Butterfly 3 and Embroidery

It’s week 7 (I think?) and I’ve been slowing down, but I’ve made considerable progress on my quilt. I finished the third butterfly, and I’m incredibly pleased with the embroidery and the colors. I think this might be my favorite of all butterflies to do.

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Butterfly 3

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To take a break from the butterflies for a while (because they do get repetitive) I started in on some of the embroidery around the border of the quilt.

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The first of 9 bird names

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The second of 9 bird names

Fortunately, I have some experience (some, but little) doing embroidery prior to this project, so this requires a lot less concentration without counting stitches or colors. That being said, I do keep my stitches extremely small, which also makes the work a bit time consuming.

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Thankfully, the final product looks really great and I’m super happy with how everything is turning out at the moment. With the exception of a few minor errors that I will very likely forget about when everything is finished, everything is going well.

For this next week, I’m going to focus on the embroidery and a few of the leaf details before moving on to the next butterfly. I’ll at least try to continue that until I get sick of it and need a break. The biggest frustration with the embroidery is that the floss keeps getting tangled, and the fact that the stitches are so, so small. It takes some concentration to get everything to look the way you want it to, otherwise you have to undo your stitches. Overall, I’m excited with how everything looks, and I’ll have to keep plugging away.

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Two Butterflies Gone and Seven to Go

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Butterfly 2 is done!

Work definitely got tough this week. I didn’t move as far along as I had hoped, but I’m super happy with the work that I managed to get done. I finished the second butterfly (it might be a moth) and I can tell I’ve improved. The stitches are a lot  more clean and neat, as well as tight. I’m definitely worried about the structural integrity of the first butterfly. As a comparison, here’s the back of the first versus the second-

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The back of the first

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The back of the second

It may be hard to tell just by looking, but there is a lot more organization in the second butterfly. I tried to plan where I was going with my stitches to help me save floss and help keep the back a bit more neat. This also minimizes the amount of extra long pieces of floss in the back that could come undone. You can also see that I took a different approach in doing the outline on the second butterfly. I did it entirely through backstitching rather than trying to do traditional embroidery, as I did on the inner lines and the antennas. This gives it a smoother look with less gaps between the corners. That being said, I also used higher quality thread on this butterfly than the last. That, combined with the far more forgiving color of brown versus black, I’m super happy with how the embroidery looks this time around.

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Starting on Butterfly 3

In other news, I’ve started in on the third butterfly. I think this is supposed to be a monarch butterfly (all of the names are written on the quilt), so I’m happy to see one I recognize. I may have to go to the store and pick up even more floss, as I’m running out of black and gray now, and I don’t have the orange that the pattern wants me to have. This is, by far, the most frustrating part of doing this project. Anytime I think I have the right colors, it turns out I don’t!

I think after this butterfly, I may have to take a break and start on some leaves and some of the words, just to get a fresh look at the piece. Jumping around on colors and repeating patterns is getting a little tiring. I’m always excited to start and finish a butterfly as soon as I can, but I get a little burnt out by the time I’m halfway done with it. Doing something different for a while may help.

X-files and X-stitch

 

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Butterfly #2 Halfway Done

It’s week 2 of the ILP, and cross stitching is going great so far. I’m excited every time I get to pull out my quilt and see how the butterflies are coming together. For some reason, it’s so hard for me to envision what the end product will look like, up until I get about halfway done (as seen above). I didn’t really thing I’d like Butterfly #2’s colors, and I thought about changing them, but I’m very glad I didn’t.

My progress so far has been great. I’m moving much faster in my stitching and moving throughout the entire process much quicker, so I’m overall getting things done faster. In a few hours time, I can complete a wing of a butterfly, all whilst binging the x-files for the first time. It’s great company, and I love that i have something to keep my hands busy for once (I usually play sudoku or do something on my phone).

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Mulder and Scully are keeping me company while I cross stitch.

However, I’m also finding myself with a little less time every day to do some cross stitch, so In that regard, progress has slowed a bit. I had hoped to have this butterfly done by the end of this week, but oh well! That’s life.

As far as my own technique and learning experience, I’m getting much better with my embroidery, though it’s still a little crooked looking. My stitches are getting tighter and more uniform, and I can personally see a huge difference between this butterfly and the first one. I’m hoping by the time I finish the entire quilt, it will be very obvious how I’ve progressed! One of the perks of having a physical project that I get to do every week is seeing my progress.

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Butterfly #2 before the embroidery.

I haven’t really had the opportunity or reason to learn anything new about cross stitch this week, unfortunately, but I am looking to the future with my projects, and that’s very exciting. I’m hoping I can get the entire quilt done, with the hand quilting, batting, and doing the border, all things I’ve never done before. Afterwards, I think I’m going to try my hand at some counted cross stitch, and I’ve found some great pieces that I want to make for some friends.

Right now, I haven’t told anyone in my family, and only one friend about what I’m doing, so I’m hoping to surprise everyone with my finished quilt when it’s done! I can’t wait to see what kinds of reactions I get from it. Hopefully I will be able to finish the entire project before class is up, so I can report back and let everyone know what my family thinks. I’m not typically a super crafty person, so hopefully it will be a pleasant surprise.

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Butterfly #2 all naked.

 

In the meantime, I’m going to keep chugging along and finishing as much of my butterflies as possible. I’m hoping to get a butterfly done each week.

One Tenth of the Way There…

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With one butterfly down, and 8 more to go, along with letters, leaves, and quilting, I think it’s safe to say I’m at least one tenth done with my ILP. But before I tell you about finishing my first butterfly, I want to talk about starting my first cross stitch piece.

I started off by knowing very little about stitching at all, with only a few minor attempts at embroidery prior to this project, so I had to first do my research on the craft. I started off by asking a friend, who loves cross stitching and is quite a pro at it now, what I needed to start off with, in terms of supplies and standard knowledge. She listed off a few basic things I would need to start, all of which I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase at the Walmart in town, and gave me a few beginners pointers.

After gathering all of my materials, my stamped pattern, my needles (tapestry and embroidery), floss, two hoops, some handy sewing scissors, and some extra supplies like flour sack towels and aida cloth (just in case), I took to watching videos and considering my friends advice. There were a few things that most everyone agreed on, such as separating your floss to save material, using a knotless loop start, stitching in one direction first and then coming back the other direction to finish the stitch, and marking your pattern to keep track of your stitches. If you’re a bit baffled by some of these terms, I’m going to let this lovely lady explain.

Watching this video (among many others), I learned that you can separate floss into different strands of two, three, or four strands as opposed to the six strands that come together in a standard floss. After separating the floss, you fold it in half, so you can use the loop at the end as a way to ‘knot’ your floss without having to bother with tying an actual knot. The floss is also much easier to work with, as a result.

Techniques like stitching in one direction help keep your stitches even and help anchor your stitches as well, without having to worry about undoing a stitch by mistake (which I’ve done a few times). Marking your pattern can be very helpful in working with a stamped or counted pattern, by keeping track of what you’ve done and what still needs to be done. To explain this, I’ll show you a brief picture of one of my patterns with the corresponding stitches.

Looking at the paper drenched in highlighter pink, you can see that I’ve slowly crossed off each part after I’ve finished the stitch. This helps me keep track of which colors and stitches I’ve done, and which I still need to do. Looking at the color key to the pattern, I can see by the symbol that is in each square, what color needs to go there and how many stitches of that color will be on this butterfly. While cross stitch in and of itself is very simple, this process takes the most time, and is very crucial to the process that we follow it. Otherwise, we ruin our pattern and our butterfly doesn’t look very good!

By following and using these basic skills and rules of cross stitch, the overall process isn’t at all as difficult as it seems at first glance! It’s simply a matter of following the pattern and keeping track of what you’re doing. As a final thought, I’ll leave you with a back view of the pattern, to get an idea of what you are doing when you’re stitching everything.

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