Goodbye to you my trusted friend, we’ve known each other since we were nine or ten, together we’ve climbed hills and trees, learned of love and ABC’s, skinned our hearts and skinned our knees,
Goodbye my friend, it’s hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky, now that spring is in the air….
We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the stars we could reach were just starfish on the beach. All our lives, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.
Qazi Imran Husain Suhrawardy, 1958-2013
Broderie Anglaise is a form of whitework embroidery in which round or oval holes are pierced in the material, and the cut edges then overcast. The holes, or eyelets, are grouped in a pattern that is further enhanced by simple embroidery stitches on the surrounding material. This form of embroidery involves considerable time and effort and depending upon the overall design, can be pretty expensive.
In my mind, I wanted the look of broderie anglaise, but thus far the ability to cut out so many holes has eluded me…well, sort of…I’m still working on it. In the meantime, the “Eyelet 1″ collection has nine designs, with floral type meandering vines, which sort of give the illusion of broderie anglaise.
The designs are extremely versatile, and can be stitched out just as adornment, without even cutting out the “eyelet holes” or as shown on a child’s t-shirt, embellished with ribbon to give a boost to an otherwise ordinary t-shirt!
The technique is really very very simple…just like cutwork there are three steps to creating the “eyelet”. Water soluble stabilizer is necessary for stitching out the designs as eyelets. If using fabric which may shrink after washing, it is highly recommended that it be washed prior to adding the embroidery. Every design has three colors. Only one color is needed to stitch out the design and the other two are deliberate stops for your machine. The first step is placement. Stitch out the first color directly on the stabilizer. I bet many of you are thinking how the fabric will be attached to the hoop! Well, I never hoop my fabric, ever, only the stabilizer. The fabric is attached using long pins or water soluble glue. As we are using water soluble stabilizer, using a glue is not a good idea as the dampness may cause holes in the stabilizer! I normally pin my fabric away from the embroidery area.
Before pinning fabric to the stabilizer, it wouldn’t hurt to sort of figure out where you will be placing the design. Print out an actual size of the design on paper and use it as a template. If you do not have software which will allow you to print the design, may I plug in a bit about Embird at this time. I have used the software for the last ten plus years and believe me, it is the most affordable and useful editing software out there.
Moving on with our instructions, use air erase pen to mark your fabric, specially if you will be creating a border as in the t-shirt above. This marking and the stitched out placement on the stabilizer makes it easy to know before hand where the eyelets will be. Once your fabric is pinned well to the stabilizer, go ahead and stitch out the next thread color. This is the cutwork guide. The fabric on the inside of the tiny zig-zag stitches will be trimmed away to allow us to create the “eyelet” hole!
I guess you now understand the reason for the three colors! The next step is very crucial and believe me, when I say do not hold the hoop in your hand to trim away from inside the round circles, I mean it! I highly recommend that you remove the hoop from the machine, place it on a flat surface (without anything else on it), and then gently trim away the fabric inside the zig-zag circles, taking care not to cut into the stabilizer. If you were to hold the hoop in your hand and then try to trim the fabric…you may move stabilizer and the fabric, which will throw your design completely off and the eyelets final stitches may be somewhere else! See my picture of the trimmed out fabric…
Now the fun part begins…stitching out the design. Once your have trimmed away the fabric from inside the zig-zag circles…take care at this time to trim away as clean as possible. The final stitches will cover up a lot but you don’t want loose threads poking through the final satin stitches. Lovely, isn’t it.
The eyelet designs can be used in so many ways. The best way that I like is to use them to gather little girl’s outfits. The idea came from a dear friend who was visiting me and saw me stitch out the t-shirt at the top of the page. My friend suggested that I use the design totally around the t-shirt and then gather it with the ribbon. Great idea! So, here is my t-shirt for my dear friend’s grand-daughter!
To use the eyelet designs as a draw-string, I had to stitch out the plain eyelet in the dead center of the t-shirt after the other designs were stitched out. This allowed me to run the ribbon all around the t-shirt, and bring out each ends from the center eyelets. Love the shirt and as for the collection….it will be released very soon!
It’s always a great feeling when a project is completed! I started my winter cape project started last November…The project really was not very difficult and the embroidery was completed over a weekend…but I have no idea where time went??
Kind of ironic that I would finish my cape when winter is over! But, the good thing is that I did complete it finally, and it can still be used during the cool Spring evenings…or maybe not. For sure, I will use it next winter.
The pattern that I created was an inspiration from the Dolce-Gabbana’s Fall Fashion preview. I liked the idea of the cape, but didn’t really care for the hoodie. As for the slits for the arms, I decided to add cuffs instead.
The pattern is really extremely simple, a round with a slit down the center. I just added cuffs to each side and a high collar to give it a bit of victorian look. My initial plan was to create a reversible cape, but as all great plans are edited…so no surprise that I changed my mind. I used soft wool blend for the cape and lined it with a bold silk Dupioni print. The designs used are from Isphahan collection.
Now that the cape is completed, I find that there was a reason for the hoodie in the Dolce-Gabbana’s preview. The sleeve portion of the cape tends to drag, so I came up with the idea of adding an inside pleat at the shoulders. This idea would most definitely not work for a reversible cape. What are your thoughts of a pleat at the shoulder line?
I’ve written and taught several times about continuous embroideries in the past. The latest collection “Floral Fantasy” has a free sample which lends towards the concept. I received several emails requesting for a step-by-step (with pictures) guide, so here it is. But, before I start to explain the concept, let’s understand what constitutes continuous embroideries. It is any embroidery design which can be placed over and over to create a continuity. The designs in Floral Fantasy were specially created to give an illusion of fantasy flowers, with additional care taken to blend them into a continuous mode. Each design comes with a basting box, which is the guide towards not just placement of the design on fabric, but also a guide towards continuous embroidery. This requires absolutely no measuring, printing of templates or any other specialty hoops or tools.
To begin with, the basting box is stitched out directly on the stabilizer, before the fabric is even attached. Folks who know me, know that I do not ever hoop my fabrics! The fabrics are either pinned to the stabilizer or water soluble glue stick is used to adhere fabric to stabilizer. The basting box has an extremely important function. Before I go any further, let’s look at the design itself. The design has a curvy type vine. The vine becomes the perfect element for continuous embroidery.
To show what I mean, the software image on the right shows how the design blends towards a continuous embroidery. See how the basting boxes match up, even though the embroidery is mirror imaged. That requires a bit of finagling on the part of the digitizer to ensure that when the design is mirror imaged, it will be hit the previously stitched out portion of the design precisely to make it into a continous embroidery.
I’m sure many of you are having that “aha” moment right now. So, to continue…now that you have stitched out your basting box on the stabilizer, you are going to place the fabric on top of the stitched out area and either pin the fabric or use water soluble glue stick
to attach the fabric to the stabilizer. A word about the type of stabilizer. The designs in Floral Fantasy are very light weight in density, therefore they are great to stitch out on light weight fabrics, including home linens. I am a great fan of linens and my favorite place on the net is All about Blanks. The color band tea towels are among some of my favorite items…who am I kidding! They are all my favorite items!
Placing the tea towel on the stitched out basting box, you can see where the design will embroider. This is your guide #1-placement. I pinned the tea towel to the stabilizer. Oh, and because this is a tea towel, I don’t like the stabilizer to show on the backside, so I used water soluble Vilene. Once the embroidery is complete, I can wash the tea towel and both sides will look great! So, I pinned my tea towel. Btw, I used a darker color thread deliberately to stitch out the basting box, so it would show up for the pictures. You probably would want to use a color thread which matches with your fabric color. After all the embroidery is done, there may be tiny portions of the basting box which may be covered by the embroidery, that would need to be trimmed. Stitch out your design. As my tea towel has a yellow band, I opted for yellow flower buds!
Once the embroidery is completed, trim the stabilizer an inch away from the basting box. Hoop another piece of stabilizer and stitch out the basting box again. Be sure though…mirror image that design! See how the basting boxes match in the picture on the right! Ta da! Pin your fabric again and finish stitching out the design. Continue the process until your border is completed!
Now…somethings you must pay attention to before starting the embroidery. Do measure the fabric that you will be embroidering. This will let you determine the number of times that you will need to stitch out the design (as a border).
The designs in the collection only have the basting box around them for placement purposes, they are not there for continuous embroidery. Hope this technique will allow you to create beautiful borders using the flower bud! Happy embroidering.
Sometimes, it is good to go down memory lane and see what you had planned initially. Personally, I like to move forward in life, but this is so not true as far as designing for machine embroidery goes. When the designing mood hits me, I create sketches and save them to work upon in future. Not only do I save sketches or stitches which I create as the mood hits….I also save tons and tons of photographs of my inspirations and ideas in the making. While cleaning up some of the clutter, I came across some of the most darling of pictures. These pictures are not the best in presentation of my work but they are a documentary of how the process of an idea transforms to something spectacular! I hope the process of creativity will help those who are in the same field as they are meant to inspire and encourage friends.
My desire has always been to re-create the heirlooms so lovingly created by hands over the centuries. Knowing that our future generations may not be as patient (well…count my generation too) as our previous ones, my blog and my website are a constant continuity of the re-creation of those art forms, more specifically hand embroideries, laces and quilts. A friend asked me some while back as to when my creativity would reach its peak….uh, what peak? I have only started to scratch the surface of what our ancestors accomplished by hand.
One of my greatest accomplishments has been to re-create the laces of all types and Kanta and Grace collections are my greatest contributions towards that goal. These were not created overnight rather took a long while to perfect the stitches, the look and feel of specific laces. In sharing my journey through life of creating heirlooms for our future generations, my blog has become my documentary. In creating the Grace collections, what started as a collection of lace trims, insertions and panels suddenly took a left turn, when I happened to wake up one morning and had the most amazing idea! One of the designs in the collection was supposed to be a pocket….well, it certainly didn’t become a pocket, rather the left turn took it to become the panel for baby booties!
As I sat looking at the pocket design (yes, the scalloped piece was originally designed and deemed to be a pocket for a child’s dress) I added one of the trims around it to give it the shape of a bootie. The trim was a necessary item as it guided the length and the shape of a bootie, when attached to the sole, which I drew up on a piece of muslin. Attaching the pocket design to the sole, I found that it literally was too huge and covered the teeny tine sole that I had drawn. This is where I started taking notes mentally, that I needed to adjust the size of the pocket design, perhaps one could be a pocket and a smaller version could be a bootie top.
As many designers know….the first is never the final and this was the thought in my mind when I kept on playing with the designs. At first, I was of the mind to create a slipper rather than a bootie until I started to play some more with the pocket design. Wouldn’t you know it…the scalloped top of the pocket was perfect when joined together in a point, and created the heel of the slipper….or bootie!
Well! attaching the heel to the slipper was not the easiest of things as I hadn’t planned anything and was simply adding as I went along….I figured that before attaching the sole to the “pocket” aka bootie top, I should attach the back heel to the sole, especially as there didn’t seem to be too much of an opening for a baby’s foot to go through. Regardless….the idea was born and what was an initial plan to introduce heirloom type lace trims, insertions and panels, suddenly took on a whole new life! Ofcourse, the rest is history and the foundation was laid for the Grace bonnets and booties.
I hope you enjoy the little trip down memory lane and hopefully I have presented ”behind the scene” look into what it takes to create something for machine embroidery. Designs such as these are created with a lot of trial and error, and an amazing amount of will power to keep on perfecting the “vision”. This is the story of that vision and where it took me on the path of re-creating heirlooms for all our future generations and forever placing them in digitized form…my contribution that re-creates those priceless heirlooms created by our ancestors.
Who doesn’t love a bit of shiny? Coming from the Queen of Metallic machine embroidery, I am not ashamed of it! Years ago, I actually made usage of metallic threads a signature in all my designing, and I use it on just about everything, from wearable items to home décor; stitching on light-weight Batiste to leather and pleather! Before I even go any further, let me just point out that a thread is a thread is a thread…metallic threads are also just that, a thread… and I love and use all of them, regardless of their type, brand, or label. Beautiful embroideries can be created with metallic threads, whether the complete design is stitched in metallic threads, or hints of metallic threads can be seen here and there in the design.
Now that we have determined that metallic threads are just another kind of thread, we need to understand their type. Some metallic threads have an inner core of nylon, where others have rice paper. During my early years of stitching out machine embroidery designs, I was mystified to find a fine white powdery residue inside my bobbin case, especially when using metallic threads. Mystery was solved when I started investigating every thread and stabilizer that was used for every project. Long story short, it was a tedious way to discover something I could have found on the internet! To find out the type of core, simply twist the end of your metallic thread until the fine metallic sliver gives way to either a nylon type fine thread or simply dissolves, which means it is rice paper. Then there are those glittery thin ribbon type metallic threads which are so enticing yet never easy to stitch with!
There are many myths out there about metallic threads, about using specific metallic needles to using only certain brands etc. As far as brands are concerned, there are gazillion brands of metallic threads in the market. Every one of them causes an immediate reaction of “I want to use it”, with me. There really isn’t any trick to using these threads on your embroidery machine. No need to stand on your head; hold your tongue just right; or toss the spool to the other side of the room so it would stitch properly. The trick is simply to understand that your metallic thread is a thread and how it reacts/acts with your machine is what needs to be adjusted!
I am sure most of you just had an “AHA” moment! The threads are the tools and the machine is the means of using those tools. All embroidery machines, and sewing machines, have thread tension disks. These disks are the first step towards stitching with metallic threads or for that matter, any specialty threads. As metallic threads are heavier than regular 40 weight machine embroidery threads, it is therefore necessary to adjust the tension disks by loosening the top thread tension. It is irrelevant whether the metallic threads are 50 weights or 40 weights. Compared to machine embroidery threads, all metallic threads are heavier. For experimental purposes, place the two types of threads on a white sheet of paper. You will instantly see the difference. To loosen the top thread tension, read your machine manual. Top thread tension should not be confused with bobbin tension which is a completely different area of the machine. We are using metallic threads as the top thread, therefore only the top tension should be manipulated to allow smooth flowing of the metallic thread through the tension disks.
Don’t start stitching with the metallic thread just yet though. Adjusting the top thread tension is just one step towards embroidering with metallic threads. Before we go any further, we need to also look at the metallic thread itself. It is irrelevant which brand of metallic thread you are using. All metallic threads tend to twist and curl when coming off the spool. This is the MAJOR reason for all issues when using metallic threads. As the thread twists, it tends to kink and that kink goes into the tension disks and causes the thread to continuously rub against the disks and break! What we have to do is to prevent that kink from occurring and the easiest solution that in my last ten years of machine embroidery is that a metallic thread spool should always be placed vertically. Even if the spool is a small one, it should always be placed vertically. This allows the thread to come off evenly from the spool in its path to the tension disks. I personally invested in a spool stand and always use it regardless of the size of the metallic thread spool.
We are almost there…one more step left. In the meantime, go ahead and thread your metallic thread and load up a design to stitch out. Forget about using any special needles, I never have! No offence meant to all the needle gurus out there, but I am not going to change my needle every time I want to use a bit of metallic thread in my embroidery! So, now that you have loaded up the design on the machine and have lowered the top thread tension, let’s do a test sew out. Instantly you will notice that compared to other machine embroidery threads, the metallic thread tends to come off the spool more rapidly. This results in kinks and twists and needs to be remedied. The path of the thread from the spool stand and the thread guide needs to have something which will allow the metallic thread to “straighten up” before it hits the tension disks! There are options available here and the one that I like the best is the cheapest and the easiest. I usually pass the metallic thread, using a hand needle, through a packing peanut, before taking the metallic threads through the thread guide. In other words, I place my metallic thread on a spool stand and then thread it through a packing peanut before threading through the machine. The packing peanut can be a small one actually. Its main purpose is to straighten the thread before feeding it to the thread guide.
Tada! The secret is out and you can now stitch out those gorgeous machine embroidery designs using metallic threads! This method is great for all metallic threads except for the glittery ribbon type ones. Those type of threads stretch and do require careful attention as compared to regular metallic threads. The best method for stitching with them is to thread it and a 60 weights bobbin thread at the same time. This allows the ribbon type metallic thread to have a companion lead it. Just for knowledge sake, I would like to share that thread weights make a difference in your embroidery. Lower weights mean a heavier thread whereas a higher weight means a finer thread.
A word of caution to everyone! Once you start using metallic threads, you will be hooked for life. After all, look at me; I can’t stitch out a single item without using some metallic threads.
How time flies! I can’t believe it has been almost two months since my last blog post. I am truly sorry for not documenting my creations, and definitely intend to keep my friends posted. The year started with a beautiful collection “Baroque”. I’ve always loved the intricate meandering patterns of Baroque designs and always wanted to re-create them in my own way. Baroque designs were originally heavily embroidered motifs, often done with gold thread. In my representation, I tried to capture the same but with a “light weight” hand in the actual embroidery. The final look is the same but with a definite twist. Baroque is another step towards pursuing my dream of converting vintage embroideries to machine embroidery format for our future generations.
Continuing along the same lines, my second collection for the year is one that I’ve worked upon, on and off, through the last several years. The concept was always there but something was not clear. I hate to admit defeat…and that is the reason I had kept the designs on a back burner, until the perfect method just happened! Really! The method came out of the blue to me….I have witnesses, LOL.
One of my dearest wish was to re-create the Double Wedding Ring Quilt pattern on the embroidery machine. I had tried various methods over the years to re-create the pattern but the possibility always eluded me! No more, no more… The Double Wedding Ring Quilt pattern has been referred to as many other names in the past and reading on the history was so very enlightening and surprising. I had always thought that the pattern existed from quite a long ways back, only to find out that the actual pattern and name came out around the 1920′s. A great online read can be found here.
I learned a lot during my visit to the Baltimore Museum of Arts, which has become one of my stomping grounds! One of the best and most delightful escapades for me on the East Coast, are my visits to the hundreds of Museums in the area. Sadly, some are not open on weekends…but I do enjoy learning and seeing the vintage textiles and arts.
As much as I wanted to name the collection by it’s original, the name “Lovers’ Knot” kept coming to my mind. A lovers’ knot could be an engagement or a clasping of hands suggesting marriage, or the ritualistic custom of tying of the knot. I liked it and more so when I decided to add a bit of meandering vines with hearts border design to the collection. The idea came to me while perusing the quilts at the Baltimore Museum, and it was a perfect addition to this collection.
The applique method is applied in creating the arc’d pieces forming the Wedding ring and a new technique of quilt as you go is an added bonus. The Lovers’ Knot collection is almost complete. My original plan was to release it before Valentine’s Day, but I am going to have to be satisfied that at least I released it during the month of February!
Just when I got used to writing 2012, I have to change it to 2013! Where did the year go, not to mention how fast! (sigh). Seems like it was only yesterday that I wrote down my “to dos” or “resolutions” for 2012 and now I have to come up with a whole new list…which will most definitely have some edited items from 2012! Making resolutions is not bad, the trick is to implement them. I’m not going to lie and say that I always carry out my resolutions (guilty). If that was the case, I wouldn’t have any right now!
So, (as the debate ensued with some friends) the question is, why do we make resolutions? The way I look at it, it is a step towards understanding ourself. I admit I have a few vices…workaholic, over achiever yet a procrastinator at times, getting my feelings hurt too easily…..I guess my biggest vice is that I don’t seize the moment and address it immediately. I assure you this blog post is not about bashing my own self but trying to get the message across that we all have some things that are the make-up of our ”uniqueness” as an individual. There is nothing wrong with being who you are, as long as it doesn’t cross over into another’s space.
I look at a New Year as a chance to start afresh and the top most “to do/resolution” is going to be “go with the flow”. Don’t laugh! I know I’m the worst person when it comes to that as I love to push the envelope but….here it is in black and white! With that cleared out of the way, here’s a question for you. Should a “list of resolutions” be created or should it be made as one goes along? What are your thoughts? Are you a “resolution maker”? What are some of your resolutions or to do items? Are they an edited version and why did you edit?
Join in the discussion and have fun! Meanwhile, here’s wishing everyone a blessed and joyful New Year. Hugs and much love, Sadia