Thursday, 12 January 2017

Autumn Leaves Wedding Pillow - Design, Transfer and First Steps

It's finally time to get going on all the un-blogged projects that I've been working over the past three or four months.  It was rather hectic for a while, but now I feel that I've more or less caught up with myself and am ready to start documenting what I can remember of the process of creating three wedding gifts, one wedding dress modesty panel, one wedding card and a 'finishing up' project where I mounted or otherwise dealt with things where the stitchery had long since been completed, but was awaiting being made into something.

Let's start with the autumn leaves wedding souvenir pillow for the younger brother of the groom who received the white rose and lavender pillow back in May.  You could say that the pillow itself was the first one's little brother too as it was a little smaller, the design was simpler and quicker to work as I was using wider gauge threads.  More on that later.

The green leaves emoji you see above and may recognise from WhatsApp et al was, basically, the commission I received back in August, along with the wedding date and a 'neutral colour' for the background.  The bridal pair are very fond of leaves, woods and that kind of thing, and they often used this emoji as their symbol during their courtship and engagement.

The groom's mum initially asked if I could do it just as in the emoji - all rich green, but, as you can see, there simply isn't enough detail in it to make a worthwhile embroidery of any size.  It'd be ok as something about an inch square, but it's much too stylized to be any good as a thread painting.  So, I changed it to a more autumnal mix of colours, using this image I found on-line as a bit of a guide.  I zoomed the emoji to the right size on my tablet screen and traced it off there.  (Do you know how hard it is to trace off a screen?  Never mind one that keeps altering the size and jumping around if it feels too much pressure from your pencil!!?)  I then typed the numbering using the most rustic and woody looking font I could find, printed it out and made the following working design diagram, which, unless you're very new to my blog (in which case, Hi! Welcome☺), you'll have seen a few months ago.

The '10' was just that tiny bit too high up, so I compensated a bit when tracing it off onto the light beige/cream slub silk in my usual, high-tech, no expense spared style! ☺

I chose Madeira Silks to work with this time as they're much thicker than Pipers Silk Floss and have less sheen - perfect for the more rustic look needed for leaves.  Ok, yes, much, much faster to work with than the finer ones too.  Definitely no complaints there!

Here is the initial palette of autumn leaf shades I chose to work with.  It's also quite clear in this photo why I needed to re-wash and press the light silk.  Actually, I'd forgotten, but this fabric can be awfully 'papery' to work with.  I actually threw the last piece I tried to start a project on away as it was so unlike fabric and I couldn't bear the texture.  I'd worked on enough pieces of silk to know that it shouldn't have been like that, so, suspecting an over-zealous application of something with a stiffening effect, I headed to the washbasin with my trust Ecover delicate fabric detergent and some regular laundry softener, and gave it a good rinse out - after having washed a sample of the same fabric and pen to make sure I wasn't about to mess up my tracing.

The brown fabric shown underneath the main piece is a lovely, rich, reddish brown shade that came in a theme pack from The Silk Route a few years ago.  It was great to be able to use it for a perfectly matching project as the colour is really a dark copper tone.  Gorgeous!

Next up was making a start on the stitching by working the leaf sprig stem and beginning to outline one of the leaves.

The next day, I had to go and visit my mum in hospital and picked up a yellow and dark orange leaf of a similar type to the ones I was working as a colour and shading reference.  (My well-informed-on-nature friend, Emily, helped me to identify beech leaves as a possible type.)  As you can see from the outlined first leaf below, I'd woefully missed the mark when it came to how bright the colours needed to be!  Back to the Madeira Silk thread drawer and out came some much more vibrant shades to work with.

Here's the final line-up of colours and tools that were used in this project - including the sewing cottons that were needed for the finer leaf veins and the cute chocolate cupcake pincushion that a friend made me last spring and that really came into its own during this project.

Next time: progress on the leaves!

UNLESS you'd like me to mix the projects up a bit??  I have six whole projects to blog, including the finishing up one.  Would you like to see one at a time?  A mix of two or three at a time?  Or all of them in rotation?  What do you think?  Click over from your reader software and let me know.  They've all to be done and are all complete, so any order is fine with me.  You say.....

I also have a year end summary and projects planned for the year ahead to post (as well as how the ones I've started are coming on), plus a report on how I managed to downscale some of my stash - halved my fabric, can you believe?!  So, lots coming up.  Hoping to get my blogging umph back.  It's been gone for about two years now and it would be nice to get well and truly back into it.  No promises, but I'm going to try. ♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A quick note to say....

... that I'm too busy working on time sensitive pieces to blog about them (or anything else) just now.  Please bear with me.  Once they're all done - at the end of this month, I expect, I'll be back to share them all with you.  One's completely done already and handed over, another is awaiting being finished up, but the stitchery is all done, a third is in progress and the fourth (image here, linked from the Victoria Sampler webpage) will start just as soon as I can!

These are all the projects I whet your appetites on in my last post about 6 weeks ago.

In the meantime, I'm posting regularly on Instagram so anyone who wants to can follow real time project progress:

I'll be back soon, promise! ☺♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Coming up on Sew in Love this autumn!

Mary Corbet of Needle'n'Thread and Kathy Andrews of The Unbroken Thread both recently posted their 'coming up on' articles, which reminded me that I had been wanting to do my own for some weeks already.  So, without further delay, here it is!

As you might know, my friends and their kids have been keeping me very busy indeed stitch-wise this year with all the weddings and baby arrivals.  There's no end in sight just yet as there are two more weddings to go - one in just over 3 weeks and the other in mid-December.  So, most of my stitching time until the end of November will be taken up with wedding gifts etc.  Here are some of the projects you can expect to read about.

The first is rather overdue as the wedding took place in mid-July, but I wasn't able to get anything gift-wise done around that time.  As the bride loves purple, I'm making a lilac, purple and green version of this bellpull from Patricia Bage (of Patricia Ann's Designs)'s book 'Beginners Guide to Drawn Thread Embroidery'.

In tandem with that, another wedding souvenir pillow/cushion is under way.  The couple love woods and leaves, so this is their design:

The December wedding is taking place in Ghana where bare backs are a big 'no-no', so I was asked by the British bride to embroider a modesty panel to go in the back of her dress.  The whole of the bodice section and some of the skirt is encrusted with beaded embroidery, so she was hoping for something that would co-ordinate.  Here's the design for that so far.
This is one of the flowers from the dress itself.

Finding the right thread is a bit of a challenge and I may have to go and buy one tomorrow, but I think I can manage.  You'll understand the trepidation when I tell you all about that project in a few weeks' time....

In tandem with that one, I'll be working a slightly adapted version of the Victoria Sampler 'Renaissance Lace' bellpull design.

So, lots to do and some pretty tricky projects they are too.  Not one of them is simple and straightforward, all are either very challenging, or at least need adapting and altering.

After those are done, I plan to complete the things I started the year not having done - the needle painting of the violets, the small hardanger card pieces (which are actually done, just need mounting) and the Paradise Island cross stitch, which I am looking forward to relaxing with in December.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Bingley Show - 23 July 2016

I can't believe it was almost two months ago, but it's my great pleasure to wish you a warm, if belated, welcome to the handicrafts tent at this year's Bingley Show.  It was my first year in this Show - first in any other than the Sheffield Fayre (which, owing to diary clashes, I wasn't able to enter this year....waaaaahh!), but it was a good one!  Let's join these ladies photographed kindly looking at my entries (at least the visitor in the foreground was), and take a look around some of the tent.

First let's look along the 'Piece of Counted Thread Embroidery' class displays.  This was a really good class with plenty of potential for variety (as opposed to the usual 'piece of cross stitch' in many other events), and had a decent number of entries, of which 5 were mine.

Because there were a good number of pieces in this class, the judges were able to award a couple of 'Highly Commended' tickets as well as the regular first, second and third prizes.  As you might be able to see here, my Tudor Lady was commended and....

Martin caught my stunned smile as it sunk in that the 'Sunshine and Flowers' sampler had not only won its second first prize, but also took the trophy for the 'most outstanding exhibit' in the handicrafts section!!  Wow!  'Handicrafts' covers all fabric, paper and embroidered items as well as an 'any other crafts' class, but not yarncrafts, art, photography or, of course, junior classes, all of which have their own cup or plate.

You can see my 'also rans' here in the shape of the narrowboat cross stitch, the bellpull that took a second in Sheffield last year and the peach hearts hardanger cushion cover.  There was one other piece of hardanger (see three photos up), which was commended.

Here are the entries in the freestyle class where my stumpwork bunny hopped off with third prize.  Another lady won the first and second, as well as the third in the counted section and plenty of others.  I saw her later on clutching a fistful of prize tickets from several classes and categories.  A very skilled and productive rival!!! =)

Looking back now at this display, I notice that the prize winning items were all nicely framed and it makes me wonder just how big a contribution proper framing makes in the awarding of points.  I hadn't formally framed my knot garden and goldwork viola pieces as they normally just live in my portfolio and I don't have any suitable frames for them (and don't really want to buy any - surprise, surprise!)  Worth bearing in mind for future events though.

Above are many of the entries into the general fabric crafts class and the red scatter cushion in the back row is one of mine (and now on our sofa).  We urgently needed new scatter cushions and the Show provided the impetus to get one made up quickly.  I just love the colour co-ordinated pen roll in the middle of this collection.

Below are the five entries into the child/baby knits class.  I didn't win anything here, but I'm not at all surprised.  You see, I'd not realised until my friends, Emily and Wanjun pointed it out a couple of months before, but my purl stitches are twisted.  I borrowed 'The A-Z of Knitting' from the Leeds Art library recently and from the photos in there, realised that I'd been winding the yarn the wrong way around the needle.  No wonder every second row looked so skew!  Next time I'll get it right.  Just hope I don't forget and slip back into bad habits....

Here we have the top two entries in the 'Hand Knit or Crochet Group' and the yarncrafts section trophy was taken - for at least the third year running - by the same lady.  She must be a real force to be reckoned with in the local yarncrafts sphere!  Her knitted toys are delightful!  I'd love to have a go at this type of work some time, but I'm hesitant to start at the moment as it would mean accumulating more yarns in several colours and I've recently reduced my supplies down to one scrap end and two part balls.

The 'Other Yarncrafts' section yielded some real treats, including this incredible crocheted Bingley Five Rise locks (by the lady who took stacks of prizes, I think), a crocheted wedding cake, and owl and pussy cat in their 'beautiful pea green boat.'

This class also attracted a number of felted pieces, which were superb!  When an e-mail from the Handicrafts secretary came out to all those who'd entered this year and asking for suggestions for classes, I suggested having 'Felted Item' as a separate class as there seemed easily enough entries to justify it.

Moving away from needlecrafts to the other side of the tent, and here are some of the paintings displayed.

And finally, next door to the horticulture tent where I just loved the juniors' fruit and veg animals

It was a great Show and a big success for me too, winning the handicrafts section trophy!  At first I was almost disappointed at getting the biggest prize first time as it kind of felt like there was nothing left to strive for, but there is, of course.  Not only do I want to defend it next year, but there are also prizes in other sections to aim for, especially the first prize in the freestyle and I'd like to aim to win something in the art and yarncrafts sections.

I also learned what wins trophies when it's a 'most outstanding exhibit' type, (as opposed to exhibitor with the most points, which can depend as much on sheer quantity of entries as anything).  From looking at the prize winning entries across numerous classes I could see that pretty pieces, well worked win prizes, but if you want the trophy, you need a piece with the 'Wow!' factor.  There were some truly lovely items displayed and all beautifully made by very skilled hands, but the 'Sunshine and Flowers' piece had that 'Wow!' effect.  It had nothing to do with me really - beyond my not gaffing it up too obviously.  It was simply the design that was the winner.  So, if you're after a trophy some time, that's the formula.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Monday, 19 September 2016

Peach hearts hardanger cushion complete!

Here it is: the completed peach hearts hardanger scatter cushion cover. =)

I'm really pleased with the finished look of this one.  It was hard to get a good picture, because of the light in our current home.  I find it either too dark or too bright to get a good shot, but trusty Photoshop Elements is at hand to save the day, so you can see it in a respectable amount of light and detail.

I wanted to do a more detailed post on how I put this cover together, but unfortunately forgot all about taking the necessary photos until I'd almost finished.  Sorry!  Next time....

This is the backing fabric I chose - a sort of peachy beige based fat quarter which I bought in Taiwan.  It's been nice to use so many of my oriental fabrics recently, although I confess to having sold the majority of them (and others) last month.  Actually, I've halved my fabric stash - what an enormous relief that was too!  More about that another day though.

I didn't have quite enough of the plain peach fabric you see through the cutwork areas, so I used it where it was needed and put a border of white around it.  The backing is also lined so as to make it a bit less flimsy, especially in comparison to the backed piece of Oslo fabric on the front, which is quite rigid.

The last step was a 10"/25cm white zip.

This was a lovely project to work.  I hadn't done a decent sized piece of hardanger for such a long time and it was a real pleasure to do this one.  I loved using the Anchor peach multi-coloured pearl #5 and also putting one of my old Six Strand Sweets to use.  Later on, when I was sorting out which threads to sell last month, I found that I actually owned the matching Anchor multicolour stranded cotton and could also have used that, but I don't think anything was lost for not having done so.

The cushion/pillow's new owners are very happy with it and recently sent me a photo of it in situ on their sofa, (which you can see on my Instagram - link in the sidebar).

What's next?  The Bingley Show handicrafts tent displays.  Roll up, roll up!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 16 September 2016

Peach Hardanger Cushion - cutwork and fillings

Hi everyone!  Sorry about the long pause in reporting on this project.  I actually finished it almost two months ago, have since exhibited it in a local agricultural show and handed it over to its new owners last month!  I just hadn't got to blogging about it until today.

Things are nothing if not mad around here these days and I'm finding myself without much chance to post on my blogs.  I can keep up with my Instagram OK, but it's a little harder to find the time etc needed to sit down, edit photos and then create posts - something that almost always takes a lot longer than one would expect.

Anyway, enough of all that.  You want to read about the project, right? =)

When I last wrote about it back in mid-July, I left it at the surface work done and cutting out complete stage.  Next stage was, of course, the filling stitches.  Sadly, I didn't get a lot of WIP photos during this stage, at least not decent, blog-able ones (one or two were OK to use on IG), as I was working on it quite intensively.  There were basically only two types of filling in this design: woven bars with dove's eye filling in the large diamond section and Greek cross fillings in the squares.

Here's an angled view where the lovely texture of hardanger shows up well.  I loved using a little bit of colour in this piece as well.  White on white is beautiful and so classic, but a splash of colour is always welcome, I feel.

Next time I'll share the completed scatter cushion with you. Hope you like it so far. =)

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Saturday, 6 August 2016

Thread sale!

Hi everyone!  Just a very quick post to let you know that I've picked out 115 or so threads (and some beads etc) that I'm either not likely to ever use or have finished with for the foreseeable future and listed them on eBay.  I've only put UK postage/shipping so far but, if anyone outside of the UK sees anything they would like to bid on, please message me through the eBay system and let me know so that, as long as there are no bids on the item as yet, I can add international postage.

I'm not in the Global Shipping Programme anymore as that is a real pain for sending more than one thing - you can't merge them, they have to be done individually, which is profoundly wasteful. =(

Even more amazing than me clearing out 7% of my threads for sale (with another 200 or so under threat.....), is that I've halved my fabric stash.  I haven't listed that yet, but it will be coming very soon.  Keep an eye on the above link if you're interested in evenweave fabrics including linens, orientals and others.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016

Friday, 15 July 2016

Where Bloggers Create Party 2016 - Welcome!


Welcome both to the Where Bloggers Create Party 2016 (the annual link party where numerous creative bloggers give you a virtual tour of their workspaces and stash stores), and also to my 'compact and bijoux' (anyone else remember that ad??) little home and workspace!

I don't have a studio to work in.  Since we moved back to Leeds in February of this year, I don't even have my own room anymore.  Thankfully, I decluttered an enormous amount of surplus belongings, especially books, so we were able to fit into this new home.  (If anyone's interested in my on-going downscaling of stuff, see my lifestyle blog Fluffy Little Idiot.)

The room I work in is a 3-in-1 of lounge, dining room and my study.  Here you can see my desk area.  Let's zoom in for a close up or two....

At the back of the desk I have this little, untreated wooden drawer set from Ikea.  One of those things that I always meant to 'pretty up' and never got around to doing.  On top is a reading lamp, a pot of Derwent Pastel Pencils, my computer glasses, lens cleaner, needlecase and snips, and a cute cupcake pincushion a new friend made for me.  There's a six section pencil holder next to it with a variety of art pencils and Cotman watercolours (which I wish I could say I used regularly) and other assorted bumf.  Then comes a Chinese dictionary I need whilst studying, a couple of diaries and my coaster.

Want to see inside the drawer set?  Of course you do!  Well, I would if I were in your room.... :)

The top left two drawers are just gadgets, cables and admin things, then we have pencils, highlighters, pens, tape, staplers, fixative and paper stationery as well as a quantity of language learning flashcards.  I have a load more elsewhere.  Too darned many!  Another thing I need to reduce...

On the right hand side of the desk is this Really Useful Box organiser shelf doo-dah, with an extra nine RUBs on top.  Here I store spools of metallic thread (mostly Kreinik), packs of needlework beads (mostly Mill Hill), sewing threads and notions, ribbons, buttons and some spools of rayon machine embroidery thread.

Next to that is my writing pen pot.  As you can see, I like to use lots of different colours when studying, working, planning....

Under my desk I keep various bags and an old thread storage container thingy (not shown), and this bag of hoops and frames.  Next to it is my folder of art papers and card, there's a roll of silk fabrics (protected with brown paper) behind it and another roll of completed needlework that needs mounting or otherwise housing.

Why am I showing you the dining table?  Well, this foreground chair is where I sit, not only to eat, but also to use the sewing machine, which you may be able to see on the floor against the far wall, bottom right.

I love miniatures, but haven't room for a dollshouse, so I have some displays that I alternate every so often.  This one is my favourite and I plan to make a little scatter cushion for this lovely chaise longue at some point and perhaps a hardanger runner for the sideboard.

I keep meaning to start making and selling miniature embroideries and textiles.  One day.  Maybe?  Who knows? No-one seems to do miniature hardanger, so I could try that.

I don't really want a whole house actually.  If I had one it would mean more stuff, more collecting, more this, more that.  I'm a minimalist at heart, but it's hard to be one full on when you're into textiles!

Let's move on to the arts and crafts storage around the room and first up are my thread and fabric drawers, with another thread box (holding all my regular Anchor and DMC stranded cottons, plus all my Anchor #8 and #12 pearl cottons) on the left and the shelves on the right holding four files of magazines and other patterns (down from eight, yay!) and, below the crockery shelf, my needlework books, also reduced in number.

Here are all the treasures in the wooden effect threadbox:

Seriously, they are my treasures!  I could part with pretty much everything else I own without much sorrow, but I would be really quite grieved to lose my needlework and art stash!

Along the shelves is some space for my box of Pipers Silks, some more art stuff and one of the boxes holds greetings card blanks.  The brown box has other card making supplies in.

Downstairs in our entrance storage area I keep my main box of paints and regular pastels (i.e. not in pencil form) and a box of fabric and silk paints.  They're kept here for three reasons: 1) They're away from the heating radiators and less likely to dry up; 2) There really isn't room for them upstairs, unless I start loading up the top of the bookshelves (too cluttered - stressful working environment!); and 3) I rarely use them and don't need them close to hand.  It's not far to go if I need them any time.

Back upstairs in the main room again and it's time for a tour of the fabric and thread drawers:

The top of the bottom section holds all my counted thread work fabrics, all in bags according to type and with a label on showing how much I have of each colour and count etc.

There are also plain weave white, cream and black fabrics in this drawer.

Drawer two holds all the pretty coloured fabrics, most of which are fat quarters (silks towards the front of the row), and patchwork rolls.  I don't do a lot of patchwork, but am getting a bit into using them for other things.  To be honest, I'm really trying to run the contents of this series of drawers down as I've accumulated a lot of fabric and need no more for a l-o-n-g time!

Drawer number three doesn't have much in the way of regular fabric in, although it does have 'helper' fabrics like interfacing, Bondaweb, Romeo soluble fabric etc.

There are also back ups of oft used threads (some of which are not so oft used and need to be e-bayed...), some dress patterns, cotton molds and about half a dozen embroidery kits, which I also want to use up and sell on as far as I can.

Drawer four, below, contains mostly fabric offcuts bought during my time in Taiwan a few years ago, including the plain, shiny fabrics you see here.  (I also got all the patchwork rolls out there.)  The other piece are fancy fabrics made in Yorkshire in one of the last remaining mills (at the time).  My father used to have a 2nd/3rd floor (depending on how you count floors) workshop above the mill and sometimes got hold of offcuts for me to play with when I was about 11 or 12 years old.  I still have some of them and keep trying to think of a use for them.  Any ideas??  The mill has now been converted into homes, as have many in the area.

Onto more of my favourite art and crafts supplies - embroidery thread!  This smaller four drawer set contains:

Drawer one:  DMC Coton à Broder in 4 weights, DMC Light Effects, some skeins of Anchor metallics, organza ribbons, Superstitch 'invisible' thread (mostly used by my hubby to cut cake layers when he makes a Black Forest Gateau!!) and some oddments of Kreinik metallics from a couple of their 'Scrap Bags'.

Drawer two is mostly overdyed cotton threads - Gentle Arts Sampler Threads (GAST), Weeks Dye Works (WDW) and a few Six Strand Sweets (SSS - RIP!!) at the front, Anchor multi-colours and variegateds, some DMC Colour Variations, some Caron Collection threads and the entire 24 skein set of DMC linens, which I collected, but haven't used yet (and have since been pulled from their range) at the back of the drawer.

Drawer three is Anchor Coton à Broder # 25 at the front, #16 in the middle and #5 pearl cotton at the back.

Finally, drawer number four holds the whole set of Madeira stranded silks on the left and the whole range of Anchor Marlitt rayons on the right.

Sometimes I work sitting on the sofa behind my desk and other times I work at my desk with my fancy, professional set up - balancing my common or garden embroidery hoop between the desk edge and my belly!!! There are advantages to being out of shape, I tell you! Saves me a packet in specialist equipment, especially as I like to rotate my work regularly (haven't mastered the trick of stitching in any direction) which would be a nuisance in a fixed work frame.

So that's it - tour complete!  As you can see, my workspace is very functional and simple.  I'm not into a lot of display items as I like to keep things as clear as I can under the circumstances and I find extra items cluttering and stressful.  I prefer to work in a 'sense of creative calm', as Canadian minimalism YouTuber, Lia, so beautifully put it.  I'm hoping to clear it up yet more in time, especially by completing some of the half worked projects and other tasks that show in some of the photos above. :)

I hope you've enjoyed your visit.  Please leave a comment and say, "Hi", especially if this is your first visit here.  I've been blogging for just over eleven years now, so there's plenty to see in the archives and pages (tabs below the header photos above).  There a number of ways to follow including using the e-mail subscription widget in the sidebar or one of the reader 'add to' buttons.

Thanks for calling in and hope you'll visit again soon.

Where Bloggers Create is being hosted by Karen of My Desert Cottage.  If you haven't come from my link on her blog, please click over to visit some of the other studios and workspaces hosting an open house this weekend.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2016