Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Crazy Christmas Oldie, but Goodie!

      So, what have I been up to all these past months? Can't believe I haven't posted since the end of August, but I had the best intentions...does that count in any way?! Well, a few highlights...A trip to North Carolina, the release of my new book Simply Successful Applique (published by C&T), a trip to Seattle, ten days at Quilt Market & Quilt Festival (for the book release and teaching) and now home working feverishly to reclaim the bits of my life that were overlooked for the two years I concentrated mostly on the book. I'm happy to report that I've made good progress in conducting a mega reorganization of my two guest rooms and studio space which had been designated as "book command central". They're now deemed safe again for human occupation at large, and just in time for the holidays...phew!
     During my cleanup effort, I spotted this Christmas stocking I had made in 2002. 

       I was so happy to come across it in a dresser drawer, carefully wrapped in archival tissue, as it remains one of a very few holiday things that survived a flood we experienced. It brings with it a rush of memories and I wonder if those wonderful images would have been triggered had I not had the stocking to spark them. For this, I am so grateful that I stitch. This one small project represents so much of what is me. I'm reminded of the many contented and happy hours I spent playing with small bits of fancy fabrics and threads to try my hand at making something that was Crazy Quilted...which always makes me smile since there's no quilting :) 
     The stocking project idea was sparked by Patty Shreiner, a member of a small embroidery group I belonged to when I lived in Pennsylvania. Group members took turns volunteering to present a project. The original stocking was quite large and I didn't want mine to end up as a UFO given the time it would take for something more ambitious. I redrafted the stocking shape and set about drawing up the fractured maze that would become the background. Then I was off and running! Keep in mind that the stocking is only 11" x 6" when measured at its widest parts. Here's a closeup view of the top:

     I was in my glory! I absolutely loved selecting a shape and then decorating it for all it was worth. The best part for me was the ''anything goes'' mindset and ''more is more" and "enough is never enough" charisma that is Crazy Quilting. I love my camera for its macro's an even closer look of the top right. I worked in thin gold thread to create the embroidered snowflakes on the red background:

     The top left area of the stocking gave me an opportunity to attach a small motif I found in my trinket box. I had made it back when I was learning to do tatting, using thicker thread that helps a beginner see the knots more clearly. It was perfect for this! A few touches of crazy embroidery and Voila! I then couched down some baubles that I found at JoAnn fabrics in the bead aisle. I teased the wire vine to suit my design. You can see I added embroidery stitch sequences along the background seam lines in a variety of threads... 

     Next up is the top center area. I had such fun with the mittens, though they still look very much to me like boxing gloves! They're made of felted wool. Don't you just love the look of buttonhole stitches? This photo gives you an opportunity to peek at the hand crochet lace edging (to the right of the mittens). I found this in my trinket box, was just a short length of the handmade lace left over from one of my other projects. need to save every little scrap! (This is how I justify my hoarding tendencies...)

     Now, onto the mid-section...

    ...followed by the zoom shots! Here's the detail of the white area seen in the above photo peeking out at the top center. Gold embroidery thread with gold beading does the trick!

     Now, let's take a peek at the green band. You can see some purchased gold trim on top. I used lazy daisy stitches to attach it to the background. The bottom edge sports an embellished red ribbon which has been decorated with various stitch sequences and french knots. The center of the band is accomplished with a pattern of gold thread fly stitches, green floss straight stitches and clusters of red french knots. I love embroidery for its  simplicity of execution. It always amazes me how much mileage you can get with just a few basic stitches, working them in different combinations and changing out the threads.

  The present was great fun to make! Of course, this gives you a glimpse of my applique skills at the time. I went from rolling over and basting the edges, to using needleturn. My less than crisp corners and edges tell the tale! At least most of it is covered by embroidery...

     But, here's the worst of it. Check out my applique holly leaves! Yikes...cute enough (and fine for this project) but they are nearly non-descript on their own. The only thing in my defense is that they're only 1/4" x 1/2" each. I did keep at it, though, and eventually got the hang of needleturn. But, thank goodness I worked out my Simply Successful Applique method! I can do the tiniest pieces now...quickly and perfectly. Look far to the right, here, and notice that I trimmed the stocking edges with twisted ropes of embroidery thread couched in the seam where the front and back of the stocking were sewn together. This technique makes a nice edge finish.

      I've saved the toe part for last. This little guy's dressed to kill! Yo-yos make a fine snowman body and embroidered details create the face (although his features do look a bit smushed...I needed to fit  them inside the tiny yo-yo center!)... His carrot nose is made of a one thread bullion knot.  I made his hat and scarf with crochet. The holly on top of the hat is made of snips of felted wool and tiny red seed beads.

      Thanks so much for accompanying me on my walk down memory lane! My little project invited me back to a specific time and place in my life. Like visiting with an old friend, I'm left with all those warm and fuzzy feelings.

      During the past months, my camera was always with me, so although I've been knee deep in other things demanding my attention, I'll have the photos and associated tales to share later on, as time permits.

      Wishing you the happiest of holidays and a wonderful New Year!  
Until next time,

c/ 2012 Jeanne Sullivan