A Bead, Indeed!

Fiber Art Beads

Want to add dimension and lots of visual interest to your projects? Fiber art beads will do the trick. There are many ways to create these little gems, but here is the way that I make them.

You will need the following supplies:

plastic drinking straws
fabric glue
fabric scraps
assorted yarns or fibers
beads
craft wire, 22 or 24 gauge

Begin by cutting your straws into 1 1/2″ widths (or whatever size you desire). Cut fabric scraps on the bias about a quarter inch wider than your straws and about 4 inches long. Dab a little fabric glue on the straw and begin wrapping the fabric around it. Reapply more glue as you wrap the fabric.

Wrapped Bead

Wrapping fabric around plastic straw

Check to make sure the fabric is completely secured with fabric glue. This add stability and a little stiffness to the beads.

Wrapped Straw

Wrapped Straw Piece

Cut some stands of various yarns or fibers. Place a small dab of fabric glue at one end and secure the end of the first yarn. Wrap the yarn around the bead in a spiral motion. Secure the end with fabric glue. Repeat this step for additional yarns.

Yarns

Secondary yarns

Wrapped Yarns

String craft wire through the center of the straw and wrap it around the exterior of the bead, leaving about a one inch tail. Twist the tail around the center wire to secure.

Twisted wire

Wrapped Craft Wire

Measure out about 10 inches of wire from the end of the bead and cut.

Cut wire

String various size beads onto the wire and begin wrapping them around the bead in a spiral motion. I like to string a few beads at a time, wrap, and then repeat the process until I come to the opposite end of the bead.

Stringing beads

Stringing Beads

Once the beading is complete, push the wire end under the original wrapped wire and twist it back on itself to secure. I like to push the end of the wire into the bead so that there are no sharp edges on the surface of the bead.

End wire

Securing End of Wire

You may like to experiment with Angelina “fabric” rather than cloth. Also, try wrapping ribbon rather than fabric. Metal beads and other embellishments can be used in place of glass beads. Craft wire comes in many colors, so don’t limit yourself to silver and gold.

Note: I want to thank you again for your many comments, emails, and prayers for my family during this difficult time. My mother’s condition remains the same; we just take it one day at a time.

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N. Rene West

Time Treasured

Quick Tips – How to Use Every Last Scrap of Solvy (WSS)

Sulky Solvy and other film-type water soluble stabilizers have wonderful recycling attributes. I use a lot of this stuff and always place the little leftovers into a glass jar. When the scraps start to add up, I do one of two things with them:

1) I iron small pieces together to make one new larger piece. To do this, I arrange the WSS scraps on parchment paper or a Teflon pressing sheet (you can also use a brown paper grocery bag) so that they all overlap and form a solid shape. I then place parchment paper over the scraps and press for about 8-10 seconds on a wool setting or until the pieces adhere to each other. Allow the parchment paper to cool before touching it.

or
2) I make Solvy soup by mixing the scraps with water. Here is the general recipe.

Ingredients:

About a 1 yard equivalent of WSS scraps
1/2 cup hot distilled water
2-3 tablespoons rubbing alcohol

Directions:

Place WSS scraps and hot water in a glass jar and shake well until dissolved. If the solution is to be stored, add the alcohol and keep the covered jar in your refrigerator.

To apply, dip a sponge brush or small paint brush into the WSS solution and paint onto your fabric. Allow to air dry or use a hair dryer to speed the process. When dry to touch, cover with a press cloth and quickly press with a dry iron to remove any remaining moisture. Stitch as usual and then remove WSS with water (I usually spritz it away).

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Quick Tips – How to Knit on the Go

I knit all year long and like to carry my projects with me for appointments, when I travel , etc. I’ve tried several methods of keeping my yarns neat, tidy, and convenient all at the same time and found that an empty 5 quart plastic ice cream container works best.

I usually work with more than one yarn at a time, so the ice cream container supplies plenty of room for my multiple balls or skeins. Using a regular hole punch, I created three holes at the outer edges of the top, separating them equally. The yarns flow freely from each hole and never tangle. The container already has a carrying handle, so I’m good to go at all times.

Of course, I had to embellish the container, so I pasted a pretty floral picture over the “Vanilla” imprint.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Tips – How to Secure Bobbin Threads

Happy Mother’s Day! I plan on spending a wonderful extended weekend surrounded by my children and grandchildren. If you read some of my previous posts, you know that I was blessed with two grandsons in March and April. I made photo transfer gift pillows this week to commemorate their births, which I will be giving to my children on Sunday.

Additionally, I created the little pink flower in the opening photo and will share the directions with you next week.

While working on the embroidery for the pillows, it came to me that some of you may like to try my method for securing those pesky thread ends on your bobbins. You can obtain products commercially that accomplish the same result, but I have a lot of bobbins to secure, so cost would be a factor.

Instead, I purchase a length of clear tubing at the hardware store. You can take a bobbin sample with you to make sure you buy the correct size. (I believe mine is about 3/8″ circumference.)

With a pair of heavy duty kitchen or utility shears, cut pieces of tubing the interior width of your bobbin. Next, cut through the circle to create an opening.

Simply slip the tubes around your bobbins and thread tails will be a thing of the past.

Blessings to you and have a wonderful weekend.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fiber Folio – How to Make Serger Braid

There are many beautiful cords and braids on the market, but sometimes I just like making my own. Creating serger braid is easy once you find the correct settings for your particular machine.
Here are the settings that I use on my serger:

Needle – right position – Tension 6
Stitch length – 1.5
Upper looper – 5
Lower looper – 7
Roll hem
Differential – N

You can use any decorative threads that will fit through the holes in your loopers. I used Crown Rayon in the loopers and a #40 embroidery thread in the needle for the braids pictured.

Once you test your settings and find them satisfactory, simply serge on air, holding the tail taut in one hand as the cord flows towards the back. Try to keep a steady speed so that your braid is consistent.

It’s fun to mix colors and experiment with various threads and fibers. However, expect a few problems along the way. Below is the amount of thread I used this morning before getting my machine to behave, and I can tell you I wasn’t a happy camper.

But then I looked at the mass of rayon and thought it would make a beautiful sandwiched thread scarf, so you’ll probably see it again soon in another life form.

So what do you do with yards and yards of braid? Couch it, of course!

Many of us have wonderful sewing machines with hundreds of decorative stitches that we seldom use. These stitches take on a totally different look when used to couch decorative cords and braids. Again, experiment with various threads in the needle, such as variegated embroidery thread. Here are pictures of some samples I did today. Many of them would make nice frames for ATCs, don’t you think?

When couching braid, remember to stabilize well. Use an embroidery needle and loosen the top tension. I find it helpful to test stitches and threads, mark the stitch number on the sample, and file it in a reference notebook with pertinent details for future reference.

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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

How To Make Ribbon Trim to Match Your Projects

Hairpin Lace Maker

Do you know what this is? To be perfectly honest, I had to go by the craft store where I originally purchased it to find out myself. I often shop with an eye as to how something can be used rather than what the manufacturer intended. In this case, the picture above is of a hairpin lace maker. I’ve never made hairpin lace and I doubt I ever will, but I have found a great use for this simple little tool.

Notice the holes on the red side pieces. The metal tubes can be adjusted, creating several different widths. When I saw this tool hanging next to the crochet hooks, I knew I had found the perfect trim maker!

Here is how I make special ribbon trims to coordinate with my designs. First, I decide how wide I want my ribbon and adjust the metal tubes on the hairpin lace frame. Next, I tape the end of the ribbon to one of the metal tubes near the red tube holder but not so close that it will interfere with the presser foot.

Secured Ribbon

With ribbon end secure, I now wind the ribbon around the tubes, overlapping each ribbon about 1/4″. When I reach the end, I tape the ribbon tail to the red holder.

Wrapped Ribbon

Secured Ribbon End

After checking the ribbon to make sure there are no gaps, I then tape twill tape along the entire length of the wrapped ribbon. Do not cut the twill unless you only need your trim one length of the tubes. Just let it hang over the edge.

Twill Tape

I set my sewing machine on a straight stitch at 2.5 mm and use a bobbin thread that matches my ribbon. With presser foot raised, I carefully position the ribbon so that the twill tape is centered under the needle. With my left hand, I pull gently pull the ribbon towards me (just a little) so that the needle comes down right before the ribbon starts. It’s a good idea to take a few securing stitches.

I then sew all the way to the other end of the ribbon and take a few more securing stitches.

Sew End to End

I now remove the red tube holder from the end where I began and slip the sewn ribbon off of the tubes.

Remove Red Tube Holder

When I come to the end, I replace the red tube holder and start the process all over again, securing the loose ribbon with a small piece of tape. (Do not cut the ribbon from the previous length; just tape it.)

Slide Ribbon Off Tubes

When I have completed wrapping the ribbon, I take the twill tape that is hanging from the previous length and tape it end to end and sew down the middle once again.

Rewind Ribbon

Begin Second Length

I do this over and over again until I have the length that I desire. I then locate all the gaps, fold them right sides together, pin, and sew a seam close to the ribbon. After the gaps are taken care of, I dab a little fabric glue on each seam extension (the little loops I just sewed) to flatten the twill tape.

Sew Gaps

I now have a beautiful piece of ribbon trim that perfectly matches my project design!

Completed Trim

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured