Sunday, June 28, 2015

Found on Flickr: No Floss Allowed


Hope you have all enjoyed the No Floss Allowed month so far! I spotted two fabulous examples in our Flickr group, based on the free pattern. It looks like Jeanne used felt applique and yarns (but no floss!) in her version. Here's a close up.

Daisy used hand spun (and commercial) yarns for her No Floss Allowed project. I love that fluffy Turkey Stitch! Coincidentally we have tutorial coming up for the Turkey Stitch very soon so keep your eyes peeled if you are interested in introducing some fluffiness into your stitching. :)

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

Saturday, June 27, 2015

No Floss Allowed: Cate's Hair


Our last No Floss Allowed post was on horse hair, and today we're bringing you a little sampler using human hair.

I have very long dark hair, so when the &Stitches crew mentioned a floss-free month, I jumped at the chance to use my own hair to stitch. I was inspired by Victorian hair art, which used to be quite popular. You can see some interesting examples of the variety of the ways they created using hair here.

I decided to go rather small and simple, and I'm glad I did. My sampler is in a tiny 3-inch hoop, but even so, it took some time to complete. Human hair is even thinner than horse hair, so the lines it creates are very faint and don't fill the space in the same way as embroidery floss. For the same reason, I also chose a fairly tight weave fabric, and probably would go with an even finer weave if I were to try it again.

If you're interested in trying your own hair stitching (and I suggest it — it's an interesting process stitching a piece of yourself!), here are a few tips.

To start my stitches, I created one small stitch and tied the working thread and tail into a square knot. While the hair tangles easily, it doesn't really knot very well, so I'd also recommend traveling your thread across the back rather than starting and stopping when you move to a new area. No chance of a pretty back here!

When it comes to stitches, the easiest to use were backstitch (the spirals), running stitch (the circle around the edge), lazy daisies (the flower), and cross stitches or straight stitches (the Xs).

Satin stitch didn't cover very well (see my attempt at a heart at the top?), though it might work better on a tighter weave of fabric. Stem stitch worked OK as long as the stitches were very tiny. You can see in the loop at the top of the H (for hair, of course!) that the larger stem stitches didn't go around the curve very gracefully, although it did create an interesting effect. French knots didn't work at all and just tangled my hair.

Overall, I really do like the effect of stitching with human hair. And sometimes it's just nice to really mix up your media to experiment with your art.

Have you tried any fun stitching experiments? Please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

No Floss Allowed: Horse Hair


My friend Teresa mentioned a while ago that she was working on a project using horse hair, so I asked her to share a little bit about it for the No Floss Allowed series. Teresa was a guest blogger last summer with an awesome tutorial on stem stitching. Teresa's work can be found at Daisies for Violet but these days she's much more active on Tumblr or Instagram. Here's what she had to say about embroidering with horse hair.

A good friend of mine has a horse that is sick. She asked if if there was anything I could make with some of her horse, Apollo's, hair. Always up for a challenge, of course I was up for it. And challenge has been the operative word.

To begin with, it's hair. There is a thin, lighter end and a thicker, coarser, and darker end. It's more coarse than I realized it would be and it breaks often. You know that tug you do when stitching? to tighten your thread? That doesn't work here, it snaps right off. After an hour or so, it sunk in that this isn't thread and can't be treated as thread, which made things easier.

Because the hair is so thin, about as thin as one DMC strand, I need to stitch the same stitch repeatedly to create a dark line. The stitch I'm using is really the stem stitch, but over and over itself and in varying lengths.

I think that when the piece is done, it will have an interesting sketchy feel to it. I only hope that my friend will feel I've done Apollo justice.

Thank you for sharing this experience with us, Teresa!

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

No Floss Allowed: Surface Embellishments


Non-thread Stitching with &Stitches

It's possible I just made up the term 'surface embellishments', but when we started talking about non-thread stitching, I had an immediate notion to play with adding beads or sequins to embroidery. It's not as wild or experimental as some of my teammates' contributions, but I liked the idea of adding texture to embroidery in general.

So I dug in my craft stash (we all have one!) and pulled out some bits that I could use to decorate a design without using six-stranded floss or any typical embroidery stitches and chose a simple vintage pattern from the Hoop Love Vintage Transfers Pool on Flickr to play with.

Non-thread Stitching with &Stitches

My little cactus has beaded markings (the only green beads I had were really a bit too big for the size of the design, but I love the distorted proportion!), couched tapestry wool outlines, and size 5 perle cotton for spines.

The cactus' flower has a beaded center and, again, size 5 perle cotton in the petals, and the outline of the flower is made from the very curious DMC Memory Thread! My Freaky Flowers swap partner included this thread in my package and I just had to play with it - it's lightly wired, so it holds shape, but wrapped in soft thread, so it doesn't crease as tightly you might expect. I stitched down (with sewing thread) the space between each petal, then very gently curved each petal away from the fabric to give it a 3D-effect. I've never played with Memory Thread before, but it was very fun - it definitely needs a bit of further investigation!

My no-thread experiment is a little more mundane than the others, but I hope it will inspire you to dig in your stash for non-thread alternatives. I'm sure you all have a treasure trove of goodies that can be used to give your embroidery extra depth and texture!

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

Sunday, June 21, 2015

No Floss Allowed: Bakers Twine


No Floss Allowed
Ohh, you guys, look what I found in the &Stitches Flickr group! Sandy stitched this using bakers twine. Love it!

Have you taken up our challenge of using anything but floss this month? If you have, please share in the &Stitches Flickr group. We'd love to see it! Or you can use the tag #noflossallowed on Instagram.

Don't forget you can download a free flower pattern via this post if you want to have a go. :-)