I seem to like setting myself massive art projects, until I am half way through them and then think ‘what the fuck am I doing?’
This is what happened with this 12 inch embroidery hoop project! I loved the pin up/ pop art women I had been sewing and thought it would be cool to carry on this theme. But this time she would be wearing sunglasses with a reflection, suck a lollipop and have beading in her earrings. Straightforward, right?!
I decided on this cute ice cream fabric as it was quite muted compared to the colours I wanted to use in my piece. I knew I wanted her to gave aqua hair and red lips and I normally do a few sketches in my notebook before I draw on the fabric.
I stitched the general outline before I started the beading in her earring and hair piece. I used an invisible plastic thread, which is kind of tricky but looks really good when finished.
I started this huge project in February, and had quite a few breaks in-between, including going to Berlin. Sometimes, to keep my sanity, I would work on smaller hoops and did a vintage style lipstick for my sister, a little pink alpaca and a super small cartoon bomb.
I’ve also been working on some cute tote bags and purses with my sewing machine as well as preparing my entry into the Hand and Lock Embroidery competition. I have my ideas really, I just need to get stitching and stop procrastinating!
I wanted to set myself an embroidery hoop challenge and found a pop art style image I liked online I thought would be a great addition to my wall. This piece really was a labour of love!
I started it in December and in total I’ve spent over 50 hours on it. That is a lot of stitching!
This piece is a different direction from my other work. I’ve always loved Pop Art, especially Lichtenstein with his comic book style and bold use of colour and shape. I think it is still as relevant today, with Pop Surrealist artists putting their own twist on the art of the 1950s and 60s.
I had prepared my hoop (I always use embroidery stabiliser with my work) I sketch my image directly onto the fabric. I just used a green sharpie here, nothing that fancy! I then used black shimmery thread to on all my bold lines, stitching at least two lines to make them thicker.
I really like the contrast of this floral fabric and my pop art style girl eating an ice cream. I decided to fill in some colour almost like a guide to myself, and faintly outlined where the different highlights of purple would go against her eyelids.
The majority of this embroidery was done with a satin stitch, back stitch and stem stitch to get some nice curves. You can see from this picture why it took so long to sew the whole hoop!
To add texture to the piece, I sewed some beads into the ice cream as sprinkles and stitched her earring from beads as well. I found it hard to get the colour right for her skin tone but overall I am pleased with the result.
I’ve been reading up on sewing and started using my new sewing machine I got at Christmas. I also got some great new books recently, and got some fabric labels made with my little beetle logo. I love them!
Well hello 2018, what great things awaits me? I hope everyone had a great festive season and are planning some wonderful things this year. I’ve already had enough of rainy, windy Manchester, where is Spring?
I got a proper mixing stand in November and have been busy making cakes like they were going out of fashion! I really enjoy cake making. I read somewhere baking is like chemistry and I couldn’t agree more. Planning the flavours, size and of course themes and decorating is so fun! Below are some I made in the last two months for birthdays and various Christmas celebrations.
Chocolate Mash up!
Mint Areo Cake
After Eight Cheesecake
This cake making frenzy found its way into my crafts too! I challenged myself to make a large embroidery hoop, which can be rough on my fingers – a Kawaii-inspired cake slice. But not any old cake, this was a space-mermaid-tripping-on-acid psychedelic kind of cake slice!
Here are a few things I’ve been working on over October and November. I really wanted to get back into sculpting so made a derpy pumpkin for Halloween! Then I decided to try making a poison apple. I got these cool plastic eyes but they were much smaller than I thought!
I also finally finished my anatomical heart embroidery – it was a bit of a slog because I added more flowers around the heart to give it more depth, as well as adding beads and sequins. I love the little spider!
I’ve been brushing up on my baking skills with a new mixer and the last week have made Oreo brownies and chocolate marble cupcakes. Tasty! As usual my little helper Truffles was on hand for a bit of inspiration.
Beads are my current obsession. As a mixed media artist, I’ve always had a stash of beads; seed beads, bungle beads, faceted beads, lampwork beads. I normally pick them up from somewhere because I like the look of them and mostly used them in my polymer clay work or other mixed media projects.
It wasn’t until relatively recently that I realised bead embroidery was a thing!
Bead Embroidery Beetle
I started a mini project of this beetle with a mixture of beads and threads. I also wanted to make some new earrings and made these little spiders from a video I found on YouTube. Mine are a little big but so cute and once you get the hang of making them, you can make variations.
Because I like to give myself art projects and challenges, I decided my next big embroidery piece would be a skull, surrounded with flowers. And I must have been crazy, because this piece took me ages! There was a lot of frustration, swearing and accidental stabbing of fingers, and wondering why I thought this was a good idea!
I love using black fabric for embroidery, it makes all the colours pop. As this hoop was pretty big I used two pieces of stabiliser fabric in the back to support my work. I used a white gel pen to sketch out an idea, looking at a few references for the skull and butterfly. With the flowers and foliage, I went with my instincts as I wanted it to be semi stylistic. I have loads of embroidery thread I bought online, so you will see quite a mixture in this piece. I think of it as painting with a needle, so there isn’t a lot of variation with the stitches, it is mostly satin stitch, back stitch and stem stitch.
I actually started this in June and had a few stumbling blocks as I tried to motivate myself to continue. So I set myself a mini task of doing 10 minutes a day free hand embroidery as a way to change my perspective on being so rigid with my work. This really helped as I had to think of something and start stitching without lots of planning and analysing.
While this was my larger ongoing project, I also did a few mini embroidery hoops and put together a travel pack when I went away to Paris and also for my lunch breaks at work.
Since finishing my bird embroidery I have had more ideas for hoops and decided to go with experimenting. I made this cute sea monster dude and my boyfriend suggested he have a top hat! So why not? I like how he came out and I spray painted the hoop blue.
Golden Bird embroidery with flowers
Lurking sea thing
My next hoop was this sweet oval I found among my fabric stash, and thought this pink fabric would go well with a frosted cupcake. Especially as I’ve been baking so many recently! I don’t really do plans for my embroidery, I just sketch an idea onto the fabric and then look at reference pictures as I go. Not sure if that is what you are meant to do!
I added some seed beads to the syrup as sprinkles and I am so pleased with it, I love the cherry!
While I have been busy the last few weeks, and I started trying my hand at shrink plastics, I’m still doing my embroidery and my recent project over the last two months has been beetles and bugs. I also did a bee! I got the idea after seeing some mini hoops in a craft shop and thought having them laid out like a curios cabinet would look cool!
And here are my first few beetles. I thought I would do a bigger one for variation as well. Doing these little hoops was fun and therapeutic.
Well I have been obsessing over foxes the last few months and wanted to create a project based on one. This design was quite simple, as I was going to go for something more realistic. But I decided with the size of the hoop and the fox being the centre focus, that it should be colour and pattern that are more intricate and ornate.
My style is quite elaborate and I find that details really make a project pop which is why I added the detailing inside the fox. That was free hand and I gave myself the chance to just experiment with colours and pattern. I think it works well.
Materials & Stitches
I’ve been learning hand embroidery for about six months now and thought I’d share some tips – and frustrations! – that might give anyone considering trying it (or even beginners) some insights.
The fabric is your background that pulls your design together. When I first started I used some terrible fabric. It was heavily patterned and pretty but overwhelmed the embroidery instead of complimenting it. I’d recommend planning. Being impulsive I went straight in and was left disheartened with the end result.
Another thing that may seem obvious is ironing your fabric piece! Even if it seems relatively flat it may have some small creases and it’s best to start from a completely smooth piece.
This is my most recent embroidery project I’ve been working on for the last two weeks and I love how it has turned out. It is the biggest and most complex piece I have made so far. I love toucans and I also love decorative and fancy designs which I tried to capture here.
Here are two embroidery projects I’ve just finished.
I thought a nautilus was perfect for the smaller hoop and loved the patterns on the shell which I tried to recreate. I used a running stitch and split stitch for this project and I focused in on the details and colours of the threads.
Well hello January. Yep it is that time of year, new beginnings, rain, sales and all that jazz… I have to admit I do quite like the hope that comes with New Year and look forward to Spring, the days getting lighter and the possibilities that lie ahead. I’m also 31 this year and am fully embracing this decade of my life! They say you know who you are in your thirties, or maybe you are just happier with who you are.
A few things I want to do this year include improve my web design skills, try snowboarding, go to Paris, go to life drawing classes, save money, get a fox tattoo and Pilates.
Plus I have always got a lot of art projects going on in my mind, I just need to focus on one at a time!
- A new shadowbox
- A mixed fabric Stag head embroidery
- A Pandora themed tag box
- More felting creatures
Looks good with the Octopus
Still warm inside
And here is a tentacled monster I just finished. He was more a project to practice my embroidery stitches but he came out pretty sweet! My fingers need a break now! After a walk in the lovely wind and rain in Manchester,I came home and baked a cake. Got to take advantage of a free kitchen! It is chocolate and orange swirl and it was still warm inside when I tried it. Yummy!
Happy New Year Everyone!
Tea cups and Bird
Finally hands free
Embroidering has become my newest craft obsession of late and I’ve been sketching ideas down before I begin them on the hoop. I’m really pleased with this bird and tea cup I’ve just finished – I made it for a friend and I know she will be delighted! I even covered the back with some felt to give it a nice finish.
I have’t posted for a while as I have been busy with this whale embroidery project I’ve been commissioned to do for a friend. She wanted a whale, like Moby Dick, flying and I had the idea of him being carried by balloons. I sketched into the fabric with a cool fabric pen that disappears after a few hours and actually did some shading at the front of his head before deciding I didn’t like it.
I added some swirls for a more textured look and to make it a little different. I guess it is similar to my art journaling style. This took me about ten hours to complete and he turned out so cute! I really liket his white thread as well. I have a lot of new embroidery ideas and hoping to get a hoop clamp this week so I will be able to do my embroidery with both hands free!