Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holly Berries, Holly Leaves, Holly-day Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery

A lot of us have discovered the really wonderful, helpful and educational stitches and projects shared by Mary Corbet of NeedlenThread. You can click on the link here, or on the left side of this page where I've listed "Blogs We Like".

Today Mary shares the Criss-Cross Satin Stitch that I wrote about in my book, Take A Stitch, and have used on numerous designs. It's my favorite circular stitch -- and you all know that you need to always outline any circle first with stem, outline or back stitch first for a "perfect" finished shape.
This website offers a circular version of the Rhodes Stitch, too. I believe the Rhodes Stitch is often used in needlepoint. You'll find more information and inspiration here.

If you have a chance, try the Criss-Cross Satin Stitch using EdMar's 100% rayon floss weight Cire.

Leaves. A while back, I wrote on this blog about another way to stitch holly leaves with the beautiful dimensional center vein. You can see the tutorial here.
I call this technique the Ridged Blanket Stitch, but it's actually a Ridged "Buttonhole" Stitch because stitches are very close together.

In my most recent book, "An Artist's Garden" by Rosalie Wakefield (picture/blatant advertising ahead) . . . which I have LOTS of "Little" designs - stitched mostly in lighter-weight floss such as Iris and Glory, I've included a small "Holly" pattern and I'd like to share it here if you want to stitch it for a holiday whatever. 
The pattern is approximately 2" tall, stitched with Iris 170 (green), and Glory 152 (Christmas red) and Glory 206 (Black). If you like the heavier-weight Cire, just enlarge the pattern:
1. Stitch the leaves with Ridged Blanket/Buttonhole Stitch.
          Read the link above, which explains that you'll stitch across the entire leaf, but lift the stitch so the top "bar" of the stitch slides to the center vein. Keep stitches very close together.
2. The red berries are stitched with Criss-Cross Satin Stitch.
3. With black Glory weight, add a 2-wrap French knot to each berry -- there's a perfect spot for this knot where the satin stitching ends.

You can stitch this little design onto a holiday print cotton, cut it out and add other holiday trims, ribbons, charms, and make a pretty little greeting card. Stampers can enjoy unlimited creativity in making little cards or gift tags with these designs. (I have a sample photo on my previous post about the Li'l Christmas Tree.)

By the way, I think I mentioned earlier that the Ridged Blanket Stitch (space between stitches) worked with our textured Boucle weight floss in green makes beautiful ferns.  TIP: Use the #15 milliners needle when working with Boucle.
This version is stitched with Iris:
  (The little "bugs" are the ones you find in the garden that roll into a circle like little "bowling balls" - my name for them. They are made with double cast-on stitches. If you stitch them with red floss, you can add little black French knots and call them "ladybugs".  We are nothing here if not flexible!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Remembering the Littlest Angels

Everyone is thinking about the little angels we lost today, and all of the others we've lost in the past few years, and praying for them and their families that they can find comfort and peace for their pain. Someone asked if there was an angel available to stitch.

This picture is my Millefiori design #838, "Angels Wings" - basic Brazilian dimensional embroidery stitches. The wings and her dress are made with caladium leaves and her hair is stitched with bullions (several variations are included with the pattern), and she has red freckles scattered across her nose. See:
If you'd like to stitch her as an ornament for your Christmas tree, it will help us all to remember what has been lost. She's not on my website yet, but you can get details - price, plus postage - by emailing me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Tree - Stitch This Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery Design

OK, the concept of hanging a Christmas tree ornament on a Christmas tree seems redundant, but I had this idea . . .
You can stitch this speedy little design faster than you can go into the forest with your trusty axe and hew down your own tree. Any thread will do: rayon floss for Brazilian dimensional embroidery (I used Boucle), Candlelight, Rainbow Gallery, silk ribbon or any other fiber. You can make an ornament, greeting card, fabric postcard or even stitch this Millefiori design on your holiday vest or sweater. 

This tree is made with a row of lazy daisy stitches, each slightly longer than the one before, and is finished with a row of backstitches for a center trunk and to hold the lazy daisy stitches in place.

I call it "Li'l Christmas Tree" and would like you to share it with your stitching friends. Just let them know where you found it. If you like, drop me a note to let me know what you think. I even have a pattern here for a Christmas Tree, Lot.
There are lots of pictures, so let's get started.

You'll need a ruler and a pencil (so few lines, there's nothing to wash out). And some fabric, some thread and some beads.
Step 1.  Make a vertical line, 1 1/2" long
Step 2.  Make a horizontal line, 1" wide, about 1/4" up from the bottom.
Step 3.  Lightly draw dotted lines from the tip of the tree to the Step 2 line.
 The first tree shown at left in the top photo is made with Boucle. I used #214, which is a dark forest green.
You can use a darner or the #18 chenille needle (the large one that comes in the pack of silk ribbon embroidery needles), or you can use the #15 milliners needle, which is my favorite for working with Boucle.
Now we're ready to stitch:
Start at the tip of the tree and make a horizontal lazy daisy stitch, just under 1/4" long. Continue to the lower horizontal 1" line, making the lowest lazy daisy stitch 1" long.  That's it! You're done with this part.
Next, I doubled a strand of Glory #214 into my #5 milliners needle. Starting at the base of the tree, I worked a row of backstitch from bottom to tip.
I had enough left over to add a little star bead at the top.
Then I stitched some #11 seed beads here and there along the tree. Here's the finished Li'l Christmas Tree made with Boucle:
I used bullions and a cast-on stitch to make the little tree stand. For one of the other trees, I used satin stitch.

Remember that I mentioned you need only one row of lazy daisy stitches if you are working with Boucle? Even though I didn't do it for this "prototype", I'd make one stitch in one direction, the next in the opposite direction. Like this:
In the photo above where I'm showing the back-stitched center tree trunk, I used green Candlelight fiber. You'll see that the lazy daisy stitches go each way, one east to west, the next west to east.

I stitched this tree on red fabric using white Candlelight:
The base of the tree is made with a row of stem stitch and I added a detached buttonhole stitch in each. I made one row of detached buttonhole stitches "up", and a second row "down".  The star at the top is a stitch I developed which I call "Star-Fill". I think I posted it earlier, but to save you searching, here it is again:
I used Gold thread (DMC on spools, from the craft section at JoAnn stores - but any will work). Star-Fill is like the five-point stars we drew in grade school.  Just follow the numbers of the Needle Path through the fabric (oops, some of the numbers are missing!) Start at the lower left. With your needle, you'll follow the star path two times to get all of the lines on the fabric. To finish, just whipstitch 2-3 times around the center and add a bead or a French knot to end.

Here's a picture of a collage card I made with the white-Candlelight-on-red-fabric embroidery:
When I do this kind of "adventurous stitching", I wander around the house looking through crazy quilt trims, fabric bits, ribbons, beads, for upcycling ideas.
Since we are into the holiday season, you can often find earrings that you can un-do and stick to your design with either glue (my favorite is Fabric-Tac, also from JoAnn's) or needle and thread.
I added these charms to the Li'l Christmas Tree I stitched with green candlelight, and I used purple seed beads to "garland" the tree:
Oh. Before I forget, here's an idea for finishing your ornament. I cut two circles from 1/4" foam core board (if I do this again, I'm going to look for wooden shapes at Michaels Craft Store). Cutting foam core board into even circles with a razor blade is a real challenge!  But I wrapped the fabric around, pinned it into place. Then I glued the second piece on (you'd want to tuck a hanging ribbon between the layers first), and pinned the trim around the edge.
You can see how easy these are to make, and you are limited only by your imagination - and your time.

Speaking of time... If you had SO much fun stitching your Li'l Christmas Tree, how would you like to make a Christmas Tree LOT?  Here's a pattern. Just remember the larger trees use that 1-1/2" center line. You can make the other trees smaller. And if you check your buttons, beads or old holiday earrings, you might find some little critters or Christmas presents to tuck in at the base of the trees. 
Have fun! Happy Holidays to all.

Mom Nature and Her Sauna

Mother Nature has been really busy here in western Oregon this past week - we have had enough rain to make puddles in the Portland area.  BIG puddles. Well, "Mom" calls it a sauna, and you can see that the little finches are really enjoying themselves.

Yes, that's a nasturtium that decided to finally take off and grow - just in time for a frost, whenever it comes - probably in January.

Cuthbert is skipping the birdie show, which he calls "Television for Cats" so that he can help me finish this mindless jigsaw puzzle.
I'm working on a freebie design for you to stitch - just need to get the photos looking reasonably nice. It will be in my next post.