Archive for the ‘Needlework’ category

A Fresh Round of Embroidery and Quilting Books

May 5, 2017

I saw a couple of embroidery and sewing books that seemed to have a fresh approach so bought three of them for my collection.

EmbBooks

1) Modern Folk Embroidery: 30 Contemporary Projects for Folk Art Inspired Designs by Nancy Nicholson

I have often admired Nancy’s patterns on Etsy, but thought I’d get more patterns in her book so was pleased to finally buy it when it was published. It’s so nice to see books on hand embroidery coming out for new generations who want to pick up the craft.

2) Tilda Homemade & Happy by Tone Finnanger

She is quite prolific and I’ve seen lots of her designs around, but I liked some of her reindeer and pigs and sheep in this.

3) Zakka Embroidery: Simple One- and Two-Color Embroidery Motifs and Small Crafts by Yumiko Higuchi

These are tiny motifs and I was interested in her ideas for small purses using purse frames and embroidery. I have several purse frames on hand so want to use them up. There are lots of small cross-stitch motifs around but not many for hand embroidery, so this looked good for my library.

I was able to buy a new sewing machine, the Janome 9400, and I’m hoping it will enable me to quilt about 12 to 14 quilt tops that are languishing here. I took all the quilts and quilt tops out of the Rubbermaid trunk they’d been stored in for two years while we were selling our old house and moving and they reeked of plastic.

I spent some weeks washing and airing them and bought a nice wooden blanket box to store them. As I was confronted with the old tops, some dating back to the 1980s and 1990s, I felt the imperative to finish them. I cleaned up and reorganized my sewing area and now I have the fabric cupboard to deal with.

JJ_SewingStudio2a

There is another Rubbermaid container in there, so I’ll have another round of airing fabric, but I particularly wanted to get my fabrics and scraps organized by colour and sew up some simpler quilt patterns. I have been quilting since 1984 so I have many magazines and books on the subject, and I’ve given away many more but I liked the fresh look of these publications and many of the designs.

QuiltBooks

1) Sunday Morning Quilts: 16 Modern Scrap Projects – Sort, Store, and Use Every Last Bit of Your Treasured Fabrics by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison

2) No Scrap Left Behind: 16 Quilt Projects That Celebrate Scraps of All Sizes by Amanda Jean Nyberg

3) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 1: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

4) Scraps, Inc. Vol. 2: 15 Block-Based Designs for the Modern Quilter Compiled by Susanne Woods

I am not in good health but things are improving, so I want ideas and projects and happier creative endeavours to look forward to. That should sort me out (pun)!

Perle Cotton for Embroidered Nightgowns

October 6, 2016

I’m having difficulty embroidering and sewing due to a shoulder impingement and attendant tendinitis and nerve pain, but I started embroidering the bodice of a nightie, and I’m chipping away at it as I can.

The fabric is a softly mottled aqua flannelette that I bought from Connecting Threads two years ago. I am using a variegated green Perle cotton #12 from Presencia to outline the motifs in chain stitch and then I’ll fill the shapes in. The motifs are a combination of the Kate & Rose embroidery patterns Faraway Garden and Bewitching Botanicals. I’m really getting some mileage out of those patterns. I hope to do a small motif on each sleeve as well as embroidering the bodice.

embroiderednightie1

I bought some more Presencia perle cotton #12 threads from Connecting Threads during a recent sale and I bought two colourways of variegated DMC and Anchor floss which you can see surrounding the bodice that is currently being worked. BUT, I’ve always wanted to try the hand-dyed perle cotton threads from Lorraine at Colour Complements, so I ordered two skeins of her beautiful hand-dyed DMC perle cotton #12, just to try it.

perle12_clrcomplements

One of the nighties I’m making is plain white flannelette, and I wanted a variegated thread that really popped. Lorraine’s gorgeous blue, yellow, red, and orange colourway will absolutely pop on white fabric. I think I’m going to hand draw my own pattern up for this one using some motifs from adult colouring books as inspiration. I tend to get bored following patterns so I want to do my own exuberant drawings for this second embroidered nightgown.

I also plan to sew myself a mid-length dressing gown from a navy flannelette, and I thought the second variegated colourway from Colour Complements would be a nice jumping-off point for embroidering motifs on the shawl collar of the dressing gown.

I hope my hand and arm settle down soon so I can get something done.

 

 

 

Books, Bugs, Birds, Textiles, and Pre-Raphaelite Muses and Music

October 4, 2016

Assorted reflections from the past few months…

I read Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s memoir of Nike and shoes and life which I found to be a page turner. It’s always interesting to hear the inside story of business.

shoedogbk

Generally I’ve been reading mysteries, but throughout the summer I have been rereading The Hare with Amber Eyes in an illustrated edition I purchased, and it was even better the second time. A family history as interesting and poignant as this will be something I revisit along the years.

harebk

A.S. Byatt has a new book called Peacock & Vine: On William Morris and Mariano Fortuny which is a small but delightful read. She often cites Fiona MacCarthy’s excellent biography of Morris which I read from the library in early 2015, but I wanted to get my own used copy so I could read it again.

byattbk

I also thought I needed to read a proper biography of John Ruskin. He often crops up in art history but he was rather strange in his personal life which I always found off-putting, so I’m giving him a chance. I ordered them both from used bookstores and will forward to reading them.

morris_ruskin

My library system had a book called Wives and Stunners:The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Muses by Henrietta Garnett, so I’ll try that for her information on Ruskin and the Brotherhood as well. One thing about these fellows, they often made fun of William Morris and drew caricatures of him, which has always disappointed me, since he had such a enormous work ethic. Rossetti of course had a long-term affair with Morris’s wife Jane which makes me think little of her, but perhaps this book will improve my opinion of her. I doubt it, but I’ll give her a chance.

wivesbk

I had a milestone birthday this summer, so bought myself used copies of two books I’ve had on my wish list for years. I love books on textiles, needlework, and quilting history, so it’s important to me to buy them when I find them as they are scarce.

I bought Toile De Jouy: Printed Textiles in the Classic French Style by Melanie Riffel and Sophie Rouard which is another gorgeous Thames & Hudson publication and contains huge amounts of fascinating information. I’ve only begun it but I am struck by the complicated process of making and printing cloth in pre-industrial times.

I became interested in the tools of needlework because of Gail Marsh’s excellent books on needlework history. I wanted more photographs and explanations of them so I bought a used copy of Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries by Nerylla Taunton.

toile_needletools

You could spend years studying the history of such things and still not know everything. I find it all inspiring and exciting.

I finally decided after listening to a much-loved recording of an Etude by Chopin with bird sounds, that I had to track down which etude it is. After 21 years it’s starting to bother me every time I hear this exquisite piece, and there is no information in the notes on the recording. Naturally, there are several recordings of the complete etudes, 24 etudes all told, and the recordings get various reviews. I settled on a good, solid one from RCA by John Browning.

chopin_etudes

In Canada, Amazon.ca has raised their free shipping price to $35 CAD again after dropping it to $25 CAD when our dollar was stronger. So as well as Chopin, I got a good photographic reference on bugs from National Geographic and a book on drawing animals, birds, and insects. These books are: Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever by Darlyne Murawski and Nancy Honovich and Drawing And Painting Birds, Marine Creatures and Insects by Jonathan Truss.

bugs_birds_insectsbk

I haven’t been able to draw for about six weeks due to a very painful shoulder impingement and tendinitis, but I have plans, and drawing projects to get to, and I hope my hand comes around soon so I can hold a pencil and paint again.

There is something about Fall and Winter that seems perfect for Art Nouveau and pre-World War I biographies. A fire in the grate, a book in the hand and mind, hot cups of jasmine tea, and warm blankets on my lap. Perfect!

Oh, and maybe some etudes by Chopin burbling in the background? Yes, I think that works.

 

 

Little Turtle Pin Cushion

November 20, 2014

I have been wanting to make this for months and finally found an excuse when I was reviewing a pretty deck of cards with artwork of animals. It was designed by Kathy Shaw from Shawkl Designs and is a free pattern.

I decided my turtle would be a sea turtle and chose sea green and reedy looking fabrics accordingly. I suppose he really looks more like a tortoise but that’s imagination for you. Gus is wondering about the mess on the drafting table behind him, wondering why I don’t tidy it up. It’s a mystery of life Gustifer, just swim with it, roll with those breakers of baffling human behaviour.

GusHead

Gus’s underside.

GusUnderbelly

His name is Gus for two reasons: When a friend’s husband was dying of a brain tumour and had gone into hospice care, he said his little dachshund Gus (who had died some time before) came to visit him. I suppose the tumour was pressing something in his brain and caused the hallucination, but it has always been my hope that perhaps it WAS little Gus and he had come to comfort his Dad.

His is also named Gus for Gus Ryder, the swimming coach of Marilyn Bell, the first person to swim Lake Ontario in 1954. My Mother had a terrible fear of water and if she couldn’t touch ground when in the water she would cry and start to shake. So every time she went in the water she would invoke a bit of swimming advice from Gus Ryder and toodle around doing the breast stroke.

Here’s to Dan and Isabel, two great people no longer with us. Gus is for you.

I wanted the pincushion to be a bit smaller so I printed it at 70%. I had fun embellishing it with silk ribbon and various silk and cotton threads and beads. The nice aspect of a project like this is that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it’s a useful object, no matter what it ends up like.

GusBack

Here is Gus with the Turtle card from The Messenger Cards by Sandra Kunz, the card that inspired me to sew him. Oh, it looks like a small figure of a sea turtle has come to join him in the celebration.

Turtle_Kunz

Swim on in the Sea of Life Gus.

 

 

 

Helen M. Stevens Embroidery Books

November 2, 2014

You would never know it, but I was a passionate quilter for 30 years before I became interested in doing more embroidery, principally because quilting now hurts my back and knees. I still quilt but not as passionately; I will always quilt.

I’ve been looking for embroidery books by Helen M. Stevens because she does so many animals, birds, plants, and insects. Some of her books are quite pricey, even on the secondary market. Her book on embroidering birds is an astronomical price. That’s the one I wanted but it’s not available at a reasonable price.

One of my new embroidery books recommended two of her titles on the inside back cover, and when I looked them up I found older editions for about $1 from various UK booksellers. So I ordered the two for a total cost with shipping of $13 CAD. As I found with several other titles I recently bought used, older editions are available at a much, much lower cost.

HelenStevensBooks

I have bought several art history books in older editions. It doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m not paying a premium price for them. I find it uplifting to look at history and creative books but the edition isn’t important for my purposes.

 

 

Boxes and Biographies

October 31, 2014

I have been trying to find some books on embroidering boxes so I can do up a box for the gorgeous Tarot of the Absurd. I have instructions for making boxes from illustration board in at least two of my bookbinding books, but I want some further ideas and instruction on fabric boxes with embroidery inserts or coverings.

The book Embroidered Boxes by Jane Lemon was first printed in 1980 and although re-printed with different coloured photographs for covers, the edition itself has never been updated, and is pretty stripped down with black and white illustrations. I bought a used copy of the 1984 edition for $1. I can’t go wrong.

EmbroideredBoxes1984

Decorative Boxes by Juliet Bawden discusses several decorative techniques including appliqué and embroidery so I felt it would be useful. Juliet is quite a prolific writer and has a number of interesting titles for crafts and sewing.

DecorativeBoxes_Bawden2

The last book is a more recent publication and covers cross stitch, embroidery, patchwork and the dreaded plastic canvas. While I have considered using plastic canvas as a support inside a fabric box, I don’t really like the way it looks when worked up in tent stitch, but Meg Evans in her book Hand-Stitched Boxes seems to have some workable ideas.

HandStitchedBoxes2

I once had a book by Mary Jo Hiney called Making Romantic Fabric-Covered Boxes, and the instructions were so convoluted that I gave the book away. I am hoping I can get somewhere with these other books as several of my card decks could use a nice box. I generally make cardstock tuckboxes for them but I wanted to increase my skills and make some boxes with lids to embellish. I can’t afford the fancy wooden ones where you put an embroidered insert in the lid, so I have to press on and try to find solutions to what I want. It gives me a way to practice embroidery yet make something useful.

I am not a natural at pattern drafting and figuring things out in sewing, I find it tedious, but if I can find basic instructions and adapt them for specific sizes I will be fine.

And lastly, I bought a used copy of Linda Lear’s biography Beatrix Potter: A Life in Nature, which I have been meaning to track down for some months. I have read shorter biographies but wanted something more comprehensive. I love biographies but now and then there are special people I want to revisit.

BeatrixPotterBio2

Oh boy, I’m definitely out of Christmas money now!

You can’t go wrong continually learning and doing.

 

 

Embroidery Progress and New Threads

September 4, 2014

I am doing well on my purse flap. I just have to outline the motif on the left and then I can start filling it in.

PurseFlapProgress

The woman I was trying to order some variegated Presencia Finca #12 perle cotton kindly reduced the shipping price so I could afford to buy three balls that I special ordered.

I tried them as soon as they arrived and really like the thread. I think I like it slightly better than the Valdani I am using in my purse flap. The spacing of the dye seems better in the Finca, less subtle and the thread definition seems better too. It’s a shame that it is so hard to find.

This is an old piece of quilting cotton that I am filling up with trial runs of various threads and stitches. At some point when it’s filled up I will use it for a purse of some sort. I have marked the respective trials of the Finca in this image.

PresenciaFinca_test

I am gradually chipping away at these projects, but I make a lot of things in several disciplines so it might take a while to complete, or not.