Heart Felt Wishes to you all! I love hearts, I love the shape, I love to decorate the house at Valentine’s Day, and I have a lot of hearts… so I decided to post A Heart a Day for the entire month of February.
For the love of embroidery, and threads, and beads, and silk ribbon, and buttons, and trims, and for all of the things that make you happy, and inspire you to be creative.
Happiest of heartfelt wishes for a wondrous day! ~Christen
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Happy beach combing and treasure hunting, enjoy- Christen!
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.
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
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?
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?
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.”
September 28, 2022– Question: Do you ever hold on to a piece of fabric, and think, someday, I will use that?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.