Christmas in July – Stockings

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Stockings were also on the crafting agenda. One for me and two for the kitties (I love stockings – plan to make even a few more).

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First, although I have many stocking patterns, was tracing a stocking whose size and shape I liked. The right piece is the back and linings, duplicated that piece and added a tad for seam allowance then cut a cuff.

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In cutting, make sure you flip your pattern piece to give you backs and linings that will all be right side out. Had very little of that bright poinsettia fabric (left over from an apron I’d made and gifted a bit back), thus the backs of the stocking are a different fabric.

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Flannel ‘batting’ for quilting to give them  a bit of heft – I like how they hold their shape when quilted or made from heavier felts.

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Cutting two linings finishes out the prep.IMG_8614

Embroidery included the the paws I’d copied and edited to walk across the top of the stocking and quilting.

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Cut the stabilizer – a tear away – big enough to handle the required multiple hoopings.

EL Snowflake quilting 1

Quilting was edited-for-different-sizes-and-shapes an Embroidery Library snowflake.IMG_8629 (1)-1

There are two of these for the kitties. IMG_8603

And the first stocking I’ve ever made for me 🙂 . Maggie is Rockford font from Meringue designs. A piece of bias tape sewn into the seam provides hanging.

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And here you can see the lining (I’d shared the stockings on a craft board and someone wanted to see the lining – some of you might as well!).

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My brother’s girlfriend had a gold and white Christmas theme going, so I’d stitched these up for them with some brocade fabric. If you’d like to see the ones I made sis and her hubby, just check this post Handmade Christmas Victorian Santa Stockings. Next up are some fun fleece ones.

If you sell or promote anything, you NEED this

If you sell or promote anything, you NEED this. Need what? A QR code.

We all know what a barcode is. It’s a graphic symbol that a scanner can read to connect to computerized information. The same concept is utilized by something called a QR code. Wikipedia explains “QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) .. QR codes have become common in consumer advertising. Typically, a smartphone is used as a QR code scanner, displaying the code and converting it to some useful form (such as a standard URL for a website, thereby obviating the need for a user to type it into a web browser).” Huh?

Example:

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For my Master Gardener’s sign, I went to the free site QR stuff, http://www.qrstuff.com and simply followed their instructions to key in the Facebook page URL for the Calaveras County Master Gardeners. On a Mac, you get a download of your QR code image as soon as you hit enter on the URL. I nabbed my iPhone, scanned the image on their site and lo and behold my Facebook page came up (really, there’s a little bit of a thrill when you check to see if it works and it does). Once I’d proven to myself it would land on the right site, I pasted the image to my sign, printed it, laminated and I’m set to go. Folks at our plant sales and garden talks can simply hold up their smartphone, like our page and be therefore keyed in to our coming events. Although I really want to play with creating the visual QR code, for the master gardeners sign I chose something more recognizable as a barcode as the technology has not yet been widely utilized in my area. When I update the sign, I’ll choose their link for Facebook that will give me a more visual Facebook image.

As I’m not one of the multitudes with a shopping app, for the iPhone I downloaded the free AT&T code scannerOptions for free android device QR readers are also available from Google, AT&T or more.

QR code Ceodraiocht

You only get three visual QRs for free (oops). Hadn’t realized that when I started playing with just slapping one together for this post. You can upload your own picture or image; choose one of theirs; size the QR code in relation to the image; choose dots, squares or stars for the QR code itself; and generally play and manipulate to your heart’s content. They’re also more than happy to sell you programs with more features including tracking and data for those of you with a need to know details.

The uses for the code are only limited by your creativity. Why make someone key in a long URL from a business card when they can quickly hold their phone or tablet over it and land on your blog, shop or website? You can see from the column on the left of QR Stuff that you can get code images for phone numbers, digital business cards, email addresses and so much more. This morning I was encouraging someone to make a sign with a link to her Kindle e-book. This way she could sell her self-published books as well as less her expensive e-books when out and about.

In the comments, folks have shared Scanova and Visualead QR code generators. Both offer free samples for generating visual codes.

So, off you go. Create something fun and be sure to link us to your creation in the comments below. UPDATE: Here’s something fun – personalized QR Code cufflinks for the Geek in your life – at Etsy.   I’d love to see what you concoct!

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
* moved to always using Vilene in the hoop and Solvy water soluble stabilizer floated on top (I used Solvy on top and bottom for this one you’re seeing – it worked fine, but all others had a tad denser design I went with 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.

Stitchin for the Kitchen

Finally mailed off a packet of gifts and it’s been received – so sharing with you won’t ruin any surprises. Two different styles – like me, the recipient avoids kitchen curtains to maintain a wide open view of the world beyond. With neutral walls and cabinets, you can simply change the color of a few items to have a completely fresh look. Next up – this Salt and Pepper for me, I just love it.

For both sets, it’s purchased placemats.

  • Designs are Embroidery Library Vintage Salt and Pepper shakers.
  • Napkins are hemstitch from Napkins Online at eBay. 100% cotton, best to iron them damp from the dryer. I have some friends and family who prefer polyester for this reason. I’m a fan of the cotton or linen, but never gift them without checking if the recipient would actually iron napkins first. At least with all the new front loaders – things come out of the dryer wrinkly.
  • Yellow fabric from JoAnn as is the Sulky rayon 40 weight embroidery threads.
  • Placemats from Bed Bath and Beyond.
  • Light design, so used a medium weight tear away stabilizer under the towels and napkins.
  • Rectangle border that anchors the yellow fabric was created in 4D Embroidery – I made a solid rectangle actual size in PowerPoint, saved as a picture and set my embroidery program to satin stitch outline the shape (might be an easier way to do it – this worked for me).  
  • A bit of spray adhesive made it easier to hoop the towel plus fabric.
  • Once stitched, I trimmed the fabric leaving a bit less than half an inch all around
  • Frayed the edge of the yellow fabric
  • Napkins – first iron and starch
  • Then, note borders are not precise – for placement of the salt & pepper shakers, I just iron an X corner to corner on the napkin for my vertical placement line, then measure up from the hemstitch for my perpendicular cross line that marks the center of the design.

 

My machine sometimes hiccups in two places. One, with purchased pre-wound embroidery threads, you’ll find when starting a new one it will sometimes not feed smoothly – unwinding about a yard long piece of thread from the bobbin usually fixes this. Two, the machine doesn’t always pick up the bobbin thread with good tension at the very beginning of a design.  When this happens, I grab a long piece of bobbin thread plus the top thread and hold onto each with the machine set to slow or medium speed to start the stitching of the design (tricky when then finding a spare finger to hit the go button). When you get that nesting of threads as above, cut all the threads from the bottom then pull them out with tweezers, and start that section over. A piece of sticky stabilizer stuck to the stabilizer already hooped on the bottom of the hoop will aide not punching through the fabric in that spot.

  • Designs are Embroidery Library 3 inch Floral Heirloom Letter H and Grape Bunch –Sheer  (colors edited on both designs)
  • Sulky rayon 40 weight embroidery threads
  • Light design again, tear away stabilizer
  • Napkins –always iron and starch first
  • Placement of the design – same as above

Light designs stitch up so much faster -I always pause before tackling densely stitched embroidery. Before buying my machine, noted that an article on Martha Stewart  stated “this pillow takes about 6 hours to stitch out” – huh? It wasn’t a solid 10 by 10inch – it was a medallion. So, I knew what I was getting into.  It’s best for your pricey little machine that you’re always in easy earshot – if it does have a problem (like the nesting above) it won’t overheat and you can shut it down and remedy the issue. Additionally, many of the densely stitched designs require 25 or more thread color changes (done by hand, the machine stops – you go thread the new color and start it again). If you’re out of earshot, you won’t know when to re-thread. I do LOVE having the machine, but have been buying up more of the ‘quick stitch’ light patterns so I can complete projects even though I hold down a job (and have a garden, and friends, and family and things to do …). Densely stitched designs are beautiful – they’re all I purchased when I first got the machine. I’ve quite a few gorgeous ones on the ‘to do’ pile that I will get to. First up is something for me, the beautiful Art Nouveau Nativity I stitched up for my sister last year. Not today though.

Skipped a cute border on the towels – she needed something to really use every day for drying and cute cotton borders can require a hit with the iron to look good. Embroidery Library has all sorts of flourish designs that go with the floral letters and I came very close to adding a border, but omitted it here. The placemats will also wash up well (much better than the black will, no spaghetti for hubby on the black). Maroon matches the living room (quite visible from the table), grapes match an image by her stove and she also likes a hit of yellow on things. Trés parfait.

I don’t go into detail here as Embroidery Library does have free fantastic instructions to follow for hooping, stabilizer, needle choice and more.

This post is participating in the Gallery of favorites hosted by April at The 21st Century Housewife and Alea of Premeditated Leftovers. Also, Seasonal Sundays at the Tablescaper and Sundae Scoop at I Heart Naptime. and Skip to My Lou’s Made it Monday.

Ohhhhh, so pretty!

Been keeping a few craft projects rolling along in the background here. One is the pillow project for the guest room. Loving these Art Deco – y butterflies from Embroidery Library stitched out on linen. Heirloom Butterfly and Floral Circle

Chose deeper but matching colors (Sulky threads) to the quilt will add a bit of punch. Had already made the chenille green pillows as the daybed is large and in need of quite a few more pillows to look as inviting as I’d like. I’m determined to finish these as pillows although I like them so much, I’m a bit inclined to just frame them.

 Heirloom Butterfly and Floral Square

There are clear step by step tutorials for everything (just check out the left column) related to machine embroidery at Embroidery Library’s project page. Perfect hooping, placement and stabilizer guides are available as well as hints for embroidering on any type of material. For linen – wash the fabric first as you plan to later, then starch the heck out of your piece. A medium weight cutaway stabilizer is a good choice for the weight of linen I like to work with. To later need to wash an embroidered piece, iron it while damp from the back of the piece.

Now, to border and stitch these into  pillows. Then, as this is the only frou frou room in the house, on to a ruffled pillow or two and one with a nice big bow.

This post is participating in the parties linked below.

A Bit of Easter Sparkle

April, it’s that time. Let’s talk about Easter bling. If you’ve read my blog before, you’ll see me repeating the same suppliers for napkins, designs and fabric as well as the notation that I like to ship fun little gifts off to folks. I made this Easter runner a few years back with fabric from JoAnn for myself and my sister. They no longer carry the really nicely done glittered fabrics. For these, I’ve had to turn to elsewhere, but this fabric was a find and the glitter is oh so perfect. I simply cut my long rectangle, cut a piece of light interfacing (sew-in) and a back. Sew around the edges, turn out and top stitch in a bit from the edge. La Voila! Instant table runner.

The hemstitched napkins, as usual, are from Napkins Online at eBay. I must allow myself to digress here and alert you to the fact that Napkins Online currently has 6 foot linen table runners in various colors for $4.00. Depending on the amount you pick up, you may be able to get free shipping. Being the noodge I am, I ordered mine before posting this to avoid the rush J . I believe the egg design is a Husqvarna Viking free monthly design from 2009 that you could purchase from MyEmbroideries.com; I did look but couldn’t find the design at either Embroidery Library or My Embroideries. This month they are offering an Easter design you can edit/crop back to look very similar to the eggs I’ve used on the napkins.  Sulky 40 weight embroidery threads that I pick up on sale or with a coupon from the stores or online is my thread of choice. As long as you don’t use bleach, they stand up to washing and light wear pretty well.

 The kitchen towels are from New England’s Christmas Tree Shops. My sister mails them off to me; I decorate and hem them, and mail them back. They’re the microfiber towels that you can also pick up in packs at places like Ross. The hem on this set is simply purchased Wrights extra wide double fold bias trim. The basket is from Embroidery Library, the design that is on their drawstring bag. Yes, the baskets aren’t lined up perfectly – originally I was going for one for me and one for sis when she let it be known she likes three for her stove – so the bottoms are a tad off as far as matchy matchy. If you’re planning to put things together – best to always measure from the bottom edge when placing your design. I usually change the colors and size of any design to suit my needs. The egg design on the turquoise kitchen towel is a monthly free design (March2010) from Husqvarna Viking that you then download from MyEmbroideries.com (or purchase if you don’t download it in the month offered). They also offer free monthly embroidery projects and sewing projects if you’d like more sewing ideas. I’d tagged a slew of the sewing ones to add to my “to do” list.

 For the bath, I use the pack of white hand towels from Costco. Just make sure to use colors that match the main bath when choosing embroidery threads. You might not notice that in the pictures I post as many of these holiday decorating items are gifts and you don’t see the hand towel sitting on top of a color coordinated bath towel – it does look nice. So, the first time I gift them I may buy two plush bath towels for the recipient that match their color, note the thread that most perfectly matches the towels I picked so I can always incorporate it into the design to yield a matching set, and gift those bath towels with a few holiday decorated hand ones. Then, for close friends and relatives, they may periodically receive a matching holiday set in the mail. The design is Embroidery Library’s Spring Stitches – Bunnies. If I were to do it over, I’d make the callas closer to yellow so they’d stand out more. In person, you can see them do to the texture and light created by the thread and design. With the dense designs on towels, it’s best to take them out of the dryer a wee tad less than dry and press the back of the design with an iron so it’ll lie perfectly flat and look new.

So celebrate spring with a bit of fresh décor and fun colors. As always, you can build on these items by using hand embroidery, appliqué, stencils and fabric paints if you don’t machine embroider.

This post is participating in the Linky parties noted below.

Murphys Irish Days and St. Patrick’s Bling post 1

I’m an Irish gal (my dad was born there) living in a town called Murphy’s and our biggest event of the year is Murphy’s Irish days. I can always count on houseful of guests and even a backup crew or two of guests for that weekend (did I mention it’s a really really big deal here?). A little bling to toast the Irish is something that gets use.

One of my holiday bling items is aprons (love to cook and bake, love crafts…). This apron follows the patterns and instructions I’ve shared on Apron Redo and for Halloween here. The fabric, which has the requisite sparkly gold, is from JoAnn and Wrights trim provides the edging. The St. Patrick’s Day postcard vintage, or a different choice, can be downloaded from Vintage holiday crafts.com for free. It’s printed on a sheet from the package of photo transfer fabric. Follow the instructions on your package of photo transfer fabric. They aren’t all the same. I simply cut it out and stitched it on. I will have to handwash this particular apron to ensure my photo transfer remains in good shape. If you love vintage style aprons, take a peek at this selection from Sur La Table to get some great ideas.

  

For places to stay and other things to do around Murphys, check out my Murphys page.

I participate in the picture linky parties linked at the bottom of this post.