Other considerations for the Winter Jewels designs

I enjoy every collection of machine embroidery designs that I create, believing that taking pleasure in the process of creation is necessary for the end results to be beautiful and inspiring. Last week I shut myself away for several hours digitising, particularly focusing on the designs that will be in the fourth set in this collection. The twelve designs in this set are for the 14.2″ x 6″ hoop (360mm x 150mm). Because of the shape of that hoop my designs for this size, usually take the form of panels and borders, so my challenge was to create embroidery that flows naturally and make some of the designs suitable for endless embroidery. I have not created any new hellebores for this set but I have tried to create some interesting designs for you. However there will be new hellebores in the final set with elements to create more dimensional flowers, as I just could not resist, especially when I discover such beauties as these, at my favourite nursery! (I have actually already digitised this splendid flower – see end of post)

Hellebores are part of the buttercup family. Remember that the “flowers” we enjoy and love so much are actually sepals, modified leaves, which is why they remain after the small flower in the middle has gone to seed. I remove these in my garden, rightly or wrongly to encourage new growth and more buds. The sun warmed my garden last week and I could almost see the hellebores responding. It was indeed wonderful to discover these elegant and beautiful plants can give me showy flowers throughout the winter months. They are so diverse and fascinating that my collection is growing by the year. To find out more read this fascinating article about one particular type close up:

Close up view of a Hellebore hybrid

There are several features that I have not mentioned in relation to the designs in this collection. In the second set I introduced a strip of stamens, that can be stitched out on sheer fabric like tulle using wash away stabiliser. When the stabiliser is removed and the design is trimmed, carefully snipping between each tiny section, the strip can be rolled up and glued so it can be inserted into the centre of one of the dimensional hellebores. I don’t think it is suitable for the ordinary flowers in this collection as it would stick out too much, but if you are creating any of the dimensional flowers and opt for one that is only partially open these rolled anthers will be perfect. To create a flower that is not fully open I spray the completed flower which spray starch and holding it in the palm of my hand pushing the sepals inwards to form a cup shape. A few extra stitches on the back will secure the “petals” in this partially closed position.

The other small element that can be found in the second set is a frilly circle of stamens. I was delighted when I first stitched this element out to see that on tulle it naturally curled. It is best to use embroidery thread in your bobbin for this element and others, so that the underneath if visible is not too “white”. This element enables you to create one of the most pretty of hellebores with a frilly centre as shown here.

This is the final design in Winter Jewels 4 and I decided to stitch it out on white felt to show you the benefits of embroidering on felt. OK, it does not come in a huge variety of colours and is not the easiest fabric to wash, and I confess have yet to attempt to wash it, but my belief is wash any fabric before you use it so it shrinks or does whatever else it decides to do before you embroider on it. The main reason for embroidering on felt is that you never get any puckering so it is great for beginners and for awkward designs. The felt softens the embroidery I think. My error, just in case you did not notice, is that I stitched the Outline alignment stitches out on top of the felt. Nonetheless, the results were fine and they added to the background detail which is of course optional!

Here is another design in this set, which is an endless panel design. There are endless possibilities with this collection and I encourage you to experiment with the dimensional aspects of these designs. Imagine how these hellebores would look on a Christmas wreath or as napkin rings. Go one step further and design your own unique table setting for next Christmas using the dimensional leaves and flowers. Do send me photos of what you create please. Winter Jewels 4 is being released today, January 16th 2019 and the set is available for just $24 until the end of the month. The final set in the Winter Jewels collection will follow soon and here is one of the designs which is nearly completed.

Happy embroidering from Hazel at Graceful Embroidery

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The Graceful Embroidery free gift to start the year

This January I am giving you all a beautiful design. You see it here with my Japanese ikebana with some of the first small daffodils of the year. These are so pretty and I cannot resist them when they appear in the supermarkets. A hint of what is to come.

Here it is loaded on my machine ready to stitch out with 2 thread colours. I stitched mine in my 8″ x 8″ hoop. As you can see it has 22,824 stitches.

You can see I used 2 pieces of wash away stabiliser overlapped to create one layer. If your stabiliser is not wide enough for your hoop, this little trick works very well. A slight spray of temporary adhesive will keep the 2 sections together. I have not tried glue sticks as they are likely to dispense too much permanent glue.

Note how I use a T pin to hold these 2 layers securely. I forgot to take a photo of that so my apologies for showing a different stitch out for Winter Jewels.

I love this element of Regency Whispers and have used it for the main part of the design.

The ivory tulle is hardly visible but it is there supporting the embroidery.

The main section here is nearly complete. I used ordinary bobbin thread for this but you could use the same thread top and bottom, but the embroidery would be marginally thicker.

It is important when the embroidery is finished to snip as many of the jump threads as possible before you wash the stabiliser away. This protects the tulle from being cut by mistake. I was quite severe in my snipping confident that the embroidery will not unravel.

Before I washed the stabiliser under a running tap I had cut around the design about ½″ from the edge with my pinking shears but decided this did not look good. I prefer not to soak embroideries until nearly all the stabiliser is washed out. I left it to soak overnight and left it to dry naturally. The I cut each side of the points all around the edge. Always cut into a corner never out of one if possible.

Lastly I trimmed between the points.

After pressing it from the back I did more snipping using very sharp scissors.

What’s wrong with this mat? It’s back to front! (giggles)

This is definitely the right side, a vast improvement.

You can test out this design for free providing you are a member of the Graceful Embroider Group Forum. Please join today so you can download it from the Freebie page within the group. You may have to wait for up to 36 hours for approval if there are lots of new memberships and you need to have opened an account at Graceful Embroidery.


Happy embroidering in 2019 from Hazel at Graceful Embroidery

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A spontaneous stitch out with no planning whatsoever

As an avid digitiser I had to embroider my New Year’s message for you all! Rather than create something new I decided to take one of my favourite collection and create a new design with the elements. This is the result and you can purchase the designs in January 2019 for just $7.50. What a bargain to start a year of embroidery.

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A study in white for a machine embroidered bridal veil?

Back in the summer after seeing that remarkable embroidered veil which was worn by Meghan Markle, I knew it was time to digitise some unique designs for veil embroidery. The Rachel Kathryn Bridal collection is named after my eldest daughter. Some designs really lose their depth and detail when they are stitched out in just one colour. The collection has been created to keep the details of this distinct embroidery using various white and ivory threads, and successfully on sheer fabrics. 

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The march of the Nutcrackers

This Christmas it seems that we have all become fascinated with decorative Nutcrackers due to the release of the film, the Nutcracker and the Four realms. I well remember my first attendance at Covent Garden, London to the Royal Ballet perform Tchaikovsky’s wonderful ballet of the Nutcracker, so when I decided to digitise some of these charming figures, I decided first to do my homework and find out more.

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My first Christmas roses

Over the last few weeks I have been putting the finishing touches to my new collection, which is called Winter Jewels. These designs celebrate the beauty of the Hellebore, known as the Christmas or Lenten rose. This is however much more than a collection, but a botanical study of these magical flowers that are actually made up of sepals not petals.

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Embroidering a large design and using the wrong thread!

When I was digitising the first designs in the new Vintage Grace collection I had the advantage of the big picture. I have admired the clip-art that was used for this collection for a long time, wanting to create detailed embroidery designs from it.  Continue reading

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Shadow work for the Grace Font

Last year I created the Grace font which has proved very popular, with the option of dainty flowers, so I thought I should complete it by creating lower case letters and numbers so you have more choice when creating an embroidery with letters. Did you know that these pretty fonts stitch out as shadow work? Let me show you how easy it is!

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Embroidery inspired by a royal wedding

I love a wedding, but don’t we all? Yet the royal wedding of Queen Elizabeth’s grand daughter, is something very special, full of pageantry, the splendour of Windsor castle, along with the royals all dressed up. It is always fascinating to see the first glimpse of the dress, the flowers and the outfits of all the wedding guests.  I was pleased to see that there were myrtle flowers in Princess Eugenie’s bouquet, which is a royal tradition.

“Queen Victoria who was given a nosegay of myrtles by Prince Albert’s grandmother.  A sprig was planted by the terrace walls at Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight in 1845 where it still flourishes today.  It has become a Royal tradition  for sprigs from this same plant to be used in royal bouquets!”

It all reminds me of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge back in 2011, when after studying the bridal bouquet I digitised the Bridal Grace collection. Kate Middleton’s bouquet featured  lily of the valley, hyacinths, sweet williams,  myrtles and ivy leaves, all symbolic.

Earlier this year I noticed that myrtle plants were for sale in a little nursery that I visited, so I had to have one, and this is my plant which flowered for the second time back in July. You can see all the new growth which happened when the drought came to an end here in England. I will treasure this plant as its flowers are so precious.  The buds which are featured in the embroidery designs really are tiny globes of cream! Ok, I made them pale green, but I don’t think I had so many colours in my palette of embroidery threads back then, and it also proves that digitising can be more accurate when you are familiar with the flowers you are transforming into embroidery, growing them in your own garden which I love to do.

I am still immensely proud of the collection of designs and you can see it here, in all its glory in the original colours.

Today Princess Eugenie had very similar flowers in her delicate bouquet, all symbolic, white roses, stephanotis, myrtles, lily of valley and thistles. The flowers of stephanotis, with their delicious fragrance,  are very similar to the hyacinths symbolizing a crown. The Greville tiara with emeralds, borrowed from the Queen, matched the glorious leaves of the flowers. In fact  some of the floral displays represented trees and there were trees outside the chapel. The delicate blue thistles were a wonderful addition to the bouquet symbolizing strength, bravery and determination, perfect for a bride prepared to show the large scars on her back from surgery at the age of 12. I loved her dress and when I was able to find close ups of the fabric, it was evident that it was produced especially for the dress, made of a silk, viscose and cotton mix with motifs which included thistles representing Scotland, shamrocks for Ireland and roses for England, along with ivy.

As there are four days left in the Birthday event you can still purchase the 5 sets of Bridal Grace designs for $7.50 each, but this sale finishes on Monday 15th October, 2018.

Best wishes to the happy couple and happy embroidering from Hazel


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A flamboyant crazy quilt block -a re-blog

In completing my 12th Romantic Crazy quilt block I decided to be more flamboyant than usual. After I had added the four pastel shades of silk dupion along with some lace to the base fabric and completed the embroidery, I searched for lots of silk ribbon, pearls, crystals and other items to embellish my block. I find it is a good idea to lay them all out around the block to see what goes well and what doesn’t….

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