Category Archives: Embroidery

2017 Calendar Towel Tote Bag

Previously, I made a few aprons from vintage calendar towels.  2017 begins with a new calendar towel, made into a simple tote bag.  I modeled it after a non-bulky bag that can be rolled up to fit inside the outside pocket of my purse.

2017 Calendar Towel and Fabric

I added some fabric, and sewed the straps under the top fold of the bag.  The tote could use some interfacing at the top and in the straps, but I couldn’t find any at home so I skipped it.  I’ll use the bag for less heavy items.

Sewing Strap to Tote

Calendar Towel Tote Bag sunflowers

2017 Calendar Tote

In 2017, I plan to work on sewing clothes, some quick refashions, quilting (including a big project), and embroidery.  I miss having something on the needles to pick up during this very rainy, stormy winter we’re having in southern California this year so maybe I will throw in a little knitting as well.

I  always think of organizing at the beginning of a new year.  One thing I’m doing is tracking my sewing spending using the “My Binder” app.

My sewing machine feet have a new home thanks to finding this neat little double-sided container for $3 at the drug store.  What luck; they’re a perfect fit!

Sewing Machine Foot Organizer

Sewing Machine Foot Organizer Side B

I don’t think I did any cross stitch last year.  Well, at least not until the 31st of December.  I spent the last day of 2016 and the first day of 2017 stitching this little gnome that I made into an ornament.

Gnome Cross Stitch

I changed the colors, lengthened his hat, added a felt bottom and a gold bead on top.

Gnome Ornament in Nest

I like him hanging around – he makes me smile.

Happy sewing and crafting in the New Year!

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Crazy Quilt Coverlet

It’s not a quilt, and it’s not exactly crazy, but I did find a use for this beautiful fabric, thrifted for $1, from my stash.  The fabric is textured with surface stitching like a quilt, but is not pieced.

Crazy Quilt Fabric (800x600)

I paired it with every last bit of a pale green fabric I had, and a cotton eyelet trim that had been given to me.  I used french seams throughout so all of the raw edges are enclosed.

Spring Coverlet on Line

Folded Coverlet

Coverlet on bed

coverlet on bed2

It’s so feminine and fresh for spring and summer.  I love it!

I also finished the flower basket embroidery on my muslin cloth.  This was also an item from the thrift store.  Instead of matching colors from my existing floss, I bought DMC #8 perle cotton after I looked closely and realized it was used in the one stitched corner. Perle cotton is a lustrous, twisted non-divisible thread. It was worth the extra expense because it’s so beautiful, and a joy to work with.

DMC perle cotton #8

I put tissue paper over the fabric, snapped on the top hoop, and then tore back the tissue paper to protect the fabric from the hoop.

tissue paper with hoop

I used a running stitch, satin stitch, and many lazy daisy stitches. So many petals and yet the flowers didn’t come alive until the french knots were added.

flowers with french knots

french knot detail

Unlike the rest of the stitches, I need to sit at a table to form the french knots.  I made 3 twists around the needle.  I brushed up on tips on this stitch because they can be tricky.  In the past, I’ve had french knots go through the fabric or be loose and sloppy.  These look good!

working on french knots

I embroidered the three unstitched corners.  My work is on the left and the original completed flower basket is on the right.  I did a good job matching threads, although the brown and light lavender are a shade different.

2 stitchers comparison

I’ll put it away for now, with plans to add to it later.  I want to get back to my summer clothes sewing.

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Fabric Oddities

As I was organizing my fabric, I came across some pieces I had meant to do something with, yet never had.

I love the basket embroidery on this 39 by 39 inch piece of stamped muslin I bought at a thrift shop.  Only one corner is completed and it’s beautifully stitched.

muslin cloth with stamped corners

embroidered basket corner

What puzzles me about this piece is what was it intended to be used for.  The placement of the design in the four corners brings to mind a tablecloth, but the crinkly muslin with unfinished edges doesn’t seem like an appropriate fabric.  I’ve seen other pieces of embroidery where only one of each motif is finished as if the embroiderer wanted only the novelty of each stitched design but avoided the repetition needed to complete the piece.  I wonder if this is the case with this  piece or if the embroiderer decided this wasn’t the look she was envisioning using this muslin so she stopped.

I was thinking of embroidering the other three corners and then cutting them into quilt blocks, but then I had the idea to keep the fabric intact and applique baskets in the center, and then add borders to make a quilt.

I have plenty of embroidery floss, so I looked for matching colors, and tentatively started stitching, but it didn’t look as pretty.

trying to match

I put on my glasses to look at the original stitching and saw that it was done in perle cotton, which is a twisted, lustrous and indivisible thread. I tried to match the colors, and bought some #5 perle cotton, which comes in skeins, and again attempted some stitches.

perle cotton #5

Again,  I wasn’t happy with how it was looking. This time it was too thick. I didn’t realize #5 perle cotton is about the thickness of 5 strands. Next I will try #8 which I will have to order online.  I’m having a tough time matching these threads! Especially that vibrant green.

I got these fabric panels at a fundraising sale for free.

French Colonial Panels 2

French Colonial Panels

These unusual panels feature scenes that remind me of French ladies at court from the 18th Century. What can I do with them?  I am thinking of pairing them with big blocks of toile fabric and an accent fabric. Toile Fabric Swan Lake

Then I noticed the toile fabric is a heavier weight and dry clean only!  I’m not really interested in getting started on this.

Have you ever noticed patchwork fabrics known as “cheater” fabrics? I’ve seen them sold as a fabric for quick quilts.cheater hexagon fabric

The pretty, pre-quilted, ‘crazy quilt” patchwork fabric in spring colors pictured below is another thrift store find.  It just needs a border or finished edges and will work as a coverlet –  no layers or quilting needed.

Crazy Quilt Fabric (800x600)

In the hippie and bohemian late 60’s and early 70’s these fabrics were even worn as apparel – that’s me in 1973 in a patchwork maxi dress.

Hexagon Granny Dress 1973 - Copy (522x611)

Looking over my fabric, and thinking about possible projects, leads me to reflect on the creative process.  Do you like to be involved in the creative process or do you like to follow a pattern to the letter?  Quilting magazines sell kits for some of the featured quilts, and the quilter can replicate the quilt exactly.  I can see how using a kit can be convenient, and a real time saver.  I’ve copied things I’ve seen or used others’ work for inspiration.  But oftentimes, making my own decisions about fabric and details, envisioning the end result, and creating something unique is a hugely enjoyable part of the process.

Would you agree?

Autumn Love

Autumn Cross Stitch with SunflowerPumpkins have been harvested and front yard graveyards are appearing – it’s fall and Halloween season.  I turned to cross stitch for this little decorative reminder of autumn.

Autumn Love Cross Stitch ChartAdding rick rack, plaid fabric and interfacing to autumn cross stitchAutumn Love Finished Pillow OrnamentI finished it as a pillow ornament with plaid fabric, rickrack, iron-on non woven interfacing, and a crocheted hemp hanging cord.

The chart I used

My Fall Crafts and Decoration Pinterest Board  has free cross stitch charts as well as other needlework and even recipes.

 

Happy Halloween Dog and Pumpkin

 

Sashiko Stitching

In the summer, I like to take time for some hand embroidery.  I remember reading about the Japanese art of sashiko embroidery and quilting on the Purl Bee blog and liking the look and wanting to give it a try.  Time flies – that was 3 years ago!

The designs are geometric, and are often charted and repeated across the entire piece of fabric.  A running stitch, traditionally with white thread on an indigo fabric, creates the design.

Peony Sashiko Stitching Close Up

To start, it helps to learn the rules:

Sashiko Rules

I saw a design from the Stitch Magazine website for a small sashiko circle on a ivory satin pillow.  I had a satin scrap so I printed out the design.

I used a white dressmaker’s pencil to trace the design onto the fabric, and perle cotton for the thread.

Sashiko Design Traced on FabricCircular Sashiko on Satin

As you can see, I struggled with lining up the stitches at the center of the motifs.

Next I cut some squares of dark blue cotton, and got out my white perle thread. I found some flower motifs that I loved and printed them out at a size of about 6 inches.  I embroidered all of these as a single layer instead of as quilting.

Sashiko Peony MotifGeometric Sashiko Flower

In this case, traditional is best.   I’m a little surprised by how much I like these!  While simple they are striking, and can even be seen from across the room.

What to do with them?

I concluded the dark fabric motifs would look beautiful framed, especially as a group of three.  My idea for the satin piece is to make a envelope pouch, the type used to store handkerchiefs.

Sashiko Peony Framed

This isn’t actually framed yet; I was just trying to get an idea of how it would look.  I think a simple white, black, or a natural wood frame would show these designs off the best.

I already had all of the materials I used to stitch these sashiko designs, and I found the designs on the internet.  The two flower designs embroidered on dark cotton were quick and enjoyable to stitch.

Although sashiko is just a simple running stitch on fabric, the precision of the patterns can be quite complex, and create a tranquil or hypnotic effect.  These pieces are a nice alternative to going to the store and buying a mass produced item for your decor.  Instead, with very little time and money for supplies, you can create unique works of art for your home or as gifts.

Have you tried sashiko style embroidery or quilting?

 

Free Resources:

The motifs I used:

the circular design I used on cream satin

peony flower

petaled flower

Instructional:

Sashiko Stitchers -How to sashiko stitch

Design by Aika – Sashiko Right and Wrong

Sake Puppets Sashiko Tutorial

A Quilter By Night Sashiko Post with many links

Projects:

Purl Bee Quilted Placemats – simple,elegant and practical, this is the project that first caught my attention.

Design Sponge Sashiko Potholders

Made by Toya Sashiko Scrap Bag – this uses just straight lines of stitching over the entire bag on denim fabric and the result looks like it came from a trendy boutique.

Inspiration:

Sashiko on Flickr

Sashiko on Pinterest

 

Making Piping for Embellishment

I embroidered two little pieces last summer: one freehand and the other cross stitch.

Dachshund Embroidery on Linen Blend

The dachshund was embroidered with stem stitch and french knots on a linen and cotton blend fabric from a thrifted item of clothing.  I added two fabrics as a log cabin type border, cotton batting, and hand quilted stitches with embroidery floss.  dachshund embroidery with border ws The previously purchased piping on the left had a much narrower diameter than I wanted, so I made piping from 1/8 cord that I bought from the grocery store.  I followed this tutorial from Deby of So Sew Easy.

Cord for making piping    The fabric strip is cut on the bias, and then the cord is encased by stitching with a zipper foot.

sewing piping on pillow frontThe piping is basted in place before the final step when it is sewn between the layers of fabric, turned, and stuffed. The end result is a sweet little piped pillow.

dachshund pillow finished

 

I liked this scene from the book “Decorative Cross Stitch Borders”, which I have in my library.

When I started stitching the design on 28 count linen, I didn’t like the very tiny head on the girl, so I started making changes.

Head of Girl as Charted

I ended up with this somewhat altered, tranquil scene.

Swan Girl Cross Stitch in Hoop

I added a frame of yo-yos.

Arranging yo-yos on embroideryI made a flat finish, and added blue piping.

I think the piping adds a striking finishing touch to both pieces.

 

 

2014 Christmas Ornaments

Do you keep your Christmas decorations out through New Year’s Day?  I do, and I hope it’s not too late to share what I made this year.

I have in my possession a book I treasure that belonged to my Connecticut aunt, and eventually ended up with me. It’s called “Harvest of Hope” by Faith Baldwin, published in 1962.  It’s in the form of monthly reflections for a calendar year, and has a wise and timeless quality.

Miss Baldwin wrote “Do not take Christmas up to the attic and put it away with the cartons of ornaments.  Keep it with you all year long–the out-goingness, the giving, the loving impulse.”

I finished a few cross stitch ornaments for the tree, made some rustic plaid stars, and spent a rainy afternoon making some wonderfully fragrant cookie cutter cinnamon stars and hearts from a simple cinnamon and applesauce dough.

rustic plaid star cinnamon ornaments in oven cinnamon stars and hearts

I also framed one cross stitch piece, and made two Nordic inspired pine cone people with wooden heads, and felt for hats and scarves.

Merry and Bright Happy New Year!