Showing posts with label Embroidery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Embroidery. Show all posts

Friday, November 6, 2015

Volunteering with Enthusiasm

Have you ever been proud of a skill that you have mastered?  

Never could I sail, run marathons, quilt, ace chemistry exams or debate with confidence, but often I could do projects with my hands. And stitching embroidery was one of those feminine and housewifery activities that I learned at my mother's knee.

I was always proud of my samplers, praised for my dexterity in pulling embroidery floss up and through fabric to make a pretty chain stitch, then moving forward to work with silk ribbons in the 90's to create more intricate patterns on lingerie or sachet pouches. I still feel accomplished in creating pretty hand work with thread ends skillfully knotted and tightly tucked under on the back side of fabric, surely worthy of a prize if entered in the "Needlework" category in any county fair.

Yesterday, I picked up our local Senior Beacon, its target audience honed to those over fifty years of age.  I was waiting for my eyes to dilate in the dimmed room provided by the ophthalmologist when I read various volunteer opportunities made available through the Beacon.  Lo and behold, there in front of my now blurred vision was a blurb that embroiderers were needed at our local quilting shop for November 14, next Saturday.  Embroiderers were requested to work on ribbons for Breast Cancer Survivors, among a few other causes.  Proceeds from the sale of the ribbons would go back to their respective charities.

Thinking that perhaps I could meet a few other women who had the same burning desire to share their talents for a cause, I decided to take the plunge and offer my assistance at the fabric store, if only for a few hours next weekend.  It would be fun to have coffee with a new group of people.  While there, I would peruse quilting designs.  My mind and I decided to seize this opportunity.

Carefully, I tore out that magazine notice with the published contact telephone number. Still waiting in the dimmed room, eyes becoming more blurred from the atropine drops used to dilate pupils, I could barely see the listed phone number.  But why should I wait until later to call?  When later came, I might decide to pass off the moment to share my handwork talent.  They probably really needed me.  With fierce bravado, I dialed on my mobile phone, was connected, then put on hold, then reconnected to the appropriate person designated to coordinate collective expertise of volunteers.

"Hello, my name is Nancy and I would like to volunteer a few hours next Saturday for the ribbon adornment embroidery work you are coordinating."  This felt so satisfying.  I was thinking of the finished ribbons and that maybe they might even sell for $5 each!

"We are so happy you called," the woman on the other end of the line responded, "and what hours can I put down for you?" she added.

"The afternoon would be best, maybe after 1:30," I said, reviewing in my mind that Julie and I could still have lunch together and that I could go from Mesa Manor and then home after putting in an hour or two on the ribbons.  "And should I bring my materials with me?  Will you provide patterns ?"  I was mentally taking stock of what I would take: embroidery scissors, flossing threads, needles, my magnifying glass that hung on a cord, resting on the top of my bosom, intensifying the sight area where the needle embellishment was to be worked.  I really needed both the magnifier and my bifocals to see well.  Hmm, still thinking...

Coordinating Woman responded: "Oh, yes, please bring your threads.  And what type machine do you have?  What embroidery disks do you have?  Do you have a letter font disk?"

What?  What machine did I have?  What disks?  A font?  "Oh." Ding, on went the light bulb.  "I don't have a machine.  I was talking about hand embroidery."  Cringing inwardly, I realized she was talking about machine embroidery whereas I was referring to 18th century embroidery, the skill of which I was so proud.

Coordinating Woman: "Thanks anyway, dear," pause ..."that was nice of you to offer.  Here we work with machine embroidery only."

It was then I realized that she must have thought my little crafting skill was anachronistic, certainly not of value in 2015.  After all, their business sold expensive embroidery machines, along with every costly doohickey available. They were in business to make a profit, and they make good money keeping up with technology in embroidery.

Chagrined, I inwardly shrank, felt  stupid and senior-ly old, out-of date, obsolete in not only my thinking, but also in my skill set. What a truly humbling, ego deflating experience.

Next Saturday, I will stick to cleaning  the garden area around Mesa Manor and will not be offering my old fashioned expertise to embellish ribbons with floss.

“You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”  ― Colette

Friday, October 4, 2013

Embroidery and Silk Ribbon Embroidery

Back in the day, embroidery was used as a past time by ladies with leisure.  It was a beautiful way to gussy up clothing or even, shall we say, a tea towel?

c. 1900 source
Embroidery today is definitely not your grandmother's.  Such great pieces I found on Pinterest.



source from previous post

Silk Ribbon Embroidery and Silk Ribbon: 

by Natalie
Machine Embroidery:
 by Dottie

In Mexico, this holiday takes place on the first and second of November.   People take two days out of the year in order to pay their respect to their dead family members and friends.  During this celebration, skulls and altars are made, food is placed on graves, and families and friends celebrate the lives of departed children and adults. I really hope that you'll create something this week as a response to El Dia de los Muertos.  Whether it's the holiday itself, the Halloween-like feel of the skeletons, or the bright colors that inspire you, I'm looking forward to seeing your creations.   

Inspiration Avenue Challenge Link
Linking with Fiber Art Friday

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Angels Used in Embroidery

This site, Checkered Houses, displays artwork from over thirty artists.  Many are folk artists. 

Paul Flack drew the angel shown above. 

Paul began to look for that sense of fulfillment in painting, inspired by the likes of visionary artists. He had painted earlier in his life for a short time. As his spiritual quest grew, he became intrigued with the concept of angels. Angels are spiritual in nature, not religious and span time and appeal to all ages.
His angels are colorful, eye-catching, and unique in their forms. They appeal to everyone whether you believe in them or not and encourage the imagination to wonder in terms of what the painting means to each individual. It is in this, that Paul finds his fulfillment.
This will make an interesting outline for embroidery work on the back of a work shirt.  The lines are simple, and can easily be drawn from the photo onto paper or cloth for further embellishment.

Here is one similar angel embroidered from a kit, and sewn onto cloth, then appliqued on the backing of a woman's vest:

We need all the angels available to surround us, so why not on our clothing?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Faux Pearls, Satin Ribbon and Lace Bible for Brides

Are you looking for a unique bridal gift? Try using your embroidery and beading skills to embellish a Bible for use in the wedding ceremony.

If you would like to design a personalized Bible covering, here is a website where standardized sizes for Bible slip covers can be found for purchase. You can use this type base for cross-stitch, embroidery and beading to create a unique and beautifully crafted keepsake.

Aunt Mary George made me this Bible cover back in the 60's when I married my children's father. As you can see, I could not bear to discard it. Perhaps it can be repurposed for another wedding years later, if the bride cares to use it as a "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" sentiment to be carried for the ceremony.

The yellowing of the white lace adds to the vintage look, so perhaps only a touch of new ivory lace is all that will be added for a later bride.

Then again, if the bride and groom trade vows while skydiving or wearing hiking boots on an Australian walkabout adventure, this sentimental touch would be a bit anachronistic.

Maybe I'll just hang on to this vintage decorated Bible as a touch of the past.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Plain White Blouses - Jazz 'em Up

...have a plain, white shirt that needs a little jazzing up? Embroidery and vintage pieces of needlework did the trick on one of my staple white blouses.

The birds and hearts were copied from Sue's Tree House, cool designs for diverse uses.

This design was drawn up atop a linen handkerchief, embroidered, and ironed atop Wonder Under before being appliqued onto the blouse. The blouse was a very thin cotton, so adding the embroidered images helped with the "see-through" issue.

Here is a vest repurposed with appliques and embroidery:

This is a blog you might like to visit; it has lots of vintage items: Emmamyrtle's Blog.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Huck, or Swedish Weaving

Swedish weaving is an old craft with colored threads working designs upwards in repeating patterns to make a repetitive motif. This type weaving is a surface embroidery where the floss/yarn is woven under the top threads of the fabric "floats". Rarely does the floss penetrate to the wrong side of the fabric.

While doing a bit of web surfing regarding this embroidery craft, I came across an interesting blog about huck weaving. It can be found at Quilting Memories, along with an explanation of Swedish weaving (huck weaving).

Another site, with a “how-to” guide on this type fabric embellishment is found at Huck Embroidery How-To.

... Monk's Cloth has become popular for making afghans, baby blankets, pillows, and even tote bags. Aida cloth can be used as well as most pre-finished items used for cross stitch such as towels, bookmarks, and baby bibs. When working on Monk's cloth, which is approximately 8 squares per inch or 4 floats, with yarn, you may use a size #16 or #13 tapestry needle as well as the special bodkin and weaving needles they now have out. For stitching on smaller fabric though, use a blunt tapestry needle, such as when working with cross stitch. Make sure the needle easily moves under the floats of the fabric you wish to use. The tightness of the fabric weave will also determine how easily a needle will slip under the floats. (from Here and Above).
Carol Selfors, a local friend, brought this craft to my attention and shared with me a few of the blankets in her stash for illustrations to this post. Carol has made several lovely items using this thread technique for pattern design. Here are a couple of pictures of her blankets graced with huck weaving:

Many huck weaving patterns can be found here at: crafts.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sewing a Woman's Shirt from a Man's Shirt

That good old Pfaff sewing machine has been working with vintage tablecloths and napkins to help me create a woman's work shirt that takes on some feminine aspects. There was a work shirt application about painted and appliqued men's shirts previously posted, and this is another way to work with men's shirts.

A blue plaid size L man's shirt was newly purchased at a discount store. The white and blue pieces of fabric with embroidered flowers were cut from a vintage tablecloth and added to the plaid to perk up its appearance.

The shirt cuffs have an extended triangular piece of cut work taken from a vintage tablecloth (mirror images on left and right cuff). That fabric was then appliqued over the sleeves and down to the cuff from a 5" length triangular swatch.
When folded upwards, the cuffs show the pretty cut work.

Likewise, the back and front yokes of the shirt were similarly appliqued. Above is the back neck and below is the front of the woMAN's shirt:

I like to wear long sleeved shirts year-round to hide a bit of my compression bandage, and finding cool summer fabrics in long sleeved shirts is a bit of a challenge, except when shopping in the men's section of department stores.

Purchasing a man's 100% cotton shirt and then feminizing it with sewing techniques makes it somewhat more of woman's apparel and solves the problem of looking for shirts with long sleeves that are less available in women's clothing. Wear it over a t-shirt and it creates a sort of easy-wear jacket that hides a multitudes of figure problems.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sewing Decorative Vintage Pillow Cases (Fairies Part II)

A previous post on the drawing, coloring, and embroidering of a whimsical fairy dealt with that aspect of pillow decoration. The colored and embroidered fairy is at rest with a bumble bee on a lily pad leaf and has been made into its final application on a small pillow case.

These little pillows would make darling baby gifts, and would also look charming on a rocker as a back pillow, or as just another girly decoration on a bed or sofa; I plan to make a few more and display them on my Etsy store in the near future.

The following is a brief tutorial on how the pillow case was made with vintage fabrics that display hand embroidery, cut work and drawn-work. Pictures are shown to accompany the tutorial.

1) Decide on the picture you would like to transfer for embroidery purposes. Make sure the lines are as simple as your embroidery skills allow. (In this case, a fairy was used, but some child might like a brightly colored green frog on his pillow with contrasting bright colors.) Complete the tinting and embroidering of the chosen image.

2) Gather materials of small travel pillow (available at discount stores for under $4), vintage fabrics such as old table cloths, napkins, handkerchiefs, etc., threads and sewing equipment; lace seam binding or ribbons (optional), measuring tape and scissors;

3) The finished pillow (below) showcases two different fabrics laid on top of one another. In this case, a regular sized peach colored pillow case with a drawn-work interior was used for the under fabric; the outer edging of the existing case was turned inward and sewn down to further emphasize the previous vintage drawn-work. For the over fabric (white), a large tablecloth was cut into appropriate sizes to show off as much as possible of the lovely vintage needlework;

4) Cut both the under fabric and the over fabric the size to fit the purchased travel pillow, with a little less than one inch seam allowance added. Usual dimensions on these travel pillows are 15” x 20”, so cut the existing fabrics to allow for generous seam allowances, i.e., 31.5" x 41.5". (French seams create a more polished effect in its final appearance, so extra material for each seam was taken into account before cutting.) Hint: the under fabric should be of a contrasting color to enhance the cut-work shown on the vintage top fabric (in this case, a vintage peach pillow case was used for the under fabric);

5) You will likely need to piece together various parts of the vintage cloths in order to take the best advantage of the prior threadwork. I used lace seam binding to join two pieces of a tablecloth together to emphasize more of the cut work. Hint: ensure that the back of the pillow also incorporates as much as possible of the embroidery displayed on the vintage cloth.

6) Join the seams (french seaming, if possible) and complete the pillow case with simple straight stitching. An excellent tutorial on how to make french seams can be found here.

The finished pillow case with purchased travel pillow inside: (front view of the pillow case above, and back view at upper right)

More information about vintage fabrics can be garnered here. A reliable seller for vintage fabrics can be found here.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fairies and their Origin (Part I)

According to Charles Perrault,

The word Fairy is derived from the ancient "faunoe o fatuoe" which, in the pagan mythology, indicated the faun's (deer) companions, creatures endowed with power of foretelling the future and ruling the human events. The word Fairy also comes from "fatigue", which in Middle Ages was synonymous with "wild woman", that is woman of woods, waters and, in general, of the natural world.

Fairies are so prevalent in mythical culture that it's natural to wonder where they came from. Different societies have come up with very different explanations of the origins of 'the little people'.

The Little People are said to be the dispossessed early tribes of the British Isles.They faded away into uninhabited places, growing smaller and smaller with time as they were forgotten and passed into legend. The Tuatha de Danann, People of the Goddess Dana, ruled Ireland before the Milesian invasion. They were driven underground where they became theDaoine Sidhe fairies.

The Irish believe that the fairies are a previously conquered society, the Tuatha De Danaan (People of the Goddess Dana), who were driven into hiding when the Celts invaded Ireland. The Pagan gods of the Tuatha, skilled in building and magic, went underground to live in the tombs and mounds they had built. Hidden from sight, they grew smaller in the popular imagination until they turned into fairies.

Other cultures believe that fairies are the souls of the dead, people not good enough to enter Heaven yet not bad enough for Hell. They wander the Netherland in between and are occasionally seen by humans. Along a similar theme, fairies are also believed to be angels that had been cast out of Heaven. Some fell into the sea and some onto the land, where they would do no harm if left alone.

In Wales, fairies are thought to be a race of invisible spiritual beings living in a world of their own. Some people also believe that fairies were originally local gods or nature spirits that dwindled in majesty and size over time.

In any case, those ethereal creatures have held my fancy since childhood. Beautiful pictures of fairies can be found here and here and here. These sites held me captive for long minutes. Then I decided to draw, color and then embroider one of these captivating images onto a vintage pillow cover.

Using previous instructions given on June 25 and the excellent tinting linen tutorial originating from Giggleface, here are the first steps toward embroidering this fairy project to be used on a pillow casing:

1) Find a transfer you like of a fairy or whimsical creature, or draw one yourself. An easy transfer can be found here: fairy (in the middle of the page is a tooth fairy for download);

2) Draw or transfer your image onto the pillow case fabric; be sure to use a transfer pen like Sulky;

3) begin the coloring/tinting of the fabric and go on to the embroidering process. Excellent embroidery "how-to" skills can be found here.

The next post will show the completed pillow project with the fairy in pinks.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sew Liberated Apron

SewLiberated has this darling apron pattern for sale on the internet. It is named the "Emmeline" pattern.

It shows a high waisted, longer shift that goes great with jeans as a savvy sort of jacket. This flattering pattern is easy to sew, attractive to wear, and will brighten up an outfit and make wearing jeans a little dressier. Conversation will follow just by wearing it.

These are three coordinating fabrics I am going to use when making this apron:

Pictured above is the face of a Roaring 20's woman that will be one of the pockets to be added to the apron front. You can read about how this vintage pocket was hand colored with crayons and watercolor pencils and coordinating embroidery, here in a previous post.

Meg McElwee, the designer of this pattern, was interviewed on the podcast CraftSanity (catch it on a download from iTunes). Ms. McElwee was the featured guest on June 17, 2008 . McElwee is a Mexican expatriate and a current Montessori teacher. She has an interesting story about her designing efforts and how she started in the textile business. The podcast has some fun coversation about women wearing their liberation in a way that is both catchy, yet homespun. It is well worth a listen.

In the June podcast interview, Meg said that one of her readers' ironic comments was that the only bad thing about wearing her Emmeline apron was that her husband was constantly chasing her around the house (she must have looked so-oooooo cute).

Wearing aprons outside the home is going to be the next old-to-new trend, count on it. Wearing new styled aprons will say "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" in a big way, while at the same time being ultra feminine.

Meg's blog "Sew Liberated" can be accessed here. Ready-made aprons can also be purchased on her website, if you are not one to sew. She will be moving to North Carolina this summer, and will have further independent sewing design patterns in the future.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Smocking and How to make Shell Smocking Ribbon trim

Craftside shows how to turn flat ribbon into a 3-dimensional look with a simple stitch to draw up the ribbon. This type finish for ribbon

... can be used on just about anything from a fun party dress to home decor like a pillow or edge of a curtain.

Click on the picture at the right to enlarge and read directions about how to draw up the ribbon for smocking. It creates an unusual and dressy effect for sewn edgings.

In 2004, my friend Kathy's daughter was welcomed and blessed into her church in a formal ceremony. I made a sweet white christening dress for little Ellen with a matching under-dress. The smocking method of drawing up fabric on the collar was used, with further embroidery on the collar and lots of lace eyelet added. (If I had known how to make shell smocking with ribbon back then, you can bet I would have employed that technique on Ellen's dress.)

Here is a picture of Kathy and Ellen in her christening dress (above), and then a close up (below) of the smocked collar.

It was lots of fun making this dress for a close friend and her very special daughter, who is now seven years old.

Kathy and Ellen, I'm coming to see you soon, and bringing clay for us to play with!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Embroidery with Vintage Apron Pockets, Watercolor Pencils and Crayons

A friend had given me an old apron with nice embroidery work on the edges and pockets. The linen was well worn, and the threads were thin, so they would not hold up well to further stitching. But I wanted to preserve the vintage handwork, embellish it a bit further and incorporate that pocket piece into something which I am currently sewing. More information was given about vintage cloth here in a previous post.

So I cut out those pockets from the old apron to save them, adding an iron-on stiffening product called Wonder Under to the back of the pockets.

Fast forward a couple of days. In order to also preserve some of the old handwork already on those two pockets, I decided to find a retro looking picture which would incorporate that prior flower stitching into my new project (see upper left side of woman's scarf in the photo below for the vintage handwork). The white embroidery originally there on the pocket is difficult to see in the photo.

The dilemma was that the apron pockets were white, and the new fabric onto which they would be sewn had no coordinating white in the fabric.

How about making a yellow background for the pocket? That's the ticket! So I tinted the white fabric pocket with a mixture of yellow and orange crayon overlays (just coloring the background like you would color on a piece of paper).

Giggleface is the most thorough source I found in searching out ways to tint fabrics with crayons. An excellent tutorial is given there and is also the website where I learned how to color the pink for breast cancer ribbons on old handerchiefs in a previous post.

That same site also had a cute Roaring 20's face of a woman which would work perfectly for the pocket application. The face of the woman came from a pattern from Vintage-Tinted-Linens.

I also colored the flapper's scarf with watercolor pencils and crayons, and rouged her cheeks with the same products. (Full credit for the application of the colors of threads and techniques goes to Giggleface.)

Then I made two faces of the woman on two separate pockets, similarly embroidered, for my future project. Stay tuned into this blogspot and the project will be shown when completed.

Look to needlenthread for a video library of hand embroidery instructions in case you need a refresher course in all the hundreds of stitches that can be employed in embroidery.

Curiously Old Patterns is an extensive site for embroidery patterns over 120 years old, and is in the public domain. These images can be used without fear of copyright infringement.

This may give you an idea to get out those needles and embroidery floss long packed away, and have fun embroidering on a new project! It is definitely a handcraft which is coming back into favor.