Friday, June 20, 2008

Leaving the world behind...

...literally. I am leaving in the morning to go on retreat. I will be spending eight days in directed retreat silence in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I am excited and a bit nervous. You never know what God has in store for you. Though as much as I like to talk, the silence is very liberating. I know I will treasure the time each day spent with a spiritual director and at Mass. The eight days will be based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

I will be praying for all of you. I hope you will do the same for me. I have several ideas for tutorials when I get back. Below is one of the vistas I will enjoy while in Colorado at the Sacred Heart Retreat House.

God Bless!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

You asked for it-Bullion loop flowers

Well you asked for it, you got it! Of course you got 15 pics to go with it. So be patient for the page to load.

As I have said, I am a visual learner. I will skim written instructions as they accompany a picture, but for me the picture is the most important part. I use the directions to verify what I see. That is the most challenging part for me when I attend a hand embroidery class, being able to SEE. That teacher may do the most exquisite work but I can't get my head close enough while she is stitching without getting in the way of every one else who would like to see. So this is my gift to those who want to see the actual thread and threads of the fabric and how they interact.

The steps I have used are what works for me. You may have to experiment a bit to see what works for you. I like to say, "I don't care how you get to Chicago as long as you get there." Not everyone does each stitch the same way, there may be some who consider that there is only one proper way to execute a stitch. I am not that person. You want results that are pleasing to you. How you get that is your decision. and your style. We can all learn from each other. And we will all continue to improve the more we stitch.

The flowers are comprised of bullion loop petals encircling an eyelet center. There are a few things you need to execute this stitch. I have used a #10 sharp needle and one strand of DMC embroidery floss. I also can not work without LIGHT and lots of magnification.

*A note about magnification, many will say they don't need it. I find for myself that the magnification helps me see more easily so that I stitch more quickly as well as more accurately. An added bonus is when you are finished and take it out from under the magnification, WOW, it just improved 10,000%! I have been working on this daygown almost everyday for 2 weeks. I can't imagine how much longer it would take without the magnification. (I am in the home stretch now.)
  • I have already completed the eyelet. For this application, I have not tied on since I am going to continue to use the same strand of floss I used for the eyelet. I have come up from the underside approximately 1 thread away from the outer edge of the eyelet. (Point A) Reinsert the needle approximately 2 threads to the right (Point B)

  • re-emerging back out of Point A.

  • I wrap my floss clockwise. This first wrap I don't count. I use it to get the floss behind the needle. I am holding the needle in my left hand, wrapping with my right. My left thumb is holding the eye of the needle and my left index finger (forefinger) is behind the tip of the needle. I have moved my finger in this photo so you can see.

  • For these flowers I have wrapped the floss clockwise around the needle 15 times. Go ahead and count, I would, remembering that at the base of the needle I have not used that as one of my counted wraps.

  • Slide the wraps to the base of the needle, SMOOTHLY. You want the wraps to line up next to each other, not overlap. Again note that my thumb and forefinger are securing the needle and the thread.

  • Pinch the thread wraps between your forefinger and thumb. Pinch softly. There is no need to grip the needle for all you are worth. Your only purpose is to hold the wraps in place while you slide the needle through the wraps.

  • Continue to pull the needle through the wraps, pulling the excess thread until almost all of the thread is pulled through.

  • Let go. I promise it will be okay. There are your wraps, sitting serenely around your thread waiting for your next move. (hint-if you have a wonky mess, it is still salvageable. You can carefully unwrap by passing the needle back through the loops. Ask me how I know.)

  • Continue to gently pull your thread down through the wraps, gently curving your wraps into a loop shape.

  • Sink you needle back through Point B.

  • You will be working clockwise, keeping each petal at the top of the eyelet as you stitch to form the flower. Each time emerging at a new Point A about 1- 2 fabric thread to the right. You have to have a teeny space between each petal or they will flop over or crowd each other. There has to be enough room between the entrance and exit points for the thread to lay unencumbered.

  • I have made 5 petal flowers. Odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye. It also makes a full flower around this teeny tiny eyelet. When you get to this last petal you will feel a bit cramped. Another time when magnification comes in handy. (Yes my children tell me all the time that I am a broken record.) See below the 5th petal emerging at Point A...

  • Completed wraps...

  • Thread sinking again at Point B.

A trio of precious bullion loop flowers.

I hope this has helped and not confused you more. Please feel free to ask me any questions if I can clarify more. I do leave on Saturday for an 8 day silent retreat. So if you don't hear from me before the 30th that is why. Keep me in your prayers and I will keep you in mine.

Keep stitching.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Just wondering...

What other tutorials would you like see? There has been good response on the Heirloom Sewing and Smocking board on Delphi so I was wondering what other tutorials would you like to see. I am a strong believer in clear concise directions, so I would like to add to them if possible. Let me know. Off to the game! Playyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ball.

Boys of Summer

Haven't been to a game yet this year, but today that is going to change. Going to the Cardinals game this afternoon. Should be a beautiful day. And even if it is not, it is a company sponsored event, so we will be inside. A great way to watch baseball. Lets hope they have a better showing today than last night. But you can rest assured, no matter the score, no matter that they are in second place in the Central Division, even if they were in last place, the stands will be packed. It is a baseball town!

It is such a baseball town, the above photo wasn't taken from the Cardinals website, it wasn't a picture taken from the paper, it is a photo taken during the photo session for my second daughter's wedding. A long standing tradition here in St. Louis is that after the wedding, many couples travel around town to have pictures taken at local landmarks. The Gateway Arch, Forest Park, Busch Stadium, Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. Yes brides have pictures taken at the church, during the reception but there are few that don't include the Arch or the stadium in their photos. Yes it is a baseball town.

photo by Zettl Photogrpahy

ps, these photos are good, but they aren't the ones that made the album. We were very blessed to have awesome photographers. Can't wait to see their album which should be finished soon.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Teeny Tiny Eyelets- A Tutorial (lots of pictures)

Well I am going to try my hand at a tutorial. As I said I love linen. I love hand embroidery. After going to the workshop last month I learned a different way to do eyelets and I want to share them with you. Traditionally eyelets are done first by stitching a running stitch around the eyelet then overcasting over that running stitch. It does produce a beautiful eyelet albeit a larger one. With this method you are able to achieve much tinier eyelets. This also is much quicker because you eliminate the step of stitching around the shape. These are not done in a hoop.

pssst, you have to ignore my horrid need for a manicure. :)

  • To begin, insert your #10 sharp needle into the desired location. Wiggle the needle to open a hole, being careful to not tear your threads. You are really just making a starting place. My needle is "parked" into the fabric while I shot the photo.

  • Using one strand of embroidery floss, I have used DMC here, insert your needle into the hole coming up from the wrong side of the fabric two fabric threads away from the opening. The more threads you pick up, the bulkier your eyelet will be.

  • Do not pull your thread all the way through, leave a generous tail that you can hold out of the way with your thumb. Insert your needle again into the hole, again coming up two fabric threads away from the opening. Pull firmly. This makes your first overcast stitch over the edge of the eyelet.

  • You will catch your thread tail under this stitch.

  • Continue to hold the thread tail with your thumb, working left to right, move over from your first stitch just far enough for your thread to have room to lay next to the first, insert your needle, come up two fabric threads away, pull firmly. You only need to pull firmly enough to keep the eyelet open and to have your stitch lay firmly against the fabric. You do not need to strangle the fabric threads.

  • The next two photos show the action of the stitch. Stitching into the eyelet, coming up two fabric threads away and tightening the stitch. (Did you know you can take photos through the magnifier? How cool is that?

  • This is the eyelet after completing 3 to 4 stitches. You will turn the fabric around so that the portion of the eyelet that you are stitching is in front of you. Always making sure you catch the thread tail when taking your stitch. This does two things. One it secures the tail without a knot. (You know, fine hand embroidery has a knot police.) Second it acts as a padding for your eyelet, giving it more definition.

  • When you come to within one or two stitches of being done, clip your thread tail even with the fabric. Take your last stitch or two over the end of the tail, thus...

  • Completing your eyelet.

  • You aren't quite done. Using a tapered awl

  • Insert the awl from the back of the fabric through your eyelet. CAREFULLY stretch your eyelet. This is done in tiny degrees. If you push too hard you will hear the threads of your fabric "pop" and your eyelet will become huge and not very stable. So gently push a tiny bit to shape your eyelet. It will also make the eyelet sit on top of your fabric. (Can you see when you "click" on the picture that I needed one more stitch to cover the eyelet?Good thing I decided to do the bullion loop petals around it. Even with the magnifier, you can never have it too magnified to be able to see.)

  • Ta-da! Isn't he cute?

I am now ready to do my bullion loop flowers. I have just used the same thread to continue with the bullion loops. If you are not going to add the petals, you can tie off on the back by either taking a TINY tacking stitch next to the eyelet overcasts and then bury your tail. TINY. This is not primitive embroidery. I hope this helps and you too can fall in love with linen and teeny tiny eyelets.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I love Linen continued..

Well I didn't get to stitch as much as I wanted today, but I did get one little section done. Have I mentioned that I love linen? I hope that my eyelets will get better as I go along, but I love these teeny bullion loop flowers.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I LOVE Linen

My pulled thread squares are done on one of my day gowns from Wendy Schoen's. The hems are basted and ready to hem stitch and I am ready to embroider! Would rather embroider than hem stitch for now. I see little bullion loop flowers and teeny leaves in my future.

Also got a new pretty for my sewing room, a new ironing board cover from a Cheryl Matis. Love it! It almost makes you want to iron. Well almost I said. I love being able to not only support my other sewing sisters but being able to enjoy their handiwork as well. I would never have taken the time to make an ironing board cover I don't think. But I love a new cover. Its like new towels in the bathroom, new notebooks at the beginning of the school year or the new smell in a new car. Just renewing our surroundings.

Saturday, June 7, 2008


I've been tagged. SOOOOOOOOO this is the drill. a little bit about myself.

What was I doing ten years ago?

Ten years ago, our oldest child was finishing up her freshman year in college. Which would have meant I still had 3 very busy kids at home. Which equates to driving, a LOT! DH was traveling between here and Princeton New Jersey 4 days a week. My sewing was pretty much as it is now. Smocking for gifts and trying to improve my embroidery skills. One big project I was working on was a christening gown. Surprise. But sadly I have no pictures of that gown.

What are the five things on my list to do today?

  1. Buy groceries.
  2. Vacuum, especially the stairs. I avoid them like the plague.
  3. See Molly's baby boy for the first time. I have no grandchildren yet, but baby daughter's best friend has a baby now and he is coming to visit. I can hardly wait.
  4. Pull a few more threads. My pink linen gown is almost ready to be embroidered. Only 2 more squares to do the drawn thread work on. Yeah!
  5. Mop the kitchen.
  6. Finish unpacking from my trip and do the laundry that goes with it.

What are my favorite snacks?

Chocolate of course. Depending on my mood whether I want it in candy, cookie, warm or cold.

Things I would do if I were a millionaire.

  1. Way more charitable giving.
  2. Buy a house in Kirkwood.
  3. Buy a house on the Gulf Coast
  4. Put some $$ in a retirement fund.
  5. Buy a new sewing machine. And an embroidery machine,
  6. Have a DAILY housekeeper. Life is too short to clean if you don't have to.
  7. Have the yard professionally landscaped.
  8. Travel. Places I want to see, Greece, Paris, Rome, Alaska, Australia.
  9. Attend every stitching school I can fit in.
  10. Have an apartment in every town my children live in so I can visit when ever I want and not feel like I am intruding.

Places I have lived.

  1. Mobile AL
  2. Daphne AL
  3. Philadelphia PA
  4. Griffith IN
  5. Gulf Breeze FL
  6. Ft. Wayne IN
  7. Birmingham AL
  8. Waco TX
  9. Houston TX
  10. Fairfield TX
  11. Pensacola FL
  12. Rapid City SD
  13. Omaha NE
  14. Newport News VA
  15. Great Falls MT
  16. St. Louis MO

Work I have done.

  1. Nurses aide in a nursing home
  2. Nurses aide in a hospital
  3. Owned a gift shop
  4. Registered Nurse
  5. Stay at home mom
  6. Non profit org newsletter editor

I've lived more places than jobs I have had.

Should be interesting to see what others have done.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Back home again

I am back home again. Had a wonderful 5 days on Avery Island and spent the rest of the time at my daughter's. Wendy Schoen's La Broderie Bayou was heavenly. Not only was the setting divine, but the company even better. Caught up with some old friends, met new friends all the while surrounded by beautiful garments, fabrics and threads. We won't even mention the wonderful meals prepared for us while staying at Marsh House on Avery Island. In the days ahead I hope to have my own day gowns finished. I am pretty far on the pink daygown taught by Mirella Arroyo. The blue gown with net darning is another story. I may be pulling blue linen threads for many weeks.
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