Monday, November 21, 2011

my favorite things: embroidery

It's my birthday week!  My official birthday is tomorrow.  I can't wait.  I love birthdays.  Mine. Yours.  Anybody's.  I have no prejudice when it comes to birthdays (or anything else, I hope!).

In celebration of my birthday, I am going to share with you a few of my favorite things this week.  Since Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and my birthday week is almost always during the week of this great event,  I will probably be posting some holiday festivities along the way.

But for starters, I love embroidery! It's definitely one of my favorite things.
Beautiful, right?
I started with cross-stitch when I was a wee lass, maybe 15 years old.  I had stumbled across some floss and aida cloth that my mom had started on years before.   The cute little animals and the colorful floss were so enticing that I couldn't resist picking up the tiny needles and giving it a go.

I soon gave that up.  I mean, high school, sports, friends...way more fun.  And time consuming.

Only very recently did I re-channel that desire for hand embroidered goodness.  It was actually on my study abroad trip to Costa Rica that I decided to pick up the needle and thread again.  I begged my tica momma to take me into the city to a store that sold floss, aida cloth, embroidery hoops, needles and a guide book.  Our communication over this matter was nothing less than a test of patience and linguistic skill.  Let me not forget the ever important and universal hand gestures.

I don't think I have mentioned that throughout this journey of cross-stitch awareness, I never actually completed anything.  At least not that I can remember.  Also, let me say that the graphics that I chose to cross stitch (and that were readily available) were baby farm animals and puppies.  Cute, but not really interesting.  Needless to say, I think I became bored with it.

Also cute.
Then I discovered a more free-form hand embroidery technique by a girl named Jenny Hart.  She creates some incredible hand embroidered artwork.  It's fun, it's interesting, and it's totally doable.
The Queen of Embroidery
Day of the Dead Skull, a Jenny Hart design
I became hooked.  I was gifted her how-to book as a Christmas gift and was totally excited to see girly skulls, goofy birds, and beautiful colors and a variety of stitches throughout the pages.
My very first completed hand embroidered project was a tiny flannel dress that I made for my niece Caroline.  It featured the goofy birds.  It was so simple (back stitches and french knots) and so stinkin' cute.
Goofy Birds, a Jenny Hart design
Another item that I finished was a free-form design (meaning I didn't use a pattern, I just let my hands move to the rhythm of my imagination) and it formed into a little matroyshka doll face and I filled in the gaps with a variety of stitches and colors.  I was pretty proud of it when it was completed.  I also gave that to my niece Caroline.
The finished product has two eyes, but I didn't get a picture of that.
I have half started a few other things, my most recent embroidery project is family stockings.  I am only embroidering the names of each individual in my household and then using my machine to sew the stocking together.  They are turning out really nice.
Yeah, it takes a while to use the satin stitch technique to do each name, but it's so bold and rich looking that I think it's worth the time I've invested.

I'm almost finished.  I have Peter's left and most of my own.  After that it's stocking construction time.
Also, these stockings are pretty non-traditional.  They will be the traditional stocking shape, but the fabric I will be choosing/using is not your red and green holiday cloth.  The boys don't care for that. Heck, I am taking a risk assuming they will even care for the stockings at all.
Dustin's stocking will be made of a Carhartt-esque, caramel colored duck cloth (it doesn't get much manlier than that without crossing the tacky threshold).  I think I will line it with a flannel, manly fabric.  Caleb will have a plaid fabric, mostly because he likes to wear plaid shirts.  Peter's stocking will be made of a fabric that he brought back for me from his home in Ghana, Africa.  I think he will appreciate that.
I am still debating on the girls.  They are much easier to choose for, but at the same time I am still unsure.  Regardless, they will be awesome and I will have a great sense of accomplishment once they are finished.

Is anyone else making stockings this year for their families or friends?  Do you prefer traditional Christmas colors/fabrics or are you more likely to go with something non-traditional?

I will admit that I love cross-stitch stockings with a primitive, country flair like these:
A Bent Creek pattern

A Bent Creek pattern
If you are interested in learning to embroider or just to enhance the knowledge you already have, here are some great resources:

Needle N' Thread - for patterns, tutorials, everything you need to know

Rock Sea Embroidery - great pictures and tutorials for a variety of stitches, stitch dictionary

Carina's Craft Blog - frame your finished work

Carina's Craft Blog - paper transfer tutorial

Tada Creations - Heat Transfer Pencil Method

Don't be afraid, go to Pinterest and search "embroidery".  Get inspired!  It's my birthday week anything is possible!!

Keep Posted,

the rave

1 comment:

  1. You make me sick! (In the best kind of way!) I love your creative genius and I'm so proud you're mine, even if I had absolutely nothing to do with your skills! Is it your birthday tomorrow? Wow, it must have slipped my mind! Ha! I love you princess!