Blog, book review, Book Reviews

Embroidery Now

Contemporary projects for you and your home

As we are in the dark dank days of November, at least here in the UK, I felt it was time to review a craft book that is a contemporary take on a a very old technique. A craft that you can easily practise with very little in the way of materials and equipment. Embroidery Now is a stylish hand-embroidery guide for the modern maker. The author, Jennifer Riggs, known on Instagram as @Threadhoney, walks you through the embroidery process.

Jennifer is a graphic designer and textile designer. She was taught to embroider by her grandmother when she was eight years old. It was after college that she took up embroidery again and started developing her own products and patterns. She has also collaborated with companies such as Coast, Focus Features and Comcast.

         From this book you’ll learn about the materials included in the practice, nine different stitch techniques with illustrated step-by-step instructions, and 30 individual projects designed for you to use in your home and wardrobe.

         Embroidery has a long and rich history that can be dated back to 30,000 BC, but there is now an entire movement of young people who have picked up their needles. Carrying on the tradition of their ancesters this time they’re doing it in a way that reflects modern times and their individuality.

         This book shows how to meld the old tradition of embroidery with new design concepts. Jennifer creates projects that have humour, don’t take themselves too seriously and reflect personal interests.

         Embroidery is a great way to repurpose, reuse and up-cycle old stuff and personalise treasures. It is also the perfect craft to carry around with you, as it takes up very little space.

         This book is a delight and perfect for both new and experiences embroiders alike. Included are a boho stitched lamp shade, embroidered accent pillow, constellation tablecloth, minimalist canvas wall art, starry stitched dresses, and much more. Buy it now and embroider some gifts to give away this Christmas.

Embroidery Now by Jennifer Cardenas Riggs (Hardie Grant £14.99) Photography ©Nassima Rothacker

Blog, book review, Book Reviews

The Mindful Maker

35 creative Fabric Projects to Focus the Mind and soothe the soul

by Clare Youngs

Published by Cico Books £12.99

With Mindfulness being so much of the current zeitgeist and crafting snapping, close behind, on its heels, this book is both brilliantly timed in its publication date and at the same time utterly engaging.

Squeezy Kitty

Having interviewed Clare for my Meet the Makers series I knew this book would be a treat to read and to use. Clare is a ‘one off’ an original, her ideas are fun, her designs good and she comes up with items you actually want to create.

Indigo woven mat

         As Clare says in her introduction

‘Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. There has been much talk about slowing down, enjoying the moment, and leading a less stressful life. Let’s face it life can be pretty hectic. The day to day whirlwind of work, families, household chores, and keeping up a social life while rushing around needing to do things and be places can take a toll on our mental and physical wellbeing. At the same time, we are being bombarded by constant imagery, messages and content from our digital devices-we need time out. Taking up a craft can be one way of relieving that stress and tension.‘

Latch hook pillow

         When you make something your mind is focused, and often the action you are doing is repetitive, which is soothing –almost meditative-pushing out any negative thoughts you may have. It is all about getting the flow. This is the perfect state between concentration and action. When you are there in the zone, the everyday world drops away and any stress and worries along with it.

         Clare is a believer in making new things from old, using what you have and adapting old fabrics to counteract a throwaway society, and all her designs have a Scandinavian-inspired, modern aesthetic.

         The book includes machine sewing, punch needling, embroidery, weaving, macramé, printing and much more. Many of the projects can be carried with you when you are travelling. This is a great way to keep calm when all around you are less so.

Embroidered Shirt

There is a chapter on the Mindful home that includes a throw, a mat, bowls, a lamp and a quilt. There are thoughtful gifts and tactile gifts for children and some wonderful inventive wall art. The book is beautifully illustrated by Clare’s husband, Ian and shot by Joanna Henderson. As I was about to review this book and my daughter saw it on my desk she said she wanted it. So my advice is buy 2 copies one for you, and one for your daughter!

The Mindful Maker by Clare Youngs, published by CICO Books (£12.99)

Photography by Joanna Henderson © CICO Books

Blog, Makes

Embroider and appliqué a Seagull inspired Cushion

Three things inspired this craft project, the sea, gulls and the effective but random looking stitching currently used by many fine art embroiderers. They in turn appear to have been inspired by Asian quilts made out of recycled Sari’s. I embroidered the cushion front in free hand stitches. I wanted to create the curls where the waves turn over themselves and also the subtle changes of colour in the waves and the sky. To achieve the turbulence of the weather I used two background colours of felt and also different colours of the embroidery floss. The changing direction and sizes of the stitches helps to suggest movement.

If you are not happy just doing freehand stitches using a water erasable pen, draw your design onto the cushion front, embroider over the pen lines. To get rid of the pen marks, dampen a cloth and rub quite lightly.

I expect, like you, I am forever taking photographs when I am by the sea. I took the images of the gulls using my phone. I increased the size of them and then printed them out quite large. Before cutting out in felt, I placed the paper gulls onto the stitched front and arranged in a pleasing composition. I then drew round the gull images onto the felt and cut out and then pinned and tacked the grey felt gulls onto the cushion front.

You will need

Piece of felt 100cm x 100cm x 3mm deep in pale blue felt for the cushion cover

36cm square cushion pad

Felt squares or oblongs in Grey, marine blue and purple

Embroidery floss in light grey, white, mid blue and turquoise (Korbond)

Tapestry needle

Sewing needle

Printer and images of flying seagulls

Water erasable pen

Paper Scissors

Dressmaking Shears

Dress makers pins

For the back opening cushion cover

Cut the cushion front 37cm x 37cm and cut the two cushion backs one 22cm x 37cm and the other 30cm x 37cm in pale blue felt .

Step 1

Work on the cushion front, leave a 2 cm border round the edge, and using brightly coloured thread, tack a piece of dark marine blue felt onto another piece and onto the cushion front so it measures 22cm x 32cm

Step 2

Thread the whole six strands of a piece of white embroidery floss into a tapestry needle and sew random sized running stitches from the left side of the felt to the right and back again, creating 7 uneven rows of stitches. Change colour and sew 7 rows in pale blue.

Step 3

Repeat step 1 using the purple felt. Make sure it joins onto the blue felt and will measure roughly 32cm x 11.5cm. You don’t need to cover the whole of the cushion in stitches, the effect you are after is the waves of the sea. Print images of gulls, draw round and cut out in grey felt.

Step 4

Arrange, pin and sew the gulls onto the cushion front. Using turquoise thread, blanket stitch along one long edge of the cushion back. Make an envelope opening for the cushion pad. With the two back pieces over lapping in the centre of the cushion, pin the cushion backs to the cushion front and sew together round the edge using blanket stitch.

Needles

Embroidery Floss

Pins and scissors and erasable marker pen from http://sew.korbond.co.uk

I designed this project for Coast Magazine

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Embroidery Hoop Wall Art

EmbroideryHoops.jpg

Embroidery hoops are perfect for creating your own speedy eye catching wall art. They’re a great stash busting opportunity to use up a collection of much loved fabrics.

You Will Need

  • Old Embroidery hoops
  • Fabric scraps for background and with motifs
  • Plain fabric for motif
  • Bondaweb
  • Scissors

 

Instructions

Step 1

Cut background fabric out with a diameter 4in (10cm) greater than that of the frame.

Step 2

Draw or trace the motif onto the paper side of the Bondaweb then iron onto the reverse of the chosen motif fabric.

Step 3

Cut out the motif, then peel off the backing paper. Place the motif on the backing fabric and iron to bond.

Step 4

Using a contrast colour thread, top stitch round the edge of the motif.

Place decorated fabric over inner hoop, press on outer hoop and tighten screw. Pull fabric through to stretch and cut off excess to neaten.

Tips

  • Before applying Bondaweb to reverse of the fabric, iron the fabric with a hot iron, this will make the bonding process quicker.

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10 IKEA Hacks

Having whetted your appetite in the last blog post with the Billy Book Case hacks, I thought you might  be inspired by some other transformations using Ikea products. First you see the  product in its original guise and then the transformation. Having said that as IKEA no longer sell traditional deck chairs and this was made and shot last summer, there is only an after shot of the chair. Its original cover was removed. A new one was made from canvas that was then stenciled  using  fabric paints

deckchair

A Nornas table was hacked by halving the height of the legs and painting them black. A cushion pad was created out of a baby mattress which was then covered in a glorious Harlequin linen fabric with a butterfly print.

 

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butterfly stool

The Skogsta bench is a great shape and fits in anywhere. It provides extra seating for unexpected guests or makes a hall bench or even somewhere to fling your clothes  at night. It was sanded and then given a coat of orange paint.  A special cushion was created from old velvet curtains,dyed using Dylon machine dyes  and cut up old tapestries.

 

SKOGSTA

 

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These Dvala pillowcases are only £3 a pair. I tie dyed them using Dylon hand dye and then sewed them together down the long sides to create a lounger for the kids.

DVALA

pillowcase lounger

Moppe boxes have been sold at Ikea from their earliest days. They come in a variety of sizes and are perfect for all that tiny storage. They look perfect covered in different  Cambridge imprint papers and  stacked and glued on top of one another.

moppe boxes

MoppeBoxes

The Hampen rug only cost £10 and is synthetic. I cut out large synthetic  felt leaves and flowers did a tiny bit of embroidery with floss and then glue gunned them onto the rug . Cheap cheerful and perfect for picnics.

Hampen rug

FeltRug.jpg

The Hektar lamp was spray painted copper using Valspar spray paintHektar lamp .png

CopperLamps1.jpg

365 china. The first set I just decorated this using pens specifically made for decorating china. The second project was decorative wall plates. These  were masked off and paint was sponged onto sections of them.

365 plates

DecoratedChina.jpg

DipDyePlates.jpg

Skuren cutlerySkuren cutlery with the handles painted.

Dip Dyed Cutlery .jpg

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