Tuesday, March 29, 2016

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The Garden Girls embroidery pattern is here! Cute as a button. These little girls live and breathe the garden. Do they dream of seeing the flower fairies or dancing among them? Do they climb the trees and get mud on their dresses? 

Prim or mischievous, they will work their way into your heart as you work up this hand embroidery.

The pattern PDF comes with a color photo, stitch and color guide, instructions for six methods for transferring the pattern to fabric, and the pattern in two views: straight on and reverse.

Will you be taking some YOU time in the garden with hoop and threads? 

Behind the Scenes

Inspired by this topic du jour in a makers' group online, I paid a lot of attention to the behind-the-scenes nature of the day. There was plenty of it.

I managed to sort out the piles of papers, drawings, and unfinished stitcheries on my table. And just about in the middle of all that, I looked up into the little room next to my work area, saw the morning light, and moved everything into it.

Guess what I have? A creative studio. With doors.

It's not finished. I need an ironing board and a shelf and a lamp. But it already feels a little like my own sweet home-away-from-home-at-home.

And in the process of sorting and moving, I managed to finish my Garden Girls embroidery pattern sample with curly french knot hair for the older girl.

Yes, this is how I photograph stuff these days. Mainly from above and using a sheet of scrapbook paper beneath.

This was just plain fun.

I love this font. It's called Le Petit Parisien and you can get it here at Creative Market. I can't wait to use it in my new Etsy banner when it rolls out the new look next week.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Embroidery Cotton: To Wash or Not To Wash

Linda asked a great question in the comment section of my last post: Was I going to use the cotton fabric I showed in my kits because it seemed that I felt washing it had negative results in the fabric texture - that didn't sound promising. Excellent question.

Let me explain what happened and what further tests I've done.

I used embroidery cotton. Not traditional even weave or Aida, but a traditional homespun with an even weave similar to linen and used for embroidery and other sewing.

All cotton fibers relax when washed. I used the term "pilling" which I edited out because this is not a very good term for this softening of the fibers. 

Generally, most crafters pre-wash fabrics before sewing or stitching. This is not the case with embroidery fabrics and linens. They are usually pre-washed by the manufacturer (more about how below).

Because this fabric is used for more than embroidery, I tried to wash it ONLY because I wanted to test the printer on washed and unwashed fabric to see if it affected printing quality.

I washed the fabric in a standard (really old) home washing machine which agitates much more than hand washing or commercial pre-washing of fabric bolts before sale. This caused more softening and relaxing of the fibers than I would have liked.

THAT is the result I didn't like.

I printed that piece (right after washing and ironing it dry) and another "unwashed" piece and preferred the unwashed piece as it seemed more crisp looking. 

Now, here's the catch: turns out, according to the fabric shop owner, that fabric is already pre-washed cotton fabric. But commercial washing doesn't crumple and agitate like home machine washing which is why the fibers were more relaxed (after home machine washing) than I would have liked for hand embroidery.

But wait! There's more! I decided to make sure I was selling the right embroidery fabric base for these projects and I hand washed another piece of the same fabric and it turned out great. AND the ink does not run. And I am thrilled with the fabric and the process.

Bottom line? 
The fabric I am buying to sell in kits is pre-washed by the manufacturer. It is a homespun cotton with an even weave like linen and used for hand embroidery. It can be hand washed prior to or after stitching with excellent results. Hand embroidered designs should always be spot cleaned or gently hand washed.

How to wash hand embroidered items:

Most stitched household items, such as pillowcases and aprons, are washed by hand or on a delicate cycle to protect the stitching. This does not cause as much relaxation in fibers as there is little to no agitation. 

Hand embroidered pieces for display are generally simply held taut under running cold water, and hung to dry. If there are stains, they can be spot cleaned. After drying the piece is stretched into a hoop or frame.

Here is a piece I worked up on a piece of very tight weave Cannon bedsheet at least as old as the 1970s. After years, the fibers relax and you can see they form a slight soft layer. This is the relaxation I am talking about.It gives it a bit of a natural look you'll see in natural calico (US muslin).

So, thank you SO much for that question. Linda. I think I was a bit misleading about the result of washing this embroidery cotton by using the word pilling. 

This is the new piece I hand washed after printing. I even scrunched it up good and scrubbed at it a bit - ALL things I WOULD NOT do after stitching. I did not iron it very well. LOL The ink does not run and the fabric has softened as expected but it's not ruined by any means.

Thanks for asking!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Joy of Printing

This is a humble view of maker-inner-peace. 

It is brought to you by a move to a half house in which Mr. True Love and I rent several rooms of delicious empty space in an adorable old country house and the culmination of much research and invaluable advice and support of online designer/maker friends who have been trying to help me figure out the best way to bring pre-printed embroidery fabric panels and kits to my shop.

The original plan was to hire out to print on fabric because I simply did not have even a tiny bit more space for setting up a printer at home which happens to be one of the methods I explain for transferring my PDF patterns onto fabric when you buy my patterns. We have been living in shares and caretaking situations with just a bedroom for us and our stuff for five years.

But, oh! oh! Lookit! Lookit me now! I have a table and a workcounter and, of course, all this floor to work on. And so the printer became a reality, the freezer paper was purchased, and it's all Let The Games Begin in my house.

As long as we're on the subject of printing PDF patterns onto fabric, I'll let you in one some tests I did and what I liked best.

First things first: wash the fabric or not? I used a lovely white homespun cotton I bought at Caloundra Sewing Centre. It's great for embroidery with a nice even weave but a natural linen-like quality. The piece on the left was washed and then ironed and on the right, the piece was just sprayed with a bit of filtered water and ironed. But the washed piece came out a bit more relaxed than I preferred for a hoop art piece.

Why wash it at all? Some blogs report sizing can interfere with printing. I did not find that to be true but the cotton I used didn't seem to have much if any sizing in it anyway. I found that both pieces printed well, but the one I washed also absorbed the ink a bit more and the lines were thicker. Not a desired outcome. I want to be able to cover those lines easily with my embroidery floss.

But the end result is pretty awesome. I can print fabric panels ready to go in the hoop.

Last discovery of the day. I am playing around with an abstract roses geometric I wanted to stitch up.

Problem? My settings for the new printer defaulted to print at 97% instead of 100% so this pattern did not print to fill the 6 inch hoop to the edges as intended. Still I'm stitching it up as a sample because I love the black on the natural calico/muslin fabric and I don't like to waste stuff. You can see this fabric is also washed and the cotton relaxes on the surface. This is natural and can only be seen when looking really closely.

I love working on these designs. I have a strong affinity for art deco and arts and crafts movement styles as well as early 20th century folk Scandinavian design. And the Big Eyes paintings of the 1960s. Okay, I like a lot of stuff you could cram between 1890 and 1975. 

No matter where and no matter when, there's no place like home when you're fortunate enough to have one. I am grateful to be settling in.