I still don’t baste lines ahead of time on my work, unless it’s a very complicated pattern and I need reference points to make sure I’m not way off in my counts.
What I am starting to do more is to baste pieces together before sewing them together. This is something I learned while taking Jackie DuPlessis’ Retreat class back in 2010. The project was To Have and To Hold, a really sweet little parasol-shaped etui (more on that later – I’ve also been working on that piece). The basting comes in when sewing the linings onto the stitched pieces. Jackie would use long lengths of sewing threads, hold the two pieces together, and randomly and with large stitches baste through all layers so that everything was lined up properly, and your pieces didn’t go awry so one seam matched and the next one was askew. This technique also works for holding the seam allowances in place.
I’ve been on a finishing spree (will post pics over the next few weeks), and one project I’m working on is Victoria Sampler’s Victorian Purse, a retreat class which I took in 2011. There are 4 pieces to this set – a purse, a needlebook/scissor sheath, a pipkin, and a scissor fob. All except the scissor fob are lined with silk dupione. The finishing instructions use matboard and glue to put the pieces together. Being who I am and disliking using glue on something I’ve spent hours/days/weeks stitching (heaven forbid I should get glue on the stitches!), and also wanting the pieces to be ultimately washable should the worst of all things happen and the pieces either get dirty from grubby fingers, or something spills on them, I elected to figure out alternate finishing techniques. Time-consuming, yes, but worth it in the long run!
I used iron-on interfacing on the silk where required, Skirtex where 2-ply matboard was used, and single layers or laminated template mylar where more rigidity was needed. I will use the template mylar as well in the pipkin, since I think Skirtex might “fold” or kink. Template mylar is used primarily for creating quilting templates – a thin rigid plasic sheet that is completely transparent and heat-resistant. While a bit too flexible for some applications, it is very durable. Thanks again to Jackie for introducing me to this medium. I laminated it with fusible web for the needlebook front and back to increase its rigidity. I’m really pleased with the results so far.
Back to the basting – I found this was invaluable for making sure the pieces were square to each other, and that the tops/bottoms and sides met properly. The most profound difference was in the spine of the needlebook – a very narrow strip of Cashel and the silk dupione for lining. Because it was such a tiny piece, I thought I could easily hold it together while stitching the lining to the Cashel. Not true. I had stitched half of one long side when I realized that the lining would be 1/4″ short by the time I reached the next short end. Not good enough! Obviously I was “tightening” up the silk lining while I was stitching. I took out the seam, used regular sewing thread to baste the layers together, and stitched the seams without further problem Yes, it took a few minutes to baste, but that time is easily saved in not having to unpick and re-sew a seam that doesn’t meet properly.
A few tips on basting: Use a high-contrast thread so you can easily see it to unpick/cut it out after finishing the sewing. Don’t use red thread as it may leave fibers behind which will show. Also don’t use a thread too much darker or lighter than your stitched piece for the same reason. I will use a pale blue thread on white fabric as long as there is no light blue stitching already on it (perish the thought that you would accidentally cut some of the design stitches!). Start with a large knot in the end of your thread, stitch the first stitch from the right side so the knot sits on the top of your work – this will allow you to pull the basting out with the knot – if the knot is between your layers, you may never get it out! Hold all layers together – use pins if necessary on larger pieces. Make your stitches fairly large so they are easy to see to take them out. Try to avoid the area you’ll actually be sewing to reduce the risk of stitching through your basting thread (it makes it much more difficult to take out). Stick the needle straight through to hold the layers together – if you stitch at an angle your layers may shift.
So that’s it. I am committed to basting pieces together before sewing them. And I actually enjoy doing it! Of course the best part is taking the basting out and seeing the finished result.
NEXT WEEK: more on finishing! I’ll detail using Skirtex, template mylar, and lacing for finishing “smalls”]]>
I had planned to post every Monday – but a few Mondays got by without me noticing (and that explains a lot!).
Today’spost is a product review. On Mary Corbett’s blog (www.needlenthread.com) a few weeks ago, she mentioned Evertite stretcher bars. Around the same time, we were preparing to attend Seminar 2013 (Embroiderers Association of Canada) in Winnipeg, Manitoba. One of the instructors also suggested using these stretcher bars. Interested, I looked it up further.
Evertite stretcher bars are unique in that they have a tightening system built into them. I thought it wouldn’t make that much difference but wanted to explore it further – “see what all the fuss is about”. I contacted Evertite and they were kind enough to send me a “care package” – a sample of their stretcher bars and other products they carry. Well, the package arrived late last week, and I quickly opened it to look (every day is Christmas around here….). I instantly went through some of our canvaswork patterns to find one that would fit the sample size that was sent, and found Carolyn Mitchell’s April Flowers – I happened to have all the supplies except one or two (which are now on my order list!). I cut the canvas, assembled the stretcher bars (they are quite tight to begin with and it was a bit of a struggle), opened the packages of lovely large thumbtacks – these are a lot easier to put in than the regular ones! and popped my canvas on the bars. Then I opened the package with the tightening tool, and tightened the canvas.
Wow! It really does make a difference. With a few quick turns on each corner, the canvas became drum-tight! These could even be very useful when working on cross stitch or other counted work where the fabric needs to be stretched very tightly – eg a loosely woven or drapey fabric.We will be placing an order fairly soon – if you’re interested, let me know which sizes you’re looking for and I’ll be sure to include them in my order.]]>
Last night I was very busy stitching on several projects – and I ran into problems with each one.
The first was quite successful – quite a while ago I took on a “commission” from a customer – she had received a partially-complete bobbin lace project from a friend who had passed on. The customer wished to keep the pillow and bobbins, and asked if I could finish (knot, cut, and tie off) the section in progress, then return the pillow and bobbins to her. It’s been hanging around for too long, because I was a little intimidated at the prospect. Last night I finally gritted my teeth and got on with it. I’m not sure how well I did, but it doesn’t look too bad to me. So that’s one more to cross off my list.
So what to work on next? I lined up 3 or 4 projects, and randomly picked one – a Dogwood needlebook that will be a shop sample. It’s stitched on 40 count linen, a really lovely pattern. I finished the last flower on the front of the needlebook, then did the last bit of the greenery. To finish the front, I needed to stitch beads in the centre of each flower. So where are the beads? I looked in at least 5 or 6 places where I have stored the project, and they did not turn up anywhere. I know I have them because I have stitched the beads on 2 of the 4 flowers. Usually I keep all the supplies for a project in one bag or case, but for some reason this one was all separated – the threads in one place, the pattern in another, and the fabric in still another. And, obviously, the beads somewhere totally different. Aarrgghh! (sorry, no pictures of my stitching, but here is a picture of the finished piece:
Picked up the next project: a Kreinik silk kit that I plan to make into a small bell pull. Started the stitching, then realized that I could not complete the top row because I had “borrowed” two of the silk colours for another project (apparently, because two of the colours were missing from the case…). Off I go on another search to find the two colours of silk. No luck – I have no idea where they could be, or even which project I may have “borrowed” them for. So I started with the next band, and when I worked from the middle to the edge, I discovered that I am one thread out. Sigh. I did find the mistake, in the very first band. Now I have to decide whether to fudge it or fix it. Well, by this time it was getting late, and I was both tired and frustrated, and I gave up for the evening.
All of which is leading to the subject of organization: If I had had my projects properly organized, I could have gotten a lot of stitching done. Instead, I spent a fair amount of time looking for supplies, which I have still not found – and so I am stuck on both these projects. Similar situations have happened in the past, and I have put little notes in projects that listed supplies that I “borrowed” for another project, and which project the supplies could be found in. I have to giggle a bit, because I remember when I went looking for one of the borrowed threads, I found a note in the second project leading to a third and eventually a fourth. I think that’s about the time that I decided I REALLY needed to reduce the number of active/inactive/etc projects that I had. It started me on my finish two/start one (and yes, I am still a little behind, but I am catching up slowly!)
When I get home tonight, I will gather all the supplies for the two projects I am stuck on, put each in its own container, and include a note with what is missing. I will also start a master list of “missing supplies” to look for as I am organizing supplies, so if I find something (like those blasted beads!), I can immediately put them with the project. I sincerely hope that as I finish off more and more projects, that this will become less of a problem – after all, if I hadn’t had to go searching for supplies, I could have gotten so much more stitching done!]]>
I’ve been on an organizing kick lately – unfortunately it is taking a lot longer than I anticipated. I am frustrated by the time it takes me to find something, and though I’ve been trying to “get organized” for years now – no, make that decades – I have been putting significantly more effort into it for the last month or so.
So this week’s topic is on organizing – particularly needlework supplies. I think one of the reasons I am somewhat disorganized is because I’m a bit of a perfectionist – and I have yet to find the perfect system. Of course, the “perfect” system does not really exist, so we just have to make do. Specifically, I will focus on threads and fibres today – other supplies will follow in the weeks and months to come.
Organizing a thread stash. Some people I know buy all the supplies for each project separately, and when they’ve finished the project, they toss or give away the leftovers. Not me. My mother grew up during the Depression and World War II in Europe, and she was thrifty to a fault. She passed that along to me, although a bit less. Mom always bought the least expensive, unless there was a very good reason for buying a more expensive brand. I will often (though not always) weigh the quality and the price, and buy the more expensive brand when it seems warranted. I remember going to Alaska Junk in Spokane Washington and buying “evenweave” for cross stitch for pennies. However it often wasn’t evenweave (out in one direction by a thread or two) and was also often not the best quality of fibre (polyester evenweave? Yuck!). But that’s a little off-topic. Suffice it to say that I save nearly EVERYTHING, even my orts (snipped off bits of thread). More on that in a future post.
I have nearly the whole collection of DMC embroidery floss. I inherited my mother’s stash as well as her best friend’s, and I had quite a bit of my own too.
Mom used to cut out bits of chip-box cardboard to wind her threads on, and at one point my brother made a wooden box to hold all these bobbins. Later, my older sister and I found plastic ones, and my other sister’s husband made us a few very lovely wooden boxes designed to hold them. These bobbins were the “large floss keys” manufactured by Yarn Tree, and this is the system I use today. I find the large floss keys hold more thread than the standard ones (especially when I have more than one skein of a colour). These hold my stash neatly and find-able (they’re in numerical order). When I start a new project, I pull the threads I need and put them on a ring, then keep them with the project. The biggest problem I have is that I work on more than one project at a time, and often when I start a new project I can’t find half the colours because they’re in other projects! (someday, I swear, I’m going to have less projects-on-the-go!). My sister recently solved this issue by collecting all her DMC, and putting them in a small set of drawers, and keeping these by her needlework chair. I often stitch at friends’ houses or on the road, so that doesn’t work for me. But I’m considering it!
Well, that was easy – though it would be easier if I consistently returned floss to its box when I do finish a project, but we won’t go there!
What ISN”T easy is all the various other brands of threads and fibres, that come on inconsistent cards, reels, bobbins, and skeins. I’m talking about silks, metallics, wools, and more. At left is a photo of part of my metallics. These are organized (but represents a VERY SMALL part of my stash!). The photo at right illustrates another part of my stash that is NOT very organized – it is a bin full of threads that have no home – Rainbow Gallery metallics and other fibres, Caron collection threads, some Coton Perlé (pearl cotton), and many others. This is my challenge – how do I organize all the different types of threads so that I can find them? Kreinik puts their metallics on reels, their silks in skeins, Rainbow Gallery uses large floss bobbins that do not fit my boxes, Caron Collection comes in skeins with tags, DMC alternates come on reels and in skeins, etc. etc.
My Coton Perlé is kept in metal chocolate/cookie tins that are just the right height for the balls – but then I run into the problem of skeins (#5 Coton Perlé comes in both). #3 and #5 are in one tin, #8 and #12 in another – my stash is still fairly small.
So how do you organize your stash? Have you found a way to keep track of it all, where it is, what colour/number it is? How do you manage the skeins that need to be wound onto something before use (eg Caron Collection)? Comment below on hints & tips, and follow my blog as I work through my challenge – I would love to use some of your tips, and may even put up a little prize from the shop for the best tip!]]>
The second project is definitely a UFO. Part of it is in the picture above. I have had the stitching done on this project for a LONG time – how long? I have no idea, but it’s definitely more than 10 years – possibly even 20 or 25. It is a set of 12 pictures, in monochrome, depicting the activities of a boy and girl during each month of the year. I believe the original pattern was a series in Anna magazine – a popular European needlework magazine of the 70′s, 80′s and 90′s and into the 21st century (I had a few of the last issue’s copies in the shop just after opening, which would be 4-5 years ago). The stitched pieces, each on its own piece of linen evenweave, have sat in a box marked “Finishing” for as long as I can remember. My original intention was to make them into a large wall hanging, with borders in a red fabric to match the stitching. The problem was that I never got around to buying the fabric, and my vision had each of them in a box with rounded corners, and my mind refused to contemplate how I could make each of the 48 corners perfectly rounded and identical to each other. So there they sat.
Last summer, I sorted through the “finishing” box with the intention of moving some of the items out. I came across these pieces and experienced the same feeling – Oh, no, how am I going to get those corners right? – and it suddenly occurred to me that I didn’t HAVE to finish them that way. So what else could I do?? It had to be simpler, easier, quicker, and take up less wall space. Hmmmm.
Then the idea hit me – why not finish them as individual panels, and have a box made to fit them, so I can change out the past month for the current month, and display that? That’s exactly what I did. The box was constructed for me by Paul of P & G Enterprises – beautifully made and finished – the grain runs completely around the box, and the mechanism for holding the stitchery in the lid is quick and easy to change. The box arrived last week and away I went. It only took one evening to lace all 12 pieces onto foam core board which Paul supplied at a nominal extra fee.
I’ve had quite a few requests lately for the sticky board for framing pieces, and I usually explain that I’m not fond of them and why. The next question is almost always “well, how do I finish it then?” Here’s the answer to that question – I lace my pieces. With the extra foam core pieces, I could lace each stitched piece onto its own foam core board and have them ready to insert when the month changes. The same technique can be used to insert a piece of stitching into a frame – use either acid-free, archival-quality matboard or foam core board, and cut it slightly smaller than the frame’s back opening (to allow for the fabric’s thickness when pulled to the back).
An extra tip: If you use glass (experts are divided on this – follow your heart), make sure your stitching does not touch the glass – use a spacer or mat between the glass and the fabric.
Even though it’s Tuesday, I’ll start today anyway (better late than never!). I also need to write an email and snail mail newsletter today, so that should keep it short this time, and will also keep me busy! :) Not that I ever have problems with that.
Yesterday (Monday), I was “musing” about UFO’s – you know – UnFinished Objects – all those wonderful projects we start but haven’t finished yet. Do you have any? How do you manage them? I have one customer who does not have any UFO’s – she starts a project, then works only on that one until it is finished, and then she starts the next one. As she observed, if she didn’t do that, she’d be overrun with UFO’s. Hmmmmm…… Not that I’m overrun with UFO’s (heavy sarcasm), nope, not me. Never. (cough, cough).
For the last year or two, I’ve tried to reduce the number of active and inactive projects by instituting a policy of Finish Two, Start One – with the idea of gradually reducing my overall project numbers. I’m doing all right, but I will admit I’m a little behind right now. About 13 projects behind – that is, I should theoretically finish 13 projects before I start anything new. Sigh. So what happened?? Well, I find it difficult to stick to my schedule as sooooo many things interfere! For example, an upcoming deadline – I belong to a stitchery Guild (Island Stitchery Guild), and every year at the meeting before Christmas we hold a Potluck and Ornament Exchange. Everyone who wants to participate makes a hand-stitched ornament, then we hang them all up and draw numbers to see which one we receive in return. It’s great fun, and that way we get a variety of beautiful ornaments. But with the deadline, you can see that I’d have to start and finish the ornament by a certain date – NOBODY wants a UFO for an Ornament Exchange! So of course I had to abandon my policy in order to participate.
Then there’s the great new chart/kit that comes into the store and just HAS to be stitched. And unfortunately I don’t always get it finished in a timely manner so it joins the UFO list. Sigh.
On a more positive note, I often find that when I get back to a project which was put on the back burner for some reason, it often feels like starting a whole new one, especially if I haven’t worked on it for a long time (weeks….. months…… Years??) and oh boy, does it feel good to finish a project that has been in progress for a long time!
So what are YOUR thoughts? Do you have a lot of UFO’s, or only a few? How do you manage them? Do you go through them and discard ones you’re no longer interested in? Or do you keep them hanging around, thinking you might feel like stitching on them “later”? What motivates you to stitch on them when you do? What is your oldest (longest-running) UFO? Would you participate in an online UFO group sponsored by The Stitcher’s Muse (maybe I could come up with some prizes….). Post a comment with your thoughts and ideas.]]>
New books include the new Royal School of Needlework Essential Stitch Guides for Whitework, Stumpwork, and Silk Shading, a gorgeous silk ribbon book by Di van Niekerk, a beautiful book on designing your own canvaswork landscapes titled Threadscapes, Free Form Embroidery (the latest book by Judith Baker Montano), Simply Successful Appliqué, and a new Strip Quilting book.
New cross stitch designs (and a few older ones) by JBW Designs including Santa’s Sleigh, Joy, Pumpkin Alphabet, ABC’s and Christmas Trees, and several others. These are great small take-along projects because they use limited thread colours, making them ideal to take to a friend’s house or while travelling.
Come on in and check out our new stock!!]]>
Autumn 2012 Class Brochure
September 2012 Newsletter]]>
Our previous supplier shut its doors rather suddenly last month, so we have lost a major supplier of books and magazines. I am actively seeking another book wholesaler, but in the meantime I am receiving A Needle Pulling Thread directly from the publisher.
This is a great magazine, created, designed, and published in Canada. It features all kinds of needle art and needlework, including quilting, counted cross stitch, embroidery, knitting/crocheting, sewing, fibre art, and more. It is colourful, informative, and packed with projects, tips, and interesting articles.
We are happy to put a copy of the magazine aside for you until you can make it in to the shop, and we can also mail it out if you prefer. Let us know by email or telephone if you’d like a copy!]]>
Most of the Edmar rayon embroidery threads – Bouclé, Iris, Frost, Ciré, Lola, Nova, and Glory – in most of the colours. It will take weeks to take stock and see which are missing, but they are well-organized so we can easily see if a colour is in stock. Lots and lots of Brazilian embroidery patterns and kits, plus a few in other techniques. Some really great books on various types of embroidery, and threads from Rajmahal, Au Ver à Soie, Londonderry, and Trebizond.
I am very busy counting it all and getting it into our computer. Once that is done, I will start with putting it up on the website, but I know this will take a very long time. Keeping the website up to date is proving quite a challenge and I am much further behind than I had hoped I would be by now. It could easily be a full-time job, but it’s just me, and I have the shop to run and my personal life to live too. So if there is anything you are looking for, please contact me and I will see if we have what you are looking for.]]>