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Friday’s Favorites: Scarves

I love scarves! And with the cold weather still out, I am constantly in search of that little bit of extra warmth and color. Being allergic to wool can sometimes be a challenge to find just the right thing for an outfit, so I am always on the lookout, and often I make my own accessories or re-style or revamp an already made item.

This chiffon scarf was a gift from my husband and daughter, along with a box of Godiva chocolates. How could you go wrong with yummy chocolate and my favorite color purple! I added satin rosettes and posies using the directions from my book Ribbonwork Gardens, by C&T Publishing.

This is a scarf that is entirely made from Hanah Silk bias ribbon. Several different widths were used, and stitched together on the sewing machine. The ruffled roses are hand-stitched, and are also made from silk bias ribbon.

This is a scarf that I knit, using yarn that was made from silk sari borders. It has a lively color combination, lots of colors and fun nubby sections. I made folded edge rosettes from hand-dyed silk velvet ribbon. The centers of the flowers are abalone shell buttons.

This scarf was purchased many years ago at Cost Plus, now it is called World Market. It is incredibly detailed with rickrack ribbon stitched into flowers, sequins, and beads! To top it off I made another flower from my book Ribbonwork Gardens, using ribbon that came off another box of Godiva chocolates.

Happy Stitching to you all, and Enjoy~ Chisten

Ribbon and Ribbonwork Flowers, Leaves, and Trims

I love to work with ribbon, ribbon, and more ribbon.

These are examples from my first book, Ribbonwork Gardens by C&T Publishing. There are 122 realistic flowers, leaves and garden extras included in the book, with experience levels from easy to advanced.

There are over 14 basic techniques, some traditional and some that I have created especially for this book. There is a complete compendium with ribbon styles, selection and care, and troubleshooting tips with several gallery pages and examples sprinkled throughout the book for inspiration.

These are examples from my second ribbonwork book, Ribbonwork Flowers, by C&T Publishing. There are 132 flowers, leaves, and garden extras – each with complete instructions and colorful how-to photos.

I have created these components using new twists on vintage ribbonwork construction, as well as creating new techniques of my own. The book includes flowers, petals, leaves, flower centers, fruit, and stem designs. There are several gallery pages and examples sprinkled throughout the book for inspiration.

ribbonwork trims, ribbons, details, gingerbread trims

This is an example of my class, Gingerbread Details and Decorative Trims. Many of these edgings and trims use vintage techniques turning ordinary ribbon into detailed extraordinary couture trims. The simple techniques that are used to create these decorations range from folded, braided, wrapped and sewn.

Happy Stitching! ~Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Fall Colors

14 3/4″ x 13 3/4″

Batik Galaxy by Christen Brown

This piece started with the a group of batik fabrics in dark mustard, teal, and cranberry/rust. The cranberry/rust fabric reminded me of the red ring around Mars, so I created a galaxy in the center of the piece, using a wholecloth reverse applique technique. The copper and antiqued brass finishes of the celestial-themed charms added an extra color element. This piece can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

11 1/4″ x 12 7/8″

Umbria by Christen Brown

This piece started with four printed fabrics in rich browns, rust, and cranberry colors. I found a variegated perle cotton that picked up all of those colors. I then chose the remainder of the embroidery and embellishments to match the thread. Embellishments include vintage shell buttons, copper charms, and glass buttons that are sprinkled around the fiber and metal leaf trims. This piece can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

17″ x 16 3/4″ (close-up)

Autumn Ribbons by Christen Brown

The base of this piece started with a linen napkin, and added bits of vintage lace that I hand-dyed with Colorhue dyes. I then added in loads of rust, orange, and brown flowers and leaves that I hand-stitched from Hanah silk bias ribbons. I used techniques that can be found in my book Ribbonwork Flowers by C&T Publishing. The embroidery was worked with perle cotton, Wildflower threads, and silk embroidery ribbon, using many of the stitches that can be found in my book Embroidered and Embellished by C&T Publishing.

24″ x 23″ (close-up)

Harvest Quilt by Christen Brown

The base of this quilt was strip-pieced using Hoffman cotton batiks, in rich autumn colors of rust, umber, cranberry, maple, and olive. The embroidery stitches are worked in perle cotton #5 and #8, Wildflower threads, and cotton floss. This piece was featured in the gallery section of my book Embroidered and Embellished by C&T Publishing.

Enjoy! Happy Stitching! ~Christen

Tide Pools Nature’s Treasures

Tide Pools Natures Treasures

Tide Pools Nature’s Treasures

Being a native of Southern CA., a shell lover from early child hood, and an avid collector I am drawn to the ocean, the sand, the waves, the tide-pools and all of the treasures that you can find.

beach sand

I started my project with birch bark collected many years ago from our cabin outside of Toronto, Ontario Canada. This I used for the sand, and the inside of the bowls.

I then crumpled up pieces of cotton paper to create the waves, and rocks. I stitched these together with cotton and rayon threads on my sewing machine. I placed this on an old wooden tray, that had seen better days.

The next step was to create the actual tide pool rock formations that capture the sea life and shells.

I started with Timtex and more cotton paper. I cut round shapes in three different sizes. I layered cotton paper over these, and cut out round pieces of birch bark for the center of the bowls.

I stitched the layers together on the sewing machine. I then cut darts into the circles, and over lapped these to form the bowl shape. The last step was to cut the edges of each bowl and then machine stitch over these edges.

shells, sea life and kelp

shells, sea life and kelp

I had an abundance of real shells that I had collected over the many years of beach combing. I had a great time selecting which of these would be included into my beach scene.

I also had some old celluloid buttons that were somewhat grungy, but the colors matched and the patterning looked like sea urchins to me, these are interspersed amongst the bowls.

I thought that it would be cool to include shells and sea life that I had made from ribbons, crochet and embroidery. I started to play and this is what I came up with:

  • A crochet length of kelp with cord and pearl cotton, and grape shells at each leaf (these have a florist wire glued in the center to attach to the kelp)
  • Crochet and embroidered snail shells
  • Embroidered sea urchins, sea anemones and limpet shells
  • Embroidered and gathered ribbon coral
  • Ric-rac coral and star fish
  • Plumes of something made from rayon cord (I am not sure what these are but I liked them)

close-up view of three sizes of bowls

close-up view of three sizes of bowls

Happy beach combing and treasure hunting, enjoy- Christen!

Recycled Blue Jeans and Denim Fabric

JEANS, when did you get your first pair? I grew up wanting to be the “ballerina” in Elton John’s song “Blue Jean Baby”. I can hear you singing, “can’t you see her, tiny dancer in the sand”.

In high school I embroidered jeans and work-shirts for friends and family. In fact the reason that I now wear a thimble while stitching is from being poked so much by working on the heavy jean fabric. I have recycled a pair or two (that did not fit anymore), and used them in various projects. I also like to work with denim fabric (sold by the yard), because it provides a nice firm base to work on.

“Blue Jean Baby” is stitched onto a pant leg, from a pair of old jeans. I removed the pocket first, and used it and the pocket from the other leg in the examples below. I appliqued a lace heart, and many hand made flowers into the heart vase. I added vintage and new beads into the centers of the flowers. I embroidered ribbon down the side edges using traditional embroidery stitches. The little cat (made from a quilt from 1880’s) was a gift that came along with an eBay purchase, and Marcia Marcantonio is the creator. Thank you Marcia, I think that your gift is quite at home here.

“Butterflies and Snapdragons” (a pocket from the pants), was featured in my book Ribbonwork Gardens, by C&T Publishing. The middle embroidery was worked on another portion of the jeans. “Flower Child” (a pocket from the pants), was featured in my book Ribbonwork Flowers, by C&T Publishing.

These two pieces begin with the same pair of jeans (cut from the other pant leg), and one of my favorite fabrics, the vintage floral print that the hearts are cut from. The heart shapes are bordered by a dyed leaf trim, and are surrounded by silk ribbonwork flowers and leaves, and silk ribbon embroidery.

“Country Hearts” Wall Hanging was featured in my book, The Embroidery Book, by C&T Publishing. Each square was cut from the same pair of jeans, and I used the vintage rickrack trim to cover the raw seams. The embroidery stitches are worked in perle cotton threads. The embellishments include vintage tatted lace, ribbonwork flowers, vintage buttons, and glass beads.

“Denim and Dresden” is featured in my book, Creative Stitching, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing. I used jean fabric for the base of the piece, and I think that it compliments the vintage feed sack fabric so nicely. The embroidery is worked in perle cotton, cotton floss, and vintage tatting threads. The embellishments include yo-yo’s and vintage buttons.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.

Friday’s Favorites: Autumn Jewels

These are a few of the small wall hangings and wreaths that I have made. The first was featured in my book Ribbonwork Flowers, with the ribbonworked flowers attached to a wire base, embellished with vintage buttons and charms. The second was a class that I taught at my store, with the flowers and leaves made from French wire and woven ribbons, embellished with vintage buttons and charms. The third features a dragonfly that I taught at my store, embellished with silk and woven ribbonwork flowers and leaves.

Here are two neck-pieces that I have created. The first is entirely made from ribbonwork flowers and leaves from the Petals and Posies series that I taught at my store. The embellishments include vintage velvet ribbon leaves, and a sprinkling of vintage and new buttons. The second is a version of a class that I taught at my store, Entwined Treasures. The base begins with a silk cord base, and is embroidered and embellished with beads, ribbons, charms and buttons.

Enjoy this harvest of treasures! Happy Stitching! ~Christen

National Sewing Month

Day 30

Question: Are you looking for inspiration, a little kick start, or just some eye candy? I have a few books that may help you on your creative journey, may that be a long and happy one!

Here is a re-cap of National Sewing Month 2022:

  1. September 1, 2022– Question: When did you first learn to sew, and who was your teacher?
  2. September 2, 2022– Question: How do you design a project, do you start with a plan or do you let the materials tell you what and where they want to be?
  3. September 3, 2022– Question: What type of piecing do you like to do?
  4. September 4, 2022– Question: When you choose a fabric, what are you drawn to, do you like to work with solids or prints, or hand-dyed or batiks?
  5. September 5, 2022– Question: Do you like to recycle old clothing, or use something in an unexpected way?
  6. September 6, 2022– Question: What type of embellishments to you like to work with on your projects?
  7. September 7, 2022– Question: Do you plan out every detail, or do you approach your work with serendipity?
  8. September 8, 2022– Question: Do you like to make and sew your own jewelry and adornments?
  9. September 9, 2022– Question: Did you know that the wooden spools that you have in your stash may be 50-100 years or older?
  10. September 10, 2022– Question: Do you have a favorite pincushion, or two?
  11. September 11, 2022– Rustic Americana, In Memory of 9/11
  12. September 12, 2022– Question: When you design a project, do you sometimes think, hmm I like that, but I want to try it in another colorway or design?
  13. September 13, 2022– Question: Do you plan out a project, with bits and pieces of paper lying around the workroom with your notes, or do you use a dedicated book to keep track of all of those ideas?
  14. September 14, 2022– Question: Do you name or title your projects, and how do you choose those names?
  15. September 15, 2022– Question: Do like to work with felt?
  16. September 16, 2022– Question: What sewer does not have a favorite pin or needle keep?
  17. September 17, 2022– Question: Do you sew functional forms for the home, or do you like to create whimsical additions?
  18. September 18, 2022– Question: Do you like to crazy-piece, but sometimes find the sections so small, that it is hard to embroider every seam?
  19. September 19, 2022– Question: Do you like to embroider over a pattern or print?
  20. September 20, 2022– Question: When you embroider a piece, do you like to use free-form images or do you use stencils?
  21. September 21, 2022– Question: When you create a strip-pieced base, do you embroider the seams, in the seams or over the seams?
  22. September 22, 2022– Question: What sewer hasn’t heard of the Sunbonnet Sue?
  23. September 23, 2022– Question: Do you sew functional forms or do you like to create fabulous frivolities?
  24. September 24, 2022– Question: Do you like to add lace to your creations?
  25. September 25, 2022– Question: When you are working with a group of fabrics, how do you decide what colors to use for the embroidery stitches?
  26. September 26, 2022– Question: What kind of sewing machine did you learn to sew on, and, what kind of machine do you sew on now?
  27. September 27, 2022– Question: When you see a hanky used in a project, do you ever think of Rhett Buttler’s comment to Scarlet: “Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.”
  28. September 28, 2022– Question: Do you ever hold on to a piece of fabric, and think, someday, I will use that?
  29. September 29, 2022– Question: When you buy a charm pack, do you often find that there are prints that you think, hmm, how did those get included in here?

I hope that you have enjoyed this month, and have found some inspiration within these pages.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

National Sewing Month

Day 25

Question: When you are working with a group of fabrics, how do you decide what colors to use for the embroidery stitches? Here are a few ideas.

10″ x 10″

Victoriana by Christen Brown

This crazy-pieced square started with a rayon print, and 6 different silk fabrics that matched the colors of the print. I chose silk embroidery ribbon, perle cotton, buttonhole silk, cotton floss, and seed beads in those same colors. I used 7mm silk embroidery ribbon and silk bias ribbons for the ribbonwork flowers. Each section of fabric is worked with a combination of the colors and components.

15 3/8″ x 15 3/8″

Melted Crayons by Christen Brown

Tiny bits of precious silk fabrics were crazy-pieced onto four foundation squares and strip-pieced onto four border strips. These blocks and strips were bordered with black silk fabric, satin ribbon, and rayon cord. I chose to work each of the border rows with black buttonhole twist, then the decorative and detail stitches with a variegated Valdani perle cotton. Vintage and new button details were stitched down with perle cotton and rayon floss. This piece can be seen in The Embroidery Book, by C&T Publishing.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

National Sewing Month

Day 22

Question: What sewer hasn’t heard of the Sunbonnet Sue? She appears in all kinds of ways, including quilts, small wall hangings and even pin keeps. The pretty little Sue below, belonged to my Grandmother, and as you can see, she is made from real felt. The Sue on the right is my version of the pin keep, working with synthetic felt, lace, buttons, ribbon and perle cotton.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

National Sewing Month

Day 8

Question: Do you like to make and sew your own jewelry and adornments? I have a few suggestions including cuffs, bracelets and brooches, all use bits of this and that including fabric, lace, ribbons, and buttons.

Chantilly Lady’s Lace Cuff by Christen Brown

These are examples of what I call the wistful days gone by, reminiscent of tranquil days lounging on an overstuffed satin pouf, or demurely sashaying along a tree-lined avenue, parasol in hand. There are two styles to choose from that will be embellished with needle-tatted and crochet components, ribbonwork flowers, a few silk ribbon embroidery stitches, beads and buttons. The lace base and other components are dyed with Colorhue dyes.

silk ribbon, embroidery, bracelets

Tandleton Rose Bracelets by Christen Brown

You have two styles to choose from, both using a Tandleton base (pillow). The “Ring of Roses” is made up entirely of embroidered ribbon pillows, strung with beads and has a glass button for the closure. The “Band of Roses” is made from a ribbon base, layered with vintage lace and a few of the embroidered pillows; a dainty embroidered button and hand-stitched button loop are used for the closure.

ribbon work flowers and leaves

Scrumptious Hearts by Christen Brown

The base is created with bits of cherished lace and with silk fabric to form a beautiful heart shaped base for your floral design. Chose from a few different heart shapes and ribbon worked floral vignettes or create your own. This is an excellent way to use up small amounts of this and that to form an heirloom brooch to be treasured. The lace base and other components are dyed with Colorhue dyes.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen