Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Tutorial: Turkey Rug Stitch

&Stitches Strawberry Stumpwork
For the &Stitches Freaky Flower Swap, I got my inspiration from the iconic flower in Dr Seuss' Horton Hears a Who - the wacky bloom that housed an entire world in a dust speck!


I used gold metallic embroidery floss for the dust speck; I couched some green felted cord for the stem...but I wanted to use a technique new to me for the flower itself.


The Turkey Rug Stitch seemed perfect to capture the fluffy essence. It can lend a beautiful velvety texture or silky shagginess when using embroidery floss. I used DK yarn for the stitching - which made it very fluffy and big, like a pom pom!

For my project, I used a tapestry needle and double-knit yarn. The fabric is a loose-weave linen - you need a fabric that will allow the yarn to flow through without stretching out of shape. 

The first stitch is made from front to back, leaving a tail sticking up from the fabric (see the far left yarn tail below).


You then bring the needle up to the right of the yarn and make an anchoring backstitch over the tail. Then come up a bit to the right of the anchor stitch and insert the needle underneath that previous stitch.

Pull the yarn/floss through the fabric, leaving a loop above the surface of the fabric. Typically, you will make the loops the same size as that first tail of yarn/floss - but because I was making a crazy Dr Seuss flower, I didn't worry too much about staying even because I wanted the end result to be fluffy and freaky.


Hold the loop threads down with the opposite hand as you bring the needle back up to the right of your loop, leaving a teensy gap. Make a back stitch to anchor the loop by taking the needle down beside the end of the previous anchoring back stitch. This back stitch will go over the loop base, keeping it secure.


Repeat this process until you have filled the space with loops, then snip the loops and trim to the desired length. Or just leave them loopy!


My finished flower head, a mad tangle of yarn that holds a tiny universe of Whos.


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

It's Stumpwork Month!

&Stitches Strawberry Stumpwork

We think stumpwork deserves a place in the spotlight, so September is Stumpwork month on the &Stitches blog!

Stumpwork is an overall term for techniques that give height to your embroidery work. Either by using textural or raised stitches, beads or even stuffing. It's often used to depict the same pretty motifs: flowers, leaves and cute animals. However, we are convinced stumpwork can be used in lots of creative ways and for contemporary themes too. We hope to inspire you this month, to pick up your needle, thread (and other supplies) to bring your embroidery work to new heights!

Have you ever tried stumpwork? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Summer Bloggin': Flamingo Pin Cushion with Lauren of Molly and Mama

Summer Bloggin

The last post of our Summer Bloggin' series is brought to you by Lauren from Molly and Mama. Lauren is an Australian based craft designer and she's sharing an adorable Flamingo Pin Cushion Tutorial today.

Hi, I’m Lauren from Molly and Mama and I’m so excited to bring you this Felt Flamingo Pin Cushion tutorial. We’re finally heading into Spring here in Australia, so it’s nice to be inspired by sunny days, pretty flowers and some tropical fun! And what’s more tropical than a flamingo? It's very simple to follow and is written with the beginner in mind. All you need is some wool felt, some stuffing and an afternoon!


Wool Felt (I like to use 100% wool felt for my projects):
- 4” (10cm) wide x 6” (15cm) tall felt rectangle in white (front of pin cushion)
- 4” (10cm) wide x 6” (15cm) tall felt rectangle in pink (back of pin cushion)
- 4” (10cm) wide x 2” (5cm) tall felt rectangle in blue (to appliqué on the front)
- Felt scraps in various shades including two shades of pink for the flamingo, cream and black for the beak, two shades of green for the leaves, and three different shades for the flowers. I used white, yellow and pale pink.

Embroidery floss in black, white, cream, pink, blue (All shades should match the colours of your felt)

Embroidery needle

Small, sharp scissors for cutting felt

Paper scissors

Sewing needle and thread in colours to match your flowers (For hand stitching flowers together)

Polyester stuffing (hobbyfill or similar product) to stuff the pin cushion.

Yellow colouring pencil

Print out of the Pattern Template. You can download it here.

Optional Items; Freezer paper for template tracing, Iron on webbing like Easy Fix or Vliesofix for appliqué,  water soluble marker

Step 1: Cut out all your pieces

Use your template print out as a guide for cutting out all of your felt pieces. Use small sharp scissors to cut out your felt. They will give a nice crisp edge. Roughly cut out each shape on the paper template and pin it to the felt, then cut around it on the line.

You could also trace the template pieces on freezer paper and iron each shape onto the different felt colours before cutting them out. This method is great for small and fiddly pieces that aren’t easy to pin. You can see how I’ve used this method in the image shown above the materials list.

In addition to the pink and white 4” (10cm) x 6” (15cm) rectangles listed on the materials list, you will also need to cut out the following shapes: 1 blue base 1 flamingo body 1 flamingo wing 1 flamingo beak 1 flamingo beak tip 4 leaf shapes (2 in one shade of green, 2 in another shade of green) 5 white frangipani petals 5 yellow daisy petals 5 pink hibiscus petals

Step 2: appliqué the pin cushion front

The blue base and flamingo are appliquéd onto the white felt rectangle. You may pin each piece in place before stitching down. Or you can choose to attach the felt to the white base using an iron on appliqué webbing like Easy Fix or Vliesofix. If you’d like to try this, but you’re not sure where to start, I recommend reading this tutorial. Be sure to use a press cloth to cover your felt before ironing it though!

To attach the blue base, thread your embroidery needle with two strands of blue embroidery floss to match the blue felt. Place your blue felt piece over the base of the white felt rectangle. Pin or vliesofix in place. Secure the blue base using blanket stitch across the wavy top. For this section, my stitching had a narrow depth but was spaced wide apart. Leave the three straight sides stitch-free. They’ll be stitched when we put the pin cushion together.

Next, secure your flamingo body to the white felt. Again, you may also choose to vliesofix this piece in place. Otherwise a couple of sewing pins will do. Ensure that the flamingo body slightly overlaps the blue felt and is centred over the white felt. Thread your embroidery needle with two strands of pink embroidery floss, and whip stitch the entire outline of the body to the white felt, using very small, straight and evenly spaced stitches.

Using the photos as a guide, whip stitch the cream piece of beak in place using a single strand of cream embroidery floss. I find it easiest just to hold it in place as I stitch. Ensure the top of the beak slightly overlaps the base of the flamingo’s head. Hold the black beak tip over the beak, and whip stitch it in place with small, even stitches too. Use a single strand of black embroidery floss. While you have the black floss handy, rethread your needle with two strands of floss. Stitch one French knot for the flamingo’s eye. You can also back stitch two straight legs at the base of the flamingo, using two strands of black embroidery floss.

Use the photos as a guide and free stitch them. Or if you’d prefer, mark some legs in with a water soluble marker. Keep in mind that the legs will end up being mostly hidden by the flowers and leaves.

Add the Flamingo Wing Pin the wing in place so that it overlaps the top of the flamingo’s body. The tip of the wing should point down. With two strands of pink embroidery floss, blanket stitch just the front end of the wing, so that the back of the wing hangs loose. Use the right hand image above as a guide.

Step 3:  assemble the pin cushion 

Now that your flamingo appliqué is completely stitched, it’s time to put the pin cushion together. Lay your white felt rectangle over the pink back rectangle, and pin the pieces together. Thread your embroidery needle with 2 strands of white floss and blanket stitch around the whole top side of the pin cushion, where the white felt front is. Secure your stitching carefully at the beginning and at the end. Change your thread to blue (to complement your blue felt), and blanket stitch around one side and three quarters of the base. (The direction of my stitching in the image below) may be different to yours because I’m left handed). Leave an opening to add your fill or stuffing. Use a knitting needle or chop stick to gently manoeuvre small clumps of polyester hobby fill or stuffing into the pin cushion.

Add your filling until the pin cushion is firmly (but not tightly) stuffed. Continue your blanket stitching to seal the hole, and complete the pin cushion.

Step 4: stitch the flowers 

Now it’s time to embellish the pin cushion with some pretty flowers and leaves. You can use the same method to stitch all three flowers.

To colour the centre of the white frangipani petals, I used a yellow colouring pencil to tint the felt petals before I stitched them together.

To sew each flower, lay out your five petal pieces. Use regular sewing thread doubled over on your embroidery needle, and knot the end. Starting at one end, sew running stitches across the base of each petal, being sure the thread enters and exits each petal on the top side of the felt. Gently pull the thread to gather the felt pieces together, and stitch them securely in place so the flower holds its shape.

Step 5: sew on the flowers and leaves 

Arrange your flowers and leaves on the base of the pin cushion. Feel free to sew more flowers and leaves to add if you wish. When you’re happy with the arrangement, carefully stitch each piece in place with a doubled over strand of sewing cotton on an embroidery needle. You can use the image below as a guide.

Now all that’s left to do is load up your pin cushion with pins!

Thanks for reading along. I hope you’ve been inspired to give this ‘Summery’ sewing project a go. For more free tutorials, sewing ideas and inspiration, feel free to pop by the Molly and Mama blog.
I’d love you to share your creations too, you can post your pin cushions on the Molly and Mama Facebook page. Happy stitching, Lauren x

Feeling the urge to get creative but not sure where to start? Lauren from Molly and Mama has a passion for encouraging beginners on their creative journey. Her patterns and tutorials are perfect for all sewing levels. There’s pin cushions, softies, appliqué templates and more. Lots of fun to make, they’re also great to get the creative juices flowing! You can find Lauren online on the Molly and Mama blog, her store and Facebook page. 

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

Thursday, August 27, 2015

WIP: Herb embroidery

Last summer I was inspired by the giant bronze fennel growing in my garden, and I started stitching what was intended to be a set of outdoor placemats.


I used sturdy hessian, which gives such a fantastic contrast to delicate stitching (and it's really cheap!).


My fennel had such bright orange leaves and golden yellow flowers, and I really enjoyed matching up floss and creating this herb embroidery. I even stitched a teensy weensy bee in the corner of the mat.


And then autumn arrived, and the 'set' of placemats was put aside for a while...until last week, actually, when I was pruning my lavender after collecting the flowers to dry.


I've returned to this WIP, stitching a lavender placemat using just straight and lazy daisy stitches. Before the summer ends I plan to enjoy an outdoor meal with at least one other person!


Perhaps next I'll stitch the daisy-like feverfew, or the starry blossoms of borage. C'mon summer, bring back the sunshine, keep me inspired!

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

Monday, August 24, 2015

Summer Bloggin': Tiny Embroidery with Amy Byrne

Summer Bloggin

Today we welcome back Amy Byrne, from Random Acts Of Amy, who is sharing her second Summer Bloggin' post with us. Last month she showed us how to incorporate watercolor into our embroidery; today she'll share tips for teeny-tiny stitching!

I’ve been hand embroidering since I was 11 /12 years old … so around 1980/1981, but I really started it up in earnest in 2009. Back then, I tended to use 8”, 9”, and 10” hoops. I’ve noticed that as I’ve expanded my skills, and also as I’m creating more items for sale, I’ve used smaller and smaller hoops for my work. Nowadays my standard size is in the 4” to 6” range. One of my favorite kinds of hoops to finish my work off in is Dandelyne mini hoops. For those of you who don’t know, Dandelyne’s founder, Sonia, has created tiny, wearable embroidery hoops that come in a variety of sizes, but, still, when thinking about an embroidery hoop, tiny is the operative word!

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

Today I’m going to give you step-by-step instructions to creating a mini hoop with a little Mason jar with a bouquet of flowers in it. After the embroidery is finished, I mounted it in a Dandelyne mini hoop that’s 34 mm x 62 mm (1.34” x 2.44”). One thing to note about the mini hoops is that you don’t use them to hold your fabric while embroidering; you use it to mount your work after it’s finished. While embroidering the piece, I used a 4” hoop.

An important point to think about is the thickness of the floss. When I’m embroidering on such a small scale, it would be a rare occasion that I’d use all six strands of floss. In fact, it’s rare that I’d use five, four, or even three strands of floss when I’m embroidering on this small of a scale. As you can see from the picture below, there’s a big difference in the thickness of the floss from six strands to one. When you’re working in this fine of detail, the fewer the strands of floss, the better.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

Another point to think about is the thickness of your needle. When creating work to go into a mini hoop, or any other small frame, a thinner needle with a smaller eye is your friend. All of the needles in the picture below are specifically for embroidery, but I use the needle to the far right. It’s thin with a smaller eye, so it doesn’t poke big holes in the fabric, and I feel like I have more control.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

The first thing I do is trace the inside of the mini hoop with my trusty Clover air erasable pen. The kind I have has an eraser on one end, and it’s one of my staples while creating embroidery. By tracing the inside of the mini hoop, I know how much room I have to work while embroidering.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

Next, I use the air erasable pen to draw on the shapes I want to embroider. I used 2 strands of floss for all elements. I start with the bottom part of the Mason jar (you’ll embroider the top part after you have the stems embroidered), and mark down the spokes for the woven wagon wheel rose. Tip: When embroidering a woven wagon wheel to create a rose, always start weaving your floss under the first spoke, then go over, then under, etc. until it’s filled. It makes a much more pleasing-looking rose.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

After embroidering the bottom part of the jar and roses, I make vague markings as to where I’ll put a couple of more bunches of flowers and spiral twig.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

After I embroidered those elements, I add markings to put in ferns. They add a nice splash of green, and fill out the bouquet.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

And here it is after all parts have been embroidered! As you can see by the placement of the quarter, it’s quite small. All elements are embroidered using 2 strands of floss except for the fern on the right, drooping down, which has one strand of floss. I did end up having to re-draw and re-stitch the Mason jar to move it down because I didn’t have enough room to embroider the top part of the Mason jar where the lid screws on.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

After I’m happy with the jar and flowers, I mount the embroidery into a mini hoop and add a necklace.

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

Summer Bloggin' with Random Acts of Amy

I hope that this has inspired you to try out embroidering on a small scale. It might be outside of your usual type of embroidery, but it is a fun style to try. In addition to mini hoops, you could embroider on a small scale on 3” hoops. Instead of sizing a pattern to fit in a 5” or 6” hoop, scale it down to 3” and try it out!

Amy is a hand embroidery artist who embroiders images and text that range from the whimsical, to the unexpected, to the evocative, on a range of playful and vintage-inspired fabrics. A library branch manager by day, she spends pretty much every other waking moment as the creative force behind Random Acts of Amy. You can find her online on her blog Random Acts Of Amy, Instagram, Facebook, and every Friday on the Feeling Stitchy blog for Friday Instagram Finds. She’d love for you to stop by and say hi!

Watercolor and Embroidery with Amy Byrne