Sunday, February 21, 2010

Many Thanks to My Guests

Here's a great big thank you to both Melissa Shirley and Bonnie, who graciously took time out of very busy schedules to talk about stitching butterfly purse canvases.  I hope you enjoy the canvas of the month feature, especially this month when we have such a lovely design series to talk about!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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February Canvas of the Month (Melissa Shirley)

This month I am lucky enough to have two guest bloggers talking about how to stitch a butterfly canvas.  When Bonnie proposed using the new Melissa Shirley blue butterfly purse canvas as this month's project for us to discuss how we'd stitch it, I remembered that Melissa Shirley herself had just finished stitching the brown tiger butterfly canvas from this series.  So I asked Melissa if she would allow me to share photos of her stitched butterfly purse and talk about how she stitched it.  And she said yes!

You can see all the butterfly purse canvases and the other butterflies in the series on Melissa's website.

In her essay below, Melissa tells us her purse was finished by Marlene's.  Here is their website, in case you would enjoy browsing all the fabulous finishing that they offer.

Now, here is Melissa to talk about her brown tiger purse canvas and how she stitched it.

Melissa Shirley's Brown Tiger Butterfly Canvas

I am so flattered that Jane asked me to contribute to this blog. I’ve never written a stitch guide so anyone reading this will have to bear with me.

I started stitching my butterfly purse in the fall and although there were several in the series to choose from I chose the Brown Tiger Butterfly because the greys and browns and rust colors are my cup of tea, especially in the autumn months.

I have another, larger butterfly purse nearly finished but I became disappointed in the way it was turning out, specifically the butterfly itself. It was too flat even though I had done a lot of beading on the wings and elsewhere. It was a lesson for me and I went into this project with all that in mind.

I’ll take the opportunity to say here one of the things I think about a lot when I’m stitching and when I see stitched work is how the stitching and thread selection creates a depth of field. I want to see what’s in front come forward and what’s in back recede and I try to use color and threads and stitches to achieve that. The few “rules” I try to keep in mind are:

Threads that come forward are shiny, lighter and warmer colors, and heavier in weight. Threads that recede are matte, cooler colors and thinner in weight.

I’m also a great fan of light stitching and generally letting the painted canvas show through, especially in backgrounds or when ever it seems appropriate.

I generally use simple stitches. I tend to rely on color and texture more than a cacophony of stitches since I just don’t have the repertoire and experience to mix stitches as well as I would like. I am a student.

My Brown Tiger Butterfly Purse:

I started with the background behind the butterfly. It’s a flat floral pattern, cool grey flowers on a black background. I cooled it down a bit more and stitched the flowers with a Diagonal Mosaic Stitch in blue (Trebizond Silk, 653). The black is stitched in Elongated Continental with 12 Strand Treasure Braid from Rainbow Gallery (TR265).

I scoured a few stitch books to find what I wanted to use for the wings of the butterfly keeping in mind my disappointment with my other butterfly.  I had already chosen a Kreinik Braid of warm grey (011C, #16) and settled on a stitch I found in Suzy’s Small Stitches called Staggered Mosaic that I used in both directions. I left a few stitches out of the stitch and created a nice cup for the beads I wanted to add. I took my stitching to my local bead store and picked out beads (about 6mm) that fit into the cups. I chose two kinds of metallic looking beads to show the shading in wings.

I used the same Kreinik braid I used on the wings for the body of the butterfly. I padded the body and covered it with long vertical stitches that I lashed down with a black Kreinik Braid (005 #16) and used that same black braid diagonally to stitch the butterfly’s head.

I used a white Kreinik braid (032C, #16) and a Tapestry braid (#12, 4002) on the edges of the wings and piled on pearly seed beads (size 15) in white spots on the wings.

Next I stitched the top leaf border background with 2 or 3 ply of Mandarin Floss (M838) from Rainbow Gallery and filled in the leaf with Sundance Beads (14H, color#4) straight up and down, every other hole.

I then stitched the bottom border stripes, top to bottom this way:

#1 River Silk (4mm,No.61),
#2 Green cube beads (4mm) straight up and down,
#3 Kreinik #16 Braid (032C) over 3 straight up and down,
#4 Flair (F567) Elongated Continental,
#5 Fuzzy Stuff (FZ31) and
#6 Flair again, diagonally, over 2.

The gold borders around the butterfly and the top and bottom borders are stitched with a Kreinik Tapestry Braid (150V, #12).

I had the hardest time with what I thought should have been the easiest part, the side “tiger skin” borders. I tried a number of threads and stitches, ripped out a lot and finally settled on a cross stitch, over 2, using another Kreinik Braid (022, #16). I also smoothed the edges of the tiger stripes with plain stitching using the same braid. The lighter brown is stitched with Impressions (1134) using the Encroaching Gobelin stitch.

The last thing I have to say about my purse is the finishing. I sent it to Marlene’s Needlepoint Finishing in San Francisco to be finished in brown leather and it is gorgeous inside and out. Sadly, someone once wrote that the finishing of needlepoint is a necessary evil. I think it is the final step that should not be taken lightly. I have played around with finishing some of my own, smaller needlepoint projects but I know finishing needlepoint is an art unto itself and it can make or break the success of a much loved and labored over piece of needlepoint, so I always send anything I really care about to the finishing experts who are truly artists.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow 
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February Canvas of the Month (Bonnie)

The February Canvas of the Month is a new Melissa Shirley canvas called Blue Butterfly Clutch #1363F. This design is 16 inches wide and 9 inches high on 18 count canvas. This design comes on 13 count canvas also, and is available as a smaller pillow design that doesn't have the elaborate side panels.

Bonnie's Blue Butterfly Canvas

I am actually contemplating purchasing this piece and stitching it as a pillow. Melissa has the same butterfly in a square pillow shape, but I am drawn to the outside panels on the purse version, so I am thinking of adapting it to a pillow. Like a purse, though, a pillow has to have durable stitches and threads. At least they do in my house with 2 kids and 2 cats! So that means, most of my stitches are simple with no beads or anything that may catch or not wear well.

I am going to start with the butterfly since I want that to be the focal point. The body is done in horizontal satin stitches. Pad slightly first, then stitch with an overdyed cotton. Then go back over the top with darker cotton and put in single horizontal stitches to represent the divisions. Another thread the might work for the body, if you can find the colors is a chenille, again with the division stitched in with maybe a solid cotton to match or a small perle cotton. I think the texture of the chenille would be great! I though first about using very velvet for the texture, but I think it would be too heavy.

For the wings, I would use Splendor or a strandable silk mixed with a blending filament or Accentuate for some sparkle. Stitch in long and short making sure it’s on the short side since this is to be a pillow. Follow the directions of the wings. The divisions are a stem stitch with a strandable silk or maybe a couched silk perle. The dark at the top of the wings is basketweave in silk, stitch each side in the opposite direction. The brown in the middle (not the body) is a basketweave in silk with slightly less plies than the blue so it recedes. Lastly the antennae use a Kreinik cord and couch in place after you complete the background.

Now to the background behind the butterfly. My first thought was silk ribbon for the flowers a wider ribbon that would make the distinct petals, but I am concerned that would make the focus the flowers not the butterfly and I am not sure it would hold up on a pillow that well. I would tackle all the light blue background in an alternating continental with cotton floss. I am thinking cotton since it will give a different sheen than the silk on the butterfly. Or maybe so there is no blank canvas showing through (which you would have to add a liner fabric behind), a Parisian stitch or Hungarian for a nice vertical stitch. For the flowers, maybe a perle cotton for texture or just white floss stitched in a satin stitch. I might be tempted to try a thin silk ribbon and see what it looks like, the idea of silk flowers just won't go away! I would stitch the satin stitches in all the same direction, but break the stitches at each petal end so you ‘see’ distinct petals when you are done. The middles are either small eyelet or a simple Smyrna cross – still trying to keep these flowers behind the butterfly. Lastly the stems in a floss in either a stem stitch or tent.

The borders I would pad and then satin stitch at an angle to look like cording. Maybe a metallic or maybe a gold colored silk so not so bold.

The right and left panels would be done in something like Silk ‘ N Ivory or Burmilana. I am trying to find another texture that is different than the butterfly or its background. Another thought might be a twisted fiber. In order to get the shape of all of the designs, I would stick to simple basketweave for the whole thing.

The top and bottom border would be done in a similar fiber as to what is chosen for the side panels. On the lower panel, the flowers would be satin stitched like the ones on the middle background. The background is just basketweave. The lattice work, I would lay a strand across each line and then couch it down invisibly for the most part with a decorative couching stitch at the intersections. Or maybe just tent stitch them changing the directions to match the direction of the line so it appears as a line when stitched. On the top panel, the flowers are again satin stitch with French knots on a stock for the center. May find the French knots too prominent and just go with an eyelet type stitch that matches the painted shape. The stripes are done in horizontal satin stitches. You will probably need multiple columns of stitches for each stripe of blue so the stitches don't get too long.

That’s it! There are so many things you could do if you weren't concerned so much about wearablility and kids/pets. I could see beading the butterfly, silk ribbon for the flowers as just a start. It all depends on what you are planning on doing with the piece.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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February Canvas of the Month (Jane)

The February Canvas of the Month is a new Melissa Shirley canvas called Blue Butterfly Clutch #1363F. This design is 16 inches wide and 9 inches high on 18 count canvas. This design comes on 13 count canvas also, and is available as a smaller pillow design that doesn't have the elaborate side panels.

Jane's Blue Butterfly Canvas:

The blue butterfly purse canvas is done in mostly blue and white with gold lines that divide the panels. The side panels have lavender touches and the butterfly itself has some cream or yellow, browns and possibly black on its wings and body. Since this is designed to be made up into a pocketbook, I need to use durable threads that will stand up to handling. I also want threads that have a bit of shine to them so the natural choice is to pick threads from the silk/wool blends like Silk & Ivory/Trio, Impressions or Silk n Cream. All seem to have good blues and lavenders and snow whites as well as a nice selection of browns and deepest black, but I think I'll add Vineyard Silks (which is all silk in a tapestry-type thread) to my mental stitching of this canvas as it has the Shimmer line that has metallic fibers mixed in.

Starting with the side panels, I'd stitch both sides in tent stitches but vary the threads. Trio is strandable so use the three shades of lavender in Trio so you can blend colors as you work. Once all the lavender stitches are in, work the blue pattern in Vineyard Silk Shimmer so that there is a bit of sparkle from the metallic thread there. It is a little boring for us embellishment artists to work so much basketweave (or tent) but this is a purse that will need to stand up to being carried. Once the two side panels are done, lay long lengths of gold metallic thread (Kreinik 002 in size 16?) along the gold separation lines. Cover the lines of gold thread with Treasure Braid Ribbon in a matching gold, with stitches laid perpendicular to the underlying Kreinik. If you want more sparkle, switch to a gold Fyrewerks Softsheen. I think regular Fyrewerks would be too much sparkle for this pieces.

For the top section with the blue flowers, work the columns in the background in Scotch stitches, either varying the blocks to fit the widths entirely, using two or three stitches to fill the area or compensating. (Or all three!) This article shows various sizes of Scotch stitches to better illustrate how to vary the stitch to fit the space.

Use your Trio (or another silk/wool blend) and lay it carefully across the width of the Scotch stitches. You might want to start with the white columns and remember not to drag blue threads across the white areas in the back. You will avoid a "shadow" from the darker thread that way.

I'd switch to Kreinik overdyed metallics for the two-toned flowers and use a matching dark blue in regular Kreinik if you can find it for the dark blue flowers. If you can't find a good blue in metallic threads, try some Vineyards Silks (Shimmer again) in the deepest blue to match or see if Caron's Snow in blue is the right shade. Stitch the petals with brick stitch over 2 threads, then go back to add the white stamens in the flower centers. Use Caron's Snow in white for those stamens and just lay the white lines across the blue brick stitches. Attach a few clear hex beads in the center of each flower, using a doubled and waxed ply of white DMC cotton floss. If you want to add blue to the flower centers, use blue DMC cotton floss instead.

For the bottom band which is a trellis pattern, lay the long threads to make the trellis diamond lines. Couch each thread intersection with a stitch in the same thread to secure it. Remember, this is a purse that will be handled so you want the long lengths of thread secured.

Fill in the white background with white Caron Snow in all tent stitches (or basketweave). It will sparkle a lot which will lift the blue flowers. Work the flowers in Vineyards Silk Shimmer (or blue Snow) to make them look more like the background, or work every other stitch in tent and add more iridescent hex beads in the bare spots. I'd probably not do this myself since beads and hard wearing aren't going to mix well but it sure would look nice! You could always use a small thin metallic thread and work a cross stitch in between each skipped tent stitch instead of a bead. That gives you a slightly beaded effect and is more hard-wearing.

For the central butterfly pattern, I think I would use my Trio again to stitch the pale blue area in a pavilion stitch. Pavilions are diamond shapes and there are a lot of variations. Choose the right scale for your background. It should look like the white diamonds in the bottom panel but be smaller. You may find you need an extra ply of your Trio to completely cover the background. Here are two different Pavilions but you can choose from many versions of this stitch.

Once the background is finished, stitch the darker blue flower stems with long vertical stitches that cover the stem, using Trio. The white flowers themselves should be stitched in long stitches that radiate from the flower centers, but first outline each petal with stem stitch. (For the flowers you could use either Trio or the white Caron Snow.) Then cover the outline with the long stitches so the edges of each flower are raised. The center of the flowers would look great if you added a small mother of pearl button there. You should find the correct size in buttons for baby clothes at fabric stores. Stitch them securely. You might want to use a small clear hex bead in each button hole to further secure it. An alternative would be to attach some of the Swarkovski hot fix crystals to the center of the flowers.

The body of the butterfly is last. First, pad the body of the butterfly horizontally and then lay long vertical stitches over the padding. Use Trio for the light and dark browns. However, it might look lovely to use brown metallic for the antenna and body segment lines. Use the same thread for the top edge of the wings. Again, pad this with stem stitch the same way you did with the white flowers in the background, then go back over with vertical long stitches to cover. Now work your way down each wing using Brenda Hart's mosaic stitch variation, stitching each segment in slants going in the correct direction toward the body.

I'd use a mix of plain Vineyard Silk and Shimmer Vineyard silk in the same shade of blue. You could do the long stitches in the regular Vineyard Silk and then add sparkle by using Shimmer Vineyards Silk for the small group of three stitches. Once a section is done, outline it in stem stitch with a blue metallic thread, probably one of those you used for the flowers at the top of the design. You may want to add shading lines right on top of your mosiac stitches. If you do, switch to a sharp needle. You may also want to use a thinner metallic than what you used for the flowers at the top of this purse design.

Finish up with the brown edge of the lower wings, adding a little cream there. You can either use long stitches like the upper wing brown line (without the padding) or tent stitch the cream area.

My version of the purse would be simpler than if I were framing this but it'll make for a spectacular pocketbook to carry to elegant parties for years to come.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
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