Tag Archive | cotton thread

What a HOot: ABAA challenge

What a HOot

What a HOot

This is my entry for Rosie and Linda’s Awfully Big Art Adventure (ABAA) challenge for this month which was to use a bird theme. There are many talented art pieces and you should take a look!

I muddled over this one for a few weeks, then I came across an embroidery piece that my mom had made with an owl on it. So I went retro and dug out my ’60’s hippie-ness for this one. I pulled out all of my embroidery floss in brown, gold and pumpkin colors (which truthfully may have been purchased in the ’60’s), then I went to JoAnnes and picked up some felt squares.

I drafted the pattern in an hour or so, and have been embroidering for a few days, a few nights and here is Oliver. The legs are a florist wire wrapped in brown paper, the feet are reinforced with cardboard, and the body is stuffed with Polyfill.

Oliver was made for my husband. He is a Social Science teacher and an avid reader (hence the old books in the background). He is very owlish on the inside, but very un-owlish on the outside, so I made a jaunty beret for him to wear. Oliver ordinarily wears the John Lennon glasses (which I had originally bought for my DH), but I couldn’t get a great photo with him wearing them, so they are just off to the left in the pic.

Happy day to you, go retro when the muse suggests to, and enjoy! Christen

PS: My husband says this is one of his favorite pieces that I have made, pretty cool to be married to your best friend!

Tide Pools Nature’s Treasures-by Christen Brown

Tide Pools Natures Treasures

Tide Pools Nature's Treasures

This is my entry for the Shell Challenge sponsored by Rosie and Linda’s Awfully Big Art Adventure. There are quite a few entries this time, and worth a peek when you get a chance.

The theme was to create anything with shells, and being a native of Southern CA., a shell lover from early child hood, and an avid collector I had really had a wonderful time creating the project.

beach sand

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.

tide pool bowls

tide pool bowls

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!

Andalusian Flower Fields- Crochet Jewelry Ensemble

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet neckpiece

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet neckpiece

Well if you thought that I had fun making this ensemble you were right!

Crochet is not my first needle technique of choice, not even my second, third… you get the picture. I learned the theory in high school, but never could read a pattern, so my elegant chains never really were of any use.

A few years ago I took a class, I got a book, took a refresher class from a friend, and just started to play. I guess it is just like anything new, you have to work at it. So I did. The flowers and leaves are all made from patterns that I developed, because I still can’t read anybody else’s pattern, but I can read my own!

The neckpiece is assembled by stitching each flower to the other, the leaves are attached to the flowers. I used a vintage glass button for the closure, and I stitched a crochet flower for the loop. The bracelet base is a vintage jacquard ribbon with the flowers sewn down on the ribbon. I had a second glass flower button that I used for the closure of the bracelet, and stitched a buttonhole loop.

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet bracelet

Andalusian Flower Fields- crochet bracelet

The ensemble was made to be worn with a vintage blue shawl the same color as the light blue of the flowers. It is from China and is embroidered with the medium pinks, yellow and peach colors that I used in the flowers and the darker green color that I used for the leaves.

I found a vintage embroidered purse that was made in Mexico to match the shawl. It is embroidered on black velvet with flowers in the dark blue, pink and deep peach colors with the lighter green color of the leaves.

Happy stitching, creating, and searching for those great vintage finds! Christen

Strawberry Fields- crochet purse

Strawberry Fields- crochet purse

Strawberry Fields- crochet purse

This crochet purse was so much fun to make. It is stitched in rows of double crochet using bits of this color and that, added in when one color ran out. I stitched a row of treble crochet close to the top for the cord to run through, and ruffled the top edge.

I am a fairly neat person but when it comes to skeins of pearl cotton, I tell myself I must wrap it in to a ball before I start stitching, but I rarely do. So the odd bits and messy balls end up in an old glass candy jar, at least they look pretty while stuffed in there.

So this was a project meant to untangle my bird’s nest full of pearl cotton #5 skeins. They were hopelessly tangled and mangled and seemingly knotted beyond recognition.

I spent a few nights in front of the TV, and a few long car trips (I was a passenger, not the pilot) and untangled and sorted the mess that I had created. I think that the untangling process took longer than the crochet stitches.

Hope that you too can create something from your tangles and mangles! Happy Stitching, enjoy- Christen

Mariposa- free form crochet shawl

Mariposa- free form crochet shawl

Mariposa- free form crochet shawl

This shawl started out as a learning project. I was taught how to crochet in high school, but never really experimented with it until much later. I always had a problem following a pattern, a common enough problem.

The shape began as a circle in the center, and I stitched in a circular motion adding thread as I ran out. The yarns that I used in Mariposa are the Watercolor yarns because they are so soft. Watercolor is a 3-ply yarn that I split into single threads (tedious yes, but worth the end result) and just started stitching.

Often I switched direction, working my way around the shape using single, double and treble crochet stitches. I just loved the freedom of not working with a pattern, and soon I had a piece that grew into a butterfly shape. It took about four months to finish the shape.

I folded over the top portion to fit around my shoulders as a shawl. In a sweet, serendipitous moment I found a hand dyed metallic rayon fabric that matched the Watercolor yarns. I stitched four rolled roses from this fabric, and several leaves from French wire ribbon. These I added as a front detail, and use as a closure for the shawl.

Vintage Crochet Gloves and Embroidered Handbag

Vintage Crochet Gloves and Embroidered Handbag

I found these vintage cotton gloves at the Rose Bowl Flea Market that is held once a month at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA. My husband gave me this monthly trip for my birthday last year, we drive up, have lunch and just look at the goodies. I dyed the cotton gloves to match the shawl.

The vintage cotton purse is embroidered with lovely shades of rose and magenta, with olive colored leaves. The frame is decorated with peach and carnelian pieces of glass.

I have a program titled Vintage Redressed where I have created ensembles using vintage and new pieces, giving them new purpose, this piece is included there.

Happy stitching to all, enjoy your day. Christen

Celtic Flowers Pillow- traditional embroidery stitches

Celtic Flowers Pillow

Celtic Flowers Pillow

I have two book shelves on either side of my sewing table, and I placed an old pantry door on top to create a shelf. I placed many of my dolls in groups on top of this shelf, and the smaller pillows such as this one reside there

The fabric is a silk shantung, embroidered with pearl cotton thread. The stitches I used are:

  • woven rose
  • whipped spider web rose
  • cast-on buttonhole stitch pansy
  • lazy daisy
  • straight stitch
  • detached chain stitch leaf
  • chain stitch
  • Chinese knot

After the pillow was sewn and stuffed, I added a rayon cord to the edges to finish off the piece.

5-1/2″ wide x 6 ” tall

Happy stitching, enjoy your creative adventures! Christen

Shabby’n Stitched- recycled cotton vest

Shabby 'n Stitched Vest

Shabby ‘n Stitched Vest

This was a wonderful project to work on, just me, 12 colors of pearl cotton, a needle, a thimble, a pair of scissors, and about 75 hours of stitching.

I wish that I had had the for site to photograph this vest when it came in the mail. I bought it on ebay and the listing said that it was a shabby chic vest.

So I imagined that it was a little rough around the edges. The pictures were not clear, so I took a chance. When I opened the package I thought to myself, “Must ask for better pictures next time!”, as it was more than just a little rough.

The red cotton of the vest had either ripped or had been torn by more than a few rough washings, most of the satin stitch embroidery had unraveled, and many of the mirrors were broken. I had my work cut out for me, to save my $4.99 investment.

I picked through my embroidery thread stash, and found some colors that I thought would liven up the vest. I started to embroider, and really just had a great time enhancing someone else’s creative stitching.

I stitched right through the lining, not worrying about burying the stitches or knots. I plan to add additional lining to the front pieces (to hide my stitches on the wrong side), and add seam binding around the collar and center edges (as the raw edges are showing).

With a little bit of imagination, you can recycle creatively, and have fun while you are doing it.

Enjoy, and see you at the thrift store! ~Christen

Gail’s Garden- wall hanging with ribbon work and silk ribbon embroidery

Gail's Garden- wall hanging by Christen Brown

Gail’s Garden- wall hanging by Christen Brown

This is a close-up view of a new wall hanging that I just finished on Saturday, (closer views of the flowers.) My friend Gail made me a lovely crocheted scarf with flowers and beads, and I made her this wall hanging in trade.

The wall hanging has ribbon worked flowers and leaves made from a variety of ribbons including:

  • silk bias
  • vintage grosgrain
  • satin
  • ombre
  • picot edged ombre
  • novelty

The crazy pieced base is stitched with both traditional and silk ribbon embroidery stitches. I used 4mm and 7mm silk ribbon, #5 and #8 pearl cotton, and Wildflower threads. I hand dyed some of the ribbons and threads to match the colors of the fabric.

Many of the flowers and leaves I have developed for a book that I would someday like to publish. Until that day I plant them in my gardens whether it be on a garment, purse, or other accessory. I hope that you find pleasure in your pursuits, as I do!

Happy Stitching! Christen

Ellen Matilda’s Rose Garden- silk ribbon embroidered purse

Ellen Matilda's Rose Garden Purse

Ellen Matilda’s Rose Garden Purse

Ellen Matilda my was my grandmother and she longed for a rose garden. There was never a lot time or extra money for this.

My aunt, her youngest daughter also loved roses, and was able to have a garden in her mother’s memory. It was beautiful and her mother would have been proud of it.

My aunt’s garden inspired me to create one in ribbon embroidery in memory of both my Aunt Ellen and my grandmother Ellen Matilda.

I used the maidenhair fern stitch for the base of the design using a variegated pearl cotton thread. The tips of this stitch are embroidered with 4mm silk ribbon using the the lazy daisy and bullion-tipped lazy daisy flowers. Spider web roses are stitched with 7mm silk ribbon, and carnations are stitched with 3mm ombre ribbon. French knots and bullion knots are used for the details and stitched with 4mm silk ribbon or silk buttonhole twist thread.

A vintage button for the closure; glass seed beads and glass leaf details; brass butterflies; and vintage glass beads on the handle add the perfect finishing touches.

Happy Stitching! Christen

Donna Reed’s Tea Party- collaged jacket

Donna Reed's Tea Party- jacket

Donna Reed’s Tea Party- jacket

Embroidery, a needle art that I learned at the age of seven from my mother is a skill I continue to develop and is the technique of choice for many of my creative and artistic expressions. The first embroidered item I made still in use to this day is a short handled tote bag that my mother designed as a project for my Bluebird group.

This jacket is comprised of two card table sized tablecloths, one large rectangular cloth, and many napkins, tea towels appliques and additional pieces of embroidery that I have been collecting for years. This is part of the Donna Reed’s Tea Party Ensemble.

My favorite piece is the card table sized tablecloth with the large flowers shown in the front center corners. The embroidery for each corner was stitched in four different color combinations.

The large tablecloth, probably vintage 50’s early 60’s, was embroidered with a pink vase and colorful flowers in several sizes. The cloth did not survive a red wind dinner party and was promptly discarded to the thrift store. Lucky me!

After all of the pieces were attached to a muslin base, I added in satin ribbons to hide the seems of these sections. I then added additional embroidered details with traditional embroidery stitches with left over strands of floss and on the ribbons.

The collar is made from a wonderful cotton print from the 50’s, which was our old bird cage cover. The lining is made from additional embroidered items, a linen fabric that was left over from my kitchen curtains, and other cotton prints.

Happy Stitching! Christen