Sunday, June 6, 2010

Strawberry Candle Mat Tutorial (Part 2)

Strawberry Candle Mat Tutorial (Part 2)

It’s taking a little longer for me to get the stitching done on this project simply because, well … silly me … I decided to make TWO of them at the same time!
One with the black background and one with the white. I want you to be like me and love both looks so much that you won’t be able to decide which you want to make and then proceed to make them both!
Ok, let’s get to work now.
You can see from the picture up there that I have the leaves and the strawberries stitched on.
I’ll show you how I put the seeds in and the stems.
100_3904 I did forget to mention that when attaching the top two strawberries, you don’t need to stitch through all the thicknesses of the leaves and the background. Just stitch them to the leaves for most of it and then every once in a while stitch down through all the layers. This will save a little time and definitely save your fingers from pushing that needle through for every single stitch. It lays much nicer this way too.
The seeds for the strawberries are just evenly spaced french knots.
100_3907 Now, keep in mind, there are 24 strawberries to put french knots into.
That’s a lot of french knots. If you really hate making french knots, you can just make little straight stitches instead. Straight stitches are much easier to make and much faster too.
Personally, I prefer the look of french knots. I wouldn’t say that I hate making them but after about ohhhh …. a few hundred of them, I come very close to cursing the inventor of french knots.
So anyway, if you do decide to do the french knots in these strawberries, I absolutely guarantee that about halfway through, you’re going to question why in the world you ever thought that making this many french knots would be fun. At that point, put your needle down and take a break. Go cut some of the stems that you’ll need after you’re finished with the knots … or cut some of the little flowers that you’ll need later. Do something to get your fingers away from the french knots and then later, you’ll be ready to finish.
I use green thread to make the seeds but whatever color you’d like your seeds to be is fine. browns look nice or a medium gold color would look nice too. I personally prefer the green so that’s what we’re doing.100_3915 When making the french knots, there’s no need to push the wrapped needle all the way down through to the underside. A quicker way is to bring the needle up, wrap it then push it down just through the first layer of wool and then back up to the spot where you wish your next french knot to be. The picture shows the wrapped needle with it coming up at the next seed spot.
After I finished up with the french knots, I started with the strawberry stems.
100_3912 The stems are small and we’re working with wool here AND I like to keep the tips of the stem loose so that they look more natural.
Therefore, it is most essential that the wool that is used for these stems is really well felted wool so that it won’t ravel and pull apart. Test your wool to make sure before you cut out all those stems only to discover that they’re going to unravel because the wool is too thin or not dense enough. Test the wool by cutting one stem, attach it at the top with a few stitches and then gently pull on the stem tip. If the threads pull apart, making the stem tip disappear, go find yourself some better quality wool. Or a good alternative is some wool felt.
The wool that I dyed for this is perfect for the stems so I’ll continue with my 100% wool.
Just stitch the very top of the stem with small whip stitching. Then take one stitch in between the stems at the two points to hold them down.
100_3916 As you can see, I still have some stems to do on this one and all the stems to do on the black background mat.
Next step after that’s done is the cute little white blossoms and then work on the center candle area.
I can’t wait to remove those awful looking basting stitches!

So, now to answer a few questions …
Wool kits for this Strawberry mat?
I hope to be able to offer a wool kit to go along with this pattern, but I have to check with my helper to see if she’ll be willing to do all the work to package it up for me. I dye the wools that are needed but she’s the one that measures, cuts and packages everything.
Did I use teeny tiny pinking shears to cut those leaves?
Haha, thank you Bari Jo for asking that question because I forgot to mention it. I used regular pinking shears to cut the edges of the leaves on this strawberry mat, but then I went back over the edges again with the pinking shears to snip the points even finer. It’s time consuming work but it makes the leaves look so much nicer.
What kind of threads do I use?
I primarily use DMC #8 perle cotton threads (it’s not floss, it’s thread). But I do use embroidery floss for detailed stitching on small areas. I also use regular embroidery floss if I need a certain color that the Perle cotton doesn’t offer. For some reason, the greens in the #8 size usually aren’t a good color. I mostly use a more olive green so I either overdye the #8 or if I just need a little bit, I’ll use the embroidery floss to do the job.
Also, I love to use #5 perle cotton threads for blanket stitching the outside edge of all my penny rugs and candle mats. Most times, I use blanket weights for the background wool, which is heavy. The #5 thickness looks so nice with the extra thick wools where the # 8 gets lost and the embroidery floss just looks terrible. My own personal preference of course. Some might like the look of floss instead, so please don’t take offense. Embroidery floss is a whole bunch cheaper and a whole lot easier to find than #8 perle cotton, so naturally it’s going to be the threads that are the most used. Perle cottons are super nice to work with because they don’t tangle as easily and because they are twisted threads, they are stronger and sturdier than the floss. If you ever happen to come across a really old penny rug, you’ll notice right away that the stitching threads are what break down first. If perle cottons were in existence back then, those penny rugs would be in much better condition. Which means in 100 years, when I’m dust in the wind, someone will still be looking at one of my nice wool penny rugs without any loose or broken threads.
Wool Felt?
Oh, I get so many questions about wool felt. Most times I can’t really answer them though because I don’t use the stuff. I am a wool snob, I’ve said this before. It’s not because I hate wool felt. It’s only because I love 100% pure natural real wool and all the benefits, textures, qualities and goodness of it. Woolfelt is certainly wonderful too and can be purchased for a whole lot less $$ than 100% wool. Those of you who wish to save on costs to make any of my candle mats, can easily substitute the wool felt for the regular 100% wool. It won’t give exactly the same look, but it will still look wonderful in it’s own way.
If you do use woolfelt, please know that the instructions in my patterns are for 100% wool. Woolfelt shouldn’t be ironed after it’s been washed. Ironing will flatten that special bumpy texture that is created with the wash/dry cycle. My patterns include instructions for tracing the pattern onto freezer paper and then ironing the freezer paper onto the wool. Don’t do that if you’re using woolfelt because it will take the bumpy texture out. Also, if my pattern instructions say to press something with steam, don’t do that if you’re using woolfelt.
If you want to keep that nice bumpy texture, keep the iron away!
Ok, I’ll be back in a few days to hopefully be able to finish this project up. I have a brand new patriotic candle mat all drawn out and ready to start. It’s going to be an easy one that will stitch fast.
Happy Day everyone!


Michele said...

Cath ... Your designs are just stunning! I have never made a penny rug, but hope to attempt one in the near future. In the meantime, I so enjoy your blog and tutorials and just love seeing your creations come to life! You are so generous in sharing your gift ... thank-you! ~.~

marie said...

Both the white and black look great! I hope you do kits for these!

Lisa said...

I just love your sweet strawberries!! I think the white is as good as the black!
Hugs, Lisa

Tanya said...

I just want to thank you for walking us through each step. I'm a somewhat experienced seamstress to some degree, but it helps so much when you break it down and explain it to us more thoroughly. Some patterns are just hard to understand and can be very frustrating to figure out, (not yours, but others I've tried).

Thank you so much for taking the time to post these tutorials, cuz I'm know how time-consuming they are, but just wanted to say that we appreciate your doing so!

Each one you create seems to be even more gorgeous than the one before it! Those strawberry mats look great either way!

Can't wait to see the patriotic one!

Bari Jo said...

Oh my goodness this has been so much fun to watch and learn! Thank you so much for teaching us!! I cannot wait to get the kit! And thanks for the info on the pinking shears and also the french knots - I was wondering if you went all the way through the background material - thanks for the great info! :O) Bari Jo

Marie said...

CAth, that is so beautiful. You are one very talented woman! xxoo

the corner shelf said...

I like your Designs they are so fun to look at. I wish i was talented enough to make patterns myself (knitting) I dont do penny rugs but my MOM Krafy Rose who just loves your rugs she talks about you a lot. I like the craft of penny rugs but it not for all but keep up the awesome work . Cant wait to see what my mom talks about next that you have came up with.