Monday, September 28, 2009

Hand Embroidered Baby Blanket Progress........

I finally have gotten back to working on the embroidered baby blanket.  As you can see, I get easily side-tracked.  In fairness to me, my family helps me along a lot with that, though!  Since I posted last, we've spent a lot of time with extended family....even attending a wedding that we took the chair lift to the top of a ski hill for the fun! The view looking out behind the wedding couple was just outstanding - you could see for miles and miles.

Anyway, I have done quite a bit on the left side of the teddy bear's garden that I wanted to share with any of you that might be following along.  The first thing that I added were daffodils.

Here is a closeup of them:

These are very easy to make.  The stems and leaves are done in stem stitch.  The outer petals of the flowers are lazy daisy stitches with the trumpets done in buttonhole stitches.  I've decided to add a row of detached buttonhole stitches to the trumpets to give them a little ruffled affect, but they would be fine left this way, too.

Next, the magazine gave instructions for adding Cow Parsley.  It looked a lot like Queen Anne's Lace to me.  I had to think a minute and remember that the magazine is from Australia.  I did a quick Google and found it IS Queen Anne's Lace.  These flowers were added with back stitched stems and leaves of feather stitches.  The flowers were made with one, two, and three wrapped French knots radiating from straight stitches.  I was worried the white flowers wouldn't show on the ivory fleece, but they did.

The next flower to be added was Agapanthus.  To me, the finished flowers on the original picture in the magazine looked to me like Globe Allium, but in reality; when I googled is actually Lily of the Nile.  I really think it looks like both of them.  So, take your choice in what you call it.  I have Globe Allium in my perennial garden and I don't know if  Agapanthus will grow here in MN, so I'm going to consider the flowers on my blanket to be Globe Allium......stitcher's liscense, lets say. The stems of these flowers were made with whipped chain stitches taking them all the way to the center of the flowers, which were made of blue fly stitches of made in a circle.  A second row or  darker blue  fly stitches was then added on top of the last row....going from the center of one fly stitch to the center of the next.  Then straight stitches were added to fill in any gaps.

Daphne was the next flower to be added.  Starting at the top of each stalk, start with a one wrap French knot with maybe another spaced under it, the add one or two double wrapped ones  spaced below them .  Groups of two together and then groups of three are added along the stem.  Start with a pale shade of pink for a time, then a medium, and then a dark.  Some stalks start out a medium color and then go to the dark..  Once you have all of the buds added, work a fly stitch around each bud or group of buds working down the stalk.  The leaves are long lazy daisy stitches arranged at the base of the stalks.


So, here is a picture of the garden, so far:

Tomorrow, I'll try to fill in the violets and other filler flowers along with the rainbow and post the finished garden for you to see.  I'm then adding the baby's name under the garden.  I'll be designing some flower groupings for the corners of the blanket, next.  So, hopefully, you will continue to follow along.

I still haven't decided whether to back the blanket with a cute little floral gingham that I bought or to back it with more of the same ivory fleece.  The fleece might be more cuddly for a Minnesota winter.  I could use the gingham for binding to give more color then.  I bought an  ivory satin blanket binding to use if I do the gingham backing.  I, also, have to decide if it's necessary to "tie" the backing and the blanket top together some way.  I was thinking I could do this with tiny embroidered flowers scattered around the blanket top background with the flower center going through to the back.  If any of you have any thoughts or suggestions......I'd love to hear them in the comments. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hand Embroidered Fleece Baby Blanket - part 2

To complete the right side of the "Sunset in the Teddies' Garden" design for the fleece baby blanket that I'm making, I had to add Hollyhocks, next. I really enjoyed making these. I love the three-dimensional look of these flowers. To make them, I used silk floss in two shades of pink, burgundy, and peach for each stalk. I used the variegated green for the stalks and leaves. I, first, drew the design on the fleece with the air-erasable marker and then stitched the stalks using the stem stitch. I used 2 threads of floss throughout this flower design. Next, I did the flowers on one stalk. These were formed by making an irregular circles of blanket stitches using the lighter shade of pink, bringing each stitch to the center of the circle. The flowers are spaced along the stalk, getting smaller as you get closer to the top of the stalk. A bud or two of partial circles are made to represent buds near the top of the stalk. The center of the flowers are made using the darker shade of pink. A smaller circle of blanket stitches is made on top of the other circle in the same manner. To give this part of the flower a dimensional look, you work a row of detached buttonhole stitches onto the edge of this darker circle. This center part of the flower is made on all of the flowers, except the buds. This process is repeated for each stalk, using a different combination of colors for each stalk. The leaves are added next. Those on the stalks are partial circles of buttonhole stitches, reducing the size as you go up the stalk. The leaves at the base of the stalks are irregular circles.

The next flower to be added are Shasta Daisies. These were made with #8 Pearl Cotton. The white petals were made with lazy daisy stitches. Golden yellow centers were made with a double wrapped french knot. The stems are back stitches with lazy daisy leaves.

Blue Forget-Me-Not flower petals are made with two strands of silk floss double wrapped french knots. I used the same golden yellow pearl cotton for the centers. Single strand silk floss lazy daisy stitches were used for the leaves.

A smaller version of daisies made with pink silk floss with burgundy centers using the same method as the Shasta daisies completes this side of the design.

I've started on the other side of the design and will post my progress in the next couple days.

If anyone needs instructions for any embroidery stitches, I recommend going to Sharon Boggon's stitch dictionary at It's an excellent source for any hand embroiderer.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hand-Embroidered fleece baby blanket

Summer has flown by and I haven't been able to do much needlework. I did have a wonderful week long visit in July with two of my cousins who enjoy needlework as much as I do. We had a great time. We went antique shopping one day for items to add to crazy quilts.....lace, buttons, trims, etc. Another day, we visited Stitchville in the Twin Cities to stock up on threads, etc. We each worked on our own projects while inspiring each other along the way. I designed a needlecase / hussif to hold all of my needles, templates, scissors, etc. that I'll share with you down the line. One of my cousins was working on a crazy quilt block and had embroidered this darling little girl cherub face on a yellow section. She wanted the face to be flesh colored and had used the tiniest little seed stitches to accomplish this with shades of flesh floss. It came out unbelievable! I was SO impressed with her patience! My other cousin was embroidering on wool for a baby blanket. It was a darling appliqued teddy bear sitting in an embroidered floral setting. She had found the pattern in a Country Bumpkin's book - The World's Most Beautiful Embroidered Blankets. Country Bumpkin publishes the Australian magazine - Inspirations. I was so inspired that I decided that I would make a blanket for a baby gift that I needed for an employee of ours who is having her first baby - a girl.

Since I'm allergic to wool, I decided to make mine out of a really good quality, non-pill cream- colored fleece. I searched all of my needlework magazines for a pattern and finally decided on one called "Sunset in the Teddies' Garden that I found in another Australian magazine - Embroidery and Cross Stitch Vol. 11 No. 9. I'd post the picture of the blanket from the magazine, but I'm not sure about copyright issues. I think I'll just post my progress on the blanket as I'm making it so that you can follow along.

The original blanket in the magazine was 32" by 44". I decided to make mine 45" square. This design has a pair of teddy bears in the center of a flower garden. They have there backs to you while looking at a sunset.

The first thing to do is to stitch large basting stitches from top center to the bottom center and the same from side to side in a contrasting thread. This gives you the center to place your design. The complete pattern design is included as a fold-out in the magazine, but since I'm doing this on fleece; there is a problem tracing the design on the fabric. I could trace it onto tissue paper or water soluble stablizer, baste it onto my fabric and stitch through it; but, I've decided to "wing it" instead and free-hand draw it onto the fabric with an air-erasable marker as I go along. The design may not be exactly like the original that way, but pretty close. I did use the pattern provided to cut out the brown fleece for the bears. The original design showed a tannish bear, but all I could find was a medium brown fleece for the bears. We have brown bears in Minnesota, so that's fitting, anyway. . . . right? The bears are attached to the background fleece using straight stitches of random lengths to make it look like fur. I was very pleased with my bears after I added them. I was, also, very surprised with how easy the fleece was to stitch through, but pleasantly surprised, as I'd been worried about that. The next step was the lavender plant on the right side of the bears. I stitched this with silk floss. The flowers were 7-wrap bullion stitches and the stems and leaves were continuous fly stitches.

Tomorrow, I'll take pictures of the Hollyhocks, Shasta Daisies, Forget-me-nots, and pink daisies that I've just finished that make up the rest of the right side. I'll post those pictures and describe how they are made. I'm enjoying making this blanket and really like how it's developing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beading, Machine Embroidery, and Journaling classes

My ankle is mending fact I'm up on both feet without the cast.....but moving slowly with lots of swelling. I'm taking it easy, though, so decided that this was a great time to sign up for an on-line class to stretch myself. Trouble was, that I found several that I would like to take that were being offered at the same time.....go figure! Soooooo, I whittled it down to three: Introduction to Textural Beading and Embellishment with Janet Lasher and Studio Journal as a Designers Work Horse with Sharon Boggon. Both of these are offered through who offer a vast variety of online classes on a wide range of subjects. These two classes have begun. The other class that I signed up for is through and is Begginning Machine Embroidery with Joanne Winn. This class begins the 18th.

I decided to take the beading class for a couple reasons. One is to improve my beading skills for crazy quilting and the other is that I bought some neat fabric for a jacket that just begs for beading embellishments. So far, we have learned some basic information and stitches and have been encouraged to use some patterned fabric as inspiration to make some sample pieces using these stitches and a variety of shapes and sizes of beads. I'm posting a work-in-progress picture of a sample that I'm working on and the almost finished piece (I need to even off the sides). This is an approximate 2" square. Now Sharon's class is harder to share my progress with you. Her's is more of a process to change my habits as relating to documenting my ideas.....not working through an entire project or journaling what I've already done....just capturing those inspirations that we get. I'm hoping that she will help me cure myself of lossing those fleeting ideas that we all get for future projects. I tend to jot something down on bits of paper....never to be found again, see something that intrigues me or inspires me and then forget where I saw it, or have a inspiring thought and then can't remember it later. Sharon's class is one to inspire us to document these inspirations for future use, where we can go back through them later to find and develop those of merit when we need them. We've only had one lesson so far and I can definately see how the concept will help it's to learn the process and then to make it a part of my routine.......wish me luck.....I'll keep you posted on how well I'm doing in implimenting her journaling ideas.

Now, the Machine Embroidery class is long, long overdue. I bought a Pfaff 2140 embroidery sewing machine over 5 years ago and have yet to use the embroidery unit. The dealer that I bought it from went out of business before I had a chance to get any training on the use of the embroidery part of the machine. The class offered on Quilt University will deal with all brands and models of machines, how to download patterns, and how to use all aspects of the embroidery machine. I'm really excited about taking it. I'll post some of my results as it goes along.

I've been organizing and pulling out my UFOs and am sorting out which ones to work on first. I'm going to religiously finish one UFO before I can start working on a new project. Hopefully, this will help me get some of these old projects done. I'm finding a few "class projects" that I may never finish and a couple "Why on earth did I ever start THIS?!?" projects. If it's just something that I lost interest in, I may find someone else that would like it and might want to finish it for themselves. If I find "disaster" projects, I'll toss them. Either way, I won't have to worry about them taking up space.

I did start working on my Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt while riding in the car.....yes....I said riding....not driving! It's, also, a nice project for doctor's offices, etc.

Well, time to elevate this ankle....the foot has gotten really swollen. So, until tomorrow......

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Another vintage quilt - eye candy

Well, I'm still hobbling around with this broken ankle......which is mending well, but taking way too long for someone who likes to be active. I've been able to put weight on it while in the boot cast, which has made it a little easier getting around without using the crutches for everything. It has given me an sincere appreciation for the mobility that I normally have, though, and a true respect for those that endure this restriction of mobility on a normal day to day basis due to accidents or illness. I haven't started any new projects or even worked on my crazy quilt as it involves finding just the "right" addition or floss, which involves going up and down steps to my sewing room. So, other than work on embroidering my grandchildren's names on pillowcases that I've made them for their birthdays, I haven't been too creative. I'm going to attach a picture of the three last ones that I've done. I try to embroider each one differently. Temper's doesn't show well in the picture, but is fine in person. Working on a print was more difficult....I probably should have just satin stitched it, but she'll love it either way. I thought that you might enjoy seeing something more creative, too, so I'm including more vintage crazy quilt "eye candy" from those that I own. I hope you enjoy them.

Monday, May 4, 2009

And just a last picture of the center of the "Sleepy Head" antique quilt

I missed this picture of the center fan in the quilt, so have added it here. Make sure to check out the two last posts for the rest of the pictures of this wonderful old quilt. I will post pictures of another one tomorrow.

More pictures of my "Sleepy Head" vintage crazy quilt

Here are a few more closeup pictures of the "Sleepy Head" antique quilt that I own.