Monday, October 29, 2018

Pilot FriXion Tester: Vintage Pumpkin

Vintage Pumpkin
Test Piece for Pilot FriXion Pen Transfer Method

Following my success with using a blue Washable Marker to transfer an embroidery pattern, I decided to work up a small tester with another very popular transfer method I've never tried: The Pilot FriXion Pen!

The FriXion pens are not meant for use on fabric. They are ink pens that come with an eraser on the bottom end (and wow, do I ever wish these had been out when I was writing exams in school!). They are very popular among quilters but are controversial in the embroidery community. Mary Corbet of Needle N' Thread very succinctly sums up her reasons for not using these pens to transfer embroidery patterns.

Namely, the ink does not really disappear. It can leave "ghost lines" that usually re-emerge if the embroidery gets cold, which is something to keep in mind if you are sending your work through the mail. So this is not a flexible transfer method like the Washable Marker - you have to intend to cover most of your lines.

Last year, a good friend sent me a black Pilot FriXion pen to try. They come in several different types and sizes. Mine is the extra fine 0.7 ballpoint, and I love the way it writes! The line is clear but thin, and the ballpoint glides over the fabric. Like the Washable Pen, you need to be able to see through your fabric to trace your transfer.

Most articles on using FriXion pen for embroidery transfers say that you need to iron the ink out. Since I usually iron embroidery from the back (placing the front on a thick fluffy towel so the stitches aren't squashed), I was a little nervous about ironing on the front. Then, a few weeks ago on Instagram, a stitcher said she used a hair dryer. Genius!

So that's what I tried, and it worked a treat! I'm afraid there are no good Before-and-After shots, because I did stick very close to the pattern. A few little bits around the curly vines were all I had to go by, but one blast of heat and they vanished. Obviously, this is something I will have to experiment with a bit more, but I am optimistic that these pens would be a good method for quick, casual patterns.

I really like that the line is easily visible but that you do not need to wash the finished embroidery. And although the FriXion pens do not give you the flexibility of Washable Markers, they do give you a tiny bit of wiggle room versus a lead pencil (my usual method). You need to be sure of your design and stick close to the drawn lines but if you do have an "oops!" moment, you can blast it away with heat.

I am looking for a transfer method that gives fine, non-smudging, easily visible lines that are thin enough to be covered by outline stitches, and this pen seems fits that bill!

Project Details

◾ Vintage Pumpkin from online freebie, unfortunately no longer available
◾ 4" wooden embroidery hoop
◾ 100% quilting cotton, Ecru
◾ DMC Floss:
Pumpkin: 900 (Dark Burnt Orange), 6 strands, Stem Stitch
Leaves: 986 (Very Dark Forest Green), 4 strands, Split Stitch Outline, and Backstitched Veins
Curly Vines: 988 (Medium Forest Green), 2 strands, Stem Stitch

All in all, I'm very happy with how my little Pumpkin turned out! I'm having fun right now stitching up these little transfer method testers, and the next is a pretty little bird that will try out the Washable Marker on Lazy Daisy stitches 🌼

Have you used a Pilot FriXion pen to write on fabric? How did you find it?

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Meet Sammy, the Vintage Squirrel 🐿

Sammy the Vintage Squirrel
from Vintage Embroidery Transfer
(from an online freebie that is no longer available)

This fun little squirrel was my first experience using a Washable Marker to transfer an embroidery pattern! My pen is the Unique brand, and I bought it at Walmart for less than $5 CA. DMC makes a popular one as well.

The blue is nice and bright and easy to see! It has a felt-pen like tip which gives a pretty thin line. Unfortunately, it doesn't really write like a pen. I found it more effective to use quick, short strokes - much like using a pencil or pen to transfer.

These types of Washable Markers are very popular for embroidery transfers because you don't have to worry if your lines don't quite match your stitching, which also gives you some flexibility. If you want to omit or change the shape of an element you can! This would be incredibly helpful with stitches like the Lazy Daisy. There's a great article by Cheryl Fall about using washable pens for embroidery transfers at Spruce Crafts.

For cross-stitchers, these have some use too. I have recently seen someone on Instagram (@moiraestitches; see her #StageCoachInTheWoods for progress) use one of these markers on Aida, to outline a monotone (single colour) pattern for easy stitching. I think this is a fantastic idea, and saves you from having to constantly consult a chart for simple designs or for large blocks of colour in more complex designs. You could also use them to mark the center of a design or to help mark borders for accuracy!

I followed the lines pretty closely, but I still had a tiny bit of blue showing:

Here's a close-up - the red arrows point to visible marker lines:

I have to admit that I was nervous to wash Sammy, especially with the black and white eye! But a quick dip in cold tap water (I used a sandwich container) and it was like magic: when the marker lines hit the water, they vanished! No scrubbing at all!

Presto, changeo! Abracadabra! Ta-DA! I'm totally impressed, and can't wait to try this marker again 😊

Project Details:
◾ Fabric is 100% quilting Cotton, light beige
◾ 4" vintage wooden hoop
◾ DMC Floss: 919 (Fur), 3833 (Ears), 310 (Nose and Eye), 001 (Eye highlight), 780 (Acorn) and 938 (Acorn Cap)

I used 3 strands of floss for most of the stitching. I used 2 strands of white for the teeth, and also for the white Eye Highlight, with 1 strand of black for Split Stitch to define the outside of the Eye. First, I tried stitching the Eye with all black and adding the highlight with a French Knot, but I didn't like the way the Knot stood out. So I took it back and made a tiny circle with Satin Stitch for the highlight, with a Fly Stitch border:

I like it a lot better! The other place I struggled was Sammy's tail. I wanted a floofy, fluffy, floomphy tail, and I considered using Turkey Stitch first. I worked some samples in the top left corner of the cloth. After a LOT of hemming and hawing, I eventually settled on doing the outside lines on the tail with 6 strands, using Stem Stitch:

It wasn't as fluffy as I wanted but it gave me a nice bit of extra lift:

Ultimately, I think a Turkey Work tail would have overwhelmed her. This was a super fun stitch and a successful experiment in transferring using a Washable Marker! I'm hoping to do another little tester using the Pilot Frixion Pen transfer method soon 👩‍🔬

🍁🍂 Sammy the Squirrel says Happy Autumn! 🍂🍁

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Lolli & Grace Free Autumn Leaf SAL

Lolli & Grace Autumn Leaf SAL, Free Pattern

Although the four day SAL, ran on Instagram with instructions on the Lolli & Grace website, is now over, the pattern and videos are still available for free:

Last month, I tried a new type of Needlepainting for the first time, in the amazing FREE Lolli & Grace Autumn Leaf Stitch Along (SAL) on Instagram! Anne, @lolliandgrace, the designer of colourful, cheerful and absolutely charming hand embroidery designs (see her Etsy shop for more), very kindly and generously put together this beautiful design and showed us how to stitch it with incredibly helpful video tutorials.

To me, the technique of Needlepainting usually brings to mind the exquisite details of silk Long and Short Stitch embroidery, usually worked with a single strand of thread with natural and subtle shading. This is a casual, relaxed, much chunkier version of Needlepainting, using four strands of thread at a time and a variety of high contrast colours (my absolutely favourite part of this design are the touches of bright blue!).

And it is FUN 😊

Honestly, I was really nervous about trying the colour blending in the center Maple Leaf. But thanks to Anne's encouragement, it was easier than I thought it would be and now I'm eager to try more Needlepainting! It's stitchy magic - you start adding the darker colours, in this case my red and brown, then layer the medium tones and finally add the lighter tones as highlights. I learned to stagger my stitches between long and short, but you don't pack them together in the rigidly long-short-long-short pattern you see in stitch dictionaries. It's very much instinctual, and I only started to enjoy it when I let go of the idea of perfection and just added colours where I felt they would work.

This was a little difficult at first, since the colours are not the traditional close tone shading, but once I had sorted them in my mind (a little arbitrarily) into my dark, medium and light colours it was a lot easier. I thought of it as: a bit of dark, lots of medium and a little light. The bright blue (806), for example, I thought of as a highlight, even thought it's a medium colour shade.

I wanted it to look like that beautiful golden late Autumn honeyed sunlight was shining on my Maple Leaf, so I deliberately kept the left side darker and added the brighter yellows and oranges on the right. As Anne said, you can go back and add a few stitches if there's any blank areas or you need more colour. I tried to add a few small groupings of two or three stitches with the same colour here and there to break up the stripe-y look.

I also really enjoyed learning the Pearly Leaf Stitch for the bottom branch!

Here's a slideshow, from floss toss to finish:

I did make some small changes here and there. I was so excited to start that I began pulling my DMC floss right away, so I made some colour substitutions for the shades I didn't have, which you can see in the first photo in the slideshow. They are:

Light Green: 581 substituted with 907
Medium Green: 3346 substituted with 905
Maroon: 815 substituted with 498 (red)
Tan: 167 substituted with 436
Gold: 3852 substituted with 728
Dark Blue: 3750 substituted with 824

The two most unique colours, other than the striking 806 Blue, are the Plum (3834) and Berry (915) which I was going to substitute with 333 and 718, respectively. But when I started stitching I realized that the original colours were more Autumnal and unlike anything else in the DMC collection. Here they are in progress on the left wreath branch:

French Knots are my Stitchy Nemesis, so I'm very proud of these nice plump berries!

For the Maple Leaf, I used Satin Stitch for the stem, rather than Outline Stitch, and I left the small veins out because when I tried to add them in they broke up the colour blending too much, especially at the tips. I also used Outline Stitch for the long veins because, as klutzy as I am, I was sure I would catch the long stitches on something 😂

I also added some Straight Stiches to the middle of the Lazy Daisy leaves for extra colour, and a few extra French Knots (gasp!) to the branch on the right. I do have a few little puckers in the fabric, since the Maple Leaf is stitched so heavily, but I'm optimistic that they will come out during finishing. I'm not sure what I'm going to make with it, probably not a hoop. A friend suggested a tote bag, which might be nice. For now, it will happily join the others in my project drawer.

The Lolli & Grace SAL was a fabulous, fun experience and I'm so glad I decided to jump in! To see other finishes, search the #lolligraceautumnSAL on Instagram. Not only was it awesome to learn new stitchy techniques but this SAL was an excellent way to find other stitchers to follow! What I really loved about this SAL is that although every stitcher used the same pattern, every Maple Leaf turned out completely different and it was so interesting and inspiring seeing how other people chose to Needlepaint 🎨

Have you ever tried Needlepainting? Would you like to?