Wednesday, June 29, 2011

boyfest 2011

Boys and flowers do mix - who knew? We happily hosted out-of-town guests this past weekend when my parents and three of my nephews came for a visit. You kind of have to see the Conservatory if you are in Saint Paul so we did make a stop on Saturday. Besides, there is also a zoo there so there is really something for everyone.
You really can't help but ooooh and ahh over the flowers even if you are a 3 - 12 year old boy. Lillies taller than your kid I tell ya! Beautiful! I admit it was just a tad hectic from time to time and reigning in the excitement of five boys was occasionally a challenge but we managed and I think everyone had fun. There was so much more we wanted to show them but didn't have time on this visit.

After the major clean-up effort it was back to work for everyone including me. I attended a great Tech Tuesday seminar at the Textile Arts Center last night called the Business Side of Business. I have used the "'creative people and numbers just don't mix" excuse long enough and am determined to get a grip on some ins and outs that I have been ignoring. I highly recommend doing this from the start - not waiting until your business is up and running. Oh well, now I know. I'm sure I'll get all my proper forms filled out just in time for the predicted government shut down. OR perhaps the budget will get hashed out just in the nick of time, one never knows. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

new guys

*Thanks blogger.com for letting me post photos once again*
Now, where was I? Oh yes - something new to share today. Another little fabric panel - and then I swear, that's all for now! I decided to call these guys "Talking Threads". 
They start out like this:
Then you get to stitch up whatever words and other embellishment you choose and they end up something like this:
The potential for silliness, happy encouragement and profanity is endless, which is perhaps my favorite thing about them. Plus they make a pretty quick and easy project for beginners which I like as well. A lot of people tell me they want to try embroidery but aren't sure where to start so I had them in mind when designing these.
They fit right into a 6 inch hoop but I suppose if one were so inclined they could be a part of a quilt or other fabric project.
Whatever people decide to do with them I hope they have FUN.

would love to...

share about my newest project and shop item but blogger is acting funny today. For some reason I can't upload photos - anyone else having this issue? It worked fine yesterday so it's kind of a mystery. I want to complain about blogger but really you get what you pay for, right? So I should probably keep my mouth shut.

I'll try again later :)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

welcome summer

The boys at Dodge Nature Center
It's officially here - Summer!! Do you all have plans for this longest day of the year? We're starting out raining and cool but who knows - perhaps the sun will make an appearance for the event.

All I've got to share today is a small roundup of Summer plans. A few of them are crafty but many are not. Most of the Summer is up in the air and that's okay with me. We're more open to adventure that way, right?

1. Reading. I always have high hopes to get a lot of reading done over the Summer. That goal isn't always met but I do have fun trying. I'm waiting for my turn for a book at the library right now and am having a hard time being patient. It would probably be a good time to scope out some other good reads for the months ahead. Speaking of which - who is on GoodReads? I am. I'm always looking for reading suggestions so if you are over there too look me up!

2. Travel. Ummmm, probably not so much this year. What I have it my head to do this Summer, though, is to try to learn my way around Minneapolis. So, most of my car time will probably be spent there. It's terrible, we lived in St. Paul years ago and I never really got a grip on the layout of Minneapolis back then and I swear it doesn't even really look that familiar to me now that we are back. It doesn't help matters that I am pretty hopeless when it comes to navigation, orientation and direction. It's bad, folks, really bad. Anyone have tips for learning your way around a new city?

3. Bike riding. Family bike rides - lots of them.

4. Quilts. Real progress has been made on the boys' quilts but it's time to really get in gear. I hope they will have something to keep their little toes warm by the Fall. Wish me luck!

5. Visitors. I think we just might have some house guests this Summer and I cannot wait!! There are plans being made by some family members and friends and I am keeping my fingers crossed that they become reality. Even more incentive for me to learn my way around the cities, right?

6. House browsing. NOT house buying - just some window shopping.

Now it's your turn - what are YOUR Summer hopes and dreams?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

looking for a date?

Oh my gosh, I wasn't sure these would EVER make it to SeptemberHouse! But, they did arrive fashionably late this morning. What was the hold up you ask? Mostly indecision on my part. I also now have a stack of rejects at my house as a result of some long and drawn out trial and error.
So here is what is new this year: new fabric - a cotton linen blend rather than the quilting weight cotton. I love the way it hangs and it's really easy to embroider on and sew. Also I switched to just one size (14 x 18) rather than the two sizes this year. And finally there are three design options: the regular white, a light green with a leaf pattern and a light blue.
I stitched up Carina's pattern on the light blue and I was really happy with how it turned out. I cheated a little and veered away from the stitch guide so that I could try my hand at some different stitches on the circles. Or maybe I was trying to avoid satin stitching because, well, you know how I feel about satin stitching. You can see another example of a Polka and Bloom pattern stitched up on a calendar panel here. I saw it last year in my flickr group and was really wowed and inspired.
Here is one of the greens unstitched. I used a vintage owl pattern when I made my example and I have to be honest, this was not one of my favorite embroidery projects. Maybe it's the colors I chose but I just wasn't 100% happy with it when it was done even after a lot of tearing out and restitching.
And last but not least is a panel in white similar to the previous year's panel. This year I went with a sepia tone for the printing rather than grey - after much debating and hand wringing. Yes, these are the silly little decisions that cause me to lose sleep, can you believe it?

So, I'm moving on to a few other projects that are in the works including a new pattern set - yay!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

experimenting

One thing I love about stitching up calendar samples each year is that I get to try out some embroidery patterns and techniques that I have wanted to try but never found the time or the right project. I always feel like it's okay for me to experiment with these and have fun. So, for another panel project I used a pattern that is actually designed for stained glass but I turned it into an embroidery/applique project instead (no lead or nasty glass cuts here - whew!)
I picked up this little book from the library. I really fell for some of the complex patterns but sternly told myself to pick a simple one this time so that I wouldn't be stitching until January 2012.
First I scanned my pattern and re-sized it to fit. I printed it out and decided which parts I wanted to turn into an applique. For those parts I traced the outline (in reverse - I just turned the paper printout over and could still see it when I held it up to the window) onto a piece of wonder under.
Next I ironed my wonder-undered applique pieces onto my fabric and cut them out.
 I then traced the pattern onto a piece of tear away stablilizer.
This next part was a little tricky but I used my traced pattern as a guide and positioned my applique pieces underneath. I don't enjoy this part but there's no getting around it. When they were all in place I ironed them on and pinned my stabilizer on top. Then it was stitch stitch stitch, tear, tear, tear and done!

So now I have something new in my embroidery bag of tricks and will perhaps even tackle one of those beautifully detailed window designs one day! For now though, I'm off to go pick up my son from his very last day of school. I have a THIRD grader now - wow!!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

new on the shop shelf

Babies are pretty much my favorite people to make things for, really. And it's not just because they can't tell you what they really think of what you have made for them which, in my opinion, is indeed a bonus. I took a leap and decided other people might have this same fondness for those handmade baby gifts as well when I made these new little goodies for my shop.
I just have finished examples shown here but they each started out as a pre-printed panel that can be embroidered and embellished to whatever degree and in whatever manner one sees fit.
There are three designs: the baby bird, the giraffe pull toy and the sailor bunny. The inner circle is 8 inches but the panel is 12 inches square so there are some fun possibilities here I think. There is room for three lines of text. I used standard birth record info for my sample but a lovely little quotation would be cute as well.
AND...I'm also super excited about my friend and fellow Etsian, Julie being picked for featured seller! Check out her interview here. Way to go Julie!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

O.P.P. (other people's patterns)

I am keeping my needle busy these days and am finally taking a moment to snap a photo of one of my WIPs to share today. Fellow stitchers might recognize this gorgeous design from Carina of Polka and Bloom
It's her beautiful "Tree of Life" pattern. I am so happy that she said "yes" when I asked her if I could use it for one of my calendar panel examples! So far it's been really fun to stitch but as you can see I left the satin stitching for the very end. It's my least favorite stitch so I always let it just sit there until it can't be avoided any longer. 
Of course the advice I would give to anyone else who said the same thing would be to just practice and then it won't seem so bad so I suppose I should take that to heart myself. I used to feel that way about french knots and now I love them. I can't wait to share this when it's all finished up!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

moleskine cover tutorial

It's here, the "little tutorial that could". As I mentioned before this one started out so much more complicated than it ended up. It had multiple pieces to cut out and at least twice as much sewing. I knew it could be simpler but had to mull it over for awhile before the light bulb finally went off.
Moleskines are gaining more and more popularity and can be found more places than ever (even Target carries them now). The plain kraft/chipboard cover that some of them have make them perfect for all kinds of embellishing and adornment. I liked the idea of a fabric cover that could be washed if needed and re-used once the notebook runs out. I also like any little project that lends itself to a touch of embroidery such as this. I made two versions - one for the cahier size journal and the wee little volant notebook (so cute!).

Here's what you'll need : fabric, your moleskine notebook of choice, sewing machine, elastic (optional), embroidery floss, needle, desire to embroider (optional)

There are no pattern pieces to cut - just a rectangle shape. Here are the dimensions:
Cahier size: 14.125w x 12.5h
Volant size: 9.25w x 9.75h
*the photos here show the volant size
Trim the right and left sides with pinking sheers and fold over 1/4 inch. Press (and pin if you like)
Sew along the edge to finish

*If you are doing any embroidery or other embellishing it's best to do it now before the next step.*
Next fold in half with right sides together. Pin in place and stitch together using a 1/4 inch seam allowance
Re-position your fabric so that the seam runs long the center rather than the top/bottom edge and press seam open
Turn right side out and you will see you have basically a simple tube of fabric
Next fold the sides over so you have a flap that is approximately 1 5/8 inch on both the front and the back covers (about 2 3/4 on the cahier size).
I double checked it with the actual notebook in place just to make sure it was okay - try it with the notebook open and closed and make sure you have wiggle room on the fold as you will be top stitching that edge.
Top stitch right by the edge/fold on both sides.
So this is what you should have so far
At this point you can simply top stitch along the top and bottom edges to complete your notebook cover. Or, you can add a length of elastic to the back cover to hold your notebook closed when it's not in use. Many of the other varieties of moleskines have this feature and it does come in handy if there is a chance your notebook might get jostled around. I used a piece of elastic that was 5 1/2 inches long. Tuck one end under the fold of the back cover and pin in place
Tuck the other end under the fold at the bottom and pin in place.
The last step is topstitching along the top and the bottom right up at the edges. When you reach the elastic just hold it up so that the end gets stitched between the layers but the rest of it does not go under your needle. It's a little awkward but not too bad. Repeat on the other side and you are done!
And that's it! All that's left to do is to tuck the front and back covers of your notebook into the pockets of your fabric cover and you are done.
These would make cute gifts for teachers, fun stocking stuffers and a nice little project for yourself. They are also a good way to use up smaller pieces of fabric. Am I the first one on the internet to share a tutorial like this one? I wish! So, if you are looking to step it up a notch and make Moleskine covers with a bit more detail (like with pen holders and button closures and fun stuff like that) check out all of these tutorials - they are wonderful!