Sunday, December 28, 2014

Katherin and Faith, Hope and Charity

Usually during the month of December I take a break from designing retail patterns and the day to day teaching that I do. I take the time to stitch and work on some of the things that I want to do not the ones that I have to do.
Designing something new is not a thing that can be forced; although I have found that one thing does lead to another. Once I start with one new patterns others follow.

One pattern that I have been working on for years is Faith, Hope and Charity by James C Christensen. It is one over one on 32 count linen and I am hoping that I live long enough to finish it. I do want to but can't and don't want to work on it solidly until it is finished. So I stitch on it in fits and starts. If I had known when I started what I know now, I would have dyed the linen shades of spring green and just stitched the figures.

I have been working on the doll - Katherin. As much as I can, I am trying to dress her as she might have been dressed in 1670. I have been hand stitching all the clothing and using fabrics like linen and silk that are period appropriate. Creating a reproduction outfit of any size is always a balancing act. you can never totally get everything perfect.
This week, I stitched her petticoat and covered her shoes. Although I do know how to cobble a shoe, starting from scratch was more than I wanted to do in this scale. So I used some gold brocade and silk ribbon to make her shoes look more up to date for the 17th century.

Her petticoat is linen with a ribbon waist band. The ribbon worked well  because it would fold to the correct size with out adding too much bulk.

I do have more pieces planned and am excited to work on them but for now the retail designs are calling.  Once it get the designs finished and the stitching started, I can come back to Katherin.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quilt for Christmas

Years ago I found the pattern for this quilt and fell in love with it. I bought some fabric, dyed another one and found things in the stash to make the quilt. I started on the background, which I pieced by hand, cut out many of the pieces for the applique and promptly got too busy to work on it. I thought of it many times over the years but the hand applique always discouraged me. Many years later, I tried machine applique. I don't love it for some things but for others it works great. So with that in mind, I dug out the quilt and recut the applique pieces and stared putting it together. Life got in the way so it was put away again. Several years ago, I got it out and finished the applique.
Flashback to many years ago in another life when I sewed uniforms for restaurants that wanted a very custom look. I bought 7 bolts of fabric that one of them wanted and made way too many ruffled skirts and blouses from said fabric. I ended up with about a bolt left and kept it because: one.. I am a collector of fabric and two.. it was a nice Christmas plaid with red, green and a touch of metallic gold.

The stored Christmas fabric was perfect for the back of the quilt, so it was put together and machine quilted. Nothing very fancy but with all those tiny pieces it took a while to do. Now it was ready for the binding and a rest in the pile of works-in-progress, after all the holiday season was over. This year I got it out, purchased the binding fabric and finished it. Or so I thought.... found out that I still had to do the had embroidery like the eyes, bows and lots of other "stuff".
It is now finished, mounted and can be enjoyed.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


I have been working on several of the small pieces for my Cabinet of Curiosities. I have finished two pincushions and the glove. I have the scissors sheath stitched but have not yet finished it. As part of the "story" of the casket and it's maker, I am dressing a porcelain doll in the dress of the period. It is about 1670 for the girl that stitched the box and all of the things in it. The painting that I have will have to be of an older sister or cousin that is her mentor.
I have been doing research on the clothing of about 1670 and have discovered that many of the portraits are of women in very casual settings with their dresses looking like they didn't quite finish dressing.

I wanted a more formal look and so here is my inspiration.

 I took the corset pattern from Norah Waugh's book on period clothing.

 Here is the chemise. It is fine linen stitched with cotton threads and ribbons for ties.

 Here it is on the doll. One of the sleeves is tied but the other is left loose for the picture.

 Here is a close-up of the sleeve. Period fashion had the sleeves
 of the chemise showing with ribbons or pearls wrapped midway
up the sleeve to gather it.

The corset is 2 layers of linen with the top layer of pink silk. I stitched it with white linen thread and pale gold silk. I wanted to make it as authentic as possible but the stiffening reeds that were used would not be in scale. I thought of using pine needles because it would have looked right but I was afraid that it would break and be too thick. is stiffened with strips of plastic. I did make an ivory busk for the front of the corset.

Here is the back showing the channels for the boning. I thought that doing the eyelets for the laces might drive me nuts but it was worth it.

I think that the corset looks great on the doll. So Mistress Katherin has her first two layers. Next comes the petticoat and perhaps a bum-roll. Have to do some more studying.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Santa of the Forest and the Tassel

Santa of the Forest is finished.
After stitching on this piece off and on for 15 years, I was able to finally get it finished and framed. It is stitched on 36 count natural linen with 2 strands of DMC cotton thread. I did have a few problems with the colors. Since I started years ago, at least 1999, the colors of at least one of the threads has changed a bit. When I began the 489 red was a medium dark but true red. Now it has quite a bit of pink in it. Usually that would not matter a lot but since I stitched about half of the piece with the old color then ran out-- that was a big problem. I finally found an Anchor color that almost but not quite matched. It is close enough that I am the only one who will know where the different threads are used.  I am pleased with the embroidery and know that we will enjoy it for many years. I usually  do not stitch pictures like this. In fact I have only stitched three large ones from Lavender and Lace. Turns out that all three of them are Christmas pieces. I do have a couple of smaller ones that I want to do. I put one called Emma's Garden on stretcher bars so that I can stitch on it between other projects.
This time of year, when I can, I usually try to finish some things and relax without the pressure of new designs. I have wanted to assemble the tassel that I bought when we visited the Declerq shop  in Paris. Finally I got busy and did it. It took parts of 3 days but I am pleased with the finished tassel. I learned a lot but mostly that you need to be generous with the threads. A fat tassel looks much better.
Tassel finished