capturing wild flowers in a summer meadow – a re-blog

I love the time of year when I can almost see the growth of the plants in the garden. There also seems to be an abundance of flowers everywhere I look in the shops, on bedding, table linens, curtains, clothes and china to name a few in late spring. I decided that was the perfect time to capture some of my favourite wild flowers that grow here in England, cornflowers, corn cockles, buttercups, harebells, cow parsley and clover. These may not grow in other countries and if they do I suspect they have different common names, but I love their graceful simplicity which I have tried to capture, even though they are regarded by many as mere weeds….. Continue reading

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silk, silk and more silk

I just adore silk! Didn’t you realise? Shimmering silk thread and silk fabric! Even my website back ground features one of my all time favourite silk fabrics. I fell in love with it many years ago when I worked in a fabric store. It just holds colour in a different way from other fabrics and I love the feel of it and also the fragrance. You take a look at some other fabrics and you will find about twenty choices of colour. However checkout silk, especially silk dupion and you have a never ending selection of colours which is one of the many reasons I love it so much.

Silk is a natural fabric made from protein fibres that come from the cocoons of insect larva, especially the mulberry silk worm. The method of cultivating the worms for silk fabric is called sericulture. The history of silk and how it has developed is fascinating, starting in China it came across the Silk Road to many countries. There are lots of myths surrounding how it was discovered all those years ago. Obviously there are many types of silk fabric, from sheer chiffon, mouseline and delicate tulle to heavy types like tussah, zibeline and curtain and furnishing fabrics. In researching silk I found out that you can even get bespoke silk wall coverings where silk fabric is paper backed! Now there is a thought. The names of the types of silk fabrics, like shatung, dupioni, habutai and charmeuse conjure up images of romance, luxury and opulence.

When I began to get interested in machine embroidery I soon discovered how great silk dupion (other names for it are dupioni, douppioni  and doupioni) is for embroidery. It is strong and forms a wonderful base for most designs. Having so much choice in colours means it is not difficult to find the perfect shade of fabric for any embroidery project. A while back I finally managed to find the perfect silk thread for machine embroidery. Although marginally thinner than the usual 40 wt thread, Tire Silk 50wt silk is a 3 ply thread and is perfect being available in over 150 colours. It is not for everyday embroidery but if you require a degree of luxury and some beautiful subtle colours this is what you should go for. I found that the difference of 10wt gives a simpler look to the designs that are stitched out in it.

 Obviously I have not used it for all my collections but so far I have used this silk thread successfully for designs from the Japanese Blossom collection.

I also had to test out a design from the Almond silk paisley collection in silk embroidery threads. Delightful results.

I have also stitched out designs from the Beatrice collection successfully. These subtle colours give the little orchids  in these designs a whole new appearance.

This is my Moses basket cover which has been embroidered with silk thread on silk dupion fabric. It features designs from Une Petit Princesse.

I hope you will take the opportunity to experiment with this luxurious thread, as I know you will not be disappointed. Because it costs more I would recommend light and open designs. The only draw back is that silk really does not wash. You cannot really wash it satisfactorily. I watched an interesting video recently on YouTube explaining that is shrinks slightly but the fabric looks damaged and creased to me, something I just could not bring myself to do to fabric that I love so much. If your project is going to be exposed to direct sunlight I would also advise against using silk thread or fabric as it will fade.

Happy silk embroidering from Hazel

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Inspiration to digitise machine embroidery designs – re-written

There are so many places where I find my inspiration and ideas. I began to create machine embroidery because I was finding it difficult to find the right elegant heirloom and Celtic designs for the dresses I was commissioned to make as a bridal dressmaker. I would find one design that was suitable but hardly ever found matching designs in similar shapes for all the necklines, bodices and skirt trains I was required to embroider. The brides would ask me to move that flower over there and basically rearrange the design in another shape which I couldn’t do, as that would infringe the license and copyright.

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the anatomy of an applique embroidery design – re-blog

Here is another re-blog as Graceful Embroidery celebrates eleven years of breathtakingly beautiful embroidery, looking back at the collections I have created. In particular the Almond Silk Paisley collection was great fun to create. I would like to take you through the embroidering process of one of the designs from this beautiful collection which is  very popular one as the designs are quick to stitch out. 



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a cushion for Georgiana – a re-blog


I have a little wicker chair that I bought for when Georgie, my granddaughter,  comes to visit! It does need a cushion though, and while I was finishing off the Georgiana collection which is named after her I thought I would use one of the designs to create the perfect little cushion.

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creating a Celtic Claddagh -a re-blog from 2016

Adding some dimension to embroidery can be a challenge but I have tried to make it as easy as possible with the designs which have this option. A little practice may be advisable to perfect the technique, but when you master adding pre embroidered appliques to your projects, it opens up lots more choices and you will be so proud of your achievements. Let me show you how I took one of the Celtic Ivy designs and made it into something special and unique! Continue reading

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How Outline alignment stitches can enable even larger embroidery

I think I am quite sad to be completing the work on the Royal Heirloom collection. It has been quite exciting seeing the designs coming into shape in my embroidery software and then I have been completely fascinated watching them stitching out, testing out various colour schemes. In this final set of designs for 12″ by 8″ hoops I have included a few designs which can be combined. Let me show you the possibilities and how outline alignment stitches can help.

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Developing heirloom designs for larger hoops

This week I finished digitising and testing out the 12 designs in Royal Heirloom 4 for mega hoops that are 360mm by 150mm. As well as creating designs which can be used individually I like to make sure that the majority of the designs will combine easily for larger areas, like the train of a wedding dress or the front skirt of a Christening down. I have introduced a few new elements in this set of designs too.

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Gilded Treasures collection – re-blog from 2017

I would like to share this blog from last year as these designs are the collection of the month during August, which means they are only $35.

Over the last few weeks I have been working on the new Christmas collection for 2017. This collection was inspired by some wrapping paper! As there are already several collections at Graceful Embroidery in the usual seasonal colour schemes, I have decided to use a very different group of colours, jades, olive greens, greys and rich spicy colours like russet, maples and cinnamon along with copper and silver metallic thread. The development of these designs, takes advantage of the wonderful digitising tools available in Wilcom e4, the latest version of the commercial software that I have been using. The designs have a slight “grunge” feel to them like Amore Grunge, Fleur de Grunge and Morning grunge, characterised by tiny elements and open leaves.  Continue reading

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Scalloped edged machine embroidery

My heirloom collections have all had particular themes, like eyelets, special stitches like those created with wing needles and candle wicking. For my latest collection I have focused on creating delicate narrow ribbons of lace motif fills, that not only imitate lace lace insertion, but can also be easily adapted to shadow work, so the Royal Heirloom collection is very versatile. It is fascinating to create these designs always with heirloom projects, like Christening gowns in mind.

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