Browsed by
Tag: hand stitching

Slow Stitching

Slow Stitching


This is the landscape (on the left) that I showed you in my last post. I made a few changes including some new felt to indicate mountains in the distance and changing the diagonals in the foreground.  I was originally going to machine stitch this in place on its background of white felt but decided to do some “slow” stitching. So I am hand appliqueing all the pieces down. I didn’t want the machine stitch to overpower the simple shapes.

Here you can see the stitches a bit closer. I am using a machine thread and a short sharps needle to stitch each piece in place. Some of the pieces are overlapping and some are butted up against each other.

Most of the sky is stitched down and because I didn’t have a big enough piece of dark blue felt for the sky, I cut up the pieces into irregular triangles. I’m not sure if you can see or not but this is felt that had been printed and then over-dyed so there is some pattern in the sky that along with the triangular pieces is definitely giving some interest that a single, plain blue piece of felt would not display.


I have now started stitching down the blue mountain shapes and as I stitch, some of the felt pieces have shifted a little. I may also add either some more color to some of the mountains as the white is definitely bringing them to far forward and is distracting. But I will work on that once everything is stitched in place.

I do have a piece of silk that is shown in the upper left of this photo that I am considering using as clouds. I would have it in much smaller pieces and I’m not sure I’ll even use it but I might. What do you think? Do you think it needs clouds? Is that fabric too light in value against the really dark sky? I hope you don’t get bored with this piece as it will take me a while since I am stitching by hand.

Liberty Bodice

Liberty Bodice

This is a guest post by one of our forum members Antje Ream. 

Many women of a certain age will remember ‘Liberty Bodices’. These were the vests of the day. At the age of 7 or 8 I was not a fashionista, not like so many children today. We had more serious things to do like play doctors and nurses with our dolls or build dens with bed sheets over washing lines etc. All I remember about them was that they kept me warm but more importantly they had EXTREMELY fiddly rubber buttons down the front. Some bodices even had them on the side.

As already mentioned I am of a certain age, but to my surprise one of my bodices resurfaced a couple of years ago when my late father asked if I remembered this ‘cloth’. He had been using it for decades as a shoe polishing cloth.  Although badly stained it was still complete and somehow it set my creative juices going….which meant dad had to find ‘another’ cloth! Sadly the rubber buttons totally dissolved when I laundered it.

Above I’ve started stitching, although I didn’t like it. Nearly two years later and the juices had found the right recipe. I’m sure I’m not alone in this regard. I started to stitch around the stains using different colours and types of stitch, but nothing tooooooo complicated. It helped me remember many happy times growing up.

From my avid explorations and research on (read that as addiction to!) Pinterest I gleaned some useful ideas, combined with input from my EPH (Ever Patient Husband – he is a brilliant hobby painter so has a good eye) and others, I finally completed my slow stitch piece. The last few days were not quite ‘slow’ stitch as I wanted to enter it into a village show. Then came the method of presentation problem.

Using a piece of polished driftwood, I roped my neighbour into helping me create the stand – the night before!

I titled the piece….Polished Childhood. I could say more about the colours and continuous line of stitches but I’ll leave that to your imagination. Unable to replace the original buttons I recreated them by making individually patterned ‘Dorset’ buttons and stitching a comment about the rubber ones as a reminder. Dad would have loved the result and we would both have laughed and giggled at all the memories. Writing this has just made me realize the bodice is a tribute to him (and my still active mum)….totally by chance.

EPH and I arrived at the show just at packing up time….WOOHOO……..a red ticket I will certainly treasure!

Thanks for the wonderful post Antje! I am sure it will bring smiles to the faces of those who remember wearing the same type of bodice.




More Stitches

More Stitches

I have now worked my way through the stitch dictionary at

It took a while but I worked my way through all the stitch families. I did get lazy near the end and I didn’t do all the wrapped stitches. It seems if you wrap another thread around through your stitching it gets a new name. If you weave it through it gets a new name. If you leave loops when you do it another new name.

I discovered that some stitches just didn’t work well with crochet cotton. I am using #8 mercerized and for some stitches it was to slippery and the stitch didn’t lie properly. I think it would have worked better with yarn. Some stitches were to small when pulled tight making it really hard to see the detail of the stitch. Some stitches looked messy when she did them and worse when I did them. Have a look at the top right sample.

These are the 2 pens I have been using to make lines. 

and the marks they make

They are both permanent. I like the silver one better. It is a liquid but it stays put and would be fine to use if the line will not show after. The gold one seemed to get wider after a while. I am going to keep an eye out for the washable and air erase pens. One of the books I got said the was a pen that disappeared when heat was applied. I will keep an eye out for that too. Next I think I will try drawing on some water-soluble fabric  and I might try some tear away. I think once I have an outline done I could fill it in ok.

And on another topic of my life; we had our first farmers market day of the year last week and it went well. I hope I can get back into the routine of baking (and then cleaning up) for the market so I have some time left for felting.


Learning to Hand Stitch

Learning to Hand Stitch

I really like the way stitching looks on felt. I like machine stitching and took Ruths on line class. Machine stitching class  It was very good. I need to do lots more practice. I am a little busy around home and farm at the moment for that so I thought I would work on expanding my stitching ability with a regular needle . I can take it with me and do it anywhere.

I do know a few stitches. I am quite good at french knots because I like to make sheep.  I did this little bag recently.

On the bottom half I did some flowers. I used french knots and a daisy stitch.

This is what it looks like closed. It still needs ironing to get it flat.

So then I went on to do some practice flowers on a piece of felt I had

and some close ups.

The first leaf, the one at the bottom didn’t work out so well. So for the second one I drew a leaf shape. I used ball point pen because it was what I had in my purse while I was waiting in the van for kids. What do you use that won’t disappear while stitching but will disappear easily after you are done.

At this point I thought I should be more systematic. I thought I would just go back through the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge. We did It on the Forum a few years ago.  unfortunately the links lead you to a new take a stitch Tuesday challenge that started in January. If you are interested follow the link in any of the posts. You can still see all our posts for the challenge we did.

So I went looking for another stitch dictionary to use. I found this one that groups the stitches in to families I like this Idea. stitch dictionary I learn the basic stitch and some interesting variations, so I started. First I drew a wavy pattern and then I clamped it in my new to me embroidery hoop stand and  started stitching. Then I took a picture, at least I hadn’t gotten far before I remembered to take a picture.

This is the finished stitching, it is just simple back stitch. I tried some different stitch lengths.

I had hoped to get further than this for you but life keeps interfering. I haven’t decided if I like the hoop stand. It’s a bit strange to use but it’s nice that I can just stick the needle in and walk away. I haven’t made it very far yet but so far I am enjoying it.

Samples from the Nuno Paper Lamination Class

Samples from the Nuno Paper Lamination Class

I just finished Ruth Lane’s online class.  Since I am also papermaker, I was excited to combine the two passions and see the results.

It was a fun experiment using a variety of papers, dyes, paints and fabrics.  Some worked, some didn’t, but that’s how we learn.

This first one is a paper napkin from one of my Grandson’s birthday party earlier this year on organza.  Since I was experimenting, I used some batts with unknown fibers in two colors, blue and green.


I decided not to further embellish it since the “characters” were nicely defined.  I suppose I could add some greenery and clouds.  But I wanted to show the results this far.

The next one is also “finished.”  I used a tree stencil on organza with unryu paper which is very fibery.  Again it is on a batt of unknown fiber.


I embellished around the stencil with silver silk hankies.  It felted very nicely.


Since these were experiments, I wasn’t concerned about perfect edges and left them organic.

Here’s a closeup of the center.  You can see how those fiber areas look like branches and connect the trees.


I got great texture as you can see from this side view.


The one project I completed was a stenciled bird pic.


I used a couple of paper and fabric types with this stencil, but chose this one to finish even though the colors faded.  It was a dyed paper towel on cotton voile.  You can’t see it in the pics, but the bumps from the towel can be seen in spots. I used it on a merino batt.


I forgot to cover the edges of the voile, so I used machine stitching to cover the edges.

I decided to hand stitch the rest. There is a lot of dimension in the paper, although it’s not too obvious in these pics.


I wanted to keep it simple.  I used double rayon thread with threaded backstitches and some satin stitches to embellish it. The green is a variegated thread. I purposely just outlined because I wanted the birds to be the center of attention. Forgive my poor stitching. Here are some closeups.

20160609_122027 20160609_121810 20160609_121800

Now I have to decide whether to frame it or leave it organic.

Thanks Ruth!  It was a unique class. I need more practice. I’m still working on the final projects.

2nd Quarter Challenge Part 2

2nd Quarter Challenge Part 2

It seems as if everyone is anxious to reduce their UFO stash.  While I haven’t put a dent in mine, it does feel good to create something new out of scraps.

Sifting thru my scraps, I was having a hard time coming up with ideas.  But then one evening while watching the local news it hit me.  I grew up in Chicago and now live about 50 miles west of it in the middle of corn country.  I always loved seeing the city scape either driving in or flying over.

I didn’t want to copy a picture, but compile my own city scape made up of buildings I thought were unique.

My first attempt I used a purple for a sky color. And a teal for the water.  It was too dark and didn’t let the buildings pop.


Not having enough blue scraps for the sky I felted a piece of prefelt.  Then added some fluffy wool clouds for dimension.

20160515_16514020160523_142336 20160523_142313

Of course a lot of buildings are gray or black, but as you can see I chose to use more of my wallet material for my centerpiece building — The Willis Tower (formerly known ans will always be The Sears Tower to me.) In reality it is black.

The red building on the right was a left over piece of a business card.  I thought it was just right for a real red CNA (Continental National America) building on the lake shore.

On the left is the Crain Communications building also known as the Diamond  building.

Once the pieces were pinned, I used a combination of hand stitching to keep everything in place, machine stitching for the windows and antennas  on the Willis building and details on the Crain building.

The Willis Tower is not leaning in real life, but we do live in the Windy City and buildings do sway. Actually, the sewing must have shifted it.  I debated pulling it out, but decided against it.

I also used free motion stitching in the foilage area at the lake front.  There was still something missing. What is a lake without boats?  If you look closely, the sails are blowing in the wind, again adding dimension.





I tried a couple of mats, but decided on the black and white one.  I don’t have a frame yet, but probably basic black.


Or I could use a 5 x 7″ frame by itself.  Sorry about the black background. It’s a metallic slate gray frame.


What do you think?

Don’t forget to post your 2nd Quarter Challenge on the forum.




Free Contemporary Designs for Fiber Art

Free Contemporary Designs for Fiber Art

My friend Deb Stika and I are working up a book proposal using Deb’s designs. These are contemporary designs that Deb has drawn and that we both thought would work really well as designs for various types of fiber art including hand stitching, machine stitching, wet felting, needle felting, screen printing, surface design, silk painting, mixed media and more. The designs are in 5 categories including psychedelic, circles, nature, tapestry and graphic. The plan is to have 5-10 designs in each category and to have examples that have been completed in each design in a variety of media. You could also use these designs to print out and color with colored pencils or pens. There does seem to be a new fad of “adult coloring” books and these designs would be fun to color.

When you are writing a book proposal, you as an author need to be able to show to the publisher that there is interest in that type of book and that there will be an audience for the book. So Deb and I thought we would give away a few of the designs here to our readers and see what the response is. We would love your feedback and for you to spread the word on social media about the proposed book and the free designs. We would also love to see whatever you make using any of the designs. Perhaps, if the book proposal is accepted, your piece might even be included in the book.

The links to the PDF version of these designs will be included below. Please feel free to use the design in your own work. Please make sure to attribute the design to Deb Stika when showing your work. If you would like to sell items with these designs, please contact us before doing so.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika, copyright Deb Stika

This is the first design in the graphic category. The nice thing about these designs is that they could be used in so many ways. For example, you could enlarge the design if you wanted to use it in wet felting to make a wall hanging. Or if you wanted to use it in hand stitching, you could keep it at a smaller size.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika

Here is Deb’s interpretation of the design in hand stitching and then coloring in the background.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika

Here is my interpretation done with free motion machine stitching on dyed felt. How would you interpret this design? I could see this design being used for 2 dimensional needle felting in natural wool colors. Or even using a variety of hand stitches to fill in the colors once the outline was completed. I also think this would be cool if enlarged a bit and used as a design for a silk painting. I’m sure you can come up with other ideas on how to use the design.

Graphic 1

Just click on the link above to get the PDF version of this design.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika, copyright Deb Stika

This design is part of the nature series. Again, I can see many possibilities with this design. Applique, cut back applique, wet felting with prefelt pieces, screen printed on a t-shirt, or wet felted and machine stitched.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika

Here is Deb’s hand stitched interpretation. The background was actually printed by me during several of our local surface design sessions. I don’t actually remember what all I did to this piece of fabric. But it was sitting unloved in my stash and Deb liked it, so I gave it to her. I just love the end result! Deb has hand stitched hand dyed felt as well as including other hand stitches. Don’t forget that you can enlarge any of these photos by clicking on them.

Contemporary Designs by Deb Stika

And here is my machine stitched creation from Deb’s nature design. This is fused, hand dyed fabric applique pieces that I covered with sheer silk organza and then machine stitched. I really like how even though we used the same design, our pieces are very different. Have we got your mind whirling with ideas on how to use this design in your own way?

Nature 1

And again, here’s the free PDF at the link above for you to try your own piece with the nature design. So I will make this a mini challenge for everyone. Use one or both of these designs to make something in your own methods and media. Then let us know what you created either by showing it on the forum or sending it to me by e-mail at laneruthe at gmail.

Please let me know in the comments if this type of book would be something you would consider buying. Are you looking for fun designs to use in your work? Would you prefer to have just the examples and designs or would you prefer specific how to projects with the designs? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!


Still Stitching Pomegranates

Still Stitching Pomegranates

I have stitched a little bit more on my pomegranate piece. I had time when we went on a quick road trip this past weekend. I’m still not sure what direction I am taking with this so it’s kind of just “free form” stitching at the moment.

Stitched Pomegranates

This is the entire piece. I mainly added more stem stitch around the various pomegranate shapes.

Stem Stitch

I like how the stem stitch really defines the shapes. It is my go-to stitch for curving lines.

Close Up Stem Stitch

Here’s  a little closer view.

Seed Stitches

I did add a few more seed stitches but not many.

Another Pomegranate

Now I need to decide if I am going to add more to the background. I was thinking about adding branches and leaves. What do you think?

For those of you in the northwest United States, Gail Harker from La Conner, Washington is coming to Kalispell, Montana at the end of June to give a Level 1 Experimental Hand Stitch course.


Northwest Montana is a beautiful place to visit and you could combine the class with a vacation. Road trip anyone?

Level 1 Stitched Page



Small Bags

Small Bags

I have been listening to audio books on my phone. It’s a great way to “read” a book and still get some work done. The problem was that I am moving around. In and out of the kitchen or one end to the other of the studio and kept moving in and out of hearing range. I decided I needed a little bag so I could pop my phone in it plug in my ear phones and no more problem.

I made 3 little bags . Sorry I took no pictures of them being made.

This one I used oval shaped beads with and orange stripe for the petals of the flower. When I cut the holes to reveal the beads I cut one of them to large. The bead was staying in but only just. So I got out some orang embroidery thread and put some stitches all around to secure it. I did the rest so it looks like I did it on purpose.

green bag web greenbag stitching web

This one I want to embroider but haven’t decided how yet.  Maybe a couple of rows of yarn stitched along the edge of the spiral. The pin is just holding the flap shut for the picture

purple bag web

This last one I plan to either needle felt or embroider on some sheep.

sheep bag web

It will make a nice match for my name tag and my business card holder. The strap on the card holder is some of the first silk I ever spun. It whole bag is looking a little worn. It has been living in my purse for most of 10 years so I shouldn’t complain.

name tag web biz card holder web

I haven’t figured out what to do about straps for the bags yet. Felt ropes or some sort of webbing or woven strap. I don’t want it to cut into my neck when I am wearing it. What do you suggest?

A Little Hand Stitching

A Little Hand Stitching

In between projects and during waiting times, I work on hand stitch projects. I have been working on both of these for several months but I’m not progressing very quickly. I think one of the problems is that neither project is really my style. The reason I started both of these is that my local group is learning hand stitches and I needed a “sampler”. So both of these projects are samplers but I just haven’t gotten very excited about them.

Book Cover with Stem StitchThe first project is a little felt book. I had already made the book actually just to do the binding. It would have been simpler if I started with the pages and then bound the book together afterwards but I’m working backward. The flower design is done in all stem stitch. I used blanket stitch around the edges and then further embellished the edge of the blanket stitch with more detached blanket stitch.

Raised Chain Band BindingThe binding is done with raised chain band. I really like this binding and although it looks complex, it really isn’t that hard.

Thread Covered WashersHere’s the second page. I used brass washers and covered them with blanket stitch. I then stitched them down to the page and started adding detached chain stitch to make little flowers. I haven’t gotten very far on this page.

Crazy PatchOne of the members of our group made us all a crazy patch so we could embellish it with stitches. I have never done one of these before and somehow it just isn’t doing much for me. But I will fill it all up eventually.

Blue Flower Edge TreatmentThis is the first part that I did. Just a combination of blanket stitch, detached chain and French knots.

Stem StitchHere is more stem stitch (light blue line). We are supposed to be using the stitches we learn each month on these. I have a few I haven’t added yet including a spider web stitch and fly stitch.

Natural Dyed ThreadsActually to me, the most interesting part about this is that the wool threads that I dyed naturally recently are an exact match for the crazy patch. I hadn’t seen the fabrics before I dyed the threads so I had no idea they would match so perfectly. Do you like to hand stitch? I’d love to see what you’ve stitched. Feel free to add photos to Flickr or on the forum.








%d bloggers like this: