July 20, 2014

Patterns: Brick stitch

Brick Stitch complete

Brick stitch complete, stitched by Amanda Marksdottir

Amanda stitched this lovely pattern, using brick stitch, from the blog Medieval Arts & Crafts. It's based on a pattern from a 14th Century German embroidered hanging. I think it looks gorgeous and is definitely something I'd like to try. I think stitched like this it would make a great bookmark.

July 16, 2014

Christmas in July

Free pattern - reindeer mini stocking ornament

One of my favorite stitchy people, Wendi Gratz is in cahoots with Deby at So Sew Easy to create this adorable Felt Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer Ornament. You can download the pattern, see step-by-step instructions and even get a video tutorial on making your own little ornament. As a crafty person, I know it's never too early to start planning for the holiday season. Check out both Wendi and Deby's blog post for this and other fab free projects. 

July 15, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Today's tutorial comes to you courtesy of all the good things summer brings, especially camping, roasting marshmallows around the fire, and pitching tents in the woods. I like to call this the Summertime Campfire Shirt, featuring a free firefly embroidery pattern from the So September blog. Some of you may know Corinne's embroidery patterns from her September House shop.

Not only is today's tutorial good for making your own Summertime Campfire Shirt, it's also good for reviving some older shirts that need a little mending or brightening up. 

To make your own Summertime Campfire Shirt you'll need:

- a shirt that needs some new life
- an 8.5x11-inch piece of muslin or cotton fabric
- quilting ruler or ruler from a rotary cutting mat
firefly embroidery pattern from So September
- embroidery floss, hoop, scissors, and needles
- water soluble marker or pen
- iron and ironing board
- sewing machine and supplies

Step One: Print out your pattern and transfer to fabric. This particular pattern fits perfectly in a 4-inch hoop.

Step Two: Embroider your pattern. I varied my stitches throughout this pattern with a split stitch for the little branch, stem stitch for the leaves, french knots for the holes on the jar lid, back stitches for the jar, and satin stitch for the fireflies. You can choose any stitches you like and really have fun with it!

Step Three: Using a quilting ruler and cutting mat, measure out one inch away from the design. Use the cutting mat to ensure the line is straight, and mark with a water soluble pen. Repeat on all four sides. 

Step Four: Using the 1-inch line as a guide, measure .5 of an inch below the line you created in the previous step. You'll want to measure inward toward the design, and mark this line. Repeat for all four sides. You'll end up with a grid, that I am hoping you can see in the photo above. 

Step Five: Using a running stitch, trace the inside line to create a square frame around the main embroidery design. 

Step Six: Using a contrasting floss color, use a running stitch on the outer line to further frame the embroidery design. 

Step Seven: Lightly press around your embroidery to create a flat even surface. Trim around the edges of the fabric to create a 7.5 by 7.5-inch square. 

Step Eight: Fold over the edges of all four sides of the fabric by .5 of an inch and press. Fold this pressed edge over again and press to seal the raw edges. 

Step Nine: Take your shirt, and place the fabric where you like. I need to cover this hole I have above my pocket, so I am going to place the embroidered fabric just along the top edge of the pocket. 

Once you have your fabric where you like it, pin it in place and sew around the edges. 

Step Ten: Clip away the threads, and your Summertime Campfire Shirt is ready for the summer fun!

Hope you enjoy and give this a try!

July 9, 2014

Portrait of a Young Man and His Hen

Each month on Craftster.org we have a Hoopla Along. There are various themes, prizes given away and we sit around and chat about stitching. It is like a virtual stitchy group! Last month's theme was Altered Images. One of my favorite members, Ludi, created this Young Man with His Hen. I absolutely love the sly look on the fox's face. Is he thinking of dinner or maybe keeping the hen as a pet? Only the fox knows for sure. You can read more about this wonderful piece at here and also participate in the Hoopla Along. Jump in any time! July's theme is Food and the prize is a $25.00 Etsy card. 

July 6, 2014

Patterns: Friendly Fox

Friendly Fox

Friendly Fox by Helen Dickson

You can find this friendly applique fellow in the July issue of the Bustle and Sew magazine. You can find out more about the magazine here.

July 1, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday

Hello Everyone! Happy Tuesday!

We find ourselves close to celebrating the 4th of July in the States this week, and I thought it would be fun to create a tutorial for the commemoration of Independence Day. I think any color felt would look fun with this tutorial, but I stuck to red, white, and blue for this Garden Flag.

This is a good project for beginners, or perhaps young people on summer break who need something to keep their hands busy!

To make this 4th of July Garden Flag you will need:

- One rectangle of red felt (this was precut from the craft store and is 9.5 by 12 inches)
- Smaller squares of felt in white and blue
- One 12-inch long wooden dowel
- embroidery floss in accent colors, embroidery needle, and scissors
- Scissors for cutting felt
- 20-inch piece of embroidery floss or string for hanging
- Pinking shears or decorative scissors for cutting felt and fabric
- Optional: craft glue or a glue gun

As a star template, I used the largest star from the pattern for our Embroidery on Paper tutorial from a few weeks ago, which is available for you here.

Step One: Cut the largest star out of the template and use it to cut various stars out of the white and blue felt. 

Step Two: Keeping the felt rectangle with the long sides vertical, arrange the stars to your liking and pin in place. Try to keep them 2 inches away from the top. 

Step Three: Use different stitches to attach the stars to the felt rectangle. Feel free to play around here and practice your embroidery stitches. I stuck to french knots, running stitches, and split stitches, but you can use any stitch you want for this. 

Note: I didn't put my felt rectangle in a hoop, simply because felt holds its shape and has a stiffness to it that cotton fabrics don't have. If you prefer to put your felt in the hoop, I recommend removing some of the pins from the stars and working a section at a time. 

Step Four: Use the pinking shears to trim around the side and bottom edges of the felt rectangle. 

Step Five: Take a long piece of white embroidery floss and thread your needle. Start at the top of one long side and use a running stitch to create an accent along the three edges of the rectangle. The knots of this floss with be hidden once we fold the top edge over the dowel.

Step Six: Place the wooden dowel about 1.5 inches away from the top edge. Fold the felt over the dowel and pin in place. 

Step Seven: Thread your needle with red floss, and pull it through the middle of the fold of felt to hide your knot, bringing the needle up through to the front of your flag. Use a back stitch to seal this fold and encase the dowel in the felt. When you reach the other edge, hide the knotted end in the fold.

Optional: If you prefer not to backstitch this part, you can use craft glue or hot glue to seal the fold. Please account for drying time before finishing the flag.  

Step Eight: Take the 20-inch piece of floss or string, you can trim this to your liking or create a longer piece, and tie it to each end of the dowel. 

Step Nine: Your garden flag is ready for the sunshine!

Hang your flag on the garden gate or front door and get ready for the celebration!

Hope you enjoy and have a very wonderful Tuesday!

June 29, 2014

Patterns: Las Flores de Frida


Las Flores de Frida by Carina from Polka & Bloom

Carina from Polka & Bloom has branched out to doing people! Embroidery patterns of faces (particularly realistic looking faces) are often tricky but Carina's done a great job here. You can learn more about how she created the pattern, which is fascinating, here. And you can find the pattern itself here.

June 28, 2014

Review: Stitch it with Wool Craftsy Class

When I was contacted by author Kristin Nicholas to review her upcoming Craftsy class, Stitch it with Wool: Crewel Embroidery, I was excited about my first experience with Crewel embroidery. I really enjoyed this experience and recommend this class for crewel beginners - Kristin is a great teacher with a Matisse-like colorful style and her thorough lessons give you all the tools you need to get started! I'll walk you through the class, the materials I used, and the small project I stitched for this review.

The class includes an 8 page PDF with a list of supplies and 2 large designs for the pillows above, with a clear breakdown of color, and which stitch goes where.

Here's a brief overview of the class, which is divided into 7 lessons: Lesson 1 goes into all the particulars of threads, needles, hoops, fabric, and transferring your design. You'll also learn great tips if you have never embroidered, like how to start and end your thread! Lesson 2 covers basic stitches - if you have embroidered for any length of time, you probably already know these - but I would still give them a watch because Kristin gives some great tips and examples. Lessons 3 and 4 are where the good stuff starts for an intermediate stitcher - introducing stitches that build on the basics. Lesson 5 and 6 introduced me to lots of unfamiliar stitches that were not yet in my repertoire - and stitches that lend themselves particularly well to crewel threads. Finally, in Lesson 7, Kristin tells you all about untangling and managing wool skeins, finishing techniques, and a really interesting topic - knowing when to stop. :)

Kristin is a fabulous and thorough teacher - she explains every stitch carefully, taking the time to explain mistakes that you may make, and how to avoid and correct them. Kristin is calming and personable, and I really like that her emphasis is more on creativity and not on perfection, which makes this class a great springboard to create your own projects. I also like that she shows you finished examples of every stitch, so that you can better visualize how each stitch can contribute to an overall design. Her own work features imaginative lines, textures and vivid combinations of color with a lively, painterly style.

You may be asking, do I really need to buy a bunch of crewel wool?

Crewel wool

I was going to experiment with my regular embroidery floss or finer weight yarns until I saw Kristin's online store, and was hooked by her beautiful crewel wool. I bought the Some of Each set (above). Kristin was also sweet enough to add a large square of linen, in the color of my choice - I chose a neutral gray, to make the bright colors of the wool pop.

After taking the Appletons crewel wool for a test drive, I cannot say enough, yes, if you have never stitched with crewel wool, you should certainly try it.

my first stitches with crewel wool

Stitching with wool is SO distinct from stitching with embroidery cotton floss - the wool fiber is very thin, spongy, and springy. It has a marvelous matte texture that piles up nicely as you stitch. If you take this class, I definitely recommend purchasing a few crewel wool skeins. Another important note is that if you stitch with wool, you should definitely use linen fabric (something I learned the hard way, a few months ago). :)

Here is my small project:

Spiderweb stitches

I decided to practice the Spiderweb stitch for this review, tracing random circles to create this design. I used 3 bright colors of Appleton crewel wool, along with 2 light yarns and one thicker white wool yarn from my stash. I have to say, the Spiderweb stitch is addictive and meditative, and I can't wait to try even more stitches from this class.

So, to sum up, Stitch it with Wool: Crewel Embroidery is a great class for beginners to learn crewel embroidery, and it's also perfect for a complete beginner who has never embroidered before. There is plenty of detail, instruction, and inspiration to get you started - whether or not you chose to stitch the pillow designs as they are, or create your own designs. Thank you Kristin, for allowing me to review your class and share it with our readers!

And, thanks to Kristin, for a limited time, we have one more thing to share with our Feeling Stitchy readers - a 50% discount on the Stitch it With Wool class: Get the discount. Hurry up, because that discount expires soon! Edit 7/5/2014 - Sorry guys, the discount has expired, but I still totally recommend the class!

Have any of you experimented with crewel embroidery or stitched with crewel wool? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments!

June 22, 2014

Patterns: Solar System

Solar System Cross Stitch

Solar system cross stitch by Rebecca Greco

This amazing piece by Rebecca from Hugs Are Fun was done as a swap piece over on the & Stitches blog. Luckily we don't have to be too jealous of the lucky recipient, as Rebecca also has the pattern over in her shop! You can find it here.

June 17, 2014

Tutorial Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Today's tutorial comes to you out of somewhat of a necessity in my world. I sew and stitch quite a bit and realized that I needed a thread catcher for the floss tails, threads, and fabric pieces that I snip off of my projects as I am working on them. I know I am not the only one who needs a quick place to toss the excess threads and floss while I am sewing and stitching. I am hoping you can make use of this project in your workspace as you stitch up your WIP, as well!

To make this thread catcher basket out of fabric, you'll need:
- Fabric for exterior (11 inches tall by 14.5 inches wide)
- Fabric for lining (11 inches tall by 14.5 inches wide)
- medium weight interfacing (11 inches tall by 14.5 inches wide)
- sewing machine and supplies
- scissors
- embroidery hoop, floss, and needles

I used the spool image from the Sewing Collage pattern available at Urban Threads.

Step One: Transfer the embroidery pattern to one of the front exterior panels of fabric, keeping it 2-inches from the top edge. Stitch. I used a 3-ply backstitch for this spool pattern.

Step Two: Place the exterior fabrics right sides together, with a piece of interfacing on the wrong side of each exterior piece. You should have a fabric sandwich with interfacing, exterior piece right side up, exterior piece right side down, then a piece of interfacing on top of that. 

Step Three: Sew around the three sides of the exterior and interfacing using a 1/2-inch seam allowance, leaving the top open. 

Step Four: To create a flat bottom for our fabric basket, take one bottom corner and fold it so the seams are laying flat against each other. 

Mark 2.5-inches from the center of the seam, where there is a V. Stitch straight across using the 2.5-inch mark as a guide. 

Clip the excess fabric away. Repeat for other side.

Step Five: Take the interior or lining pieces of fabric and place them right sides together. Stitch along the three edges with a 1/2-inch seam allowance, leaving a 2-inch space open along the center of the bottom edge. 

Step Six: Square off the bottom of the lining as we did for the exterior in Step Four. Mark 2.5-inches from the center of the seam, where there is a V. Stitch straight across using the 2.5-inch mark as a guide. Clip the excess fabric away. Repeat for other side 

Step Seven: Turn the exterior ride sides out. Place this inside of the lining, right sides together. Stitch along the top edge with a 1/2-inch seam allowance. 

Step Eight: Flip the fabric basket right side out, by pulling through the opening in the bottom seam of the lining. 

Step Nine: It is optional for you to press this top edge. Top stitch along the top at the 1/4 inch and 1/2 inch marks. 

Step Ten: Stitch the space used to flip the fabric basket shut. 

Step Eleven: Place close to your sewing machine or work area and toss your clipped threads, floss pieces, and fabric scraps into the basket. 

I hope you enjoy this thread catcher fabric basket and take the time to make one for yourself. It really does help around the work room. 

Hope you have a great Tuesday!