Fancy butterflies

Today I thought I would post up a little update on some butterfly embroidery I am working on. I am hoping to be able to create a ‘taxidermy’ of butterflies in stitch.

Up until now I have been incredibly tardy on the posting! My eldest daughter finished pre-school for the summer holidays for what seems like weeks already but has actually only been 10 days. If I survive the summer with one highly energised three year old and a one year old intent on sneaky mischief, I will return to more regular posting in the Autumn. Promise.
Here’s my handsome little Peacock chap, soon to be joined by his fluttery friends. 


As previously mentioned due to said miniature beasts of summer holiday harassment stitching is on an all time go slow but it has been a good time to make plans. 

I am signed up to a couple of craft fairs before Christmas, so I have been slaving away at ideas. As a newbie to such things I am debating whether to go for a few of the same or several different crafted wares. And indeed whether to keep true to my style or bow to commercialism and make some quick sellers. I think it will depend on how desperate for cash I get in November! Meanwhile I will keep true to style and stitch up some lovelies and keep you posted.

Here’s Mr Butterfly one more time as he is my only WIP and also I think rather splendid.

I have also started on a couple more secret gifts. One involves embroidering a face! Yes my first ever! Will see how it goes but so far have had a few restarts.

Sewing aside I must confess I have dallied with another creative hobby and feel a tad like I have been having an affair as I have picked up my old pastime of writing. My novel has been in progress for nearly twenty years and is 250 pages long. So I think it deserves to be finished once and for all, it’s irritating me. So I am on a mission with that in my non-existent spare time. I could really do with that third arm right now!

Oh and my Sew Pop By business cards arrived. I love them and they are super snazzy for popping in with my makes.

Common Blue here I come! (In between papier mache cacti, Stickle Brick towers and yoghurt splatter fun). 

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Embroidered Emperors

Woah I did a mega hoop art! I am very happy with myself that I finished this and reasonably pleased with all of it to boot.

Customised Emperor Penguin Embroidered Hoop Art

Last Autumn one of my besties announced she was having her second child so I set about devising a crafty plan. I worked out that I wanted a family of animals with the children’s names. After that it just evolved. I thought to begin with of doing parrots but I just couldn’t work out how that would fit as a family. Plus have you ever seen a baby parrot?! I am not sure a bald little bird with goggly eyes would be that becoming in satin stitch. I’m afraid that looks won over personality and the penguin family made the final cut.

I settled on a 12 inch hoop as wanted it to be quite large. I used a poly-cotton fabric in dark French blue and drew the design free hand using only googled penguins for inspiration!

Once the design was in place I used a smaller 8 inch hoop for sewing as I couldn’t get the tension on the 12 inch hoop to keep the work flat. Maybe that was the particular hoop I got from eBay, it didn’t have a groove in the screw to use a screwdriver so I had to rely on twiglet fingers to tighten it and it just wasn’t doing it. On the up-side the 8 inch hoop fit far easier in my work bag. Which was handy as these polar guys travelled all over with me getting stitched up.

I did the daddy penguin first, then the rest of the family. All in 2 strand satin stitch with DMC threads. The whole hoop art took two black and two white threads plus a bit of grey, orange and yellow. The stars include a silver sequin in the centre as I wanted something to catch the light in the nursery setting.

I used chain stitch to make the name Jasper and then left room to include the baby’s name. Thank goodness she didn’t pick a double-barrelled Percival-Humphry or space would have been tight! Fortunately she picked a fab name, ‘Sunny’, which as well as being a super cute baby name also fit in pretty jolly well with the hoop art and the yellow thread.

I backed it using my usual method of drawing long 6 strand threads across at opposite points to draw the tension in and added a circle of burgundy felt to the back with a running stitch going over into the poly-cotton.

I wanted something to give it an extra flourish and settled on a row of pom-poms, I tried a few different colours against it but finally settled on the dark blue as think it worked best. Sticking them on to the hoop took a bit of time as the glues weren’t cutting the mustard. After several stick disasters and droopy pom-poms the local hardware store sorted me out with a tube of Copydex. The fishy smelling rubbery stuff stuck the pom-pom edging a treat!

I added some gold picture wire for hanging, wrapped it up and took it off to my friend this weekend.

Welcome to the world baby Sunny Ray, hope you and your big brother Jasper enjoy looking at the penguins for many years.

(Oh and I got a cuddle with the baby, he is the cutest little gnome ever).

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sewpopby embroidered penguin familysewpopby penguin hoop artsewpopby praise for penguins

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Forget-me-not Purse

I have made my mum a teeny weeny Forget-me-not purse. I have also not blogged for a very long time and have suitably given myself a good telling off. However I have had a good excuse I have been busy making this gift and another hoop art for a friend who has had a new baby. More to follow on that in my next post.

I went out into the garden in April and the scatterings of Forget-me-not faces in the flower bed called out to me to use them as embroidery inspiration. It was perfect timing as my mum’s birthday is the end of May and it gave me a couple of weeks to put this together.

Forget me not embroidered purse

I started by drawing the entire outline of the full purse piece onto plain cotton fabric, then I drew in the Forget-me-not design.

I then stuck it in an embroidery hoop and stitched up the design using satin stitch and French knot. I also used some Whitework on the front section.

Using a piece of felt as interlining and a cream silk lining I sewed the three layers together with the embroidered fabric face inside out. I used my Singer sewing machine and then finished it by hand.

Whilst I was at it I added in some cream seed beads to the outer edge of the flap as I liked the idea and had seen a Victorian bag with something similar. I added gold seed beads to the sides too. Adding the popper was my least favourite part not because I don’t like poppers just because I am not that neat at sewing them on and need to improve.

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Happy birthday mum. Forget-me-not purse complete. I am hoping she can use it for jewellery or very small pairs of socks. She knits socks, I stole a pair from her, they are super toasty. Not ideal in June when it is so warm even my hair is sweating but I look forward to padding about it them in the winter.

Great gift exchange mum.

Forget me not embroidered purse 5

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Blackwork and the Balloon

Yes there has been a delay in my posting, I have been stuck in what can only be described as ‘craft bloggers conundrum’. I have three embroidered gifts on the go all of which are for blog subscribers, IGers or fellow Tweeters. So the blog has had slim pickings! But I do have a very small update I can share.

Exciting news first, I am now an official member of the Embroiderer’s Guild. Fist pumps yeah! I am not too sure what this means but I got paperwork, and an email and I was pretty chuffed about it. I hope they will send me information on all sorts of fun stuff and I’ll keep you posted!

My current work in progress, besides the gifts, is this little Blackwork project on white silk which I have been plugging away at for a few weeks on and off.

I am going to fill all the little squares and make it up into a purse, potentially with a neon lining and a button. This is only a little tiny project but I am really loving it. Can’t wait to see it finished.

Besides this I have also been dealing with a couple of mild concussion incidents at home with my youngest daughter learning to walk and my eldest daughter doing her best to hamper her progress. The eldest also got a scooter recently so I have spent a lot of time chasing her up and down the pavements to pre-school. Oh and I graduated up a level in pilates, chuffed about that too. I am now doing all kinds of things with a pilates hoop. My stomach muscles have never been so pert.

Back to embroidery and in the absence of not being able to post much I can show you a letter I have embroidered for one of the gifts. Well an ampersand to be precise.

sewpopby ampersand embroideered letter

This is the work I am doing for a mega hoop art, I have been unsure whether to stick to the single line of chain stitch for the lettering or go thick with lots of chain stitch right into the centre of the letters. I think I will stick with the single and reassess when the rest of the hoop is finished. It has involved plenty of DMC white floss, so much I ran two pegs worth dry. Can’t wait to finish it and be able to post it here.

My mum came to stay at the weekend, we had a lovely time chatting, strolling about and running around after the children. But it also reminded me of a mini piece I made for my mum several years ago. I had a thing for hot air balloons that year. In the same year I also made a hot air balloon mobile for my eldest daughter when I was just pregnant. So I also made an embroidered case for mum. I am not sure what she keeps in there… it is lined with dotty fabric if I recall. She sent me this photo as I didn’t have one. She’s not the best at photography but thanks mum for papping it for me! (She is however amazing at knitting, see blanket behind, she knocks up a jumper during an episode of Corrie most nights). Hmm I think maybe she keeps her glasses inside looking at this picture, that’s my guess. It is certainly that kind of size. I drew the design based on a balloon in a colouring in book I had and made up the colours as I went along based on what my mum likes. Pretty pleased with this little satin stitch project.

sewpopby hot air balloon embroidery

Right that is it for now, short and sweet. Like my daughters and pixies holding toffee apples.

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Embroidered Easter Egg Mini Bunting

Just in time for Easter I finished this little string of nine embroidered Spring pendants for Easter. I am really pleased with how these have turned out. In an ideal world I would have liked to spend a little more time finishing them, but in the reality of two small children, germs and far too much yummy chocolate to eat I just didn’t have the time. So on this one getting it done to time became more important than the finish. Not always my favourite way of working, but sometimes it’s the only way to finish projects.

Sewpopby Embroidered Easter Egg Spring bunting

I started these a good few weeks ago by drawing out the design on to card. I then used my light box to trace the design on to plain white cotton fabric.

My choice of designs was inspired by my garden, I saw a Chaffinch land on the fence, which to me is always a sign of Spring when they start showing their little peachy faces. I tried to recreate one in stitches, I am not sure how good it was as my husband thought it was a robin and my mother-in-law an owl, but I like it nevertheless! I think I could use a very similar design to do a budgerigar in the future.

Sewpopby Chaffinch

I had a go at a frog and a deer for the first time too. I don’t know whether these are my favourite pieces because they are not particularly refined. Although in some ways the shabbiness of this bunting is half of its appeal! My daughters certainly like it which is the main thing!

I used a light hessian fabric backed with yellow felt and a ribbon hastily stitched across the top. The eggs were cut out using pinking shears.

Embroidered Easter eggs Sewpopby

Since last posting it has also been Mother’s Day and I found this little silk purse I made a few years ago at my Mother-in-Laws. I love this one, it has such lovely colours. I like the idea of it and should probably do more.

Time for Tea Silk embroidered bag 1

Finding this purse also reminded me of a fabulous little black and emerald green bag I made for my sister-in-law. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed making these.

Embroidered toadstool silk bag

Both bags were made pre-children so I had the time to spend lovingly crafting them and they still remain one of my best completed embroidery projects in my opinion. Creating objects from embroidery is my favourite thing to do. I like hoop art, but I do like the challenge of making something out of my work very exciting. I would like to do more bags, mirrors, cushions… so many possibilities.

My WIPS this week are still the mega hoop (still a secret as any photos of it just give too much away!), my Blackwork silk project is still on-going and I have just started a small project for another gift.

Hopefully I will post again soon, there was a delay this month because the lurgy man came knocking again and I spent two weeks clambering into bed at 7pm so the needles were idle. Hopefully with the eldest back at pre-school tomorrow I can crack on with more sewing and perhaps a nibble of choccy eggs here and there.

Happy April everyone.

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Spring stitching

Interestingly I had my first bash at mounting hoop art this week. Despite the piece I chose having quite a messy back, I think I managed to tame most of the wayward strands to get this bee and sweet pea embroidery looking pretty good. I struggled slightly because at some point I had cut the fabric too close to the work so barely had the extra to turn it over the hoop. But I think this has worked in the end. I find the ‘stragglyness’ of embroidery at the back pretty as its own art form but also a drawback when using light fabric and mounting work. Perhaps I should make the back of my work tidier, but I think that would be a step too far. I find stitching and letting the ends go helps me to just get on with something, like raising children, dress them for the day then just let them go. There’s always a bath at the end of the day. Or in the case of embroidery a pair of snippers and some Vilene.

For this hoop art, in light of the back issues I started by using Vilene iron on stabiliser to contain the loose ends. I don’t ordinarily like using stabiliser as it tends to pucker the fabric around the stitches but in this case it works ok. After reigning in the back with the stabiliser I used a simple running stitch in 3 strands of DMC cotton and simply pulled it in neatly and tied it off. I should point out that getting your work as tight as a drum before you start tying up is essential. I got the screwdriver out to really get it tight. So back to the drawing up, some people use a glue gun to mount the work but I find glue a bit like using a sledge hammer to open a bottle of wine. Especially with tiny delicate work. Although I would get out the glue gun for a larger frame I reckon. I finished this hoop art by stitching a felt circle on the back. Voila!

Sew Pop By Embroidered Sweet Peas Bee

My pearl purl arrived earlier than I thought this week. It is wonderful. I have only ever seen it on YouTube, nothing quite prepares you for how amazingly satisfying it is to pull all the coils open. I have started adding the bright gold pearl purl around the leaves using Gutterman quilting thread in golden yellow. I’ve added some more couched metallic thread to those leaves too. But they still look a tad like Easter chicks, more couching needed.

The antique gold pearl purl is beyond exciting. I just love it, it is such a lovely coppery brown. I am looking forward to using it soon. My next steps with this goldwork is to add some tambour seed beads and bugle beads somewhere. I am toying with adding in metallic leather relief work too. This one has been so much fun to tinker away at. My perpetual work in progress.

With four weeks until Easter and in a moment where I obviously thought I did not have enough WIPs already, I started a 7 inch hoop of Easter eggs. I blame my friend who seems to have become my fabric and thread supplier lately, she is just feeding my addiction! She has been having a clear out of her own stuff and things she’s inherited.  She has brought me so many lovely bits. Silks, threads, hoops. She brought this hoop so I immediately filled it. Like a kid with a bucket at the seaside.

I am hoping to do nine eggs (too many?! Eek). Once I have stitched these I am going to back them and hang them up somewhere in a festive Easter fashion. Drawing these designs was fun and took me ages, most likely because unbeknownst to me I was brewing another toddler lurgy. That same day I also tweeted something incorrectly five times, opened the fridge door into my face and put my baby’s trousers on backwards. The next day the germs came by to say hi. Slow, delirious, germy progress on these but lovely to have a project which isn’t too taxing whilst your ill. Stay tuned!

Ok, what else. Yes I have added some more Whitework stitches into this flowery number. I also had to put the bee in and I like it. I really love this piece, more than I thought I would. It is not strictly Whitework as its not on white. Plus there is not a huge amount of typical Whitework relief work but I’ll do that on another piece. I like how simple this is. I have used French knot, couching, Mountmellick, feather stitch, running stitch, lots. It’s been fun.
That silk I mentioned earlier from my friend has made me start another WIP. So that friend is responsible for two WIPs already. But then what is life if not for all kinds of WIPs?! Well that is my excuse. It keeps me busy and my project bags full! So back to that silk. I have (with a slight, if murderous fear) chopped out a 5 inch piece of cream raw silk (!!!). I am going to do tiny Blackwork on it. I have a master plan for a little make from this. Its exciting! I dreamt about it.
Sew Pop By Blackwork in progress the start

Finally, the secret mega hoop project for a friend’s gift is still on-going and still mega. I messed it up a bit and have had to restart it as I didn’t like the look of it. But it’s taking shape.
Well that’s it for now, plenty to keep me busy and more Yogi Throat Tea required.

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Embroidery: Something new

Thanks to everyone who subscribed to my blog this last week, high five! Please share the link with any crafty friends.

This week I have been trying out some new embroidery techniques. I have not strictly been sticking to any official method but rather been inspired by ways of working and done my own thing. I would really like to go along to the Royal School of Needlework this year and enrol in a class, but maybe one for later in the year when my children are a teensy bit older and can be left with their daddy without much complaint! I think I would like to try Metalwork or Tambour. But we’ll see…

The first work in progress is this goldwork piece, which is very much a ‘make it up as I go along’ hoopart and definitely a great one for experimenting on!

By tacking the yellow felt on first you can work over with a couched metallic thread to create the golden layer. I have used Gutterman polyester to work this couched line of thread on and need to go back over until the felt is covered as it is still looking like a little fluffy Easter chick right now. I highly recommend Sarah Homfray’s videos on Youtube, you can buy supplies from her too. I worked out how to couch from watching her goldwork videos and from ‘The New Anchor Book of Free-Style Embroidery Stitches’ and now I am just making it up as I go along!

sew-pop-by-goldwork-couching-metallic-thread-close-up-start

I popped along to Threads and Patches in Bletchley this weekend and whilst my toddler terrorised the staff I managed to collect a fab little bundle of supplies, including more metallic thread, beads and new needles. I kept my precious bundle away from my daughter just long enough to take this photo, within minutes at least fifty seed beads were on the floor and disarray had ensued.

sew-pop-by-sewing-supplies.jpg

I ordered some gold pearl purl goldwork embroidery thread direct from India via eBay as I really want to try it out to edge the leaves. You can buy it from Sarah Homfray too but I wanted a darker gold than she had available. I will keep you updated on project progress as the pearl purl is on a slow boat from India and not expected until the Easter holidays. I am jolly excited.

I adore whitework on white and want to get really good at it. It reminds me of old fashioned cotton nightdresses and I like that. I hope that if I get good at it I can start embroidering napkins and table runners and other fun stuff. If my daughter didn’t already have her Christening gown sorted by way of a family heirloom I would most likely be stitching away at something for that too, on the up side it saved me a job.

I didn’t have any pure white cotton to hand but I did have my new snazzy remnants, so here is an attempt at whitework on turquoise cotton I have started this week. I quite like it, not strictly white work, but then nothing you will find here is strictly one thing or the other! I have used French knot, Mountmellick, chain and couch stitch so far. This is another piece to help me explore new techniques and I am hoping to keep working in the round until the hoop is full.

A quick event mention, my friend went to The Quilt Show at Duxford Air Museum on Saturday. I was invited but had to miss it, my daughter’s roly-polys at gymnastics club took precedence this time. I was sent two very exciting photos of vast thread stands though. My friend knows how to treat me! Sounds like this place would be great for quilters and stitchers alike and is on again later in the year too.

I have started on the 12 inch mega hoop project. But it is going to have to be a secret one because it is for present for a friend. But I can post snippets of close ups or blurry shots just to keep you in the loop, or should I say, in the hoop (chortle).

Here is the embroidered necklace I mentioned last post. I like it but I don’t love it. It is not neat enough for my liking, but was good practice and I do like the colours. It has inspired me to do more embroidered jewellery in the future.

sew-pop-by-embroidered-jewellery

Finally, because I start way too many projects and don’t finish them I was running out of storage so I made two more storage bags this week, they just need their buttons added. The purple spotty one has been my faithful storage friend for four years now. The other two are newbies. I line them with heavy canvas fabric so they protect the work if I take it out and about and I add the felt square to safely store the needles on the go.

Good old Granny Singer sewing machine did it again! Thanks for popping by today, see you next time.

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