Sunday, September 30, 2012

New Look Same Blog

Hello! I decided to change my logo and banner. I felt in the need for something clean and bold. I added my favorite pincushion. I also added a button to my blog. I would love it if you would grab it and pop it onto your blog.

While you are here, I thought I would share with you my 2nd obsession, right after fabric. I have a thing for decorative pins. If you've ever ordered a pincushoin from me, most all come with one or a few of these little beauties.

You can order them in a set of 10! They will come in a little fabric envelope with a ribbon. You can find them in my Etsy shop here. Perfect for a little stocking stuffer or a sweet gift for your favorite workshop instructor. Or, or course, keep em for yourself. I won't tell.

Hope you like the logo and I would love to see you back soon. I have a pear tutorial coming very soon.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

44th Street Fabric Giveaway Winner

I first want to thank every one who came over to my blog from 44th Street Fabric. I was so touched by your responses and your comments. I was overwhelmed! I also want to thank Bev from the very bottom of my heart. She is such a kind, generous and talented quilter and blogger. I am so grateful she found me!

Being my first giveaway I was a bit uncertain how one goes about this. I wanted to give everyone something. I thought that the fairest way was to put everyone's name in a container. I gave it a couple of shakes. Out came the winner's name.

Well enough of the suspense. The winner is Delcia R.!!!

Please email me at with your mailing address.
(I couldn't find your email info on your profile.)

This pincushion comes in a few different colors, let me know if you have a preference. I have it in a mix of colors as show above, all from the adorable 1030"s inspired prints. You can also get it in pinks and reds, blues and greens, a warm mix of yellow, red, pink and orange, or a cool mix of blue, green and purple. I have some pretty shabby chic rose patterns I really love. Just let me know what you would love!

I want you to know that I have been so inspired by all of your works. I spent the last few hours looking at your blogs and your quilts. Makes me wish I had the patience to work on a patchwork project for more than 20 minutes! Actually, I'm just learning how to paper piece and I am beginning to stitch together a little block using a quick flying geese technique. I hope it works out. Matching points is where I usually groan, rip, sew, rip again and eventually put everything in my UFO box. I do think I might be finally getting the hang of it. Maybe all of your talents will rub off on me.

Stop over to Bev's Etsy shop and check out some of her adorable fabrics and patterns. Here are some of my favorites!

Polka Dot Stitches from Lori Holt for Riley Blake Designs

Sweet As Pie Pincushion by Chitter Chatter

Don't with me on Etsy and take 15% off your first order! Just use coupon code FiberBlog15.

Keep in Touch and come back soon!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Stitching Savvy

I absolutely love the many faces of embroidery! Everytime I pick up a needle and thread, I search my books and my brain for just the perfect stitch and the right thread for what I want to create. There are so many!

Many years ago I did a lot of cross stitch. It was the 80's and that was the thing to do back then. When I cam back to embroidery, about 4 years ago, I was determined to learn more.
Because there are so many colors, so many fibers, so many threads and so many designs its hard to know where to begin.

When I tried to reproduce what I saw, it all ended up looking like "me". Instead of fighting that, I embraced it! Every one of us stitch in their own unique way. As a painter, I wanted to use thread like a paintbrush.

But then again, sometimes I just want my embroidery to look like embroidery. All the traditions of this beautiful craft should be passed on to those after me and so on. With hand embroidery, there are no shortcuts. You can use an embroidery machine to do a myraid of designs but nothing looks or feels quite like what only the hand can create.

To inspire you to try and enjoy this beautiful craft, let me share a few of my secrets. These are things I've learned by doing. I stitch about 30-40 hours a week. Just about every one of my sewing projects is signed by my stitching. If you have tried to embroider, but found it too frustrating or difficult, maybe these secrets will bring you back to embroidery.

The tools of the trade

Crewel or Embroidery Needles. for most fabrics you will need a sharp point. I recommend you find the smalles hole to accommodate the thread you are using, keep it on the shorter side so it's easy to manange. A variety is always best.
A small, pointed scissors to snip threads in small spaces.
A thimble. I love my leather thimble the best. It is soft and conforms to the contours of my finger. It helps to avoid callouses and needle pokes. Treat your fingers well!

Floss and Fabric As many colors as possible!
Embroidery Hoop if desired.
A Pincushion to keep your pins organized and off of the floor.
Thats it!

Threading the Needle
Thread has two different ends! Yup, I'm not kidding, it does. You will find that to be very true of Perle Cotton. So how do you know what end to thread? If the thread mashes down and refuses to be threaded, attack it from the other end. You'll be amazed at how easy the other end works.
Thread your needle like you do any other thread. Dampen the thread with your tongue and then pinch the end with your fingers to make a flat, sharp end. Don't forget to put on your glasses. This is no time for vanity.

To Knot or not to Knot
Some experienced embroiderers do not create knots. I do. You don't need a huge one. Cut your thread close to the knot so you don't have to deal with a mess on the back of your work.
When you finish with a color or come to the end of your thread, bring the needle to the back of your work. Create your knot using threads from the back of your work. Do not bring the needle back up through the fabric. Start with one winding stitch by winding the needle around one of the back thread loops. Then make a standard knot using the same threads.

To Hoop or Not to Hoop
I rarely ever use a hoop. They always seem to get in the way and often deform my fabric or previous stitches. How do you get along without a hoop and still have nice flat stitching? Relax. I mean it. Your stitches should be taught but not tight. If you are feeling stressed or tense, stop and take a few deep breaths. As with crochet or knitting, your work will reflect your mood.

After I take a few stitches, I give my work a bit of a tug. I grab it from one end of my stitches to where I'm at. If you stitch calmly, you will be able to pull all your stitches to a uniform tightness. Any bunches will hopefully pick up the slack from looser stitches. If you find your work is bunching up and can't be pulled straight...go get a glass of wine, take a walk and come back later. Let your embroidery teach you to relax and simply enjoy the process of creating.

When your work is complete, I recommend that you block your work. I have as short tutorial here- Block Your Embroidery.

How do I keep my threads from tangling? Arrrgh!
You may have already guessed that this issue is common and somewhat impossible to avoid. However, these few tips may keep your tangles to a minimum.
First and foremost, don't cut your threads too long. I recommend about 18-24 inches, shorter with floss. Short threads are easy to manange.
After you cut your thread and separate your floss strands, run your fingers down the length of your thread a few times to smooth the fibers and untwist the strands. It also realligns the fibers.
Manage your thread by using spare fingers to hold the twisting thread straight while you pull it through the fabric.
Drop your needle straight down and let it dangle now and again. This allows the needle to turn and spin freely, unraveling twisted, kinked thread. Floss needs constant unwinding.
Perle Cotton is great because it rarely tangles and when it does, you can usually pull the loopy knots out with a firm tug. It needs to dangle now and again, like floss.
Take your time. If your thread knows that you are in a hurry, it conspires to tangle more often. Its true. If my threads are especially unruly I may trade it for another piece of thread.

Choosing the perfect thread.
The choices are endless. You can use the standard 5 strand floss. There is a number of sizes of Perle Cotton. You can stitch with silk ribbon. Wool thread is another awesome choice. I have stitched with yarn, quilting thread, cotton crochet thread and whatever else I can get to work. If you have a needle to accommodate the thread, use it!

I do most of my work with #5 Perle Cotton. It comes in many sizes, The smaller the number, the thicker the thread. Most commonly you will find size 3, 5 and 8. I have hundreds of colors and I still wish I had more! It creates a nice flat stitch that has substance, even when used on wool. When used in a satin stitch, it has a beautiful sheen.

When I need a lot of detail, if I'm working on a fine fabric or if I need a wide variety of stitch thicknesses I use Embroidery Floss. Just cut to the length you need. You can use one strand, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 strands. Its your choice! In the example above you will see many single strand stitches. The have such a delicate look. The seem to float above the fabric with just enough presence. Floss comes in so many colors. Again, I wish I had more. Its very inexpensive, about 40 cents a hank. Each hank goes a long way.

Silk Ribbon is amazing, but it can be expensive and hard to find in the US. It comes in standard colors in a number of sizes and is beautiful when hand dyed. Because I buy so little of it, I often combine it with other fibers to create a number of textures.

What fabric should You embroider on?
You can use just about any fabric you want. However....

My favorite is linen because it has a nice even weave, (great for lettering). The needle glides through it so well. It is opaque so you can make a mess of the back of your work.

My next and equal favorite is Felted Wool. The needle slides through it like butter. Its such a joy because it comes in so many colors. Heavier threads seem to float to the surface while fine floss can be pulled tighter so they nearly disappear. It can be a bit drying to your skin so keep lotion handy if you are stitching for extended periods of time.

Many of my pincushions are created with cotton. Although these are some of my very favorite works, its hard on the fingers. The fabric has a tigher weave so the needle doesn't glide as easily as wool or linen. But I love using pattern and 3 dimensional form in combination with stitching.

Knits are hard, so you'll need a hoop and a stabilizer if you intend on a lot of stitches. The only knit I ever work on is felted wool sweaters. Its hard to keep the fabric from warping and stretching. I try not to let that keep me from using it. It has its own charm.

Staying Organized
Its easy to have a big hot mess on your hands once you start building your thread stash. I recommend a few things that really help me to keep things tidy, at hand and untangled.
Begin by transferring your thread from a hank to a bobbin. Bobbins are small paper or plastic rectangles with knotches made just for this purpose. I write the color number of the thread on the bobbin so when I run out, I know what to reorder. Bobbins are compact, can be stored in a bin or on a metal hoop. When you cut your thread, just stick the thread end into one of the knotches to keep things from unraveling all over the place. I am a horrible organizer, but I know that when my threads are a mess, I don't enjoy the process. I sort every thread by type and by color. Everythign is right there, easy to find and easy to keep neat. That gives me more time to play.

When you transfer thread to a bobbin, these techniques may make it easy.
Perle cotton comes in long hanks. Remove the paper band and unfold the treads. The two ends that are tied together will help you find the center of the loops. I sit on the couch and put my knees up. I place the loop over my knees, cut the two ends apart. Carefully begin to unwind the thread from the hank onto the bobbin. This keeps the threads taut and untangled.
When you transfer floss you only have a small loop to deal with. Find one end and slowly peel away the thread and put it onto the bobbin. Once you have your bobbin started, place the loop of threads around your left wrist. Continue to pull the thread off of the hank onto the bobbin. The loop will spin around your wrist and keep it from tangling.
(Photos coming soon.)

The Stitches
The last thing is what stitches are best. They all are, but I have about 7 stitches I use all of the time. They are easy and once you learn them, it becomes second nature to remember each step.
There are my favorites
The Back Stitch can be used to make any lines or letters.
The Button Hole or Blanket Stitch creates a beautiful clean edge.
The Chain or Lazy Daisy Stitch
The Satin or Shading Stitch to fill in larger areas.
The Couching Stitch to hold yarn or threads down onto the fabric surface.
I adore the feather stitch, fly stitch, bullion knots, split stitches and so many more!

You can always look online to find more stitches. I recommend watching videos. It all becomes clear when it's demonstrated. There are some wonderful blogs to follow that have step by step picture or video demonstration.
Here is my favorite- Needle N Thread by Mary Corbet
Pintangle's a TAST is great. Take a stitch Tuesday teaches you one stitch a week. Other embroiderers stitch along and you can post your work. Its fun and I really wish I had more time to do this on a regular basis.
I have a few tutorials showing my favorite, go-to stitches here.

Keeping your stitches uniform comes with practice. Embrace your imperfections. Most stitches are easy to undo and redo if you must. In time, you will find that your stitching is unlike no other. Thats a good thing. Let it become yours and yours alone.

I'd love to share with you a few of my very favorite embroidery and fiber artist. They inspire me everytime I see their work. They have lifted the art of stitching to a new level with their sense of playfulness, freedom, originality and talent.
Mimi Love is pure fun. She is from England and if you stop by her blog, its like a travel warp. Mimi is a bit of a poet she is.

Sally Mavor
She creates whimsical illustrations in stumpwork for her books. Her work is technically impecable with that perfect touch of childhood wonder.

Susan Elliott from her blog, Plays with Needles. She brings jewelry, trims, beads, you name it to her work. She has a fun, modern touch that reaches back from many years of tradition and drags the craft into the light of today. Its bright, sweet, elegant and fun(really fun).

I could go on and on showing you my embroidery heroes. I invite you to check out my blogroll and choose a few stitch related names. Yu'll be hooked.

Once you are bitten by the embroidery bug, try stitching a sampler. That will push you to learn new stitches, have a visual inventory so you know what each stitch looks like in person. So get out your supplies and get stitching!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Introducing- Brookey's Bows on Etsy!

Introducing...Brookeys Bows!

Brooke is my very special, one and only, adorable, sassy grand daughter. To say that I adore her is the understatement of the year! Here's a few photos of my little sweetie pie...

Her beautiful mom is my new daughter, Samantha.

I asked her if she was crafty and if so, would she like to add some things to my Etsy Shop, Fiberluscious. She wasn't quite sure if she was crafty, but she was eager to see what she could do. OMG! She is wonderful!
Sam is a natural designer. She has a great sense of design and color. Being young, she knows what moms and babies love.
Its been so much fun to watch her grow creatively. I love her bows and barrettes and headbands. I think you will too.

Here is one of the first to go into her shop. Three Roses with Feathers.

Here are a few more.
Zebras and Feathers Bow

Three Roses

The Big Pink Flower Headband

Check her out at Brookeys Bows on Etsy
There are always new items being posted so put her on your list of favorite shops and come and shop often!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Patchwork Pincushion Using Nancy's Tut

I just love my new patchwork pincushion I just listed on Etsy!

I used the basic technique shown below from Nancy's blog. But it wasn't quite as easy when transformed into a circle. It's all is where things meet up in the center and along the sides. I'm still trying to figure out how seam allowances figure into pattern making, but I think I am finally getting the hang of it! One of these days I'm just going to buy a pattern and be done with it. There something inside me that thinks I always have to be original.
Its all wonderful in the end.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

National Sewing Month

This is an ode to those wonderful women who inspired me to start sewing.

Nancy Zeiman, with her quirky smile and her no nonsense approach to the rules and techniques that make good sewing was a good influence on me. I am a run by the seat of my pants kind of girl. But deep down, I believe that doing things the right way is the only way. You can break or bend a few rules, but if you want things to last and to lay the right way you just have to know what you are doing. I watch her every morning at 5:30 am after my hubby goes off to work. I just wish there were new episodes every once in a while. You can only make so many designer totes. You might like this quilting technique for string quilting. It looks fast, adorable and I sure have enough scraps to make a few since I can't seem to throw anything away!

You begin with a foundation piece and simply sew, flip, press and trim. Just add each piece to create a block. I love this look! Thank you Nancy!

Then there is Martha Pullen.

She has another PBS show for heirloom sewing. She has this quaint little sewing room set. She grew up in Alabama. She has this way of saying tucks like this..tuuuuuxs. She likes to show off her heirloom outfits from the turn of the century and generally, she is just a really nice church lady who is passionate about remembering what it was like to do by hand, all the amazing things we do by machine today. I can't imagine what it was like way back then. But if you have ever picked up a piece of vintage embroidery and wonder how did they do that and just plain, wow...I can believe someone did that, by hand. Watching her segments on hand embroidery by 3 really awesomely cool experts has inspired me to make hand embroidery the signature element in most of my work.

My biggest sewing heroes are my mom and my grandma. There was always a place for the sewing machine and it was used often to mend the worn clothing of 7 plus children. My funny cousin Beth taught me to take in bell bottoms so tight it gave my parents a "conniption", (a fit). They sat by my side the first time I sat at the machine and gently guided me in it's use. They always had scraps for me to use to make Barbie clothes and hot pad gifts. They were wonderful and gentle and instilled in me a true love for creating beautiful and useful things.

We certainly can't forget out first sewing teacher. She's the one who tried to grade the love of sewing right out of me. A straight seam was more important than a unique design. There was no time for hand stitching designs, or reasons for one-of-a-kind touches. those were the makings of a failing grade. I hope I was one of the few that had a bad sewing teacher and that most everyone else was encouraged in the classroom. I wish she knew that I just wanted to learn the right way to do my own thing.

I really can't tell you how much sewing has given to me. To receive the gift of creating with fabric, thread and a machine is one that never stops giving. I've warmed rooms with drapes, created dozens of Halloween costumes, designed handbags, darned rips... the list is endless. In the past, my sewing gave me things I couldn't afford. My wedding dress was covered in embroidered french lace, layers of taffeta and organdy and the bodice and train was completely hand beaded. My first big project was a 3 pc corduroy outfit in sea foam green, (it was the 70's). When the hand-me-downs from my sisters were warn and outdated, something new made me feel so original. Making all those outfits, totes, dresses, costumes, curtains and even PJs felt like magic. One day you had yards of fabric, another day you had something amazing. It still feels like magic!

Here is a needle case by Hens Teeth. She takes beautiful vintage fabrics and turns them into something so cool and so warm you just feel happy looking at it. She has inspired my desire to bring traditions forward to create something new and unique.

Well, here is to Sewing Month and all of its many heroes. Its not hard to see that sewing is more valid and important than ever. In the age of complex, computerized sewing machines and sergers, there is still room for the heirloom techniques of the past. In fact, its so wonderful to see patchwork that contains bits and pieces of old quilts, childhood clothing pieces and new embroideries. Everything that has to do with needle and thread is a part of how we create with fiber and fabric. I hope to carry on those traditions and have that sewing machine ready for my grand daughter when she is ready to carry forward this wonderful art form.

Happy National Sewing Month!