WIP: Inter-Stellar Hand Embroidery

The cotton backing was attached to the 9-patch, which is really an 8-patch square, technically speaking.  I used the invisible glue method as shown by Jude Hill.  Since it was difficult to photograph those teensy tiny stitches from the front view, I am showing you the back instead.  The idea is to bind the two pieces with only small dots of thread showing on the front.  In theory, it’s great; but when I become impatient with the process, my dots are really visible as running stitches.  But no worries, this is just the background for what will become a heavily-stitched work of art.

Ahem. Still working on the hand.img_3409



Interstellar Hand and a Nine Patch

Looking for a focus for my newly-made 9-patch, I came across the Interstellar Hand design.  It seemed to fit with harvest moons and the wider topic of SunMoonStars Circle (Jude Hill).  I drew the hand with a blue water soluble pen free-hand style but noticed there was some bleeding if I didn’t move along quickly enough with the pen.


I was looking for a backing and discovered an older naturally dyed piece of cotton Pellon interfacing from the 70’s.  That was before I started taking notes, but I think this was the avocado skins/pits dyed cloth. Next step:  using the invisible “glue” stitch to attach the 9-patch.


Natural Dyeing Takes a Winter Break…

Yes, Chicago in the winter is not a good place or time to be natural dyeing.  It’s 17 degrees F today. I use my townhouse deck for storing pots and kettles and freely use the iron balcony bars for dripping and drying my fabric.  When the wooden deck boards get warm in the summer, it’s a quick dry for naturally dyed cloth.

So what do do?  Branch out.  Use pieces you made this past spring, summer and autumn.  Make nine patches.  And embroider.  Did you know that February is National Embroidery Month?  That’s according to DMC, the longtime maker of gorgeous floss and threads for embroidery.

So I grabbed my harvest moons, which I shibori-dyed this past summer, and although I intended to make a 9-patch with them, I discovered I only had 6 moons.  No problem.  Add a previously dyed scrap of the same lightweight cotton batiste.  And add an un-dyed mordanted similar scrap.

Then draw your own design.  But what?  I’ve got my water soluble pen ready.  So stay tuned.  img_3365


How to Re-Weave A Navajo Rug

Last post, I talked about my desire to repair or re-weave an old Navajo rug I have owned for years.  I actually purchased it on Ebay for a pittance, because of the “hole” or broken warp threads.  There was also no other information about the rug–no provenance–name of weaver, region of purchase, age of rug, etc.

I began by gathering the materials I would need:  a tapestry needle, strong cotton thread (similar to the original warp threads), scissors, and some hand spun, hand-dyed (Mormon tea) wool which was gifted to me by a lovely lady in Colorado a few years back.

Get Ready…Stitch!
Get Ready…Stitch!
Gathering Materials for Re-Weaving a Navajo Rug
Gathering Materials for Re-Weaving a Navajo Rug

The idea I had was to double the cotton thread for strength and weave in and out of the wool weft, which  had been “released” when the warp threads were broken.  Here is an example (left below) of how I wove the needle over and under the wool weft yarn.  There were other yarn fragments under what is seen in the photo. Once the warp threads were replaced, I wove a bit of the Mormon tea dyed hand spun wool to cover a few stitches.  On the right, the repaired rug.

Newly Re-Woven Navajo Rug
Newly Re-Woven Navajo Rug
Weaving in and out with a Tapestry Needle, Replacing the Broken Cotton Warp Threads
Weaving in and out with a Tapestry Needle, Replacing the Broken Cotton Warp Threads

Fellow blogger, Liz A (imgoingotexas.blogspot.com) had recommended an on-line site–walkinginbeauty.com–which I discovered offers Navajo weaving items, classes, re-weaving and rug identification services.  I decided to repair my rug on my own, but the site deserves a look.  BTW, all of their Navajo weaving classes for 2017 look to be full.  Maybe there’s a wait-list?

How do you re-weave a “broken” handwoven Navajo rug?

I googled this post title in many different configurations, hoping to get an answer.  Many of the choices were for ads wanting you to visit “XYZ Oriental Rugs” to purchase a rug or have their staff re-weave your carpet.  Some of the searches revealed how to re-sew a broken braided rag rug.  But two of the best solutions were from “rug chick” and “Mr. Fix-it.”  They recommended glueing the rug back together or duct-taping it on the reverse side.

Finding a match for re-weaving a Navajo rug
Finding a match for re-weaving a Navajo rug

I gathered some home-spun wool yarns, as well as a couple of thicker cotton yarns.  You may see a match in the photo, but each was a shade off.  This won’t be easy to repair, since the warp threads–which appear to be cotton–are thin and broken (see below).

Since I didn’t find an answer to my question on the internet, I plan to find a large needle and some strong cotton thread and give it a go on my own.  If it works and looks decent, maybe I will make my own You-tube video on how to re-weave a handwoven rug.

Broken warp threads on a Navajo rug
Broken warp threads on a Navajo rug

Make Do & Mend What You Have…

Last time here I mentioned I had some mending to do in the New Year.  These mending projects do not sound like fun, but they are necessary to preserve what we have and avoid buying “brand new” whenever a rip or tear occurs.  Usually we think about mending socks and ripped shirt seams, but lately I have been mending household textiles.

As you can see below, you don’t really need a fancy sewing machine for mending.  This budget Janome machine has done just fine for the past 5 years…for mending and sewing new things, too.

img_3242Now for mending:  first up, cotton flannel duvet, 15 years old, plenty of wear, but not yet ready for rags.


When mending, you want to choose like materials for patching, so new flannel scraps with old flannel duvet.

I know, it doesn’t match.  It was really tricky getting the large duvet scrunched under the machine arm.  But the end result satisfied me, until the bobbin ran out.

Just before the bobbin ran out of thread.
Just before the bobbin ran out of thread.
Large duvets can be difficult to wedge under the sewing machine arm.

My second piece of mending is just below here.


Next I tackled the bed sheet which had a hole in it and had been previously hand-sewn with a small patch.  It not only didn’t look very good but I feared with one wash it might come loose.  You can see the small hand-dyed moon patch I had made for another purpose.  I thought it would be a good fit here.img_3250

img_3251I chose to use the zig-zag stitch for this one, beginning in a circle and moving in.  I broke a couple of bobbin threads with the forward and reverse stitching, but it worked in the end.  Neither of these patch jobs will win any prizes, but I have the use of this wonderfully soft and cozy bedding for perhaps another year or two.

What have you mended lately?


Mending in the New Year

Two years and three days ago, I vowed to stop buying new clothes…not for any particular length of time, but I initially thought one year would suffice.  Why did I make this decision?  Without going into a long political diatribe, I noticed my new clothes didn’t last very long and that they were also predominantly made in Southeast Asia.

At the same time, I had been reading about the “sweat shop” clothing factories overseas and the subsequent tragedies which had occurred.  The big fire in India which killed over 900 people comes to mind.  And I had read about other disasters in places like Indonesia and China.  With all of that in mind, I agreed (with only myself) that I would stop buying clothing.  And it’s been two years now!

When you decide to stop buying clothing, you need to begin wearing what you have and/or make new clothing.  I went into my cotton fabric stash and made a few new tops and a skirt.  But then I began mending.  And once I started mending clothing, I thought, why not mend household textiles?

So, in the New Year, I plan to do mending:  This will need to be re-weaved.

Navajo rug detail
Navajo Rug

While I am a novice weaver at this point, I have never before re-woven anything.  But I plan to learn.

I also have a bed sheet and a duvet cover which are beginning to shred and tear.  They have  plenty more use left in them, and they are really, really soft and cozy.  Here is the duvet cover:

Worn cotton duvet cover
Cotton bed sheet, patched

Are you a mender or a patcher?  Do you have a preferred method?  I know I need to re-sew the bed sheet, perhaps with my sewing machine.  Any tips on mending or re-weaving?