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: