I say “almost first” because I remember three embroidery pieces prior to this, other than my two first forays into counted cross stitch… This IS my first big huge project that actually got finished (with the exception of my first fisherman knit sweater…).
This project was finished in about 1988, and I’ve used it almost constantly since then.
The motifs were iron-on transfers from a huge book of them that I still have, from the only section that appealed to me! I fit them on a twin-sized cotton flat sheet that I bought on sale and then started embroidering.
Stitches are very basic – mostly stem, with some satin, french knots and a little bit of couching in the central motif (I’d do that differently now!).
It’s backed with another sheet – cotton flannel this time; filled with a three inch polyfill batt and then tied, because I wanted a thick fluffy comforter look rather than doing a bunch of hand quilting. I had no idea how to make a quilt, so it’s bagged and turned, as if it were just a pillow — no binding. My sewing machine wouldn’t take the strain of even the side edges, so for the most part, they are hand stitched seams.
So it’s now 2011. That makes it 23 years old. It has had hot wax spilled on it, gone to several SCA events as part of my bedroll, and generally seen very hard use. Thrown into the washing machine AND the dryer (in apartments and laundromats, so on HOT) with no respect for the work I put into it… And yet I’m still using it.
At the time, DMC floss was about 25 cents a skein, and I could often get it for 10 for a dollar. I think the entire quilt cost me about $20.00 all told – and I was annoyed because the batting was “expensive.” Pretty good bargain for 23 years and more usage!
The stitching is beginning to wear thin (gone in some places), but the colors are still bright. I’ll put closeups of some of the motifs below. It will never be an heirloom – I’m going to wear it out long before my non-existent children get their hands on it! But it’s six months of work that I’ve never regretted. And it still makes me smile when it’s thrown on the bed or over a sick husband on the couch. Such is the power of embroidery.
The red bird motifs are a pretty bad area for lost stitches. The leaves were couched into a very open chain stitch and have all but gone. The stem stitch wings are missing parts of themselves, too.
French knots with many wraps often take the worst of the damage from the washing machine because they stick out. Many of the birds now have eye stalks instead of beady little eyes!
The blue birds didn’t take quite as much damage as the red ones, but the stem stitch still wore. Part of this is due to the fact that I was young and in a hurry, and my stem stitches were not as small nor as even as they could have been at the time. 🙂
You can see the disappearing french knot effect on the Flower motif to the right.
And the worst damage was in this red flower motif.
You can see the needle holes for the missing stitches when you enlarge the photo. It’s lost most of the red & pink flower and some of the leaves and stems, too. Strangely, on this one the french knots are doing fine! But you can also tell that over the years the “permanent” transfer ink has finally washed out with the stitching!