Sunday
Feb092014

hand quilting the curves

Hand quilting.  I've talked about it before. 

But I decided to hand quilt this little project for a few reasons:  it's small, I know it will enhance the embroidery, and most importantly ... THE OLYMPICS ARE ON!!!  I'm quite happy to stitch away as I watch my favourite figure skating pair Tessa and Scott float across the ice.  And cheer on the Dufour-Laporte sisters as they make it to the podium.   I'd never even heard of those awesome girls from Quebec before yesterday, and I haven't got the.slightest.clue about snowboarding.  But that doesn't stop me from getting excited about it and feeling very proud of my country's athletes! 

National pride doesn't prevent me from marveling at all the athletes from around the world, though.  Their dedication, sacrifice, training and skill amaze me.  I love how the world comes together for the Olympics. :)

Back to quilting.

I know my hand quilting won't win any gold medals.  I'm not too fussed about making sure my stitches are perfectly even and consistent.  But I'm ok with that.  It's more about the finished look than the closeup inspection.  A girl's gotta pick her battles, right?

Tuesday
Feb042014

best buds

So, you know I wrote an embroidery book, right?  It came out about a year ago.  What you may not know is that a few months earlier, I'd submitted a little project to American Patchwork & Quilting with the tiniest of hopes that they might be interested in publishing it.

:)

The latest issue of American Patchwork & Quilting - on news stands now - includes that little design called "Best Buds".

(The above images are used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©2014 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.)

As I thought about what I might like to design, I came across this pretty picture on Pinterest ...

I really liked it so my mind set about trying to come up with a simple, yet pleasing interpretation of these wildflowers.

I started designing a purse for a little girl ... because I love making bags and because I have little girls ... not much of a stretch there.  But then I got to thinking that not everyone likes to make bags and not everyone has a little girl to make things for.  So then I thought wouldn't it be fun to make an embroidery design that could be turned into either a bag or a framed piece. 

Here are the original samples I submitted to the magazine.

When it came time to sending in the "real ones" to be photographed, I wanted to use more current fabric - the fabric in the originals were at least a few years old, if not more.  Scrumptious by Bonnie & Camille for Moda was just coming out and the colours and scale of the prints were p.e.r.f.e.c.t.

Here's a quick progress photo I took at my kitchen table last summer ...

(Some of my fabric choices changed as I worked.)

And I used DMC embroidery floss because it's super easy to find. :) 

So there you have it.  It's a quick, simple and versatile design - you can have lots of fun with different colours and you can resize it to suit any frame.  Right now I'm picturing it on a pillowcase border and repeated around the hem of a little girl's summer dress ... with a few butterflies ...

Monday
Feb032014

curves

None of these stitches are new to me - blanket, lazy daisy, straight, colonial knot, feather, herringbone ...

But what you see are stitch combinations that I've never tried before.  The blanket/lazy daisy in white - so pretty.  The layered herringbone in two shades of pink with knots to fill in the empty spaces.  The serpentine chain in taupe with pink accented knots.  They are all so beautiful and elegant, especially in single ply.  Most of these stitches are in the original pattern I'm using, but I changed a few like the green one - it's a feather stitch variation called "Maiden Hair" ... I admit to being swayed by the name.  Doesn't it sound so romantic?

(Have you guessed this is another Yoko Saito design?)

Friday
Jan312014

pink fabric pull

Few things are more fun for me than pulling fabrics for a new project ... especially when I end up with something that looks like this.  (At the risk of stating the obvious, I'll be adding a little embroidery as well.)

By the way, these are Japanese prints by Lecien and Quilt Gate.  They've all been in my stash for years and I'm still a little reluctant to use them.  Silly, I know.  I'm trying to be better about using my favourite fabrics instead of hoarding them.  Besides, this is another small project - the largest piece I need is maybe 3" x 6".  I don't think it'll kill me to part with so little.

Tuesday
Jan282014

third time's the charm ...

Congratulations Shelly Heronemus!  You won the Simply Sweet Fabric giveaway.  Please get in touch with me so I can get your fabric to you.

You know, I thought I was going to keep this sweet yet sophisticated navy one for myself ... but then it asked me if it could please go live with a friend of mine instead.  I said yes.

I'm gonna have to make up a bunch more to keep on hand ... you know ... for gifts and things ... and maybe someday, for me.

(Find tutorial here.  Find fabric here.)

PS:  I've had several requests for an English version of this tutorial so I'll try to put one together sooner than later.  Stay tuned!

Sunday
Jan262014

a picnic

If you looked outside my window today, you'd think I was coo-coo-nutso to suggest a picnic.  Yes the sun is shining.  Yes the sky is blue.  But baby, it's cold outside, we have more snow than we know what to do with and I am so over shovelling the sidewalk.

However, if you know PamKittyMorning like I know PamKittyMorning, you'll know that her latest fabric collection - aptly called PamKittyPicnic - can make you believe it's summer ... any day, any time, any where.

This bright, fresh rainbow of colours in signature vintage-style prints ... how can you not be inspired?

Friday
Jan242014

pinterest pouch - round two

Over my sewing career I've developed preferences for both construction methods and finishing techniques.  So when I try out a new pattern I often want to change things about it.  I love how this little pouch goes together, but the flap was a wee bit flimsy for me.  So I just added a piece of batting inside the flap - a quick and easy fix.  I like this version better.  So does my other daughter.  The next one I make will be for me ... I hope.

Here's a link to the Pinterest tutorial again, and I got the fabric here.  (There is still time to enter my Simply Sweet Fabric giveaway!)

Monday
Jan202014

a pinterest tutorial & a simply sweet giveaway

Pinterest. 

I'm trying to remember life without it. 

I can't.

Can you?

I found this Chinese pouch tutorial the other day ... I could not get to my sewing machine fast enough to start making it.

Here's how mine turned out. 

Daughter #1 called dibbs on it already.  Guess I need to make another one.  Or two.  Or ... you know ... maybe about infinity more.

Wanna know where I got the pretty pink floral?  From this, adorable Etsy shop Simply Sweet Fabric.  Such a fantastic selection of tiny florals and pretty prints over there.

Floral Prints Fat Quarter Bundle of 8, Cosmo, Japanese

If you'd like chance to win this delicious bundle of 8 fat quarters leave me a comment stating which print/color above is your favourite.  Giveaway closes on Sunday, January 26th and I'll announce the winner shortly after.  (Promise I'll remember this time!)

Saturday
Jan182014

a tisket, a tasket ...

a Yoko Saito basket!

You guys made me so happy with all your lovely comments about this project.  I'm thrilled you even bother to take an interest in what I do here, let alone anticipate a reveal.  And thank you for tolerating my incessant teasing, by the way.  I hope I always make the wait worth your while. :)

So I bought this book - "120 Embroidery Motifs" by Yoko Saito - maybe 3 or 4 years ago. 

I've poured over the pages countless times.  "Little Rainbows" is a project I've been wanting to make soooo badly but just never got around to ... until now.

I'm really happy with how it turned out.  The lining is a little "poochie" (how I describe fabric that's a little too loose so it doesn't fit smoothly), but I don't mind too much. 

Yoko used ricrac around the rim, but I just went with what I had in my cupboard ... this little bit of cotton lace. 

I hand quilted it too, like the original.  I just stitched random wavy lines.  I think maybe it's supposed to suggest the rain that is making the rainbows.  It didn't take too long - this basket is only 4" tall (not including the handle) and the base is 4" in diameter. 

And that handle?  Well ... let's just say it wasn't my favourite part - I made it twice - the scalloped piece really needs to be cut on the bias (I knew better but stubbornly tried to get away with a pretty striped print the first time around) - reattached it twice and had to undo/re-do several knots.  But it was all worth it in the end 'cause I think it turned out great.

I don't know what I'll use it for yet - maybe to keep some of my sewing accoutrement next to my machine or on my desk to hold pencils ... for sure somewhere I will see it often. :)

Monday
Jan132014

ellis & higgs ... and spoonflower!

I spent part of the weekend putting away Christmas ... but not quite everything Christmasy went back in a box.

Last month a dear friend introduced me to ellis & higgs.  It's become one of my favourite blogs to visit.  The first time I was over there I discovered that Nadra - the author - designs her own fabric on Spoonflower.  Her third collection Holly Jolly was just too adorable to resist so I treated myself with some fat quarters.

They arrived a few days before Christmas and oh my are they ever pretty!  I have no idea what I'm going to make with this yummy fabric, but it'll have a place of prominence in my stash until I dare take my rotary cutter to it!

*     *     *     *     *

I also totally forgot let you all know that Kathleen B in New York won the Sew Deerly Loved giveaway!  (Thank you Tracey for reminding me!)  I have another very nice giveaway coming soon so stay tuned, ok? :)

Thursday
Jan092014

more details ...

This Yoko Saito project I'm working on is quite small - the blue arch is only 1.25" tall.  But you know I like little.  So even thought there is quite a lot of detail here, I enjoy the short bursts of intricate stitching ... not at all overwhelming.  And the embroidery is all single ply, making the design so light and delicate.  Now on to the hand quilting.

Saturday
Jan042014

happy new year!

Hello hello hello!  Geez, I almost had to blow dust off the old keyboard here.  I've been gone longer than I'd intended. 

Hope your 2014 is off to a great start.  Mine is - with a little applique and embroidery.  Not sure how this project is going to turn out, but I'm liking it a lot so far ... :)

Wednesday
Dec252013

merry and bright ...

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a cheery holiday season.  xo k

Monday
Dec232013

2013 holiday tag-a-long: week 3

This week my tags were inspired by dreams of world travel.

It all started with the camera.  To be honest, that pattern was the main reason I bought this book - which ended up inspiring ALL my tags this season. 

I.love.this.camera.  Love it.  It's just so gosh darned little and cute!  Plus, as a blogger I use my camera a LOT so there's a sentimental connection too.

When I was flipping through the book looking for a few other designs to go with the camera, the Eiffel Tower grabbed my attention right away.  I like how the lacy ironwork texture is created with one strand of dark gray floss and one strand of light.  And those knots?  Whee!  Sooo so very simple and yet crazy effective. 

Sigh.  I've never been to Paris but it's definitely on my bucket list.  The super sweet ticking stripe is a new addition to my stash from here.

And then this clever little globe ... I simply couldn't not make it. 

In case you can't quite make it out, it's a view of the earth looking at Europe and Africa.  This blue floral - and the green plaid with the camera - are from the Pam Kitty Picnic collection.

Together I thought these tags would make the perfect present toppings for someone going on a trip - especially if they don't know it yet.  Imagine putting the Eiffel Tower tag on a pair of surprise tickets to Paris ... (sweet darling husband, are you reading this?  Hint hint!), the globe on a piece of luggage and the camera on a ... uh ... I think you get the "picture" ... hardee-har-har.

Now all that's left of this year's Tag-a-Long is to see dear Amy's last set, and then that's it!  I don't know about you but I think it went by too fast.  It's been nothing short of delightful getting in touch with my cross stitching roots these past few weeks. 

As I look at my collection of tags here, it's easy to pick a favourite.  I won't say which one it is but I will say that I've already gifted it to a very sweet friend.  So now I get to make another one for myself. :)

Thanks Amy, this was fun!  (How many sleeps until the next Tag-a-Long?)

Friday
Dec202013

gettin' down and crafty

So I was poking around the internet the other day and found myself here at one of my favourite places. 

A few days earlier, I'd bought a few packages of these at a local craft shop.

Impulse buy.  Didn't like the colour AT ALL ... my Christmas colours are predominantly white and silver (NOT dark green and gold).  But I've been wanting a set of little bottle brush trees for a long time so when I saw these, I got them.  And then thanks to Yvonne, I knew exactly how to make them my kind of pretty.

It's been a very VERY long time since I rolled up my sleeves and got down and crafty.  I really need to do this sort of thing more often.  I kinda felt like a mad scientist watching the dark green colour fade out of the trees as they bathed in the bleach & water.  It took a lot of restraint for me to not run back to the store and grab a bunch more trees ... just so I could play some more!

I also fell in love with those cute little putz houses since I first saw them a long time ago in a Martha Stewart magazine.  And after seeing Yvonne's adorable mantlescape, I was on a mission to recreate the same thing in my own home.

I spent the next few weeks looking for putz houses with no luck.  I finally gave up and figured I'd have to settle for a nice display of just trees.

Then BAM!  I was in the GROCERY STORE of all places and there they were ...  DIFFERENT WHITE & SILVER PUTZ(esque) HOUSES!!!  And they were only like $4 each!!!  (Sorry for yelling, but I'm trying to make you understand how awesome that moment was.)

"Ok Christmas, you can come now!"

Tuesday
Dec172013

sew deerly giveaway

Well hello!  How is your week going so far?  Are you ready for Christmas?  I'm not.  But then again I never am.  And yet Christmas still comes anyway and things always work out. :)

I've been doing a little pre-xmas shopping for myself ...

These pretties came in the mail yesterday.  When I emailed my friend Kerri at Sew Deerly Loved to tell her the fabric had arrived and how much I love it, she offered to do a giveaway for you, my dear readers!  I'm very excited for one of you to win this bundle of sweet Japanese fabrics. :)

Japanese, ATSUKO MATSUYAMA, 30's Collection, Fat Quarter Bundle of 14

To enter this fabulous giveaway to win 14 FQs of Atsuko Matsuyama's latest fabrics, simply leave me a comment saying what Christmas sewing (if any) you are doing, already did or plan to do (no one will know if you don't get to it!).

Comments close Sunday Dec 22nd and I'll announce the winner on Tuesday Dec 24th. 

Oh, and one more thing ... everything over at Sew Deerly Loved is 20% off right now so if you're looking for a gift for someone (like maybe yourself, possibly?) check out her shop.  I never leave empty-handed!

Monday
Dec162013

2013 Holiday Tag-a-Long Week 2

"O Tannenbaum, o tannenbaum, how lovely are your branches."

I started this week's tags with a simple, traditional green tree.  Easy enough, right?  Yes, I thought so too.

Until I decorated it with little red colonial knots ... looks more like a bad case of chicken pox, doesn't it?  LOL!

Oh well.  I think the pretty floral Victorian scalloped oval setting takes your mind off the poxes.  And I'm so happy to have found an opportunity to stick another bow on something. 

But then I developed a pink itch that I really needed to scratch ... so why not a pink tree?

I dug out my pretty crystal sequins and clear beads to decorate and then just fringed the linen edges a bit for some texture.  I picked the aqua ribbon because of the few tiny aqua flowers in the fabric.

And then I went all aqua with the last tree.

I had a harder time coming up with a good-looking garland.  I tried a few different things before settling on these flower sequins.  Ooooooh, do I ever love how they turned out!

Oh, and I backed all three tags with the Kraft-Tex I mentioned last week.

So that's that.  One tree, three interpretations.

How are your tags coming along?  Are you getting inspired?  Remember to visit Amy over at nanaCompany to see her batch of the week!

Amy and I are going to try to put together one more set of tags for next week.  Keep your fingers crossed ... unless you're busy making tags ... then never mind. ;)

Monday
Dec092013

2013 Holiday Tag-a-Long

That's right, it's back!  My homegirl Amy (of the beautiful and always inspiring blog nanaCompany) and I had so much fun with our 2012 Holiday Tag-a-Long that neither of us needed any arm twisting to do it again.  So we're kicking off this year's holiday season with another installment of gift tag inspiration. 

As with last year, our goal is to:

  • have a good excuse to make stuff (like we really need one, but hey ...)
  • satisfy our creativity with things we have lying around
  • inspire you to have some crafty holiday fun too

Last year we came up with a starter plan of templates and a tutorial for you to use (which are always available both here and over at Amy's blog). 

But when Amy and I were making plans for this round, we both wanted to branch out with different materials and tag shapes.  Remember, this is a "no rules" thing we're doing ... it's all about having fun and making things your way.

So that's all the business up front.  Now lets get to the party in the back. :)  (Yes, yes I did just make a mullet joke.  And no, Billy Ray Cyrus did not once cross my mind. tee hee)

This year, my tags started as "just because" cross stitching with the book I bought a few weeks ago.  I made a bunch of these little things for fun with no plan in mind.  Only after I'd made a few did it occur to me that I could make them into tags.

First up, the basket. 

Stitching this one up was all kinds of crazy fun.  The basket part is done with an offset "X" in alternating rows and result is this really neat basket weave effect.  And the handle?  Don't get me started.  (Too late.)  It's made with a loose loop of floss that's wrapped with a bunch of little knots.  Oh man it was fun to make. 

I was intrigued with how Amy used felt for her tags last year so I decided to give it a try myself.  And I think I was channeling my long-dormant scrapbooker self because I started layering.  SIX layers later (felt, gingham, blue floral, more felt, the basket and finally the fabric tape) I had a tag.  I thought it would be fun to leave the basket and felt layers free, except for across the top.  The stitchery is backed with fusible interfacing to help prevent fraying. 

Next is the puddle jumper. 

Only 4 layers here - I fused the striped fabric onto a piece of Kraft-Tex (awesome stuff!) so the tag itself is nice and stiff.  Then I stitched the boot to some felt and glued the boot onto the stripes.  My original plan was to use the red gingham fabric for this tag, but when I put them together they were too busy.  However my PamKittyMorning stash came to the rescue ... and inspired me to dig out my scalloped scissors.  And you know me ... I gotta stick a bow on something every once in a while or I start to get all twitchy in one eye.

And then the bicycle. 

I took a cue from my Scrumptious bundle and thought a red & aqua bike would be fun.  The white scalloped backing is also Kraft-Tex and the striped fabric is fused onto it.  Then I fused the bike on top.  The sequins were an afterthought ... makes it look a bit more holiday-ish, I thought.

But then I had no room for a grommet so I just glued the ribbon to the back.

All right.  Do yourself a favour and go check out Amy's tags.  And then I'll see you next Monday with another set.  Remember to check out our Flickr Group for more inspiration.  And please add your photos too if you make any.  Amy and I love love love seeing what all y'all come up with!

PS:  I got a few questions about my cross stitch last week so in case you're interested, I usually use 2 plies of floss (except for smaller details like the spokes on the bike) and I favour 32 count linen.  The basket and boot are done on Belfast linen and the bike is on Evenweave.

Friday
Dec062013

in a groove

I'm getting my cross stitch groove on like I haven't in ... sooo so long and I am loving it!  These littles are so quick and easy to stitch up. 

That boot?  Only 1 5/8" tall! 

These will be keeping me busy all weekend ... and taking my mind off our -40 degree weather (which, by the way, is the same in both Celcius and Fahrenheit).

Stay warm!  xo k

Wednesday
Dec042013

a to z

It is no secret I love the alphabet.  And letters.  And small designs & motifs.  And Japanese craft books.  This tiny treasure has all of that and then some!  So it's no surprise that I bought it about 30 seconds after I found it on Etsy.  (And then spent quite a bit of time browsing this entire shop!)  Cover-to-cover cuteness ... all in adorable cross stitch designs.

You know, I was a hard core cross-stitcher for about 20 years.  It was my needlecraft of choice.  My Home Economics teacher introduced me to the humble X when I was about 13.  I became an instant addict.  Oh the kits I made, the patterns I bought (did someone say Paula Vaughn?), the floss collection I amassed, the aida cloth I went through (until I discovered linen!!!).

It took a serious amount of discipline to write this post for you just now ... because it's delaying my start time on what I hope to be the making of something pretty!