I have, so far, in 2010 managed exactly ZERO sewing projects! That’s it ladies and gentlemen! Nothing! Nada! Niente! It has been a sad start and not a very well implemented New Year’s resolution! What can I say? Sadly sometimes life gets in the way and makes it impossible to enjoy those simple activities that transport us away. Well, not any more! I am having a day where nothing seems to be going right – I guess Blue Monday has hit me a week late! And it took a phone call from my lovely boy to remind me that its OK to do something that I love once in a while instead of working myself into a whirlpool of frustration!
So, with that in mind, I thought I would actually do a little overdue catching up with the world of Sew Make Believe. It was on reading Kate’s post about embroidery (those gorgeous cushions!) and realised I still hadn’t shared my first ever attempts at embroidering with the world!
As readers will know, one of our number, the lovely Christie, is an American Gal trapped with a Welshman in the Midlands (sounds pretty bleak, but she seems content enough!!) and has recently given birth to her lovely Welsh-American hybrid, the beautiful Dylan. She has also shared her endeavours in making an American quilt for her little boy. I thought, for Christmas, she might like a panel for a future family quilt, representing the cultures and the families of those involved in her life.
With this, may I present: the Yankee Doodle Dragon!
Christie is going to keep this piece safe for when the time comes to use it in a family quilt.
If you will allow, I shall take you through the steps I took to make this. I followed no pattern but what bizarre processes I developed myself – it may not be the most efficient way of creating such a piece, but everyone has to start somewhere! And lets face it, we tend to learn best from the most random!
I began by printing images of the Welsh and American flags onto fairly thick card (making sure the dragon image fit inside my embroidery ring). This allowed me to use the card in various ways without the risk of damage to the templates.
Using a paper scalpel and cutting mat the carefully cut the dragon from the welsh flag.
I then positioned the dragon silhouette in the most ideal looking place over the Stars and Stripes. This provided my template.
As I love all things felt, I had a lot in stock so I chose to use a red felt on which to embroider. I think it worked well, but it does have a habit of stretching so I did end up having to remove the ring several times in order to make the fabric taught again.
With the dragon outline pinned in place, I was able to trace the exact shape – which was more complicated than I first anticipated – onto the fabric. Felt tip pens worked perfectly!
Once all these basics were complete, I could start to sew. I used a good quality embroidery thread bought from Ebay!
I systematically sewed vertical lines of the corresponding colour along each stripe.
I repeated the same action for the blue square working in small patches – trying to sew long treads meant the work came loose easily. This took time and patience, but it was quite therapeutic! Easily done in front of a couple of good films!
Once the blue was complete, I used 5 short stitches to create the stars. I quickly realised trying to sew a star proper was quite difficult! I found that the more simplistic the stitch, the more effective the result.
Using my sewing machine, I sewed together green and white fabric to make the background of the Welsh flag. I used (yes you guessed it!) green felt, but to everyone’s surprise – white cotton sheeting! All fabric used was high quality and I think this actually made a very big difference to the final quality.
I then used green embroidery thread to stitch the dragon into place (using backstitch) making use of my charity shop embroidery ring once again!
I have to say, I am more than a little impressed with myself for this project! It might be slightly flawed in places and hasn’t been backed (I will let the Yank do that when she finally quilts it!), but it has been made with love and affection – and a little blood, sweat and tears! It was meeting with, and talking to, the lovely ladies of SMB that inspired me to make this creation. I never thought I would have the skills to create thoughtful home made gifts for people. Through a little encouragement and a sharing of creativity, I found anything is possible!
So, here’s hoping that Christie’s American heritage impacts on me a little deeper so that maybe, one day, I will be brave enough to start my own family quilt with panels that I am proud to say I have created. Maybe I should talk to Kate a little more first!
Happy sewing all!