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181  Katxena's Gallery in Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) by Katxena on: September 06, 2006 11:24:17 AM
Edited to add:  I decided to start a gallery for my ATCs in Jan. 2007.  Stifflersmom nicely consolidated all my various ATC posts for me, so they appear here, in chronological order.
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I really wish I could come up with a better name for this series.  Gold blob ATCs just doesn't sound appealing! 

The name comes from the gold circle on each card -- it's a smooshed ball of tissue paper held together with glue, to form a little disk shape.  The gold lines are done with gold embroidery thread, and the paper is handmade (not by me, I bought it).

The one on the left has a Chinese pictogram meaning "happy."  The center one is a well-dressed bug out for the evening.  The one of the left is just random shapes that pleased me!

Edited to add:  these have been traded.
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182  Rainbow postcard in Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General by Katxena on: August 30, 2006 11:45:09 AM
I recently made this postcard for a trade on postcrossing.com:

The pink is 2 layers of cardstock, with one very heavy layer sandwhiched inbetween.  The clouds are plain paper, and the rainbow is torn out of magazines.  I used modpodge to glue it all together, then painted a layer of modpodge over the top with my fingers to give it texture and to make it look a bit like it was painted.

Can you see the fingers in the red strip?  Those belong to Paris Hilton.  For some reason, I think that's really funny.

This was my very first handmade postcard -- or card for that matter!

Edited to fix picture.  Twice.   Roll Eyes
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183  Look what's on my coffee table! in Sublime Stitching Embroidery by Katxena on: August 20, 2006 08:30:26 AM
I went to Philadelphia yesterday (a 300 mile round trip drive! yikes!) to see Jenny's exhibit at ArtStar (http://www.artstarphilly.com/) and attend her booksigning.  It was awesome.  And I got to buy a copy of the new book -- see:

Jenny was really nice and fun to talk to.  She talked about her various projects and ideas for new patterns and about her regret at not having enough time to embroider.  And the book rocks!  The text is an expanded introduction to embroidery, a lot like the little book that comes with the StitchIt Kit, but more fleshed out.  But the patterns!  Oh my!  88 pages of patterny goodness!  There are some new versions of patterns we're familiar with (those wonderful cats! in new poses!) and some totally new patterns (a music staff! with a treble clef!).

And I got to see some of Jenny's work close up -- she even flipped a few over so that we could see the backs (messy! just like mine! what a relief!).  It was cool to see those chunky stitches, and her artwork is really inspiring.

At first, there weren't many people there for the book signing, which was awesome for me, but I felt bad for Jenny and the shop.  But when I left, more people were arriving.  Unfortunately, I couldn't stay for the opening of the exhibit, I had to get home.  Sad  

Also, ArtStar is a really neat shop/gallery -- I recommend it.

It was a fun trip, and totally worth the drive!
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184  Where to embroider a pillowcase? in Needlework: Discussion and Questions by Katxena on: July 30, 2006 09:38:29 AM
I just bought a set of pillowcases to embroider for a wedding gift.  But I can't figure out where on the pillowcase the embroidery should go.  In the picture below, my finger is pointing to the spot where the hem on the pillowcase is folded up.  Should the embroidery go on the hem (to the right of my finger) or on the case (to the left of my finger)?

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185  Fabric cover for Composition Notebook in Completed Projects by Katxena on: July 30, 2006 09:35:05 AM
I made this fabric cover for a composition notebook yesterday.  It's hard to tell from the pictures, but one of the labels is embellished with embroidery.  The pattern was from the Summer 2006 issue of Quilts and More magazine. 

Blogged with more pictures here:  http://www.uncorked.org/alltooquilty/archives/2006/07/30/index.html#002696

The pattern is clever, and the cover came together nicely.  I'll be making more of these!

Edited to add picture.  Whoops!
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186  French Knot Tutorial (with pictures) in Needlework: Discussion and Questions by Katxena on: July 24, 2006 08:36:15 PM
Several people have posted about having problems with French Knots, and I've devised a few tricks for them, so I thought I would post a tutorial.  I hope this is helpful.  Please let me know if anything is unclear, or if you have suggestions for improvement.  Unfortunately, this is a right-handed tutorial, and I don't know how to reverse it for lefties.  Sad

There are 11 steps, but don't let that intimidate you.  French knots are easy -- I just wanted to show my process in as much detail as possible!  It takes me about 3-5 seconds to make a knot this way.

1) If you are using a multi-stranded thread (like DMC floss), separate every strand and put the number of strands you need back together before threading your needle.  Do this even if you are using all the strands -- it *will* help prevent tangles.

2) Put your fabric in a hoop or frame -- I don't have luck making knots without one, and I don't think my method would work very well without one.

3) Pull your thread to the front side of your work (see below), in the place where you want to make a knot.  It's helpful to feel the back to make sure the thread didn't get tangled up as it went through the fabric.

4) Grab the thread with your left hand, as shown below.  The thread should form a triangle, with one point in the fabric, one point in your left hand, and one point in the needle.  Notice that the long edge of this triangle is at the top of the picture, away from your body.  This is important -- it's more likely to tangle if the long edge is toward your body.

5) Keep a good amount of tension on the thread with your left hand.  You don't want to pull so hard that you strain the fabric, but it should be tight.  Do not move the thread!  Use your needle to go around the thread -- all the action is in your right hand.

6) When you've got the number of wraps around the needle you want, pause and push them close together with your left thumbnail.  This helps to keep things neat.  I usually use 4 wraps for 2 strands of DMC floss -- sometimes more for big knots, or less for little knots.

7)  With your right hand, maneuver the needle down through the fabric, while maintaining the tension with your left hand.  Also, you need to hold the thread in your left hand close to the fabric, angled away from your body.  I usually do not go back down through the same hole -- I go down just a little bit next to it.

8 ) Push the needle through the fabric until just the eye is poking up above the fabric.  Let go of the needle with your right hand, and...

9) ... drop the thread from your left hand and immeadiately plant your thumb over the little bit of needle that is still poking up.  Don't delay in doing this, you want the tension to stay in the thread so that it doesn't get loose.

10) Hold your left thumb in place, and reach around the hoop with your right hand and pull the needle through.  I often use a needle-puller for this because it can sometimes be hard to get the needle through.  The needle-puller shown below is really the "point-gripper" from my Boye Needlemaster set (http://www.wrights.com/products/catalog/boyeline/7312_lg.htm -- these are knitting needles).  You could also use one of those plastic things that are used to help open jars -- just cut it down to a comfortable size.

11) Pull the thread all the way through, and you're done!  You should have a cute, neat little French knot on the front.

There are two secrets to making this method work:  good tension in steps 4 through 8, and using your thumb in step 9.

Now, can anyone explain to me how to make satin stitch smooth?  Mine always looks lumpy and messy.

Edited to add detail to step #7.
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187  Rocket Bib in Needlework: Completed Projects by Katxena on: July 24, 2006 10:46:22 AM
I just finished this rocket bib using patterns from Sublime Stitching.  I'm super happy with it.

I think this is the very best stitching I've ever done.  I'm particularly pleased with the rocket and the flame at the bottom:

Also, I just bought Mary Thomas's stitch dictionary, and learned that I've been doing stem stitch wrong for years!  No wonder my stem stitch always looked horrible.  Here I've done it the right way:

Thanks for looking!

Edited to add:  I forgot to point out that the base of the rocket is done in silver metallic thread.  I used DMC silver, and it was much harder to work with than other metallics I've used in the past.  I much prefer Kreinik metallic threads.
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188  Robo Bib in Needlework: Completed Projects by Katxena on: July 24, 2006 10:42:08 AM
I finished this Robo Bib over the weekend, using a pattern from Sublime Stitching:

In the pattern, the robot isn't smiling, but I figured he should be a little less menacing on a baby bib.  Also, I added little hash marks to his dial, and I made the two knobs on his chest into squres -- because I don't know how to satin stitch circles.

I think it's really cute!
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189  Dragon Shirt in Sublime Stitching Embroidery by Katxena on: July 19, 2006 07:04:25 PM
I was between projects and was casting about for something to do.  I've been enamored with the dragon on the SS Chinatown pattern for a while, and I had this old shirt laying around -- the rest, is (as they say) history.

Here's a close-up of the dragon.  I call him George.

And here's the detail on the collars:

I'm so excited about this shirt -- I can't wait to wear it tomorrow!!!!

Edited to add:  I wish I could figure out how to photograph his eyes to properly show what I did, but I just can't capture the detail.  They are two french knots that I made using *8* strands of floss.  He's quite pop-eyed.
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190  My carrying case for embroidery (lots of small pics) in Needlework: Discussion and Questions by Katxena on: July 11, 2006 07:19:48 AM
I needed a carrying case for my embroidery projects, and I couldn't find any that I liked, so I modified a kid's school binder to make one.  I'm really happy with how it turned out, so I thought I would share it.  Here's what I wanted in a case:

  • holds 1-2 plastic pages from the StitchBow system, so that all floss for a project was in the case
  • room for my favorite hoop with a project in it
  • pocket for tools
  • easy place to put extra strands of thread that I'm working with
  • zipper closure
  • handle or strap

I found this binder at OfficeMax -- it's for school supplies, and it has a zipper closure and both a handle and a strap.  The brand is "CaseIt." 

Inside, I added two strips of velcro on the right side.  I used the loop part of the velcro (the part that is pokey, not the soft part). 

Then I stuck a piece of acrylic felt on the velcro -- I didn't add the other part of the velcro, the felt stuck all on its own.

Now I can just stick my working threads on the felt, and they stay there all on their own through the power of static cling.   I'd like to replace this with wool felt -- maybe half black and half white so that all my colors show up well -- , but acrylic was all I had on hand, and it works fine for now.

There's a pocket on the left side that I keep my large needlebook and other tools in.  I'm going to add a sheath for scissors and a loop for pen & pencil -- I haven't done that yet.

And I can put my plastic pages from the StitchBow system in the binder rings:

The binder has 1-1/2" rings, so there's plenty of room inside for my current project:

I'm very happy with how this case works.  It's way better than the plastic bag I was using to carry my embroidery in before!
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