Tuesday, January 28, 2014

And now... for Something Completely Different

Dapper Dog!

Meet my friend Winston.

Doesn't he just blend perfectly into the gentle, pastoral scene of the French toile?

Aside from being a well mannered, polite young man, Winston is always impeccably groomed; clean and coiffed, without a hair ever out of place. So, when Winston's "staff" (aka: "his people") approached me with a request to update his wardrobe, I was up for the challenge, even though I have "retired" from the fashion aspect of stitchery.

Being a resident of the Pacific Northwest coast, rain gear is a wardrobe essential. For those long walks in the park on all the wet and soggy winter days, we chose this very cheerful and vibrant red waterproof material which is paired with a multi-animal print fleece.

Fabrics and pattern ready to go.

And here we are, Runway Ready!

A second coat, which will do for those crisp and chilly early morning walks along the seawall, is made from faux fur with a Burberry"ish" reversible side. (Nothing but the best for "Dapper Dog".)

Of course, working with faux fur is a somewhat different experience then working with the cottons, linens and silks that have been in my more recent creative endeavours. Some of the techniques that I learned taking a parka sewing course at McPhee Workshop, some 25 years ago came in very handy for this project.

Normal tools of the trade gave way to more practical equipment. This faux fur sheds more then my daughter's cats.

Here we are dressed and ready for the coldest day of the year, but since today is not that day, Winston has some questions!

The glamour of the runway does seem to have it's drawbacks. He is wondering how much longer he has to sit on this perch, wearing "fur" on top of fur? Indoors?

Both coats are fully reversible. Here the mood is more "country estate".

The "almost Burberry" reverse side of the "fur" coat.

Ready for all kinds of winter weather, "Dapper Dog" is set to go. Did somebody spell "w-a-l-k"?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Bits of Boutis

Although the re-org. process is still on and strong in my life, my stitching hands have not been completely idle.

Since my hummingbird boutis has been completed, (see my post of Nov. 23, 2013), I have been working on drafting some smaller boutis pieces. Below are 3 of the designs ready to be stitched.

Rose windows from some of the many churches and cathedrals that I have photographed over the years, were the inspiration for two of these designs. This first piece, which will be a cell phone case, is my first attempt at stitching boutis with dupioni silk. Although Swiss cotton batiste (in white), is the most traditional material used for boutis, a number of the more contemporary boutiseusses are experimenting with silk. Silk is less forgiving then cotton, so consistency in tension, and accuracy in stitch length and placement become more crucial because of their greater visibility. 

In this little mobile phone case, I have used the two most basic stitches of boutis: "point arrière" (back stitch), a stitch used to highlight the main design feature, is used in the central rose; and the longer channels and circular channels are stitched using "point avant" (running stitch), the most commonly used stitch.

Stitching is almost completed on this little mobile phone "sac".

This second design, also inspired by rose windows, is drawn onto the traditonal swiss batiste cotton in white. The basting method that I used here (with stitches meeting in the centre) is Mme. Born's preferred method of basting.

Although not as common, this golden yellow cotton batiste is another traditional colour used in boutis. There's little cicada on an olive branch that decorates this needle fold.

Almost every "boutisseuse" that I have met has one of these little needle folds in her bag of tricks. It seems like a right of passage, so I thought it was time to prove my dedication to the craft and make one of my own!

I like handy little projects like this because it's easier to keep them accessible for stealing those few moments of stitching between other jobs. I'll post progress reports.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Threading My Way

While most "stitchers" are enthusiastically and admirably embracing the new year with renewed energy and creativity, my energy seems to have been diverted by my ever present compulsion to organize (yet again!), although it really is quite necessary (this time?). The aim is to re-prioritize projects and materials to allow for greater efficiency and better access to those supplies necessary for current projects.

One of my current organizational endeavours has been directed towards my embroidery stash. Going through the boxes, I came to realize that although I have never thought of embroidery as a priority focus, it has been the most consistent thread throughout my stitching life and has found it's way into most of my work.

Threads and linen from my current embroidery project.

In some of my earliest memories, I am sitting in a warm and cozy kitchen, watching my mom do her "mom thing", while I am happily engaged in keeping needle and thread from escaping my undisciplined and untrained little fingers.

From left to right, a progression of some of my earliest stitching endeavours. Note the UFO (un-finished object) centre ice; clearly we stitchers learn early!

An aunt seems to have noticed my interest in embroidery as a kid, because so often, Christmas and birthday presents were stitchery kits. These  were always my favourite gifts.

As I grew older, sewing clothes became my passion and my focus, but there was always at least one, often several, hand work projects, (either knitting or embroidery), in the works as well. Hand work has always been therapeutic and calming, and therefore a welcome retreat.

Two of these cross-stitch nosegays became my "go to" place when I was pregnant with my daughter some 32+ years ago.

This little "be-ribboned" cat came into being shortly after my daughter did. Unfortunately, it's purpose as a cushion has never been realized. It's never too late!

Another unfinished project, circa my daughters childhood, whose destiny is as yet, unfulfilled.
When I showed both of the above projects to her last week, she was delighted at being reacquainted with them and submitted a request for the completed versions. I promised to give it a whirl!

DD has also been gently directed to the road of embroidery. This cool cow was one of several cross stitch projects she stitched as a kid.

Moving to France 8 years ago created new "stitchery" interests and expanded on old ones.

Redwork seemed to find it's home when paired with toile de jouy.

Wandering through the French markets, I was instantly drawn to the whitework that is found at most tables featuring antique linens. The raised satin stitch that seems to be so casually embroidered into monograms and motifs on these well preserved antique linens inspired me to try it for myself.

My first attempt at raised satin stitch. As you can see, it's another "un-finished object". Someday this pillow covering will be revived and completed. (There's not much more to go).

Some hand embroidered napkins that I made (and actually completed) for my daughter and son-in-law's wedding, using the raised satin stitch technique.

Currently, my interest in embroidery is leaning towards medieval raised embroidery and stumpwork. Using "The Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery" by Jane Nicholas as my inspiration and guide, I have started yet another project.

My selection of threads are laying on top of the page that has inspired this latest quest. It is from "The Complete Book of Stumpwork Embroidery" by Jane Nicholas.

Threading my way through life is a happy road for me and one I intend to stay on.