Felted Finery – Floral Fluff (part two)

With the center motif completed, we now turn to the two red fluffy flowers. You will need some cotton fabric for the base of the flower and some organza in the same color. I used red, but you can choose any color you like for your flowers. You will also need some perle cotton #3 or #5.

You may have noticed a new widget in the sidebar. I’m not so sure I like the color so that may change, but within the box you will see a JPG file. I have uploaded the flower template file (ib1.jpg) for you to download. If you have a graphics program, you can adjust the size to fit your needs.

From time to time I will upload files for you to use with the tutorials. If you see an empty box, it means your browser can’t display the widget. For example, it doesn’t display in Mozilla using a Linux OS. I’m sorry, but I have no control over it. For those who can use it, you are welcome to download any files I place there for your personal use.

Now on to the flowers-

Cut two pieces of red fabric a little larger than the flower template. Back these with a fusible such as Wonder Under. Place the flower template on the paper side of the fusible and draw around it with a pencil. Next, cut the flowers out.

Peel the paper backing off of your fusible and position your flowers wherever you would like them. Press according to manufacturer’s directions.

I wanted my flowers to have a little more glitz, so I topped them with red organza. You can skip the next step if you like.

Cut two pieces of organza a little larger than your flowers. Lightly spray the back of each piece with a spray adhesive such as 505 and place them over the fused flowers.

You can add the perle cotton edging using any of the following methods:

(1) Attach a cording or braiding foot and slowly work your way around the flower, couching the perle cotton.

(2) Attach a free motion couching foot and couch the perle cotton around the flower. When using the Bernina Free Motion Couching Foot, I like to move my needle one position to the right and set the machine on a zig zag stitch at about 0.5 stitch width. Perle cotton #3 works best with this foot.

(3) Sew around the edge of the flower using a regular straight stitch (or free motion stitch around it). Wind your bobbin with perle cotton and work around the flower from the reverse side of your project, using the previous stitching as your guide. Always use a separate bobbin case that you can adjust for specialty bobbin work. Test your bobbin tension before working on your project.

To neatly secure the ends of the perle cotton, attach an open toe foot and set your machine on a zig zag stitch. Clip the beginning tail of perle cotton right where your stitching began. Wrap the ending tail around the back of your needle (from left to right) and pull the perle cotton towards you. Zig zag stitch over a small portion of the tail, take a few securing stitches, and then clip the remaining tail off.

Place your project on a glass surface (or any other heat proof surface) and burn away the outer edges of organza with a stencil cutter or wood burning tool. Do this in a well ventilated area.

In part three, we will give the flowers a nice fluffy center.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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Felted Finery – Floral Fluff (part one)

This project includes several embellishing techniques that are fun to play with. You will need a background fabric, two colors of organza, green perle cotton, beads, and yarn.

First, apply a fusible stabilizer to the back of your fabric. I used Decor Bond. Draw seven circles on the stabilizer in a pattern similar to the above graphic. You can place the motif in the center as I did mine or change the setting to one that you like better.

Take one of your organza colors and cut out some large circle shapes. Make sure they are quite a bit larger than your drawn circles since the felting process will pull the organza towards the needles. Working from the back side of your fabric, place an organza circle on top of a drawn circle and slowly needle punch the organza in a circular motion . Hold the edges of the organza as you work so that it doesn’t bunch up. Repeat this process for each circle.

When you’re finished, you should have seven fuzzy circles on the front of your fabric.

To make the stem, cut four long pieces of green perle cotton (or any other fiber you like) and tie them in the center with some thread.

Now double them over so that you have eight strands. Attach a cording foot or open toe foot to your sewing machine and thread the needle with an embroidery thread. Set your machine on a zig zag stitch at about 5.0 mm stitch width.

Position your strands of perle cotton under the foot, holding the tied thread in one hand behind the needle. Zig zag stitch the entire length of cording. You may like to stitch the cord several times, using several shades of green thread.

When you are happy with the look of your cord, place it in the center of your fuzzy circles. You may like to tack it down with a light touch of fabric glue. Next, couch it with a matching thread, attaching beads as you sew.

In part two, I’ll show you how to make the fluffy little flowers.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part six)

Our flower is now complete, but it needs a stem and some leaves. For this part of the project, hoop an extra light nonwoven stabilizer or some organza. I used painted Carriff stabilizer, but a green organza would work just as well. If you use stabilizer, you might want to paint it green with some fabric paint.

Set up your sewing machine for free motion work, making sure the feed dogs are in the lowered position. Attach a free motion or darning foot. Set your machine for straight stitching or a very slight zig zag stitch. Loosen the top tension a point or two and thread the machine with embroidery thread. I used Valdani Cotton Look #40. Of course, it’s always best to make a test sample before actually stitching your project.

Begin by stitching an outline of your leaf shape. Next, move up and down the center of the leaf.

Outline of leaf

Adjust your hoop so that you can stitch in a diagonal direction and then work one side of the leaf by stitching straight lines back and forth, making sure you stitch into the outlined edge. When that is complete, move to the next side and mirror image the diagonal stitching.

Now thread your machine with a dark green thread and stitch some veins on the surface of your leaf. Repeat the process for your second leaf.

Thread painted leaf with vein detail

When your leaves are completely stitched, set your hoop on a piece of glass. Heat up a stencil cutter or wood burning tool and move the point around the edges of your leaves. The stabilizer or organza should melt like butter, leaving you with two nonfraying leaves. Do this is a well ventilated area.

Heat tool removal of leaves

To create a stem for the flower, cut 5-6 lengths of green #3 or #5 perle cotton. Cut them about 2 inches longer than needed. Tape one end to secure all the threads.

Attach a cording foot to your sewing machine and thread the needle with embroidery thread. You can use the same thread in the bobbin. Choose a zig zag stitch and set the width at 4.5 – 5.5 mm. The feed dogs should be raised.

Now thread the taped end of your perle cottons through the hole in the cording foot. Sew over the threads, making sure your width clears each side. You can repeat this several times and even use different color threads with each pass.

Stitching over the perle cotton

Position your stem and leaves on the front of your project. You may like to tack them down here and there with a light dab of fabric glue. Using an open toe foot, couch your stem and sew a line of stitches up the middle of your leaves to secure them.

Couching the stem

Securing the leaves

Now position your flower and tack it down with a little fabric glue. You can blind stitch around the outer edges or tack the flower on with a few hand stitches from the back of your work.

At this point, I framed my piece with a wavy border using a fusible to attach it. For the finishing touch, I couched a #3 perle cotton around the inner frame using a braiding foot. These steps are optional, of course, but they do give the piece a nice finished look.

Another In Bloom project complete!

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part five)

The technique for creating the flower can be used for individual items or for large areas of thread work, such as thread painting landscapes.

For the flower, choose two shades of embroidery thread any color you like, and place one in the needle and the other in the bobbin. I used cotton embroidery thread.

Next, stabilize a piece of base fabric and secure it in an embroidery hoop. Choose a closed free motion foot so that the thread work does not get caught while you’re working.

Drop your feed dogs and work a zig zag stitch over all the surface.

I set the width at 3.5, but experiment and see what width you like best. Move rather quickly, allowing the stitches to build up on each other. When the surface is almost covered in stitches, tighten the top tension until the bobbin thread shows on top. Work around the surface.

When you’ve covered an area large enough for your flower, dab the circumference with some Fray Block or a similar product before cutting. Once dry, cut out your flower shape.

Remove the free motion foot and attach an open toe foot. Using silk roving or yarn, couch a decorative edge around your flower with a zig zag or buttonhole stitch.

Take another piece of silk roving or yarn and shape a center for your flower. Attach it with your Babylock Embellisher or needle punch machine.

Next, take a little orange or yellow roving and needle punch it in the center of your flower.

For the final embellishment, sew a cluster of beads in the center. Your flower is complete.

In part six, we will thread paint some leaves, make a cord on our sewing machines for the stem, and complete the project.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part four)

First, I want to thank Jacqeline (http://jacquelinedejongarts.blogspot.com/2007/04/thinking-about-blogger.html for also honoring Fembellish Journal with the Thinking Blogger Award.  I was totally blown away by the first three, but four. . .I’m speechless.

And my thanks also goes out to Corina (http://corinaj.wordpress.com/2007/04/19/love-is-all-around/) for her kind words regarding Fembellish Journal.  She not only wrote a special post but created her own “Gilded Gardens” fiber art.

All this combined with the continual flow of encouraging comments really touches me.  Please know how much I appreciate your acts of kindness. N. Rene

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In part three we worked on reverse couching using one line of straight stitches and perle cotton threads.  Now we will double the fun and use two line of stitching.

In many cases you can use a double needle to accomplish the following techniques.  I didn’t use one on the In Bloom project because I needed the stitches to be further apart.  However, these techniques work best when a double needle is used since the stitches are always evenly spaced.

The first double stitch technique produces a serpentine design.  The method is almost identical to the second technique in part three, only this time you are passing the needle under two stitches rather than one. If you use invisible thread for the machine stitches, you will only see the perle cottons. (I have used a dark thread for the machine stitches so that you can see the technique more easily.)

After stitching a row of straight stitches with a double needle at 4.0 mm, thread a tapestry needle with perle cotton.  Bring the thread up at the bottom and then position your needle with the point facing the first stitch on the right.  Pass the needle under the two two machine stitches.

Now reposition your needle with the point facing the next row of stitches from the left.  Pass the needle under the next two machine stitches, working from left to right.  Continue working in right to left and left to right motions until your pattern is complete.

To work serpentine beading, use the same method, only thread a bead onto your needle before passing it under the stitches.  Do this on the right and the left. You can also mix the techniques and produce some very special effects.

The last technique produces a straight row of beading with diagonal lines of perle cotton showing between the beads.  Begin by bringing your thread up to the surface on the bottom left, crossing over to the right, and then passing your thread under the first (single) stitch (working from right to left).  Thread a bead onto your needle and then pass the needle under the second stitch on the left (working right to left).

Position your needle with the point facing the left hand line of stitches.  Pass the needle horizontally under both stitches of the next row.

Thread another bead onto your needle and pass the needle under the second free stitch of the left hand row of stitches, working in a diagonal motion.

Repeat these two steps until your row of stitches is complete.  Although each bead will have a diagonal slant, the row will be straight and even.

This technique can also be worked with beads added on the horizontal stitches rather than the diagonal stitches.  That is how I worked some of the beading on the In Bloom Three project.

You can also work the pattern in diagonal stitches alone, threading every other stitch with beads.

In part five, I’ll share with you how I created the flower using free motion embroidery, silk roving, and beads.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part three)

I love the techniques I’m about to share with you They can be used for decorative embellishments on all sorts of projects, adding lots of visual interest.

For this phase of the project, you will need a tapestry needle, beads with holes large enough for the eye of the needle to pass through, and some perle cottons.

I call the first technique “reverse couching.” The tight wavy line that reverse couching produces makes it a good candidate for small stems, branches, vines, and general outlines of flowers and other objects.

To work reverse couching, sew a line of straight stitches at 4.0 mm using a strong thread. The line can be straight, curvy, or any shape you like. Thread a tapestry needle with matching perle cotton and bring it up at the bottom end of your stitches. Now, with the point of your needle to the right of the next stitch, pass the needle under the stitch and come out on the left side.

Cross your needle over the stitches and again pass the needle under the next stitch, working from right to left. Continue this same motion until your line of stitches is complete.

Reverse Couching Sample

Of course, you could use any number of different threads with this technique, adjusting the stitch length to accommodate the various thread (or yarn) sizes.

Here are the places on In Bloom Three where this stitch is worked. I used a #5 perle cotton on the lower area of the project and a #3 peril cotton near the top.

Perle cotton #5

Perle cotton #3

The second technique is a variation of the first. (Although I didn’t use this one on the project, it’s a nice stitch to have in your repertoire.) With the point of your needle to the right of the stitch, pass your needle under the stitch.

Now, position the point of your needle to the left of the next stitch and pass it under, coming out on the right side. Repeat this motion until your line of stitching is complete. This variant produces a wider wave effect than the first technique.

Taking this one step further, before each pass of the needle, string a bead onto your thread and then pass the needle under the stitch, working right to left and then left to right. This is a great way to attach beads since your line of stitching serves as the perfect guide.

Step 1

Step 2

In part four, we’ll transition to perle cotton techniques using a double line of stitching.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part two)

Many great products that we use for quilting and fiber art come from other sources. I purchase freezer paper at the grocery store, rubber finger tips at the office supply store, Tri-flow at the bike shop, magnetic trays at the hardware store, and the list goes on and on. In this tutorial we will be using Glad Press’n Seal, a product you can find at the grocery store near the freezer paper. Press’n Seal is slightly tacky and transparent, making it perfect for transferring designs, positioning them on fabric, and stitching over them. It’s very easy to remove and doesn’t put strain on your stitches the way some other products do. I also use Press’n Seal to secure thread ends on large spools. With our background complete, we now begin the thread work. Place a large piece of Press’n Seal over your drawn (paper) design and mark double stitching lines between each of the individual template pieces. These lines should be 3/8 of an inch apart. Remove the Press’n Seal and position it on your fabric background.

Using a strong thread, such as polyester, stitch over the lines using a stitch length of 4.0 mm.

When you’ve completed stitching all the marked lines, gently tear away all the Press’n Seal. Then set up your sewing machine with a 5-hole or 7-hole cord foot.

If you’ve never used this foot before, you thread individual cords through the small holes from the top of the foot, working them under the foot. I used #5 perle cotton in five colors, but you could use as many as seven colors. Choose a stitch on your machine that will catch all the cords as you sew. Decorative stitches work well here.

Slowly sew the cords through the center of all the double stitching lines, using care to not stitch over any of the double stitching lines themselves since you will need these to be free for other techniques. Leave about an inch of cord tails at the beginning and ending of each section.

Next, attach a braiding foot or a free motion couching foot and apply a heavy decorative thread, such as #3 perle cotton, to the edges of any fused design elements. Remember to drop your feed dogs if using the free motion couching foot.

You could also accomplish this using bobbin work. Simply sew a straight stitch on the surface to mark the outline of the design and then reverse your work, wind your bobbin with your decorative thread, and stitch from the reverse side. Test your stitches first to make sure you have set the correct tensions. In part three, I’ll share a special beading technique that I think you will find interesting and easily adaptable to many projects. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ N. Rene West Time Treasured

Fabrications – In Bloom Three (part one)

This colorful project is packed with techniques that I’m looking forward to sharing with you. As with all my tutorials, you can tailor them to fit the type of fiber art work you enjoy creating. For part one, you will need three cotton prints (hand dyed or hand painted fabrics works well), craft felt, a fusible such as Wonder Under or Steam-A-Seam, fabric paints, and rayon thread.

First, draw your design on white paper and cut out the individual templates. Back your fabrics with fusible and cut out each individual piece. Fuse your design pieces, with the exception of the focus background piece, to a piece of craft felt cut a few inches larger than your finished design.

Next, prepare your work area for fabric painting. You can use a single paint color or mix fabric paints to achieve the color you desire.

Place a piece of fusible cut larger than your template on a covered surface. Using a brush or sponge, paint the fusible side of the Wonder Under or Steam-A-Seam. Set it aside and allow it to dry.

Once your fusible is dry, place your focus background fabric on a Teflon pressing sheet or parchment paper (right side up) and top it with the painted fusible (fusible side down).

Top these with another piece of parchment paper. Press on cotton setting for 15-20 seconds. The painted fusible takes a little longer to transfer to the fabric. Allow the fabrics to cool before removing the parchment and fusible backing paper. If the paint and fusible haven’t completely transferred, press a little longer.

Holding your rayon thread over the painted fusible, allow the thread to naturally fall on the surface, forming circular shapes.

When the entire surface is covered with thread, place a piece of parchment paper on top and press for 7-8 seconds. When the fabric has cooled, check to make sure all the threads are secured by the fusible. If any are loose, cover and press again.

Place your template on the focus background piece and cut to size.

Position the piece on the craft felt, cover with a Teflon pressing sheet, and press.

Allow to cool and carefully remove the pressing sheet. The paint wanted to stick in a few places when I removed my pressing sheet, so I pressed for a few more seconds until the design was securely fused.

Your design background is now complete. In part two, we’ll begin adding detail with perle cottons and multiple cords.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Garden Gazing (part three)

With the free motion embroidery of flowers and leaves now complete, we turn back to the Angelina gazing ball, which is the final stage of this project.

First, iron your leaf fabric to a fusible such as Heatn’Bond or Steam-A-Seam. Cut about six free form leaves and position them around the Angelina. Using a Teflon pressing sheet (or parchment paper), press according to the manufacturers directions.

Leaves

Set up your sewing machine for free motion embroidery, making sure the feed dogs are lowered. Using a decorative thread, free motion quilt around all the leaf appliqués. I used Sulky Holoshimmer.

When using decorative threads, it’s usually necessary to loosen the upper tension. With Holoshimmer, I set the tension at 1.5 and use an embroidery needle.

When you complete the leaves, rethread your machine with another color of decorative thread and free motion quilt the Angelina between the leaves with whatever motif you like.

To make the flower center, cut a circle from a piece of satin about double the size you want your finished center. Free motion stitch large circles. The fabric will naturally pucker.

Next, baste around the outer circumference of the satin and then pull the thread ends so that the circle gathers in on itself.

Turn to the right side and attach to your flower center with seed beads. You may like to dab a tiny amount of fabric glue on the wrong side to keep the center in place as you bead.

Your project is now complete! I hope you all have a wonderful Easter.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Garden Gazing

We put a gazing ball in our garden a few years ago and I would find myself walking around it, looking at it from different angles, and being thoroughly captivated by its image reflections. In spite of the fact that the weather people are telling us to expect snow this weekend, it is nonetheless spring and I’m stitching flower gardens.

For this project, you will need a commercial fabric with garden images or a hand painted fabric with the basic colors and shapes applied to the fabric. This is very easy to do with fabric paint. You might want to do a little sketch first and then paint your garden scene in abstract form. Stabilize your main fabric with a light weight fusible and back it with batting or craft felt. If you use batting, place a piece of light weight stabilizer under it so that the batting doesn’t get caught by the feed dogs. Sandwich these with a light spray of 505.

You will also need about three colors of Angelina “Hot Fix” fibers. I used Blaze Crystalina, Mint Sparkle, and Raspberry. An assortment of cotton embroidery thread will be used to define your flowers and grasses. To appliqué the leaves and embellish the Angelina, you will need some decorative threads, such as Sulky Holoshimmer.

For the main flower, you will need a small piece of satin, some seed beads, and some hand dyed or painted fabric for the leaves. I used hand dyed silk. These will be applied with a fusible backing.

After you stabilize your main fabric, cut a large circle from another coordinating fabric and position it on the surface. This will be your gazing ball. A little of it will show through so choose something appropriate.

Give the back side a light spray with 505 and then quilt it to the surface with a meandering stitch.

Now place your project on your ironing surface and begin pulling out strands of Angelina from each of the colors you chose. Drop them right on top of the gazing ball base fabric. Mix the colors well and make sure you have pulled enough to completely fill the round area.

Angelina

Place a Teflon sheet or a piece of parchment paper on top of the Angelina and press for 3-4 seconds on a silk/wool setting. Let the area cool and then remove the pressing sheet/parchment paper. Spray a little 505 on the underside to keep the Angelina in place. (Remember, only use sprays in a well ventilated area.)

The basic foundation of the project is now complete. In part two, we will begin stitching the background flowers and grasses using free motion embroidery.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Caught in the Middle

It was Saturday night and I felt like doing a little experimental play. So I took out some paint and looked around for something I might apply it to. Although an unlikely prospect, I chose the lightweight Carriff 0.5 stabilizer (see Carriff Engineered Fabrics on the Fiber Art Resources Page for details). I was actually curious as to whether it would take paint and if so, how it would act (and look) if I torched it with a heat gun. I never got that far, but here’s what transpired.

First, I assembled the usual painting supplies and brushed cadmium red medium and yellow light hansa on one piece of stabilizer and prism violet and magenta on another. (I used Liquitex medium viscosity acrylic paints for this project.)

Liquitex Paints

As soon as the pieces were dry, which was within minutes, I cut them in half.

Painted Carriff

Next, I took some rayon thread clippings and dropped them on two of the cut pieces (yellow and viiolet).

I then placed a fusible (Heatn’Bond) on top and pressed it.

Fused Threads

After peeling the backing paper off of the fusible, I pressed the two remaining painted pieces (magenta and red) on top of each fused piece. Mixing the top and bottom colors makes a big difference in appearance since the sheerness of the stabilizer allows both colors to harmonize.

The resulting fabric reminds me a little of vellum. It’s lightweight, semi-translucent, and nonfraying.

New Fabric

Unlike vellum, its surface is texturized by the middle layer of rayon threads. All in all it’s quite unique.

I really liked the organic appearance of the fabric so I decided to cut some flower shapes and use them in a quilt I’m working on.

Cut Flowers

When I picked up the scraps, which were heading for the waste basket, I was intrigued by the various shapes that had formed as a result of the cuts.

Cutting a 15″ square of cloth, I positioned the shapes on the surface and then appliqued them using Holoshimmer thread.

Holoshimmer Thread

Applique

I love the way this thread catches the light. (Make sure you loosen your top tension and use an embroidery needle when sewing with Holoshimmer.) One thing led to another and the piece ended up looking as you see it above.

I did a little more experimental painting on Saturday night using Jacquard Lumiere. I’ll share the results of that with you in the near future.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Gilded Gardens (part five)

Our colorful garden is almost finished, but a few remaining embellishments are in order. This is one of those projects that says to us, “The more, the merrier.”

With the heavy thread work behind us, we now turn to filling some of our flowers with felted or couched yarns, adding some yarn to a few of our leaves and to our background, and capping it all off with beads or French knots.

Take a look at your work and decide which flowers you would like to embellish with yarns. For visual interest, select several different colors and audition them until you find just the right ones for your project. I used spun roving, chenille/eyelash mixes, and brushed yarns.

Beginning with any flower other than the center, needle felt as much or as little yarn as you like within its center area. On the flowers that I completely filled, I began by tacking down the end of my yarn in the center and then slowly working in a spiral motion until the yarn reached the edges. You don’t need many stabs of the needles to do this. The goal is to secure your yarns but not to completely felt them with the background.

Felted Flower

Spiral Felted Flower

On other flowers, needle felt smaller amount of yarn and leave some of your flower background showing. On still others, mix your yarns so that the flower is multicolored.

Before working the center flower, needle felt some spun roving (or other fiber) in a radiating design out from the edges. If your center flower has leaves, needle felt or couch a special decorative fiber down the center vein. I used wrapped silk cords.

Wrapped Silk Cords

Wrapped Silk Cords

Then fill your flower with various yarns. With a contrasting color, needle felt a colorful center.

Center Flower

Center Flower Motif

Now take some green furry yarn and felt or couch it along the edges of your leaves just as you did with the heavy thread in part four, working past the leaf tip and meandering here and there.

Couched Yarn

Look at your work and see whether there are areas that need to be filled. For the look of tiny flower buds, I took small pieces of roving, twisted them into a tight little ball, and needle felted them in place. I also meandered spun roving and needle felted it in place.

For the final embellishment, do some bead work down the center vein of a leaf or two, at the center of some of your flowers, and any place else you would like some bling. As an alternative or an additional embellishment, work some French knots in the center of flowers.

Bead Work

Bead Work

Congratulations! Your garden is now complete. I hope you loved doing this project as much as I did.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

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