2020 crazy quilt block 1 It all starts here!

2020 crazy quilt block 1 I said the other day that hopefully this week I will have the first block of my 2020 quilt done and here I am waving enthusiastically. The hexagon when finished and bound has 4 inch sides and is 8 inches from point to point across. I thought today I would share with you the pattern and information about how this crazy quilt hexagon was made and embellished.

First up this is my starting point, here is the block unembellished. When I pieced the block I included the lace and ribbon.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 unembellished

Here I have the pattern. People are free to use it in their own personal project, just let people know where you got it via a link and credit.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 patternThe seam between piece 1 and 2 is a line that consists of 4 scallops. Using my templates I traced around the edge with a quilters pencils. Once the line was marked I worked the line using Threaded chain stitch (I have yet to have it in the stitch dictionary but it has just gone on my To do list) The chain stitch is worked in cotton perle #5 thread and the gold thread is a metallic knitting yarn which I found in a discount bargain bin. It is called Excel and was made in Taiwan. To be honest I cant imagine anyone knitting with the stuff but its great for using in any of the embroidery stitches that involve lacing and threading.

In the dips of the scallops I arranged a small flower motif made of French Knots. At their base I added a aqua bead that was secured by seed bead.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 3The seam that runs down piece 5 is covered with a ribbon. Using my templates again I traced the same scallops in a line down the side of the ribbon. I used stem stitch to cover the line. Three bullion knots were arranged in fan worked in the dips of the scallops. The thread I used was hand dyed silk which I did myself. It is the same thickness as #8 perle cotton. I then added some straight stitches using a aqua metallic thread, topped off with a seed bead.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 4

The lace that buts against the seam of piece 1 and piece 3 I secured to the block with tiny stitches before adding seed beads. Along the edge of this lace is I worked little arrangements of detached chain stitch and straight stitches. These are finished off with a small glass bicone bead at the base and seed beads at the top of straight stitches. The threads I used are #5 cotton perle for the detached stitches and aqua metallic thread and #8 cotton perle for the straight stitches.

The bow shaped lace motif was first secured to the block with very tiny stitches worked using regular sewing machine cotton and then I added the three seed beads.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 1The next seam I want to talk about runs along the edge of piece 4. It has a foundation of herringbone stitch worked in #5  cotton perle. These foundation stitches are also threaded with the same metallic knitting yarn I used on the Threaded Chain stitch (I can see I have another variety I need to add to my stitch dictionary. The to-do list is growing!)

Spaced between the herringbone stitches using a #5 cotton perle that was hand dyed, I worked detached chain wrapped bullion knots.(Oops there is another variety to add to my stitch dictionary)  These I arranged in a fan and stitched a little gold novelty bead at the base of each fan.

2020 crazy quilt block 1 seam 2One of my ideas for this quilt is to have a garden type them where there are little things to discover on each block. In the tradition of Victorian crazy quilts I added a spider – just peeking from behind a button. He is watching the butterfly. Spiders mean good luck so I wanted to start this project on a good footing.

The idea behind a 2020 crazy quilt challenge is make a crazy quilt using 2020 different items by the end of the year 2020. So what am I counting on this block?

Count for 2020 crazy quilt block 1

  • Fabric 5
  • Ribbon and lace 2
  • Charms 2
  • Buttons 5
  • Novelty beads 4

Total 18

CORRECTION! Total 19 because I forgot the lace bow!

I am tracking what I do in studio journal so hopefully I wont duplicate, next time around if people are interested I will share the page spread too.

I hope you have found this article about my 2020 crazy quilt block 1 interesting.

Do you want to join the 2020 Crazy Quilt challenge?

The aim is make a crazy quilt using 2020 different items by the end of the year 2020. You will find the guidelines and list of resources here 

Admins on the big Facebook groups Crazy Quilt Divas and Crazy Quilt International  are happy to see people share there work there. So follow the links and join the groups if you are Facebook person.  For those who have blogs you can leave your web address in the comments – each week as you progress. Instagram people can use #2020crazyquilt to share progress photos.

Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods about how to design and make a crazy quilt. From fabric choice, to balancing colour, texture and pattern, in order to balance and direct the eye around the block.  I cover how to stitch, build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim was to be practical and inspiring.

My Crazy quilters templates

My templates for crazy quilters aim to help you take your stitching to the next level.With my templates you are able to create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish your seams  with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

using my Crazy Quilt Templates set 2These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Crazy Quilt Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 



Take a Stitch Tuesday Stitch 88

Sorbello Stitch stitch 89
Stitch 88 for Take a Stitch Tuesday ( TAST) is Sorbello Stitch which is one of those stitches that is easily underestimated until you try it. At first it looks like a little stitch that can be substituted for cross stitches to create a more interesting textured surface. It can also create an interesting filling.  As you play with it – and arrange it in patterns Sorbello stitch becomes far more interesting. Experiment with changing the scale of Sorbello stitch, the thread, and the direction. I am sure you will enjoy your discoveries! Here is the tutorial for Sorbello stitch in my Stitch dictionary

How to join in and where to share Stitch 88

If you are new to hand embroidery the challenge is to learn the stitches. If you are an experienced embroiderer push these stitches in creative manner and share with beginners what can be done with a little imagination.

Stitch a sample, photograph it, put in online on your blog, flickr site, share it on Facebook or where ever you hang out online, and leave a comment on the Sorbello Stitch  page with your full web address. Don’t forget the http bit of the web address so that your address becomes a live link so that people can visit your site and see what you have done.

Feel free to join the  TAST facebook group and leave your photo there.  For Flickr people the group is Take a Stitch Tuesday. Hashtags are #TASTembroidery and #PintangleTAST on places like Instagram etc.

If you need more information the challenge guidelines are on the TAST FAQ page.

Crazy quilt template set 2 Have you seen my Stitchers Templates?

As someone who loves crazy quilting and embroidery I designed these templates with other stitchers in mind. With my templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to apply to your stitching and crazy quilting projects. They are easy to use, totally clear so you can position them easily and they are compact in your sewing box.

Templates set 1 you will find here 
Templates set 2 you will find here 
a tangle of pins

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Interview with Melody Lord

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordMelody Lord has to be one of the most interesting embroiderers I know,  as she uses her needle and thread to meld science and art. I first really paid attention to her work when in 2010 she worked an embroidery based on a NASA image of the far side of the moon and then as time went on she stitched images of what she saw in petri dishes. Melody Lord’s blog, Kingdom of the Blind was started when she was an artist in residence as part of the Culture at Work Project.

Melody’s creative eye is influenced by the whole range of textiles as she edits craft books and magazines. Melody Lord is also the author of a book on knitting called Knitting Basics. To track her many interests see her latest petri dish stitcheries based on the recent images of Pluto, and her TAST stitch challenge experiments visit Melody Lord’s instagram account but before heading off there, take a break,  make a cuppa and let me introduce Melody Lord.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordImage:  from Melody  Lord’s Flowers for Algernon Sequence which you can read about here, and the Fibonacci Flowers here

Why do you like hand embroidery and hand work? How has it influenced your life?

Embroidery is like meditation for me. The rhythmic repetition of the needle going in and out of the fabric is soothing and calming and a way to slow down a busy life. I like to listen to music or podcasts while I stitch. It’s my favourite way to relax.

How did you start? Were you taught by your mother, school or taught yourself online? If you taught yourself what attracted you to embroidery?

My mother taught me the basic stitches using a little book that she had learned from at school. The first project I really worked on by myself was a crewel wool embroidery kit of a washerwoman in a spotted dress. The spots were satin stitch, the wash tub was long-and-short stitch and the outlines of the dress and the soap suds were back stitch. I remember being really frustrated getting the hang of making French knots for her hair! Now I use French knots all the time in my embroidery; they are one of my favourite stitches.

Do you use TAST to make samplers or incorporate the stitches into projects as you go. Or what sort of projects most attract you ?

I do a bit of both. TAST is a way of challenging myself to use different stitches. If they are appropriate to a project I am working on, I incorporate them. If not, I have a little sampler on the go that I can try them out on. I’m not very rigorous about doing the stitch each week when I am busy with work and other projects, but I do try to keep up!

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordCan you talk about your last project and/or your current project?

My current project is a series of science-related embroidered artworks set into 5cm diameter Petri dishes. I’ve been planning it for a while and collecting a set of images for inspiration. So far the designs have been based on blue-green algae (a friend is researching its link to motor neurone disease); an electron microscope image of RNA; the New Horizons spacecraft’s view of Pluto and a ball of fish in the ocean. I’m currently stitching the Cassini spacecraft’s image of the storm at Saturn’s north pole, which is fascinating.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody Lord

Image Paths of Dreams which you can read about here

What is the project you are most proud of?

I’m most proud of my 2010 collaboration with my friend, neuroscientist Dr Adam Hamlin, for Culture at Work. Adam gave me access to amazing microscope images of rat and mouse brains from his research into Alzheimer’s disease at the Queensland Brain Institute and also his previous research into addiction (which he had done at UNSW). I turned these into embroidered artworks and we held a joint exhibition where Adam presented a public lecture about Alzheimer’s disease and I showed my embroidery works in the Accelerator gallery. I was also invited to exhibit the works as part of National Science Week at the Muse gallery in Ultimo.

Do you have any UFO’s ? If so, fess up to how many?

Too many to count! I’ve spent the last two years trying to “destash”; going through my UFOs and either completing them or turning them into something else. I recently changed tack and pulled everything out of my craft cupboard, only putting back materials and supplies that I will definitely use in the future. I ended up with three large shopping baskets full of UFOs which I intend to complete. This doesn’t prevent me starting a new project every few weeks, as well!

Do you work purchased designs or do you design your own projects? Or do you do both?

I used to purchase designs, but these days my brain is always bursting with inspiration from the wealth of blogs and images on the internet so I tend to design my own projects.

Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively? What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?

Many years ago (should I say how many? It makes me feel old…) you [Sharon] ran a workshop on Visual Journals at the Southern Cross Crazies retreat in Canberra and the things I learned there from you and the other Crazy ladies changed my creative process. I use visual journalling to record images and materials and stitches and other things that inspire me. I tend to work intuitively once I start a project and it often turns out quite differently than I expected when I started.

Lots of people have trouble starting a project. What makes you start a project? Do you have any tips to get you from blank fabric to stitching?

I don’t usually have trouble starting; it’s the finishing that can be a problem. The main obstacle to me is finding the time to get my thoughts in order about the project and pulling the materials and threads out of my stash. Once I’ve done that, I usually can’t wait to get the needle into the fabric. I suppose my tip would be to simply start stitching: don’t think about it too much, just thread the needle and go.

Do you have stall points? If so how do you get past them? Do you have any tips to share about this.

Yes… I have stall points all the time. That’s why I have so many UFOs! Depending on the project and how determined I am to finish it, sometimes I just force myself to keep going just to get to the end. Sometimes I put the project aside and work on something different for a while, then go back to it later with a fresh eye. I’m not afraid to unpick work that I don’t like or if that’s too difficult I simply stitch something new over the top of any unsatisfactory stitches.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody LordImage Axonal connections was based on an MRI image read about it here

Do you have ‘go to’ stitches. In other words stitches you use frequently that you return to using over and over. If so what are they and why do you think they are so successful for you.

French knots are a big favourite. I love the way they add texture and you can use them for both positive and negative space. Plus there’s nothing more soothing to the mind than the meditative process of working a mass of French knots.

Do you have a favourite embroidery thread, or something you use all the time? If so what is it?

Different threads suit different stitches and purposes. If I had to choose one type of thread to take to a desert island, I suppose I would choose a hand-dyed variegated stranded silk or cotton. I’ve used a lot of Gumnut Yarns Stars and Kaalund Yarns stranded silk. I also use DMC stranded cotton and pearl cotton frequently, just because of the wide range of colours and the fact that they are readily available.

What advice would you give to new hands?

I’ve had the opportunity to teach a few children and adults how to embroider and I find the biggest hurdle is just getting the needle and thread into their hands. Start with a scrap of fabric and some simple stitches and lines. You might never want to show anyone your first project but it doesn’t matter: just knowing you’ve done it is the important thing. You will get better with practice! I taught my sister-in-law how to do cross stitch using a miniature kit of a tiny pineapple and now her house is full of embroidery and quilts. She’s won prizes for her work at the Adelaide Royal Show and now she teaches me things.

Image for TAST Interview with Melody Lord

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I have been really fortunate in that I’ve been able to incorporate my love of embroidery and other crafts into my work in book and magazine publishing. Between editing craft magazines and beautiful craft books, I’ve also written a knitting book, and lately I’ve contributed projects to Country Style magazine as well. Last year I was asked to created some embroidered vegetable designs as illustrations for a book (Wholefood by Jude Blereau). It makes work fun! It’s also enabled me to meet some amazing creative people (like you, Sharon) who inspire me all the time, including the people who contribute to TAST. I love seeing all the different ways that people use each stitch.

I hope you have enjoyed this TAST Interview with Melody Lord. I certainly enjoyed discovering more about her approach to embroidery. If you want to read and see more of her embroidery pop over to Melody Lord’s blog, Kingdom of the Blind and catch her on Melody’s instagram account

This interview is part of series that will run during 2017 as the Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I will interview stitchers about their hand embroidery and feature their work.

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