Stitching Fishes

I’ve started again with the stitching on Swimming With the Stingrays. It is good to finally be back with the simple stitching again. I have ripped out the offending parts of the fish in my last post. He hasn’t been reworked yet; I’ve been finishing a couple of other fish. I want to see what looks good on other fish and get something I do like accomplished first. Actually, one is a fish and the other is a lobster. There is another fish half-way done not included here. He will get his photo shoot later when he is complete.

This fish has a lovely row of orange dots down his back. Isn’t it nice how that worked out? Makes me wonder if I did that on purpose. I don’t really remember. I stitched a row of fly stitch in green to connect the dots and created a spine accent. The fish also has a row of fly stitch on the top edge creating a long dorsal fin. They are touching side by side instead of end to end. Buttonhole stitch in two sizes encase the other edges. The eye is a tiny black button, topped with a green bead and a tiny yellow bead stitched in black thread.


Lobsters are pretty common sights when snorkeling in the Caribbean, but you have to look hard to see them. This one has antennae done up in Spanish knotted feather stitch. It’s not a stitch that I’ll use often. In fact, this is the first time I’ve ever used it. It’s kind of fun to try new stitches and this one is OK. I’m sure I’ll have to refer back to my book if I ever use it again. It makes a dense, wide line that is conveniently narrow at the start. It could be useful in other places as well.

??????????His eyes are faceted black beads. Beads seem to be working out well for the eyes. Perhaps that is what my other fish could use too. When I get back to him, I’ll experiment with different bead eyes.



Posted in applique, beading, embroidery | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Disappointments in Stitching

I am at a loss for words. Is that why I’ve been silent since August? As the days and weeks have piled up, it has been harder and harder for me to write. Yet here I sit at the computer with the keyboard under my fingers, willing my hands to speak for me. Words don’t come easily for me.  My hands have always done my speaking when the words don’t come. I rely on the things I make with my hands to tell my stories. What have I been making since August? Not too much really. Some of it interesting. Some of it disappointing. None of it very note worthy. I’ve found myself spending more time thinking than doing. I’ve done a little cleaning and weeding out of accumulation in my house and closets. I felt like my big picture had clouded over and I must clear and clean to find my way again. Neither my physical nor mental housekeeping is finished, yet I have begun creating again. And I’ll begin again sharing my stitching trials, tribulations,  and adventures.

I’ll start my catching up with one of my disappointments, the embroidery that I call Swimming With the Stingrays. I last stitched on it during our vacation in the Smoky Mountains at the end of July. It has been moving slowly and I’m not sure that I like where it is going. Some of the stitching is destined to be undone. I just haven’t brought myself to rip it out yet. I tell myself that I’m still deciding, but, like a band aid that needs to come off, I should rip it off and be done with it. I have decided to abandon the idea that the finished embroidery will be a sampler of stitches from Sue Spargo’s book. It’s not working out as I thought it would. I want the freedom to choose any stitch, not merely the next stitch in that chapter.

Most disappointing and annoying of all is that I’ve forgotten which stitches are which! What good is a sampler with unknown stitches? Burton’s swim trunks here are stitched in a knotted stitch of some sort.

??????????These are two other knotted stitches. I can identify the pink and green. It is corded coral stitch.

??????????Yet another knotted stitch on Alison’s swim suit.

??????????And a fifth knotted stitch on Matt’s pants, which is strange because I only have 4 knotted stitches marked in the book as having been stitched.

??????????This fish has fins of rosette chain combined with a little backstitch and a few straight stitches. This one I like a lot. Yeah!

??????????And for the biggest disappointment: this next fish is just plain ugly.

??????????I like the green spine. The rest is questionable. I sort of like the yellow, but not with the rest. The blue and red have to go. The yellow? I’m not sure yet. What do you think?

Posted in applique, embroidery | 6 Comments

More Felt

My last post seems such a long time ago. Since then, I’ve been on vacation and traveled to Indianapolis to teach a doll class to the wonderful doll club there. Really I taught two workshops. The first was on how to design your own doll patterns. The second was making Bridget. They were a great group. Lots of talent. Lots of enthusiasm. I arrived home on a Monday and on Tuesday, school started and I was back at work!

It’s taken a while to settle back into the  usual routine. Now that things are running almost smoothly again, it’s time to begin a new project. I am still working, slowly to be sure, on the swimming with the sting rays embroidery. But I’ve been wanting to make another felt vessel. Another one with hands. This one will be in the color palette of the zinnias in our garden that I wrote about here.

I started by sorting out my wool. I have a lot of orange and some yellow. I also have hot pink silk caps. The silk didn’t make it into the photo. I always forget something.

??????????I used only some of the carded wool, none of the locks. First I put the silk cap stretched out over the inflated ball.

??????????My wool was very fluffy and hard to work with. This picture shows three layers of wool over the silk. The first is the bright orange, second a lighter orange, and third is yellow. There wasn’t quite enough of the yellow, so there is some orange in this layer, too. The felt is made inside out with the right side next to the ball. The yellow will be the interior of the vessel.

??????????Next step is to stretch three panty hose tops over the wool to encase everything. This is not something that can be done by yourself. I had to call a neighbor to help. In all the excitement, I forgot to take pictures. I think that is the story of my life.

It didn’t take too long at all to roll the felt to the soft stage where it begins to hold together. That’s when it comes off the ball.

??????????What’s left is really the hard part. It takes a lot of work to harden the felt and shape it. It turns out that I didn’t use as much wool this time as in my other vessels. This one was thinner than the others. It took a lot more rolling and rubbing to shrink and thicken it.

??????????I think I am satisfied with it. After it dries, I’ll see if it needs more felting. I don’t have enough experience to tell at this point.

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Colorful Inspiration

My sweetie brought me flowers. Simple flowers from our garden. Beautiful, cheerful flowers.  Pink, orange, yellow. Such a pretty palette. I couldn’t resist taking a picture.

??????????These are colors I love. In fact one of the project boxes on my workroom shelf is filled with just this color palette.

??????????So far, it is nothing but a collection of fabric. Maybe someday it will be the inspiration for stitching.

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Church Banners Again

I don’t like to always make the same things. I like a lot of variety. Most everything I do does involve fabric or stitching, but I don’t like to stick to only one type of fiber work. Cloth dolls will always be my favorite and yet I have to do other things too. My latest project is pretty far from the cloth doll spectrum. I’ve just finished two more church banners. It’s been a while since I’ve made any, so I was glad to have the chance to make more. These were especially fun because they involved new designs.

These banners are large. 42″ x 120″ That’s 10 feet long. I have to make them on my living room floor. Finding a place to take pictures is a challenge, too. It was a breezy day, but the rain did hold off long enough to get some shots in.

??????????Doves of Peace

??????????Grapes and Wheat

??????????The grapes are made of four different purple fabrics, plus two more for the highlights and shadow lines.

These banners were commissioned for the new series of televised masses at to be taped in the fall. Some of my previous banners can be seen on that website featured in some of the masses.

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In Her Hands

It has taken awhile, but I have finished the third felt vessel. It is too late for it to go into the library exhibit. That’s OK. There will be other shows where it will work. In fact the upcoming fiber art show at the Bluebonnet Swamp has the theme of “Metamorphosis.” Since the felt part is an egg shape, it fits.

I had left the bottom of the egg shape round as I was planning to create some kind of base for it. The hard part was deciding how the base should look. So many of my ideas were quickly discarded. Burton then made the wonderful suggestion of hands. I loved it.

??????????I have not only Burton, but my friend Lisa to thank for inspiration. As I was working on the hands, she asked if they would be embroidered like my Little Blue Goat. I hadn’t yet given it any thought, but realized right away that they should indeed be embroidered.

??????????Continuing on with pictures in the round.

??????????The Lotus is a traditional henna design for hands.

??????????It took several tries to get the fingernails just right. They are outlined and then satin stitched with Splendor 12-ply strandable silk. The henna designs are Trebizond silk.

??????????I made the hands just like I do on my dolls, only much bigger. These are slightly larger than life size. They are made of silk dupioni and have a wire armature in each finger.

??????????The secret to its balance is the 1″ nut buried in the wrist of each hand. The wire armature fits inside the hole and the nut is weighty enough to assure that the center of gravity is over the base.

Posted in embroidery, felt | 9 Comments

Sewing Camp Session 3

The last week of Creative Sewing Camp has ended. It went out in a rush and flurry of giggling girls. Two of the girls had began second projects late in the week and I since I wanted to make sure they were far enough along that they could finish at home by themselves, there was little time for pictures. None of the students were excited to have their picture taken anyway, so no pictures of their clothing sewing this week.  So sad. The only picture I do have is a cute one. Lindsey made an adorable robot doll using a pattern from Red Boot Quilt Company. It is Isaac the Robot Softie.

Isaac the RobotLindsey made some color changes to the pattern and adapted her own face and body designs. I love her fabrics. She knew what she wanted to do with the design and went with it. It was totally her idea to stitch the white lines on the black felt for the belly. What a wonderful touch! Pretty clever, Lindsey!

This summer has flown by. With three weeks of sewing camps, I’ve been busier than usual. Add to that rushing to finish the felt vessels in time for the exhibit, preparing for a trip to Indianapolis to teach two doll classes, a visit from Alison, a trip to Houston to visit Matthew, a vacation, and working on two church banners. I’ll be glad to get back to my embroidery, but that won’t be for a while yet. The banners are this week’s project. I’ll be finished by Friday, I hope. I am finished with the turquoise felt vessel that was in my last post. All it lacks now is pictures. As soon as they are ready, I’ll have pictures to share.

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