Sunday, September 29, 2013

My beaded paisley tutorial...

In 2009, I was asked to write a tutorial about my beaded paisleys. I did this for a site called Stitchinfingers. I wanted to repost it here on my blog, as it's a pretty good tutorial if I do say so myself. I was surprised to see the tutorial has gotten nearly 5,000 views on Stitchinfingers. I also contributed the tutorial to an online crazy quilting magazine called CQMagonline. The magazine is no longer being published, but if you do a search you can probably find it there as well.

(Note: I reference reverse chain stitch in the tutorial. Click the link for a video.)

Supplies needed:
Paisley pattern
4-5 inch square of heavy fabric - velvet, velveteen or other thick fabric works well
Stitch witchery, wonder under or heat-n-bond webbing or fusible interfacing
Perle cotton size 5 or 8, rayon and silk embroidery threads in complimentary colors
Variety of seed and bugle beads to compliment your fabric
Center focal bead or silk ribbon that compliments your fabric
Beading thread

Construction time: About 8 hours depending on the level of detail and complexity of stitches.

Apply fusible webbing or fusible interfacing to the back of your fabric. A heavy fabric provides a good base for building the paisley, and the webbing will help keep your fabric from unravelling. Some fabric color will show around your beading and stitchwork, but not much. Velvets and velveteens make a paisley look richer.

Print out the paisley patterns in appropriate sizes. Cut out a paisley.

You can trace the paper paisley onto card stock or the side of an empty tissue or cereal box and cut out for a more stable pattern. The large paisley shown in the construction photos is approximately 3" long.

Trace the paisley pattern onto the front of the fabric. Remove web backing, if appropriate.

Choose a variety of threads, seed beads and accent beads for your paisley in complementary colors. You won't use everything you bring out, but with a selection you will be able to pick and choose what looks best. If you know how to tat or have some tatted pieces available, those work well for a central focal point. Other centers can be made with silk ribbon embroidery, a small stitched motif or an ornate bead. Decorative buttons might also work, but if the button has a shank you will have to make a small hole in the fabric so the shank will drop below the surface. Otherwise, your button will be wobbly and sit on top of the fabric. You could also try a piece of felt under the button if you didn't want to make a hole.

Stitch the border line of your paisley using reverse chain stitch or heavy chain/braid stitch. A medium weight perle cotton works well in size 5 or 8. This edge stitching creates a firm frame for your paisley. I think I used a thick silk fiber thread for this outline

Here's where you will alternate beads and stitching. Add a line of seed or other beads inside the chain stitching. Then add a line of backstitching. Rayons and silks work well for the embroidery, as they add a nice sheen and stand out from the fabric.

Continue adding thread and beads as space allows. A 2" long paisley will hold 3 to 6 rows of stitching and beads, depending on what is intended for the center. The constructed paisley shown has a total of 6 inner rows of beading and stitching when finished.

Tip: Keep your threads tidy on the paisley's back to keep the fusible webbing exposed and to minimize bulk.

You should have by now decided what you wish to place in the center of your paisley. A large bead or bead cap works well. A flat button or SRE works well, too. A center of silk ribbon roses in descending order (a spiderweb rose followed by graduated French knots) can be seen below.

Once your center is completed, cut out your paisley using sharp scissors. Cut carefully around the outside line of stitching and avoid clipping any of your edging stitches or your outline stitching will unravel. Carefully trim off any excess fabric.

Here is the finished paisley. I made this one for my husband to adorn his tan messenger bag. I think it will look nice. I chose more "manly" colors, since it was for him, including making a center thistle instead of a frilly flower. He loves it, so I'm happy.

If you have used fusible webbing you should be able to largely fuse your paisley onto fabric and hand stitch around the edge to secure it. Otherwise, stitch or glue your paisley wherever desired. You can also attach a clip on the back and use it as a hair clip.

Here are some other paisleys I've done. 

This is a nice one. Very ornate. I did the tatted flower in the center. The outside edge is done in cast-on stitch and bugle beads. Lots of colonial knots, too.

This pretty paisley went on a CQ round robin block several years ago. The center is filled with silk ribbon French knot roses. I got to show CQ guru Judith Baker Montano how to make these lovelies during one of her workshops, so that was a little thrill.

 I made this for my stitcher friend, Lorna, who lives in England. Check her out on Facebook at Artymess Textile Art.

This has always been one of my favorites. That variegated thread is Sassa Lynn, one of my favorite brands of embroidery thread.

This one always reminds me of blueberries for some reason. In a lot of these I used buttonhole stitch for my first outlining stitch. Then I went back and added beads and bullion stitches to the outside edge for a nice scallop look finish. The inside flowers are also bullion stitch.

Fresh water pearls look really nice on these.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and find it useful. Feel free to comment and add links so we can see your finished paisley.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My, how time flies...

Wow, after arm wrestling Blogger for the past couple of hours I'm feeling fairly worn out. I know it should be easy and probably is to many, but learning how to navigate unfamiliar software is always a challenge for me. Still, I was able to change my template, post a new header photo and convert to google+, although I'm really not sure I see any difference from the old version. But overall I think it looks better.

Anyway, I was startled to see it's been nearly a year since my last blog post, although that's not too odd for me. I always seem to run out of steam after starting a new blog. I was also extremely busy from October 2012 to March 2013 getting ready for a belly dance performance, so that is my main excuse for getting off track. I thought several times about posting costume progress, but you really have to keep that stuff under wraps so the reveal at the show is a surprise (and so nobody rips off your ideas - haha.) Our costumes did turn out fabulously, and I will share mine in a blog soon.

For the moment I am really excited about an antique crazy quilt I found at an estate sale here in town last week. Although the previous owner lives in D.C., she's pretty sure she bought this quilt locally. She had thrown it over her couch in her house here for a long time, then put it away when it started getting worn out. I didn't really look closely at the crazy quilt when I bought it. I just snatched it up when I saw what it was and that the price tag read $25. Yeah, you can't beat that for a little textile history.

When I bought it we were in the middle of a local bluegrass festival, so it got tucked away until I could spread it out on the floor and pour over its details. The quilt is actually in worse shape than I thought. Many of the pieces are worn away and come apart with too much pressure. I had thought about trying to repair it, but it's beyond my time limits. Instead, I think I will stabilize the back and hang it on a wall as-is. Still, it's a beautiful example of an antique crazy quilt. The pattern is a star in the center surrounded by blocks that make a hexagon. I'll bet this was gorgeous when it was newly completed. One nice detail is the pattern has been feather stitched in silk on the back.

That's a nice touch and I don't think I've seen that done before. As you can see, there are many names written on the back. The handwriting is in a lovely cursive, obviously done by someone with excellent penmanship. It's not easy to write on fabric and make it look nice, but she did it. I'm guessing the same person wrote all the names. At first I thought the names were probably those of the people who made the quilt. Then I noticed Mr. and Mrs. and Dr. titles on the names so I'm guessing this is probably a memorial quilt. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like anyone thought to put the date when it was made or where it lived. What a shame.

Still, I love the rustic, weathered, tattered look of this old crazy quilt. It has character. It really is a classic piece with all the black pieces and the hand-stitched motifs. The only thing not classic about it is that it is made in a typical "sane" quilt style in some ways, with pieces the same shape used to build the traditional patterns of blocks. The stars are comprised of many bits and pieces of cloth sewn together and then cut into diamonds. So there is more structure and planning to this crazy quilt than I've seen in others. Usually crazy quilts are made up of all different shapes and sizes of fabric pieces. But that's OK. No one would look at this and think sane anyway. It screams crazy. 
Here are some detailed shots:

One of my favorite parts about these antique crazies is the stitching. The stitching always outlasts everything else. The fabric may wither, fade and fall off but the stitching remains. It's probably no surprise, either, that the silk threads in this still look gorgeous, shiny and strong, while a number of the cotton threads are showing wear. I find this a good lesson in which kind of thread to invest in the future.

The names, though, are what really get me. 

I can't help but think about my friend, Judi McGill, who passed away almost three years ago now. Judi loved real quilts made by real people who used them on beds and proudly displayed them. This one would have been right up her alley. I have had so many projects over these three years I would have loved to share with her. An avid quilter, spinner and fan of all things textile, I know she would have drooled profusely over this antique work of art. I can picture us chatting away, pouring over stitching details, admiring threads, reading names, and sharing a cup of tea as we pondered who these people were. If these really were locals I'm sure Judi would have had the resources to find out the story behind the quilt. Judi's death still pains me, more than I would have thought imaginable. She was a real friend, the kind of person I could talk to about a lot more than just quilts and sewing. I still miss her. Like crazy.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Aspirin and Fabric Bead Therapy

Almost two weeks ago I came down with respiratory crud. Actually, my husband and I both did. At first we thought it was ragweed allergies, which I'm sure is largely responsible for lowering our immune systems in the first place and making us susceptible to a virus. But this stuff just hung on - cough, headache, mild fever, body aches and lots and lots of disgusting mucus. Blegh.

My husband took a lot of aspirin and recovered a lot faster than I did. That should have been my first clue that I was dealing with a respiratory FLU rather than allergies. But because I have a sensitivity to aspirin - it can give me tinnitis if I take too much - I put off aspirin and instead took ibuprofen for body pain. This past week when I should have been well over this illness I realized I was getting reinfected. None of my normal immune-boosting therapies were working (MMS, colloidal silver, vitamin C, enemas, etc...). I could actually feel myself getting better and then coming down with the darn stuff again. This happened several times before I finally realized I had to do aspirin therapy!

I learned about aspirin therapy at two or three years ago when I had contracted this same illness. Only it was worse then. I remember laying in bed feeling like I was literally wasting away. And I was. This was when the swine flu hubbub was sweeping the nation and the medical community was urging everyone to get a flu shot to combat it. Swine flu is a manufactured disease - likely distributed via aerial means, i.e. chemtrails - and flu shots are their answer to "fixing" a problem they caused. It's all really just a big con and flu shots are basically a toxic chemical cocktail that does nothing to make you better. In fact, it's being proven how deadly these "vaccines" are, because they simply tear the body down. You can read more about this controversy at Unfortunately, lots of people have been brainwashed by the medical community and will dutifully give into the pressure to take these toxic injections. Not to mention the shots they subject their own innocent children to.

Anyway, I knew I wasn't getting any better and this could possibly be swine flu, so I read about aspirin paired with vitamin C as a remedy for wasting disease. Yes, that's what it's really called in places like India, and the person who first shared the information is a well-respected natural physician from that area of the world. And that's exactly what it feels like when you have it - like you are wasting away. By my 3rd dose I felt my energy returning and I felt more like myself again. It was amazing. What I learned is that the vitamin C helps your immune system and kills viruses while the aspirin actually dissolves the cells of the virus, effectively killing it. The results were amazing. For an adult the dosage is roughly 2 - 325 mg aspirin and 1 - 1,000 mg vitamin C every 50 minutes. Set a timer if you need to. They say if you don't see improvement by your 5th dose then you probably have something else and need to try a different remedy.

I did the aspirin therapy last night and by my 3rd dose was feeling like myself again. I slept soundly for a good 8 hours. I woke up still dealing with minor coughing, sneezing and mucus so I'm repeating the treatment. Because of my sensitivity to aspirin, I am taking just one aspirin instead of two. It seems to be working just fine and my ears don't appear to be ringing any more than usual.

The reason one becomes reinfected with this disease is because the virus lives in mucus. Once the mucus is swallowed - which is inevitable considering you are practically drowning in the stuff - the virus re-enters your system through your stomach and the symptoms are repeated. The end result is that your body becomes weaker and weaker the more the virus takes hold, hence the wasting away. I believe an alternative to the aspirin is L-lysine, but I'm not sure I am remembering that correctly, so if you are interested in this treatment do read the earth clinic information. The original post is by Ted, if you can find it. But you will see a lot of feedback and should be able to glean some information from those reports. Good luck.

Here's for the fun part. One thing I DO like about being sick is that I feel completely excused to totally immerse myself in a creative activity. This time I made fabric beads!

Aren't they lovely?

I don't know what got me thinking about fabric beads again. I've made simple paper and fabric beads in the past, but these are different. I did a little research and found this tutorial. It's very fun, easy and inspirational.

I love projects like these because they use up little scraps of fabric, lace, yarns and other trims so perfectly. And it's so fun creating a little work of art. I love how the beads and embroidery stitches add so much character and design. There is no limit to what you can create.

What I found is these beads, formed on a knitting needle or bamboo skewer - a rounded chopstick would also work - are a lot like a crazy quilt project I made several years ago. 

This involved using a large oval shaped wooden bead and covering it with a tiny crazy quilt block made with very small fabric bits. I love these little cq items, which I used for Christmas tree ornaments. But it's hard to find large wooden beads - at least it was at the time. I had to buy a big bag of variously sized wooden beads just to get the two I used for this project. The beautiful thing about the fabric beads, however, is you still get the jumbled, patchwork effect without having to do the tedious work of building a crazy quilt block. You can also work in a lot of lovely stitching. There is less of the beautiful stitching I did on the cq ornaments, but more freedom in the overall design.

As you can see, there is plenty of detail in these beads. I was even able to use short scraps of silk ribbon I found in my ort (thread trimmings) bag. This is what I used to make those pretty red roses. I love the look of those frosty lavender beads with the wagon wheel stitching over them. This is the kind of texture I played with, contrasting smooth silk with bumpy beads and stitchwork. Too fun. I really like each an every one of these. For the bead on the right I used sequins as the theme. I think it turned out great.

All these beads are built by first starting with a long 8-12" x 1" or so strip of black woven polyester fabric (an old skirt I salvaged for fabric long ago) which is then covered by a similar sized strip of a printed silk sari scrap. Pink, grey and purple go so great together I couldn't resist adding wool yarn bits in those colors. Even a scrap of magenta-colored silk sari yarn worked great in this color scheme - the same silk sari yarn I used to make the purse, scarf and tam I wrote about in a previous blog and which you can see on the red roses bead.

Here is a view of the smaller beads. On the top buttons I used the chevron stitch and chain stitch in metallic thread. Metallic thread is a must on these beads because of the way it catches light and brightens up the bead. A variety of seed beads, ornamental beads, sequins and findings also comes in handy.

I haven't decided exactly how I will use these beads. Right now I am considering using the large feature beads as a pendant on a necklace and the smaller beads either as additions to the necklace or earrings. I'd like to make some smaller round beads to go with these and maybe use them as earrings. I'm thinking about combining these with some needle tatting or just stringing them on silk. I even have some lampwork beads In these same colors that might also complement the fabric beads in a piece of jewelry. Christmas ornaments aren't out of the question, either. And it might be nice to have a few of these in my Etsy store. And, alas, here is where fabric bead therapy turns into work!

Here is one last look at the larger fabric beads, along with a disclaimer about the alternative remedies I've talked about above. Always do your own research. My information is simply sharing what has worked for me. It may not work for you, but it's up to you to make that decision. Best of luck with whatever therapy you choose...and happy beading!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Dogs, dance and dreams...

The neighbor's dumb dog woke me up again this morning at 8:30 a.m. It's Sunday and I would like to have slept a little more. Too bad we can't pick our neighbors. I'd like to ditch mine. They've paid a lot of fines for letting their dog bawl it's head off - it's some kind of coon hound. They don't seem to get the message that everyone is sick of their crap. They give dog ownership a bad name.

Anyway, I'm up now and thinking about the day. I've been surfing Facebook a little. I caught up on my Words With Friends games and read a couple blogs by Kristine Adams. She's a Fat Chance Belly Dance member who is traveling the world solo, teaching classes here and there. Right now she's in Mexico. I think her ultimate destination is Russia. I know she's doing this trip on a dime. FCBD, which performs American Tribal Style belly dance (the form I study), had several fundraisers for her before she left and she sold many of her things - including much-loved belly dance gear - in order to raise money for her trip. I'd love to be trekking around with her. That's one of my dreams, too, to travel the world. Here she is in Guadalajara.

Which is what I was thinking about when I woke up this morning. I want to travel. I've always wanted to travel. I've had some nice trips. Here's me in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1989 with friends I still love and miss.

I've been to Mexico several times; spent two months traveling in the British Isles, Germany and France; seen Argentina and been to Austria, but there's so much more I want to see and do. I want to go to Amsterdam. I've never been to Canada. I want to go back to France and parlais some Francais. I want to buy fabric and textiles in India, Turkey and Morocco. I want to dance with women in other countries who dance the language of ATS. I want to LIVE abroad, not just visit. And that's the thing, I always come back home when I should just keep going. Traveling and learning languages are the main things I've really wanted to do in my life and somehow they seem to elude me. I woke up thinking all this time I've wanted to pursue and live my dreams - and at this age I thought I would have achieved this. Instead, I've been anchored to the same place for 13 years. Domesticity is not my strong suit.

I love creating things, and I have a wide array of sewing skills. I can look back and see how my whole life I have absorbed myself in these pursuits when I couldn't realize other dreams. (I've heard it called "shrinking your dreams.") As a kid we lived an even more isolated life on a farm not far from where I live now. I wasn't allowed to go anywhere (never got to take gymnastics or dance classes like I dreamed about) and rarely managed to even get out of the house and enjoy the place due to my controlling parents. I often had to choose "safe" activities like cross stitching or reading, so I can see how this mindset started young. As an adult, lack of either time or money has always been an issue for me, so I've stayed closer to home. Doing what was safer, perhaps, or even using lack of funds as an excuse to stay put. Either way, I'm not blaming anyone but myself for not achieving my own goals. But I can look around my house right now and see what I have chosen to invest in - tatting thread, fabric, beads, jewelry supplies, patterns - instead of my real dreams. What is it about us that we put off what we really want to do?

Living in a small town for so long forced me to find things to do that would keep me interested in life. Belly dance has become my latest thing, and I love it to pieces. I love the costuming. I love watching myself grow and change as I grasp new moves and begin to construct a base of knowledge of ATS. 

I have overcome serious health issues - some still dog me - in my pursuit of this dance form, but I keep pushing forward. I have come a long way in the past few years. I love watching our troupe shift and change and grow. It's exciting and rewarding and one of the most physically challenging things I've ever done. I know dance keeps me sane and interested in life. But it's not always enough.

It's not enough for me, and I know if I don't hit the road some time soon I will always regret not doing so. I look at people like Kristine Adams and the Zapp family, which wasn't even a family when starting out 13 years ago. The Zapps, Herman and Candy, are from Argentina and they've been traveling the world for 13 years in an antique car. 

I don't even know where they are right now, but they are all about just getting on the road, conquering your fears about travel and experiencing the world. They have nearly been eaten by crocodiles in the Amazon jungle, supported themselves by learning to paint, and had four children along the way. People all over the world have helped them achieve their dreams. They are proof that if you take the leap life will catch you.

I know we are always told to be grateful for what you have, to bloom where you are planted. Those are wise words. And I do love many things about my life, especially my husband, Shane. He's the best. I adore our cats. I love the Midwest landscape. I love the trips Shane and I have taken together. Here's us in Cozumel.

At the same time, I don't want to say "oh, well, this is all there is." If we aren't growing and changing and reaching for our dreams then we are dying. Not to travel feels like dying to me. Traveling is one of the best things I've experienced in life. It's time to get out there and do some more of it.