little snugly bee eaters

They are just the cutest. Aren’t they just the cutest? Look at the cute. Two itty bitty birds being all cuddly on a branch.

bee eaters-6

You can see why this was the companion piece for the LOVE cross-stitch. Dear Readers, if these two birds don’t love each other, I’ll eat my tea mug.

It’s a Trish Burr pattern from her book, Colour Confidence in Embroidery. Most of the book is an in-depth discussion of how to achieve shading effects in thread-painting, with examples of different kinds and colours of shading used in different ways. I expect it will be an enormously useful reference book basically forever. It also has a smaller section of thread-painting projects in the back, sorted by colour, to demonstrate the shading. This was one of those (it’s also a variation on the project she uses on the front page of her website, if you want to click through and see how a real expert does it).

bee eaters-1

The top fabric is a scrap of the cotton satin I used for my math skirt last summer; it has a lovely, subtle sheen. The backing fabric, underlined in the standard method, is a stiff white cotton muslin. They were then stretched taut in the kind of plastic hoop frame that has an inner groove to prevent things from slipping. I used a standard pencil to trace the pattern; next time I’ll use a mechanical to get a finer line. Don’t try to erase a mistake. The eraser left a larger mark on my fabric than the misplaced pencil did.

Having finally tried a project from this book, a review:

The picture to trace to the fabric worked, but could have been better labelled. What’s labelled as the “neck” on the diagram, when you actually get into the instructions, is actually the upper part of the chest. A couple of things are a slightly different size or angle from the pattern diagram to her finished example. I’m assuming that’s simply because she took one of her own finished works, made for herself, and reverse-engineered it for publication. You’d expect a few differences to creep in. None of the errors are significant, but do be prepared for an inconsistency here and there.

More concerning, the colours are represented in the book’s photography don’t always match the colours in the embroidery flosses she tells the reader to use. They’re close; it’s not like the picture shows purple and you buy the thread# she says and it turns out to be green. But going by the project photography, I was expecting something with a warmer tint throughout than what I got by following the instructions. Whether or how this will affect the usefulness of the prior section on colour shading (all of which also has photographs and thread#s) I can’t yet say.

I also learned some things that I shouldn’t have needed to learn because I knew them already and chose to disregard them:

  • Will your clean hands leave oil marks and stains on the white fabric? Yes.
  • Will you be able to wash those stains out afterwards? No.
  • Will they respond to bleach? Also no.
  • When you wash it, will the top fabric and the backing fabric shrink differently, even though they have been pre-washed? Quite possibly.
  • Will you curse yourself for having ignored the recommendations for avoiding these, after having spent so many hours making it? Absolutely.
  • Next time, will you promise to cover the project with white tissue paper when you’re not working on it, and when you handle the frame, will you do so with a piece of clean, plain white cotton between your hand and the project? Yes. A million times yes. And then yes some more.

ig be

It’s still a nice project, but I’m kicking myself for not having taken these minor extra steps to prevent this from happening. And I’ve learned my lesson. Next time (and there will be a next time; I’m definitely a thread-painting addict now)–fabric protection! Very key!

At any rate, it has been framed and added to the wall and our sofa is cuter than ever.

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3 thoughts on “little snugly bee eaters”

  1. Love your bee eaters! I wonder on those colors – is it possible that some of the colors used in the finished project in the book are not available in the US? I’m pretty sure some colors available in Europe/South Africa/the whole rest of the world are not available in the US, and vice versa. Sadly, DMC has entire product lines that are not easily available in the US.

    1. I suppose so–but I bought the brands and colours she listed in the book exactly. It was all regular cotton 6-strand embroidery floss.

      I know it’s hard to get some of the nicer embroidery threads and textiles here in Canada. I’m surprised to hear that’s a problem south of the border too. I thought they’d be dying to get into that market!

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