Thursday, January 31, 2013

My CQJP2113 January Block

I am so thrilled to finally have my block for the 2013 Crazy Quilt Journal Page.

I would like to thank Susan who ordered a crazy quilted pincushion from me. Actually, this is her second from my Etsy Shop. She gives me complete freedom to play. In fact, I had too many ideas for this block so I ended up giving her 5 ideas and then 2 nearly completed blocks to choose from. We finally ended up with these pretty jewel tone rose fabrics. I included some rich hand-dyed silk velvets. I used mainly DMC cotton floss for the embroidery. I added some pretty vintage crochet pieces, a variety of woven trims and then added vintage buttons and some pretty beads to give it a little sparkle.

Here is how the actual pincushion came out. I can't wait for her to see it!

If you would like to order your own Crazy Quilt Pincushion. I have a gift certificate for a "Design Your Own Crazy Quilt" pincushion in my Etsy Shop Fiberluscious.

You can buy one for a friend. I'll send you a pretty card with instructions on the collaborative process, or if its for you, we can just dive into making something uniquely your own. I'll send you images of fabric choices in the style and colors you like most. I also have a Design Your Own Tomato Pincushion and a Design Your Own Flowers on Linen pincushion. I really enjoy working with others. It always inspires something I would never think of and I am driven to reach a bit beyond my comfort zone so you end up with a bit of two creative hearts.

I've been working so hard on my Crazy Quilting skills. My desire to create Crazy Quilts inspired me to learn embroidery. It's so much more than learning stitches. Its knowing which thread to use to achieve the effect you want. Its knowing what stitch works where. It's knowing what colors to use on which fabrics. Its being brave enough to take chances so that your work is unique. I still have so very much to learn.

But I think that learning involves discipline. Its practice, practice and more practice. And once you think you have a stitch in your head, its making your hands work on it long after your fingers are calloused and your wrists ache. The best thing about learning a craft like embroidery, or quilting or any other technique, its the joy you feel in creating and the pride you feel when you finally reach each goal you set out to achieve. Nothing can replace feeling that you and only you are responsible for bringing something beautiful to completion.

When we share our works with others, it becomes something bigger. It is the continuation of hundreds of years of tradition. Even though we create alone, we are always a part of a family of beauty. We learn from each other. Our work awakens the desire to create in someone else. They in turn take that craft into their heart and mind and bring forth their unique vision. They then inspire someone else and as we pass on beauty, our world becomes more beautiful.

I really am really happy to see a site such as the Crazy Quilt Journal Page. I have studied and admired the work created by the artists who feature their crazy quilts with all of us. You all are my inspiration. I thank them for their generous and creative spirits. I hope that some day, my work will rise to that level of expertise. In the meantime, I will simply enjoy striving towards my own creative possibilities.

If are participating in the CQJP project, please feel free to leave a link to your blog or website. I would love to connect!

See you in February!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What I'm working on now...

I just finished a few of the many orders I have pending in my Etsy Shop. I've been so busy. Since the first of November, when the holiday rush hit, I've created over 80 pincushions! Just looking at that number makes me want to go take a nap.

I am blessed to have so many loyal customers. I adore each and every one of them. Mostly because the challenge me. They give me a bit of financial independence, which allows me to cater to my lovely fabric addiction. Because they ask me to create special little somethings or even when they request one of my favorite styles, I try to give each order my undivided attention.

Here is one of my latest for Michelle-

Here is a detail shot showing all the tiny beads and lovely stitches involved in making this, "Garden of Delight" Needlecase.

I adore wool, wool roving, hand-dyed wool and sparkly beads. This needlecase allows me to play with all my favorite materials and colors. The many hours of stitching involved is truly a labor of love. I was sad to see this one go.

She also ordered a pincushion from a while back called the "Mary Had A Little Lamb" pincushion. Again I got to play with wool. What is nice about this one is the raw wool with all its curly goodness. The body of the wool is made from recycled sweaters. I love to add a bit of green to my shop. I think the fabric brings some happy karma with it.

I had another pear to make...

Lots of Wool Leaves..

A few Crazy Patch..more to come...

And recently a "Color Me Happy" Patchwork.

So if you are wondering why I haven't had as many new additions to my shop, or if you are waiting for one of your creations, have faith. I pour all my time and love into each item as it comes up on my list. I try to rush out the easy and ready made orders asap. But I never rush through something I love to make. I enjoy the process and I hope you feel that it was worth the wait.

Don't forget to sign up for my Grow Your Blog Party giveaway below. I'm giving away one of my popular "Stick With Me" pin assortments. 10 fun beaded pins to adorn your favorite pincushion.

Back to work!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Lets Party!!!

I am so thrilled to see so many visitors from the Grow Your Blog Party!!!

I first met Vicki from 2 Bags Full through Etsy. She purchased one of my Crazy Quilted Pear Pincushions.

It was a custom order and I really enjoyed working with her. Artists give other artists the freedom to play and that makes creating fun. You only have to see Vicki's work to see that she fully understands what it is to be creative and how fun it can be when given permission simply enjoy the journey. Her work amazes me and inspires me to be spontaneous and joyful.

This is her Shorebird Nest. So beautiful!!

I have been sewing since I was little. My mom and grandma sat patiently and taught me the basics. My home-ec teacher in high school kind of took the joy out of the whole thing. However, I did learn a rule or two that I still use today. I came from a family of 6 sisters and 1 brother. Sewing was the best way to get something new that was designed just for me. When I was married, I sewed all the curtains in my home, stuffed more than my share of throw pillows, mended the knees on my boys jeans and made some pretty crazy Halloween costumes with my sewing machine.

These days I have an Etsy Shop called Fiberluscious where I sell a lot of little fabric goodies. I mainly create pincushions. In fact, my list of orders seems to grow faster than the time I have to fill them. Thank goodness I love what I do! I also love my customers.

I love collaborative projects. Often I will get an order for something "like" what I have in my shop. I often get orders where I get to make anything I want within reason. Its a wonderful way to feed my fabric obsession.

My goals this year are to fine tune my sewing skills. I do a lot of hand embroidery which I take great pride in. I hope to get much better at patchwork. I'd love to do a series of mini quilted pincushions. I want to explore the many facets of wool from felting to crewel work. Its such a luscious material to play with.
I'll also be participating in the 2013 Crazy Quilt Journal Page Project. Click on the badge to the right to find out more. I'll be showing my quilt blocks here on my blog.

Well enough about me.

Here is my Party inspired Giveaway!

Win one of my "Stick With Me" Decorative Pin Assortments!

They come boxes in an assortment of 10 bead topped pins in a cute felted, embroidered ball. You will receive a variety of beads from my assortment. They make a cute addition of a sewing gift and add a sweet pop of color to your everyday pincushion.

If you've ever ordered a pincushion from my Etsy Shop you have gotten a few of these little beauties. I include 2 with each pincushion or needle case in my shop!.

Just leave a comment below. Be sure to leave an email address or some contact information. My giveaway ends on February 1st.

In the meantime, sign up for my newsletter or just join my blog if you would like. I have enjoyed visiting your blogs. Where else can you find so many kindred souls in one place?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


I recently ran into a new website called IPublicate.

After a quick overview of the site it looks like a fun way to reach creative people, promote a blog, and perhaps, even make a little money.

How does it work? Well, this is how I think it works. You create an uploadable file that teaches others how to do something. People can download that file, for $5, $8, $?. IPublicate pays you through PayPal and takes a bit of a fee.

Check it out here.
I'd love to know if anyone has tried it. Please feel free to leave your review or comments here for others to learn.

Friday, January 11, 2013

My Upcycled Warm Wool Lap Quilt

Every year I try hard to figure out what to give my mom for Christmas. She has no room for anything and she tends to pile gifts in a corner where she eventually gives them to her grand kids. One thing I know for certain... she is always chilly.

Ah Ha! I figured out what to give her 2 days before Christmas when making a stop at our Goodwill. A Sweater Quilt!

Here is how it turned out. She loved it!

I am not going to show a tutorial but if you look on Pinterest you'll see plenty.
I did my own thing and I guess I'll have to wait to see how it washes before I give you a tutorial.

I used a combination of 3 sweaters.
One very large medium weight medium gray wool. I think it was washable because it didn't felt and shrink.
One very large cotton cable sweater. Yes, cotton. It also did not shrink or felt.
I also used a black wool that had been felted.

I cut a number of 10 inch squares from each sweater using a rotary cutter. You should have seen the fuzzy bits on my rug! What a mess.
Now, that may lead you to ask...didn't those sweaters unravel?! No. They didn't. I was gentle in handling them. They seemed to be stable throughout the stitching process. The cable was the messiest but it had such lovely texture.

I placed all 48 squares in a random order that pleased my eye. I like asymmetry.
I sewed 8 squares together in each row from top to bottom. I did that for all 6 vertical rows.
I then sewed the vertical rows together until the entire quilt was together.
I used a 1/2 inch seam allowance. I did not stay stitch. (I think that would have caused them to stretch out too much.)
If you are so inclined, you can chain stitch the squares together.

When stitching, I bunched up the knit that wanted to stretch or seemed too short or too long. I used a straight, long basting stitch. This stabilized each block.

I chose not to make a backing. I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.

Instead of using a backing, I stitched the raw seam allowances down to the quilt, from the back. I used a very long, medium-wide zig-zag stitch. I was careful to make certain that the raw edges were covered well by the zig-zag stitches. I like how it gave it a bit of a decorative stitch look along each block.

I stitched the edges down just as I stitched each seam allowance down. I clipped the corners a bit to ease the bulk.

Once you are finished, I highly recommend that you clean your bobbin case and clear out all the little dust and wool bunnies.

I love how it turned out! I forgot to photography the embroidery I did on one of the blocks, "Let Love Keep You Warm".

She loved it. Someone said that when they put it on their lap, it felt instantly warm and incredibly cozy. My mom, who seems to hate getting presents, said she loved it and would keep it near. I think the small size, (about 48" by 55 inches), makes that easy.

I want to make another for myself! I love the calm gray, black and white, but I think I want mine in fun crazy colors!

Hope this gives you permission to play with patterns. If someone says that it has to be one way or no way... just say pish posh. Rules are made to be bent. Only break them when you know you are right and no one will get hurt from your creative civil disobedience.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Scoop on Emery

I had a question about emery. I get a lot of questions about it.

If you look back on my blog you will find some nice tips about how to handle emery so it goes where you need it to. I also include a little history just for the fun of it. Click here.

Emery is a coarse sand like mineral that is used in pincushions to sharpen and clean your needles. It also gives your pincushion a nice weight so your pincushion doesn't scoot away from you when you poke into it.
I once ordered a very fine emery and it made my strawberry emery so hard it was difficult getting a needle into it!

Some of the emery I bought in the past came looking rather dusty. I stuffed a pincushion with it and when I tapped my pincushion on the table to settle it into place, a cloud of dirt came to the surface and my pincushion was ruined. Yikes! Its important to buy quality emery from a source you trust.

Its usually black with a gray or brown tint to it. Its like coarse sand. I get mine from The Cheswick Company on Etsy. Cathy is a talented fiber artist and her materials are second to none. Her service is quick and she has been a pleasure to work with. I used to get mine from an Etsy shop called LoveLaurie, but her shop is down indefinitely. I've tried a few other shops but these two are the best.

The Cheswick Company sells emery by the pound. I used about 1/4 cup per pincushion so a pound will make about 5 pincushions. It's about $7.50 per pound. It looks like this-

I don't pour emery directly into my pincushions. It can migrate through the poly fiberfill and get stuck in the seams. So I make a little pocket with muslin and stuff that into my pincushion. The shape of the muslin pocket mirrors the shape of the pincushion. I like my emery layer to be about 1/4-1/2" thick. I will run a stitch or two through the pocket once its in the pincushion to keep it from shifting to one side or the other.

For my apple and pear pincushions I only add emery to the bottom to keep them from tipping over.

I like to stuff the rest of the pincushion with poly fiberfill. I like how soft and plump they look with both types of filling. Occasionally, I will use a few layers of scrap wool. The natural wools are supposed to be a good needle conditioner. I think my attention to the things you can't see is what makes my pincushions extra special.

I read in another blog that because some needles are only steel plated, so it's not ideal to store your needles in emery. That makes sense. So adding a thick layer of fiber fill is a gentle alternative to a full emery pincushion.

The only exceptions are my strawberry emery pincushions. These are stuffed nearly full with emery. I add a layer of batting around a inner berry made of muslin. I then stuff that into the outer berry fabric.

Some fiber artists use 2 layers of muslin or forget the muslin all together. I've tried both and found that my technique gives the berry a soft feel while offering a pure emery core.

You can also use crushed walnut shells to weight your pincushion. I don't think the shells sharpen your needles, but I'm sure they keep them clean.
This is what crushed walnut shells look like. I ordered mine from Dashton4. Her service as wonderful and she has a great selection of patterns and wool circles for Penny rugs.

I know that there are people who have sensitivities to nuts. I wonder if perhaps these shells may trigger a reaction for those folks. I could be wrong, but I hate to take a chance so I nearly always use emery in my shop. If I use the walnut shells, I am certain to make that known in my description. If anyone out there has a nut allergy, I'd sure appreciate some feedback on this issue.

You can also order steel shot from The Cheswick Company. I haven't used it so I hate to offer an opinion.

I've noticed a few Pinterest Pins showing steel wool as a pincushion filler. I would highly NOT recommend that for a few reasons. First, steel wool rusts and disintegrates. Can you imagine looking at your beautiful pincushion in 5 years only to discover rust stains coming through! I would cry. I also think it would break down and your pincushion will flatten out eventually. Whenever I see that, I leave a comment to try something else. I think if you are going to spend time doing something you should just do it right. Its worth the time and the cost is so reasonable.

I think I have a booming pincushion business because while pincushions are easy to make, gathering all of the right supplies can be more expensive than buying a pincushion from me. I often dream of using some of the lovely felted and quilted fabrics other artists have created to make a cushion. If you have any questions on how to use your beautiful works to create a cushion, take a look at one of my tutorials, or drop me a line. Better yet, check out my tutorial on how to draft a pincushion pattern. Just go for it!

When it comes to pincushions, I've learned how Not to make them through trial and error. I use the pincushions I make. When I create a new design, I often take it through its paces to see if it holds up. A few styles I created were real dogs. They were floppy, saggy or just plain silly. I know that for a collector, a pretty pincushion has it's place but they should be more than just a pretty pincushion.. I love my collectors because they let me play to my hearts content. But most people want a pincushion that works well. I like filling that need while adding some style to the whole thing while I'm at it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Elegant Tomato Tutorial

Thanks to all who entered my Christmas Giveaway. For those who weren't so lucky, I am posting a tutorial to make your own. Its a great project for the designer at heart, even if you are rather new at sewing. In fact, you don't even really need a sewing machine for this one.

The key to this pincushion is the sparkle and a few very simple stitches. The design for this pincushion is as old as the hills. This pattern, the elegant circle is all you need. Here are a list of the other materials-

Red Velvet- or any fabric that is medium to light weight. Dress it up with velvet
of silk dupioni, go primitive with pre-patched cotton, pre-loved or a crisp white linen ready for some more involved stitching.

Embroidery Floss

A Rhinestone Button- or any large button of your choice to match your fabric
New Polyester Fiberfill

A Sewing Needle and an Embroidery Needle
A Disappearing or Water Soluble Marker

Optional Materials-
Emery in a muslin pouch- very optional. This is a great pin and needle sharpening
feature. It also keeps the pincushion from rolling over since this button
is rather heavy.

Rhinestones (set for sewing) and or Beads.

Optional Tools-
Compass to draw your circle. A large plate 10-12 inches across will work.
A ruler to measure the 10-12 inches.
A protractor to measure the sections evenly. You can just fold your circle
in half and fold each half in half again to get even sections if you don't
have a protractor.

Begin by drawing your circle. Mine is a bit over 11 inches.

I then cut my circle out and stay stitch around the perimeter about 1/8 inch in. I used white thread so you could see my stitching, but matching thread is better.

Once it is cut out, I fold it in half, and then open it and fold in half the other way, creating 4 sections. This will help guide me through the next measurements.
I then line up my protractor onto the middle fold. I'm pointing to the 0 measurement. I line up the straight guide to the 90 degree mark. Using disappearing marker, I begin marking the circle into 8 sections. They should be at 0, 45, 90, 135, 180. I flip the protractor and mark the bottom sections. If you don't have the protractor, just fold your circle into 8 even sections. It doesn't have to be very exact, but it should be close.

I then mark the lines where my stitching will go. This is up to you but I alternated between long and short stitch lines that stopped about 2 inches from the bottom center. The feather stitches were used on the long side. See the following post for a tutorial on the feather stitch. Click here for a step by step in creating the chain stitch.
I have a few more stitch tutorials in case you would like to try something different than I did.

The next step is to use a running stitch, by hand, around the top of the tomato. Use heavy duty thread, doubled. A rather large stitch works well as the velvet is thick.

Pull the thread as taut as you can. You won't be able to close it completely.

Now add the emery. I sew a little pocket inside simple muslin. It keeps the emery contained. If you dump in in with the poly fill, it may grind away at the fabric in time and cause it to wear a hole in your pincushion. It occasionally gets caught in the eye of the needle making it difficult to pull the needle out.

Next add the polyester fiber fill. Use a lot of little tufts of fill until your pincushion is very full and firm. This is important to create a nice round pincushion that works especially well.

The next step is to close the top opening. This is the part that gives me the most fight. To keep the pincushion nice and round looking from the top you have to be patient and remember you are the boss. After closing a few of these in a row, I have to go take a nap.
To get it as smooth as possible you want to use heavy duty matching thread.
1. Start with a good anchor stitch by inserting the needle into the seam first.
2. Find a spot on the opposite side of the whole and pick up a good bit of fabric along the stay stitching on the outside of the pincushion.
By stitching from the outside of the top area, you are creating a bit of a hem
all along the stay stitching that will be folded over and hidden inside the
3. Repeat by picking up another part of the opening from the opposite side.
Pull it firmly so it meets in the middle of the hole.
4. Keep repeating these steps until you have the entire top closed and all of
the raw edges are tucked inside. (See the picture below).

Once I have my pincushion stuffed and closed, I add some beads and rhinestones to the outside stitching. This is up to you.

I then add the rhinestone button to the top and your pincushion is finished!
You can sew the button on, but I find that using hot glue is best for this project. In fact its the only pincushion I use glue on. The button is heavy. The top gathers are bumpy and uneven.
You want to apply a lot of hot glue to the button.

Carefully, (without dripping any glue) turn the pincushion upside down and press the button onto the pincushion. Do not turn over until the glue is firm and won't drip. Hold it firmly so that the glue fills in around the ridges and bumps of fabric that are hidden under the large button. This technique only works when with a shank style button that is domed and hollow underneath.
If your button is flat with holes, you will have it sew it on.
Here is the finished pincushion!
Good Luck!

Here are a few more examples of this exact same pattern. Try one of your own.
Its easy!

This pincushion is made from rich, dark espresso brown velvet with trim and a rhinestone brooch on top.

I used silk dupioni in a shimmering orange with pink highlights. Pink organza is folded, gathered and stitched under the rhinestone brooch.

I love the primitive look of this one. I used patched fabric and many embroidery stitches along the seams. I then appliqued a wool shape on the top and added a vintage button. All of these have an emery pouches a well.

Try one of your own.
Its easy!

The Chain Stitch or Lazy Daisy Stitch Tutorial

The chain stitch is often called the lazy daisy stitch. One stitch in itself creates a petal or leaf like shape. If you continue one stitch after another, you will get a chain stitch. I like to use this stitch when I need a nice wide line. You can use a lot of variance on where the needle goes in and to alter the size of the chain. I use it to place petals around a circle shape to make a flower. Check out the petals and leaves on the flowers on the apple below.

Here is a great example of lazy daisy stitches galore from Feeling Stitchy. Love her stuff!

1. This stitch is so fast and easy. Simply come up and go down in the same spot. The trick is to create a loop to make each chain or petal. First come up with your needle. Then, in one motion bring the needle down into the same hole and then up through the loop you created. Pull through gently, but not firmly. The looser the stitch, the larger the loop will be.

2. The step shows the first completed stitch of the chain. At this point you can create a petal or small leaf if you like. Just bring the thread back down very close to the other side of the loop you created.

3. This image shows the beginning of the next stitch. Simple continue this same stitch to create a line of chain stitches.