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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?

Brooches, bags, booties and other stuff: in search of the elusive bamboo mat.

Brooches, bags, booties and other stuff: in search of the elusive bamboo mat.

I decided to return to basics and take an introduction to wet felting course.  I am hoping to become a training mentor with the International Feltmakers Association and thought that rather than observe the interaction within this course; I would throw myself into it.  Despite felting for the best part of 10 years I will readily admit I am learning loads – happy days!  The course involves sampling various breeds of sheep for, among other attributes shrinkage rate and required finishing the fulling by rolling the sample in a bamboo mat.

I knew I had them somewhere in my workroom – you might be familiar with the process – one puts something away safely for use in the future and then one promptly forgets where it is!  My room was a disaster area after the Christmas holidays as it had become a dumping ground.  It was quite the miracle that I could even find the work table let alone the bamboo mat.  A tidy was on the cards.

As I started tidying, I uncovered a number of unfinished projects which I reckoned would fulfil the criteria of this quarter’s challenge.  Let’s just call it as it is, repurposing something stuck in the back of a closet into something a bit more useful.  Those unfinished projects started with great enthusiasm then put by when I ran out of steam!

First up was the unfinished silk throw which I started in June 2021.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I had inherited lots of fabrics from my husband’s Aunt Kathleen.  In amongst them were small lengths of beautifully coloured wild silk which I had cut into squares and sewn together.  I had gotten as far as putting wadding and a backing on to it so I added a binding and machine stitched (diagonally)  through the layers to complete the throw.  Sorry that I forgot to take a photo of the piece before I attacked it – just one of my work in progress and the finished throw.  I have to say I just love the richness of the colours!  I took the throw out into the garden to photograph but it was so windy it was difficult to catch so this photo does not capture the sheen off it.  You can just about see the pattern from the diagonal machine stitching.

 

Back to the presses where I discovered a pile of felt that I had made up – not sure for what reason – long forgotten.  Some of it was plain and I had experimented by nuno felting various silks onto another piece.  One piece was a beautiful red and it inspired me to make a heart brooch.  I cut out my shape and then put it through the sewing machine a number of times using a zigzag stitch on the edge.  I then sewed a brooch pin on the back.  Here is the result in time for Valentine’s Day (note the bottles of champagne in the background which still have not been removed from my workroom):

I then cut a rectangular shape from the nuno felted sample and zigzag stitched around this in a similar manner to the heart.

These were quick and easy to make (once the initial felting was done) and they have potential for selling at Christmas fairs or including in cards as small gifts.

I keep my handbags in my workroom.  I have a beautiful black leather bag that I paid a fortune for in the 1990’s and have worn it to death.  The colour of the bag is now nearly grey and it’s scuffed – it is normal wear and tear – I don’t believe in using something I love only on occasion.  I had enquired about having the bag renovated but the quotation from the one place I knew who did this kind of work was way up in the hundreds so I did not want to go there.  Instead the bag greeted me forlornly every time I walked into the room.  It was like it was pleading with me to put it back to work again.  I headed off to our shoe menders who said that there were no guarantees that any leather dye would work on bags (they are apparently specifically for shoes).  I decided to take a chance as I did not want to scrap the bag.  It was time to redeploy it.  I used two coats of spray on the bag and now it is as good as new.  I am so pleased.  Unfortunately I did not take a ‘before’ photo but this is how it turned out.

Back in the day when my daughter was at college, she worked in a high end retail store.  Like her mother she fell in love with a leather bag and spent most of her week’s wages on it.  Within a month it looked worn out as it scuffed easily and the colour came away.  So she talked to the buyer and got a replacement only to find the same thing happened.  Disappointed the bag was discarded as it was not fit to be seen.  She told me to throw it out as she felt she would not insult a charity shop by donating it.  Armed with my new confidence I headed back to the shoe repair shop and purchased another dye.  This time I opted for a paint rather than a spray on dye and got to work painting on two coats.  I left it to dry thoroughly for a couple of days and then presented it for inspection.  I have to admit I fell in love with it and I was hoping she might hate the slightly changed colour so I could keep it.  She loved it (secretly I am delighted as she is a fussy lady) and she is now never without it on her shoulder when she is heading out!

 

Then I found a cheap carrier bag that I had purchased while on holidays a number of years ago.  I remember that it cost €1 (which is less than £1 and around US$1).  The handle was torn and the zip, which was used to tidy the bag when not in use was broken.

It was a bit of a sorry sight but I liked the plastic coated fabric and the challenge of repurposing it.  First of all I removed the zip to see if there was any life left in it.  When I was examining it I fell in love with the rainbow effect of the colours on the teeth and made up my mind to salvage it if I could.  I then unpicked the outer pocket that housed the folded bag  and dismantled the bag by cutting away the side and bottom seams and the handles.  This left me with two pieces of material and I cut two rectangles from these, using as much of the fabric as I could.  My intention was to double over the material so that the bag was self lined.  In effect, the bag would be half the size of the cut rectangles (less seam allowance) and I would be sewing through four layers.

Next, I removed the broken tag on the zip using a pliers and I opened the little hook on the mechanism as wide as I could so that I could fit in a fabric tag as a replacement.

I hand sewed the top and the bottom of the zip, cut the zip to size and then covered these areas with remnants  of the bag fabric. Here’s a photo of the mended zip:

I drew a line at the centre of the rectangles of fabric  and sewed through the two rectangles using a big stitch in preparation for inserting the zip (as per Teri Berry).  Then it was time to tackle the zip so I did this using the method Teri outlined in her post of 12th January (thanks Teri, it worked a treat).

I then sewed the original outer pocket back on to one side of the rectangle.

I turned the bag inside out (you might recall that the bag is self lined so the material is the same inside and outside.  I used quilters’ clamps and pins to hold the pieces together and sewed through the material rounding the corners.

I then used my sheers to neaten the seams.

So here is the finished odds and ends bag.  I hope I have added value to it and it will sell for more than its original €1 price tag when it hits the charity shop.

Did I ever find that elusive bamboo mat?  Yes I did in the very last box in the room.  It was worth the search.  I am feeling virtuous (or is that a bit smug) with my finished projects, ‘new’ leather bag, happy daughter and completed upcycling project.

Oh yes and tidy workroom.  Bets are on as to how long that lasts!

A little post script which happened since I uploaded the post.  A friend of mine asked if I could help out with a handmade gift for a new arrival.  Something small, so in the end we settled on booties.  I wanted to keep the price as reasonable as I could for her so I searched through my stash of felt samples.  In the middle of it I came across a hat which I made in my early days and which was waaaay too small for my head.  So out came the scissors and I took over the role of shoe elf (part time).  Thankfully I could work during day time when the real elves were asleep.  I found a free pattern on Pattern Bee (https://patternbee.com/_images/free_stuff/FELT%20BABY%20SHOES.pdf) and got to work.  So here is the result.  I hope my friend and the new parents like them.

I will readily admit I spent quite some time out of my comfort zone putting together this post.  Cutting into things does not come easy to me and I have fabrics that I caress every now and again, afraid that if I make that cut I will destroy it.  But it was good to let go on items where I had nothing to lose if things went wrong.  New things created from old things discarded.

Have you anything that you recently repurposed?  Perhaps this post has inspired you to finish off a project that has lingered in the back of the cupboard.  Perhaps you make do and mend.   If so, we would love to see your work.  Here is a link where you can upload a photo and write a brief description of what you have done https://wp.me/P1WEqk-cJX .  The process is quick and simple and it’s just one click away.   I would love for my next post to feature our reader’s work.  Let’s get this conversation going.  We can all inspire each other.

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.

Finishing Nuno Landscapes

Finishing Nuno Landscapes

I am feverishly working away trying to finish up some landscapes and get them to the framer. I suddenly realized that it’s November and I needed more work to sell for the holiday season. I have always had good intentions of finishing pieces, getting them sewn to the backing fabric and laced to a board when I complete the piece. But somehow, those good intentions are paving the road to procrastination. Here I am again, finishing all the landscapes at once.

I went to the fabric store and found some fat quarters that worked with the various colors. I then hand stitch the nuno piece down to the fabric and lace it around a piece of matte board. Here is “Twilight” on it’s backing board ready to be framed.

This one I chose black fabric for the matting and laced it on to the matte board with a very minimal edge. I only want a tiny bit of black to show. This one is called “Serviceberry” at the moment unless I come up with a better name.

Believe it or not, I have finally decided that my slow stitch project is complete. I stitched it down to some brown fabric but I haven’t gotten this one laced on to the matte board yet. This one is called Autumn Impressions.

For those of you who wanted to see what the original fabric looked like, here it is.  Definitely a bit of a change!

The last one is the green nuno felt that I showed you recently. I finished stitching and decided it was complete. I have it on a dark green fabric background but haven’t stitched it down yet. Hopefully, I will get these finished up this week and get them to the framers by Friday. That’s the plan, anyways.

And here’s a close up of the bottom so you can see the stitching around the poppies. I still haven’t decided what to call this one yet. Several suggestions were made last time and I decided I had to research whether the plant I was thinking of was really Queen Anne’s Lace or whether it was Hemlock. It could be either. So then I kept thinking of titles such as Lethal Serenity, Poisonous or Peaceful?, Deadly Tranquility etc. So I will keep thinking on what it should be called as I finish stitching it down and lacing it.

Mark Making and Bear

Mark Making and Bear

My local group has an art retreat every year and it’s coming up soon. (We’ve all been vaccinated.) This year we are planning on creating some abstract art and I wanted to create some of my own mark making tools. I have been collecting feathers around my house for years and since we have a lot of wild turkeys, I find a lot of larger feathers. I also, collected some goose feathers when walking by my sister’s house.

The turkey feathers are on the left and the goose feathers (right) are from Canada geese. Now all I had to do was figure out how to make a brush from a feather. So Youtube is the answer. You can learn just about anything on Youtube. I found two videos and decided I would try both methods.

First method found on Youtube

The first method involved cutting the turkey feather in a specific way to get a “sharp” point. I had a bit of trouble with the hollow shaft cracking on this one. I’m not sure if that was because it was old and had dried out more or not. But I used some tape and attached it to a chopstick that had already been used for mark making in my studio.

Second method found on Youtube

The second method uses almost all of the shaft of the goose feather and you pulled the vanes of the feather off to just leave the top portion for the brush. This seemed to work a little bit better for me and this shaft didn’t crack. It was definitely a newer feather and wasn’t as dried out.

Then because I had a large piece of goose feather left over from the second method, I decided to use that to create a brush by using double stick tape, masking tape and a skewer. It actually gave me the “sharpest” point on all three of the brushes.

The last brush I created by making a tassel from black #5 Perle Cotton on a chopstick. You can use any kind of stick for the handle and next time I plan on using some natural found sticks which will be more interesting. With this method, I created the tassel and then wrapped it tightly around the end of the chopstick. It seems to be very sturdy and won’t pull off too easily. I left the tassel ends long but you could cut them to any length that you prefer. Or you could cut them very raggedly so that would produce a different type of mark.

Then I tried the brushes with a bit of black paint to make some marks. I need to play a bit more and try some different types of movements with the brushes but I was happy with the start of making my own brushes. More to come!

This is Bear, my friend Nanci’s dog who has since passed away. Nanci has been so kind to collect our mail and papers while we travel. So I wanted to create a gift for her that was meaningful. I have been doing paint and stitch portraits of my dog Edgar for my class homework so I thought I would try one of Nanci’s dog Bear. Luckily, I had a photo of Bear on the computer because Nanci used to work for me and we used various pet photos in our social media campaigns. The photo was really dark but I was able to put it into Photoshop Elements and add in more light so that I could see the outline of the dog. I then traced the outline on to lightweight cotton muslin with a pencil. Now on to painting.

Here is Bear after painting. I used guar gum and watercolor pencils/crayons to paint. The guar gum is a thickener that keeps the paint from spreading too much on the fabric. I was happy with the result and almost left it like that. But I decided a bit of free motion machine stitching would highlight the furriness of the dog more.

I added a tear away stabilizer and did some stitching in black and darker red brown threads. Bear is complete. I gave the portrait to Nanci recently and she loved it. Come to find out, she loves this photo of Bear as it is the last photo ever taken of her. I had no idea that this particular photo meant so much to Nanci but it was what I had on my computer. Serendipity, I guess.

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.
Twilight – Nuno Felted Landscape

Twilight – Nuno Felted Landscape

I recently sold several pieces of work at Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center in Bigfork, Montana and I took a new set of framed pieces down. But summer, the tourist season is upon us and I needed to stay ahead and create some new work. I found some pieces of hand dyed silk that I had in my stash and put a stack of prefelt and the silk together so they are ready to felt.

I started with this piece of silk which has been nunofelted to white prefelt. I fold over the edges and what doesn’t stick to the back with felting, I hand stitch in place so I have a nice edge. This piece is approximately 7″ x 11″. Once felted, I look at the piece from different angles and “find” my landscape.

Next up, I free motion machine stitched the background picking out the mountains in the background and some rocks in the foreground.

Next, I decided to add a foreground tree, my go to foreground. I used a variety of hand dyed cheesecloth layers for the main branches and trunk of the tree. But the result wasn’t what I wanted. The background didn’t have enough depth, I needed more change in value and contrast. So I peeled off the tree which luckily came up in one piece.

Then I used a thickened acrylic ink to add darker values and contrast to the landscape. That definitely adds more depth.

Now to look at the tree in place on the background. Much better! Now to stitch the tree. I tacked it down with hand stitching to keep the cheesecloth in place. You can skip that step but it is harder to keep the foot of the machine from moving the cheesecloth out of place. Once it was hand stitched and holding in place, I went back to the machine.

And here’s the finished piece. I am calling it Twilight as it reminds me of a sunset in the mountains. I’m happy with it and I’m glad that I took the time to add some depth to the background before I stitched the tree.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Annie (rosiepink)

For the 4th quarter challenge I made a few different things because once I started thinking about it I came up with lots of ideas and I couldn’t decide which to make!  I ended up making:

a stars themed table mat

a Christmas pudding decoration

some stars on sticks to poke into my houseplant pots

and a wreath of holly & stars

I needed a mat for the side table in my hallway because people always put keys etc on there and it gets scratched.  I was going to make one in the summer but didn’t get round to it and now that it’s winter I went for a theme of dark inky blue sky with white stars for a festive feel. I had a disaster with it when it wouldn’t felt, but that turned into a triumph when I rescued it with the embellisher because the mat not only felted but also became reversible where the pattern migrated through to the back 🙂

There is more detail about it over on our blog if you are interested: https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2020/12/starry-night-hand-felted-table-runner.html

When trying the mat on the table I saw my simple felt “flower” on a stick that is poked into one of my flower pots, and it gave me another idea.  I thought some stars on sticks would look nice and festive scattered in my plant pots. The flower is just a circle sample of felt from the odds box that I stuck on a wire one day and pushed into the soil.  A friend commented that she really liked it so I left it there.  Also, I had promised my plants I would make them some name tags this year and I didn’t, so they can have a star each instead 🙂

Since making the Christmas Podding a few years back …

https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2014/12/christmas-podding-and-the-chocolate-thief.html

… I kept thinking I’d like to make some more wired twisty holly leaves, possibly made into a wreath.  After some experimentation I made 3 sheets of colourful felt to cut the leaves from…

…but then decided it would take too much time to make all the leaves, so I decided to make a flat Christmas Pudding instead that could stand as a decoration and then I’d only need to make a few leaves!  The pudding is stood on a plate but leaning against a hidden glass jar.

To make the holly leaves I pinned some fabric to the back of the felt for stiffness then free motion stitched a few holly leaf shapes round 3 times in black thread and twice with white.  I also used some old felt to make some other leaves to mix up the colours.

To make the pudding I raided the scraps box. From scrap felt I cut out two main shapes – a 20cm diameter circle for the pudding and a wavy “topping” for the custard. I backed both pieces with fabric then stitched them together.

I cut some little “raisins” from orange felt and stitched them on then free motion stitched a pattern around them on the main pudding.

I attached the holly leaves and added some felt balls for berries. I had already made these a long time ago but they were perfect for this project.  Lastly I added a few little yellow stars for extra sparkle.

I had originally planned on making holly leaves using a base of green fibres plus a lot of other unusual colours to make it a bit quirky. I made a big sheet of felt to cut them from, but found I had used too many dark greens and not enough of the other colours so it wasn’t quite right. I decided I wanted to go more colourful, resulting in the felt I made above.  However, it is a lovely piece of felt and has some interesting passages in it.  For example, I can see lots of little landscapes in it and I will revisit it at some point because I think it has potential.  For now it’s one for my pile of “Ideas & Projects in Progress”.   Again, there is more detail on our blog about this if you are interested because this post is way too long as it is!

https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2020/12/from-felted-holly-leaves-to-landscapes.html

Then in a sudden swirl of enthusiasm I decided to make a big bunch of holly leaves after all to see if I could cobble together a wreath of sorts.  Here are some in progress photos:

After making lots of holly leaves (but sadly no wire, no time!) I hit a problem in that I couldn’t get the leaves to attach nicely to the metal wreath ring I had. I didn’t want to glue gun it in case I want to take it apart and repurpose the bits at some point.  What to do? I had a look around and rediscovered a narrow felted “scarf” that I had made in the summer.  I had been far to impatient when making the scarf and it turned out nothing like I had hoped (basically lovely colours but a complete disaster!). I kept it in the hope that it would come in handy one day, and it did.  I wrapped the ring in the scarf which gave me something to stitch the leaves to:

I mixed in some felted stars and some yellow glass beads as berries (yellow, red, who cares?!)  The stitching is appalling as it was done in record time, but it’s on the back so it won’t be seen.  My patience has limits especially on something fiddly like this when I’m running out of time!  But I think the overall appearance is fun and a bit different and if I ever make another wreath I have learnt a lot along the way for next time!

Here is everything together on the table in the hallway:

 

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