Wednesday, May 18, 2016

GG SAL: Silk Lovebirds Final Finish!

I'm so happy to report that I realized my goal from April's Gifted Gorgeousness SAL and final-finished my Silk Lovebirds off into this pretty diamond ornament for the merry month of May! Although I struggled a bit with the finishing process, I am very pleased with the result :)

For the full project details, please read my last GG post here. A quick summary:

~ Pattern from Cross Stitch & Country Crafts magazine, Sept/Oct 1990
~ Worked on gifted 14 count Aida in a pretty buttercream yellow
~ Stitched with gifted overdyed silk floss, the gorgeous Airlie (#95) by Dinky Dyes
~ Stitched using the Mirror Technique for Variegated Threads

Recently, I've been experimenting with ornament making methods! One of my long-standing stitchy ambitions is to get better at final-finishing so I'm pushing myself to try new things :) My usual go-to method is using a quilt batting insert with fabric backing and corded edging, such as I did with my Blackwork Snowflake.

Although in the past I greatly preferred store-bought cording, like the navy cording I used in that tutorial, I'm hand-twisting my own lately, which is harder to attach but has the great advantage of being a perfect colour-match to the stitching!

For this ornament, I used two squares of mat board and wrapped them each with a piece of quilt batting, which I hot-glued to the back of each mat board square.

I used a beautiful dusky blue 100% cotton for the backing fabric:

Then I laced each side around a mat board form, and sewed the two halves together. Because of the padding, and the stiffness of the mat board, both sides turned out to be rather thick and it was difficult to sew them together. I ended up using a curved upholstery needle for the first ladder stitch pass, stitching about 1/4 inch in from the edge, and then did a second pass close to the edge like usual.

The first pass brought both sides together loosely while the second pass tightened the seams and brought both sides together fully, giving me a more even surface for attaching the cording. Although this was more time consuming, it worked well!

Tanja Berlin of Berlin Embroidery Designs has a great photo tutorial showing how to lace work onto mat board, and there is a close-up look at lacing small squares here.

Vonna at The Twisted Stitcher calls this style of mat board finish a basic Flat Ornament and has a few interesting variations (the Layered Flat Ornament and the super cute Layered Felt Mounted Ornament) on her popular finishing blog.

Mary Corbet of Needle N' Thread finished a goldwork embroidery ornament much the same way back in 2008 and had the same troubles with extra thickness that I did! She greatly reduced the thickness by remaking the ornament with a thinner board.

This great tutorial, with a style similar to my ornament, suggests using comic book boards instead of mat board, as it is much thinner but still stiff and of archival acid-free quality, and that's something I'm definitely going to check out :)

You can see the thickness mostly at the corners, like this:

Thankfully, the cording mostly covers it and it's not really noticeable at all once the ornament is hanging up! I do like the nice, crisp corners that mat board makes.

I also added some small squares of batting in the middle of the ornament to fill in the lacing gaps and make sure the center was flat and even:

This photo also shows the cording join at the bottom left, right above the start of the tassel. That was the single most troublesome part of the finishing, sinking the end of the cording back into the ornament and making it look as seamless as possible.

You can definitely see the join, obviously, but it was the neatest I could make it (and I redid that part over a dozen times!). Eventually, I reached that dangerous point where I needed to stop fussing with it and let it be or take it apart altogether and start over, and I am glad that I decided to stop and take a step back.

I really find that when you're working closely with little details for a while that they can overwhelm you with dissatisfaction, but if you take a break and then look at that detail in larger context, it may not be nearly as big of a problem as you thought :)

Here is a close-up of the tassel, which is my favourite part:

I love tassels! As I mentioned, I made the cording by hand, and I also made a smaller corded hanging loop and the cording loop that was the basis for the tassel. In all, I used 6 full skeins of DMC 3803 - 3 skeins for the cording, 1 skein (split evenly) for the two cording loops, and 2 skeins for the tassel. I wanted both the cording and the tassel to be extra thick, and I really like the way it turned out :)

I tied the tassel with a bit of the silk floss I had left (amazingly - and sadly LOL - this project used nearly all of the 8 meter skein of Airlie silk!) and simply wrapped it around the tassel, securing it in the back with some stitches through the wrap:

I love the rainbow effect, and the sheen of the silk against the cotton floss!

Initially, I had planned to use a metallic gold cording, and I'm really glad that I went with a simple floss instead. When I first decided on floss, I was thinking of a light buttercream yellow to match the Aida but I couldn't find an exact match.

Although the burgundy 3803 is not actually used anywhere in the stitching, it's a darker match that is close to the deepest mauve in the overdyed silk and I think it really sets off the lighter colours and subtle tone shifts in the variegated thread.

My Stitchy Guru Mother has a rule for colour-matching a sewing thread to fabric - when in doubt, go with a darker thread instead of a lighter one - and I think it applies to choosing finishing trims like cording as well :)

What is your favourite way to final-finish stitchy ornaments? I'd love to know! If you're reading this post in your e-mail, please visit the blog to leave a comment :)

Gifted Gorgeousness is a monthly SAL hosted by Jo @ Serendipitous Stitching! It is a fun and relaxed way to thank those who have given us Stitchy Gifts and show off what we've made with those generous gifts. It's never to late to come and join us!


Julie said...

Beautiful finish, so delightfully stitched and made up, the tassel is a fabulous addition to the ornament.

Mini said...

Your finishing is perfect. The tassel add so much to the ornament.

Lady Stitch-a-Lot said...

How pretty =) I love the color changes and how you made it into an ornament =)

Brigitte said...

Such a pretty little ornament finish.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

oops, I missed this post first time round! Thanks for taking part in GG this month. Your flat ornie is lovely, you put a lot of work (and threads) into it. The tassel really is lushious and worth the number of skeins it took.

If I am going to make a 3D ornie I usually just whipstitch round and add some shop bought cord. I'm not a big finish-finisher!

Sisi M said...

Beautiful embroidery create, hugs Elizabeth

Sheryl S. said...

Beautiful stitching and wonderful finish - always difficult to hide those cording ends and yours are perfect, lovely rich coloured tassel.