Sunday, September 30, 2012

My First Large Embroidery Project
I designed this embroidery piece for a large hoop, using Aunt Martha's Flour Sack Tea Towels by Colonial Patterns, Inc.  (  Several times I have despaired of trying to find a practical use for it.  Who the deleted expletive wants an embroidered tea towel?  You put them out when you have guests and hope they don't actually use them.  The cloth lends itself well to embroidery, though.  I like it better than Aida cloth unless you're having to count the little squares.
I thought of turning the towel into an accent pillow.  This would be doable, but the pillow would be a rather odd shape.  Also, I hadn't positioned the drawing in the precise middle of the cloth.  Had it been in the precise middle, I could have sewn two tea towels together into a pillow.  Still, that's a predominantly white pillow in a dirty world.
Finally I hit on using tote bag blanks, which are inexpensive and readily available.  For numerous reasons, I would not advocate embroidering directly on these tote bags.  You need to be able to see the back of your embroidery, especially if you are using specialty threads that are likely to tangle up.  Also, you don't want to leave the inevitably snarled and knotted back on the inside of the tote where people will be putting things.  Some embroiderers prefer not to use knots; they leave a tail of thread instead of a knot.  They finish by pulling the leftover thread through the back of existent stitches. This method works, but the back of your embroidery will never be pretty - or secure, if somebody can get an object hung in it.
With a tote bag this size (roughly 13" by 13"), I was able to make a complimentary split stitch frame all around the picture.  The picture itself uses every kind of thread I had available - cotton, satin (rayon), acrylic, and the heavier pearl cotton.
Here is some useful art!  Get your creativity going!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Christmas Projects
This month I've been making and writing about craft projects that would make nice Christmas gifts and could be finished in time for Christmas.  I showed an incomplete version of the top one in an earlier post; this is how it turned out.  Working with embroidery and shapes on felt is something even children can have a part of.  I cut out and dressed the cat lady head shot just like I used to cut out paper dolls.  It is easy to attach these little creations to a tote bag blank.  You can find my hobbies articles with step by step guides at

On, I write careful instructions for people with little craft background who would like to make something.  Here I write about the experience and joy of the thing.
The second item is a handmade hosiery bag, a project I came up with out of desperation.  I had bought a couple of balls of 86% bamboo viscose yarn.  As you can see, it's so beautiful and satiny!  It's also very comfortable to crochet with.  There is only one problem - this yarn must be hand washed and dried flat.  What useful small thing could I make with those limitations?  Finally I remembered a crocheted bag I use for my nylons.  That's the ticket!

Of course, a good hosiery bag needs lining, but I had that covered.  Once I bought a lined skirt that didn't fit and saved it for its beautiful fabric.  That ought to be enough lining for a project no more than 13" long!  (The ball I bought contained only 63 yards; bamboo yarn is expensive.)

I hand hemmed and attached the lining; you don't want a sewing machine anywhere around hand crocheted or knitted products.  This made for a rather convoluted set of instructions, and I had to use Paintbrush for my slideshow:

I included the minor tutorial on buttons because so many people don't understand the difference between types.  When I first learned sewing in seventh grade, I was the only one in the class who sewed the flat button on right. - I read the instructions!
These are just small items and small hobbies, but they can make appreciated gifts. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Christmas Cards
These are three Christmas card and accessory designs I've put up at my* store.  I am still struggling to get the proper size image to make the Zazzle products I'd like to.  These pictures are historical Christmas fantasies - one a French shop in the 1820s, and the other two a department store scene from the 1920s.  As always, I'm trying to produce something colorful, eye catching, and amusing.

These two smaller pictures were drawn from a book of old fashioned Christmas cards.  Thank heaven for Dover Publications!  they are always there for anybody interested in art and costume history.

I'd love to see some of these cards being enjoyed by actual people.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Christmas Projects
 These last two weeks I've been dreaming up Christmas projects that can be done relatively easily.  Above is a 4" square tote bag blank.  I decorated it with this Aida cloth embroidery which I did on my 4" by 8" embroidery frame.
 When you use an embroidery frame, the cloth will not slip out (unless you give it a really hard yank).  It does, however, move around a bit when you use standard Aida cloth.  I've begun a new approach to the frame:
This image is made of craft felt and crushed panne velour.  This is sort of my own style, inspired by church banners and religious hangings.  I have used a stencil to draw in some appropriate flower and leaf designs.  These stencils, by the way, are really meant to be painted over, but you can draw around them to get a general idea of what you want.  On a background of light blue felt and placed a cat cutout of tan felt with clothing of panne velour.  As you can see, I am having to satin stitch around the edges of the velour.  Felt is virually the ONLY fabric you can cut up without it raveling.  Velour and fleece do fairly well, but you still need to satin stitch.

As you can see, I'm only partway through this project.  It will go on another of those tote blanks to make a nice Christmas present.  I'll show how it turns out later.  The good news is that the felt holds almost completely still in the frame, so the work is easy.  The satin stitching is in satin (rayon) embroidery thread which will knot up at the slightest opportunity.  Working it on felt has been easier than usual.  I've made large tote bags this way in the past, but right now I'm just trying for quick, unique  projects for Christmas.