Friday, June 22, 2007

A New Finish and an addition

I have finally managed to finish Shepherd's Bush JINGLE. It wasn't really a hard stitch but as it's not close to Christmas, I had a real problem trying to get it done. Just wasn't enthused with working on it.

I was more "enthused" with working this biscornu and adding it to my Victorian Elegance set. The chart for the needlebook front was perfect for the top of the biscornu. I barely had enough fabric, had something like 4 threads for a seam allowance but I worked carefully so as not to lose any of those. I cheated and didn't stitch anything on the bottom at all. Used the same Magnifica beads on the edging, and I think it matches very well. This set will be a nice edition to my sewing box.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dyeing Fabrics

I've had a lot of ladies asking me about dyeing fabrics and linen, and what I use to do that. It sounds kind of dumb, but I use liquid Rit dye. I know, its not the fancy dyes that the companies use, but I find it's easy, works well, and the color doesn't wash out. And its inexpensive to play around with.

There are several different ways to work it, but this is the way I do mine. I use a large bowl, glass is good because the dye doesn't stick to it, and dissolve salt in very hot tap water. Be generous with the salt, it helps the dye set. The bowl I use is about a 4 quart size, and I use approximately 1/4 cup of table salt. (Yes, I do have a container of salt set aside just for dyeing.) Using an old wooden spoon I stir the salt until it dissolves totally, then add the dye. It doesn't take much--just depends on the depth of color you want. For more control, make sure your linen is wet before putting it into the dye bath. Now, I don't like wrinkled linen and I don't like ironing my linen before stitching. I fold my fabric loosely before holding it under the tap to wet it, then slide it into the dye. Since I'm usually going for a lighter color, or less intense color, I just use my wooden spoon to keep pushing it under the water, or flipping the fabric so all sides get the same amount of dye. One thing to remember is to let the fabric get a bit darker than you want it, because it will lighten up when it dries.

Okay, so now your fabric is the color you want it to be and you have a bowl of dye left--do you throw it away? I don't. Set your fabric aside, on a papertowel. I usually either dye more than one piece of linen, or find something else that I want to dye. Like a nightgown, or a bra--go ahead and laugh but ladies, I find it very hard to get my bras in any other color but white and black. Boo, hiss, how boring. After dyeing everything I want that particular color, then I throw it away--right down the sink. (at last count, I had a lavender, purple, aqua, blue, denim blue, pink, rose, and green colors of bras.)

After you have dyed everything you want to dye, leave the odd things in the sink, and fill your bowl with clear water, cold is fine. I keep the water running in the bowl and rinse the folded fabric the same way I dyed it. Continue until the water in the bowl is clear, and then rinse again. Blot extra water from linen with a papertowel. Does any dye come off on the towel? Rinse again. If not, hang your fabric to dry. Takes a few hours but doing it that way, you don't have to iron before stitching. (Now, rinse well the other things you've dyed, and when the water runs clear, put them in the washer, run a quick cycle and you're done. No, washing won't wash out the dye. After a few years, your nightie might fade a bit, but so will any other nightie.)

There is another way to dye your fabric other than a bowl wash. A friend of mine dampens her fabric and then makes up her dye and "paints" her fabric with a soft paint brush. Gives her fabric a more mottled appearance. The wetter your fabric is, the more it will spread. If you plan to do it that way, I'd make sure the dye is fairly weak looking.

Okay, so now you know how I dye my own fabric but you are probably wondering why I don't like to wrinkle or iron my linen before stitching. Good question. Susan Greening Davis taught me to stitch on linen. She said that if you lightly dampen and then iron your stitched piece, the linen will actually "shrink" a tiny bit and make the stitches set up on the fabric. Gives it a more dimensional look. Of course, you have to be a bit careful when stitching with silks or overdyes, but I still iron my stitched pieces. I dampen the piece slightly, lay it on a towel, and let it sit until nearly dry before ironing. I've only had one piece bleed--SB's Thoughtful Heart.

So, now are you ready to try it for yourself? Go for it. You might surprise yourself. And be sure to post pictures on your blog. Any other questions, just email me.

My Victorian Elegance

It's finally done, my version of Indigo Rose's Victorian Elegance. What do you think? I dyed a piece of Belfast linen, and stitched with Waterlilies Iris and Amethyst, and used Magnifica Beads by Mill Hill to finish it off. Just need to find a nice pair of scissors for the fob. I saw a pair on The Silver Needle website that would be perfect, Tooltron but a lovely pale lavender color. Oh, well, put that on my wish list for my birthday.

Now, to decide on my next project. Any suggestions? As always, I thank you for your kind comments and the time you take to read my posts and comment.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hanging on by my fingernails !!

Well, its been 3 weeks and counting with my hubby home day and night, working on the truck. Good news is; the truck is done. Bad news? His new job that he was supposed to start Monday? Bossman went on vacation and we're stuck until Friday. Or should I say, I'm stuck until Friday before I can have my day of relaxation.

On the other hand, knowing what a mess he had made in working on the truck, hubby has been more than willing to help with the carpet cleaning, putting dishes in the dishwasher, and falling asleep on the couch by 9 pm every night. I don't know about all of you, but I just can't stitch when it sounds like the express train is speeding by. Thank goodness that all the television shows I watch are over for the season. I would have hated to see the season finale of HOUSE or BONES while the train was rumbling by.

Which brings me to a question. If any of you watch HOUSE, what do you think is going to happen with the new season? Will Dr. House hire three newbies? Get the old ones back? I really don't like cliffhangers. Not when it will be something like 5 months before we find out.

Even with hubby snoring on the couch, I have managed to stitch some. Right now I'm working on my Victorian Elegance. I dyed up a piece of white Belfast, and I'm using Waterlilies in two shades: Iris and Amethyst. The stitching is done on the needlebook but I'm fighting with the over one for the fob. Am also considering making a biscornu to match as I find I have enough fabric to do that. I really like how it's looking so far, but the real test will be after it's finished. And darn, still need to find some lavender felt. If you are wondering what color I dyed the linen, it's about the color of this font.

Now I'm off to make dinner. Another downside of Hubby being home during the week is having to have dinner at a specified time. Can you imagine, he'd like to eat on a regular basis !

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Sweet Baby James by Indigo Rose

Here is my version of Indigo Rose's Sweet Baby James Needle pocket. I say my version because I did it with silks instead of the recommended Wildflowers. She used one variegated Wildflower and three solid shade Wildflowers, and I didn't even know that Wildflowers came in solid colors. But Caron did use the same color numbers so I did it up with the Waterlily Moss and the Soie Crystale solids that matched the Wildflower numbers. I did use the fabric she called for.

The finishing was fairly simple, along the lines of the scissor pocket Allysum with the Dinky Dyes. I really enjoyed the finishing, and the stitching of this piece. My only problem was trying to figure out how "thick" to make the various cordings. (The instructions were for the cording made with the Wildflowers.)

The stitching of this piece is what has kept me calm during my hubby's stay at home, (its been over 2 weeks already) and the ongoing work on the truck. What a mess its been! He comes in covered in grease and oil--I have rags covering the door handles--and as humid as its been, he's consuming a huge amount of water--which necessitates an inordinate amount of bathroom visits. Oh, well, soon the truck will be finished, running well, and back on the road. Then I'm taking a day for myself, reading and stitching, and just whatever I decide I want to do. Sounds good, doesn't it?