tips on filling spaces with backstitch

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This week has been full of packing kits and posting but I found time in between for a little stitching of Kitty.

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for the first stitching I decided to use quite muted wintry colours for her hat and scarf with my favourite gold (Anchor 874) for her hair.  

I outlined her hair in stem stitch and then filled it with back stitch.  I follow the lines of the outlines and create rows of back stitch.  There will be a few gaps using this method so once I've finished I go back in and pop single stitches in to fill the gaps. 

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the dress is also outlined in stem stitch.  I've used a darker colour to give definition to the edge of the dress, in particular her sleeve which crosses the dress.

I use bigger stitches if I'm covering a larger area and again follow the lines of the outline.  If you look at the sleeve all the stitch lines move across the dress in the direction of the arm whereas the main dress stitching goes down the dress.

I did trace the decoration on the dress as I hadn't made my mind up before I started tracing.  You don't need to trace the decoration as you will need to add it after you have stitched the dress using the pattern image for reference.

Lilipopo embroidery Kitty dress

Again I filled any gaps afterwards with single stitches.  Once I finished stitching I added the embellishments, v stitches and snowflakes

Lilipopo embroidery Kitty full

I used two strands of thread when I was filling the hair as the area was small but for bigger areas such as the cat and the dress I used three strands.

For the cat I stitched the facial features first and then I filled in with ecru thread.  It is fiddlier to do it this way but it means you can use the traced lines for the face if you are not confident about copying it from the pattern image afterwards.

As always my main tip for stitching is to take it slowly and go back and undo mistakes straight away.  A magnifying lamp certainly helps if your eyes (like mine) are not as good as they could be for close work.

Please feel free to share any tips you have for filling in larger areas with stitching in the comments below.

I will be away for a week so Kitty won't be in my shop until the end of October.

Have a lovely week

x


weekending not stitching

Lilipopo books

Autumn has definitely arrived here, the weather is greyer and we come home from our dog walk soaked through despite the raincoats.  This is when I like to pull out a crafting book or two from my shelves or even treat myself to a new one.  On Friday, to my great excitement, my copy of Making Winter by Emma Mitchell arrived.  I had to carry on working and wait until Saturday to actually take a proper look at it. 

It's a beautiful book with projects ranging from baking to sketching to crochet.  There is a quite exciting project in it making silver clay pendant using fire! There's nothing like having fire involved in a craft project to spark the interest of the rest of my family!

I decided on a simpler project to begin with - baking.  I can't think of a nicer thing to do on a cold wet day so I chose the lemon, ginger and thyme bars.

Photo 1

I love love love lemon anything and I love ginger.  These are delicious!  Very very lemony with a (as my son likes to quote) buttery biscuit base.  I had to hide half of them so we would have some left for today.  

Lilipopo crochet granny chic

I said no stitching but I have to qualify that, no embroidery stitching.  I have been stitching samples all week so I wanted something relaxing to do with my hands that wasn't embroidery.  I remembered that I had started the 'granny puff blanket' from my copy of Granny Chic by Tif Fussell and Rachelle Blondel  and so I pulled out the beginnings of the blanket and my Cornish wool and crochet hook.  Then I had to go and find my notes on crocheting as it has been so long that I couldn't remember how to treble crochet (UK style).  But once I was settled with it the rhythm soon kicked in and my blanket (well it will be more of a wrap really due to a bit of a wool shortage!) is slowly slowly growing.  

I'd forgotten how much I love crochet (and knitting) in the winter.  It's lovely to sit on the sofa with music playing quietly working with my hands while my mind is free to think.   Various members of the family stop by for a while and chat before going back to their homework or whatever Netflix  series they are watching at the moment.  And even though the dinner will still need cooking and the dishes still need doing it feels as though the world slows down for a little while.

Do you have weekend routines so that your weekend doesn't end up disappearing in busywork?

x


cute kittens in amongst the flowers

Lilipopo kitten embroidery pattern

Over the last few weeks I have been having fun sketching kittens and cats and girls with cats. 

This little kitten pattern is a simple pretty pattern.  I've stitched her up in my favourite pinks and reds (although of course you could use your own favourite happy colours).  I even added a little lilac.

Full hoop close up

She is very simple to stitch. You can frame her in a hoop with her flower garden around her and butterflies floating nearby.

Kitten cushion full

or she can be stitched up as a little hanging cushion lightly filled with toy stuffing and lavender.  A lovely gift to pop on a child's pillow to help her sleep.

Stitching up picture 1

there is even a pretty little backing to stitch for the cushion with flowers and ferns.

The pattern for this little kitten is in my Etsy shop  and as always comes with a simple stitch guide and pattern transfer instructions.

There are instructions for making the little cushion included in the pattern.

I hope you have a lovely weekend with a little bit of stitchy time

x

 


sometimes things just don't go according to plan

Lilipopo embroidery feeling witchy 2

This year I thought I was organized!  I thought I would have the hallowe'en panels ready in plenty of time for any hallowe'en stitching and the little caravan, putting up the tree and new lavender girl kits all ready with no mad late nights working and rushing.  But then fate stepped in.  I love the linen sampler for feeling witchy but I have had to stitch her with my magnifying lamp and a little imagination as her lines were just too fine for the linen.  The writing was too bold on the 'my little caravan' panel when the sample arrived.  The 'putting up the tree' panel was a little too small.  And finally I had forgotten to put the stripes on the lavender girl's top!

I was so disappointed after telling customers that 'yes' I would have a hallowe'en sampler in September, 'yes' I will have a Christmas sampler very soon...  After a cup of tea I reminded myself that the point of samples is to iron out the little problems, I want the panels to be as good as they possibly can be. 

So I reordered the hallowe'en sampler on cotton instead of linen,  I reordered the little caravan with lighter writing,  I reordered a bigger Christmas tree and I put the stripes on the lavender girls and reordered them too.

I'm really hoping I have learned the lesson of patience but I'm not too sure, we'll see the next time.

  Lilipopo embroidery kitties

And there are some positive results from all this waiting time...  I have had time to begin rough ideas for new work and a new kit.  I have been improving my Adobe illustrator skills so that I can create a kitty kit with colour printed onto the fabric!  Something I find quite exciting.  I have no doubt I may need a few samples before this one is perfect but I will have to continue developing my patience.

Lilipopo embroidery winter inspiration

And there has been time to be inspired by beautiful children's books, colours of threads, autumnal coastal walks to Mousehole and fairy tales read aloud.

I hope you are enjoying the beginnings of whichever season you are entering into and feeling calm and patient.

x


Christmas preparations

Lilipopo christmas tree embroidery

I am a staunch no Christmas until the 1st of December by nature but in my business I really have to get my head around Christmas so very much earlier!  I have spent August thinking and planning for it and now I am sorting out kits and printed fabric panels.  By the time Christmas comes I think I'll be ready for summer!

Lilipopo christmas embroidery

But I think there is also something quite nice about starting to think about Christmas as autumn begins because we can plan our crafty gift giving.  I think anyone who loves to make things is used to thinking ahead about Christmas.  It's not the stressy panicking kind of thinking but a slow enjoyable thinking. 

I love to spend my autumn evenings knitting or stitching gifts for family and friends.  I love choosing the design and colours to suit the person I am making the gift for but I also love the opportunity to slow down and spend some time thinking about the person while I stitch or knit.  Maybe that's why so many of us love crafting, because we are doing something useful while still being able to relax and unwind.

Lilipopo christmas tree detail embroidery

I've especially enjoyed revisiting my Christmas tree sampler over the last couple of weeks.  This is the first printing of a fabric panel that I've been testing.  It's a linen cotton mix and a bit thicker and softer than the cotton that my samples have been printed on up until now.  It's really lovely to stitch!  I have a few tweaks to make before the final printing but I really like the fabric.  I haven't gone for traditional Christmas colours because I just felt like blues and pinks.  And that's another thing I love about embroidery, I can stitch it any colours I like!  

So now it's probably time to look at the crafting that I want to do for this Christmas so I can spend a pleasurable autumn stitching and knitting with tea and fruit cake.  Can you tell that today is a bit of a rainy autumnal day?!   In fact I think I may well go make a fruit cake now I've thought about it.

What are your crafting plans for the autumn?

x


photography things and a new little caravan

Caravan full picture

This week my trusty little Ricoh camera finally gave up the ghost and I had to learn how to use a grown up camera!

The truth is it was never my camera in the first place.  Everyone in our house loves photography apart from me.  It's my guilty secret, I really don't like taking photographs.  I like setting them up but when it comes to camera techy stuff.... yuk!

That little Ricoh seemed to do everything for me (it even took the pictures in a square) but now I have to learn how to use the family DSLR!

Camera

Tripod and everything.  I would like to tell you that running lilipopo is just doing a bit of sketching and then doing a bit of stitching but there are all of the other things too.  I have learned an awful lot of techy skills on my lilipopo journey, from adobe illustrator to photography to book keeping.  I'm sure all this is very good for my brain but really I would like to just sketch and stitch.

Instead I am in the process of learning about ISO and aperture and shutter speed, I can't seem to work out how to turn the flash off and use macro at the same time but I'm sure I'll get there in the end.

Flowers in garden

and in the midst of all this I finished my new little caravan pattern.  I loved stitching this pattern I just kept embellishing (hopefully not too much!) and had so much fun with the colours and stitch choices.

Window and border and bunting

I have included guides for the colours and stitches that I used but I really think it's the perfect pattern to just stitch the colours you love and the stitches you love.  

It's available in my Etsy shop now and the perfect pattern to practice those stitches.

Now I'm moving onto sketching a wintery pattern, I'm aiming for a sampler type of design but I'm also going to have to get back to that camera manual and learn to love photography!


caravans and colour

Finished first caravan

I have been working on a new caravan pattern, one that fits into a hoop to be framed but could still work as a cushion centre or in a square picture frame.  Last weekend I would have loved to have had this little caravan as we danced in the mud and rain at WOMAD.  Our little tents kept us dry but I think this caravan might have been a little more luxurious!  

WOMAD was absolutely fabulous despite the rain, it's hard to complain about a bit of rain when there are musicians from Syria along with the Survivors of the Khmer Rouge making the most beautiful music.  It really is such a positive festival that reminds you that we are all just people striving to be as happy as we can be, no matter where we are from.  Music always seems to me to be the best art form for crossing boundaries and bringing people together.

Since getting back my youngest has turned 17!  I can't quite believe that next year all my children will be adults.  

Colour and pattern

And so now I can get back to a little bit of stitching.  I've been choosing the colours for the final version of the caravan.  I had to change a few small details, the cups and saucers were just too tiny to see properly once stitched so we are drinking tea out of mugs.  And my original handwritten 'happiness' was a little messy so that has been adapted along with a few other details.

I am leaning towards a palette with a lot of pinks, reds and peaches although I think the main outline colour will still be blue and I might add a little purple if I can find the right one.  Choosing the colours is always my favourite part, although I do sometimes change or add to them as I go along if something isn't working or something else is needed.  I have been known to unpick a lot of stitching because a colour that looks beautiful on the bobbin simply doesn't work in the embroidery.

Details

I'm also having a bit of fun with stitches in this pattern, trying to fit a few more in.  I love couching and am really happy with the way the knots turned out at the end, there's also a bit of satin stitch using quite long stitches.  Satin stitch is not a stitch I use very much so I'm challenging myself to include it more as it's a great filler for certain kinds of areas.  I will be adding some stitch tutorials to the blog as I go along over the next month or two.

I also have a winter sampler plan in my head but at the moment it is only in my head!  I'm feeling quite excited about the idea of working with more stitches and I love old samplers so hopefully more of that to come.

Finally I have a couple of fab resources for you.  

Marna Lunt is an English embroiderer and tutor (as well as a snow globe collector)  I love her style of stitching and she has the most fabulous free introduction to stitching course.  It is packed with videos of lots of stitches and she is just lovely.  You just need to sign up to her newsletter to have access to the course.  She also has more advanced courses that you can pay for and she does workshops.

The other thing I have been having some fun with is Creative Bug I think you can try it for free for a couple of weeks then it costs about £3.50 (it's in dollars so it changes) a month and there are just so many art and craft videos.  There is a lovely embroidery sampler tutorial by Rebecca Ringquist that is lots of fun to do.  I particularly love all the 31 day drawing challenges as I am not particularly good at making sure I draw every day but there are all sorts of classes on there.

Now I'm going to plan a party to celebrate my and my friends big birthday.  We are having a Hawaii theme due to the particular age that we have reached...  I will leave you to work it out!

Have a fabulous weekend

x


How many strands?

How many strands title

One of the questions I get asked the most about embroidery is 'how many strands?'.  I use stranded embroidery thread for all my patterns, mainly DMC but sometimes a little bit of Anchor.  The only reason I try to focus on DMC threads is that they are more widely available globally, I love Anchor threads too.  The patterns do contain notes on the number of threads I've used in various areas of the stitching but it's not necessary to follow them exactly depending on the effect you want to create.

Pen drawing

when I draw with micron pens I have a range of different nib sizes and I swap pens according to the thickness of line that I want.  I do exactly the same thing with embroidery threads.   However I do have a go to number of threads, if in doubt I will automatically stitch with 2 strands.  A lot of the pattern stitching will use 2 strands of threads.

Back stitch strands

Above you can see backstitch created using varying numbers of threads.  As a rule I don't go above three strands for backstitch.  This is mainly because a lot of my designs are quite delicate and anything thicker can look a little heavy.  But I will occasionally couch six strands of thread with two strands of another colour, this makes a nice outline or decorative effect.  I especially love the effect of a single strand of thread

Catching wishes detail1

my 'catching wishes' design was stitched using a single strand because I really wanted to keep the sketchy ethereal feeling of the original drawing which was done in pen and ink, so quite scratchy and fine.  It helps to have a magnifying lamp (or very good eyesight) for stitching with a single thread.

Long socks tut 3

another place I almost always use a single strand is for stripes on socks, sleeves etc.  It stops the legs looking too heavy and the tights or socks from looking too thick

Stripes different strands

Stripes to fill a larger area are a perfect place to play around with numbers of strands.  In the image above I used 4 strands of blue and 2 strands of green.  I find it more interesting to look at than even stripes of two strands each.  If I use an even number of strands I will often use three colours rather than two (for example I would use blue green and perhaps an orange if I were using two strands for each of the colours) which again makes it more interesting.

French knots strands

Another place where the number of strands you use can make all the difference is in french knots.  In the past I would wrap the thread around twice if I wanted a bigger knot but a lovely embroiderer told me that she had been taught to increase the number of threads rather than the number of wraps to create a larger knot.  This method is much more satisfying and keeps the knot clearer.  So above you can see a range of knots from two strands to six strands.  It's worth just messing around with numbers of strands to see which you like the best.  I do love three strands personally.

Chain stitch strands

In the past I haven't used a lot of chain stitch but recently I've been quite drawn to it.  It's a little more involved than backstitch and I find I have to concentrate more,  I don't find it as easy to get into a rhythm but it creates beautiful hair and chains for bunting.  I tend to use 2 strands, I find 3 strands is a little too bulky and needs a bigger stitch but it would make a great outline stitch if you wanted a bold slightly frilled edge.  I do like the delicacy of the single strand chain, it feels loose and would make a great chain for your bunting.

Stitching up little samples of basic stitches using different numbers of strands of threads is a fun thing to do.  You could keep it in a stitch notebook or file for future reference, noting the numbers of threads that you used.

Now back to stitching up my new caravan embroidery design (designed to fit inside a hoop) ready for the end of the month.

I hope you are managing to find little pockets of time to do a little stitching in the summer months (unless of course you are in the depths of winter and cosy by the fire)

x


peaceful stitching

Blues

I have been working on this meditation design over the last month and doing very little other work except what was necessary.  The reason for this is a shoulder that won't work properly, it's been months!  But this week I think the cause of the problem has been found and I can, very slowly, start to get the full use of my arm back and (more importantly) lose the pain!

So a calm meditative embroidery design seemed very fitting, especially coupled with everything else that is going on in the world right now.  

I can't help feeling that this quote from the Dalai Llama could be true

“If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.” Dalai Lama

Perhaps we could teach them all quiet stitching at the same time.

My own meditation practice is taking place in a chair or lying down at the moment but I'm hoping to get back to cross legged soon.

Meditation main pic

And this is the finished pattern.  I've loved drawing and stitching this one, I've already made three versions I think I'm going to make a small buckwheat and lavender cushion with one which I will share here when I do it.  One of the others is going onto a tote bag (we never have enough shopping bags!!) and the last one will stay framed in the hoop I think.

I have included detailed notes for this colour way and then additional lists of colours for the other two.

It uses quite a few stitches but they are all simple ones.  You can get hold of my basic stitch guide here but it does also come with the pattern (or any of my patterns).

I will be listing a sampler for this one next month when print me pretty are back to print them.  I think I will also have kits in the autumn.

Natural colourway

This is the third colourway (with strange bendy flowers at the side (I think I stretched the fabric when I was tracing!) but I love these natural colours so I've included the colours in the pattern.

I used chain stitch for her hair.  It's not a stitch I use very often but I like the effect, a bit like braiding.

The pattern is available over in my Etsy shop

Meditation with instructions

I am hoping to be able to get back to more stitching and experimenting in July so that I have more to write about here but it's also a month of BIG birthdays and WOMAD and summer holidays with the whole family at home for a little while (even our recently graduated son before he goes out into the world!) so I will try but if the sun comes out and the sea looks inviting we may be on the beach!

I hope you are having a beautiful summer (or winter if you are in opposite lands) with lots of stitching

x

 


Stitching printed fabric panels

Flower gardener

Last week I finally managed to stock up on all of the printed fabric panels!  These panels are printed in light grey onto a white 195gsm (medium) weight cotton.  And at the moment I am stitching a flower gardener panel in soft peaches and pinks.

The panels that are available in my shop are

wonky shed

friends

in the garden

night night

unicorn

winter dream

flower gardener

Unicorn

I also have the unicorn panel hooped up ready for stitching.  I quite like flitting between projects sometimes for a change of colour.  I'm going to use this as a cushion panel and so I thought it might be nice to back it with something

Batting

I searched through my fabric stash and found some cotton batting for quilting which I thought would pad it out nicely.  I've been stitching since the photo above and it stitches nicely and gives a nice backing, especially for those naughty moments when a thread might get carried across the back because I'm feeling a little lazy!

Unicorn close up

This is the print for the panels, a nice fine line that is easy to see but also easy to cover with 2 strands of thread.

I do also have some lavender girl kits and friends kits in stock in the shop at the moment.

My own stitching is still limited due to this pesky shoulder!  but I have started working on a new design, and I may be able to show a sneaky peak next week...

Have a lovely stitchy weekend

x