Monday, October 26, 2009

And then there were two....

My one little guy needed a friend. The second seagull has a separate wing. He's not supposed to be flying here, but just on another part of the sand. But I think that would be neat to have some flying critters with 3-D wings on a block. Just for the record, I sat down and said to myself that I could have one hour to sew, but in actual fact it took me two hours and I worked on it until it was finished.

A presentable bird

It was quite good fun to do this little seagull. I made the stitches much closer together than my first attempt (see previous post) and because of that I needed to work with a magnifying glass to get the stitches into the right place. He's 1 1/4" from tail to beak and 1/2" high, not including legs and I stuffed a little cotton under the wing to give him a little more dimension. He's now on Nokomis Beach on my holiday block!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another try at Needle lace

Last February I tried making a needle lace dragonfly and I posted about it. I followed instructions that used a heavy cardboard and several layers of strong fabric. I found it very difficult to lay down the thread pattern. Trying to find the hole in the cardboard from underneath was slow and frustrating. One of my new books, Beginners Guide to Stumpwork by Kay Dennis gives instructions for a way to do it that's much easier on the fingers. The photo below is from the book. I tried the seagull.
Kay Dennis suggests three layers of thin cloth, like muslin, your paper pattern and then cover it with a piece of Press-and-Seal wrap. Below is my pattern after I had finished using it. I didn't think to take a photo before I started. I used three layers of muslin, my paper pattern and the press and seal on top of it. It was very easy to couch down the outline.
And here is my humble first attempt. The eye and legs will be embroidered later. I used the same stitch but much looser. I'll try again with the tighter stitch.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Vacation block - progress

It's been lots of fun working on this block that represents my three-part month vacation this Fall. From left to right: The CQI crazy quilt retreat in Breckenridge in Colorado; New Orleans; and Nokomis, Florida. It's not finished, I have a lot more ideas, beads and other stuff to add, but it's well on its way.
A beach scene with the setting sun. Need to work on the reflection in the water. It's funny how things look different in a photograph! The long pointy bit is a bit of a crab claw that I actually ate. And most of the shells I found on the beach. It's surprising how many already had small holes in them.
This is the Colorado section. I ran out of the dark green thread so the forest needs to be finished. The little yellow patch represents the yellow aspens, but I can see that they need to be much more vibrant in colour. They actually glowed on the mountainside.
This is my last day in Florida before I fly home tomorrow. It's pretty cold up north, but I have nice warm memories of all the places I visited across the U.S. this past month.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Five minutes before the downpour!

Just managed to get this photo before the heavens burst and we had to run for cover.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

An idea takes shape.......

I had in my mind to do a block of my month of summer wanderings, first to Colorado Rocky Mountains for the CQI Retreat, then to New Orleans for a couple of fun days, and ending in Nokomis, Florida. I wanted to begin but had to wait for the right frame to turn up, and it did yesterday, measuring 10" x 21". So between Wednesday afternoon and now this is my progress. I brought a few selections of fabric packages from my Etsy shop and the Slash & Dash the Stash at the Retreat provided some great pieces of purple and maroon satin and a saucy piece of lace.
After messing around ALL day, this is how it finished. It's all pieced and tacked by hand. Now I'm anxious to start the fun part!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

More flowers...

Isn't this a lovely stitch? I found it in one of my new books, "Three Dimensional Embroidery Stitches". It's the raised chain band and is very easy to do. I was lucky that my fabric was printed with squares so it ended up quite neat. I used Sassa Lynne #5 because it changes colour quickly.
This is a snowdrop and I tried the woven leaves. I found using a long needle instead of a shorter pin worked much better at holding the picot in place. The stem in the book was Palestrina stitch, but I had forgotten how to do it and couldn't quite understand the instructions. I did stem stitch and wove another thread through it.
This is a cast on flower, but the trick is get the petals to lie flat and facing the right way. I may have to tack them down.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


At the Retreat I had a chance to look at some great books, and subsequently ordered these from Amazon. The parcel arrived today and I've had a nice long read. There's some really good basic instructions in all of them which will help me progress with Brazilian and stumpwork. I want to be half decent when I do the Brazilian RR at CQI in the new year!
Also at the Retreat I was able to trade for these two books. The Ribbon Embroidery and Stumpwork I've already used. The Japanese Fabrics book has several lovely quilts, one of which I am planning to do for the 2011 Challenge (it might be the 2012 Challenge, I can't quite remember).
Here's the one I liked.
And here is a close up of one of the squares. I may not use as many pieces, and some of them may be less patterned, we'll see. When I was in Pennsylvania with my Quilting Guild on a fabric shopping trip a year or so ago, I picked up enough quarter yards of Japanese print fabrics to make a striped jacket. There will definitely be quite a bit left over from that project to start this one! So.....before this quilt comes the jacket!

Taking it easy.....

In between trips to the beach and jetties and doing the thrift store rounds, work has progressed on my Brazilian and stumpwork practice block. Here it is so far.
These are calla lilies. In Di van Niekerk's book she used stamens for the middle yellow piece; I made long bullions. In the right hand flower I came through the fabric and up through the bottom part of the flower and made my bullion with the white petal going every which way. I manhandled it too much and as you can see the right side of the petal slipped off the fabric it was sewn to. Learning from that experience, on the second flower, I first firmly sewed down the lily and then added the bullion. The stems of the lily were two pieces of thick wire covered with #5 Perle. The leaves were satin stitched with #5 Perle over a small piece of felt. The white flower and the leaves were also #5 Perle, and the bullions were Edmar Nova.
This is my pansy patch finished. Here I have a silk ribbon pansy and leaves. Two pansies were embroidered on fabric and then the petals cut out and sewn on to the block. The top right one is done in Edmar, the bottom left I used #8 Perle. The fourth pansy is beaded onto the block. The beads are Delicas and I've only recently found a place in Toronto that has a huge selection - such a temptation! And this is Nokomis Beach looking south towards Venice, Fla.
And this is the view looking south towards Sarasota. Its a glorious beach where you can always find the odd shark's tooth hiding in the sand. It's part of Casey Key, a long thin strip of land separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal waterway. There are beautiful homes on either side of the waterway and many along the Gulf where space allows. It's fun to go for a drive south on Casey Key. Many famous folks have had homes here like Stephen King and Martina Navratilova. One of the homes is like a fortress with cameras looking at you from every angle; it is completely walled with phones at each gate, and there is a seriously strong message to stay off the beach. We used to joke that it was Noriega's refuge. Some of the other homes are so large they could be hotels and way up in the several million dollar range.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Somebody yelled "Let's go shopping!!"

This was the mess we left behind in Lesley's kitchen when Lesley suggested a trip to Jo-Ann's. Paul (her husband) was very long suffering of all of us and was a good sport while we spread ourselves out throughout their home. The dogs too, made us very welcome! Lesley and Debbie unloading some of the Breckinridge food supplies. Lesley's big van was full to capacity with food for the retreat, and Gerrie's was full with luggage - Lesley's, Deb's, Gerrie's, Kerry's and mine.
The retreat was wonderful, I enjoyed myself so much. I took lots of projects to work on, but I was so busy learning new stuff, it wasn't hard to forget about the projects and concentrate on button painting, lacy dying, velvet pansies, clay moulding, ribbon flowers and leaves....the list goes on and on. Thank you to all the instructors.
I'm not home yet, but in Florida until the 22nd. There's a heatwave here, it's in the 90s but feels much more. But it doesn't stop me from sewing! Gosh Debbie, I tell you, Edmar threads are the best!!!! Wish I'd bought more!! No wonder you use them so much. Just look how pretty this little piece of Brazilian embroidery looks all done with Edmar threads. I signed up for a RR at CQI called Brazilian embroidery, so I figured that I'd better learn a bit about it. I was surprised at how much fun it was to do. One little section of this quickly hand-pieced block (no sewing machine here!) is just pansies.This spray of hollyhocks and delphiniums is taken from Di Van Niekerk's "Ribbon Embroidery and Stumpwork". I'm pretty good at the cast on stitch now! This is also from the same book. The oranges should be beads covered with silk ribbon but I didn't have beads in my travelling stash with large enough holes for the ribbon to go through several times.