Tuesday, August 3, 2021



I was a very bad blogger this month. I started a new goldwork piece which explains the yellow felt and black thread. We've had 3 lessons so far, but I'm still working on lesson 2. I'll share pictures soon, but first I have a baby gift to complete. It's due for next Saturday and I've wasted too much time procrastinating. Now I need to catch up. It's going to be an elephant, I've never made one of those. Here are a the little feet.

Friday, July 30, 2021

JEC Special Class - Peach blossoms with small bird

Happy world embroidery day! Sorry for the long absence. I meant to post this a few weeks ago, but work got in the way. I also got my second vaccine dose, so now that I can see friends I have less stitching time.

A little bit about this new piece I started. It is called Peach blossoms with small bird and is inspired by a scroll painting called "Touka shoukinzu" by Japanese artist Itō Jakuchū. It was originally supposed to be a special class for the group going to Japan for the JEC Nuido tour, but was cancelled due to COVID. Their bad luck is my good fortune. As virtual classes were so successful, the JEC decided to not only offer the class online but to also open it up for all students who are phase 7 and above. As you know, I'm no where near phase 7 but with permission from our teachers they were willing to allow lower phase students to join.

The class was taught by a professional embroiderer in Japanese with Arata-san translating over three days. We started off with an introduction of the art piece and history of the artist. The teacher explained how he designed the embroidery to recreate the translucent effect on the flowers. 

These peach blossoms will take some work to get them just right. We're used to working on pieces that are very structured and are always striving for perfection, but here perfection is set aside for what they called "feeling".

On the second day, we had a presentation on the history of Kurenai-kai before we started covering the blue bird. This bird is a mixture of structural and "feeling".

I really enjoyed stitching the bird and ended up doing a bit more when the class was over.

The third day of class, covered a few more elements on the bird, the stems and leaves. By the last day, I was very tired and didn't attempt any stitching. I was very happy to just sit and listen, taking notes. 

Since stitching on the bird, I've set the frame aside. My goal right now is to complete the beading on Calm Flow so that I can remove it from the frame. I'm very nearly there and I just need that extra push to get it done.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Fiber Talk Podcast no. 2

I was invited back for another episode with Fiber Talk. This time, we spent the hour talking about all the projects I worked on since the last time we met. Most of these will be familiar, with a few you will not have seen on the blog yet. It was nice to catch up with Gary and Beth.

(click on the post to see the video below)

Wednesday, July 7, 2021


Still trying to catch up, so there are two posts in one day. Since I shared my post on Karahana, my ORT jar will make more sense. All that white at the top is from lacing Karahana onto the mat board. I think it's the only piece I worked on last month.

I have one more post to write and it's a brand new project to share. In the meantime, here is a picture of the curtain panel I made for my sister over the weekend. She has been wanting a new curtain and I decided to make it for her birthday. She wanted a single panel as she hated that little sliver of light that peeked between the two panels hitting her in the eyes while she works. She's such a vampire lol

Japanese Embroidery Phase 4 - Finished!

Things progressed very fast on Karahana since my last post. As we got closer to the class date, the pressure was on. Right after my last post, I completed the turnovers.

I don't normally stitch Japanese embroidery during the work week, but plunging I can do. So in the interest of saving time, I got those ends plunged and tied down. Here is a peek at the back of the piece.

The stems took a weekend to stitch and plunge. The trefoil stems are embroidered using staggered diagonal, but the longer stem is stitched using couched gold. I had a hard time at the beginning, but once I got the trick it got easier. The trick that worked for me, is not to fix my gaze straight down at the stem but to set it far. The same way you would while doing a turn driving. Not sure why that worked for me, I think it was more a psychological thing.

Here it is all done! It's a dream come true as I've been wanting to stitch this design since I saw one in person way back in 2011. As we're still not meeting in person, I ended up doing the finishing process (pasting and steaming) with my group over zoom. It was a good experience and I won't be so nervous for the next one.

I do my own stretching at home. Here I am holding Karahana right before I went to drop it off at my framer.

I decided on a gold frame with a black lacquer inner frame and no matting. I really love the simplicity of it.

The next phase covers cord techniques. Right now, I have no plans to start phase 5 until I complete Hiogi which is my combined phase 2-3. My hope is that I will complete it before the end of the year, so I will have to work hard. I really have no excuses as it's very close to a finish.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Bojagi & Saeksilnubi

It's been a month since my last post and I have lots to share with you, so please bear with me.

If you follow me on Instagram, you'll know I have an interest in traditional Korean crafts and have been collecting books on the subject. I'm interested in learning the traditional embroidery techniques but also what is called 규방공예 - kyubang gongye, which literally translates to ‘ladies living space’.  In other word, all crafts done by ladies in their space like sewing, embroidery, garment making,... 

Through my research on the subject, I found Young Min Lee a maker who uses traditional Korean techniques with a modern aesthetic who teaches in California. She recently offered a few classes through Tatter and I signed up for two of them.

The first class is on a technique called 보자기 - pojagi (or bojagi as the letters b and p are interchangeable in Korean) which is a form of patchwork done with silk or rami fabric. The finished piece is traditionally square and used to wrap something special. There are different words used to describe different type of pojagi. For example, an embroidered pojagi is called a subo and a pojagi used to wrap a gift is called a yemulbo, which is what we made in the class.

Note: there is another term 조각보 - chogak bo used to describe scrap bojagi made by commoners and closely associated with food coverings. I'm still fuzzy on the details on what would be called a pojagi vs a chogak bo as they can both be square and both are made of smaller pieces of fabric.

Before class started, I cut up the smaller pieces that are needed for the first block and marked out the seam allowance using a hera marker. If you're not familiar with this tool, it's a great quilting tool for marking fabric if you can't wash it. Once you mark your seam allowance, it's very easy to fold the fabric along the marked line.

In order to give us the full experience, Young Min sent us real hanbok silk fabric and thread in our kits. This is what is used traditionally, as they used scraps leftover from sewing hanbok. However, any non-synthetic fabric could be used and Young Min shared her recommendations with us so we can experiment with what we have available here. The resources that were shared during the lesson was more than worth the cost of the class.

The second class is on a technique called 색실누비 - saeksil nubi. This technique is a little harder to describe, but the closest technique we have would be quilting. However, this is not something you'd want to do on a very large piece as it's very time consuming. I was first introduced to this technique when I discovered an exhibition being held in Korea last year by Eun Banul and was able to purchase her book. I later learned she is the student of Kim Yoon-sun, the artisan responsible with reviving this craft.

Saeksil nubi loosely translates to 'colorful thread quilting'. It uses two layers of fabric, hanji (Korean mulberry paper) that is cut into strips and hand rolled into cords, and colorful threads to make quilted texture. This technique was created out of necessity to create storage for small items that could be damaged like tobacco, firestone, thimbles,... Things that could be affected by moisture as the hanji acts as an insulator. 

The stitching technique itself is not complicated, it just uses a basic backstitch. The time consuming portion is hand rolling those strips into consistent thicknesses. If you can't find hanji paper, cotton cord could also be used. This craft reminds me a little of the French quilting technique boutis, with the difference being the order in which the stuffing is done. In boutis, you quilt first and then insert the stuffing, while in saeksil nubi you stuff as you go.

I haven't made much progress on mine as I was more interested in the resources being shared but I will enjoy working on the little piece that I have. 

If you are interested in learning either of these techniques or other, Young Min routinely offers classes and advertises them through her newsletter. You can sign up through her website.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Karahana - Nearing it's end

 Over the weekend, I continued stitching Karahana. I spent all day Saturday on the turnovers.

On Sunday, I considered continuing the turnovers but decided I've suffered enough for one weekend. Instead I worked on the leaves.

These went by super fast, as I really enjoy the woven effect stitch. The final touch is a couched outline. I still need to plunge the ends, but I want to do it after the stem is in to get it just right. 

Here's what's left on my to do list:
  • trefoil stems, I'm still trying to decide if I will do them in #1 gold or #1 twist
  • outline the bottom leaf
  • stitch and outline the other two leaves
  • outline the stem
  • stitch the petals - add spacing and couch round and round
  • stitch the turnovers - add spacing, pad, couch to and fro
  • remove spacing and clean up

As I'm so close to a finish, I'll be taking it for a visit to the framer on Saturday. It's always best to do this while the piece is stretched out. While I'm there, I will have them cut the mat board to the correct size and take it home. That way as soon as the stitching is done, and I go through the finishing process, I can stretch it on the mat board. I'm quite optimistic that my frame will be free in time to put the next piece on for class.

Thursday, June 3, 2021


I though my TUSAL jar was going to be very empty last month as not much stitching was happening. But thanks to the long weekend it's not that bad.

Karahana is moving along. The padding is all done for the petal turnovers. No idea how, but I was able to get it all done in one sitting. I have the sore fingers to show for it. It's time to get cracking and get it done so I can free up that frame. Just to make sure I don't forget, our kits for the June class arrived. 

I do have a backup plan. Our woodworker was able to ship me a brand new Japanese frame and I received it at the same time as the kits. I actually got two: a standard 29" and a 39" for future, bigger, projects. I really love his frames and I wanted to make sure I had a collection before he retired.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Follow by Email Test

Google announced recently that Feedburner, the tool I use for the newsletter, is going away in July. I'm testing a new email subscription tool called Follow.it. If you are able, I'd really appreciate it if you sign up using the widget at the top right of my blog. It will help me test everything out.

Karahana Progress

I've been steadily working through all the petals on Karahana. This weekend I started the last one and am happy to say it's done.

Now that I've gone 'round and round', it's time to go 'to and fro' on the turnovers. First, I need to put in all the padding. Tedious work, so I will have to find something to motivate me. Maybe pull out my beading piece Calm Flow? It's been a month since I've worked on it and it's so close to being completed.

If we look back at my to do list, I'm able to check off one item:
  • trefoil stems, I'm still trying to decide if I will do them in #1 gold or #1 twist
  • outline the bottom leaf
  • stitch and outline the other two leaves
  • outline the stem
  • stitch the petals - add spacing and couch round and round
  • stitch the turnovers - add spacing, pad, couch to and fro
  • remove spacing and clean up

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Elizabeth Pincushion Doll - Finish

Remember this? At the end of March last year, I was gathering materials for finishing the trunk and then never mentioned it again. There is a reason for that, more on that later. 

For now, I want to share how I did the finish for this lovely porcelain half doll by Brier Rose. I won't be sharing exact measurements here, unless they are pertinent, as those are included in the instructions. However, I did want to share pictures as I found it very hard to follow the instructions. My struggle may help someone else who is also trying to figure it out.

There are three parts:
  1. the underskirt/body of the doll
  2. the skirt, embroidered fabric
  3. the purse

First step is to make the body of the doll. For the base, I cut out a circle of heavy cardstock. I'm not sure what kind this is, it was given to me by a friend who gets them from her husband's work. It's the type used when folding fabric. This circle is centered and glued on top of the green felt. The felt is then gathered and more glue is involved to stick the hem to the cardstock.

Second step is to make the "body" of the underskirt. They give measurements for the fabric, but double check the length to the diameter of your final circle. I used my sewing machine to sew the edges to form a cylinder, but first I folded the edges at the top and bottom and pressed them. The bottom of the cylinder is pinned to the base and stitched together.

For the body, it says to fold the upper hem so you end up with a height measuring 7 inches. I found that 7 inches may have been too much for the height of the skirt I had. I wish I had measured my skirt first and took that into consideration, as I have more green showing beneath the skirt than I would have wanted.

Once the hem is folded, sew along the edge but don't pull yet. This is a good time to put in the stuffing. The body of the doll is meant to be a pincushion, so it needs to be firm.

Third step, I set the body aside to get the half-doll ready. All it needs is a hot glue gun and a wooden stick. I used a chopstick for mine. My chopstick needed to be trimmed (not shown below) so that it fits with the 7 inch height set for the body. Again, something else that I wish was better adjusted.

Step four, stick the half-doll in the stuffed body and gather the hem around it. To maintain the gather, I made a few knots. Then I stitch the doll to the body with the same thread (bottom right picture). The half-doll should sit on top of the gathered hem. 

Now for the skirt. The first thing I needed to do was add a backing. I had some ecru silk dupioni in my stash that was perfect for this. I put the two pieces of fabric, right sides together and pined them. I hand stitched the two pieces together along the sides and bottom, leaving the top open. The instructions say to baste the edges and sew along the basting lines. I didn't do that. Instead, I used the even weave linen as a guide to make sure my line is straight.

Once they're stitched together, I trimmed the edges leaving a hem. Turn the skirt inside out and iron. Fold in the top of the linen and silk. I folded my lined, leaving 6 strands of linen from the stitching, and then matched the silk. I used a ladder stitch to stitch the top edge closed, instead of sewing below the the upper edge. It gives a cleaner finish. 

The instructions also say to leave a small opening on the sides, but I didn't do that. It's meant to be used to gather the skirt, but I could never get it to sit nicely on the doll. After doing some research online, I found a post by California Stitcher that solves this. The stitcher also deviated from the instructions. She ended up stitching below the hem and gathering the fabric (one step instead of the two I did).

So that's what I did, but before I pulling too tightly and finish off the thread I wanted to join the edge of the skirt. This is easier to do while the skirt is still loose. Finish gathering the skirt and knot the thread. The last touch is a bit of ribbon wrapped around the waist and tied in a bow. When I cut the piece of ribbon for the bow, I made sure to get the section with all the green. This helps camouflage the edge of the doll where it meets the underskirt and the skirt.

The last item to finish is the purse. There was no template so mine came out a little wonky. I sort of eyeballed it for the felt and then used it as a template for the rest. The embroidery is glued to a piece of interfacing. The handle and tassel are stitched to it and then this is covered with a piece of ecru wool. I only had white, but as it's on the inside it won't be seen.

Here is the front and back of the "front" part of the purse.

You can tell I got sloppy towards the end. I didn't have a lot of green felt and didn't want to waste what I had to cut another piece that will not be seen from the front.

The purse is meant to hold scissors. I had a pair of petit gold scissors that were perfect for taking pictures.

Now for the eye candy. I asked my sister to take pictures for me. She always plays photographer for my finished pieces and enjoys putting scenes together. We lucked out with the soft lighting.

Now you may ask "But what about the trunk?". It's still there. I actually made it up last year. Looks pretty doesn't it. From afar...

Not exactly pretty when you take a closer look. I ran into a construction issue with the lid. The instructions were really confusing and I'm pretty sure the measurements were off. Like the purse, it would have been more helpful if they had included templates that could be used for tracing. I was so irritated with it, I didn't bother to make the tray that goes inside.

Setting all that aside, the construction of the base is pretty good considering it's my first box. So not a complete fail. I haven't decided if I will write a post about it or not. It might be worth just to log where I failed, if only to help another stitcher.

All in all, I have a pretty finish. I enjoyed stitching with the Gloriana silks. I'd love to stitch another project with them, but I will most likely not buy another Giulia Punti Antichi pattern. A pretty pattern is useless if the instructions that come with it are bad.