Christmas Ornament Finished

Gayle K had an angel ornament that needed a few areas completed. The areas remaining were the face, hair, halo, and certain rows on the angel’s wings. I didn’t take a “before” photo, but here are some photos showing where I began work on the face and hair, and then wings:

There weren’t instructions, but there were outlined areas. I put the face on just to hold the spaces while I did the rest of the angel. Then I did more detailed eyes and outlined the mouth after everything else was done. These photos are off my iPhone, so they’re a little dark. The one below is taken with the camera:

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Here is the finished ornament:

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“Diaper Dazzler” Embroidery Completion for Client

Just completed a finishing job for repeat client Gayle K from CA. Gayle’s mom was a member/student of White Pines Michigan Embroiderer’s Guild, and she chose some really complicated patterns to attempt! I’m impressed. The needle artist and instructor for this project was Ann Strite-Kurz: who was certified by the National Academy of Needle Arts, Levels 1 and 11. Not sure what that means, but having completed two of her pieces, I can tell you that she knows how to stitch and design like few do! Here is a bio I found online:

Ann Strite-Kurz
Biography

Ann Strite-Kurz
Ann Strite-Kurz has been an active teacher and designer for seventeen years. She is certified in canvas embroidery by the National Academy of Needlearts (NAN) and teaches regularly at seminars sponsored by the Embroiderers’ Guild of America and the American Needlepoint Guild. She is available for workshops and programs for local chapters of these groups and taught three group correspondence courses for EGA for over a decade. She also holds a Master Craftsman certificate in canvas from the Connecticut River Valley Chapter of EGA. In 1992 she published her first book, The Heart of Blackwork. Her second book, Potpourri of Pattern, was published in June, 1995. Both of these books explore innovative styles of open patterning which have become the hallmark of Ann’s recent work. Ann continues to teach and to publish a line of commercial designs and pamphlets and is a regular vendor at both the TNNA and INRG tradeshows. She has recently published three additional books on pattern which include CDs to display the illustrations in full color.  These titles are Backgrounds: The Finishing Touch (2003), Creative Canvas Couching (2005) and Diaper Patterns (2007).  An expanded resumé on education background, teaching experience, and noteworthy needlework accomplishments follows.

Here is an example of her patterns and instructions:

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Here’s the first area I did finishing work in Area 3, combining alternating diamond and cross units:

(Diamond Eyelet Variation with Double Straight Cross Tiedown + Four-way Tied Oblong Cross Cluster with Double Straight Cross Variation Tiedown)

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Second area: Area 4 (turquoise) with Combo of Double Straight Cross and Diagonal Hungarian Units in a Cluster, followed by Double Straight Cross Units in Two Colors:

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The next step was Blackwork (not always done in black thread on white, but always a colored thread in white background) which I’ve never done before, but enjoyed very much. That’s the red part above that looks lacy. It was used on cuffs and collars back in the 1600’s in Europe. Fancied things up a bit! Spain and England were fond of it.

Here are a few historical examples :

      

And here is how my blackwork took shape:

Here is the finished piece. Wish you could see it close-up. The colors are richer, like in the photos above.

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“Friendship is the Heart of Needlework” finished project

This project was a doozy, but I like the results:

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As I’d said earlier, my customer (Gayle) had this project that remained unfinished at the time of her mother’s death. She hired me to complete it. I followed written and graphed directions for 4 hearts that needed to be done, plus the saying and the remainder of the hearts border in the middle. Here is an example of the instructions, and also a 4×6 photo of the completed “example” piece from a workshop that I believe Gayle’s mom took (thru White Pine chapter of the Embroiderer’s Guild of America):

When I first realized that my client’s mom had taken a workshop for this piece, I was a tad intimidated. There was cutwork on here that I haven’t done before. But luckily I didn’t have to do any other cutwork. I would have simply practiced on scrap canvas until I got it right. I don’t like not knowing how to do something, and that doesn’t ever stop me.

So, here are the hearts I added to this beautiful handiwork:

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My favorite is the one on the top left, and it intimidated me the most! I had no instructions for this heart, so I had to “wing it” just by looking at the heart in the 4×6 photo, and that thing was small. I looked through my Mag Eyes magnifiers and was able to sketch out just about what was used in the original piece. I love it, and it took me quite a while to complete that heart. But they all did, because I didn’t know some of the stitches before I did them, and I wanted them to be just as symmetrical and tidy as the stitches Gayle’s mom did in her hearts. I hope she would be pleased with my results. I hope Gayle enjoys her mother’s piece for many, many years. It’s truly a wonderful needlework sampler.

Oh, and in case you’re interested, these are the stitches I did (in no particular order) and just for added interest, I’ll tell you beside them which ones I’d ever done before:

*Type of Stitch* *Had I done it before?*

French Knot                                                                     yes

Colonial Knot                                                                   no

Rosette                                                                             no

Cross-Stitch                                                                      yes

Satin Stitch                                                                       yes

Beads added                                                                     no

Backstitch                                                                         yes

Outline (Stem) Stitch                                                        yes

Long-arm Cross-Stitch                                                      no

Kalem Variation                                                               no

Rhodes Half-Drop Stitch                                                  no

Waffle Stitch                                                                    no

Woven Cross-Stitch                                                          no

Chain Stitch                                                                      yes

Herringbone Stitch                                                           no

Not having done these stitches before wasn’t a problem because 1) most stitches build on each other or are variations of the basic embroidery stitches, and 2) I enjoy learning new ways to stitch. So now I can add to my repertoire.

Oh! I forgot the most difficult stitch, and one that is, oddly, named after a town in Italy: The Casalguidi Stitch! Below is a much more intricate example, but the one I did forms the outline of the heart with the “P” initial inside. I had to resort to learning this off an online tutorial that another kind stitcher has provided. It wasn’t even in my reference library, not even in “The Complete Encyclopedia of Stitchery.”

And the finished product…

Here is a photo of the needlework sampler completed. I added a linen border for the client because the original stitcher hadn’t left much fabric at the edges of her piece:

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And here is that “a” re-worked (it’s the “a” in “are” between “Blessed” and “the”:

BEFORE: AFTER:

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Also added embellishments, as requested by client:

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So, another project has left the craft table, and another is on its way to me in the mail!

Thank you to all my customers! Your business is appreciated.

Photo Journal: Grandmother’s Crewel Embroidery Repair

My client’s grandmother had embroidered this lovely pillow, but it was definitely in need of a little TLC. Problem spots (shown below) included holes, worn spots, a 2-inch horizontal tear in the upper right corner (see 1st photo) and missing wool stitching due to moth damage:

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Though the linen was fragile in spots, the Persian wool was colorfast and I felt I could use the linen backing to do some repairs to the front of the piece. My thought was to cut the back into strips I could use as a border that would cover some bad edge spots.

I also thought about using fusible interfacing, ironed to the back of the needlework, to strengthen the entire piece.

And here I began by:

1) Detaching front from back, ironing, trimming and squaring:

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2) Replacing missing wool stitches:

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Crewel Embroidery Repair
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3) Patching/reweaving the big tear:

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Linen hole reweaved   –>  reweaving of hole in linen

4) linen front edging sewn on (showing front lining being hand-basted):

linen edging added

5) Finishing basting, showing basting on back, pinning fringe, fringe attached to back, machine stitching back to front:

basting liningback liningpinning fringefringe stitched to backsewing back to front, fringe on inside, both sides lined with cotton

6) STUFFING!! (followed by unexpected tear in worn linen area.) Aaagh!! Had to stitch over it. Not happy with results, leading me to decide on crewel embroidery over top of it to cover:

stuffing with polyfil Tear occuring during stuffing due to worn spot embroidering over town spot

7) Whip-stitching front closure and back seam:

hand-stitching closurehand-stitching back seam

8) And now, the finished product:

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Testimonial from Deborah in NY

Deborah's Victorian rocker with repaired seat

When my four year old grandson got excited watching “The Lion King” sitting in the old rocker his foot went through the seat of the beloved chair that I’d inherited from an aunt. We were both horrified and I was stymied about a repair, which I assured him could be done just to let him know that accidents happen. And I had faith, but no skill to even imagine doing it. What a blessing to find Melissa online. Not only did she ultimately do a repair that I couldn’t do in a million years, but the communication and caring that went into the process was both highly professional AND reassuring. She kept me informed as she determined the right course of action. It took a while, which was ok with me since the communication led to complete trust in her process with the task. Thank you Melissa. From now on the chair will be sat in by Eli and his little brothers only on non-exciting special occasions!

Deborah Welsh

Syracuse, NY

Ripped Needlework CAN be Repaired

Deborah from NY had a dilemma: her grandson got a little too enthusiastic over The Lion King and stood up in her antique child’s rocker, splitting its 60-year-old hooked cushion. She contacted me and asked if I could fix it. After looking at the photos she emailed, which were very good (clear and from various angles) I felt I could do the job. But once she sent me the cushion, I began to have second thoughts–especially since my own mother took one look and said, “Send it back.”

leaf in need of repairanother close-up

Ah, but I love challenges, and this certainly was a biggie. How to proceed, though?

At first I thought I would have to find some similar yarn to use in the repair. I looked at a few antiques shops, and also on eBay, but everything was too expensive to use as a “cutter,” as we call the things we pilfer fabric or fibers from in order to fix or create other items.

Then I decided I might have to find some cotton yarn of similar width/weight and dye it. That raised the issue of how to dye yarn today that would match yarn that had seen some fading over the decades. A difficult task, to be sure! But after I received sample sheets from Cushing’s Dyes (a longtime New England dye-making company) I had another thought: why not pull out the yarn in the cushion and try to re-use it *before* going to further extremes?

I started the task on the way to our company’s annual conference in Florida. We were borrowing my father-in-law’s Lincoln Town Car for the drive, and as I carefully tugged to release the yarn from its linen mesh backing, dust flew everywhere! Finally, my husband told me to stop for the time being!

Back at home, once I began hooking through the torn mesh and new backing, I soon realized a regular rug hook couldn’t handle the job. Hooking through two layers requires much pulling and tugging, so that meant a size G crochet hook. That did the trick. But the cotton split quite often. Luckily, that mop cotton-thickness was multi-plied, so it didn’t much matter.

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It took quite a bit of time, but in the end, I was satisfied with the work. Toted it to the mountains to show my fellow needleworker friend up there, and she had two insights: 1) “You did a great job. I couldn’t have done that,” and 2) “I’d have chucked it.” Made my day!

Now the seat cushion that seemed beyond repair is soon to be back in Deborah’s chair, once again matching its hooked backrest cushion. I’m so happy that I could do this for my customer. I sure appreciate her patience and her faith in me.

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A Needlepoint Table Top–Why Fix It?

This is a table I bought at a church rummage sale. Cost: $10 to a good cause!

As you can see from the photos, the needlepoint that resided beneath the glass top was faded and stained. It had definitely seen better years. It really wasn’t fixable, and it had no sentimental value to me, so I decided I would make a new top. The wood table itself is cute. Love the way the legs are turned. Only thing that really bothers me is, whoever tried to make the table “good as new” probably by stripping away years’ worth of paint had it dipped in chemicals. Dipping is *never* a good alternative for removing paint. Dipping strips away not only the paint you’re trying to get rid of, but also the lovely original patina of your piece, leaving the grain raised and rather ugly-looking. However, what fascinated me in the first place was, it was an interesting little table, with its needle-worked top. I’d never seen anything like it before. And hey, it was $10. What a deal!

Another “deal” was the needlepoint canvas I’d bought for $4.04 at a thrift store, and the wool yarns I’d bought for a few bucks on another thrifting jaunt. So I set to work.

Many people have asked me, “How long did it take you to finish _______?” (fill in the blank with various needlework projects) and it’s always hard to say. But I can tell you that the simple blue background in this table top took me at least 75 hours. What people who don’t do hand-stitching don’t realize is, each one of those yarn bumps on the canvas takes two arm motions: one to pull the yarn up and one to push it through again. And there are literally hundreds of up and down stitches on that little table top. THAT is why, during the Industrial Revolution, factories cropped up with machines to create pillows, cushions, etc,… for a greatly reduced cost of goods sold.

But this isn’t a “poor me” story here. I *love* what I do. I do it for fun (as with this table top) and not just for pay. I do it for relaxation. I do it just to fix things, to rejuvenate things I think have value to me, whether that means I think they’re pretty, or usable, or historically cool. In the case of the table, it was different and it needed some TLC, so it pulled at my heartstrings.

I’m just explaining here, in case people want to know (because people do ask) what all is involved. There’s a lot of time involved in handwork. I’m sure most people know that already, though. The cost of materials is nothing compared with the needleworker’s time. If we charged by the hours involved, quite often, we wouldn’t get hired! So it’s a juggling act, trying to make the customer happy, make it worth my time, and rejuvenate/create something beautiful.

So, send me something and I’ll give you a very fair estimate, I promise. Why? Because I like what I do!

Photos: 1) faded and stained original n’pt  2) new needlepoint by Melissa (shown under glass top) 3) table w/top completed but not yet sewn to board and secured under glass 4) tabletop needlepoint now stay-stitched and turned under on sewing machine, and then whip-stitched on back so canvas does not show on front. 5) Completed, with new brass corners screwed in place. New glass made, too, because the old glass was scratched and chipped on the edge and one corner.

One of my bestest friends just said, “Repeat after me. I will not buy any more sad $10 tables.” Then she added “…and cost me a fortune to restore!” Sigh. Agreed. But I’m afraid I’m addicted.

 

Nice letter from a Satisfied Customer

October 27, 2010

Melissa’s Collectible Restoration and Repair offers services for repairing needlework, textiles, quilt work and dolls.  I moved back to Atlanta and stayed at my mother’s home for several weeks with my father while my mom was in California this past summer.  One day I found a Madame Alexander doll that had been in a collection in my bedroom when I was young.  My mom liked to get a doll for my sister and I each time we traveled to a foreign country so that we could reminisce on our experiences over the years.  It has been interesting to see this collection grow over time as my sister and I venture across the globe.  This Irish doll’s legs and arms were detached and the doll was in a drawer.  The red-headed, Irish doll was one of the first dolls I had received for my collection and was very special to me.  It was sad to see her lying in pieces in the drawer.  I began my search for someone who could help me put this Irish Madame Alexander back together again.

After searching for several days online, I realized that there are very few doll repair shops in Atlanta.  I finally found a small advertisement on Craigslist with Melissa’s repair services listed.  I called Melissa and within two weeks my doll was like new again.  I put her in the glass cabinet with the dolls from the countries my sister and I had traveled to over the years.

When I picked up the doll from Melissa, she said that many dolls in the past were assembled with material called “cat gut” which often disintegrates over time.  She used a more pliable material and reassembled the doll.  I’m thankful that Melissa’s restoration service was here in Atlanta.  This was a nice surprise for my mother when she returned from California.  Now, I can begin looking for my vintage Malaysian Madame Alexander doll to keep the collection representative of my travels!

I am sure you will appreciate Melissa’s services.  After speaking with Melissa, I was happy to learn that she now has a web site:  www.collector-repair-services.com

I recommend her work wholeheartedly and thank her for helping me keep my family’s collection and memories alive and motivating me to pursue new destinations around the world!

Kim

Satisfied Customer in Georgia

Show Me Your Unfinished Craft Project

Hey, I know you have one. What’s hiding in your closet, under the bed, or stuffed in a plastic bin? Is it a needlepoint horse head (like my daughter’s?) Or a cross-stitch of Tweety Bird to hang on a kid’s nursery door (like my boss’ wife) and now their daughter is 9?

Every one of us has something that isn’t finished. One of my biggies is a bedspread knit out of *thread* on Size 0 needles. But I can’t give away the 150 balls of thread I purchased at 10 different Michael’s. I just can’t give up on that project. It’s a crazy-ridiculous one, really. When would I have the time to do something like that? And I’m too ADHD with my crafting, anyway. I really enjoy working on more than one type of project at a time.

That’s where someone like me comes in for you! I can finish your grandmother’s needlepoint pillow that you don’t know how to stitch, but you want to finish it because she worked it. Her beloved hands were on it, and she cared about it.

I can patch that patchwork, wash the doll, fashion the cross-stitch into a Christmas stocking complete with a hanging loop, seam the knit sweater, and bind the rug!

I’ll have photos on here soon, for examples. But let me know what you want done and I’ll see try to complete you item in the most practical, affordable way.