Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just a Saturday...

- cleaning the floors (not sure why we ever thought light coloured carpet was a good idea in one of the boys room!),
- washing our dog Tess, (she of course promptly found a patch of dry dirt to roll in!), which led to...
- scrubbing the bathrooms,
- 5 loads of washing (including the dogs bed - no point in an almost clean dog on a dirty bed, is there?)
- changing the bedding (well only ours really, the boys are old enough and I have them trained to do their own)
.... I wondered whether to have a snooze on the clean bed or steal an hour or so to work in the Or Nué daisy. Happy to report the daisy won if only for an hour or so.

I haven't touched it for over a month and I discovered two things; my eyes are getting worse and I haven't been looking after my hands so the silk kept catching. A friend of mine, Margaret Lee told me a trick of rubbing your hands with salt and lemon juice before you go to bed to help rough hands. I will try it tonight and let you know how I go.
I am getting there. A few of the petals are almost done. The spaces between the petals have increased so I need to add couching stitches there too. I decided to use a very, very pale pistachio green silk (instead of gold coloured sewing thread). The idea is to try and add a light green tinge to the gold - a bit like the green light in a garden. We'll see if it works.

My last post about getting things finished got me a bit motivated to finish some more of my UFOs. I seem to get more done when I have a deadline, so I have decided declare February the month for getting as much finished as I possibly can. I will call this little project 'Finished in February'. I have set up a group on Flickr, hoping that some of you will join me and we can get finishing together. I will be showing you my before picture(s) before February 1 and if you like you can post your over here. I will be happy to hand out any tips (if I am able to help) if you are stuck with something.

Have a wonderful weekend,
Anna X

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Finishing Touches

Most of the vineyard is now covered in nets and if it wasn't because of it being 30°C, it almost looks like it is covered in a powder of snow - well, with a bit of imagination perhaps.

I have a terrible habit of putting off completing the finishing touches to my embroideries. Once the embroidery is complete, I find it really difficult to find the motivation to lace the piece for framing or constructing what-ever item it may be. It is not that I don't like seeing them completely finished - in fact there is nothing more satisfying than having your embroidery mounted in the frame or made into a bag, cushion, book cover or other things. It always looks different and so much better once it is completely finished.
After spending the morning in the vineyard, putting out goodness know how many kilometres of netting, it was really, really satisfying to get one of my most recent crewelwork pieces, Meadow Bloom finished. The project is for an intermediate crewelwork class at the Embroiderers Guild of South Australia in June (Sunday, 2 and 16 June). The sample piece is just slightly overdue and I am not sure what was most satisfying; getting them finished or striking them off my infamous to-do list.

I have a couple of ready-made frames that I use to display class projects, so all I needed to do was lace the embroidery onto card.
Lacing is really so simple and it surprises me how many stitchers are put off or scared about doing it - leaving it up to their framer to do so. Most framers will staple the piece, which is not usually recommended for textiles. The stables will over time tarnish and corrode, stain the fabric and cause tears. I prefer to lace my project, not because I expect them to be around forever but because I can do it myself and get them exactly how I want them.

If you are doing your own framing, don't forget to clean your piece before you pop it behind glass. There is nothing worse than seeing a beautiful piece of work with a pet hair or a bit of sewing thread stuck to it, is there? Just roll a bit of tape around your finger and use it to gently lift off any bits of 'fluff'.

I took a few pictures to show you how I go about Lacing Embroidery. It would be great to hear if you find it useful and would like to see more little tutorials like it.

I have a couple more projects that needs the finishing touches. How about you, do you tend to put the finishing off your projects once the embroidery? Perhaps we all 'get together' next weekend and get some finishing done!

Have a great week,
Anna x

Lacing Embroidery

Lacing embroidery in preparation for framing is quite easy. All you need is:
Firm card
Lightweight wadding or felt
Strong thread such as perle 8 for lacing.

For the card, I use a 2mm (1/16") foamcore. It is not too thick but firm enough to support the embroidery.
For padding you can use wadding, felt or even wool flannel. Putting padding behind the fabric, makes it look at little softer.
How much you want to pad your embroidery is a personal choice. If you are framing stumpwork or metal thread work for example, you might like a little thicker padding to absorb the bulkiness of wires and heavy threads on the back so that they don't create lumps on the right side of the piece. For crewelwork a single layer of felt or thin wadding is fine.

1. Measure and rule the finished size you want the piece to be onto the card and cut it out using a craft knife and metal ruler. Make sure the corners are really nice and square. Measure and mark the centre lines.

If you are planning to use ready-made frame you can use the backing board from the frame as a template. If your are going to take the piece to the framer, make sure you have enough margin around the embroidery for the mat-board to overlap.

2. Cover the card with wadding or felt. Apply glue around the edges and across the centre of the card and press it onto your wadding - then trim it to size. I find it much easier and quicker doing it this way than cutting it to size and then gluing it in place.

3. Mark the centre along each side of the embroidered piece and place it with the wrong side facing up on a padded surface - I use a piece of blanketing covered with a light coloured tea towel. Then place the padded card over the fabric with the padding towards the fabric and aligning the centre lines and marks.

4. Thread a firm, strong thread such as a perle 8 into a needle. I use it straight from the ball to begin with.

5. Fold the excess fabric over the card at the upper and lower edge. Beginning at the centre, lace the edges from side to side. The spacing of the stitches will vary depending on the size of your piece, but generally 1cm - 1.5cm is a good spacing. 

As you lace towards one edge, make sure the grain of the fabric is straight along the edges. The lacing should be firm, but will not be really taut at this point. When you reach the side, secure the thread. 

6. Next, cut the thread from the ball so that it is really long - you don't want to have to join it part way. Too long is better than too short and you will be surprised just how much thread you need. Lace to the other side as before and temporarily secure the thread. 

7. Turn the piece over to check that it is neatly centred. (I forgot to do that and when I turned the finished piece, I thought it was sitting too low and I had to cut the lacing and start all over again). 
When you are happy with the position, begin to firm up the lacing. It is a little bit like tightening shoe laces - start at the side that is secured and use your index and middle finger to pick up and tighten every second line of lacing, 'walking' your fingers across the back. Tighten the thread when you reach the opposite side. 
You might need to do this a couple of times to get the lacing taut and even. It should be firm but not so tight it stretches the fabric and even worse, bends the card.

8. Lace the remaining two edges in the same way from the centre to one side at a time. When you near the corner, fold it in taut and neat and lace through all layers. 
There is no need to mitre these corners as they will be covered by the frame or mat, but they should still be sharp, neat and flat. I use a ruler, slide it between the folded edges and use it to push the fabric taut and flat.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Blue Birds

Back in September I read a post on The Unbroken Thread that really teased my curiosity. It was about a new project by UK embroiderer and artist Nicola Jarvis. To cut a long story short, after winning an art show at the William Morris Gallery in London, she is now preparing for a solo show at the gallery from June 15 to September 22, 2013).
I just love, love, love when embroidery makes its way into the gallery - any gallery! After pondering for a few weeks, I contacted Nicola to ask if she was short of stitchers for the show... not that I am short of things to do - my to-do list has a habit of growing much, much faster than anything else around here, but I just couldn't resist and this is my project.

Blue Birds & Berries design drawing by Nicola Jarvis
Isn't it fabulous? How did she know I am going through a bit of a 'bird-phase'? I absolutely love it!

All I need to do is to get one or two (or three or four) things ticked off the infamous list and I can delve into the beautiful silks, beads and metallic threads....

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope it is good one - I will be netting vineyards, so not much stitching time for me.

Anna x