"Home Sweet Home"

Today I completed a little thank-you gift for my aunt and uncle, who I will be visiting on Tuesday. It's a simple home-sweet-home design with little houses, personalized with their last name. Adam helped choose the colors, trying to keep me from making it look too American-flag. (I just love the red-white-and-blue, apparently!). Isn't it cute? There are a few things I'd changed if I made it again - like maybe making the doors a little shorter and the houses a little farther away from the lettering. But overall, I'm happy with it!


Blue Birthday Flower

My birthday was almost a month ago, but my blue birthday orchid is still in full bloom and looks gorgeous. Here's a picture of it for your viewing pleasure! Isn't it lovely? I love the way the flowers are dark blue at the top and very pale blue with yellow at the bottom. It cheers me up on a dreary day like today!

Felt Frame How-to

Today I'm going to show you (with pictures!) how to make a felt frame for a cross-stitch piece. It's super fast and easy, and a good way to display your cross-stitch pieces that don't fit nicely in frames.

  • Cross-stitch piece all pressed and ready to go
  • 2x pieces of felt (one for the front and one for the back of the frame)
  • Embroidery floss
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Embroidery hoops (or other traceable object) - I used 6" and 4" hoops
  • Pen
  • Ribbon for hanging (cut to desirable length)
  • Pins (optional)
  • Ruler (optional)

Step one:
  • Trace the 6" hoop (using the inner ring so you don't run into the clasp) on the piece of felt you want for the top of the frame (I used pink felt). Cut out carefully.
Step two:
  • Place the 4" hoop inside the circle you just cut and measure if you want it to be placed perfectly. I eyeballed it and then measured to confirm. Trace the circle.
Step three:
  • Fold the 6" circle in half and make a cut inside the 4" circle you just traced. Then cut out the 4" circle carefully. Discard.

Step four:
  • Place the pink 6" circle on the white felt (or whatever color you chose for the backing) and cut out a matching back piece.

Step five:
  • Place pink 6" circle on the cross-stitch piece and cut the cross-stitch to fit.

Step six:
  • Pin all three layers together. You're now ready to start stitching!
Step seven:
  • Use a whip-stitch or blanket-stitch (as I did) to attach the three layers together. Make sure to tuck your ribbon inside the three layers and securely stitch in place.
Step eight:
  • Admire!
Additional options:
  • You can also stitch around the 4" cut-out, as I did.
  • You can decorate the frame with felt cut-outs (I used green hearts).


Doing my own charts

I just successfully (more or less, let's say more) charted out the "keep calm and carry on" and "now panic and freak out" based on a design by my favorite cross-stitcher. Huzzah! Of course I'm all wrapped up in a project that isn't due for months and months and avoiding finishing the ones that are due soon! Isn't that always the way?

I can't update with any progress shots of the work I am completing because it's all presents for various people!


"Home Is Wherever I'm With You"

Here is my latest cross-stitch project, which took a good few days to complete. The text is a quote from the song Home by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, which Adam loves. I made it mostly for him, but also because I found this version of it and it inspired me. I tried to play with color in this piece, but I'm not 100% happy with how it turned out. The "wherever" is actually a dark rose, not a red, but it looks red. It started looking very red-white-and-blue and patriotic, which was not at all the feel I was going for, so I threw the pink and yellow in there. It just doesn't all gel together. It was also originally supposed to fit in a 8x10 frame, but it ended up fitting perfectly in a 5x7 frame instead. Just goes to show that you never know what will happen when you're crafting!
I think I'm going to redo this piece with some fun colors on white and have a wider border around it so that it won't look lost in a 8x10 frame.


Shopping spree

So I went on a bit of a shopping spree this afternoon. I started in the fabric section of WalMart (the closest thing I have to a fabric store within 50 miles, sadly), which had a surprisingly good selection of canvas, and of course, their famously inexpensive fabrics. I picked up a yard of black canvas, and two yards of two different fun prints. I'm going to use the canvas and one of the prints as a test tote bag, when I get my sewing machine out of storage, and use the other fabric and more canvas in a to-be-
determined color to do my sister's birthday present.

Then I needed some waste canvas in order to practice cross-stitching on my test canvas (something I can do before I get my sewing machine, thankfully). The closest Michael's didn't carry it. Thank goodness I called before I went to check it out, since it's 45 minutes away! That would have been a bit of a drive for a disappointment. The closest Joann's Fabrics said they might have it, which did not make an hour's drive seem worthwhile. So I ordered some online, and while I was at it, I got some more 14 count Aida in platinum and red, two colors I can't find at Michael's.

Then I needed some webbing and some hardware to finish it all up, so I headed over to JCaroline (which has great how-to's, by the way), and spent very little money. Everything over there is so inexpensive!

Soon I will have everything I need, short of that darn sewing machine. Every day I regret not packing it in the car with me. One more month!

Tote bag ideas

I don't have anything new to display - I'm still working on a piece that is just not turning out as I would like - but lately I've also been consumed with a desire to start on my sister's birthday present. (Her birthday is in January). I'm hoping to bang out a bunch of Christmas and birthday presents this summer when I have the time, since graduate school might be a bit time-consuming.

My idea for my sister's birthday present is a tote bag (made by me), with "Keep Calm and Carry On" cross-stitched on one side and "Now Panic and Freak Out" cross-stitched on the other side (pattern available at All Stitches). Won't that be awesome? This project will be tricky for two reasons - I've never made a tote bag before, and I've never cross-stitched on something other than Aida fabric. I know you can use waste canvas to cross-stitch on other materials, so I'll probably do that. Or maybe do it on Aida and then line the Aida and use it to form an outside pocket? I have lots of ideas. However, I'm still on the quest for the perfect bag tutorial. I have a book with a tote how-to in it, but the zipper does not enclose the entire top of the bag. Bizarre, eh?

So far I've found this tutorial from Hooked on Needles, which looks promising. Crafty Mariko has a zippered ruffled tote, which is cute. I would have to omit the ruffles, of course. The recessed zipper tutorial by My Spare Time might come in very handy, even though the tutorial is for a handbag. I've also found this tutorial by Debbie Colgrove of about.com. And, of course, this website has a great list of about a bazillion bag tutorials. So many options and ideas!


Felt Frame

Remember that tree I made? I decided to make a felt frame for it, since it wouldn't fit nicely in any regularly sized frame.I decided on bright yellow to complement the yellow thread. I used a 4 inch embroidery hoop to trace out a circle for the tree, and cut a 6 inch square frame out of felt around it. I then blanket-stitched the pieces together with dark blue floss. All that's needed to complete it is a cute ribbon to hang it with!


Custom Design

My custom design from Andwabisabi was finished yesterday! She was super friendly and helpful, I definitely recommend her for custom designs! As soon as I gather the appropriate materials, I have this project to do. I can't wait! It's another super-secret present, and will hopefully will be well-received. Unfortunately the gift-receiver's birthday isn't for awhile, so I have a lot of time before I get to give it to them (but that also means I have a lot of time to finish it perfectly!).

"Crazy thoughts have quick wings"

Here's my latest completed project, finished last night (right before I went on a cleaning spree). The text is a quote from Save Me by Jem, a song I've been listening to a lot lately. This line just got stuck in my head for some reason, so I decided to put it into cloth and thread, alternating each word in silver and white, with a white butterfly. I charted it myself, which was pretty tricky. It's hard to make everything nicely centered - and you might be able to see that I didn't not do a perfect job. The butterfly is another design by Andwabisabi, not my own. I'm not at that stage yet!
My mother told me that butterflies are a motif for the soul, which just adds another dimension to the piece. Crazy thoughts, the soul, I get it. Do you?
Next up... I don't know! I have a couple of designs charted out, but I'm not feeling particularly drawn to any of them. We'll just have to wait and see!


"I Hate Everything"

Just kidding! But that's the theme of this adorable yet snarky cross-stitch, my newest completed project. I got the pattern from The Purple Hippo's etsy shop, and I'm so glad I did. I say this all the time! The piece just makes me smile, though. I especially love the juxtaposition of the dour message with the pink bunnies and the blue heart. The colors in this piece are really vibrant and jewel-like. I'm not sure the photos really captures the colors correctly. I think I'm going to do another version of this pattern using the same colors in different places - maybe blue text, a pink heart, orange bunnies and purple flowers? I think so!
The second photo is of the back of the piece, so you can see how neat and tidy my stitching is... or isn't.
I was initially a little stressed when I started this pattern, because it was charted in 10 count graph paper. And I was like "oh noes but I am using 14 count Aida!". But I found this fabric calculator, which solved the problem! Apparently most patterns are charted on 10 count graph paper, so that calculator and I are going to become fast friends.
Next up: a piece I charted myself, using this alphabet. We'll see how that goes! It's super difficult to center all the text. We'll see how it turns out.


Tutorials I wish I could try!

Today, in my travels across the internet, I stumbled upon Sew Mama Sew's tutorial for a X pillow. Now I really wish I had my sewing machine!

I also found twelve22's zippered pouch tutorial, which not only uses awesome superhero fabric but looks clear and easy to follow. I can't wait to do some of these projects once I have my machine back! I'd love to make a pouch to keep all my current cross-stitch materials in - way cuter than a zip-lock bag!

Martha Stewart Cross Stitch

Say what you like about Martha Stewart, but her website has some good tutorials and very pretty, inspiring pictures.
I stumbled upon this collection of simple, cute cross stitch patterns on her website - just my style! I love the solid color designs, especially the yellow cat and red mouse. They remind me of my yellow tree - adorable and unrealistic.
After I showed Adam the yellow tree, he said I need to step it up and work on larger projects. I am working on one now that will probably be finished tonight (making it a two-day project, which isn't very long - his "love drug" piece took way longer). But I definitely gravitate toward these sweet, simple designs. They're just so cute!


A "Kiss" and a "Tree"

The cross-stitch obsession continues. Yesterday I made two little projects - a tiny kiss to go inside a little "love" frame, and a tree made out of variegated yellow-to-orange thread.
The little kiss is framed in a 2.5 by 3 frame, so it's quite tiny. It was tricky to sew because I couldn't use an embroidery hoop. My hands cramped up a bit holding the fabric taut. But it whipped up fast.
You can find the design at Andwasisabi's etsy shop. I looove her shop, it's full of cute contemporary designs. I actually ordered a custom design from her - it's going to a birthday present for someone special. Her prices are very reasonable, even for a custom piece.
The tree is also an Andwasisabi design. I did it in a variegated thread on blue Aida to give it a little more texture and realism (although it's yellow, so realism is really out of the picture). Now that I've made it, I'm not entirely sure what to do with it. I made it on a 5x7 piece of cloth, but it looks lost in a 5x7 frame. And it even looks odd in a 4x6 frame. It looks cutest in a 4 inch embroidery hoop, so I think that's my best bet. I'm currently saving the three 4 inch hoops that I have for other projects, so this tree may get shelved for awhile. It's not like I can decorate where I am anyway. And the making is most of the fun!
Next up? I'm thinking some text: Maybe "it will all be okay"? That is my motto, after all. It would be practically a sin not to cross-stitch it up!


I'm back! For reals this time!

It's been, well, ages. Years. But I'm back. I'm living in Missouri again, but with a new husband (!!) and a whole new life. I'm going to be attending graduate school soon, but for now, my life is full of crafting. However, I don't have my sewing machine (it's in storage - long story, I'll get it back at the beginning of July), so I have to be extra creative and try new things.
I've become totally obsessed with cross-stitch, thanks to a couple of kits kindly given to me. At first, I was totally turned-off by the whole idea of cross-stitch - it seemed weirdly hard. But that was because the first kit I tried had 18 count black Aida (the fabric you cross-stitch on), and that was way too difficult to see. 14 count Aida, which has bigger squares, has become my dear friend.
The cross-stitch above is my first completed project, made for my beloved husband. It's a quote from a Ke$sha song, if you didn't know. Not bad for a beginner, right? It's not perfect - the whole text should be shifted to the right one square, and one heart is missing decoration, but Adam won't let me fix it. He says he likes seeing the progression of my work. Wait until he sees what he's getting for his birthday in September! Keeping this project a secret wasn't very hard - I just worked on it while he was at work, and hid it while he was home. I got the pattern for $3.00 from Bellastitchery. So worth it. The project filled three 8-hour days (I didn't work continuously, though, so the project didn't actually take that long). I initially wanted it on pink fabric, but the project instructions were misleading and I ended up running out of pink fabric on a first draft before I realized that the pattern was too big for the fabric I'd cut. So that was sad. But maybe it's a touch more manly this way?
I've also been working on some top-secret presents for a bunch of dear people in my life, so sadly I can't post about those, lest they read this and spoil the surprise! But I have lots more cross-stitch patterns, including one that is guaranteed to make you smile, so there will be work to post soon!