Saturday, 16 April 2011

Feeling Stitchy: April Stitch-a-long

Ever since I did my first little bit of embroidery for a Christmas present last year, I have been itching to give it another go. But finding time has been difficult and selecting the right project has been even harder so I've been left to daydream for the beginning of 2011.

But then Feeling Stitchy started doing stitch-a-longs. I figured that this could be my chance to get my needle on and I was desperate to join in but couldn't find the time. I had already decided that April was the month I would go for it. As luck would have it this month's pattern was absolutely beautiful so I grabbed a nice cloth napkin I had lying around, borrowed Dorothy's washable pen and set about tracing like a mad woman.

This is where a lightbox would come in handy, instead of squinting at a piece of fabric and lifting it up occasionally to work out where you were supposed to be drawing whilst not moving the picture underneath, you could have a much less stressful time, but such is life. I did the best I could do and tried not to freak out too much when a few lines weren't in the right places. I have to constantly remind myself that this is supposed to be artistic, I can do what I like, it doesn't matter if that raindrop is 2cm to the left or not.

What is most enjoyable about this kind of embroidery is that once the pattern had been traced, I was on my own to do what I wanted with it. This is still a little daunting for me, I struggle artistically, I'm not great at thinking things up on my own and choosing my own colours. I think that's why cross stitch appeals to me, everything is so much more ordered. Here, not only do I have to think about colours but I also have an unthinkably large amount of stitches on offer to me. It's almost too much!

But I knew straight away that I wanted to the umbrella to be a rainbow coloured one. It just seemed obvious to me, I couldn't have done it any other way. So after a quick consult of the embroidery thread box of dreams I was well on my way.

When I finished the umbrella (staying up far too late one night to do so because I was totally unable to put it down) I sat and stared at it for a good 10 minutes straight, feeling pretty damn pleased with myself because I thought it was so beautiful.

After that I was on my way and the process really took hold for me. Raindrops were completely as single big loopy stitches, secured at the bottom with one little stitch. I am sure there's a technical name for this stitch but I'll be damned if I know what it is.

Her jacket presented me with the opportunity to stick a new kind of stitch in so I went for some satin stitch on her lapels, buttons and pockets. Although I love that turquoise colour, I figured the coat would be too overpowering if it was all that colour (I think the umbrella needs to be the focal point) so I held myself back and just did a few simple stripes in purple.

I figured her dress had to be done in yellow because this is a springy kind of pattern - she is experiencing an April shower after all, and what could be more spring-like than a lovely lemon yellow dress?

I am absolutely loving watching this piece take form. I have been religiously taking photos as she progresses so I can compare them properly when I'm all done. And I have been a good girl and have been adding my photos to Feeling Stitchy's Embroidery pool on Flickr so they could see what people were up to with the pattern.

And this led to me becoming a famous person, when one of my photos was featured in a progress post on Feeling Stitchy earlier in the week. Fame! Amazing. There was my stuff on a real life blog about stitchy stuff. Amazeballs. That photo has now had over 150 views on Flickr which is, you know, freaking brilliant, it makes me feel popular and loved and I love a bit of that.

I've been beavering away on this when I can and will be taking more pictures (obvs) as I go along, ready to share with you in a later post when I'm all finished and will have officially completed my first little embroidery hanging to go on a wall somewhere. I have been keeping a track of the colours I've used along the way, just in case anyone would like to know (I'm pretty much a huge DMC whore you know) and I'll be including those in the final post.

Hurray for embroidery!


  1. That is looking really lovely. I'd like to try it myself but I'm slightly intimidated.

    Have you heard of Frixion pens? They're for sale all over the place in WHSmith and the supermarket. In their you can 'rub out' the ink. The ink disappears with heat so you can just write anywhere with them and the iron makes it vanish. Totally ace. About £2.50. Changed my life!

  2. Wow, it's amazing! Honestly! I would love to try some embroidery like this but there's no way I could get it so neat and I'm scared!

  3. Such a lovely little picture... I have been sticking with Cross Stich since I got "The Book" but totally want to start trying the embroidery (if not only to just do those adorable cats on the front cover). Just seen the comment about the pens above - once again Mooncalf to the rescue - I have been taxing my brain about how to get patterns onto fabric (hey I am just a baby when it comes to this stitchery stuff)...must go buy a Frixion Pen!

  4. Oh that's gorgeous! I love your choice of colours.

    Are you using this for the April scavenger hunt? I can think of a category that it would work beautifully for :)

  5. For smaller designs you can make your own lightbox really easily and quickly. Get a flat bottomed tupperware/plastic container - some of them have ridges or annoying bumps on them that will get in the way. If the box is big enough you can keep it upright anyway but the lid edges might get in the way of laying your design flat, which is why generally you turn it upside down. Buy one of those disposable bulbs that you can stick on in caravans etc that run on batteries, turn it on and put in the box. Turn it over, put your original design on it and the fabric over that and you will be able to easily see the design and trace. (If original is in a book you will have to photocopy it or trace it off the page first - the light won't shine through a book but it will a single sheet of paper, no problem). The bulb is bright enough to work for small/medium size designs. I got everything I needed from poundstretchers for about £4. It works really well. You can get a very small (with variable reviews) light box for about £10 from Amazon - I think it is under toys but generally the grown up and really good ones are about £60 plus. I've heard of Frixon pens too - meant to be good. It was the whole business of transferring designs that put me off for ages! You do need a fine pen as a line of fine embroidery will not completely cover the outline and if it is a permanant pen it will spoil your work. I think yours looks like a washable one though. Love how you have done it up to now - the umbrella looks great.

  6. Wow - you are putting me to complete shame. I have not done knitting, crochet, cross stitch and now here you are doing embroidery! I'd love to do it hard? How do you learn about all the various stitches? What do you need to buy to get started?! xxx

  7. It's super cute! Your fame is well deserved :D

    I second what Mooncalf said about the Frixion pens. I haven't used one, but my mother swears by them.

  8. That piece is beautiful - I will check back to see the finished article. There is so much talent in blogland. It never ceases to amaze me.


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