Color-Your-Day Creative

With textile artist Paula Scaffidi

While picking up some plain ribbon and cotton tape scraps in my studio, I gazed out the window. Winter has such dramatic line work on display. Today it features a striking black-and-white palette. I felt inspired to explore line design and to stitch, but longed for something else too. I needed a bright, pick-me-up punch of color. Awaken your 2015 muse creating embellished Ribbons of Color. All stripes and styles are welcome. Have a peek at some embellished ribbons and enjoy ideas for trimming mini projects, including some for Valentine’s Day.

Take a moment out …
Notice winters’ linear beauty
Bare trees exacting individual poses with exquisite lines
Viewed as forest, it’s a tangle of amazing black lace as daylight wanes

Focus on just one tree, a sole branch or shadow
Find each line whether bent, curving or straight …beautiful!
View an entire standing of trees as one, then individual trunks, next travel the larger-to-smaller branches
 then up and skyward to the tiniest of branch tips

Now off to explore colorful lines in the studio!

A Fiberella Simple Project 

Ribbons of Color – trim your way

Ribbons of Color are great for small projects of any kind!

Send a Valentine! Here’s a trio of heart ideas. Each one features stitched trims and is plumped to suit a different purpose. The asymmetric heart shape on the left was filled to medium density. See the pins along its bottom left edge? Through that opening, I inserted just enough Hobb’s Tuscany Wool batting scraps to hold its fun shape, yet still feel cuddly and light. It’s perfect for a squeeze and a gentle game of toss with a toddler. It could even be a wrist rest next to a computer mouse.

Center, there’s a more typical heart shape. This one is very firmly stuffed for use as a pincushion. And over on the right, a stretched-wide heart was sewn to lightweight cotton fabric. After turning, I added just a touch of pulled-and-stacked batting, spread throughout its central area. I avoided placing any batting along outside edges. It’s easy to applique this heart, with its already-turned-under-edges, onto any base fabric. The small amount of central filling creates a very nice trapunto-like effect, a puffed look against any base fabric you’d like to use. I’d love these on a pillow.

Seeing all three hearts in a line, I can’t help but think of how a garland of hearts would look strung high and scalloped to the ceiling; perhaps in a nursery, over a crib or in a play area.

MATERIALS …for linear trims only

  • Ribbons and Tapes - assorted grosgrain, satin and all cotton - 7/8” , 1”  and/or 1 ½”  
  • OESD Tear Away stabilizer(s) - Ultra Clean & Tear or Lightweight (multiple layers)
  • Fabric Glue Pen and/or Temporary Spray Adhesive (attach ribbons to stabilizer)
  • Groz-Beckert Embroidery needles 75/11
  • Isacord thread - one or more colors
    •  If you plan to change top colors often, it’s handy to have an Isacord thread to match ribbon in the bobbin
  • Small snips
  • Fine point water soluble pen – (mark dot at ribbon center or draw center line to follow)
  • Rulers
    • small metric (measure to find center point on ribbon; see if design fits ribbon)
    • any longer ruler (use as guide to place ribbons straight on stabilizer)
  • Your sewing machine, manual and a decorative stitch foot
    • BERNINA clear foot 34C offers great visibility (up to 9mm wide), plus the 40C for sideways motion on some models (stitches much wider for big ribbon). Absent sideways motion? Just stitch multiple lines of narrower stitch on the big ribbons or curve as you sew
  • Optional FUN - Fabrico Markers in one or more colors

Finding your Style

From a design stand point, variation and repetition are both part of the art mix.

We don’t always know our style, but we can discover it while creating. So just begin with any simple feeling. In the photo above, notice the lower right corner. Recently, a long forgotten crocheted doll dress emerged from a dusty attic box. It seemed to have left a trace of nostalgia in the air. A resulting pincushion heart features a vintage look, communicated by its muted color palette, gently energized with a bit of zingy lime green.  I aimed to create an old timey look with stitch selection too. Though these stitches were altered only in length and/or width, more variation was added with irregular repeats of pen and thread colors.

Creative Line begins with Doodles

TIP: Previously hooped fabric scraps with stabilizer already on the back are ideal to test stitch modifications and sequences. Keep some handy! 

Nature’s lovely lines bend and twist, don’t they? I stitched these on a BERNINA 880 machine. 

Variations on a theme are never boring. When I think about decorative stitching, I admit it. I would go into a deep New Year’s sleep if I had to passively watch the same pattern stitch-out over-and-over, on into forever without a chance to make it my own. Consistency is one achievement of technology, but creativity is now extended with even more advanced technology. You probably have some of that hiding inside your sewing machine. Make the most of your machine functions and stitches. Tweak stitches to please you. Create new ones. Personally, I love a few inconsistencies and some asymmetric balance. How much symmetry, repetition, predictability and how much variation we freely choose to use provides opportunity; we can suit ourselves, our emerging style and resulting mini projects. Let’s explore trims!

It’s fun to take any basic decorative or functional stitch and make them do new, whimsical and playful things.* Bend them to your will! Whether your machine offers multiple options to tweak stitches, or few, there’s room to be creative. Find out what’s possible (yup …open your manual :-) and doodle around to discover what you like. Practice it and then capture something of interest on your ribbons and tapes. 

* Video tutorial and a PDF document of colorful painting tips, linked at the end of this post.
It’s all a free-view @!

Imagination taking Shape in Context

All those patterns I saw while in Italy last year seem to be bubbling up.
At top left, I visualize a little coin case to sew; in blue, a mobile phone or eyewear case.

Context matters! It’s inevitable. Sometimes you’ll create a trim you don’t love or even like. You may even think it’s awful.  In the above photo, the top left trim now seems truly fine to me. The same trim is also in the photo below. While creating it, an unwelcome muddy look arrived and I was ready to toss it. Now in the context above, it reminds me with fondness of a vintage, millefiori glass bead necklace my Mom used to wear.  Though it took a while, this trim “grew on me.” It just has so much pattern variation that at first I thought …I should be embarrassed …but I’m not. The key was finding a context I liked. Somewhere inside, I’m learning I do find dense clusters of tiny patterns alluring, especially when paired with plain fabrics. What will you discover when you explore trims?

Fear no trim! The trim at the bottom seemed way too dark and heavy …until I surrounded it with even deeper color and added a touch of black to the tape. In context ask, “Should I add something? Do I miss something once I take it away”? Audition combos and proportions. While these fabric choices did eventually evolve and improve, initially it was just helpful to see the trim settled into something. Grab anything. Just start somewhere to find your more desirable fabric context.

Stitch then Color

A single pen color creates a nice monochromatic look.

Above, I’ve left all five ribbon scraps together on my sheet of OESD Ultra Clean & Tear for now because I’m still deciding if I’d like to paint this grouping. Viewed as a cluster, it reminds me of toile fabric. Hmmm… I like these plain and am tempted to paint.* Once you have a pattern you like, you can always stitch more ribbons!

* Video tutorial including a handy PDF document with useful painting tips is linked at the end of this post. It’s a free-view @!

This unpainted grosgrain ribbon would make a nice cuff (bracelet or trim on a sleeve) with its flowers rearranged to meet in the center. Trim application ideas pop up along the way.

By letting the inks dry and/or heat setting them between color applications, you can follow up a wet-in-wet painting session with some dry brush details like dots and “shadow” lines.

Just keep going and you’ll find your way! 

A free-view video tutorial! At the Fiberella Studio, Paula Scaffidi has put together essential sewing tips for the heart trio and a free PDF document with useful, colorful painting tips. Also find a few images of bling added to trims, plus a peek into using the BERNINA 880 Stitch Designer along with its Distortion function …just for fun. It’s all easier than you think.

It’s simple:

Join Paula Scaffidi for LIVE eLearning workshops at

Shops and Guild Program Chairs can contact to host or co-host a special Fiberella eLearning Group Event for shop customers or guild members.

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