CHOOSING YOUR THREADS
A Case Study:
Erin loves to embroider beautiful designs for her home, family and friends. The first thing she looks for in a project that features a stitchery block is whether it has a story to tell, tugs at her emotions, or simply makes her smile. She gets a real kick out of wearing her heart on her sleeve through the projects she makes, and right now she is keen to make a birthday gift for her next door neighbour, who also happens to be her best friend!
After browsing through the stack of craft magazines she borrowed from the library yesterday Erin decides to sew a country style cushion. With her pattern choice made she carefully combs through the small tub of special fabrics she likes to use for her embroidery.
“What will best suit this project?” she wonders. Linen? Pale lemon gingham? Solid white homespun? Or maybe some tea dyed muslin?
She decides on the lemon gingham with its sweet hint of hearth and home because she is going to stitch a farmyard scene that features pretty russet chickens and a black and white cow very similar to her Aunt Mabel’s favourite milker, Daisy Mae. Erin’s best friend is a farmer’s daughter you see, and her home is filled with country crafts so Erin knows this gift will be perfect!
She sorts through her deep drawer of threads and places the colours she thinks will work well with her project onto the small table that sits beside her old and well-worn dark grey recliner. She has a regular routine of stitching in front of the television for a few hours each night after the dinner dishes are cleaned and put away, her husband comfortably settled nearby with the remote control and a favourite sci-fi series to watch.
A few days later her pretty farmyard scene has come to life and Erin cannot wipe the satisfied smile off her face! She can’t wait until Saturday when she has arranged to have the whole afternoon to herself in the sewing room. Her bright and cheery stitchery block will soon become the centre of a large cushion, and before she meets her friend for a birthday morning tea on Tuesday she can wrap it lovingly in the huge sheet of yellow daisy paper she bought months ago for such a gift as this.
Saturday afternoon arrives and after waving her husband off to enjoy his fishing she opens the door to her sewing haven.
Following the directions in the pattern from the magazine she trims the block to 8½” x 10½”. Turning to the large set of shelves which house her generous stash of quilting fabrics, Erin begins to study them closely.
Fat quarter after fat quarter are taken from the shelves, held against the stitchery, and then returned to the shelf. A slow half hour passes, and the joy of this project’s completion has begun to wane. Oh, why did she choose that deep turquoise thread? And the dirty-red-brown of the four chickens really stands out so much that all of her bright Christmas red fabrics clash dreadfully with it! The blue isn’t right, and the gold thread she used for the apples on the tree is nothing like the canary yellow she favours in her fabric purchases.
Glancing at her watch she decides to grab the block, her purse, the car keys and head to the quilting shop before it closes…
I used to be like Erin, and I know many of my friends were too.
It took me years to figure out what I was doing wrong but one day I had an epiphany – choose the fabric first, then the material to embroider on, and last of all the threads.
No frustration, no waste of fabric or money, no more ‘not quite right’ finished projects that fail to truly satisfy the eye. Just a satisfying process which co-ordinates beautifully from start to finish.
And isn't that what we're all after?
In my designs below you can see this process in action, how the threads and fabric look as though they were made for each other. That's the joy of picking your fabric first and using it as your guide for choosing 'just the right' threads - everything works together in harmony...
You know, it’s very easy to take a fat quarter or even a small square of fabric with you to the thread or quilt shop to choose the right skeins for your project, but it's much more difficult to take the completed stitchery to the quilt shop and try to find a fabric you like that will blend perfectly.
I hope this has little story has helped some of you?
It's amazing how many people I've shared it with who have told me they'd never thought to choose the fabric first. And now they do.
The stitchery patterns above are inside the April issue of the Rewind Stitchery Club. If you'd like to make them yourself just pop over here to my Rewind page.
A new baby in the family!
In the early hours of this morning my daughter Anita and her husband were blessed with a second daughter, Khadija, another precious little one to love and cherish.
Mother and baby doing fine after a very long labour and eventual c-section.
Daddy overwhelmed with love for Mother and all she went through to bear this new daughter.
Big sister Aminah over the moon.
Nana over the moon and round the sun.
It's been a happy day at Elefantz, yet there has been sorrow in Christchurch.
I ask that God bless you. I pray that the small things in life bring you unexpected joy today and in the days to come. Sometimes we have to look for them, and sometimes they seem to be all around...but there is good to be found everywhere, despite the darkness and the sad and the evil that wants to rear its head and fill us with fear.
Hold fast to what is good and holy and kind and compassionate.
Hold tight to Jesus.
Hug one another and say "I love you".
Call that friend you're missing.
Forgive and make amends.
Be a light.
Shine God's light.
Let peace guide you always.
Thank you for that good advice Jenny. You all must be so excited at the arrival of another beautiful girl in your family.
I hardly know what to say about the Christchurch tragedy. What pain and sorrow have been unleashed. My heart feels sad for all concerned. Thankfully time and distance cant stop us praying for them. God Bless.xx
Hi Jenny great post ,i must admit that i could relate to the story and have learnt know to choose fabrics first,congrats on your new baby GD xx
So happy for the new addition to your family. Prayers for New Zealand and the families affected. Our heart prays for what our lips cannot speak. With regards to colour choice, I have plenty of threads and very little quilt fabric, so I make things match. I love stitcheries, because it makes me concentrate on each individual stitch. Best time to stitch is late alone at night. Love and hugs always.
Congratulations Jenny. Another bub to love. Yes, it is so sad to hear about the event in NZ. Love and prayers for all the families involved as they grieve for their loved ones.
Congratulations on your new grand daughter! Another precious life brought into our world that, yes, is sometimes filled with darkness. Fortunately, as someone once said, babies are God's idea that life should go on.
Prayers go out to those in Christchurch. Dh and I were stationed there for a short amount of time many years ago and remember Christchurch and all of New Zealand with such fondness.
Congratulations Jenny on your new granddaughter!
World news travels fast...what a shock!
You story today is one to share!
What wonderful news - congratulations!
Oh, yes, I learned that some time ago. My most recent project was a prime example, as I had to match embroidery threads to an older Asian print. The only way to do that was to get them out and audition against the fabric, so glad I chose the fabric first!!
Congrats to you and your family. There's just NOTHING like a new baby in the family, such love and joy! Oh dear, I do wish I had known about the fabric first business before I started this project. I'm now on my last block. At least this way I've been warned and I can look for plain fabric or simple dots or checks. And next time I'll know! Thanks for the tips for success.
Congratulations on the new baby, you can never have too much love in a family. x
Wonderful advice (as always) about picking the fabric and colors. Congratulations on the newest family addition.
A new baby and all is well, after a C section there is so much to be thankful for. Christchurch, I think I can truly say that New Zealand will never be the same again. At our home, we have so much to be truly thankful for, and how helpless I feel at not being able to help those further south who are in total distress. Prayers and caring thoughts will wing their way down. Thank you so much for your words.XXX
What a wonderful blessing. God hold them close.
Thanks for the wonderful lesson. I'm the WORST decider in the world at the fabric store. I'm jotting your order down and the next project I have, I'm using it! I think my problem is that I get an idea in my head and when I can't find the exact thing, I melt down. It's crazy really, because I've always said that my best looking projects and home décor has come from springing off an INSPIRATION item. Could be anything. A picture, a pillow, a quilt, whatever. So it makes perfect sense that a fabric would be the perfect place to start on a fabric.
Congrats on the new grand!
I haven't even turned on the t.v. today so I've yet to find out what happened in NZ, but it doesn't sound good. I'm going to google right now....
Congrats on the newest addition to the family. A new bundle of joy. And thanks for the great post on picking fabrics first. I never thought of that.
Prayers for our friends in Christchurch. We are so saddened by these senseless acts of violence. May theLord bring peace to these families and friends as they grieve for the loved ones they have lost.
How lovely to welcome a new little baby into your family. Blessings G.
What a helpful tip! I appreciate the story so much & will definitely remember to reverse order from what I've done in the past.
Congratulations on a brand new baby to love & bless your family. Praying for your precious daughter as she begins the process of healing after such difficult birth.
One of the best good things I've found in this world are women like you who spread goodness & light. Thank you.
Hi Jenny, just been looking at an interesting quilt using some lovely stitchery, its on a blog called 'Hibiscus Sitches ' might be a cute idea for a baby quilt for the newest bub.
Wonderful news about little Khadija Jenny .... no wonder that Nana is over the moon & round the sun. Sending love to you & to the family. We need to hold our precious ones close at this dreadful time. I have such a heavy heart over what has unfolded in my beautiful Country yesterday. Xxx
Congratulations on the new granddaughter! What a blessing. I'm so glad mother and daughter are doing all right. In shock over what happened in New Zealand. Praying for those lost, those wounded and those having to deal with the loss of a loved one. Praying for peace and love to prevail in our world.
Lovely news about your new grand baby. What happened in beautiful Christchurch yesterday will change our country forever. I feel a terrible sadness not only for all those families who have lost loved ones, but for the loss of our country's innocence at the hands of those who hate. May God give us peace.
Congratulations on the birth of another beautiful grandchild. The world is indeed full of sorrow and joy, all at the same time. I ache for the losses in Christchurch.
Thank you, too, for the fabric first lesson!
Thank you for the advice and the story to illustrate the point. Makes total sense to me and not something I would have thought of. Congratulations on your new grandchild!
Yes always choose the fabric first!!!! Good advice dear heart. Congratulations on the new arrival!!!! So very sad about the massacre at Christchurch, I can't even fathom the amount of hate.
Congratulations on the new granddaughter!!
Love the info on picking fabric first.
Enhorabuena por la llegada a este mundo de Khadija!!! Espero que la mamá se repupere pronto de la cesárea.
El dolor por lo sucedido en Christchurch se extiende a todos los corazones de bien.
Un beso muy especial para ti desde España,
Congratulations Jenny another lovely little granddaughter. Thank you for your good advice about the project. My problem is I can't find that lovely hanky linen you use. You recommended some Robert Kaufmann embroidery fabric but I'm still looking in local shops & at quilting exhibitions for it. I could buy it online but I like to see fabric before I buy it. It's quite nice going out & mooching about for fabric!
Sad news yesterday from Christchurch, hard to believe such hatred exists.
Congratulations on the new granddaughter!
Congratulations on a new grandchild!
On Thursday evening, I was sitting with friends in Carmichael, California. We were stitching and talking when one of us received a text from her daughter who was at school in Christchurch. We couldn't find any news on the television as the news of the tragedy hadn't reached the United States. I wish we could all express our disagreements whatever they be in non-violent ways.
Congratulations on your newest baby Granddaughter Jenny Dear. Selecting fabric first is very wise and yet I still forget to do so. I always have sew much to learn. Such sadness for ChristChurch.
J'aime beaucoup vos broderies, les couleurs, It's very beautiful :)
have a good day ♥
Hi Jenny, I've been doing a bit of 'catching up' and scrolling through your blog. I noticed in a couple posts that you mentioned that for Rafaella's birthday Blossom made her a dress. Perhaps you have forgotten that you mentioned it because I have not seen a photo of it. I know that you suffer with migraines and didn't get a chance to write on your blog for a bit. I, for one, would be interested in seeing it since I sew for my little grandchildren.
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