Embroidered Wedding Portrait

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This is the story of a wedding gift (my contribution to it, anyway) for a dear friend. I thought you might like to see the process. The picture is of my friend Jamie and her husband, who got married last June. As a surprise to the couple, her mother asked friends and family each to complete a design on a muslin square. She collected the squares and then had them made into a patchwork quilt as a gift to Jamie and her husband.

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Jamie and I go way back, and a big part of our friendship has been about shared words. Books, movies, music, poetry, television. We have a lot of inside jokes about obscure quotes. So I sifted through our collective “library” of shared references, looking for the perfect quote to decorate the wedding square. Nothing seemed quite right.

When I saw the bride and groom, though, I knew nothing could be more Jamie and Jon than their fabulous wedding outfits.

I decided to make an embroidered picture and started with the best photo I had of the event. It’s blurry but gave me a good pose to work with. I used Picasa to play with the colors and then used the “posterize” effect to get the lines of the image to show up more clearly.

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I printed the picture, traced over the lines with a Sharpie, and then transferred these to the fabric with a temporary fabric marking pen.

Embroidery

I like the back almost as well as the front:

Embroidery backside

Here’s the final:

Embroidered Wedding Portrait

If you’re interested in seeing more of Jamie and Jon’s wedding, click here.

Meanwhile, I’m hard at work on my nonfiction project and just got some excellent notes on my novel from an old friend. A little sewing going on, which hopefully I can show you soon. Back to writing now!

Thrift Haul

I lucked out on a recent thrifting trip.

I’d been looking for awhile for something cool to add to the hall art gallery. Our apartment has a long, long, bowling-alley-like hallway that is just begging for more artwork. Since it’s a hall, you can’t help but stand fairly near the walls, so it’s a good place for groups of smaller pieces that need a more intimate setting.

I found the birds and flowers at thrift shop #1. I love the way the black backgrounds make the colors pop. Somehow it makes them look more modern to me, too. I’ve considered painting the frames aqua or something like that. What do you think?

I found the little house piece at thrift shop #2. There’s just something about it that’s so sweet but not sugary.

Actually I don’t know if I’ll ever get to hang them because the kids want two for their own (girl wants birds, boy wants house). I’m stuck on the hallway idea, though, so we’re kind of in a deadlock over it.

Here’s a detail on the birds. The handwork is really impressive.

Next up: a platter, a Christmas tablecloth, and two skeins of cotton yarn.

I’d been looking for a platter like this for a long time to go with but not match our china (see it here). This one is perfect except I wish it were a little bigger.

The yarn is for our little weaver, and the Santa cloth—-well, I just couldn’t resist. It’s kind of a funny size, but I figure we can use it as a runner or as reuseable gift wrap.

All this loot for 7 euros 50 cents!

Adventures in Thrifting: Germany Edition

Every town has its own thrift store scene strengths. I love cruising to see what kinds of clothes, craft fodder, and crazy stuff are available. For the most part, the thrifted clothing here in Hannover is not a strength, though I’ve found some cashmere sweaters just asking to be made into scarves.

Vintage textiles are a whole other story. There’s a place here called Fairkauf that’s like the department store of thrifting, with four entire floors of stuff.

My favorite is the floor of household goods, much of it embroidered tablecloths, runners, hankies, plus all-cotton (mostly white) bed linens. The collection of china and dishes is nothing to sneeze at either. I’ve been dreaming up a new quilt and snapped up some of these things with it in mind. I couldn’t resist the cherry placemats, though (not part of the quilt plan) and the bird fabric (also not for the quilt). It’s just asking to be over-dyed, don’t you think?

Below is a “commode” we bought to go next to my work station in the dining room. It holds the printer and scanner (when is someone going to design some more attractive computer equipment?). We were looking at some cheap something at Ikea or whatnot and I thought I could do better. This solid wood, glass-covered, dovetail-drawered baby was only 30 Euros! It also happens to go really well with our dining room furniture.

 

Next up is a candelabra I got at the Flohmarkt (fleamarket) on Saturday. I really like the lines, though I wish it had more candle holders. You need a lot of candles to light up your life in January here. I can’t complain for 5 euros, though! I’ve been wanting to go to the Flohmarkt for a long time. It was pretty cool, lots of interesting stuff, from furniture and antique toys to books and ancient dentistry tools. As you see, I restrained myself.

If you, like me, are a thrifter, you must must read this post by Blair Peter of wisecraft about torturing her husband via iphone thrift photos. It’s hysterical and inspiring. And besides that, she has a great blog with tons of other inspirations.

If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out this one about flea market finds.

Hand-Made Cloth Book from Laos

 

My friend Megan sent this beauty from Laos. She bought it directly from the maker on her long vacay in East Asia. It’s for the kids, but I’m kind of commandeering it.

I’m just dumbfounded at how much work was put into this little book. I think it would take me a year or more to do something like it. Megan said the woman had a big stack of them beside her and was working on more. Note how the mom and dad in the story are working together 🙂

If you’re interested in textile art, check out this blog I found the other day. It reminds me of a book I used to check out over and over again from my hometown library when I was a teenager: Textile Arts; Multicultural Tradition/ Singer and Spyrou. I finally bought myself a copy of it a few years ago.

Good news! Our container arrived on Monday. Bad news: the apartment is now a complete wreck. Did I really need to pack enough towels, sheets, and washcloths to host a busload of tourists? And burp cloths? What do I need burp cloths for?

I’m back to weeding, even though I thought I’d done so much on the other side. It’s slow-going but I did clear a couple of paths today.