(clicking on pictures will enlarge)
I SO don't sew...
But I so appreciate beautifully sewn handwork and clothing. It's really a skill I need to learn.
I aim to begin slowly...with a needle. I used to cross stitch when I was younger. I can do that, but I'd like to learn other things.
Since the world "sew" makes me break out in PTSD flashbacks to high school Home Ec class sewing disasters (think mint green dotted swiss and stretch turquoise polyester as the foundations of two of the most memorable horrors), I need to steer clear of trying to CONSTRUCT anything just yet.
Some things take baby steps.
(Gratuitous What About Bob movie quote...) "Baby step to the elevator, baby step onto the elevator, baby step close the door.....pause......Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh.!!!!!"
So I tried a needle and thread. Hey, it's a start :) Especially if the thread is red.
I love redwork embroidery and the nostalgia it evokes. There's something about the pairing of red thread on a light background that is bold and understated at the same time, if the design is pleasing. I'm not sure what has drawn me to red, but I love redwork needlework, red-on-white transferware dishes (looks pink sometimes), and red touches intermingled with my household colors, no matter how subdued they may be.
It's like a little shout-out. Maybe it's just indulging that inappropriate urge I have in overly-solemn places that take themselves a bit too seriously (think hushed restaurant, museum, golf tournament...I know I know...) to shout "Wow!!" (ok, I don't actually do that, but I do sometimes amuse myself at those places by thinking of all the possibilities. Oh, and never have been to a golf tournament...for obvious reasons, ha)
Well, anyway, to me, strewing bits of red here and there in the home, garden, and life are like little wows punctuating the ordinary. Creation is gaudy with it...hummingbirds return to vermillion portals for nectar...human horizon-gazers at dawn and dusk drink long, satisfying draughts with their eyes of the smoldering crimson strata-and-cloud highways that spell sunset.
I wanted to try my hand at some redwork, and decided to practice.
I don't know how to officially do embroidery. I need to learn some stitches. The way I do it now is not to pull the needle through two holes in one movement, but to push through, pulllll the thread through, push through the next hole, pulllll the thread through, if that makes any sense. I aim for beginning the stitch slightly below the line and ending it slightly above, then beginning the next stitch from underneath half a stitch back.
So, in short, I have no idea what I'm doing! :)
I also didn't know I was using too much thread. After reading the instructions on some websites since finishing my first attempt, it says to use 2 or 3 strands of embroidery floss. I used (cough cough) six. And a needle that would accomodate that amount.
I pulled out an old pillowcase to practice on, so if I messed up, I could pick the stitches out and not worry too much about having ruined something nice.
I didn't have a pattern, and though there are plenty of great free patterns online, I decided to use something closer to home. I took a poultry catalog, found a couple pictures of chickens I thought would make a good silhouette, and enlarged them to the size I wanted on a copier. I'm not supposed to have chickens, but I'm intent on having the closest thing...so arrest me, ha!
I got some regular paper and traced the outlines in bold ink.
I used each traced image as a pattern by placing the cloth on top of it and lightly tracing over it onto the fabric with a ballpoint pen. My pillowcase fabric was thin enough to see the pattern underneath one layer of fabric.
After that, I threaded my needle and followed the design. This is where I could greatly improve my stitchwork by learning a stitch and keeping to the same one consistently. But even with no experience with particular stitches, it was very relaxing to stitch away some quiet time between rounds at work.
Though my stitches look a little rough, and I used too much thread according to the experts, it was a passable first try :)
And hey, I used one of the "official redwork colors" when choosing embroidery thread without even knowing it...DMC 817, woo! (not that I was sweating that, ha)
Here's a page all about redwork and how to get started. Or you can just do like I did and not hyperventilate about the finer points, and just try it and then decide what to tweak better once you've put a little thread to fabric.
In the future I might reuse this rooster and hen design and try filling in some of the negative spaces with red thread for more of a color blocked look. Or I can trace other things...anything, really...fruits, plants, flowers, favorite poetry or verses, silhouettes of loved ones...the possibilities are endless. Plenty of subjects to practice with!
If I actually planned to use the pillowcase, I'd make sure the images are sewn along the edge(s) for obvious reasons. I have an idea to make some quilt squares in case one of these days I get ambitious enough to make a quilt myself, but that's for a later try.
Here's a link to a couple simple stitches I'll probably be trying...so I can be an "official" embroiderer someday?? :) As in crossing something off my New Years resolution list?
Oh yeah...resolutions schmesolutions...LAH-luh-lahhh
I'm still working on the 2009 list. Trying redwork was on LAST year's list!
If you have any tips or advice for the amateur (me!) please feel free to pass them on...collective wisdom always welcome here :)