Monday, 25 March 2013

Card-making Treats for Myself

In my March 2013 Catch-up post, I mentioned that I had used a glass-headed pin to perforate the wedding card I made, and had, “managed perfectly well”. I’d like to place emphasis on the word ‘managed’. Since making that card, I’ve realised that the use of a glass-headed pin as an improvised perforating tool is fine short-term, but not when one intends to make several cards. Therefore, I followed the suggestion on the Stitching Cards website and treated myself to a Pergamano single needle perforating tool (Product-ID: 10241), plus Pergamano extra-large perforating pad (Product-ID: 31417).

Pergamano single needle perforating tool

Pergamano perforating pad

 I am utterly delighted with both items, as they have made such a positive difference to the perforating process. The perforating tool is similar to a soft-grip pen, which is ideal for designs that consist of many perforations. The needle is finer and sharper than that of a glass-headed pin (almost like a hypodermic needle), meaning that the perforations are smaller.

Pergamano single needle perforating tool

The left leaf shape in the image below was perforated with a glass-headed pin, whilst the one on the right was perforated with the Pergamano single needle perforating tool.

Perforation comparison

The Pergamano perforating pad I purchased measures 23.5 x 33.5 cm, with a depth of 0.8 cm. It is made from sturdy foam, which means that when it’s in use, it not only offers cushioning, but stability too. My only criticism is that it attracts the slightest speck of dust (and whatever else) like a magnet.

Finally, the third item I treated myself to was an Extra Strong Permanent Glue Tape Pen by Crafter’s Companion, which is, “acid-free and archival safe”. I bought it because I’d run out of the double-sided finger-lift tape I normally use.

Crafter's Companion Extra-Strong Permanent Glue Tape Pen

The appearance of the dispenser (I mean ‘pen’) gives the impression that it’s refillable; it’s not, but at a cost of £2.99 for 22m (72 feet) of glue, it’s an absolute bargain! Unlike double-sided finger-lift tape, there’s no having to search for scissors, or make endless trips to the bin to dispose of strips of wax-like backing paper because there is none. With the double-fold cards I use, the Crafter’s Companion glue pen seems to do a considerably better job of sticking the two sides of card together. What I’ve yet to establish is how well it works with Aida fabric.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Prick and Stitch Mother's Day Card 2013

In my previous post, I mentioned that I’d tried my hand at stitching a card using the prick and stitch technique. Because I wasn’t sure if it was something I would take to and be any good at, I’d only purchased the supplies I required to stitch the Stitching Cards design I had chosen for the wedding card.

Well, as soon as I’d finished the card, I wasted no time in re-visiting Stitching Cards to purchase several more designs, along with a design from Form-A-Lines, and the supplies I needed to stitch them (an ongoing process).

From Craft Creations, I ordered a quantity of Hammer White double-fold cards, measuring 104mm X 152mm (DF03U), and white Centura Pearl envelopes (CNTE2) to fit, which look more of a pale-silver colour. All the designs require Kreinik Cord thread (part of the Kreinik Metallics range), and I was able to purchase the colours I needed from Sew and So.

Some of the designs I purchased require seed beads, bugle beads, or both. Within the Tutorials section of the Stitching Cards website, it states that their designs are based on 2mm (size 10/0) seed beads, and 7mm (Czech size 3) bugle beads. From The Bead Shop I ordered a pack of silver-lined medium-gold seed beads (which look great), a pack of transparent green seed beads, and a pack of transparent blue seed beads (which don’t look so great). The conclusion I have come to is that silver-lined beads are a must, but trying to find stockists of 2mm (size 10/0) seed beads is a complete nightmare. There were several other colours of seed beads I was after, but was unable to find. In addition, I bought a pack of GΓΌtermann silver-lined green (8320), red (4580), and gold (1870) bugle beads.

Anyway, it occurred to me that one of the designs I’d purchased would be ideal for a Mother’s Day card (10th March in the UK). The same could be said for quite a few of the other designs I had purchased, just that the one I opted to stitch really appealed to me and immediately made me think of my mother. For the benefit of those of you who may not know, Mothering Sunday in the UK is celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent; three weeks before Easter Sunday.

Unlike the other prick and stitch cards I’ve made, I can actually include an image of this one, which I really do feel immensely proud of.

Design Copyright ©

Now, I must admit that when it comes to colours, I’ve never been a fan of pale pink, purple, or the shade of green thread that was used to stitch the design. However, for the first day or so after finishing the stitching, I found myself unable to stop smiling when I looked at the card, and feeling overjoyed at how good the colours looked together.

Out of everything, I thought the addition of the seed beads would be the tricky part, given the fact that they are so small. In actual fact, it was the basket that proved to be the real challenge. The basket base was what I had started working on first, and after the end of the thread had been sealed down on the reverse of the card, it had worked its way loose. The only way I could get to it was by unpicking the basket base and rim and starting again.

I could have stitched the words ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ on the card, using one of the stitching fonts I’d downloaded from Stitching Cards. I decided against it though, thinking that if my mother wanted to frame the card, the design would look better as it was.

The Tutorials section on the Stitching Cards website suggests the use of a No.10 embroidery needle for stitching, and a size 10 beading needle. I’m not actually sure what size beading needle I used to add the gold beads, just that it was from a pack of John James size 10/13 beading needles. For the stitching, I used a John James size 28 cross-stitch/tapestry needle.

When I have previously used beading needles to add beads to cross-stitch and blackwork projects, it hasn’t always been easy to get the needle to come up through the right place on the Aida. This is not a problem when stitching directly on to card.

If you study the Flower Basket image, you will see there are five seed beads at the centres of the flowers with five petals. For each section, I passed the needle through the first four beads twice, and three times for the fifth bead, just to ensure the beads would be secure.

I did read in the Tutorials section that the pricked holes can be made less noticeable by placing the card face down on a hard surface, and rubbing gently across the stitched work with the back of a teaspoon. However, this is not recommended for cards with beads. Personally, I think the appearance of the pricked holes adds to the overall charm.

There’s a fascinating article on the StitchingCards website that provides a brief history about the progression of string art to stitching cards. It includes a link to the website String Art Fun, which is part of the Stitching Cards family and well worth a visit.

Anyway, the card was greatly appreciated by my mother, who informed me that if it is viewed upside down, it looks like a hat, so let’s test this out.

When an aunt visited my mother and saw the Mother’s Day card, she asked if I’d ever considered selling my cards on eBay. I’ve received wonderful comments from the recipients of stitched greeting cards I’ve made in the past, and although I’ve often thought about selling them, I’ve never put the wheels in motion. My aunt’s comment spurred me into rectifying that, and I’ve since set up an Etsy shop. It’s not open for business yet because I need to build up a collection of stock to sell, but watch this space, as they say.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

March 2013 Catch-up

After more than six months of procrastinating and allowing Delphiniums to gather dust, and feeling guilty that progress had ground to a halt, my motivation thankfully returned. This was around the end of September, I think.
I’d set the beginning of December as my deadline, and stitched like crazy. After a fortnight, I realised Delphiniums would be finished well ahead of my self-imposed deadline, providing I continued to devote as much time as possible to stitching. The one thing that helped to keep me going was that the sooner Delphiniums was finished, the sooner I could get to work on a project that I actually wanted to do.
Somewhat frustratingly, as Delphiniums was nearing completion, I ran out of a handful of threads. Having contacted Derwentwater Designs, I was then in a state of limbo whilst I waited for the threads to be posted to me. I really wanted to be stitching, but the issue was that I’d been using my No-Sew Table/Lap Stand for Delphiniums, and wanted to use it for my next project as my other No-Sew roller frames weren’t wide enough. In addition, I couldn’t find my masking tape.

 After a couple of days of being stuck in limbo, I found my masking tape, which made me feel deliriously happy. Delphiniums was promptly removed from the table/lap stand, and replaced with the Aida for my next project; Wedding Couple by Design Works. Two days after that, I received the threads for Delphiniums, which I completed on November 12th.
As yet, I don’t have any images of Delphiniums. It was far too large too scan, and after it had been washed and pressed, it was promptly taken to Betty Stitchkit to be framed. This proved to be an interesting experience for me, as I had naively believed it would be as simple as choosing a frame and that would be that. How wrong I was! It was felt that Delphiniums would look better with a frame mount, and what a vast selection there was to choose from. After that, we (me and my mother) got to choose the frame, and were then asked what type of glass we wanted! Although the cost didn’t come as a surprise to my mother, I almost had a heart attack. There was no opportunity to take any photographs of Delphiniums after it had been framed, due to several layers of bubble wrap that had been bound around it, which I didn’t want to disturb.

 The good news is that my gran absolutely loves Delphiniums, which now has pride of place in her room at the care home. Apparently, it’s sparked a lot of interest from staff and visitors. Of course, things like that are always lovely to hear.

 After Delphiniums was completed, I had Wedding Couple straight back on my frame. Much to my amazement it took me just over a week to stitch, and was completed on November 20th.

 Immediately after Wedding Couple was removed from the frame, I made a start on Wedding Arch by Bothy Threads. The kit included Madeira threads, which I must admit was lovely to stitch with. It felt lovely and soft, and just seemed to glide effortlessly though the Aida. There was a small section of the design (I won’t say what) that was stitched with ‘glitter thread’. It was rather like Kreinik blending filament, which I’ve never been a fan of. I did consider substituting the ‘glitter thread’ with DMC metallic thread, but quickly dismissed the idea because the effect just wouldn’t have been right.
It had always been my intention that in addition to the wedding samplers, I would stitch a wedding card. After months of looking at cross-stitch charts, blackwork charts, and card kits, I had all but given up hope of finding anything that appealed. Then, one day, I just happened to spot Stitching Cards; a website packed with e-charts. Instead of stitching on Aida, one stitches directly on to card using a prick and stitch card-making technique. There is an excellent step-by-step tutorial (with images) on the website, and all the charts have an ease of use rating.

The design I opted for required Kreinik metallic cord, which I’ve never worked with before. It is a fine single-strand thread, but very strong, and looks divine. I had truly believed I would find the card challenging to stitch, but it proved to be incredibly easy, and immensely enjoyable. The most time-consuming aspect was pricking the holes, which resulted in an unpleasant burning cramp in my left upper-arm. There are pricking tools and foam pricking mats one can purchase, but I managed perfectly well with a glass-headed pin and a (clean) tea towel.

 Whilst I don’t think the intended recipients of the wedding samplers and card visit my blog, I’d rather err on the side of caution and delay posting images until after their wedding (August).