Everything is better …

I’ve been tossing around this idea to make a couple of “Everything is better with ___ ” signs so I asked around for some input and have a nice list to start with. This doesn’t mean I will actually make them all, but if there is something you think that fills this statement with only a single word or two, let me know! In one of those conversations, a direct commission was asked so it gave me the motivation to put thread to needle and here I deliver: 

Everything is better with Bea.

It is a gift for a loved one, so I pulled together a “romantic” theme. The sign is outlined in pearls and a vintage brooch represents Bea herself. The decoration posed a problem for me but inspired a wonderful solution! You see, it was part of an ornate necklace of multiple strands of pink beads and other gold accents. The lady herself is on a pin, meant to be fastened on clothing to keep the necklace in its correct position (she would otherwise be too heavy and hang at the bottom). I removed the necklace brackets off the back with a pair of plyers, but the pin mechanism itself could not be removed so easily – and if I were to remove it, I wouldn’t have a good way of attaching it. Instead, I used the pin to lock in place a very thick cord so that the brooch would lay flat rather than teeter across the pin mechanism. Of course, this means that the brooch is quite raised off the sign so I needed a way to ground it all together. Enter vintage wedding veil! I have this lovely set of lacey scraps from an old wedding dress – the sleeves, collar, and veil. It is stained and with some tears, but the fabric is otherwise beautiful. I felt it appropriate for a gift of love.

My go-to stitch of choice, stem stitch, makes an appearance. And, I really only need to change one letter for my own version of this sign: everything is better with tea! :D

For the backing, I used a piece of felt. I do like using these printed felt sheets because they are stiff like paper and add a bit of surprise whimsy to any project. And, I am not sure if the person will choose to rest the sign on a surface, or hang on the wall, so I did add a chain. It is an old necklace chain that I think matches very nicely with the gold on the brooch. And of course, as a gift of love, I added a little “Made with Love” charm.

I hope the gift is well appreciated, but I loved the opportunity to make it regardless. I know a few things I will want to do differently for the next one. If I had more time, I would have redone a part of this, but birthdays wait for no one!

TA Stitch Challenge #5

The challenge this week at TextileArtist.org is hosted by Emily Jo Gibbs. She works with appliqué and suggested we find an interesting stick – well my yard has more sticks than you could shake a forest at! I spent a short time outside looking for just the right one – an interesting shape that would also cast a nice shadow, and with interesting texture. I brought about ten inside and narrowed it down to my friend The Stick based on how they looked on my table under the light I was going to be using as well as a comfortable size for stitching.

I followed Emily’s guide and gathered my supplies. I was trying to practice process so I thought ahead and gathered what I would want before I began.

Of course, my pain point is never thinking about finishing the piece. Because this challenge series has been mostly practice of techniques and ideas, I hadn’t been thinking about keeping any of them. However, I decided to keep this one hung on my wall so once again I found myself extra-challenged by figuring out what to do for finish after the fact. Nothing special – used my decorative felt and whipstitched it to the back with a little cord to hang.

I used straight stitches like Emily taught to apply the pieces, variating the colors for highlights and shadow. To create the lichen, I used wonky cross stitches and haphazard straight stitches in five different colors (white, beige, light green, light blue, and a bright blue). Then I selected a lady bug to bring it all to life! I had it in my stash for a crazy quilt, but it is from a very old game I think, and there isn’t a way to sew it. I don’t like using it, but I pulled out the glue.

I’ve really only appliquéd once, that I can think of (see the wedding gift here), but the idea of using this technique for a still life does interest me quite a bit. I may be exploring this again in the future! Thanks, Emily!

TA Stitch Challenge #4

Richard McVetis led this week’s stitch challenge over at TextileArtist.org. The concept is easy: couching stitches. I didn’t have a lot of time this week for this project so I didn’t stress myself much over trying to make something super cool. Instead, I did what he suggests which is to simply enjoy the act of stitching. I did explore couching in depth before with my TAST banner, which you can see here.

Using another old scrap of stained fabric (early on I made the mistake of using my iron-rich tap water in my iron…), I found a feline line drawing online, traced around a star-shaped pad of post-its, and made two rectangles to anchor it all together (though I ran out of space in my hoop, hence the odd shape of the bottom one).

My biggest takeaway from this week’s lesson was Richard’s idea that stitching is “mark making”. He sees it as the stitches being a physical representation of time spent engaged with a project. I know, of course, the time involved in sewing; it is why I understand the “high cost” of handcrafted items – handwork take time! But I never looked at it as being a record of life ticking away. A physical statement that says: “hey, I was here” – and one that lives long past the stitcher’s lifetime. It is really neat to think about it in that way.