Embroidered Stingrays

Our stingray adventure took place at Stingray City off Grand Cayman island twelve years ago. This snorkeling expedition was the highlight of our cruise.  The water was crystal clear. The weather was warm and not too hot. The snorkeling was good. The stingrays were plentiful. They were very tame and swam without fear among the many people swimming in the area. We were allowed to feed them and also to hold them in a certain way.  You had to stand up with your arms outstretched and stay quietly still with the stingray resting on your arms. It was quite exciting and over all too soon.

There are three embroidered stingrays swimming in our little corner of the Caribbean Sea. I had gotten carried away with the embellishing on the fish and the turtle. Surely the stingrays need lots of bling, too. But no, they are content with something a bit simpler.

DSCN2601This one has a fancy stitch for his central spine. It is the Spanish knotted feather stitch. This is a repeat of the stitch used on the lobster’s antennae. See my lobster here. I’ve used a simple variation of the blanket stitch around the perimeter of the stingray. It is the closed blanket stitch. It forms nice little triangles in a row. And then there is the most versatile running stitch for texture and two little beads for eyes.

DSCN2602The pink stingray has a spine of loop stitch, a border of herringbone, and two rows of running stitch.

DSCN2603Another variation of the blanket stitch, long and short blanket, makes this stingray a little different from the others. He has thorn stitch for his spine. The thorns are stitched over a fly stitch with a very long tail.

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An Embroidered Turtle

Sea turtles are majestic creatures of the oceans. Sighting one from a boat is exciting. Spotting one swimming above you when you are snorkeling is a treasured moment. They glide through the water will little apparent effort. They look as if they are flying overhead like slow, graceful birds. We were fortunate to see one on this adventure.

Another animal in my growing embroidery Swimming with the Stingrays: It’s a sea turtle!

DSCN2488He is all stitched up and as happy to join the fun as we were to see him.

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One Fish Two Fish

Two more fish swimming in my sea.

One in pink.

DSCN1863 And one in purple.

DSCN2486I like the French knots on this one. The magenta stitching around his fins is called Italian border stitch. It’s basically a fly stitch with a French knot for a tail. These guys are turning out to be quite embellished. If I’m not careful, they will steal the show from the poor stingrays.

I’ve just finished the turtle and beginning work on the stingrays. I am excited to see all the progress. The water creatures are looking good! More pictures soon to come!

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Back to Embroidery

Begun many months ago, my Swimming with the Stingrays is back on my sewing table. I hadn’t intended to embroider right now, yet there it is. After last month’s doll, Diane the Bride, I had wanted to make another one. This one was to wear a dress honoring another old wedding dress that had been gifted to me. I drew up another pattern and stitched it together.  Alas, she will have to wait. I am not pleased with her body. And if her body isn’t right, then the doll will fail. She will have to wait while I reconsider what to do.

So now I’ve picked up embroidery again, I am loving it.

Last fall I had a major disappointment with one of the stitched fish on my Swimming with the Stingrays. It was time to take that fish and rework the embroidery. The only stitching that I kept was the green backbone. I chose some different threads this time. A big part of what I didn’t like on the original was the primary colors I had use for the stitching. I also went with more basic stitches with nothing fancier that pistil stitch. It seemed that going back to basics would be a good change.

DSCN1862Now I’m already onto the last fish and looking forward to the turtle and stingrays!

How do you go about making a fresh start with a lagging project?

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Stephanie’s Coat Repair

However much we love our pets, there’s no getting around the fact that they sometimes cause us grief. My cat Venus has a reputation among my friends as being a bit on the crazy side. She is also capable of clawing and chewing mishaps. She does love the wool that I use in my work. Many a doll has she attacked for their hair! So I was not surprised to see the damage to this coat that belonged to Stephanie’s sister. Her dog had gnawed away at the cuff and done damage that made the coat unwearable. She gave the coat to Stephanie and Stephanie asked me if I thought I could fix it.

DSCN2240I am not an expert at repairs, but I’m always up for a challenge. This coat is an Oscar de la Renta and worth the salvage attempt. It is a very heavy, plush wool fabric that doesn’t ravel much. A deep, double kick pleat in the back provided a place to harvest fabric for a patch: see the whitish round area. That’s what I cut away. Conveniently that part of the pleats could be hand stitched together to totally enclose the hole and hide all evidence of the missing fabric.


To start, I inserted the patch behind the missing spot. I then sewed the patch in place along the front of the cuff. I left the lining side open to make the embroidery easier. That allowed me to leave my knots on the inside of the cuff. Once the repairs to the embroidery were done, I stitched the remainder of the patch to the lining side of the cuff. All done. The thick fabric blended the seam line pretty well, much better than I had expected. With the embroidery to help camouflage the join, it looks pretty good. Honesty compels me to say that the photo hides the stitches better than seeing it in person. But still not bad for a rescue job.

DSCN2447It is a gorgeous coat, but obviously not intended for me.


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Update on Diane the Bride

After seeing the photo of Diane and Russel on their wedding day, I realized there were two things missing on her bride doll. A brief shopping trip later to Hobby Lobby and Diane the Bride now has a cameo pin and wedding ring.

DSCN2484Just like the original.

IMG_1726The wedding ring is made from a ring bridal favor. I bought a bag of 75! They were really inexpensive, but goodness, what will I do with 74 1/2 fake rings?

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Diane the Bride

A generous gift deserves a heartfelt thank you. A dear friend of mine offered her wedding dress to my daughter Martha. She knows that Martha loves to wear vintage and retro clothing. She knows that Martha designs and sews what she wears. She correctly guessed that Martha would want the dress. To put it mildly, Martha was ecstatic.

Diane was married in 1976. She described the dress as a little bit hippy, with a Victorian romantic swish to it. She rather imagined that Martha might alter, restyle, and dye it. As it turns out, Martha loved it just the way it is. The only changes she made were to the hem length and sleeve length. Martha is 5′ 2″ and Diane is 5′ 8″! Even the size was perfect! Martha has a new blog for herself and her second post was about the dress remake. Read about it here to see pictures.

The dress had three gathered tiers for the skirt. Martha removed the bottom tier and gave it back to me. I also got a portion of the lining and a couple of 9″ bits of lace from the cuffs. From these pieces I fashioned a tiny replica of Diane the Bride as a way to say thank you.


I had some white lace in my stash that I tea dyed to match. The lace on the collar and cuffs are from the actual dress.

DSCN2475Diane wore a halo of pink roses.

DSCN2477This Diane has appliqued hair.

DSCN2471Skinny strapped sandals adorn her little feet just like the real Diane wore.

IMG_1726Diane sent me this picture showing how she has her new doll displayed next to her wedding picture.

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