While teaching and traveling in Australia this last February, I was given quite a few lovely pieces of handwork and Aussie fabrics. I have them all hanging in my studio and a few weeks ago I was inspired to create something special with two of the pieces.
On my longarm I have a backing, then Hobbs 80/20 batting, then the super cute, Koala background fabric. At this point, I ran an edge to edge design over the background fabric, THEN, laid the two doilies on top of the fabric.
Let’s start at the beginning and I’ll take you through the process. Under each linen I added a single layer of Hobbs 80/20 batting to give an extra loft. It also hides the print that is under the doily. I cut the batting larger than the doily and trim it away after I have quilted the linen.
I stabilize the piece by “ditch” stitching around the inside edge of the crocheted trim. I leave that scant 1/8″ so that I can trim away the batting later. You’ll see what happens when I finish quilting. I quilt on a Handi Quilter Fusion and here I am using the “Glide” foot. It is almost a necessity when stitching lace and embroideries. You can see it glides right over all the thickness.
At this point I will stitch around ALL the embroidery. I never stitch over the handwork, but around everything! It gives the piece great definition and pops it right out of the linen. Deciding on the design usually comes as I am outlining all of the embroidery. You can see the spine I have created for the eventual feathers. I like to use a blue, water soluble pen for marking. (TIP: to remove blue marks completely and seemingly forever, mix 1 t baking soda to 1 cup of water, place in a spray bottle. This mix must be fresh each day it is used.)
I trimmed the batting to the inside edge of the trim crochet, using a curved pair tiny, sharp scissors. My favorites are a simple pair of cuticle scissors!
After the batting is trimmed, I lay down the crochet and stitch the outside edge to cover any of the batting that might have not been precisely trimmed. It always covers that raw edge of batting.
You can see here how much stitching I put into the embroidery.
The full piece was taken off the frame and split in half, therefore, creating both sides for the tote bag. I made both sides a bit different. I also TEA stained the pieces once I had the quilting done to make the fabric match the age of the linen. This really made the whole thing come together!
Next, I sewed the halves together and also made a lining WITH a pocket for the inside.
Handles were added, also tea stained.
And there you have it! A new tote bag made by repurposing an antique linen. It’s also a fabulous reminder of the great friends I made in Australia! (Special thanks to Lynne for the handwork and Caroline for the fabric!)
I hope this post helped to see the process for some of the bits of handwork we all have hiding in our drawers. Try it, you’ll become a lover of vintage repurposing!
This dresser scarf was more of an experiment than anything else. I wanted to see how tiny I could quilt this wine glass/orange peel pattern. The linen is only 6″ x 12″, if that gives you an idea of small!
The layering of this piece is backing, a layer of wool batting, satin and linen. I always like something special to show through the cutwork. I usually don’t mark on my linens, but I had to for this pattern. I created a grid of 1/2″ squares with a purple air erase pen.
The next step is to stitch down the outer edge, which I stay inside the satin embroidered edge so I’ll have an area to trim off at the end. Before I start quilting, I also outline all the embroidery. I loved this piece because it was so perfectly stitched. I can’t even imagine doing the work that these ladies did so long ago!
This gives you an idea of scale. I’m thinking this would be easier on a domestic machine, but on a long arm it’s really tedious. I usually love working small, but this was crazy small!
Each linen has it’s own personality, which means every edge is treated differently. After I took it off the frame, I used a curved scissor to stitch as close to the stitch line, on the back, as possible.
This shows the completed back. You can see it’s cut close! I don’t worry about the raw edge on this one because I plan to mat and frame it soon.
Hard to see, but I added a few rhinestones in the tiny flower middles. I always try to pop in a few beads or sparkles to finish a linen.
Such a sweet little piece that was given new life! Have a wonderful weekend!
This started out in the bottom of a bag full of linens. I guess it might have been a dresser scarf, probably with a set that had larger pieces. It’s only 6″ x 12″, so quilting it was a challenge to stay small and compact.
I used two layers of batting, 80/20 and wool. On top of the batting is a piece of gold lame, to show through the tiny cut work. First things first, I stitched around the outer scallop edge.
I also do a VERY quick sketch. I don’t like to mark on the fabric. If I need to, I might make some registration dots with a purple air erase pen or a water soluble blue pen.
There you go! The fun thing about small is it’s also fast. This piece might have taken an hour, but what a mighty little thing it turned out to be!
Even that tiny bit of gold that peeks through is perfect! You can really see where my outer stitch is in this picture, just inside the scalloped border edge.
Then I take some very small scissors (I like fingernail scissors!) and trim to the stitching line on the back. The raw edge won’t matter on this one because it will be matted and framed.
TA DA! SO cute! I used acid free, double stick tape to mount it on acid free matboard. I cut my own mats, so I’m never too concerned about the size of the finished linen piece. I do, however, try to make the total mat a standard size to fit in a standard frame. Otherwise, you’ll be spending way too much for something so small!
A great finish that ended up in a friends’ home. I love to give these away. They are a small piece of me!