This little piece is one of my favorite projects. Embellishing any worthy image is incredibly rewarding but with today’s technology, it could be done so much more easily. When I stitched Wisteria Lesson, each of the embroidery designs was positioned one at time with a printed template then stitched one at a time.
Now with my Brother Quattro I can scan the image and then position all the designs on the computer. By using the sort feature, most of the design using the same color, such as the dark purple, would be stitched at the same time. This would eliminate a huge number of thread changes.
With this advance in technology, I could more quickly and easily embellish a photo of my grandchildren romping through a field of bright pink phlox and black eyed susans and one of my garden and one of the treehouse with the azaleas blooming nearby. And as soon as I finish sewing Vivian Rose’s 2nd birthday dress, mending my daughter-in-law’s couch pillows, resizing my daughter’s tablecloths, making new pillowcases to match Alastair’s new bedding, and….and….
Well, there are a few other must-do’s but I definitely plan take on one of these photo transfer projects as soon as possible. Read all about it in this earlier post.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This project surely must warm the heart of anyone who has shared the joy of needlework with a child. When the 1913 edition Embroidery Lessons with Colored Studies was added to my library of vintage and antique needlework books, I was enchanted with the cover illustration.
The goal of the teacher to inspire and instruct, the challenge of the eager young student to succeed, the scent of the wisteria, sweet and heavy….I experienced all of this as the intimate vignette drew me in. Under that idyllic arbor, I dreamed of teaching my fantasy granddaughter to sew. (Hurrah! I have TWO and 10 year old Laurel is already an accomplished little sewists! Vivian Rose’s turn comes up in a few years.) I went so far as to plant a wisteria vine right then and there, though I had planned to do so for some time.
Wisteria Lesson, my title for this charming scene, has been transferred from the booklet cover to a sheet of specially treated silk which was bonded to paper and run through my inkjet printer. The silk image was layered with thin cotton batting and a backing and machine quilted. It is embellished with machine embroidery and a few hand embroidery stitches. This really fun project was made possible by the very talented and creative Sue Lord.
The first time I met Sue Lord was at a workshop. She showed samples and offered detailed instructions on photo transfer to fabric at a workshop. In her musical Georgia (pronounced “Gaw-ja”) accent, Sue drawled so much new information and so many creative ideas that I returned for the repeat session in the afternoon.
Coming back would have been worth it just to hear her talk again, regardless of what she said, but Sue seems incapable of simply repeating a class. She added new material and even more inspiration to the re-run! Or maybe I was just getting the hang of the drawl. Whatever. At any rate, my head was spinning when her lecture/demo was over. Raring to go, I left with enough handouts and confidence to tackle a photo transfer project. I knew Wisteria Lesson would be that project.
Have you ever done a photo transfer project? I’ve seen incredible quilts with pictorial family history and tee shirts with images. What things have you seen that used this technique? It just facinates me.
Nita O’Keefe’s Wisteria Collection provided the bulk of the machine embroidered wisteria designs. Because this gorgeous collection is sized for a 5 x 7 frame, they were all far too large for my 8″x 10″ silk image. So with my trusty BuzzEdit program, I extracted two small portions of the designs, then resized and rotated them into several variations. Using a variety of purple, lavender and variegated threads, I was able to fill the arbor with Nita’s pendulous beauties.
Other machine embroidery designs include the vining flowers on the left, inside and outside of the lace beading frame. They are from Fil Tire’ and Fancywork, done by Suzanne Sawko and me while the butterfly was a free download from Min Smith of South Africa.
Among the components of this project that I found most interesting is the quilting. The straight lines along the floor tiles and pillars were done with a walking foot while the characters, landscape and other features were quilted free motion. I tend to perseverate, so once I got started with free motion, which is one of my favorite techniques, I just couldn’t stop. Even the lettering is quilted. All that quilting added the texture that really pleases my eye.
The embroidery unit was removed when I went to the sewing side of my Brother ULT for decorative stitches. A variety was used for the potted fern, the blanket stitch on the purple cushion, and the tiny pattern stitched on the outside of the parchment colored lace beading frame. The thread is a nearly identical parchment colored 80 wt. Madeira Cotona. The decorative stitching softens the edge and gives the effect of a beaded edging rather than just a beading insertion. Lavender silk ribbon is threaded through the beading.
Hand work embellishments, I think, add a lot to the overall effect. The same lavender silk ribbon is used for the little girl’s hair bow while a snippet of pale gold silk ribbon decorates the lady’s bun. An old gold colored French knot is stitched on the toes of the lady’s shoes. Each needleworker holds a gold metallic thread needle and a short length of thread. My favorite 3-D addition to the picture is a tiny, tiny piece of lace insertion, just 1/8″ wide, stitched down the front of the child’s dress.
Since finishing this project, I am inspired to dive into more photo transfer projects. How I would love to stitch a four seasons series of our cabin in the mountains of North Carolina. Or just one of our home in Florida, which looks pretty much the same year round. I’d love to do one of the upstairs nursery where our babies slept. There is no shortage of ideas, just a shortage of time. Thanks, Sue.