I finally got to start hand sewing again after a forced break of two months.
Two months without a needle and thread in my hand!
It was hard, but I did as I was told and my hand/arm/shoulder are doing much better now. 🙂
Several people have asked if I’m doing anything different to prevent future injuries, so I thought I’d write up a post with some more info.
In a nutshell – yes. I’m doing a lot of things differently.
First, and most importantly, I’m not stitching for hours and hours without a rest. And when it starts to hurt – I stop. Immediately. That’s kind of the no-brainer fix. 🙂
But I’m doing other things too.
Before I start stitching, I warm up my right hand and wrist. Literally make it warm. I’m one of those annoying people who are always cold, so I run it under warm water, or wrap it under a blanket for a few minutes before I start work.
I’m also paying more attention to my tools and supplies. The one thing that still gives me pain sometimes is pinching something between my thumb and forefinger. Like a needle! I’ve learned that thicker threads are much harder to grab and pull – they just require more force. But I love using thick thread for embroidery! So I’ve done two things.
I break up my thick-thread sewing with some thin thread sewing. I would normally do all the thin-thread whipstitching all my pieces down first, then move into all the decorative stitching with thicker thread. Now I do a bit of thin thread whipstitching, then immediately embellish those bits with some thicker thread. That helps a lot.
But I’m also using a different needle type. I usually use embroidery needles because they have a nice big eye. But the sides of that eye bow out, which makes the eye significantly wider than the rest of the needle. That makes it harder to pull through the fabric, which means I need to pinch the needle harder, which makes the base of my thumb hurt very quickly. I’ve been experimenting with using milliner’s needles because their eyes don’t bow out. It’s definitely better, but I’m still trying to find the right length for me. I’ll keep you posted as I finish experimenting.
For the thin thread sewing I’m using the very thinnest needle I can find. It really does make a difference. I’ve also experimented with different glues, but so far nothing is better than my favorite fabric glue sticks. As long as I don’t use too much, it’s pretty easy to needle through.
So that’s it! Warm up first, take breaks, and use the tools and supplies that cause the least strain. Want a little peek at the new piece so far?
Seriously! I can’t wait to get these guys in a frame to start stitching. You’re going to have to pry me out of my couch for the next few weeks. 🙂
And that’s not all!
I want you guys to stitch with me!
I decided the best way to make this a pattern is to actually make it a video workshop. I’ve shot video already showing how to position all the pieces and my little tricks for securing them in place while I stitch.
This was my studio today, with those fancy new lights in action.
Look at that awesome even lighting! 🙂
The next step is going to be whipstitching the edges down with matching thread (not embroidery thread – I want these stitches to disappear) and then I’ll jump into fancy stitching!
My plan is to get all the kind-of-boring-to-most-people-but-I-really-love-it whipstitching done, and then start recording videos showing how I freehand stitch the hills. Maybe one new video a week?
But I’ll make the class available before I get all those videos recorded.
You’ll be able to download the pattern and cut out your bears. (The class will include patterns you can print on freezer paper for hand-cutting, and also a link to the files on Cricut’s Design Space for those who have Cricut machines.)
You’ll be able to watch the videos showing how to lay out your hills and bears and whipstitch all the edges down.
And then we’ll be able to fancy stitch together! I’ll add new technique videos showing the fancy stitching as I make them. Since it will be an online class you’ll just find the new videos in the “classroom” when I load them up – without having to constantly download new files or anything like that.
I hope that sounds like fun to you! It sure does to me. I’ve got new episodes of Call the Midwife and Poldark waiting for some couch time. 🙂
For the project I had in mind I needed to embroider a beaver – and I wanted to see him from head to toe.
I sat down to draw some sketches and then remembered that my husband had a whole page of adorable beaver drawings in his airplane sketchbook.
You might think it was hard to choose between all those sweet faces – but I had my favorite picked out with one glance. It’s the one down in the right corner.
Isn’t he a cutie?
Now for a much harder decision. . .
That lucky beaver has something colorful to chomp on, so I get to dip into the rainbow. 🙂 So many colors to choose from! And these are only about half of my stash of Sulky Petites 12 wt. thread. (You can read my review of this thread here.)
Final project coming Saturday! It’s going to be a free pattern. 🙂
I used a single strand of Sulky Petites 12 wt. thread and only stitched the flowers that sat over her hair. You can see that I ignored the printed pattern for larger flowers that would have gone outside her hair. I just filled in those spaces with some of the smaller flowers.
After all the stitching was done it was time to soak away the stabilizer.
Look at that pretty face being revealed. 🙂 And that’s me and my camera reflected in the water!
As I think about my goals for 2016, the word Stretch keeps coming to mind. I want to stretch my skills and try some new things this year – and I’ve already started.
I’ve been playing with some improvisational stitching. I’m not done with this piece yet (I started it on New Year’s Day) but it’s been a lot of fun so far. I cut the letters out of felt freehand, stuck them down with a swipe of fabric glue, then whipstitched them down around the edges. I stitched some fancification on the letters and then started the spokes radiating out from the word. I still want to add more spokes, but I like how it’s looking so far.
I don’t know what’s going to become of this work – quite possibly nothing but fun and some better skills. I’m actually trying not to think of them as work/patterns/tutorials – just an opportunity to play a little and have fun. 🙂
Are any of you doing any challenges or Thing a Day/Week/Month that you’re excited about? I’d love to hear!
The winners of Carina’s prize pack is Valerie Hatton for her Rainbow Raincloud Mobile.
Congratulations Valerie! That cheerful mobile (love those smiling suns!) was also a very popular choice in the Fan Favorite voting. 🙂
You can’t have an embroidery challenge without mentioning DMC! They contributed a pack of their sixteen brand new embroidery floss colors! The winner of that pretty thread bundle is Rachel Kehler for her Toddler Dress with a Kitty Pocket.
This was another popular one in the Fan Favorite voting – not swayed at all by the cutie wearing the dress. 🙂 I especially love this one because it’s such a nice way to add just a touch of embroidery to make a dress really special – whether the dress is handmade or store bought.
Yep – I get to pick a winner too. 🙂 A $35 gift certificate to my shop goes to Erin of Missy Mac Creations for her Duck Duck Robot Book Bag.
Congratulations Erin! I loved this bag! Erin did a great job positioning the embroidery on the tote bag – something that can be tricky. And I loved the fabric she chose for the lining and top of the bag. But what really wowed me were the detail of the red band between the abc fabric and the robot piece – and the fussy cutting of the letters from the abc fabric to spell out BOOK BAG at the bottom.
Scroll through all the entries. Click on the images to see them bigger. Then comment on the page with your choice for Fan Favorite! Please mention the number and name of the piece you’re choosing (making it easier for people to read the comments without lots of scrolling) and feel free let everyone know why you’re choosing it.
Remember! You’re not voting on the embroidery! You’re voting on what people made out of the embroidery!
Go vote! Voting closes next Tuesday and I’ll announce ALL the prize winners on Wednesday 10/23.Edited to add: This contest is now closed! But, you can still pop over to the Finished Stitches Project Page and be inspired by all of the finished embroidery projects!