Saturday, July 25, 2015

Halloween Mermaid plus Ghoulies & Ghosties

Seems weird to me to be stitching Halloween designs in July, but the stitcher wants what the stitcher wants.   I saw this cute witchy mermaid stitched up on the Midnight Stitching blog.  There was no reference to its origin and I thought the blog owner had designed it.  I wrote to her and she quickly returned my e-mail to let me know this is part of the "Stranded Jacks" patterns by Plum Street Samplers.  I love the titles on Plum Street designs.. so inventive.  I couldn't wait to stitch it up.  The top photo is oddly blurry.  I guess my hand was shaky.. witches can be quite scary, at times.

I went for a stand-up finish.  It's only 3" on a side when completed so I can stand her right by my computer and glance at her from time to time.   The fabric is 18 ct hand-dyed aida from my long ago acquired Enchanted Fabric stash.   I made a braid out of three of the colors in the design.  Braided just like a hair braid with 2 full 6-strands lengths of each color.  That's much easier for me than doing twisted cord.   I usually sew on trim, but this time I glued it.  The little green ribbon hides the spot where the cord ends come together.  I definitely need to find a better way to handle that part.

Next I stumbled upon Lizzie Kate's "Ghosties & Ghoulies"  design. So cute and I wish the photo did justice to the card finish.  Again, the fabric is 18 ct hand-dyed Aida in a nice brown color and the mat card stock is true black like the ribbon trim.  The outer card is a cream color.  I picked that ribbon up in a clearance basket at A.C. Moore the last time I was there.  I knew it would work for a Halloween card of some sort.  This is the first time I tried wrapping the ribbon around the mat so the raw edges are hidden.  It was a bit bulky, but this ribbon was kind of stiff, so maybe a regular ribbon would have worked better.  At any rate, I like the effect.  I added one teeny star sequin on the left. Somehow that spot looked bare.

And now I'll get on my broom and fly back to July.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Wedding Card

So this is the third summer in a row that I have a received a wedding invitation.  I won't be attending this long-distance wedding, but of course I've made a card to accompany a gift ($$).   For a long time I have wanted a reason to stitch Luli's heart design.  Click that link to get the free pdf chart if you are interested.  It's perfect for a wedding card, but to make it fit, I had to stitch it over-one.  It's done on a light mocha 28 ct count Cashel.  I changed the main color to blue (DMC 322) after I saw a finish using blue on someone's blog.  It's always so hard to find the right fabric to get enough contrast for white designs without killing my eyes.  Over-one is hard enough.  I added a few white seed beeds and I'm not sure they even show up all that well.

I did a free hand drawing and cutting job to make the skewed heart-shaped window.  Worked out pretty well.  The mat looks really nice with the cream-colored border.  I thought about doing a ribbon bow or something, but those add bulk and since I'm mailing it, I preferred that it be as flat as possible. That little trail of multi-colored hearts had to do for the understated embellishment.   While looking for inspiration, I did see a nice scrapbook punch that can make little slits that would allow you to thread a ribbon through the card nicely.  But I resisted the urge to add yet another tool that I would use infrequently to my limited storage space.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Peace card, ruler sleeves and spool pin doilies

The JCS 2015 Ornament Preview issue arrived, and I was immediately drawn to "Peace" by Cathy Haberman of Hands On Design.  It was shown in the chalkboard style that she has popularized lately, but my eyes just can't take stitching on black.  I hoped that doing it on a blue fabric would work out and I do like the result.  The photos are a bit blurry... rainy days and I kept missing my opportunities when the sun came out.  I think it makes a cute holiday card with the rick-rack trim and a couple of sequins.  The sequins are actually to hide my mistake in cutting the window... necessity and the mother of invention you know.

I'm still on my quest to find the best way to finish the 6" ruler sleeve.  I stitched another of Vavi's 'long' alphabets,  "ABC Romantique" on Edingburgh dirty linen.  This time I did not do a full lining, but used iron-on interfacing to back the stitching.  The border fabric is doubled. I folded in a seam allowance on each side, then folded up from the bottom and used a blanket stitch to sew the side seams.  Blanket stitch is really hard to do nicely so that the back looks as good as the front.  I never seemed to get the hang of piercing the fabric at an exact 90 degree angle.  Now I understand why quilters don't usually go for  the 'stab' method that x-stitchers use.

I also tried another one with just plain fabric and a quilt type binding.  I added a crochet motif for interest.  Not sure I like that one either.  I think I may be giving up on this type of project.

Sandy of San-Man Originals discovered a vintage item that crocheters use to make, something called a spool pin doily.  These are used on old sewing machines as a decorative replacement for a circular felt pad that sits under the top spool of thread for stabilization purposes I guess. 

 Here's a photo of one that is currently on sale on Etsy .

Sandy was planning to make one for her old Singer treadle machine, but it looked like something quick and fun to do so I made three and sent them to her. Such cute little things.  They are each about 2.5" in diameter.

The first came from a flower pattern at this link:

I used crochet cotton doubled (I had a ball of thread that came that way already) and a size 6 steel hook. That made the hole about the right size. It's 2.5" in diameter. 

This was an old motif from my stash.  I think the pattern was from the "Harmony Guide to Crochet".

The final one is the Dahlia Circle from the book "25 Floral Blocks to Crochet":

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Tin of Postive Vibes

A FB friend of mine recently posted a link to a "Knapsack of Hope".  It showed a little gift bag filled with items that represented a positive way of looking at life. After some additional Googling, I discovered a number of variations on this theme and thought it was a cute idea.

I had started stitching a design for an Altoid tin top about that time to give as a little gift for a friend who is having health problems and will be going in for surgery in a week.  This "Knapsack of Hope" idea seemed perfect for tin contents.  I renamed it to be a "Tin of Positive Vibes" and modified the items for the box and their meanings somewhat.  I'm not sure I have all the contents exactly as they will be when I send out the gift, but I'm pretty close now.

The design for the top is by Homespun Elegance, an oldie but goodie called "Delivering Posies".  I had those two cute buttons left over from some project and they made the perfect wheels for the cart.  Then I added the teeny heart at the top left.  It's over-one on 28 count light blue Monaco, all DMC.

The crocheted heart in the lid comes from this free pattern.  The crocheted star is done with metallic thread... just as hard to crochet with as it is to x-stitch with!   This is another free pattern that you can get here.

Here's a list of the contents so far.  I have a little flashlight, but I hadn't put it in the box when I took the photo.  I'm sure I'll add lip gloss, because it's such a feel good item.

Tin of Positive Vibes

•    A sparkly star to remind you that you are one
•    A flashlight to help you shine
•    A quarter so you will never be broke
•    A paper clip to help you hold it all together
•    An elastic to help you stretch to your limits
•    An eraser to fix all your little mistakes
•    A band-aid for little hurts
•    *An ice cream cone because ice cream has medicinal properties
•    *A harmonica so you will have music wherever you go
•    *A telephone so you know that help is only a call away
•    A heart so you know you are loved

* Starred items are vintage charms from my childhood collection.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Heard melodies sampler

I had a recent discussion with Margaret  about how often we are disappointed when reality doesn't match our expectations.  You know, like when you order hand-dyed fibers or fabric and the colors just don't turn out to be as nice as they looked on your monitor or in your mind's eye.  But the concept applies to many other areas of life as well.  It reminded me of the Keats poem, "Ode on a Grecian Urn",  that at least in the way I was taught to interpret it, was somewhat about the same subject.  I mentioned a line from the poem, "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter".  This prompted the Sampler Queen (wasn't that an old ABBA song?)  to challenge me to design a sampler with that quote.  I'm no designer and I just laughed at the thought.  But then for fun I tried to think of what a sampler on that subject might look like.  Google was no help really.

I thought of an old freebie bookmark pattern by Prairie Schooler.  I think it was re-released for sale in a collection of their former freebies a few years back.  I then got to work in that advanced cross-stitch design program, MS Paint.  I just positioned the bookmark on one side and then charted the words in a Bent Creek or Trilogy kind of font.  I added a few musical notes and voilà.. a sampler was born.

I don't think I really intended to stitch it, but Margaret encouraged me.  So I created a pinkeep by stitching over-one on Dove Gray Monaco and adding a few doo-dads for interest.  I think it really needed a border, but I don't like stitching borders.  So not really my own design, but a fun project all the same.

Getting to be dental maintenance time again.  Here's my latest reminder notice postcard flashing that famous Mona Teetha smile.

Wishing everyone a pleasant Memorial Day and a happy National Tap Dance Day.  May 25 is Bojangles' birthday.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Ruler Sheath & Spring Hare T-shirt

This post is one of those where things just didn't come out as I had hoped.    I was recently reminded of some very cute free alphabet designs of Vavi.  Click here for the charts.   These designs were so cute, but it was not obvious how to use them given the size of the finish.  I got the idea to make them into 6" ruler sheaths as gifts for kids.  I plan to donate them to WOCS. 

My favorite was the "Jardin d'Oiseaux", i.e. "Garden of Birds".  So I got to work stitching it up on 36ct Edinburgh Summer Khaki linen.   As I stitched, I kept thinking about how I would construct the sheath, and I came up with several different ways in my mind's eye.  My mind's eye only sees what it wants to and seems to miss the tricky parts.    Besides having to go to 6 stores before I found 6" rulers.. who knew that this was another almost obsolete item?..., this turned out to be a bear to stitch up.  I almost ruined it with too much taking it apart and re-trying.  I'm not really happy with the result, but the at least the ruler fits nice and I kind of like the wraparound alphabet.  But I'll look for some other way to construct these in the future.  I don't plan to give up!

The second disappointment was in the category of "I should have known better".  I had a T-shirt that, once again, had a blueberry yogurt stain right in the center.   I figured I'd stitch a quick little motif over it to salvage the shirt.  I picked the little girl hare from Plum Street Hare's Easter.  

I knew that designs with stems and parts that are only one or two stitches thick just never turn out right on T-shirts.  But I had forgotten that rule.  The shirt is wearable, but the stitches are so wild, it's a nightmare.  Best to wear in the presence of near-sighted people who aren't wearing their glasses and are standing far way.

Hope my next post has a finish I'm happier with.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Flowers & Flags Altoid Tin

I recently found a new use for an empty Altoid tin.   It's perfect for storing the tokens we buy to run the washers and dryers in our condo laundry room.  Would you believe that with all of the embellished tins I have made, I have never kept one for myself?  It seemed crazy to use an un-embellished one.. kind of like the cobbler's kids never having new shoes.  Elizabeth Talledo to the rescue! Last year she did a series of six lovely designs for hornbooks in JCS.  I had already used two of them for Altoid tins since they are the right size if done over-one on 28 count fabric.  I picked the "Flowers & Flags Hornbook" from the August, 2014 issue.  It's getting close to that patriotic stitching time of year anyway.  

It's stitched on 18 count tea Monaco using the alternate DMC colors rather than hand-dyeds.  I think that really is the best Altoid tin fabric.   I skipped the one row border and added a few tiny buttons instead.  In my stash of test crochet motifs, I found a cute red one done using #8 pearl cotton.  I must have just gotten new glasses when I did that one!  It makes a nice surprise on the inside lid.

Now I'm off to do my laundry.  Bet I have the cutest token box on the floor!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Girls Being Girls

I'm always on the lookout for interesting illustrations that I can use for stitchery projects.  One good source is Behance, a site for professional artists to showcase their work.  Much of the artwork displayed is available for personal use with attribution under the Creative Commons Act, so the copyright issue doesn't affect me.   I had one lone white pillowcase just waiting for the needle, so I picked  a subset of some cute illustrations of ladies designed by Ana Varela.  These were  winners in a Stamp Design competition.  

I mostly just used back stitch in whatever colors I grabbed out of the DMC boxes.  I wasn't too concerned about getting a match.  Did a little frogging when my choices didn't work out so well.  I also did a touch of satin stitch and filler stitches where it seemed appropriate.   I wanted to get this post in before the end of the month, so I haven't totally woven in some of the threads on the back and they show through in the close-ups.   But that will be taken care of soon.

Love the coffee girl and her cat's eye glasses.  Quite the trendy business attire, no?

I used a chain stitch to make the earphone cables stand out a bit more on this one.  Her right hand came out really good, unlike the paws on some of the others.

This is girl at her desk, pretending to be engaged in an important business project, but really reading love letters.

The final one reminds me of a hippie.  I love the look of contentment as she reads from a favorite book before bedtime.

 With the exception of weaving in some ends, I'm done.  Love that these pillowcases require no extra finishing!  And this was a nice change from Prim projects.

Friday, March 13, 2015

May Basket Pouch & Secret Egg Hunt

I recently saw someone stitch "May Basket" by Blackbird Designs, and I fell in love with that little piece.  Not sure why I singled that one out, but I decided to stitch it up.  The finish I saw appeared to use a mix of hand-dyed threads and DMC.  Mine is all DMC, but some different colors.  I made it into a 4" square pouch to hold my earbuds.  I don't use earbuds much so I just keep them close by.  When I browse the web using my Nook and want to view a video or something that makes noise, I need to use them temporarily.  The Nook volume is way too low, even turned up to high, without the buds.  So now they have a nice home.

I used rick rack again as a trim, this time pressing the piece so the trim faces the border and not the linen.  I substituted three little buttons instead of stitching my initials.  It's done on 36ct Edinburgh Dirty linen.  A cute little thing, no?

I always wanted to stitch "Secret Egg Hunt" by the Trilogy.  I just never had a reason to do it or a use for  it til now.  WOCS started a "Spring is in the Air" quilt and blocks with bunnies and eggs were welcome.   I left out the boring one row border.  I don't think it's necessary for a quilt square like this.  I stitched it on 25 ct. Platinum Lugana.  All the colors really popped on that color.  And 12.5 stitches to the inch?  A dream to stitch with.  So easy to see.  I can stitch so quickly on fabric like this.  I think 2 strands still covers it very well too, making the loop method for starting off still possible.  I also think the designs on these quilt squares can look nicer when the aren't so teeny weeny.

Interesting tidbit time.  You may remember that about a year ago I stitched a portrait of my brother.  I used a photo of Larry David since my brother looks so much like him and is often mistaken for him.  Click here to see that post.  Well, it turns out that Larry David went to the University of Maryland at the same time that I was there.  The Washington Post had a recent article written by the sweetheart of his fraternity.  Turns out that I knew a few of his fraternity brothers, one of whom was sort of my stalker.  I would never go out with the guy, but if I had known that it might lead to meeting the soon-to-be famous LD, I might have said 'yes'.    Click here for a link to the article.  It's a good read if you are an LD or Seinfeld fan.  If you scroll down you can see a photo of a reunion they had some years ago at the writer's house.  I may recognize my stalker in that photo, but I'm not sure.  It was a long time ago.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Primrose Maiden

Would you believe we are anticipating an ice storm tomorrow?  This weather just goes on and on.  So meanwhile, I stitched something to make me think of warmer days.  This design is "Primrose Maiden" by  Laura Rimola, The Little Stitcher.  It can be found in the April, 2015 issue of  Just Cross Stitch Magazine. I finished it up into another little pouch for a spring tension hoop.  This one is for the 4" size.  The last one was the for the 6" size.  It's stitched on scrap piece of 36" ct hand dyed linen.  I had that rick rack already so I made use of it as well.  Not much else stitchy going on so I took several photos to flesh out the post.  

My sewing machine seemed to have a mind of its own today.  Mine is an old machine with a knee-activated start and stop control.  I don't think they use those much anymore, but they were very popular in the Stone Age when the machine was new.  Today it seemed to get stuck and keep going after I released pressure.  I had to pull it back by hand to stop the machine.  Only happened when I was running the machine at high speed.  Kind of frightening the first time is occurred -- like some weird scary movie.  This may be a sign that it's finally time to consider an upgrade.