Embroidery Feed

What people did in lock down

I managed to catch up with my quilting buddies the other day.  We are no longer able to have our meetings at the school, so now that the numbers have been increased for people to visit your home, we have been having some morning teas together.  Quite a number of the ladies have been doing the same 'Hugs and Kisses' embroidery blocks that I have done but Chris managed to find a free class with Sue Spargo.  I missed that one.

I think that the projects came from her book Creative Stitching but the free link has now been removed.

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She only selected the circles that she wanted to stitch but even so came away with an impressive collection.  These she mounted into a fabric book.  She dyed some of her fabrics for the pages and I was impressed with her use of dyed curtain tape for the ties on the book.

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There were too many pages to include them all here but here is a selection.

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I'm kind of glad I didn't find this offering on the net.  I probably wouldn't have been able to resist it.

First attempt

This is actually my second attempt at a stitched portrait, (but as I used that for the title of the last post I couldn't use it.).  The first was in Stitch Club and I was pleased with what I did there. (It was a lot smaller than the one I have just finished.)

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This is the first in a series of seventeen that I intend to stitch.  Twenty plus years ago I asked the members of my patchwork group for a portrait of how they saw themselves for my friendship block. (We took it in turns to do a block for each other so we could make a friendship quilt each.)   I had thought that this would make a good wall hanging and I expected blocks that looked a bit like this.

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What I got was some like the one above but many were so different.  Judy, who's portrait I have just stitched gave me this!

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There were some blocks that didn't match the size I asked for as well.  I still thought I would do a wall hanging, so, I took photos of each of the ladies.  I imagined I would have this printed onto fabric in a random design and mount the blocks that way.  Problem was that the technology to do that wasn't available back then, it is now, but not then.  Then, 20 years later it was my turn for another block and I hadn't made any firm decisions about the first lot, so I declined and decided I wouldn't ask for another block until I had finish that first lot.

Over the years I have tired various ways to stitch portraits of my friends, both embroidered and quilted, but, non of them sat right with me.  That is until Sue Stone's Class.  I'm glad I kept all those photos I took of the ladies, they are perfect for this project.  I am very comfortable working with Sue's method of stitching.  

Of course over the twenty years we have lost members.  Some have moved away and some have died.  The first three portraits will be of the members who have moved on to become angels.  I think these ladies will fit in well with the 'heavenly hosts'.  They did a pretty good job of being angels here on earth.  The first of the three is Judy.

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I intend to make all this into a fabric book and also write a book about the stitching of this and focus on how important friendships are in our lives, with an emphasis on what this has meant to me.  I won't have it finished anytime soon but I like long term projects.

(Some notes about the stitching.  I used a dressmaking linen and backed it with a cotton voile before stitching.  I used only two different threads.  The black is Cotona Madera, 30 weight machine embroidery cotton from Germany.  The grey is a Rasant machine poly/cotton  machine thread.)



Time Difference

I have signed up for yet another on line class, this time with Sue Stone.  The disruption caused by the virus does have some positives, one being some of these "on line classes."  I have wanted to do a class with Sue for some time but It would have meant a trip to the other side of the world, plus all the added expense of accommodation etc.  This way I can do it in my own home.  (This is the first time she has offered this course on-line)

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(image from Google)
I thought about the cost, for about 2 minutes, and then clicked that button.  What I didn't think about was the international time difference!  What I thought would arrive today will not arrive till tomorrow.

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I normally travel around this time of year but that is no longer possible. It kind of hit me when I realised that I wouldn't be up in the air, or fighting my way onto planes and through customs when the Halloween decorations started appearing.  So I put some decorations out myself and joined the list of residents for trick or treating by the kids, my grand daughters included.  Then we had this monster storm hit just when the kids were about to set out.   My son sent me a photo of the hail they were getting and I was a bit worried.

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But it wasn't nearly as severe here.  We had lots of rain, smaller hail and thunder and lightening.  Still all the kids enjoyed it, even though they all looked like drowned rats.


Returning from sick leave

I have had another week where I was out of action.  Well mostly out of action.  I still had to supervise home schooling 3 days each week.  I have to say it is a bit of a struggle when you are not feeling well but all that has to be put aside and you just have to 'do it.'   But doing it means that I have done no housework and time for sewing is non existent.  So, next week I will only have to be on duty 1 day, but, I have to drive to pick her up the day before and then drive her back the next day.  I wish my husband was still working, he is a challenge putting in his 20c worth all the time.  (I will have to find something to keep him out of the way.)   I must say I am learning a lot with the home schooling.  The classes I like the best are Art, Reading and Library.  The one I am finding most challenging is Technology.  The rest are good but I just do them.  (Ha, ha, I am a kid again.)

I had morning tea with a friend at the end of the week and dropped into my Patchwork shop on the way home.  I didn't make a special trip.  I was just driving past.  And guess what?  They had a sale on.  I got some good linen/cotton embroidery fabric and buttons at half price.  Well worth stopping for.

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I also found some cotton tape for binding my hoops,  no more ripping up calico to do this.

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And I found an embroidery kit marked down from $22 to $2.

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When I opened it I could see that someone had started stitching and then stopped and returned it.

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But, it had a good quality hoop in the kit and $2 was such a good price.  Even if I don't stitch out the embroidery it was worth buying for the hoop.  I think I will stitch it up.  It is a good project for stitching at the Guild.  Gives me the opportunity to stitch and talk.  That sounds just lovely.

Taking Stock

The past month has been difficult but I hope I am coming out the other side.  Home Schooling starts this week and I must say I am worried about it.  It is the 'thinking about everything that could go wrong' that is my main problem.  I'm sure that when I get into it I will be fine.  When I was teaching full time Sunday night was always sleepless as I would worry about the weeks lessons.  Come Monday morning I was into it and I never had any of the problems that I had imagined.

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Yesterday I gave my first lesson since lock down, with all Covid 19 safe practices in place.  I over-thought that as well. I prepared booklets with illustrations of how to stitch so that I wouldn't have to violate students 1.5m distancing regulations.  It was one of the most drama free lessons I have ever taught.  All just followed the instructions and there were not that many questions.  But it didn't have that level of social interaction I am used to.  Being out side of 'that circle we use' when interacting has an effect on how we connect.  I have to work out some way of replacing this with some other action.   Also, the restrictions meant that we couldn't share food.  I normally serve an afternoon tea during the break in the lesson and this acts as a wonderful way to get people talking and enjoying themselves.  Now everyone has to bring their own tea or coffee.  Not the same at all.  It just goes to show what social creatures we are and how much we take for granted.  This could go on for some time yet and how to adjust safely is going to keep us all out of our comfort zones.



The last embroidery for the quilt is ready to go.

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The combi block is going into a mug bag, and


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the Medici embroidery is driving me mad.  So much so that I have decided to stitch the one I found in the old magazine first to get he hang of it.

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Another bit of recycling

I didn't mean to make this now.  It is something I thought about years ago and I just got the urge to make it.

Remember those sandwich plates that your grandmother had?

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Every group I have ever belonged to had one in the cupboard that someone had donated.  There were doylies that were made especially for these and I have been collecting them for years.  This is part of my collection.

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And today I worked out a way to re-use them.  A needle case.    I cut a piece of batting and some patchwork fabric to fit inside the crocheted edge and then slip stitched this into position.

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Cut the leaves and machined these across the middle.

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Attached a button and loop.

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And I have a new needle book.  Some of those other pieces have more complex shapes but I will work on that.  I am pleased with this solution to the problem.  I didn't have to cut into them, which would have just cut my soul but they can be reused and loved once again..

Stitch Club - Cas Holmes

It took a couple of weeks but I have finished my landscape for the Cas Holmes class.  I'm not very into working with paper, it was interesting but didn't really engage me at all.  I choose my island for the landscape.  The paper used for the sea was an image of ghost nets that wash up on the beach.  The red rocks was from a picture of strawberries from an Aldi catalogue and the green paper, representing the bush, from a travel brochure.  The best quality paper was the Aldi catalogue!

I mounted it on a piece of watercolour paper and included a short piece of prose I wrote.

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The eagles begin their hunt outside my house.  I always know when one fly over, I don't know how, but I know and look up involuntarily. There is one eagle who always looks me straight in the eye, which is a bit unnerving.  It is as if we know each other, as though we have a spotlight just on us.  To highlight this I took a spotlight image of the piece.

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I do not like stitching through paper and fabric, maybe because I am so emotionally connected to my stitching and I don't want the paper to intrude and it does intrude.  It doesn't feel quite 'right'.

The medals

This week past has been rather testing.  It started fine but then those 2 young women brought the virus into the state and worse than that, into the surrounding suburbs to where we live.  Everyone checked where they had been and if they might have crossed paths with them.  Then we sat in the line for hours waiting to be tested.  Thankfully, these came back clear, but the stress and uncertainty saw my PTSS rear it's head again.  Only one night without sleep and I immediately knew what the problem was and was able to deal with it. But the result for me is that I have slipped behind with my work.  I am considering skipping the workshop with Cas Holmes, but we will see.

On a happier note, I decided to only stitch 3 medals not 4, there just wasn't enought time.  I cann't see myself doing this again, but never say never. I ended up spending a lot more time stitching than I had intended because I just couldn't deal with the finish or stitching on the sample pieces.

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Having said that the process of selecting the words to use was interesting.  I read 3 or 4 articles reporting on how the Covid virus has effected the community and from these selected a list of words that I thought were relevant.  What I did find useful was the information regarding the fonts to select, any thing with 'handwritting', and there are only a few, the size of the font to select, 48 and to print them out and 'draw in' the connecting lines so that the stitching flows easily.

I selected the words; mend, peace, care and safe for my medals.  I used an old hand towel for the fabric to stitch on, so this one will slot into my recycling project for the month.  I have a small packet of Liberty floral fabric pieces which I raided to select flowers to applique around my selected words.  I kept all the pieces as one until I made up the items.

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I didn't use the glue suggested but did use this basting glue.  There isn't the problem of the needle getting caught with this one.  ( I think I bought it at Allthreads.)

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I decided to embroidery the flowers and leaves to applique them to the background.  As these medals are about 3" (small) I used only 1 thread of stranded cotton to do this.  I then mounted them onto some card, also recycled and beaded the edges.  I bought some pins from the $ shop to hang each medal.

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I backed each one with a piece of felt, stitching it into place.  A pin could be sewn on the back to make each one a broach as well.

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I want to give one to a friend who comes out of isolation tomorrow.  She rushed to Melbourne to be with her Mother, who has since passed away.  She then got caught up in the virus scare and has had to spend 2 weeks locked up on her own in a hotel room.  Only being able to exercise for 30 mins a day under police guard.  She certainly deserves a medal!  But which one?

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I think I will let her choose which one she would like from the three.


Fine Embroidery

All this work on creative embroidery has reminded me just how much I love fine embroidery.  I am quite uncoordinated, as you have probably gathered.  I can trip over my own feet, have a long list of broken bones and the mess I have made stretches for miles!  I have spent a lifetime refining my embroidery skills, even though I am not a 'natural' embroiderer.  Now in my old age I feel that I have reached a skill level better than my grandmother, who was my model.  Having to stitch 'untidily' for the last challenge was mental torture and I just couldn't do it.

But, I  can still  improve my skills, which I keep trying to do.  When I look at the work of Elizabetta Sforza I see the next level I would like to attain.  I have often thought about putting some embroidery on my clothing, and never done anything about it.  But in her last post she had this simple embroidery on a linen dress. 

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I could do that. 

What I would like to do is this.

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The stitching is beautiful and the finish perfection.  This is the next mountain I want to climb.