Monday, May 21, 2018

Stencils for Stitching

I don’t know about you, but I can never sit still. It’s actually ridiculous that I can’t just sit and watch television at night with my husband, John. Great thought, energy, and planning go into what my “lap project” is going to be each evening. Here’s the usual scene. Me on the end of the sofa with good light surrounded by pups and a happy husband on the other end. 

When I was offered the opportunity to be part of a delegation to visit Icheon, South Korea last month to participate in a UNESCO Creative Cities for Folk Art & Craft (you’re right, Paducah has it going on!), my first thoughts after, “how cool,” were “Ohmygosh, what am I going to do on the plane for 17 hours each way?!??!? 

Paducah is home to the National Quilt Museum, holds the moniker “Quilt City, USA” and hosts upwards of 30,000 quilters at the Spring (and now Fall) Quilt Shows hosted a few blocks from my shop. These attributes, as well as our Arts District, are some of the reasons why we earned the designation of being a UNESCO Creative City for Folk Art & Craft.

In the days before leaving, I was teaching a favorite class of mine using stencils to create embroidery patterns on vintage quilt squares. I also add 3-D objects, vintage lace, buttons, tintypes, etc. Hey! I’m a mixed media lover I’ll attach anything to anything! I decided to create an airplane project out of the materials for class. 

Those who know me know my passion for “junking.” And, I have an emotional reaction when I see hand-made items tossed aside. I think of the love and skill that went into making the items and it breaks my heart to see them amidst piles of crud. This has resulted in me rescuing abandoned quilt squares when I find them on yard sale and flea market adventures. I had some uber-cool ones a few years ago that were very old and basted onto 1962 newspaper. Mary Beth was in the shop and suggested stenciling on top of them (that woman will stencil anything not moving, I tell ya...). A seed was planted and now this is the class!

Here are some really good StencilGirl® Stencils to use for stitching! The green washi tape on the stencils is to remind me to use these only for stitching. I try to keep these very clean unlike my studio stencils which I don't wash frequently. 
Sometimes I start with the stencil for inspiration and sometimes I start with the quilt square. 

I will add a backing fabric to the square. My current fav to use is luscious hand-dyed silk squares from Makanda Moon in Illinois. No need to baste them together. Simply center your square on the fabric and place both in your hoop. Start stitching!

I typically use white gesso through the stencil for stitching and, I’ve had good luck with Paper Artsy’s Fresco Chalk Paints. You want something that’s easy for a needle to pass through and not sticky. Also, you need to be able to see it. In the case of this project, all of the gesso will be covered with stitching. Other times I’ll use the Fresco Paint as a design element — adding color that way.

The juxtaposition of lines made me happy with the combination of Lizzie Mayne’s Aztec Sun Stencil (S275) and this happy little square. I'm going to further push that contrast using oranges and reds on the green. 

My project kit for the plane includes the quilt square, backing fabric, DMC Perle Cotton in variegated warm yellows, reds, & oranges, vintage lace, buttons, and felted wool strips. I use any and all kinds of thread to stitch with. Sublime Stitching has wonderfully coordinated floss packs that I use in classes. For this project, I’ll use Satin Stitch most of the time and probably some couching. And, yes! you can take small sharp scissors on the plane. The blades have to be less than 4" in length!

Here’s a progress picture. These take me months of off & on stitching and inspiration to finish. Plus, I think I overestimated my ability to focus as I was so excited about the trip. I didn't get as much done as I'd hoped. :(

Here’s one I recently finished. Sue Pelletier’s Loose Dress Stencil (S155) makes for fantastic stitching!

If you want to read more about the UNESCO Trip to South Korea, please hop over to my blog for details. We were there for the opening of the Ceramics Festival and toured an incredible museum dedicated to ceramics. In the words of Mary Beth Shaw…I saw stencils EVERYWHERE! 

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Can't wait to read about your trip. I love your stitching art. I've been gathering goodies to use. After reading this article I'm going to jump in head first and just start. Hoping to get to a class soon. Thanks for sharing your adventures.


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