I am delighted to present Midwinter Mandala available as a PDF download in my shop.I have had this idea for a snowflake design running around in my head for a while now, so when Betz White asked me to participate in “A Banner Year”, a seasonal sew-along project for our School of Wool Facebook group, I jumped at the chance. I had to pick winter!
Winter, for me, can be a tough time. I was raised in CA and TN, where the winters are pretty mild. I have been living up north for a long time, now more than half my life, but I still find adjusting to the winter and snow a bit of a struggle. I love it, but I still long for flowers and green growing things and sunshine. Midwinter Mandala, then, is a combination of all of this! And of course, Cotton + Steel “Dottie” was the perfect background to recall snowfall.
For this wallhanging, marking the embroidery design on the felt was going to be a drag, so I played around with a couple of different things.
I had already added my fusible webbing to the back (which had the embroidery marked on the paper side), and hadn’t added it to my Dottie fabric. I knew that once I did, the combination of the felt and fabric would make it totally impossible to see and trace the embroidery designs from the webbing, with OR without a lightbox. If I used a washable blue marking pen, an iron would potentially heat set the washable blue marker into the fabric, and a pencil wasn’t working very well on a test piece. A Frixion pen would disappear with the heat and I still needed to fuse it down so it would disappear … BUT WAIT!!
You see, in the quilting world, Frixion pens are a big no-no for marking your quilt. While they disappear with heat, the marks can come back when exposed to the cold (ask the quilters who shipped their quilts to shows by plane what happens!). Unless the quilts are washed, the gel stays in the fabric fibers, too. So yeah, not so desirable for quilting, but for my applique? Their downfall is exploitable.
So I fused my snowflake to the Dottie. The Frixion lines disappered, as planned. Then I stuck a test piece in the freezer, and wait for an hour or so as an experiment, to see if the lines would come back for me to stitch on.
And it totally. Worked. Out! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited about sticking something in the freezer. In the pic below, the test piece is on the left: the Frixion pen was applied before fusing to the background, and the faint lines are what you see after being stuck in the freezer for an hour. The snowflakes on the right and bottom are pre-fusing!
Here’s what it looks like while I was in the process of fusing it to the background:
Here’s the finished version, pressed with a warm iron to “erase” the guide lines.
I know this isn’t a technique for everyone. While I could see just enough of the “frozen lines” to be comfortable, I don’t know that I would find this super useful for precision work. I ALSO knew that my choice of embroidery thread (a #12 pearl cotton) was going to cover those lines if they ever did come back on their own. This also isn’t a show piece, so I felt perfectly fine with giving it a press at the end to make the lines disappear. And pressing it as needed in the future, is always an option.
If this idea gives you the heebiejeebies, the dissolvable topper made my Sulky (which is a transparent mesh that looks like cling film) would also work just fine. For that, I’d draw the design on lightly with a pencil and then baste it down with needle and sewing thread to keep it in place while I embroidered. How do you mark your felt? I’m curious!
Midwinter Mandala is part of the “A Banner Year” sew-along, kicked off by Betz White who also designed the Autumn Mandala, available here! Stay tuned for Blair Stocker of wisecraft handmade and the spring medallion in a few months! These patterns are made to be “slow-stitchable”, that is to say, something you can pick up and put down whenever you want. Midwinter Mandala also uses simple, easy-to-find materials for just this reason. Enjoy!