Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Apple Tree fire screen - starting to stitch

With the design painted onto the organza, I can start to stitch over it, starting with the apples.

As you probably guessed from the paint, these are to be a nice bright red, and I'm going to be using three shades of Madeira stranded cotton, 0211, 0214 and 0305:

I used the darkest shade, 0211, to outline the apple shapes in stem stitch:

It's been a long time since I've used that and it isn't very good, but as it'll be overstitched later I'll leave it as it is and regard it as practice.  If it was going to be left on show, though, it would definitely have to come out and be done again properly.

To give a bit of shape to the apples, I added a highlight to each of them in the two lighter shades:

These have a central spot in the lightest, 0305, then a ring around it in one strand of 0305 and one in 0214, then another ring around that in one strand of 0214 and one of 0211, the bright red, to shade into the main colour.

I'm deliberately trying to use larger stitches than the tiny ones I usually use, to give it a freer feel, though it's a struggle!  My natural inclination is always to tiny detail.  I'll keep on with (for me) big stitches and see how it works.  Filling in the rest of the apples next.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Apple Tree fire screen - painting

The next stage in the process is definitely new for me: painting the fabric.

I used diluted acrylic paints, and very carefully painted in the stems in gold:

(the forest of map pins are to stop the fabric shifting as I worked)

Then the leaves in green:

And finally the apples in red:

The colours look very bright here, but most of the paint went straight through the weave of the fabric and onto the paper beneath; off the paper and stretched onto an embroidery frame, it's a lot more muted:

Time to start stitching!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Apple Tree fire screen - the design

I'm going to make a fire screen based on the 'apple tree' design on my late 19th century wardrobe, which to remind you, looks like this:

I also mentioned last time that I'm intending to try a slightly different technique.  If any of you are fans of Game of Thrones (I am!) you'll have seen the fabulous work of costume embroiderer Michele Carragher - be sure to have a good look round her site as her work really is amazing.  As well as spectacular photos, Ms Carragher also generously provides a lot of detail on her site of how she produces her embroidery, and for this piece I'm going to be following the techniques she describes.

In some ways it's similar to how I've done things in the past - embroidering onto a fine fabric, cutting it out then applying the slip to a background fabric - but sufficiently different to be new and fun!

Firstly, I've drawn out the apple tree design, scanned it, and blown it up to approximately A3 size (the actual embroidery will be 22 cm x 38 cm, or around 8.5" x 15"):

I'm going to be stitching onto a gold organza, so to mark the design onto it I pinned the organza over the drawing, and drew over it with a dark yellow pencil:

Here it is without the drawing and pinned onto some scrap paper:

Usually at this point I say that it's just the photo and it's a lot clearer in real life - not in this instance!  It really is a bit faint, but that doesn't matter too much as I only need to be able to see it for a short while.  Why?  I'll tell you next time!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Wardrobes and fire screens

Today's post is mostly about furniture, but it will get round to embroidery in the end!

Having finished the OBOD banner, I need a new project to work on, and I've decided to do something for the house.  My house dates from around 1900, and I've got a few pieces of antique furniture to go with it, including my wardrobe:

I love this - it's an Arts & Crafts design, in oak, with very pretty handles and fittings, but the best thing about it are the two carved panels.

Isn't that just fantastic?  The panels are both the same design but are very sightly different, so I think they must have been done by hand as you'd expect machine-made ones to be completely identical.

So that's the wardrobe, and here's the fire screen:

That lives in the dining room, and features the first large-scale embroidery I did from a design of my own, based on the Lindisfarne Gospels back when I was a student, a long time ago.  The stitching isn't up to my current standards but at the time I was thrilled with it, so much so that I commissioned a local cabinetmaker to make the wood frame for it.  (Sadly, I can't remember his name or I'd give credit where it's due, as it's beautifully made.)

I'm going to redecorate the dining room this year, so that seemed like a good time to upgrade the screen.  I'll keep the frame but retire the embroidery to a cupboard and stitch something new.  And as I expect you've guessed, that's going to be based on the 'apple tree' design from the wardrobe panels.  I want to try a slightly different technique too.  Should be fun!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Druid banner - completed piece

And here it is:

That should give you a better idea of the scale, too - it's quite large!

It's been a pleasure to work on - I've enjoyed every moment of it.  I think it's turned out quite well.  I hope you do too!

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Druid banner - putting it together (part 2)

Last time, I'd got as far as adding the tabs for the carrying pole along the top.  The pole itself will be in two parts, in a 'T' shape, and so will also pass up the centre of the back.  To stop it blowing about and becoming difficult to carry, I also added two loops, made in the same way as the top tabs, to the back:

As with the tabs along the top, I made sure that these were stitched to the canvas, not just the top fabric. The pole will thread through them, and should make carrying the banner easier.

Next, I added a fringe along the bottom, and a woven tape with my name on at the top - inside the banner, so it won't be seen when it's finished, but I'll know it's there!

The very last thing to do is to add the top fabric - the part with the embroidery on.  Firstly, I stitched it in place along the bottom edge, to anchor it:

I forgot to take any photos, but next I stitched the front fabric to the canvas, to ensure that the entire banner acts as one single item.  This was easier to do than for the back as I could place the stitches where the appliqué is, so there was less chance of it being seen on the surface.

The front panel pinned in place:

I then ladder stitched it all the way round - and finished!

I'll post a photo of the finished piece tomorrow...

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Druid banner - putting it together (part 1)

Time to start putting the banner together.

The banner is lined with a piece of quite heavy cotton canvas cut to the final size, to give it some weight and support; the banner itself will be assembled around this.

After thoroughly damp-stretching both the front and the pack panels, I attached the bottom hem of the fabric forming the back of the banner (a plain green with no embroidery) to the canvas using herringbone stitch:

I then stitched the canvas to the back fabric with a few widely-separated stitches:

This is a bit tricky as I don't want the stitches to be visible on the surface, but necessary to make the banner one single piece, rather than a collection of bits of fabric moving independently.  Small stitches, done very carefully!

With that done, I could hem the other three sides, again using herringbone stitch to attach it to the canvas, and mitre the corners:

The banner will hang from a bar along the top, so a series of tabs need to be added for this to pass through.  Using the same green cotton sateen fabric as the main body of the banner, I cut eight equal-sized pieces and lined them with linen:

Then machine-stitched the long edges together:

Turned right side out and pressed, with the seam down the centre of one side:

Six of the them were then folded over to form a loop and machine-stitched in a 'Z' to anchor:

These were then stitched onto the banner panel, making sure that the stitches went through the canvas, not just the top fabric:

There's a wider space in the middle to allow for the carrying pole.

That's a lot of it done, but still some work to do yet!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Druid banner - the completed embroidery

As promised, here's a photo of the completed embroidery on the banner:

You can probably spot the pins round the edge which means it's being damp stretched and therefore I've started making it up, but I'll describe that process properly once I've got a bit further.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Druid banner - lettering: outlining An Tigh Geata

The very last lap for the banner embroidery - the outlining of the final lettering.

Using the same thread as for the outlining of 'OBOD' - it's green all round the circle this time, not half blue and half green as for the spirals - here's 'An':

'An Tigh':

'An Tigh Geata':

And that's it!  All the embroidery done.  I'll try and take a half-way decent photo of the full thing (my first attempt is too bad to show, even by my standards), and show you it next time.

It's still not a finished processional banner, of course - now, I need to put it together.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Druid banner - lettering: An Tigh Geata

I'm getting very close to the end of the project now, with the addition of the lettering around the top of the design.  As before, I transferred the design to the front of the fabric by stitching over the transfer on the back with small running stitches:

(You can just see it if you try!)

And then I added the letters.  First 'An' (and a pip):

'An Tigh':

'An Tigh Geata', and the final pip:

Very nearly there now - just the outlining to go.