Building a (embroidered) house
Hello and welcome! This is the first blog post for the new Monsters Lounge website - isn't it exciting!? Well fine, yes I am a bit late (9 years) to the party but better late than...you know the rest.
Since it's our inaugural post, I thought we may as well start with an answer to the question I get asked most. Why are you eating that?! haha - just kidding. The question I get asked most is how I go about making those embroidered houses for you. So, if we're ever at a party together and you are asking about my work, I'll hand you a card with a web address on it and it will probably be to this page, Probably. It may just be your new secret undercover mission. Mystery cards are fun sometimes.
If you've been following me for a while, you may remember that I did a series of posts on Instagram and Facebook that outlined every step of building Katherine's Carousel. This will essentially be the same but all together so you can see the process in it's entirety.
Although the carousel is quite a bit larger than my typical embroidered house, the process is the same.
First step is gathering materials
Pictured is the stretcher bars that I sometimes use to mount my linen on however I often use a plain old embroidery hoop.
I'll also need a length of linen, needles, sewing thread, scissors and any floss plus any other items I'll be applying to the fabric.
Next Step is designing your house
A sketch of your piece is made. Depending on the complexity this can take anywhere from 2 hours to a whole day. That sketch then needs to be retraced at least once. One copy to refer to and one copy for each layer there is to the piece. Every single line needs to be allocated a stitch and a color and a timetable.
This means all those stitch books need to be out and referred to constantly. You then need to cross check your inventory and make a list of threads or fabric to be ordered and get them ordered because those alone can take a week to arrive. On a custom house I've been known to spend 3 full days on this part of the process, it's the foundation of all your work.
Next up, prepping the linen
First up is 'neatening' the edging. This isn't a step I do all the time but on large complicated pieces it's worth it. Neatening is basically making a whip stitch all around the edge of your cut fabric. It helps to keep the edges of the fabric from fraying too much while you're embroidering.
And then the linen gets a little bath and all the wrinkles from shipping are ironed out. Yes that is my duvet cover - two birds...
Framing the linen
Once the linen is all clean and wrinkle free, it's time to place the linen on a frame. Here I'm using stretcher bars because I wanted a rectangular finished piece. Sometime I'll use hoops which are much less work. It all depends on what I want the final piece to be framed like.
Framing on to stretcher bars involves slowly attaching the linen using thumb tacks an inch apart all around the frame. Trust me, if you ever do this - get yourself a tack push. It will save you thousands of dollars in medical expenses.
Next, transferring the pattern to the fabric
There are so many ways to do this and although I long for a quicker way, the most efficient and least messy method I have found is the 'tacking' method. This involves tracing your design onto tracing paper (tissue paper works sometimes) and tacking the design lines onto the linen using sewing thread.
It takes a long time. A LONG time. I use this method though, because it allows me to pull the tracing paper away leaving the tacked lines as my guide. Then I embroider over them and simply pull the tacked lines out afterwards. It saves having stubborn transfer lines I can't wash off or accidentally rubbing them off as I'm working.
Now the real work begins. Starting from the inside out and the bottom up, the house is slowly built stitch by stitch.
Until you have a beautiful representation of the house.
Dont be fooled! This part of the process usually takes at least 2 weeks. This carousel took about 2 months to get to this point
The fun part: Embellishments
This is where I add all the stitcky out parts. The beads or the bushes, anything that will be a pronounced part of the piece.
Here I added sparkly bushes, pearl fence posts, down-pipes and some flowery name flags.
Dealing with mistakes
Just like rainy days, snow blowers and that a-hole jerk across the street, there will be annoyances that will cross our path. That point where thread gets knotted, something doesn't look like I thought it would, fabric gets wonky or tears. These will happen and that portion of the embroidery will need to be unpicked.
Finishing the piece
Almost there! By now the piece will be all beautifully embroidered, embellishments added and mistakes resolved. Now its time for finishing. First the piece is washed to get rid of any finger prints and dust that have collected,
Next, depending on how the customer would like to hang the piece, it is mounted and framed. This usually involved stretching the piece, pinning it to the frame or board and slowly stringing cotton thread accross the sides and the top until the piece is stretched tightly and flat.
Here, Katherine wanted to frame the piece to hang in her daughters room so it was mounted on to rectangle board.
Your beautiful embroidered house
A hope you enjoyed this little overview of the process of building an embroidered house. If you have any questions comment below or drop me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org
All the best