Friday, June 22, 2012

Crazy Quilt Day 17

After spending nearly two days reviewing lots of pictures on-line and in the books I checked out from the library, I finally decided what to do next on the February block.

Originally, I planned to make a vine of roses using silk ribbon embroidery within the creamy white rectangle.  However, I was not sure how to go about starting the vine without it looking out of place because of the other seam work. I debated stitching in a scroll, and making that into the vine.  In the end, I took another path entirely.

Inspired by two pictures I found within the albums of the Crazy Quilting International Yahoo Group, one of a rose tree planted in a lovely appliqued cup and the other of a topiary, I decided to use a cute little button I picked up for a pot and to have a small, round rose tree sprout out of it.  My next dilemma... what to use?!  I wanted a variety of color and the only silk ribbon I had enough of would be a bright green and bright red.  Actually, I was leaning toward using red to help balance out the block.  But I wanted different hues.  So, I decided to learn a new technique and make bullion stitched roses using a couple shades of red and the same Edmar variegated green 079 that I had already used within the block for the leaves.

Bullion Stitched Rose - 3rd practice attempt (in other colors)
I was incredibly thankful I practiced the bullion stitches before I attempted making them on the actual block.  It took me three attempts to even begin to like my work.  And I learned a few important things about using a bullion stitch (or bullion knot.)  First, needles matter.  Using a needle that widens near the eye makes this stitch not only challenging, but down-right hard.  Not fun.  I switched to a smaller needle and it made ALL the difference.  Second, make sure the loops around the needle are even prior to pulling the thread all the way through.  If the loops are too loose at the base of the needle, the stitch looks sloppy.

Rose Tree
 It was fun to watch this come together!  I used 2 strands of DMC 321, 815 and 498 to stitch the five roses.  (Each rose was only one color.  This did not add variation to the individual roses, but it did to the overall motif.)  And only one strand of the Edmar Iris 079 was used for the leaves.

About two weeks ago, I had an appointment near Portland.  So, I looked on-line and found a little shop that sold buttons and beads.  Acorns and Threads specializes in counted cross-stitch.  (I am not affiliated with the shop.) Let us say, it is a very good thing I do not live any closer - I could do some damage to my pocketbook with all of the buttons and beads I found!  I was pleasantly surprised to find 4mm silk ribbon too!  That is a stash I will need to build slowly (again, I could be quite dangerous.)  At the time, I was not sure exactly how I would use this lovely little button.  I thought it would go well with my May block (April showers bring May flowers), but I like it just where it is!  DMC floss 739 matched it quite nicely.

Once it was completed, I wished I had made the stem (2 strands of DMC 801 used to make 2 side-by-side stem-stitched columns) longer or placed the entire motif a bit higher.  My eldest (nicknamed Monkey) suggested I add blue and purple butterflies.  It was the perfect opportunity to use the variegated pink/purple/blue DMC 4215! Using two strands, I made four lazy daisy stitches for the wings and a bullion stitch for each body.  Then I used two strands of the light pink DMC S818 to make two straight stitches topped with French knots for the antennae.

You can almost see the delicate butterfly trail on the right (there is one extending to the left as well.)
Completed rectangle

I tried to place a third butterfly positioned to fly off the block at the upper-left part of the creamy rectangle, but it just did not look right.  Yet, it seemed too bare on its own.  So, I took Monkey's other suggestion and stitched in the butterfly trails.  Not wanting to detract from the roses below, I used a single strand of DMC Ecru cotton floss.  It made a very subtle embellishment that I was quite pleased with.

Block at end of Day 17
Now to decide what to do with the far right side.  Stick with my original plan, or be brave enough to attempt the new idea I have been toying with... I am leaning toward the latter.

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