Sunday, November 29, 2015

Autumn Leaves Applique & Ornaments

It's so hard to believe that the end of November is already upon us! And it's even more difficult to credit that Christmas is just around the corner - EEK!!! I try to get ready earlier every year, and yet somehow seem to fall further behind LOL ;)

This year, I decided to make something to bridge the gap between Hallowe'en and the Holidays, and I ended up with this little picture of falling leaves. It's a sort of surface applique technique that I've never tried before, and it was fun and quick to stitch!

I had been thinking about finding some leaf patterns online (there's a nice simple template here) and cutting them out of felt or fabric myself, but then I discovered these pre-cut felt Autumn Leaves at the local dollar store (20 pieces for $1.25!):

I've never used felt pre-cuts like this before, but they seem to be very popular for papercrafting, card-making and scrapbooking. There were three sizes in this pack, a large red maple leaf and then two smaller yellow and green maple shapes.

The large red leaves were nice and thick, but the green felt was very thin, and some of the pieces were misprinted with the lines running off the edges of the leaves. But that was okay, because I flipped them over and used them for the backs :)

So I started out making single-leaf ornaments first, which I also used for the three appliques in the frame. I used three strands of DMC 3371 (Black Brown) and a sharp embroidery needle and embellished the lines already printed on the leaves:

I did the main veins in sewing-style Stem Stitch and just used Straight Stitch for the side veins. Fly Stitch would also work well. I started with the bottom of the center vein, worked up to the top, then worked the right side - going up the center vein and adding the branch veins on the way back down - and then over and up the left side.

At first, I was trying to keep both sides of the leaf roughly symmetrical, but I soon realized that it was quicker and looked better if the stitches were a little sketchy!

Because the backing would cover it, I stitched all the way through the felt (which you can see in the last photo in the collage above). Although the stitching was simple and quick to do, I really like the dimension it gave to the leaves :)

Adding a second pre-cut leaf as a backing added nicely to that 3-D effect:

Although I tried using Blanket Stitch for the edges, it flattened out the sharp little dips in the leaf edge, so I settled on Whip Stitch instead. I spaced them randomly, following the contours of the edges - which were asymmetrical - again using three strands of DMC in the shade that matched the leaf most closely.

When I had my three appliques for the frame, and an additional red and yellow maple ornament, I tried a variation using two different leaf sizes/colours layered together. I really like the way these turned out, but since the backs of the ornaments were left showing, I had to do the stitching sewing-style into the top layer of the felt (instead of the regular "stab" style going all the way through), which turned out to be much more finicky and time-consuming. I think I took out more stitches than I put in LOL ;)

And finally, for the framed piece I used three of the single-leaf appliques:

I had this inexpensive 5 x 7 picture frame (another dollar store find!) leftover from another project that didn't work out, and I arranged the leaves in a floaty falling design. When I was happy with the placement, I sewed them onto some pretty aubergine cotton fabric with matching thread. I focused on attaching the centers firmly, and anchoring the bases on the points, leaving the tips free to curl up a little.

As you can see, this let the leaves stand off from the fabric:

Please excuse the fuzzies in this photo - they're from the felt!

Then I dug up some sparkly flat silver cording from my Stitchy Guru Mother's stash, and set about making "wind gusts" with it! I tried couching it first, but after some experimenting, I decided to stitch through the middle of the cord with the Quilter's friend, Invisible Thread (there's a short Craftsy article on the thread here).

Overall, I'm pretty happy with how this turned out! My red maple leaf and the center gusty curlique were a little too close to the edge once I mounted the fabric on some mat board and popped it in the frame, but it has been nice to see this reminder of Autumn on my bookcase this season :) The ornaments I've hung up above the frame on the living room wall with my little stitchy smalls, and they brighten up the room.

Although it's probably too late to find pre-cut felt leaves, this type of embroidery could easily be adapted to any shape or Season. In fact, I'm really hoping to find some pre-cut felt snowflakes and do a similar thing for Winter! Maybe with some sparkly silver metallic thread? And beads?! (Oooh...doesn't that sound nice?) Once you get the hang of it, it's quick and easy mostly mindless stitching - and it's very relaxing to take a break and do something simple like this every now and again.

Adieu Autumn! and Welcome Winter!

Although I'm unfortunately behind again in my stitchy blog visiting and reading, this is the time of year that a lot of us start to sum up the Stitching Year That Was and talk about our goals for the New Year. Well - my year was a bust LOL! I only made one entry into Jo's wonderful Gifted Gorgeousness SAL, and all my plans went awry.

But that's okay, because it leaves me a lot of things to try next year :) I would really like to give my Sampler of Stitches (SOS) a solid shot, although I'm still not entirely sure how to go about it. There's something to be said for just winging it and trying to figure it out as you go along, and that's where I am right now with everything ;)

Santa Claus is soon coming to town!

Usually this time of year, I'm stressed out already with a huge list of Christmas gift stitching projects - almost as long as Kris Kringle's there! - that I desperately want to catch up with - most of which are never even started let alone finished - but this year I'm doing something a little different for a change. I have a few projects I've meant to stitch up or final-finish off for myself and never got around to doing.

So I'm going to make those poor neglected stitcheries my priority this year! All the ones that have waited patiently to be finished off while I put them away time and again in favour of something else and  for lack of time. I wonder if there's a special place for them, like the Island of Misfit Toys in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer)?

If so, hopefully I can rescue a few during the next few weeks ;)

Can you believe no child wanted the Elephant with his cute pink polka dots?!

How about you? What are your (non-Super Secret Gifty) Holiday Stitching plans?