Sunday August 19 2012
I'm waiting for the mail again. A very kind person, Maggi, has purchased some 2-1/4" balls for me and they are on the way. And a company that sells the Hug Snug ribbon is sending me some colour samples. (I'm not 100% convinced that "Medoc" I recieved is Hug Snug's darkest burgundy ribbon.) That meant that I had no excuse not to take the time to finally do a proper tutorial for my "seemingly seamless" smocked ball ornaments. I finished it today. If you'd like to visit it you can click on the picture below.
And once that was done I thought I'd try my hand at making ruched ribbon rosettes.
Click here to see the blog where I found the tutorial. The only change I made is that I used 8-1/2 inches of ribbon to make a rosette with 8 petals.
Friday August 24 2012
While I was waiting for the balls and ribbon samples to arrive I decided to try the smocked pattern I used on the batiste ball on a larger ball. (I really do like look of the parallel pleats.) I no longer had any balls between 2 inches and 2-1/2 inches so I took apart an ornament I made in 2004. It used a 55 mm ball, which is my favourite size.
I liked the size but I find the rayon threads look a bit untidy.
I also decided to make a new grid for making the gathering stitches on semi- transparent fabric. The interfacing one was less than ideal because the needle did snag on the interfacing and when it did I think it sometimes left ink coloured fibres on the fabric strip. I made a new grid by printing some of my grid paper and covering it with clear adhesive vinyl.
The instructions for making this grid are about halfway down the following blog page.
Saturday September 1 2012
With Christmas now less than 4 months away it is time to fish or cut bait.
I couldn't make any firm decisions on the ribbons because the envelope of samples I received this past Monday had the green but not the burgandy colours. However, I received the styrofoam balls that Maggi sent so there was no reason I couldn't choose the size of the ball and the pattern of the smocking.
I asked my "inhouse focus group" to choose between two smocking patterns. This one,
and the most recent one.
Despite my hints that the first one was tidier and easier to stitch the vote was:
Most recent 3 band ornament - 2 votes
Simpler ornament - 1 vote
So I decided to see if I could improve on the three band ornament.
I think the most untidy part of this pattern are the bracket-like stitches I make below the slanted stitches. The rayon thread is just too soft to make nice arcs. So I tried some bracket-free patterns, that still made parallel columns between the bands, but I couldn't find one that I liked. I tried using all DMC Perle thread, but it didn't have the sparkle of the rayon thread.
So I made a 2 1/4 inch (108 pleat) ball that used rayon for the slanted stitches and the stiffer Perle thread for the bracket stitches. In the photo below this ball is on the left and the 2 inch batiste ball with all rayon thread is on the right. Though it probably doesn't show on the photo the new ball with the combination of threads does look neater.
I just wish that it was the same size as the 55 mm ball. (Far right in the photo below.)
So after smocking 15 ornaments my choices are either the three band one on the left or the simpler one the right. The one on the right would be a lot faster because it is just six rows of slanted stitches. The one of the left has four rows of slanted stitches and four rows of bracket-like stitches. And the bracket-like stitches take more time because I have to try to keep the height of the arc the same size on each one.
It is tempting to choose the easier project, perhaps because I have already smocked almost as many experiments as I plan to give as Christmas gifts!
By the way I used a vertical strip of fabric to make the most recent ornament, so that I could use the stronger straighter horizontal threads to make the tassel. The tassel was much easier to fray, because the removed threads never broke, and it isn't fuzzy like the previous tassels.
I've decided that I like the pansy capped ornaments better without a tassel so I won't be making any more tassels for this project. However should I wish to make a tasselled ball in the future I'll first check the vertical and horizontal threads to see which will be more suitable for a tassel. I'll make the ball by fraying the fabric before I gather the threads.
And I'll gather the bottom of the ornament to the "just right" sized circle before I gather the top thread.