Showing posts with label Redwork. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Redwork. Show all posts

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Is it Valentine's Already?

I guess it's time again to trot out my neverending redwork project, Sweet Hearts. I did manage some work on it after Valentine's Day last year. I finished up the first of the couples:

...and made a fair bit of progress on the second couple:

You can see there is a lot of fine detail left on the second couple. This year I have accepted that there will have to be a lot of back stitching, and less stem stitch than I would prefer, in order to finish all those details. My issue with the back stitch is that it does shadow through the fabric more. The hearts in the first picture are back stitched, and you can see the white centres of the hearts are a little darker than the surrounding fabric. It is more obvious in real life!

But, this year I've been relaxing a lot more about things than I have in the past. If it can't be helped, then it can't be helped. So, shadowy back stitch it will be!

Here's the over all progress to date:

There are only two now that have no stitching at all. I'm embarrassed to say that a couple of the pieces are starting to yellow! Hopefully a good wash at the end will even things out. The final layout will have sashing, so that should minimize any aging on the fabric as well.

I'm still quite enthused about my final plan for these, so progress may be slow, but it will continue!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Another Year on Sweet Hearts

Back in November I realized with a chill that on Valentine's Day, 2013, I wrote that I hoped to have all nine of my Sweet Heart redwork designs finished by Valentine's Day, 2014. I knew then that there was no way that was going to happen! Not after I'd spent so much time on Best Friends Forever. But I made a push, and finished this little guy, who may well be my favourite:

With the spats on the shoes and the striped outfit, I'm pretty sure this is a boy. But he feels quite familiar all the same...

Yes, that's me on the right!

I've realized that I stitched all the singles first, and now I have all the couples left. In general, the couples had more detail, so I guess I started with the easier ones. The first couple is well underway:

And here's a layout of all nine to give you a sense of where things are going:

I really do want to finish them and move on to the next steps with my plans for some pieced and applique borders. Too many projects! In any case,

Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have been writing this post in my head for two years, but now that it is finally time to write it for real I've forgotten what I meant to say! In any case, it is two years since I started this blog, almost two years since I started this quilt, and well over 30 years since I started starting quilts, and this is the first one to make it all the way to the end. 100% finished!

Nine Patch Jubilee, 54" x 66"

The sun was not co-operating today, but it was too cold to stand out there for long! I made one attempt to style the quilt before I hurried back inside:

Yes, that is a small dusting of snow around the garden pagoda.

I named the quilt Nine Patch Jubilee because the filler squares and the backing are from the Jubilee Garden collection by Connecting Threads, which they had a couple of years ago. And it seemed right to celebrate my first finished quilt.

With the red and white colour scheme, it felt appropriate to do the label in redwork too:

The quilt is machine quilted (yes, by me) in channels the length of the quilt, 1/4" on either side of each square in the nine patch block, and carried through the solid squares. The binding is machine sewn to the front and hand stitched down on the back. I miscalculated the width of the binding, so it is a little wide on the back, but I think that's fine.

I also tried out a sewn mitre technique for the corners of the binding that I saw Ricky Tims demonstrate on The Quilt Show. It uses this tool from Animas Quilts:

There is a video demonstration of how to use it here. Two of my corners came out perfectly...

...and two did not, lol. But the problem was that I had miscalculated the width of the binding, so the corner didn't hit in the right place. Those corners are a little wrinkly, but again, everything can't be perfect on the first quilt. I have concluded that I do like the tool, and I will continue to use it on large projects. The big advantage for me is that you only have to sew the binding on one edge at a time, so each length of binding is more manageable, and I can take a break after each long seam.

So, yay! And, whew!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Two More Sweet Hearts

Yesterday Sharon over at Lilabelle Lane posted her work so far on Best Friends Forever, a new Rosalie Quinlan stitchery and quilting pattern. I immediately loved it! I think this pattern is in my future.

But, it inspired me to get out the redwork project I do have, Sweet Hearts. Two more blocks are now finished:

That makes three of the nine done. As a tv-watching project, redwork makes a nice change from Texas Star, so maybe there will be one or two more soon. We'll see!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sweet Hearts Update

Happy Valentine's Day!

It seems appropriate to show how far along I am with the Sweet Hearts redwork designs that I first showed last Valentine's Day. Not far at all! But at least one is done:

Adding the loop knot to my repertoire was a big help, but I was still struggling with these for a long time. I used a ceramic pencil to trace the designs, and it rubbed off quickly, so I had to guess where to stitch half the time.

Finally last fall I saw that Pigma Microns come in red, so I bought one in the smallest size, 005. Pigma Microns are permanent, archival quality pens, and I found that the 005 makes a very fine line:

Now these are finally easy to stitch! I sincerely hope that they will be done before next Valentine's Day!

But honestly, I am not sure that there is a lot more redwork in my future once these are done. Even though I love things that are red and white, I have been finding it hard to warm to this technique. We'll see how I feel when they're all done. There will be nine in all, so lots of time to change my mind...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Inspirations 75

I have a serious backlog of reviews that I'd like to do for Friday Book Review Days. My review of Inspirations 73 has proven to be one of my most popular posts, so here is the latest - Inspirations 75. Trust me, the photos alone will be worth it!

Inspirations magazine is published quarterly by Country Bumpkin in Australia.  The production values are consistently high.  I have to admit that I have not made many of the projects - Cottage Garden will be the first one (although I do have more kits in my stash).  But there is so much to learn in these magazines, from the history of embroidery, to various unusual embroidery stitches, through colour and design, that it is always worth the long wait between issues!

I particularly love the photo styling that Stylist Fiona Fagan has done for this issue. Since I started this blog I have become much more attuned to how photos are styled! Nikki Delport-Wepener's stumpwork cover project Bauhinia was beautiful to start with, and the mix of real flowers, beads and skeins of silk threads that Fiona has added to the photo raise it to a whole new level.  Don't the skeins of thread in the artist's palette look great?

And what more can you say about this one?:

The actual project in this photo is the cauliflower pincushion in the upper left hand corner.  I love the small scale corn cobs and tomatoes that Fiona has found to go with it.

As for the actual content of the magazine, there is a really excellent article by Anna Maria Salehar about her approach to thread painting portraits.  It is great to get a glimpse into her creative process.  I was struck by how much the work feels like an intricate and compelling puzzle that Anna Maria slowly pieces together. I think the hallmark of a good artist is the way they are able to transcend their chosen medium. Anna Maria certainly shows us the way!

I don't usually like to choose a favourite, but this time I do have to say that I am quite enamoured of Jenny McWhinney's "Early Bird" redwork peg bag:

I always love the combination of red and white, or red and natural.  These birds are so cute, and I like Jenny's new approach to redwork.  Instead of a solid line, she uses a sketchy, broken line that makes the work feel more like an etching. My only quarrel with the design is that she uses three shades of red, which I think is unnecessary and distracting, given all the careful line shading in the design. But that is easily corrected. Washing lines are against the by-laws in my neighbourhood (I know, it's not green), but this would also make a great framed piece for the laundry room.

Right inside the front cover is an ad for an upcoming Country Bumpkin book of embroidered blankets and quilts.  The large embroidered heart immediately caught my eye, so I was pleased to see several more in the "Hearts and Roses" drawstring bag by Lesley McConnell.

The hearts in the drawstring bag are quite small, but the patterns could easily be enlarged.  I would like to use them on quilt squares, maybe nine all together.   The combination of polychrome embroidery and patchwork is something I see in the Australian quilting magazines a lot, and I'd like to make one myself.  After my redwork quilt!

So once again, there was plenty of inspiration here.  Highly recommended!

Related Post:

Inspirations 73

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A New Way to Secure Thread Without a Knot

(Update 02/13 - Apparently this is called a loop knot.)

This is a technique that Alex Anderson demonstrated in an early episode of The Quilt Show.  I can never find the exact episode, but if someone knows please put the details in the comments.  Alex used the technique for redwork, but I have found that it adapts very well to cross stitch.

This technique works whenever you are stitching with two strands of floss in the needle.  I am stitching Celtic Spring 2 over 2, so it has been perfect for that.

Start by cutting the thread twice your normal length.  If you usually stitch with an 18" length, cut your floss to 36".  Pull off one strand, fold it in half so it is double, and thread the cut ends through the needle:

I have used a shorter thread for the demo.  Leave the loop at the end of the thread.

Start your first stitch by coming up from the back.  Don't pull the thread all the way through!  Make the first diagonal stitch of the cross and go through to the back without pulling the thread all the way through.  On the back the folded thread will form a loop:

Run the needle through the loop (you are still on the back of the work), and pull tight:

The loop will snug down flat against the working thread, and secure the whole thing with no knots and no loose ends.

Like everything, this method has pros and cons.

  • Reduces the number of loose ends on the back of the work
  • Quicker and easier than a waste knot when you are stitching in a new area
  • Slippery threads like gold braid won't work loose later
  • Only works for an even number of threads
  • Doesn't work when different threads are blended in the needle
  • The two lengths in the needle are running in opposite directions.  If your thread has a nap this may reduce the sheen of the finished piece.  It may even increase snarling in dense stitching or fabric.

For Celtic Spring this method has been fantastic.  In the borders especially you are frequently starting  new colours in isolation, and the waste knots are tedious.  Plus I have been finding that the gold braid tends to work itself loose, which is eliminated with this method.

I also like it in places where there are many colours in a small area, because it reduces the bulk on the back. I start with a shorter length when there are fewer stitches to make.

And it's great for redwork too!  Although for redwork you start with the loop on the top of the stitching, and it works better for stem or outline stitch rather than back stitch.  But it makes a very clean back!  I think I owe a post on that some day...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Second Run at Redwork

I recently showed you all the problems I'd had with redwork in the past.  I'm glad to report that I think I have them all solved!  I've been going full stream ahead.  This is just one day's work while catching up on Coronation Street:

This is all stem stitch.  I have been debating between stem stitch or back stitch, but what I've found is that stem stitch is a lot easier.  It is hard to get a continuous line with back stitch, while with stem stitch if you miss the previous hole you cannot really tell.  I may still use back stitch for some of the fine details, like the fingers.  I am finding, though, that just shortening the stitch handles the details well too.

The biggest difference, however, has been working the embroidery in hand rather than in the hoop.  It is so much easier!!  I find I can get the tip of the needle to just pop up in the previous hole when I am working in hand, so my stitching is faster and much more accurate.  There is no issue with puckering either.  I am planning to take my Cottage Garden UFO out of the hoop as well, to see if that gets easier too.

And the back is now a thing of beauty, but I forgot to take pictures of it!  Next time.

Related Posts:

Previous redwork efforts - Sweet Hearts

Cottage Garden UFO - 10,000 Hours and Deliberate Practice

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sweet Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day!  Today is the 50th anniversary of my parents' engagement, so Valentine's Day has always been a big deal in my family.  In honour of the day, here is a redwork project that I have just started work on again.

I bought these at several years ago now.  I have been to the site more recently, and I am not sure if it is still active, it has not been updated in years - so use with caution!

I have been on again, off again with this project.  Sunday evening I started to think about it again, and I made a new quilt design incorporating just these nine blocks.  My previous plan had been to combine these with some other redwork patterns, but the whole thing was going so slowly, and poorly, that I just abandoned it.

From the front, my first attempt did not look that bad, but it was chaos on the back:

Old block - front

Old block - back

It doesn't look like all the ends on the back matter, until you see the block against a white background:

I did briefly consider lining the blocks with red fabric to hide all the ends!  But that didn't feel right to me, so the project became another UFO.

Now that a few years have passed, I've learned a lot about how to deal with the ends on the back, and suddenly the project seems a lot easier.  I realized that it can be my elusive "tv project."  I am so far behind on Coronation Street!  CBC only keeps the last three weeks online, and I have been missing episodes because I have nothing to do while watching them.   I spent most of yesterday tracing new blocks, and I have 3 left to do today.  I am also stitching the label for Edward's quilt, so there is a lot of outlining in my future.  Which is good, because I think Audrey and Mark's secret is about to become the talk of the neighbourhood!
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