Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Punch Needle for Spring

Spring is finally here, and I was definitely thinking spring when I stitched my new punchneedle pattern, Faded Blooms. I'll use the pattern for teaching punchneedle embroidery, so I designed it to be rather simple, but using beautiful Valdani threads can make a simple design something special.

Faded Blooms Punch Needle

I'm often asked where I get the frames I use for framing my stitchery. A beautiful frame can enhance any work, and I'm always on the lookout for nice frames when I'm out and about. I've found many beautiful frames at cross stitch/needlework shops, and if I fall in love with a frame, I'll buy it then, even if I don't have a project in mind. Another good place to find frames is antique shops. I've found frames that have already been "upgraded" with a fresh coat of paint. Just a few weeks ago I purchased a very nice frame that I will be painting myself.

The frame I used for "Faded Blooms" is one that I put together myself. I had some leftover wood rope molding and glued it to a purchased frame from a hobby shop. I needed a little bit of caulk in a few spots where the pieces of molding joined, so I mixed together a small amount of white glue and baking soda for a do-it-yourself caulk. I then chalk painted the frame and added a coat of dark wax.

One thing to look for when purchasing a frame, is the depth of the opening. I like to use a frame that has a depth of at least 3/8" so that it can accommodate foam core board as a surface to attach my stitchery. Refer to my previous post to see how I frame my needlework archivally:

Even though my frame for Faded Blooms has a rectangular opening, and the punchneedle itself is square, I was able to fill in the space with some vintage buttons stitched to a scrap of beautiful hand dyed Weeks Dye Works parchment linen, and cross stitched to the fabric background. You can always fill in a not quite perfect space with some creative layering of wool, and fabric. So many options!

Until next time!


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Holiday Hearts Quilt and Primitive Appliqué

Happy Valentine's Day!

I thought on this day of hearts I would re-post a Primitive Appliqué technique tutorial I first posted on the C & T Publishing blog as a guest blogger, just in case you missed it there.

In my book, Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home, there are many projects that are not just for Christmas, and the "Holiday Hearts" quilt is one of them. If you use the technique that I did, you'll have this quilt finished in no time!

"Holiday Hearts" quilt from Be Merry: Quilts and Projects for Your Holiday Home

My quilt is based on a block that I found amongst a box of scraps that I inherited from my grandmother.

I loved the folk art design, especially the way the leaves are oriented in opposite directions, and so I decided to create a quilt based on this unusual block design. I also decided to try the same "primitive" appliqué technique that was used in the block. It turned out to be an incredibly fast way to do appliqué. My quilt has been washed, and the appliqué still looks great. The stitching is sturdy, and because it doesn't employ fusibles, my quilt is soft and heirloom quality, looking beautiful for years to come.

To begin, cut your appliqué shape without adding a seam allowance.

Pin baste your shape onto the background fabric. For appliqué, I like to use appliqué pins, either 1/2" long or 3/4" long, depending on the size of the appliqué piece. For the following tutorial, I used 1/2" long pins on one side of the heart, and 3/4" long pins on the other half, so you can see the difference.

Use a #24 chenille needle, embroidery floss or perlé cotton and a blanket stitch to appliqué your shape to the background. Three ply embroidery floss, #12, #8, #5 perlé cotton all work well. For a really chunky look you could even use #3 perlé cotton.

To blanket stitch appliqué, bring your needle and thread from the bottom to the top at the edge of your shape.

Take your next stitch into the appliqué as shown, and up again near the edge, right next to your initial stitch. Keep the thread length (tail) under your needle.

Pull the needle and thread in the direction of your stitch. Don't pull too tightly, or your work will begin to curl. Keep a nice even tension as you stitch.

Take your second stitch. For a pretty stitch, the space between stitches (the length) should be approximately the same as the width of your stitches i.e. if the width of the stitch is 1/4", space your stitches 1/4" away from each other. The size of your stitch is proportional to the size of your shapes. Small appliqué shapes - smaller stitches.

For sharp points, take an extra stitch at the point to secure the stitch and keep it from becoming distorted.

Bring your needle up in back of the stitch to continue blanket stitching the next side of the shape.

Primitive appliqué is a stress free way to do appliqué, resulting in a charming, folk art look to your quilt!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Until next time,