Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My New NEO Tajima Embroidery Machine


Well, here it is. My new NEO from Tajima, the leaders in the world of computerized embroidery machines. This model has been enhanced by the addition of an upgraded motor and a large border sash frame with the capability of running designs as wide as 47" and a maximum depth of 14" - a big help to me when I'm creating involved repeats for curtains or as in this case, upholstery. Click on the photo above for an enlarged view.

The pattern visible is an applique of a heavy woven fabric on the surface of a Great Plains fabric from Holly Hunt. Besides using the applique feature on my new machine through digitizing, I also utilized an enlarged pattern stitch that is applied on top of the rich satin stitches that surround the applique.


This is one of about 9 pieces that make up the embroidered skirt of a lounge chair. With my normal sash frame, a section like this could require as much as 3 separate framings. This 32" section is not done with one framing. After some initial difficulty with my new machine all seems to be running smoothly and I am looking forward to full steam ahead on this project which includes 6 chairs and 2 8' sofas. I hand cut the applique while it is on the machine - I've had some hopes of leads for local laser cutters who might be able to help me with this process but none so far are up to the task.


I love the mechanics of my machines and the beauty they are capable of producing!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

White on White Embroidery on Linen


These two pillows are embroidered on beautiful linen. I call this pattern the Ann Border because it was first made for Ann Holden of Holden & Dupuy of New Orleans.

They are 26" square and have a 3/4" flat flange with small pleats at the corners. The embroidery is done using cording - a hand guided technique done using the Cornely Embroidery Machine and the size of the pillows was actually determined by the configuration of the pattern.
This same pattern has been used in a variety of ways - often as applique for curtains. Below are a detail showing the pattern used as an applique' curtain border. The applique' fabric is a beautiful soft pink and cream coloration of a Fortuny pattern. The fabric, a wool and linen twill. The combination is rich yet light and playful.



Interlocking Knot Embroidery in Satin Stitches

This beautiful silk panel is one I made for a couple of custom pillow fronts. The pattern is a traditional Interlocking Knot pattern - very often used in printing, tile work and inlay in wooden floors. A good friend of mine, Erika Glazer, has this design on her hardwood floors which are original to her house in the late 1920's.

The pattern is strong, straightforward and would make a great ottoman top and or chair back. It is a nice traditional touch which can be very masculine or feminine depending on the colors used and the ground fabric.

More on Frank Lloyd Wright

In a previous post I introduced an embroidery I've been working on for "Hollyhock House" - the Barnsdall residence built in Los Angeles on Olive Hill by Frank Lloyd Wright during the early years of Hollywood. The curator of the house contacted me about helping create an embroidery that would appear similar to one used for the Dining Room Chandelier. The only known photograph of the fixture is not clear so we had to try for the impression of the fabric more than an exact copy. Please see my prior post for more information.

Some years ago, the living room furniture was reproduced and I was contacted about remaking the Living Room sofa pillows. Very basic in concept and having an actual surviving pillow front as an example, I made a variation that had the correct look of the original. The difference, the original appeared to have been completely hand embroidered. My version was created using a metallic soutache which was applied by hand-guided machine using a Cornely Embroidery Machine.

The pillows above are similar to the pillows at Hollyhock. The fabric is a Michael S. Smith Jasper Collection velvet - the soutache is vintage metallic. The pillows at Hollyhock utilized an exact reproduction of the fabric from the original.

The pillows are 22" square and the front and back fabric are identical. The two panels are put together using a self mitered and reversed flange - creating a double flange effect.

Claremont Paisley Fabric in Hand Embroidered Chain Stitch

Above is one of four pillows made from a Claremont fabric that I sent to India for hand embroidery. I believe this fabric is hand printed in France. The colors are rich and earthy and I thought the hand embroidery would give a nice primitive texture to the fabric design that is over-embroidered.

There are several colors used to embellish the surface and with a variety of stitches. French Knots are used around the large leaf shapes and chain stitch and back stitch are used for the rest of the pillow. The floss is cotton. here is a detail of the pillow front. Click on either of the two photos for an enlarged view.


I have four pillows from this pattern - two 20" square pillows and two 18" x 23" pillows. Both sizes are filled with feather and down, have a Samuel and Sons fan trim and a Michael S. Smith Jasper Collection fabric back.

See the post below for an additional pillow collection I had embroidered in India. My global production experiment is a great success!

Claremont Fabric with Chain Stitch Embroidery

About a year ago, I purchased two yards of two different fabrics from Claremont Furnishing Fabrics Company. One of the fabrics, a lovely yellow ground cotton print, had flowers and some Chinese images - a charming fabric that I had previously hand embroidered for a client of Leta Austin Foster of West Palm Beach, Florida. I sent my sample and the fabric along with a dozen colors of silk floss to a company in India. This blog posting is for the first fabric, I'll follow this with another post of the second fabric.

The process of accomplishing the embroidery was complicated. The sample I made was articulated carefully with a mixture of single thread colors creating a handsome and varied looking stitch. it was basically a chainstitch but my control of the color gave the end result great rich character. Click on the detail below for a close up view of the fabric and embroidery. You can also click on the photo above for a better look at the completed pillows.


My reproduction from India, although different than my sample is quite bold and direct. The stitch is basically the same but the embroiderer did not mix thread elements to create the variety of colors that I had. I love the pillows. They are 18" square. I have finished them with a fan trim from Samuel & Sons and used a Michael S. Smith Jasper Collection fabric for the back. The effect is muted and everything is done to emphasize the stitchwork - an over embroidery on the existing print pattern. I have five completed pillows; some are right, some are left facing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fortuny "Ashanti" Textile Pillows Hand Beaded in Bronze

The Fortuny fabric used to create the pillows photographed above is called “Ashanti” and is named for the inspiration fabric from Africa. Made by the Ashanti (or Asante) people of Ghana in Western Africa, the hand printed cloth is known as Adinkra. Motifs are applied to cotton by using stamps carved from gourds. Boiled tree bark with iron slag is used for dye. Patterns are built up in squares by repeating design elements which usually have some magical, historical or proverbial significance. This information I found in one of my books, African Textiles by Christopher Spring, a curator of the British Museum specializing in Northeast, East and South Africa.
Here I’ve hand beaded the fabric using different textures of bronze beads. Bugle beads, seed beads and three cut beads have been combined to embellish the beautiful Fortuny fabric. The pillows are completed with a small welt and back panel in suede.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Lyon France Silk with Bronze Beads and Pearls


The two kidney pillows shows above are gems. The fabric is from Prelle; woven silk from Lyon, France. Precious in itself, the fabric is one of many historic patterns that are still being produced by this centuries old silk weaving community. I purchased the fabric through the New York Showroom and used bronze beads and pearls as the basis for the embellishments with a few touches of color for balance.

The corner pleated flange, welt and back are made of linen from Bergamo Textiles. I love the rustic nature of the linen with the silk floral, as it keeps the pillows from becoming too precious. Be sure and click on the photo above and get a good close up view of the pearls and bronze beads – they really are a treat.

The pillows are 10”x 21” and 10” x 23” and filled with down and feather.

Suzani Inspired Custom Pillows


Some time ago, I purchased the most beautiful damaged antique Suzani (by clicking on the the word Suzani you will be directed to the website of Marla Mallett which has history and wonderful examples of the embroidery) on eBay. It has the most beautifully articulated embroidered images decorating the silk ground. The colors are brilliant and I have used it for inspiration many times.

The pillows above are just one example of the results of that inspiration. It also was the basis for curtains I made for designer Katie Leede of Digs By Katie. The Suzani images became the leading edges and hem return for a residence in Santa Monica. The work was chain stitch outlines and fill and the colors were brilliant on raw silk. The pillows above are a design I created using my digitizing software for my computerized embroidery machine. The fabric is from Old World Weavers and the trim is from Décor de Paris. The pillows measure 20” x 20” and are filled with down and feather. Click on the photo above for a close up view of the pillows.