Question: How do you choose a color pallet for a project? I start with the fabric, and work from there.
Beautiful Beaded Blooms by Christen Brown
This project started with two colors of moire fabric, and a cotton print that came with a bounty of an array of greenery options. I paired the foundation pieced block, with lavish amounts of embroidered beading, vintage buttons and charms to create an opulent-looking wall hanging that hints of an earlier era.
Question: When you are stitching a pattern, do you strive for perfect seams, or do you cover up what was not perfect? I strive and strive, but often I end up covering up what I think is not perfect.
Paris Flea Market- by Christen Brown
The four 9-patch blocks are comprised of a Moda charm packet, with a border of bleached muslin. I actually did piece all of the corners perfectly, however I found these wonderful vintage charms to put into each section. Oh well, at least you all know now that the squares were perfect.
The embroidery was worked in three colors of perle cotton, the border row stitches in one color, the decorative in a second color and the detail stitches in a third color. I used this in many of my embroidery classes as an example, and eventually the muslin border was covered in fingerprints. So, I added another border of mother-of-pearl buttons to cover up the prints.
Question: When you work with a pattern do you follow the instructions, or do you interpret the instructions to fit your vision? I usually have a casual disregard for instructions, and created within the minimal parameters.
Our House is a Very, Very Fine House- by Christen Brown
This piece started with the idea of creating a foundation-pieced house, usually you see this shown using day-time imagery. I wanted to show this at night, so that I could use my vintage Bakelite and celluloid star buttons. The border is comprised of a Moda Charm Pack. I was happy to finally use the wooden cat-shaped buttons, as well as the many other vintage buttons from my stash. The embroidery is worked in perle cotton and cotton floss, both solid and variegated colors.
Question: When you design a project, do you like to use what is in your stash, or do you prefer to go to the store and search for materials? I usually work with what I have on hand, then go to the store for additional materials.
Eastern Influences by Christen Brown
This piece started with the small scrap of fabric that I used for the center. It had been sitting in my stash along with the print that I used in the border, waiting just for the right project to come along. Additional fabrics were a machine embroidered cotton, and plain black cotton. Glass seed beads were used for the embroidery, along with vintage bugle and hand-blown glass beads, and nail heads. Vintage buttons are sprinkled throughout along with large glass beads and charms.
Question: What kind of sewing machine did you learn to sew on, and, what kind of machine do you sew on now? Mine was a Singer, and still is!
Chrysanthemum Tea- by Christen Brown
This piece started with a scrap of commercially embroidered fabric, which I used for the teapot applique, and a few pieces of the border. I found a a hand-dyed perle cotton in pin, yellow, and green, and used this for my color pallet. I chose silk fabrics in those same colors. I added trims, appliques, buttons and lots of embroidery stitches.
Question: What is your favorite sewing tool? Mine was a pair of metal “snippy scissors”.
Gentle Lady’s Needle Keep- By Christen Brown
This little sewing kit is crazy pieced with vintage and new cotton fabrics. The embellishments include grosgrain ribbon, and vintage and new buttons. The needle keep and pincushion are made from felt, and stitched with grosgrain trim. The embellishments include felt leaves, a ladybug and vintage and new buttons. All of the embroidery was worked with perle cotton, cotton floss or seed beads.
Question: What fabric do you like to sew with? I like to sew with silk, and cotton.
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 of wildly displayed color were bordered with black silk fabric, satin ribbon, and rayon cord. The embroidery was worked with border rows of black buttonhole twist, and the decorative and detail stitches were worked with a variegated Valdani perle cotton. Vintage and new buttons details were stitched down with perle cotton and rayon floss.
Question: I like to sew strips, and straight seams. What do you like to sew?
Sizzle and Pop by Christen Brown
This is a strip-pieced base comprised of Hoffman and hand-dyed batiks as well as cotton floral prints. The lines and seams are embroidered with beaded stitches, with buttons and sequins used for additional embellishments.
Question: What was your favorite garment that was hand-sewn, and who sewed it for you? Mine was a yellow A-line dress that my mom made, and I wore white go-go boots with it. Nancy Sinatra sang my theme song!
Glamour Girl by Christen Brown
This piece started with the fun print that was used in all four blocks. I loved the colors that were used and found additional fabrics in both stripes and prints in those same colors. I also incorporated a few precious strips of vintage batik fabrics. The piece is embellished with rick rack trim, grosgrain and novelty ribbons, embroidery, beads and sequins, and novelty buttons.
Question: Who did you learn to sew from?I learned to sew at home, by helping my mom, who made all of our clothes. I also had a great Home Ec. teacher in the 7th and 8th grades.
Scraps and Leftovers, by Christen Brown
This monochromatic color palette combines a very subtle blend of colors: cream, sand, tan, and brown with a dash of black, brass and silver. The fabrics are all scraps from other projects, with leftovers of ribbon, lace, trims, appliques, and zippers for embellishments. I literally emptied the sewing box in search of buckles, safety pins, snaps, and hoops and eyes. I combined these with vintage buttons, charms, and other ephemera. The quilted and embroidered stitches were all worked in perle cotton thread. The pin in the center was from an original Shirley Temple doll.