Friday, February 27, 2015

How To: Easy Embroidery Display with Studio MME


Today we're excited to host a guest post from Megan Eckman of Studio MME. You may be familiar with her embroidery patterns (and kits) of landmarks of the US East Coast. 

Well, now Megan has put together an ebook of West Coast embroidery patterns. I have had a peek at the book and it is a lovely collection of illustrations of famous spots in this part of the US. Do check out the West Coast Love embroidery book. (You can also find the patterns individually.)

In her post today, Megan shares how to put together a quick way to display all those embroideries you have made. It only requires a few materials that you may already have to hand.

Thank you, Megan!


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Ever since I started embroidering a few years ago, I've been a huge fan of displaying my work on the wall. That way I don’t have to bring people into the kitchen to show off my tea towels. Plus, with a bulletin board, you don’t have to punch holes in your wall and can pin up tickets from your trip or other mementos.

Final image
I grew up in a state that doesn't manifest much pride in its residents. It wasn't until the now famous movie, Fargo, was made about my hometown that anyone even knew the state of North Dakota existed. However, after four years of living all over the West Coast of the United States, I realized that the people here have a lot of pride in where they live. That’s what inspired me to create a series of embroidery patterns and kits that showcase the local landmarks.

After stitching up a few pieces featuring landmarks of my new resident state, I realized that I wanted a fun way to display them. So I created a bulletin board map! A bulletin board map makes a great display for any local stitchery, postcards, and more.

The first step is to collect your materials:
Bulletin board (if you own your own walls or have a nice landlady, you can also put this right on your wall)
Brown paper (or your choice of fun wrapping paper)
Black ink
Push pins

Pin paper
Cut your brown paper to fit on your bulletin board.Then, pin your paper to the board. Double stick tape also works well along the edges to keep the paper up.

Pencil Map
Pencil in the outline of your state or country onto your paper. The shape of your state or country may well determine which way you hang your board.

Paint Your Map
Now comes the fun part: inking! Using your brush and a nice bottle of black ink, paint in the outline of your state or country. I like to use a Sumi brush because it gives you such nice lines but any round brush will do.

Fully Painted Map
Hopefully you have a fun state that lets you draw lots of little islands or lines. Adding in lakes and rivers would also be nice.

Pin Embroidery
Once the ink is dry, pin up your embroidery. I pinned up my pieces to correspond to their actual location within the state so that it’s even more like a map.

Halfway decorated
Making a pair of these would be a great display piece at a wedding reception or as a way to commemorate all of your moves.

How do you display your embroideries? Do let us know in the comments or share pictures in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Tutorial: Simple ribbon embroidery

My Favourite Tutorial - post header
I love the look of ribbon embroidery and the texture and depth of colour the silk ribbons can give to a project. If you’ve not tried it before, consider a super-easy way to introduce some ribbon interest to your next piece of embroidery: the simple straight stitch.

For example, let’s look at a landscape I’m currently stitching. I created the felt landscape at a wet felting workshop, then I began to embellish certain sections with embroidery.

Early stages with pistil stitching, French knots and couching.
As I build up the various plant life in this corner, I vary the floss colours and the number of strands I’m using for the stems and grasses. Silk ribbon adds another important dimension to this.

For this project I’m using 4mm silk ribbon (which you can find in some haberdasheries or online, for example here or here, or even eBay!). In addition to the ribbon, the only other tool you need to start stitching is a ribbon needle. The eye is longer than the standard embroidery needle eye to allow for the width of the ribbon.

Embroidery needle on top, ribbon needle below.
When threading the needle, cut the ribbon at a sharp diagonal to make it easier to thread through the eye. Then secure the ribbon to the needle (or else it will slide out every time you pull it through the fabric, it’s slippery!) by sticking the needle through the end of the ribbon end:

Tie a small knot in the other end, and you’re ready to go!

Try some long, straight stitches to mimic grasses and leaves. Go a little crazy and add a twist before you bring the needle back down, and hey-ho, you’ve added some movement to your piece:


Make a little curl at the top, like a frond unfurling, by bringing the needle back down through the ribbon, pulling carefully to keep the curl from pulling through.

Change the length of the straight stitch and the colour, and you have yourself some pretty flower petals:

And that’s all you need to know to get started with ribbon embroidery! I have tried using satin ribbon rather than silk, but it is much stiffer, and I never managed to actually pull it through the linen I was using. Satin ribbon isn’t as pliable or fine as silk ribbon, but if you are determined to use satin, then I would suggest trying a very loose-textured linen or an aida with large holes to allow the ribbon through.

My felt landscape is still a work in progress, I am still building the flower corner and deciding if I can leave the grassy corner alone...

Let us know if you give ribbon embroidery a try and if you’d like to see more ribbon stitches.

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

Monday, February 23, 2015

&Spotlight: &Stitches on Pinterest!


You might dimly recall that your &Stitches pals once had a Pinterest account, where we liked to share inspiration for competitions and amazing needlework we came across. It seemed obvious to use Pinterest to share more of what we love with you all, but we never really did get the hang of how best to use it.

But huzzah! We have dusted off the neglected pinboards and brushed away the cobwebs and will be bringing you more beautiful inspiration through Pinterest - from the whole &Stitches team - from now on!

Go follow us over here - &Stitches' Pinterest Page - for even more stitchy fun!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Tutorial: Tiny padded satin stitch hearts

How cute is this? These teeny tiny padded satin stitch hearts are perfect for embellishing clothes or making stitched jewellry. They are really simple to stitch too so you can soon be adding these little hearts to everything!

Start with a detached chain stitch (bring your needle up through the fabric where you want the bottom of the heart to be, take it back through the same spot to form a loop. Then bring the needle back up through the loop where you want the top of one of the 'bumps' at the top of the heart to be and make a little stitch to hold the 'bump' in place).

Then make another detached chain stitch right next to it- it should look a bit like a heart already. To finish up make satin stitches across the top of your heart shape- this will make it look like a solid heart shape that has a nice bit of dimension to it.
Tip: use more strands of floss and bigger stitches to vary the size or for a much larger heart work vertical satin stitches across the detached chain stitches and then horizontal stitches over the top of those.

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

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tutorial: Cross Stitching on Water Soluble Canvas

My Favourite Tutorial - post header
When I started out cross stitching I was really disappointed by the limited selection of Aida cloth colors available. I love that embroidery can be done on so many different fabrics, so I was really excited to find out about water soluble canvas. It is a plastic sheet with holes for cross stitching that dissolves away when put in water and allows you to cross stitch on any fabric!
When cross stitching with the water soluble canvas, first start by basting down the canvas to the fabric. For some really small projects I have skipped this step, but it is pretty important if you're doing a larger design because you want to keep the canvas in place and prevent it from shifting around.
Stitching the design is just like if you were using Aida cloth, except you will need a slightly sharper needle. I usually use tapestry needles for cross stitch since the holes are already in the fabric, but when using water soluble canvas I do use an embroidery needle.
Now this step isn't completely necessary, but before I start soaking off the canvas I like to go and trim away any larger excess pieces. The water soluble canvas is a bit pricey and so I like to save all the little scraps and use them later for smaller projects. However, do this very carefully because I accidentally stabbed a little hole in the fabric trying to get the canvas out from the interior piece!
Fill a large bowl or container with water water and a tiny bit of dishwashing soap and let it soak. The instructions on the package say to soak it for 5-10 minutes but I have found this isn't enough. After 10 minutes I rinse the fabric and if it still feels gummy or sticky, I start over with fresh hot water. The canvas does dissolve away after that first soak, but if you don't repeat it then you probably will find that when it dries the thread is stiff and rough to touch. This might not be a big issue if you plan on displaying it on the wall, but you wouldn't want this if you cross stitch on clothing.
I always rinse it one final time and wring out as much water as I can before letting it dry on a towel. Once it's dried you can press and finish it as you would any cross stitch project!

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