Thursday, February 29, 2024

February Stitching

 I'm keeping up with k3n's weekly stitch journal very well so far. I've tried to do this sort of thing in the past but without this level of success. Let's hope I can keep it up for the rest of the year! 

You saw the first prompt for February in my last stitchery post. The second week included Valentine's Day so of course we made hearts. Kathryn included a photo compilation of her two grandmothers and mounted that underneath her heart. She was able to use scraps of fabric she'd kept from a grandmother too. Her tag line was "held together by scraps of love." I didn't have those kind of resources so I simply used shades of red and pinky-purple scraps to make a foundation for my heart. Kathryn enjoys kantha stitching, I prefer a bit of embroidery. So, this is how my heart turned out:

An Angela (I didn't get a last name) left a comment on the video for this prompt in which she said, "buttons are like love, they hold things together." That really spoke to me so I made sure to include some tiny heart buttons in my piece. The pink stripe I used behind my heart is a scrap of a maternity dress I wore when carrying our three children. 

The following week was an opportunity to learn how to make pojagi, pieced cloth that Koreans use to wrap gifts and other things. This was a bit intimidating at the outset, especially when Kathryn recommended we use thin fabrics that look good on both sides. She has a lot of vintage sheet fabric that she has eco dyed. The only cloth I could think of in my stash that would look good on both sides were batiks. They are pretty dense though, and would be harder to get a needle through. In the end I used white and unbleached muslin scraps for my sample.

I forgot to photograph it before I stitched it into my my journal, otherwise I would show you that both sides are presentable. The only raw edges are around the perimeter. I quite enjoyed making this piece but my hands were complaining by the time I finished. I found myself gripping the fabric tightly as I stitched. 

In honor of the ninth week of the project - the last week of February - Kathryn had us make 9 patch blocks. Not pieced, appliqued. She gave us the option of turning the edges of our squares under or leaving them raw. She cut her squares freehand. Some of them were more rectangular than square. I didn't mind that a bit and would have left some of mine less than square too. However, I used felted wool instead of cotton cloth and had a template of sorts to use to cut the wool. (K3n padded a few of her squares with a bit of batting. I figured the wool would give a similar effect with less stress on my part.)

I got a sort of wonky effect just in the process of stitching the squares to the foundation fabric. A couple of the squares got trimmed a bit too. I have to say, this was pure joy for me to stitch. I haven't worked with wool very much up to now. Might have to figure out ways to incorporate it more often! I also enjoy seed stitching, which gives so much texture to the background. 

I turned my piece over before I started the seed stitching and discovered I quite liked the look of the back at that point:

Just that sample of colors makes me happy. ๐Ÿ˜Š 

For the record, I'm stitching these pieces onto the pages of a commercially available sketch book. The book measures 8" x 6," and I'm working on roughly 4.5' foundation squares. It's already obvious that the coil spine of the sketch book won't accommodate 52 pages of stitcheries. Eventually I will have to remove the wire binding and then sew the pages back together at the end of the year. Unless I find a decorative tin the right size... Kathryn is an old hand at making fat stitch journals. I'm not sure I'm ready for that particular challenge yet.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Scrap Happy in February

When I'm cutting scraps into patches the smallest shapes I cut are 1.5" squares. They are what I use to make the postage stamp centers for some of my scrappy stars. 

I have a little box into which the squares fit nicely. Until there are too many to fit into the box that is. They have been accumulating in recent months to the point that I had five stacks of squares on top of the packed box. You can imagine how they were toppling over at the least provocation. Obviously it was time to do something with them. 

I began by making postage stamp blocks from each color family. I find it's easier, more efficient, to make a pair of blocks at a time. That way I can chain sew until both blocks are complete. The downside to this method of working is that it can be hard to stop, especially when the blocks are small. It's rather like eating potato chips. Over a few days I had these 18 blocks made...

As well as this lot of fifteen that have light patches alternating with dark.

It's easy to get the seams to nestle in place when you can simply finger-press toward the dark patches. Once the blocks are complete I go to the ironing board and press the long seams open to get the blocks to lay flatter. It's a little tedious but worth it in the end.

The towers of squares have disappeared and there's actually room in the little box for new squares to be added. Now I just have to decide what to do with all these 4.5" postage stamp blocks!

Scrap Happy Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Kate in Australia and Gun in Sweden. Participants span the globe, posting according to their own time zones. If you'd like some motivation for using up scrap materials taking up space in your nest leave a comment on either of their blogs. Theirs are the first two links in the list below. And then be inspired by what's being done to recycle, repurpose, or otherwise keep things out of landfills around the world. ๐Ÿ˜Š

KateGun, Eva, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, 
Ann, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti,
NรณilinVivKarrin, Amo, Alissa
Lynn, Tierney and Hannah


Saturday, February 10, 2024

A Quick Stitchy Update

Tori's (koolkookykreatures) postcard stitch along prompt for February is Zodiac Mind Warp. That really threw me for a loop. Tori said we could use anything from astrology to astronomy. My mind went first to the Chinese year of the dragon but I didn't feel up to stitching a dragon. Nor did I have any dragon imagery on fabric that would fit into the 4" x 6" format. When I turned to astronomy I came up with something I could do:

Sirius, the Dog Star. ๐Ÿ˜ The background is a single piece of quilter's cotton (with sparkles!). Sirius was cut from another print, laid over a piece of felt, and then blanket stitched in place. Simple but effective. 

The theme for week 5 of K3n's weekly stitch journal was "Hidden Histories, Untold Stories." This was from a show catalog from an exhibit in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Kathryn used English paper piecing to make a single flower shape. Her templates were cut from copies of old letters or documents, thus the hidden history. Hexies to fit onto a 4.5" square was too fiddly for me. I chose to use a layer of feed sack cotton over a handwritten synopsis of my family's history. There was a hole already in the fabric, which I stitched around to create an eyelet. Then I made a couple more holes and stitched around them. I basted the fabric onto my paper, hiding most of the history (more than I intended as it turned out!). 

English paper piecing speaks to Kathryn's English heritage. My ancestors were all laborers, mostly working the land. I feel like the feed sack fabric speaks to my heritage. 

For the first official week of February Kathryn invited us to work with those types of fabrics that can be challenging: anything slippery, sheer, ravelly, thick, etc. She encouraged us to "listen to the fabric" and work intuitively. I found a piece of satin, a couple of silks, a velvet, and a loosely woven scrap to work with. 

 There were tears in that blue silk. I just tacked them down with a matching floss. That green velvet moved as I cross stitched it in place. I decided to leave the scraps in the shape they came to me rather than trimming them. The tan woven scrap covers up a gap between the velvet and the yellow satin. Another piece of silk was stitched on top. Then the sheer with the turquoise rectangle went on top of the yellow satin. Finally, I rolled a narrow strip of organza and couched it in place. I'm pleased with the result. Surprised, actually, that I had that wide range of fabric types that fell into a cohesive color palette!