Friday, December 07, 2018

Linen Tunic: My Garden

   A little bit of this, a little bit of that, and before you know it you have something wonderful, quite different, and really fun to wear. I have wanted to make one of the Japanese style aprons to wear as a tunic or top for quite some time. 
   My theme or story for this piece is my little front garden. It is quite wild and unruly, but it gives me a great deal of pleasure just to be there in the midst of the nasturtiums, ferns, and other growing things. Just as I no longer strive for perfection in my art, I have no desire to tame the great outdoors.

    After searching for ages, I finally came up with the closest pattern I could find to suit my needs; Simplicity #1133. This pattern had a huge dart along the side seam that I eliminated by pinning the edges of the dart together. I wanted to have one entire piece with no seams so I could freely paint and stitch away. It is made from the Natural Linen I carry in my shop.

   After sewing the garment together, my first step was to spray it with Jacquard's airbrush ink. After heat setting the ink, I started applying my nasturtium shapes and rectangular strips of fabrics. The flowers were glued on with a teeny bit of glue, and the rectangles were hand basted on. The last thing I want on a garment is a fusible that will be stiff and heavy feeling. 
 After machine stitching around the edges of the flowers and leaves, I painted in my moths with my Giant Moth Stencil using Neopaque and lumiere. Next came the really fun part as  I started drawing in the abstracted stem shapes for the hand embroidery to visually tie all the shapes together.

 I wanted to emphasize the edges of the garment, but I didn't want anything too fussy or exacting. I first worked a row for Cretan Stitch around the edges, then an irregular blanket stitch, and ended with short little stitches for just a little touch of added color. I found some beautiful old shell buttons that were just the right size for the tab closures at the shoulders.
  Detail of the stitching on the back.
   For the rectangular overlays, I used scraps of my hand dyed cotton. I love the way the fabric puckered up after washing to give it that beautiful bumpy texture. 
   Now I am getting ready to start another tunic. My next effort will be in black linen that will be cut on the bias, so it will be interesting to see how different the fit is. I am thinking rust tones,splashes of brilliant blues, and little bits of a lovely pearl gray hand dyed sateen. I haven't quite decided on a theme yet.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

A Valuable Resource: San Francisco School of Needlework and Design

   In recent months, a new business has been brought to my attention: the  San Francisco School of Needlework and Design (SNAD). It is conveniently located right on Union Square, and several nearby parking are listed on their website. I have not had the opportunity to visit this establishment in person as yet, but I have found ample eye candy and information on their site to keep me very entertained and intrigued.
Photo courtesy of SNAD: Lucy Barter teaching a class.

   SNAD is a non-profit business co-founded in 2015 by Lucy Barter and Ellice Sperber for the purpose of providing excellent educational opportunities in the needle arts to all levels of students and enthusiasts. SNAD's offering of hand embroidery workshops ranges from week long Stitch Retreats, to Comprehensive Studies courses, and even to specialized classes with guest teachers. They also have free Stitch-In sessions several times a week where you can bring your own projects to work on while visiting with fellow stitchers.
Photo courtesy of SNAD: Example of class work.
   One item that has piqued my interest is a rapidly approaching challenge called Make Do and Mend. SNAD has a gallery area in their space where current exhibits or challenges are displayed, and you can submit your entry by either sending your actual piece or a photograph of your work to be included in the challenge. 
   I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the photos presented of previous challenges, the wide selection of classes, and all of the beautiful embroidery work featured on this site.
   I can't wait to go there in person and maybe peruse their extensive library or take a class.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Block Printing on Fabric Workshop in Santa Rosa, CA

Left: That is me on doing a demo of my printing technique. Right: Kate's stamps.
     Thank you to everyone for making the Block Printing on Fabric workshop a huge success. Thank you Denise for taking all of the great photos, and I especially appreciate all of your hospitality while I was in town.
     This class was held at Village Sewing in Santa Rosa, CA. Most of the people had taken other workshops I have taught here, but we did have a couple of new faces. Jackie, John, and the rest of the crew at Village always make sure things run smoothly, and they take such great care of their students: morning munchies and a great lunch provided by them are always much appreciated.
Left: Jo's blocks          Right: Geri's blocks.
     All the participants did a fabulous job in this two day workshop, so I just have to share some of the wonderful work they did. I provide handouts with lots of optional designs, but this group was quickly up and running putting their own design skills to work.
Left: Kristine's blocks            Right: Gig's blocks
   We covered everything from carving materials and tools to inks and printing techniques. We carved our stamps, and then proofed them on paper to check the designs.
Left: Pam's blocks        Right: Ann's blocks
We also did tiled prints where blocks are printed in repeat. When doing this you only carve 1/4 of the block.
Left: Teaches' blocks     Right: Kathy's blocks
Teach had carved the blocks on the left in a class she had taken a few years ago. Her designs are just beautiful.
Left: Sue's blocks     Right: Denise's blocks
I am very grateful for having attendees who are so incredibly enthusiastic in the workshops I teach at Village. I always look forward to going there. Everyone is so supportive, and talented, and positive it makes all of my preliminary work worthwhile.
One last thing, Kathy wins the award for getting more paint on herself than on her fabric!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Linen Napkins with Easy Mitered Corners

Finished Size is 16" Square
 Note: I have seen similar quality plain linen napkins for over $20.00 each in local stores.

I am always trying to come up with ideas for really great gifts  that are functional  and personalized, but they also don't take eons to finish or tons of supplies. So with the holidays nipping at our heels, I wanted to share my technique for Easy Mitered Corners.
    The written instructions are a bit long, but it goes quickly as each step is pretty simple. I recommend that you do a practice corner first to get the hang of the process. Then this technique will be a snap when you start on your actual napkins.
I used 1 1/4 yards of 57" wide   Linen (available here)
  • Prewash the fabric, and cut 6 pieces @ 19" x 19"
  • Print or embroider your napkins after they are sewn'
  • Only the sewing and cutting instructions are provided here.
  • Remember to double click on an image to see the larger version of it.
Fig.1. Make the corner template before you begin. 
On a piece paper, draw two lines at right angles to one another.
Now mark 2 lines running parallel to those first lines but 1” away to the outside.
Mark a 45 degree line across the corner as shown in my photo. Trim off the triangle on the paper. 
Fig.2. Press each raw edge of your fabric under, towards the back side, 3/8”.

Fig.3. Unfold the edges you just pressed, and put a pin in where the creases intersect.
Fig. 2
Fig. 3

Fig.4. Fold the two pressed edges together starting exactly at the pin in the corner, and pin folded edges together.
Fig.5. Fold the two pressed edges together starting exactly at the pin in the corner, and pin folded edges together at the top.

Fig.6. Now use your template to mark across the corners for your stitching line. The top edge of the template goes right at the top on the fold of fabric, and the intersecting point goes on the diagonal fold of the fabric.
Fig.7. Set your sewing machine to a short stitch length, and stitch from your folded edges to the diagonal fold of your corner. Back stitch at the beginning, but stitch right off the edge at the lower edge. Trim the seam on the right side of your stitching.

Fig.8. Trim the seam allowance to 3/8", and press the seam open. You can trim the point a little, but don't cut it too close.
Fig.9. Next turn your corner inside out and pole the point out with a point presser or blunt ended object.

Turn your edges under 1” for the second turn and pin in place. Start at a corner, and stitch on the backside very close to the inside edge of your fold. Your stitching should be about 1" from the outside edge. Turn to the right side, press, and you are done!

Note: These leaf images were printed using hand carved blocks with my original designs.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Inspiration: Where Is It Hiding?

   For the past two years, I've been taking an online course called the Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design to learn about art licensing. I am finally beginning the last module next week. One of our recent assignments was to design a collection of tea towels. The designs had to be hand-rendered, geometric, and mostly non-representational.
   I often get asked where I get my inspiration from. I suppose the answer to that question is that I am inspired mostly by nature, but I am also inspired by pretty much everything I see. 
   So, after searching for ideas, I began sorting through my photos for ideas. I came across photos I had taken of buildings  in  Ferndale, California. Ferndale is a picturesque small town near where I live with lots of interesting Victorian architecture from the late 19th century.
   I began sketching some of the architectural elements from this building I noticed while walking down a side street. It is interesting to discover what is actually right under our noses, that we take completely for granted, and that we fail to even notice or appreciate so much of the time. I have seen these buildings for years, but it is amazing how oblivious I had become to their quirky and creative characteristics.

   Since I started teaching workshops on Block Printing, I am always in need of more block designs. So, I decided to make a few hand-carved blocks for printing on linen. I will be teaching a 2 day workshop on Block Printing on Fabric at Village Sewing in Santa Rosa on Oct.19-20 this year. 
   So I am experimenting with the different ways blocks repeat and create new designs, and I love the secondary designs that develop like with the triangular shaped block.

   I really love doing the block printing, but I guess I love the challenge of coming up with new designs even more. I am working now on tiled designs for block printing. It is so much fun playing with the different types of symmetry to see how many variations I can come up with.
   And the other day I had some friends here from out of town who hadn't ever been to Ferndale, so we headed over across the bridge to check out some of the amazing little shops and enjoy the sights. Of course I took my camera with me, and I found so many more details in the hand carved wood on many of the storefronts. Who knows how they might pop up in my future artwork?

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Kate's Pillow: Fun to the Nth Degree

   We are having a Contemporary Hand Embroidery workshop here in my studio on August 25, 2018, so I have been exploring lots of new ideas utilizing my hand stitching.
   I have this marvelous friend, Kate, who is one of the most remarkable people I have ever known. Although technically she is not old enough to be my mother, I look on her as a mother figure because she is such a wise person and I so respect her life experience and her opinion on pretty much everything.
   Kate has a marvelous sense of humor, a remarkable sense of adventure, and she is uber talented to boot.
   She recently celebrated a very significant birthday, and I could think of nothing better to give her than a special hand embroidered "Kate Pillow".
To make this piece, I roughly sketched out the lettering on a piece of paper, pinned my linen to the paper, and marked the lettering design with a water-soluble blue fabric marker.
I began the embroidery by outlining the letters in a three strands of dark purple floss in the stem stitch.
   Of course, I thought I wold have plenty of time to have it finished and shipped to her by her birthday, but I was definitely mistaken. If I have learned one thing in all the years I ave been a maker, it is that things take as long as they take. Regardless to say, I think the package finally arrived a couple of weeks late. But, I was happy with the results.

I added in a few horizontal and vertical lines to break up all the organic shapes of the flowers a bit.
I am happy with the way this project turned out. I wanted the name to "pop" visually by being plain white and by having all the design in the background. The pillow measures approximately 10" x 18". I like seeing the hand work on a dimensional shape like a pillow as it really shows off the textural quality of the stitching.
I enjoy working in both neutral and very colorful palettes, and I find they each have their own charm. The neutrals allow me to explore the subtle value variations from white to black, and the vivid color just makes me happy!

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Contemporary Hand Embroidery on Linen

       I just got in a new shipment of gorgeous Linen, and I could not wait to use it in some new projects.
     This is a  fairly simple Embroidered Linen Pillow project I finished last week for a friend. It started with a simple square of white linen and a basic line drawing. I really enjoy working with just a general plan in place and letting the work evolve on its own. 
     For the drawing, I sketch in pencil first and then go over my lines with a Fine Point Sharpie. This gives me a heavy enough line so that I can pin my linen to the paper and see the marks clearly enough without using a light box. I mark my linen with a fine line Water Soluble Fabric Marker.

     I stitched the mandala shape first starting in the very center, and then I started filling in the outer areas with different shades of taupe and gray. When you are using a neutral color palette, it is really interesting to play with the value of the embroidery threads for different effects.
     Below shows the stitching on the piece completed and blocked. Spritz your piece with water, smooth it out, place a few pins in it, and let it dry.The blocking process is really easy, and it makes a huge difference in the finished work. 

     This is the blocked piece that has been dried and is ready to go.

     Here is the finished pillow. The embroidered area is 16" square, and I cut my fabric at 17 1/2"  square so I could add a 1" flange. my friend is in the process of redecorating her entire house in mostly neutral colors, so this pillow will work almost anywhere she wants to use it. 

     I will be posting more embroidery tutorials, so please let me know if there is anything in particular you are interested in.