Monday, 20 March 2017

Finishing up some older projects

I think many, if not most of us have some little itsy-bitsy things hanging around waiting for us to finish them, or finish them into something once the actual stitchery is complete.  I had a few of these and so, once all the wedding pieces were done, I had a bit of a finish-a-thon.

Long term readers may remember some, or even all of these pieces.  The first ones, the four tiny hardanger cards shown part worked here, I posted about around the turn of 15/16.  I had put the beading on sometime in the latter half of last year at some point when I actually wasn't in the depths of Intensive Project Hell, where I spent at least 3 months of 2016 (no wonder it was such a productive stitching year!), but I just hadn't mounted them into cards.

On one day, I mounted the four hardanger cards as well as the two old needlepoint birds in the frames that came in the kits, including giving them felt backings.

Mounting the other two cross stitches was quite easy using an iron as they're first put onto fusible webbing/Bondaweb, (which I had to buy a new supply of as I'd run out) but the paper not peeled off.  I then stuck them onto the relevant pieces of card, trimmed up the dress one and set the cat-a-cello (which my friend, Katy worked for me years ago) aside in a plastic pocket ready to go in the front of my long nelgected music folder.  I'm not exactly thrilled with the results of the dress card - it's too bitty and disjointed for my tastes, but I'm sure someone'll love it!

My project box was a great deal emptier for being able to move these eight items out!  There were nine things to be done at that point, the ninth being the lilac bellpull I shared a few weeks ago.

That's it for project catch up blog-a-thon - the series of almost 20 bi-weekly posts that have been needed to bring you up to date with my projects.  I hope you've enjoyed all these pieces. ☺. I can't promise such regular amounts of eye candy from here onwards, but there'll be things to see as I get pieces ready for this summer's show(s) and other things.  Let's see what we can come up with!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Friday, 17 March 2017

Lauren's Wedding Card etc

At the Knitting and Stitching Show, I had fun with a Rowandean 'make and take' piece again this year, having already decided to use it for a wedding card to go along with the dress panel and bellpull.

It was worked in about three sessions - two of them at the Show.  I did a bit, went off to look around again, then came back and did some more, then took it home to finish off.  Problem was that, as I'd left it in the hoop at the stand the first time I took a break, I forgot to take it out of the hoop when I was leaving the Show with it and, consequently, waltzed off with one of Katrina's hoops!  I realised what I'd done shortly afterwards and posted it back to her, so I hope she got it OK...

I didn't get any WIP shots this time, but here it is before and after the main fabric was trimmed to a heart shape and mounted onto a card.  As you can see, I chose a very different colour scheme from the last time I did one of these.

I love these little pieces and fully intend to do another one at this year's Show.

I needed to wrap the bellpull up somehow, but didn't want to roll it or risk it getting folded.  So, I cut a piece of purple card - the same cardstock as I'd used to mount the Rowandean piece on, and used that to support it.

The hanger hung comfortably over the back and I prepared and printed some care instructions to stick on the back of the cardboard too, so that the new owners know how to wash and iron it if ever needed, i.e.hand wash in cool water and press from the back onto a thick towel.

I found some terrific clear wrapping plastic at Wilko's instead of the usual patterned paper.

The last stage was to paint a plain, manilla A5 envelope with lilac metallic fabric paint (I don't have metallic regular stuff.  I don't paint much), put the card in that and then fasten them together with a little bit of double sided tape in between the two, and then attach this ribbon.

And that's the last of the African wedding series.  Hope you've enjoyed it.  It was nice doing three such very different pieces.  I felt I was able to give dear Lauren a little bit of everything. ♥☺♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Monday, 13 March 2017

VS Renaissance Rose bellpull - finished up

Here we are at the finish line for this project.

As this design was for a framed piece whilst I wanted to make a bellpull out of it, I needed to adapt the bottom.  It wasn't terribly difficult - I just needed to add a row of buttonhole edging around the outside of the hardanger section and then, using the new edge this created to site a row of four-sided edging on each side.  When this had got to the needed height, I just turned the top over a pretty hanger I got at the Knitting and Stitching Show in November.

And that was it!

Here the purple card back makes a nice contrast and shows off the cutwork section nicely.  I actually used this type of card as a support when packing up the bellpull, which you can see next catch up project post when I also share the wedding card.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Friday, 10 March 2017

VS Renaissance Rose Bellpull - bullions!

I mentioned in my last posting on this project that I'm often wary of bullion knots.  I think that, with a combination of Kathy's extremely helpful, 'alternative' method of working them (compare how the needle is held in this, more traditional approach, which I find overly awkward to work and leads to puckering)and the sheer quantity of knots that I had to work on my one and only piece of Brazilian embroidery and the 'Sunshine and Flowers' sampler, I've managed to get a fair grip on how to get them to work out OK.  I was really quite pleased with how the majority of these came out.

Having said that, I still wouldn't call myself confident with them, but I'm certainly getting there. ☺  I need to try the same do it over and over again method with cast on stitches and flowers next as I'd love to master those.

You may have noticed especially in the big heart, but also in the other two, smaller motifs with the bullion roses, that there were some pink lazy daisy stitches to insert too, which also add variety and balance to the piece.  Having said 'balance', I realised, looking at this photo, that the roses are much more numerous on one side than the other, but oddly, I didn't notice when looking straight at it.  Maybe this angle of photo has highlighted it.

This is the last section, (which I actually did first) and you can also see that I also worked the outer border as far as I could ready to make the piece up into a bellpull.  The original design was to be framed, so I had to think carefully about how to go about it.  More on that in the next in this series.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Monday, 6 March 2017

VS Renaissance Rose Bellpull - part one

Thanks SO much for all the kind compliments on the last finish - and also all the way through the project.  And now, welcome to a new project series!

Before she approached me about her wedding dress panel, Lauren said she and her fiancé would like a bellpull with a favourite Bible text for their home as their wedding gift.  I chose the absolutely gorgeous Renaissance Rose design from Victoria Sampler to adapt for this piece.

Here's the initial floss toss and, with the exception of deciding against the gold shades in favour of the aubergine cord, this is pretty much what I used - for a wonder!  I normally chop and change several times during the process.  Do you?  Or do you stick fairly closely to the pattern and/or original palette?

As you can see, I opted for 8 shades of Coton à Broder #25 from DMC and Anchor.  The fabric is 28ct congress cloth (I think) in an ecru shade with which I used Anchor Pearl Cottons #8 and #12 in shade 926.

A quick comparison with the chart photo shows that I needed to start out with a little adaptation of the original design in order to meet the requirements.  I decided to replace several pattern rows in the middle, including the 'For You' bit with the scripture they wanted and also to move a cross stitch floral line down to make the text section framed by a similar motif.  It took a couple of goes with a piece of graph paper to get the lettering charted correctly, but it wasn't too big a challenge - especially not after the last project!

After the middle section was complete, I filled in the surface work on the lower half, including the beaded parts, (using good old Mill Hill petite seed beads, which I'm a big fan of), but not the bullion knots which I'm always a little wary of and decided to leave until last.  I hadn't ever thought of doing it before, but I love the section of ecru four-sided stitch in the section above the hardanger heart.  I think it adds a great textural element.

Next came the top few motifs, including the leaf and bead 'frame' for the lovely heart motif.

I then did the cutwork section on the lower heart, as you can see below and even remembered to take some photos at this point.  I didn't take as many WIP shots as I would have liked of thie piece and some were too poor to do anything with other than to delete them!

Here's the piece at the point that we'll leave it for this post and next time I'll show you the bullion knot sections.

I loved this project and I'd really like to do another one, perhaps on bright white fabric and with yellow flowers.  I would very probably want to keep that, but it would be a strong candidate for exhibiting in the summer shows.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Friday, 3 March 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - fitting and wearing

Here's the last instalment in the adventures of a wedding dress modesty panel.  I'm not involved in any of this section - except that I took one of the two wedding screenshot photos.  All other photos etc in this post are from the bride's family and friends over in Ghana on the Big Day.

The bride's dad sent me this lovely shot of her getting out her dress and receiving the modesty panel ready for fitting.  It came along with a heart warming message:

"Lauren really happy with your work. Thank you soooooo much."

In the same photo batch came this one of fitting in progress.  Janet, the bride's mum, is a very accomplished seamstress who also made a Ghanaian style outfit for herself for the day. ☺

And here it is in action!  Photos etc were coming in during the ceremony to all Lauren's friends here in the UK and I was busting with flattered vanity when I saw that she had deliberately sat during the ceremony with her hair on one side so as to show off the panel - the one that was meant to be hidden!! ☺♥☺

It did get hidden during the more 'active' parts, but you can see a tiny bit of it here during the wedding vows (my screenshot photo).

"Screenshot?  How come?"  I hear you ask?  Well, as so many family members and friends weren't able to go over to Africa for the wedding, the whole ceremony was streamed live via YouTube and left on for catch up later for people who weren't able to join at the actual time (including us).

In this scene - the legal registration required by Ghana law before the religious ceremony, you can see dad in the background holding up his phone so that the bride's eldest brother, who lives in China, could 'be there' in real time.  On the other side was her 2nd brother enabling their 3rd brother (who has a tiny daughter) and maternal grandparents back home in the UK via his phone.  It was a truly intercontinental event!  Marvellous! ♥

Along with these two beautiful photographs that came from the newlyweds a few days later, I got a lovely recorded message telling me that many people had commented how nice her dress was at the back. (Vanity swells again!!)

A most successful project, I think.  The fact that people were complimenting her on the appearance of the panel means that it served its purpose well and that no-one was offended by too much skin in the wrong place.  That was the main thing.

Of course, I'm delighted with the results too. ☺  I'm wondering now if I'll ever get chance to do any more projects like this....

I'll conclude this project with this Very Lauren screenshot from the wedding talk. ☺♥☻

The card and 'regular' gift coming up next!

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Monday, 27 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - final preparation stages

Here we are arrived at part six of the dress panel project - the penultimate instalment.

And. This. Part. Was. Scary.

Actually, the part that worried me most was, after removing the embroidery hoop, I needed to trim the excess stabilizer off and I was scared I would cut the net.  One misplaced snip and the whole thing could fray irretrievably.  Thankfully, that didn't happen and here you see it soaking in our bathroom washbasin.  After which, it came out just that little bit crumpled up.

It dried quite a bit flatter though. Phew!  It was mostly the silver threads twisting and turning.

I re-rinsed the piece to make sure that all the stabilizer was out of the net and the threads - the silk felt horrid whilst still full of half dissolved Romeo!  Once it had dried again and I'd finger flattened a fair number of the silver threads, I subjected it to the book treatment overnight as you can see here.

From the bottom up:
-Thick or well folded towel(s)
-Beaded piece upside down so that the beads and stitchery sink into the towel and don't get flattened themselves and ruin the piece
-Heavy books

You can also use this sort of method to iron beaded pieces (or those using thick threads and 3D stitches) and/or clothes.  Iron from the back onto a thick layer of towelling and you'll have a lovely result.  Here's the finish I got.  Not 100% straight, but more than straight enough and much better than the wet version above!

Here's the panel mounted on a piece of dark green A4 card and popped into a plastic pocket for protection on the next part of its adventure - flying over to Ghana.

This is where I bow out of this project and, next time, you can see Janet, the bride's mum, fitting the panel and some shots of the whole dress in action. ♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Friday, 24 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - Beading and Embellishing

Part five today - the beads and jewel embellishments.

I'd never used pearl beads of this size before, or diamond-like sparklies either, so I wasn't really sure of myself here.

This first shot you might remember from the introductory post in this project series - it's from the dress proper and shows what sort of jewel trims it had, including the pearl beads in the small flowers and leaves.  Actually, I forgot to put them above the leaves in the end....  Just remembered that whilst writing this!

Here's the whole panel with the pearl beads added.

And a close up of my favourite section with just the beads on.

The dress proper had two different sizes of pearl beads, whereas I was working with just one, so I ended up adding more in later on to even things up a little in the central, large flower.

These are the sparklies I was given to work with from both top and bottom.  I'd never really seen anything like this before, especially not with a view to working with them.  As you can see, the back has an 'x' shaped finish and no visible attaching mechanism like beads have.  So, what I ended up doing was fastening the jewel to the embroidery by catching threads around the arms that hold the stone in the setting.  That worked very well

Finally for today we have a few shots of the final panel with the addition of the sparklies.  I loved these.  They ended up being realy quite easy to do and they just look great!  I was happy to add the leftovers to my stash. ☺  Wish I could think of something else to use them on now.  Couture 'commissions' aren't something I get every day, sadly!  Part of me rather likes the idea of working as an embroiderer in a big fashion house.

Here's the whole panel still in the hoop, just before being taken out and prepared for fitting.  More on that next time, on Monday.  Join me then! ☺♥

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Wedding Dress Modesty Panel - More details on the silver work

Today I'm here with an extra instalment insterted in the dress panel story.  After the last post on the silver threads, Dima from the D1-D2 blog (go and check out her progress on the Alison Cole 'Pearl Butterfly' project, BTW.  It's beautiful!) left a comment asking how I dealt with the thread ends on the back of the panel.

Well, that made me realise that what I'd declared to be 'pretty self explanatory' was really nothing of the sort and that she probably wasn't the only one who was disappointed by my lack of detail.  I plead the excuse of having almost 20 blog posts to write in only 3 or 4 sessions and being a little too eager to get them all done and scheduled.... (blush).  Here I am today to redress the balance and explain how the silver threads were attached and fastened off at the back.  I found a few helpful 'in progress' photos too. ☺

Basically, once I'd gone around the four larger flower motifs, (which were easy to deal with given the heavy embroidery I could fasten off to at the back), there were two ways of dealing with the long stems and smaller motifs: with two pieces of thread running largely in parallel, or with one doubled over the whole length.

These first three photos show part of the process of working a two parallel lengths section.  What that means is that I cut two lengths of Kreinik Japan #7, not necessarily to the same lengths, and worked them alongside each other part of the way, separating for the single lines around any motifs that fell into their paths.

I started by plunging both ends under a large motif where they could be fastened off easily on the back, then couched them down with one stitch across both threads until it was time to diverge them to outline small flower and leaf motifs.

In this third shot you can see the two ends re-converging ready to be couched back down in the original one stitch way and then plunged under the big flower and fastened off there.  I had to use my tweezers quite a lot to help the thread to settle in the right direction.

As you can see from this section, it wasn't always a simple task.  The long diagonal stem, with the motifs under it AND the stem with the heart, the flower it joins into on the right and the snaky-shaped trailing stem end underneath that flower are all one section!  The piece for the lower part needed to be quite a bit longer than the top one as it had to cater for the triple flower and leaf section.

Actually, I can't remember exactly where this piece ends, but it looks like the trailing end was worked with one piece laid double and then continuing out to the heart stem.  I'm thinking the ends are safely couched under either the heart or the flower.  I can't recall at this distance of time - I did this back in November!  It may even have been at the base of the snaky trailing bit, where it joins the flower.  I've no pictures of the back of the work, so I can't check now.

The other way of working the silver outlining was to use one long piece doubled over.  These two segments here were done with this method.

The thread was bent in either half, or as near to half as the diverging motifs allowed and started at an edge on the motif furthest out from the large flower.  On each of these, I probably (or should have!!!) started near the base of the leaf or flower, worked all around it, then begun the one stitch over two threads method until I was able to plunge the ends under a larger motif again.

Basically the same thing applied when working something with a trailing end of stem as in the two sections seen below.  With these, I 'tweezed' the Japan thread closely together and, after putting in one securing stitch over the very end of the fold, set off with the over-two couching stitches.  The right hand motif was done by bending one piece roughly in half, whilst the left hand design needed a rather longer 'lower' part so as to take in the other trailing stem - again worked by doubling up.

I hope that makes some sense at least!  I was flummoxed by some sections and had to think about the best way to do them so as to neither leave any ends showing through the net, nor scratch the poor bride to death!  I also didn't want any doubling over back under the threads as it would probably offend on both counts.

I apologise for the 'cast' on some of the photos.  Much of that came from the fact that there was a layer of reflective water soluble stabilizer underneath and was pretty hard to work around at times, photographically speaking.

The beads and jewel embellishments follow on Friday.  Join me then! ☺

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Sunday Yarn - 19 Feb 2017

At the moment, I have a virus - possibly a touch of the 'flu, so I'm not getting much embroidery done.  However, I have been able to do a decent amount of knitting and I wanted to share the results with you this afternoon.

First of all, I've completed all the knitting on a new baby project, the cream cardigan above.  It needs a bit of a press, some buttons and some embroidery now.  The arms seem a little too long to me, but it might also be that they're a bit 'thin'.  The pattern said to use size 6 (5mm) needles with the DK yarn, but I found it a bit too loose, so used size 8's (4mm).

The sample here is me having a go at cabling using an on-line tutorial I found last night.  I changed direction twice (to see how it worked), thus the odd look about it.  I also used up an old 4 ply yarn on this, so that was good. ☺  Always pleased to use up odds and ends.

And I'm almost at the end of my first ball of yarn on my scarf.  I wish I'd use another 10-20 stitches in this one so that it'd be wider, but I'm certainly not starting again now!  It'll be fine in use and will be long enough to layer up.

Next, apart from the finishings on the two recent baby knits, will be making a start on the full size things for me! ☺  I'll be using mostly chunky yarn, so it'll be similar to knitting a baby garment in 4 ply.  The 4th thing I have in mind to do for me is for super chunky, so even quicker and easier!  My mum's ordered a waistcoat using the oddments of chunky yarn too, so shouldn't have much in the way of bits and pieces hanging around afterwards.

Back to embroidery tomorrow and, all being well and I'm able to edit a post in time, there'll be some more detail on the silver thread work on the wedding dress project.

Text and images © Elizabeth Braun 2017