Thursday, December 23, 2010


We feed the birdies in our back yard. I like to call it "television for cats" -- Emmy and Cuthbert can sit by the back door and entertain themselves endlessly. See:

Sometimes we have visitors other than birds.  This is Bob.

Bob is a squirrel.  Bob is also an acrobat. Here he is, hanging by his toenails as he helps himself to dessert.

So I thought it was time to give Bob his own personal space. He is happy as a clam, or squirrel, as he sits in his serving tray munching happily away.

I know I promised to write about the Raised Buttonhole Stitch I developed a long time ago for our dimensional Brazilian embroidery. I'll do that in a day or two, or three. Meanwhile, enjoy the holiday weekend, everyone.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Holly Leaves

The terms buttonhole stitch and blanket stitch are interchangeable, but usually there is more space between stitches when we do the blanket stitch. Buttonhole stitches are very close together.
      When I stitched the design, Madelon, as one of the educational projects in our BDEIG newsletter, The B.E. Wrap-Up, I was able to demonstrate both techniques on the same project. This is another design available in the Guild's Education Projects Book I wrote about in a previous post (just click the link above).

Today I'm just going to write about a technique I thought up that might be useful in your own embroidery projects, not just for holly leaves.

These holly leaves are stitched with the Ridged Buttonhole (or Blanket) Stitch. You'll bring your needle up at the tip of the leaf to start.
     When I'm using Z-twist rayon floss, I usually try to progress (or travel) in a clockwise direction, or from left to right. 

     Turn your work as needed and buttonhole stitch from top to bottom and across the width of the leaf. Ordinarily the buttonhole stitch loop would be at the top of the motif. But after you make the stitch, you can lift the floss and let the buttonhole stitch loop slide down to the center leaf vein.  Here's a diagram, and it will be easy if you put your needle through the fabric in alphabetical order, as shown:

Needle up at "a". Take a fabric bite from "b-c". Lift the floss and let the loop slide down to the center leaf vein. Continue with the next stitch from "d-e" (I guess the "e" is slightly 'invisible' but you have the idea!)  Keep the stitches VERY close together.

[Oops, sorry the diagram is a little "small" ... I'm still working on that!]

But try it. It's fun!

     When these stitches are close enough together, you'll notice that they "ridge" in the center of the leaf.

The Ridged Blanket Stitch (space between stitches) is especially pretty if you are stitching ferns. Do the same thing but use Bouclé and the new #15 milliners needle (or a #18 chenille needle, or a large darner).

But this technique is the easiest way to stitch those complicated holly leaves. By the way, I live in the Pacific Northwest and we have a holly tree farm just down the road from our home. This year we brought home a holly wreath to hang and decorate (verrrrry carefully, ouchie, poke, poke) our front door. 

The berries were already part of the wreath, thank heaven! I just added a bow.

I'll write about a variation of this technique, also shown on the Madelon design, in my next post. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Playing With Blogs

Well, that was fun! I wanted to put a holiday background on my blog, so I asked my pal, Google, to help me out. When you do a Google search and click "Images," you can surf till your heart's content  and find exactly the background you want.
     Since I still have a lot to learn about blogging, even website development, it wasn't so hard.  I found this background at Scrappin' Blogs (I don't mind the little widget credit they include) and Beautiful Blog Designs, another blogspot blog told me how to make it all go together. (and I didn't even have to learn that dreaded HTML -- I just did a copy/paste like they said.)
     Considering that I have been working at this for a couple of days, it didn't hurt a bit!  --and I definitely recommend everyone starting their own blog.
Now I think I will thread my needle and stitch something beautiful.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Basic B.E. stitches may be found in most Brazilian embroidery books in print, or you can visit the BDEIG Website for step-by-step instructions, diagrams and photos.

To practice some of these stitches and make a small framed oval ornament or a fabric postcard, just draw a circle slightly smaller than 1" for each ornament. Make bullions or cast-on stitches with more wraps or loops than the length of the fabric bite. This will cause the stitch to curve slightly. Add sparkle with metallic threads, beads, or stitch some silk ribbon flowers on your ornament.

You can add evergreens by drawing curved lines and overlaying them with straight stitches. Start with a heavier floss like Nova first. Add straight stitches with Lola next, and then add a layer of Glory straight stitches. Or you can substitute this last layer with a metallic thread. (I like to use Sulky sewing threads because they are durable, but there are lots of choices.)

If you would like more ideas for Christmas ornaments (and approximately 93 other B.E. stitching projects), take a look at the Education Projects Book available from the Guild's Boutique page on the website. It is a wonderful idea for a Christmas (or other) gift for a stitching friend. Here's a picture of just the cover, with no clue to the wondrous treats inside:

You can order your copy by clicking on the link above. I'm including the pattern and tutorial for the ornaments here since it is my own copyrighted design.

Here's the mini-tut:

Lola or Ciré: Outline stitch all ornaments. At base of ornaments add 3 or 4, 4-wrap Brazilian lazy daisy (LZ DZ) stitches. Stitch the ornament cord with outline stitch and Lola, Ciré or metallic thread.

Top Ornament:
-- Place beads at dots.
-- Add 4 colonial or French knots around, at the 2, 4, 8 and 10pm positions.
-- Accent with fly stitch, LZ DZ and/or bugle beads.

Center Ornament:
(Note: I like to use two strands of floss when I make double cast-on stitches. Thread both strands into a needle and knot one end of each floss strand separately. You’ll have two loose floss tails at the other end, and this will prevent the kinking and twisting that the floss sometimes likes to do.)

-- All stitches are placed vertically. From center top to center bottom, place a twisted double cast-on stitch. Cast one loop on with your left hand and then one loop with your right hand. Do this 12 times. (12 pair of cast-on loops)

--Twist the stitch as follows: Before going down and out, slip needle beneath the double cast-on 2-3 times and tug. The stitch will twist. Finish the double cast-on by passing needle down through fabric, and out.
-- Starting at left side and, working from left to center, make:
             15-wrap bullion – 18-loop cast-on – 24-wrap bullion
-- Repeat these 3 stitches on right side of twisted double cast-on, reversing stitch counts.

Bottom Ornament:
-- Place a 20-wrap bullion horizontally across the center of the ornament. Above and below, make two rows of running cast-on stitches (not anchored, but continuous). Cast on 8 loops for each stitch. There are 3 cast-on stitches next to the center and 2 cast-on stitches above and below.
-- Optional: add beads at center of each cast-on stitch.

This is just a sample of the goodies in the BDEIG Education Projects book. And, you know, there's absolutely nothing wrong with making a Christmas (or other) gift to yourself!

Seasons Greetings!

By the way, if you have questions about any of the stitches or techniques I write about, leave a note in the comments section and I'll write more. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Let's Make Mistletoe

You can add mistletoe to your holiday embroidery.  I like Cire #051 (Shaded Light Moss Green) or #053 (Shaded Light Avocado Green) for my mistletoe leaves. Some of my leaves are stitched with a "long-tailed lazy daisy stitch" -- one side is longer than the other, and saves adding a stem -- and other leaves are stitched with a regular lazy daisy stitch (also known as a detached chain stitch):

Oh!  Did you notice those "mistletoe berries"?  They are "pearls" -- the cheapie discount store brand with pearl coating.  I broke apart a really old necklace with graduated-size beads, peeled off the coating and stitched them in place, some small and some larger, with regular white sewing thread. The smallest "berry" on this embroidery is approximately 1/16".
       To make them realistic, I pulled out my black Sharpie and colored the thread where it comes out of the bead. I like to think it looks like the "berry bottom" of the mistletoe berry. To stitch your own mistletoe berries and leaves, just use your Marvy wash-out pen and draw a curved line on the fabric. Next, add the lazy daisy stitches beginning at the tip of the "stem" and alternating stitches on each side. Remember, you don't have to stitch a separate stem if you extend one side of the lazy daisy stitch (or even make a twisted lazy daisy). Here's another picture from one of my Millefiori B.E. designs called "Remembrance", which was designed by my friend Phyllis:

Other flowers were on the original but I did something you might like to try, too. Pull out any one of the B.E. prints from your stash and substitute flowers, leaves and colors to make your own holiday design. I also added other beads and buttons and whatever I wanted until my heart was content.

This little Millefiori design called "Winterlight" also has mistletoe tucked among the greenery. When I first designed it, I thought it would make a pretty Christmas greeting card or could be framed as a small tablescape with holiday decorations arranged alongside.
This is a detail photo of the same design stitched with different colors:

By the way, this design was stitched on white fabric, but I wanted to "glitter up" the background, so I thinned down some some sparkly acrylic paint from the craft store and brushed it on.  By the way, if you paint any backgrounds, be sure to thin the paint to a very watery consistency. Otherwise, paint will stiffen the fabric and it will be difficult to needle.

One of these times I will write about coloring backgrounds ....

...We Now Interrupt this Blog for a Commercial...

I meant to write this sooner. I won't get too commercial on my blog (I'm saving that for my website which should be up fairly soon), but wanted to let you all know that I have a small home business writing books about Brazilian dimensional embroidery and dreaming up B.E. designs for others to stitch.

When I share my pictures, they are from my own designs/books unless I ask permission from others to post their wonderful embroidery.

My business is named "Millefiori," which means "A Thousand Flowers". I got the idea from the beautiful glass beads with little flowers inside that are made with a process developed in Milano, Italy. I'm not sure how close I am to 1,000 flowers, but I'm having way too much fun to stop and count.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

All About Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

After a couple of starts and stops, I am finally able to put my stitching down for a little while and start actively contributing to my blog.

I’m going to write about Brazilian dimensional embroidery but may get sidetracked occasionally and post a picture of flowers from my garden or my hobby of beading or maybe even my cats. But the main subject of my blog is embroidery, so I hope you all enjoy it.

Stitchers can find out more about Brazilian dimensional embroidery by visiting the BDEIG website. I’m going to share ideas I’ve learned from various teachers and stitching friends through the years as well as some of the stitches and techniques I have developed, and I hope the information will be helpful to others wanting to learn this fascinating needle art. Starting with just a few basic embroidery stitches, we have been able to combine, re-arrange and otherwise play with our threads to bring new and exciting adventures to those who enjoy the art of the needle. So here goes . . .

By the way, sometimes people wonder what the difference is between “Brazilian” embroidery and “dimensional” embroidery. Well, it’s easy. The beautiful rayon floss was originally manufactured in Brazil so that's where the name "Brazilian" comes from. The stitches are “dimensional”, which means the stitcher can use almost any other fiber to create or complete amazing designs. When you see "B.E.", you'll know that I'm referring to Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery.

As soon as I read my directions about including pictures, you'll see some of those, too. I'm still learning how to blog, so I know you all will be patient with me.  It's definitely worth the wait.  I love B.E., and I know you do, too! Thank you for coming to visit.