18 Sep

Octobunny and Lil’ Mermaid Share a Dance

Magical things happen under the sea. It’s a place where cute little mermaids can cavort with octopii with rabbit ears and no one batts an eye. Especially not when it’s happening on a twirly skirt for an imaginative eight year old and in hopes of winning some artwork from an admired blogger. I made this skirt for Bad Bird’s Stitched by Hand competition. My project is obviously not stitched by hand, so I’m submitting it in the Machine Stitched category.

Competition: Octobunny & Lil' Mermaid Share a Dance

I chose Andrea’s Octobunny embroidery pattern because his goofy look appealed to me. When paired with her Lil’ Mermaid, they looked like they were dancing. As long as they were dancing, I figured my project should be a skirt for dancing in, and to stick with the theme, I used Heather Ross Mendocino fabric which has octopii swimming on it (I wanted the mermaid fabric, but it appears that I am the last one on the Heather Ross bandwagon and it all sold out at least a year ago). I went straight to the interwebs for a basic skirt pattern. I wanted something danceable, naturally, so a full or ruffly skirt fit the bill and there is no shortage of tutorials online. From several options, Katja chose the Twirly Skirt tutorial from House on Hill Road.

Competition: Octobunny & Lil' Mermaid Share a Dance

Once I made the skirt, I then enlarged the embroidery patterns and traced them onto the skirt and the fabrics I used for the figures. I cut out and glued the fabrics in place with wash-out basting glue and backed the whole area with water soluble stabilizer. Into the hoop it went and I free-motion stitched the designs with my sewing machine (using a darning foot and dropping the feed dogs). My daughter (who gets to wear it) and I think it looks awesome. Thank you Andrea (Bad Bird) for the great excuse to make cute clothes.

26 Oct

Some Crafty Stuff

Sometimes the crafty community just blows me away. First it’s just that there’s so much totally cool stuff out there, but then there’s the connections and generosity too. I’m not very demonstrative, so you won’t see me jumping into lots of swaps or give-aways, so that makes random generosity even more amazing.

All I did was comment on Art Spirit’s Flickr photo that I loved her little mushroom pins and look what she sent me! How cool is that?!

In other crafty news, I wanted to try making my own machine embroidery for a patch, so I used a scrap of the fabric I made with my kids’ drawings as a base, and gave it a whirl.

I thought it turned out so well I had to make something out of it. Now it’s a little voodoo daddy pin cushion.

22 Jun

Adding a Line Drawing to a Quilt

I thought I’d share my process for adding the stag’s head to my latest quilt. It’s by no means the only way to add embroidery to a quilt, it was just my way for this quilt.

First, I drew the stag’s head directly onto a piece of tear-away stabilizer. I’m a confident draw-er and just went freehand using a photo as reference, but one could certainly find or print something out at the appropriate size and trace it onto the stabilizer.

Next, I pinned the stabilizer onto the front side of my quilt, which I had already quilted with parallel lines or channels. With 40 weight thread, I free-motion quilted the stag’s head, following the pencil lines I had drawn on the stabilizer. The tedious part follows — gently tearing away all the stabilizer. A seam ripper or something pointy is helpful to pick at the teensy bits in tight spaces. I also knot and bury any thread tails left from when I’ve stopped and stared lines of stitching.

Above is a detail of the front of the quilt with the machine embroidery; below is the back of the quilt showing the full picture.

For the nose and the eye, I placed appropriate shapes of fabric in position under the stabilizer to raw-edge applique the pieces as I followed the pencil drawing (you can still see a white haze of stabilizer that I haven’t yet picked out).

Once the machine embroidery is done and the stabilizer is ripped/picked out, it’s time to add the thicker lines with hand embroidery. Follow the main machine stitched lines, but don’t do the ones that define details on the interior of the image.

Using two strands of embroidery floss and a small chain stitch, I was careful to only go through the top layer of the quilt so as not to mar the look of the thread drawing on the back. Make a small quilter’s knot at the start of your floss, insert the needle into the top only of the quilt an inch or two away from where you want to start stitching, exit the needle where you want to start and pull it gently to pop the knot through the top and into the middle of teh quilt sandwich. When you’ve embroidered your way to the end of the floss, make similar knot by wrapping your thread around the needle twice and pulling it down the length of the needle and floss until it is close to the fabric (it helps to stick a pin into the knot while it’s loose to facilitate sliding it down the floss); enter the needle into the fabric at the end of your stitching and exit the fabric an inch or two away (being sure to go through the top layer and some batting only). Gently pull the needle and floss until the knot pops down into the quilt.

Enjoy the many possibilities of combining patchwork shapes with embroidery lines.