Art Projects: Smocked Aprons

Smocked Aprons as Prizes

On Saturday the 24, my local SCA group held its annual event. The lunch is a potluck, and I had a .Brilliant.Idea. late last year to supplement the potluck by hosting a cooking competition. The cope-de-resistance to get people to enter items for other people to eat is having a kickin’ prize. November last year I started making four possible aprons for people to win. Not just any aprons, mind, but smocked apron, with drawn hemwork, all done in linen and by 100% by hand.

Out-of-my-ever-lovin’ mind, I was. I needed four aprons because the local cook’s guild has four colors of aprons for their ranking and, of course, I had to have one in each color because I didn’t know who would win.

All but one were completed in time for the event. Guess which color I needed for the winner? Bingo, the one undone. So I took the apron to DragonCon and sewed like a fiend in the backrow in panel after panel after panel – from Science to Space, Writing to the Apocalypse (maybe more literally then just the panel’s name). Then I did the last bit at home in time to deliver the prize to the woman the next time I saw her after she won. Go Me!

All the aprons were done in Honeycomb smocking and had Hound’s Tooth as the first row of drawn work. Red and Green also got lines of Interlacing.

Art Projects: Drawn Thread

Drawn Threadwork made my May

This month I taught a class on Drawn Threadwork. Related to the class I ended up making a couple of towels as examples, to work beside my students, and to drum up additional interest in the class.

First towel completed (May 19) – 15 hours

I love Drawn Thread embroidery because of its speed; this 17 inch by 30 inch towel took under 15 hours to complete when many of my embroidery projects can take over 100 hours. The four lines of drawn threadwork include Hound’s Tooth, Interlacing (Variation), Zig-Zag, and Interlacing (Basic).








Second towel completed (May 26) 
The lines are as follows(top to edge of fabric) – Hound’s tooth bottom; Hound’s tooth top; drawn thread 2 lines; drawn thread 4 lines; Double ladder interlace (6 gather for each ladder); drawn thread 4 lines; drawn thread 2 lines; Zig zag; Hound’s tooth top.

All white fabric untouched are 6 lines wide. All gathers are 8-thread gathers unless stated otherwise.


And enough of that for a while. Hopefully my students enjoyed the class as much as I did prepping for it.

Photo of In-Progress Embroidery

Art Projects: Padded Work

Photo of In-Progress EmbroideryDancing needles flashing in and out of cloth has been absorbing my art time the past few months. I taught a class on smocking and one on net darning in November and that took a lot of prep work. But I have devoted some time to “me” projects as well.

Padded Work Project (June-July)

In June I attended a two-hour class on padded work. The “simple” project took several weeks to complete, but I got it done!

First I basted the fabric together with bright red thread. Next I drew the teacher-provided design using chalk and then basted that using white thread because the chalk was going to come out quickly with all the hand work.

Now the fun starts. I put in the true outline, slowly removing the basting. At the same time I started the speckling – itsy, bitsy stitches bringing down the fluff. In the first photo you can see the right flower petal is half-completed.

Photo - Speckling almost doneI bounced around a lot, as you can see in the second photo. The leaves were nearly completely speckled, but the big bumps on each of the flower petals still needed work.

Photo - Adding yarn for paddingEventually I got all the outline and speckling done. The last major step of the embroidery part of the project is to run thick yarn through the edges of all the flower petals, raising them even higher next to the matted down speckling. I did though through the back of the project.





Photo - Backing the padded workWith the embroidery complete, I needed to back the padded work pillow. I added yarn around the edge to hide where I joined the backing fabric to the embroidery ground.Photo - Adding Tassels

Next came the tassels, because throw pillow should have tassels. I made them from the same yarn I edged the pillow in.



And Complete. Photo - Completed padded work

Art Projects: Embroidery

Photo: Embroidered Canvaswork FishI know in March I promised to post about my present art projects for the Fifth Tuesday. Well, between working on Gardening (yes, still) and this website I haven’t really completed anything cool recently to show off. So I thought I would share a bit about my embroidery … you will be seeing a lot of it in the coming years.

Embroidery is in my top three passions. I love it in all of its forms: canvas work, blackwork, hardanger, drawn thread, lacis, smocking, goldwork, beadwork… The list goes on forever. I am a lifetime member of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America (EGA), though I do not participate in a local chapter at this time.

The fish above is a canvaswork pillow I worked in a variety of stitches in an attempt to qualify for Master Craftsman within the guild. To get the shading, I started with six different threads on a needle and changed one of the six to the next color in line every time I needed to rethread. I failed my first attempt for the master ranking, but I have not put away my needles just yet. Failure just means I had a learning opportunity (with a really nice pillow as a result). 

Photo of Gold and beadworkAfter I get my writing together and in a production line, I plan to return to my embroidery full-force. In the meantime, I play. Like when I got this wonderful green fabric just begging to have the pattern enhanced with gold thread and red beads. 

Photo: Ring PillowAnd sometimes I go all out when something special comes up, like my sister’s wedding. She requested to have an embroidered ring bearer’s pillow to be carried by my very young nephew (hence the thread to tie the rings down). German whitework inspired this hardanger and drawn thread design done on linen. I then assembled it with some satin fabric.

It’s cool to developed a skill, in my case embroidery, to the point one is capable of making family heirlooms like the ring pillow. Don’t know if it will survive until the next round of marriages in the family – white satin is not a friend of time – but for the moment I can point at it and say “I made this”.

Photo closeup of embroidery