January 18, 2009

Bullion Stitch & Itty bitty dotee

Whilst browsing dotees on flickr, I came across one that had cute little lips. The creator mentioned that she'd simply used french knots. Having never done any (I'd only dabbled in cross stitch before), I was happy to come across a video tutorial on the Needle'nThread website. It was more helpful than some of the diagrams I have seen, like this one in one of my books:

I began looking at more of Mary's video tutorials and stumbled across the bullion knot tutorial.

I immediately went and found some linen remnants I had stashed away from a dress I made, and a big hoop I used for cheap screen printing. The only embroidery thread I had was blue, so I kind of free-styled some different stitched: french knots, bullion stitches, fly stitch and a little satin stitch.

The results weren't exactly stellar, but more importantly it was fun!

Next, I went to Lincraft and bought a whole lot of different coloured DMC embroidery threads & a smaller hoop as it was quite awkward working on the large one. I used another patch of linen (note the different look of the fabric - it's the same linen, just the other side) and stitched a little bullion rose bud. It's not perfect, but it was fun and it rather cute (I used two fly stitches for the stem & leaves).

One of the reasons I'm mentioning these stitches, is that I'm participating in the Itty Bitty Dotee Swap on Swap-Bot and wanted to incorporate a little hand embroidery into it.

I was inspired by the beautiful insects and plants on Mary's Breath of Spring Embroidery Project. I initially wanted to embroider a butterfly, but I had beautiful shades of yellow thread and decided to start with something a little simpler. I liked the look of the wheat ears featured on an ecclesiastical piece in disrepair, which were done in satin stitch. I found a tutorial on Satin stitch, and jumped right into the project.

I stitched a single ear of wheat (after all the mini dotee is only about 2" tall!!) and was fairly happy with how it turned out. I practiced a little first, and decided to use a single strand of thread. I combined this with a strand of gold metallic thread for the long straight tips & the stem.

After cutting out the little face, I used backstitch to put on the closed eyes, and I tried out the bullion knot lips. While it's cute, I think they may be a little too big for such a small face!

Next, I cut out the shape of the doll so that I could get sew the face on in the right position. This is where I made a big mistake - I hadn't considered the dangers of fraying, which was quite an oversight! I've been doing a fair amount of felt crafting recently, and it didn't even cross my mind. Disaster struck when I began stitching the hair. I used a big needle, because I used several strands of yellow thread and one gold all at once. The fringe went OK, but making the bullion stitch ringlets put a lot of strain on the material, and it frayed awfully. You can see in the photo that there is only one ringlet on the right, and the fraying that has occurred above it.

Not to be disheartened, I packed my little embroidery basket with the correct threads and materials, and on the 3.5 hour bus ride up to Sydney on Friday, I stitched another one.

Overall, I think the ear came out better the second time round. I was more consistent with the "direction" of my stitches (although they are nothing like in the original), and the hairy tips were better spaced apart. Unfortunately my attempt at graciously curving the stalk simply made it look like I couldn't stitch straight!

I still have to finish her off, and I think I'll leave cutting out the fabric to the very end. Also, I'll sew the two pieces of material together using a reinforced stitch on my sewing machine because both pieces are prone to fraying. I'll post a picture when she's done!

I still have a long way to go with Satin stitch, but am glad to have opportunities to practice in small projects like dotees.


Kate said...

This is your first crack at embroidery?! You're a natural! Amazing!

JenMeister said...

Thanks, Kate! I've done cross-stitch before, and a little backstitch, but this is a whole new world, isn't it?

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