Archive for the ‘embroidery’ Category

Summer ATCs

My ATCs for the summer exchange were a lot more involved than my spring cards. And the involve electronics! Sort of. Coming up with my cards for the summer exchange was even more difficult than coming up with the spring ones, because when I think summer everything I think of is smells and sounds and feelings (sunscreen, humidity, heat etc) which I couldn’t figure out how to make into images that I liked. Then it finally occurred to me that two of my favorite things in the summer are the smell of rain on hot pavement (I recently came across a word specifically for that smell but I can’t remember it now), and thunderstorms. So I decided I wanted to put a thunderstorm on my cards and I wanted the lightning to actually light up! They didn’t end up how I was picturing them originally, but they’re pretty darn cool.

I made the lightning light up using LEDs and watch batteries. I originally asked the fiancee if he could rig something up for me so there would be a little button or switch inside that you would push, but he wasn’t real interested and couldn’t come up with a real good way to do it and finally just sort of quit thinking about it. But when he was trying to figure it out he mentioned that it would be easiest to just use the LED and the battery straight (because you don’t actually need anything else because voltage on the battery is correct for the LED already, or some other electronics concept that I only vaguely understand) but he didn’t know how you could keep the leads (the two metal bits sticking off the LED) separate so that it was only lit up when you pushed them together. My first thought was a spring, but if it were a metal spring that would create a short and it wouldn’t work. Then I suggested foam and he said it might work, but he didn’t think the foam would hold up well. But I went hunting around the random junk in our apartment and found foam that worked! Then I had to figure out how to get the light and battery to stay in the right place in relation to each other and the rest of the card, while putting enough stuffing, or whatever I used, in the card so that the light apparatus wasn’t creating a great big bump on the surface. I ended up solving both problems by using multiple layers of timtex, two of which had space cut out for the light and battery to fit in to. To get the lightning itself, I ended up cutting the shape of the lightning out of the front fabric and putting a piece of nappy liner (my mom has some of the strangest and most useful things) behind that fabric so there was some sort of surface to the lightning. Then I painted gold onto a piece of this papery stuff, also from my mom, which went underneath the light to try and give the lightning some sparkle. Then came the layers of timtex, all finished off with another piece of fabric on the back. I sewed around the edges with the sewing machine to keep things together, and I can tell you that my machine did not like going through all those layers! Now, process pictures!

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And here are all the other summer ATCs, there are some more really cool ones! I really like the one my mom made, and the flower garden done with the ribbon embroidery.

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Next up: fall!

Christmas Artist Trading Cards

I am participating in an artist trading card (ATC) exchange. Its 6 cards every other month, and the theme for the December exchange is Christmas! Who ever could have guessed that theme? 🙂 The cards need to be 2 1/2″ by 3 1/2″ and can be made using any technique, and this time around I went with embroidery. I don’t know exactly how/why I decided to do hedgehogs, they’re not especially Christmas-y, but that’s what I did. Well, there is one rabbit too, but it’s mostly hedgehogs (I’ll explain the rabbit later).

Digging through my mom’s fabric stash, I found two fabrics that I liked for the background on the cards so I decided to make 3 cards on each fabric. I cut out strips from each piece that were wide enough for the long side of the card (I think the original strips were 5 inches wide but I don’t remember exactly) and long enough to fit three cards, with seam allowance, on each strip. And then I went to town. This was the first time I free-hand stitched things that needed to be a certain shape, rather than just a pattern along a seam, and I’m pretty happy with how it went. The hardest part was figuring out 6 different designs to do (they could have all been the same or just re-used several, but I wanted to make them all different) and still make the hedgehogs look Christmas-y. That’s where the bunny comes in. After the first hedgehog I was thinking I could do a couple different little animals, and thought a rabbit and a squirrel would work quite nicely. So I was thinking I could do one rabbit, one squirrel, and and one hedgehog with Santa hats on and then the same but with reindeer antlers and a red nose. I only had to get about halfway through the rabbit to decide that it was a much more complex shape than the hedgehog and I really didn’t want to do such a complex shape 4 more times. So I went back to just hedgehogs.

Once I got the embroidery done, I needed to finish the edges and put a back on the cards. My mom was quite helpful in that, as she usually is, and I’m happy with how they turned out.

The exchange is happening at the December Designing Quilters meeting which my mom and I will miss because we’re going to be in Hawaii (so excited!) so we have to send our cards along with someone else. Because of that, my mom made a cute little bag to put the cards in.


I’ll be getting 6 cards back from other people and I’ll be sure to post pictures of those when I get them!

Abq FAF Embroidery and Crochet exhibits

For some reason I don’t really feel like writing much today, but I will share more pictures with you, cause I’m sure you’re eager to see them. The format for these is the same as the last post, if the label for the piece is not visible/legible in the original picture, then there is a close-up of the label following the picture, to make sure everybody gets credit for their work.


The embroidery exhibit appeared to have been a competition with several categories along the lines of non-original designs, original designs, and colcha embroidery. I think the categories were a bit more complex than that, but that’s really the salient information. If I didn’t mention it before, each exhibit was put together by the appropriate guild in Albuquerque, so the formats of the exhibits varied a little bit, as did the sizes of course.

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I will admit that I generally don’t find crochet as interesting as other techniques. I don’t know what it is, it just tends to seem boring to me, and I don’t find basic crochet stitches to be very visually appealing. That being said, I found some really beautiful pieces in the crochet exhibit that just struck me. So it seems I just haven’t been looking at the right crochet stuff.

Book Illustrations

The book is almost finished! Which is good because theoretically the show it’s for goes up tomorrow :-/. I say theoretically because we’re sposed to be getting a winter storm starting around 4 am tonight and continuing all day tomorrow, so if there’s a storm the library will probably close and then we won’t hang the show until Monday. I wouldn’t mind that, I’m pretty sure I can get the book presentable by tomorrow but if I had the extra day I could get it really polished and to the point I want it at for display. I realized today that this is the biggest fiber project I have ever made. Not sure if that says more about the size of the project or my previous work, but there it is.


On to the progress. I got a LOT of work done today, and a bit over the last week. I’ve now finished all the illustrations in the book and have sewn the first two pages together! First, the one set of pages I haven’t posted about at all, the set that was supposed to have satin stitch lettering. I realized this week that there was no way I was going to get them finished with satin stitch so I pulled out what I had done on those pages and printed the words on fabric. It actually turned out looking rather neat.

The last few illustrations took the most time because there was a lot of couching and one is an actual embroidered piece to itself, but I’m quite happy with how all of them turned out.

The illustrations took most of my time today, but I did manage to get the first two pages sewn together. Assembling the book is something I’m very much improvising, so I’m quite pleased at how the first two pages sewn together turned out. But, by the time I was done with those it was 11 o’clock so I figured I better wait till tomorrow or I’m going to start really messing up.

And now time for bed so I can get up early (well early for me) and finish the book! Hopefully before it needs to go in the show…

Book progress report

This was a busy week for me, I picked up a lot of extra time at work so I didn’t have much time to work on the book until today. But boy did I get things done!

First, the wording on the last page is done! This is the second of the pages I did with free-hand machine stitching.


This page has the same puckering problem as the first, although I accidentally discovered that 4 layers of the paper does decrease the puckering noticeably. That’s a lot of paper, but it’s some pretty thin paper so it didn’t seem to trouble the machine at all and it wasn’t any harder to remove after the sewing was done.

Next I did the outlines on the satin stitch pages, yay for free-hand machine stitching again, which should make those go much faster. I still haven’t even finished the first of those pages, and no pictures of the partially done one, but I think I can get them done pretty quickly with some solid sewing time. If I can’t get the pages done I do have the contingency plan of printing the words out on fabric and sewing that the to pages, not as fancy but faster and a do-able alternative since I’m low on time.

And finally I started on the illustrations for the pages! The first three pages of the book are now completely finished! And the fourth one is almost done.

I’m pretty happy with how the needles turned out, and very pleased with the “thread”, which is actually yarn that I’ve couched on. I’ve never really done any couching, but the learning curve has been pretty steep, and I think I’m getting better at it. The couching is kind of slow going, but I like the results so much I don’t mind. I have decided that I need to work at a table to do the couching, rather than in front of the TV like I was doing today. It works alright to basically work in my lap but I think it would be easier and faster on a table. So much for laziness in front of the TV, I’ll just have to stick to working on the satin stitch letters when I watch TV. The fourth page is also going to have a smaller needle and thread on it, next to the piece of fabric. I’ve been waffling back and forth between just loving the piece of cloth ripply on the fourth page and thinking it looks stupid. One of the later pages is going to have what is supposed to look like a pattern drawn on paper which I will be doing on white cotton so I wanted to make the piece of cloth illustration look noticeably different by having it look ripply. Now that I think of it I could have just made it look like a folded piece of cloth, but I like the implied motion of the ripple. I’ll have to see how it looks with the rest of the illustration on the page.

These ones were the simplest illustrations, but even the more complex ones are rather small, so they should be pretty quick to put together. The show that the piece is for goes up this Sunday, so it all better be pretty quick to finish! Luckily the most complex of the illustrations are just going to be small simple embroidered flowers, and I should be able to do those pretty easily in an hour or so. And I think I just need two of those, actually, if I work it right I might only need one, we’ll have to see how that goes. It is so exciting to see, and feel!, the pile of the finished pages. It’s starting to look like a book, and like an actual piece of art too! I don’t generally think that highly of my own pieces, I’ve seen too many really good pieces by my mom and her friends and mine don’t even compare, but I’m already pretty proud of this one, and it’s only getting better.

continued progress

The first four pages are done! Here are pages one and two, which weren’t done at the last post.

The fifth and sixth pages are going to take the longest because I’m doing them in sating stitch by hand. I have started the fifth page, and they’ll be nice and portable, but it’s slow going. Here’s what I have done so far on that one.


I machine stitched the outlines of the letters cause I need a concrete border like that when I do sating stitch or it gets all wonky. In the past I’ve just backstitched the border by hand but I figured machine stitching would be faster. It was really hard to do the curves by machine and I can’t decide if it actually made the embroidery harder or not, but I may not continue with the machine stitching.

I skipped over the seventh and eight pages, because I’m going to do those with fabric paint and I didn’t have one big chunk of time today, so I will probably work on those tomorrow. Instead I did the ninth and tenth pages, which are machine embroidery. It’s too bad I’m not a real big fan of the look of machine embroidered letters, because it went wonderfully fast once I got the settings down. I had some issues at first because of a setting on the machine to make the letters “using twice as many stitches”, which basically stretches them out a bit. I decided to use that setting, because it makes the letters a bit bigger, but I didn’t realize it would clear that setting when I cleared the programmed letters so that I could program in the next word. So the second word looked different from the first word, and I couldn’t figure out why, because all the stitch length and width settings were the same. At the same time my bobbin thread was messed up because the bobbin was wound funny, which will teach me not to use a bobbin that I didn’t wind myself,  so the tension was really tight, and I didn’t know why cause, I didn’t see anything wrong. Then  finally the bobbin just bound up and I figured it out. So I ended up ripping out the second word several times, and for a different reason each time, but once I got things all sorted out, it worked like a breeze.

I also discovered that the bobbin thread actually affects the look of the letters. Specifically, if you switch from a black bobbin thread to a light blue one, the stitching ends up looking like it was done with a completely different top thread. Of course I was also perplexed over this one when I first noticed it, but I kept working on the rest of the page and my brain worked it out for itself. Of course I then had to rip the first word out and re-stitch it so that it matched the rest because otherwise it was going to drive me crazy!

That’s where I’m at now. I have three sets of pages that I haven’t even started, but should hopefully go pretty quickly, and the satin stitch pages to finish, which will take a while. And then there’s the illustrations of course, but those aren’t as extensive or as difficult as the letters, which have caused me to decide that our writing system has too many curves in it and we need more straight lines. Just square letters, no curves!


I have clinical depression. I have been struggling with it for years but a couple weeks ago I had what my therapist called a “crying episode”. I call it a depression attack cause I think that describes it better. Basically it is a stretch of time where all I can do is cry, I can’t think or do anything else, even talk really. This inspired a new embroidery piece, pictures and description below.

This is the pattern I drew on paper first, to give myself a guideline for the piece.

I traced the pattern onto the fabric with pencil, the picture of that didn’t really come out, then I backstitched the outline in the correct colors.

I used chain stitch to create the texture of the hair. I wasn’t sure about using chain stitch but I couldn’t come up with a stitch that would give me a better hair texture. I was trying to think of something that would be a bit fluffy, but I couldn’t find a stitch like that. The chain stitch worked pretty well though.

The black is the depression. The central swirly bit is the overwhelming ache that is the biggest part of the depression attack. The jagged lines radiating from the swirl show how the ache spreads and takes over the whole body, and the whole person. The texture of the black lines turned out a lot more jaggedy and less smooth than I originally pictured, but I like it this way. The jagged edges seem more right than smooth lines.

I considered adding lines around the outline of the person, partly just to fill up the background, but decided not to. I have a tendency to make pieces overly complex, and I plan to make a custom sized frame for the piece that won’t leave a lot of empty background showing, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

After I had recovered some a friend (whose blog I will link to once she starts one! hint hint) sent me a link to make a bracelet with a reminder that “depression lies”. I printed the bracelet on paper like it’s intended but wanted a more comfortable one that would last longer so, with help from my mother, I printed out another one on fabric. I also printed one for my friend who sent me the link, which is what is in the picture, cause she needs the reminder too.




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