Saturday, March 30, 2019

Leaves, leaves & more leaves - Strawberry bush, WIP

I have been stitching leaves, leaves and more leaves and almost called this post '50 shades of green'.

The leaves I showed you in My Last Post are now finished, with fine wire and blanket stitch edges, ready to be cut out and attached to the main embroidery, once that is done.

Three little (tiny) white flower shapes are also ready. Each flower is only about 15mm (5/8") across, so they really are quite small. Photographing white on white is near impossible, but I hope you get the idea. I will talk more about these later, when you can better see what is going on.

I am still pondering whether to embroider a couple of my strawberries as 'slips' to get them really raised. Rather than spend time stitching samples, I decided to embroider the strawberries that I know will be on the main embroidery first. That way I will be able to gauge if I need to do a couple separately or if I can achieve enough raised effect simply by adding multiple layers of padding. But I can't embroider the strawberries until the stems and leaves are done.

I used my trusty old stitch combination of whipped stem stitch for the stems (the top one in the photo). I like this combination because it gives me slender stems that are still quite raised off the fabric.

I start by working two (or more) close, parallel rows of stem stitch and then whip them closely together. Usually when you whip stem stitch, you will go under each stitch only once. To get these stems, I whip them as closely as I can. The effect is almost like trailing, but I find this method much easier to control. (Sarah Homfray has a great vidio tutorial for trailing here)

The plant's roots are worked in blanket stitch and added the two new shoots, before moving on to...

... you guessed it: Leaves, leaves and more leaves.

The large leaves are all embroidered in much the same way as the detached leaves in the Previous Post. Since they won't be cut out, they don't need the blanket stitch outline, so I neatened the edges with stem stitch instead.
I have a rather substantial stash of green silks: yellow greens, olive greens, khaki greens, blue-greens, grey-greens... the list goes on - yet, getting the greens just right was not completely straight forward. I had to stitch one of the leaves twice, because I just didn't like the combination / distribution of the green shades... Sigh - I wish I wasn't so picky with these things!

This is where it is at. So far, so good, and I must confess I am looking forward to using a few other colours than green next.

Toadstools & Brambles
I usually stitch my raised embroidery on silk, but for my Strawberry Bush , I have chosen to use this natural coloured Linen/cotton blend. The style, shape, size and colours of the Strawberry Bush are very similar to my Toadstools & Brambles and I am hoping the two pieces well make a nice little pair, so it made sense to use the same fabric.

Now that our grape harvest is over (yeah!!!), I hope to be able to finish this project in the next week or so. As you know, I have a terrible habit of setting myself crazy deadlines so time will tell how I go. Either way, I hope to have more to show you next week.

Until then, I hope you have a wonderful weekend and find time to stitch or do something else you really enjoy.

Best Stitches,

Friday, March 15, 2019

In my hoop...

... is a small batch of Ribbed Fly Stitch leaves.

That doesn't sound like anything out of the ordinary, but I am little bit excited about how this lot has turned out, so I thought I would share how they are embroidered.

I am working on a new Raised Embroidery project for a class later in the year and was trying to work out a way to embroider leaves with a bit more texture than what I have done in the past. 
The illustration is a hint to what I am working on and I wanted to create these leaves with strong veins or ridges across each side, so satin stitch or long & short stitch was not really an option.  

Aerd Bessen (Erdbeeren)
First stop was a 'trip' to Pinterest - I like to look at antique botanical prints when I am looking for inspiration for plant forms. For some reason, I find it much easier to translate illustrations into stitch than I do photos. I printed off a couple of pictures and started to 'scribble' stitch, trying out a few different stitch combinations and this is what I ended up with.

I am calling it my 'Ribbed Fly Stitch Leaf'. Mine are tiny, embroidered with one strand of silk, but I can already see these appearing on much larger scale in a future crewel project...

HOW TO a Ribbed Fly Stitch Leaf

1. Start at the base of the leaf and work small, round chain stitches along the centre vein and finish with a long anchoring stitch at the top. 
2. Bring the needle to the front just above and close to the last chain at the top.
3. Whip into each chain stitch. This will make the centre vein thicker, rounder and slightly raised. (HINT: I use the eye-end of my needle when I do this, but it looked too messy for the photo.)

4. Embroider the veins on each side in small stem stitches. At the top, the centre vein has to stick up a bit into the top of the leaf.                                                                            I would normally stitch all this after the filling, but in this case, I needed the veins to form a kind of framework for the filling stitches.                                                           The tip of the leaf and most of the segments along each side are filled with fly stitch to add texture within each shape.
5. Start at the tip of the leaf and place a fly stitch closely around the bit of the centre vein sticking up at the top. 
6. Continue to work fly stitches very close together until you reach the tip of the leaf. The anchoring down stitches, should form a line to the tip.
HINT: If you have a bit of fabric still showing at the sides when you reach the top (as on the right hand side in the picture), just fill the space with a couple of satin stitches.

7. The segments along each side are also filled with fly stitch, but rather than stitching straight along the shape, I worked diagonally across as indicated by the dashed line. You can easily draw the line if you find it easier.
First place a straight stitch from the sharp point between the stem stitch and centre vein along the diagonal.
8. Work a fly stitch around the straight stitch, then fill the segment with fly stitch placed very close together as you did for the tip.
HINT - it is really important that you push the stitches very close together along the outer edges to fill the shape properly.

9. Fill the rest of the larger leaf segments along each side in the same way. I have used a few different shades of green for each leaf.
10. The two smaller leaf segments at the base of the leaf are filled with satin stitch. Place the first stitch parallel to the side vein and maintain the same stitch direction to the base.

I stitched my four leaves using the same colour for the veins on all of them and four different shades of green for the filling stitches to keep them similar, but changed the placement of the colours in each leaf to they are all varied at the same time. I am hoping it won't look too busy when I put it all together.

These are going to be used as raised leaves, so they still need a wire outline, but my back is telling me that is tomorrow's job.... 

I hope you have a lovely weekend, 
Anna X

Monday, March 4, 2019

Simple surface stitches - Stars of Winter

It is that time of year again... harvest time. The summer has been so hot and dry that it is all happening a bit earlier than normal. Our white grapes were picked this morning and if all goes to plan the Shiraz will be going late this week (if they can fit it into winery) or early next week. That only leaves our tiny plot of Grenache, which is always much later and we can look forward to a bit of a break.

I didn't do a great deal of stitching stuff last week. A few weeks ago (Here), I showed you a new little (side) project, I had been playing around with and I did finish that.

I clearly didn't get it ready for the workshop that started a few weeks ago, but have been tinkering away on this little piece. Other than the basic idea of using a limited palette of simple stitches, I didn't really plan a lot for this one (as usual) and some of the flowers finished up in ways that really surprised me. That might sound strange, since I am the one designing it, but this was really a matter of 'I wonder what it will look like if I try this....???


I love how the little red flowers above worked out. I think they are my favourite part of the whole design. There is just something about the colour and stitch combination I really, really like. Better still, they are super simple and quick to stitch, so I am pretty sure these will turn up again in future pieces.

The cream daisy above, took a bit of 'playing around' and reverse stitching before I was happy with it. It was drawn up with a large centre circle and I kind of did want a big centre stitched with rounds of chain stitch. I tried a few different colour combinations but none of it looked quite right. It wasn't until 'I wonder what happens if I divide the circle..???' that it all fell into place. The segments are done really simple, by putting straight stitches all the way across the white band. Once that was done the rest fell into place.

I had started stitching the berries at the top in the dark blue/grey.
Amongst the pictures on my mood board was a very Scandinavian looking design with a similar colour scheme. The pattern had dark berries dotted throughout. It looked really nice and I liked the idea of not making the berries the move obvious red or pink, so away I want... The blanket stitch wheels with off-set, French knot centres, worked ok but having done the little lot above, I started to think the colour combination would make the overall design too top heavy, so they went on the back-burner, while I stitched something else, hoping it would work itself out...

 ... how about white? I am much happier with this option. There is still enough contrast between the crisp white berries and the cream back ground and the little bright yellow centres add just enough 'ping' of colour.

That left just the wee red robin? and I was finished... 

Stars of Winter

I think it will make a really nice little kit and, although it may look intricate, there is no difficult stitches, so I will be able to use it as a beginner project. I just did a quick stitch count and all I have used to create this is 8 relatively simply stitches: Blanket stitch, Chain stitch, Detached chain (lazy daisy), Fly stitch, French knots, Satin stitch, Stem stitch, Straight stitch.

All I need to do now is work out what to do with it. Any suggestions? Right now hoop art, seems a really good option LOL.

I wish you all a fabulous week where you find, make or take time to work on whatever project you have on the go.

Best Stitches,
Anna X