Thursday, April 25, 2013

Do you dig dots?

Hello all!
Every time I go to Bev's blog 44th Street Fabrics I am in awe. She is so amazingly talented! Not only that, she is so very generous with her encouragement and support. Because of Beverly and 44th Street Fabrics I went from 3 followers in 2 years to my current 155! All because she took to one of my pincushions and did a feature on my blog. She taught me the ins and outs of giveaways and she hosted my very first. She always takes time for others, even though she is a prolific sewer, quilter, designer and shop owner. Whew! She makes me tired just thinking about all the wonderful things she does each and every day. Thank you from the bottom of my heart Bev!

Just look at one of her Oklahoma Beauty Blocks! Wow! Can she use color! Her work makes me smile.

She is giving away a collection of bright Basic dotted fabrics (1/2 yard each of 5 colors) from Riley Blake Designs. Aren't they cute!
To win these adorable fabrics, click HERE. You'll find all the things you need to do to win 2 1/2 yards tone-on-tone dotted fabrics. You will also find a wonderful blog filled with tons of inspiring ideas and beautiful quilts.

If you can't wait to win them, you can find them in her Etsy shop- 44th Street Fabrics.
You might as well pick up this adorable Chevron fabric too while you are at it. Wouldn't they look cute together?

Bev says, "I'd love to know how you use polka dots in your sewing!" Well, I have to say that my dots, to this point have been a bit wimpy. Looks like I all I have are red, black and white. Hmmm. It sure would be fun to spread my colorful wings much further from this...

I am just starting to buy bright, modern prints. I've always been partial to roses in a shabby chic palette. Maybe our gray, Wisconsin weather is making me ache for spring. Suddenly I just want to dive deeply into the brightest colors I can find! Here are a few of my newest procurements.

The last assortment actually has some dots, well, maybe circles. It really looks like I could use some more!

Well, hop on over to 44th Street Fabrics and bring a cup of coffee and some chocolate. You are going to want to stay a while.
Thanks Bev! I have my fingers crossed that I'll win your dots.

Watch for my next giveaway. I will be giving away one of my pincushion rings. I've been so busy filling orders, I haven't had time to play. I want to giveaway an original design just for my awesome followers. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My April Crazy Quilt Block

Here is my newest crazy quilt block. I created it for Birdie. She is one of my Etsy collectors. In honor of her name and how working with her makes me smile, I added a few bluebirds of happiness. I think they add a sweet touch.

Here is what the block looks like in pincushion form. I hope she loves it!

This block is fun, now that I have the pattern on paper. (Isn't that always the case?) Each piece is hand sewn and hand embroidered. I then add beads here and there to complete the block. I promise to walk you through the process some day.

Birdie, like many of my clients is also loves to sew. She sent me a picture of these beautiful place mats she quilted. I love the pattern and just look at how beautiful these colors coordinate with her dining set. Wow! So pretty!

I've had lots of orders to do. The next order was a gift. I love presents!
Eileen once ordered a custom pincushion from me. She had ideas, which I love. She was willing to let me play, which I love even more.
She ended up with one of the first wool patchwork pincushions I ever made. It as such a joy to work with her. Here is the pincushion she purchased from me for her studio.

When she asked me to create a pincushion for her mom, I felt honored. She liked one of the pincushions from my shop, with a few custom touches.
This is what we came up with. She hasn't seen it yet. I hope she loves it and her mom enjoys using it.

She needed it thick and simply asked that her yellow quilt pins didn't get lost in it.

A nice amount of emery will keep it from rolling around.

Its a fun little pincushion made with lots of warm and sunny thoughts.

Since I have an awesome mom, I really wanted to send some of that happy along with this pincushion.

Stop on over at Eileen's Etsy Shop- Baby Cricket
You just can't help but smile when you see her stuff! Her work is inspired by the book Where the Wild Things Are. What little one would not absolutely love some clawed mittens or fingerless gloves. I'm just picturing nights with my boys, all snuggled up in bed, reading our favorite books. This cute silver lining cloud would gently hold their sweet dreams.
She also carries fun and beautiful minky, baby blankets, sweet Mary Janes in velvet, playful plush toys, and an adorable selection of booties for babies, boys and girls.

Thanks Eileen!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Banners and Birds Needlebook

I have been thinking of this little book ever since I bought this fabric. It just seems so sweet. Its inspired a few projects, but I think this one is my favorite.
Here it is from every angle...

There is a mini pincushion made from red wool on the left side.

It has a simple snap closure on the front cover corners.

There is a little needle book inside with a striped cover with a flannel lining. A little white crochet flower enhances the front.

I like it inside and out. I hope it goes to a good home.

I am working on a pattern. Some day I'm going to add that feature to my shop.

Have a great week!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Spring Inspiration

A new version of my leaf pincushion has been waiting to burst forth. Kind of like all the sneezing I've been doing since the land is waking up in Wisconsin, these colors just seem to burst forth and come alive!

This may be a bit more fun than a sneeze, but I"m so happy its finally more than an idea.

I really love the brighter colors and the pink foundation.

My green version is one of my best sellers and that makes me happy because its so fun to make!
I made this one during the summer.

This one was designed in Autumn.

I love to see how this pincushion has improved as I recreate it each time. Its gotten brighter and better with age.
(Kind of like me...I hope.)

I've been racing to make use of all the new wool colors I picked up this year from Misty Pond Primitives on Etsy.
In fact, this is what my stash looks like now!

I better get sewing because people are drawn to fabrics by the season. All of my wool items will soon sit in warm hibernation for the summer.
Funny how that works.

I have a few new rings in my shop too. These are actually season proof. Accessories are too fun to ignore, no matter what the weather.

I love my wooly rings. I use recycled sweaters that have been felted. I center a circular design using needle felted wool roving, embroidery and beads. Once I'm done with the decoration, I gather the outside edge and pull it tight. I slip a powerful little magnet into the center, (to help keep the pins from slipping out). I securely attach it to a fun adjustable ring finding and its ready to work! A few fun beaded pins for decoration adds the final touch.

Well, I'm going to sneak in a few more wool items this week. I have some pretty needle cases inspired by some fun buttons I picked up this winter. I also received a creative push from some awesome, modern prints which are echoed in wool applique designs.

I love spring!!!
Watching the land wake up from a long and dreary winter always inspires me to open my eyes and see all the wonder around me.
I love that the weather is allowing for some long, meanering walks in the woods near my home. Its a joy to watch little green leaves poking through the dead leave beds.
When I get back to the machine, I feel like I am waking up too!

Hope you are enjoying the end of winter too.
See you soon!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Managing your Threads.

I think one of the reasons people don't enjoy embroidery is knots, tangles and frustration. I know that these things can turn a fun project into a pain in the butt. Let me share with you a few tips on how to make it more enjoyable just by managing your threads and floss.
I'll post a few short tips and tricks this month. Let start with bobbins.

I like using bobbins. I know that a basket full of floss hanks can be very decorative. But once you start pulling threads you will find that that beautiful little pile is a big pile of problems. Then you stop embroidering.
Here is a cute image from the Invincible Summer Blog by Nikki.

Before you judge, you have to visit her cute blog tutorial on how she makes her own bobbins. Easy peasy and so cute!

I use basically 2 different threads for most of my embroidery. There are more, but these are commonly available in most craft stores, so I can keep my stash stocked.
I like to buy high quality embroidery threads. When you purchase the bargain brand you are asking for some problems.
They tend to knot up more.
They sometimes leave color behind in stitches, so when you remove a stitch, you are left with a colored hole in your fabric.
They may not be colorfast. That means they may fade in sunlight or with washing.

Your time and creative efforts deserve the best. Embroidery is not a fast little craft. It involves many hours and days of work. Can you imagine creating a little masterpiece only to see it deteriorate before your eyes? I would cry.
Besides, if you are selling your work, your customers deserve the best. They have so little control over what goes into their items. Its up to you to be a watchdog for quality control. Your payoff will be work you are very proud of. That's such a great feeling. DMC has a nice product which can be found everywhere. I am using their images of their products. I'll be posting more about the different embroidery threads later. In the meantime, take a look at some of the info and tutorials here.

Perle Cotton is a multi ply, cotton thread that cannot be separated. It comes in a variety of sizes. I use size 5 for most of my work, but use size 8 for details.
It comes in a 27 yard skein or a 49 yard ball in 306 colors. Sizes range from thinnest to thickest 12. 8, 5, 3. Most craft stores sell size 5 or balls in a variety of sizes.
It is has lovely sheen. You can easily create a nice thick line or a full solid satin stitch.
I use the smallest embroidery needle I can fit into the eye. Size 24 or 22 Tapestry needles work well. More on needles later.

6 Strand Embroidery Floss is my other go-to embroidery thread. It has 6 separate strands which can be pulled apart for your desired thickness.
Floss comes in 8.7 yard skeins in 454 colors.
It is the perfect choice when doing tiny work with lots of detail. Most crazy quilts are embroidered with single or 2 strands. I use 3 strands when I want a good filler. But 2 strands work for most projects.

This post is mainly about how to manage your embroidery floss and thread so it is ready to go when you are.
I use bobbins instead of skeins. This helps me keep my stash tidy and bobbins fit into most organizers.

DMC sells plastic bobbins. Any brand will work.

You can find some fun handmade bobbins. I found these on Etsy.
Here are some adorable wooden bobbins from Giggle Snort Society

Here are more designs from Sugar Cookie

They may not be the most practical bobbins, but they sure are sweet!

Here are Nikki's bobbins from her tutorial, "Embroidery Floss Organizer".

I'm just using the plain plastic bobbins for now.
Here is how to manage your embroidery threads...

Perle Cotton
I am showing one skein as it comes from the store and the other has the wrapper undone.
Don't throw that wrapper away just yet. I recommend making a note of the color number on your skein, so when you run out, you know what to purchase.
I write the number onto the middle of the bobbin and also on the very end. There is a rough side of the plastic and a smooth side. I use a pencil to write the numbers down.

You will find the beginning and end to the skein at one end. they are tied together. Carefully snip them apart making sure to remove the knot.

Untwist the skein just enough to expose the loop of threads.
Begin winding one end onto the bobbin. Wrap a few times to make sure it has a good start.

Now here is a trick I've learned which involves some very technical equipment...your knees. They work better then anything I've tried and they are always available.
Just place the skein over your knees and pull it taut. As you unwind the thread it won't twist or twirl and you will avoid knotting and kinks.

Continue to wind your bobbin keeping the thread taut, but not stretched.
There is a lot of thread to wind, so try to keep winding your thread evenly across the bobbin till you get to the end.

Ta da! Ready to use and to store.

As you use the thread just keep tucking the end into the slit on the bobbin. When I have left over thread I just wrap that onto the bobbin. That way you won't waste an inch.
If you are stitching on a rough fabric and your thread becomes worn and ragged, don't keep the leftovers. They will only cause you headaches later. Keep them for the birds!

6 Strand Embroidery Floss
Now anyone who has ever used floss knows that it knots very easily. Winding onto a bobbin helps by smoothing the floss fibers onto the bobbin. Less folds and kinks means less knots later on.
Again, unwrap the label from your floss. Make note of the color number on your bobbin in the middle and on the end.

Carefully split the skein into a loop.

My special tool for floss is my wrist, (roll up your sleeves for this).
Place the loop of floss over your hand so the end easily unwinds.
Begin winding the floss onto the bobbin. AS you pull the thread it will spin around on your wrist and easily unwind without tangling. If it catches up on itself, slow down and unwind it by hand for a bit until it starts to spin on your wrist again.

As you use parts or strands of each color, wind the leftovers back onto the same bobbin to keep things neat and avoid waste.

When you are done, keep them clean and organized in a box. I found mine for 99 cents.
Everything in its place...

I have a confession. My boxes do not look like this. I used this photo from Junie Moons blog.
I'm a busy stitcher. I promise to show you my stash later.
Now go stitch!