Christmas in July

Cross stitch Santa mug rug

Christmas in July, for those who craft, is time to start thinking about, designing, collecting materials for and creating those items we may want to gift in the coming season. This isn’t to say that I haven’t spent my fair share of Christmas eves madly sewing squares of an afghan together, determined to finish before morning – but, the college days of staying up all night to finish and sew a sleeve onto a sweater or bind those squares are just a glimmer in the rear view mirror. I still thrive a bit too much on the adrenaline of the last minute rush – but do try not to leave EVERYTHING until that last moment.

Cross stitch Santa close

So, July has me pondering where to put my energies this season. These are items I created last season but didn’t post.  The mug rugs were easily packed in envelopes that winged their way to Ireland and Japan to bring a bit more Christmas cheer than a simple card.

Noel mug rug

For embroiderers, the overall design for these 3 mug rugs is from Five Star Fonts. I add rick rack by holding it down and repeating the step that sews the left fabric piece on – fast and easy. The angel embroidery is from Sudberry House, the Santa from ABC Embroidery and the Noel from Tatjana who is the creator behind deStickbar. The Noel was a free design she did that was offered on the Mettler thread site.

Cross stitch angel mug rug

I’ve warned you in the past, that although I’m not an all day every day proponent of cute – the holidays bring out the kid in me and that kid loves Santa and Snowmen and cute little Christmas designs. Adding more white/cream into the mix of the deep forest colors I live in will bring that extra bit of bright and light to my winter season, the new placemats for me are perfect.


This set of four are from Julia’s Needle Designs with the exception of the mitten quilting by Mother Hen’s Quilt Embroideries. I’d split the quilting designs in software to place as borders. Also mitigated my tendency to get things just a bit off by using Five Star Fonts candle mats as a base, deleting the rounded corners and using her final round of stitching to lay down my borders perfectly square. This ‘borders at the edge of the hoop, then sew a bit’ style allows me do larger finished items than my machine is capable of producing solely within the hoop.

JND Redwork Santa c

I layer the batting in the hoop and just stitch the design right through all layers plus stabilizer (medium weight cutaway makes a nice mat). Best to use an embroidery needle. I usually sew with Sharps but with batting prefer to switch to an embroidery needle.

JND Santa redwork b

I was a bit remiss in capturing photos as the holiday closed in – they were bordered again in deep brown. When I get around to digging them out, I’ll have to shoot and post pics of the finished items.

JND Redwork Santa a

My favorite designers have been having Christmas in July sales and I’m stocked and ready – now to the who would like what in which colors and fabrics. List time!

Be sure to pop in to Sundays in My City to see what other folks around the globe do with their weekends, it’s a fun group.

Murphys 4th in the Park

Murphys July 4th

Murphys July 4th

Music in the Park on July 4th in Murphys was a hit with all ages. So many happy kids dancing with one another and their parents / grandparents.  Photo quality not up to snuff as was hanging out in back with friends, a glass of wine and my iPhone.

4th happy kids 1 4th Haappy 2 4th Happy 4 4th Happy 5 4th Happy 6 4th Happy 7

Remember dancing with Daddy?

4th Happy 8 4th happy kids 1

Merita Callaway – with the Face paint – is our County Supervisor and a regular at many town events. Very accessible lady.

4Th Happy

Staying in the stream on a hot day till your lips turn blue and you’re simply chattering – memories for me of days at the beach.Staying in the stream on a hot day till your lips turn blue and you’re simply chattering – memories for me of days at the beach.

4th Stream 2 4TH Stream a 4TH Stream b

Yummy food for sale so that the line (standing folks) to the food hut goes off the side of the pic. Our food hut is just at the kayak raffle (thanks to Sierra Nevada Adventure Company’s yearly generous donation of a new kayak!). Oh, and you can’t live here and not own a camp chair :-)

4th sunny 4TH

Robust fireworks display followed on the 5th eve at Ironstone.

Changes, changes. Considering monetizing the blog just a wee tad – I still hate ads everywhere. But, I really do stand behind and recommend certain products here on Facebook, G+ and other areas. Crafter’s always want to know what brands and items and where to get them – and, I am already an avid supporter of the ones I use and have been linking them. Living rurally, also a big shopper on Amazon and eBay. So, I’m joining affiliate programs and will go back and link the products I buy and am truly comfortable  recommending. I’ll toss in the books I enjoy as well. Hadn’t been posting recently while I considered if I wanted to continue to put the time into a blog (I do like leaving the computer and going out!) and if I should change my “no ads” stance. I expect peanuts, perhaps a dinner or lunch out per year (how many folks will click on the link and add to cart – not wish list – then buy?). This is an experiment, but know that I am searching the products I use to find links. You’ll perhaps see a few product reviews for things I’ve been meaning to share with other writers and bloggers. Not every post will have links (promise!). Stay tuned.

And,don’t forget to stop by Sundays in My City to see what other folks around the globe have been up to.

Valentine Mug Rugs

I have been diligently stitching, gardening, baking, cooking, snapping photos of sunsets and voraciously reading over the past few months although you would not know it when stopping by the blog.

Let’s see if I can catch up a tad.

I’d gotten into the habit of decorating for various holidays when my nieces and nephews were younger and my neighbors with young kids would stop by.  Although I have substantially fewer neighbors,  a bit seasonal decorating makes me smile –  so I keep it up.

Here are in progress valentines day mug rugs a.k.a. snack mats a.k.a. cocktail coasters.

Mug Rug Machine Embroidered

A free heart embroidery from Kreations by Kara graces the first one. I LOVE this heart – it stitches so fast. and easily The little fabric squares on the right aren’t really “square” which threw things off a bit. I also pieced it outside of the hoop and stitched it in the evening after work – not my best time – everything is just a tad off spacing wise, but I’m ok with it. I did make a note to self to do all piecing in the hoop in future.
KBK mug rug

The mats match an existing apron (Makower UK piece of fabric I’d gotten ages ago) and table runner (thus the two reds and not square fabric squares).
Makower UK fabric apron

Some folks are fussy about backs of things – not me. I hooped muslin as the mat back, then cutaway stabilizer (to make the mats stiff, the corners and sides stay flat), batting (aka Warm N Natural – a thin batting) and my pieced cotton top without the binding strips. I add the binding as a stitch and flip at the end ITH (in the hoop). This binding will be stitched by hand to the back. The main thing is to use a 90 needle as with all those layers you’d have shredding thread if you don’t. My machine can handle all these layers – I understand some cannot. Here are the muslim backs so you can see what’s done ITH.
mat backs

San Francisco’s Stitch has a bon bon bash that’s a very active in their Yahoo group. Folks are downloading the candy designs and stitching them up in all different wonderful combinations of colors and fabrics. This mat has their designs.

SFStitch bon bon mat

Urban threads is one of my favorite machine embroidery design purveyors. . The next two mats feature their designs. The “heartwood” makes me smile. 

UT heartwood mat

The daydream love heart is lovely, but I was a tad careless on spacing here, so this will be the one I use with coffee.
UT Heart mat wip

Now let’s see if I can get off the laptop and get these things finished :-)

Sewing Machine Needle Storage – Quick Project

boxes 14 decoupage

Been a tad negligent about posting lately, so thought it best if I pop on and share a simple project. When working any craft, I prefer things visible and in arm’s reach.  Those who don’t sew may not realize that there are specific sewing machine needles for a variety of tasks – embroidery, knits (ballpoint), denim, double needles, universal, sharps and more – each with their own choice of a few sizes. I like to keep mine in the case they come in for easy identification.

boxes 1 to decoupage

Did you know that most cracker boxes are the perfect size for storing your needle collection?

boxes 2

Peel open the ends and cut your box lengthwise. I just used scissors (not the fabric ones, I have a craft pair).

boxes 3 papers

Pick out some papers – you can find decorative paper at the craft stores by the sheet or in pads, buy it online, print it on your printer or paint / color your own. I used the 12 by 12 size, purchased at Michaels to make this one of my speediest projects ever.

boxes 4 mediums

Choose your medium – Turned out, I was able to use my really old Mod Podge Gloss Finish after running the lid under some hot water and loosening it’s edge with a knife so I could unscrew it.The stuff in the jar – although old, was fine. You could also use gesso or gel medium.

boxes 6 top done

Regular old newsprint protects the work surface. I have a bag of bottle lids handy in case I need to raise something up (If you’re afraid of gluing your item to the newsprint, also not needed this time around). Painted the Mod Podge on the box and smoothed my paper onto it. I have a brayer (small roller) but never had to use it for this project – my hands worked just fine.

boxes 5 top done

Flip your box over and glue down the edges. True confessions – I just wipe the Mod Podge onto the paper with my finger as I’m working close to a sink and can walk over and rinse it off easily.

boxes 7 weights

Weight the whole thing down (I put an open box – aka Priority mail as I always have a few handy – on top of my project then some pretty full detergent jugs on that). Let dry for a bit (doesn’t have to dry fully – just start setting, so 30 minutes to an hour).

boxes 8 tabs

Next we’re gluing down what was the top of the box – the part we cut – to the sides. Smear Mod Podge on it.

boxes 9 tabe

Turn it over, weight it down (you can see how it wants to raise up and needs weight along it’s length – thus the laundry detergent jug necessity. The small jars don’t cut it).

boxes 10 sides

Do both long sides.

boxes 11 part done

It’s ready for the lining paper. Grab your sponge brush, slabber on some Mod Podge to the inside of the box and smooth your lining on. It doesn’t cover the box ends all the way and that’s ok (I like a bit of cardboard to cardboard contact for gluing the ends directly).

boxes 12 ends

Then, make a few slits on the paper at the ends so you can fold your ends back up and glue them shut with Mod Podge. The laundry jugs keep the box nice and upright and strong clips keep the ends closed while drying.

boxes 13 end

Cut pieces to cover your box ends. If I were really fancy, I would have cut cardboard from another cracker box to the size of the end and covered it with all paper edges folded over to one side, then used that to glue to the end so there would be no paper edges. But, I decided this would be good enough for this project. Oh, and can you tell I’m a fan of Schmetz Gold Titanium Embroidery Needles?

boxes 14 end

Brush the box end inside and out with Mod Podge and press your paper on. I find it much easier to brush the box, if you brush the paper, it isn’t quite as easy to handle. Put the clips back on while it dries. Then, place needles in and you are set to go. I’ll probably paint Mod Podge over the box to give the paper a better chance of standing up to wear and tear. Since I’d forgotten how easy decoupage is, I can hit that when I tackle the few other quick fixes I’ve lined up to neaten my desk and sewing table.

boxes 16 decoupage

Spent needles go in an empty vitamin bottle I keep in the back of my box. For machine embroiderers, yes – you can see Coats and Clark thread in the box. I mostly embroider with Sulky rayon 40 but for thick thread designs,  use Coats and Clark 30 weight. I’m lucky (and so thrilled) that my machine isn’t as finicky about threads as do hear the horror stories from others about temperamental machines shredding thread. If I ever get a few gifts in the mail and delivered, I’ll post a project with this thread.

This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City.

Getting Ready for Dia de los Muertos

Dia FSL  Skeleton

I’ve mentioned Dia de los Muertos is kinda a big thing here in Murphys California.  Well, for you non-stitchers, there’s a whole world of sewing machines that embroider and one of the things they do is embroider lace onto a water-soluble backing.  Things like lace skeletons you can make into earrings.

FSL Skeletons

Upon spying the designs at Sonia Showalter, Dia de los Muertos was the first thing I thought of. But, there’s usually some color on those items and I got stuck in the plain white you see everywhere. My first thought was adding a design (like a small rose) or bling (was still looking at them as “white”). I’d edited to put a bunch on one hooping and set the entire design to white and started stitching (the little hoops stitch first) when the thought “variegated thread” finally hit me. I did have to stay by the machine to catch and stop it to change colors since I hadn’t set that up ahead of time, and I decided white bobbin thread on the backs was fine for this application. But, overall I’m thrilled. That one with a purple head and blue body is just a screw up. That particular purple  thread was having problems and I decided it would be easier to just change out the thread color and toss it (or stitch a new head to glue on later).

FSL Angel Complete

You can also change out your whole “skeleton stitching” thing and stitch up some lace angels (also from Sonia here).

FSL Angel on Vilene

I’d received a question about stabilizers and decided to try something. So, know Sonia’s designs stitch beautifully – I push ‘how many items can you stitch in one hoop’ limits and play around with old stabilizers.

The first angel and the skeleton sheet were stitched on two layers of Vilene.

FSL Angel Stabilizer

For the second angel’s hooping, I took two scraps of Vilene and basted them over the hole made when I cut out the first (just placed them on top and let the machine baste as a first step). This one also came out perfectly.

I use Solvy a lot but know some folks have trouble with it. There are two kinds of water soluble stabilizer (WSS). A plastic-y kind like Solvy and a more fabric like one like Vilene (Pellon also makes one that I use as do others).

For the third angel I grabbed two older scraps of Solvy (they get crinkly sounding as they dry out if not kept in a plastic bag or covered) .  I was able to smooth them out – so thought “good enough”.  Not so. Below you can see that the stitching is perforating the stabilizer on the lower right – it did it in  few places – and pulling back. For dense Free Standing Lace designs (FSL), I’d recommend sticking to a fabric like water soluble stabilizer (WSS). I do successfully use “fresh” Solvy more than many stitchers and have used it on smaller Free Standing Lace (FSL) items.

FSL Stabilizer tearing

For the finished angel, you can see the blank spot by her hem, an open space by her right elbow and that the upper left of the wing isn’t formed perfectly. She still looks nice enough – once I saw the tear, I floated a piece of Vilene on the hoop and that helped – but folks who do this would spot those bits in a heartbeat. And, if I’d kept trying to use the dried out Solvy, it would have been a complete mess.

FSL not aligned

I’m an “unaffiliated” fan of for pre-wound bobbins (the Topaz uses FilTec Clear Glide Class L) and the stabilizers I can’t easily pick up locally.

For my Sundays in My City friends – I have been continuing to garden and gift veggies to my neighbors, but with our early heat wave the garden looks like hell. It’s just too sad to capture photos.   This post is participating in Sundays in My City over at Unknown Mami (and, sorry about the hairs in the shots, between me and the cats – oh well. Lucky to have the time to get the post up without re-shooting it).

Embroidering on Pashmina

Maureen's Pashmina

I’ve kept up the momentum to complete yet another project (but you’d never know it to look at my work area). This is an embroidered pashmina for my aunt. I am so happy with how it came out I went and bought more for Christmas presents :-) . The pashminas are 70% cashmere 30% silk from Aileen’s Scarves on eBay. They’re a nice light blend that drapes beautifully. They wear well – I’ve had some for four years, just never took the step to embroider on them before. I just hand wash them in a mild dish soap and lay flat to dry.
Maureens pashmina 2Details:

Used a Schmetz gold 75/11 embroidery needle
Sulky Rayon 40 weight embroidery thread
Solvy water soluble stabilizer (WSS) in the hoop and floated on top (I used Solvy on top and bottom for this, but on my next one with a td denser design I needed Vilene / fabric type WSS on the bottom (still Solvy on top as it tears off easily).
Pinned then machine basted the pashmina to the stabilizer
Set the machine to medium speed
Font is RHI from 8 Claws and a Paw
Border is Butterfly and Flower border from Embroidery Library (dense designs are not a good idea)
The border was edited (half was mirrored, then entire border flipped for top)

Maureens Pashmina stitchout

I’d been nervous about trying this and put it off for awhile. It was so easy! Hope to finish a few more soon.
This post is participating in Unknown Mami’s Sundays in My City – my Sunday was spent stitching and editing more designs. I”ll try to grab my camera more for when I’m out and about.