Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Art Nouveau Card and Vintage Spool

Last year, I made my SIL a card with a woman dressed in Regency period, Jane Austen-style finery. I was trying to find something Downton Abbey-ish, and that was the best I could do.   Time marches on at Downton, and sooner or later they will be entering the Art Nouveau years, if they aren't there already.   I had seen these six Art Nouveau ladies by Lesley Teare some time ago, but I couldn't find a copy of the UK magazine in which they originally appeared.  On a whim, I checked Lesley's site and she had them for sale as PDF files.  I was delighted!  Perfect for this year's birthday card. 

I hadn't done back-stitching like this for a while.  I was really out of the habit.  I used to love doing it, but now, not so much, even though I still like the look.  I saw that I had no 32 ct white linen in my stash when I was ready to start.  So on a whim, I bought some of the MCG linen at Joann's so I wouldn't have to wait for a mail order.  I had not heard very good things about it, but turns out that I kind of like it.  Some people have said the number of threads per inch differ between the horizontal and vertical, but if so, it didn't matter on something of this size.  I couldn't detect any difference at all.  The fabric feels kind of like Annabelle, a discontinued Zweigart fabric, that was actually cotton, but had the thick and thin threads of linen.  It was a bit cheaper than linen and I always liked that.   This MCG linen was really cheap, so I was very happy with it.

In person, the card looks really good.  The ribbon shows it off so well.  And it doesn't look blurred or wonky like the photos.  I'm rarely so pleased with any of my finishes.

As a long time sewer and hoarder, I have some spools of thread that go back many years.  They say thread gets old and kind of dry rots, but I haven't found that to be true.  I use all the thread til I have an empty spool.  I recently finished all the thread on this real wooden spool.  I use it as a place to park a steel crochet hook.  It seemed like it could use a bit of ornamentation, so I completed "Sister Stitcher" by the Primitive Hare, a freebie you can get here.  I changed it a bit so the two stitching sisters were closer together to have them both show from the front.  They are done over-one on 28 count Cashel.  I just turned under the top and bottom edges and did a running stitch to finish.  They are only attached by tape on the back so I can change them up if I want to.

I didn't have the heart to cover the top and bottom.  Look at that fabulous 29 cent price.  Do they even still make Coats Super Sheen?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Cards for Q4

Haven't felt like doing much stitching or crafting lately.  I guess it's just time for a break.  Or else it's because I have been watching "Weeds" on DVD and it's taking my full attention.  I did manage to finish a couple of cards.

I was browsing through the Aug, 2015,  JCS magazine and noticed a design I had skipped over completely on my first pass.  It was too Christmasy for the types of things I stitch.  But when I looked closer, I saw that I could extract part of the design and make a pretty cool card.  It's the center of the Quaker Medallion by Giulia Manfredini.  I think the linen is 32 count HDF Pecan Butter or Bunny Brown from back in the day.  I wasn't expecting the cut-out window to look so much like a "D".  I guess I need to find a Diane, Dina, Doris or Danielle to give it to since it's much too girly for a Dan, Dean, David, or Dick.

For those of you planning a Halloween getaway, I think there is still room left at "Witch Inn" by Homespun Elegance if you dare to spend the night.  This design has been patiently waiting to be stitched for a year.

Both pics seem kind of blurry.  Too much light? Not enough?  Shaky hands?  Whatever....

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Peace card, coin purse and ruler sheath

For a while now I wanted to try using a little fabric trim around an x-stitch piece for a card.  I needed a small x-stitch design for this since I always like to make standard size cards.  I can cut two cards from one sheet of card stock with no waste that way.  I went back to the JCS 2012 ornament issue and selected the Blackbird Designs "Peace" chart .  Stitched over one on 28-ct tea Monaco, it worked out to be tiny.  The camera wasn't happy with the rainy day on which I took the picture, but I think it actually was a reasonably effective technique.  I'm sure I'll be using it again.

The zippered coin purse that I made long ago and use every day has finally started to fray around the edges.  I never expected it to hold up so well since it holds my plastic cards, cash and change.  But it has been a sturdy little companion.  So to prepare for its coming demise, I picked  "Comme un Oiseau" by Tra La La to be the design for a new purse.  I like how the "ABC" in the upper left can be interpreted as "ALB", my initials.  This was done on 36 ct Edinburgh linen in some beigey/off-white color.  I've had it for a long time and label was gone. Not the worst zipper insertion of my life so I'm satisfied.

Sheryl of "Sewing After Seven" sent me a link to a video with a tutorial for making a sheath that was another alernative for constructing those 6" ruler sheaths I have been making.  She used the technique to make a holder for a fan here.   The video is in Spanish and I had to watch it multiple times before I understood what the presenter was doing.  But once I understood it, I was fascinated by how clever and simple it is.  I immediately tried it with plain quilting fabric and it worked like a charm.  Not sure if I'll be as happy with it when I use x-stitch linen and there is more bulk since the ruler sheaths are narrower than the fan holder that Sheryl made.

Here's a link to the video:

And you gotta love how the sheath color appears to match my shoelaces in this photo taken with my phone!

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!