Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Anatomy of a Silk Shaded Embroidery

Last spring, I traveled to San Francisco to complete my fourth and final module of the Certificated Course of the Royal School of Needlework. I had already done this module with poor results so when they offered to allow me the privilege of re-doing my silk shading, I jumped on it. I would like to report that I received the grade I was hoping for, but I didn't. All in all, I'm happy to be finished and ready to move on to the next adventure.

This course is held bi-yearly in San Francisco at the Forever Embroidery Studio. Each module, or area of study, lasts ten days. The stitching below represents my work from ten full days of stitching.

I chose this bluebell as the flower I would stitch.
Once the outlines are painted on and pick stitched in place, stitching can commence. Always work from background to foreground.


After tackling the small blue petals, I decided to change colors and work on the leaves.

Now I can really see the flower take shape. I'm beginning to see the light at the end.

This section was quite tricky as the order of the petals change slightly so stitching is a bit disorganized.

Very little room remaining with which to tie on and off. Looks like I'm going to finish today after all.

Last petal.

Finished design.

This is my method of keeping track of thread colors. After a while, they all look the same color.
Mounting is a critical step which can be quite daunting. I decided to record my corners because I can never remember how I did them.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Millefiori Part 2

I can't believe I remembered to photograph my work in progress. Usually, I'm so enthralled in the process, I totally forget. Here's how the project progressed:

Every project I create begins with a detailed sketch. Call it the "blueprint" if you will. Most often, the idea comes many months before the sewing begins, so documentation is critical to achieving my vision.

To create the bound buttonholes, small squares of the contrasting fabric were marked with the exact size of the buttonhole. The squares were placed onto the right side of the jacket, carefully aligning the tiny dots of the fabrics. Placing the buttonholes even a fraction off will be accentuated because of the dots in the fabric.

Once the squares are aligned and pinned in place, machine stitch around the rectangle of the buttonholes with 1.5mm stitch length, over-stitching it twice. Be precise.

Note the position of the collar as it sits around the neckline. Clips at intervals will prevent puckering once the lining is attached.

This photo illustrated the concept of the hidden placket. Once the buttons are attached and the laps in place, the placket will be hidden inside a pleat. Very cool, but a drafting nightmare.

I wanted to show the placket of the dress in this photo. At the last minute, I decided to eliminate the edge-stitching along the tucks. The pockets and belt are shown here prior to embroidery.

This is the ensemble just prior to embellishments.
Notice the adorable cap sleeves with keyhole opening. This sleeve is outlined in mini piping and lined. A tiny bias binding finishes the sleeve. A .25" gap was purposely left on the sleeve to allow room for the embroidery.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Classic Children's Sewing at La Broderie Bayou Retreat

I've been neglecting my blog for the past six months, but not neglecting my work. It's time to play catch up and the best way to begin is where we left off.

La Broderie Bayou, usually held in Avery Island, Louisiana was held last June in my New Orleans studio. It was a huge success! The project, usually a hand-sewn embroidery item, was modified to feature machine sewing and classic European-style children's wear. Techniques included bound buttonhole, hidden placket pleats, piping, and some hand embroidery techniques. The project is entitled "Millifiori" and it features a dress and matching jacket in sizes 2-3-4-5-6-8.

Although I didn't take many photos of my participants, I did manage to snap a few of the completed project and some step-by-steps, which will be featured in another post.

The flowers were made using a custom die for my Accuquilt die cutting machine.
The little pockets feature a contrasting band embellished with hand embroidered cast-on flowers (tutorial to follow).
This classically styled Empire waist dress features keyhole sleeves, edged in piping, knife pleats, detached belt and hand stitched running stitching along edges.
Close-up view of the sleeve clearly shows the peek-a-boo opening and hand embroidered flowers (tutorial to follow) with running stitches along the piped edges. The sleeve is banded with tiny bias binding.

The coat features felt flower applique on lapel and hand embroidered flowers on the pocket. This fabric is lined pique from Fabric Finders.

This detachable belt is embellished with wool flower appliques.

Classic children's sewing at its best!


Friday, May 17, 2013

Countdown to Closing

I've been dreading these words for several months: I'm closing my retail store. I know many of you have received my email stating those very words, but now that we inch closer and closer to the June 30th date, I find myself reflecting on the past twenty years. Yes, that's right. I began my design business twenty years ago this year. Over the years, many changes have taken place, mostly for the better, but some for the worse. Even though I feel happy to be moving on, I can't help but feel a bit sad that all that I have built is coming to a close.

For those of you who are hearing this for the first time, please realize that I am not retiring or ending my design business, but I'm closing my distribution center and retail store. What this means is that I will not be producing some of my products such as Wendy Schoen buttons, lace tape, and the distribution of Floche skeins. Class handouts and kits are also being discontinued. Petite Poche Patterns will continue to be sold and produced along with my books, dvds, embroidery disks, and Wendy Schoen needles.

I will continue to teach nationally and will increase classes in Wendy's Sewing Studio in New Orleans. I will be communicating with you through this blog and as usual, but essentially, I will be focusing on sewing and embroidery education and publication. I plan to offer some designs through automatic download and limited sale months during the year as I focus on returning to writing magazine articles and blog tutorials.

Take one last look at my beautiful shop:

If you would like to purchase my class projects, embroidery club designs, Floche complete sets, or items in my online store, you will be able to do so until the June 30th deadline. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Floche: Friend or Foe

Clockwise from Left: DMC Floche hanks; DMC & Anchor complete set of skeins; Floche samplers.

Many of you ask the difference between floss and Floche. Floche is the French word for floss, but it is a product name. Floche is manufactured by two companies: DMC and ANCHOR. I have been importing and distributing Floche since the 90's and avidly using it in my embroidery work. Although I have been distributing it for almost twenty years, I was not the first one to import it into the U.S. Julia Golson, one of the major distributors of heirloom goods in the States, approached me about purchasing the distributorship. She had designed the packaging and promoted the use of Floche for several years and was ready to give it up.

At the time, Floche was only available through Julia Golson Design and when I purchased it, then available through Wendy Schoen Design. Soon after ownership changed hands, DMC Floche was being imported by another major distributor and then it was much more accessible. Even then, the only method of obtaining the Anchor colors was through my company.

Floche complete set of 98 skeins.
As it stands, we have 98 different Floche colors in the line, many being DMC brand and some being Anchor brand. We combine the two color lots and rename the Anchor colors using the DMC number system for continuity and ease in ordering. The Anchor colors that do not match DMC numbers exactly receive a "word" description, such as Ice Pink and Ice Blue. Those lovely pale colors don't exist in the DMC line. As far as I know, we stock more Floche colors than any other distributor because we use both product lines in our selection.

This month, we are offering skeins of Floche for only $2.00, far below the $3.50 regular price. We also sell Floche by the complete set $192 for 98 skeins. As of now, we have no plans to import Anchor threads in the future, so when we sell out, that will be it. To order, click here.

What exactly is Floche and what makes it so different than floss? Floche is a luxury Egyption cotton strand containing five plys. It is designed to be used by the strand but plys can be carefully removed to regulate the thickness of the strands. Although it is possible to remove strands, they should be discarded, utilizing only the original strand for working. In Madeira, Floche is used for Point de Paris stitch in applique with one or two plys removed. I use this trick when stitching padded satin with Floche. Floss has 2 plys but six individual strands make up one strand. Floss is made to be separated, Floche is not.

Floche is about one-and-one-half times the thickness of floss which makes it perfect for surface embroidery techniques. Stem stitch, Granito stitch, and shadow stitch are especially lovely when worked in Floche. Floche has spread-ability. When pressure is put on the strand when laying onto the fabric, the plys separate or spread out, resulting in more coverage and smoothness. It is soft in texture, therefore a around eye needle should be used at all times. A long-eyed needle can fray the delicate fibers and cause dullness in your stitches. The only time I use a long-eyed needle with Floche is when smocking, and for smocking, there is no comparison between Floche and floss. Floche requires three strands for working and is easier to manage than floss. Shorter lengths are a must, as the fibers tend to get pretty ratty quickly.

So now you know why I detest when my students refer to floss as DMC. Floss is the product name, as is perle or broder and DMC is the company name. Please call floss stranded cotton or floss and call Floche, Floche.

Here is a brief tuturial of the Have a Heart embroidery design using Floche and a #7 Between needle.

Step 1

Working from foreground to background, work the facial features and bow. Beginning at the open end of the inner ear, begin stitching from side to side with pink Floche. (Pilot stitch denoted in red.)

Step 2
Work the iris of the eye with green in Granito stitch. Shadow stitch the eye with white Floche, working the shape as you would an oval. Back-stitch the eyelashes in gray. Work the nose with pink in Granito stitch.
Step 3
Stitch the inside of the bow in dark blue beginning at the knot and working outward. With light blue, work the knot and bow loops in shadow stitch. Pilot stitches are denoted in red. Stitches with dots denote plain back-stitches. Stitch the neckband as you would a rectangle with light blue.
Step 4
The head is worked in two sections. Beginning with the foreground, work the V-configuration at the tip of the ear and work towards the nose. When approaching an existing stitch, place the adjoining stitch into the same A-B points, allowing the stitch to sit beside the first.
Step 5
To work the remaining ear, begin at the point in the V-configuration and work towards the head. Piggy-back the stitches on common walls where sections intersect.
Step 6
Work the little dots in Granito stitch with blue Floche. The leaves are worked in Lazy daisy stitch with green Floche. (See Stitch Diagrams.)
Step 7
Begin working the body at the tail end by placing a row of continuous back-stitches along the straight portion of the line. When the line begins to arch, begin stitching from side to side. Work the stitches with dots as back-stitches without cross-over stitches. Along the upper portion, divide the shape into two.
Step 8
When the main shape is completed, continue upward to the unstitched section and fill in the remaining stitches. Complete the remaining foot.
Step 9
Stitch the tail in white, beginning at the open ends near the rump and working outward.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Have a Heart!

I have just completed the finishing touches to my newest pattern release, "Have a Heart". I thought Valentine's Day would be the perfect time for this special design because of the little heart and bunny motif. I absolutely love the way the photos turned out and I would like to thank my adorable model for making this design look so sweet.

This design features shadow work embroidery, one of my very favorite techniques to stitch and to teach. You might remember a few years ago, my book, Mastering Shadow Work Embroidery was published. If shadow work embroidery is something you have been wanting to try but don't know where to begin, you should consider purchasing this book.


This is an extreme closeup of the embroidery design worked in shadow stitch with Floche embroidery cotton. A #7 Between needle was used because of its round eye.