I have been busily working on my cross stitch project, Wren and Magnolia by Jill Schultz McGannon; most days I can manage to fit in an hour of sewing. I have a couple more buds and finishing stitches on the bottom to do still. But I'm nearing the end.
In light of that I set up the 1953 Hazels' Summer Wildflowers Quilt-along project on Saturday.
I repotted all my geraniums to the outside containers in the morning. They all look like they took to the transition well. I was taking a bit of a chance doing this as the traditional date for planting here is after the May 24th weekend when all risk of frost is over. I figure if we have a frost warning I can cover these three pots easily which I've done before and they've been fine. With that little chore done, the seedlings in the greenhouse all watered and the dogs walked, I could settle down in the afternoon and get busy with the light box and tracing my designs onto cloth.
I've been interested in how Jenny of Elefantz produces such sublime stitching and discovered in her blog she generously shares her own methods and materials. She prefers vintage cloth if she can get it and keeps her stitches tiny. She can make 15 stitches to the inch. I tried that out myself just to see how many I would be comfortable fitting in. I'd never counted before.
This is what my 15 back stitches per inch looked like, kind of wobbly and with a slight gap in a couple of places which is a real no-no. They also varied slightly in length, another no-no; I forgave myself this though because I haven't been working this kind of embroidery in months so will have to get back into practice. This number felt a little too tight for me; I think I'm more comfortable with about 12 per inch. I've read that it doesn't really matter how tiny or large the stitches are as long as you stay consistent in your piece. But Jenny sets the standard for beautiful stitching and I think it is because she does make such tiny perfect stitches.
I like to use a Micron pen for the tracing onto cloth. I use the thinnest one you can buy, 005, and it doesn't matter which colour; hopefully the thread will cover it. These are not cheap and I often purchase them with the 40% off coupon from Michaels which is where I buy mine.
I have old sheets that have the most wonderful texture to embroider on; they are pure white and have a slightly weathered feel from numerous washings. I think this particularly suits an old-fashioned quilt like Hazel's. I cut 6 fifteen inch squares from the old sheeting. ( The cloth has a pinkish tint in these photos because I photographed them at night...that's the only explanation I can think of because this cloth is definitely white!)
I like John James needles. For this project I'll probably use the number 5.
It does take time to carefully trace each design onto the cloth. I don't press hard with the pen and do try to make the lines light but yet easy to see. I was happy when it was all done and six blocks are all ready to be embroidered.
As I've mentioned I've opted to work these blocks the 'fancy' way as Shelly calls it using a number of embroidery stitches and many colours.
Here is the Sullivan's Summer collection of floss and it is fitting that I use these colours for the summer wildflowers in my project.
I feel a little sentimental about this project. I'm sure it is just the kind of stitching my grandmothers would have done as well as my mother in her younger years. Perhaps that is why it appealed to me so much.
Here's to many happy hours of stitching ahead!