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Category: free motion embroidery

Late Bloomers Finished?

Late Bloomers Finished?

I had showed you this background a couple of post ago and was planning on free motion machine stitching a meadow scene.

I started with some background grasses in a couple of rows. If I do this again, I think I would stitch only one row and make the grasses longer.

Then I began couching down some different yarns with machine stitching.

I decided I should go ahead and stitch in the main focal flowers now so I wouldn’t fill up their space with grass. I couched down the green yarn for stems and then stitched heavily over a piece of purple felt for the flowers.

I decided the piece needed some more skinnier lines and some darker values. So I stitched the weedy bits in dark brown. These would have been easier if they were stitched before the larger grasses.

I then added some dark green weedy bits to the left hand side and couched some lighter green yarn down across the foreground. As you can see, I started looking at the piece in a “frame” since that was how it would be presented. What else did I need?

I decided the flowers needed some leaves so I used more of the same green yarn and pulled it apart a bit to get more width for the leaves. Was it finished? There was something bothering me on the right hand side. Do you see the brown grasses forming an ellipse? It seemed to draw my eye too much. So a bit of unstitching was necessary.

Now here it is after a bit of grass removal. Is it finished? I will leave it hanging on my design board for a few days to decide. I think I will add a bit of darkness to a couple of stems just right of center. Probably with a marker or a bit of paint.

What do you think? Is it finished?

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch Exhibition

Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch Exhibition

The ‘Bachelor Buttons’ in the midst of setting up the exhibition. (Maureen couldn’t be there, but her beautiful work was.)

I recently completed Level 3 Advanced Studies in Experimental Stitch at the Gail Harker Creative Studies Center and we held an in-person and online exhibition. Gail’s courses are similar to City and Guilds in the UK. If you’re close to the Seattle area, there is a new session of Level 3 Stitch beginning in September. Just click on the link above for more information. (And you really don’t have to be that close, I live almost 600 miles away.)

We had a busy few days setting up the exhibition and I thought you might like to see a few set up photos.

And then it was the day of the exhibition. We had around 80 people attend over the two days in early July. It was wonderful to be able to see all the hard work accomplished by my fellow students and to share our work with other interested people.

I asked my fellow students if I could share their work and I’m happy that everyone agreed so that you can see some amazing fiber art. These are just a very few examples of their work produced in class.

Maureen Goldsmith

Maureen Goldsmith wasn’t able to come to the in-person exhibition but was able to send her wonderful work.

Covid Birds © Maureen Goldsmith

Covid Birds by Maureen is a framed wall hanging, you can see it in the first photo behind the group photo on the wall, to understand the size of the piece.

Covid Birds – Detail © Maureen Goldsmith

Here’s a detail view so you can see the stitching more closely.

Val Gleeson

Val has an interest in historical embroidery and needlework.

Pleasurable Pursuits © Val Gleeson

Her piece “Pleasurable Pursuits” is based on historical needlework studies that she pursued during the class.

Pleasurable Pursuits – Detail © Val Gleeson

Here’s a detail shot so that you can see the amount of hand stitching in this piece.

Acer Macrophyllum Book and Samples © Sheila Asdal

Sheila Asdal created a machine and hand stitched book about the Big Leaf Maple and the creatures that find shelter and sustenance in the tree.

Acer Macrophyllum Book © Sheila Asdal

Here’s a side view and front cover of the book.

Acer Macrophyllum Book – Detail of Moth © Sheila Asdal

And a detail view of the stumpwork moth she created.

Catherine Sloan

Catherine’s interests are from nature, including rocks, plants, seed heads and the winter garden.

The Winter Garden Series © Catherine Sloan

She used her original photos of her winter garden to create this handstitched series.

The Winter Garden Series © Catherine Sloan

Each of the individual pieces are about 6″ x 6″.

The Hanging Garden © Bobbie Herrick

Bobbie Herrick is also inspired by her garden. She took on a tremendous project in creating The Hanging Garden light.

The Hanging Garden © Bobbie Herrick

Bobbie’s lamp was created with machine and hand stitching and cut back applique. She found it interesting to work with light during this process as it changed the colors immensely when the light was turned on behind the fabric.

Ethereal Bottles © Alana Koehler

Alana Koehler was inspired by a row of bottles on her windowsill. As she worked through the process, she became intrigued with the difference between the hardness of glass and the translucent fabric that she ended up using in Ethereal Bottles.

Ethereal Bottles © Alana Koehler

The sheer fabric in Ethereal Bottles float away from the wall and the bottles are created with machine stitching. It is definitely ethereal in person.

Ruth Lane with The Language of Trees © Ruth Lane

And lastly, there is me. The Language of Trees is based on the concept that trees and other forest plants, have a vast communication network underground.

The Language of Trees © Ruth Lane

This wall hanging is mostly machine stitched on a dyed and painted background. The little bits of orange are words that I selected from tree poems to express the trees communicating with each other.

And because I have had a few people asking, I have also included my book about my dog Edgar. Here is “The Book of Edgar”.

Thanks to all my classmates for their camaraderie and support. Thanks to Gail and Penny for all your expert guidance and perseverance through a challenging three years of class.

Completing Montana Sunrise

Completing Montana Sunrise

Here is where I was when I left off in my last post about my latest nuno felted landscape. I decided the next step was to create more evergreen trees to add to the left hillside.

I used some green wool sandwiched between two pieces of water soluble fabric and free motion stitched some trunks/branches. These were then soaked in hot water and gently felted. I started adding them into the foreground. I decided I didn’t have enough so I went back and stitched more several times until I was satisfied with the volume. I also added in a few areas of lighter trees to give a bit of contrast. Once I had those arranged and pinned down, I started looking at the yellow brown area in the middle of the picture, part of the closest mountain. It seemed to have too much contrast and due to being the same color as the foreground, it “moved” that mountain too far forward.

So I added a couple of pieces of sheer nylon scarves, one deep red and one purple over the area. That’s better! I try a lot of different things as I’m working and take quick photos on my phone. I’m not showing all the photos as it is hard to tell the differences in some of them. But I use the photos to see how the piece looks from a distance and find any glaring problems. At some point in here, I added some sheer black fabric behind the foreground mountain as there were bits of black wool that were drawing my attention too much.

After I stitched down the trees with a variety of blue green threads and a bit of feather stitch, I started working on the foreground. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the details a bit better. The grass is a combination of raffia, burlap and cheesecloth. I also was bothered by the “driveway” of green on the middle right. At some point, I tore some of the wool from the surface so that it wasn’t such a line.

I arranged the grass bits numerous times and then started stitching them down. The photo on the left has the “clumps” stitched but I was trying various pieces of raffia on the very bottom and had them pinned in place. I also decided the raffia was a bit too light so I colored it with a felt tip marker in light browns, greens and dark brown edges. The photo on the right shows the piece after completing the foreground. Next up was the sky.

I wanted to “move” the colors in the sky around a bit with some stitching. But how to do that? I first thought about couching threads to the surface. The photo on the left shows that idea being tested. I wasn’t happy with that but couldn’t decide what to do. So I reached out to Antje (who has authored posts here in the past), and she made several good suggestions. I decided to use running stitch. I used variegated colors and mixed several strands together to not have such a solid color effect. Click on the photo on the right to see the starting of the running stitch. The point of adding the stitching was to soften some of the harder transitions in the sky. Thanks Antje for your help!

Here is the finished Montana Sunrise (16″ x 30″). It definitely has a bit different feel using a mosaic type of nuno felt instead of one piece of dyed silk. I think it is much less abstract than some of my other recent pieces. Now I have to find the right fabric for it’s matting. What color would you use as the matte?

I am running behind so…..

I am running behind so…..

I declare throwback Tuesday. I seem to have run out of time this week so I thought you might like to see this post from 2017. Jan posted some pictures in our guild group and it reminded me and I thought it was worth another look. I hope it and the links to the other 2 posts about it will give you lots of inspiration for your own work.

Ann

 

This is the 3rd and final set of pictures from this exhibit. http://mvtm.ca/?exhibition=colour-unboxed the first is here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/18/colour-unboxed-by-out-of-the-box/ and the second here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/26/out-of-the-box-part-2/ Again I apologize for some of the odd angles as it was very crowded with people enjoying the exhibit. In the last picture, you may find it hard to see but there is a very long weaving draped across the ceiling.

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Another Nuno Landscape Completed

Another Nuno Landscape Completed

I have been working away on my nuno felt landscapes this winter. I always sell more work in the summertime, so it’s good to get ahead of the game and get work ready to be framed in the spring. So what to do with this background. I felt like the diagonal lines of color felt too “tie dyed” and needed to break them up. The colors reminded me of summer flowers so that’s where I decided to go with this background.

I played around with a variety of cotton fabric and cheesecloth and laid these out on the nuno background.

I added a small bud to the small, lower right hand flower.

I pinned the pieces in place and added interfacing to the back to provide support for the machine stitching. I could have fused them down but I find that I don’t like the way the fusing flattens the fabric and doesn’t allow “movement” of the fabric with stitching. This is a personal preference and it is easier to stitch if everything is fused in place but I prefer to pin or baste the pieces in place. I also was looking at possibly bringing some of the dark blue up into the area above the flowers. I tested this out by cutting some small bits of #5 perle cotton and laying it down to give the impression of blue flower stalks.

I free motion machine stitched all the green first. I used two different shades of green to give a little depth to the stems and leaves.

I used three different shades of thread in the centers of the flowers and two colors on the petals. I decided to bring a bit of the burnt orange down into the petals to give a look of a bit of shadows near the centers. Last, I added dark brown to the bottom of the centers which definitely helped define the centers.

Lastly, I added blue French knots with #5 perle cotton thread. I then stitched it down to the background “matte” fabric and laced it on to card. So it’s ready to frame. I decided to call this one “Summer Fireworks”. I have run out of nuno felted backgrounds so I guess that will be my next project.

 

Tamarack Trio Landscape

Tamarack Trio Landscape

In my last post, I showed you this nuno felted background and asked for suggestions. Everyone’s ideas were so interesting and different than what I see in this randomly dyed piece. I loved hearing your suggestions but to me, this was definitely an autumn forest scene. I wanted to try and make it more abstract and less “real”.  So I started off just adding some lines in free motion embroidery that were to symbolize tree trunks. I forgot to take any in process photos. Once I get started on the machine, I get engrossed in the process. Then I got to the stage of “really ugly”. Do you find when you’re working that you go through that stage of “this is awful and I should just toss it”? But I kept going and ended up going more realistic than planned but that was the only way forward that I could see that would work.

I added tamarack trees, a fallen trunk and some foreground leaves in the upper right corner. The small trunks in the back left were too white so I took a gray colored pencil to them so they wouldn’t stand out too much. I then hung the piece up on the wall so I could look at it from a distance and to see what else it needed.  I decided to add more foreground leaves so they came down into the distant aspens in the lower right.

Here it is with more leaves added. That pushed the aspens back further into the distance and made the piece feel a bit more cohesive.

 

Here’s a couple of close ups of the free motion stitching. I don’t usually use the zigzag stitch when doing free motion but I liked the more abstract effect on the tamarack trees. If you don’t have tamaracks (also called larch) trees in your area, they look like pines/evergreens but their needles turn a bright yellow orange in the fall and then they shed all their needles. So they are a deciduous conifer. They are a gorgeous addition to the landscape in the fall.

I continued my new “habit” of finishing the piece at the time I made it. Here it is stitched down to a tan matting fabric and laced over matte board, another piece ready to frame. It does have some abstract qualities to it and I like the end result. Sometimes, you just have to keep pushing through and ignore that inner critic.

Service Berries Appliqued Nuno Felt

Service Berries Appliqued Nuno Felt

I showed you earlier the nuno backgrounds that I had created. I decided to try using the idea of the layered photos that I created in Photoshop Elements.

So instead of going with what the background suggested (pine trees), I thought I would try some fused machine applique over the nuno felt.

I printed out my service berry photo and got out my light box, tracing paper and a pencil. I completely ignored the background in the photo and just concentrated on the branch with berries and leaves. I simplified the design as I went.

Here’s the traced design that I came up with for my applique. Now I needed to choose a piece of fabric, get out my fusible (Wonder Under) and transfer the design to the fabric.

Here’s the piece of fabric that I chose on top of the nuno felt. The photo is not the best as the nuno felt looks black. I fused the Wonder Under to the back of the green fabric with my iron. It’s easy to do but if you haven’t used fusible before, make sure to read the instruction of the type that you have. All of them are a bit different.

Once I had the fusible in place, I transferred the pattern to the paper on the back of the fabric. I had to remember that the pattern would be reversed when cut out and applied to the background. I used the tracing paper to do this by flipping my drawing over on to the fusible paper and drawing on the backside of the tracing paper to transfer the pencil line. This works best if you enhance the original pencil line with a softer lead pencil, I used a 7B. Once the pattern was transferred, I cut it out with a pair of short, sharp scissors. I left the paper in place until after everything was cut out.

Then I applied the cut out fabric to the background by ironing it in place. The fusible melts and holds the fabric in place so that it’s easy to stitch down and add details.

Before I started stitching, I decided to add a little thickened water color to get a bit more definition and shading in the leaves and berries. Then on to the sewing machine.

Here it is after stitching (free motion) on the machine. I used three different greens and a couple of reddish brown threads. It’s hard to get an accurate color representation in the photos as the dark red seems to throw the camera off very easily. This was a fun project and different than most of my other nuno landscapes. Now to figure out what to do with the other backgrounds. More to come!

EYE’s Residential Weekend.

EYE’s Residential Weekend.

It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.

I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.

Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, has an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.

The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.

After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!

Maggie went her own way with an Owl.
Dorothy and Debra painting their backgrounds.
Ann laying down the background for her tree silhouettes.
Melanie painting her background layer.
Rachel’s background is painted and now she’s working on her foreground layers.
Sandra adding detail to her foreground trees.

With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.

Hilary’s background has been painted and now she is starting to layer fabrics to create her forest.
Rhona’s moon gazing hare is taking shape.
Dorothy’s forest is pinned and ready for stitching.
Evelyn’s work in progress.

I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!

Melanie’s lone tree is starting to take form.
Rachel adding her gate and railings.
Ruth is beginning to add hand embroidery to her tree.
Debra used lots of free motion stitch on her version of a tree canopy.
Using the same image as Debra for inspiration, Carol chose to give her tree canopy autumnal colouring.
Judy’s version of my Walk in the Forest.
Hilary made good use of zig zag free motion stitch for trees in the distance.
Margaret’s version of my Three Tall Trees.
Dorothy added hand embroidery for foreground grasses and flowers.
Melanie’s finished work…..fantastic to think this was her first attempt at machine sewing and hand embroidery!
Rhona’s moon gazing hare…..what this image doesn’t show clearly is the addition of black beads which adds texture and sparkle when you see it close up.
Close up of Sandra’s finished trees.

What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!

I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.

The EYE’s class of 2021.
1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

When I posted last time, I showed you the felted portion of my 1st Quarter Challenge piece. The next step was to start free motion machine stitching to add more detail.

First to find some thread that would work with the colors of the felt. I used all of these except for one of the reds.

I started with dark green thread and worked on the stems, leaves and bud. I kept the inspiration photo by my sewing machine so it was easier to see where I needed to add stitching.

Next was the light green thread. I just used it for  a few highlights on the stems, bud and top of the big leaf.

Now on to the poppies. I used a light pink for highlights. Somehow, I always forget how much the machine stitching compacts the felt. It makes the unstitched portions feel very puffy.

Then I add some yellow for the centers of the poppies.

Next is the medium value red. You can’t see it very well because it is the same value as the main poppy color. But perhaps it gives a bit more definition of the edges.

Then on to adding a little more dark value where it was needed. Afterwards, I put it up on the design board and stepped back a little. Looking for anything that didn’t look right or drew the eye too much in one place. The areas that bothered me were the top poppy there seemed to be a straight pink line coming down to the bottom of the flower. And the bottom poppy, I thought the pink at the bottom center was a bit too much.

So I added a bit more burgundy in those two areas to tone down the pink just a little. So it’s complete. You can click on the photo to see it up close. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie!

 

Fun with Foils

Fun with Foils

Like many of you, I belong to some textile groups that would normally meet in person but this year have needed to find alternative ways to work together. One such group is the Farnborough Embroiderer’s Guild (EG). This EG group is quite unusual in that rather than inviting speakers to talk about their practice, we all take it in turns to teach each other new skills. Three months ago we started meeting via Zoom and I have to confess in some ways I actually prefer it! We aren’t a large group but when we meet in person I often end up only talking to the 2-3 people I am sat nearest to, on Zoom the whole group shares the same conversation which is nice and feels very inclusive. The other advantage is the lack of commute, for me, this means I get to eat before we gather and I can have a glass of wine while we play together 🙂

Last month Sue took us through a technique to create foiled pictures; I don’t know about you but I can’t resist a bit of bling! As we are approaching holiday season it also feels very appropriate to share this with you now, I think it would make some wonderful textile Christmas cards and gifts. I hope you enjoy it and feel inspired to have a go!

Although I have played with foils before it was only as decorative finishing touches never as the basis to create a whole textile picture. Even so, I still managed to make every mistake in the book but was pleased to find foils are remarkably accommodating, if you make a mistake, it can (mostly) be rectified with layering more foil over the top.

Unfortunately it did not occur to me to take photos of the process until I was half way through my picture, I apologise for the lack of photos covering the initial stages of the process. The first few photos are where I went back and reapplied the bondaweb on the beak as my initial application had not transferred completely.

This was the reference photo I used for inspiration:

Some useful tips before you start:

  • set your iron on a low to medium (1 to 2 dots) setting without steam
  • always use a sheet of baking parchment to protect your iron
  • work on an ironing board

1: Cut a piece of medium weight, iron-fusible interfacing / fabric stabiliser slightly smaller than the background fabric and iron it to the back of your fabric. We used black cotton velvet but most non-synthetic fabrics will work (synthetic fabrics are best avoided for this technique as they might melt when heat is applied).

2: Draw out your design with a pencil on the paper side of a sheet of bondaweb. If you aren’t confident drawing freehand, you can trace the design from a printed image. Cut out your design, either as one solid shape or in sections if you plan to create a stained glass effect. For the hummingbird I cut out the whole bird as a single piece.

3: Transfer the bondaweb design onto your backing fabric.

If you are using the stained glass technique you might want to transfer one piece at a time, foil it then apply the next bondaweb shape.

4: Once cooled, carefully peel off the paper backing from the bondaweb.

5: Lay a piece of foil (coloured side facing you) over the exposed bondaweb and cover this with a piece of baking parchment, using the tip or edge of your iron, apply gentle pressure to the areas where you would like that coloured foil to appear.

Allow the piece too cool before peeling back the foil backing.

Tip: you can cut out pieces of baking parchment paper to mask off areas where you do not want that particular colour to appear.

If there are areas where the bondaweb has not transferred so well, or you have already applied several layers foils and want to lay a different colour over the top you can reapply the bondaweb but cutting a shape to match the area, I did this for the edge of breast where I wanted the purple to form a solid line:

If you want a sharp edge in a specific shape, it is also possible to cut the foil to match the shape you desire:

6: Continue adding different coloured foils to your design. If using cotton velvet for the backing it is possible to build up layers of different coloured foils without applying more bondaweb.

Tip: keep the scraps of partially used foils, they can be used to overlay different colours on top of each other very pretty marbled colours.

It is possible to “draw” lines of foil using just the tip or edge of your iron, I used this technique to create the feathers on the wings:

It is not very easy to capture foils in a photo, especially the holographic ones so I shot a short video that I hope shows all the different colours more effectively:

Our group met again last night to add some embroidery to our designs, this is how far I managed to travel in the couple of hours we had together.

…and a little sneak peek of my most recent foiled “painting”.

Have you tried making foiled paintings?

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