Monday, September 12, 2011

Paddy, plantings, and counted cross stitch I have done in the past

Hi to anyone still reading this. The last few weeks of summer got a bit crazy, what with being chosen for a jury, getting a ninth and eleventh grader ready to return to school, an earthquake and two hurricanes (well, technically, only Irene was a hurricane, Lee was just an amazing amount of water with not much wind to speak of by the time it reached us. Caused major flooding in the area, so the kids got two more days off school, in addition to the one they missed due to Irene.

But I am back to stitching, hooray! Spent yesterday afternoon at my Tangle group (anyone in the DC area interested in attending, just let me know), and we were doing salt silk dying. Here are some pictures of the scarf I did.

I love how the fabric looks very watery. Basically, you wet the fabric down, the spray with the colors of dye you want, then spray with water and sprinkle salt over it. I used kosher salt, which gives little tiny pools where the dye gets pulled up by the salt--each of the "bubbles" is around a salt crystal.

And here is Paddy, a couple weeks ago and yesterday--haven't had much "me-time" to stitch on him lately, but now the kids are back in school, hopefully I'll have more time to work on him.
Paddy's right leg, padded and started
Right leg mostly finished.

I had some cotton floche in a bright red which I used as padding, and just couched it down, then I started doing the long and short to cover it. Once I finish that, I'll do the metallic over his tail and then his hind legs.

My tropical trees have done well this summer. I am particularly amazed at the plumeria, she went leaf crazy.

Granny Weatherwax, the avocado tree
Lemon tree. I have two cats who like the taste of lemon. I always thought cats hated the taste of citrus
Castanospermum, an Australian tree
Hopefully, this fall will mark the last time I have to bring all these guys into the house for the winter, as we plan to build a greenhouse for my tropical gardening obsession. I am hoping we can make it large enough that I can set aside a stitching corner and turn it into a conservatory sort of space. It is the one room in stately English homes I really, truly envied.

Here are some of my other embroidery endeavors, in counted cross stitch. I have a couple of large counted projects I am working on, including a wedding sampler chinese style from Pinn stitch (no, I don't have a picture of it in progress... yet...) and a frog by Jo Lynch from the Heaven and Earth website. These are all finished projects, including the framing and hanging...
Teresa Wentzler's The Castle, finished as a hanging banner
 Curtis Boehringer's Queen Anne's Lace, from a series of which I only did this one because my Mum-in-law loves this flower. I was given it back after she passed away.
Anne Orr's pansy banner, inserted into a Sudberry box, also given to Mum-in-law, as she also adored pansies. I did this one ages ago, and she did not give color numbers, you just matched up the floss colors to match her colored in graphs. I used the closest matches I could find, and was quite sure I was getting the colors horribly wrong, but Mum-in-law had pansies in all these color sets.

I also put in an order for a new counted canvas project called Amazing Colors, which I purchased with the money I got for being on a jury. I ordered it from 123 Stitch, and Nancy there was so very nice about putting together all the supplies--except for the Threadworx which she does not carry.  I believe they are carried by Bedecked and Bedazzled, which gives me an excuse to go there--although it is dangerous territory for those of us known for our ability to get high on color.

THE Magpie

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paddy yet again

I've been working on Padparadscha, although I did take a week off to help the daughter to look for her dragon. Little idiot decided to take Calypso outside... and Calypso decided to make a break for it. We are now going to hope she survives until it starts getting cooler out, then we'll try to recapture her before it gets too cold and kills her. Keep both daughter and dragon in your good thoughts/prayers/whatevers as the one won't survive the winter, and the other would grieve terribly if she doesn't.

Anyway, I have started doing the metallic thread in fly stitch, and I think it looks glorious! Thank you ever so much Rachel for the suggestion. I also did the nostril with a four ply french knot in the two lighter silks, with a small stitch in the center of the metallic, to darken the middle, if you see what I mean. The eye is done with a size 11 seed bead, and I did a small stitch of the metallic thread over the center of the bead, sort of like a pupil.
As you can see in the picture, I added the bottom wing as well. I used the metallic to add the wing struts--what are those called when it isn't an airplane? I still have the tail portion to do with the metallic, but so far it looks lovely. I plan to add a trellis stitch over the pearl in the metallic thread. After that, I really need to get the legs in so I can do some of the vegetation he is standing in.

Okay, here are a couple of pictures that will make you go, "Awwwwww!"

Detente kitties.
Calypso napping in her food dish--with lunch.

THE Magpie

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dragon noses

So I have been thinking about it, and I think I am going to do the nostril with a colonial/french knot. I am going to use either perle weight or something like it. I studied horse and cow noses, and also peered at Calypso, and I think I want to do something more like the horse. Or not. We'll see how it looks.

THE Magpie

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Busy. But managed to carve some time for Padparadscha

Well, I got a bit more done on Padparadscha. I am starting to feel a bit more confident about my abilities as an embroidress, even to contemplating actually doing one of the Helen Stevens bird pictures, as opposed to just drooling over the photos in her books. I have an assortment of the flat silks, the ones used in the Chinese embroideries that so often crop up in the restaurants, mostly because they are drop dead gorgeous, plus the colors are to die for--or dye for, as the case may be.

Anyway, here is Paddy as far as I have gotten.
I am not sure how I am going to do his nostril, but his eye is going to be a bead--maybe one of my glow in the dark beads--we'll see. I think I am going to finish the mid color overlay, and then do the metallic fly stitch. His legs are going to be silk most of the way down, and the toes and claws I am planning to do in the metallic braid. Here is a close up of the stitching and overlay.
Once I stitch in the legs and finish the body, I plan to add the left wing, which will be tacked down to the ground fabric. After I finish that and before I do the feet, I plan to start the background. I have some fluffy and fancy yarns to use for grass and bushes.

Okay, I have to post some pictures of the other dragon in my life. She is a cutie pie, and sleeps in the most silly positions.

In this picture, she was asleep, but we woke her when we took the picture.
We measured her, and she is about seven inches long from nose to tail tip.

THE Magpie

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Dragons, two this time

 First, here is a picture of Calypso, my daughter's bearded dragon. Okay, actually, here are several pictures of Calypso. Isn't she cute???
We don't know as yet if she is male or female, because it is hard to tell when they are young. However, we are assuming that it is a she for the time being.

Meanwhile, I have started on the body and tail of Padparadscha. I am using the dark rust silk to put the first layer of stitching in, which will follow with the other two colors of silk and end with the metallic braid in fly stitch.

If anyone reading this knows what the stitch is called, please do let me know. I use it as a filling that is more versatile than satin stitch, as you can follow contours, and usually I fill in very tightly but because I plan to layer three colors I am leaving spaces to fill later. I was assuming it was either long and short or split stitch, but it isn't split as I don't go through any of the stitches, but rather between them. Probably long and short, but all the illustrations I have seen of that are much more even than what I am doing.

THE Magpie

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dragon, take 42--no wait, that's the meaning of life, the universe...

First, Rachel and RogerBW, thank you for your kind comments. Also for your excellent suggestions. I think I am going to take part of one of Rachel's for the scales, I am going to do layered split stitch (I think that is the one) where you do straight stitches very close together--it isn't satin stitch, which I had pondered but rejected as too smooth, and I learned it doing a very pretty Rowandean kit of a black cat--I really liked how you can curve the stitches around and do very pretty contouring. I am going to use the three colors of silk, layering them from dark to light, and the rust/brown/orange metallic ribbon, which will go on last in fly stitch. I really liked that idea for showing the scales.

Here is the dragon's pearl, as far as I have stitched it. I plan to use some of the metallic and the overdyed silk to do a couched trellis over it.
 I did a padded satin stitch over felt padding. Here is a picture of the partial first layer of satin stitching showing the felt padding underneath.
 I finished the wings finally. I didn't use wire for the second wing, as I am going to tack it down to the ground fabric rather than have it sticking out. I wanted both wings to look the same however, so I backstitched around the wing shape and then whip stitched the same as I did for the wired wing.
 This is the wired wing, with the whip stitch done. I still want to add some veining to the wing, probably with the aforementioned metallic.
Here are both wings with the whip stitch finished. The sparkliness of the base fabrics really shows in the picture.
 I decided to backstitch around the body of the dragon so that I would have an idea of where I was going, and partly to fill time while I noodled around with what I was going to do next.
And finally, here is is with his body backstitched in. I think he is a happy dragon. Maybe someone is going to play ball with him...

In other news, my daughter finally wheedled me into driving her to the local pet shop so that she could acquire her own dragon, of the Australian bearded variety. Her name is Calypso, and I'm pretty sure that pictures of her will probably show up here from time to time. She has settled into her new home very happily, and loves to chase down and eat crickets and mealworms. Not that she has to chase the worms as they just squirm in her food bowl.

THE Magpie.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Dragon my feet

On the dragon's feet. I figured out what I wanted to do for the pearl Padparadscha is holding, and it is finished, and I backstitched around his body while noodling about how to fill it in. I think I am going to use orange sequins held down with some really pretty orange seed beads. I am going to do a bit on a doodle cloth before I start on the actual piece. I debated doing his body in a sort of or nue variation, but couldn't figure out how to get a scaly effect. I have pictures of him as of this evening, but as I have yet to load them onto the computer they will be uploaded to the blog later.

Oh, and about the feet. I haven't yet decided whether to do them in the woven petals thing from stumpwork--they are often used for sepals on raspberries, and I just picked up an old British stitchery mag. that has a sunflower with them as petals--very pretty. Either that or I am going to do them in bullion knots. I am leaning toward the petals as I think they will look very dragonish.

THE Magpie

Thursday, June 23, 2011

More on the dragon

His name is now Padparadscha, which according to Wikipedia is the name given to a pinkish orange colored sapphire, and the word is from the Sinhalese word for lotus blossom. Read more about sapphires than you probably want to know at this address,
I have seen padparadschas, and they are about the same color as the silks I got to stitch him with, hence the naming.

Meanwhile, I have been watching the children (home from school for the summer)  and so haven't gotten a lot done on him, but I did get a bit done. Here is the dragon picture transferred to the blue cotton background.

It is pretty faint, which is good so far as covering up the markings is concerned.

This is a much better photo of the contrast between the top and bottom fabrics of the wings.

These are the silks I got to use on Padparadscha, also the ombre Silk n Colors I am using from my stash and the metallic braid I am planning to use.
This is the wing partly tacked in. I made a pattern piece of the wing, and did running stitch around the outside. Then I tacked the wire down following the running stitch lines.

Here is the wing with the wire tacked down around the outside edge, and I have started whip stitching over the entire wire. I am using the silk and colors for this part.

THE Magpie

Sunday, June 19, 2011

New embroidery/stumpwork project.

This one is an original design, by me. I draw nominally well, my Mom and my daughter are much better than I am, but after nagging the daughter for ages to draw me a small dragon to convert to stumpwork, I figured that it would get done a lot sooner if I just put pencil to paper, drew it myself and fix the poor drawing skills with thread and needle.

It isn't totally horrible, I guess. The hind legs took a bit of working out, and I am still not totally excited about them, but I think once I transfer it to fabric I think it will end up looking a lot better. I only drew in one wing, as I am going to make the other wing as a detached piece, using whip stitch to hold the wire armature in place. I am using gold lame sandwiched with orange organza. I used wonder under to connect the two fabrics, and attached them with the threads of one piece at a 45 degree angle to the other. This is a tip that Jane Nicholas gave during a class of hers I was fortunate to be able to attend. The reason is that this way you have way more stability when you whip stitch the wire armature onto the fabric, as the threads go every which way rather than being orderly.
Here is the detached wing pattern. I plan to do the outer border in one piece of wire, and then cut and whip stitch the three supporting bars.
gold lame side, underside of wing

orange organza side, upper side of wing
These two pictures are the front and back of the wing fabric. The colors did not come out terribly well, but are somewhat close to the actual colors. This is a four inch hoop, and the dragon piece is going to be about 6 inches in diameter, with borders and all. I didn't take a picture of the background fabric yet, it is a pale blue cotton fabric. The dragon body may be done in a pale orange satin with stitched details, or I may do padded satin stitch or something else.
This is the orange satin I may use for the body. I got some orange and rust silks, Splendour brand by Rainbow Gallery, along with a card of an orange and rust metallic also by them yesterday at the Stitching Post in Columbia MD. I'll put pictures of them up on a future post.
This is some Fun Fur yarn that I am planning to use for the background of the dragon picture. Except for the skein second from the left, which will be couched down as the dragons flame.
Moire fabric that my Mom gave me because she wasn't planning to use it. Pretty colors, and ivory as well. I may have to do a unicorn head on the purple fabric. Mum quilts, and I think she got these to do a fancy crazy quilt with. Oh, and a tip for people who like pretty fabrics to use as backgrounds for embroidery. Obsessively examine the remnant bins at your local fabric shops. I scored two sizeable pieces of ivory silk dupion for less than half price--the remnants were marked as 50 percent off, and then they had a sale going of 50 percent off that. I also got the satin and the organza for the dragon at the same sale. Also, go to thrift stores. I get old cotton sheets to use as stabilizer for stitchery there, it is way less expensive than the muslin from the fabric store. Plus, you get to feel all virtuous for recycling.

These are sets of prayer beads that I make for donating to a group called On Beads of Prayer. The organizer of the group started it to provide prayer beads to soldiers who want them at no cost to the soldiers. She sells fancier ones to make money to pay for postage and beads and wire and etc... I just found out that the last batch I gave her sold out "like hotcakes" so I have been assembling a new batch.

THE Magpie

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

First I make shorts, on account of...

I am currently down to three pair I can wear out of the house, plus two former "wear in public" that have been relegated to pajama bottoms. So I have a pair in process in a very pretty turquoise green, plus the fabric to make same in beige, denim blue and a very pretty rich purple.

I decided to do the inner and outer leg seams in something called a french seam. Basically, you end up with a seam with no raw edges, that is, the edge of the fabric when you cut out a pattern piece. First, you sew a seam about 1/4 inch from the cut edge of fabric.
 Here are the inner leg seams done with the quarter inch border. The back side of the fabric, the part that will be inside the garment is placed together. After you finish the seam, you turn the fabric the other way round, and sew another seam so that you bind the raw edges between the first seam and the second. Iron the seams flat when you finish the second one.
This is a picture of the seam finished. I am going to sew the center back/front seam next. After I finish that, I sew the outer leg seams, then put in a casing for the elastic and put that in, hem the leg holes, and I am done. Then I am going to start on the dress. Here is a picture of the dress pattern cover. I am doing it in silk.
I think it will be pretty.

THE Magpie

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I'm going to a wedding! So I need a new dress!

I mean, duh. If there is any occasion that warrants a new dress, a wedding is definitely it. Even if you aren't the bride, which I'm not. So I decided to make my dress, on account of that is why I purchased a pile of vintage silk saris from ebay, well, that and I was taking belly dance classes, and one of the dances uses really big scarves, and they are expensive, but you can make two scarves from one sari, with a bit left over for sashes or whatever. And, they generally cost around $25 for five meters of fabric. Plus, they come in a zillion abfab colors and prints. I've been using some for embroidery, the stole was done using two of the pretty colored ones.

For my dress I am using one in turquoise and sea blue, with dark blue and orangey-yellowy prints in stripes. The pallu of the sari (for those who aren't familiar with the lingo, that is a decorative rectangle at one end of the sari, specifically, the end that is tossed over the shoulder and hangs down) and also the selvage edges have a very fine gold woven floral decoration that I am going to use for the bottom of the dress, and for the sleeve edging on the jacket. I am using a pattern from Simplicity, number 3799. It has a dress, jacket, a top which is a short version of the dress, and either cropped pants or walking shorts. I plan to make some pairs of walking shorts from this pattern out of heavy cotton fabric at some point, as my shorts have of late been wearing out and I can never seem to find comfortable pants-- they don't fit right and it drives me bonkers. Anyway, no pictures this time, but I'll be taking some for the next entry.

A friend of mine who also sews clothes helped me lay out the jacket so that I could get the entire body of the jacket out of the pallu, and also helped me lay it out so the front opening of the jacket will have the decorative border along it. The pictures will help explain it--it really is true that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I also want to try to make a hat and purse out of some of the leftover fabric, I think there is enough of the pallu fabric left to make a little evening bag out of, and if nothing else, I'll make a long strip of fabric to use as a hatband/headband.

THE Magpie

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Box in progress--err, finished.

The box is going to be absolutely gorgeous. Okay, the last entry was attaching the felt padding and the embroidery to the plastic canvas round. This one is all about doing the box body. Here are some of the materials I used...

 Plastic canvas rounds and felt for padding cut into circles.
 Plastic canvas cut into a strip and sewn together. I overcast the edge that will be against the lid to add a bit of padding.

 Felt strips for padding the box side.

Plastic canvas side with the felt padding applied to the outside.
 This is the box side piece with all the felt padding applied, I did both inside and outside. I basted it on but only stitched the upper edge of the felt, as the bottom edge will be held down by the fabric cover which I put underneath the side piece.
 This is the liner pieces, with the felt padding basted onto the plastic canvas. I cut one row of holes from the outer edge, so that they will fit into the box with the fabric cover and felt padding. The lid piece needed to be smaller so that I could get the decorative braid along it.

This is the inside and outside of the box sides. I folded the fabric over the plastic canvas and felt sandwich, and basted the inside and outside together. Then I ran a gathering stitch and pulled it tight. The box bottom and bottom liner will cover the resulting ruffles.
This is the bottom with the beads I am using as feet sewn on it. I am slip stitching the two pieces together.
 This is the box bottom after I did the gathering stitches and before I did the lacing. The liners are done the same way, but I put the more yellow side of the fabric up for them. I thought it would make a pleasing contrast.
Here is the box bottom completely assembled. I used glue to attach the bottom liner. 
This is the side of the box. I really liked the rose border motif on the fabric, so I  cut it so that this would show.

This is the bottom of the lid. I slip stitched the edges, after applying glue to hold them together flat. Then I sewed the braid around the outer edge of the lining.

Finally, here is the lid from the top. I am very pleased with how this turned out.
This is a picture of Berkeley and Marie Curie, sitting on the back of the sofa and watching the birdies in the mulberry tree as they stake out their branches. I call it CATV, and it entertains them for minutes at a time, after which they are exhausted and must nap diligently to regain their strength. They also like to sleep on brocade, which I know because I took a bathroom break and laid my box aside while I did so. When I got back, Marie was snoozing on the pieces.

THE Magpie