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Miss Pascal’s Crafting History: Embroidery

November 1, 2011

Two weekends ago, I was in Maryland visiting my family.  My dad is preparing to move, and getting the house ready is going to be a pretty long process.  Over the summer, I cleaned out my mom’s office and what had been our sewing room (and you’ll get to see some of the stuff I ransacked in projects later!)  This weekend, in preparation for carpet stretching and cleaning, I had to clear the bookcases and desk in the bedroom I occupied as a teenager.  As I was boxing up stuff to keep and donate (and more often than not, shoving stuff indiscriminately into my storage closet), I came across an important piece of memorabilia in the annals of my crafting history!

One of my first crafting memories started once Christmas when my Auntie Jean and Grandma Dorothy (you’ll hear more about them later) gave me a sewing basket.  Inside were all kinds of notions to get a novice started on sewing–needles, pins, embroidery floss, foldable scissors, and a hankie with a penciled in design of a palm tree on it for me to embroider.  Although I didn’t know any thing about stitching, I lumpily and avidly “colored outside the lines” by embroidering in what I would later learn to be running stitch all over the design.  I don’t have a picture of that first project, but embroidery was one of the first things to get me hooked on crafting, and throughout my childhood I dabbled in cross-stitch, bargello, needlepoint, and finally (in my opinion) “graduated” to  “big girl sewing” of quilts and apparel.  Last Spring, Chloe embroidered a pillowcase for her boyfriend and sent me a picture of it–it was adorable, and I wanted to try for myself.  She lent me a copy of a fantastic book, Embroidered Effects by Jenny Hart, and I quickly set about practicing the stitches and trying my own designs.

Embroidery is super easy to pick up and goes quickly, so it’s a great project to satisfy my urge to craft (or, as Thor refers to it, my “nervous hands.”)  My first project was a label for a quilt I made for the wedding of two college friends (you’ll see that later), centered around one of the Sublime Stitching patterns (Labyrinth) found on the Sublime Stitching website, Embroidery is super easy to pick up and goes quickly, so it’s a great project to satisfy my urge to craft (or, as Thor refers to it, my “nervous hands.”) Also below is a detail shot of a throw pillow I made for Thor using the Many Mountains pattern from Sublime Stitching.

I was ready to break away from patterns and try my own project, and let me tell you, it isn’t hard to get awesome results, even if you’re a beginner.  Basically, if you can doodle something on paper, you can embroider it.  That was the philosophy I was going for when I started this current project.  When I doodle, I fill the page with unrelated tiny motifs–everything from geometric forms to robots–and little sayings, millimeters away from each other.  This results in a dark written page, but when you look closely, you see all these silly details.  I decided to do the same thing on a large piece of muslin, doodling my motifs on it and then tracing the lines with embroidery.  As I doodled, I kept telling myself “nothing you put down on this fabric will be WRONG,” and I took breaks when my inner critic told me it wasn’t kooky or unique enough.  Here’s how my project is going (when it’s done, it’ll be stretched across a frame to hang on the wall):

…And here’s what it looks like up close!

Krypton jumped on the embroidery wagon soon after me, and her story starts in Nashville.  Krypton, E. Chadwick, and I took a trip down to Nashville, Tennessee to visit a friend of ours last Spring Break.  While we were there, we embraced all things kitschy and country, and the time spent tootling around in our friend’s ancient Volvo sedan was filled with us warbling country music at a fairly loud level.  One of the songs we got hooked on is a catchy tune called “Rain is a Good Thing” by  Luke Bryan.  A few lines of the fantastic chorus is what put Krypton on her way to start her first embroidery projects:

Rain makes corn, corn makes whiskey–whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky…rain is a good thing!

Fast forward a couple of months, to when I’m doodling next to Krypton during one of our Wesleyan grad classes.  Always doodling, I created a frame-by-frame, abstract representation of the lyrics to the chorus of “Rain is a Good Thing.”  Krypton instantly decided she wanted to make it into a sampler.  To teach her the stitches she’d need, I prepared a “Stitches I Know” sampler for her from Embroidered Effects (there are iron-on transfers for many fantastic projects at the end of the book) and we spent an afternoon working on it.  Here’s Krypton’s finished sampler:


And here’s her sampler of my doodle…Rain is a good thing!

Now that Halloween is over, I’m taking a brief hiatus from crafting (well, not VERY brief…y’all know I can’t keep my nervous hands still for long)…I’ll be going to JoAnn’s this weekend and looking for inspiration for Christmas presents!  Not to mention pick out some fabric for a dress I’ve been inspired to create…

Love and Stitches,

~Miss Pascal

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