Sue Spargo Threads

I am a sucker for embroidery threads. Not really the floss that comes in hanks, but the Perl Cotton balls, the Aurifloss and, now, Sue Spargo embroidery threads.

I admire Sue Spargo’s work, because of the cheerfulness and liveliness of the designs. Her book, Stitches to Savor: A Celebration of Designs, is a favorite. I admire her work with the simple shape of the cups and want to do something similar with cakes. Can you imagine how fabulous a cake quilt would look with embroidery designs applied to it to simulate frosting and cake decorations?

Of course, given the colors I bought, the cakes would be cheerful, and, possibly, unappetizing. πŸ˜‰

You may noticed that I have mentioned Sue Spargo embroidery threads a few times recently. After visiting Thistle Dew and Stitch quilt shops, I was hooked. Both shops had these threads and it was the first time I had seen them. I have a lot of Perl cotton, etc, but couldn’t help indulging in a few spools. I want them all.

I have used them on Under the Sea and they were great to use. I need to get inspired by Gerre and use them more.

Thanksgiving Napkins

Thanksgiving napkins, October 2016
Thanksgiving napkins, October 2016

I think my last update about this project was in August. A lot has happened and I think we are nearing the end.

SIL and her machine have been working hard. She has to recolor all of the designs so use just 6 colors. Sometimes that is really hard and she has to make compromises. Still she has done a great job and I can’t wait to have the napkins out at Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Napkins, mid October 2016
Thanksgiving Napkins, mid October 2016

My job has been to wash and press all of the embroidered napkins. I have had no bleeding or fading of the designs. I have used a lot of Flatter and Mary Ellen’s Best Press!

The embroidery machine had a hissy fit and ate one of the yellow napkins. While there were probably enough napkins for everyone, we decided to get one more packet (World Market Buffet napkins). I bought a dusty purple and these came out SUPER well. I am very pleased with them.

I really like all of the napkins. Not only are they pretty and festive, but they are also large enough to keep laps clean.

Napkins Project Continues

More Thanksgiving Napkins
More Thanksgiving Napkins

The good thing about machine embroidery is that it can happen while the maker is piecing since the machine works independently. Still, SIL is making crazy good progress. After a few napkins last week, she gave me a bunch this week.

Pumpkin motif for napkins
Pumpkin motif for napkins

This group of motifs is fun. The pie and the corn, along with the pumpkin, which you saw last week, are two of my favorites. I took a close up of the pumpkin, so you could see what a nice design it is.

Under the Sea Update

I am making some progress on Under the Sea. It is a shock, because this piece has been on my list and a UFO for YEARS. I really never thought I would finish it and here I am.

Under the Sea - Late August 2016
Under the Sea – Late August 2016

We went to Southern California for the weekend, so no sewing machine and I missed the BAMQG meeting. My DH better know I love him. πŸ˜‰ I did take Under the Sea and my EPP project to work on. I didn’t do much in general – no sewing, no EPP, no quilt shop visits, but I worked on Under the Sea a little on the way home in the car.

I bought some 12wt Aurifil and have used a little of it along with the Perl Cotton that I have had laying around. It is fun to add layers of texture to this piece. The stitches are adding interest.

Under the Sea (detail) - Late August 2016
Under the Sea (detail) – Late August 2016

I am not sure about the green circles. I like them as a motif. I am not sure I like them around the turquoise dots. I don’t want to disrupt that bubble like effect.

I am hoping that the viewer won’t see them until they get closer. We’ll have to see.

More Napkins

Napkins - early August 2016
Napkins – early August 2016

SIL is embroidering napkins for the napkin project at a furious pace. I need to get busy on the tablerunners. September will be here before we know it and October and November will be hard on its heels.

SIL has finished some more napkins.

Two motifs included in this most recent batch came out very well. I really like the tree and I, especially, like the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Napkin
Pumpkin Napkin

I think they are coming out very well and I will be happy to put them on my table at Thanksgiving.

More on Under the Sea

I have been working on Under the Sea pretty steadily in the evenings. It is soothing to do the handwork. I am also surprised at how quickly I can fill up an area with embroidery.

As I said a few days ago, I am pleased with the work. I am still pleased despite some design challenges.

  • I want the embroidery to be simple, so that limits the stitches.
  • I don’t have enough colors, but when will I have enough colors? This should not come as a surprise to anyone who reads regularly.
  • The browns, rusts and golds are not my favorite, but I am finding that I don’t dislike them enough to toss the project.
  • Beads or no beads?

I have been pretty tired or working on other things the past two nights, but I’ll get back to this soon.

Not a Complete Solution

Under the Sea, in process
Under the Sea, in process

Under the Sea has been on my 26 Projects list for a long time. I started it in 2009 in a class with Pamela Allen. I started it at the same time I started the Flower Garden. I finished The Flower Garden in 2013.

Despite my best efforts, this piece has been on my mind. After my Special Whine, I picked it up and have been embellishing it with Perl cotton and other types of embroidery thread in the evenings while I watch TV.

Under the Sea, in process again
Under the Sea, in process again

I am pleased. Doing the embroidery, though simple, has calmed down my creative crisis, if just for the moment.

Of course, I don’t have enough colors of Perl Cotton. When do I ever have enough colors? I am making due for the moment.

Under the Sea, detail
Under the Sea, detail

I know these colors are odd colors for me. It is a problem, because I keep wondering where to add pink. The turquoise additions do help.

I am trying a combination of greys with the turquoises and blues to see how that looks. I am not sure if it makes any difference, in the way my mind wants, because so much of the piece is made up of browns and oranges.

The piece is small and I think I will make it into a cushion cover and give it away. Not my colors, you know. We’ll see.

Thanksgiving Napkins Progress

Two leaf napkins
Two leaf napkins

A few weeks ago I wrote about Thanksgiving napkins that SIL and I** were in the process of making. We have finished some of them.

There is some trial and error in the process, but SIL is working hard to minimize the loss of any napkins. So far so good.

Progress is good.

 

The process is

  • wash napkins
  • press and starch napkins
  • pick embroidery designs
  • figure out thread colors
  • test embroidery
  • embroider on napkins
  • rip off excess embroidery
  • wash
  • iron
  • Repeat
Warm leaf napkins
Warm leaf napkins

I did the washing and ironing. As I do with all of my fabric, I washed these napkins in hot water. Hot water is the worst than can be done to them, I think, in terms of washing. I ironed them with Mary Ellen’s Best Press, mostly. I used some Flatter, but I really don’t like the smell of the one I bought.

SIL had a few embroidery designs in her library that were suitable. I went looking at a couple of sites she suggested and bought a few. We plan to reuse the designs. I don’t want or need 30 different designs. using different threads and stitching them out on different colored napkins makes the designs different enough.

We do all the napkins we are doing to do with one design before we switch to the next design.

We had to simplify some of the thread choices, because SIL has a machine that can accommodate 6 thread colors. It is easier not to have to deal with thread changes in the middle of stitching out a design. I kind of wish she had bought the 10 needle machine, but I wasn’t laying out the cash. πŸ˜‰ Also, I wouldn’t be doing this at all if she hadn’t brought her machine to live around the corner from me. I had planned to make napkins the normal way I make them, which is odious at the best of times. It would have been a ton of work as well as a ton of money for Thanksgiving appropriate fabric. If my math is right (1/2 yard of fabric for each napkin), I would have needed 15 yards of fabric. I love buying fabric, but this is much easier and much more cost effective.

More leaves
More leaves

SIL had some tension issues at the beginning. After much fiddling, she resolved them, but thinks the machine may need a spa day.

So far, we have about 6 done. Fortunately, once the machine is set up, it stitches the designs out without someone standing over it pressing a foot pedal. It is still a lot of work and I am trying to help as much as I can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Nota bene: Most of my part is making color choices and buying stuff. I also wash and iron the napkins as needed. She is operating her massive embroidery machine.

More Thanksgiving Decor

I am on the fence about putting this down as a project, so I’ll have to call it a sort-of project. I have to do some work, but a lot of the actual sewing is done.

The family splits up the holidays because there are a lot of us and it is hard work to feed 24+ people. Thanksgiving is our holiday. I have been wanting Thanksgiving napkins for awhile, but the thought of making napkins is daunting and it has been daunting. Of course, I could have hemmed some fabric quickly and been done with it, but if I was going to make napkins I wanted to make them nice. Such a project would also involve buying a lot of autumn colored fabric. Not my favorite colors.

World Market napkins
World Market napkins

When I saw napkins at Cost Plus World Market in the right colors and sizes for a great price, I was thrilled. I texted SIL with an idea and went back later and bought them. SIL has a 6 needle embroidery machine and is willing to do some embroidery on the napkins to make them festive. She has several embroidery designs and I will buy a few for her as well.

After we gather the designs and the supplies (I’ll have to buy some stabilizer, though I have a bit from my old embroidery days), then we’ll have to plan the project out. We have several months before Thanksgiving, so the sort of project is doable.

Now back to the tablerunners!

Book Review: Stitched Blooms

Stitched Blooms
Stitched Blooms

Stitched Blooms: 300 Floral, Leaf & Border Motifs to Embroider by Carina Envoldsen-Harris. Published by Lark Crafts (ISBN: 978-1-4547-0425-6)

Thanks to Lark Crafts for sending me this book to review. It isn’t on Goodreads yet, but I am sure it will be there soon.

This is a beautifully designed book. I love the colors and details such as the scalloped edging on some of the pages. I also like the photography. The pictures fit the sections in which they are placed and in some cases are cleverly used to illustrate a point.

The book comes with a CD that purports to have all of the pattern pieces full sized. I didn’t look at the CD, but imagine Lark would not lie to us. πŸ˜‰ The author writes in the introduction (pg.7) “You can use the motifs straight out of the book pages or take advantage of the enclosed CD, which has al of the motifs in black and white. Adjust and combine them however you like, by changing the size of the motifs or by adding or removing elements. Step-by-step instructions are included for downloading and sizing…so you can stitch them to nearly anything…”

The above makes me like this book. I like the fact that the author is encouraging readers to use the book as a jumping off point. She implies that you can re-size the motifs to make them fit your garment or item and she encourages reader-makers to manipulate her designs to create new motifs. This is such a refreshing point of view. I love it that she does not think (imply?) that her designs or projects are the end of the story. Yay! An author (and a publisher who let her) who realizes that her readers have brains and creativity of their own.

The tone of this book is very informal. It seems to match the tone of the author’s blog.

Ms. Envolsen-Harris gives a bit of a color theory lesson (pg.9). In the first part she talks about mixing colors, which doesn’t seem that relevant to a book about embroidery, but I kept an open mind and was rewarded when the author talked about the impossibility of mixing embroidery floss. She brings up an excellent point when she says “No matter how tightly you twist them together, red floss and yellow floss will not turn orange-they will always remain red or yellow. But they may look orange from some distance and that is very important to keep in mind.”

Yes, it is important to keep in mind. Colors next to each other look different than they would next to other colors. For example if a kelly green is a next to blue, it will look different when placed next to a sunshine yellow. Try it. It is good for quiltmakers to keep in mind. there are color wheels included in this section, so you can use them if you don’t have another one.

Carina talks about the different words and concepts related to color such as value, warm and cool, complementary, etc (pg.10-11). This is a nice section, because she uses embroidery floss to illustrate the examples. At the end of the section, the author says something that is very important “Being ‘good’ at putting colors together can be practiced. The more you work with colors, the better you will get at combining them. You can train yourself by challenging the color choices you make. ” (pg.12). This is so important. If you think you are not good at color, read that part in this book (link above to purchase!) and remember it. If you won’t listen to me, perhaps you will listen to some who got published. Color is a process and you have to practice.

She talks about Fabric & Thread (pg.14-16), Embroidery Tools (pg.17-21), Working with Motifs (pg.22-27), and there is a Stitch Glossary (pg.28-33). The layout and colors used in the Stitch Glossary make me want to get out a needle and try out the motifs. The Embroidery Tools section includes advice on stabilizers and several paragraphs on needles.

There are 20 projects in this book. The projects include clothing, embellishing store-bought clothing, home decor, personal items, accessories, a sewing case, linens, toys, and a quilt! One of my favorites is a frame. The projects in here are different and interesting. I didn’t see the word easy or simple once, but the positive tone of the book implies that everyone can pick up a needle and embroider. I am going to try making the needle case.

I looked through the book from back to front and saw the motif library (pg.102-125) first. My first thought was that many of the motifs would make fabulous applique’ designs or free motion quilting designs.

I would recommend this book for a a source of inspiration even if embroidery is not something you plan on taking up.

You can find Carina’s blog at http://carinascraftblog.wardi.dk/. There are additional embroidery designs to buy, which are accessible via the blog. (N/A)

 

Stockings were not Hung

Felt Stockings
Felt Stockings

A few years ago we remodeled part of our house (bleah! what a process). In the course of that months long nightmare, which was worth it in the end, much of our non-essential stuff went to storage. Since the contractors promised the project would be finished by Thanksgiving, our Christmas stuff went, too. HA! The Christmas stuff returned, but the original stockings have never been recovered. I have no idea what happened to them. I suppose they will turn up eventually.

As stockings are part of our Christmas tradition, I whipped up some felt “beauties,” which have become what we use.

As you know, my quilter is out of commission and Kissy Fish is done. I find myself frequently without handwork to do in the evenings. When I saw the stockings, I remembered the embellishing I had done on the card holders a few years ago and was inspired to embellish the stockings a bit.

Felt stockings detail
Felt stockings detail

I started out with a few buttons, though I did use all the good and interesting white ones on the cardholders. I used some Oliver Twist silver thread to sew them on. I also started to do a buttonhole stitch around the bottom edge of a couple of the stockings to make that edge look more interesting. One of the stockings has a tree on it and I definitely see some sequin ‘ornaments’ in its future! I think, as Anne Shirley would say, “there is a lot of scope for imagination.”

Of course, I have a lot of cards to write and gifts to assemble, but I see this little project as a nice respite between the craziness. It could be ongoing as I am inspired to add more. It is also a good way to try out different techniques, stitches and embellishments.