Showing posts with label guest post. Show all posts
Showing posts with label guest post. Show all posts

Friday, June 27, 2014

Eureka Tip with Wendi Gratz


Today we're joined by Wendi Gratz of the blog Shiny Happy World. Wendi is here to share a product that has changed her stitchy life!

I love, love, love to embroider on wool felt. It's lovely to hold in my hands - but not so lovely to transfer a pattern to. It's too thick to trace through and writing on felt tends to lift the fibers.

That's where Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy comes in! With this stuff you never mark on the felt at all! You print (or trace) your pattern onto it, then peel away the backing and stick the pattern to the felt. Stitch right through it, and then when you're done you soak it off in cold water. I let it soak for a good long time (often an hour or more) and then use the kitchen sprayer to remove any stubborn bits.

Pure magic!

Here you can see the steps for making a little felt bird:

Flora steps

It's also pretty brilliant for embroidering on T-shirts. It's a pattern transfer and wash-away stabilizer all in one! I use it on absolutely everything. :-)

So tell us: what is your favorite method of transferring to those tricky fabrics?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Eureka! Better Hoop Habits with Rebecca from Hugs Are Fun!


Visiting us today to share her own Eureka! tip is Rebecca Greco from Hugs Are Fun. You might remember Rebecca as the winner of our flash cards competition - she designs cute, modern cross-stitch patterns and has some awesome kits (I want one myself!) up in her Hugs Are Fun Etsy shop! Take it away, Rebecca!


For the first few years of cross stitching I used plastic embroidery hoops, but I kept ending up with dirty circles on my fabric when I was done. I couldn't figure out what was causing it and I spent all my time trying to find a way to clean it off instead of finding a way to fix it.

The solution ended up being a very simple one that made me feel pretty silly for not realizing sooner. The secret is to remove the hoop in between stitching sessions. Dust and dirt gets trapped under the hoop and by leaving it tightened for days, weeks, or months (I don't know how long it takes you to finish a project!), it will stain the fabric. You should loosen the screw on the outer hoop when you aren't working, but ideally you should remove it completely.


I found it to be pretty inconvenient to remove the hoop every time I worked, so I made the switch from embroidery hoops to Q-snaps, a square plastic frame with clips to hold the fabric in place. I prefer the Q-snap because it keeps a more even tension and I haven't had any issues with the pesky circles of dirt on my fabric.

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

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blackwork pattern for you to try!

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches
Trouble-T has got a real treat for you this week: a beautiful blackwork pattern to try! We've been really inspired by these post about counted thread and blackwork - we hope you are too!

Big thank you to Tonya for her great posts! 

Did you get a chance to check out those blackwork patterns that I mentioned in my last post yet? If not, I’m sure that this easy project will make you want to take a look!

I took a simple pattern, the heart in different sizes, and created a heart collage. Next, I picked out geometric fill designs that made the most of the size of the area to be filled. I chose a mix of fillers from a couple of the sites that I shared in my last post.

Now it’s your turn!

Here’s what you need: 
  • White even count Aida or linen – I used a 14 ct Aida and a 9” hoop.
  • An embroidery frame of your choice – I used a hoop but a square frame will work just as well.
  • Black cotton embroidery thread
  • Embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Patience, especially with more intricate designs!
Heart pattern (Click this image to print.)
Step 1
        Transfer your pattern the pattern to your fabric. I used a vanishing fabric marker and a light box.
Step 2
        Stitch your outline. I chose a split stitch but a stem stitch would work as well.
Step 3
Decision time! 

Do you want to do the Holbein stitch or back stitch? Both can give the same effect as you look at your embroidery piece from the front. If you want it reversible with the Holbein stitch, then you need to consider how you plan to display your work so that both sides can be appreciated.

Now it’s time to choose a filler design. (See the bottom of my first post for pattern links!) Make sure that the design you’ve chosen is appropriate in proportion to the area to be filled. If you choose one that is too large for the space, then you will lose the effect of the overall pattern.

To fill the individual hearts, start stitching at the center, especially with the larger fill designs. Your start point doesn’t have to be perfect center.

Step 4
Continue filling hearts until you have completed them all! Play with different types of filler. There are flowers, fruits, vines and leaves, braids and even pomegranates. By mixing up your filler, you will see just how much depth and texture you can create within a monochromatic piece.

If you do not care for the heart collage pattern, you can create your own outline pattern or remove some of the smaller hearts from the one that I shared. I chose the hearts pattern because of its simplicity. You could certainly do any shape that you prefer. A monogram done in blackwork would be awesome. Do what makes you happy.

Please share your finished blackwork pieces with the &Stitches’ Flickr group! I would love to see your creations.

Happy Stitching!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Something Old Made New

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches
We have another Summer Bloggin' series for you! This time it's about counted thread needlework. A topic I certainly know very little about - maybe it's the same for you? But with these posts from Tonya, aka TroubleT, we'll get to know a bit more about it.

Tonya has a blog called The Trouble With Crafting where she shares her stitchy adventures - and tutorials! In her shop you can find some of her stitcheries. And you may also bump into her on Craftster.

Thank you, Tonya!

In the chaotic world that we live in, the symmetry and the repetitive pattern of counted thread needlework can be soothing and uncomplicated. Nowadays, many needleworkers think of cross stitch when they hear the term counted thread. However, the concept of counted thread work is much, much older, and there’s not a bit of Aida cloth or waste canvas involved! One of the most striking counted thread techniques is Blackwork. Take a look at these 2 pieces from the 16th century England.

The ruffled cuff on the left (found in a 1537 painting of Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife) is more typical of what we think of as counted thread, very geometric and repetitive. However, what makes this particular style of stitching absolutely amazing is the fact that it was reversible! The stitching looked the same on both sides due to the use of the Holbein stitch aka double running stitch. It takes a while to become acclimated to this tricky stitch but the true key to making it reversible lies in the finishing of the stitches.

(Bess of Harwick, 1550s)

The free form piece on the right of the first picture looks more modern to our eyes even though it was stitched in the 1590s. It incorporates flowing floral motifs but then, those designs are filled with geometric counted thread patterns. The outline of the motifs can be worked in various stitches such as stem stitch or plaited (braid) stitch. In this style of blackwork, they would also incorporate small bangles (flattened sequins) and gold thread. Queen Elizabeth I's portraits have amazing examples of this type of blackwork if you look closely at her sleeves.

(Queen Elizabeth 1, 1585-1590)

All of the above pictures as well as more beautiful, historical blackwork can be found at BlackworkEmbroidery in Art hosted by WikiMedia Commons.

In my next blog entry, I am going to share with you a simple free form pattern that will allow you to explore the world of geometric blackwork. In the meantime, if you find yourself with a free moment and a nice cup of tea or coffee, look through the following links to see the variety of patterns found in blackwork for more inspiration.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tutorial: Thread Mini-Samplers, Part Two

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches
Here's the second post in Julie's mini series including a rather cool looking mini sampler. Find the first post in the series right here.

When I left you last week, you were (I hope!) stitching up your first thread mini-sampler and discovering what a difference a few strands can make. This week, we’ll focus on color.

Gradient (or ombre) color-shifting is everywhere right now: from clothing to quilting fabric to yarns, it’s a very popular look. And why not! A simple shift from light to dark adds wonderful depth and interest to a project.

Given the sheer volume of shades we have to choose from in our embroidery threads, gradients are an extremely easy look to achieve in stitches. A gradient is especially effective with a simple fill stitch, which allows the color shift to speak for itself.

This second thread mini-sampler uses six shades of DMC stranded cotton and a coordinating backing fabric. Here’s what you’ll need:
  • One piece of fabric, about 9” x 10” / 23 cm x 25 cm; I used a print from Heirloom Home Decor by Joel Dewberry.
  • Printed mini-sampler pattern (download link below).
  • 1 skein each of six DMC stranded cotton in shades that match your fabric; I used #955, #913, #911, #700, #986, #500.
  • A non-permanent fabric pen.
  • 4” x 6” / 10 cm x 15 cm photo frame, minus glass (optional).

As with the first mini-sampler, center and trace the pattern onto your fabric. If you need a reminder about working the Star Filling Stitch, here’s a simple step-by-step:

(See last week’s post for further explanation if needed.)

You can stitch this sampler up in whatever thread thickness you prefer to work with; if you made the first mini-sampler, choose whichever number of strands you liked best from that project. I worked my mini-sampler in 3 strands throughout.

Arrange your threads from lightest to darkest. If you’re using greens like I have, stitch the first block in #955, then work each block one shade darker in the following order:

If you’re not a big fan of green, fabric and thread combos are not difficult to pick out. Start by picking a backing fabric and choose a thread that matches your fabric perfectly - this will be your lightest shade. Then choose five more threads that get gradually darker. DMC stranded cotton tends to work in groups of at least three color numbers; starting with your first color, look at the color numbers that surround it. From there, it will be easy to combine six shades. If you happen to have a DMC color card, it’s a piece of cake.

Here’s a few other combinations I’ve put together:
Once you’ve finished stitching, remove your fabric markings and frame or use your mini-sampler in whatever way you like! They might make nice book covers, or could be used as the front of a gadget cozy. I hope playing with colors in this little sampler will help inspire you to experiment with shading and gradients in your own projects.

If you make a mini-sampler, we’d love to see it in the &Stitches Flickr Pool. I’ll be back next week with one last way to work this same pattern!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tutorial: Thread Mini-Samplers, Part One

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

We're excited to kick off the Summer Bloggin' here on &Stitches! Summer Bloggin', if you remember, is where we let guest bloggers loose to write about something stitchy that inspires them! If you would like to write a post or two, you're more than welcome. Read this post to see what we're looking for and then send us an email. :-)

The first Summer Bloggin' post is also the first in a mini series of posts by Julie of Button, Button. She's both a knitter and an embroiderer, and she designs patterns both of these crafts. Check out her knitting patterns here. The wonderful embroidery patterns inspired by literature classics such as Pippi Longstocking and Pride & Prejudice can be found in the Little Dorrit & Co. shop.

Big thank you to Julie for putting together these posts! ~ Carina

And without further ado, here's Julie's first post. 

Way back when, before the term ‘sampler’ commonly described a stitched alphabet or quote, the name was used more literally to mean a sampling of stitches an embroiderer came across and wanted to remember. According to Rebecca Scott’s book “Samplers”, printed pattern guides weren’t available before 1477, at the earliest. Stitchers created their own personal stitch dictionaries in thread, a reference guide to be used when planning a project. Since first reading about this, I have been taken with the notion that a sampler could be both beautiful and a practical reference guide.

In the spirit of those original samplers, I’ve whipped up a set of mini-sampler projects for you to enjoy as a quick, low-impact summer project - perfect to take on vacation with you! Instead of stitches, though, these three mini-samplers will showcase the effect of thread choice on a project. I’ve devised these mini-samplers as a set of three, all worked in the same stitch, which I’ll post here over the coming weeks.

The first mini-sampler is worked with DMC stranded cotton and will sample the effect thread thickness has on the look and feel of a stitch. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • One piece of fabric, about 9” x 10” / 23 cm x 25 cm; I used a print from Bliss by Bonnie & Camille for Moda Fabrics.
  • Printed mini-sampler pattern (download link below).
  • 2 skeins DMC stranded cotton in a color that matches your fabric; I used #814.
  • A non-permanent fabric pen.
  • 4” x 6” / 10 cm x 15 cm photo frame, minus glass (optional).

First things first: in whatever method you like best (if you’re not sure, here’s one!), center and trace the mini-sampler pattern onto your fabric. (Note: the light gray rectangle is an indication of where your photo frame will sit, if you use one, and the numbering is explained below. Neither need to be traced onto your fabric.)

This set of thread mini-samplers is worked in Star Filling Stitch, which is worked in three simple layers. The pattern only provides the first layer to help you keep your spacing even.

Star Filling Stitch is worked as follows:

  1. Stitching onto your traced lines, stitch a ‘plus’.
  2. Starting from a point about mid-way between the ends of each ‘plus’ leg, work a cross on top of your ‘plus’.
  3. Work a smaller cross on top of the previous cross.
For the best effect, be sure to work each star in the exact same order as the first. I like to stitch each block of stars in steps, first working layer 1 all the way across, then 2, then 3. Of course, you may prefer to complete all three layers of each star at once.

Now that you’ve got the Star Filling Stitch down, you’re ready to stitch your first thread mini-sampler! On the pattern, each block of stitches is numbered to correspond with the number of strands used, as shown below:

1 = one strand, 2 = two strands, and so on.

Remove your fabric markings and frame as desired, and that’s it! As you work, you’ll notice the same stitch can look both delicate and plump by simply varying the number of strands you use. Keep this in mind when planning your next project. You might find that playing with the thickness of threads is all you need to create some really interesting shaded or textured effects.

If you make a mini-sampler, we’d love to see it in the &Stitches Flickr Pool. I’ll be back next week with another way to work this same pattern for a different effect!