Tuesday, April 25, 2017

satin stitch five-pointed stars

Hello, I know it's been awhile! I am back to share a bit of what I am working on now - lots of five-pointed stars.

I thought I would quickly show how I am satin stitching my stars. To make your own stars you will need:

• fabric and some scrap fabric behind it to stabilize the embroidery (I used a blue bit of fabric and a scrap of flannel behind as the stabilizer)
• embroidery floss, needle, and scissors
• a scrap of cardstock or thin cardboard to make a star stencil
• a permanent fabric safe marker to draw the stars on the fabric (I used a Pitt Pen with S tip)

1. Draw a five-pointed star on a piece of scrap cardstock or thin cardboard.

2. Carefully cut out the star with an exacto knife.

3. My supplies (probably could have been Step 1). Oh well.

4. Trace the star onto the fabric.

5. Place a dot in the center and connect to the inside corners of the star to divide into five segments.

6. Use 2 strands of embroidery floss (knot in the end) and start from the back of the fabric, pushing the needle through on an inside corner. Take the needle front to back on the opposite inside corner. Repeat moving towards the center to cover the segment with satin stitch. I try to hist center of the drawn line with my stitching.

7. Repeat the satin stitch moving towards the center of the star.

8. Once you have stitched to the center of the star move to another inside corner and repeat the satin stitch towards the center on the next segment.

9. Repeat the satin stitch moving towards the center of the star.

10. Fill the inside portion of each segment with satin stitch so that the center of the star is completed. This stabilizes the center and overall shape of the star. If there's a lot of fabric showing through in the center of the star, a small X stitched over that area seems to tidy it up.

11. Now begin on any segment and repeat the satin stitch working outward towards the point of that segment.12. Then go to the next segment and work towards that point.

13. This just shows the stitch pattern I have been using on the points - the last stitch on the tip is a vertical on top of the smallest horizontal. This makes a nice little point.

14. A finished five-point star, like the ones on a United States flag, except these are stitched by hand and each one is a little different.

I started stitching stars because I decided to make a United States flag with some of my grandmothers' fabrics and clothing that my boys have outgrown. I started with piecing the blue field and stitching the white stars, the white stars on the blue slowly blooming in a familiar a pattern. Working on that led to an idea for another project and so now I am stitching gold stars for a different kind of flag. The gold stars are about 1.25" point to point. I am almost halfway to 50 stars on the gold ones. Almost.

There's something very satisfying about working out the same shape over and over, all different and all the same, the soothing texture of repetition. There's a familiar rhythm to the star pattern, no matter the color of the stars.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

summer sewing

A deadline is often the thing that brings be back to sewing when other things have prevented me from giving it the time I would like. I have been posting a bit of progress on this one on Instagram. The ease of process in posting a photo or two over there is working well with our all over the place summer schedule.

This recent cloth is a table runner - roughly 14" X 90", made with vintage and repurposed fabrics. The blue fabric is from a little indigo dye session last summer, just a quick dip in a weakening pot.

The back is a thrifted canvas drop cloth. It gives a wonderful weight to the runner, enough relief for a nice crinkle after the wash, and a lovely fringe on a raw edge. Just the quilt top and the drop cloth are a manageable thickness for both hand-stitching and machine-stitching. I really love the weight of this combination.

That's a Buttonbush branch above, my inspiration for the leaves and circle blooms. I am eager to get another portable project ready to roll. Our summer has been full of bike races and although this runner project was portable during the appliqué and hand-stitching stages, for the most part it was made at home.

Because, sometimes a bike race looks like this. Maybe time to start a little mud cloth.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Thread of Days into May

I started working on this post when the title would have been "...into April" and then lost my hold on that whole month.

Many bicycle related things going on: My husband and I have become more involved in our boys' bike team and really enjoying meeting new friends with a passion for being outdoors and nurturing a lifetime love of bike riding. We have spent some time nursing our 12 year old's broken collarbone, also bike related. In his new place on the sidelines, he has become a contributing member to many conversations and I have learned so much about him by just listening. But, one boy a bit broken and slowing down seems to have resulted in our other boy just going faster and faster. Oh. My. 
It's a very busy time, and my absolute favorite season. I can't get enough of all the green and being completely worn out from digging in dirt all day is really the best kind of tired. End of the year school activities are near, summer trips and visitors inching closer, and the garden growing faster than we can keep up with. These threads of days continue into green.Thanks so much to all who are still following along here, despite all my gaps in communication.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Thread of Days

January is gone! I started this in November right around Thanksgiving. A day spent in the creek at my parents' house started the fossils. Then a tangle of things after that.

I was inspired to work on a sort of journal kind of stitching after following the last few months of Lynn Harrigan's daily calendar project on Instagram. For one year, Lynn beautifully documented the weather and experiences of each day in thread.

This project of mine grows by week rather than by day. I really wanted to work on something about process. No pulling threads out or worrying too much about how it turns out, I will just keep drawing and stitching.

I wanted to put things I might put in a sketchbook directly onto the cloth and then stitch them into it. I have been using a bit of walnut ink saved from fall for the occasional shading.

My firstborn had his 12th birthday last week and on we go. I thought I would say a lot more about all the imagery, but I don't really need to now. January is gone and it's all I can do to keep up. It's all in the threads and that's the point.

Maybe just a bit about the most recent stitches...a memory of last weekend's walk by moonlight through the pasture and woods. An idea of my wonderful park ranger at heart husband. We had friends, kids, and dogs along with us and could see well enough with the moonlight reflected off the snow. 

The little drawing of the woven bits = just a fragment of some recent developments.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Solidago and the Pollinators

This is the most recent quilt I have made - finished and photographed about a month ago. Those green leaves in the background are long gone.

The fabrics are a mix of cottons, including repurposed clothing and some indigo bits. The denim above was from a pair of outgrown jeans once worn by both of my boys. I thought about making this quilt for awhile and then it rather quickly came together with a few late nights spent cutting and then machine piecing.

I drew and then hand stitched goldenrod plants with wasps, bees and beetles along the bottom edge. I used a piece of flannel as stabilizer for the hand stitches. When I attached the back panel the flannel also became the batting.

I machine stitched around and between all of the hand stitching for that crinkle that I love.

This quilt is for the buzzing little lives of our late summer garden. The warm, welcoming golds and yellows of the goldenrod would draw you in for a closer look. We put our faces so so close to the starry structure of the blooms. Each bloom head was crawling and buzzing with pollinators too busy with their task to even notice us. This quilt will be our winter buzz.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

golden greens

Just over three months have gone by since I posted here last, and wow it went so fast. I have been watching the garden grow and my boys too - trying to keep up with all of them - the boys and the garden. 

The late season bloomers in our yard are gearing up for their show. We have several varieties of native goldenrod, most abundantly - Solidago rigida.  It's not at all picky about soil or light or anything so has been a prolific self-seeder, so it seems the perfect choice for dyeing.

So far I have only used the stems and leaves with cottons and raw silk fabrics. No luck with the cotton, which was not surprising. The raw silk has been wonderful - celery green, pale yellow and most recently gold.

I tried painting with a bit of likely tannin-rich mud from our pond. It didn't affect the dye so much as just make a mud stain, but I like it. Like everything else, the mud preferred the silk. I am excited to work more with the mud. I love the raw nature in this process - making marks with wet dirt. On the silk it's kind of amazing really, and these are shown already machine washed and dried.

Before going much further with the dyeing I am thinking about what I would really use. At first I liked the greens, but that green and gold variation - especially in the middle block - is just beautiful.

Next try I will be working on repeating that.

I am also thinking about how beautiful these colors might be with walnut browns.

Friday, May 29, 2015

little Bur oak whorl tablequilt

This one's done, washed and dried, crinkle and all. I learned a lot. This was a kind of test for a few construction issues before working towards something much bigger.

The biggest leaf is just barely attached to the whole.

We can also always use another surface-saving welcome spot for handmade ceramics. If Eva finds it unoccupied we can just start calling it a cat mat.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Burr oak leaf whorl

I started this little tablequilt inspired by a few large Bur oak leaves I had pressed from last season. Spring arrived as I worked on it and I decided to show the way the leaves grow as they emerge. All of the leaves are from a tree in our yard that my husband started from an acorn five years ago. The acorn was dropped by gigantic and ancient Bur oaks that stands at the edge of a favorite park in our town. Now our little tree has already set acorns and is well over six feet tall.

The leaves are attached to each branch in a beautiful radial whorl pattern. This is very noticeable at the ends of the branches. It's really beautiful. So this little quilt has turned into something to honor this young tree and what is just the very beginning of its' timeline. 

A sensitive edge has been sketched in so that it will follow the shape of a few of the larger leaves. I am going to push the limits of what I have done so far with a shaped edge and see what happens - trying to work a few things out to make something on a much larger scale.

We really are so impressed with this little tree - proves it is well worth it to plant an acorn or two in a  special spot and see what happens. The squirrels took all of the acorns last year but more are on the way.