Melinda of Family Business asked me for my Top Ten Tips to know before starting Japanese Garden. When I started this project in 2006 (I know… Bad me for taking so long to finish it!), it was the first project I had ever worked on evenweave. First project using specialty stitches. First project using silk threads. First project with beads. I liked the design and I jumped right in, not knowing what I got myself into! Here’s what I've done and what I’ve learned along the way (click on the links for additional information):
• This is an expensive project. I swapped out almost every “called for” silk thread for less expensive ones, mostly Victoria Clayton and Eterna. Eterna silks are like satin threads and I can say that I don’t really enjoy using them. VC threads are really nice to work with. I keep all the floss for JG in its own case.
If I were to do another Chatelaine, I would use DMC. I’ve seen several done in DMC and they look just as beautiful. I’ve also swapped out some of the beads. I’m sure if you place my project next to one that’s done in the “called for” supplies, it would look totally different. I’m OK with that since mine will never sit next to another and no one would be the wiser unless I told them, lol.
• I started this project on 26" scroll rods with no stand. Several months back, I was gifted a lap stand by another stitching blogger. It is so much easier to use a lap stand (or floor stand) than it is to try and balance one end of the scroll rods on the sofa while holding the other end. I have also learned to stitch two-handed which makes stitching go so much faster! It only took me a day to get the hang of two-handed stitching.
• Read all the instructions before starting to stitch. Sometimes, I’ve had to read them several times to wrap my head around what I was reading. As I’ve progressed through this project, I’ve made notes in pencil wherever I’ve made changes.
The instructions talk about various sections of the chart. I’ve highlighted the beginning of each section so that I can find them easily. It might not be that important if you work the project step-by-step in the instructions, but I didn’t do it that way.
• Since I started this project before it was available in stores, my chart is in PDF format. I keep everything to do with JG in a 1” binder and use it constantly while stitching on JG.
• The symbols in the original PDF document are rather small. I enlarged and printed sections of the chart. As I work through the sections, I use a highlighter to mark off the parts I’ve finished.
• The instructions for specialty stitches are very good. There have been times that I’ve had to frog and re-do them several times. Mine are not perfect... most people are not going to notice. So, don’t be intimidated by specialty stitches.
• If you don’t already use one, a needle threader will become a very good friend. There are several metallic threads in this project which gives it great sparklies. I use Krenik #4 braid in very short lengths… about 6” because short lengths are easier to work with and the finish on them doesn’t become dull from pulling it through the fabric over and over.
• A bead nabber or tacky bob will be very helpful when it comes time to do the beading. Personally I like the bead nabber when I’m doing beading. You’ll also need a beading needle, too. I plan on using invisible thread when I get to the beading part so that I’m not constantly changing colors to match the beads.
• Time. I love how JG is turning out, but I’ve learned through this project that doing so many specialty stitches takes me a while. Since I am slow at learning them and doing them, I have to have a chunk of time to work on JG.
• To protect the project from getting dirty and give a bit of cushion while stitching, I use ½” pipe insulation to put on the scroll rods. When JG is being stored during other project rotations, I fold the lap stand flat and I put it in a king size flannel pillowcase to keep the dust off it. Otherwise, I just lay the pillowcase over top when I’m not stitching.
• For me, one of the reasons it’s taken me so long to finish JG is getting all the stuff out… floss box for the JG silks, the binder, the lap stand… It takes up a lot more room than most of my projects.
Other WIP photos can be seen HERE.
Until next time,