Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting the Year with Work in Progress

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you are all well-rested and ready to dive in to whatever 2012 has in store for us. I am still finishing a few projects from the holiday week, including this embroidery sampler.
I haven’t done any of this type of stitchery since my early teens, so I decided to get some practice before starting on intricate designs or anything I wanted to display.

My taste in stitchery patterns varies widely, and I love many of the designs coming from companies like Urban Threads and Sublime Stitching.

Urban Threads (some designs are on sale until tomorrow - Jan 3!)

Sublime Stitching - great retro designs

They have retro, punk, steam, fantasy, pinups and zombies…truly, this is not your grandmother’s embroidery!

For my first little test run I figured it was just as easy to download some free clip art and transfer it to fabric. If you google “coloring pages” or “mandala” you will get thousands of clearly outlined shapes of varying complexity. This one is a comparatively simple lotus mandala I downloaded from one of the coloring page websites.

I used a red heat-transfer pencil to trace the printed design and then ironed it on to my fabric. It transferred well enough, but gave me a barely-visible pink line to follow. My poor old eyes don't need that much exercise! Next time I will try a dressmaker’s carbon and hope for a darker impression. If that doesn’t work, it’s on to the Sulky transfer pen.

The fabric is 14-count Aida cloth, which looks as though it would be ideal for a cross-stitch project but is a bit coarse for some of my stitches. I’m uncertain about what types of fabric are best suited to embroidery for framing. I would not want to try sheeting or muslin, as the threads are so tightly woven. Broadcloth might work but it is generally quite flimsy. Canvas is clearly too heavy; I’d probably gouge my fingers trying to push the needle through. Linen is supposed to be best, but I think the weave can be quite uneven. Do any of you stitchers have a favorite embroidery fabric?

My stitches in this first effort left much to be desired. My chain stitches were all different lengths. I could not get my cross stitches even; they are at different angles and sizes all over the design. French knots are not as complex as I thought, but take an incredible amount of floss. I accidentally changed colors halfway through the green petals, and didn’t even notice until I was finished! The biggest surprise was how easy it is to do the satin stitch. My satin stiches are lumpy and thready instead of satiny, but I like the handmade look of them. No machine embroidery for me!

I probably have a few more days on this project, then I can pick my next design.

What are you putting your creative energy into these days?



  1. Well done - I really like the colour combinations.

    I would use aida for cross stitch or tapestry. I think you might find this type of free style embroidery with different stitches much easier on heavy weight linen. My mother gave me some embroidery on linen for Christmas - maybe I'll post it on my blog. My daughter received Embroidered Effects from Sublime Stitching for Christmas and has started a chandalier design (on linen)

    We're all embroidery fans!

  2. Your stitching is fabulous! I am a huge Sublime Stitching fan and have quite a collection of her patterns. I am not familiar with Urban Threads, but that will change as soon as I post this comment!
    My favorite fabric for stitching is 100% cotton. The fair trade textile that Jenny Hart has sourced for her site is fabulous! I buy the tea towels like crazy when she has a sale. Bedding in a 200 thread count works well, also; you can do a lot with one flat sheet!
    I am going to start stitching some towels for a bathroom makeover in the next day or two, which I will be sharing on my blog. Glad to see I am in such good company with my favorite winter crafting project; perfect to curl up with!
    xo, Anita

  3. Thank you both so much for your recommendations!