Sunday, July 20, 2014

The 'ins and outs' of Broderie Perse

Broderie Perse, or Persian Embroidery, is a lovely applique technique first used in the 1700's. Originally only the wealthy could afford the expensive Chintz that was used, but today we have a huge range of gorgeous patterned fabric that lends itself to this technique.

It really is very simple; it's a method of cutting out a motif from fabric and applying it to another fabric - cheat's applique if you like!

 I used the process in my Elegancia Bed Runner and Cushion. Just imagine trying to applique lots of small bits and pieces to obtain the effect of the different colours in the fan and flowers. Then there are the sticks on the fan - it would be difficult and time-consuming to applique them in position on one fan, let alone six that I have used in the project.

This design lent itself to Broderie Perse. The fans were so pretty that they cried out to be showcased on their own. I simply cut around the fan shape very carefully, including some adjacent flowers. Other flowers were then cut out to add to the design where I felt they were needed. 

The steps involved are:

*   Choose the motif and cut out roughly an inch outside of it.
*   Apply a piece of fusible webbing to the wrong side.
*   Cut out carefully around the chosen design, using very sharp, small scissors.
*   Fuse everything in place.
*   Finish the edges and other embellishment by machine or hand embroidery - blanket-stitch, zigzag, satin stitch, straight stitch or whatever you choose.

For Elegancia, I used a clear mono-filament to stitch the fan and flowers to the background.

One of the key things in making Broderie Perse work is the choice of background fabric. 

You can see that the background fabric from which I cut the fans is black, so by choosing the same colour on which to applique the motifs, the process is seamless. Imagine what it would look like if the fan had been appliqued onto, say, a white fabric. The black fabric between the fan sticks would stand out like a sore thumb!

It IS possible sometimes to get away with a different colour background. In my Persian Rose cushion, I have cut away all the background fabric from the motif. You can see that the leaves, roses and buds have no background fabric showing:

This meant that I could applique them to the burgundy background without worrying about any colour clashes. I then blanket-stitched around the cut edges and continued the blanket-stitching around the flowers to pick out the shapes:

Broderie Perse is a technique that I really should use more often. There is no way that I can draw or paint anything like the fabulous artists who produce such beautiful images on their fabric. Then there's the time-factor, Broderie Perse is quick! I recommend you try it out!

Talking about quick projects, my husband and I are going on an overseas trip in a few weeks, so it was time yesterday to think about how we were going to carry all our travel documents, passports etc. I found a travel wallet pattern at Spotlight and made a few modifications to suit what we needed and made one for each of us in just a couple of hours. Hubby's is just plain dark green, but mine uses some pretty blue oriental fabric left-overs - entirely appropriate since we are off to Japan:

Plenty of pockets for all the documents:

Now I think I'll go through my stash and pick something pretty to do some more Broderie Perse!

Happy stitching

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt Pattern 7

I have the next block in the free "Shining Like the Dawn" Block of the Month quilt for you today. It has a great message - very short but full of meaning in our busy world:

You can download the pattern here.

Felt is such a delightful medium to use so when I needed to make a project suitable for a fete, felt was my first thought. I came up with the idea of some embroidered keyrings. Of course they could also be used as a scissor keep or a bag dangle. There's a fan, an icecream and an owl:

The owl was a cover girl!:

You can find the pattern in Handmade Vol 32 No 9 (same magazine as my Chevronetta Table Runner):

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen some of the bits and pieces that I've made as part of an interactive children's wall hanging: 

All the parts are removable for play and then can all be put back in place to make a delightful wall hanging:

I've made eight so far in what I have called "My Cupboard" series.  My Kitchen Dresser is probably still my absolute favourite - a fabric tea set:

This one is especially for the boys and includes a tool apron:

So now I'm on to my ninth in the series. It won't take much guessing to work out which room we're in this time!  You can see the rest of My Cupboard series on

Happy stitching!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chevrons - the easy way

Just occasionally I drag myself out of my vintage dreams and design something with a modern touch! 

It wasn't too hard to do as I am rather fond of chevrons, love red and aqua together and there was enough applique on the ends of my table runner to keep me happy.

These are super easy chevrons! They are made from 2½ inch strips cut across the width of fabric, then red and white are joined along the length, and aqua and white the same. The strips are then cross-cut into 4½ inch squares.

The squares are laid out on point and then stitched together in diagonal rows - very quick and easy.

"Chevronetta" is in the latest edition of Handmade Magazine, Vol 32 No 9.

If you can't find the magazine, then keep an eye out for the pattern which I will make available for purchase in a few weeks.

I made a momentous decision a couple of weeks ago - earth-shattering for me anyway! I decided to free-motion quilt a complete lap quilt!  Free motion quilting is something that I have never been able to conquer and all previous attempts have been disastrous.

Recently I have been trying out a few quilting designs on small blocks so I made the bold decision to go bigger!

I was SO tempted to pull it all out after the first hour ... and the second .... and even the third! Eventually I decided to put my perfectionist trait behind me and just go with the flow. It is definitely far from perfect but I was surprised that it didn't actually look too bad overall! 

I'm not sure that I would do it again, but who knows? I don't like to let things beat me!

 We had a couple of quite cold days last week and our morning walk along the beach wasn't all that comfortable with the cold winds. Apart from needing our daily exercise, we like to spot what lovely birds we can find. Braving the cold was all worthwhile when we saw a rare Beach Stone Curlew. We've only seen two in our four years in the area.

It's not amazingly attractive, but is quite large 55 cm (22 inches) and we were over the moon to see it. The next day we saw these two branches protruding from one of the trees we pass regularly:

... No, not branches but brilliant camouflage by two Tawny Frogmouths!

We find joy every day in living in our beautiful area. God has 'blessed our socks off'!

Happy stitching.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Adventures with Pre-cuts

Today I want to show you one of my latest designs to be published - The Tour of the Garden Wall Quilt:

It's gone to the top of my list of favourites as I really like everything about it - colour, needleturn applique, simple piecing, the theme, style and, well ... it just works!

You can find it in Australian Country Threads magazine, Vol 15 No 4:

If you are unable to find this magazine, don't worry, I will have the pattern available in my store in a few weeks.

Showing you this design started me thinking about my love affair with Pre-cuts. I bought my first Jelly Roll six or seven years ago when they were quite a new idea and managed to make two projects out of it. I was a bit restricted with just 2½ inch strips so next time I bought a whole set of 40 fat quarters, plus a Jelly Roll. That was WAY too much fabric! I ended up making 13 projects from that. Thankfully it was a gorgeous range and I didn't get tired of using it.

Through trial and error, I have found what suits me well when it comes to Pre-cuts. 
I now buy a layer cake, (40-42 ten inch squares), 1½ yards of a solid/tone-on-tone fabric, then four or five further half yards of fabric.

I thought you might like to see the rationale behind that. (I know that you have already seen the photos below, but I want to use them again as illustrations.) I bought this lovely Double Chocolat range by 3 Sisters - the layer cake, 1½ yds Cherry, ½ yards of two blues, a chocolate floral, chocolate tone-on-tone, tan, and a red, (and then they had packs of 40 2½ inch squares already cut at a very good price so I thought I'd save myself some cutting time and bought two packs). Here's what I made with the range:

The Cherry and Chocolate Table Runner uses the Cherry yardage for the border and binding. The four chocolate floral blocks are cut from one of the half yards.

Confectionary Corner make use of the variety of fabrics from the layer cake and the binding is cut from the tan half yard of fabric. 

The Chocolate Delight placemats also use the layer cake and a chocolate half yard for binding, but notice how different this looks to the previous design. That's because I chose to leave out all the tan fabrics and major on just chocolate, blue and cherry colours.
For the Picnic in the Park tablecloth and cutlery wrap, you can see I again used some of the layer cake and three or four of the half yardages. Have you worked out why this one looks different?  There is no chocolate colour used.

The chocolate floral yardage came in handy for the Red Robin Peg Bag above. 

Snowed Under used up some more of the layer cake and again yardage for the binding.

Then of course I used up all the bits and pieces that were left over, making my Tour of the Garden quilt at the top of this post.

So what have I learned with my adventures with Pre-cuts?  Firstly, you need fabric for borders and binding! Jelly Rolls are great, but generally in a large range, you get only one strip of each fabric, and that just isn't enough.  I now buy half yards, because I know I can cut a good number of 2½ inch strips from them (seven if need be). I try to buy four different colours in the half yards so that I can obtain quite different effects by changing the borders or binding.

I choose one fabric in a strong colour that has very little pattern - like a solid or tone-on-tone print and buy 1½ yards of it. I figure that will give me sufficient for bordering a wall quilt plus a table runner or a bag and if there is any over, I know it will be a useful piece to have in my stash.

Another principle I work on is that I usually choose a range that has four distinct colours and has very few neutrals. That's my personal preference but I have found it gives such a wide variety of "looks", as I hope you can see in the photos above.

 Yes, I love Pre-cuts. Being able to have a whole range of fabric without buying 42 pieces from the roll is just wonderful. I don't live within easy range of a quilt shop so I love that everything matches, without my having to go searching for just the right colour to fit in. I love the variety that can be obtained when selecting portions of the range and I love all the wonderful choices I have for my beloved appliques. Whoever invented Pre-cuts deserves a medal!

Happy stitching!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

All things bright and beautiful

The question I get asked most when talking about my designs is "Where do you get your ideas from?". It's a difficult question to answer really. They just come!

I know that any talent I have is a gift from God. 

I know that there are hundreds of things that inspire me. 

 I know my heart skips a beat when I see something of great beauty.

I know I love detail.

 I know my heart sings when I have a needle and thread in my hand.

I know I have an amazing creator God.

 I know I have been blessed to live in a wonderful country.

I don't know how the ideas just pop into my head!

I know I'm on an amazing journey.

I love that you have joined me on it!

Photos from top:
Blue Cockatoo Orchid
Fringe Myrtle
Lady Bird Beetle on Acacia
Rose (forgotten name!)
Scented Sundew
Bee on our Plum tree
Bulldog Orchid
Amanita muscaria toadstool