Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Sneak Peek Summer Tin

It's been raining here for two weeks, but the sun came out briefly this afternoon to give me enough light for photos.  It was time for a couple of Altoid tin gifts for a couple of summer-loving friends.  The Trilogy Sneak Peek Summer designs are perfect for this and two fit comfortably on a tin top.  I've finished one and will make one more.  I used 36 count light blue linen using DMC.  The little butterfly on the upper right was my addition since it looked so bare on that corner.  I used a motif for the butterfly that Lynn charted and uses in many of her designs. See this example.

The inside has the cutest little Snoopy flash drive.  And they were on a clearance sale to make them especially cute!  The other one has all the peanuts characters on it. Great find at Staples.

I'm caught up with Ele's ABC SAL.  The alphabet part is finished, so I'm very curious to see what the final 3 blocks will be.  I didn't make any changes to the "vwx" block.  The "yz" block motif was the zinnia, but without stitching any words, I was afraid it might not be identifiable.  I went with 'yacht' for the 'y', even though one might wonder why I put a sailboat on a "yz" square.  But 'y' and 'z' don't give one a lot of good choices.   My attempt at a zig-zag failed miserably.  I didn't want 'yarn' since I was avoiding a needlework theme.  Yo-yo was too modern.  Frankly, I got tired of over-thinking it!

And I finished the May design for the Joyful World SAL.  Just a few color changes this month. I  made the orange flowers a little darker.  I turned the white bird into a bluebird.  There is also minuscule back-stitching on the cat faces.  I'm caught up just in time for the new June pattern.. a super-bear!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Down in the Valley

So my dear little wrapped 4" wooden embroidery hoop really needed to have its own pouch like the ones I made for the other spring tension ones I own.   Really, I was just looking for a way to finish "Down In The Valley" by Blackbird Designs.  Since it was meant to be a round finish, I thought a hoop pouch made sense. I was considering going completely round, with maybe a zipper, but I ended up with a rounded bottom only.  Turns out to be pretty easy to do that.  I found a bowl in the kitchen that was the right size and traced a semi-circle onto the back of the stitching and finishing fabrics.  That gave a nice sewing line.  You just need to use a short machine stitch and clip the curves before turning.  For once, my measurements came out pretty good and this pouch really doesn't even need a snap closure to keep the hoop in there. 

The top border fabric is the backing fabric as well.  It's really not so blue and actually looks more like the muted colors in the stitching.  The stitching is done on 32 ct natural MCG linen.  That linen is a little heavier than Zweigart and makes a more sturdy pouch.   I mostly used the DMC suggested colors with a few changes here and there.

Ele chose 'thread' as the theme for her "s,t,u" block of the Alphabet SAL.  She wanted to tie it in to the needle on the "m,n,o" block.  I didn't want these blocks to end up with a stitchy theme so I went rogue and found a small chart for an umbrella here.  Ele had thought about going with the umbrella idea, so it wasn't entirely my idea.  I think I've stayed with the flavor of this SAL.  We'll see how much of a SAL rebel I will be in the coming weeks.  

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Double zip pouch and SAL updates

I did a little experimental sewing today.  I've made a number of little zippered coin purses and I use them a lot.  They are handy for carrying my credit & ID cards, some paper money and some change in a compact, light-weight format.  The only annoying thing is that change gets buried at the bottom and it's difficult to see what's there to pick out the right coins.  So I decided to try sewing one that had an outside zippered pocket to use as a separate compartment for the change.  I had always been afraid of doing that because of the added bulk in the seams.  So today's test was just done with quilting cottons and no cross-stitch fabric, interfacing, or batting.  It worked out very well, but next time I'll place the side zipper a little higher.   I wasn't sure where to put it.  The pouch measures about 3.5" x 5", about the size of a recipe card.

I found this You Tube video to be a very clear tutorial on how to do this.  I didn't follow it exactly, but it's more or less the same technique.  I've also found it easier to use a zipper that's too long and shorten it on each end.  Trying to line up the metal pieces at the end of each zipper when you sew it in is just too fiddly an operation for me.

I'm up to date on the Snowlower Diaries Calendar SAL now too.  I made a few color changes to brighten it up, but not much.  That bunny and squirrel are just too cute. 

I also completed part 6 of Ele's ABC SAL.  Why does that peacock look like a dinosaur to me?  We just got part 7 and I I think may be going rogue on that one.  We'll see.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Wild and Crazy Carrot

So after I caught up on my SALS in the last post, I realized that I hadn't planned what project to start next.  I usually have my next project in mind while I'm working on one.  I'm a one-at-a-time stitcher, so no WIP's waiting in the wings.  This happened on the night of the Oscars and I couldn't imagine watching an awards show without stitching at the same time.  I looked through my recent freebie downloads and the CEC Primrose Carrot caught my eye.  It fascinated me because it used a lot of colors, but the chart was in black and white with no accompanying color photo.  I couldn't visualize the completed design at all.  I laughed because the designer encourages you to pick your own colors.  Not sure how I would have been able to that.   Luckily I had an appropriate piece of linen and all the DMC colors in my stash, so it became a mystery stitch for me.  It was so much fun to stitch and see the design in color come to life gradually.  On 32-count evenweave, it's a bit too long for a book mark, so I made a little mat to use as a resting spot for my iPad-mini.  I'm quite happy with it.

And I did one more block of El's ABC SAL. Still love these quick little squares.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

SAL Catch-up

I guess I'm hooked on SAL's lately.  I discovered the cutest ABC prim SAL on Kim's blog. The SAL consists of 12 little squares that can be done as one sampler or as individual blocks.  You can send an email to Ele, the designer, to join in the fun. Read all about it on her blog,  Busy Hands Craft 

She has released four blocks so far.  I'm planning to make cube-shaped pin cushions out of the designs so I modified the border to be the back stitch edge that I will use to whip stitch the sides together.  Not sure what we are really in store for since she has featured nine letters on four blocks, but I trust that it will all work out well.  The color palette is that kind of standard prim muted type, all DMC.  I'm using 32 count Lamb's wool Jobelan.  My photo editing may make you think I'm using different fabrics, but they are all from the same cut of Jobelan.

I like the little touches of interesting stitches.  I had never heard of the Wheat Sheaf stitch, but you can see that below on the side of the house in the third square.   That square is especially fun with a house and the 'h' and 'i' close enough together to spell  'hi' .

So I'm up to date and it be should easy to keep current since the designs are so quick to stitch.

I also finished the March design for the Snowflower Diaries Joyful World SAL.  It's mostly stitched with suggested colors, but I did change some for better contrast and a brighter over-all look.   Again, this is 1-over-1 on 28 ct Tea Monaco.  Do you think we'll get a bunny in April?  We probably ought to have a betting pool!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Bird Friends Valentine and Joyful World

One last Valentine on the real Valentine's Day!.  I saw this design first on the FB smalls group.  It's a freebie by Kirsi Huttunen and you can find it at the  Merry Cherry Designs blog.  I actually stitched it up when I thought I was sending out two stitched Valentines this year, but the intended recipient for this one turns out to be traveling for the month of February.  So this one will just hang around til next year I guess.  My free-form heart seemed like a good idea, but my hand paper-cutting skills need work.  I'll just consider it to be 'rustic'.  It's stitched on 35 ct linen.

Like many of you, I've been participating in the Snowflower Diaries Joyful World SAL.  I have no idea what I will do with these designs in the end or even if I will have the staying power to stitch them all.   I decided to do them on 28 ct tea Monaco, one-over-one, in DMC.  I'm doing each individually for more flexibility later. I considered leaving off the month names, but in the end I decided I liked them as is.   Even if I never finish-finish them, I'm enjoying the stitching so much that they will have definitely served their purpose anyway.  The designs are just so precious!  I have finished January and February with minimal color changes.  There were a few places that didn't have enough contrast for my fabric.  The two photos below make it appear that I used a different fabric for each, but that's just camera tricks.  The February photo is probably more true to the real life color.

Here's a shot next to a quarter so you can see how tiny and cute these are:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Heart to Heart

Two feet of snow does not make for ideal photographic conditions.  But I wanted to post these two cards I completed so we'll just have to deal with the blur.  You'll have to trust me that the real life versions of each are so much more appealing.

The first is destined to be a birthday card, but really could work as a very cute Valentine.  This panda is in honor of our new panda at the Washington National Zoo.  The design is by Durene Jones.  She offered a free Calender SAL for 2015 on her Facebook Group.  Each month has a charming little cartoon critter doing something appropriate for the month.  I think she's a master of the UK sketchy back-stitch style of x-stitch.  This one is done over 2 on 28 ct Cashel in a light mocha.

For an actual Valentine card, I turned to "Have a Heart" by Val's Stitchin' Stuff.   No matter how much tinkering I did, this photo ended up looking very washed out.  The whole thing pops nicely in person.   I think of this as a snowman begging Mother Nature to have heart  next time she decides to dump so much snow in this area!  This is done on 18 ct hand-dyed "Into the Sky" Aida from Sassy's Fabbys.

Finally got out to walk a bit yesterday and took the car out for an airing today.  But there is still a long way to go before normalcy returns.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bouquet des Fleurs

Last September, my cousin gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  Usually I stitch something immediately when I get news like this, but somehow it stayed on the back burner this time.  I'm happy that I finally finished a door hanger in honor of the new little one and especially happy that's it done before she grows up and goes to college!

I had picked out the design some time ago.  I wanted something feminine with an alphabet.  Once I saw "Bouquet des Fleurs" by Jardin Privé, it seemed like nothing else would do.  I was so pleased that I could purchase a PDF for this since those French patterns can be hard to come by in the U.S.    I modified the border to include all of the "baby facts".  It's stitched one-over-one on antique white Monaco fabric.  I used the suggested DMC colors with a few changes, notably the upper left orangey flowers and a slightly darker gray for the letters.  The bird was done in a random hand-dyed floss I had.  I was also determined to use finishing materials from my stash.  This sparkly batik seemed like the best choice from what I had.  There are a couple of layers of batting behind the stitched part only.  I like that look with the flatter border.  Probably doesn't show up that well in the photos.

Now we'll see how long it takes me to get it in the mail!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Final Sleigh Ride of 2015

Not much to show today, but I did decide to do one final small gift for a friend who really appreciates these little stitched goodies.  This flat fold pattern is "Sleigh Ride",  a Winter Snapperland design from Bent Creek.  I love that little guy all bundled up and riding in his one-horse sleigh.  It always amazes me how much personality can be displayed in so few stitches.  The fabric is 32 count bone jobelan.   Maybe a slight color change somewhere, but basically I used the recommended colors.  Skipped the snap and substituted a gold bead to suggest Jingle Bells.  And I added a couple of star-shaped buttons.  The cording is purchased.  The backing fabric was a stray fat quarter I bought in the fabric shop some time ago on a whim.  It's only in the photos that the cord looks so misplaced on the top back.  I didn't notice that at all on the finished piece.  Of course, it's there, but not so prominent.  Just ignore it please.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Snowman Quilt Blocks

I've been taking it kind of easy on the crafty front lately.  Those lazy kind of feelings usually lead me to stitch quilt blocks for charity.  I picked two snowman designs for a non-Holiday snowman quilt this time.  These will go the World Of Charity Stitching.  Both photos were taken in my new iPad-mini.  I'm still learning how to work with it, but it is certainly  performing much better than my old Nook tablet!

The first is an older design by San-Man Originals.  It was called "Winter Quaker" and was part of a free SAL in 2010.  I had that mauve fabric lying around so I modified the colors a little to be sure I had enough contrast.  It's a little different from the type of design that comes to mind when you say "stitch a snowman".  I like that because I think it gives nice variety to the finished quilts.

The second design is Pam Kellogg's ornament from the 2006 JCS Ornament issue.   I used to stitch her designs like it was nothing.  Now I find this kind of stitching to be quite the project!  The design as printed has tons of color changes and the chart in the magazine was really tiny.  I'm glad I stuck with it, because it is really cute.  The snowflakes on the upper left were my addition to replace the space for a date.  I used some snowflakes from Sue Hillis' Swirly Snow freebie that you can find here on 123 Stitch.  The fabric is cornflower blue 28ct Jobelan.  And you could not pay me enough to show you what the back looks like!

After reading one of Vonna's blog posts about using a hoop, I decided to take one of my old wooden hoops and wrap the inner ring with bias tape.  I used Mary Corbett's tutorial for this.  You can find it here.   I used it to stitch the snowman above and I found that I really liked it.  Q-snaps are too much for a smaller piece.. too heavy and you need too much extra fabric.  My spring tension hoops sag near the handles and really leave hoop marks that are hard to iron out.  I put the fabric in the hoop 'backwards' so that the stitching is recessed.  It means my hands mostly only touch the back of the fabric so it stays cleaner.  I think I'm sold on this method for now.  Here's a picture of my little helper.