Sunday, September 14, 2014

Spotlight: Marna Lunt

Marna Lunt &Stitches Spotlight
Today I want to put the spotlight on a fabulous UK textile artist called Marna Lunt. You may have seen her work on the cover of Mollie Makes.

Marna creates these wonderfully quirky illustrations which are then handstitched incorporating pretty textiles and buttons and other lovely things. They are beautifully tactile; I just want to reach through my screen and touch them.

See that lampshade up there, with Liberty? That is one example of Marna's work. Isn't it gorgeous? It took over 50 hours to make, impressive! Do pop over to her blog and read all about it.

Have you come across any fab stitchers we need to know about? Maybe you are a fab stitcher we should know about! Tell us about it in the comments!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Introducing a new &Stitches blogger!

We are very excited to announce that two new members are joining the &Stitches blogging team this month and next month! This month Rebecca from Hugs are Fun makes her debut as &Stitches blogger. At least it's her first post as 'official' &Stitches team member. If you have been reading our Summer Bloggin' posts you probably already saw Rebecca's LED lamp post a little while ago.

Rebecca is an avid (cross)stitcher and on the &Stitches blog she will be mainly writing about cross stitching. On her own Hugs are Fun blog though you can also read about Rebecca's other crafty endeavours such as English Paper Piecing and crochet.

You can find some of Rebecca's cool cross stitch designs (like the Solar System pictured above) and cross stitch kits in her shop. Welcome to &Stitches Rebecca, we are looking forward to your posts! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Round up: Summer Bloggin' 2014

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

We have really enjoyed this year's batch of Summer Bloggin' posts. We hope you did too! We hope you have been inspired to try new things.

Maybe you have already tried soaking your fabric in tea for a nice colour effect? Busy adding LEDs to all your stitcheries? Maybe you have been inspired to enter your work in a competition?

I think Summer Bloggin' may be one of my favourite things we do here on &Stitches. I really love seeing all the different things people do.

Thank you to all of this summer's guest bloggers, you're awesome! :-)

My Grandmother's Sewing Box by Laura Howard.

Exploring Transfer Methods (part 1) with Cate Anevski.

Exploring Transfer Methods (part 2) with Cate Anevski.

Stitching negative space with daisyeyes.

Don't Fear The Fair (part 1) with Jorie.

Don't Fear The Fair (part 2) with Jorie.

LED embroidery with Rebecca Greco.

Creating interesting surfaces to stitch on (part 1) with Flaming Nora.

Creating interesting surfaces to stitch on (part 2) with Flaming Nora.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Found on Flickr: The Cat House

Found on Flickr

Pet Brooch - "The Cat house" - hand embroidered textile jewelry

I just love this little stitched brooch by Flickr user makiko_at. I want to move into this cute cottage immediately with lots of cats for company.
Miniature embroideries always make me swoon and this one is one of the cutest I've seen. Check out those teeny, tiny stitches; I am very impressed at how many little details are included in this piece. The little black cat must only be a few millimetres in length, that is some seriously small stitching!

Cute, cute, cute!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Summer Bloggin': Working with interesting surfaces - part 2

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

Jane from Flaming Nora joins us with the second part of her 'interesting surfaces' series. You can find the first part here - it was pretty cool, wasn't it?

Thank you, Jane!

In my last post I spoke to you about one of the cornerstones of modern society and how to use it to great effect on your textiles, namely tea. Today I want to talk to you about an altogether more distressing aspect of the kitchen cupboard. Cheese graters. In these articles I am drawing on nearly quarter of a century of experience as a costume maker for stage and screen. This is another of our go to techniques to age or break down costumes, which can help create unusual, textural and organic surfaces to embroider on to.

To explore this technique you will need the following equipment:

Flaming Nora 1
Grater with a rough section for grating nutmeg.

Flaming Nora 2
You will also need a selection of fabrics of different weights and thicknesses and I find a piece of a heavy fabric such as drill that you can roll up in to a pad handy.

Flaming Nora 3
Select one of your fabrics, I used one of the tea dipped pieces from my last post. Roll up your heavy fabric and place the fabric to be distressed over it. Using the nutmeg section of your grater start gently rubbing it over the surface of the fabric.

Flaming Nora 4
Don’t be scared; remember frayed bits and holes are good!

Flaming Nora 5
By using the fine grater section you can also create some finer more delicate textures.

Flaming Nora 7
A really amazing textile to use in this process is scrim. If you haven’t come across it before scrim is a very loose weave fabric like a much less substantial muslin. You can buy it here.

Because of its loose weave you can more or less pull it apart with your fingers.

Flaming Nora 8
Using existing old pieces of embroidery can also produce some great results.

Flaming Nora 10
When you think your fabrics are distressed enough, arrange in a pleasing manner over a piece of background fabric, I used an old tablecloth. Try draping the scrim over and around the other fabrics. Place interesting scraps of fabrics with a little bit more colour or pattern behind the holes in your distressed fabrics to add highlights to your piece. Pin in place

Flaming Nora 11
Once every thing is arranged to your satisfaction machine is all down using the free embroidery function on the sewing machine. I stitch a wandering loopy line all over it making sure every thing is caught down but doesn’t look too hammered flat.

Flaming Nora 13
I was going to trim up the edges of this piece to make it have a more uniform size. But once I have stitched this little squirrel onto it I found I preferred the random edges of it.

What do you think? Are you going to try the grater method for your next embroidery? Tell us about it in the comments!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Eureka! Floss length


To many of you this tip might seem obvious but it is something I wish someone had told me when I was starting out. It can be annoying having to keep threading your needle when your floss runs out, so why not use a really long piece of floss so you don't run out as often? Well being pulled back and forth through the fabric is pretty tough on a length of floss. The longer the floss the more times the bit at the end has to pass through the fabric and unfortunately this can leave it looking a bit ratty and well... sad. When the floss starts to get worn you might find your stitched lines don't look smooth and will be thin and irregular.


Find your happy floss length; for me it is just longer than from my fingers to my elbow or if I am going to use a lot of a certain floss on a project I take the skein, remove the paper bands so it is a big loop and snip through all the strands off floss (just once) to give me lots of pre-cut floss at a nice workable length. Bingo!


What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer bloggin': Don't Fear the Fair (Part 2)

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

Today Jorie concludes her Summer bloggin' with &Stitches with her second post about her experiences entering embroidery (and other) work to the Iowa State Fair Fabric & Threads competition. You can follow Jorie on her blog Embroider Elaine

When we last ended, my friends and I had just dropped off our entries to compete in the Fabric & Threads competition at the Iowa State Fair.  What were the results?  First of all, I did manage to eat a chocolate-chipped cheesecake on a stick, along with other wonderful fried fair foods.

Second of all, I’m proud of what I accomplished. My knitted snip-stitch afghan won a 3rd place ribbon.

My Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery Woodland Sampler  also won a 3rd place ribbon. That is not only a full place higher than what I earned last year, but I actually won enough money to cover my $5 entry fee (along with money left over for a $3 potato skin bowl.) 

My Furry Nice Class polar bear did not win any ribbons, but he still looked very adorable and cheerful. 

My friends won some honorable mention ribbons for pillowcases and handkerchiefs. The results for all of the competition are available online.

On the comment sheets, the judges gave mostly positive comments, such as complimenting the colors I used in my afghan and the shading on my polar bear.  The one negative comment was that the frames on my cross-stitch sampler could have been straighter, but the unevenness could have been the result of how it was framed or the natural variations in the linen I used.

The change I made in this year’s preparations that made the most difference was simply to enter more items.  The polar bear was the only item I made with the intention of entering it, and the other two were ones I decided to enter at the last minute—but those last minute entries ended up winning ribbons.  I’m glad I entered these items, and I’d like to enter a higher number of items next year.  For $5, I can enter 1 to 10 items, so there is no reason not to enter all the items I can!

Regardless of how well our items did, my friends and I are glad we participated in the competition.  Angela’s goal was to simply to enter the competition for the first time.  She explained, “There are plenty of projects on my list of ‘things I'll make someday,’ so I am proud that I actually followed through with the plan this time.

Cassie wanted to enter the competition to show off her work.  “Once you have a reason to go to Fabric and Threads at the fair, it’s hard not to want to enter.  It becomes Something People Do, not a completely impossibility. And when I had that ambition, of course I was going to weird the fair.”

All three of us wanted to enter to shake things up—use unusual colors, updated designs, and different techniques.  But as Cassie says, we don’t want to turn the State Fair into a “bastion of furious hipness.”  “It’s a balance between earnest and ironic, and the best part is that you can swap between the two without skipping a beat or changing what you’re doing in the slightest.  That goes for your pork chop on a stick and your quilts.”

Ultimately, we participate as a way of celebrating our chosen crafts.  We walk around the competition and are proud of the work accomplished by our friends.  We marvel at the ingenuity and technical prowess of strangers.  We see entries that make us want to try new ideas.  Not everybody wants or needs to compete, but the State Fair is one outlet that we have found to both bond as a group and to have a goal to work towards.

Have you entered your embroidery work in competitions? Share your story with us in the comments. Thank you for two fabulous posts Jorie!