Sunday, November 9, 2014

Another "Snowball" for Nicki Lee!

Last night, I completed my second Under the Sea (UTS) themed "snowball" for Nicki Lee.

CQI Snowball Swap - made for Nicki Lee by Renee November 2014
If you crazy quilt, you may know Nicki Lee through her Etsy shop, Raviolee Dreams, where she sells the most gorgeous dyed lace.

My very first snowball swap was in May/June 2013 with Nicki Lee, and I was SO nervous.  She preferred an under the sea/mermaid theme - something I had never tried.  As much as I wanted to make a mermaid, I just did not think I could pull it off.  I found a couple of cross-stitch patterns and made this snowball for her during that swap. (You may read more about it and see where I found the cross-stitch patterns here.)

In exchange, Nicki Lee sent me the wonderful snowball pictured below. (You may read my original post about it here.)

This year, when we agreed to swap again, I decided it was time to try a mermaid.  I had stumbled across a couple of free mermaid embroidery designs at Shawkl Designs (you may view them and more here), and planned to reduce the size of one, trace it onto the muslin back of my block in pencil, and embroider that pattern.

Then, while researching how to use watercolor pencils on fabric, I also decided to look up how to use crayons on fabric.  I passed a demonstration at a quilt show a couple of years ago and assumed the process would require special crayons, but I was wrong.  The technique intrigued me. After reading this tutorial at, I decided to draw a mermaid and color the fabric.  I had always wanted to try making a treasure chest, so I decided to give it a go, too.  You can see the bare block below. (The outlines were drawn with a permanent micron pen and heat set with an iron.)

After making it this far, I found myself intimidated.  Did I want to bead the mermaid's fin?  I feared it was too thin for sequins.  In the end, I experimented with a few stitches and used a modified detached chain stitch that opened in a bit of a "U" - I couched the thread down along the waist and then added the "U" stitches, working in rows, using 3 strands of a variegated floss.

Once I progressed to the point pictured above, I kind of froze.  Every time I looked at the block, I wondered how on earth I could possibly manage to add "hair" to the mermaid without ruining the entire piece.  So, it sat in my stitching area for a couple of days.  I would look at it and cringe.  Finally, I decided enough was enough.  It was time to tackle the challenge and (hopefully) conquer my fear.

After experimenting with short and long stitches and with stem stitches, I opted to use a single strand of floss and a stem stitch, because it would easily allow me to make small curves for a bit of curl.  I wanted to add some highlights to the hair, so I alternated between strands of DMC 422, 680, and 3046.  Ironically, the part that scared me the most turned out to be my favorite part of the block.

My first embroidered mermaid.
She is far from perfect, as my drawing skills are at a beginner's level; but, for my first mermaid, I am quite pleased with the way she turned out.

Embroidered/colored treasure chest.
Filling the treasure chest was also a bit intimidating.  I was not sure how I felt about the 3-dimensional beads with the 2-dimensional treasure chest.  But, I do love the sparkle the gold and gems add!


I was tempted to add bright colored fish (rather than the variegated blue) and a jelly fish  to the water, but I decided not to draw attention from this mermaid and her treasure.

Nicki Lee, I do hope you like it!  I had a lot of fun working outside of my comfort zone and trying a few new techniques.  Your mermaid will begin her journey to your home tomorrow.



Magpie's Mumblings said...

Your mermaid is wonderful! I love the stitch you used for her tail and all your angst over her hair was all for naught.

Queeniepatch said...

There is no need for you to feel nervous about your work. Everything you create is fantastic and this mermaid and her treasure chest proves it.

Annet said...

Your mermaid is stunning! Thanks for sharing the progress.

Renee said...

Thank you! I enjoyed watching it all come together.

Renee said...

Queenie, you are entirely too kind! Thank you, this was a fun one to stitch.

Renee said...

Thank you, Annet!