Archive for project

Puzzling out a Mexican sampler

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, whitework with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2020 by suetortoise

Back in 2015, I was looking at Mexican samplers online, and saved and printed a picture which showed some cut and pulled openwork in the top left of one example. It’s a late 1800s Mexican sampler, but I don’t know any more than that. I don’t know which exhibition or saleroom or museum collection it came from. (I thought that it was the Cooper Hewitt, but I can’t spot it in their online collection, so I am probably wrong. I have been looking, and I will keep looking, because I really don’t like to put pictures on this blog uncredited. If anyone recognises it, please, please let me know!) This is it:

I came across the print while tidying up, just after the start of the Covid 19 lockdown, and thought it would be a good project while I am spending so much time at home. I really fancied some fiddly whitework after finishing Tom. Trying to figure out the patterns from this rather battered and frayed piece, of work is quite a challenge. I decided to use some 32 count Zweigart écru linen, stitched with a matching Sajou Fil Dentelles au Chinoise (which is a size 80 cotton lacemaking thread). This is a thinner thread in comparison to the weight of the fabric than that used by the long-ago Mexican schoolgirl.

There are eight pattern squares. I have now finished the first four. To give you a taste of the fun I am having,  here is my printout of the first of these squares, which is what I have to work from:

And here it is on my fabric:

They are not all quite as bad as that one, but most are quite a puzzle! I didn’t like the chain-stitch silk edging, which has not really helped preserve the edges of the squares, so I did a narrow padded edging instead. That seemed to take forever, but I eventually got to the fun bit. I suspect that the original is leave 3 cut 2, as it looks about right, but it’s a bit of a guess. Anyway, I settled on that. The “squares” on the original vary from 15 x 11 groups of three to 16 x 16. I have used 16 x 16 throughout, for neatness.

Readers of my Facebook page, or of Mary Corbett’s Needle’n’Thread Facebook group, will have seen this project progressing. I am now working on the remaining four patterns, which I am repeating at both ends of the row, to make a longer, more balanced piece, six squares long and two deep. It might turn into a small table runner, or it may stay as a sampler. I wasn’t really expecting it to work out so well, but so far, so good!

Have you got a Lockdown Project in progress?

Doodlestitching

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , on August 17, 2018 by suetortoise

I do like making bookmarks. They are small enough not to take too long, big enough to be satisfying, and very suitable as carry-around projects.

They are also great for just doodling with stitches. This one is on 14 count Aida fabric in cross stitch and slanting Slav, with a buttonhole stitch edging. I made it up entirely as I went along, starting with the edging, then positioning my main shapes and finally filling in the smaller shapes and the background grid of cross stitches. That’s a very relaxing way to stitch – no pattern to follow, no pressure. Just do it!

This bookmark was worked with two strands of a fine spun-rayon thread, in white, deep pink and a variegated pink/grey. But it could just as easily have used stranded cotton, silk, or anything that would make a plump cross stitch on this fabric.

Aida is a very ugly fabric, so I made sure I didn’t leave any holes completely unstitched, even though there is quite a lot of ground showing between the spaced crosses. That allowed me to take advantage of Aida’s sturdiness and ease of use, while avoiding its harsh, mechanical look. I used cotton thread for the cord that holds the tassel, for strength. The back was not perfectly neat, as I wasn’t planning ahead, so I backed it with some lightweight iron-on interfacing. I stitched it down around the inside of the buttonhole edging so it won’t pull away if the glue loses its grip over time. 

Another good thing about bookmarks is that they only take a little fabric, thread and time. If they go completely wrong you haven’t lost much and you may well have learnt something useful. You can afford to experiment and try out ideas. I wasn’t expecting this one to ‘work’ – but I’m very pleased with it.

So if you want a little challenge, take a strip of fabric, pick a few colours, decide on few stitches and just design as you go. See what happens when you just relax and doodlestitch. (Warning; this can be addictive!)

Glimpse – PART THREE

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , , on April 30, 2016 by suetortoise

Here’s the last, and final, part of the instructions for the Glimpse bookmark. If you’ve just joined up, you’ll find PART ONE here and PART TWO here. This time we’ll finish the bookmark, I promise.

Here’s the chart again, to save you having refer back:

glimpse bookmark chart

And this is where we are so far:

window stitches finished

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Glimpse – PART TWO

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , , on April 2, 2016 by suetortoise

Okay, you’ve prepared the mesh in Part One, so let’s get going with the filling stitches.

glimpse bookmark chart

Here’s the chart. You can see we have two types of filling, open squares with overcast edges and squares filled with two crossed bars. We’re starting with the filled squares. (I call them “window stitches”, because they look like a child’s drawing of a window.) Use the same colour that you used for the edging stitches. Thread the needle with as long a length of thread as you can manage comfortably, to avoid having to make too many joins.

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Glimpse: a coloured openwork bookmark – PART ONE

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework, Stitches with tags , , , , , , , on January 24, 2016 by suetortoise

Glimpse - a bookmark

I’ve chosen this project as a way of explaining the coloured, counted openwork I have been working on recently, based on the examples in this old book from the Internet Archive. This is my own ‘take’ on the stitching, and is not necessarily the way it was originally done.

I am splitting the bookmark project into two posts. This one covers the materials and tools, and explains marking out, edging and cutting the threads to make an area of mesh. (The same technique works for similar types of embroidery on mesh, so it’s worth learning.) In the next post on this project we’ll do the fun bit – filling the grid with stitches.

Glimpse and threads

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The Itch to Stitch

Posted in Embroidery, Needlework with tags , , , , , , , , on January 21, 2014 by suetortoise

Carnaby Pigeon head miniMy stitching project over Christmas was a bit of a novelty for me. My friend Serena designed a kit to make felt pigeons as decorations for the World Science Fiction Convention in London this coming August. I have trouble working with wool and most of the felt had wool content. While I was working with Serena on the art show at Novacon in November, she got me to help her make a Robin Hood hat for one of her felt pigeons. I found I could stitch the felt for a little while before I had to stop with itching fingers, so I took a pigeon pack away with me and kept it to do over Christmas. (The pack makes a basic felt pigeon, leaving it up to the maker to add decoration to taste. I cut my own tail shape as I wanted it spread. I added embroidery in simple stitches using some of the multi-coloured spun rayon pearl thread that I bought from eBay last year.) Continue reading