Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fly, Stitching Fly Stitch - A T.A.S.T. Challenge

Fly Stitch, you say?  Sure, I can do Fly Stitch.  Sounds like fun!  I even have flies ....
Seriously, though.
     Sharon Boggon of periodically has embroidery challenges as part of her Take-A-Stitch Tuesdays -- a different stitch each week. In addition to her elegant crazy quilts, Sharon also has one of the best online stitch directories. There are several, but hers is one of my favorites.

Week #1 was the Fly Stitch.
"I can do this," I said to myself . . .
I found inspiration for a truly hairy fly on the Internet, Googling "coloring pages" images. Once I had my fly, I let my imagination take over. The fly's nemesis is a cute little fly-(stitch)-filled frog.
I did this ENTIRE design with fly stitch (except for two little loop stitches that I'll talk about later). As I stitched, I took pictures and wrote some notes, so this is basically a picture tutorial.
My first love is Brazilian embroidery; I really like working with this Z-twist rayon floss. I selected EdMar's Glory in Dark Emerald Green (#160) and added Avocado Green (#215) for the fly. Glory 215 seems to be a nice froggy color, so it was a good choice. The frog's tongue is stitched with Glory 204 (a nice bright fuchsia).
From the waist down, the fly is stitched with Dark Emerald Green using the Brazilian lazy daisy stitch. This is basically a fly stitch with a 6-wrap bullion tack. (I think of a lazy daisy stitch as a closed fly stitch. Could be.  It's possible...)
The idea for this "fill" technique comes from Maria Freitas of (also manufacturers of the rayon floss we use). She used it for one of her bird designs several years ago. I think it makes a nice fly, too.
The Brazilian lazy daisy is also known as the Two-Step Lazy Daisy. Instead of just tacking the loop, you go into the fabric about 1/8" away (longer tack), come up inside the loop and wrap-wrap-wrap, 6 times). Finish the 'bullion' and go down and out through the fabric and on to the next stitch. Easy as pie!
Here are some step-by-steps:

Wasn't that fun? Here's a close-up picture. 
I added some separate fly stitches at the bottom of the fly because I always think they are kind of hairy. (Most of the ones I see close-up are flat, the victims of my fly swatter, so I can't really judge.)
For the fly's upper body, I added fly stitches from the outside to the center, adding a longer tacking stitch.  (After I laundered out the blue lines, there was some extra space, so I added more fly stitches with Avocado Green, as you'll see later.)
I only needed six feet for the fly (Spiders have eight feet). I needed to start fly stitching from the outer edges (toes) back to the body, so I carried the floss on the back side, slipping through one fabric thread now and then so it wouldn't show on top.
 I made the frog's antennae with a fly stitch. The tacking stitch was a 12-wrap bullion, right between the eyes.
      Speaking of eyes, I used 6mm fire polish beads for the fly eyes. For the frog, I found some cute little fiber optic beads.
Now it's on to the little frog. Its lily pad is stitched with Dark Emerald Green using a 'side fly' stitch. The frog is stitched entirely with fly stitches (you could say the frog was working up an appetite for lunch), although they are fairly similar to blanket stitch here. The frog's tummy is stitched with bright Fuchsia and overlapping fly stitches, with the tacking stitch at the bottom. Here are some pictures:
 I attached the frog's beady little eyes with straight stitches, although a fly stitch would have worked as well. For a 'smile', I made a 20-wrap Glory bullion from ear to ear (if frogs have ears), and tacked it in the center, the same as a fly stitch.

The frog's tongue is chain stitched continuously. I suppose one could stretch their imagination here and call it a "closed fly stitch".  By the way, that little bitty green fly already "velcro'd" to its tongue is just a couple of straight stitches (also known as parallel satin stitch), and the wings are little loop stitches that I've had in several of my books on Brazilian dimensional embroidery (tie a knot in the floss on top of the fabric and when you go down and out, the knot stops on the surface and leaves a little loop). 

I added the threaded needle to the fly so I could legitimately name this design: "Fly, Stitching Fly Stitch".
This is the finished frog:
I decided to dress the fly with a cape. I had some sheer 2" green ribbon in my crazy quilt and ribbon embroidery stash, so I traced the fly's wing lines onto the ribbon with the Sharpie and Micron Pigma pens. I worried about the ribbon raveling, but it didn't.

The wing was stitched in place with the lighter avocado green Glory floss, and I continued a zipper line of fly stitches up its back to fill the open space. Here's a picture of the fly with its wings attached.
..and a couple more:

To finish my T.A.S.T. Fly Stitch challenge, I thought it would be fun to add a border of fly stitches. So I went back into my stash again, and found some colors.
I settled on the center color which is from Needle Necessities. It is overdyed Pearl #8, 100% cotton #866. I fly stitched the border with two strands of floss in my needle.

This was a LOT of fun to stitch. However, the fly stitch challenge happened in Week #1, and the group is getting ready to stitch Week #3 or #4.

I hope you enjoyed this little picture tutorial. Here is a picture of my Fly, Stitching Fly Stitch just before framing (no extra bugs).
As you can see from my last photo, these flies are quite at home on one of my house plants, and I am very glad they are only plastic!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery - Past and Present

A few years ago I had a request from EGA to write about Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery, so I did a lot of research looking for information that hasn't been published over and over. The following article was published in an issue of Needle Arts Magazine. I'm sharing it here and anyone has my permission to reprint if you will please link it to my blog and to me, Rosalie Wakefield. Please also make a note that it was written for and published in Needle Arts. Thanks.
Credit: "Pansy Party", a Millefiori design by Rosalie Wakefield
Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery
Contemporary Hand Embroidery for the 21st Century
by Rosalie Wakefield
Development, Growth and Popularity of a Creative New Form of Stitchery
Creativity – Color – Innovation – Artistry: The experimental stitcher suddenly enters the amazing Technicolor dream world of Brazilian dimensional embroidery by using the basic stitches of traditional embroidery, and then changing wraps, loops, numbers and combinations, and incorporating silken smooth 100% rayon floss. The final result is an exciting new way of expressing one’s imagination and producing truly stunning art with the needle.
Rayon fiber was developed in the mid-nineteenth century as a substitute for natural fibers such as cotton, linen, silk or wool, each of which had specific undesired properties. It was first known as artificial silk, then as viscose near the end of the nineteenth century, and finally in 1924 it became known as rayon after it was combined with plant cellulose. Its successful commercial production by the American Viscose Company began in the United States in 1910. DuPont Chemicals acquired the rights to the process in the 1920s and quickly turned rayon into a household word, churning out yards of the inexpensive, versatile fabric when textile manufacturers found they could purchase the fiber for half the price of raw silk.  
Rayon and viscose are manufactured in the same process, but they differ in materials used. While rayon can be made with cellulose from a variety of plants, viscose is made from wood pulp or cotton linter. Rayon is highly absorbent and easy to dye; viscose looks like silk and feels like cotton. Rayon is usually classified as a manufactured fiber and considered to be “regenerated cellulose”.
The Origins of Brazilian-style Embroidery
Rayon fibers were first used to manufacture fabrics, and rayon threads were eventually produced for embroiderers in the home. Today a variety of rayon threads are used for home and machine embroidered products, as well as for many other applications. In the mid-twentieth century, a young cottage industry in South America saw the origins of this embroidery as a few Brazilian homemakers began to hand-dye rayon viscose fibers for their household linens and other items. Mrs. Elisa Hirsch Maia, better known as Madam Maia, receives credit for first producing the dyed, brightly-colored threads used for Brazilian embroidery in the early 1960s.

Credit: "Maria's Rose Garden", a Millefiori design by Rosalie Wakefield, adapted to B.E. from traditional embroidery on a dresser scarf.
The original rayon threads were sold under the name Var-I-Cor, and later the floss was available as Mat-I-Kor. Other rayon threads, some stranded, were produced by Star, Coats, Divine Threads, Dye-Pot, Rajmahal, Marlitt, the DMC Corporation, and others. Today most stitchers are drawn to the high quality rayon floss produced by the EdMar Company, located in the United States, for their embroidery.

Credit: "Sunflower Sue's Sassy Sister, and her dog Roy", a Millefiori design by Rosalie Wakefield
Growth of Brazilian Embroidery
The popularity of the embroidery, its vibrant colors and dimensional stitches led to gradual growth of the art. Soon small groups of stitchers along the West Coast of the United States began to gather and share information about the stitches, teaching each other from a limited number of designs available in the 1960s and 1970s. The designs, mostly floral, were often used to embellish wearable items and household items such as pillows and other linens.
Contributing to further development were the number of teachers willing share and teach what they have learned from others as interest in the needle art extended throughout the United States and Canada. The creative stitches and colorful fibers inspire stitchers and teachers alike to more adventurous stitching and also motivate designers to create ever more designs for others to stitch.
Modern Brazilian Embroidery
Dimensional stitches may be made with any fiber, most often with S-twist Perle cotton. However, embroidery work takes on the added description of “Brazilian” dimensional embroidery when the lustrous Z-twist rayon floss is used. Rayon threads used for Brazilian embroidery are Z-twist, whereas fibers such as Perle cotton are S-twist. The difference is apparent when wrapping dimensional bullion stitches. Z-twist rayon thread must be wrapped clockwise around the needle so the thread plies do not separate. Directional wrapping and looping adds a final touch of beauty to dimensional stitches including bullion, cast-on, buttonhole stitch, stem and outline stitch.  
Z-twist rayon floss is manufactured exclusively in the United States by EdMar Company, which offers the floss in over 200 colors – shaded, variegated, over dyed and solid. It is available in eight different weights, from the very finest (equivalent to one strand of DMC rayon) to heavier weights and also nubby textured floss.

Credit: "Egrets", a design by Ruth Griffith
BDEIG, the Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International Guild is Formed
Due to the foresight of one person, Virginia Chapman, the Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International Guild was formed in early 1992. Virginia began offering seminars through her own B.E. business, including classes and a source for threads, books and designs. Encouraged by the enthusiastic response, she worked to fulfill her dream – a guild for other stitchers who enjoyed this form of needlework. In the twenty years since the guild was formed, it has become a truly international guild with over 400 members throughout the world. Each year more stitchers find out about B.E. through various online resources, small chapter classes and the many books and instructional designs available.
Florence Worcester, one of the guild’s early presidents, encouraged members to “Each One, Teach One”, and stitchers have happily shared their knowledge with others. Because of the large number of creative stitchers who begin designing, the guild encourages and protects the rights of each designer with copyright education articles in the guild’s quarterly newsletter, The B.E. Wrap-Up, and in classes. Rather than suppress the creative spirit, this knowledge arms designers with information so they can freely design or teach the work of other designers.
The Future of Brazilian Embroidery
Dimensional embroidery with rayon floss is now trending toward other needlework disciplines.
In addition to traditional Brazilian dimensional embroidery, stitchers are experimenting with rayon floss for stumpwork, crewel, blackwork in color, Romanian lace, crochet, needlepoint, needle lace and cross stitch.

Credit: "Magic Carpet". Designer: Ruth Griffith. Embroidery by Ruby Scruggs
Floral motifs have been beautifully combined with rayon-thread machine embroidery, where a design is partly embroidered by machine and finished by hand with embroidered floss flowers. Adding even more dimension, YLI’s Candlelight, which is another Z-twist fiber, other fibers such as those from Rainbow Gallery, beads and even ribbonwork are included. This is most noticeable in crazy quilting. Applications are limited only by the stitcher's imagination.
After stitchers were introduced to the popular ribbon embroidery that is often used for crazy quilting, embroiderers soon began to incorporate the durable and colorful stitches of dimensional embroidery to embellish their projects. Many stitchers now enjoy art quilting as textiles are creatively embellished with colorful fibers. Fiber art can take many forms and uses many materials especially created for the artist.

 Credit: "Crazy Quilt Pillow", a Millefiori design by Rosalie Wakefield. Embroidery by Darlene Caudill
Exciting color choices and textures stimulate the imagination of creative needle artists as additional designs and books about Brazilian embroidery become more easily available to stitchers. Online forums, blogs and email correspondence increase knowledge for new stitchers.
The Brazilian Dimensional Embroidery International Guild (BDEIG, Inc.) has lists of contacts, sources of supply, guides to stitches, and free patterns, as well as information about upcoming seminars, workshops and other guild activities on its website:   

Credit: "Wildflower Wreath", a Millefiori design by Rosalie Wakefield
The future for Brazilian dimensional embroidery looks as bright as the amazing array of rayon threads produced for creative stitchers.
Rosalie Wakefield, BDEIG
My best personal lesson ever came from Florence Worcester, who taught us all to "Each One, Teach One."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

More Flowers, More Dimensional Stitches, and The Showy Evening Primrose

I usually have company whenever anything is happening - like breathing, or whatever. This is Emmy. No, she doesn't get to drink the Snapple, but she could make a good commercial.

This evening it was around 9 p.m. - just enough light outdoors for a nice surprise. Admiring the roses my hubby brought for our 50th wedding anniversary yesterday and how nicely they are opening, I decided to snap a picture.
And then I noticed in the primroses outside, blooming in the twilight. (They are all in bloom early morning, too, and it actually looks like Someone turned on the flood lights.) This is now, 9 p.m. on a Saturday night:
Before it got too dark, my camera and I headed out the back door and captured this lucky shot of the Showy Evening Primrose that has been volunteering in my back yard (wherever it feels like - different locations each year). Isn't this pretty?

The blossoms continue up the stems until frost, and then all of the little former flowers/seed pods fill up the stems. About that time the little finches come and perch up and down the flower stalks, munching and stuffing till their little birdie hearts are content.

Finding them here is kind of like playing "Where's Waldo?", isn't it?

so .... a long, long time ago - about the time I was writing my book "Take A Stitch", I played around with the dimensional drizzle stitch and discovered that I could make a "double-crossed drizzle" and also a "star-crossed drizzle".  The Star-Crossed Drizzle makes a perfect stamen center for the Showy Evening Prims:
I have used it for some of my Millefiori designs, including "Love-In-A-Mist" -- a beautiful flower that doesn't EVER go away. It re-seeds and repeats, over and over each year. But it's pretty, so I don't mind. Here's the design I made with this Brazilian dimensional embroidery stitch technique:
Since the evening wasn't completely dark yet, I turned the camera to see what else I could find. This is the blue lobelia. It's supposed to be an annual, but someone forgot to tell the flower that - I've had it repeat itself for several years now, and the hummingbirds love it.
There's also a lighter, sky-blue version of this flower.  And, of course, those cute little hummingbirds are always attracted by a hardy fuchsia near my kitchen window, and also by this flower -- the Hot Lips Salvia:
Getting pretty dark out there now, so I'll give myself a rest. Cuthbert, as you can see, has already started his 24-hour rest.

Flowers, Flowers ... I must have flowers, always and always

It's a quote by the painter Claude Monet, who was also the inspiration for one of my most popular Millefiori Brazilian dimensional embroidery designs, "The Waterlilies of Claude Monet".
I have it posted at my website,, but I'm writing today to share some photographs of my flowers that I've been saving on my computer (some of the flowers I seem to re-photograph year after year). For the perfect occasion. Like now. These are from my garden.
This is the stunning Grandpa Ott Morning Glory. I collect the seeds every year and scatter them in the spring. By now, late June and early July, they are climbing everywhere (and blooming in the "morning" only).
This is an orange fuchsia - the little hummingbirds love it - probably because it's right next to my hot lips salvia and the blue salvia that they also crave. I potted it with a dark brown/green coleus. And some cream-colored flowering tobacco (nicotiana) which doesn't show here.
This campanula really should be staked - it's different than my other bellflowers, but still pretty and a perennial, which comes back every year.
...and I found this little 'pretty pincushion' at The B.E. Boutique sales table at our 2015 BDEIG Seminar. She's a real cutie and is nearby whenever I stitch or draw pictures.
Oh! I almost forgot another flower I snapped in June ... these petunias and million bells are the prettiest deep red.
I'll post more flowers fairly soon, hoping they will inspire other embroidery designers as they do me.  ...and her:
Back soon!