firm and clear. There are only four thread colours, which come in precut lengths - very useful when you can't carry scissors on planes.

On my first trip with this project, going to Sydney to see my father, I carefully packed it in a drawstring bag with my husif - containing my circular thread cutter but no scissors, as I had only carry on luggage. What I overlooked was the scissoroos I had slipped into my iPad case one night when stitching. The kind and efficient security officer who found them held them while I purchased a padded bag and stamps in the terminal, addressed the envelope and returned to the screening point. He then offered to post the envelope for me - they were waiting at home when I returned two days later. I wish I knew his name. It made my day.

I was then away for over a week, working in Victoria, and the Ahwahnee work progressed. With only 4 thread colours, the pattern is easy to get the hang of, and there is a bit of choice in how to work it, to keep boredom at bay. I work with long threads, and tend to work two thread lengths in one colour - 3 strands each, using up one six-strand length - then change colour. This way I see the design emerge.

 I like this design a lot. I think it would look great in other stitches and I may play around with it when I've finished this piece. It would lend itself to a range of whipped stitches or variations on chain stitch for example.

With the dark blue outline in place the basic shape is clear. It would not be hard to work variations on this.

Since arriving home, being the finish-fanatic that I am, I kept working on it, although it would have been quite sensible to put it aside until I next travel. Here's the finished article and a trial-run on a coffee table.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Smocked doll's dress

My granddaughters received amazing dolls for Christmas, and Brigid has begun to make clothes for hers, so I thought I would use the material left over from her skirt to make a dress for her doll.

I am guessing (don't roll your eyes!) that it is 15 inches.

To my surprise, I found that early issues of Australian Smocking and Embroidery had quite a few doll patterns. I suspect this is because there were a few women around then (early 1990s) who were collecting china dolls and making clothes for them, rather than people dressing dolls for children.

The pattern I used was Who's a Pretty Girl, Issue 15, Summer 1991.

I made it sleeves - giving it a better chance of fitting the doll.

The back has a same fabric sash.  I used press-studs rather than buttons for simplicity.

I also made the matching bloomers.

I find machining such small items quite hard, although I don't mind the handwork. It's been a good use of fabric and Brigid was pleased with the result.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tshirts to go with skirt

I had trouble buying the right sized Tshirts in colours I thought matched the skirt I smocked for Brigid. In the end I settled on three, one a size bigger than she is at the moment.

I appliqued a flower motif from the skirt fabric on to each. I think they will do the job.

I made a bag as wrapping for the skirt and Tshirts.

The present was a hit, looks great and will be used - what could be more satisfying?