Friday, August 1, 2014

&Stitches picnic reminder!

&Stitches in the Park

If you're near Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park tomorrow (August 2nd), do join us for the last &Stitches in the Park picnic of the summer!

Check out the good times that was had last month. :-)

Here are the details of the where and when.

Whether you can stay for half an hour or the whole afternoon, we hope to see you tomorrow!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Summer Bloggin' - Stitching space with Daisy Eyes

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

We are continuing this year's Summer Bloggin' series with a fun experiment in negative space stitching, brought to you by Aimee of Daisy Eyes. She's a prolific stitcher (follow Aimee on Instagram and you'll see it's true!), especially when it comes to words and quotes. And be sure to check out her blog and shop!

Thank you, Aimee!

Lately, I have been experimenting with the idea of negative space embroidery. Negative space is stitching outside the area and leaving a blank space in the middle; essentially the opposite of filling in an area of stitching. It works for letters, numbers and even outlining shapes or other simple graphics.

The trend in the stitching world is to use french knots, seed stitches or even lazy daisy flowers when working on a negative space project. After stitching up a french knot project and a lazy daisy project of my own, I wanted to try something new.

I decided to try out long and short satin stitch clusters to outline the letter M. A satin stitch is normally the go to stitch for filling in letters and other graphics, so I thought it would be fun to see how it works with outlining a letter. Satin stitch is a long straight stitch, stitched right up against the other stitches giving it the look of satin.

In the two projects that I stitched previously, the first one I didn’t outline the letters at all and the second one I outlined them after I stitched all around them. This time I opted to outline the letter first. I have quickly learnt that outlining the letter first gives it more of a pop and also gives you a better guideline for your stitching.

At first I wondered about making all the satin stitch clusters the same height, but I knew my perfectionistic tendencies would drive me batty trying to keep them all exactly the same, so I decided to vary the height.

The hardest parts of this whole experiment were the middle parts of the M. On the bottom I ended up doing horizontal clusters and when I got to the top I tried vertical clusters. I’m really not sure what is best and in many ways I like the patchwork look of the horizontal clusters best. The corners were also a little tricky and for those I just flared out my satin stitch which made the corners look rounded. In the beginning I thought about just stitching up to the edges of each line and leaving the corners blank, but I think that wouldn’t have given me a sharp outline of the letter that I was going for.

About half way through this project, I thought I would add some little seed stitches coming out from the top of the clusters to even out the colors all the way around. I love that little pop they give.

Stitching a negative space project with french knots, seed stitches and even flowers can be a very time-consuming project. I loved this embroidery because it gave me the same awesome effect in much less time. Overall, it was a fun experiment and I am excited to try it again.

Have you tried negative space stitching? Do share it in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Bloggin': Exploring Transfer Methods with Cate Anevski

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

We're happy to be joined this week by Cate Anevksi, stitcher and illustrator behind the whimsical and charming Bee's Knees Industries - be sure to check out her adorable embroidery patterns in her Etsy shop! Cate is here to talk about the various methods for transferring embroidery designs to fabric - take it away, Cate!


I have been trying to expand the types of base fabrics I use in my embroidery. However, my usual transfer method (blue water soluble pen) doesn’t work well with all fabrics, so I spent some time testing various transfer methods that work in different situations.

METHOD 1: Blue Water Soluble Pen


This type of pen is easy to find at most craft stores or online. It is a blue marker that you use just like a pen to trace over your designs.

Simply spray the fabric with water to make the marker line disappear. I usually combine this step with blocking my embroidery.

The pens come in either thick or thin varieties, and the thin pens are very useful for fine details.
The marks don't rub off or disappear until you get the fabric wet.
You can easily erase a section either using a damp cloth or a specialty eraser pen, so you can rework a portion of your design if you want to make changes while you are working.

The pen only comes in one color and only works on light fabrics.

METHOD 2: Chalk Pencil


These pencils come in a variety of colors, the most typical being a combo pack of pink, white, and blue. This allows you to choose the best color to contrast with the color of your base fabric. Simply trace your design using the pencil of your choosing.

Gently scrub the fabric with your fingers under running water. If you still see traces of your marks after the fabric is dry, repeat the process until the fabric comes clean.

Comes in a variety of colors so that you may use it on virtually any color of fabric.

The chalk can wear off of the fabric if it is rubbed. This means that you have to be a bit careful with your project when you store or transport it and while you are working on it.
The lines can be a bit thick, especially if the chalk has been blurred by rubbing, so it can be difficult to trace fine details.

METHOD 3: White Water Soluble Pen


This is a pen with a very fine line that turns opaque white when it dries. You can use it to draw your designs onto dark fabrics. The ink is clear at first, but it will dry to a fine, easy to follow white line.

Just like the chalk pencils, gently scrub the fabric with your fingers under running water.

Works very well on dark fabrics.
The pen has a very tight, precise line that does not smear while you are working.

The ink doesn't show up as it is drawn. You must wait until the ink is dry to see your work, making it difficult to see what you are doing, particularly if you like to freehand designs.
The ink tends to be very light if you only trace your design once. You will need to go over the same area two or three times to get a white opaque enough to see easily.

METHOD 4: Purple Air Erasable Pen


This pen is often found on the opposite side of the blue water soluble pen and works in much the same way. However, the ink is purple, not blue, and it disappears over time.

Just wait long enough for the lines to disappear. This can happen within hours or days, depending on the weather, particularly temperature and humidity.

The pen will give you nice, tight lines that are easy to follow and do not smear.
The ink doesn't need to be washed out, making this a good choice for projects that cannot get wet.

Since the ink sometimes disappears very quickly, you must work quickly before your design disappears. I usually only trace small portions of complex designs so the ink doesn't disappear before I'm able to finish that section. Also, the ink tends to stay the longest in cool, dry weather. It can sometimes disappear in less than an hour in hot, humid weather.

The ink also cannot be washed out on your schedule; you must simply wait for it to disappear. I had this problem once on a project that I did for a gallery show. I finished the project the night before I had to drop if off at the gallery, and some of the purple lines were still visible when I dropped off the project. Luckily, by opening night of the show, all the purple lines were gone.

Join Cate again next week when she'll continue her exploration of transfer methods and look at transferring patterns with household materials!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

In The Hoop With Completely Cauchy

In the Hoop With - header

Today we're visited by the amazingly skilled and talented Chawne from Completely Cauchy. Chawne is a huge inspiration to me in her approach to both the craft of and meaning behind needlework - her work is often an experiment, sometimes surprising, and always, always thoughtful. I'm so pleased to have her here today to tell us about what she's got in the hoop!

In The Hoop with Completely Cauchy

For ease of skill building, I spent years practicing embroidery by designing simple redwork inspired by pop culture. At some point, though, deeper meaning had to come along to keep my interest.

Lately, “meaning” means explorations of identity and difference, with a nod to historical contexts. A captivating cigar ad from the mid-1800s caught my eye, I manually pixilated the design, adapted it for ease of x-stitching, and the rest is simple. I embarked on building this little brown baby (at 40 st/in, eek!) back in early 2013.

In The Hoop with Completely Cauchy

His name around here is Moses Archimedes Reynolds, Jr, or L’il Mo’ if you’re lazy. I’d plotted out a stitching schedule to make a nine-month gestation, with wiggle room for a late birth. But, well, life has a way of getting in the way and other shiny projects popped up. The whole baby is stitched actually, but there is far more to place in the background to tell the story. Someday ... he's still patiently waiting on his scroll frame.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summer bloggin' - My Grandmother’s Sewing Box by Laura Howard

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

Today we're joined by Laura Howard, blogger at Bugs and Fishes and prolific felt-crafter. Laura's here to talk about being one link in a generational stitching chain - thanks so much for sharing with us, Laura!

I have inherited a few things from my grandparents over the years, including old photographs, some pretty china and a houseplant that’s older than I am. One of the most precious (to me, at any rate) is my grandmother’s sewing box.

It’s packed with an everyday sewing kit – threads, scissors, tape measures, thimbles, packs of needles, etc. There’s also a finished-but-not-yet-framed cross stitch project and a cutting from an old magazine with step by step instructions for a fancy embroidery stitch.

Some of the older items are beautiful vintage things, lovely objects in their own right. I love the blue Dorcas pin tin and the old scissors and pinking shears.

I also adore the assortment of threads, particularly the reel labelled “service khaki” (possibly dating from my grandfather’s time in the RAF?). As well as being nice to look at, these are objects my grandmother clearly used often, making the box a kind of time capsule from her everyday life – a teeny glimpse into a life dotted with mending and making.

My own experience of sewing is very different to my grandmother’s. I’ve never made my own clothes (unless you include the ugly waistcoat I made in Textiles in Year 9), and apart from sewing on the occasional loose button I don’t do much “make do and mend”-ing. Instead, I design my own patterns, write craft tutorials and books, blog about my crafting and sell my work via the modern magic that is the internet. I dabble with embroidery and cross stitch but I mostly make fun, cute, colourful things from felt.

But although I might be sewing very different things than my grandmother did, and for different reasons, the physical act of sewing is the same. My tools look like her tools, and I’ve even used some of her old sewing kit in my work (the pinking shears came in very handy before I’d invested in my own pair!). When I cut fabric or thread a needle or sew a line of stitches, my hands do just what hers must have done many, many times.

It’s a wonderful feeling to have this connection between myself and my grandmother. It also makes me think further back, to the many women in my family tree who must have spent many hours stitching - either out of necessity or for pleasure – and of the skills they passed down from mother to daughter.

Have you inherited stitching materials from other generations? Do share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Colour Inspiration: Inspired by Brazil

Colour Inspired by Brazil
I don't know about you, but I couldn't really care less about the recent football World Cup. However! I loved getting glimpses of Brazil and the culture and nature there. It's not something that's usually covered much on TV here.

One thing struck me, there are such vibrant colours all over. Those are behind this month's colour inspiration, bright and bold in both warm and cool colours. It's a combination that really pops! :-)

DMC: 995, 3845, 444, 666 and 606.

Use this link to convert the colours to Anchor brand.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer Bloggin': Rachel's Everyday inspiration

Summer Bloggin' on &Stitches

Summer bloggin' is one of my favourite features on the blog. It's all about bringing you fresh and original content straight from our little stitchy community! Today we are kicking off with a contribution from Rachel and for the next six weeks or so you'll be treated to a new guest blogger once or twice a week.

Rachel lives in Charleston, Illinois with her son Eliot and teaches Freshman Composition at the Eastern Illinois University. According to her own description Rachel is a "nerdy, book-loving weirdo, a staunch feminist, and a wannabe writer". In her &Stitches debut Rachel explains about how she translates everyday inspiration into fabulous embroidery.

Over the last few years, I’ve begun to think about stitching so much that it seems my brain automatically translates everything I see into floss and fabric. Everyday inspiration abounds. For example, my family and I recently moved to a new home, and while unpacking, organizing, and arranging the bathroom, my attention kept getting drawn to the window.

As you’ll notice from the left side of the photo, the bathroom window looks directly out onto the apartment complex next door. To keep neighbors from having a prime view of themselves on the toilet, previous residents of our home applied a patterned film to the window, rendering the glass opaque and lending a bit of needed privacy.

When I looked closer at the window and began to see the pattern in it, however, all I could think of was cross stitch. The lines forming triangles, forming squares, forming diamonds, and the repetition of the pattern made me eager to pick up some Aida cloth and start experimenting. First, I did a bit of doodling in my graph paper sketch book, just to get the pattern down on paper and think about how it might translate to a cross stitch pattern.

Then I grabbed a needle and some leftover bits of floss and started “drawing” the pattern onto my fabric. I keep a tangled heap of leftover threads that I use for practicing new stitches or patterns, so I drew from it here, mixing in different colors and numbers of strands. I ended up favoring a monochromatic look. In the end, I settled on four shades of Sublime Stitching floss that reminded me of a yummy, summery sherbet (see first photo).

I used waste canvas to stitch the version of the pattern I most preferred onto some plain white fabric. There are also plenty of great water soluble waste canvas options out there, but I kind of enjoy the meditative work of pulling out the tiny threads with a needle and tweezers.

I really like how this tiny piece turned out, and I think I’ll be mounting it into a gold colored jewelry finding to make a necklace. Of course, I think it would also make a great larger, framed piece if several of the patterns were stitched side by side. You could also change up the colors of the floss to make variations, much like in a quilt pattern. When set side by side, different parts of the pattern would become more prominent.

What would you do with this bit of inspiration? Why not take a look around you today, and make note of the patterns, colors, and shapes that appear in your everyday world? Chances are, there’s something beautiful out there, just waiting to be translated into stitches.

Thank you for a wonderful and inspiring post Rachel! Find out more about Rachel and her embroidery work via her BlogPinterestFlickrInstagram, Twitter and Etsy