Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Meet Annabelle, my Autumn Songbird!

Annabelle, the Autumn Songbird
Adapted from a Free Vintage Transfer (Vogart)
Tester for the Blue Washable Marker and Lazy Daisy Stitches

I have been in love with the vintage embroidery pattern that inspired this beautiful bird - whose name was chosen because Annabelle is Gaelic for "Joy" - for YEARs now:

Three Birds in a Tree
# 10007 / Animals & Insects / Vogart at

Although it doesn't appear to have been updated since 2016, Needlecrafter is one of the best sites online to find free vintage embroidery transfers, and it is home to the pattern that I used for my first-ever embroidery, Bluebirds of Happiness.

I wanted a tester to try the Blue Washable Pen I recently used for Sammy the Squirrel. I was interested to see if having the full Lazy Daisy outline marked would help make my stitches rounder. When I'm using a permanent transfer method - lead pencil, fine-tipped Sharpie marker or iron-on pencil - I usually only put dots in place of the bottom and top tips on each petal.

This is because I find it difficult to make my stitches perfectly match the lovely even teardrops of the pattern designs. But when you have a lot of Lazy Daisy stitches close together, all those dots can be a little confusing, especially since I usually have French Knot dots marked in the middle of the flowers too. It's like playing Connect the Dots - and sometimes it's frustrating to figure out where everything goes 😂

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So I decided to focus only on one bird; this is my variation! I made some changes: altering the branch, adding another tail feather, changing the beak and adding extra French Knots and scattered Detached (Single) Lazy Daisies in the body for some extra colour. I also added another leg, because only one didn't look quite right!

You may notice the colours look a little familiar. That's because I loved the colour palette from my Lolli & Grace Autumn Leaf SAL so much that I just had to use it again! I made some minor substitutions in the original colourway and I kept those for this project. If you'd like to stitch your own Autumn Songbird, here is the Colour & Stitch Key:

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The Blue Washable Marker (mine is the Unique Brand, from Walmart, that I used for Sammy the Squirrel) worked like magic again! A quick dip in a plastic container of cold water and Abracadabra! Shazam! Bibbety-bobbity-boo!!! A beautiful, joyful Songbird!

One teeny tiny minor quibble: my fabric choice was not the best. I have seen this pretty and unusual mustard yellow colour everywhere this Autumn, and when I found some fabric on the bargain wall, the same type of linen I used for The Joyful Jester, I was thrilled! That project was felt applique, so I've never actually embroidered on this fabric before. The loose weave means that it's easy to overstretch, and although I tried very hard not to do so, I distorted the fabric. Significantly.

I was SO proud of my Satin Stitch in this project, especially the Tail Feathers:

Smooth, right? This was the first layer I intended to use as padding but it worked out so well that I kept it to the single layer. The leaves were Satin Stitched inside as well. Out of the hoop, unfortunately, that fabric distortion means that all my painstakingly-stitched Satin Stitch went wavy and wonky 🙄 So it has to be stretched in a hoop or a frame.

Lesson learned!

Thankfully, my other major achievement - the Bullion Knot feet - emerged relatively unscathed 😊 Those teeny tiny toes are so cute!

Verdict: The Blue Washable Marker wins again! I'm so impressed with this embroidery transfer method. It really did help take the guess work out of my Lazy Daisies, although again the linen was not a good fabric choice. The nubby texture means that it was harder to mark the fabric and I had to go over most of the lines twice. Also, because I couldn't mark smoothly on the textured surface, I couldn't really get the teardrop shape of the Lazy Daisy stitches and they ended up more like straight lines LOL!

I really love the flexibility this marker gives you - you can change elements, as I did with this project when I reshaped the beak, you can add or omit parts of the pattern. Not having to stick to the pattern lines gives you so much stitching freedom!

And my Lazy Daisy stitches do look a little rounder than normal, which is a definite plus since mine usually turn out kind of skinny. In all likelihood, this had nothing at all to do with the marker and just happened because I was paying extra attention to them, but I'll take all the help I can get 😄

I'm so pleased with how Annabelle turned out, and I think she's lovely. A little songbird to sing a happy, joyful tune on these golden late Autumn afternoons while the leaves fall, reminding us that Spring will come again once Winter has its turn 🍂🕊🍁