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[personal profile] lobsterdesigns
The tendinitis is still present but easing up, so I'm managing some embroidery again, huzzah! The body is now outlined, the face is done (not mad about the lips but after trying six versions on scraps, I think they're as good as they're going to get), the hair-ribbon is outlined, and I'm nearly half-way through outlining the wings. I also completed one of my trial versions of the papyrus clumps.

Photos below: do remember that this is draped across my sofa, so it's not lying flat by any means. The face looks a bit better than that, and the papyrus clumps on the right wouldn't look quite so odd.

Ask if you want a close-up of anything.

The good news: I think I have the colours sorted now, the lighter, brighter colours worked better. The shapes are generally improving too, and the stitches seem to be sorted. Cross stitch for the stripes in the flowers (which need to be a smidgen more even for the zig-zag at the top to work), twisted chain stitch for the leaves at the base of the flowers, backstitch outlining the flowers and for the zig-zag at the top, stem stitch for the stems, buds in backstitch with the outside in a darker thread than the inside (you don't really see the contrast as much as I'd hoped, but there isn't a lighter turquoise available than what I have already). Should I have an orange bud instead of that last blue bud on the right, to keep up the alternating colours? And since I can't use a lighter thread inside the buds, should I go one darker for the thread outlining them? Actually, sod this, I'll just sew a couple of sample buds, it's impossible to guess.

The bad news: I originally drew that design for the left hand side (see the photo with the sketch), and I think it works better on the left than it does on the right, for some reason. I still fancy having the papryus clumps a bit asymmetrical, though I'm not so sure that I'm going to do the looped flower that was popular before. I'll try a few more things out and see, though I'm not going to sew an entire clump again.

I also cannot work out what to do with the base of the stems. As you can see, I tried leaves in various heights and they all look crappy. You can't see that I tried doing another line of green inside the leaves, because it was far too crowded and I unpicked it. Right now I'm considering a simple row of zig-zag at the bottom, a bit bigger than the zig-zagging used at the tops of the flowers. My mother also suggested ending each stem with a bead, perhaps alternating colours, and perhaps involving brown since I do have some lovely brown seed beads. Not sure about that one but worth considering. I did think about sewing a contrasting line across as if they were a bunch of stems tied with a ribbon, but I don't think it would look good. Should I make the stems curve out a bit at the bottom, since they won't be on a clump of leaves? Come to that, should the stems get that narrow at the bottom? One photo shows Version 2 of the papyrus clumps on the left, which we all agreed was nice in its way but too rigid. Bearing in mind that the embroidered bit of fabric on the left is sitting better on the quilt for the photo than the one on the right, should I make the base of the papyrus clumps a bit wider, using the one on the right as my model?

Now we come to considerations of quilting and beading. I have been ordering various beads and beading books, and am working on ideas for the collar. I'll post those when there's something to show. The beading books are frustatingly gappy: one is purely about beading fabrics alone rather than quilts, and the quilting one uses a different bead stitch (something to do with the different weights involved with a quilt), hints that areas of dense beading may upset the hang of the quilt without specifying how much beading it takes to cause disruption, and then gives two methods for beading. One is to bead onto the finished quilt, but she doesn't follow that method up and her second method (to bead onto the top and wadding and then put the backing on later - erm, I don't think so) would cause a horrific mess on the back if you were to do that through all three layers. I'll practice on a finished quilt, using a long tail of thread instead of a knot so that I can pull it all out afterwards, and work it out somehow. I am rather entertained by the idea of beading a zig-zag on the binding, though. I do need to work out how much beading I can do after quilting and what is better done before it.

Other planned beading: the arm rings, bracelets and anklet of course, and I now plan to bead the stars instead of embroidering them. I'll put up a photo later, right now the only demo I've done is with the wrong colour beads, but they'd be royal blue bugle beads with a gold seed bead at each end. I may end up scattering tiny, barely-there aqua seed beads between the stars, and on the cream background in the lower section (where there will not be any stars), to add sparkle, but I can decide that at the end. I may do some subtle beading on the dress, but again, that can be decided later, along with ideas such as surrounding the sun disk in the headdress with a row of ambery seed beads.

Going back to the quilting, I will of course quilt around the figure and her various parts. In the ditch, I'm thinking, rather than outline quilting. I'll quilt a small lattice (following the lines of the fabric) in the wing sections under the arms, perhaps follow the lines of the feathers (no idea how hard that will be), quilt a larger lattice (following every other line in the fabric) on the dress, quilt lines inside the flowers that follow the triangle shapes, and probably quilt an extra shape in the border between the flowers that I can't really describe but may sketch some time. I'm not sure about the 1" border strips: are they worth quilting at all? The seam allowances are all under them, of course. If I do quilt them, it'll have to be something curved as I didn't cut the fabric quite straight so can't follow the lines of the fabric. I'm thinking a basic cable pattern.

The main issue has been how to quilt the cream background. Right now, I'm thinking of either a diagonal lattice (see below, and ignore the straight grid I drew underneath) or a curved version of the same (though rotate that by 90 degrees). Any thoughts? I'll be quilting it in a non-contrasting thread, probably a variegated light gold/cream.

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