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Monday, August 18, 2014

Another Denim Bag

When I made denim bags for my granddaughters for Christmas, my daughter indicated she would like one too. Serendipitously, as her birthday approached, another pair of my longsuffering jeans gave out along a couple of seams - a sign it was time to make more bags!

The first of these bags is for Katherine's birthday.

The original pattern I used (Stitched Treasures by Ann Francene Dimmer in Vol.20 No.11 of Creative Embroidery and Cross Stitch)  had a rounded and a squared version. I thought the squared version might be more useful to an adult.

As before, I wanted to use the back pocket of the jeans as a pocket on the outside of the bag. The pockets are placed a bit high on the jeans, but still useful for an accessible pocket on the bag.

I have collected a few more doilies and crocheted medallions since I made the last of these bags, so had a choice of embellishment.

I settled for a base doily in a very open work pattern, and a cluster of round medallions as my base. I appliqued these down by hand using machine thread, but decided to add some stitches using embroidery thread.
I found I could get some dimensional effects by stitching around the threads connecting the various rounds of the medallions. The effects on the large, lacy doily were more subtle.
I then began to build up layers of embroidered wheels of various kinds around the other side of the applique.

Rather than thinking garden and flowers, I began to think planets and spheres, space, night sky and Earth.

I made it up as I went along, adding and tinkering.

Eventually, satisfied with the result, I added a zip, joined the seams and created a handle.

For lining I used a length of kimono fabric in a denim-y blue.I included an inner pocket in the lining.

I am pleased to say the bag turned out well and was much appreciated by the recipient.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Embroiderer's Guild of South Australia: Class in Hungarian Point Embroidery

Photo from Guild Website
I  spent 10am - 3.30pm both days this weekend attending a class in Hungarian Point Embroidery at the Guild. The class was run by Carol Mullan, a Guild tutor for 25 years, currently with the Yorke Peninsula Branch of the Guild. Carol specialises in tutoring Counted Stitch Embroideries and Canvas work techniques as well as teaching students how to design for embroidery.

The Guild description of  the class was Hungarian Point needlework is a more intricate form of Bargello/Florentine embroidery and is usually worked on canvas. In this class students will be working on linen fabric with their own choice of silk or cotton threads. As a number of different patterns will be provided, students can choose to work a sampler or a small draw string bag. The illustration of Carol's finished bag is from the Guild website.

I really enjoyed the class. It was purposeful, and I learned a lot. It was also friendly and relaxed with a lot of incidental learning - shared hints and tips about all sorts of things.
We looked at the beautiful samples Carol brought, and some of her source books before getting down to stitching. Everyone followed their interest. Several students tried out little tile motifs - working some of the basic patterns in a circle rather than a line. I wanted to get the hang of colour change - so set out to work the bag with some colourways.

By the end of the first day, I had worked my way through the green sequence into blue. That night I moved through blue to purple and brown.

I love the sense of play involved - so many possible effects from even one simple pattern. Simply stitching, experimenting and asking questions establishes a feel for the design and a rhythm of work.

After a couple of hours I needed my magnifier. Even using 28 thread-count linen and three strands of cotton, it was much easier - and more accurate - with magnification.

Robbyn Hutton, from the Guild's Education Committee, generously acted as hostess for the two days, bringing home-baked morning tea, organising tea and coffee and washing up for us. It felt really comforting and supportive.

As we stitched today, Carol constructed a bag, showing us each step- a perfect craft guild technique; working alongside the pupils, a bit ahead, modelling and discussing.

By the end of the two days I had embroidered just over half my bag.

I hope to finish the embroidery - and the construction - over the next two weeks, while I am away in Sydney visiting friends.

I will post progress when I can.

I am taking baby steps to come to terms with grief and widowhood. I am so grateful to family and friends for their love and support. I am also grateful for the companionship, sharing, mutual respect and simple decency of  Guild members.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Crewel Bluebird of Happiness

This is a longer post than normal. Normally I'd have broken this post into several stages - but got carried away with the stitching!

I bought a kit for Elsa William's Bluebird of Happiness crewel work cushion a year or so ago. After the petit point work of the Toy Chest Etui, I was looking for a complete change of focus, so got out the Bluebird.

First I set it up in a  roller frame and attached it to my floor stand. to get it to work with the stand I mounted it in a portrait, rather than landscape direction.

It wasn't long before I decided this wasn't comfortable to work with, so I remounted it in my sitting frame and a hoop.

This worked a lot better, even though I could only see about a quarter of the canvas at a time.

It has been a really enjoyable project. The colours are varied and beautiful with harmonious blending as well as some contrast.

There was enough stitch variation to keep me interested. The bulk of the stitching is satin or long and short stitch, but the shapes are quite varied. I found myself frequently switching to split stitch - it gives a better texture, especially in the feathery bits of the bluebird.The wool was great to work with.

Each quadrant had its challenges. I like the inclusion of lattice and buttonhole stitch.

It has taken me a few weeks to work this piece, and I have enjoyed it greatly. I spent yesterday tidying up the little bits I had left undone. When I ran out a colour just before finishing a section, rather than begin a new thread for a small area, I moved on to a new colour, then came back and finished off.

I love the shapes and colours -  the trunk and roots of the tree become an elegant feature of an otherwise colourful piece.

It was only when I took it out of the hoop to do the final finishing that I realised the effect of the black space around the circular component - a really lovely design touch.

The construction was quick - the kit came with backing and cord. I stitched it on three sides, inserted the fill and stitched the fourth side by hand.

I'm very pleased with the result.