Happy New Year to each of you! I've started the new year with my leaf-stitching project, and it occurred to me (now that I'm back in the rhythm of blogging once a week) that although I've retired from teaching, I can still share some of what I've learned and am learning with tutorials. Many other quilters and stitchers have already done this, and I've been most thankful to be able to access their knowledge and learn from their experiences. So here is the first one:
Hand-Stitching Wool Leaves
1. Walk around your garden, or through the woods, and pick leaves from half a dozen or so plants. Look for shapes that appeal to you, and leaves that won't overwhelm the background size you've chosen. These are from the ivy which climbs up the chimney on the side of our house.
2. Place two or three leaves between each double sheet, folded, of paper towel. Write the name of the plant or tree and the date you picked it on the paper towel - you'd be amazed how quickly you forget where they've all come from - and photocopy one of each leaf as well, just for reference. When all the leaves are folded, press them under a stack of heavy books, and leave them there for several days.
3. After a day or so until they'll usually be flat enough to trace, but will take longer to dry more completely. Trace around the each leaf outline (including the stem) onto freezer paper.
4. Press the freezer paper pattern onto the wool you've chosen for the leaf shape. Cut around the leaf on the marked line and remove the freezer paper.
5. Place the wool leaf on the background you've chosen, and use a few dabs from a glue stick to hold the leaf in place. (It doesn't take much.) If you decide to add a stem from a different piece of wool, this is the time to do so, adhering it to the wool leaf in the same manner.
6. Now comes the fun part. Using photos you've seen of stitching you like (there are tons of examples on the internet), or a reference such as the one above (my current favourite) begin stitching the leaf to the background and the stem to the leaf using stitches that appeal to you. Two or three strands of embroidery floss or #8 or #12 perle cotton work very well for this. Keep stitching, using a variety of stitches, until you feel happy with the result.
I find I don't know quite how I'll stitch a leaf until I get going. I make it up as I go along. But for others who like to plan in advance, you might want to add another step at this time, and make a little sketch for yourself of what you plan to do before you get going. I stick to pretty basic stitches - Blanket stitch, Chain stitch, Straight stitch, Backstitch and French knots - so you don't need to be an expert to get good results. It's amazing how many variations of each of those listed above is possible. Most of all, enjoy the process. It can become quite addictive!