Four Ways to Embroider Text

Rumi Wisdom
When I taught my first beginning embroidery class a few years ago, one of the first questions I was asked was how to embroider text. It is such a good skill to have so I made sure the design I made for my next class included text. As you can see, it was a spiral with text underneath. I enjoyed the format of the design so much that I have continued designing spirals with interesting quotes. It also has led me to try out different methods of embroidering text. I'll discuss the three I've used, each one giving a little bit different effect and another that is quite common but not on my spiral designs.

Back Stitch Letters
When I designed Rumi Wisdom I knew I wanted to use back stitch because this was going to be used to teach beginning embroidery stitches. It is an easy enough stitch that covers lines very well and works up pretty quickly. A drawback is the letters end up looking a little blocky. If you want smooth curves, this might not be the best stitch to use. 

Emerson Winter

The second spiral design, Emerson Winter, has letters that are a little more stylized with small curves at the ends of some of the letters. I knew that using a back stitch wouldn't give me the look I wanted, so this time I used couching. If you've not done any couching you might find it awkward at first because you have to manage two threads in two needles but after a little practice it is easy. Basically one thread is placed over the line you want it to cover (called the laid stitch) and with the second needle and thread (referred to as the working thread) it is tacked down with tiny stitches. In the case of Emerson Winter I used embroidery floss, but this method allows you to use laid thread that is difficult to stitch with (metallic, thick, fuzzy or loopy threads) because it isn't going in and out of the fabric with every stitch. Couching allows you to get all the loops in the letters you could ever want. 

Couched Letters

Grateful Heart
The next design I created, Grateful Heart, used a different treatment. These letters also have a lot of loops and serifs but I wanted them to stand out more and so I first stitched them all using stem stitch. If you've stitched many curves with stem stitch you know the thread sometimes has a tendency to fall over on itself and the curves aren't very well defined. To keep the definition of the letters I then stitched a satin stitch over the stem stitch. So, essentially, the stem stitch acts as a padding. Although this is fairly time consuming, it creates a really lovely raised letter and I would do it again in a minute.

Working Satin Stitch Over Stem Stitch

All of the lettering in these projects is pretty linear but another method of covering letters that have larger areas to be filled is satin stitch. This is often seen on vintage linens that have monograms. to see some fine examples of satin stitch monograms go here. Mary Corbet's Needle n Thread has a fine list of amazing examples.

In addition, here are links to Mary's videos that give excellent instructions for creating the stitches that were discussed. 

Happy Stitching!


Grateful Heart Embroidery Pattern

I had mentioned in my previous post that I was going to write about various stitches to use for text. I decided you should probably have a look at my newest design before I get to that. I've been showing bits and pieces of my newest embroidery pattern and of the process creating it here and on my  Facebook page which you can find @ThreadsofInspiration.

This is the third in a series of designs that uses a spiral and a quote. Each piece is inspired by a season and of course, the quote.  The newest one, Grateful Heart features the words of Celia Thaxter and little summer vignettes - a hammock swinging between two trees, a sailboat on the lake, a small campsite and sunflowers. With each piece in this series I have tried a different way to stitch the text and this pieces uses a combination stem stitch and satin stitch. I think it gives the letters, little swirls and serifs great definition.

You can find it in my  etsy shop.


Knitting, Sewing and Stitching

Ever since I added to my stash with things from the Textile Center's Garage Sale I've been busy making. I'm working on a scarf using this Ravelry pattern, French CanCan by Mademoiselle C

I also finished a skirt using the black and pale pink pique which fits perfectly. I usually have trouble fitting commercial patterns so I used this YouTube video by Felicia Zee and made a pattern from my measurements. I have to say it fits like a dream! I have sewn quite a bit in my life so I didn't have any problem making it. If you haven't sewn a lot you may want to find some instructions for cutting lining and facings and putting in a zipper. All in all I was quite pleased with how it turned out.
A funny thing to add is while I was writing this post I couldn't think of the word pique so I googled fabric types and found  Sirs Fabric, a site with images and descriptions of different fabrics.

I've also finished my newest spiral pattern called Grateful Heart. You can find it in my etsy shop here. I'll have more on that in my next post and some tips on stitching text to achieve the look you are going for.  Until then, enjoy your day - the weather here is (finally) stunning so I'm heading out to soak up some sun.


Inspirational Quotes Part 2

Austin Kleon's Rolodex
The other day I received a newsletter from Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, (which I wrote about here) and he had an interesting idea I thought I'd share with you. He used an old Rolodex to write interesting tidbits about people he knew. I thought it would make an alternative way to keep quotes handy. You could organize them alphabetically by author or topic. Here is the link to his post.

By the way I love his newsletter. He posts it every Friday and there are links to things he finds inspiring. I always save it for a time when I can leisurely check out what he's offered.


Largest Textile Garage Sale in the World!

Some New Stash!
I know I have posted about the Textile Center of Minnesota's Garage Sale, which they have billed the world's largest and I suspect they are correct.  The sale was this past weekend and of course I joined in the festivities! I've always wanted to volunteer to help before the sale but in the past I have had conflicts. Not this year though, so I sorted and priced needlework. The sheer volume of stuff that comes in is incredible and it's hard to believe that it all gets sorted, priced and displayed in two days. 

The yarn aisle

Almost ready!

A great wheel ready for a new owner.

As you can see in the first photo, I scored some yarn - there's a scarf pattern I want to make and why make one when there are two beautiful yarns to use? Check out the pattern on Ravelry. I also was drawn to fabric for a summer blue daisy dress, pink and black flowered fabric for a skirt and some funky neon geometry for a bag. Plus a few pieces of embroidery linen, and some great Vineyard merino wool for crewel. Plus a few odds and ends to make some samples for a class I'm going to teach, oh and sock yarn.

But the thing I'm most excited about is this fanny frame. You put your needlework in the hoop and then you sit on it. That way both hands are free for working which is a big deal for me.

I'm trying to think of one exclamatory word to describe the experience but I need more....fun, amazing, overwhelming, wonderful, creative.....I'll leave it at that. If you are in the area next April be sure to check it out!!!!


Inspirational Quotes

Various blank books for keeping good words.
Long before I ever started designing embroideries with quotes I started a little book to write down the words that inspire me. Some were by well known people, others things my friends and acquaintances said. Another fun inspiration was magnetic poetry. I had the little words on the refrigerator and while I was waiting for a pot to boil or toast to pop up I would compose little phrases and poems. My husband even got into the act and came up with some of the best ones. Of course now I have a Pinterest board called Good Words where I save lots of inspiration quotes and thoughts. You can check it out here.

Here is one of my favorites.

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.

                                                                    Carl Jung

Patience is overrated. SWIM NOW!

                                             my friend Jan R.

Scream as though it is essential.

                                             magnetic poetry from Susan

What is your favorite quote? How do you save the words that are special to you?


Scottish Thistle Needle Book

Scottish Thistle Needle Book
I often find that I putter around a lot and time slips by and I don't get much done. Then I get frustrated about all of the tasks piling up. I know the secret to ending this cycle of inactivity is what I call Butt in Chair Time! Really, it means what it says. Put my behind in a chair and get some work done.  Several years ago I heard an interview with the daughter of Roald Dahl, one of my favorite children's book authors. She said that her father would go into his office to write for two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon. Spending just four hours a day he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Matilda, The Witches, The BFG and many more. It struck me that so much can be accomplished in so little time. So, with four hours a day, I too have accomplished a lot.

A peek at summer spiral drawing
First up is this Scottish Thistle Needle Book Pattern which you can find on my etsy site here. On the outside is a Scottish thistle that uses a few stumpwork stitches. It's not for the beginner but anyone that has a few basic stitches under their belt should have no trouble. Once you have the thistle finished you can stitch it into a needle book that has space for lots of needles, a pair of scissors and a needle threader. Again, it's pretty easy to sew and the pattern includes photographs to help you along.

The next thing I got done is a new design for another spiral pattern. I plan on doing four of them, one for each season. The newest one is summer and has a sailboat, tent, fruit and vegetable stand, sunflowers and features a quote from Celia Thaxton. I'm excited about getting to the stitching but first I get to make a trip to the needlework shop (always fun) to pick out some fabric. Rumi Wisdom (spring) and Emerson (winter) can already be found in my etsy shop. I'll keep you posted about my progress.

And lastly an update on my A Year of Stitches project!


Embroidery for Crazy Quilts

It's always fun to come up with an idea for a new class and my newest brain wave is a class on embroidery for crazy quilting. I'm not really a quilter, although I have made a few but I love to embroider and teaching a class that focuses on the embelishments for these beauties seemed like a lot of fun. 

Thanks to suggestions from my friend MA at Magpie's Mumblings it turned out to be a blast putting this sampler. I made rows of a basic stitches and then an additional row of the same stitch but embellished with other stitches and colors. I thought you might like a peek and if you're in the Minneapolis area look for the class coming up in a few months.

I am scheduling classes for the future so if you belong to a group that would have fun with some embroidery I'd love to have a conversation! I have several classes scheduled at the Textile Center of Minnesota in the meantime so if you're in the area I'd love to see you at one. Here's my schedule:

Embroidery Design (2 sessions)    3/14 and 3/21     10-1

Quilting Outside the Lines           3/16                   10-1

Embroidered Photos                    4/4                     10-1


Midwest Fiber Arts Trails

One of my favorite things about teaching is the interesting students that are in my classes. Jenny took an embroidery class from me awhile ago and I discovered she has an amazing website and blog called Midwest Fiber Arts Trails.  The site focuses on textile related events that are going on all over the midwest. Included on the site are current exhibits and events including fairs and festivals, shows and sales, classes and calls for entry.

And then there are the trails! Trails are designated areas that have a good number of shops, artist studios and events all related to fiber arts. In addition there are also road trip suggestions. If you are planning a trip through the midwest you really need to check out all that is going on. Perhaps you'd like to know where to see some barn quilts.  Go here and hover over the quilt emblems (there are a lot of them). Perhaps you'd like to hear Karen Ann Hoffman speak about her amazing Iroquois Beadwork. Go here!  If there is an event in your area you'd like to include you can find Jenny's contact information on the website.

Midwest Fiber Arts Traills website is so rich with information that I know I can't cover it in one blog post. Please go and see for yourself all of the amazing things that are happening in this part of the country. Kudos to Jenny for putting together such a spectacular resource. If you don't live in the Midwest is there anything similar in your location?


Free Hand Embroidery Projects

My first embroidery with a few supplies

Sometimes I like to play around with stitch patterns and designs, other times I like someone else to provide the inspiration. The other day I stumbled upon some free embroidery projects and decided to do some further exploration and share my finds with you. 

Mary Corbet's Needle n' Thread

The first comes from one of my favorite embroidery sites, Mary Corbet's Needle n' Thread. Mary has a whole page of patterns that can be printed and used for stitching. Some would make excellent applique designs as well. She, generally speaking, gets her patterns from vintage embroidery books. She then cleans them up with her graphics program and puts them up for all of us to use. After you are inspired by the free designs, check out the rest of her site. It's a world of great information!

Dillmont Rose Hand Embroidery Pattern
I opened my messages this morning and found that Mary Corbet just put a new free pattern on her blog! It is a pretty symetrical medallion flower pattern. It isn't posted on her free embroidery pattern page yet so I couldn't let the opportunity to share her newest pattern with you!

The Embroiderer's Guild of America
Not only is this a good organization but, they have some free stuff even if you're not a member! While there are a few patterns on the page there are several instructional booklets that can be downloaded that give good information on stitching. The topics include Technique Basics of Surface Stitchery, Counted Cross Stitch, Blackwork and Stumpwork.

Embroidered Owl and Flowers
On Instructables I found this darling owl idea from craftknowitall.

Sewn Up Teresa Down Under
I was going to choose just one project from this site to show you but there are so many adorable ones I decided to post a page with links to all of her projects. I especially adore the napkins with a French poem embroidered on them and creating an embroidery from designer fabric. You'll have fun roaming through her projects, I think.


A New Year Begins

1 Year of Stitches  Days 1-3 
Hello 2017! This year feels different to me. I want to get organized, commit to things, complete stuff that's hanging out there, move forward and focus. This usually comes over me in September - the usual back to school emotions. This year I got a planner (this planner from Ink & Volt) that is making me think about my year differently. I won't go into the ins and outs of the planner but I am thinking more about goals and achievements. I'm hoping to create a lot more embroidery patterns and put them in my etsy shop. I'd like to find some more venues to teach and I've committed to a stitching 
challenge that will last the year.

Sara Barnes at Brown Paper Bag started up 1 Year of Stitches 2017 and I've decided to participate. It is a celebration of embroidery and the idea is to make at least one stitch per day on an embroidery of your choice. The group is nearly 2,000 strong and everyone has their own interpretation for how to proceed. Some are finishing ufo's, others are working from patterns, there is cross stitch, free form embroidery, beginners and folks teaching their children and just about anything else you can think of. If you'd like to join in it's not too late. You can check out Sara's blog for instructions or go to the Facebook page 1Year of Stitches:2017 and ask to join. My photo covers days 1-3. I hope to see your stitching!

One more thing! I've listed the Emerson Winter pattern from the previous post on my etsy shop in case you feel like stitching up some inspiration! It's a downloadable PDF pattern so you can get started on it right away!