Thursday, April 17, 2014

Image transfer tutorial - inspiration for the swap

Are you taking part in the Stitchy Swap? You can sign up until tomorrow! Today we have some inspiration for your stitchy swap pieces. Jane from Flaming Nora is giving us a tutorial on how to transfer images to fabric. I can think of so many fun things I'd like to do with this technique!

Thank you, Jane!

We all have a sense of place, of belonging to a particular place at a particular time. Very few of us haven’t moved at one time or another in our lives. Some of the places we have lived we return to more often in our memories.

A while ago I started work on a series of embroidered pieces that would explore this. The first of them is now finished; the second is in its beginning stages. It seemed perfect to share some of the processes I used to create “Growing up in the shadow of the Cathedral” while &stitches are exploring the theme of place.

Flaming Nora tutorial 1
The piece is about Janet and Jane who met on the first day at primary school and became inseparable. It is about the adventures we had growing up on an estate just below Guildford Cathedral. [Do check out the whole story of this piece; it is quite moving! -Carina]

Flaming Nora tutorial 2
I used some old photographs of Janet and my self, some from that time, some from when we were teenagers’ intent of conquering the world to compliment the embroidery. It is these that I would like to talk about here.

Flaming Nora tutorial 3
There are many methods of image transfer but this is the one that works for me. I use quilter’s freezer paper. I bought mine very reasonably via Amazon, but I think you can buy it in many places online and in large craft stores.

You should use a fine fabric, not too thick as you will be printing on to it using an ordinary inkjet printer. Once the fabric and the paper are bonded together it shouldn't be thicker than ordinary card stock. If it is you may have problems with it jamming up in the printer.

You place the paper on to the wrong side of your chosen fabric shiny side down. Carefully line the edges of the paper with the grain of the fabric. Otherwise your image may become distorted once printed. Iron the paper on to the fabric, I use quite a hot setting cover it with a press cloth if you are worried about delicate fabrics.
Flaming Nora tutorial 4
I used an old tablecloth, it is slightly stained and marked, but for me this just adds to the patina.
Trim your fabric so it is exactly the same size as the paper, re iron it at this point to make sure its all completely bonded and is laying flat. Then its time to print.

Once you have printed the images carefully peel the paper away from the back of the fabric. The utter joy of freezer paper is you can use it again and again. Now you are ready to embellish the picture however you want.

Flaming Nora tutorial 5
These images will be forming part of my next in embroidery about maps and memories.

Flaming Nora tutorial 6
I went with a simple date this time, but really the sky’s the limit. I’m sorely tempted to give every one embroidered dresses, Spanish Flamenco postcard style next time!

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

In the Hoop with Anna Scott

'Happy Easter Brother Rabbit'
Anna Scott is an extraordinary embroiderer, designer and teacher in Australia. She talked to &Stitches about her current projects:

“What's in my hoop?  Which one?  I never have just one project on the go – I usually have (at least) one that is fine and challenging and another one that is bigger and bolder.

“I have just finished this piece of raised embroidery, which I named ‘Happy Easter Brother Rabbit’. The inspiration for the design came from William Morris’s ‘Brother Rabbit’ and features strange flowers drawn from some of my crewel work.

“This was fabulous to stitch. What I really enjoyed about this particular piece is that it incorporates so many different ways of creating dimension.”

Read more about this piece on Anna’s blog here, and find out how she made the wrapped bead berries via her fabulous tutorial here.   

“Now that ‘Brother Rabbit’ is finished, I am picking up my long-time ‘in between’ piece of crewel work. It makes for a nice change to work on something where I don’t have to sit at my work table with super-strong light and a vast array of tools and bits and pieces around me – this one just requires needle and thread.

“I call it my ‘in between’ piece because it has been in and out of my hoop for a very long time. I pick it up each time I am in between other things. I think I might finish it this time!"

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stitched maps

We are all very excited about the first &Stitches swap, and pleased that so many of you have signed up already. If you haven't signed up yet, don't worry, sign ups are open until the 18th. Find out more here.

Our swap theme is 'Places' -we wanted a theme that could be interpreted in lots of different ways. Today I'm sharing some inspirational embroideries that fit the theme of places perfectly because they are all stitched maps!

Map 1

Flickr user hampton300 stitched this beautiful map using a huge range of different stitches. I love how intricate it is. Can you spot all the buttons and beads hiding among the stitching? It makes me think of each stitch representing something different like the key on a map.


FlamingNora stitched this gorgeous piece inspired my her childhood neighbourhood check out her blog post here. This picture is a small detail of a beautiful larger piece.

Soil map detail

This soil map by Flickr user Nicola Searle  is worked on netting. I am feeling very inspired by the possibilities here and I think the colour palette is perfect (I think grey and lilac may be my new favourite). She has produced a series of stitched and embellished maps so if you like this one check out her Flickr photo stream and get 'lost' there for a while (see what I did there... lost...maps... ;) ).

I hope that these embroideries have got you thinking about how you would interpret the theme of 'Places'. Come and join us, you will get to be part of something fun and make a new stitchy friend in the process.

What are you stitching? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sign up for the Stitchy Swap!

Stitchy Swap with &stitches
So we told you last week that we're excited about hosting our first swap. On Friday Julie shared some inspiration that is related to the swap theme. It was fun to read your guesses on what the theme might be! And I think one or two actually came pretty close. ;-)

The theme for the swap is 'Places'. It could be anything: the place you live, the place where your swap partner lives, somewhere you'd like to visit, your favourite holiday destination. Maybe an imaginary or fictional place! The place has to be somewhere tangible, and we count Hogwarts and the Forest Moon of Endor as tangible even if you can't actually visit them. ;-)

You can share your swaps in the &Stitches Flickr group. You're also welcome to share on Twitter and Instagram. Use the tag 'andstitchesswap' so we can find your photos.

Important Dates
April 7th: Swap sign-up will open, woohoo!
April 18th: Last day to sign up
April 23rd: You will receive the name and address of your swap partner
May 26th: Deadline for sending!

Important Rules
1) Sign up by clicking this link. When you sign up please make sure that you use the correct email address and postal address (including the country, please!). And please write the full state or county, don't use abbreviations.

As you will notice, there is a small fee for taking part in the swap. There are two reasons for this. We hope that a small financial commitment means that no one will flake out and not do their part of the swap. It takes time and effort to organize and manage a swap. The money will not be frittered away on ice cream or beer, instead it will support this blog and future things like giveaways.

2) This is an international swap.

3) Make an embroidered piece for your partner. The size or type of object is up to you, but do make it at least 2"x3" ( 5x7.5cm). The piece must be predominantly embroidered but you can use other techniques as well.

4) You will make a piece for one person and you will receive a piece back from him/her.

5) Remember to send your swap partner a nice note with the piece. Introduce yourself, maybe tell her a bit about the inspiration for the piece.

6) Please send the piece on time. Don't let your partner (a new friend!) down by sending it 2-3 weeks late.

Feel free to tell your stitchy friends about the swap! We even have a wee button you can share on your blog.
Stitchy Swap with &Stitches

Copy this code and place it in the sidebar of your blog.

Friday, April 4, 2014

&Stitches Swap Inspiration

Are you all ready to join &Stitches first embroidery swap?? We really hope you will join in the fun - of course, the more the merrier! Wouldn't you like to share a little handmade goodness and make a new friend in the process?

Just to tease you a little, and get your stitchy juices flowing, here's a few wonderful pieces from Flickr that I think could be great inspiration for this swap!

chicago embroidery detail

Joey Ramone Place Embroidery Painting

London, England

From a little place called Great Britain

DC Metro Map Embroidery Wall Decor

I've made up a whole gallery on Flickr to share more inspiration pieces - can you guess what our swap theme will be?!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Announcing: the first &Stitches swap!

Hi everyone!

For a while we have been talking behind the scenes about how great it would be to do a swap hosted by &Stitches (that's us, hi!) We hope you think that's a fun idea too! :-)

You will be able to sign up from next Monday (April 7th) and the deadline for sending to your swap partner will be May 26th. That is all we are going to share right now, but come back on Monday for more details.

We're very excited about this and we hope you'll join in our first swap! :-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Blocking Your Embroidery with Jessica from Paperstitch

To close up Practical Stitching Month, today we're joined by Jessica Kelly from Paperstitch - you might recall that Jessica previously shared her inspiration for an embroidered piece of poetry and contributed to &Stitches e-zine issue 2. Jessica recently won a blue ribbon for a piece she stitched up - and blocked, which isn't something we all expect to do to our finished embroideries! We're lucky enough to have her here today to tell us all about it - thanks, Jess!


How do you finish your embroidery projects? Recently I've had to frame up a few pieces and they needed to look extra sharp. Ironing is all well and good, but sometimes it just isn't enough -- maybe the hoop has left a little indent that ironing didn't quite remove, or perhaps there is an area inside the work where there is a little bit of crinkling. Blocking your embroidery will make these all go away. Before proceeding, you will want to take care of removing any marks from your pattern transfer; if you've used a water soluble marker, for example, you will need to rinse that off and let the piece dry before blocking.

Gather materials
Grab a bunch of pins. Now grab some more. Seriously, you're going to need a lot of pins. I use straight pins when blocking, but I have seen some tutorials suggesting the use of thumbtacks. I tend to use muslin on my embroidery projects, and I've tried a thumbtack or two, but I found that they leave large holes (and I like to avoid that). If you've used a heavier linen or other fabric, it might be a different story.

Next you'll need a surface that will stand up to having lots of pins pricked into it. I have been using a large piece of foam board lately, but certainly anything like it or a cork board will do just fine. (The benefit of using a piece of foam board is that it can then be used to back the work for framing.)

Lastly, get a spray bottle of water. We're going to be spraying the whole piece. If you are worried about colorfastness, then this is not going to be the finishing method for you.

You might want to use a straight edge or level in order to square up your work to be sure things don't go slightly wonky.

Get to work
After you've gathered your materials, place the work in on your pinnable surface, and start pinning! Put one in the center of the top, and work out to a corner. Keep the edge relatively straight (Here's where you might want to use that level or a straight line. I keep things casual and have never run into trouble). Use more pins than you think are necessary. Then work from the center to the other corner.

blocking Rosie

Do the same thing on the bottom: smooth the work down and place a pin in the center of the bottom edge, making sure things are tight and work out to the corners.

Repeat this again for the sides. I tend to angle my pins outward slightly, to pull things a little bit tighter.

Now that you're pinned down, mist water over everything, just enough to get things damp.

Then walk away.

When everything is nice and dry, pull out the pins and your embroidered piece should be nice and smooth!