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Friday, April 1, 2011

Flowering Gum Needle Book

Following the success of my Kogin cushion, I have been working on another kit from my stash, flowerpower, from Inspirations 58. The design is by Judy Stephenson and was the winner of the 2008 Flower Power Competition. I liked it immediately, especially since it uses Ghiordes knots, which I had just mastered.

Judy Stephenson has designed it to be quilted and either framed or included in a quilt. I decided to use it as the cover of a large needlebook to hold packets of needles, along the lines of one I saw at the Embroiderers' Guild Summer School.

A couple of the stitches used in this project are new to me so it has been an interesting one. The size of this project is almost perfect - enough of each technique to provide practice, but not enough to get bored.

I used a gel pen to transfer the design to the linen. The first steps are straight stitch edging to the three gum blossoms and some beading for seeds.


The stems are then filled in stemstitch and the large gumleaves outlined in chain stitch, ready for the leaves to be filled in with detached blanket stitch. This forms a little pocket which is filled with wadding to give a raised effect. I had to restrain myself from really stuffing the leaves!

This is a stumpwork technique and I had not done it before. It reminded me of Prue Batten's books - the idea of a whole book being hidden behind the three-dimensional embroidery of a large project.

The gumnuts are made using a couronne, another technique that was new to me. The gumnuts are shaped around a knitting needle, building up a shape with rows of detached blanket stitch.
Ghiordes knots are then worked around the blossoms, on the inside of the straight stitch.

The centres are made separately and inserted. They are embroidered as a blanket stitch wheel on interfacing, using two strands of variegated pink mixed with a strand of brown, then attached to a small plastic ring covered in detached blanket stitch.

The Ghiordes loops are cut and brushed up.

I am pretty pleased with the result.

The instructions are for quilting and framing the piece - or suggested as a block in a quilt. I turned it into a book for needle packets, by quilting then lining.
It is my first attempt at machine quilting. I have never sewed before with the feed-dogs down. Once I got the hang of it, it was amazing fun - moving wherever you like across the fabric. It took a bit to get the stitch tension right. My first effort produced loops at the back.

Eventually I got it. I used the designer's suggestion and made rough leaf shapes.  

 As lining, I had intended to use some cotton with Australian wildflowers, but decided the colours were too strong. I settled, instead, for the piece of handprinted fabric I had bought last year from Ink & Spindle at the Adelaide Bowerbird Bazaar (
The shapes were slightly reminiscent of the gum blossom and the colours were complimentary.

The width of the fat quarter I had was perfect, and the length gave me enough to cut and edge strips to form the pockets I wanted.

I stitched the strips down, then across to form pockets. I then put the right sides for the cover and the lining together and stitched around three sides, turned it inside out and hand-stitched the remaining side.                                                                                                                                                                                      

I now have convenient storage for packets of needles and a place where I will see my gum blossom embroidery without exposing it to too much wear and tear.                




Anonymous said...

You have done a wonderful job. I love it

jillyb said...

Absolutely stunning Jillian! The fabric you used features the leaf of the ginko tree which is an emblem associated with Tokyo and is widely planted in its street scapes. I used this fabric to make a fabric basket shown on the Ink and Spindle website. It was a present for my sister who lives in Tokyo. I also made one for my mother using the blue wren fabric by Ink and Spindle. I was very pleased with how they both turned out.

Jillian said...

I'd forgotten that the ginko tree was used in Japan.It is a lovely print.
The Bowerbird Bazaar at which I bought the Ink & Spindle fabric will be back in Adelaide the weekend after Easter. I'm holding off buying some more of their fabric online until I see what they have at Bowerbird.