Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Tidying Up Those Loose Threads

Finished and Unfinished Bits of Boutis and Embroidery

Because of other plans and obligations, I realized in early November that there would be limited, if any, time to quilt before Christmas. That certainly proved to be the case. I had set out a few hand stitching goals for myself during this time, some of which were met, others not, plus a new, unplanned project was added.

The first projects that were completed were the two star embroideries for my grand daughter. When I made her quilt last year, "Catch a Falling Star", I made the label on the back into a pocket into which I will add a little star with a wish for her every year. For this year's star I borrowed a small piece of my precious yellow boutis batiste cotton (precious because I am having difficulty sourcing it) and proceeded with some easy embroidery stitches. Beads were added to give it a touch of sparkle.

Staying with the star theme, the little tree ornament below was embroidered onto antique white linen using silk thread with a basic stem stitch for the hearts and a padded satin stitch for the center star. A gold metallic thread was then woven in and out of the stitches to give it a little more "pizzazz". This was the first time I had used silk thread for satin stitching. Even though I had padded the center star with cotton floss before satin stitching, I was disappointed with the result, likely due to my inexperience with the silk thread.

And then, much to my surprise, (and delight) after our trip to Hawaii before Christmas, I came home with yet another new hand stitching project. After taking a class in traditional Hawaiian quilting, I fell in love all over again with applique. It seems like forever since I had done any and it was such a delight to be stitching on these bright, cheerful colours that I couldn't leave it alone until I had finished it.

"Kanani O Ka Home" (Beauty of Home) Design by John Serrao

With my fingers itching to work on a second Hawaiian applique, I have prepped another, but it will have to wait in the wings until some of my other projects have been tended to.

"Pupu O Ke Kai" (Shells of the Sea), another pattern by John Serrao

One of the projects on my November list that didn't get finished were the monogrammed cocktail napkins for my husband. I chose a burnished gold floss to match the rich amber colour of his favourite scotch. His initials with the surrounding shamrock were to be done in raised satin stitch. After the under pad stitching had been completed on all 4 napkins, I decided that I really didn't like either the colour or the design. (Why didn't I admit that after the first one?) Needless to say, they did not find their way under the tree. Lucky for me, I have more of the same antique linen napkins for a second set, and a preferable, possibly easier design idea percolating. Maybe they'll end up under the tree next Christmas!

There was a little time to pick up one or another of my boutis pieces now and then, although none of them were finished. I did however, finally manage to put a simple frame around the cicadas below. These two little guys were my first boutis design, and even with their imperfections, it's satisfying to see them framed.

But alas, this poor golden rose window boutis below is still waiting for a purpose. Inspiration is bound to come one day!


  1. I bet you will really enjoy the simple echo quilting on those Hawaiian pieces too! I think it would be very relaxing.

    I love that vibrant gold star, and of course the cicadas are always a favourite. I am excited to see more Hawaiian projects, too!

    1. You're right about the echo quilting, I know that I will enjoy it, but my hand quilting skills are seriously rusty these days. It might be a nice summer time activity on the balcony. Something to look forward to.

  2. I love the boutis piece, maybe some day I can try it. I'm glad you like the Hawaiian quilting, I've done needle turn appliqué, and boy am I over it! Never again! But I will eventually get back into hand quilting, that I find very peaceful and relaxing. What a lovely idea for your granddaughter, the stars will be something she treasures (I hope you save them).

    1. My hope is to stitch a star into the pocket, that is on the back of the quilt, every year so that the stars become a part of the quilt. When the pocket can no longer hold the stars, I will come up with an alternate repository for them. As she grows up, she will be able to pull them pull them out and examine them on her own terms.

      Re: the hand quilting. Quite frankly, it intimidates me. I have not done any hand quilting for a number of years, but I feel it's about time to reset and refresh the hand quilting technique.