Saturday, August 27, 2011
For some time now I have wanted to do a cross stitch ball project that had a circular cross stitch design (or designs) framed with a fabric band. A few years ago I did one mini experiment. I gathered a wide ribbon around a styrofoam ball and smocked it. I always figured that I would find the right cross stitch project to place inside the circles. But I haven't found it yet.
When I saw Brooke's Books Madonna and Child design in JCS's 2010 Christmas ornament magazine I thought that would be very suitable for a ball ornament. Last week I stitched the design (over one on 25 count antique white fabric) and then starting playing with some ribbon and beads that I had on hand. (Thus the "interesting" colour combinations.)
First I pinned the cross stitch piece to the ball. It is surprisingly easy to fit the cross stitch fabric to the curves of the ball if the fabric is cut into a square whose diagonal equals half the circumference of ball. (Hopefully I'll soon publish a tutorial with step by step photos.)
I wrapped a two inch wide ribbon around the ball and loosely pinned the center line of the ribbon to the center line of the ball. (This line suggested by the corners of the fabric squares.) Then I pinned the edge of the ribbon around the cross stitch design, keeping the edge of the ribbon equal distance from the edge of the design. To ensure that the bumps of ribbon were roughly even in size I first inserted pins, with gold beads, at the 12 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock positions. I eyeballed the ribbon between them to make sure that the bumps were all about the same size and adjusted the pins as necessary. Then I pinned the edge of the ribbon at points halfway between the existing pins. (Four more pins for a total of eight.) Again I checked that the bumps in the ribbon were all approximately the same size. Finally I pinned the edge of the ribbon halfway between the existing pins. (Eight more pins for a total of sixteen.) I removed the pins holding the center line of the ribbon, smoothed the ribbon and replaced the pins. I used the same method and 16 pins (with beads) to pin the other edge of the ribbon to the back of the ornament. Finally I covered the center line of the wide ribbon with the narrower blue ribbon and added a bow.
Other than the colour of the ribbon I quite liked this finish but I wanted to try something with a more tailored fit. I had seen photos of a needlepoint design fitted to a syrofoam egg. It was framed with pleated fabric and the raw edge of the fabric was covered with upholstery trim. It occurred to me that if I employed the same method but used ribbon and pins in place of the fabric I wouldn't have a raw edge to cover. So I did a little experiment using a piece of Nova Scotia tartan ribbon. (I really don't have a lot of wide ribbon to choose from!) The pleating was fiddly but I liked how the ribbon hugged the ball.
After I finished the pleated ball experiment it occured to me that the process of pinning down the pleats was something like the process of gluing down the strips on a Washi egg. I liked the idea of using the strips to cover the curves of a ball ornament, but of course I couldn't do that with a fabric or ribbon that would fray. Then I remembered that I have a good size piece of plum coloured ultra suede that I could experiment with.
For this experiment I cut a 2 inch by 8 inch rectangle strip of ultra suede and slashed it every 1/4 inch, stopping each slash 1/4 inch from the center of the ribbon. (See the third image on the Washi Egg page.) I wrapped the strip around the center line of a 2 1/2 inch styrofoam ball and systematically pinned the fringes to the ball. Then I finished it off with some upholstery trim and ultra suede leaves.
On close examination the white of the ball peeks between some of the strips so if I use this method again I will make the slashes shorter. Instead of stopping each slash 1/4 inch short of the center line I'll try 3/8 or even a 1/2 inch short of the centreline.
If you are familiar with ultra suede you will know that it looks smoother and more elegant in person than it does in these photos. The fuzziness of the fabric in the above photos suggests to me that for a more homespun style ornament one could use felt instead of ultra suede. In any case, I backed my camera up and took another photo. This one looks more like the real thing.
(The next day when I looked at the ball I tried to figure out what it reminded me of. Clothing from the Renaissance maybe? I started looking at the images of Renaissance clothing and I quickly found dresses in the exact plum and gold combination. And as for the strips? I learned that the strips of fabric and embroidered ribbon that were found on sleeves or short pants of the Tudor period were called "slashes" and if the slashes were rectangular they were called "panels". The contrasting fabric peeking from under the slashes was called "puff". In my research I also found images of Gladiator skirts and the rectangular strips are something like that too.)
That night I had another idea. It occurred to me that instead of covering the ball with a rectangular strip of ultra suede I could use an ultra suede donut that was slashed into 16 petals. (It would be something like a 1950's circular skirt cut into gladiator strips.) Early the next morning I was ready to experiment again.
From the piece of ultra suede I cut a four inch circle; four inches roughly corresponding to half the circumference of my ball. Then I cut a 2 inch circle from the middle of the ultra suede circle and slashed it to make 16 "petals". Each slash stopped 3/8 of an inch away from the center of the donut and each petal was the same size and shape. I pinned the centre of the donut to the styrofoam ball. Then I pinned the top of every second petal to the center line of the ball. (The early morning light purpled this image a bit too much.)
(It looked very interesting at this stage and for the right project, and with a contrasting ribbon or fabric covering the styrofoam to act as the "puff", I could leave half of the petals unpinned.)
Then I pinned down the rest of the petals, covered the ends with some braid and covered the ends of the braid with an ultra suede flower.
The top petals had to be coaxed flat at the ends of the slashes so if I use this finishing idea again I will try making the slashes just a little bit longer.
Now I *just* have to tweak a cross stitch pattern, or two, or three, to fit on these balls.
P.S. With in a week I had tweaked a cross stitch pattern and published a tutorial detailing how to make an ornament similar to the last project on this page. You can find it by clicking here.
Posted by Pinwheel at 6:27 AM