Life is indeed a stitch!
Berryhill Heirlooms and Susie Gay present techniques, heirloom sewing, hand embroidery and other musings that you will enjoy and appreciate. Come and join in the fun with Susie, a Home Economist, and savor a little rest from your hectic day...and yes, it's a Degree she uses every day!

Friday, February 7, 2020

Silk Scene Lacing

The silk ribbon embroidered Silk Scene is completed. So now it has to be "mounted". Mounting in this case is lacing the entire project to a piece of acid free mat board so it's smooth and straight. Pressing is important to get the hoop marks out. I gently pressed close to the stitching, but not over it, of course. This piece cannot be soaked or washed prior to mounting because the silk ribbons are not colorfast.
First I measured the embroidered piece (not including the fabric surround it's sewn to) to get an idea about what size board I need to cut. About two inches or more distance from the silk edge to the board edge is about right. Unfortunately the total measurements mean I probably won't be able to go with a standard size pre-made frame. Next I cut a piece of white cotton batting for a pad. The knots, etc., on the back of the piece will sink into the padding and reduce the likelihood of bumps on the front of the embroidery. I used a washable glue stick to stick the cotton batting to the board.
Next I laid the silk ribbon embroidery over the board to get an idea of placement. When I was happy with that I pinned it to the cotton batting to hold it in place so I could begin the lacing.
Lacing is attaching a piece to the backing via long back and forth stitches on the back, first worked horizontally, then vertically. The thread has to be able to withstand the tension, so I chose some cotton "Cotty" thread that's about the size of #12 pearl cotton (see spool in above photo), and a very long #5 cotton darner needle.
Lacing requires that you start in the middle of the work and work to one end first. I could not possibly have enough thread in the needle to do one whole side. I had to knot off into the fabric, then start a new, knotted thread exactly where I left off in order to keep the tension just right.
After completing one horizontal half, I turned the work upside down and worked from the center to the other end.
Next was the vertical lacing. This required lots of new threads since it was 13" tall. Again, I started in the middle and worked to one end, turned the work upside down and worked from the middle to the other end.

Lacing can be too tight, or too you have to keep checking the right side to make sure it's "just right". Below is a photo showing how the right side of the vertical lacing is completed and you can see ripples in the left side that had not yet been laced.
Done. Completed. It looks smooth and even. You can even see the background colors showing up: the pink around the flowers, greens around the dogwood tree and lovely blue in the sky. Lacing is not very interesting to see or do, but it's very important to do it correctly!
The results make all the work worth it.
Now all I have to do to complete this is to take it to be matted and framed

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Silk Scene Finished

It's done. Another UFO out of the line-up. I was tired of seeing it hanging around my sewing room, but I had been sort of stumped as to what to embroider next. The "perspective" question was nagging me, you know, how to make the picture have depth from front to back. After much pondering I decided to just jump in and start.

First thing was some more plants in the front. I stitched pansies to bring out the pink and maroons. Little yellow French knots in the flower center coordinated with the yellow iris. Then I added some ferns (who doesn't like ferns?) with 2-3 colors of cotton floss using the Fly stitch and a few straight stitches.
Enter this bunch of Japanese Ribbon Stitch leaves which are 7mm ribbon. 
It looked like just a clump to me so I added stems of green floche and then 4mm ribbon straight stitches (3 to be exact) with the middle stitch on top. Then a French knot in the same green floche at the base of the leaves. That looked pretty good to me. Then some grasses in variegated silk buttonhole twist, more ferns and little tuffs of grass out of cotton floss to fill in.
Another big fern near the iris bases...Whew! 
And next some birds flying in the distance. I ended up with 5 birds (only 4 in this photo) in three shades of gray. The lighter ones look farther away in the distance. The birds are made using a Fly stitch with the wings tacked into a more bird-like shape. The "closer" birds have a single French knot at the bottom of the "V".
Another dimension trick was to add dimension is to make some of the same flowers in smaller threads and ribbons. I added the little group of iris (yellow and pale lavender) to the right of the rose bush. (The photo doesn't quite show them all.) The leaves are in silk buttonhole twist instead of 4mm ribbon. The stems are in cotton floss instead of the thicker buttonhole twist.
 Tuffs of grass scattered around the scene in buttonhole twist and floss add a little more greenery.
 I declare this Silk Scene finished!  Next it to mount it onto acid free board to get it ready for framing.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Finished UFO!

It's that time of the year, the winter months, to work on those Unfinished Objects. I worked on this wonderful shawl again while at Stitchin at the Beach 2020 in early January. It's a class I took from the EGA (Embroiderer's Guild of America) entitled "Flowers for a Fall Evening" by Kris Andrews that I've written about before. After getting back home I decided it was time to finish and get one more project out of that UFO box! Here are the final steps in this lovely, crewelwork shawl.

The last leaf which sits at the center back of the project in Appleton wools is worked in 402, 403 and 404. Long and short stitch is becoming easier for me to do, especially in wool.
The vein, in 407, covers up the void and completes the shading.

Chenille thread adds highlights and it's by The Thread Gatherer "Silken Chenille", SC060 Burnished Gold. It's variegated. (Check out their website for some gorgeous threads!) You have to work with short (12") lengths because it's fragile, using a chenille needle.
Here is the finished leaf Don't you think it's beautiful?
After pressing both the silk lining and the completed shawl it's time to pin the two right sides together. It's so long that I had to do it on the dining room table to support the fabric so it wouldn't stretch or distort. And I almost used every pin in the cup pincushion!
Next it was time to let it hang over the banister for a few days to rest.
After pressing the opening on the end to turn it through, I pinned and hand stitched it closed with a Ladder Stitch. You can't even see where it that stitch!
The last step was to topstitch all around the edge so that the lining doesn't peak out. Not an easy job because the two fabrics slide against each other. So I pressed and steamed it again around the edges with a press cloth. Starting at one end, I pinned in sequence from one end up to the other...lots of pins! 
The easiest way to get a consistent, even top stitch was to use my Narrow Edge Stitch Foot: the fabric rides against the black blade (it doesn't cut) and moving the machine needle over to the left the correct distance. It was much easier to stitch and it came out perfect!

So this UFO is completed.....
except I want to add a small hand-beaded black fringe on the short ends.  
That's for another day and blog post!