Friday, 16 January 2015

Blackwork: Getting started

I've always liked the monochrome look of traditional blackwork, stitched in black thread on white fabric, but have shied away from it fearing I would find it monotonous.

Sonia Lucano's book, Blackwork: Fifty Simple Embroidery Projects in Traditional Black and White, is inspiring though, with its fresh and modern take on the style – and projects of a manageable size. This and a desire to learn new embroidery styles prompted me to pick a project and find out if blackwork could hold my interest.

White Aida fabric, loosely woven
DMC six-stranded cotton thread: black (310)
Needle: embroidery, size 8
Hoop: 6-inch
Design: Beetle by Sonia Lucano

There's no need to transfer the design on to the fabric, which is a plus. Simply start in the middle of the design and work your way outwards by following the pattern grid. I made a copy of the design from the book so I could draw crosshairs on it...

... and tacked matching crosshairs on to the fabric to make it easier to keep my place.

So that's the prep work done. Next, making a start on the embroidery.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Ahoy! Free vintage embroidery designs

I came across a file of vintage iron-on embroidery transfers at a charity shop towards the end of last year. They were clearly someone's collection: gathered over the years, cut up and piled haphazardly, one on top of the other into plastic sleeves. It saddens me to think of the stitching life discarded, but I can't deny the thrill of coming across a stash like this.

We were experiencing power load shedding every other evening at the time, and I spent these hours sifting through and sorting the transfers by candlelight. I had to toss a lot of them - torn, crumpled, faded - but those that were left quickly worked their way into little piles of commonality and I thought I'd share my good fortune.

They're literally just outlines, though, no instructions or photos of finished embroidery. So you'll have to get creative. But a decent design is a good place to start and I thought these small marine motifs apt with all the nautical themes doing the rounds at the moment.

Suggested stitches: Outline the anchor in back stitch and the rope in stem stitch. Work the border in chain stitch.

Suggested stitches: Outline the hull of the boat in stem stitch and fill the mast in with satin stitch. Embroider the sails and the sea in back stitch, using more strands of thread for the sails than the sea to give a thicker line. You could place a French knot under each wave curl for added detail.

Suggested stitches: Embroider the bubbles in padded satin or outline them in back stitch with two straight stitches in the centre of each. Outline the fish in stem stitch and use a French or colonial knot for the eye. Use the left-hand design for appliqué: embroider or attach a bead for the eye, cut out the fish and notch the fabric where shown, then fold the edges under and hand stitch to another piece of fabric.

Suggested stitches: Fill the sail with blanket filling stitch and outline it in stem stitch. Embroider the hull and mast in thick back stitch and the sea swells in stem stitch using only a few strands of thread. Fly or arrowhead stitch would work well for the birds and satin stitch for the flag.

Download a PDF of the motifs at actual size. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

A brand new year, and Embroidery Ideas out on Zinio

The new year usually means a fresh start and new projects, but I'm in the middle of a big one and so the holidays this year were a chance for me to put in some long hours of embroidery without the usual distractions of life, work and play. It's been quite blissful, and relaxing once all the preparation work was complete and I could just sit and stitch.

I'm taken care of for the next while, but if you're on the lookout for new projects to kick off the year and haven't yet gotten hold of a copy of Embroidery Ideas, it's now also available as a digital edition on US platform Zinio.

With 20 projects comprising 36 different designs, there's bound to be something that appeals to you. And at just $6.49, there's really no reason not to indulge.

Other than that, life gets back to normal next week and I'm feeling rather excited and positive about what 2015 may bring. Hopefully it's a good year for us all.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas and a happy new year

Christmas is here and it's always a good time to reflect on the year that has passed. It's been a busy one for me, working not only on designs for my online shops but also on some big editorial projects. You know about Embroidery Ideas, but there's more in the pipeline that I'll be able to share with you next year.

You've also been busy, buying more embroidery patterns and editions of The Stitch & Thimble from me than in any other year so far. And so Christmas is also the perfect opportunity to thank you for your support, friendly emails, positive product reviews and compliments on my work. It's all very much appreciated and it's a lovely feeling to think my designs are being embroidered and enjoyed all over the world.

This year was the first time I'd attended an embroidery festival, never mind taught at one. Ighali 2014 was a great experience, thanks to the ladies from the PE Embroidery Guild who slaved away to make it all happen. It's inspired me to come up with more ideas for workshops: watch this space.

To those of you who decided to give hand embroidery a go this year, stick with it and you won't be disappointed - I hope to see you coming back for more next year.

And to the editors, creative directors, publishers, photographers, stylists and other editorial team members who worked so hard to make my embroidery look so good, thank you!

Happy holidays and the very best of festive seasons to you. See you in 2015.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Embroidery Ideas magazine : the digital version

The digital version of Embroidery Ideas is now available and you can buy a copy no matter where in the world you live. Or drop some heavy Christmas hints.

All you have to do is log on to South African digital magazine portal Flipsubs - click on the link to go straight to the edition or search for "embroidery" on Enjoy!

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

It's out! Embroidery Ideas on shelves now

Remember I told you about having spent a few months earlier this year designing and making projects for Ideas magazine? For their standalone embroidery edition? Well, it's finally out and on sale and it's gorgeous and you absolutely must get yourself a copy.

The styling is amazing, the design is light and fresh, it includes stitch instructions and all the other bits and pieces of information you need to get going, and hopefully the projects will inspire you to pick up a needle over the holidays. It'd also make a great Christmas stocking filler.

It's available from most places you'd find magazines: Exclusive Books, CNA, Spar and the like.

But you can get your hands on a copy no matter where in the world you live, just email if you want a print copy, otherwise the digital version will be available on from next week.

You know you want it...

A photo posted by Ideas Magazine SA (@ideasmagazine) on

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Cyber Monday sale : 25% off all embroidery patterns

Cyber Monday, the day the world is encouraged to shop online, is almost here and once again I’m offering 25% off all my hand embroidery patterns and editions of The Stitch & Thimble. And I’m extending the sale this year to all three of my online shops – on Etsy and Craftsy, and my SA shop for those of you who live in South Africa.

If there’s anything you’ve had your eye on, Monday is the time to buy it. The holiday season is tantalisingly close and there's plenty to choose from, whether you’re looking for festive designs to stitch or an embroidery project to work on over the holidays.

The sale runs from the evening of Sunday, 30 November to the morning of Tuesday, 2 December (SA time, GMT +2). This should give you all a chance to shop on 1 December, irrespective of which time zone you live in. And you can follow me on Twitter or like my Facebook page for live updates on the sale.
  • To shop on Etsy, add all the items you’d like to buy to your shopping cart and enter the coupon code KFNDCYBERMONDAY2014 when you check out to get 25% off your total spend. For more info on how to apply the coupon code, read here. Please note that I have to manually relist items on Etsy, so if you find the pattern you’re after is marked as “sold out” you can either hang in there and give me a chance to renew it (bearing in mind that it may well be the middle of the night here in Johannesburg, in which case I’ll be up early to renew items) or try my Craftsy shop, where the items renew automatically.  
  • If you prefer to shop on Craftsy, the price shown will already have 25% taken off with the usual price in the product description for comparison.
  • For South African buyers through my SA shop, the system is the same as usual, but with prices already reduced and the usual prices given for comparison. 
So please diarise Cyber Monday at Kelly Fletcher Needlework Design on 1 December, it’s the perfect opportunity to stock up on patterns and plan new projects.