Thread lace and beads

Oh my word–making huge pieces of thread lace is a never ending project! I’ve never made anything but some small leaves before and making this huge sheet is taking way too long. If I had known at the beginning….in the category of  lessons learned, I’d really have gone about it in a different way.

My goal was to create sheer, shiny fabric to attach to the silk background already made. It would need to have beads on it, but those could be supported by a grid of beading thread as the beads were added. Okay–that was the plan. Using up tons of fibers and threads seemed like such a bonus, too.

I wasn’t too far into it before I realized that the threads alone would not create a strong enough fabric.

Adding a sheer fabric back was about the only answer I could come up with. Had I started with the fabric, I would have added light fusible and fused those fibers to it. Still would have added the stabilizer and the stitching, but maybe not as much stitch and maybe not so many thread/stitching frustrations. Next time for sure…

I stitched for hours, free form sewing and finally thought it might hold together. Then I added a grid of stitches just to feel better about it!

And suddenly it was time to bite the bullet, call it good and wash away the stabilizer!

It’s sheer, shiny and looks different from every angle. Can’t really show that in photos, but I think it’s going to work. We’ll judge the strength as I start assembling and adding those heavy beads!

Speaking of which…I have a few choices to make!

I always start by pulling anything that I think might have any possibility of working with my fabrics and colors…and because I have accumulated so many beads, that can become a large pile!


I almost immediately eliminated the darker gold beads and the darkest blue beads. The thread fabric changes color with every viewing angle, so most any color should work! I thought about green, but didn’t really have a good green jump out at me.


These three were ‘finalists’ and all looked pretty good. Then I kind of thought all white would really be best and spread these out.

The white along with some off-white looks like the solution. Sparkle all the way through and no dramatic color to draw the eye. The piece is going to reflect a snow storm, so the whiter the better………………..I think! It may yet change as I progress with the beading, but that’s the plan right now.

And I got to spend the whole day in the studio! Thought I was going to have most of the week in the studio, but I forgot to put several things on my calendar. So I’m extra grateful to have had today and to have progressed so far. There is no ‘fast’ in this project, so I will either post it so much that you will get sick of it, or I will try to restrain myself and there will not be as many posts.

But I know myself well enough to know that I will work on more than one project at the same time, so there should be something else to look at soon!



Busy weekend

Yep, this was a busy weekend. Hockey games Friday and Saturday night, Quilt Guild meeting Saturday morning, ice festival in the afternoon, and workshop all day Sunday. Whew!

Happily, I am not too tired to keep stitching. You need to check out Michelle May at The Raspberry Rabbits so you can check out what we did!

I’ve not worked with wool in this manner before and actually went to class wanting to do everything as differently as possible from my normal.

I chose muted colors of wool and neutral colored thread and had a lovely time. I could have finished in class but I wanted a size and color of bead that Michelle did not bring with her. But, oh my, did she ever bring tons and tons of stuff!

This was the first time I came to a class only needing scissors. We paid for a kit and then had our choice of wool, thread and embellishments. Soooooo easy! I will admit that I was skeptical at first, but at this point, if you are a program chair or know one, I highly recommend hiring Michelle May! Delightful and what she teaches is inspiration, not whatever kit it is that you choose.

And now I’m sitting at home, in front of the fire, adding some beads and planning on enjoying the rest of the evening. Aaaaaaaaaaahhh!

Slow sewing time

It’s been a busy time lately and not much sewing has been done. I’ve been adding vintage buttons to the red houses, and once started, I keep wanting to add them ALL!

And when I don’t sew, I don’t post! Projects tend to drag out when you only get to work on them 10 minutes at a time. And then when you start  quilting and it goes wrong…

A couple of minutes of quilting and a half hour of UN-quilting! It will totally change my plan for quilting this! The problem is all those loose edges that I love. When you try to quilt cross-wise over them, you have to stop every couple of stitches to flatten them down. Not good.

When I try again, I think it will be a vertical quilting plan!

In the meantime, there are Christmas decorating things to do, hockey for us and for the grandson, lunches with friends…all the normal fun of a retiree’s life!

From purple to red

Moving on from the purple piece, I’m going back to finish up the cute little red houses. I have a whole jar of red buttons that were begging to become part of a project and this is it!

I had debated whether to quilt or embellish first, but the buttons won out. Pretty much going to be random placement of non-matching items–typical me!

And the red may not show up too much on individual houses, but the overall effect will show their presence.

I’m getting impatient to have this one done now, too. Must be time to get another one going………..

Look at the back!

Most of the time when you make a textile piece, you have a top layer, something in the middle like batting or felt and a backing. I’m not a typical maker, but I do that a great deal of the time.

On my red houses, I went in a bit of a different direction, right from the start. My background and houses were ‘made’ fabric, from fabric scrap strips. One was made on fusible and one was made using lightweight interfacing as a base. I added hand stitching to those two layers, through a layer of batting. I always planned on cutting away the batting around the houses to have that extra layer only there.

When I was adding the embroidery, I noticed that my background had split a bit through that light interfacing.

That’s the DISadvantage of working with lightweight products, but when hand stitching is involved, it’s worth it to have fewer layers to sew through. And it’s an easy fix, in this case. Simply line things up again and slap on another piece of the interfacing!

So now it’s trimmed and ready for the next step. I will be adding buttons to this one, on the houses, but my decison area now is whether I want to do that through the layer of felt that I will be quilting on, or do it before the quilting. Sometimes the embellishments can get caught on the quilting foot, or get in the way, but I don’t think that will happen with this one. My inclination is to quilt this one first, but my time for today is up so I’ll keep thinking about it.

I did manage to get some machine stitching done on this piece and it’s ready for beads.

I dumped out most of the tube of beads on the piece and just drew a line with them. I really like how this looks and think I’ll pretty much sewn ’em down along this line.

I never mind having more than one project going on at a time. I can go back and forth between them as I ponder the next steps of each.

Hoping to get some stitching done on these a little bit at a time, whenever there is a break from the hustle and bustle of holiday prep.

Slow life and lovin’ it!

Progress is always slow when hand work is involved. Especially handwork that makes your fingers sore! Of course, I’m not in a hurry to get anything done, so I’m enjoying what I call laziness. I’ve done a bit of reading, a bit of napping and a bit of furniture moving while our kitchen floor was being refinished. And there will be a LOT of furniture moving next week since the living room floor is being replaced. In the meantime, I’ve had a good time working on ‘couch’ projects. Like a bunch of unlabeled fibers–cotton and rayon, I think–that were in large skeins that I rewound into small skeins and plan on dyeing.

I was able to get my favorite beading area set up again, even though it will be temporary!

I hit our vintage market last weekend and found some things that I have wanted for ages! Spotted these chairs from the road and HAD to stop.

And these baskets were in the back corner. I was only going to buy one but my husband convinced me that I’d never find another pair like these, so I got them both…and someone else wanted them even as we were doing the transaction! Whew!

And spent all my sewing time playing with these flowers. What I like is that you can’t really see the embroidery and beading details until you get up close. That’s my main reason for doing it…that added interest as you approach and examine the art.

This is my favorite flower.

And a look at the finished project, ready to be mounted on the green wool.

Really loving my laid back life right now. It’s so much fun doing what I enjoy with no pressure to finish a thing!


While I’m waiting

Waiting for another coat of paint to dry and thinking about getting everything super organized for this new class I’m teaching. Thought I would make another little sample that shows a different design idea for those who don’t want to do the same thing as everyone else.

I went to the fishing gear department to stock up on beading thread and saw a new type to try.

This is made by the same company that makes the Fireline thread I usually use, but I have never seen any this fine before. Only 2 lb. and the finest Fireline is 4 lb. It seems to be thinner than ‘invisible’ thread and it’s definitely more supple. Doesn’t say ‘braided’ as the Fireline is, so we’ll have to see just how strong it really is.

I used it with these black beads and you have to look super close to see it in this picture (arrow). In fact, I can’t get a picture close enough to show it all.

Oh, never mind…can’t really see it all, and I guess that’s the point! Pros: thin, strong, supple.   Cons: so thin it’s hard to see while beading.  It’s yet to be seen exactly how strong it is. I’ll have to throw this piece around and handle it a lot to test it out. Of course, once it’s mounted, you don’t have to worry about that, but I’d rather feel secure about my beads than worry about them falling off!

And I DO love French knots! Hard to stop adding them, but I had to restrain myself for the sake of the design.

Only need to decide now if it needs any more beads and then one more sample is ready for edge finishing. I’ll show that in class, I think.

Didn’t have AJ this week…seemed to have soooo much extra time. Glad he’ll be back from visiting his cousins and other grandparents next week. I’m selfish that way, but I sure love this boy!