Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 2 – transferring the design to the fabric

This is the beginning of my new project, the ‘Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag’ from Inspirations magazine issue 51- I’m transferring the design to the fabric. With quite a detailed design like this, I use a light box. I’ve chosen Damask fabric rather than a plain surface fabric, for interest, but that does rather make the pictures hard to see here, sorry!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I’ve got barely enough of the Damask fabric to make this, so I have stitched strips of cotton sheeting up the sides to make the whole piece wider, so that it can be placed in my 12 inch hoop for stitching.

I traced the design from the Inspirations Issue 51 pattern sheet, then taped that to my light box, and placed the fabric on top.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I used a mechanical pencil to trace over the lines onto the fabric. I can get a very accurate design outline that way. Here’s the tracing, and the fabric.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

The design instructions say to ‘design an initial for the reverse of the bag, using elements from the sweet bag front’. Well, to be honest, that’s a bit of a cop-out on the part of the magazine! It’s not a problem for me – I’m an embroidery designer by profession – but I think many readers of the magazine would struggle with this part! A basic alphabet is provided on the pullout sheet, but it’s up to you how you place the design elements. Anyway, I designed my ‘J’ to look like this!

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

I then transferred the design onto the fabric using the light box, as before. It goes quite a long way down on the fabric, rather than being placed centrally, to allow for the drawstring section at the top of the bag later.

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

Itching to get started on the stitching, now!

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Flowers for Elizabeth embroidered sweet bag: 1- kitting up to get started

I’ve decided on my next major project now, and this week I’ve been kitting up ready to get started on it. It’s called ‘Flowers for Elizabeth: an embroidered sweet bag’.

For anyone who’s followed my blog for a while, you might remember that I’ve talked before about an embroidered sweet bag that I made from a design in Inspirations magazine Issue 36 – it’s this one (this is an image from the magazine):

Inspirations issue 36 embroidered sweet bag

It was lovely to make, but the reason I don’t have an image of the one that I made is that it got stolen from my car (along with my luggage and just about anything else ‘removable’ from the car!) while I was at a wedding reception in 2001. It really affected me, and for a long time I thought I’d have another go at stitching it, but I could never bring myself to attempt it, due to the negative memories.

But Inspirations magazine featured a few other sweet bags over the years, and this one particularly caught my eye. It’s from Issue 51 (about 2006, I think). It uses paler colours, but the overall look is the same:

Inspirations issue 51 Flowers for Elizabeth sweet bag

So, as you can see from the skeins alongside the magazine, this is the one I’ve decided to stitch! I’m going to stitch mine on a piece of damask tablecloth fabric that I bought in an antique shop years ago. I’ve got all the called-for threads, and I’ve even found some tiny 3mm gold sequins to attach around the embroidery itself.

This is another wonderful design by Susan O’Connor, who has been designing for Inspirations magazine for years. I love her designs, and have done several of them in the past. This one should be great fun!

If you’d like to stitch it, although the magazine is no longer available as a back issue, the pattern for the sweet bag itself is available to buy as a digital download from here: https://www.inspirationsstudios.com/product/flowers-for-elizabeth/

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Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring 4: add beading to the cross stitch, and it’s finished!

I’ve reached the point now with the ‘Celtic Spring’ design from Lavender and Lace where I only need to add beading to the cross stitch, and it’s finished! This one has taken me about 80 hours of cross stitching, so far, I reckon. It has a much larger area of cross stitch than the Celtic Autumn that I made a few years back, so either I am getting quicker at stitching, or I have mis-counted the hours this has taken me, as the ‘Celtic Autumn’ one took me about 90 hours altogether, I think.

This is ‘Celtic Spring’ with all the cross stitch finished. Nice, but definitely ‘missing something’.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

So, I spent seven hours adding all the beads! I used a polyester cotton sewing thread to attach the beads, in a similar shade to the fabric – a light greeny-beige. This is so that I don’t have to keep changing my thread colour when I add different colours of beads – I can do the whole lot with one type of thread. You can hardly see the thread when all the beads are attached, anyway. I don’t use a beading needle, as they drive me mad when I’m trying to thread them, so I use a number 10 ‘betweens’ needle (for quilting, usually) – one of the John James ‘big eye’ ones.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

There’s a good mix of shiny to matte beads in this design, which gives it a special quality.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

The top of the panel, in particular, is heavily beaded.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I had been keeping this white plaster-effect frame for several years, just for this project. I bought it in Wilkinsons, for just £8!! I think it really sets off the purples. I mounted the stitching over the backing board supplied with the frame, but didn’t use the glass that came with it, or it would have squashed the beads. I used a layer of 2 ounce wadding under the fabric, to pad it a bit, and laced the fabric over the board with Perle 12 thread.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Here are my Celtic Autumn and Celtic Spring designs together, finally.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Autumn and Celtic Spring cross stitch

I don’t plan to display them like this, usually, though. My long-term plan is to have all five of the Celtic Ladies stitched (one for each season, plus Christmas), and display the relevant one for part of each year. That might take a while to get them all done, though, so for now, each one will be displayed for six months each.

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Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring 3: completion of the cross stitch

I’ve been going into overdrive on this ‘Celtic Spring’ design from Lavender and Lace for the past couple of weeks – and this week I’ve reached the point of the completion of the cross stitch (there’s still hours of beading to do, though!).

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I can’t seem to capture the correct colour of the fabric in my images – it’s Prairie Grain 28 count linen, and it’s really quite a greenish shade, but it keeps coming out beige in my pictures! But it does make a very good contrast to the purples in the design in real life (I’m using the called for fabric).

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

For the back half of the skirt, I decided to stitch all the purple first, and then fill in with the gold thread. This took me ages, but was quite therapeutic to do.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Then, with the front half of the skirt, I stitched all the gold thread first, to see if that would make it easier to count out the design. Half way through, I decided that it didn’t help doing it that way, but I was stuck with it by then  😦

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

But when both halves were stitched, they did look lovely!

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

I then went back over the design and did the small amount of backstitch – mainly around the face and hands.

Lavender and Lace Celtic Spring cross stitch

Now I’ve just got the beading to do, which should really make this design pop!

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