Monday, August 27

Simple shading in embroidery tutorial

If you haven't tried shading in embroidery yet hopefully this tutorial will inspire you to take the first steps. Note that this tutorial shows how to simply use shading in a cloud (with round shapes). For other shapes and things (like animal furs or flower petals for example) other shading techniques are probably more appropriate, but that's for another time! :) With this tutorial I provide a simple pattern of a cloud. You can download the free pattern here.

The pattern is called Happy when it rains partly a reference to this song and partly because I plan to stitch the drops in happy colours (see photo above). If you decide to link to this tutorial or the pattern please refer to this blog post. Thank you!

This piece I'm working on, and especially the clouds behind the rabbit, was what inspired me to do this tutorial. I have tried to keep the tutorial short, if you have a question please let me know in the comments and I will answer it (for the benefit of all) in the comments as well.

So last week I did a call out if anyone was interested in stitching along with me (my cloud isn't finished yet either!) and a lovely bunch of blog readers have said they would try their hand at stitching a shaded cloud too. For them and for everyone else who decides to play along: please post your WIP's, finished clouds, experiments with shading in my Flickr group here. There are no deadlines but I'm thinking of awarding one voucher for my shop if really nice clouds are posted. :)

Things you need to stitch this cloud...

This is the stuff you need to start with your cloud embroidery (besides the printed pattern): A hoop, fabric, a water disappearing pen, an embroidery needle (size depends on how many strands you plan to use) and four shades of floss. You will also need some 'happy' floss for the drops (example pictured in the top photo) Obviously you will also need embroidery scissors :)

I transferred the pattern to the fabric by sticking the print to a window, put my fabric on top and traced the design with a water soluble pen. The Prym Aqua Trickmarker (fine line) is one of my favourite pens to use.

I wrote a bit about how to select your shades here but basically you take a dark, medium and light shade of one 'colour family'. These three shades should be enough to get a nice effect in your shading. Add white floss as well. I used DMC Mouline (six stranded) floss: Blanc, 169, 762 and 3799.

Starting your embroidery

You start by stitching the outline of the cloud with a back stitch. I used two strands of (six stranded) floss. You could use any number of strands but I'd recommend no more than three strands for this small project. Only one strand would be awesome too (which is what I'm doing in the Rabbit embroidery).  Less strands means a more subtle shading effect. I stitched the outline with all three shades of grey: a chunk of the dark grey here some of the medium grey there etc.

Simple shading example 

To show more clearly how shading works I stitched an example with six strands of floss. Again I wouldn't normally advise to use that many strands, unless you are making a HUGE embroidery that is. ;)

Along the curve of one of the parts of the outline I added a line of back stitches in dark grey. I think it is essential for effective shading to follow the shape of whatever your stitching. I started this top line of stitches a bit further from where the outline started and with the next line a bit further still. Also note that as I go along I'm not even 'connecting' the back stitches anymore. This is because I plan to add medium grey colored stitches in the gaps I leave. I'm gradually phasing out the dark grey and introducing the medium grey.

So basically as the number of darker stitches decreases, the number of medium coloured stitches increases. The same goes for your shading from the medium colour to the lightest shade of grey and for the lightest shade to white.

You don't need to pay much attention to where you place your stitches as long as they are following the shape. They don't have to be stitched along an exact (curved) line. As to the length of the stitches: don't make them too small and not too long either, but you really don't have to worry about a little variation in the length of your stitches.

shading with 2 strands and 4 shades

Movement and subtle colour additions

It's an option to stitch this cloud by shading near the outline and simply filling in most of the middle bit with white floss. If you want to add a little bit more 'lively-ness' and texture to your cloud however try adding the following two things to your piece: movement and subtle colour variation.

Add swirly stitching to your piece!

To add movement let your stitches make a flowing shape. Think a swirly long shape for example (see picture above). Even with using only one colour (white for example) this will add movement to your piece.

Blending in a subtle colour addition will make your embroidery come to live even more. In my cloud I used some of those swirly stitches in the lightest shade of grey and even added a couple of small stitches in the medium grey colour. 

After you have finished fill stitching the whole cloud, stitch the eyes with a few simple back stitches on top of your fill stitches. 

After that it's time to move on to the drops! I'm going for some happy coloured drops (see top photo) using a satin stitch. So far I selected DMC Mouline floss:  720, 725, 834 and 3848. I will post an update of my own cloud (and drops) on this blog soon!

A few final words...

If you choose to use more shades (and only one strand of floss) the effect will be definitely be smoother. However in my experience it's not effective to use too many shades or shades that are too similar. Especially not if you are working on a (relatively) small sized project.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial! Don't forget to share your own clouds in my Flick group here

Friday, August 24

Making clouds...who is with me?

I'm working on a short tutorial for you all to help you practice your shading technique. (Follow the White Bunny style obviously) I think it should be done some time next week. I made a simple cloud design and for the shading you will need several shades of the same colour.

For this small project I belief that working with a dark, medium and light version of one colour is sufficient. From a distance the eye will 'blend' the shades anyway, but you can add more if you are feeling adventurous. As to the colour: you can pick grey or any colour you want your cloud to be. Make sure the colours are good for blending though. If you look at the DMC colour chart (you can view one here) you will see that most colours that are within a colour family (close to each other) will blend nicely. I found that if you pick colours that are too similar the effect in your shading will not be as good as with shades that are bit 'further apart' so keep that in mind when you choose your colours. 

Now I thought it would be fun if I would host a small stitch a long when the tutorial is on the blog! It's a really small pattern so it's not a huge commitment. Who is with me???

Thursday, August 16

Quilt bindings: a small round up of how to' s

I'm actually finishing some quilts I have had in the works for quite some time! Pictured above is a detail of a baby quilt. I made the quilt top last year but never bothered to finish it, until last week when friends had a baby girl and I remembered I had the perfect nearly finished gift for their newborn. :) 

this the quilt with the binding not yet sewn to the back
In the end I settled for an orange binding and I'm going to use the same binding for my Winter Forest Quilt. The binding is made with an organic fabric called Orange/Red Fruit Punch by Timeless Treasures and I love it! 

mitered corner
Now I have learned in the past couple of years how to sew a binding on a quilt. I even got the hang of making passable mitered corners. I always sew the binding to the front with my sewing machine (and hand sew it to back.) The only bit that I still mess up every single time is joining the ends of the binding. Even after reading all the instructions in the quilt books I have. Luckily I have lots of knowledgeable sewing friends on Twitter and Instagram who helped me today so I thought I'd do a little round- up of the tips I received about binding a quilt. Most links are to full quilt binding tutorials in which various ways of how to join the ends are included. 

Today I used Katy's tutorial (scroll down and you'll find a pdf) to join my ends. I only messed up a tiny bit (but it still looks ok) but that is totally my fault and not Katy's. :)

Lynn of the Little Red Hen blog has another way to join ends and you can find a photo tutorial on quilt binding on her blog. The same method is used in this You Tube video by Marci Baker of Alicia's Attic. (don't let the music scare you away hehe)

Wendi Gratz has a video tutorial on her blog that shows yet another way of joining ends. It's similar to the way it's done in this YouTube video by Barb Sackel (someone I had not heard of I must confess but  apparently she is a Master Quilter) 

Another couple of quilt binding tutorials: Julie of Jaybird Quilts has written an (extensive) series of tutorials on how to bind a quilt. Rita of Red Pepper Quilts shows us how she makes her bindings She sews the front and the back on by sewing machine as does Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts in this tutorial.

Hope one of these (or all) are helpful to you!

Monday, August 13

Pretty in Patchwork Holidays

I'm very excited that a few of my patterns are now available in this fabulous new book called Pretty in Patchwork Holidays. First it was only available as e-book but since a week or two you can get the printed version of the book in online stores as well as in 'real' book stores. Of course I'm totally biased but I honestly think this book is a great addition to your crafty bookshelf.

There are so many original and beautiful modern patchwork patterns in this book, ranging from  small projects like my Polar bear ornament (this bear is quite popular I believe!).... beautiful quilt throws like this one, it's called Christmas in the City, by John Adams (aka Quiltdad) who is also the author of the book. And while some patterns are definitely Christmas patterns there are also patterns in this book for items you can use for the whole winter season (see examples above) or adjust to other occasions like Halloween. A lot of the patterns also are great for gifts like this cute apron by Cathy Gaubert.

And here's my other contribution to the book: a Hedgehog softie with festive pillowcase.

The book has beautiful photography throughout and it sure is a fantastic source of holiday sewing inspiration. I'm so chuffed that I'm part of it!

Friday, August 10

Cloud busting

Here's a little update on my rabbit embroidery again. I have a new camera and the photo you see above captures the actual embroidery/stitching much better than my old camera did, even if I have no idea how to use my new camera properly yet. :)

Since the last update (a couple of months ago) I added the green leafy branch. I think I used about six different shades of green but it doesn't really show as much as I hoped to... The small white flowers are also new additions. Not much shading in those though.

To make the background more interesting/varied I'm adding grey clouds to the piece. I'm using white and three shades of grey for those. While stitching the cloudy background I'm always reminded of this Kate Bush classic called Cloudbusting.

It's from her fab Hounds of Love album which is very dreamy and lovely. Anyway, have you tried shading yet? I'm thinking of making a tutorial on how I'm 'Cloudbusting' (by which I mean: making shaded embroidered clouds) if anyone is interested.

Wednesday, August 8

Craft-on-the-go-2: hexies

Besides my Alice in Wonderland embroidery I also took my hexies with me on holiday! Fabric, thread (several colours), needles and scissors all fitted nicely into the cookie tin I bought while I was in London earlier this year. :) It turned out to be a perfect crafty holiday activity. I sewed my hexagon-flowers in the sun, in the cottage, in the car... The Heather Ross cat ones are possibly my favorites!

And these are all the hexies I made so far! Not entirely sure what I will do with them I'm just soldiering on until I find the perfect pattern. The Hexy MF is still a very tempting option of course.

For my embroidery peeps: on the &Stitches blog we have a great series called Summer Bloggin'  you need to check out if haven't already. We had great posts from Julie about making mini-samplers and last week DoubleT wrote her first post about Blackwork embroidery. Very inspiring stuff!

In a few days time I will post some photos of the 'Lucky' Bunny embroidery I'm still working on. I have a new camera now and I hope that I will be able to show you some nice details!

Sunday, August 5

Things you should know about a Scrap Vomit Quilt

I took me almost 18 months to finish but it's done: I finished my Scrap Vomit Quilt* top last week. It is quite hard to get a good photo of the whole thing and I promise to make a better photo when it's quilted (which will take another year I'm afraid). It's a comforting thought that Tijger already approves of the quilt in it's current state....

A common misconception about the Scrap Vomit Quilt is that it's a collection of crappy fabrics. Not true! For a successful Scrap Vomit Quilt (at least that is my opinion) you need to pair pretty fabrics with umm..other fabrics. Also some of the more challenging fabrics (guess which one it was from the picture below) suddenly seem not so bad when cut into 2.5" squares. :)

Actually it's a lot of fun to work with these less obvious fabrics and the variety makes it the perfect I Spy Quilt.

Dinosaur butt  and beige flowers? Yes please!

Find your daily portion of Fruit & Veg in the quilt.. (I actually spent 10 minutes looking for the Cucumber bit in my quilt top!)

And no Scrap Vomit Quilt is complete without some holiday fabric and coffee inspired prints. :)

Believe it or not but I have about 5 different 'Cats in Paris' fabrics in this quilt. And I think they all came from my own stash!

The Scrap Vomit Quilt certainly is also a kind of Scrappy Log Book which holds memories of fabrics you bought and used in projects (or not) or received in fabric swaps.  Actually for maximum scrappiness and variety you really need to swap your most 'special' fabrics with others as well. We are having a swap at the Scrap Vomit Appreciation Society Group on Flickr at the moment but sign ups are closed now (sorry!). However there will quite possibly be new swaps in the future.

I already started my second SV Quilt last week but with different solids for the diamond pattern blocks. I also got two smaller (and quicker) quilt tops I finished, to show you but I'll save those for another post!

*I have written about this quilt many times and regularly hear that it has such an unfortunate name. I know, but the name has stuck.  Recently it also has been abbreviated to SV quilt though.  :)