fabric

Giveaway Winner, woohoo!

And we have a winner!

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Comment #2 was …. Jenny! Woohoo! Jenny’s holiday story was:

My story involves baking too! Hubby and I were watching the Christmas special from the Great British Bake off show, and hubby gets it into his head that he really wants to make a ‘Yule Log’ like the one they featured. So a few days later after watching the segment a number of times over to catch all the ingredients and method we attempt to make the chocolate sponge roll and the gnache which covers it with…. it turns out rather interestingly, but alas we have no miniature robin to sit on the log. Later when I go to take it out of the fridge (where a lot of the far too thin gnache has run off it) I find that in the absence of the traditional robin, one of the boys has sat an ‘angry bird’ (from the game app Angry Birds) balanced on the Yule log instead. It was a laugh and very yummy dessert in spite of how it looked!

Haha! Jenny, I’ll email you shortly and get your prize right to you!

Thanks everyone for entering and sharing your funny stories – I love when you leave me comments and I get to hear a little about you all, too!

Things have been crazy around here lately, and I’m pooped to the bone and need a little time to do, well, nothing much at all, so I’m going to be on a little blog hiatus for a short while. Don’t go nowheres, I’ll be back soon!

News & Bits & Pieces

Thank you all for your tips and input on keeping up with blog reading – and sorry for not replying to each comment, I didn’t get a chance before I got a terrific cold and spent three days huddled in my bed. Ugh! (I’m feeling a wee bit better today, thank goodness!) So anyway, I learned two things from you guys:

1.) Grouping and categorizing is good. I actually used to do this, and then didn’t for some reason when I moved to Bloglovin’ (which I really like, by the way – for one thing, it’s got a classy iPhone app). And I used to do that exact thing you all described, run through one category when I have a few minutes here or there. I will re-implement grouping in my blog reader, and I think I might even do more grouping than I used to to get an idea of what I like reading most and what I just want to scan.

2.) Don’t worry so much about ‘keeping up’. Not that I worry that, like, I’m going to get in trouble or something. More that I don’t want to miss anything good! I loved that several of you said you had an ‘eye candy’ category – I immediately thought that’s one thing I’m missing. You all described that very well, the group of blogs you love to scan through rather than strictly read every word of, and if I think about it, these are the blogs that weigh me down, keeping-up-wise.

Blueberry Park Tote!

And while we’re talking about blogs, here’s two more for you to visit: I was invited by the lovely Karen of Blueberry Park to do a little guest post about the tote pictured above, made from one of her kits. Karen makes the most gorgeous screenprinted fabrics – be sure to visit her blog and check out my guest post right here. I’m so in love with this new tote, I can’t even tell you!

I'm a Patch Blogger

Also, I’ll soon be blogging from time to time over at the Patch Fabric and Haberdashery blog! Myself, Lisa from Lisa Sew, Sonia from Fabric & Flowers, and Trudi from Quilting Prolifically will make up the new Patch Blogging team, bringing you ideas and tutorials to use with your lovely pretty nummy fabrics. I’m a bit the odd one out there, since I’m more of a stitcher than a quilter, but I hope that means I can come up with some fun hand-stitch-y ideas to share!

Liberty Hearts Ornament Tutorial

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

So there’s about a week left to Christmas, right? Here’s a tutorial for a quick but lovely ornament you can make with stuff you almost definitely have around the house. It’s a good one to slip into a card, use as a tag on a gift for some extra-special wrapping, or just as a little treat for yourself to break up the Christmas panic. These are modeled on ornaments my family has had on the tree ever since I can remember* and they’re some of my favorites. I love that they’re quite large, larger than ornaments normally are, and let you showcase beautiful fabrics.

You can use whatever quilting-type fabric you have handy, but I made mine as a gift, so I went that little bit further and bought some Christmas-colored Liberty Tana Lawn pieces just for this project. That does make these ornaments extra-pretty, but it’s also a nice use for your favorite scraps. Here’s what you’ll need per ornament:

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

– 2 x fabric pieces, minimum 4.75″ square
– 2 x medium-weight fusible interfacing pieces, minimum 4.75″ square
– 1 piece of Wonder-Under, minimum 4.75″ square
– removable fabric pen (we use Pilot Frixion pens** – you don’t want one that needs to be washed out with water)
– sharp scissors
– sewing machine & thread to match (or contrast with!) your fabric
– some kind of string or thread for hanging (not shown) – I used some perle cotton floss
– a printed copy of my heart template (Download here!) and a bit of light cardboard – I used the back of a cereal box

** Note: be careful with these Pilot Frixion pens! We love love love them but have noticed that they leave a white mark behind when ironed away. We didn’t notice for a long time because we do all of our embroidery pattern work on white fabric and, besides, it won’t matter if you stitch right over the line anyway. But if you change your mind about line placement, it could leave a mark.

First things first. Cut out the large heart template, trace it onto your cardboard and cut that out. We’ll come back to the little heart later – until then, don’t throw anything away.

Next – apply your interfacing to the wrong side of your fabric squares:

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

If you are using Liberty Tana Lawn, be sure to test your interfacing on a scrap first! This medium-weight interfacing worked well for me. You want it stiff enough not to droop when hung, but not bubble or wrinkle. And iron very carefully – I went very slowly and left them untouched on the ironing board for a minute or two until they were completely cool between each ironing step.

Apply your Wonder-Under to the interfacing side of one square, peel back the paper backing, then apply the two squares together. If you’ve used a directional print, make sure they’re both facing the same direction before you iron!

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Now you basically have a double-sized, interfaced, square of fabric. Trace your heart onto one side of the fabric square.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Now sew along the line you just drew. Make it easy on yourself and start along one of the straight lengths, not a curve. Also, you might want to use a small stitch length for this to make the curves a little tighter. I set the stitch length on my machine to about 2.25.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Remove your line marking and cut out the heart close to the stitching, about 1/16″ or so, or as close as you can cut neatly.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Thread a string through the top of the heart and there you go! (And I just noticed my ornament magically changed prints!)

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

Of course, you can use this method for any shape or size ornament you like, or with different prints on each side, or even with a bit of decorative stitching maybe. They’re perfect for customizing to the recipient.

Oh, and remember when I told you not to throw anything away? If you were really using 4.75″ squares at the beginning, you should have these funny little triangular fabric-interfacing-Wonder-Under sandwiches left. Cut the smaller heart from my template and it should be just the right size to make mini-ornaments from those scraps! I didn’t sew these because I didn’t trust my skills on something so small, but I bet they’d be cute with some hand-stitched running stitch or blanket stitch along the edge.

Liberty / Fabric Ornament Tutorial

I hope you like them, and come back here to show off if you make some!

* Because these are not really my original idea, I’m just re-creating something made long ago by some unknown crafter, I’m happy for these to be made for sale by the enterprising among you. It’s hardly mine to own!

Tools.

I did it! I finished the cowl before bedtime (just) the other night, and it’s even pinned out to block now. It’s pretty squishy though, so I expect it’ll take a while to dry. I’ll be sure to show it off when it’s done. Since I finished the cowl, I’ve been knitting on Terra a lot – but even though I’ve almost finished the garter-y body section, it basically looks the same as in the photo I posted last week, only larger. Also, I did frog Umaro and restarted, but haven’t gotten past the moss stitch border yet.

Since my knitting has gotten suddenly unexciting, and since I hope to return to that darn stalled Sajou G tonight, and since we are planning (photo-worthy weather willing) to release our last couple of Little Dorrit & Co. Brothers Grimm embroidery patterns later this week, it seems like a good time to get back to a little stitchy posting.

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On one of my recent posts, a commenter (hello blog-less Natasha, if you’re out there!) asked about the fabric we stitch on. Well, it’s a funny story, kind of. For years, neither my mother or I could find a fabric we were happy with for embroidery. They were all too thin and see-through-y and never felt substantial enough. But I do like Ikea’s cheap linen for less delicate projects, it’s got lovely texture and comes in a good range of colors. That and a similar fabric we’d tried from John Lewis made us try Robert Kaufman’s Essex linen – a nearly 50/50 cotton/linen blend. We love it – it’s got the subtle texture of fine linen, but handles more like cotton. It doesn’t crease like crazy, washes nicely – works perfectly. We should probably be buying it by the bolt!

No one asked about this, but while we’re on the subject, we use these Pilot Frixion pens for transferring designs. Guys, have you tried these pens?! We’re new converts – until a few weeks ago, we just used those insanely blue water-erasable markers. But the blue was making it hard to match colors, everything looked clashy against it, and I found recommendations for these Frixion pens on several crafty blogs. SNAP, these pens are awesome! Because they’re just normal pens, they write a lovely thin, crisp line – and in colors that aren’t horribly distracting to your work. But the awesome part is that your marks will disappear with just the tiniest wave of the iron – they’re heat-activated but will wipe clean even on a really low iron setting. This is The Bomb for embroidery, because erasing the pen has so little effect on your work. Really, I’m kind of shocked that Pilot hasn’t caught on yet and re-marketed these as crafty products and started selling them for twice the cost. Not that I’d want to give them any ideas.

My new go-to everyday bag

Every day, I take a 5-ish kilometer walk around the lake near my apartment. Craftin’ can involve a lot sittin’, I’m sure you know, and you need something to fight that. I’ve started going first thing in the morning so it’s nice and quiet and, most days, it’s a lovely walk. Just me and an audiobook or some musics and the sunshine (sometimes – this is Holland, after all).

My sittin' spot

If it is a sunny day, I’m usually about 10 seconds from completely melting by the time I get to this point. This here is my Sittin’ Spot – another reason I like going in the morning, this spot is very rarely taken that early. You can’t really see it here, but nearly the whole other side of the lake is in direct sunlight. That sounds lovely, but can be a bit much on a really bright day. This is the perfect spot to stop for ten or fifteen minutes and enjoy the breeze. (As you can see, I share my spot with a family of … some kind of birds. But that’s ok, we all mind our own business and get along just fine.)

Because I have much common sense, I always take a bottle of water with me, and some band-aids and whatnot. The usual always-in-your-bag stuff. And my iPod. Also a couple of notebooks for ideas. And often an umbrella (this is Holland, after all). Every single day, I throw all that stuff into my new very favorite go-to bag for everyday stuff.

Reversible Tote

This is the Reversible Bag from the ridiculously skilled Very Purple Person. I did a test version first with some adorable Ikea fabric (photos here) before I cut into this beautiful Tanya Whelan fabric (from the Dolce line). I knew I wanted to use those two fabrics for a summer handbag, but I’d originally envisioned something small – similar to the Buttercup bag (of which I have made many), but slouchier. I only bought a quarter meter of each, figuring that’d be plenty to patchwork into something small and cute. Of course I ran into the Reversible Bag after that and loved it. What’s not to love? It’s got the simplest possible construction and all kinds of understated style with that lovely rounded bottom.

Reversible Tote Detail

Construction was basically as you’d expect, patchworking the Dolce fabrics into one side, cutting the other from an Amy Butler Love print that somehow worked very nicely with the others. The only thing worth noting about my method was that I had a very particular sense of what I wanted it to feel like. It had to be slouchy like a tote, but squishy for some reason, and sturdy enough to feel substantial. The squishy was easily achieved with a layer of ordinary quilt batting, stitched to the patchwork side. Rather than interfacing which can make things kind of crunchy, I added a fourth layer of Ikea cotton canvas. I have a stash of bargain bin Ikea fabrics that I’m not likely to ever use as a feature fabric but come in incredibly useful for this sort of thing. I read this as a tip somewhere – to use canvas instead of interfacing; I’ve never been able to track down where, but it’s been a winner for me several times.

Reversible Tote Slouchin'

This bag is one of my favorite things I’ve ever made – it’s the perfect size, extremely durable with so few seams, and infinitely customizable. I take it absolutely everywhere and it’s good for pretty much any occasion. I have a feeling there will be many more of these in my future.