March 23, 2010
March 12, 2010
One of the big things that has gotten me so enthusiastic about embroidery is the needlework groups I’ve found on Flickr. I like the setup of Flickr for these communities better than discussion boards because it’s built around the image – the thing you’ve made – rather than the words. Ask a question and you’ll get answers, but I’ve found that the best way to learn this art is to pay attention to what other people are doing, and their pictures are a perfect way to do this.
My favorite group right now is Phat Quarter, which is the Flickr pool for readers of Mr X Stitch. The people posting in this group are just my kind of people – they’ve all put their own modern spin on embroidery, and I love almost every piece that gets posted. So last month, when the details for a Comic/Cartoon-themed swap were announced in the Phat Quarter group, I signed up before I could realize that I didn’t know the first thing about swaps.
No worries – swaps are just what they sound like. You make something and put it in the mail to someone else. You get something else in return. Easy. I ended up mailing this Tick piece off to Giddy Girlie, who herself makes amazing pop culture pieces (not just embroidery, but paintings and more!). The piece I got just came in and I’ll post about it soon.
Why the Tick? It was one of my favorite cartoons when I was a kid. I think it was on when I was in middle school, and I used to quote it daily (I still quote it, just not that often). My favorite line is “Today is my birthday – I think I’ll celebrate by inventing agriculture.” The live-action show that was on later was short-lived but fantastic – you can watch it on Hulu. There are just so many amazing moments, and I went with the iconic moment when the Tick chooses his battle cry – Spoon!
For this piece, which is about 5×7, I used crayons to tint the fabric, then used satin stitch and my own weird version of outline stitch* (there are a few stray straight stitches and French knots in there too). I’m really happy how he turned out, and I’m feeling like I might need to make another one just for me.
*I say my own version of outline stitch because I kind of figured out how to do it on my own and it’s more of a back stitch than the real thing.
March 6, 2010
While down with the flu back in December, I had the chance to watch all four and a half seasons of Supernatural in one go. I didn’t watch the show when it first started because it just didn’t look that good, and it started before I got a life-changing DVR. A few of my friends, however, are terribly obsessed over it, to the point where it has invaded their everyday conversations. They were in the midst of telling me how it’s one of the best shows on television right now (I now concur with them completely) when I thought I might as well start watching.
If you’ve watched the show, you’ll recognize the phrase “Helping people, hunting things – the family business” because, well, that is the business that the Winchester boys are in. As in, they are helping people inflicted by demons or other supernatural problems and hunting said demons. Oh, sure, the later seasons become a bit existential over free will and the possible apocalypse, but Dean and Sam never stop helping people and hunting things.
The symbol I chose to go with the line is the tattoo that the boys both have on their chests, which they got to protect themselves from possession.
I ended up making two of these (for my two Supernatural-obsessed friends) and turning them into little cosmetic/pencil bags. When I started these, I didn’t know much about choosing fabrics, and I was terrible at many fill stitches, so I chose to go with a whipped back stitch for the design and a split stitch for the lettering. I’m not terribly happy with either, but they’re better than when I started, so at least I’m learning. I hated using this fabric though, but now that I know more about using interfacing, I might be less hesitant to use it again.
March 2, 2010
My parents have three kids and three grandkids – they’ve read a children’s book or two in their days. My mother has always said that Where the Wild Things Are is her favorite, especially the line “I’ll eat you up, I love you so.” When the movie came out this year, our family was firmly divided – about half of us really liked it, while the other half (including my mother) thought it was awful. For her birthday last December, then, I thought I’d try to take that sour taste out of her mouth with something from the original book.
As December rolled around, I found myself struck with a mild case of the swine flu and no desire to leave the couch. Perfect time for some stitching, no? So I settled in with plenty of fluids, 4 seasons of Supernatural on DVD, and a plan. Just a few days later, I had finished stitching this design. I couldn’t be happier with how it came out. It’s done almost entirely in back stitch, with some straight stitch on the tail.
I ended up sewing this into a pillow, and it matches the couch perfectly. The back is a deep blue stretchy crushed velvet. It’s sewed on in two panels, overlapping at the middle, for easy access to the pillow itself. I’m not so good at sewing things shut, so I thought this was a good way of making it look a little more polished.
I’m a big Simpsons fan – have been since the beginning. Back in 1989, my brother was home from college for Christmas, and we watched the then-new show together. (Years later, I watched reruns of the Tracy Ullman show all the time and loved the original Simpsons shorts.) The Simpsons are so ingrained in my upbringing – quotes, sight gags, situations – that I can tell when I’m talking to someone who hasn’t watched the show much because they can’t follow what I’m saying. Did I mention that I taught a class on the show (not once but twice) while I was in college?
Anyway, Ralph Wiggum has always been one of my favorite parts of the show. I even quoted him in my high school yearbook (“Go banana!”). He’s such a misfit, and I just love him.
After my first little embroidery kit from Michaels, filled with stem stitch and satin stitch that never came out quite right, I was a bit scared of those two stitches. I decided to grab my fear by the horns and do a piece entirely in satin stitch. I didn’t master the technique with Ralph here, but I got a much firmer grasp on the concept. It doesn’t scare me quite so much anymore.