Archive for the ‘Stitching Adventures’ Category

Deb’s Decoupaged Embroidery: Dr. Who Clock

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

Intrepid stitcher, Deb Ovall, discovered the Funk & Weber World blog while searching for info about decoupaging embroidery. She wanted to adhere a cross-stitch design to a clock face, but had never decoupaged before, let alone decoupaged embroidery.

I’ve fiddled around with decoupaged plastic cups and denim pocket bookmarks, as well as earrings and artist trading cards.

Check out Deb’s project:

Cross-stitched clock face, stitched by Deb Ovall

Dr. Who cross-stitched clock face. Fabric dyed by Deb; pattern stitched by Deb.

She started by dyeing her own Aida.

The cloth was white, 14-ct. Aida, and I ice-dyed it using a video I found on YouTube. You wet the cloth, bunch it up in a clump, place it on a rack over a tray, pile as many ice cubes on it as it will hold, sprinkle your powdered dye on the cubes, wait till the ice melts, rinse till clear, dry and iron. I didn’t do anything to set the color except iron it. I didn’t really care what it looked like, I just have so darn much white Aida and didn’t want to buy anything else!

Ah, anyone else have white fabric you’d like to dye? I sure do! And Deb’s fabric looks great, don’t you think?

The design is a pattern pdf from Cloudsfactory. I found a YouTube video for a different clockface that used a 10-inch clock, but when I tried to fit the design into the 10-inch clock I bought, it was 1/4 inch short, even as close as this cut is! Ten inches was the outside diameter, LOL!

I put the clock away and re-stitched the pattern on 16-ct, which fit a different clock I had: This board clock was $6 at a yard sale and had a 1/8-inch-thick plastic face that I peeled off. The clockworks still worked, so I removed them and fixed up the board.

Painting the clock base, Deb Ovall.

Painting the clock base, Deb Ovall.

Deb used an enamel spray paint to cover the wood base.

I knew about Modpodge but had never used it, so I was just groping in the dark all over the place here. That’s why I was glad to find your blog! Sometimes you just need one little push to go for it, eh?

Oh, I love pushing!

Deb purchased Fabric Mod Podge* for the project, unsure whether that was the best choice or not. Well, she was pretty confident it was the best choice for the fabric, but what about the painted wood base that the fabric would be adhered to?

What Plaid, the maker of Mod Podge, seems to recommend in this case is to prepare the fabric by coating it with Fabric Mod Podge, but then attach it to the painted wood base with regular Mod Podge.

Unlike me, however, Deb doesn’t have seven different kinds of decoupage medium in her arsenal, and I encouraged her to accept the risk and go for it. I’ve found all the Mod Podge formulas very forgiving and effective on a variety of surfaces. I figured the worst-case scenario would be that the fabric wouldn’t adhere well to the wood, and if that happened, she could have another go with regular Mod Podge.

Decoupaged-embroidery surface, Deb Ovall

Check out the shiny decoupaged surface of Deb’s clock.

The fabric podge did not come with any instructions except that to do an applique, you adhere it, wait at least two hours for it to dry, then seal with a fabric brush, working the medium into the applique. I had a small, new, 1-inch paintbrush so I used that and it worked well! This piece was a throw-away if I could not make this work, plus it’s a gift for someone who will love it no matter what, so it wasn’t too risky.

Completed Dr. Who clock, by Deb Ovall

The completed Dr. Who clock, by Deb Ovall. Note the silver trim around the fabric. A nice way to finish that edge.

It worked! The Mod Podge enhanced the contrast in the colors; I’m so happy! It also didn’t dull the silver trim around the design too much; that was the only thing I was afraid of. I only used one coat. This is the first thing I’ve ever Mod Podged so I had no idea what it would look like!

Well, I think it looks fantastic! Well done, Deb!

What do you think? Does this inspire you to decoupage embroidery? Leave a comment and let us know.

Want to see another fun decoupaged-embroidery sample? Check out Becca’s coffee-bean jar.

As always, if you give this a go, we want to know!

*Head’s up! The Mod Podge link to Amazon is an affiliate link. That means I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through that link. Thank you!

Calling Stitchy Adventurers: TAST

Monday, January 11th, 2016

Take a Stitch Tuesday logo

TAST logo, designed and stitched by Annet from Fat Quarter.

A New Year of Take a Stitch Tuesday begins this week. I’ll let you guess precisely which day this week.


What is TAST?

Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) is a stitching adventure led by sharon b, AKA Sharon Boggon, an Australian embroiderer, crazy quilter, textile artist, teacher, blogger, and all-round creative adventurer. She’s one of my stitchy heroes and is responsible for some of my own creative adventures.

The point of TAST is to learn, practice, and push new embroidery stitches. It’s a challenge, encouraging experimentation and learning. The format is very loose: Sharon selects a stitch each week and directs participants to instructions for it. Participants take it from there, doodling the stitch on any old scrap of fabric with any thread. Some stitchers make band samplers, others fabric books, you might make a crazy quilt block, fabric postcards, or artist trading cards (ATCs). It doesn’t matter; what you make from the stitch practice is beyond the scope of TAST. The point is to simply try, practice, and experiment with the stitches.

In the TAST Facebook group, pictures of completed projects are discouraged—technically, they’re against the rules, but Sharon is much too kind and gentle to come down hard on violations. Photos are supposed to be of the practice stitches alone.

This is one reason I am such a sharon b fan: She, too, touts the value of doodling and practicing with needle and thread, with no finished product as the goal. The doodling is the goal and the end product.


Embroidered barrettes

Sharon b.’s Sumptuous Surfaces meet Jen’s penchant for barrettes. Look familiar, Carol?


How to Participate in TAST

If you are new to hand embroidery, Sharon recommends starting with the first 15 or so stitches in the list of TAST stitches on the TAST FAQ page (they’re all linked to tutorials). These are foundation stitches, and many later stitches build on them.

If you’ve been stitching a while, you can jump into the current challenge. Stitchers with more experience are challenged to get creative with the stitches, finding new and interesting ways to use them.

You can participate weekly, every two weeks, once a month, or whenever you have time—another reason to love Sharon and this program: They accommodate your schedule and welcome you whenever you show up.

When you accept the challenge and learn/experiment with a stitch, you take a picture of it and share it. Here again the program is super flexible; you can share it anywhere: your blog, the Facebook TAST group, the TAST flickr group, Twitter, Instagram . . . wherever you are online.

If you share in a TAST group, you need do nothing special, as other participants will be able to find your image easily and know what it is. If you share on your blog or website, link to the TAST FAQ page on Pintangle (one of Sharon’s websites and the home of TAST) so your blog viewers can know what you’re doing, and then share a link to your blog post in a TAST group or page so other participants can check out your sample. If you’re sharing on Twitter or Instagram or anywhere else that a hashtag is useful, use #TASTembroidery and #PintangleTAST.


Twisting, 3D, embroidered bookmarks.

DNA bookmarks began as doodles. They’re becoming something else now.


Join Me?

If you’re looking for a stitchy adventure—and I hope you are!—give TAST a shot. So far, I’ve been an occasional participant, but I’m hoping to be a regular participant this year. Anyone care to nudge me along with reminders and challenges? Thanks to Stitching for Literacy and the making of bookmarks from my needlework doodles, my doodle supply is depleted, and I’d like to build it up again.

I will be following along in the Facebook group where Sharon posts the weekly challenge.

So . . . who’s game?

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Filet Embroidery and Family Heirlooms

Monday, December 7th, 2015

A few days ago, I re-shared a gorgeous stitchy photo that Jo Mason shared on Facebook. Jo wanted to know what kind of embroidery it was.

Odil Celik Embroidery on Facebook

Odil Celik Embroidery on Facebook

The embroidery is stitched by Odil Celik. It’s gorgeous, isn’t it?

I concluded (rightly or wrongly) it was filet embroidery or filet lace, and I directed another reader to the source where I first learned about filet: Carolyn Ambuter’s book, The Open Canvas. (Head’s up: Affiliate links) I love this book and have recommended it before.

Now, filet as I know it is darned netting; that is, a knotted net ground is embellished with darning and other filling stitches. It’s an ancient technique, with the knotted nets probably used for fishing and trapping. In The Open Canvas, the ground employed is not net, but rather is made by withdrawing threads from regular old mono canvas. That’s a modern adaptation, of course, eliminating the tedious delightful task of knotting a net, which no doubt some embroiderers will appreciate.

It’s here in the story that Serendipity makes a grand and glorious appearance.

A day or two after sharing Odil’s image on Facebook, I got a box from my father in the mail. It contained another batch of hand-me-down linens and embroideries and crocheteries (yeah, I made that word up) from my grandmother and aunt. Included in the collection are . . . guess! . . . two pieces of filet embroidery. The real McCoy: darning on a knotted-net ground. Squeeeeeeeee!


Filet Embroidery, Funk & Weber Designs

Filet doily, presumably stitched by my grandmother or aunt.


They’re both discolored due to age and use, but this one also has holes and is coming apart.


Filet Embroidery, Funk & Weber Designs

Filet doily. A family hand-me-down and heirloom.


I’ll take lots of photos before I attempt to clean, press, and restore/repurpose. I will also pick my father’s brain to see what he remembers about these, see if he knows who made them and who used them. Grandma and Aunt Evie are both dead now, so it’s up to Dad or one of my uncles to provide further information.


Filet Embroidery, Funk & Weber Designs

Close-up of darned netting.


While I call this filet embroidery or filet lace, thanks to Carolyn Amubter, there are other names for it, too: Lacis, filet guipure, filet Richelieu, darned netting, netted lace, and guipure d’art.

According to Carolyn in The Open Canvas,

“The earliest recorded filet used for needleweaving has been seen on Egyptian tomb paintings, where the robes of the royal figures are darned networks of gold, silver, and colored silks; examples of this work have also been found on mummy wrappings.”


Filet Embroidery, Funk & Weber Designs

Darned netting close-up.


Catherine de’ Medici, queen of France and wife of Henry II, learned embroidery and lace making while attending convent school in Florence as a girl. Catherine’s daughter-in-law, Mary Stuart, learned embroidery and lace making in Catherine’s court. Both stitched netted lace. Catherine died with nearly 1,000 squares of filet lace, and Mary had a similarly large collection.


Filet Embroidery, Funk & Weber Designs

More elaborate filet filling including needleweaving.


That’s right, my grandmother and aunt carried on the tradition of queens, and now so will I. I need to learn to knot net.

What can you teach me about filet embroidery? Anyone game to give it a go with me?

Embroidery Adventure: Um . . . What Is That?

Sunday, October 18th, 2015

In planning the first Stitch In Alaska Tour, I thought long and hard about what kinds of stitching activities to include. For months. Actually, the better part of a year. And by “thinking,” I mean “wrestled with a tenacious and unrelenting beast.” I wanted the stitching activities to match the Alaska experience in excitement, surprise, and satisfaction, and that is a tall order. Maybe an impossible order. But, to quote the owner of the Alaska lodges we visit on the tour: “The extremely difficult is no problem . . . the impossible takes a little longer.”

As embroiderers, we understand what it means to “take a little longer.”

My first thought for stitching activities was a class. Of course it was. That’s the norm. We go to a stitching retreat or seminar and what do we do? We attend classes. Classes are adventures; anytime we’re learning something new, we’re adventuring.

I went so far as to design a brand new Alaska Souvenir Sampler that brought together multiple techniques and ideas, some of which I hoped would be new for our intrepid traveler/stitchers. It was nice; I liked the Souvenir Sampler, but I wasn’t over the moon about it. I wanted to be over the moon. Alaska, after all, is an over-the-moon kind of place.

My second thought, then, was I don’t want to do a class. Everybody does classes. Classes are everywhere, a dime a dozen. Alaska is unique. The stitching activities should be unique, too. I wracked my brain. Unique ideas are rare: It’s hard to imagine something we’ve never imagined.

I went to the dictionary for inspiration. I looked up “adventure.”

Adventure Definition, Funk & Weber Designs

Definition of “adventure” at

My brain pulled out the third and seventh definitions: “a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome” and “to take the chance of; dare.” I boiled it down to this:

  • bold
  • risky
  • uncertain outcome
  • take a chance
  • dare

Hazardous? I don’t think so. I have a really good imagination, and I can’t see embroidery being truly hazardous. Plus, hazardous ain’t my thang. The rest, however, is what I wanted our stitchy activities to be, how tour activities would be different from what we usually experience in embroidery classes.

“Uncertain outcome” pretty much excludes a pattern, wouldn’t you say? And aren’t most classes based on a pattern?

So I decided to scrap the Souvenir Pattern. That felt risky because I knew such a project would be expected, but risky seemed right. I embraced it. Instead of having a pattern we all followed in the same way, I decided we’d focus on techniques and challenges, letting individuals and circumstances determine outcomes. Further, I would manipulate circumstances to force and ensure an element of challenge and uncertainty.

What might that look like? Well, the two project photos in this post are results of the same project adventure.

Becky's Bookmark, Stitch In Alaska 2015, Funk & Weber Designs

Becky’s bookmark adventure from Stitch In Alaska, 2015.

I made a list of techniques, challenges, and activities, more than we could possibly do. I laid out a tentative plan for when we’d do what, fitting stitching bits in between known tour bits. Of course, a tour such as this has changeable options, so flexibility was essential, which is yet another very good reason to jettison the “class” idea. Different traveler/stitchers would participate in different activities: Becky might kayak while Cathy hiked while Paula journaled while Harriet and Ruthie stitched. My plans would have to be flexible and customizable. Another tall order. (Refer back to the quote about “extremely difficult” and “impossible.”) My goal, then, was to always have a stitchy activity available and ready, but not overwhelm anyone with too much to do and the reality that no one could possibly do it all.

Imagine packing for this trip. Gah! I struggled with it. Really struggled. I would have to schlep these supplies between three lodges. They’d travel in a car, van, boat, and bus. This proved a bigger challenge than I expected. It was stressing me out. So I threw everything in the car and drove 2 hours into town where Arctic Needle Karen took the stitchy-supplies bull by the horns, set some harsh limits:

“Practice what you preach, Jen,” she said. “Limitations foster creativity.”

Karen had me straightened out, organized, and packed in under three hours. Phew!

The last piece of the puzzle fell into place. My stress was gone, and all I felt was excited. Oh, there was certainly uncertainty, but I trusted Alaska to dazzle, the tour company to be thorough and awesome, and visiting stitchers to embrace adventure. And they did.

Harriet's Bookmark, Stitch In Alaska 2015, Funk & Weber Designs

Harriet’s bookmark adventure from Stitch In Alaska, 2015.

Having tried and tested several ideas during Stitch In Alaska 2015, I now have a better sense of what I want to achieve with a stitching adventure and how to do it. I started planning for the next adventure even as I undertook the first. I’m not compelled to share details of planned activities because I adore surprises, and I think they add to the sense of adventure.

My favorite quote from Stitch In Alaska 2015:

“The hardest part was deciding to do it.” ~ Ruth Hubert

Boy, isn’t that the truth?!

If you’re coming to Stitch In Alaska in 2016 (dates to be announced in the coming week), know that the stitching will be an adventure as defined above. All you need bring are basic tools (scissors, hoop or stretcher bars or the like) and any glasses, magnifier, or small light you wish. Oh, and please bring an open mind and a willingness to try despite an uncertain outcome.

The trip we’ll take is the Alaska Wildland Collection. Visit that link to read a detailed itinerary (minus the stitching parts), see pictures of the lodges, and get all the details from pricing to policies.

If you’re interested in this and future trips, let me know, and I’ll put you on a special mailing list. If you leave a comment here, I can pick up your email on the back end. Or drop me a line at mail [AT] funkandweber [DOT] com.

So who’s ready for an adventure?

And what is your idea of a “stitchy adventure”?

Stitchy Guilt: Enough is Enough!

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Stitchy guilt: noun, a feeling of responsibility, remorse, or shame for the crime of embroidering something beautiful then relegating it to a closet or drawer where it cannot shine its light or sing its song, and where no one ever sees it.

Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Would you plant a seed and then put it in a sunless closet and not water it?

Well, would you?


Denim-covered Mat for Embroidery, D-I-Y Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

Denim-covered mat for framing embroidery.


You’re Not Alone

Okay. Relax. You’re not alone. Believe me, this boat you’re in is ginormous but still in danger of sinking from too many passengers. And did I mention that I’m the captain?

Stitchy guilt can strike anytime, like when the baby turns six and still doesn’t have the sampler we started six-and-a-half years ago. Perhaps the guilt hits hardest when we want to buy materials for a new project. How can we justify more stash when the project, if it gets stitched, is not likely to get finished into the end product we have in mind? Holy-hemstitch, what if we have no end product in mind?!

Enough is enough! We know that the act of stitching is a joyful, healthy thing. It’s crazy to ruin that with shame because we are afraid to take the last step. It’s time to put an end to stitchy guilt. It’s time to finish our embroideries!


Lacing embroidery to backing board, DIY Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

DIY Framing: Lacing embroidery to backing material.


Ending the Guilt

Sounds great, no?

“But how?” you ask. “Professional framing is expensive. My local shop doesn’t offer professional finishing, and I don’t know where to send it. Isn’t that expensive, too?”

What do you say we finish our embroideries ourselves?

“I don’t know how,” you say.

I will show you.

You’re speechless, but I sense hesitation, maybe doubt.


Hemstitching, D-I-Y Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

Hemstitching and mitered corners, two of my favorite things!


D-I-Y Embroidery Finishing Classes

Whether you want to frame your embroidery; piece it with other fabrics for a quilt, tote, or something else; make it up into a pillow; or hem the edges so it stands alone, I can show you how. I’ve done them all, numerous times. I love finishing! Really!

With your embroidery skills, basic sewing skills, and a little ingenuity, you can finish your embroidery yourself and get beautiful results. You can purchase special materials for a custom look, score finds at the thrift store, or upcycle gems from the basement: Any way you choose to go, you’ll infuse the entire project with your unique style. You’ll feel great sharing your embroidery when it’s beautifully finished and the stitchy guilt melts away.

“The hardest part was just deciding to do it.” ~ Ruth H.

If you want to do it, I assure you, you can. And I can show you how.


Diamond Tuckable Pillow, DIY Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

PillowPalooza: Diamond tuckable pillow in want of embroidery.


Goodbye, Stitchy Guilt

Last year, I decided to kick stitchy guilt to the curb. I dug out embroideries I’d stitched in the 1980s and 90s. I framed one, made a couple of pillows and a wall hanging. It was so much fun, that I’ve decided I should re-finish some of the early Funk & Weber models.

It’s not easy being a super stitchy model. Ours have traveled thousands of miles in planes and cars, been packed and unpacked countless times. They’ve had glass put in the frame and taken out, over and over. They’ve been shipped through the mail, displayed in shops and shows, and packed away in a trunk. Some of the frames are looking tired. What if . . . !

It’s true: I had so much fun finishing ancient embroideries that I’m looking for more things to finish, re-finishing already finished pieces.

What do you say? Are you ready to kick your stitchy guilt to the curb?


Piecing multiple embroideries, DIY Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

Piecing multiple embroideries. No angles were measured in making this.


Join Me For a Finishing Adventure

Four finishing classes are now self-serve. Work through them whenever you want at any pace you want. Choose between the following:

  • D-I-Y Framing
  • Piecing
  • Hemstitching
  • PillowPalooza

Or snag all four! Check out the Classes page for further info, and end stitchy guilt for good.