Ideas and Inspiration Challenge

Barbara Blankenship © 2008

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In the October issue of CQMagOnline I issued an Ideas and Inspiration Challenge to our readers.
“I know all of you have favorites when it comes to embellishing. I would like for you to take pictures of your finished seams or motifs and include an explanation of materials and techniques used.”

I am pleased to include in this article a number of techniques submitted by our readers. A special “thank you” to all of you who took the time to email me and attach these great embellishing ideas.

This challenge will continue throughout the year and I would like to encourage all of you to email your ideas and inspiration. Take a few moments to share your love of creating. A simple seam treatment or an intricate motif will be an amazing inspiration to others. Please join us, by emailing

Woven Stitch by: Lynn Schoeffler, CQMagOnline Staff Member - Temecula, California

To start the pattern: make two parallel lines of running stitches, placing the stitch in the bottom row exactly half way between the stitches in the top row. Use a tapestry needle to weave another thread through the running stitches as shown.

Cross Stitch Motif by: Kerry Leslie - Brant, Alberta, Canada - (

“My favourite thing seems to be putting small cross stitch motifs on blocks using waste canvas. I do not wet the waste canvas before I start pulling it out as it calls for because I'm never quite sure how fabrics will take to being wet (spotting, etc.) I have never had any trouble with the waste canvas threads snagging delicate fabrics when I pull them out although I worried about it a lot the first couple times.

This example was done on a block I did for a quilt being made for a friend. She recently lost her furry black friend, Gonzo, so I wanted to memorialize him on the quilt. You can't see it too well in the picture but I also belled the cat with a tiny bell and ribbon collar.

Gypsy Face by: Colleen Rangel - Chicago, Illinois

Materials Used:

  • Skin tone silk
  • Embroidery threads: dk brown, blue, black and white
  • 1” braided hood earring or size to fit
  • Tissue paper & pencil
  • Beading thread & needle
  • Cotton thread & needle
  • Several multi-color 3mm round beads
  • 1 teardrop dangle bead
  • Tube of seed beads for veil

Sketch detailed exotic eyes with eyebrows onto tissue paper. Tack tissue paper and trace onto skin tone color silk.

Embroider using very dark brown [black appeared a bit too harsh] except pupils which are black with a white highlight and an eye color for the iris [I used a light periwinkle blue]

I chose not to satin stitch the eye whites since the small size of the motif makes it inconspicuous. However if you choose to do so, I would recommend using an off white thread for satin stitch or silk to appliqué them before stitching the pupils and iris.

Appliqué face to block. Make sure the forehead section extends high enough above brows to allow for correct placement of headpiece without protruding above it [avoids need for hair] and extends far enough below the eyes to hint at a nose and cheek area which also allows enough facial area for contouring of the veil.

Open and flatten a braided hoop earring to use as a headpiece. Make sure one of the braids is centered between the eyes to accept a dangle.

Bead the headpiece as you like. I chose multi color 3 mm round beads for the headpiece and a teardrop faceted bead for the dangle.

Bead weave a rectangle of seed beads wide enough to extend across the face and long enough to shape the rectangle as if its draping across a real nose and face.

Tack the sides of the veil to the block. Scrunch the veil in places to suggest movement and facial contours before placing tacking stitches to retain desired shape.

When satisfied, tack the bottom of the veil as necessary to retain shape.

Ric-rack Owl by: Irena Rosenshtein - Arad, Israel (

1. I take a small piece of white Ric-Rack ribbon and paint it with regular fabric paint. I paint both sides in the same brown color.

2. After paint was dry I fixed it with hot iron.

3. Fold the ribbon according to white line and twist it down to receive this shape.

4. I sewed it on the fabric with small stitches.

5. You can do an eye with a bead or do any other stitches. I stitched a nose and legs.

(Check Irena’s blog for other wonderful ideas.)

French Knot Pineapple by: Jan Campbell - Lake Jackson, TX

Outline the shape of a small pineapple onto your fabric. Make French knots with 2 wraps using 6 strands of variegated gold DMC #111 thread plus 1 strand of brown thread.. Fill the entire area with French knots. The leaves are made with 4mm green silk ribbon using the straight stitch.

Queen Anne’s Lace by: Jan Campbell - Lake Jackson, TX

The stem is done with 3 strands of variegated green DMC thread using the stem stitch. Using the same thread, make the leaves with the straight stitch. The French knots are made with white DMC thread. Some are made with 6 strands of thread and the smaller ones are made with 3 strands.

Beaded Dragonfly Border by Claudette Dirzonowski - Wild Peach, TX

This motif is much easier to reproduce by looking at the design rather than by explanation. It makes a stunning border that frames a large Brazilian embroidery piece. The body of the dragonfly is made with a large bugle bead. The 4 wings are made with crystal cube beads outlined with a gold featherstitch. Some of the leaves are made with 4mm green silk ribbon using the lazy daisy stitch. The other leaves are made with Edmar thread and using a cast-on stitch. A small straight stitch in green outlines the base and a gold featherstitch separates each section. Bell flower beads are used throughout the design.

Stacked Chevron Stitch by: Allison Aller (CQMagOnline Staff Member) - Washougal, Washington – 

Begin with the chevron stitch done in green DMC thread. Straight stitch triangles in blue are stitched inside each triangular space of the chevron. Three straight stitches in green topped by 3 lazy daisy stitches are placed at the horizontal base on each side of the chevron, in addition to four longer straight stitches. I like this stitch because of the different widths, weights and textures of the threads involved.

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