Thursday, October 3, 2019

Free Style SAL: Progress & Inspiration

My stitching on my double heart for the Free Style Sew Along on Instagram is starting to take shape! But first, I wanted to let you know about a Pinterest Board I just made for the SAL, with links to tutorials and stitch guides for flowers, leaves, lattices and outlines:

If you have any suggestions for this board, please e-mail me the links!

Even if you are not stitching along with us, these are ideas you can adapt to any project!

For anyone who missed my previous post, the Free Style Sew Along is a stress-free, stitch-at-your-own-pace simple SAL! Started by my Instagram stitchy friend Marianne and myself, you can join in at any time and post your progress anywhere online, including your own blog. The idea is to find a simple outline motif you like - Marianne and I are both using the same double heart, which you are welcome to use as well (please see my previous post for the free pattern and other motif ideas) - and fill it with spontaneously stitched flowers 🌼🌷🌻

My last post covered my materials, pattern choice and transfer. I've added a few new colours, which I'll list in a later post since I may add a few more before I'm finished 🎨

Here are my first stitches:

A trio of Spiderweb Roses and a little lattice!

Then I added some Fishbone Stitch Leaves (following Mary Corbet's excellent video tutorial) and a little pink ruffle using Mary's Scalloped Buttonholed Chain Stitch Tutoria, which looks fancy but is super easy once you get the hang of the tension!

I find it very helpful to hold on to the top of the chain stitch with one hand while gently tightening the Buttonhole Stitch loops with the other, and sort of slide them close together until each space is filled. I didn't count my Buttonhole Stitches, I just filled each arch until I couldn't add any more.

You could stitch down the center of each arch, and I might do so before I'm finished, but I like the free standing texture right now, even if my loops are a little wonky 😊

Fishbone Stitch Leaves are something I've been wanting to try for AGES, so I was very excited with how these turned out!!! They are fun to stitch too, and have great texture; I'm sure I will be adding some more here and there before I'm finished πŸƒ

And that's it from my end so far! Please do feel free to jump in and stitch with us πŸ˜ƒ You can follow the link in my sidebar at right to my Instagram profile (@aureliaeglantine) or leave a comment below! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask and I'll do my best to answer πŸ’

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Join Me For A Free Style Sew Along!!!

Exciting news!!! I recently posted some photos on Instagram, of some DMC floss I recently bought (at the new DMC display at my local Walmart, of all places!) without a specific project in mind. I was so surprised and excited to find the new display that I just couldn't help myself, and picked up a handful of bright, cheerful colours 🎨 Fellow Instagram stitcher Marianne Matthew (@mariannemathewsxx) messaged me with a great idea. She asked if I seen any of those pretty free style floral embroideries that are popular right now, and I knew exactly the style she was thinking of!

Projects like Mary Corbet's Voided Floral Monogram:

Ever since she posted this beautiful project on her Needle N' Thread website, I have been very intrigued by the idea of spontaneously stitching flowers! Mary has three great posts about this project that are well worth reading: Embroidering a Voided Floral-Themed Monogram, A is for Almost Finished, and Hairy Edges, Knobby Bits & The Back of the Hoop. She goes through her stitch process from start to finish!

Inspired by that idea, Marianne and I have decided on a simple Double Heart pattern:

We are flipping the voided part though, filling inside the outline instead of outside of it.

There are no rules or set dates for the SAL, it's totally stitch-at-your-own-pace πŸ˜ƒ The only requirement is to use a simple motif and fill it with spontaneously stitched flowers! You are welcome to use the double heart. Other suggestions: a simple five petal flower outline (a flower of flowers!), a geometric shape (diamond, circle, square, triangle, rhombus, star), an initial or monogram, a name, a short word (joy, hope, love)...the possibilities are many, and if you search "outline clipart" you may find some inspiration!

To create the heart, I found a free use clipart design I liked and then I shrunk the same design to make the cutout in the middle. Both Marianne and I are stitching a lattice in the center, but you could leave it blank, or stitch a single large flower or little bouquet. Anything you like!

This is my VERY tentative little doodle of what I'm thinking of stitching - proof that you don't need to be an artist to be an embroiderer πŸ˜‚ I'd like to do a trio of Stem Stitch roses on the top left hand curve, with leaves on either side, and a slanted lattice in the middle. The squiggles are roses, lazy daisies and straight-stitch aster type flowers 🌸

For colours, I am going to try to stick mainly to the brights I bought, perhaps adding a few others:

Floss colours from left to right: 3846 (turquoise), 907 (green), 3607 (pink), 3837 (purple) and 444 (yellow). They are a little brighter than I would usually choose, but it's nice to try something different. And they are very cheerful! For fabric, I'm using some of my favourite turquoise that I had left over from my Joyful Jester project, which is very fitting because that was my first truly spontaneously stitched project πŸ˜ƒ

Please excuse the streaky windows; the bright sunlight was not kind!

I did a quick window transfer, taping first the pattern and then the fabric to the glass. I used a fine black Pilot FriXion pen to trace the design:

I'm expecting to stitch over the lines, but in case I don't, if you blast this ink with a hair dryer (or any heat) it will disappear. I know there have been concerns about the ink reappearing when it gets cold, but this is a fun, fast project and I don't mind taking that chance. I wouldn't recommend using this pen for heirloom quality work though, just in case! I added some dots as guidelines for the spoke placement on the roses, using coins (a quarter for the large, a nickel for the small ones) as a template.

I'm also excited about using my brand new 8" Anchor Sparkles embroidery hoop, which I lucked into at Walmart on the same trip where I bought my floss! They have recently redone the embroidery section at my local store and I really hope that this will be maintained. I have sized my heart to print at about 5.5" in size but you can adjust it as needed. If you have any trouble downloading the pattern, please let me know!

Here's a picture of the Anchors Sparkles hoop; they are supposed to be available 6", 8" and 10" and in yellow and purple too. They also have a lip on the inner hoop to grip the fabric tightly, very much like my favourite Susan Bates Hooplas:

I really love the silver glitter embedded in the translucent blue plastic:

So that is the stitchy news from here!

I'd love it if you joined in and stitched along with me! You can join us on Instagram, or share your pictures on your own blog. You can also send me photos to post here, if you aren't online elsewhere. Please use the hashtag #freestylesewalong to share, so I can find you, and tag me! I'm @aureliaeglantine on Instagram 😊

Friday, July 19, 2019

Beautiful Batiks: Fabric Inspiration

And now, for something a little different! Recently, a nearby small local quilt store had an information session about hand-dyed Batik Fabrics, from a company called TrendTex which is a wholesale distributor here in Canada for several fabric lines, including Hoffman Fabrics, which was the focus of the presentation.

This list of Magnum's iconic shirts is a fun read! The presenter opened with a shot of this shirt (the back of a man with dark hair wearing it), asking if we could recognize the shirt or the wearer. No one did, but it's in The Smithsonian Museum now!

Hoffman is the California company that is credited with bring Batik into the main stream via Hawaiian Shirts in the 1980s (worn by none other than the original Magnum P.I., Tom Selleck)! They sell traditional Bali Batiks and more contemporary Indah Batiks under the brand name Me + You. Interestingly, this line is also selling Solids made of Batik cotton, which are a great compliment to the busy traditional patterns.

The Goody Bag, which came with a small roll of Batik squares, a branded chocolate bar, a pen, a handy little tape measure and a lint roller

At first I was hesitant to attend, since I'm not a quilter (yet) and the event was directed at quilters, but one of the shop ladies encouraged me and I'm glad I did! For the grand sum of $5, I got a great goody bag with small squares of Batiks perfect for backing ornaments or small embroideries and an information session about the TrendTex company and the fabrics they carry. When we took our seats, we also filled out a small questionnaire (about how often you quilt, etc.) that doubled as a ticket to a prize drawing of fabulous fabric sets (charm squares, jelly rolls, quilt kits). Not surprisingly, I didn't win a thing LOL If mine was the only ticket in the drawing, I'd still lose πŸ˜‚

These were the fabrics in my Goody Bag! The assortments were random.
I particularly liked these indigo blue and turquoise combinations:

There were also discounts on Batiks cut off the bolt, but all of the fabrics I was really interested in - the vibrant rainbow hues - weren't available, unfortunately. There are so many different types of quilting fabrics, sewing notions and embroidery threads on the market these days that it can be overwhelming, especially when you live in a rural area like I do and have to order most of them online without being able to see them in person first. I wish there were more information sessions like this, just so we - as stitchy customers - could get a better idea of what we can buy! And where we can buy it 😊

Because TrendTex is a wholesale distributor, based in British Columbia, you can't buy fabric from them directly. However, if your quilt store is serviced by TrendTex, you can ask the owner(s) if they would be willing to order a specific item in for you; they may be happy to do so and you never know until you ask! The Batik section of the TrendTex website is fun to browse, just to get an idea of the patterns and colours available.

Some of my favourites are the rainbows:

And the foliage (leafy botanical) designs:

I have never used a Batik fabric, although I've often admired them at the quilt store! They are quite expensive, and the reason for this is that they are traditionally hand-dyed and hand-decorated, usually using a labour-intensive wax-resist dyeing technique.

The presentation included a YouTube video about traditional Batik making (Batik of Java: A Centuries Old Tradition by The Asian Art Museum), which shows intricate, beautiful fabrics I'd never seen the like of before:

I was a little disappointed that we didn't see a video about the methods that are used today for manufacturing Batik quilting fabrics. But when I got home, I discovered this documentary by Mr. Batik about modern methods of production:

And I was also able to find a video from Hoffman about their Batiks! There is no narration but it gives a great, quick overview of the dyeing process.

It is very interesting to contrast between the videos and see what has and hasn't changed with the creation of Batik fabrics over time. I found the making of the copper stamps ("cops") very interesting, and during the workshop, a vintage cop was handed around to us - it was incredibly heavy! Thee speed and accuracy of the printers with these heavy block stamps is amazing!!

While modern Batik is not the artform traditional Batik was, it still makes beautiful fabric where each bolt is different. Although it's important to note that there are ethical concerns about the working conditions in Batik factories, especially around the handling of toxic dyes and chemicals. We were told during the presentation that Hoffman Fabrics takes pride in its workers and provides the best possible conditions; even though the process looks primitive, the hot local conditions make heavy protective clothing very uncomfortable to wear.

For anyone wanting to read a little more about the history of Batik fabric, there is a quick overview here and a more detailed account at the Batik Guild.

I also discovered a video by American Patchwork & Quilting with seven tips for sewing with Batiks; although the video is for machine sewers, the tips are adaptable for hand sewers and embroiderers too!

Towards the end of the powerpoint presentation by the TrendTex representative, we were surprised with another roll of gift Batiks, slightly larger squares, again in random assortments. We were able to pick from several that the rep held out to our row, and again I missed the bright rainbow colours but I am very pleased with the pretty fabrics I did get, especially the chrysanthemum print:

Here's some close-ups:

The fabric on the bottom is much prettier in person, with very light blues and yellows:

I'm really looking forward to trying to stitch on these beautiful Batiks. One thing I learned from the information session that really surprised me is that the repeated dyeing in the wax-resist method makes the cotton fibres draw tightly together, and indeed Batik fabric has a smoother feel when compared to quilting cotton. The representative said that this makes hand-sewing with Batiks more difficult, so I'm glad to have smaller pieces of fabric like this to practice with.

Some more of my favourites - this one reminds me of sea kelp:

And I love the traditional Batik wax dots on this pretty colour mix:

And finally, my very favourite of them all - this lovely chrysanthemum print:

One thing I've noticed about Batiks is the beautiful, unusual colour combinations. A favourite Batik print would be an excellent jumping off point for developing a floss colour palette for a stitchy project! And the variegated nature makes them an attractive backing fabric, in my opinion, for stitchy patterns that use a lot of colour, or for when you can't match a single shade exactly. They are lively, colourful and powerful prints, even when used in small amounts!

What do you think of Batiks? Have your ever worked with them, or would you like to? And would you attend a fabric information session?

Friday, June 21, 2019

GG: Stitching Finish - Tiny Sheep Trio

Stitching Finish! Sheep Trio
February 2019 Design from Cotton & Twine Boxes
(won in a Giveaway, for more information please read this post)
* Crafty bonus: the photo background is a Pineapple Doily that I crocheted! *

Finally, and at long last, my first Gifted Gorgeousness of the year! Although I'm a little late to the party, Jo kindly leaves the linky open until the end of the month, and I'm so happy to be able to jump in with this stitching finish 😊 GG is a great relaxed SAL to encourage stitchers to work on gift projects - either things they have received as gifts, or are giving as gifts. As I won this kit as part of a Giveaway, it was a gift to me!

Although the February Cotton & Twine Box come with a cute floral printed hoop to use for finishing this project (which you can see in my last post) you may notice that this hoop is plain. That's because as I was stitching this cute design I thought the slightly oval shape of the floral frame would make a beautiful Easter Egg! Indeed, I even bought some backing fabric and floss to make an eggy ornament but I ran out of time and Easter has come and gone. So I think I may leave it as is until next year, and then decide πŸ˜‰

This was a cute, fun Spring design to stitch that worked up quickly! Although the kit instructions said to use two strands of floss, I used three (as I usually do) for a plumper look and I had plenty of floss with the exception of one of the greens. Helpfully, the floss card listed the DMC numbers so I was easily able to substitute a strand from my own stash. This is also very useful if you would like to stitch multiples of the same project.

I shared some progress pictures on my Instagram as I went, and I enjoyed watching the project grow from three teeny tiny sheep πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘... three sheep in a field of daisies πŸŒΌπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸŒΌ... three sheep among in daisies, standing under a heart ❤πŸŒΌπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸŒΌ❤:

And finally, the end result: three adorably teeny tiny sheep frolicking in a daisy-filled meadow, under a floral arbor crowned with a heart! 🌸❤πŸŒΌπŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸŒΌ❤🌸

For the Easter Egg ornament, I bought some more floss in the pretty pink colour of the central heart to make some cording for the edging, and some coordinating mottled pink cotton fabric for the back. I was hoping to find some sheep print fabric but no luck this year! Maybe that will be my excuse for waiting until next year for final-finishing it - trying to find the right fabric πŸ˜‚

Did you stitch anything for Easter or Spring this year?
Or are you planning anything for Summer?!

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Review: Cotton & Twine Stitchy Boxes

Giveaway Win: February 2019 Cotton & Twine Box

DISCLAIMER: This is not an advertisement and I am not affiliated with Cotton & Twine or it's parent company, The Historical Sampler Company. The giveaway win had no obligation to review or post about this box; all opinions are entirely my own.

I was absolutely delighted when I found out that I had won an Instagram competition for a stitchy subscription box from British company Cotton & Twine (on Instagram as @cottonandtwineboxes)!!! I rarely win anything, so it was a very lovely surprise 😊

You have probably noticed that there are all kinds of subscription boxes around today, ranging from beauty products to books. Why not needlework supplies? This is my first experience with a subscription box of any kind, and this pretty printed box came in a protective plain cardboard liner box. I like that you could easily reuse it for other mail!

The printed floral motifs would make a nice embroidery pattern!

Cotton & Twine Subscription Boxes are produced by The Historical Sampler Company, run by two friends, Joanne and Suzanne, who design cross-stitch and tapestry (also known as needlepoint) patterns. In April 2018 they started the subscription boxes, and you can see the themes/contents of past boxes to get an idea of what they are all about.

Although you can sign up for a continual, automatically-renewing subscription, you can also buy one-off boxes, if a slot is available (there are a limited number produced each month). The March 2019 box is currently sold out but you can register for e-mails about future boxes right here.The Historical Sampler Company also offers Gift Boxes, available for order at any time with a similar idea and make up.

The box contents came prettily wrapped up in pink tissue paper, sealed with this lovely sticker of the C&T logo! It makes you feel like you're opening a present πŸ’•

The Cotton & Twine boxes are super fun: they each contain a small stitchy project with full kit, some related goodies and some sweet treats, along with some type of tea (very British!). It's a wonderful idea - take some time for yourself, make a cup of tea and stitch away for an afternoon! My box arrived on Friday morning, and I couldn't help but think it would make a great weekend entertainment 😊

Here are the complete contents: Sherbet Pips candy (totally new to me!), Green Tea bag, 3 cute wooden Gift Tags, a DMC floral hoop and the March 2019 Pattern and kit.

The stitchy kit comes with a full size, easy to read Black & White pattern insert in the pamphlet, with a full colour photo of the finished design on the front. The little pink organza bag contains the contents: a piece of Zweigart 16-count tan Aida, pre-folded into quarters, the DMC threads (with thread numbers) on a presorted cardboard keeper, and a gold tapestry needle in a sealed plastic slip.

But my absolutely favourite part is this super cute DMC floral print hoop, which you can use to frame your stitching when it's done ❤🌸 I had no idea there was anything like these on the market, and they are adorable! Each box came with one of four different colours (shown with the photo from the pattern pamphlet):

I was hoping for the pink, but I got the yellow and I truly love it! Cheerful and sunny 🌞

I love how the Cotton & Twine patterns are modern while still being classic and pretty. I've gotten the fabric hooped up and I'm stitching the little sheep right now; I hope to have a finish to share soon! Overall, I'm super impressed with the quality of the Cotton & Twine boxes, and I would recommend them to anyone interested. If were to offer suggestions for future C&T boxes, I would ask them to consider some minor changes:

🧡 The organza bag is cute and reusable, which I love! You can just squeeze the tiny hoop in empty, but not with the fabric in: if it were just a few inches larger, it could serve as a project bag while you're working, which would be great!
🧡 The wooden gift tags are lovely but I couldn't help thinking it would be better if they had holes along the side to serve as thread keeps! I really don't know how I'm going to use three either; maybe one tag and another little something would have been better;
🧡 I would personally rather have had no tags at all (since they aren't stitchy) and another hoop - one to use to frame the project, one to use on a future project;
🧡 Small stitchy supplies and tools - thread skeins, needle minders, thread keepers, themed scissors could be included in future boxes along with projects.

Have you ever tried a stitchy subscription box (of any needlework technique), or have you been considering one?