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.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Reindeer Ornament and Mitts

So two finishes to show today. I'm amazed I rallied to do this.  Ezia Gladstone of New York Dreamer had a very cool reindeer design in the 2015 JCS ornament issue.  I didn't plan to stitch it since part of its coolness was due to the hand-dyed threads needed and I wasn't up to mail ordering those just for the purpose.  Then I saw a finish of it on a FB group that looked quite different from the one in the magazine.  I'm not sure whether the stitcher changed colors or not, but I got inspired to pick my own colors for another look.  I stitched it over-one on 30 ct Northern Cross natural linen.  This is a very stiff linen, almost akin to needlepoint canvas.  I didn't really mind that, but it was unexpected.  The major change was to a darker gray for the reindeer's body.  I went for a flatfold finish.. good companion to the two little Bambi's in my previous post.  Again, I did the 3-color braid for the trim.  This will make a cute little gift as well...somewhat non-traditional colors (DMC 3787, 738, 4140 , 938 for the highlight on the scarf and 815 or 816 for the nose).

I had bought a ball of Paton's Jade Classic Wool last year to knit a couple of pairs of fingerless gloves, but I never got around to doing that project.  Something made me pick it up recently and I did a really quick and easy pattern called Wabi Mitts.  The link will take you to the free pattern on Ravelry.  The interesting thing was the thumb gusset done in reverse stockinette.  I had a little trouble with the odd instructions for the thumb, but these are for me so no problem.  I wanted a pair that  fit and didn't have long cuffs for indoor wear.  I think I reached my objective. These are really more of blue-green than the way they look on my monitor.   

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Bambi ornament

I thought I should make an appearance in Bloggerville since I seem to have been AWOL for a while.  I guess I've just slowed down on the crafty side and I've never been one to show works in progress.  I have been stitching, just more slowly.  My eyes seem to be very tired in the evenings and that's my prime stitching time.   I finally managed to do a finish-finish this weekend, small, but sweet.

A while ago I discovered a French designer while browsing Pinterest.  Her name is Roselyne Pittet and her designs are released under the name  "Fleurs de Lin".   They are all charming, but one little ornament just caught my eye and I kept returning to it over and over.   I was delighted to see that it was available as a PDF download.  We are in a good period for U.S. stitchers to buy European patterns with the exchange rate between the Euro and dollar right now.   The design I picked is from the "Noel Nostalgique" sampler.  The sampler is a collection of 9 designs, but they can be purchased individually. 

Here's a link.

I fell in love with design #8 in the series, the two baby deer that look just like Bambi.   I stitched it up on 36 ct Summer Khaki Edinburgh linen with DMC threads.   My finish is a flatfold and I made a 3-color braid for the trim.  This time I used the method of tying a knot at one corner and letting the ends dangle.  I'm not sure I love that method, but I haven't found a better way of dealing the with trim ends when the trim is applied after the front and back are glued together.  This will make a nice little holiday gift for someone.

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.