The selection of colours for a fuchsia flower

When I created the Renaissance fuchsia designs I developed just one flower with various colour ways. By selecting another set of threads I encourage your to experiment with colour. Before releasing Renaissance Fuchsias 3 I decided to try a different colour scheme, one that reflects a fuchsia that I simply adore.

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Machine embroidery resolutions for 2020

Many of us like to consider how we will improve our lives when a New Year comes around and maybe this increases when we move into a new decade. From the machine embroidery point of view a lot has changed since 2010. For most of us the floppy discs have gone and we may even be able to connect our machines to our wi-fi and not have so many cables in our work area. If you are anything like me your sewing room’s contents has increased substantially so you are probably thinking about de-cluttering and re organising it.

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The challenge of this year's Christmas card

Every year I make a machine embroidered card for my sister. It has become a tradition and often times it is based on my most recent Christmas collection. With each passing year the cards become more of a challenge for me and this year it was even more difficult to create something unique.

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Guest Blog – My Book of embroidery hoops

I’ve owned an embroidery machine for 12 years but only really started machine embroidery 3 – 4 years ago since purchasing a new machine. I currently own a Pfaff Creative 4.5. I decided to enter the 2019 competition at Graceful Embroidery with my Hoops of Love Book. I had my embroidery hoops hung on hooks but read an article which said hanging them this way could distort the frames.  When Hazel ran the competition I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to enter my first competition and create something to store and protect my hoops.  As the theme of the competition was to show the ‘love of machine embroidery’ I felt this project would demonstrate this, as without hoops I would be unable to produce any of my embroideries.

When I realised the project wouldn’t work as a box file I considered it would work as a book.  Two years ago I attended several machine embroidery classes in Blackburn and completed a book during the class. I took the measurements of my largest hoop size to determine the finished project size. 

The fabrics, silk dupion and linen mix were from my stash.  (I purchased about 7 metres of very sub-standard silk dupion approximately 10 years ago, it had been washed a couple of times in an attempt to remove marks).  All other items were also from stock, apart from 3 small spools of thread, eyelets and Velcro.  I estimate that the total cost within £20 which includes allowance for stabilisers and interfacing.

I originally planned to make the folder in a violet coloured silk taffeta fabric but unfortunately the fabric was man made and showed too many needle marks.  I was happy with the colours of the embroideries though so substituted the taffeta for the linen mix. The back of each page features a different design from Almond Silk Paisley.  All wording is created from my software.  The pockets have buttonholes from a recent freebie and hoops are held in place by Velcro on the back of the buttonholes, and separate flowers sewn in place to imitate buttons.  Each page and pocket are padded and have strong supporting interfacings down each side.  The front and back are made from strong card and the whole project is secured by eyelets, cords and stitches. 

 The front cover, created in two ‘hoopings’ has a machine stitched border. I used the following designs from Graceful Embroidery: Celtic Grace Floral collection; Summer Meadows Collection; Graceful Silk Sampler; Almond Silk Paisley and freebies from buttonholes and Bridal Lace. Most of the embroidery was done with Madeira Rayon 40 wt.

The piping was made from violet taffeta and I used ribbon cord to tie the pages together.  To give stability to the lightweight silk dupion when embroidering, I used lightweight interfacing.

I played around with the design for the front cover next and quilted the linen mix fabric border.  The front cover was placed onto stiff card and the outer edge stuffed to given depth to the border. It was the most difficult part and I had to place Velcro onto the card and the edge of the embroidery to help stretch it into place. 

The pages and pockets are all identical in size and have 1” pleats in each side of the pockets to allow for the width of the hoop.  Pockets and pages were stitched together with linen mix binding and the pages decorated with left over beads from my daughter’s bridesmaids’ outfits.

Velcro was stitched on the back of each pocket and page to hold the hoops in place. The front cover and spine of the project were made in one fabric if I were to repeat this project I would make the spine separate and also put eyelets in the front cover as I did with the pages.  This is something I may change on this project at some point.

 The project measures 51 x 39 cm (20” x 15”) including front and back covers and has a total of twelve pages.  The whole project took approximately 8 weeks to complete. Overall I was happy as I achieved my intention. I would use wadding rather than card for the front and back covers as although the card is very strong it makes the overall project heavier. This was a big learning curve for me.  I would ensure in future I plan the project more thoroughly and definitely wish I’d started the project earlier due to it being a competition entry.

This was an amazing entry Lesley and I think we would all be proud to have made this book to store our embroidery hoops in safely. Thank you for sharing your experience with us all and I hope you will enter many more competitions at Graceful Embroidery.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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A naughty fairy for Christmas – a re-blog

 A naughty fairy you ask? Let me explain. Back in 2017 I created the “Christmas” and “Snow” Angels with the promise of an update. Well in digitising and finishing off the update, a new angel with fairy wings I discovered she is inclined to misbehave in the hoop! To be sure that she gets a warm welcome in many homes this Christmas I have spent considerable time perfecting her…..

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A re-blog: Fields of Poppies

There have been lots of programmes on television and films made which catalogue the dreadful events and history of World War 1 which began over one hundred years ago. It was the war changed the world we live in. I am reminded of the poem that John McRae wrote:

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses row on row.”

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Why am I so passionate about machine embroidery?

When a customer brought some machine embroidery samples into the fabric shop where I worked I was immediately enthralled and captivated. Having never seen an embroidery unit I could not imagine how something so beautiful could be created, not by long hours hand stitching, but by a machine! Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would be digitising my own designs and making friends all over the world.

I learnt how to sew on a old Singer sewing machine and I remember that it contained a few gadgets, in a partition under the hand wheel, that I had no idea how to use. Without any instructions I had no idea how they worked but I remember playing with them and examining the dials and knobs. There was a world of sewing out there I wanted to embrace. I am sorry that I no longer have that machine, which is why I created the Antique sewing machine embroidery to replace it.

I had made attempts at hand embroidery but not that successfully probably lacking the diligence and patience to ever finish a project. For a while I was in to cross stitch as I enjoyed all the wonderful colours. My first major purchase when I starting working was a Frister Rossman 35 sewing machine. It served me well and in all honesty I think I wore it out completely. I have always treasured my sewing machines which have allowed me to make clothes for my dolls, then my three girls.

When that machine died I invested in a Bernina machine which had some fancy stitches and an in built mouse. I confess that I never mastered its use!!!

After this Bernina I began my Husqvarna Designer journey starting with the Designer 1 through to my current Epic. I have loved all my machines and they have enabled me to pursue my passion for embroidery. On reflection, my first attempts at embroidery were not successful. Moving my mega hoop into three different positions resulted in my embroidery not lining up. I never found out why this happened but I persisted at it and mastered the hoop in the end. It was not long before I wanted to create my own embroideries so I taught myself to digitise. As each larger hoop has been developed I have loved the challenge to digitise larger embroideries without so many hoopings. However I would say that there is a certain thrill when you create an embroidery with several hoopings. It is very very satisfying to line each design up successfully.

Machine embroidery still has me entranced. To see the designs I have diligently created stitching out for the first time is still thrilling and exciting. There are days when my hoopings do go all wrong and I try to honestly share why this happens here in this blog, and how to avoid it occurring in the future. I am utterly convinced that when we are stressed and in a hurry, the results are often not our best. It is easy to frequently wonder in which direction machine embroidery will go next as the manufacturers blow us away with new machines that do even more than we could possibly imagine a decade ago. What a privilege it is to be part of the machine embroidery world.

As another year of digitising designs for Graceful Embroidery is over, I am looking to the year ahead. I have several collections in development which should be released in 2020, after some Christmas designs. There should be lots of new videos too on YouTube. This is a superb way for you to visit with me in my studio, as I continue on my exciting embroidery adventure. Watch this space to see what Father Christmas brings me this year.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Selecting the right colour threads for my Jacobean stags

As the majority of my embroidery digitising consists of creating leaves, flowers, scrolls and scallops, animals are a HUGE challenge. Jacobean style embroidery usually features birds or animals so I opted for stags. Just as the flowers and leaves are stylised so are the animals and I love the extra flourishes and patterns. I have introduced some patterns on to the body of each stag in the form of Florentine stitches to follow the contours of their bodies.

However as there were a total of 6 stags to digitise I became more at ease with each one. As I have stated many times there just aren’t enough thread colours to work with, so the process also allowed me plenty of opportunity to experiment with my brown threads to find the perfect combinations. When all the work was done I decided to embroider all my stags out to perfect the colours and I thought it would be fun to see them together on a landscape.

I grouped them in my software and looked through my designs for a background. I thought I would find it in the Summer Meadows collection but settled for the grass in the Kate Greenaway design. All important stitch outs need a new needle and a clean bobbin area and I choose a pale cream silk dupion for my embroidery in a 360mm x 200mm hoop.

I did the landscape first and having placed it on several levels to mimic a hillside. This was stitched out in Sulky Rayon 630 Moss green, which is probably my favourite darker green.

After experimenting with several light colours I settled for Sulky Rayon 1085 Silver for the antlers.

The tails of the stag stitch out came next and these were done in Sulky Rayon 1149 Deep ecru.

I used Sulky Rayon 1031 Medium orchid for the inner sections of their ears and Sulky Rayon 1838 Cocoa cream for the necks and under bellies.

When I first saw Sulky Rayon 1179 Dark taupe stitching out the legs I thought it was too dark. This is one of those terrible colours that really does not display in my embroidery software accurately. I wanted to use a darker thread for the legs behind to create some depth but maybe not this dark.

This same thread over stitched the necks and under bellies and ears. In some previous stitch outs I used a lighter thread but the pattern failed to stand out.

Sometimes you really cannot tell what colour will look good until you start it. There are instances when after a few stitches I know I have made a bad decision and I can stop and get away with selecting another colour and go back to the beginning to stitch over the mistake. However that is not possible if the thread is too dark so I just had to go with it.

As soon as I started to add the bodies in Sulky Rayon 1838 Cocoa cream I knew it would be fine.

I have used two similar shades for the main bodies and faces. Sulky Rayon 1838 Cocoa cream goes on first and then Sulky Rayon 1180 Medium taupe stitches over the top. As I have tried several different threads together these two work best I think.

Here you see the outlines and details being added to each stag. The eyes and feet go on last.

I was delighted with the results and hope you like these too. Notice how the colours have all blended in well together.

The designs in the Jacobean Sampler collection will be released later this year.

As well as individual designs there will be 8″ x “8 blocks. This is my sixth stag which did not make it to the group.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Blending embroidery colours

I have been blending embroidery threads for a while now. It allows me to soften the area where two colours join but it also can be used to create a new colour. This is an exciting edition to my embroidery designs especially when I am able to give a new dimension to leaves and flowers.

Here you can see a design from my future Jacobean Sampler collection. Notice that I have used greens and mauves together for a gorgeous look.

The stylised leaf and top of the flower have been blended with two colours. To add further colourful style to these designs many of them become more colourful with the addition of dazzling outlines and cross stitches that sit over some fills.

Here are more examples of the infill inside flowers which has been been curved to make the flowers more natural. The outlines on leaves and flowers should stand out in these Jacobean type designs and this sometimes requires a colour to be repeated. Using metallic thread will also make the outline more distinct.

A great deal of blending was required for the stags in this collection. I hope to do another blog just about them. Finding the right browns, beige’s and taupe’s has been a challenge for me. Animals and birds are more of challenge for me, but maybe that is because I have not done so many.

The curvaceous effect on the body of the stag and within some leaves and flowers is called the florentine or liquid effect. In the process of digitising I am able to “bend” the stitches to follow the angles. The stitches of each colour are also made denser on one side and lighter on the other, and vice versa for the other colour.

Here we see the first colour which I usually make the darker of the two.

This is the top colour and is is just a little lighter.

Here you see how the effect works. the lower colour was Sulky Rayon 1209 Light avocado and the upper colour was Sulky Rayon 1331 Pale green. Remember that the colours on your machine screen and in your software, and my PDF’s are not reliable. Sometimes it is important to view the spools themselves.

Noticed how inaccurate the software colours are compared to the threads. The blending has also been perfect for the completing the logs on which each of the stags has been standing. I am delighted with the results for in machine embroidery there are no individual curved stitches.

I hope that you love these fascinating designs which almost have an exotic feel to them. Make them as colourful as possible. Members of my Group Forum have been downloading these everyday for several weeks as freebies. Interested? You can download them too for free, providing you join before Wednesday 9th October 2019. The designs will be released for sale later this year and as well as these elements there will be 8″ x 8″ blocks which I hope you will love.

Join today to collect all 35+ designs for free as a member- you will need to open an account at Graceful Embroidery.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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Guest Blog: Lucia’s Christening gown

My name is Kathy and I own an Ellure Plus. I have been machine embroidering for about 5 years. I’ve made christening gowns for each of my grandchildren. This gown was created for Lucia.

I always start my project by deciding on an embroidery theme and stitching every selection in the design I chose that I might want to use on the garment.  I want to see the design “in person” so to speak.  Then I choose the colours I want to use.  I cut out each design and place them on the pattern piece where they will eventually go.  There’s lots of switching around and second guessing until the final designs and placement are chosen.

Unfortunately, I’ve worked all my life so I’ve had to work my sewing into that schedule.  For this particular project, Lucia’s christening gown, I would say approximately two and a half months.  Only sewing on the weekends can add substantial time to a project plus my grandchildren’s christening gowns are almost like a work of art.  I’m very particular from the fabric to the laces to the embroidery designs.

Once I saw the bees in the Beatrice Collection of embroidery design, that’s all I needed to see.  They were petite, so very sweet and charming, just perfect for a baby and I like making items that don’t necessarily conform to the standards. 

I didn’t need to see a cross or an angel on the gown.  Bees were perfect for me and, as you can see, it turned out stunning if I do say so myself!

Which embroidery designs did I use?   Several!  I used many from the Beatrice collection, including GFE-BEA-2-2, GFE-BEA-2-9, GFE-BEA-2-18, GFE-BEA-2-20 and GFE-BEA-2-10.

I added some very light pink to the colour scheme.  The bees are adorable! I used Sulky threads and the project cost me around $550 to make. Here is a list of what I used to create the gown:

Quantity Name
1 1-634, White French Lace Edging 1 1/4″ wide
12.5 1-633, White French Lace Edging 1″ wide
3 1-632, White French Lace Edging, 3/4″ wide
1 SPECIAL FIND!!! Swiss Cotton Organdy, 45″ Wide, White (2-7-18)
1 11-6207, 1/2″ Beading, White
7 Ent – 37-100214-White, Swiss Entredeux
3.5 3-1992, White French Lace Insertion, 5/8″ Wide
11.5 1-640, White French Lace Insertion, 1″
6.5 1-639, White French Lace Insertion, 3/4″
1 12-223, 1/4″ Insertion, White
4.5 Swiss Nelona, 55″ Wide, White

The most challenging part for me, was deciding on the lace which runs vertically on the gown and the placement of the embroidery designs.  There were many variations until I finally decided on the one! This pattern also has a slip.  I embroidered the full name of the child, their date of birth, a little flower and sign it “Love Pippy”, which is what my grandkids call me.

If anybody was going to create a similar gown I would advise them: “Do not, as I stated before, worry about the gown looking like the “off the rack” christening gowns.  The ceremony and the sanctity of the event are the true elements of baptism.  The gown is really just a sign of the baby’s purity. 

It doesn’t need to look like the clergy’s vestments!  Use what delights you and in this case Hazel’s light hearted, whimsical bees were perfect! 

Also, always make a sample before you do the actual embroidery on your project.  You’ll be surprised how different it can look, especially if you have resized the design.”

Would I do anything differently if I made another one? “I did love the gown and most of all, my daughter loved it.  There’s really nothing I would have done differently. 

This was christening gown number four for me so I’m pretty much a pro at these!” The biggest lesson I learnt in making this, was not to use heavy starch on a garment that a baby will be wearing!  They get very wrinkly, very fast.

Thank you Kathy for sharing this remarkable Christening gown with us all. I am sure it will be treasured for many generations. I particularly love the Swiss entredeux work around the sleeves.

Happy embroidering from Hazel

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