Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch-Off : Part 3 : Making the Kissing Ball


The Great Lady’s Magazine Stitch-Off  :

Part 3 : Making the Kissing Ball 

The Basics.

Finished Kissing Ball
This is a basic overview of how to make a Kissing Ball. There are not set colours or indeed, type of fabric and you may blow the patterns up to a bigger size should you wish to do so. I used some silk fabric remnants, 5 colours of silk thread and vintage pearl beads that I had in my vast collection. I used a sharp embroidery needle and a long, thin beading needle.
 An embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut makes sewing a bit easier. This can be a simple, round hand-held budget one. They comprise of two rings, an inner one and an outer one in-between which you capture your fabric. The outer ring is then tightened with a screw and nut and the fabric pulled taut.
 If you are handy (or lucky enough to have a handy woodworking Hubby!) four lengths of wood glued together to make a square frame is also good. The fabric can be pinned tightly onto it with drawing pins. (Also check out Siesta Interlocking Bar Frames! They are fantastic for this type of project and very cheap!)

Transferring the design.

Print off the above templates and shrink according you the size you wish, making sure both designs arethe same. Mine were about 5 inches – so quite small. Trace the design onto your fabric using a fine pencil. Most silk and linen is quite fine and see-through but you can also use a commercial light box (available cheaply at craft shops or on line), or place the fabric and template on a glass table with a light shining from underneath to light up the lines of the template. Taping to a glass window also works but is a bit tricky.

The solid line of each panel is the inner line within which you sew the design and is folded and sewn along when putting the ball together later. The broken line is the outer line over which the pattern is cut once all the panels are sewn.

I did not back my fabric with calico as is customary when embroidering.

 To Start and Finish your threads.

For tiny pieces like this I don’t mess about with waste knots….use a simple knot at the end of the thread and trim off the end of the thread from the knot. When the thread runs out, finish your threads by neatly finishing through your stitches at the back.


Sewing the patterns.

Please forgive my lack of stitch direction chart ; it takes an  inordinate amount of time I simply don’t have to produce the charts like those in my kits, so further investigation on You Tube and a good stitch book will give clarity to my instructions here on the Blog. I do apologise for this. I hope that you may follow much from the pictures I show.

I have simply used Stem Stitch for stems, Silk Shading within all the solid parts of the designs such a ribbons and petals, and French Knots within the centre of the flowers. The black and white pictures of the original designs give an idea of light and shade and where to change your threads from light to dark shades or visa versa. I used a single strand of embroidery thread throughout and I also had to use a magnifier so you may wish to work in a bigger scale! Because of the tiny nature of the design, I did not Split Stitch the edges of the Shaded areas as is customary, however if you decide to work on a larger scale, use 2 strands for your Stem Stitch and French Knots and Split Stitch the edges of all the areas you work your Silk Shading as you would normally.

A note on Silk Shading.

Silk Shading is very much an art form and because of the tiny nature of the design, many formal rules have gone out of the window! The main thing is to work the way you see fit and in a manner which gives you the results you want.

Start each leaf from the base at the stem towards the tip following the curve of the leaf. Each flower petal is worked in the direction of the numbers of a clock ie. the stitches on the top petal stand upright and as each petal moves around, so does the stitch direction. There is nothing wrong by marking the direction of the stitches with a pencil. Ribbons are the same ; work around the curve of the ribbon.

Make your stitches as random and blended as possible, splitting into the threads that you work over with your needle by a good two thirds of their length so you aren’t making any nasty ‘ridges’ of sudden colour.

Work the stitches at the edges over the outlines and ‘tuck’ them behind each other to give a nice fluid outline.

A note on French Knots

Here you have the advantage if you have been taught via my kits, but I will add the note that you only use one wrap – despite what books tell you! I have shaded the centre of the flowers with both dark and light yellow.

A Note on Stem Stitch

Keep these tiny and neat, tucking each stitch behind one another.

Adding Beads.

I used old pearls but as long as the outline of the pattern is covered, you could use sequins or just sew them with Satin Stitch using a gold thread.

Making a Twisted Cord.

You can use a lovely velvet ribbon as a holder but a cord is very easy to make as follows….Using some rayon (shiney) crochet thread or matching silk, place about 5 full strands (containing 6 threads)together measuring around 60-70cm. Catch them all together and holding each set of ends in each hand, twist them together. Try not to let go of them! When they become tight and are about to knot, fold them together by taking them all in one hand and using the other to pull the cord straight. Let the threads go loose whilst still holding the ends and they will spiral together and form a cord. Tie a knot in the end to the desired length.

Sewing Together and Finishing.

When you have finished, cut around the dotted outlines ready to sew together!

This is the trickiest part but once you get the hang of the stitch, you will find it really easy. The Stitch used to sew the panels  together is called Ladder Stitch and it is a wonderful stitch to learn as it is incredibly versatile and used in Box Making and any situation where panels need to be sewn together without the stitches showing.

 Each panel is sewn together along the solid line which surrounds the design. Both Silk and linen is lovely and soft and creases nicely in order to follow the shape and sew the ladder Stitch. Pick up two panels  and fold the outer fabric of each inwards to the solid line and press it firmly between your finger and thumb .Place them together, right sides outermost making sure the tip of each segment lines up exactly together …...

 Ladder Stitch
1. Secure a knot in the bottom of the thread and with panel edges pinched together, bring the needle up through the crease at the tip of the panel nearest to you

2. Pull the thread through towards you and on the crease of the opposite panel take a tiny stitch along the crease pointing towards the line of the seam.

3.Pull the thread through lightly and come back placing the needle into the crease nearest to you again. Don’t pull the stitch at this stage.

4.Keep creasing the panels along the curve of the line with finger and thumb and carry on taking tiny stitches in the creases from each side alternately.

5. Every couple of centimetres pull the thread down to pull the stitches together and close the seam. Magic!

6. When you get to the end of the panel, pick up the next one, fold along the line and match to the tip of the next folded edge and repeat the Ladder Stitch down the next seam.

7. As the ball forms, at about 2.5 cm before finishing the final panel, fill the ball with toy stuffing (and  or scented pot pouri). Pack it well to get a good solid ball shape.

8. Continue closing the seam with Ladder Stitch but just before the top where all the panels  meet at the top, take the cord, or ribbon, fold and place the knotted ends into the top of the ball and finish the last few stitches, catching the thread through the cord or ribbon to secure it. The looped cord or ribbon should be nice and central.



Original Kissing Balls - See Explanation in Part 2




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