TAST Interview with Renee of Hand Stitched Treasure

If you are a member of the Crazy Quilting International Yahoo group or the facebook group Crazy Quilt International you will know Renee and be familiar with her work. But many non crazy quilting people do not know her so this interview is an excuse to feature some lovely crazy quilting and talk to Renee about stitching. So time for a cuppa – I hope you enjoy hearing her story.

TAST Interview with Renee sample 1TAST Interview with Renee of Hand Stitched Treasure

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

I find hand embroidery relaxing. (My husband must have noticed this. If I go a week without a needle in my hand, he encourages me to take some “me” time to sit and stitch.) I love watching fabric, a needle and some thread transform into (hopefully) something beautiful. Embroidery has influenced my life in a number of ways. I have made amazing friendships with people around the world through crazy quilting and blogging. My confidence has improved as I have successfully attempted new techniques that I found intimidating. And, I am learning to take a compliment. (It is so much easier on-line than it is in person, but I am working on it!)

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

When I was in high school, a dear family friend taught me how to cross-stitch. I fell in love with the craft. Decades later, I went to a quilt show with my mother-in-law and saw a landscape quilt with silk ribbon tulips and was in awe with ribbon embroidery. Shortly after that, I saw my first crazy quilt at the Oregon State Fair. It was white-on-white and I knew I had to try making one someday. It took me several years to gather the courage. When I finally began looking for directions on-line, I stumbled upon the Crazy Quilting International Blog and realized there was so much more to crazy quilting than I ever imagined. My embroidery skills are self-taught through books and from on-line tutorials. Your Stitch Encyclopedia is my go-to site when I am looking for ideas. The beauty and diversity of embroidery drew me in.

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

Someday, I hope to make a sampler with the TAST stitches. At the moment, I try to work the stitches into current projects I have going. I find myself drawn to functional projects like handbags, tote bags, coin purses and glasses cases.

TAST Interview with Renee sample 2Can you talk about your last project and/or your current project? (Can be any textile project)

My last project was created as part of the Crazy Quilt Journal Project (CQJP) 2014. My goal was to crazy quilt a block a month and to make that block into a bag or purse of some sort. (Life interfered, but I am still plugging away.) The November block was pieced with black fabrics and primarily embroidered with white, pinks and greens and it incorporated several TAST stitches. I finished the block off as a zipper pouch with a little wristlet strap and made a matching tissue-pack cover. The set was donated to my son’s drama club for a raffle fund-raiser.

What is the project you are most proud of?

That is a really tough question! I am not sure I have a favorite. Every time I try something new and it turns out well, I find myself gleefully surprised and excited. However, my husband thinks the bird I needle-painted on a CQJP 2016 block using your stencils is – by far – the coolest thing I have embroidered.

TAST Interview with Renee sample 3Do you have any UFO’s ? If so, fess up to how many?

Oh dear. Yes, I have UFO’s. Most of them are projects I began making for myself and set aside to make a gift for someone else. There are 33 that I can think of at the moment. (That number should be smaller by the end of the year! I had 35 on January 1st.)

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

I purchase designs for cross-stitching. However, I prefer to design my own crazy quilting projects.

Do you have a creative design process? If so what is it? Or do you work intuitively?

My design process varies from project to project. Sometimes I like to wing it and embroider whatever idea strikes my fancy. Other times, I have an idea of a particular element that I want to work into the piece and I plan the project around that element.

What stimulates your creative process? What inspires and sparks ideas for you?

Frequently, seeing the work of others inspires me. However, my family is no longer surprised when we are out and about if I point out a pendant or pair of earrings and ask, “Wouldn’t that look great in a crazy quilt?” Or, if I see something at the beach or a flower in the garden and ask, “I wonder if I could embroider that?” So, I guess the short answer would have been: nature, jewelry and the work of others.

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?

Most of my projects were created as gifts and were designed with themes and colors the recipient preferred. If I find myself stumped about how to start, I consider the theme of the project. I pull out threads, charms or beads that might fit the theme or inspire ideas. Sometimes that does the trick. Other times, I make a drawing of the block and sketch possible seam treatments and motifs to see how I like them. If the ideas are not flowing, I pick a seam and embellish it. Usually, just working that first seam is the key.

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

Yes, I do. If I am stalled because I cannot think of what to work next on the block (or because I changed my mind and do not like the idea I had planned), I will take some time to look through any TAST stitches I have not worked, books, photos of previous projects, or crazy quilting photos I have saved on Pinterest until I see something that inspires an idea. If I am stalled because of the project itself, I try to alternate between it and another project.

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.

I love creating floral seams using the buttonhole stitch as the base stitch and adding detached chain stitches as leaves. Then beads and/or detached chain stitches are added to the top of each stem to make the flowers. I love the simplicity of the combination and how it can be changed so much with very slight variations.

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

I have not tried a lot of different flosses. When I first began crazy quilting, I almost always used 2 strands of DMC floss. After reading your encouragement to use other sizes of thread for contrast and how well pearl cotton works with some stitches, my preference changed to pearl cottons in sizes 5, 8 and 12. I also love the look of EdMar rayon threads, but they are no longer available at my local shops.

What advice would you give to new hands?

Always piece your block at least 2-inches larger than you want the final block to be. (I prefer to add 4-inches so there are 2 extra inches on each side.) This makes it easier to hoop your work and also makes it easier to trim your block when you are ready to sew it into a project. Keep beads, charms and buttons at least ¼-inch away from your seam line so they will not interfere with the foot of your sewing machine. And, do not be afraid to ask questions.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Step outside of your comfort zone. There have been many times I have wanted to try a new stitch or embroidery technique, but felt almost too intimidated to try. If you need to, make a “doodle cloth” to practice on before attempting the stitch on your main project. You might like it. You might not. But, you will never know what you are capable of if you let self-doubt stop you.

I hope you have enjoyed the interview with Renee of Hand Stitched Treasure. I certainly enjoyed discovering more about Renee and her approach to embroidery. If you want to read and see more of her embroidery pop over to Hand Stitched Treasure. This interview is part of series that will run this year as TAST has been running for a decade. Throughout the year I will interview stitchers who have done part or all of the TAST challenge and feature their work. The same questions are posed to each stitcher.
Crazy quilt template set 2

Have you seen my Crazy quilters templates?

As a stitcher who loves crazy quilting I designed these templates with other crazy quilters in mind. With my Crazy Quilters Templates you can create hundreds of different patterns to embroider on 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.

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 

Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 

TAST Stitch 71

TAST Stitch 71 Alternating Up and down Buttonhole is a fun and interesting variety of regular Up and Down Buttonhole which is stitch 55 of the TAST challenge. So this week we can build on skills learnt in a previous challenge stitch. It Forms a decorative line of paired stitches which you can further decorate with beads. You can splay the two arms out a bit for a more twiggy look. Since it is based on buttonhole stitch, this stitch will follow a curve well. You can also work it row upon row to form a patterned fill.
Alternating Up and down buttonhole 7

TAST2012logoHow to join in on the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge TAST Stitch 71

All stitchers a free to join the challenge and all levels of skill are welcome. If you are new to hand embroidery the challenge is to learn the stitch. If you are an experienced embroiderer push these stitches in creative manner and share with beginners so they can see what can be done with a little imagination.

Where to share

Stitch a sample, photograph it, put in online on your blog, or share it on Facebook, Instagram etc or where ever you hang out online, and leave a comment on the Alternating Up and Down Buttonhole Stitch page with a link so people can come 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.

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Crazy Quilt Quarterly Spring Issue is out

The Crazy Quilt Quarterly Spring Issue coverThe Crazy Quilt Quarterly Spring Issue is out so it’s time to curl up with a cuppa and indulge in a bit of eye candy and reading. Birds and birdlife is the theme for this issue with the cover artist being Allison Aller. As a quilter, teacher and author Allison Aller is well known and active in the CQ community. Allison Aller had a great knack of bringing modern techniques to contemporary crazy quilting.

The cover features a robbin sitting on a nest. Inside Allison Aller has generously described in text and photos how she made it covering what quilting traditions and techniques she  drew upon to create the bird and its environment.

Inspiration, tutorials and tips are throughout the magazine. Linda Hopkins has shared information on printing on silk. A Bead and Feather Butterfly project by Nina Burnsides looks fun to do and Linda Hopkins shares her process to create a Beaded Bird. For something different and crazy quilting with a modern twist Kathleen Klein shares how she made a steampunk peacock.

For a great piece of contemporary crazy quilting Angela Blackledge has shared an inspirational piece with her Heart Art Quilt. Pam Peugh shares another inspirational 12 block crazy quilt “ Bird Crazy” which was made as a round robbin project. There are some delightful birds on these blocks and I enjoyed ogling them.

Brenda Sandusky shows us how she tackled her Crazy Quilt Journal project of 2015 in Proud as a Peacock. Betty Pillsbury has shared images of her embroidered birds

Kathy Shaw has provided a free pattern and illustrated how it can be realised using different techniques. Throughout the magazine Pamela Kellog has sprinkled cross stitch designs that with the aid of waste canvas you can use in your crazy quilting. There are also vintage embroidery patterns with a bird theme.

The Crazy Quilt Quarterly Spring 2017 is a Magcloud publication and you can get it here. As a printed version which retails for 14.95 US and a digital version for $6.95.

I am not compensated for this review but I do have a professional relationship as I accept advertising for Crazy Quilt Quarterly in my side bar. In other words I get no kick back for this review.

Follow Pintangle and have it delivered to your inbox
You can have Pintangle delivered to your inbox by using the follow feature in the sidebar. Just enter your email address, and when you get the confirmation email make sure you say yes and you are all set!
If you are on a mobile or tablet you will need to scroll to the bottom to find the follow feature.