I began by affixing my batik print to some fusible interfacing. Then I started putting the picture together: a rather large yellow yo yo became a tree and a few smaller ones were overlapped and hand stitched together to form a bush. A makeshift model of the little girl was formed with the intended fabrics and a layout was achieved.
The pink cotton print used for the dress is the same fabric Sonia chose for Aster's doll (presently in the severed limb phase) and was up cycled from a second hand skirt. The smallest yo yo I could manage would be a flower for the little girl's hair.
I then chose an assortment of vintage buttons we had on hand to place in the centre of the yo yos - you know, just to make them even more darling. I soaked the buttons in some vinegar thinking that this would render the buttons their shiniest. I thought that since this works for pennies... Anyway, the buttons looked fabulous - all except the small green one which was ultimately replaced by some fabric buttons that I made myself! with a few scraps I had on hand. I then attached buttons to the centre of all yo yos destined to be balloons.
This picture is sort of jumping ahead (just pretend you don't see the strings I have yet to stitch ...) Next I decided on the configuration for the balloon cluster and hand stitched all the yo yos to one another accordingly.
I then started to make the little girl. I used some scrap flannel in cream for her face and a small piece of black felt for her hair cut pretty much randomly into the size and shapes that I wanted. I cut a slit in the felt to form the hair line (big enough to pass the flannel through), placed the head into the hair (...hair styling enthusiast...). I then stitched along the front to accent the bangs and bind the two pieces together.
Next I chose a piece of yellow leafy tone-on-tone and formed two overlapping hills. I cut a two dimensional dress shape from the pink fabric and used a gathering stitch to form a pleated neckline for extra dimension. I then positioned the dress onto the backing where I wanted the little girl to stand and machine stitched around the dress. I placed the head in position and machine stitched around the face to secure the head and hair to the dress and the backing.
Needle n' Thread, created by Mary Corbet, is an excellent hand embroidery resource on the web featuring excellent step-by-step instructions and videos for embroidery enthusiasts.
The hand embroidered elements of this picture began with the little girl: I started with her sweet little eyes and added some texture to her hair with some black back stitching. Knowing that I would later add a backing fabric, I embroidered straight through all layers of fabric which saved time as I didn't have to worry about cleaning up all the stray ends of embroidery floss.
Next I used a split stitch to form a heavy line for the tree trunk, partnered with a darker brown running stitch to add some bulk and shape.
Using a fast fade fabric marker I then marked on the picture where all the balloons were going to be positioned, drew a line to where the girl's hand would ultimately be positioned and formed the strings using running stitches in different colours for all the different balloons. As the strings came closer to the girls would-be hand I whipped the stitches to give the illusion of the strings twisting around each other. I then hand stitched the yo yo bush to the backing fabric at the base of the tree.
Here I gave the little girl some arms to hold on to her balloons and hand stitched the arranged balloon cluster in place on the picture.
Finally I signed my picture using a back stitch and added a iridescent cream tone-on-tone 1 1/2 inch fabric frame. With top sides facing inward I machine stitched the picture to a piece of cream flannel leaving a 3 inch gap for turning. I then trimmed my seam to 1/4 inch, snipped off the excess fabric at the corners and flipped the entire piece right side out. After carefully pressing with a hot iron I turned in the edges of the opening I had left for turning and applied a 1/4 inch straight machine stitch to the outside parameter of the frame, closing the gap and adding a nice finishing touch. I then looped some ribbon to form two hangers and Aster's picture from Auntie was complete!!