Fabrications – Gathered into the Fold (part two)

To prepare my background fabric for the reverse appliqués, I stabilized it with a fusible interfacing. I then penciled a free form design onto some freezer paper, cut out the shape, and ironed it to the front of the fabric. Using sharp craft scissors, I carefully cut around the freezer paper pattern.

First Cut

I repeated the process for the second cut.

Second Cut

Since these were reverse appliqués, I placed the gathered red rayon pieces under the cut out areas. Owing to the gathers and folds in the appliqués, I didn’t perform traditional reverse appliqué where the top fabric gets cut out after the appliqués are stitched to the main fabric. (I didn’t want to risk accidentally cutting into the gathers.)

Reverse Gathered Appliques

To keep the appliqués in place, I dabbed a tiny bit of Glue Pins around the inner edges. I then set my sewing machine on a narrow buttonhole stitch and worked around the raw edges.

Narrow Blanket Stitch Edging

After adding some embroidery stitches with perle cotton, I further embellished the areas surrounding the appliqués with pearl, bugle, and glass beads, along with sequins and buttons.

Beading

Note: I’ve uploaded another colorform file (fjfan.dst) to the Fem-Gratis box in the sidebar (for your personal use).

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N. Rene West
Time Treasure

Felted Finery – Old is New (part four)

I saved my favorite leaf for last. After free motion stitching a center vein, I worked three loops of outline stitches. I then appliquéd the leaf down with a feather stitch. I think the feather stitch creates a really nice edge finish for the wool pieces.

Feather Stitch

The final section of the circular design consisted of a center bud motif, two petals, and two leaves. Using a dark gold embroidery thread and a decorative seed stitch, I worked a diagonal crosshatch pattern on the surface of the yellow bud, something often seen in crewel work.

Crosshatching

I then finished the edge by couching yellow perle cotton with a blanket stitch.

Couched Perle Cotton

Next, I positioned the red petals in place and secured them with a decorative triple-circle stitch down the center.

Decorative Center Vein

The edges were appliquéd in two stages. First, I worked a reverse blanket stitch in a matching embroidery thread.

Reverse Blanket Stitch

I then switched to a green embroidery thread and couched lime green perle cotton next to the previous round of stitches.

Double Edge Finish

The third and final step of the motif was the leaves. After free motion stitching some veins down the center of each leaf, I raised the feed dogs and couched green perle cotton around the edges.

Free Motion Veins; Couched Perle Cotton

I added a simple scroll design below the bird, which I free motion stitched with dark green embroidery thread.

Free Motion Scroll

As the final embellishment, I beaded the bud motif between the crosshatching. I also added beads to several of the leaves and the scroll below the bird.

Beading

This particular design will eventually become a pillow, but I’m sure I’ll be using the same technique to embellish other items with these fun-to-make felted wool appliqués.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Felted Finery – Old is New (part three)

To define the bird’s wing area, I chose a scallop stitch, which I stitched across the center of the wing and satin stitches to define the lower feathers.

Wing Detail Work

I then satin stitched around the entire wing with a matching gold embroidery thread.

Wing Detail

To give the bird’s neck a little more detail, I chose a decorative stitch.

Neck Detail

The three yellow petals were created the same way as the tail feathers. First, I attached them with a free motion straight stitch.

Next, I finished the edges with a blanket stitch using yellow embroidery thread. Red perle cotton was couched under the stitching. The red and yellow contrast so beautifully with each other in this little motif. I think a full-petaled flower in the same colors would make a wonderful embellishment for another project.

Couched Perle Cotton

Each of the leaves received individual detailing. For the first leaf, I stitched some veins and then gave it a trailing vine. The edges were appliquéd with a decorative stitch.

Leaf Detailing

Using a dark green embroidery thread, I gave the second leaf a center vein and then thread painted a stem base. A lime green perle cotton was then couched down with a dark green blanket stitch around the leaf’s edge and stem.

The third leaf was detailed in gold, beginning with a decorative stitch center vein and an outer border of couched gold perle cotton. For a little more contrast, dark green perle cotton was couched with gold embroidery thread next to the previous couching.

Double Rows of Couching

In part four, this project will receive the finishing touches.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Felted Finery – Old is New (part two)

As a base for the felted pieces, I choose 100% linen, which I stabilized with a piece of starched craft felt. I attached the craft felt to the linen with a light spray of 505 temporary adhesive.

If you have an embroidery machine, you may have noticed that many commercial digitizing companies use felt as a base for their samples. Felt gives the stitches plenty of substance to wrap around. Several years ago, I experimented with felt as a stabilizer for dense embroidery designs and found that if I starched and ironed it (which makes it thin and crisp), it worked beautifully as a cutaway stabilizer.

Next, I used a standard size dinner plate and chalk marker to draw a circle on the linen. The circle would later serve as a placement guide for the flower and leaf shapes.

Placement Circle

The felted pieces had a little more loft to them than I wanted, so I sprayed them with some distilled water and pressed them with an iron set on the “wool” setting for about six seconds. This resulted in nice flat pieces, perfectly suitable for appliqué. (Lots of potential here!)

After Pressing – Before Pressing

After locating center placement for the bird, I began stitching the tail feathers with orange cotton embroidery thread. First, I free motion stitched each feather in place.

Free Motion Stitched Tail Feathers

I then changed to an open toe foot, raised the feed dogs, chose a blanket stitch on my sewing machine at a 2.8 mm width, and couched a #5 yellow perle cotton around the edges of the tail feathers.

Couching with Blanket Stitch

Next, I positioned the body of the bird and blanket stitched around his head.

I then changed to a dark gold embroidery thread and used a triangular shaped satin stitch to form the bird’s beak.

Satin Stitched Beak

Using the same color thread, I finished the edges of the bird’s body with a perle cotton-filled satin stitch.

In part three, my little bird will get his wings, and I’ll begin filling the chalk circle with some flora.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured

Fabrications – Mayflower Medley (part one)

I woke up this morning and was greeted by the most beautiful day we’ve had this year. The thermometer said 36 degrees, but it has slowly warmed hour by hour. What a great day to share these whimsical little Angelina flowers growing on a grassy knoll.

For this project you will need two background fabrics (a sky and a grass fabric), two or three green hand dyed, hand painted, or batik fabrics, some variegated #35 quilting thread (greens, yellows, and roses), green perle cotton and/or heavy rayon fibers, and a wavy edged ruler.

Cut your sky and grass fabrics any size you like, using about a 50/50 ratio. Place right sides together and stitch, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Press the seam to the dark side.

Back your fabric with a heavy stabilizer. I actually used acrylic felt, which I applied with 505 spray. Decor Bond would also work well.

On the right side of you fabric, evenly mark for stem placement. For example, my project measured 15 inches wide, and I marked at 3″, 6″, 9″, and 12″.

Measure to figure how long you want your stems to be. Multiple that number by the number of flowers you want to create. Using your measurement, cut about six lengths of green perle cottons and rayons, and tape them together at one end. You can cut the strands into quarters and work one stem at a time or leave the strands in one grouping.

Attach a braiding or cording foot to your sewing machine and thread the needle with a decorative thread. Pass the taped end of your fibers through the hole in the foot. Set your machine on a zig zag stitch and test to make sure the needle clears both sides of the fibers. It helps to twist them slightly as they feed through the hole. I like the look of the cord after several passes since the cord takes on an organic appearance as the thread builds up.

When you cord is complete, couch each section on your background fabric (as previously marked) using the same foot.

There should be about an inch of stem on the grass fabric. Make sure you leave enough clearance room for your flowers on the sky fabric.

In part two, we will create the grassy knolls. I think you’ll enjoy the technique and find many uses for it in other projects.

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N. Rene West
Time Treasured – Making time for the things you love

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

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 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

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