Friday, October 17, 2014

Peaceful Silhouette

Peaceful Silhouette by Dimensions
stitched from a kit with included threads and fabrics

I'll be back in a few days with some pics from a recent Fair & Square exchange, but I am going through my draft posts trying to breathe some life into this blog.  Meanwhile, enjoy this piece from Mr. SweetPea, something he stitched up a few years ago and gifted to his brother (another one we failed to take a photo of once it was framed).

Mr. SweetPea doesn't fool around and often takes on more ambitious projects (and still manages to finish a few of them before I get through some of my smaller projects!).  To be honest, all these shades of brown and tan probably would have driven me batty, but he seemed to enjoy the process.  It is indeed a peaceful scene, though!

As for me, I've been very busy with Little Dude back in preschool and going back to work myself.  We're on the go all week, and try to do fun things with Little Dude on the weekends.  It's our favorite time of year to be out and about and we've been very fortunate to have some beautiful weather in the northeastern US.  Sadly, my stitching time has diminished.  I've been going to bed earlier (5:30 am comes quick!) and I'm a lot more tired at night, so I limit how much time I spend on my pieces because I'd rather not be endlessly ripping out mistakes.

But as I mentioned, I do have a F&S exchange to post, so you'll be seeing that soon.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014

iStitch Exchange

Carol from iStitchaholic recently hosted an exchange featuring her designs, and stitchers all over the world signed up to exchange finished pieces.   Carol has been posting the exchange pieces to the iStitch Designs facebook page, and will be posting a gallery to her blog once the exchange wraps up completely.

My piece arrived from Elisa of Old Ragged Threads back in July.  She stitched Sew French Blue and finished it as a pinkeep.  So pretty and delicate - I love the lace on the edges and need to keep that in mind for future finishes of my own.  (Why yes I do have a collection of finishing ideas I'd like to try!)

Elisa also crocheted me this sweet colorful mat.  It is so soft and pretty, and my 4 year old was eyeing it up as soon as I took it out of the package.  Once he felt how soft it was, it was a task to get it back from him!

My exchange partner was also located in the UK.  I stitched Sew Peacock for Michelle (Michelle's Stitchcraft Place).  Sew Peacock has long been one of my favorite designs and I chose a gorgeous turquoise blue silk (Belle Soie Aqua Velvet) to stitch over 1.  The fabric you see in the background is the taffeta I used for the back of the pinkeep.  In fact, I chose that fabric first, then went to my LNS in search of the thread.  I had at least half a dozen choices, and ended up going with my first choice silk.  Do you do that too?  I go through several different colors for something like this, and inevitably go back to my first choice.

I also finished mine as a pinkeep.  Since I used the little acrylic stand I bought for Elisa's pinkeep to stand the piece up for photographing, I decided to include it in the package to Michelle.  (I'll pick up a new stand for myself so I can put Sew French Blue back on display)

And you can see the Swarovski crystal pin I put together from my jewelry bits.  I believe that's the Blue Zircon color, which happens to be my birthstone as well.  I wanted to jazz up the lace trim I used around the edges, so I added soome blue satin ribbon.  I bought a spool without realizing I had used the exact same ribbon for another project, oddly enough another iStitch design!  So I used what I had and sent the new roll off to Michelle.

As I was looping the ribbon for the top, I realized that it looked a little bit like a peacock too!


So my piece arrived safely in the UK and I'm just thrilled with the piece from Elisa.  Thank you, Carol, for hosting such a great exchange!

Fair & Square Sign ups!!!

If you're interested in signing up for the next round of the Fair & Square exchange,


Sign ups close Friday, August 8th!!!
Monday, July 28, 2014

SBQ for June...2012???

WOW has this post been sitting around for a while!!  Over two years.  Yikes!  (Yeah, so now I am just randomly pulling up drafts of posts and finishing them up.)  Still a good one though, and showcases some of my favorite pieces.

Also, since there seems to be some interest in SBQs, not to mention they're a great "blog prompt" when you don't know what to write about, I think I'm going to start something up in the fall with monthly questions.  More on that later.  For now, back to um.... 2012.

June 2012:  Do you stitch patriotic/national pieces (or maybe just pieces that represent a specific place)? What's your favorite? (submitted by CinDC)

While there are some very lovely "American" and "USA" pieces out there, they generally don't attract my attention for stitching.  I do, however, have more than a few pieces that represent specific places in the US, mainly lighthouses, such as this one from The Design Connection (though I must confess it was stitched by Mr. Sweet Pea).

NOTE: I believe this design is now OOP.  I can't find it in any of the stitching shops, only on eBay.

Or this piece, Maine Fishing Village by Seguin Designs, that we modified as a birth sampler for our son.  Without a doubt, if we were to chose our favorite places in the world, New England in general, and Maine in particular would be high atop that list, so we have several lighthouse pieces in our collection.

I was also gifted with Blue Ribbon Designs Americana Panorama, which is waiting to be stitched.  So yes, in that respect, we do purchase and stitch what could be considered national pieces for the US

I also tend to find myself attracted to those pieces that reflect my Irish heritage, such as this one from The Sweetheart Tree, Tangled Shamrocks, and my husband has honored his German heritage with a few pieces as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fly away, butterfly

Back to sharing some of the finished pieces I haven't blogged about yet (or framed). These two are both by Mr. SweetPea, and they're both from Dimensions kits from our early stitching years.

Exotic Butterflies by Dimensions

Obviously it's not the best photo, and the silvery frame on the piece itself is a bit off, but it's still a pretty piece. I'm thinking this might look nice in our living room since we have some stained glass pieces we inherited from Mr. Sweet Pea's grandparents already hanging there.  One in particular is a pretty blue and pink bird piece that echoes some of the colors of this one.

The second piece is Butterfly Triplex, also by Dimensions.  This piece coordinates with two others Mr. SweetPea stitched.  One was gifted to his mom but is currently awaiting re-framing since our original framing job wasn't a good one (we had NO idea what we were doing).  As soon as that one's finished (it's a Dimensions Rose piece), it will appear on the blog.
Monday, July 21, 2014

To the Queen

To the Queen by JBW Designs
Stitched 2 over 2 on 32 ct. Antique White with Recommended threads

 I've had this chart in my stash for a while.  I picked it up on sale at my LNS becasue the moment I saw it, I knew it was destined to be for my friend Kim.  I met Kim YEARS ago at work, and we ended up in facing cubes.  Since Kim has a long standing fondness for the color pink and queens, this is utterly perfect for her.

The original chart calls for a tiny crown charm, but I substituted a K for Kim instead.  I debated whether or not to use the glass (normally I'd frame it without since I wasn't using a mat) but I didn't want the charm to tarnish, so I went ahead and put the glass back in.  I gave it to her last weekend, and she LOVED it.  She's a bit of a stitcher herself, though she hasn't done it in years (she crochets more now), so she knew the work that went into it and appreciated it all the more.

And no, my framing isn't quite as wonky as it appears in the photo.  I swear I do this all the time - I never notice how weird my framing looks in the photo for an item I've already gifted until I go and write the blog post about it!
Friday, July 18, 2014

The Return of the Fair & Square Exchange

After an extended hiatus, the Fair and Square exchange is back, and the latest round was a Patriotic theme. I was paired up with Rebecca (no blog... yet!) who is new to the exchange, and these are the lovely squares she stitched for me.

 Land that I Love by Lizzie*Kate

This is a "Now and Then" version of the chart.  The one Rebecca stitched is the updated version, so she included the chart so I could stitch the older version of it as well.  Thank you so much, Rebecca!

This is what I stitched for Rebecca... 

(city blanked out intentionally)

I took a slightly more colorful approach than the original, and use some metallic threads for the fireworks.  I also added in an extra star where the snap was charted in.

Rebecca mentioned she's been following my blog and was excited to be paired up with me.  I can totally relate - I've been paired up with fellow stitchers I've followed and it's so nice to "meet" and get to know them.  Hopefully Rebecca will start a blog soon, too!
Sunday, July 13, 2014

Need some help

Okay stitchers, I need some help tracking down a freebie pattern that I saw a few days ago and can't seem to find again.

It's a bee, possibly a queen bee (with a crown) stitched on a coffee or tea stained fabric.  It was offered as a freebie, I think as part of a monthly series but I cannot for the life of me recall the name of the designer or any of the other charts in the series.

Does this sound the least bit familiar to anyone???

UPDATED:  Found it!  It's Litha: Summer Solstice by The Primitive Hare
Thursday, June 19, 2014

A joint project from the early years

Things have been MUCH busier around here than I anticipated. Little Dude is done with preschool for the summer, so most of my time has been consumed by entertaining a 4 year old. Trips to the library and the park, fun activities, playing trains - the days are just loaded. I'm still stitching most evenings, but I know I haven't been posting as frequently as I was for a while there.  My ultimate goal is to post at least once a week.  We'll see how that goes. 

I did go through our stitching drawer a while back and found some pieces I haven't shared on the blog.  There's a couple more of these posts in my draft pile, but here's something from way back.

The Sorcerer and The Sorceress by Dimensions
Stitched from a kit

These two pieces are from our early years of stitching.  Mr. Sweet Pea did the sorcerer, and I did the sorceress (why yes I did change her hair color to a slightly redder shade).  I don't even know if these kits are still available, but we bought these in the craft store.

Our tastes have changed since then, but these have sentimental value.  They were among our very first stitching pieces and there was a time when we both enjoyed fantasy literature on a regular basis.  They're still in the finished unfinished drawer, but perhaps some day they will be able to cast a spell and free themselves.
Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Return of the F&S Exchange

Fellow Stitchers....  It's BAAAACK!!!!

Head over to the Fair & Square Exchange Blog and get signed up for the next round, a Patriotic theme.  International members should sign up too - we can all be patriotic about whatever country we call home.

If you're not already a member, you can read the rules and make a letter of application to Jill.
Wednesday, June 4, 2014

French Country Bunny Ornament

So it may have taken me a few years, but I did get another F&S piece finished up!  This one probably shouldn't have taken me so long since the cardboard for the inside has been cut to shape and covered with the batting for ages now.  But I struggled with getting the shape of the bunny done neatly, so it ended up in a drawer for quite a while out of frustration.  I don't know that I would do a shaped finish like this again - I might go with an easier to manage oval instead.

It actually made it to our tree this past Christmas, and I forgot to put it on the blog, though I did share the finished picture with the original stitcher!

This was my very first F&S Exchange with Michele.  (It's JBW Designs French Country Bunny)

Monday, June 2, 2014

10th Anniversary Piece

I Will Love You by Annie Beez Folk Art
Stitched 2 over 2 on 25 ct. mystery linen with recommended threads

I finished up my anniversary piece for Mr. SweetPea. (We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in April).  As I mentioned before, I went to my LNS about 2 weeks before our anniversary to figure out what I was going to stitch for this milestone.  Because I enjoy waiting till the last minute....

Nothing was really doing it for me, until I spotted this one and remembered I had purchased it a few years ago and it was sitting in my stash.  I think I probably even bought it intending to stitch it for an anniversary.  So I picked up the fabric I needed, going a little larger than the recommended 32 count because I wanted to frame this finish.

For the most part, this was a super easy stitch, except for all those damn little confetti stitch stars.  I love how the look on the front, but they were kind of a pain in the butt to stitch.  I considered using seed beads but decided to stitch as designed.  Eventually I'll get this framed and hung on the wall.  Maybe even before our 20th anniversary.

And if you must have it RIGHT NOW, you can check out Annie's Etsy Shop for an instant download.
Friday, May 30, 2014

Two more cubes

Since I was on a finishing streak with some of my F&S exchanges, I started thinking about what to do with the rest of them.  I came up with a "seasonal theme", planning to make two squares for each season.  The squares from Robin made up my first spring one, but the second set of squares I pulled out for a spring cube is just a little off in size from the square pieces of styrofoam.  Back to the drawing board on that one, I suppose. But I did find two more that would work for a seasonal theme.

In fact, it works out particularly well for the winter squares from Renee because the design for the front is a rectangle and the back is a square.  I was going to make an ornament, but couldn't figure out how to make it work, so back to the drawer it went.  That was until I started making up the last set of cubes and came up with the idea of adding a snowflake embellishment.

I dug through my stash of crafty bits - if there's ribbon or sequins or some other embellishment I think I can use for finishing, I put it in with my crafting materials until I have a need for it.  These snowflake sequins came from inside a snowglobe Christmas card, and I was going to sew them on before pinning the fabric to the cube until I figured out it would be much easier just pin them.  Once again, the wide dark blue satin ribbon makes an appearance.  I may change it up a little if I find a snowflake embellished ribbon when the Christmas craft materials come out (which should be any day now, right?  LOL)

We have so many ornaments for the tree that this will be a nice addition to the other decorations.  I decorate our mantle and the dividing wall between our kitchen and family room, so I will be able to tuck this piece in the greenery in either place.

And here's the one I did with the squares from Shelley P.

I ended up using the same fabric I used on another no-sew cube (also from a F&S Exchange from Nicky).  That cube lives on the shelf in Little Dude's room.  I had planned on using the one from Shelley as part of my "summer pair" for my living room, but when I was photographing the two cubes together, Little Dude asked if he could have the "really cool pirate one!" for his room.  Looks like I'll have to find something else.

You know, as I went back through my blog looking for posts on the original squares, I happened to notice that I have a one track mind when it comes to finishing these squares.  I see them and almost immediately think, "Oh!  No sew cube!"  I think I need to do a little branching out!
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another craft project

When I was looking for ideas for a nautical nursery for Little Dude, I found loads of ideas, including many I could do myself.  I even made hand painted closet dividers.

One of the items I found was this sailboat tissue box cover.  I think it was originally on the Land of Nod, but you can find it at this boutique now.  It is very cute.  It's also $44, which is a bit much.

So I decided to make my own and then promptly got sidetracked by other things.  Little Dude survived with a plain square tissue box in his room.  The idea lingered though, and on a whim one day, I picked up a plain wooden tissue box cover at the craft store (using a coupon, of course) and some unpainted wooden shapes.  Since  the nautical theme remains in Little Dude's room, I chose two sailboats and an anchor for three of the sides, and as a nod to his most favorite thing in the world, a wooden seahorse for the fourth side.  (Little Dude has the Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse.  His name is Keith and he goes everywhere with him.)

I let Little Dude choose the base paint color, a pretty blue called Calypso.  I gave everything a good sanding and a wipe down - I find you get a much nicer finish on even the inexpensive craft wood if you sand it.

I also use a pre-painting primer, which also helps create a smoother finish.  I learned my lesson about details with the closet dividers and decided to something much simpler for this project.  The tissue box cover got a few coats of the blue, and I painted the wooden shapes a simple plain  white.  Then I used Minwax Polycrylic in a satin finish to seal both the box and the wooden shapes.  I've used this on several wood projects and I really like it.  After it dried for a few days, I used a hot glue gun and some heavy books to attach the wooden shapes to the sides of the tissue box.

 It's a little different than the inspiration one, but I love the brighter blue (it adds a pop of color to Little Dude's room) and I think the simpler design will end up being more versatile.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A pair of no-sew cubes

I did a little finishing work earlier in the week.   I've had one of my Fair & Square pieces designated for a no-sew cube for a while now, and when I received Robin's exchange, I knew I was going to do that as a no-sew cube as well, so I picked up what I needed over the weekend to finish both of them.

This is how the squares from Robin turned out.  I used the squares for the front and back (you can see the back in the post I linked to), and a pale green wide satin ribbon to cover the seams.  I used a skinnier striped ribbon as an accent, and finished it with a tulip pin made with some glass beads I have in my stash.  (The tulip flower is the same one I used for Dianne's scissor fob.)

I also finished up one I had received in 2012 in an exchange with Pokua in Australia.  (Pokua's blog hasn't been updated in quite a while).  These are the squares that Pokua stitched for me, a Debbie Draper design.  She stitched it in Debbie's memory, as Debbie had passed away a few weeks prior. 

The ones I stitched for Pokua can be found here.

This cube will be a companion to another F&S exchange I finished in the same manner, the blue one in this post, stitched by Jeannie C (no blog).  I'll put the two of them in my living room cabinet.

So the blue one might have taken me almost two years, but at least I got Robin's done and it's STILL SPRING.  YAY!!  Now I will have to go through my Fair & Square exchange stash to see if there are any other seasonal pieces I can do like this.  They work nicely on the shelves in our living room and it's a different way to display finished needlework.

If you're interested in doing your own, here's a few resources
Just a note - these use fabric to cover the seams on the sides, which I've done, but it seems I prefer to use a wide satin ribbon in a coordinating color.  Sometimes I add a second skinnier ribbon, and sometimes I just leave the satin ribbon plain.  (And if you look at the one I did with Marie's squares, I used a wired ribbon which made doing the loops on top a little bit easier.)
Monday, May 19, 2014

A token of my affection

While I had my beading supplies out, I ran across a frog charm I had and knew that it was destined for a special home with my dear friend Dianne.  Dianne and I met through stitching several years back, and she is one of the sweetest, kindest and loveliest women I've ever met.  (and as the mom of a boy, albeit a much more grown up boy than mine, she's particularly sweet on Little Dude, and she spoils us both!)

Along her many stitching and paper craft interests, Dianne is a lover of gardening and flowers and spends as much time as she can tending to her own gardens and flower beds.  She has a pretty little pond in her garden, and when spring rolls around, so do her croaking buddies out by the water. I thought she might like one she could keep in the house with her, and chose some pretty green flowered beads and some tulip shaped pink ones for this fob.

Now I know we all like to keep the frogs AWAY from our stitching, but perhaps this harmless little fellow will convince the other frogs that Dianne has enough to keep her company, and they'll hop away from her stitching??

Friday, May 16, 2014

Springtime Exchange with Robin

A few months ago when I started blogging again, a fellow stitcher named Robin (no blog... yet!) started commenting on my posts.  Through a series of emails, we started developing a friendship, and when I mentioned the Fair & Square exchange, she asked me a few quesitons about it, then suggested we do our own private exchange.

I thought that was a great idea, and we decided on a spring theme, following the F&S guidelines for size and a signature square.  These are Robin's squares - Mini Spring by The Sunflower Seed.

Aren't they just lovely?  Robin's stitching is so pretty and delicate!  Allergies be damned, I do love spring flowers and tulips are among my favorites.  I think these squares are going to make a wonderful no-sew cube, perhaps with a pretty spring colored plaid ribbon around the edges, depending on what I can find.

Robin also hit up my wish list and very generously included these two appropriately spring-y charts and some gorgeous silk threads from Dinky Dyes and Vicki Clayton.  Bent Creek's Shamrock Row will mean a trip to the LNS for a special cut of fabric, but Allesandra Adelaide's Little Blue will most likely be bumping some other pieces in the queue because I'm pretty sure there's a suitable piece of fabric in my stash.

Thank you, Robin, for your beautiful squares and generous gifts, but mostly for your friendship.  I so enjoy our emails!
And now on to what I stitched for Robin.  When she mentioned "springtime", I immediately thought of this one from Les Grilles des Liselotte, Amitie Brodee.  

Not only did the chart fit the springtime theme, but it expressed a sentiment that was especially appropriate.  Amitie brodee is French for "friendship embroidered" and I thought it was fitting to honor this new friendship that came about through a mutual love of stitching.

The original chart is done in purple, but I had a multicolor version of it saved in my stitching ideas file (I can't track down the original).  Since Robin prefers brighter colors to pastels, I chose a more vibrant palette, using WDW in Begonia, Sunset, Crepe Myrtle and Sally's Sunshine plus Carrie's Creations Purple for the flowers, WDW Meadow for the green, and WDW Heatherleigh for the butterflies.

I added a little bling with some copper color beads for the flower stamens, and hematite beads for the butterflies.

As I was stitching the piece, I kept second guessing myself and very nearly abandoned it in favor of another pattern, but I kept on with it, and it turned out exactly like I wanted.

I also hauled out my beading supplies and made this scissor fob featuring a butterfly charm and glass millefiori and iridescent beads.  I hadn't done any beading in a while, so it was fun to dig through my bead stash and play around with different colors and shapes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

April Showers bring May Flowers

When I first started blogging, I wasn't exactly sure what to share or write about that would be interesting to other people.  I was also looking for a way to get to know people through blogging and become part of the stitching community.  One of the most useful ways to make connections that I found, other than through exchanges, was the Stitching Bloggers Questions, or the SBQ.  It used to be based out of a Yahoo Group that's been inactive since 2008 (and I thought I was an infrequent poster!  LOL)

I lost track of it for a while, and then Lee the Lake Stitcher picked it up, though it seemed to fizzle out in July 2012.  I wonder if there's any interest in picking it back up again - I know I enjoyed doing it, and I'm sure others did too.  It was a great way to get to know each other and get insight into how and why our fellow stitchers work, and what they were working on.  It's been so long that even if questions get recycled and you've already answered it, it would be interesting to see if your answers changed.  And there are plenty of stitchers out there that haven't participated.

What brought this on?  I may or may not have been going through my draft posts and ended up finding a few unpublished SBQ questions.  (Some of them were just the questions that I hadn't answered yet).  If there's enough of an interest, I'd consider hosting the SBQ, though it might be better done on a blog that has a larger readership / reach than mine does, so that the word gets out and more stitchers can participate.  At the very least, I'd be willing to do some research and supply the host with a list of questions.  Anybody interested?

And now on to one of the forgotten questions...

May 2012: What's your favorite floral piece that you've stitched? Do you prefer your flowers as the centerpiece of the design or as an accent? (submitted by CinDC at Pencil Crossings)

I don't know if it counts as a "floral" piece, but  I do love this Ink Circles piece, Pot Luck.  I stitched it for a friend, and blogged about it in this post (you can get the details here).

I've stitched some floral pieces, though they tend to be more geometric in nature, or floral "motifs" than straight up pictures of flowers.  Mr. Sweet Pea has done some of the Dimensions flower pieces and framed them as gifts for his mom.  (I went back and looked, and haven't yet blogged about them yet.  I guess I should).  He also did Quaker Floral Puzzle and Quaker Geometric Puzzle, also by Ink Circles.  I know I haven't blogged about them because I just took pictures the other day and I haven't even uploaded them.  (All the stuff I HAVEN'T done yet should provide me with blog material for months.)

I do have a special fondness for a particular floral piece.  It was my very first Fair & Square Exchange, with the lovely and talented Michele.   (you can see her blog post here and how she had it finished here.)   It's Manuela's Sunflowers, a freebie from Chatelaine Designs.

Since being paired up in the exchange, Michele and I have exchanged countless emails and messages, and have become good friends even though we live on opposite sides of the country.  I love how this craft of ours brings us together!

But back to the question - I guess my answer is "It depends".  Though i am not generally drawn to strictly floral pieces myself, sometimes there's a pattern that speaks to me or has a special meaning to someone.  In that case, I enjoy stitching it.  But as a personal preference, I like more geometric interpretations of flowers, or flowers as accent pieces in a more botanical piece.
Monday, May 12, 2014

How Pinteresting... Part 3

One of the wedding pieces I blogged about used a printed velum paper overlay on a mat to bring in another aspect of the wedding theme. I used this same technique again to create a gift for my cousin's first anniversary.  Coincidentally, paper is both the traditional and modern gift for a first anniversary.

Their first dance was to a song called Then by Brad Paisley.  The photo is from their first dance, and the lyrics are around the outside.  Sorry for the flash, but it's hard to get a decent picture

The original idea came from a blog called Sparkle & Hay, but the post I pinned the picture from no longer exists, and I can't seem to find it anywhere.  (The blog seems to be out of commission)  I do remember that the project was hand lettered directly onto the mat.  I wasn't comfortable doing that, but if you want instructions, you can see how to do it here.  (And another tutorial for handwriting the lyrics)

I am far too much of a perfectionist AND I like to make things difficult, so I opted to do mine in Word.  I used the same font that my cousin used on her wedding invitations, Tiriani, but you can find hundreds of free handwriting fonts here.  I purchased the mat and frame first - the frame came from AC Moore and everything is inserted from the front.  There's just a thin border around the edge holding the glass in so I could use more of the mat (almost none of it is covered over by the edges of the frame).  This is an 8x10 frame.

Then I measured the exact dimensions and set up a document in Word.  It was a lot of adjusting, tweaking and playing around with sizing and spacing to get the song lyrics to fit and look evenly spaced.  Then I printed it on plain paper, lined it up against the mat, tweaked some more, printed again, and so on and so forth.  I needed to fill in a little space at the end, so I included not only the name of the song and the artist, but their names, their wedding date, and the town they were married in.

Once everything was perfect, I printed the final copy on velum paper and used an exacto knife and paper trimmer to cut it to shape, then adhered it with spray adhesive.  It was a bit tedious and time consuming, but the end result was TOTALLY worth it.

This method looks much easier!

Or you could use a mat with two openings - one for your photo, one for a printed copy of your lyrics

You could also do the lyrics directly on a photo, then put it on a canvas, like this blogger did here.

And if all else fails, you can pay someone on Etsy to do it for you!
Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tree of Life, and a local designer

Tree of Life Mini Sampler by Lila's Studio
Stitched 2 over 2 on 28 ct. Bo Peep Pink

I've blogged about Lila's Studio before, when I first discovered her charts at my LNS, Just Crossstitch.  Lila is from Collegeville (not far from me at all).  This is the Tree of Life mini sampler I stitched up late last year on a piece of  Bo Peep Pink linen I had in my stash.  The piece was just the right size to stitch this up, and I'll eventually frame it to hang with some of our other bird pieces.

If you haven't checked out Lila's catalog, you definitely should.  She has some really lovely designs, several of which I've purchased, and a few more are on my list. Some of the designs have a distinct PA Dutch / PA German feel to them.  And I just spotted a peacock one that I hadn't noticed before that will make a perfect gift for a dear friend of mine who adores peacocks.

I like this piece because it has that PA Dutch feel to it, and it reminds me of a stitched piece my MIL has had hanging in her breakfast nook forever.  Her friend designed and stitched it for her at least 30 years ago.

I had such a fondness for the piece that I stitched two more on 14 ct. aida cloth.  (My MIL's friend no longer has her original work)  The blurred area you see is our family name, just like on the one at my in-laws.  

One of the pieces sits on a dry sink in our front hall, and we gave the other one to my BIL and his wife for their home.  The design fits perfectly into a 5x7 frame, so this was a quick and easy gift for them.  It's such a simple little piece, but it does have great sentimental value to me.

I did think at one point to stitch this four times, as a "Four Seasons" type piece with bare branches for winter, tiny pale green leaves for spring (maybe some pink blossoms), the green leave you see here for summer, and autumn leaves, but then I took a look at my stash pile and figured stitching this twice was probably enough, at least for now.
Monday, May 5, 2014

How Pinteresting... Part 2

So in addition to the button monograms I posted about the other day, and the button ornaments I did a few years ago, I have another Pinterest Project to share.

My cousin had a Pinterest Party in December, and asked guests to bring something they made from a recipe they pinned, and a craft project to work on.  I made these Cheesy Bacon Rotel Cups, which were a huge hit.  They are SUPER easy to make and insanely delicious.  Even the guests who said they hated mayonnaise gobbled them up.  I've made them a couple times and the Hormel real bacon in the bottle (near the salad dressings and toppings) works just as well as bacon I cooked myself and was far less messy.

The craft project I worked on was something I've had pinned for a while - floor wax and glitter ornaments.  My friend Michele made some the Christmas before last and said they held up beautifully in storage.  I have been noticing that the clear glass ornaments you can buy at the craft store are much thinner and more delicate than they used to be.  I was worried about them breaking, so I bought the acrylic ones instead.  I also picked up a multipack of ULTRA FINE glitter that had 16 different colors in separate packets (because I have a decision making disorder and can't possibly commit to one or even two colors).  Most every tutorial I read stressed the importance of the ultra fine glitter for the best coverage.  You can also buy a six-pack of the glitter at the Dollar Store, but I found the glitter from AC Moore was better quality and wasn't that much more expensive, especially with a coupon.  An entire packet of glitter was enough to cover the inside of the medium sized acrylic balls, and definitely enough to cover the inside of the medium sized "disc" ornaments.

I won't describe the whole process - I followed these instructions, and they're very good.  The ornaments are really pretty and sparkly all on their own, but they were a little boring.  I had two ideas for jazzing them up a little, a rhinestone monogram using stickers from the scrapbooking section (the stickers in that post are exactly the ones I used) and a snowman handprint ornament.

Since I had 16 different colors to work with, I used a whole packet per ornament and did ones for Little Dude, my niece and nephew, and a pair for my cousin in their wedding colors of pink and black (she got the pink one, he got the black).  This one is Little Dude's.  For the monogram ornaments, I went with the disc shaped ones instead of the round.

A word of caution while using the stickers - they can be a little tricky to get placed correctly and trying to move them around can cause the little rhinestones to pop off (the stickers are the tiny rhinestones set on a clear, letter shaped adhesive base).  A steady hand and a pair of tweezers can come in very handy, and you can press the rhinestones back into place.

Given  Little Dude's train obsession, we did a train ornament for him using stickers.  For this one, the train goes most of the the way around (it was a pack of individual stickers) the ornament with his name in the middle.

I don't have a photo of it, but on the back of the ornaments, I used flat silver stickers, also from the scrapbooking section, for the year.  A little trick I discovered for perfectly lined up stickers was to use the sticky strip on a post it note to line up the individual number stickers to form the year.  The tweezers will come in handy here as well.  Be sure to put them in reverse order, sticky side up.  Once your numbers are arranged and spaced to your liking, use the post it note to transfer them to the ornament, rubbing over the post it note to adhere the stickers to the ornament.  MUCH easier than trying to get the stickers lined up straight and evenly spaced on the ornament itself.  I used the same stickers for spelling out Little Dude's name as well, using the same post it note method.

I also did some other round ornaments with the glitter, and for these, I painted up Little Dude's hand with some white acrylic paint and had him put his handprint on the ornament.  We practiced a few times BEFORE I put the paint on his hand, and he did really well with this.  I walked him through the process very slowly for each ornament, and I was amazed that he cooperated.  Once the handprints dried (you can see the little cardboard rings I made up to hold the balls in place until the paint dried) I painted on hats, scarves, faces and buttons, as well as the year.  Little Dude chose the blue one for himself, my ILs got the red one, the gold one went to my husband's aunt & uncle, and the green went to my aunt & uncle.  (We handed them out at Thanksgiving so they were able to put them on their trees for Christmas).

Thursday, May 1, 2014

How Pinteresting!

I'm an avid pinner, and while there's tons of projects I've pinned and will never do, I DO have something I've actually completed.  Two kinds of projects - one involving buttons and the other involving glitter and floor polish.  Let's do the button ones first, since I did them a while ago.

I have previously mentioned that we inherited a large bag of buttons from my husband's grandmother, some of which were turned into Christmas ornaments.  Another few buttons were incorporated into a piece my husband stitched and framed for his mom in memory of his grandmother.  I wanted to do something else with them as well, something that could be displayed year round.  I hit up Pinterest for some ideas and found many links to artwork made with buttons, including a cute button elephant, a button sheep, a star (one of my favorites, of course!), word art, a heart, and flower pictures like this one and this one.

Monogram for my niece
But what really piqued my interest were the monograms, and as soon as I saw them, I knew that's what I would be doing.   These were sewn onto fabric, but I decided to go with scrapbook paper and hot glue, which worked out fine.  I wanted to do a monogram for each of the great grandchildren - my niece and nephew, and Little Dude.

All of the buttons were sorted by color, The first thing I did was go through the hundreds of fonts I have on my computer and test out which ones I wanted to use for the different monograms.  Since I was using pink buttons for my niece, I wanted something swirly and feminine for her monogram.  I figured out what size frame I was going to use, and adjusted the font to fill the frame.  I chose a pink scrapbook paper for the background, then printed out the monogram.

Little Dude's Monogram
Originally, I had planned to do the monogram on velum paper and place it on top of the scrapbooking paper, but it ended up muting the background more than I wanted, so I made a very light outline on the scrapbook paper with pencil and laid out the buttons to fill it in.

It was a slightly tedious process and there was no good way to place the monogram under the scrapbook paper and avoid the pencil lines.  If you look VERY closely at the finished product, you can see a bit of the outline, but if you're not looking for it, it's not that noticeable.  Once all the buttons were in place, I started gluing them in (hence the tedious part).

Our Monogram
I made a monogram for my niece and nephew, and for Little Dude.  (I don't have a good photo of my nephew's, but his is done with pearlized white buttons on a wavy green background in an oak frame.)  I also made F monograms for our family name, one each for our house, my in-laws and my husband's brother's family.

Each one is a little different, and I tried to personalize it to the house it would be in.  For ours, I used blue and white to match our living and dining rooms, and front hall, where the piece now hangs.  It's also the same font we used for our wedding invitations. 

For my in-laws, I went with red since it's my MIL's favorite color, and the buttons came from her mother.    And for my BIL and SIL's, I used the gold buttons on an antique looking background.  All three are different and very pretty.  I apologize for the pictures - it's hard to get a decent picture with glass and I was taking these just before I wrapped them up for Christmas gifts.

For my in-laws
For my BIL and SIL

All of the frames were purchased from the craft store.  The ones for my niece and nephew were in rectangular frames.  I had those done first, and then a while later, I found the square frames that included the mat (I think the opening is 8x8 in a 10x10 frame, and I cut down a 12x12 sheet of scrapbook paper for each one.

The gifts were well received, and on the back of each of the frames, I put a sticker that says "In Loving Memory of Julia ____" and the dates of her birth and death.

If you are looking for other button art ideas, here's a few links.  I'm pretty sure the button trees will be happening here, and perhaps the salt shaker flowers.  (My friend Michele did some cute button flowers for Valentine's Day last year)

Links to Button Art Ideas:
Monday, April 28, 2014

With all this talk about wedding and anniversary pieces...

I'd like to share something that one of my fellow stitchers has done.  Every year since their third anniversary, my friend the Stitch Bitch has stitched an anniversary piece for her husband, The Dude.  (No relation to my Little Dude)

This is the arrangement of most of the pieces, which you can see in detail (including names and designers) in this post.

And for the pieces she's done since:

No word yet on what the 2014 piece will be.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How cute is this?

Look what my LNS has in stock....

For more information, check out the Just Cross Stitch blog.  You can also email Carolyn, the owner, at justcrossstitch AT (remove the spaces and insert the @ sign).  And if you're in the Philly suburbs, you can stop by the shop in Lederach, PA.  (I cannot be held responsible if you come out of the shop with more than the mug though...)

You can also "like" the shop on Facebook.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wedding and Anniversary Gifts

Last week, we celebrated our 10th anniversary, and wedding and anniversary pieces have been on my mind.  My in-laws' 50th anniversary will be coming up in the not too distant future, so I've been thinking about something we could stitch for them.  It's also traditional wedding season - June is still big for weddings, right?  (Although it seems like October is pulling ahead in terms of popularity.)  

I've already shown you some of the Bent Creek pieces I've done for weddings in a previous post.  I thought it would be fun to go back and look at some of the pieces I've stitched as wedding gifts, or on occasion, anniversary gifts because I can't get my act together in time for the wedding.  And in the case of this first piece, a Christmas gift because we didn't even stitch at the time the wedding took place.

I like to tie what I stitch into the event whenever possible.  With weddings that don't have a specific theme, I look to the the time of year, location, even a special reading or a song from the ceremony for inspiration. 

This is a piece I modified from a Leisure Arts leaflet called Marriage Keepsakes.  I had stitched the pattern once before, as designed.  This time, I changed the text to a poem my BIL and SIL used on the bookmark favors for their wedding.  They didn't have a theme for their wedding, so I drew on the colors they used, blue and silver.

Another couple I stitched a gift for also didn't really use a theme for their wedding, so I used this Bucilla kit, "To Love and To Cherish" as a gift for my far away friend.  She and I met online while we were planning our weddings, and have remained close ever since.

I changed the pink flowers to a peachy color so they would look more like the peach colored carnations that the bride chose for her bouquet and their decor.

I've also designed pieces completely from scratch by using motifs from several books I own.    This is where cross stitch software comes in VERY handy.  I have used PC Stitch for several years with great results, though I must admit that once I upgraded, some of the functions I could do quickly and easily became more complicated, and I am still muddling my way through some of the software.  (I want to go back to the old way of doing things for some functions, and it's just not possible.

For my friend Kelly (also a fellow wedding planning site buddy), I created a piece using the Song of Solomon quote they used for their invitations.  Red roses were a big part of their fall wedding, so I incorporated that into the piece as well.  The rose motif in the middle was tricky - I wanted something symmetrical - and ended up playing with a charted rose and its mirror image to get the look I was going for.  (Names are intentionally blurred for privacy)

One of the more unusual pieces I've done was for a couple that had marigolds and cicadas for their wedding theme.  Definitely not your typical wedding theme!  In 2004, the cicadas of Brood X (the largest group of periodical cicadas that emerge every 17 years) were coming out.  The marigold part was easy - I tapped the same flower book I used for the roses in the previous piece, but the cicadas proved to be a challenge.

I ended up stitching a simple piece, and worked the cicadas into the framing.  I found some line art drawings and printed them on velum paper, then used an Exacto knife to trim away the excess and cut out the middle.  I mounted the paper to a store bought mat with spray adhesive.  It turned out better that I expected and made for a very interesting wedding record.  Working with printed velum and a store bought mat can be tedious, but it adds a whole new level of versatility and flexibility to framing pieces.

On a much more traditional note, I used a reading that was very important to the couple to stitch this Book of Ruth Sampler by Design Connection (now OOP).  The names were charted out on paper, pre-stitching software, and I would definitely move some things around were I to stitch it again.

And the last piece I have for today should be familiar to many of you, as it's Blackbird Designs I Thee Wed.  It was a commissioned piece, stitched for my cousin to gift to a friend.  You can find the details on the piece here.

 Do you stitch gifts for weddings, anniversaries or other significant life events?  How do you choose what you will stitch?  Do you have any go to designers or charts that you've stitched more than once (like my fondness for Bent Creek's I Do)?