Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Today was cool and a bit drizzly so I worked on our vegetable garden.  Lee softened the ground and I weeded.  The last few years we have tried to have a garden but the plants died from neglect.  But this year we are determined to have fresh vegetables!  So far we have a space cleared about 4 feet by 8 feet and 13 tomato planted.  We have had a warm spring so we took our chances and started the garden two weeks ago.  Lee went to the hardware store and came home with the last batch of tomato plants, some cherry tomatoes.  So we need to clear some more space for another 12 plants.  Will 25 tomato plants be enough?  I also planted several hanging baskets of herbs.  The basil plants do very well in a basket and it confuses the snails.  Then I planted catnip plants and hung them on a tree, that confuses cats.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a nice day to work outside.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Working on a Crocheted Doll by Sue Pendleton

The crocheted doll by Sue Pendleton I started months ago is screaming for attention!  I finally found the started doll, threads and pattern at the same time.  So before I lose something, I started working on it again.  The doll is really cute!  So far the body, arms and head are made.  Currently I'm working on the clothes.  Can't wait to finish it and put up a picture.

Cleaning and sorting had to wait a bit.  But I have finally started sorting through the beads!  I've sorted two boxes so far.  Once the beads are sorted into colors I will start sorting by type and size.  Putting away the beads is a big job.  Then I want to start making jewelry for the Fair.

Yesterday I found two Barbie dresses that are close to being finished.  Unfortunately I don't have matching threads to finish them.  Lee said to make the missing sleeves in another color.  The blue dress is fine without sleeves or I could make the sleeves that match the underskirt.  The red dress really needs sleeves and I don't have that color of red thread.  They are both pretty but I really love the red dress.  It will feel great to finish them and have more clothes for Barbie!  Hopefully it won't be hard to find the red thread.

Blue crocheted dress,

Red crocheted dress.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Haven't Posted in a While

Recently I have been pushing myself to get the craft area cleaned up and organized.  It is really coming together after a lot of hard work.  Most of the work has been sorting through stuff.  But it has been hard to do especially the bending down part!  But it has been worth the effort!  Being able to find supplies is wonderful and gives me more crafting time.  This lovely Barbie sweater set was in with the doll making supplies, I made this years ago.

Knitted Barbie sweater set.

Mountmellick work at padding stage.

In the last few days I have been working on the Mountmellick embroidery. It is coming out very well but being whitework is hard to photograph.  Apparently part of Mountmellick is heavy padding.  The padding starts with seed stitch, then two layers of satin stitch and then a final layer of satin stitch.  All the layers make the embroidery quite thick and the fabric needs to be strong.  The pattern I'm doing is Dog Roses and Blackberries, from "Mountmellick Embroidery" by Pat Trott.  It is a beautiful pattern and I may try making it as a Crewel embroidery next.  I thought it would be really pretty having the same pattern with and without color as matching pillows.  The curtain scarf I've been working on has finished edges in crab stitch now.  I plan on adding a border in crochet lace and maybe a few crocheted flowers, all in white of course!

The last couple of weeks I have also been doing research on Hedebo embroidery.  Hedebo seems to be an obscure form of embroidery.  It is a form of white work that is roughly similar to Schwalm.  When I'm finished I will post links to the few links I've found.  While doing all this research I found the best site www.archive.org  Some libraries having scanned out of copyright books and made them available for downloading in several formats.  I've had lots of fun at the site getting access to old books.  This is especially helpful when researching needlework.  So many embroidery and lace instructions are hard to find in modern books.  In fact I had to purchase two magazines from 1906 and 1916 to find detailed hedebo instructions.  Hedebo was already obscure by the early 20th century.

With some luck I hope to make a tutorial on Dorcet Singleton buttons.  I've made a few and want to make a set for a shirt.  These will have to be washable so it limits the supplies and embroidery used.  Button making is really fun and a good skill if you make 16th century style clothing!  Now to get back to some research!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ugly Lilly of the Valley Bookmark

A lily of the valley bookmark seemed like a good project but it turned out rather dull.  The first thing I did was draw two leaves onto a piece of green linen twill.  I had never though of embroidering on twill until I saw a project using twill.  So to stabilize the fabric I used a split stitch on the outline.  Then a row of small chain stitch on top of the split stitch.  Then after embroidering the lily I cut out the leaves close to the outline and then buttonholed the leaf edges.  These steps made a very strong padded edge.  The design was the problem.  Just needs to look a bit more exciting.  I promised to make a bookmark for a reading program.  I am supposed to turn it in on Saturday so I have to get working on it and make a name tag too!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

How to Make Fabric Dorcet Buttons and Spider Web Roses

Dorcet fabric buttons.

I was learning how to make Dorcet style buttons yesterday and today.  My reference books for learning were "50 Heirloom Buttons to Make" by Nancy Nehring.   A great book with lots of button types and histories.  Also used was "The Button Maker" by Sarah Beaman.  "The Button Maker" has good illustrations and instructions.  I find that the two books are very complimentary.  I highly recommend both books.

Dorcet buttons are made of fabric with rings that help them keep their shape.  They are basically a yo-yo that has a ring inserted and then the yo-yo is closed.  The Singleton button is made the same way but has an added backstitch around the inside of the ring to keep the ring from moving.  Singleton buttons were made by the Singleton family and were embroidered with daisies according to Sarah Beaman's book.

To make Dorcet buttons start with deciding what size to make them.  I decided on using 1 inch plastic rings for the sample.  Both authors suggest the outer size of the button fabric be 2.5 times the size of the ring.  The fabric should be a closely woven fabric but not to thick.  If there is any chance that the fabric may shrink when washed, please prewash it.  In the sample I used a silk taffeta.   I wanted to embroider mine so I drew two circles, one a 2.5 inch circle and then another 1 inch circle in the center. 

So with my taffeta fabric marked and in a hoop I embroidered three leaves in a kind of Celtic design.  The leaves were stitched in herringbone using three shades of green cotton floss.  Then I decided to make spider roses using 4mm pink silk ribbon.  Spider roses are very delicate not the best choice for buttons, but I am not making these washable.  Be sure to read the limitations on the fabrics, rings, threads and ribbons you use.

Green embroidered leaves for button.

Embroidered leaves and Spider Roses.

How to Make a Spider Rose
To make a spider rose draw a circle a bit smaller then you want the rose to be.  Then from the center of the circle fasten a thread matching the ribbon color.  I wouldn't use a standard knot because it might show.  I make a stitch and then pierce though it with the needle to lock it in place.  Next use a long stitch and stitch from the center of the rose to it's edge.  Repeat this remembering that you need an odd number of stitches and try to make them evenly spaced.  The long stitches form the web for the spider rose.

Spider webs stitched as first step of making a spider rose.

Now for some fun!  Sometimes I start by sewing a tiny 3 mm crystal in the roses center.  But this time I will just make a standard rose.  Thread a small tapestry needle with the 12 to 14 inches of 3mm silk ribbon and bring it through the fabric near the center of the rose.  Remember that the silk is delicate and will start fraying if to long a piece is used.  Pull the ribbon through the fabric leaving a small tail. 

Silk ribbon brought up near center of spider rose web.
Weaving started, beginning of spider ribbon rose.
Weaving continues.
Spider ribbon rose partially woven.
Twirling ribbon to create more realistic petals.

Then weave the ribbon over and under the web threads.  This is done very gently, if you pull the ribbon to tight it will not make a pretty rose.  Once the center is woven you can twirl the needle curling the ribbon.  The curled ribbon makes interesting petal shapes and makes the rose more roselike.  Then straighten the ribbon for the last round of weaving.  Sometimes if the rose is uneven I will stitch a petal or two around it. 

Sewing the ribbon ends to secure them to the back of the embroidery.
(I have long stitches of pink on the back, I ran the thread across rather then beginning and ending the webs separately.)

Then pull the ribbon back through the fabric.  Clip both ends of the ribbon and sew them together using the web thread.  There are other ways to do this but I like the security of sewing the ends.  Sometimes I stitch into the ribbon roses very gently just to secure the petals.  It is a bit tricky not to leave a stitch showing but it makes the roses more durable.  It also gives an opportunity to shape the spider rose.  Finally I decided to stitch some rocailles beads one at a time around the embroidery and within the 1 inch circle.  The button remind me of little tiles.

Stitching the beads on using silk beading thread.
Finished embroidery.
Making the Dorcet Button
With the embroidery finished now comes the button making.  I was a bit worried at this point because I was unsure that all the beads were inside the 1 inch circle.  Now instead of cutting the fabric at the 2.5 inch circle I decided to try something different.  I took the small yo-yo maker by Clover and placed the top piece over the embroidery.
Embroidery seen through the top part of a Clover yo-yo tool.
This turned out to be trickier then I though it would be. The ribbon roses crush easily and the beads were slippery. But I gave it a try and cut around the yo-yo tool leaving about a 1/4 inch of fabric beyond the tool.  Then I put Stop Fraying by Aleene's on the edges of the silk and let it dry. 
 Stop fraying was put on the edges of the button rounds.
After the fabric dried, I tried to but the yo-yo tool on but the embroidery was to thick.  So I held the two parts together gently and stitched around the yo-yo tool.  It was a bit hard to do because the tool kept slipping.  But it came out great because I was extremely gentle.  Using the yo-yo tool should work better with a less delicate and 3D embroidery. 
To form the button without a yo-yo tool stitch a running stitch around the fabric circle about 1/4 of the depth from the edge.  The trick here is to leave enough fabric to push under to secure the edges.  But also to leave enough fabric to close the fabric circle.  You may need to run the gathering thread a couple of times to get it right.  Remember to place the 1 inch plastic ring inside the button before closing it tightly.
Pulling the running thread to form the button.
After pulling the yo-yo closed, making sure the fabric edges were tucked inside as well as the 1 inch plastic ring.  The trick is to pull the thread and then loosen the gathering and spacing the fabric evenly.
Gathering the button.
Finally I ran the thread around the close for extra strength.  If there is still an opening you can run stitches from top to bottom and side to side.  If there is still a whole or you want a neater back, stitch a piece of fabric over the opening.
Running another gathering thread to help tighten the button opening.
Closing the button opening.
To use the button simply sew through the button onto the garment.  Another way to attach the button is to use a button safety pin.  I hope that this will inspire and help with making fun and unique buttons.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Going through the Closet

I really do have clothes but I never keep them in good repair.  It seems that I wear the same things until they are dead or need a button sewn on.  Every year I buy something new to replace something worn out.  Normally I spend $100 on clothes every year, that includes new scarves.

The other day I wanted to wear a white blouse.  I have 5 white and off-white blouses but they were all missing buttons.  Perfectly good clothing just hanging in the closet.  So I went out and bought some buttons!  It really is amazing how many buttons there were to choose from but I bought simple flat white buttons.  I sat down with the blouses and made myself sew buttons on them.  Now I have usable blouses again.

But it got me to thinking about the history of buttons and how valuable they once were.  Two years ago with the help of the book "50 Heirloom Buttons to Make" by Nancy Nehring, I learned how to make some dorset crosswheel buttons. 

Dorset crosswheel button.
So I got out the button books and decided to try the dorcet fabric buttons.  They are rather fun to make.  Dorcet fabric buttons are very easy buttons to make.  So I started a tutorial but had issues with the pictures.  So I had to make the buttons again!  That wouldn't be a problem but I heavily embroidered and beaded the buttons. Right now I'm sick of buttons!  But I will get the tutorial finished!  Here is a picture of the first fabric dorcet button I made.
I doodled the flowers and then beaded over the empty spaces. 
The button is slightly over 1 inch.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Cleaning and Sorting

The last few days I have been sorting through crafting supplies.  With the addition of so much floss to my collection I needed new boxes.  So I went to a sale at Beverly's and got a 3-pack of round boxes and covered them with paper.  Now I'm not quite sure where to put the larger boxes but I now have enough box space for the overflowing ribbons and embroidery floss.

I also found my doll making supplies and with them 7 beautiful Barbie dresses that I had crocheted.  I was anxious to find them because I wanted them for the Barbie Altrusa tree.  Unfortunately I didn't find the wedding dress, I must have given it to someone.  So now to decide on a wedding dress design.

A lot of the books are better sorted, but I'm still missing a few. Working on so much embroidery and lacework, I decided to put those books in the bedroom.  That gave me a lot more bookspace in the craft room.  The bead sorting hasn't even started!  But it is possible to walk around in the room and even sit on the floor.  Lee bought me another 200 page covers so I can organize the patterns I have downloaded from the Internet.  But I need some more binders!

The Richelieu work piece is coming along.  The final decision was to work it on a bleached muslin using a fine silk thread.  Instead of working buttonhole bars I decided to use woven bars.  The woven bars are a little more work but they look bolder.  I've almost finished the running threads and should start the buttonhole edges and satin stitches soon.  I've started lesson on from the needle painting book.  Monday I practised needle tating with some of the new needles.  It is wonderful having a variety of needle sizes to work with even yarn tatting.  Yesterday I spent time working half throws and cloth stitch samples.  Using the back of the ribbon board for bobbin lace worked great.  But I need to cut the rest of the wall insulation into movable sections so I can make a bobbin lace scarf.  A bobbin lace scarf would be a great project for the Fair.