I do always like to try something different and have found myself more drawn to incorporating vintage fabrics and re-purposing fabrics. Partly so that I can create something completely unique and also to use what already exists. I happened to discover a unique find that worked perfectly for this months Aurifil Artisan challenge! I've created a cross stitch piece using vintage lettering and a second hand embroidered cloth... yet it still has a modern flair!

While I was at Stitched Up my eagle fabric spying eyes were drawn to a dainty and beautiful cloth. Amongst a variety of left-over bits and fabric scraps that were being used to create peace banners; there was this piece of white cloth with intricate detail, floral appliqué, embroidery and weaving. I believe it is a small table cover or tray cloth. 

The appliqué stitches are so tiny and the colours used for the flowers are pretty. I like the ombré pinks and the yellow + orange of the flower. 

When examined closely you can see the delicate work that has all been done by hand. The green stitches around the edge of the piece and even more amazing, the green lines that create a border / frame are actually made by woven thread. Whoever made this had good eyesight and a lot of patience.

Here is a picture of the back, which I'm almost sharing as proof that those lines have been woven into the fabric! This type of stitch / technique probably has a proper name but other than 'weaving' I am not sure. If you know what it's called please let me know in a comment below.

The reverse side of embroidery and appliqué projects is always interesting to look at, mine are never that neat and I tend to travel with the thread a lot. I am a bit of a lazy stitcher I guess! There's something oddly satisfying about a neat front and a messy back. This one isn't particularly messy though and it's nice seeing knots and where the maker has travelled about.

There is no way for me to find out where it can from or where or when it was made. It doesn't seem especially old, it could very well have been made recently. It's a charming mystery. 

My plan was to make it into a cushion. Originally I thought about cutting it up and incorporating pieces into patchwork but I COULD NOT DO IT! Cutting through someone else's hand stitching was too much for me. So on to Plan B... do some cross stitch on the plain central part and then add some borders to make a large cushion. I backed the cloth with another plain fabric, as it is quite fine I didn't want the cross stitches to pull and the two layers gave a bit more stability. I basted some soluble canvas to the centre, this makes it so easy to cross stitch on any fabric.

I asked my girls what words I should stitch, we all love the Taylor Swift song 'You Need To Calm Down' and that's what they suggested. I looked up some vintage lettering cross stitch patterns and decided there were so many cool fonts that I would use a different font style for each word. Following the colours already used in the appliqué I picked out 5 coordinated shades of 12 weight Aurifil thread.

As I was stitching I realised that it wasn't going to become a cushion. The hand stitched edges have their own prettiness and to lose them would be tragic. To stitch this onto another fabric somehow wouldn't feel right to me either. And then I realised what I wanted to do. I like this piece as it is. Actually I like everything about it, so to keep it that way it will be framed.

The variegated thread always is a nice surprise, I don't like to plan where the colours will fall and like that it looks so random. Also the pink worked so perfectly with the pink petals of the flowers. The Aurifil 12wt thread is so easy to use for cross stitch and it was nice not to need to separate strands and just get on with stitching! It has a good texture to it and the thread behaved well even through the soluble and two layers of fabric.

Once the cross stitches were finished, I trimmed round the lettering and cut off the excess soluble canvas to save and use another time. 

Then dunked it in slightly hot water in the kitchen sink. The soluble canvas completely dissolves, first turning to a sort of jelly and then disappearing. It needs a little bit of manipulation to get the jelly consistency off.  

I let it dry and gave it an iron. It came with this tea or coffee stain but I didn't want to wash it, I like that it's been used and it adds character.

Just need to find the perfect frame now! Perhaps I will go on a charity shop hunt in keeping with the second hand / vintage theme. I think it'll look pretty cool framed and we'll hang it either in our hallway or living room.

I could see a series of these...

I've long been wanting to do some vintage style embroidery, I was given a lot of lovely patterns so maybe I can combine that with more text cross stitch. A good project to start in the new year!