Thursday, May 31, 2018

Travelling with Japanese Embroidery

Remember this huge thing? Well every month when I meet with my group I have to cart both the stand and the frame, not forgetting all the various tools required, to and from our meeting place.

When I signed up for my first class, I made sure to find a case to put my frame in so it doesn't get damaged during transport. It's also where it resides when I'm not stitching on my piece to keep it from getting dusty. In the course notes that were sent to me from the JEC, I noticed that they recommended a case for the frame. I kept it in mind when I started shopping around for one. I ended up ordering it from Amazon, but this particular product doesn't ship to Canada. I had to ship it to my friend's house in New Jersey and pick it up when I went to visit.

This is what my trunk looks like when I go to my meetings. I can barely close the trunk because the case sticks out just a tiny bit.

While my frame was safe, I still needed to figure out how to carry my stand more efficiently. Till now I'd been tying all the pieces together with bungee cord and placing the whole lot in a plastic bag to carry it. Not very practical or pretty, and the bungee cords are really tough to pull on.

I looked around online for a bag that would fit the largest piece and found this Yoga bag on Amazon. Not my favorite pattern, but the dimensions seemed right so I took a chance and ordered it.

Best decision ever! It's sturdy and it fits all the pieces perfectly. The straps are very comfortable to carry in hand or over the shoulder. Even with the stand, there is still place for me to place my tools if I wanted to.

There are even pockets on the inside to carry the securely store the bits that are needed for assembling the stand.

So all in all I'm very satisfied with it. With these two purchases I'm set for travelling with my Japanese embroidery anytime I need to.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Instagram Links and Japanese Embroidery

I had my Japanese stitching meeting over the weekend and one of my friends mentioned she couldn't see the Instagram links I put in my last post Ismek and Tel Kirma. It made me realize that Blogger and Instagram don't play nice when the post comes in email for those are subscribed to my newsletter. In future, I will put in a note that you need to click on the post to view it as I do with the videos and animated pictures. In the meantime, you can view the two Instagram links I posted here and here.

Now onto some stitching progress, of which there is very little. Energy has been kind of low this past week, so I didn't do much. I spent most of it talking with the ladies and we had a demonstration on how to finish a piece so it's ready for framing. I'll be doing that very soon for three of my own pieces, so I'll take some pictures and share them here with you.

I decided to work on finishing the Valerian that I had started. It didn't require a lot of concentration passed making sure the lines were straight, so it was perfect for my current mood.

I feel a little guilty at this lack of progress. I'm hoping that once the rush of all the preparations for seminar are over I'll be able to put in more time on it.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Japanese Bead Embroidery Phase 1 - Finish

The EAC seminar is coming up and I have a few pieces I want to submit for the exhibition. Before I can do that, I need to finish or frame a few of them. Over Victoria day weekend, I managed to finish off one item on my list: turn my Japanese bead embroidery piece into an eyeglass case.

When we took the class, we were given a two page document telling us how to finish it. I ended up using their instructions but also kept in mind what I learned while finishing my Hana fob.

Here's a list of my materials and tools:
  • fabric scissors
  • sewing needle and black sewing thread
  • quilt batting (I used two layers)
  • interfacing (I used the same iron on interfacing from Hana)
  • backing fabric (mine is from the Kelmscott collection)
  • pins
  • fabric glue (I know, I know glue is the devil)
  • clips
As always I did this over multiple sessions. On the first session, I sprayed the back of my piece with water and left it to dry on the stretcher bars. I picked a nice sunny day so I can put my frame in front of a window to dry faster.

On the second session, I cut out my piece leaving a border. I also cut the batting, interfacing and backing fabric using the template that came with my kit. The batting needs to be slightly smaller, so I trimmed the edge by eye.

Turning the piece face down, I placed the batting and then the iron-on interfacing (shiny side down) on top. I ironed the interfacing onto the back. Because it's bigger than the batting, it created a sort of seal all around the quilt batting.

Along the curved edges of the red fabric, I placed a few cuts to help fold the edges more neatly. This is where the glue comes in and I was careful to only put some on the very edge. As I applied the glue, I finger pressed the edges. I had to work fast as the glue dries quickly. I did use a small iron to really set the edge, especially along the curved sides.

On the final session, I put in the backing fabric and finished the eyeglass case.

First step, was pinning my fabric to the back of the piece along one side.

I smoothed the fabric down and folded the entire thing. The point of this, is to trim the excess fabric.

Then started an exercise in patience. The instructions say to tack the fabric onto the beaded piece. I ended up using the ladder stitch as I find it's much cleaner. Now this is where being careful with the glue payed off. By making sure to only apply glue at the very edge of my red fabric, I was better able to sew the pieces together. I didn't have to go through hardened glue.

I started along one side, turning the edge of my blue fabric as I went a long. The tricky part came when I got to where the eyeglass case would be folded. I had to fold the entire thing and stitch it like that.

Here is what it looks like from the front and back when it's done. Notice how the blue fabric is tense?

The final step is to sew the sides together to close it off. I aligned the sides and used clips to hold them together. I used leftover quilt batting to make sure the clips don't damage the stitching.

To stitch the sides together, I used the overcast stitch trying to get as close as possible to the beaded edge.

And there you have it!

Here it is with some glasses to demo. I really like how it came out in the end, especially with that fabric.

I wouldn't mind doing this pattern again with a different color combination, this time finishing it into the Kobukusa. But that's for another time.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Ismek and Tel Kirma

In Istanbul, there is a school that teaches traditional Turkish techniques to the public. The school is called İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Lifelong Learning Centre (or Ismek). It's like a technical school and the training programs are provided free of charge. The purpose is to promote traditional Turkish art, keeping it alive, and giving the Turkish people the opportunity to learn a skill in order to earn a living. Techniques range from ceramics painting, marquetry, calligraphy, illuminations,... and embroidery. I found out about them when I stumbled on their website.

Unfortunately, they don't have one day or walk-in classes. But if you find yourself living in Istanbul for a very long stretch of time, it might be something interesting to check into. You do need to have a Turkish ID though. They have a catalog of student's works that they release every year (links are at the bottom of this page, be warned the pdf files are really big) and there is some pretty amazing stuff that comes out of those programs.

While walking around looking for the Mosaic museum, we stumbled on a little market organized by the district of Istanbul and Ismek. The market sells pieces made by students. One of the stalls had embroidery. Most of it was crochet, or needle lace along the edge of a scarf, but they also had some examples of Tel Kirma. I ended up buying one of the smaller works that shows one form of Tel Kirma. This will be a good study piece as the back is not covered.

This is stitched using the same type of metal plate I shared from my stash post. The main stitch used is a satin stitch. From what I've seen on Instagram, they use the sewing motion instead of a stabbing motion.

The second stitch used in this piece is a closed herringbone stitch, I think. I looked through my books and that's the closest one I can find. If you know which stitch it is, please let me know. I quite like this stitch, it makes an interesting texture.

Here is a look at the back. It's surprisingly neat, but I can't help but feel like it's a waste of metal plate especially on the satin stitch. English metal plate is expensive, so in order not to waste any of it, it's couched onto the surface so you don't see any of it at the back.

Here is a demonstration by Yoncanakis, my favorite Instagramer at the moment. She has many good videos on her account showing how to stitch with the plate and how to thread the double eyed needle (link).

But this isn't even the true form of Tel Kirma. I found the website of the magazine that I bought, Tel Kirmasi. According to their history page, and Google translate, Tel Kirma or wire breaking is when the metal plate is stitched and broken off (video). Many of these are stitched together creating a pattern. When the piece is finished, it looks like it was embroidered with bugle beads but it's much shinier. It was first seen between 1890-1900 in the district of Asma in Bartın (I'll be adding that to the list of places to visit in the future), but has since expanded to other regions of Turkey. From this many different patterns have been created and it's been used to decorate everything from clothes, linens, scarves, evening bags, lamp shades, ... 

Below is an example from Yoncanakis' account. This can be stitched on any type of fabric, including mesh which could eventually be finished into a clutch or eye glass case. Now that's an idea!

I couldn't find any books on Tel Kirma so Yoncanakis' videos will be very helpful. I would really love a proper book on the technique so I can learn more about it's history. It doesn't even have to be in English. If you know of any books, please let me know!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Turkish Delights

We had a long weekend here in Canada, so I took the time to organize my stash and catch up on a few things that I'll blog about later. But first the stash that came back with me. I know before I left I said the trip won't be about stash enhancement, but let's just say the prices were just too good to pass up.

I was able to visit two shops: Hilalteks and Bursa Ipek. Hilalteks is located near the spice bazaar (on the European side) where there are a lot of shops selling linens, fake flowers and ribbons. From what I noticed this is the area where you go to shop when preparing for a wedding. Bursa Ipek is on the Asian side. If you take a ferry, you can easily walk to the store from there. I don't recommend taking a taxi, it's in an area that is pedestrian only. We took a taxi to get there from our hotel thinking it was far and our driver got lost. Just use Google maps.

If you only have time to visit one, got to Hilalteks. I had a really good experience the first time I visited, I ended up going back twice more. The downstairs sells ribbons, fake flowers and fabric. The good stuff is upstairs. There was a young lady there named Didem who spoke no English but she was a huge help and the main reason why I went back so many times. It's surprising how well you can communicate with someone even when you don't know the language. I showed her my Google translate trick, which she loved.

Note: Right before you get to Hilalteks, there is a shop called HIRAteks. That's not the right shop, keep going till you see the sign on the right.

Bursa Ipek needed a little more maneuvering for me to go visit and when I finally got there I didn't have a really good experience from the sales people. They made absolutely no effort at all when I tried to speak with them. I ended up leaving after 10 minutes.

Note: I'm looking at the map again, and I think I might have gone to the wrong Bursa Ipek. There is a second one called Goblen Bursa Ipek that has much more stock which was further up (see the map here). I think they might be connected in some way as they have the same website. Not sure if they would have been better than the one I visited.

I brought back quite a few magazines. Looking through them, the main embroidery techniques are (what we would call) Brazilian embroidery, stumpwork and metal thread embroidery. I bought many of them for the drawings. I got one issue on Tel Kirma as it was a technique I'm really interested in learning.

For the books, I got one cross stitch book with Ottoman motifs and an embroidery design book with Islamic quotes. The last two are more for inspiration. I love the designs on Turkish tiles and so wanted some books for reference.

Out of one of the books, we selected a design and I asked Didem to make a kit for me. The threads used is called Buket and it's a 100% rayon. This thread is similar to EdMar Co. Rayon Threads. It will be an experience stitching with it as it's very slippery. So far I've been avoiding anything rayon. Another thing I've been avoiding is Stumpwork. This piece has a few petals that will have to be stitched using Stumpwork techniques. It should be a good learning piece.

The second kit I put together, is from the Tel Kirma magazine. I'm really looking forward to learning this technique. I'd been seeing it on Instagram for months before my trip and I'm itching to try it out. There isn't any instructions in the magazine and I couldn't find any books on the technique. I did find a few resources online and the ladies on Instagram seem to be very helpful so I'm sure I can figure it out.

A little close up of the materials I'll be working with. It's some sort of metal plate. I had some 11s gilt plate on hand and it's very close to it in size. In English goldwork embroidery, metal plate is couched into place. However, in Tel Kirma you stitch with the metal plate as if it's a thread.

The needles used are different from what we're used to. The needle is completely flat and the eye of the needle is very round. They also had two types, one of which had two eyes. The two eyes help hold the plate in place, preventing it from shifting around. I was able to get three of the needle on the bottom but only two of the top one. I'll have to be very careful not to loose these.

The fabric in the magazine looks a little shiny, but the one that was recommended to me for this project is an evenweave linen fabric by Goblen. It's 35 count and the band on the side says Ugur ipek Goblen. I really liked the feel of it and ended up getting more in a light moss green color.

Hilalteks had metal threads! I was tempted to get one of each color, but ended up limiting myself to just these. I think I shocked the sales man working that day (Didem wasn't there) and he kept asking if I was buying all this. Honestly wish I got more.

In the silver, I found this very interesting metal thread that has a zig-zag in it. No idea how I'll use it but found it very interesting. I'm pretty sure I've seen it used in bead embroidery by Russian Instagramers.

I asked where these threads are from as they were really not expensive. Metal threads are usually either made in the UK (good quality and expensive) or India (less expensive, can't say about quality). I was told these are made in Turkey, which surprised me as I would never think of Turkey being a source for metal threads. Thinking back, pretty much everything I purchased is made in Turkey; linens, rayon threads, needles, magazines. It's nice to see a country that doesn't import it's embroidery supplies. This meant that the price was really good when you convert it to Canadian. I will say I didn't check the price of DMC and Anchor threads. Maybe I should have...

I saw some embroidery in musuems and shops in Istanbul, so I will share those in a post soon. I need to look through all my pictures to find them. I also brought back a small stitched piece that I found in a shop, that I will share pictures of as well.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


I'm back just in time for TUSAL. Not much to show since I haven't done much stitching before I left.  I was busy finishing a baby gift and getting ready for my trip. All I have to share is the wool from my lamb.

I did do some stitching while I was on the plane going home. I had a seven hour flight so there was plenty of time to sit and stitch on Bramble and the Rose.

My suitcase has been unpacked and the laundry started, but I still need to unpack my new stash. I can't wait to share what I brought back with me. It will just take a few days to get organised and catch up with everything at home.