Sunday, December 17, 2006

beautiful gift from Isa

a beautiful envelope arrived...

I was so amazed to find this surprise in the mail - a gorgeous gift from Isa, a Flickr friend. I am always inspired by her gorgeous pictures of nature and her amazing quilts. I was so completely honored to receive this small hand-made quilt from her:

so beautiful, dear friend!

She also sent the most delicious dark chocolate I've ever had. I can't wait to finish the little gift I started crafting for her!


Monday, December 11, 2006

Holiday Swap goodies from Ellia

truly lovely
I was so amazed as I opened up the Holiday swap goodies from Ellia, holding each handmade object close to my eyes to appreciate all the incredible detail. Really, the pictures hardly do it justice - like a great work of art, you need to see it for yourself to fully appreciate it.

gorgeous fuzzy paper tiny details

It makes me so happy when things are wrapped lovingly - it reminds me of the way I wrap each Christmas, setting aside a little happy, quiet time to try to make each package perfect. And being completely rewarded when just one person notices the effort you took and lights up... :)

beautiful paper so cute!

There were so many goodies - gift tags, a book of ornament ideas, angels, and a big fabric template to make a cute little stuffed moose (Can't wait to start on that one!) Thank you Ellia, for putting together such a beautiful package, and for being such a wonderful artist. You can find her work for sale on Etsy:

Friday, December 8, 2006

lost in a forest

inspired by greenbeanbaby

So here is the girl I stitched up for Ellia. I used the tutorial on her blog as inspiration - cutting the head, body and hair according to the directions, and making up the little red dress from my imagination. I did a lot of brainstorming at first, mostly while sipping a little wine and listening to jazz during dinner the first night. :) After a few sketches, what I wanted to do came to me pretty clearly:

swap sketch

All the pieces were cut from felt, and the skinniest were the hardest. Just the slightest tug on those tiny pieces and they came apart! I used Crazy glue to hold the pieces down a bit, then stitched over a few corners here and there. My favorite elements are the red and white dress/ cape I made (thinking of dresses I used to wear as a kid) and the tall skinny trees that recede a little in the distance. I think this is definitely one of my favorite creations all year.

details, details...

Lastly, I was thinking the entire time of how much I love forests, the idea of being lost in a forest, and "A Forest", by the Cure...

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

the Handmade Holiday swap

swap that went out today....

I had such fun putting together the swap I sent to Ellia of greenbeanbaby... um, such fun that it ended up going out a couple of days late! I hope she's as excited about the little things I cooked up for her - I was so inspired by her cut paper work that I had to make something unique and individual for her. Here's a tiny peek:

a tiny glimpse...

I'll reveal the details as soon as she gets it - hopefully soon! :)

Christmas ornament #3

third ornament

Here's ornament #3: the cute baby in a green snowsuit. I originally sewed this up in a very boring way that looked lumpy and dull, so I yanked it apart and started again. I used pinking shears to get the cute rick-racky edge on the blue felt, and used a chain stitch in a shiny rayon floss to stitch both sides together. I made the ornament for greenbeanbaby as part of a swap, so I added her name to the back:

the back....

And, as promised, here is a freebie from the vintage Holiday patterns I've been using. Eren asked if there was a little boy, so here he is, the cutest of the lot! :)

holiday freebie

Christmas ornament #2

finished ornament

So, this little ornament is all finished...I changed my mind about having it say "Happy Holiday" underneath so I added a white felt border. Something about the scalloped edge reminds me of the glass ornments we hung on the tree when I was a kid. :) I especially love the blue bow on the little puppy, and the reds and blues I chose. This is all from the same loose sheet of vintage transfers I got on Ebay...

Thursday, November 30, 2006

more ornaments progress...

embroidery in the car

So, the Thanksgiving weekend was a prolific Christmas ornament time for me. It was fun hauling out the stash of vintage patterns, ironing the motifs on different fabrics, and choosing threads. Part of this was stitched in the car, something I almost immediately regretted. There was something about squinting at the small stitches and the extra-smooth ride that combined to make me carsick....

Here's a couple of others, a little baby in a green snowsuit and a kiddo in a plaid fur-lined coat:

baby in the grass little kiddo

Finished work to come very soon! In the meantime, I'm preparing for my swap with Ellia, of greenbeanbaby. Her work is so inspiring, I can't wait to get my little swap in the mail!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Christmas ornament #1

Holiday Greetings

Allow me to introduce my first Christmas ornament of the season... A month or two ago I got a cool stash of vintage patterns on Ebay, and this cute little girl pattern was among them as a loose sheet with no envelope. There are many other cute little motifs I plan to make into ornaments. Stay tuned for a freebie I'll scan in soon! :)

all done!

I had a huge stash of off-white cross stitch fabric that I used for the ornament. For some reason, my transfer pencil didn't work so well on this fabric - so the lines I followed were pretty faint. I used beige felt for the back of the ornament, and the striped ribbon is from the stash of birthday goodies my sister sent me. :)

So what do you think? I love her! Hee. The more I look at this little girl, the more I think she looks like the pic I have in my profile... my button nose was cuter as a kid! :)

adventures in pom poms

ooh, a pom pom maker... + enter the Jiffy yarn =

my first pom pom!

My sister, the sweetheart, cheered me up on my milestone birthday with a bunch of cool crafting supplies. So, as soon as I opened the package, I dove into making pom poms. As expected, my first pom pom was a crashing failure, but not accepting defeat, I read the directions (which I discovered to be key) and crafted the one you see above. I'm also attempting a scarf with this yarn, that I'm not so fond of:

beginnings of a new scarf

I love the fluffy softness of the yarn - but I'm having a hard time working with these larger knitting needles. I keep getting big gaps in between stitches that make it look so... wonky. :(

Monday, November 13, 2006

fuzzy blue scarf

finishing the fuzzy blue scarf

I finished my two, thin Fun Fur scarves yesterday and I love them both. I guess I'm fonder of the white one, because the combination of pale pink and white is very subtle. The blue one looks funky and crazy, a look I'm pretty fond of as well...

two fuzzy scarves

I already showed the yarn I used on the white/pink scarf - the fuzzy blue scarf was a combination of blue Lion Brand "Fun Fur" and white Red Heart "Casual Cot'n":


I love the texture of the white yarn, and how fluffy and soft it feels. It's a tiny bit off white, with a few natural colored flecks spread out through the yarn. Well, that's two scarves I can cross off the Christmas List. The fuzzy magenta scarf is almost finished, too!

To what do I owe all this knitting? Actually, I'd been working pretty steadily on both throughout the week - the pink scarf was my TV scarf and the blue was my lunchtime knitting. But I have to say watching all six episodes of Star Wars on a nerd-ass loop this weekend really contributed to my solid finish... :)

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

fluffy pink and white scarf

new knitting

Next on my long Christmas list are a series of fuzzy scarves. I really like this one I started recently - I combined two yarns my sister gave me last Christmas - a very lightweight, pink baby yarn and a fuzzy white eyelash yarn.

Doesn't "eyelash yarn" sound cool? But that describes it perfectly - the strands are as fine and thin as eyelashes. I've actually finished this one (I'll post a picture soon)- as it was only 10 knit stitches across. It's a great quick project and so fluffy... :)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

haunted house for Mr. Owl

it's Mr. Owl's house!

Mr. Owl was looking pretty lonely, wee little felt creature that he is, so I made him a haunted rowhouse. I'd had the idea in my mind for awhile now, and I was surprised at how easily it came together, and how much I enjoyed stitching it (even though it took at least 3 nights of effort). I wanted the windows to open and reveal more little creatures, so I did just that:

boo! no pumpkin shortage here...

Also, Owl's little door does open and close - a little detail I'm quite proud of:

is there someone at the door?

And it's actually a stuffed card - that opens up to show a greeting:

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 27, 2006

spooky little owl

feeling spooky

I made this little owl, without any pattern, but just a very general idea in my head. Everything "happened" - like the eyes and the wings, and the little orange feet. I love working with felt, because cutting, shaping, and sewing it is so easy. It's basically the way you expected fabric to act when you cut it for the first time, at about age 4. And not the frayed, lumpy, scary mess real fabric really is... :) I loved making the owl so much I immediately got started on a little haunted house for him... (pictures soon!) :)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sir Bear of the Insufficiently Stuffed Neck

meet Sir Bear of the Insufficiently Stuffed Neck....

So, believe it or not I have a very long list of things I'd like to make this Christmas. Now, not being as well-equipped with magic elves as Santa's workshop, we'll see how many projects I'll really churn out... Sir Bear had been waiting patiently, as a few flat cutouts gathering dust in my armoire. I whipped her out a week ago, stitched all last Friday night and most of Saturday, and voila! New Wee Wonderfuls bear:

working on a little something....

I'm especially proud of the yellow flower buttons - from my Singer stash purchased at the drug store. As usual, I reconned fabrics from my very large wardrobe of ill-fitting clothing. Why do I have so much clothing that doesn't fit right? #1 - My unusually large backside, and #2 my impatience for shopping. Lately if I find anything that even half fits, I'll buy it to just get out of the store and go home. After a few unenthusiastic wears, it turns into stuffed critters... :) Sir Bear's head and limbs are made from gray slacks that made my rear look droopy and a beautiful dark brown and red plaid skirt that rode up so often it looked like I was wearing a mini. :)

Sir Bear is going on the Christmas list as my first planned toy made and completed! :)

Tea Towel swap goodies arrive!

something sweet in the mail...

So, I was loath to check my mail last week... but I finally got to the mailbox yesterday, and discovered a wonderful package from Jackie, who was kind enough to arrange a Tea Towel Swap. This was my first official swap, and it was a fun experience - I love sending and receiving mail!

beautiful towels stitched by Jackie

Just look at the lovely details and stitching on these towels! And the way all the colors, trims, and threads complement each other - they're just gorgeous! It was also wrapped so delicately, with a couple of tasty recipes... If you're wondering what I sent to her it was the Busy Bees:

los Busy Bees

Of course I waited to the last minute to send mine, and was a bit frenzied as I mailed out my package, so I didn't wrap it. :( Oh well, perhaps this procrastinator will learn how to mail a better package! :)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

fuzzy magenta scarf

new fuzzy scarf

About a year ago, a friend from work introduced me to knitting. I'd always been curious about it and it seemed like the perfect hobby for such a cool climate. I bought this fuzzy maroon-ish magenta-ish yarn in Texas in May, but only now started the scarf - it just doesn't feel right knitting in the summer. The yarn is Caron Feathers and the color is Purple Finch. I'm just doing a knit stitch on size 15 needles, but the yarn is so fluffy and colorful it still looks pretty. :)

At this time I have only two scarves to my name - a lumpy one I made for my sister, and a blue wool one which is a gorgeous color but way too scratchy to wear. :)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Good Luck Kitty Towel #2

Good Luck on Tuesday

Ok, I realize it isn't Tuesday yet, but I finally finished Good Luck Kitty #2. I say finally, because these kitty dish towels took some time to stitch - I sat down with them 2-3 nights for 2-3 hours each. My favorite thing to do when embroidering is listen to movies... yeah it's usually listening because I find it hard to tear my eyes away while working on something. So, my listening list for this kitty was The Ice Storm with Kevin Kline and For a Few Dollars More. The Ice Storm was much easier to follow but Clint Eastwood flicks get confusing, what with all the whistling music and whizzing bullets. :)

Is anyone curious about the DMC thread colors I use? I'm thinking of adding that to my blog... I'll have to dig the colors up this evening because all I remember offhand is that the red is DMC 666 (yes, those thread makers do have a sense of humor). :) I'm liking the tea towels, but my main beef with them is how hard they are to iron - and I don't look half as cute plugging away with a hot iron as this kitty does! :)

Friday, October 6, 2006

Good Luck Kitty Towel #1

Good Luck Kitty finished...

So I just finished the first of the Seven Lucky Kittens - I've been on a tea towel rampage lately, and I finished this kitty up while watching Walk the Line last night. The big cross stitches were pretty quick to stitch (they actually took longer to trace than to stitch...) :)

seven lucky kittens

The pattern is another vintage Vogart transfer I bought on Ebay - I got this wonderful transfer uncut and in perfect shape! So, I'll finish stitching the second lucky kitten soon, and on to the decision of which to send for my tea towel swap... :)

Monday, October 2, 2006

Bee Helpful Tea Towel

los Busy Bees

So here is the second of the tea towels - what can I say but I am a sucker for strange sewing animals! :) I used the incredibly tricky metallic floss on this one - and it did just what I expected it to do - knotted up, frayed, got stuck and tangled. But somehow I plowed through and stitched the little needles and thimble:

more cute little bees

I like these colors more than the first towel - but I think they look cute together... I'm still not 100% sure I should send these out for the swap - I'm trying one more design this week, and if I like that one better I'll send something else...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

How to Use a Transfer Pencil

So, you have a design or a drawing you want to embroider... but how do you get it from a piece of paper onto your fabric? What's a transfer pencil? I remember how confused I was when I started embroidering, too - so I hope this helps!

1. Find a transfer pencil and tracing paper - I bought my pencils online at Colonial Patterns, but they're also available at most big craft stores... The tracing paper is just regular old tracing paper!

2. Put your tracing paper over the drawing or pattern, and trace with the transfer pencil. Important: see how the letters in "Sew" are not facing the right way? This is the right way to do it! When you flip it over it will be facing the right way!
re-tracing "Sew" carefully

3. Flip the tracing paper over (image side down), pin into place and iron the tracing paper with a dry iron:
ironing the tracing paper

4. Presto! Your image has now been transferred to your fabric! Stick it in a hoop, and stitch away:
waiting to be stitched

See the completed shirt

A few free pattern sources:

Buy embroidery transfers (skip the pencil method):

How do I work that embroidery transfer, you may be asking? That's the easiest! Just iron it right on your fabric and you're ready to go - your pattern should come with ironing instructions...

So whip out that pencil and happy stitching, guys! (And I mean that in a totally gender-neutral way, too) :)