So riddle me this.

French knots are a key point (ha) in embroidery. They represent dots, eyes, anything small and round. I cheat and just make small * shapes because I can’t, for the life of me, tie a french knot.

It’s supposed to look like

However, a quick search reveals these instructions:

  
  

Books, the Google, everywhere has this same illustration. And I still have the same problem that I. Don’t. Get. It. Every time I make one, it pulls through. I wrap more times, no change. I use tighter-weave cloth, it still pulls through. How do you make a bloody French knot?

Here is the gist of how to make one.

  1. Pull your thread through and toward you with one hand, needle in the other.
  2. Using your non-needle hand, wrap the thread twice or so around the needle.
  3. Using your non-needle hand, hold tension against the thread so it does not unwind from the needle. If you pull too tight, you will make it hard to pass the needle through the knot, too loose and it won’t be a nice knot.
  4. Use one finger to hold the thread and pass the needle down next to where the thread comes up. This was key for me- when I say next to, I mean one space/square/thread away. You want to have that thread between the two needle passes so that the knot doesn’t fall through.
  5. Hold the tension as you bring the needle through and let go as it gets close to the fabric and (allegedly) voila!

I’ll have to try this when I get home, but here is a video tutorial.

Until then, keep calm and french knot on.

Rach

It Felt Good

November 28, 2011

So a few weeks ago I promised to post pictures of my little felt gifts that I’m making for people. (If you’re getting one from me, don’t look 😉 ). Today, I bring you those items.

I love working with felt. I discovered it earlier this year and figured out that you can just make so much cute stuff with it. It’s pliable and easy to work with. It holds embroidery well. You can just DO so much with it. So I started working embroidery together with felt to make little stocking-stuffer ornaments.

I largely tackled these the same. Cut out your background, your pieces, place them, sew, stuff, and finish. That’s it. Finito. They take less than an hour a piece.

Here are some examples of what I’ve done:

I love the vintage feel of this one:

You can also add buttons or other things to add a little texture and visual interest:

All in all I think they’re turning out pretty cute. I’m sure you can make little patterns, but I just free-handed these. Layering fabric also gives a pretty effect.

The other project I’ve been working on is similar, but I’ve used small embroidery hoops as my background. Again, adding felt, fabric, and embroidery gives me a simple project that takes about 30 minutes to complete. Tie a ribbon on the top and you’re done.

I love the effect of the metallic threads:

Finally, here’s a walk-through of a cute and quick project. Napkin rings!

First I cut out two lengths of blue fabric and glued them together. This gives the ring more durability. I use a tacky glue that is good on fabric. You could also sew them together if you want.

I then cut a slightly narrower strip of white and sewed on a large button.

I then embroidered some quick snowflake shapes and glued the white strip to the blue.

Bring the ends around and sew this puppy up and BOOM. Cute gift. Total time: <2 hours. Total investment: $2.00 for buttons, about $0.08 for felt and thread, and a little bit of time.

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can probably sew a few quick napkins to go with your rings.

Okay okay so Katie and I have been really remiss. I mean, October 16? So unacceptable. The thing is, we’ve started a million things and not managed to finish any of them. I’m in full blown Christmas mode (since September) so I’ve been cranking out a lot of new projects that are small.

So.

Mostly I’ve been working on one of two things: embroidery, and felt. I’ll catch you up on both so that when I post pictures later, it will all make sense.

Embroidery:

Basically, embroidery is the process of making decorative stitches.

Embroidery can be machine done, which is very clean and crisp, or by hand, which is more genuine. Embroidery dates way back and was used to decorate clothing, tapestry, and other fabric goods.

I learned to embroider basically on my own, trial by fire. There are a lot of good websites out there that demonstrate the different types of stitching, as well as books. Here are the basic stitches:

 

All you need to get started is a hoop, needle, some thread, and a pencil or transfer.

1. Decide on your pattern – you can find free ones here.

2. Once you have your pattern, trace it using graphite paper, make an iron transfer, or free draw it with a soft pencil.

3. Consider your colors, stitches, and design aesthetic. For example, I almost always fill things in rather than doing an outline. As you can see in the above picture, it’s possible to do color blending for nice shading.

4. Begin!

Some of the things that I have picked up along the way include a few of the following:

  • Use a tight-weave fabric: Fabrics with a loose weave tend to pull through and not hold well. A tighter weave will give you a clean, sharp look.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix mediums: I frequently mix fabric, felt, stitching- it depends on the look you’re going for. For example, I have some projects with small hoops, a natural canvas background, and then different fabrics to represent snow and trees. Cutting out and applying these shapes gives me a background to embroider in decorations, words and anything else I want!
  • Don’t pull on your fabric too much: I like having a tight embroidery plane to work on,  but if you pull too much you can actually stretch out your fabric.
  • Keep it clean! Wrap your project in a bag or fabric to keep your work nice and clean.
Felt:
My new favorite project is applying these embroidering skills to make felt Christmas ornaments. They are a quick and easy gift.

As you can see, simple felt, a few stitches and you have a wonderful, vintage-style ornament. SO CUTE! Again it’s easy to mix and match different fabrics to create different looks.

I’ll post pictures of my projects a little later on.