Thursday, March 4, 2021

Hopeful Flower Wrap Up!

We have come to the end of our Hopeful Flowers Stitch Along and we have been thrilled at the great participation we have had. Most of all, we have loved seeing the wealth of creativity and the way that everyone has put their own spin on this little project!


Today, I (Kara) am going to go over the simple setting we used to finish our four blocks.  Since the embroidery is the focus of this project, we didn't want any finish that was too fancy or complicated. The sashing is made up of 1-inch strips (finished 1/2"), and we chose a darker shade of green in order to nicely frame the blocks. The outside border is made up of forty-four 2" squares (finished 1.5") in eight different fabrics. As I mentioned before, the fabrics we used were Tres Jolie lawns, by French General.

I chose to hand quilt the wallhanging with a #12 pearl cotton around the flowers and then in a cross-hatch pattern in the background, but you may choose to quilt yours differently. You may even choose to make something other than a wallhanging—there are no rules here!

Wallhanging Instructions

Note: We used a 1/4" seam.

  1. Trim the blocks to 7.25" and arrange in the order you would like them.
  2. Cut 6 sashing strips 1" x 18" and cut one of those strips in half.
  3. Sew a 9" sashing piece to the bottom of one block and then sew that to the top of another.
  4. Do the same to the other two blocks and trim so that the edges are even. Press the seams away from the blocks.
  5. Sew one 18" piece of sashing between the 4 blocks and then sew sashing onto both sides of your 4 blocks.
  6. Trim the extra. Press the seams away from the blocks.
  7. Add a piece of sashing to the top and the bottom, and then trim. Press the seams away from the blocks.
  8. Cut 44 2-inch squares. We used 8 different fabrics.
  9. Sew 2 sets of 10 squares together. 
  10. Sew one set to the bottom and one set to the top.
  11. Sew 2 sets of 12 squares together.
  12. Sew one set to the left and one set to the right. 
  13. Press sashing away from the border. 
  14. Cut a 22" piece of backing fabric and batting and then sandwich together with top.
  15. Quilt as desired, then trim and bind.
The blocks and directions will be available for free until April 15, and then will be moved to our website for purchase as a complete pattern. 

We hope that you have enjoyed learning some fun, new stitches during this stitch-along, and we are so grateful for your support and participation throughout this project. It is our hope (pun intended) to keep this group going with new projects every so often. We would love for you  to continue to share pictures of your progress with these little blooms. You never know how your post may encourage someone else!

Happy Hopeful Stitching!


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Hopeful Flowers Week 4

It has been nice focusing on flowers while many of us have had nothing but cold, snowy weather. Here in Germany, we are experiencing a bit of spring weather, and the snowdrops and crocuses are starting to show their faces. I (Kara) can't believe we are on our last flower in this stitch along!

This week's block is one of my favorites—mainly because it has the cast-on stitch as the center focal point. The cast-on stitch can be a little tricky, but once you get the hang of it, you can do so many things with it. It is a cousin to the bullion stitch and is often used in Brazilian embroidery. The leaves in this block are also a favorite, because we have taken a basic stitch and amped it up by using two colors and two different types of thread. So without further ado, let's get started!

Block 4: Rose Flower

As in the previous blocks, we marked our stems using a light box or window and then hooped our block when doing the stitches for the stems.

Stitches used:

Cast-on, Hungarian braided chain, fly, and stem stitch

The cast-on stitch is, as I said, similar to the bullion stitch. It is helpful to use a milliners needle for this stitch, as the eye has the same width as the shaft of the needle, allowing for the wraps to pass the eye more easily. 

We will set the groundwork for our cast-on stitches by surrounding the center with blanket stitches in varying lengths forming an arc for each petal as shown below.

If you are a knitter, then the "cast-on" action might not be a problem for you. It is probably a little hard to show in pictures, so take a look at the videos we have linked for this stitch as well. 

Come up on a small blanket stitch.
Bring your needle down on the other small
blanket stitch and
back out where you came up.



















I hold my needle straight up and take my
working thread and make my first loop/wrap.

The working thread needs to be underneath 
the loop.















Make enough wraps to curve over the blanket stitch arc.
Each stitch on the large flower has 25 wraps, 20 for the medium, 
and 16 for the small. That may vary depending on what thread you use.

Here you can see the "ridges" that form from the wraps.

When you have all your wraps on your needle, hold on to the wraps and pull the needle through.

Lay your wraps over the arc. You will need to bring your needle
underneath the wraps as shown so that the stitch lays flat
and that the ridges are on top.

Bring the needle down in the same spot that you came out before.

We are going to anchor our cast-on stitch
by coming up underneath it at the top
of our longest blanket stitch.
Bring your needle down in the cast-on stitch
just below the ridge.






The finished cast-on stitch.

Here is a little video to show how I do the cast-on stitch. (Please excuse my horrible winter hands!)




The Hungarian braided chain is similar to the heavy chain stitch but has a completely different look. This is a great go-to for a nice thick stem.



As we did in the heavy chain stitch, make 
a small stitch at the top of the line, and
then back up on the line below the stitch.
 Bring the back of your needle through 
the stitch.

















Come back up a little below the stitch again.



Your first stitch should look like this.

















Bring your needle to the back leaving
two loops on either side of the chain 
as shown.

Bring the back of your needle through
the little stitch at the top, but don't pull it
all the way through.





















Bring the needle up on the line below the stitch.

Bring the back of the needle under the inner chain and
over the outer chain.

Pull the working thread snugly against the needle.

Bring the needle through leaving a loop on the right.

Complete the chain and leave a loop on the left.

Come up below the stitches on the line.

Bring the back of the needle under the inner chain and over the outer chain.

Pull the working thread snugly against the needle.
Continue on down the stem repeating the same steps.

The stitches on the leaves are very simple. We used a #8 pearl to make fly stitches down the center of the leaf and took the arms of the fly to the outside of the leaf. Then we took two strands of floss in a darker color and did fly stitches in between the previous ones.



To get your free download, follow these instructions:

1. Click on the link below that says Hopeful Flowers Block 4.
2. You will be directed to our What's Happening Page. It may ask you if you would like to go to that page, and if so, click the link provided.
3. Scroll down until you see the Hopeful Flowers wallhanging.
4. Follow the directions there for downloading your free pattern.

And just like that we have finished covering all four blocks! We hope you have enjoyed learning some unique new stitches. Embroidery can add so much to our wool and cotton appliqué—we really feel that it brings it to life. Do you have a favorite stitch from our four blocks? 

Next week we will wrap this project up and share how we completed our wallhanging, so stay tuned, and happy stitching!

Links:

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Hopeful Flowers Week 3

After a two-week break, we are ready to jump back in to our Hopeful Flowers Stitch Along. It has been great to see all the progress that has been posted in our Facebook group—especially when we see how you have been putting your own touches on these little patterns. This week we are going to be focusing on the turquoise flower.


This block has some interesting stitches that create a lot of texture—the Palestrina, wheat ear, Cretan, and seed stitch. While they look complicated, we think you will love these stitches once you get the hang of them.

Block 3: Turquoise Flower

As in the previous blocks, we marked our stems using a light box or window and then hooped our block when doing the stitches for the stems.

Stitches used:

Palestrina, wheat ear, Cretan, stem, and seed stitch

The wheat ear stitch is a great stitch to use for a stem because it gives the illusion of thorns. It is basically a chain stitch with straight stitches on either side.

Bring your needle up a little bit
below the top of the line.
Make a small diagonal stitch
to the right of the line.


















Make a small diagonal stitch
to the left of the line.
And then make a straight stitch
from the top of line to meet the others.










Bring your needle up on the line
a bit below the previous stitches.
Now take the back of your needle
through the previous stitches.


















Bring the needle down to make a 
chain stitch.
The first wheat ear stitch.








Now make a diagonal stitch to the 
right of that first chain stitch.
And then make another one
to the left.




Come up on the line a bit below
the previous stitches. 
Bring the back of your needle through
the previous stitches.

Then down on the line to complete the chain.
Continue on in the same way to
the end of the line.

The next stitch is the Palestrina stitch, which is done around the center cutout of each flower. It creates a knotted effect that can add dimension, but also secure the appliqué to the background.



Come up in the circle at the edge of the wool and 
bring your needle down in the wool at a diagonal 
and then back out inside the circle.

This creates your first diagonal stitch.

With the thread to the right, take the back of your needle
down through that diagonal stitch.

This creates two arms.

Now take the back of your needle down through the top arm
and over your working thread.

This creates your first knot.

Come across a bit and make your next diagonal stitch.

Bring the back of your needle down through that stitch.

The two arms.

Bring the back of your needle down through the top arm
and over your working thread.

Continue working your way around the circle.

The last stitch we are going to do is a Cretan stitch variation. This stitch is often used in crazy quilting and is usually done in a straight line. We will be doing it from top to bottom and angling our stitches to create the veins for our leaves.

Draw two lines on your leaf as shown.
Bring your needle up at the top of the leaf,
and down just below the top on the right side,
and out just below that on the drawn line.




















Now do the same thing on the left side.
Continue down the leaf following the lines.



















A nearly completed leaf.

A close-up of the wheat ear and Cretan stitch.

The last stitch, but certainly not the least, is the seed stitch, which is a simple stitch (small straight stitches placed randomly) that can pack a lot of punch. It can add contrast or subtle texture depending on the type of thread you use or the color. In the case of this particular flower, we wanted to add a little pop of color along with some texture. 


To get your free download, follow these instructions:

1. Click on the link below that says Hopeful Flowers Block 3.
2. You will be directed to our What's Happening Page. It may ask you if you would like to go to that page, and if so, click the link provided.
3. Scroll down until you see the Hopeful Flowers wallhanging.
4. Follow the directions there for downloading your free pattern.

And that completes Block 3 of our Hopeful Flowers Stitch Along! We hope you will like trying these unique stitches on this week's block, and as always, we have linked a few videos as an added help.