Archive for the ‘Embroidery’ Category

I’ve been working on several art quilts at once. I remade one that dates to 2009, among the first I ever made. I took it apart, including the binding, and a good deal of the machine quilting in the middle of the image. I re-quilted it, using a shiny Sulky rayon thread. I’ve learned a lot more about quilting since 2009! Finally, I cropped it to a smaller (5×7) size, rebound it, and framed the piece. Here is the before and after. What a difference!

Another piece that I have made two versions of (and sold both) is called “Calling the Cat.” It’s based on a story in our household, where my mother in law calls her cat every night (loudly): “Here Pussy, Pussy, Pussy.” We cringe with embarrassment, hoping the neighbors don’t hear. I doubt the cat is insulted, but either way, she pays little heed to the calls.

I ran out of the fabric with the heraldic figure imperiously blowing his trumpet, so decided to draw one of my own on fabric, using my newly purchased Pentel Gel Roller for fabric. I think it worked out well, and plan to do some more drawing on fabric using this smooth writing pen.

On another front, I purchased a Victorian crazy quilt that had been donated to our local Salvation Army Store. I am trying to decide what to do with it.

I removed a stiff cording that had been sewn around the edges that was causing puckering. That was an improvement, but I still don’t think the piece is quite worthy of being kept whole.

There are many areas of damage, and in general the workmanship is not of the highest quality.

I did want to get a professional photo of the piece though, before my scissors took a bite.  So here it is. I’m open to ideas on what to do with it!

I’m also working on my next challenge as part of the Cloth in Common international group of quilters, of which I am part. Next week I’ll blog about that. The theme is “Touch,” which is a good one that allows for a lot of leeway.

And finally I’m sewing a gift quilt for friends who just got married. Here’s a sneak peak at that. It’s a long way from finished!

Dana Dave quilt sneak preview

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Here is a little video of me working on a piece that I eventually call “Reading Blues.”  It was a photo I took of some interesting graffiti on a wall in Reading, PA. After printing the photo on fabric I embellished it with stitching, found objects and some fabric pieces.

And the finished piece.

Reading Blues version 2

I haven’t blogged for a few weeks as we took a fabulous trip to South Africa.  Beforehand I was immersed in preparation, and afterwards I’ve been catching up with myself. More on the artistic inspirations from that trip at another time!

Today I’m getting ready for my first ever Hand Embroidery class, which commences Saturday.

I made a PowerPoint presentation to get students’ creative juices flowing.  Thank you Pinterest and the artists who posted these wonderful images, and many more.

I bought supplies: markers (air and water disappearing and heat transfer markers), thread –6 strand and Perle (5 and 8 weights) — cloth, fusible tear away stabilizer and of course, needles! I’m sticking with embroidery needles size 5-10.

materials

After the presentation, and I explain the tools and materials, we’ll start right in with the stitches.  I’m going to limit it to running stitch, back stitch, blanket stitch and French Knot. If there’s time I’ll add chain stitch, seed stitch and couching.  You can create a world out of those, with their multiple variations.

 

I’m fortunate that my artist friend Cristina Saucedo has allowed me to use her delightful pen and ink drawings as embroidery templates for my students.

I hope someone decides to use them.

Wish me luck. Meanwhile I’m doing a lot more embroidery myself.  More on that later!

My art quilt friend Jenny Lyons, in her blog yesterday, mentioned a technique of using a large print in the center of a piece, and building the composition around it.

Jenny Lyons

She said she’d gotten the inspiration from Linda Waddle years ago:

Jenny on Linda Waddle

I was pleased to know this is actually “a thing,” because I just finished a piece using this technique.  In my head I was calling it using a “Photo starter.”  Jenny called it “Print Starter.”  Same difference! My photo print on cloth was 8.5 x 11,” and of course I wanted my quilt to be larger than that.

About a year ago I had taken a photo of one of my neighbor’s bone pile of rusty cars that he uses to cannibalize for parts. I’d printed the image on cloth, meaning to get back to it.  Which, finally I did.

First I backed it with just one piece of cloth, put it in my embroidery hoop, and started stitching on it.  I used simple stitches: French knots, big wonky cross stitches, and running stitches.

Then I designed “the surround” and cut and put that together using raw edge applique. I used fabrics that complemented the central photo. I included photos printed on silk that I’d taken at the Reading Railroad Heritage Museum while on a recent visit. You can see them peeking through here and there.

Now I had the entire composition, so I made my quilt sandwich and kept hand stitching.  Now each stitch served the function of both embroidering and quilting. The finished size is 23 x 17.5.”

rusty-musty-fusty-small

I won’t lie.  This took at least 2 weeks.

The part I like best is where I painstakingly combined individual strands of embroidery floss to get just the right mixture of colors. Here is a detail of that area.

rusty-musty-fusty-detail-2

I’m calling the piece Rusty Musty Fusty, and submitting it to a show called Muse at Studio B in Boyertown, PA. Curator Jane Stahl encourages literary submissions as well, so I made up this poem.  Though I’m not so sure it gets many “literary” kudos!

Rusty Musty Fusty

By Martha Ressler

 

Yo!  I like ‘em rusty and musty

Old city factories all scruffy

And in the country so crusty

They were cars or trains, all them parts so fusty

Lying around — almost art — a little fuzzy

The sun makes you just

Lovely though scruffy

That’s OK I’m not fussy

I’ll take you thusly

Beauty all rusty.

I’ve been asked to teach a class on hand embroidery.  Although I started embroidery at my grandmother’s knee at about age 8, I am no expert. So, I must learn. Thank goodness for Pinterest.

First I needed to straighten out my own collection of embroidery floss. I didn’t take a “before” picture, but, just think: “spaghetti.” I have a collection of 6 strand “regular” embroidery floss and #5 Pearl cotton (the non-divisible kind). I recently added a #8 Pearl Cotton to my collection, which is finer, and useful sometimes.

With the 6 strand floss, it’s OK to keep it wound in the two paper bands it comes in, as long as you carefully find the correct end to pull out. If you have the wrong end, it will tangle right away. So – let that go, and find the other end.  If you do have the right end, a length will pull out easily.

With the #5 Pearl, I can find no other solution that re-winding it right away onto cardboard bobbins. (unless it is the kind that comes in sort of a ball.  You can leave it wound on that ball.)

You can buy the bobbins (they’re cheap), or you can make your own out of pressed cardboard (the kind cereal boxes are made of.)

cards

The cardboard bobbins are also useful to organize and keep neat your 2-strands or 3-strands of the 6 strand floss that you have separated, but not used yet.

OK, so now my thread is organized.

box-1 box-2

I’ve been using embroidery as a surface decoration in my art quilts for some time.

steel-valley-16-5x13-small

But here is a piece I’m working on now that is all about embroidery.

hummingbirds

I also will make a sampler piece with about 6 basic stitches.  And borrow heavily from Pinterest to give my students ideas: feminist or subversive sayings, “Zenbroidery” using a pen and ink abstract drawing as basis, botanicals – there are a lot of ways to go with this.

I’ll post more in the future as this develops.

Any ideas you may have are welcome!