Melissa Shirley Wicked: final thought

See what happens when I get busy or distracted. I had been writing this post for the week of May 15-20 and I got distracted or sidetracked and now here it is almost Memorial week-end and I am just coming up for air. So here is the final thoughts on Wicked…

After the stitching is completed then the piece has to be finished. I know I have been showing how to finish needlepoint but last year I was not up to the task of finishing. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it…Seriously, I can do ornaments and some other little stuff but really haven’t had the time to try the biggies. One day I am going to try a pillow and a purse but for now I’m going to send big pieces to the finisher. I can’t even find time to sew a button on, let alone make a blouse or finish big needlepoint or for that matter any needlepoint.

 

I knew where I wanted to hang “Wicked” and how I wanted it finished. I drew a picture for the finisher and once the material was purchased I sent it to her to do her magic.  I was very pleased with the way it was finished and I love to see it hanging at Halloween.

To some people finishing a piece of needlepoint is easy; they take it to a trusted shop and have it finished. Not me, I agonize over finishing. As I am stitching I can see the finished piece, I get these pre-conceived images in my head and then I feel like I need to look for the material to finish the project. Nice for me I know the finisher and I can as her if my idea will work. If she says yes, then I’m off to look for material.

 

Now, let me give you the advice I seldom ever follow but every finisher I know will tell you is the truth.

You should buy the fabric for finishing before you ever start stitching.

I know, seems illogical to me too, but remember we are limited by out thread choices and the fabrics we choose to  finish our pieces are limited by their color choices. Now I will admit if you go to Hamilton Mo or any large quilt shop, you should be able to find a fabric. But what if you want a velvet or moiré for that Christmas stocking you are spending hours stitching? There is a world of difference between DMC 666 red and DMC 321 or 498 red. And fabrics only come in certain colors. And yes, you could use green for the backing and lining, but there are different greens too. So, if you want as perfect a match as you can get; sometimes it is important to buy that fabric first.

And while we are talking “you buy the fabric”; remember that if you want self-cording you need extra fabric. Self-cording is cut on the bias of the fabric and will require more fabric. Just as local needlepoint shop or finisher how much fabric you will need to finish your piece.

 

And some shops stock fabrics for finishing, so ask before you head all over the countryside looking for that perfect fabric. Some finishers have fabrics stockpiled and if you ask the shop you use, they probably can tell you which red would be best on that stocking or they can ask the finisher for you.

 

I’m lucky we have several very nice fabric shops in the area. Sarah’s in Lawrence (http://www.sarahsfabrics.com/), and several quilt shops in the area, plus Hamilton, Mo (https://www.missouriquiltco.com/). I’ve been to Hamilton twice now and while it is both eye candy for the imagination it can be overwhelming also. Hamilton is quilt town in northern Missouri, aka Missouri Quilt Co; Google it or read my post from last year…

 

A word about finishers… Have you ever wondered why so many shops guard their finisher’s name so closely? The real reason is that they are not trying to keep her a national secret, they are trying to protect her from the thousand calls she would get during busy times of the year asking, “Is my ornament finished yet?” And that is why finishing deadlines are so early. I think a finisher told me one time she finish over 1000 ornaments for Christmas and that didn’t count the stockings. Keep in mind blocking boards can only hold so much and sometimes pieces need to be blocked more than once and sometimes needlepoint even needs to be cleaned before blocking may begin. (This is another blog…but stitching in the hand vs stitching on a frame does have its drawbacks as well as its advantages…I will put this on my list of things to write about.)

 

Back to “Wicked”… I found the fabric and Batik at Hamilton and bought it. Brought it home and took it to the shop for my finisher to pick up (No, just because I know her doesn’t mean I don’t have to take it to the shop. My finisher will not accept pieces except through the shops she does finishing.) I took the piece about mid-May and I got it back about mid-August.

 

What took so long? Mine was not the only finishing in line. Mine had to be blocked, just like the rest and maybe twice I didn’t ask; and it’s a pretty big piece so it took up some real-estate on the blocking board. Mine also only had the green material supplied, so my finisher had to get the black for the inset, thread and even the interfacing. I could have purchased the black but I didn’t think about it at the time and she suggested this after she saw the piece…that’s another reason you use a finisher…She’s seen enough pieces to know what looks best even when you limit her by you pre-conceived finishing. And I had no idea what interfacing she would recommend. So see, Finishers do more than finish; they make your needlepoint look just like you want, and they know from experience what works best.

When “Wicked” returned home, it was just what I envisioned and more. I hung it and hated to see Halloween come to an end. I sometimes think I stitch long hours for a piece that only is displayed for a short time but I like it and it brings a smile to my face. And I hope it will be around for many years to come, maybe even one of my Grandchildren will want it when I am gone. Sometimes I get it out in it’s protective bag, and hand it on the door of my office just to look at it…it makes me smile.

Oh and before I forget; what do I do with the stitch guide after I complete stitching the canvas? I destroy it; it is a copyrighted piece of work.  And in my opinion, stitch guides should not be bought or sold without the purchase of the canvas! I have done two or three stitch guides for canvases and I will not sell them to individuals only to shops where I assume the canvas is purchased.

I know a stitcher who saves her stitch guides as a reference and that’s fine but I don’t want all the extra paper. I might make a note in my computer or my stitch notebooks I keep about a technique, stitch pattern or stitch but my stitch guide goes to the trash. I do not share it with my stitch friend who bought the canvas only because she liked mine. I destroy it. Enough said…my soap box stand for the week.

On another note…my family is having a garage sale…no needlepoint but I do have needlepoint books I have accumulated over the years. I will list them here next week with cost and then I will put them on Needlepoint Nation Stash after that.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today and over the holiday week-end. AND please don’t forget to honor those you know who are serving or have served in our military. Without these brave men and women we would not enjoy the freedoms we take for granted.

ttfn…sue

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Melissa Shirley Wicked: Embellishing

Over the week-end went to a bead show, bought some beads for projects (like I need more projects), but like I say want has nothing to do with need., so I indulged myself. Funny thing is when I got home I remembered I had purchased a bead project last year. But do you think I have found where I put that project? A blog all of its own! I’ve looked a few places but still haven’t found it, but it will turn up…maybe much later. Anyway had a good time at the Bead-Blast.; look forward to next year.

Also went to out 1st art fair of the year. Brookside annual art Fair was this week-end (http://www.brooksidekc.org/art-annual) 32 years and I bet I have been to most. It is just a fun way to spend the afternoon or evening. There is always something to see and I usually come home with something too. This year I did not get anything but the art was very inspiring and my two favorites were Gwen Bennett’s Feather Art (http://gwenfeathers.com/)…these were beautiful. And after I got home and read about her art was even more impressed. And my other favorite was Julie Powell Beading (https://www.juliepowelldesigns.com/)…I will never be this good. Two reasons: My first love is needlepoint and I just don’t have the time or patience.

But it was a beutiful week-end (no rain) and we had fun.

I left most of the attachments, bullion knots and all the beading to the very end, I didn’t want to take the chance I would catch other threads on them and either snag the thread or worse still pull the embellishment or bead out of whack.

I have several Bullion knot needles I got from needlework shop. Colonial Needle distributes them and I blogged about them a couple times (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/hari-kuyo-broken-needle-celebration/ ) or (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/category/needlework-tools/needles-needlework-tools/bullion-needle/). These needles are a size 20 and so they make a pretty good sized Bullion Knot.

I started with the Letter “K”. I decided the Bullion Needles were too large for the curly-q on top of the pumpkin and the bird’s feet, I used a #24 Tapestry needle. I stitched the curly-q before I stitched the birds feet; it is a very long bullion and I gave it a twist or loop.  After curly-q I added the bird’s feet, more Bullion Knots that I stitched over and around the green curly-q, still using the #24 needle. I left the curly-q above the bird’s wing and the wing to apply later.

I stitched the red veins for the eyeball in Bullion knots using the long Bullion needles I stitched these into a center whole that I had enlarged with and awl (or larger Tapestry needle) to accommodate the eyeball I would attach later. Notice these veins go over the outline of the letter

Next Letter “C” and the legs of the spider. I used a #24 needle here too as I wanted the legs to be small.

And finally the Letter “I”, this had almost the whole top half of the letter unstitched. Using a Bullion needle I made a short Bullion for the top of the pumpkin at the bottom of the “I”. Then I made Bullions using the Bullion needles and made them looser than normal so they looked like curls. I made some at the top of her head too and these I made tighter so the brim of the hat could lay over them.

Then it came time to tackle the hat and flower on the Letter “I”. The hat was a padded ultra-suede applique with beading. I decided to applique the hat and only to tack the brim at the left side outside the letter and the right side on the tip also. The right side is also held in place by the flower. Next I did the ruched petals of the flowers using a flat braid thread and pulling one of the plies.  I left the hat beading and center of flower until I was finished with all the letters.

Two of the areas had a memory wire thread applied to the canvas; the pumpkin in the “W” and above the bird in the “K”.  Memory wire thread is a thread with a fine wire hidden within it; some wires the wire is like one of the plies and other wire threads are wrapped wire with thread. I don’t know that one is any better than another, this was the first time I had used them. My only experience with wire before had been to use in finishing to make an ornament bend, so it looked like ribbon candy.  First I cut two 3-4″ pieces of the memory wire, then I wrapped them tightly around a small knitting needle. I could have used the Bullion needle, a #18 or 20 Tapestry needle, or even the end of a laying tool; just anything that would coil the wire. On one end, I pulled enough back out straight to tie an Overhand Knot close to the coiled thread at one end; I also placed a small drop of Fray Check on the end to keep it from coming loose. I threaded a #26 needle with 1 ply of matching floss (you could use matching sewing thread) to secure the wire in place on the front of the canvas as well as to secure the tail to the back of the canvas.

To place the wire on the pumpkin on the “W” and above the bird on the “K” I used an #18-20 needle or laying tool.  I opened a space in the canvas to plunge the open end of one of the wired threads to the back of the canvas. I pulled the wire to the desired length and secured with at least one couching stitch on the front; then I turned the canvas over, left about an inch and half, cut excess and tacked the remainder securely to back of canvas.

Beading: There were two types of beads on this canvas; regular size 11 or 15 seed beads and then glass eyes on long pins. Go to Etsy and search for glass eye beads on a long pin, they come in all sizes and colors. Here’s one place: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheWoolenWagon?ref=l2-shopheader-name. I’m sure you could find even the one used for the eyeball in letter “K”; I had smaller green one for the cat’s eye in letter “W”, larger green pair for the witch in letter “I” and amber ones for a bat in letter “D” and a solid black one for the bird in letter “K”.  These all came in the thread kit, so I don’t know the sizes. You were to place these in the proper place through the front of the canvas, with needle nose pliers bend the wire down into place and the secure with thread on the back. Since I had never done this before I was a bit apprehensive…I didn’t want to get into the wrong place on the front, break a pin bending it on the back, or after I secured to back finding the bead looked wrongly placed on the canvas. You guessed it, I left these until I could do nothing else.

I first did all the stars on the letters, then the bat eyes on letter “D”, and the skull on the witch’s dress on letter “I”. For the stars, bat eyes and skull I used the double thread, lasso method. I referred to the unstitched pictures of the canvas for placement of the stars; I did move a star to the nearest over one stitch of the Nobuko so I did not disturb the over 3 stitches. The other beading was on the letter “I” were the center of the flower, and it was just piling beads up to make a center. Then there were the beads on the hat, they were supposed to be Peyote stitched but at that time I did not know how to Peyote stitch (I just learned last week); so I just strung five beads by row and stitched them on the hat.

 

And then I attached the wing of the bird. I attached it at the top, poked the wires through the canvas ,  bent the wired down and secure with thread to stitching on the back. Then on the front I bent just a bit to give the curve of the wing.

 

 

When there was nothing left but the glass eye beads I tackled them I started with the cat in letter “W” because I figured if I broke this bead I could use a metallic braid and make a French knot. Then I did the bat in letter “D” and the black eye in the bird of letter “K”, same thinking here. By know I was pretty sure I could do this and so I did the witch’s eyes letter I and then the big eyeball in letter “K”. They all turned out well, the big eyeball has a tendency to flop but I’m the only one it seems to bother.

 

 

And “Wicked” was stitched!

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.

ttfn…sue

Melissa Shirley Wicked: Fun stuff

You should know that stitching does not happen overnight. I probably stitched on the background and letters for a good three weeks and maybe longer since I know it got boring. Big projects like Wicked are home projects; you just don’t pack these up and take them to a 2 hour stitch-in…at least I don’t. I like to have them set up in my stitching nest and it is usually the one in my bedroom, where I can get away and just stitch. These times always remind me of the old Calgon commercial….”Needlepoint take me away!”  I have my TV with recorded shows and my needlepoint, who could ask for anything more?

I usually have small projects (anything smaller than 12 x 12 inches) that I can take to a stitch-in or stitch downstairs in the family room stitch nest. Sometimes these are just my doodle canvas to audition stitches for the big project or another piece. And then there is the computer work that I often let get away from me…my own that is. If I have a teacher’s work I keep on top of these…they have a schedule and so do I. We all have deadlines and other things to do in our lives.

I really like Melissa Shirley’s “Wicked”…I guess, otherwise why would I stitch it?  I can’t imagine buying a piece of needlepoint I didn’t like let alone stitching one. Now that’s not to say that while stitching a piece of needlepoint I have not become less enamored with it. But I don’t think I have ever abandoned a piece of needlepoint; I even completed a notebook class.  (https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2012/01/02/wilanna-bristow/) Wilanna Bristow, my first ever seminar teacher, even told me she had never seen one completed.

I have taken a technique class at seminar that I knew I was not taking for the piece, but to learn the technique or a class from a particular teacher; and I knew I would not complete the pieces after class but I stitched on them during class and kept all the information and samples in a notebook. The remaining supplies I incorporated into my stash.

But this is a whole other blog post; see how I can get sidetracked? …so lets get back to “Wicked”

Again I started with the “W” and moved right. I left all the beading until the very last but I’ll tell you about that as we go along. All the little white circles on all the letters are beads representing stars. All these were left until “Wicked” was stitched. More about beading later.

I am not going to tell you specific threads, because I feel that is part of the stitch guide and should be protected by copyright. The stitches are also protected by copyright …not the stitch but their use in this project. But since you can see the stitches in the picture I will use names.

Letter W: I started with the moon. It is lightly padded with a stranded thread (I may have gotten the padding thread from my stash) and then stitched over in Diagonal Gobelins with a thread that had some glitz. I outlined the moon also, since the cat was stitched with a black furry thread and did not want to be dragging this into the moon.

I padded the vertical slates of the fence and the center of the pumpkin only before stitching over them with the appropriate threads. I used the same thread to pad the areas as I used to stitch them.

The cat called for a stitch that to me seemed more difficult to do with the furry thread so I changed it. I used a brick stitch for the cat’s body and random stitches for his tail.  I also used a stranded thread to stitch the two fangs on the face, I though a furry thread was not needed and another thread would make them look more like fangs. On hindsight, who was going to notice this but me? You would have to be too close to the canvas to notice this, but what can I say…it was my choice and at the time it felt right.

I left the cat’s eye (white square) and the curly q (rectangle on picture) on the pumpkin for later. I did use a highlighter in the stitch guide to note the areas I was leaving to do latter. It is easy to miss these details once you have stitched a large project. It has taken a long time to stitch and you are excited to get it finished and may even be stitching on a date deadline, so it is easy to overlook a small detail that will bug you later on. Just mark the stitch guide or keep a notebook handy to make notes.

I outlined the “W” after I finished all but the final embellishments.

Letter I: This was one of the three most difficult letters to stitch. It has a lot of details and several different techniques required.

I stitched the “I” in the following order, although I think the stitch guide started at the bottom and moved up… I stitched from lightest thread to darkest thread for the larger areas and left padded area until last. I Basketweaved the face, stitched Witch’s dress, coat, and then the pumpkin. The pumpkin is self-padded in the center section only. I stitched the details on the face and the nose, leaving the eyes for later (white rectangle). I left the hair (white rectangles), hat (white triangle), beading on hat White oval) and flower (white circle), skull beading (white oval) and the curly q (white rectangle) on the pumpkin for later. I have not done much applique, so I had to build my confidence up. The beading suggested was not a method I was familiar with so I had to decide whether to learn this or do something else. And the flower I knew how to do but it couldn’t be stitched until the hat was in place.  I stitched the outline of the letter “I” even though the top was not completed. Then I moved on to…

Letter C:  I outlined this letter before I began the details of the stitch design. This is one of the major changes I made to the piece and one of the easiest to stitch. The curves of the spider web were supposed to be beaded, but I didn’t do this. I stitched the spokes of the spider web first with a shiny braid and then couched the curves with the same thread using  a thinner matching thread to couch (I either had both threads in my stash or purchased them). I couched the long line the spider was hanging from last. I used the unstitched picture as a guide but since the entire letter C was stitched in Nobuko, no black lines were showing except the thread the spider was hanging from and the spider and the background had been stitched over these too.  So everything on this letter was surface applied. The spider was supposed to be beads also but I stitched the body in a Cashmere Stitch and later stitched the legs in Bullion knots. I left the stars (white circles) and spider legs (white rectangle)  until later.

Letter K: Another difficult letter. Again stars (white circles) are stitched later. I really had to think about this letter and how I was going to stitch it so I took a few days to live with the letter and look at it closely. By “living with the piece” I mean I leave the needlepoint up in the stand and uncovered, so I can see it while I am working on another piece, sitting down to study the piece, or just walking by the needlepoint. I had to decide the order I wanted to stitch and if I wanted to do it like the stitch guide suggested or whether I was going to add my own stitching to the piece.  I even thought about moving on to the letter “E” but it was also presenting its own difficulties and I wanted to save the letter “D” for last because it was easy. So after living with the piece a few days and really looking at all three letters that were giving me some difficulty (I-K-E), I came to some decisions. I made notes and checked the kit to be sure I had the things I needed and then began to stitch again.

I decided to stitch the bird first.  There were three stitches suggested for him, his head was Basketweave , I did not like the Basketweave on his beak so I stitched long slanting stitches over these to a point for his beak. His body a Cashmere pattern and his tail a straight stitch pattern. I stitched his pretty much as suggested but I did cover more of his body than was suggested because I had decided to make the wing a stumpwork piece. I also couched the black line from tip of his beak to the large eyeball bead using the black braid I had used for the spider web in letter “C”. I left bird’s eye to add later (white square)

The wing took some thinking about but and I decided to do it more like a stumpwork attachment than what was suggested. The suggestion was a second canvas finished like a small ornament and attached along long top side to main canvas by sewing The wing was stitched on a separate piece of canvas, I outlined the wing in satin stitch over a wire that I used later to attach wing to canvas. I also could bend the wing to give it more dimension.  I striped the canvas threads back to the stitching and wove them into the backside and covered these canvas threads with a piece of ultra-suede with an applique/sewing method. The wing was saved to attached later.

The pumpkin is self-padded with the same thread. If this piece had not been kitted I would have used floss or perle cotton to pad but I had a bunch (3 skeins). I outlined the letter but left pumpkin curly-qs, eyeball veins, birds feet and wing application for later (white rectangles and oval).

Letter E: I made more changes here too and even left some elements off. The easy part were the logs at the base of the letter. Before I did anymore I outlined this letter. Next I tackled the caldron; I would have to say the applique of the caldron wasn’t that hard. It is a padded piece of black leather but I did not put the metal handle on the caldron nor the lip of the pot. I didn’t think a handle was necessary and the pot was boiling over so you wouldn’t see the lip. The boiling and steam were a challenge I ruched the Flair for the boiling portion and I tried the technique suggested for the steam but didn’t like the way it looked.  I took it out (what a pain). Since I was trying to cover the painting error; I wanted to be able to manipulate the thread. So I couched long lengths of Flair twisting as I applied for steam.

The flames were the hardest, didn’t care for the fiber given for this, Flair didn’t work so I tried a glitzy ribbon. I stitched Turkey Tufting with glitzy ribbon threads and then frayed ribbon with a sharp needle. I like it better than the other ideas, but I’m still not happy with it. I will say, when I finished stitching this letter the only thing left were to embellish with the stars (white circles).

Letter D: Always good to have an easy part to complete stitching or almost complete stitching. The D and C were the two easiest of the letters. Small bats at top of D were Basketweave and larger bats (lower part of D) were Basketweave faces and Directional Diagonal stitches.  I outlined the letter “D” after I stitched the bats.  I left the stars and eyes of the bats to bead later (white circles, ovals and rectangle).

Next time we will do the embellishing.

Later today I’m off to our first art show of the season and always one of my favorites. I may even get dinner and ice cream.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.

ttfn…sue

Melissa Shirley “Wicked”: Background & Letters

The first thing I did before stitching was to read the stitch guide and refer to the canvas. I wanted to be sure I understood everything before I began stitching. As I read I found several things I thought I might have to change but I didn’t make any notes and kept an open mind. I did make notes on things I wanted to remember to do.

Letter W

W: I outlined the areas that the stitch guide noted would be outlined. I even made a little asterisk mark at the points of the moon to begin and/or end the outlines here for a crisp point.

Fangs: I also marked those two stitches on the cat that looked out of place…it took me awhile but after looking at them quite a while I decided they were fangs and not mis-painted canvas.

Curly q on pumpkin: stitch guide said to stitch over this area.

Letter I:

I:  Only the top part of the I was Nobuko stitched. I showed the outline around the letter Nobuko was stitched over petals of flower on hat and over hair. Only the center of the flower was left not stitched in Nobuko.

Also made note that skull was last thing on this letter to be stitched.

Letter C:

C: was the easiest letter to stitch; everything was stitched and the spider web was to be couched over these stitches later. The letter was also outlined.

Letter K:

Outlined again and the eyeball and the green curly q (I would have missed had it not be mentioned in the stitch guide…colors were too close)

Letter E:

Outline letter. The steam is stitched over and noticed a mis-painted area in the E

Letter D:

Outline letter. Another straight forward letter, bats are either Diagonal Gobelin or Basketweave.

 

Then I began stitching. Like I said before I was happy that the boring part was being stitched first…not boring but mundane.  I always try to stitch some of the background as I go because if you leave it until last it seems like it takes forever! I think it has to do with all the creative stitches have been completed and in your mind you may already be thinking about that next canvas you are going to stitch. Backgrounds can be sooooo mundane and sometimes because of this you will make a mistake and if the background comes around to meet itself it can be off and depending on where it meets can be disastrous. Sometimes if you catch it you can fudge the background and get it to work but if there is a definite horizontal and vertical line it can be difficult.

Background: This background had its challenges. I decided to center each area of the yellow and orange backgrounds because there was the black bar between them.  The orange background was the negative stitches of the yellow background, so I wanted the horizontal lines to match up but the vertical lines did not necessarily have to be continuous. The black divider between them would soften this difference. BUT I thought maybe the Black crosses could look off if they weren’t at least somewhat the same. So if you look at the W-I picture you will see a 1 by the third from left black divider; it is the only one that mostly goes from top to bottom.  I stitched that one first so the others I could sort of match up to this one when other stitching interrupted the line and the crosses would not be more than a thread off to the eye. I don’t think anyone would have ever noticed but me but I guess that is the …”it might be looked at by a needlework judge”. She will spot the off-ness anyway but at least I tried. And you know what a friend of mine says….

“If you are close enough to my needlepoint to see the mistake, you may be too close.”

Background stitching:  I started in the middle of each section and worked toward the side that would give me a full, top to bottom row. Mostly every letter allowed at least one darning stitch to go from bottom to top and this kept the pattern in line. Also once the vertical line from top to bottom in the first section was established; it also started the horizontal lines across the top and bottom. And once the horizontal and vertical line was established in the yellow areas all the oval places in the picture will be the same stitch in each area. The same is true for the rectangle in the orange areas too. This will help keep the background from going askew before I am finished. Stitching the background around this letter was relatively simple as I either had the Nobuko stitches to turn around or areas that were to be padded, each letter was different.

Letter W: The solid white lines show the areas where when not turning a row in the Nobuko of the letter I could do a small turn around stitch or tacking stitch. I tried not to end threads in these areas unless I was sure there was going to be padding. The area by the cat’s tail (upper left) was an area where I first used a traveling stitch, but the other areas by the moon, fence and pumpkin were either padded or I could do a tacking stitch that would be stitched over later.

Letter I: The hat is ultra-suede so I could turn rows in this areas and I had stitched most of the top right half of the letter, leaving only the center of the flower unstitched. And the bottom was a pumpkin that was to be padded so I had turn around areas here too.

Letter C: This was one of the two easiest letters to stitch; it was all Nobuko and the spider web and spider were couched and stitched over. This made turn around/tack stitches easy for the background. Hardest part was the inside of the C background. I first stitched from center toward K until I had a full line, then went back and filled in the center of the C.

Letter K: The K didn’t present much of a problem stitching the background as the Nobuko is at the top and bottom of the letter, the pumpkin is padded and the bird body is a Cashmere variation that allows for turn-around stitches. The little bit of orange background in the center right of the K took a bit of maneuvering as not much stitch was on the top of the canvas.

Letter E: Since all the steam was stitched first in Nobuko and the pot was an applique, there were plenty of turn-around places for the background. I thought about repainting the mistake in the background but though I could cover with the thread and the steam, so I left it. I see it but I think the canvas has enough stitching interest to keep most people’s eye moving past it.  I waited to do the yellow background until after I had stitched the orange between the E & D.

Letter D: Nobuko is pretty straight forward here again. The instructions say the large bats are stitched in diagonal Gobelins and smaller bats are Basketweave. So the top right bat was the only one I felt I needed to drop down below to make a turnaround stitch in Nobuko; the larger bats I could take a small tack stitch in the wing areas. The biggest problem was lining up the yellow background inside the D.

There are only three places where you have a top to bottom vertical line to keep the pattern established: to the left of the E in yellow background; the center line of the orange area, and the far right of the D. So you have to stitch background yellow center to the left and establish line on the E and center to the right to establish vertical line on the right of the D. The orange is the center line.

Once the background and letters were in the fun began and again I started with the W and worked to the D. Here was where I made a few more “sudu” changes. Remember, needlepoint has to be fun or don’t do it. I will usually try a new technique, stitch or thread but if it becomes frustrating to me or I don’t like it, I stop and take it out and find something that works for me.

Next time I’ll tell you about the design elements of each letter. If you have any questions, just ask in the comment area and I will try and answer them.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.

ttfn…sue

Melisssa Shirley “Wicked”

Promised we would add some needlepoint in here…and then I got behind last week and of course the blog is the first to go. I really wish I could write ahead and have several posts ready to go. I’ve just never been very good at that; maybe I’ll try again.

Most of my stitching is either a geometric counted pieces or I am designing my own original pieces so a painted canvas with a stitch guide is a rarity for me until this past year. This past year I have done at least three or four with stitch guides and several even had thread kits. BUT not one of them is stitched exactly like the stitch guide was written; sometimes I wasn’t happy with the chosen thread and other times I chose a different stitch. But I did read every stitch guide before I started stitching and if there was a thread or stitch I was unfamiliar with I either tried it on the edge of the canvas or on a doodle canvas I keep handy.

I go in spurts doing painted canvases and most of the painted canvases I have stitched never had a stitch guide so I was on my own. Stitch guides are a relatively new thing on the needlepoint market, they have become a big thing in the last several years. I have mixed feelings about stitch guides. I think they are great as a guide, but please remember these stitch guides are not written in stone. If you don’t like a certain thread or stitch, then don’t make yourself miserable trying to use it or stitch it…change it. Needlepoint is supposed to be fun and THERE ARE NO NEEDLEPOINT POLICE (unless you enter a piece to be judged and then that’s a different story.) So be sure if you are buying a canvas with stitch guide and threads, be sure and look over the stitch guide first for threads you might want to substitute before purchasing all the threads. When you get home read the stitch guide and if there is a stitch you just fight all the time, then start to think of what you might stitch in its place.

So if possible, you might wait to purchase the threads for the canvas later. Live with the canvas a while, read the stitch guide and check you stash for threads or threads you can easily substitute…i.e. Neon Rays for Ribbon Floss, one brand of silk for another (be sure to adjust ply and make sure color is very, very close. ) Also if there is a thread you do not enjoy stitching with, you probably have already thought of and used a substitute thread, so just see if it comes in the color you need for this project. You can also use partial skeins sometimes if the area you are stitching doesn’t call for multiple cards or skeins.

I always try and remember to take pictures of unstitched canvas before I start stitching; but sometimes I forget and I only remember when I get to a place where I want to cover the painted canvas and stitch later…but I usually get a picture before I stitch too much stitching is completed. I take pictures of my unpainted canvas one of two ways and sometimes both: The difference, you ask?

I use the copy machine, especially if there is an area I am going to use felt padding or need a pattern to make an applique. I use the copy machine when I want an exact copy of the design ..or almost exact copy.  Copy machines do reduce your image about 1-2%, but it is usually not negligible, and a copy machine picture is much better than trying to get a photo to resize to the correct size.

I use my phone or PHD (push here dummy) camera if I just need a picture to take notes about the canvas. I use this method when there is not a stitch guide and I want to make notes about the threads and stitches I use. With my camera image I can reduce or enlarge areas to suit my needs, but I still find the copy machine best if you are making a pattern of an area.

After I have an image(s) of the canvas I read the stitch guide. You bought a stitch guide, it is written, and you might as well read it. I also keep the canvas handy so I can refer to the areas as I read. I sometimes make notes on the image I have printed if I may want to change something or if there is something I want to look at or do before I stitch an area.

So let’s talk about one project I did last year, Wicked. This is a Melissa Shirley canvas (http://melissashirleydesigns.com/galsearch/index.cgi?index=1382044750_26409&col=)

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and I had a stitch guide and threads. I will tell you I did not always follow the stitch guide and there were a couple threads I did not use. The stitch guide was a guide for me and a few places I did change or modify instructions. Wicked was a gift to me and it came with canvas, stitch guide, threads and embellishments, so I just checked my stash to use up any partial threads I might have and I did substitute two thread choices, but I didn’t do it until I was stitching the area and the suggested thread was just not working for me.

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I made notes on pages I had printed out for each letter as I read the stitch guide and then as I stitched each letter I also made notes on these same sheets.  My first change was to stitch the letters in Nobuko instead of Basketweave. I just wasn’t in a Basketweave mood and I really thought Basketweave would cause the letters to recede and I wanted them to be on top of the background. And by stitching them first, it gave me a place to turn rows of the darning background around with less difficulty and also to begin and end threads if I couldn’t get to an edge.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was happy to read that I was suppose to stitch the background as one of the first elements of the project; backgrounds can be long and boring, especially after you stitch all the fun stuff. I decided to center the background darning pattern in each section; you can see my centering marks on the canvas. I also tried to begin and end threads for the background at the edges of the canvas using an “L” or “U” stitch. I could also begin and end threads in the letters where I stitched Nobuko. I used the Nobuko also to turn a row and keep background darning pattern thread in line.  Sometimes where I knew I would be padding the canvas with felt or thread I could also make a turning stitch, but I tried to keep this to a minimum. Sometimes I had to do a small tuck stitch or carry the thread up further than2017-05-01 beg & end I might have liked.

It seemed like it took me forever to get the background and letters stitched and I do think it took me about a month. But them each letter was fun to embellish and I worked them from W to D.  I’ll tell you the few things I waited until the very last to do as I tell you about the letters. I did not stitch the details of each letter until I had the letters and background complete, but I didn’t take pictures either so you’ll have to bear with me on this one.

And this is about all I can write today…I think I am well over my 55 minute sitting time.

So I will get up and walk and maybe I can get back to this and be a few posts ahead.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today.

ttfn…sue

3D Finishing: Melissa Shirley Sewing Bird Part 2

Materials used:

Stitched and blocked needlepoint pieces
2 Copies of each stitched, blocked pieces
Backing fabric: I used two
Ultra-suede for the wings
Cotton for the rest: fat quarter would be ample
Batting: low loft for wings and body
Batting: craft weight for sides and body
Fiber Fill
Sewing thread to match fabric
Illustration board
Paper scissors
Glue
Cording
Usual sewing supplies

Like I said last week, the body gave me some trouble. I spent at least three days trying different methods, losing my cool, and becoming more frustrated.  I had thought I could finish these two pieces as I had finished the sides but trying to sew the lining to a hard piece of illustration board smoothly did not work.  So since I had cut out a first lining and clipped curves I trashed that lining and cut a second. I also tried to stitch the needlework to illustration board and it proved to be not only not smooth but bulky too. Luckily I had left a lot of canvas and all I had to do was trim a bit more.

I used a lightweight piece of batting (cut two for each side…you will use the other for lining)  to separate the needlepoint canvas from the illustration board and the since I had already somewhat clipped the curves I trimmed and clipped the canvas again and GLUED it to the illustration board.  This was about a three day project since I first tried to lace the needlework to illustration board; then I had to undo, fume, fume some more, cut another piece of illustration board, still fume, and then give in to the little voice that kept saying “glue.” I figure if I keep saying “glue” it will get better.

Truthfully I am not a glue person, but I also know most of my needlework is not going to the Smithsonian; most of my needlepoint will be lucky to survive two to three generations. I have one piece that is registered with the Smithsonian and that is my White House needlepoint stocking but in all fairness all White House collections are registered with them; they are the storehouse and inventory control for all collections.

So when all else fails…glue. Yes, I said glue, but I had already used all the other four letter words I knew and to keep my sanity and finish this project, glue was the answer. I glued the needlework to the illustration board.

The second piece of batting needs to be trimmed to be about an 1/8th inch smaller than the needlework.  Then I clipped the curves, pinned the lining to the batting, and stitched it in place.

 

Next I pined and stitched the linings to the front pieces.

Then I assembled the front piece to the side pieces and pinned together. Here is why the lining pieces are a bit fin30a inside of friendssmaller than the needlepoint. If you’ll notice on my friend’s piece the inside looks like the lining fits snuggly together, but it didn’t look stitched, just snuggly fit. So I made my linings just a tad smaller so they would fit somewhat like these too.  That was the easy part, next came stitching. I stitched the pieces together; sometimes I had to use my trusty third hand (needle-nosed pliers) to push or pull the needle between the threads of canvas. Stitching the angles and curves took some times and since I was going slowly this took another day.

Then I made a bottom for the stitching bird.  Again I had a picture of my friend’s fin33a bottom of friendsand I knew it needed to recede.  I cut a bottom and trimmed until it fit, covered it with lining fabric and stitched in place leaving the four corners unstitched so I could hide the ends of the cording in the bottom.

Made cording for the sewing bird; two long ones to go around large bird pieces and two small pieces to fin35b  together cord allcover the side ends. Pinned the side pieces on first and stitched into place; I hid the ends in the linings as best I could then sewed the large pieces around the bird hiding the ends in the bottom. Here is a blurred picture of the direction of the larger pieces of cording around the face of the birds. Again used my third hand a few times , but finally could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Almost finished ;-)!

 

Oh those #### wings. I thought I had a curved needle to sew these in place but my curved needle I think is an upholstery needle and will leave holes not only in the wing but the bird too. Need to see if what other curved needles are available. Thought about gluing them on but just could not bring myself to do this. So for now I have used  silk pins and pinned them in place for now.

Finally a finished sewing bird! Many hours, many choice words, a bit of glue and I have a stitching bird to add to my sewing tools collection. I also will have a fond memory of a stitching friend who is no longer with us, she loved birds.  And one more thing, this project took me less than a year to complete, I started August 5, 2015  and it is completely finished…trust me I have projects older than this still not yet stitched and more projects stitched but not finished.

Do you have unfinished stitching projects? Why? Did you lose interest in stitching? Or after you stitched it, were not satisfied enough to have it finished? This is probably another thought for a blog post. Send me your thoughts and I’ll mull this one around.

But the one thing I did learn from this project is that when that little voice in your head tells you you are in too deep…listen!  I wish I had listened to that little voice in my head that said, “Send it to the finisher.” I would have saved myself a lot of anger and frustration. And yet now that the project is completed I do feel accomplished…even if I would not do it again!

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today!

ttfn…sue

3D Finishing: Melissa Shirley Sewing Bird Part 1

Materials used:

Stitched and blocked needlepoint pieces
2 Copies of each stitched, blocked pieces
Backing fabric: I used two
Ultra-suede for the wings
Cotton for the rest: fat quarter would be ample
Batting: low loft for wings and body
Batting: craft weight for sides and body
Fiber Fill
Sewing thread to match fabric
Illustration board
Paper scissors
Glue
Cording
Usual sewing supplies

20160712 a bird yellowI have contemplated how to finish this piece for weeks/months. I should have listened to that little voice in my head that said, “Send it to the finisher.”  But no I just kept looking at it and I had a friend who had stitched one (she sent hers to the finisher) and I figured I could manage this myself. Afterall it was just a stand up without the stuffing… and ornament in 3-D…I can do this.

I had it on the blocking boards for a long time while I mulled over finishing in my mind. Then I got brave and began the process. I mad two copies of each of the blocked pieces.  And then I plunged in…I felt like a kid jumping off the high dive for the first time. Once you get up your courage to climb that ladder you gotta go off the diving board; if you climb down…well you all know what that means when you’re a kid. So off I plunged…

Once I took the plunge it was a long way down to the finish; this project took me at least two weeks to complete. I would breeze right along and then I would hit a rough patch and it would take me a couple days to get through it. I’ll let you know as we go along where, when and why I became frustrated.

blockingI had blocked the pieces. Even though I had stitched the designs on Evertite stretcher bars I still block. I do know some people who adjust and tightened their Evertites and block using them too but I do not.   I use my Marie’s blocking board (if any one has one they don’t want, I will pay to have it shipped to me.)

I also made two copies of the pieces on the printer/copier for patterns. Remember copies of copies are a bit smaller, I think the standard is about 97-98% smaller; so when you make a copy of your stitching it is already a bit smaller.  And sometimes I use more than one copy and so I have a second in reserve in case I need it. It is hard to make a second copy once you have started or cut the first copy.

I started finishing the wings, they were easy; they were like a soft ornament.(see: https://sudukc.wordpress.com/2016/03/23/finishing-ornaments-3-soft-ornaments/) I cut out one of the copies for a pattern of each wing. I colored the edges with my Copic pens (https://imaginationinternationalinc.com/copic/), I don’t like grin through.

I trimmed the canvas to within a 1/2 inch of stitching and clipped the curves.  I finger pressed to the back and used Clover clips to hold in place.  These clips come in several sizes, I like the green jumbos best (http://www.joann.com/clover-12pcs-jumbo-wonder-clips-neon-green/14789036.html). I buy them at JoAnns with my $$ off coupons.

 

I stitch the canvas to the back with a double waxed sewing thread. Always wax your thread…it makes it stronger and it keeps it from twisting and knotting.

I used a small piece of ultra-suede I had to back the wings; I used each stitched wing to cut a backing fabric. I marked the stitched needlepoint onto the wrong side of the fabric and clipped the curves. I cut two pieces of low-loft quilt batting using the patterns I made for the wings. I used one of the quilt battings to stabilize the backing fabric and to give me something to fold the ultra-suede back onto and it also gave me something to baste the fabric in place.

Then I sandwiched all together: needlepoint second batting and backing and pinned together. I stitched the wings. I also decided that there was not enough dimension to the wings so I stuffed them with fiber-fill. I didn’t think I filled them too much but they proved to be a problem later on.

I also made a small cording, joined and stitched it around the wings…The wings were completed and truthfully I think this took me a couple days, but they were no problem.

Next I finished the side straight pieces; one short and one long…these had the decorative flowers stitched on them. I used pretty much the same method I had used finishing the wings without the fiber-fill.

Using the patterns I cut batting for large and small side pieces. I cut the needlepoint to within 1/2 inch of stitching.

I finger pressed the edges to the back mitering the corners around the craft weight quilt batting, pinning in place.

Using a double waxed length of sewing thread I laced the sides together,  starting in the middle and working toward ends and stitching the mitered corners.

Then I cut backing fabric 1/2 inch larger that the needlepoint. I finger pressed and pined to be just slightly smaller than the finished needlepoint. I pressed this in place with my new gadget I purchased some time ago to help with finishing. It’s a Clover Mini Iron with all sorts or attachments. It has a large and small iron head, a ball head (I think for curves, a long thin head (probably for corners and a cutting knife. And I doubt I will ever use the cutting knife since I do not want to gunk up the iron for finishing.

The reason that I stitched these slightly smaller than the needlepoint is because when I assemble the pieces together I am going to join them together through the needlepoint and therefore the lining needed to be slightly smaller because it will be inside the bird.

I stitched the backing to the needlepoint using a single waxed thread.  These pieces went quickly and I thought I was on a roll; then finish came to an abrupt halt.

The bird body gave me some trouble and so if you don’t mind I am going to continue this saga next week., otherwise this post will be way toooooo long. I can give you a hint…I did finish this bird but it took me the better part of a week, a few well-chosen words and a do over. But for now…

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you have time to stitch today!

ttfn…sue