Archive for June, 2010

From the time I saw Michael’s jacket, I was  scared of this project. Leather is totally unforgiving.

When I’d finished stitching the patch, including adding stitches here and there to clarify the design, I stitched some small samples for testing the fusible, HeatnBond, which its packaging says works on leather.

Test patches

But first I held the fabric in place with the collar so that I could test how it would look if I proceeded to attach it. It looked great.


After fusing the HeatnBond to the samples, I cut around them, and searched for a place to test applying them to the leather.

Thank goodness, I found an inside pocket that is partially leather-lined. There I tried fusing them to the leather. They would adhere, but no matter how long I applied heat or increased the heat, after cooling, the patches could be peeled off. Maybe it’s because they are so thick with threads. Next I tried stitching three fused samples in different ways, with unsatisfactory results. Fusing didn’t work, and cutting close to the stitching made the samples unfit for attaching with stitches. They looked ragged after I’d put needle and thread through the edges.


Oh, dear. What to do? I concluded that I would have to hem the patch before stitching it to the jacket, which I proceeded to do. Then, another test: I stitched a part of the patch inside a sleeve, where there wouldn’t be any visible damage left. Here’s the hemmed patch stitched to the leather inside a sleeve, and the iron I used for the fusing test.

Sleeve test

Stitched with invisible nylon thread and a beading needle, this worked well, though very, very difficult to do. Here’s the patch, stitched to the jacket. As I did this stitching, I was literally sweating with fear… and effort!

(You can see good close-ups at Flickr.)

My middle finger is wounded from pushing the needle through leather. Yes, I have a thimble which I tried to use from time to time, but it didn’t allow me enough dexterity to make tiny stitches with fine wiry thread through leather and the thick patch.

Had it not worked, the back of Michael’s jacket would have looked like this, the test sleeve. See the 90 degree angle of needle holes?


Fortunately, it did work. It looks terrific. In actuality, the colors match perfectly. It’s just the difference in texture that makes them look slightly different in the photograph.

Finally, I wanted to sign my work. Spent most of yesterday trying to find a way to make a small label stitched with my name to put under the Pendleton label. Couldn’t make it happen.

Instead, here’s what I did today.

My label

And close up. All the embroidery on this jacket is done in chain stitch.


Notice that my label echoes the Pendleton label.

Pendleton label

I’m pleased with the results. I sure hope Michael will be.

As I write he is about 50 miles from Bermuda in the Atlantic Ocean. The boat on which he is crewing, Windborn, is first in class in the Newport Bermuda Race.

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Stitching the patch

Covering the tan chain stitching with cream chain stitching is really hard work.


First of all, the fabric is tightly woven and very firm, tough to pierce with a needle–at least, with the needle I need for this thread. Second, I’m now stitching through layers of threads.

See the back:


While I’m doing this, I’m thinking about Neki’s comment that I might try fusing the patch to the jacket instead of stitching it. I had expressed my uncertainty about doing that. Well, fusing appeals, as it would allow me to cover more than the stitched area with the fusible material and that would mean I could cut the patch right at the edges of the stitching. It could make for a crisper, neater look than having to turn under the edges.

But how will this acrylic wool blend thread take to heat? You can be sure I will be doing some trials elsewhere.

Since I happen to have this product


which says it can be used on leather and that it doesn’t require high heat, I’m thinking ever more seriously about the fusing idea. But I am definitely going to have to find some way to do a test before I put an iron to the patch and the back of the jacket.

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You’ve seen the leather jacket Michael asked me to repair with embroidery. Here it is again.


The tear is just above the design, center left.

Michael's jacket

It took some thinking before I came up with the idea of reproducing the central, colorful motif in miniature. That, of course, would depend upon being able to find threads that exactly matched the colors of the woven wool design. So before going any further with that idea, I headed for The Stitching Post, 2.5 miles away. (A great reason for having a car!) And there I did find the right colors in Burmilana, a very fine wool/acrylic blend.


Next I photographed the motif, sized it to the dimensions I wanted, and printed it on cotton. My plan is to create a patch that I will attach to the jacket, covering the tear. (I hope I can do that–stitch the patch to the leather, that is!) Here is the patch, ready for stitching—chain stitching.


I’ve long wanted to cover an entire design with chain stitches, as is seen in Indian embroidery. Here’s my chance. I thought the contrasting texture of the hand chain stitching with the smooth woven fabric would be interesting.

Now I’ve been stitching for days. When I got to this point, though, I was not satisfied with the tan thread I was using. It wasn’t close enough to the original color.

Beginning stitching

Back to The Stitching Post for a lighter thread to blend with it. I thought I could just insert some paler stitches, but that didn’t make enough difference in the shade.


As I found in the partially-worked area above,  what I’ve had to do is cover the tan stitching in chain stitches with the lighter, almost cream, thread. Now it matches the original design color. It has taken 90 minutes for me to stitch over the tan stitching in just the section you can see here.

90 minutes

Definitely a slow project. The good news is that I am now able to sit and stitch for hours at a time. It’s taken over a year to calm down to this point.

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Catching up

As of today, I am up to date with Take a Stitch Tuesday. The new stitch was posted today, Tuesday, and I just finished doing something with last week’s stitch—the buttonhole herringbone.

I took this challenge as an opportunity to try something I’ve wanted to do—make a crazy patchwork using pieces of the same print material. I started with this blouse, from which I cut a sleeve.


Then I pin-basted patches of it to a piece of muslin on which I had drawn lines for the shapes of the patches. Notice the white pinheads. I just pinned patches to the muslin and began herringbone stitching the seams. Cheating. Got that done last night.


Today, on a Charlestown bus trip to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., I covered the herringbone stitches with buttonhole stitches. Well, this is just a practice exercise, just an experiment,  just a way of participating in TAST.

Last week I stitched the previous six stitches. Now I am caught up.Catch up

You can see what other participants have done with all these stitches at http://www.flickr.com/groups/56846286@N00/.

Meanwhile, I have received the copper pearl purl I need to finish the black jacket, but my son Michael has commissioned me to cover with embroidery a small tear in his leather jacket.

Here’s the jacket.


The tear is here. Can you see it just above left of center of the woolen design area?


What on earth can I do with this? When I accepted Michael’s request that I conceal the tear in a leather jacket, I had no idea that there was already a design, woven in wool, incorporated into the jacket. Could I do anything that would be compatible with the design? First, I had to find out whether I could get threads that would match or complement this design. More about that later.

The point is that I am working on TAST stitches; I am working on my black jacket; and now I am working on Michael’s jacket. This is not me. I work on one project at a time. I finish it and then I start the next one. I have no UFOs. (Un Finished Objects, to the uninitiated).

As I’ve said before: I don’t know who I am. I am a 73-year-old in an identity crisis.

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Finally I can post about my latest project.

My great-nieces (my brother’s oldest grandchildren) have graduated from high school. Of course I wanted to make something for them and I quickly decided to do something on silk with silk ribbon stitching. But what? I went with the first idea I had—their initials.


After I reviewed several of my alphabet and embellished initial books to find a type style I liked, here’s what I chose. Wherever I found them, they were much smaller. I enlarged and altered them a bit.


After sizing them in the computer, I printed them in very light gray-scale so that I could try some design ideas in pencil. Can’t believe I threw away those experiments on paper. Oh well.

Then I chose the fabrics from my stash.


Above you can see one initial already transferred to the fabric. Because the fabric was too heavy for tracing on the light box, I had to use white transfer paper. I taped it and the paper initial to the silk, and traced the initial with a dead ball-point pen.

I still wasn’t sure what I was going to make with the embroidered initials, but I knew I was going to stitch them with silk ribbons. That led me to Judith Montano’s book for ideas and to refresh myself on silk ribbon stitching, not having done any in a while.

Montano book

There I found an idea I could use—tiny pouches. That’s what I would  make. Of course, I had to make my own designs for the stitching.

Since I hadn’t done any silk ribbon embroidery in a while, and since I had to figure out the appropriate size of the stitches to fill the initials, I did a few trials on a practice cloth—a piece of muslin.

Practice cloth

Next I stitched the initials.

I used beads and some green pearl cotton, #5 and #8, as well as the featured silk ribbon stitches.

Then I figured out how to make a pouch, again using a piece of muslin for the outer side of the pouch and and a cotton print for the lining—just because I happened to have a small piece of it. I simply made two tubes, in effect, and put the lining tube inside the muslin pouch tube.


It seemed to work okay, so that’s how I constructed the silk pouches.

Here they are. They are lined with the paler silk satin you can see above with the fabrics I chose.


At Flickr you can see the stitching close up http://www.flickr.com/photos/jowynnj/4600690679/

Inside the pouches are congratulations cards which I made and money.


Today, at the Open House their parents held to celebrate their graduations, I presented the pouches to Heather, Sarah, and Emma, in a quiet nook, away from the on-going party. My nieces were suitably impressed and appreciative. Heather said she was going to use hers to hold her cell phone. What a great idea! Why didn’t I think of that?

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My friend in Croatia does the most amazing gold and silver stitchery, mostly on velvet. Recently her work, with that of a few other Croatian artists, was exhibited in the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb. Here’s a picture of Goranka with her exhibit there.


Previously, she has exhibited at the Croatian National Theatre.  Here’s a shot from that exhibit.

Goranka's exhibit


Once she wrote to  me about being intimidated by being in the same show as Japanese embroiderers, renowned for their exquisite silk and gold metal embroidery. But the Japanese exhibitors and visitors were astounded by her work.

To really see this fabulous work, you must go to her website www.handmade-golden-embroidery.com. To tempt you to go there, I’m showing one of her velvet evening purses.



We have been corresponding for many months, maybe more than a year. Once Goranka sent me a sample of a popular seasoning mix widely used by European cooks so I could try it. Turns out it is available here, too. We write about our families, where we live, food. What we haven’t written about is the threads she uses and how she stitches. The only gold and silver threads I have used cannot be stitched through fabric. They have to be couched to the surface. Maybe she will leave a comment here with that information.

At present she is working on a gold and silver rendition of the American eagle, our national symbol. I’m eager to see that!

So let me introduce you to my friend Goranka’s beautiful work.

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Holiday weekend

Friday evening I went to grandson Josh’s girlfriend’s senior recital at Peabody Prep. Kate gave an impressive performance—an interesting and varied program, each work beautifully played. Here’s her program. Quite demanding.


As an encore, she played Misty, dedicated to her grandfather, who was sitting tearily in the recital hall.

Then, on Saturday, after spending the night at Michael’s house, I rode with Josh and Kate to Michael and Carolyn’s cabin on Oral Lake, where I went for the first time last Fourth of July. Kate and I shared the bunk room.

Saturday afternoon I swam half a mile, back and forth across the lake, from the community pier to a private pier.


On Sunday I swam a mile. Here are Michael and Kate sitting atop the double-decker float. I swam past them, back and forth to the other side, eight times .

Michael and Kate 2010

Michael and Kate 2010_edited-1

Here I am getting ready to swim the mile. I asked the sunbathing man, who swims a mile every day, how many times back and forth does it take. Well, Michael had already told me that, so I was just confirming.

I swam across the lake again at dusk.


On Monday morning, just before departure, Michael and I had a companionable last swim, once across and back, side by side, facing each other with every breath on the return.

And now I have a hot, itchy sunburn to show for the one-mile, mid-afternoon swim.

Sunburn 2010

I did not get up for my morning swim in the pool today.

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