Saturday, 11 September 2010

Started Early, Took my Frog

Fans of Kate Atkinson will recognise the heading above as (almost) the title of her latest book which I can thoroughly recommend. On this blog, it is the introduction to a Smudge story, after which we will begin the promised Val article on the Flower Stitcher.
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People often comment on the timing of my morning emails and, yes, we are always up by 6am - but we do have breakfast in bed. This morning we were having a good relaxed breakfast when we heard the scream of a frog. They really do scream, very loudly, when pulled from the pond by a cat in hunting mode. Smudge has a very soft mouth and never hurts them but, obviously, frogs don't much enjoy the game of prod, prod, hop, hop that ensues.
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So there we were at 6.15 today, two people in dressing gowns and slippers, chasing one cat and one frog around the garden. It was then that I thought what a great title it would make for today's epistle. The frog was safely returned to the pond and Smudge spent the next hour wandering round the garden in a state of 'I know I put it somewhere'.

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On to the flower stitcher.
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Before I forget, Dale has a great little book on the subject at http://www.thethreadstudio.com/
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After Val demonstrated what could be done with the Flower Stitcher at the autumn shows, so many people ordered one that there was a distinct world shortage for a while and the factory in the far east went on double time. She was much amused.


Ever Decreasing Circles
By
Val Campbell Harding

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At the end of a year-long course on machine embroidery, I suggested that we try the feet and attachments that we had not used so far. Practising what I preached, I fished out a Japanese Flower Stitching foot that Janome used to sell for their sewing machines. Fortunately the instructions, though brief, were still there. The foot did not fit on the Janome 9000, but did fit the Bernina 180 using a Standard shank, and also on the Pfaff 7570. The Brother has an extension shank which will also fit the Janome 9000, but other machines do not need anything extra.

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I did a few samples and then took it in for the students to try. They took it in turns and were immediately hooked. There was one panic on the first morning when the whole thing seized up, but some oil did the trick and we were away. This is important to know as it always seems to happen but, once oiled, the Stitchers do not seem to need it again. Try moving the lever up and down and put a drop of oil wherever metal rotates against metal.
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Set up your machine as usual, and attach the Flower Stitcher with the lever on top of the needle bar.
Adjust the Presser foot pressure to maximum if you can. If you cannot, then use a thicker fabric. One layer of felt should be enough, but there might be trouble if you try stitching on transparent fabrics alone.
By loosening the large screw and sliding the plastic ring from side to side, the size of the circle can be adjusted. You can also move the position of the needle to give larger and smaller circles.
Then you just stitch and the fabric will rotate automatically, with the last stitch meeting the first one extremely accurately.
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First try straight stitching, then zigzag, then all your patterns. Some will need a second or third layer of stitching to give more emphasis, and some longer patterns will need three or four rounds to make anything interesting.
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Below: Straight stitch, satin stitch and some patterns.

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Try stitching smaller circles inside larger ones. These are stitched with patterns using metal thread on felt.

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Of course, you must try the following:
Changing the tension
Using two threads in your needle
Different threads
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Try different fabrics, some of which may have been previously painted, printed or stitched – below you can see the effect on builder’s scrim.

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Try on water-soluble fabric or paper, on loosely-woven fabrics, or on papers which can be wetted and partially torn away after stitching.
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Here you can see straight and satin stitch circles on water-soluble fabric.
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There will be more of the article in the next blog. Watch this space.

8 comments:

Heather said...

Your neighbours will have missed all the fun if they don't get up as early as you and Clive! Luckily our cat used to simply pat frogs on the head.
The flower stitcher examples are so varied - it offers so many possibilities.

MargaretR said...

I enjoyed your Smudge story:)

You have inspired me to take out my Flower Stitcher again, I did play with it a lot at the time and I also sent for Dale's book which has some very interesting ideas that need to be tried out.

Mermaid's Purse said...

I have been wanting to get a flower stitcher for ages and will definitely be putting it on my Christmas list this year!

vintagerockchick said...

I bought a flower stitcher from you about 50 years ago (all right then, that's a slight exaggeration) and I finally got to use it earlier this year when doing my C&G. It looked a bit scary like a mini instrument of torture, but it worked fine!
May have to send for Dale's book

Fibrenell said...

I love Kate Atkinson too, just got the new book out here but haven't started it yet - like sleeping too much.
I never knew there were so many different flower designs you could do - thanks for the tutorial!

Heather said...

My flower stitcher arrived this morning - thankyou so much Maggie. I shall find a way of reimbursing you for the postage at least, and a donation will go to Help for Heroes. Thankyou again.

tiziana said...

What a funny story, I cannot stop laughing!

henred5 said...

Poor little froggie.
Anyways now i might be researching the Japanese Flower Stitching foot.
I owner why they stopped selling/making it..