Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The embroideredy that didn't work

I have been trying to finish off some things lately that have been hanging around for a while. Some time ago I posted a picture of a partially embroidered butterfly. There was a discussion on the Yahoo group, hand-embroidery, about creating a transfer from a printed page and out of curiosity I had to give it a try. It turns out that any clip art, or scanned colouring book image can be turned into an instant transfer when you use a laser printer. Laser printers make use of powdered ink mixed with wax. When you apply the heat of an iron to the printed page you get a decent transfer image.

At the time the ladies in the hand-embroidery group were working on each one doing their rendition of an embroidered butterfly, so I used the butterfly image as a trial transfer. It worked so well I instantly thought of doing a quilt with a whole series of embroidered blocks. I jumped into the process with great enthusiasm, and selected a skein of turquoise embroidery floss that I had been saving to do the butterfly.

Turquoise is an odd colour. It's just that mix of blue and yellow that it makes it difficult to pair up with other colours and still look good. I did the outer border and then started working on the inner part of the wings. The first colour I tried I didn't like, so after several hours of work I ripped it out. The next colour I liked but not the kind of stitch I had chosen to use, so again I ripped it out. The third time I tried it using a third combination of stitching and colours, and finally found something that looked OK. By this time I had done hour and hours of stitching and my hands really started to hurt. So by the time I got the butterfly done, I was in too much pain to continue. Today I picked it up and finished it off.
For some reason the camera just doesn't want to take a decent picture of it. I guess it's been doomed from the start, but I had to get it finished just so that I can put the embroidery tools away. I love the turquoise colour, but the thread is dull and lack lustre. It wasn't easy to work with, but after everything else I was determined to work with it. When I came to doing the flowers I ran into the same problem of matching up contrasting colours that didn't just clash with the vivid turquoise. The thread is manufactured in China and doesn't have the same sheen and twist as DMC or Coats Anchor and it snagged and snarled all the time I was working with it.

The stitching doesn't show up very well in the picture, but the dark pink flowers have pale pink straight stitches inside the daisy stitches and there is a similar light green straight stitch inside each of the leaves. I had planned on doing the flowers in satin stitch, but when it got down to, I just want this thing finished, I opted for something less time consuming.

When it was all done I, popped it out of the hoop and hand washed it in Ivory soap to get rid of the printer ink and the soiling from working on it, and slapped it down on the ironing board to press it dry. Out of habit from working with lace I sandwiched it between sheets of paper towel and applied the iron. Good thing I did. The lovely vivid turquoise thread bled like mad into the paper towel. I have a perfect imprint of the turquoise section.

The butterfly is done, and now that I know that I could create all kinds of unique transfers just by scanning, cutting, pasting and printing, I'd love to embark on making a whole quilt of embroidered pieces. Unfortunately, I also discovered that my hands won't take the hours of stitching the would be required. So I guess I'm not going to get a one of a kind embroidered quilt, but I am going to be able to sleep at night without major pain medication. Just as well really. I don't have enough hours in the day to tat and embroider. I picked up a pair of pillowcases I may do as a gift, but I don't think I'll be doing much more than that. Now I need to think of something to do with an embroidered 8 inch square that has been embroidered in thread which might bleed when it's washed again.

I think I may take all of the suitable transfer images that I found on the internet and put them into a PDF file. At least then if I do decide I want to do another chunk of embroidery, they'll all be in the same place. I can always put the file into the PDFPick software and use the embroidered butterfly as the front cover to remind me of what's in it.


Lace-lovin' Librarian - Diane said...

The butterfly is beautiful! I've never really tried emroidery... a little crewel work in the 70s, cross stitch in the 80s, but nothing like this. I really admire your ability to finish a project!

Marty said...

It's so miserable when something on which we spend so much time just doesn't measure up to expectations. If it's any consolation, I really like the butterfly and the surrounding flowers. If you could find some coordinating fabric, it would make a really nice top for a decorative pillow (since you aren't going to be able to do a quilt -- a very sad thing in itself).

yarnplayer said...

I am "tagging" you, Sharon! Hope you don't mind. You can see the rules for this thing (it's been going around) at my last blog post.

Gail said...

I tag YOU!
Go to my blog to see what to do.