Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 favorites

Before the year draws to a close I thought I would share some favorites from 2014. It's something I have done for the past couple of years and now it is something I really look forward to.

Here are some highlights from my year in books, movies, tv, radio, and more (please share yours in the comment section too!)


At the top of my list is one I just finished days ago (way to close on a high note, right?). A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra was my favorite book I read this year and now, one of my favorite books I have ever read. The story takes place in Chechnya over the course of several years in the late 90s and early 2000s. This was a time and place I didn't know much about so I am grateful for the education. I am also grateful for the chance to fall in love with all the characters (how often does that happen?) and for the chance to read such beautiful passages and heartbreaking accounts of life in a war zone. Amazingly, this is Marra's first book (I still find that hard to believe) so the good news is that there just might be more to come from this author.

I also had the pleasure of perusing The Arrival by Shaun Tan which is an absolute masterpiece. It is packed with illustrations - so much so that there is no room left for words. And if you have seen Shaun Tan's illustrations before then you know what an incredible experience this book might be. Upon finishing it I was quite literally speechless. When I did find some words they were most likely expletives because I couldn't find anything else extreme enough to express my amazement. A beautiful story beautifully told. 

There wasn't as much non-fiction on my reading list this year as there has been in years past but I suppose that's okay. One that I enjoyed was Brian Jay Jones's Biography of Jim Henson. This was my first read of the year and also one that I read alongside my sister so we were able to compare notes along the way. What a fun way to start the year! Although it was a little longer than I thought it probably needed to be it was still extremely interesting to get a behind the scenes peek into Jim Henson's life. The world of tv and movies already seems dramatically different than it was just 30 - 40 years ago but there is still so much to learn from Jim Henson - a man who wasn't afraid of failure OR success. 

There is SO much I want to read in 2015 but I am going to try to just take it one book at a time. You can find me over on Goodreads. I would love to share good reads with you!

Movies and TV:

Once again, I didn't put a whole lot of effort in this department this year. I watched probably more than my share of tv - but maybe I should have been a little more selective. Highlights include the first half of Mad Men's last season. I watched every episode twice to be honest and may have to watch them again before the second half of the season kicks in. (if I sound like I am addicted it's because I am) I am okay with the show ending though (easy for me to say now!) I think it's time and I look forward to seeing what is next for everyone in front of and behind the camera. 

We also got hooked on a series called Orphan Black which was interesting and fun and just what we need at the time. Then there was a healthy dose of Parks and Recreation and Flight of the Conchords re-runs with a pinch of Portlandia thrown in for good measure. 

You can also count me among the throngs of people who got sucked into the Serial podcast. I didn't mean to -  I swear. But after the first couple of episodes you just had to see how it turns out. It was not until it was all over and done that I found out that tons of others fell into the Serial vortex too. 

What did you read/watch/listen to this year? Share your recommendations here and help us fill 2015 with inspiration and delight!

Friday, November 28, 2014

shop salute: 123 stitch

Hello from the workshop. It has been busy over here but I do try to not drop completely out of sight if it can be helped. So I thought it would be appropriate on this black friday - a day that celebrates all things shopping related - to share a little shop salute. 

What is a shop salute? It's a little chance for me to gush a bit about a great experience I have had with a store online or in real life. Sometimes I am so impressed with the customer service I receive that I cannot help but shout about it. And let's face it, great customer service is harder and harder to find these days so we all really need to encourage those who provide it to keep up the good work.

So, today's Shop Salute is for 123 stitch. I came across their site when searching for some hoops I could buy in large quantities online (yes they have them). I was delighted to find that they have a HUGE selection of flosses and threads as well. They can be ordered in any quantity too - that can be hard to find online - a lot of shops have minimum quantities. Because of this it is a great way to try out some new kinds of floss that might not be available in your local fabric store.

The shipping is FAST - my orders have all been shipped the very same day they were placed. The shipping cost is absolutely reasonable too which I appreciate.

Finally, they are just so friendly there. At the end of the checkout process there is a place to indicate whether or not there was anything you were looking for but could not find. On the one occasion I filled it out I swear I had a relpy within hours from a real person offering to special order the items I had mentioned. wow. That's impressive.

So, stop over to - I think you will be impressed. I sure was!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

and there you have it

First Snow Winter Illustration, Digital Illustration by SeptemberHouse
We knew it could not last forever, right? Our first flakes are scheduled to make landfall today or tomorrow. It has been a beautiful Fall so I should not complain but still, I would hang on to the warmer weather a little longer if I could.

Are you all getting set for the Holiday season? Are there handmade gifts in the works? November is usually my busiest month but this year it has been a little more quiet than normal so I am not my usual frantic November self. I am a little afraid to start something else just in case the pace picks up and I have to abandon it but we don't want idle hands around here either so we shall see.

Hope you are enjoying the calm before the storm!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

hike highlights

autumn in minnesota 2014
Yes, it is a little sad that Summer had to come to an end but, wow, Autumn really has a way of easing that pain, doesn't she?
autumn in minnesota 2014
I was lucky enough to be able to get out and take in some of the Autumn scenery this morning with my handsome husband with camera in tow.
autumn in minnesota 2014
What a day for a hike in the woods, I knew I had to share some of the highlights with my online friends as well.
fall in saint paul minnesota 2014
If it's Autumn where you are I hope you have had a chance to get out and enjoy it too.

fall in saint paul minnesota 2014
Now, it's back to work for me although I would love to get at least one more scenic adventure in before all these leaves blow away!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

welcome fall

Hello to you on this first full day of Fall. I myself am quite fond of this season - who doesn't like Fall? I hope the season brings you many happy new beginnings and joyous celebrations. Kick some leaves, bake a pie, sip apple cider by the campfire - enjoy all the season has to offer!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

summer's last hurrah

Nothing like waiting until the very last second, eh? I have one last bit of Summer fun to share before Fall sets in. This is one that I worked on here and there over the course of the Summer. I've been giving myself a lot of digital challenges over the past few months and this was one of them. I wanted to create some interesting textures and color combinations as well as hone my skills at creating seamless patterns. None of that comes easy to me so I thought I might as well add a fun twist to it and here is what I created.
retro lawn chair fabric pattern by septemberhouse
It's a small collection of fabrics inspired by vintage fold-up lawn chairs from way back (you remember those, right?) Each one has that tell-tale woven pattern with colorful striped bands going this way, and conversely, that way.
retro lawn chair fabric DIY project by septemberhouse
The texture shows no matter what surface it's printed on but when you add a textured fabric or paper to the equation the look is really authentic. I used some of Spoonflower's woven wallpaper to cover a moleskine notebook and also sewed up a simple totebag with the linen-cotton canvas fabric.
retro lawn chair fabric tote bag project by septemberhouse
You can create your own retro lawn chair project with these fabrics available in the SeptemberHouse Spoonflower Shop. 
Farewell Summer - surprise us and come back EARLY in 2015!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

embroidery pattern premiere : Kaleidoscope

Butterfly hand embroidery patterns from SeptemberHouse

Hello patient So September readers! I am so happy to be able to share a pattern premiere today after what seems like ages since I have. Introducing, Kaleidoscope, a pattern set dedicated to some of my very favorite little creatures, butterflies.

If you didn't know this about me then I'll tell you now - I love butterflies. To this day, in my middle age, I will still gasp and exclaim, "look! a butterfly!" when one floats by. They simply never fail to amaze.

Butterflies hand embroidery patterns from SeptemberHouse

It's true that when some people think of embroidery and butterflies they think of 1970's bell bottoms with bright yellow and orange psychedelic butterflies stitched on the back pockets. It's my hope that I can add a slightly more modern feel to these guys. If you want to embroider them on your jeans though, I say "go for it!"
Butterflies hand embroidery patterns from SeptemberHouse

There are four of these beauties in the set. There might be a fifth little freebie included too - or there might not, I really cannot say *wink*. When I made my examples I used a natural linen fabric because I wanted a neutral background and well, I love natural linen. A strong outline was important to me with these designs so I began each one with that. Next I used a variety of filling stitches - mostly basics like satin stitch and chain stitches but also a few new ones- to add some bright colors.

Butterfly embroidery patterns from SeptemberHouse
These don't have a 'field guide' look to them but hopefully they provide another option for someone wanted to stitch up something like this for a DIY project or gift. There are lots of butterfly embroidery patterns out there and I think that is why I hesitated for several months with this set. I usually try to steer away from subject matter that I see a lot of in the crafting community and instead provide something that is more unique. If approached the right way, however, I thought that I might be able to give these guys a look that stood out a bit from the crowd and I am hoping I did just that.

And speaking of the impressive quantity of butterfly embroidery patterns available...

butterfly embroidery by septemberhouse

If you are familiar with the Stitches del Sol pattern set you will recall another butterfly pattern I designed for that set so I am not in completely foreign territory here. They have all been fun and challenging but I promise I will move onto something else after this - I swear!

hand embroidery designs modern butterflies
Before I close out I have to share how I titled this set. It wasn't easy - sometimes that is just about the hardest part of the process! So, I was spending a lot of time with a thesaurus and not having much luck. It was not until I did some more scientific reading into butterflies that I learned that a group of butterflies can be called a "swarm" a "rabble" or..... a "kaleidoscope". That pretty much sealed the deal for me and 'Kaleidoscope' officially emerged!

Monday, June 16, 2014

a little holiday preview

I know, I know, the holidays are SOOO far away - who wants to even think about them when we all should be playing outside instead? I'm right there with ya, I really am. I am in love with my tiny garden, the extended sunshine and having the windows open in the house and Christmas seems a million miles away. EXCEPT that, in order to preserve some sanity, I have to have some key things in place before my boys get out of school and life becomes... shall we say "louder". One of those things happens to be holiday ornament designs.
Baby's First Christmas Ornament modern forest design Handmade personalized
So, I'm sharing a few 2014 goodies. I have a few new designs including the little forest ornament above. Non-traditional designs and imagery that doesn't scream "Christmas!" have always been attractive to me as a designer and also as a consumer but I worried that this one might stray too far from the Christmas spirit. Surprisingly though, several people I have asked, including my 6 year old son, have said it was their favorite of all the designs. So you just never know I guess.
Baby's first Christmas Toy Elephant Holiday 2014 personalized ornament
And here come the elephants. I have had so many requests for elephant ornaments over the years! I cannot believe it has taken me so long to put together a design like this one. 
I usually stick with a gender neutral color scheme so that it works for either boys or girls but for this one I wanted to change it up a bit and go with two different styles.
Baby's 1st Christmas Pink Elephant Holiday 2014 personalized ornament
 Check out those teeny tiny buttons....awwww!
Baby's First Christmas 2014 Ornament Modern woodland Bear
 You didn't think I would kick off the holidays without these guys, did you?
Baby's First Christmas Woodland Bear Holiday 2014 Handmade Ornament

Polar Bear Ornament Holiday 2014 Personalized Baby's First Christmas
And look - a new friend this year! I added a polar bear design to the mix this year. To be completely honest I tried so hard to get these guys out for 2013 and after so much trial and error the holiday clock ran out and I had to shelf it until 2014. I hope it was worth the wait!
2014 Baby's First Christmas Ornament in Modern Polar Bear Design
The snow angels are coming back this year but I am still struggling to get some good photos of those gals.
Thanks so taking a peek at these new holiday ornament designs! Now, let's all get back outside and enjoy Summer!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Illustration Friday: Universe

Space Fort May 2014 IF universe

I am so glad to have a chance to participate in this week's Illustration Friday Challenge. I have had this picture tucked away for a few months and when the topic of "universe" came up on IF I thought it would be a fun chance to share it.

I started out wanting to create a treehouse image but quickly decided it had to have some sort of twist so I thought I would put it in outer space instead. Of course there are things I would change about it if I did it over again but it was a fun exercise and it makes me smile to look at it so for now that will do.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

happy new year

2015 calendar DIY fabric panel tea towel for embroidery

I'm cutting it a little close this year but did manage to get some calendar panels up in the shop in the month of May. That is always my goal whether I meet it or not. I know that there are a lot of organized and motivated people out there who like to get a jump on holiday projects or handmade gifts and I try to have something ready to go for those amazing people. I myself am still searching for the perfect Mother's Day gift for my mom but that is neither here nor there, right?

2015 calendar DIY fabric panel for embroidery

Anyway, I just listed these today. They are the regular panels without pre-printed graphics so they are perfect for adding you own orginal design or other favorite embroidery pattern. The numbering is all in a subtle grey and there are four accent colors available this year. They are: pool blue, strawberry pink, mustard yellow and clay. Something new I added this year was a color matching guide for DMC floss so if you want your accent color and your embroidery to match you will know what color to choose. 

Other than that they are pretty similar to previous years - same size and same fabric - new type and subtle layout changes. 

I feel confident that some amazing calendars will come of these panels - it happens every year!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

moms know to expect the unexpected

So, say you were in the kitchen loading the dishwasher when one of your kids sneaks up, slaps something on your back then starts giggling...
What kind of silliness would you expect from a sneak attack like that one?
Would it be this?
I certainly got a shock when I pulled this post-it off my back and read it. Let me clarify, I'm not shocked that I have sweet kids - I knew that about them. I guess I am just consistently amazed at the creative ways they use to express that. I should take a lesson from them and delight someone unexpectedly like that!
Now I'm off to take this post-it out of the scanner and put it back on the fridge where it belongs. May unexpected delight come your way today too!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

tiny green worlds

terrarium embroidery hand embroidery patterns wardian case greenhouse embroidery by septemberhouse
One good thing about a long winter is that it can inspire some 'hopeful' projects. This was one of many that I worked my way through as the flakes flew outside.
terrarium embroidery hand embroidery stitches DIY embroidery by septemberhouse
I could not decide if I wanted to try out a design that incorporated a glass container terrarium or an old-style Wardian case so I just did both. Plus, with so many plant shapes and sizes that I wanted to try I knew I would need more than one design.
terrarium embroidery hand embroidery patterns wardian case greenhouse embroidery by septemberhouse
Using as many textures as I could dream up was another priority for this project. That meant using a huge variety of embroidery stitches and even learning some new ones.

Another perk of taking on a subject matter like this was that I had a chance to learn a bit about the history of the Wardian case. To be honest, I didn't even know they were called that until I started working on these! They were the precursor to the modern terrarium.

terrarium embroidery hand embroidery patterns glass terrarium DIY embroidery by septemberhouse

What was fascinating to me was how much we actually take for granted now. Wardian cases were used to transport plants over oceans by boat so they could be studied halfway around the world. Once they arrived at the their destination a Wardian case could protect that precious cargo from heavy pollution, temperature variances (imagine how difficult it would be to maintain your houseplants without central air or heat!). Just acquiring a plant that had survived a treacherous journey was a success but to be able to keep it alive as well - now that was pretty remarkable - you can bet I would have put that sucker in the fanciest case I could find. Today I can drive for less than ten minutes and choose from a variety of plants that I could purchase for as low as $2.99.  I could bring one of those plants home and plop it on a shelf for years and think nothing of it. How very different something as simple as keeping houseplants used to be!
That was just something I had never really thought about and it made me thankful for the heat, light, clean air and water that protect me and my plants - especially through the long winter. Ah, the things that go through your head as you embroider!

Friday, March 28, 2014

itty knitty goes mobile

Knitting Necklace Handmade by SeptemberHouse Ball of Yarn necklace

Not long ago an unexpected email arrived inviting my itty knitty necklaces to make an appearance in the latest issue of knitsy. What a happy opportunity and what lovely people to work with! As someone who a) doesn't knit and b) is a total smartphone newbie - seriously folks, I've got like one month under my belt - I felt a bit like I was entering into a new world. But, I am very glad to be there!

Knitsy is a really fun publication with a modern style and if you are a knitter I think you will really love this app. You can check it out here:

google play 


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

but wait... there's more. embroidery tutorial part two

                         hand embroidery tutorial embroidered embellishing with rick rack DIY embroidery
I'm back with another installment today - I hope you had a chance to take a peek at part one and perhaps even looked at your ribbon stash in a whole new light. For part two I decided to play around with another favorite trim- rick rack! It's so tempting looking through the colors and sizes that are available. I just want to buy one of every kind.
My local fabric stores carry a really nice selection but I am amazed at what else can be found online. As a side note I have to add that I found that 'rick rack' was spelled different ways on different sites so I suggest typing it in different ways to see more results. I decided to go with how it is spelled on the Wrights brand packaging but I honestly do not know who is the authority on this matter.

Again, I stitched up some short lengths just to serve as examples and I created a basic option first and then added additional stitching as a dressed-up alternative. Who is ready to play? Here we go...

hand embroidery tutorial embroidered embellishing with rick rack blanket stitch ideas
I started off stitching up not the rick rack itself but rather the space between two lengths of rick rack. I used a blanket stitch (although it was not easy maneuvering around those curves). It's not impossible though, I promise.

hand embroidery tutorial embroidered embellishing with rick rack blanket stitch ideas
Next I added a little punch of color with this bright orange. It's a subtle look but still unexpected and  I like that about it.
hand embroidery tutorial embroidered embellishing with rick rack chain stitch how-to
Rick Rack does not have to mean zig-zag. Just folding one side up or down gives you a whole new look. I used chain stitches to keep the folded rick rack in place here. On the bottom I used a running stitch right through the middle of my trim and then added some partial blanket stitch pinwheels - a stitch I am particularly fond of I might add.
DIY embroidery tutorial hand embroidery stitches embroidered embellishing with rick rack chain stitch how-to
I was pretty happy with these as they were but wanted to at least see what else could be done. I added some French knots and straight stitches on the top and just some short lengths of chain stitch on the bottom. I think it added a slightly lacy look to this one and I like that.

DIY embroidery tutorial hand embroidery stitches embroidered embellishing with rick rack cross stitch how-to

For my last examples I wanted to experiment with the thinnest of the rick racks. It turned out to be the trickiest of the bunch because I did not want the rick rack to get swallowed up by a lot of stitching. I tried to keep it pretty simple through the whole process and just used some straight stitches for the first part. On the white I just followed the line of the rick rack and used that as my guide. On the green though, I made my stitches cris-cross over the rick rack in the opposing direction.

DIY embroidery tutorial hand embroidery stitches embroidered embellishing with rick rack cross stitch how-to

To add a little something extra to these I tucked in some French knots along the edges of the white rick rack. I am really loving the tidy look of that one! For the green I started with two rows of running stitch along the sides then decided to make it a whipped running stitch to give it a more solid look. Finally, I added some fly stitches to pull it all together. I admit to being a little on the fence about that one but  I think if I had perhaps used some different colors I might like it more. I think this one would look good in a monochrome color scheme like the grosgrain example from part one. Oh well, the point is to experiment with these techniques and to have fun. There is no right or wrong here.

One more thing I have to add about these embroidery + trim inspirations - these can be a great way to just practice stitches or to learn new stitches. If you are like me, you sometimes want to embroider something but not neccesarily a pattern. OR you might want to add some sort of accent to a fabric item but, without a pattern, you just are not sure what to stitch. Trying out these techniques could be just the ticket.
I am excited about trying these out on some new projects and I hope you are too!
If you are unfamiliar with some of the stitches used here there are some wonderful tutorials online to help get you started:

Monday, March 3, 2014

embroidery + ribbon = fun - a ribbon couching tutorial from septemberhouse

Hand Embroidery Tutorial embellishing with ribbon and embroidery by SeptemberHouse

I'm so happy to share the first half of a brand new two-part tutorial with you all today! I know it has been ages since I have pulled together a tutorial. This one has been kicking around in my head for awhile and I finally decided to give it a go.
This one was so much fun in fact, that I had to make the call to split it into two parts. As I was working on it because I just had too many ideas to share in one gigantic rambling post.

So, here is part one. In this tutorial I have some fun ideas and inspiration for incorporating ribbon into your hand embroidery projects. This process is often referred to as 'ribbon couching'. If you have ever laid thread, yarn, floss or ribbon over your foundation fabric and have stitched over it to keep it in place then you have couched!

I have to confess a selfish motivation here as well. Here goes: I LOVE ribbon! I can't help browsing through it at the fabric store or online but sadly, I don't often have much use for it. This project gives me reason to play with all the fun textures, colors and patterns that ribbon has to offer and I could not be happier to do it.
Hand Embroidery Stitches with Ribbon DIY tutorial by SeptemberHouse
So, let's get started. First raid your ribbon stash and choose some ribbons you would like to use. I wanted to try a wide variety so I picked a sheer navy blue, some gorgeous green velvet and two kinds of grosgrain. The royal blue grosgrain already had stitches along the side so I thought it would be fun to use that as a starting place.
I decided to embroider these in two phases. I started basic with stitches that can be used as-is with no other embellishment needed. Then I stepped it up a notch - added even more embroidery - and dressed them up even more. Either way is fine - it just depends on what look you are going for and how much time you want to invest of course. Also, I just stitched up a few inches of each example so you have to use your imagination a bit to envision these as a part of a larger project.
Ribbon Couching Hand Embroidery Tutorial embroidery DIY projects
For starters here I used a closed feather stitch on the sheer and a herringbone stitch on the other. Using the width of the ribbon as a guide makes these stitches a breeze. I love the clean and modern geometric look of these, don't you?

Ribbon Couching Hand Embroidery Tutorial blanket stitch and closed feather stitch
The second, jazzier version incorporates some blanket stitching along the edges of the sheer ribbon and some tiny clusters of detached chain stitches on the velvet ribbon with some French knots thrown in for good measure.
Ribbon Hand Embroidery Tutorial blanket stitch and double cross stitch
With my grosgrains I kept it pretty simple and just added some single stitches along the edges on the blue and added a double cross stitch to the ivory. I actually tried that one in a royal blue floss and wasn't crazy about it. I tried again with a monochrome look and fell in love after the first stitch.
One more thing about using grosgrain ribbon - because it has a ribbed texture it is easy to space stitches evenly - just use the ribs as a guide! 
Embroidered borders and ribbon embellishing DIY tutorial by septemberhouse

I didn't have to add much more to these to give them a real feminine flair. Just some fly stitches along the edges seemed to be enough I thought. The delicate sweetness here is irresistible. (and so easy!)

You can see the potential fun here, right? I knew you could. We're talkin' trimming up aprons, tea towels, totebags, placemats and pillows. Just adding an accent like this to a piece of embroidered wall art you are stitching can add a pop of color and unexpected detail. Experiment with your favorite colors, ribbons and embroidery stitches and see what exciting combinations you can create!
If you are not familiar with the stitches mentioned here check out these links:

Closed Feather Stitch
Herringbone Stitch
Cross stitch - double
Blanket stitch
French Knot
Fly Stitch

Part Two is here - click to check it out