Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Holiday Altoid Tin and Regency Lady card

I'm really not one to stitch Christmasy Christmas ornaments.  Goes against my upbringing.  I usually choose winter scenes, birds, etc.  And I usually avoid Santas.  But out of curiosity I joined the FB Candy Cane Stitchers group and the first freebie offered was  "Silent Night" by Barbara Ana.  It's a cute pattern with a row of houses plus Santa and reindeer flying over the rooftops.  It has a lovely border as well.  I really adore Barbara's designs  and when I saw that with some mods I could fit it on an Altoid tin top, I decided to stitch it up.  The little red nose below was Vonna's idea that I copied.  I crocheted an Attic 24 snowflake for the inside and added a couple of snowflake buttons.  The design is stitched on 36 count linen over two.  With my abbreviations, it just about exactly fits the top... a close call.   Came out cuter than I expected actually, and I'll give it away in a couple of months.



My SIL, who really likes Downton Abbey, is having a birthday shortly. I searched around to see if I could find a card-sized pattern with a woman dressed in Edwardian finery.  Missed the mark, but I did find this Regency Lady by Barbara Westhoven in the Gift of Stitching Issue 55.  This is the Jane Austen period, but  old-fashioned elegance all the same.  Too windy to take pictures outside so the photos really don't do justice to the piece.  This is also on 36 count linen over two.  For the eagle-eyed among you, you may spot two half crosses that are missing their '\'s.  I've since repaired that more or less as you can see in the 3rd photo if you get your magnifying glass out.  Not easy to do once the card is assembled.  I think my SIL will like it.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Crochet Airplane and L'l Fairy

People who don't do any of the needle arts often assume that they are all the same and if you do one type, you do them all.  That's kind of the case with a friend of mine.  She's a fabulous party planner and it was her idea to do a baby shower for a co-worker.  She picked a 'travel' theme because the prospective parents do a lot of traveling.   While she was browsing on Etsy for ideas, she discovered a crocheted soft-toy airplane that she liked.  It seemed pricey to her, but when she showed it to me, I didn't really think it was over-priced for a hand-made item.  However, without her asking, I knew she was hoping I would volunteer to make one. 

I'm really not into crocheting little toys like that, especially an airplane!  A princess.. maybe.  Although instructions for these things look simple enough, I know there can be hidden gotchas once you start trying them out.  But I said I'd give it a try and cautioned her to have a Plan "B" ready. 

The cutest patterns looked way too difficult, but I found this free patten on The Craft Frog.  It looked like a good compromise --- cute and a good chance of coming out right.   I used a cotton dishcloth type yarn because I already had some.  It was definitely a challenge and something I don't intend to ever do again!  The pieces are fiddly and it's tricky to sew them all together.  But in the end, I think it worked out pretty well.  My friend liked it a lot and that's what counts.  Actually, that smiley face on the windshield is pretty endearing.



I couldn't resist signing up for a WOCS Fairy quilt square.  I had a pattern in my stash Li'l Fairies by Pine Glen Designs, with several funky little cuties that were just the right size.  I had stitched one of them a number of years ago, and now I know why I didn't do more.  The charts are very hard to follow.  The backstitching lines obscure the edges of the stitching so you have to guess which stitches are whole stitches and which are fractional. And I find it difficult to count when using charts that don't have a darker line every 10 stitches.  So she took a little longer and I did my fair share of frogging, but I do like the result for this quilt.  It's stitched on 32 count lugana.


While looking for something else, I came across two completed Paula Vaughn pieces that I completed a hundred years ago.  I never knew what to do with them and I decided they needed to come out of hiding.  So they have been donated to WOCS as well to use as they please, possibly on a "Ladie's Accessories" quilt, on a tote bag, or on a pillow.  I leave that to the sewers.  They are both done on 18 ct ivory Aida.

Paula Vaughn Reflections of the Past


Paula Vaughn Cameo of the Past


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Peacock Bag

Some time last summer I discovered this design of nine funky peacocks on Pinterest.  I had a heck of time finding the original source pattern as often happens with those pins, but I put on my x-stitch detective hat and kept looking.  I finally found it in an on-line only magazine,  Antique Sampler Stitcher  Issue 8, August/September 2009.  I had never heard of this magazine before. It has very homegrown amateur feel about it.  They sell back issues pretty cheap so I took a chance and ordered it.  I received the .pdf file in a wink so I'm at least one customer who can vouch for the site in case you see anything you like there.

This design was earmarked to become a sling bag at that time.  But somehow, I kept getting interrupted to stitch other things.  I'm usually a one-project-at-a-time stitcher so I don't exactly know how it got delayed.  Anyway I finally got around to completing the stitching and managed to take a slice of time to finish the sewing.  I used the suggested DMC colors, but the finish is much paler than the model in the magazine.  At first I was disappointed, but now I've come to appreciate the subtlety.  I mean who wants to scream "Peacocks!"  wherever they go.

The fabric is 36 ct Edinburgh Summer Khaki linen.  This one uses iron-on fusible craft fleece for stability and it came out with just the right amount of stiffness. Sometimes I have trouble getting that stuff to adhere properly to the fabric, but this time it worked out fine.  I think I may not have had my steam iron set hot enough on some previous attempts.  Final size is about 7"x8", perfect for most of my needs.


Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fall Pumpkins Altoid Tin

I was beginning to think this post was never going to happen.  This project seemed to be one disaster after another, but somehow it finally got done. I had expected it to be finished much sooner, but I'm happy it finally gelled.

I fell in love with Elizabeth Talledo's "Fall Pumpkins" hornbook design in the Oct. 2014 issue of JCS.  Since I had done the Spring one as an Altoid tin top, I knew this was the right size for one, so I decided to go ahead and stitch it with that finish in mind.  I used Summer Khaki Cashel linen, one over one with DMC threads.  After I finished the bowl that holds the pumpkins and looked at the rest of the chart, I was shocked to see that Elizabeth had charted a lot of petit point motifs.  In other words, I should have been stitching that bowl over two so I could halve the size of the stitches for the other motifs.  No way to stitch over half a thread!

I almost abandoned the project at that point.  But I took it as a challenge instead.  I re-charted three birds to make them simpler so they would fit in the space.  The background had included a lovely alphabet and the numbers 1-10, but I had to let that idea go.  I just looked around for fall sampler motifs and sprinkled them in the background - owl, acorn, key, tiny pumpkin, etc.  I'm still not perfectly pleased with those choices, but enough was enough.

Then in the finishing, I started gluing the ribbon around top, only to realize I had chosen ribbon that was too wide.  So I had to pull that mess off and re-start.  The padded stitching is kind of lumpy too.. I don't know why that happened.  But at least had 1/4" ribbon in the right color.

For the inside I got the idea to do a round keyring fob.  I thought I still had one of those bottlecap frames to make a magnet, but I couldn't find it.  So I just used a backing with plain fabric stretched around cardboard and sewed it to the stitching stretched around cardboard.  I stitched the trim around at the same time I stitched  the front to the back and it started fraying all over the place.  I had to used clear-drying glue to tamp it down.   The design is a little witch from a freebie called "Hallowen Witch and Tree" by Kathleen Finn of Stitches of Olde.  She gave the freebie to members of  the FB Prim Stitchers Society.

On to the next project!


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Haunting Love

I recently joined the "Pumpkin Seed Stitchers" group on Facebook for those who like to stitch Halloween designs.  Teresa Smith of T. A. Smith's designs created a piece for the group called "Haunting Love".  The design is monochrome, but I decided to do it in color.  It's just the sweetest piece.  A little bird flew in and landed unexpectedly on the upper right branch, but otherwise this is stitched from Teresa's chart.  Don't you love the little ghosties and the tiny mouse couple?

It's done in DMC (310,4140, 4045, 3746,4124,451,3045,317, and 4000) on a piece of Miek's hand-dyed fabric.  Love those color variations.  4000 is one of the newest colors and it made a great tree trunk.  I finished it up as a pin keep this afternoon.

Couple of pieces of good news to report:
First, the lost LHN "Needles and Threads" square for WOCS finally arrived!  It took one month to get from DC to Florida.  Those squares usually take 3 days to make that trip.  I could have walked to Florida in that time I think.  Hope the square had a nice world tour.  I'm so glad it didn't get lost forever!

Second, my partner and I won our summer tote bag in Jazzercise by attending the required number of classes during the summer.  The promo below shows the bag.  Our instructor was nice enough to give us some extra time to get all of our classes in.  I always think I don't care about these promotions and it's not why I go to class, but these incentives don't hurt!
And my dentist has once again reminded me that the war zone I call my mouth needs its quarterly attention soon.  Andy Warhol may be most famous for Marilyn Monroe and Campbell's Soup, but these toothbrushes make for great pop art!



Saturday, August 16, 2014

Random Threads and Bookmark

Unfortunately,  the last square I stitched for WOCS, the Needles and Thread piece by LHN, is lost in the USPS ether.  Mailed on July 21 and still hasn't arrived in FL.  I've sent a ton of squares from my house to the same address with no problem.   Guess my number finally came up.  I've had the problem with international mail before, but not inside the U.S.   Anyway, you know the old expression about getting right back on the horse after your fall, so I stitched a replacement square for the "Sew Be It" quilt.  This design is " Random Threads" by Erica Michaels.  I wanted something with few colors, minimal back stitch and just the right size.  I think I found it and I'm just hoping this one finds its way to its new home.

I had a long skinny piece of fabric from my Miek hand-dyed collection that I decided was perfect for a bookmark.  Not sure what to put on that bright yellow, but then I remembered Erynne's "Summer Owls" design.  I selected three of the four owls and just made a column of them.  You gotta love owls in bathing suits, especially the middle one in the polka dot bikini.

The design is a freebie on Erynne's Stitcheree blog and you can download the full pattern here.


My friend Hetti surprised me with some lovely gifts.  The top two photos below show a little mirror pouch she made.  You are viewing the back side of the mirror itself on the left.  Hetti designed a cross stitch pattern for the pouch that kind of mimics the delft tile pattern on the mirror.  Love the little butterfly button too.  Isn't this clever and gorgeous?

She also included some beautiful multi-color threads and the three with the white tags in the photo are hand-dyed by Miek.  The card shown with the floss is one of Hetti's creations.  She makes fabulous cards!

On the bottom right you can see the post card, Dutch-themed wrapping paper, Hetti and Miek's calling cards and a cute little purse-sized memo pad with Delft tile designs on the cover.  The paper inside is graph paper, so handy for a little charting on the go!

Thanks, so much Hetti!  I feel spoiled again!


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Pouch, Halloween and Bookmark

My long-time stitching buddy, Hetti, received the little gift I made her to celebrate some good news in her life.  Hetti is one of the first stitchers from whom I received an exchange piece back in 2006.  Check out her blog if you don't know it.  Hetti has free designs and tutorials for all kinds of cute little x-stitch things.  I made her a little scissors case from the Pennsylvania Blossom design by Beth Seal.  This is a freebie for the Prim Stitchers Society members on FB.  The case is lined with a snap closure on the inside top.  Hetti seems to use red, white and blue a lot in her stitching, so I thought the cute polka-dot scissors would be perfect for her.  The case is large enough to hold some extras, so I added a few skeins of HDF silk floss as well.




Amazingly, the case turns out to fit her cell phone perfectly and she is now using it for that purpose as you can see below.  If I had been trying for that, I would never have made a case that fit that well.

Hetti's sister, Miek, likes to dye fabric and threads.  Making the scissors case reminded me of the beautiful hand dyed fabrics I have in my stash that Miek sent me some time ago.  I decided to make a couple of Halloween cards from one of the pieces.  The first is a design from the The Flossbox.  Zombies like to trick or treat too you know!




The second is an old freebie,  "Des Fillles et Halloween", by Nathalie of Jardin Prive.  Originally the design was available on this site, www.desfillesetuneaiguille.com.
I don't think it is there now.  It makes me think of a stylish version of the Shakespeare Weird Sisters.  Love those cinched in waists on the two end ladies.






And, while I was playing with the fabric, I grabbed this beauty and stitched a bookmark for WOCS from a design in "Bookmarks Galore" from Leisure Arts.  It was tricky to find something that would work with all of those colors, but i think this blended in quite well.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Fabric box and quilt square

I used to adore stitching Linda Coleman's Cross Country Stitching pieces.  They are so adorable, but I often felt she over-did the back-stitching thing.  She has started offering some of her small designs as freebies on her FB page and her little summer fruit bowl caught my eye.  It just showed the chart with no finished model and I find it hard to visualize what it will really look like when that's all I have.  I was in the mood for bright colors, so as an experiment, I decided to stitch it up and use the least amount of back-stitching I could get away with.  Turned out just fine and it's making me re-think the designs in some of my old magazines.

I was tired of finishing x-stitch pieces the same old way.  I looked around the web for new ideas.  I prefer simple sewing projects.  Just can't get excited about painting, staining and gluing.  I have sewing supplies and no room for more 'stuff', so I'd rather go in that direction.  I found a cute little fabric box tutorial on Pinterest and decided to substitute my x-stitch piece for one side.  Made a few mistakes, but I'm really happy with the finish.  A little heavyweight craft interfacing made it pretty sturdy.   I'll probably keep it by my stitching chair for a while as an ORT collector.  Almost too pretty to use that way.
The stitching is over-two on 35 count HDF linen.  

You can get the chart by clicking here to the FB photo.
The tute for the box is here.


I continue to do an occasional quilt square for WOCS.  This one is for a quilt with a sewing theme.  Little House Needleworks "Needle and Thread" was just the right size and a quick, enjoyable project for this quilt.  This is done on 32 count lugana with my choice of DMC colors.  I thought my ironing job was pretty well done til I looked at the photo!



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Wedding Pinkeep and Card

I'm all ready for my cousin's  wedding in August.  Bought a new dress, made a pin keep and card.  All I have to do is write a check and I'm set.

"I Do" by Bent Creek is the perfect little design for a pinkeep.  I used all DMC over-one on 28 count Cashel.  I've forgotten which color, one of the light neutrals.  If the couple had shorter names, I would have stitched their first names instead of initials, but this works.  I love how the I, d and o are worked into the alphabet so as not to disturb the sequence.



I stitched up a few freebies for the card, but finally settled on one by Nan Lewis of Threadworks Primitives.  She designed it for the members of the Prim Stitchers Society FB group.  Someone in the group commented that it looks like the birds are almost kissing so that helped me decide.  This is done with my usual free-hand style of cutting and very little actual measurement.  It's a primitive design, so I figure that's fair.  The design in stitched using DMC on 35 count linen from HDF.  I added a little batting behind the design so it's pouffy.  The card is actually larger than the pinkeep.  I hope that doesn't seem too odd.  But done is done and now I can move on to another project.



Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Rendered By..." Bag and Bottlecap Magnet

The birthday party for my friend who turned 60 was a big success.  The trickiest part for me was deciding what to wear since the party was at a very nice restaurant and my standard jeans and t-shirts just wouldn't suffice.  I finally settled on a black skirt and flowered top.  Then I noticed that the top really matched the little piece I had been stitching.  So the day of the party, I sewed it up into a little cross-body sling bag.  All my others are getting worn out with use, so it was time for one or two new ones anyway. 


The chart is  is called "Rendered by.."  designed by "Little By Little".  It's stitched with DMC on 32 count Lugana.  I made a ton of changes.  The colors just didn't seem quite right in some cases, so I kept substituting.  I also simplified it to fit the size I wanted.  The alphabet was one of those old time sampler deals where some letters are missing and some are repeated.  But I saw a couple of other finishes on blogs where the stitchers had changed it to be the normal ABC's and I followed suit.  There was some odd dead space that didn't sit well with me so the butterfly and purple heart are my additions.  Of course, in the original, the words "Rendered by...' are stiched along the bottom and the stitcher can personalize with his/her own initials.  But that got left out too.

In this version, I only used heavy fusible interfacing and no batting.  It was a trial and it turned out well.  Much easier than batting actually.   After I used the bag for the party, I decided the top seemed a little plain.  So today, after searching and crocheting about 20 different little butterfly appliques, I finally found a pattern that suited me.  So the final product now has a bit of adornment.    Click here for the page of butterfly patterns where I found the one I settled on.



I saw a cute thing on Pinterest that I just had to try, a bottle cap magnet using cross stitch.  I bought a pack of 1" diameter flattened bottle caps at Joann's for a test.  One inch does not give a lot of space to work with, even at over-one on 32 count fabric.  32 / 1.4 is about 23 stitches on a side for the largest square that will fit in the circle.  (Hypotenuse is the square root of two times a leg as all good Pythagoreans know).  As luck would have it, the same day I bought the caps, I saw the new tiny mermaid design by The Little Stitcher, a freebie you can get here.  I did a pretty weak job of stretching it around a circle and centering it, but as proof of concept, I think it turned out kind of cute.  I added it to my mermaid tin and I'll be giving the tin away tomorrow so mermaid stitching is at a close for now.  There's an odd wonky stitch that shows up in that photo because it's such a close-up.  I couldn't actually see that without magnification in real life since the stitching is so tiny!