Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer bloggin' - My Grandmother’s Sewing Box by Laura Howard

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

Today we're joined by Laura Howard, blogger at Bugs and Fishes and prolific felt-crafter. Laura's here to talk about being one link in a generational stitching chain - thanks so much for sharing with us, Laura!

I have inherited a few things from my grandparents over the years, including old photographs, some pretty china and a houseplant that’s older than I am. One of the most precious (to me, at any rate) is my grandmother’s sewing box.

It’s packed with an everyday sewing kit – threads, scissors, tape measures, thimbles, packs of needles, etc. There’s also a finished-but-not-yet-framed cross stitch project and a cutting from an old magazine with step by step instructions for a fancy embroidery stitch.

Some of the older items are beautiful vintage things, lovely objects in their own right. I love the blue Dorcas pin tin and the old scissors and pinking shears.

I also adore the assortment of threads, particularly the reel labelled “service khaki” (possibly dating from my grandfather’s time in the RAF?). As well as being nice to look at, these are objects my grandmother clearly used often, making the box a kind of time capsule from her everyday life – a teeny glimpse into a life dotted with mending and making.

My own experience of sewing is very different to my grandmother’s. I’ve never made my own clothes (unless you include the ugly waistcoat I made in Textiles in Year 9), and apart from sewing on the occasional loose button I don’t do much “make do and mend”-ing. Instead, I design my own patterns, write craft tutorials and books, blog about my crafting and sell my work via the modern magic that is the internet. I dabble with embroidery and cross stitch but I mostly make fun, cute, colourful things from felt.

But although I might be sewing very different things than my grandmother did, and for different reasons, the physical act of sewing is the same. My tools look like her tools, and I’ve even used some of her old sewing kit in my work (the pinking shears came in very handy before I’d invested in my own pair!). When I cut fabric or thread a needle or sew a line of stitches, my hands do just what hers must have done many, many times.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have this connection between myself and my grandmother. It also makes me think further back, to the many women in my family tree who must have spent many hours stitching - either out of necessity or for pleasure – and of the skills they passed down from mother to daughter.

Have you inherited stitching materials from other generations? Do share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colour Inspiration: Inspired by Brazil

Colour Inspired by Brazil
I don't know about you, but I couldn't really care less about the recent football World Cup. However! I loved getting glimpses of Brazil and the culture and nature there. It's not something that's usually covered much on TV here.

One thing struck me, there are such vibrant colours all over. Those are behind this month's colour inspiration, bright and bold in both warm and cool colours. It's a combination that really pops! :-)

DMC: 995, 3845, 444, 666 and 606.

Use this link to convert the colours to Anchor brand.

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

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Bloggin': Rachel's Everyday inspiration

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

Summer bloggin' is one of my favourite features on the blog. It's all about bringing you fresh and original content straight from our little stitchy community! Today we are kicking off with a contribution from Rachel and for the next six weeks or so you'll be treated to a new guest blogger once or twice a week.

Rachel lives in Charleston, Illinois with her son Eliot and teaches Freshman Composition at the Eastern Illinois University. According to her own description Rachel is a "nerdy, book-loving weirdo, a staunch feminist, and a wannabe writer". In her &Stitches debut Rachel explains about how she translates everyday inspiration into fabulous embroidery.

Over the last few years, I’ve begun to think about stitching so much that it seems my brain automatically translates everything I see into floss and fabric. Everyday inspiration abounds. For example, my family and I recently moved to a new home, and while unpacking, organizing, and arranging the bathroom, my attention kept getting drawn to the window.

As you’ll notice from the left side of the photo, the bathroom window looks directly out onto the apartment complex next door. To keep neighbors from having a prime view of themselves on the toilet, previous residents of our home applied a patterned film to the window, rendering the glass opaque and lending a bit of needed privacy.

When I looked closer at the window and began to see the pattern in it, however, all I could think of was cross stitch. The lines forming triangles, forming squares, forming diamonds, and the repetition of the pattern made me eager to pick up some Aida cloth and start experimenting. First, I did a bit of doodling in my graph paper sketch book, just to get the pattern down on paper and think about how it might translate to a cross stitch pattern.

Then I grabbed a needle and some leftover bits of floss and started “drawing” the pattern onto my fabric. I keep a tangled heap of leftover threads that I use for practicing new stitches or patterns, so I drew from it here, mixing in different colors and numbers of strands. I ended up favoring a monochromatic look. In the end, I settled on four shades of Sublime Stitching floss that reminded me of a yummy, summery sherbet (see first photo).

I used waste canvas to stitch the version of the pattern I most preferred onto some plain white fabric. There are also plenty of great water soluble waste canvas options out there, but I kind of enjoy the meditative work of pulling out the tiny threads with a needle and tweezers.

I really like how this tiny piece turned out, and I think I’ll be mounting it into a gold colored jewelry finding to make a necklace. Of course, I think it would also make a great larger, framed piece if several of the patterns were stitched side by side. You could also change up the colors of the floss to make variations, much like in a quilt pattern. When set side by side, different parts of the pattern would become more prominent.

What would you do with this bit of inspiration? Why not take a look around you today, and make note of the patterns, colors, and shapes that appear in your everyday world? Chances are, there’s something beautiful out there, just waiting to be translated into stitches.

Thank you for a wonderful and inspiring post Rachel! Find out more about Rachel and her embroidery work via her BlogPinterestFlickrInstagram, Twitter and Etsy

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Found on Flickr- Goldwork Mandala

Found on Flickr
Gold Embroidery Mandala I love this cute little goldwork mandala by flickr user MagaMerlina. It is nice to see a modern take on such a traditional technique- and it is so beautifully done. We don't see a lot of goldwork in the &Stitches group but this has got me itching to dig out my goldwork threads and wires to create my own miniature goldwork embroidery! I spy an embroidered pendant on her photostream so I wonder whether this is what this piece will become? It would be lovely way to show off such beautiful work.

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

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A very enjoyable afternoon in Hyde Park

Attending an outdoor activity in the middle of British summer is likely to involve umbrellas or hiding under a piece of plastic but we were quite lucky last Saturday at &Stitches in the Park. We only had to look for shelter beneath a huge tree once and I don't think any embroideries were harmed in the process!

We chatted about techniques, stitched (a little) and ate our sandwiches. The occasional gift was exchanged and 'online' friends met each other for the first time, which for me really is one of the greatest aspects of these get-togethers! It was also the first time all of the &Stitches team were together in one place (instead of meeting at our virtual hangout).

Christine brought her recent thrift shop embroidery find, which was fabulous and we also started plotting a new &Stitches contest for this Fall!

The next (and last) &Stitches Picnic in the Park is on the 2nd of August and we really hope to see everyone who couldn't make it to the Park last Saturday then. Find more details here.

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

Monday, July 7, 2014

Eureka Tip: How to Hoop Difficult Fabric


Have you ever wanted to stitch on something that was just a bit too small to be properly hooped? I learned a clever trick for just that problem from a fellow stitcher at my local Embroiderers' Guild!

Eureka: How to Hoop Difficult Fabric

Nicole, Carina and I all made these badger badges so that you visitors to &Stitches In The Park would know us! To fill my badger with little flowers, I knew I needed to get him in a hoop, but the piece of fabric piece was too small - the solution? Hoop a piece of similar-colored scrap fabric, then baste your small piece to it! Stitch away, then trim the hooped fabric away - either to the same shape (essentially creating a double-layered piece, which was great for extra firmness on my badge), or close to your stitching at the back.

This method would also be great for un-hoopable fabrics, like felt or velvet - or even for stitching on very delicate fabrics that might be damaged by a hoop!

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Found on Flickr: Little House Hoop

Found on Flickr

little house hoop
I don't remember exactly how old I was when I first read the Little House on The Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, maybe when I was around 11 or 12. I have loved them ever since I first read Little House in The Big Woods - and I've read them many times. I keep meaning to read them again.

I love this piece by Rachel (Existitchialism on Flickr), showing the Ingalls family in their wagon. I think she even included faithful Jack under the wagon.

Oh yes, I definitely have to read those books again soon. :-)

Have you stitched something inspired by the Little House books? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. I would really love to see it!