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Lazy Daisy

January 27, 2009

 Embroidery was the first needlework skill I learned as a child.  And, I think the Lazy Daisy stitch was the first stitch I learned.  Pillowcases, dish towels, and dresser scarves were the first things I made.  I then moved onto embroidering on my clothes and anything that I could find to stitch a motif on.  Is anybody old enough to remember sitting next to your boyfriend between the bucket seats?  Most girls I knew made pillows to sit on, mine was embroidered with a Chevy bow tie.

I became a quiltaholic for quite a few years, and dropped the embroidery for awhile, and then having to add more to the handwork portion, I started embroidering on my quilts.  But I was bored with the standard transfers, wanting a personalized touch.  So I started making my own iron-on transfers.

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Ruth Less’ hand print at age 3.

It’s my norm to make handmade gifts.  I like to differentiate my handwork with something special to the recipient.  Logos, hobbies  and simple artwork have piqued my interest. 

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Seed catalogs, coloring books, and advertising also are great sources of inspiration.  Most digital photo editing programs also offer a cartoon feature.  I haven’t used one of our photos yet this way, but it is in the back of my mind when I’m looking at photos. 

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Supplies you will need:
♥ Idea
♥ Artwork
♥ Tracing paper
♥ Transfer pencil (Iron-on transfer pencils are in the notion section at fabric stores)
♥ No. 2 pencil

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After deciding what kind of artwork you are going to use, you need to get it in traceable form.  When I did the transfer of RL’s hand prints, I photocopied them, making several copies for future use.  It’s a good idea to put pertinent information on these drawings too.  Being a collector/historian I appreciate all the little details of every day life on the old things I have collected.  It may not seem important at the time, but it may be someday to someone.  I love heirlooms, and I want to make heirlooms. 

Your tracing paper will be your transfer.  If your design contains letters, or an obvious one-way design you will need to trace it first with a regular pencil on one side, then flip the tracing paper and re-trace the design with your transfer pencil. 
If the direction of your design does not matter, you can skip the No. 2 pencil step, and just trace with your transfer pencil.

Also a thing to remember about transfers, is that they are a guide.  You don’t need every detail of the picture.  Even if you are filling the entire space with stitches, you only need the outline to stitch from.   

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First I drew the motif to size.

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This particular transfer was for a quilt, and it was a one-way design, needing to be in a border between patchwork pieces.

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First I traced the design with a No. 2 pencil. 

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Next, I flipped the tracing paper and traced the pencil design with the transfer pencil.

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This is the personalized iron-on transfer.  Ready for use.

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This is how it turned out on the quilt.

While it may seem frivolous to enhance a simple blanket with such detail, by adding a personal touch to our handmade gifts, we take them beyond what they are.  Fine handwork is so sadly lacking these days, people machine quilt, they machine embroider, never distinguishing their work from factory made articles.  Like a beautiful loaf of artisan bread, a well tended garden, or a beautifully set table, I think we need to appreciate the simpler things in life, and embrace lost skills.  How many stitches did I put in this quilt?  I don’t know.  But each and every one had the recipient in mind.  And that’s what handmade is about.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. January 28, 2009 5:18 am

    O, this is great and so timely! I’ve been taking informal quilting & applique lessons and relearning embroidery (something I learned as a young girl too, but have forgotten). I’ve had a idea to do an embroidered “entomology” quilt for some time, but need the lessons to get me on par. I love Ruth Less’ handprint (would love to do that with my children and dogs). I also have an old palmistry book which would make great embroidered squares.

    You are so creative!

  2. January 28, 2009 6:40 am

    That’s excellent! Some of my favorite pillowcases are the ones my Grandma embroidered with simple flowers and such!

  3. January 28, 2009 7:19 am

    Beautiful! I have a collection of hand-made items from people I have loved in my past! Good for you!


  4. January 28, 2009 7:44 am

    Something personal is always much more appreciated for sure. Speaking of computer and quilts……….I used the “mosaic” feature to transform a picture of a horse head once so it could be quilted. Worked wonderfully 🙂

  5. January 28, 2009 7:49 am

    That’s lovely! I love homemade things. I was always quite a crafter when I was young, my guinea pig had more knitted scarves & hats than all of our family members combined!

  6. Dan Evans permalink
    January 28, 2009 7:59 am

    I love the pictures, they show the detail really well!

  7. January 28, 2009 9:08 am

    Beautiful, I say. Hey, could I be one of those recipients that you think of when you are stitching? Kidding. I like your comment about wanting your creations to become heirlooms, as well as enjoying the heirlooms you already have. Not too many these days have that mentality. It got me a thinkin’.

  8. Rita permalink
    January 28, 2009 10:01 am

    wow, i’m impressed.

  9. January 28, 2009 1:08 pm

    Lazy daisy stitch, satin stitch and running stitch. Anything else seemed redundant to me. And, yes, I’m old enough to remember sitting between bucket seats, too!

  10. January 28, 2009 5:15 pm

    Your handwork is beautiful – I’m sure everyone treasures your gifts 🙂

    I have a few pieces that my Mom has done that I cherish. She’s had carpal tunnel for as long as I can remember so this type of handwork was hard for her.

  11. Claudia W. permalink
    January 28, 2009 5:43 pm

    How beautiful! You have given me some great ideas! I looked at the link you provided for the pictures and blog of the quilt. It is amazing.

  12. January 28, 2009 10:44 pm

    Treasures of a forgotten past. All girls new how to do these wonderful hand made creations. It is sad to see them lost. I am thankful to you for showing us your beautiful hand made quilts.

    As I contemplate, our move is about making our life simple and treasured. It is going to be a big change for us, but I think it will all be worth it.

  13. January 28, 2009 10:45 pm

    I am so tired that I can not spell…Knew sorry about that.

  14. January 29, 2009 4:20 am

    Your work is beautiful. I never can work up the patience for needlework, so I especially admire your creations. And your care in each, for a different person with each one.

  15. January 29, 2009 4:22 am


    I love embroidery but I seem unable to transfer a pattern to cloth. It always smudges or only transfers part of it. Maybe I might have more luck if I transfer my own patterns rather than trying to use a store-bought transfer.

  16. January 29, 2009 8:07 am

    that is beautiful. i wish i could do such gorgeous stitching. mine always looks like a train wreck. how do you get the stitches so even and perfect on the edges on details like the moon and bedstraw leaves?

    that dragonfly peaking out next it the bedstraw is lovely too!

  17. January 29, 2009 8:16 am

    Gifts that are homemade, home cooked, or home grown are the best. Your needlework is lovely, especially the handprint with the moon. I’ve always been facinated with handprints. I saw in a magazine not too long ago where someone made a Christmas tree skirt and every year embellished it with the current handprint of her children. I had traced my kids hands’ when they were newborn, but that was it. If I was granted a do-over, I’d create more homemade momentos where I traced their hands as they grew older. My youngest would love your quilt, and your step by step instructions. I’m going to teach her how to cross stitch soon.

  18. January 29, 2009 8:55 am

    Very beautiful and thoughtful. Heirlooms take time and quality consciousness to make. “Instant heirloom” is such an oxymoron.

  19. cathy c permalink
    January 29, 2009 10:36 am

    Wonderful work, thanks for sharing with us!

    cathy c

  20. kymber permalink
    January 29, 2009 12:10 pm

    “How many stitches did I put in this quilt? I don’t know. But each and every one had the recipient in mind. And that’s what handmade is about.”

    how beautiful…how wonderful…i would KILL one of my own friends for a handmade gift like this…

    woops – did i just say that out loud?

    the entire post from beginning to end was inspiring, helpful and magical…you do some beautiful work there friend!

    thank you!

  21. January 30, 2009 4:07 pm

    Nita….Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes again, ditto, double ditto, and thousand time YES

    I wish you were my sister. No, wait, I’d rather be YOUR sister… your parents were nicer 😉

    wonderful instructions and now I know how I can start making more designs…YAY, and thanks. And I saw that quilt article way back when you first posted it and have remembered it ever since. LOVE LOVE LOVE the special finds and everyday wonders that made it into stitches so beautifully 🙂


  22. February 5, 2009 9:14 am

    I also do handwork like rug hooking, cross stitch, pulled work and embroidery. Since I have little spare time… it takes a long time to finish a piece. I am even going to start to hand piece a quilt because it is a project I can do while minding the counter at my second job.

    I feel like your post denigrates the ‘hand-work’ that is done using a machine with this line: “people machine quilt, they machine embroider, never distinguishing their work from factory made articles. ” I also machine quilt and machine embroider. But not one of my recipients of that machine work believed that their gift to them was from a factory. The fabrics I chose, the quilt and quilting design I chose/designed were all chosen by me. There won’t be another quilt out there like it. Although there might be another embroidery motif out there like the one I used… it likely isn’t going to be used in the same way because I have personalized its use for the receiver.

    I can appreciate the work that is put into handwork but I can also appreciate the work that was put into something done on a machine. Both have their place in a hand-made world. Both say that I took the time to do something for you rather than just go pick up something at the mall.

    Hopefully my disagreement didn’t offend. I also wanted to ask you what you use to ‘write’ your pattern on your quilt. I have tried a couple of different pencils that are guaranteed to wash out and haven’t been happy with the results. I can’t seem to get a sharp line that I can follow without a ton of pressure. What do you use? Do you mark your quilting lines before or after you put the layers together?

  23. cottonreel permalink
    February 10, 2009 8:09 pm

    I,m a patchwork,quilter, I shall study your transfer methods, your site is very interesting

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