Sunday, February 27, 2011

New Millefiori Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery Design!

"Reverie" -- that's the name of one of my new Millefiori Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs. Reverie means "lost in one's thoughts" --in a nice way, as we all are -- always, when we are stitching.
            The original version at the BDEIG website with 2011 Seminar Pictures is shown on sage green fabric and is really lovely, but I wanted to see what it would look like on white fabric. I think I like it. The flower is brand new, and I have named it a Crepe Paper Rose.

Monday, February 21, 2011

We Have TALENTED Squirrels.

This is Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Notice how cleverly he utilizes all of his hands and feet while doing his high-wire act in our back yard.
It's much easier than the old-fashioned way. Notice how plump he is.  Notice how there are NO birdies around...

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Am I Blue? My Hummy Art Quilt Is!

Something ran. I soaked, soaked, and soaked again, but something ran blue on the little hummingbirds on the left. I'm sure it's not the metallic thread, and I don't think it's the purple I used for the bullions between each flower petal.
     So I have decided that - because the background fabric is a "sort of" mottled print -- the blue was "meant to be" ... like an overcast February day in Oregon.

Of course, I can't think up a good excuse for the red that ran (even with my Color Catcher sheets):
But these little birdies have been soaking so long that their little feathers could get all wrinkly. Those were the only two window pane that had any color bleed   --so I might just give them another bath.  I'm deciding ...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hummy Art Quilt - Into the Bathtub

It takes supreme confidence (or some other unspecified trait) to show pictures of the back of our Brazilian dimensional embroidery, or even such "personal" photos as hummingbirds taking a bath. But that's what I'm doing ...
And I feel SO like an ad for Procter & Gamble. But this is what I do when I am finishing an embroidery project, so I might as well write about it. To save wrinkling and trying to iron around a lot of dimensional flowers, I usually leave my embroidery stretched in these wooden stretcher bars when I wash out blue lines and extra floss dye.
This embroidery is fairly large, so the bathtub is the place where I'm soaking the project, and because I used EdMar rayon colors that are made with heat-sensitive dyes (especially the reds and purples, some dark greens and occasionally black), I'm using a room-temp (not hot) water soak. It will take a day or two or more; luckily, we have two bathtubs in our home!  I use Ivory liquid (any mild soap will do) and BIZ, which is supposed to help remove extra soiling. The Color Catcher sheets (by Shout) will pull out any extra color. There are other products that work just as well, though. 
     I might have mentioned that I traced the pattern onto fabric with those new metal-tip Marvey LePen wash-out pens. These are my favorite!
Sorry that photo is so large! But it's a very nice pen. EdMar (where we get our 100% rayon floss for Brazilian embroidery) carries them, as well as various merchants linked at the BDEIG website. You should have seen the "blue" that washed out right away, but it DOES come out, and that's the most important thing, to me.

     Oh, by the way -- did you notice something "different" about the photo of the little Hummy Art Quilt pictured above?  It's upside down!  I didn't notice myself until I was posting the picture and saw all those little hummers standing on their little heads.

Back to the bathtub ...
This is the second day with Color Catcher sheets pulling dye from the floss. Because the stretcher bars tend to do the back float, I've weighted the project down with nice heavy vases, trying to not mash any flowers.

By the way -- I learned something interesting from a fellow stitcher. I used to tell people to soak in cool water, and then dry the project fast with a hair dryer. Well, guess what? The hair dryer puts out HOT air -- which will make any extra dye run again.  So ... I'm going to just keep this project soaking until it doesn't run any more.
     I did that with one of my new designs -- the Ruby Slipper Orchid -- and after about a week in the water, I noticed there was no color bleed:

     I'd remind myself to not use bright reds and purples, but they are so lovely, it's worth the patient wait to soak extra dye out.

My husband just came home from an errand -- he brought me lovely red roses for Valentine's Day, a beautiful card -- AND a box of chocolates. I was going to mention that I'm dieting, but decided that I would make a Personal Attitude Adjustment and consider that chocolate is one of the Five Food Groups.
      I'll remove myself from the computer now so that I can give him HIS Valentine!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Yesterday I Pulled A Weed was one of those annoying little seed spitters that I need to garden into oblivion before they are all over my yard.  But, oh -- that nice garden soil smelled sooo good.  I think I'm ready to garden.

Today I went out to check the flowers that are just starting to think about blooming here in western Oregon. Things seem to bloom here in alphabetical order (give-or-take-a-letter-of-the-alphabet). Fragrant daphne blooms first just outside my front door. I'll need to wait patiently for this one for a couple of weeks.
Next come the camellias -- almost ready:
And you don't think there is anything quite so beautiful.
But next open the azaleas, and then the rhododendrons. They are magnificent, and in some places here in Oregon they look like trees in flower.
    But after these come the roses -- just now ready to mulch and prune and garden, but they will be in full bloom in a couple of months. And there is absolutely nothing as spectacular as roses in full bloom.

I guess I can wait. Lots of other little flowers are starting --this yellow primrose has been blooming in the same spot for over 25 years:
But I accidentally planted some Marsh Marigolds next to it a few years ago, and they are spreading everywhere.

Well, I'll wait until they are all done blooming. They will be a huge mass of yellow flowers whenever I look out into my back yard....only just now starting:

And when they are done, I'll yank out all of the greenery. It will come back next spring, so I'm not being mean to my flowers or anything.

While I'm in a flowery frame of mind, I want to talk about hellebores.  I don't understand hellebores. They are SO bashful.
The flowers all hang DOWN, never reaching their smiling faces to the world.
"Bashful" is a good word to describe them, but they are really lovely:

But if a person REALLY wants to admire them, you need to take your camera and point it right into their faces from below:

Yes, this is the same hellebore, lightened and brightened with the help of my computer.
     I guess you can tell I'm ready to garden.

Speaking of "lightening and brightening," I need to write about the squirrels in our yard. I've been taking pity on them because most of our bird feeders are squirrel-proof, meaning the squirrel takes a flying leap, lands, and then slides right off. So I bought peanuts and put them out for the squirrels.
     Of course, as soon as I opened the back door, the squirrels ran away. I put the peanuts out anyway.
    And guess who came?
Blue Jay!  Well, I think they are pretty, but they can go through a tray of peanuts really fast.
     Here's a picture of a finch having a bird-bath and one of our squirrels. Our yard is kind of weedy, and I have a good reason -- if I leave the "old" flower stalks up, the birdies can come and munch on flower seeds.
Finally, here is a picture of my Norwegian Forest Cat, Cuthbert. He likes to sleep under the desk light and just under my "petting" arm.

However, when my camera wakes him up with the flash accidentally going off, he does tend to give me the ole Evil Eye. 

But he's a good kitty, one of two that hang out at our house.

Well, I've spent enough time at the computer. I think I'll go and finish stitching the little Hummy Art Quilt.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wearables, Solvy and Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

When a wearable item needs Brazilian embroidery to make itself more interesting, I'll usually trace my pattern onto Solvy, which I wrote about earlier. I baste the lightweight, water-soluble film onto my fabric and stitch away till my heart's content.
      This wearable was too dark and wouldn't accept a ceramic or white dressmaker's pencil and I didn't want to use chalk, so Solvy was the answer.
         If you're adding Brazilian embroidery to a polar or acrylic fleece baby blanket, stitching through Solvy is wonderful.
      I also pull or tear the fabric away when I'm finished and am always delightfully surprised at how beautiful the embroidery looks. I tried this with black velveteen once and stitched with almost all beads -- it was very pretty when I finished. Here's a picture.

It was one of my Millefiori designs, "LadyFlowers of The Evening" --17 of them. After I stitched the design with rayon floss and dimensional stitches, I stitched it again and substituted beads every single where. I had a great time stitching -- and even added a little (big) BEE pin -- a lovely use for collectible jewelry.

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Valentine for You - Crayons and Pansies and Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

Pansies, a traditional favorite with Brazilian dimensional embroidery artists, take on a brand new look with this vintage Millefiori Valentine's Day design (meaning I designed and stitched it a long, long time ago -- enough to make me a "vintage stitcher").
I'm pretty sure I still have the Millefiori pattern and instructions available for this design, but I'll tell you what I did and you can try it yourself if you like.
       First, I found a pretty picture of some pansies - it might have been from a greeting card. Then I went in search of my fabric crayons. And I needed tracing paper.
I colored the pansies onto the tracing paper, using a light touch for pastel areas. (When you iron fabric crayon tracings onto fabric, they will always transfer "brighter". Keep in mind that they will also give a "reverse" image.) Next, I ironed the colored pattern onto a simple pansy design that was already screen printed onto my cream poplin fabric.

As you can see from the embroidery, these simple pansies are stitched with cast-on stitches plus an added row of detached buttonhole stitches in each cast-on loop. Pansies always have a yellow center and you can add a bead (a pretty little yellow heart-shaped bead would be nice!) or a French or colonial knot.

     This is also a nice way to "dress up" your Brazilian embroidery designs!

If you'd like to make one for your own personal use, you have my permission to copy/paste that image above onto paper and transfer it to fabric.

I think this design would also make a really pretty little fabric postcard. Incidentally, fabric postcards make excellent substitute doodle cloths for our experimental stitches -- and floss tails. This is my floss tail collection:

It started out as a jar of animal crackers.  I re-purposed or up-purposed it (I'm not sure what the difference is. It's recycled.) 
       OK, you can stop laughing now!  I've been stitching for a LONG time ...and you can see that I don't throw things away very often, so I have a LOT of floss. I thought about using the floss tails sandwiched between two layers of water soluble Solvy and machine stitching over to make "fabric" -- might even do that one of these days.  In the meantime, I have found other uses for my rayon floss leftovers. This little project started out as a tomato pincushion...
The hat is "freeform" Brazilian embroidery. I drew a line around the middle of the pincushion and started attaching floss tails, just made a square knot to anchor them. The little plastic sunglasses are leftovers from somewhere or other. The tomato is upended (stem side down) and rests on a crystal goblet.

     Can you tell that I have a lot of fun playing with my floss?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lost My Needle . . .

I made a half-hearted attempt to find where it landed after I knotted and cut my thread, but it means getting out the Swifter Sweeper.
     I decided to download pictures instead. I'm stitching the little hummers on my Brazilian dimensional embroidery art quilt -- almost done, too!
I've decided to use all metallic threads for the little hummingbirds. The larger hummers who have one flower patch all to themselves average a 1.25" square area. The "window panes" that have two hummers are smaller, filling approximately a 3/4" area.
     I'm using 2 strands of metallic thread for my embroidery and an embroidery or chenille needle. The larger eye will save wear and tear on the metallic thread, plus it goes through the fabric more gently. (I also like embroidery or chenille needles for satin stitching, although a lot of Brazilian embroidery stitchers stick with milliners needles for everything.)  Apples, oranges -- it's just a matter of what people like.
     I took a picture of the threads I'm using --mostly Sulky metallics. These are sewing machine threads (machine embroidery), so I knew they would be durable. But I also have some metallics on cones that I use.
This hummy is stitched with royal blue, 2 strands. I used the Sulky Prism pastel-color threads for his tummy.
     The reason I snapped this picture is to show how I like to do wing and tail feathers. I stitched tailfeathers with side-by-side lazy daisy stitches. I found that blanket stitch worked really nicely for the wing feathers, and often had to "lay" the threads to keep them "unruffled". Everything else is pretty much just straight stitching.  Here it is all dressed up:

Some of the hummies were stitched with royal blue and some with emerald green. For this little hummy, I decided to use a strand of each color and like the effect. He let me snap his picture, too:

His tummy is stitched with metallic white DMC - the kind you get on a spool in the craft section at JoAnn's. It's actually 3 strands together. They also have gold and used to have silver thread on spools. Haven't checked lately to see if it's still available.

Oh.  How did I decide what colors to stitch the little hummingbirds? Well, I have a book or two... there are also pictures all over the Internet, courtesy of Google searches for images. But the books were close by and fun to look through. 

I still want to stitch an Anna's hummingbird and a coppery-color Rufous. I took a little "creative license" with all of the others; they didn't mind.

By the way, this is one of my favorite color combinations for the flowers. I used Iris #092 (light blue/light pink), arranging colors so they would be the same on each petal. Then I outlined each flower with one of the light purple Iris colors. Those flower centers are pressed glass flower beads held in place with a 4mm Czech fire polish (faceted) bead.
     I mentioned earlier that I did each picture frame's oval leaves with different stitches or combinations.

Some were satin stitched from one side to the other, sometimes I added a bullion at the center of the leaf or flower petal:

It's lots of fun to think of new ways to make our Brazilian embroidery even more beautiful.

Now I think I should go in search of that needle. *sigh*  I guess this means cleaning the house ...sort of.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Mmmm, Yum -- Strawberries

I almost went outside and took a picture of the sun today. It's out here in western Oregon, while the rest of the country is covered with #000 snow. 
     Instead, I'm posting this picture as a reminder that spring is just not that far away. In just a couple of weeks, after President's Day, we will all go out and work on our roses. Here's my reminder of summer:
Yum ... although this is Brazilian dimensional embroidery, this strawberry looks ready-to-eat. Do you like the way I took charge of that shaded green Iris (either #099 or #040)? I stitched the darker part for the lower leaf that was in shadow and stitched with dark floss or light floss on each side of the other leaves? It's so nice to be The Boss of Your Floss.

       The strawberry is one of the flowers on a Millefiori design I did a long time ago - #829, "Veggie Patch" (edible garden plants). I recently re-released the design because so many other stitchers were ready to garden with their needles and asked if it was still available.  It is now. Here's a picture:
Deepa reminded me that I really should watermark my pictures, so I decided to do that. I could have probably stitched an entire pillow in the time it took to figure out how to watermark a picture!
     I have lots of flowers and foodies on this design and a companion design called #828 Flower Patch, and I think I'll send some of them to the BDEIG website and newsletter as freebie designs when my turn comes around again.
     However [blatant advertising here] these Millefiori designs are available now for stitching - 20 pages of diagrams and instructions, fabric print and color photos for each. I was in my Iris and Glory phase at the time, so these are very delicate little designs.
I'll post more pictures from time to time. As I'm editing all of the close-ups, I keep remembering little things I did that might be useful to other stitchers.

But FIRST, I'm going to - as promised - post instructions for the Ridged Blanket Stitch Fern, probably in a day or so.
     Meanwhile, I'm trying really hard to get my website online. I can't believe that blogging is actually easier!