Sunday, October 30, 2011

Oh my! What have I done?

Oh, my goodness...what came over me? Whatever possessed me? Did I really just do this.....



bought one of these.....




Yup, I surely did! (Sorry, I should have warned you to sit down before giving you such a shock.) Yes, the woman who professes to hate sharp needles and claims she can't sew, finally broke down and bought herself an early Christmas gift! It seemed a good idea at the time! (I blame all my fellow bloggers who can create the most amazing things using these scary contraptions...you know who you are.) As I stood there in the store pretending that I knew what I was looking at, reading all the boxes as if I were making an educated choice as to which machine would serve my purpose best, I was just hoping and praying that no-one would ask my advice (or even ask anything!) as then my whole pretense of being a knowledgeable shopper would come crashing down!

So I came rushing home with all these wonderful ideas in my head of what I would be able to whip up with  my new toy. I could make Christmas ornaments, cushion covers, heck I could even start quilting...the sky's the limit, there's no stopping me now! So I get home, open the box, gasp at the thickness of the instruction manual, but undaunted charge on....I will conquer this...and then I realized....I'd  forgotten  to buy some thread! Duh!

So, after a second trip to the store this is what I made...


Ok, so a drawstring bag isn't exactly heirloom quilting but it's a start!
So let me tell you about these little bags...they are from Santa. So have you been naughty or nice? If you have been naughty, then you know that Santa will bring you a bag of coal. How many times have you threatened that (or been threatened with that!)? I know I have used that threat many a time! So now you can actually follow through with that threat! Bags of coal from Santa! Don't worry though, you're not going to break anyone's heart or have to pay for years of therapy because you scarred someone for life....these bags are filled with candy! Can you imagine these little bags under your Christmas tree or in someone's Christmas stocking?Wouldn't they make awesome classroom gifts or party favors? Even adults would chuckle at these little gifts. They make great inexpensive and fun gifts for co-workers too. Why should the kids have all the fun?!!

Here's a closer look at each of the bags and the designs. The first one is for those people who hate sewing, you can stitch up the design and cut it to size and attach it to a pre-made felt bag that you can buy from most stores.


I used some little red buttons to attach the stitching. I thought it made the whole thing pop!

Then using my new toy I whipped up some drawstring bags. Actually it was more like aerobics as I had to keep jumping up from the sewing machine and dash through to the computer to follow the instructions that I had googled!

The first one, from the North Pole Coal Company, has a string on the outside...


The last one, from the Santa Claus Coal company, is a basic drawstring bag...


The charts for the designs for Santa's bag of coal can be found here  under the Christmas section, and the instruction for making the bag will be under the 'Project of the Month' (that's still on my to-do list!)

Anyway, aren't they adorable? And can you guess what my kids are getting for Christmas?  lol

Until next time...happy stitching!

Rhona

Thursday, October 27, 2011

TUSAL

Although I feel like I have done lots of stitching, there really isn't that much in the orts jar this month...guess I must have been more economical  (or should that be frugal?!!) with the thread!

Here the collection for this month.....


And  here's this months collection with the total year's collection...


Who would have guessed that you could 'collect' so many orts in one year! I have read that some people save their orts and then use them to stuff biscornus, which I thought was a rather good idea.  Any other suggestion? Do let me know!

Until next time...happy stitching!

Rhona

Monday, October 24, 2011

Bits 'n' bobs

Well last week was one of 'those' weeks. You know the type....nothing goes right and you feel like you're running around like a headless chicken. It was so manic that I didn't even get time to update my blog...or get around to reading and commenting on anyone else's blog. So this week is going to be a kind of catch up with all the little bits that have been left unfinished ...including some stitching projects.

So the first 'bit' is that I have had my Samurai framed. And here he is...


I was really pleased with how it came out with regard to the matts and the frame. I chose two different shades of green for the matts and they are very close to the greens in the tree.

As some of you may remember, this was supposed to be an anniversary present for my hubby but since I didn't get it finished in time it then became a Christmas gift.... last year!  Ah well, better late than never eh?!!And if I do say so myself, it was worth waiting for!

And my second 'bit' would be the follow up to the Christmas stitching - you remember the one with the metallic threads? Here it is made up in to a card. I had a really hard time trying to photograph this so that the metallics sparkled the way they do in real life.

It doesn't look very sparkly, does it?

Here it is again from a different angle.

Still not sparkly!

This is about as sparkly a picture as I could get.


It's such a shame as it is really beautiful. It's stitched on a very pale sage green coloured aida called 'Light Seafoam'  (the middle picture is about the closest to being the correct colour) and the metallics thread is DMC Jewel Effects E135. The nice thing about this design is that it could be stitched using different coloured fabrics and threads for a very different and dramatic look. Can you imagine it on black aida with gold metallic thread...how christmassy would that be?!!

I'm trying to pluck up my courage and make it into an ornament, but as you know, that would involve some sewing with sharp needles. For the record....sharp needles are not my idea of fun!

And for my last 'bit' (or should the last one be the 'bob'?!!)

Here's a delicious calorie free cupcake!


I decided to do a couple of things differently with this design. First, I decided to make the card a top fold - for no particular reason other than I wanted to make it like that! Secondly, I decided to use some slightly more masculine colours for the card. The browns and blues were already in the design so worked wonderfully. Made using these colours, this would be a great card to give to either a male or a female, and we all know how hard it is to get designs for males! For the sprinkles on the cupcake, you could easily use up all those little odds and ends of threads you have in your thread box.

Or......
Use some coloured seed beads! 

The charts for these designs are available here at my website.

So here's wishing you all a week (not just a day!) sprinkled with fun!

Until next time...happy stitching!

Rhona

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Nutcracker Christmas

Nothing says Christmas like a Nutcracker...except maybe mince pies...or tinsel, but I digress! Nutcrackers are defintiely Christmassy (is that even a word?!!)

So here we have a Nutcracker Christmas....


There are eight different nutcrackers in this set which you can see here

So let me tell you about the designs. Full cross stitch only (no half stitches) back stitch details and some designs have french knots. I decided to put the greeting on the side just to make it a bit different. You can swap the greetings around if you prefer one nutcracker but a different greeting - they are all interchangeable.


There are some french knots in this design, in the border...


And also on the uniform...


But, of course, if you don't like french knots, then beads would look great in this design too. Or you could just leave them out altogether...whatever works for you!

Now one of the many great things about these designs is that it would be very easy to use up any left over thread you have, and change the colours in the uniforms, making each piece totally unique! Another great thing about this set of designs is that they although they were designed to give to anyone, they are so suitable to give to males for christmas. I don't know about you, but I think finding designs that are suitable for males is almost impossible! But this set fits the bill.

The designs are quick to stitch up but make quite a large card as you can see pictured here with a skein of thread.



And if all that isn't enough, I have something more to show you! Do you ever wonder what people do with your hand stitched cards when Christmas is over? Do you wish they could re-use  that card over and over again?  Well now they can! And here's the secret....

Take the Nutcracker designs from www.tangledthreadsonline.com (shameless plug there!!) and do this...



Stitch the nutcracker onto plastic canvas (regular aida would work well also). Carefully cut round the design one square from the stitching. Cover the back with white card or felt, if desired (if using aida, stiff card would be best to use in this step). Stitch the border design and greeting on a separate piece of aida as indicated on the chart. I cut and frayed the aida three squares from the edge of the stitched border and attached it to a card I had layered with card stock (see picture above.) Attach the nutcracker using sticky foam mounting dots like this...


This gives your card a wonderful 3D effect.


And of course, now your asking 'So how can this be used again and again?'....well, like this....



Ta-da!!! Just remove the nutcracker from the card and it becomes a christmas tree ornament! How cool is that?!!

Isn't it nice to know that your hard work will be used and admired year after year.

Of course, if you wanted to, you could miss out the card making part and  just stitch them as christmas tree ornaments and have a complete set of matching nutcrackers on your tree! 

Remember..... it's never too early to start stitching for Christmas!

Until next time...happy stitching!

Rhona

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Celtic Knots and French Knots

I know that lots of people hate french knots and will run a mile from them, but I kinda like them! That is, when they behave, when they come out perfect...or almost perfect. I like them then. I wasn't always like this, in fact I used to hate them....only because I couldn't do them. It took me long time to master them but I'm so pleased I did. Sometimes a bead instead of a french knot just doesn't work. But for this design either will do.. so if you are a 'knotter' or a 'beader' you'll love this design.



So, if you're thinking you have seen this design before.....you're right! You have, it's the same design  that I used for the biscornu. How versatile is that!?!!

After making the biscornu, I decided to stitch it again and to make it into a Christmas card. I love that rich blue for Christmas and the red border on the card makes the whole design pop.  If you want to, you could add a stamped greeting on the card or use those peel off sticker greetings. Although I like the simplicity of the plain card, I like the way your eye is drawn in to the stitching.

The charts for these designs can be found on my website here, just scroll down and they are the third item. There are four different Celtic knots using the same colours as this design, but if you fancy changing the colours scheme...go for it! (Just don't forget to take a picture and let me see it!)

Anyway, since I was on a roll, I decided to then use the same design and make a Christmas ornament. (Talk about doing a Martha!!)

But, I couldn't decide if I liked the ribbon on the corner like this



 or like this...



The great thing about this design is that it works either way!

Here's a close up of those "love 'em or hate 'em" french knots...


So if you are a 'hate em' kind of stitcher, then as you can see, the design would work great with some dark blue beads. And if you are a 'love em' kinda gal, then there's plenty to get your teeth into here!


So let me know...are you a love em or a hate em?


Thanks for all the wonderful comments about the biscornu instructions. I hope I have given some of you the confidence to make at least one!

Until next time...happy stitching (and knotting!)

Rhona



Monday, October 10, 2011

Bibbidi-Bobbidi....

Biscornu. I know, I'm a bit strange, but everytime I here the word biscornu, the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo song pops in to my head! (And you thought it would be Boo because it's almost Halloween.....didn't you!?!!)
Anyway, biscornus seem to be popping up everywhere. I have to admit that although I love the look of them, I have never been brave enough to actually even think about making one.....until now. Goodness knows what possessed me as I usually run a mile from anything that involves 'real' sewing.  Honestly, I'm the Mum who glued on the brownie badges and hemmed school trousers with wundaweb. Sharp needles scare me  almost as much as the going to the dentist!
Anyhoo, for some strange reason I decided to attempt one of these biscornus and I'm so glad I did! They are super easy and look amazing. Biscornus can be used as pin cushions, scissor keepers, Christmas ornaments etc…..the list goes on. They are totally adorable, look extremely complicated to make, but in fact they are so simple that once you start making them, you will be making more than one…..honestly, they are addictive! They make great presents too......people will be amazed at them. They look as though they have taken an age to complete, but only you will know how simple they really are. Just bask in the glory and let the complements roll!

This is how I made mine. I used the Celtic Ornaments chart available here  (just scroll down below the nutcracker cards.)


You will need.

Stitched piece x 2 (Front and back pieces)
Stuffing such as fiberfill
Needle and thread
Scissors
Two small buttons

Step 1
Backstitch a square around the front design piece. It is important that the backstitching is a square. Your biscornu will not work if this is not a square.


I stitched four squares from the outermost cross stitch.



(For the back piece I used only the outer border from the design.) Backstitch round the back design. This square of backstitching must be exactly the same size as on the front piece otherwise your biscornu pieces will not match up.



The colour that you use to backstitch will be seen, so I would advise you use one of the colours from the design. For this biscornu, I used the dark blue of the border.
Trim any excess fabric, leaving approx. 1- 2cm of fabric from the backstitching line.

Step 2
Find the exact center point on the backstitching line of the back piece.  Place a needle or pin at this center point.


Step 3
Thread a needle with two strands of thread using the same colour as the backstitching line. Make a small knot at the end of the thread. One of the few times you are allowed to make a knot!

Place the corner of the top piece to the (marked) middle of the back piece and bring your needle up through the fabric, right at the corner of the front piece.


Most instructions that I googled tell you to start whip stitching through the backstitching. So, if you’re like me and have absolutely no idea what that means, fear not…it’s really quite easy! Basically, your needle is going underneath the threads of the backstitching and ‘catching’ each stitch. You do not go through the fabric, only the backstitching. I stitched mine going ‘in’ always at the top and ‘out’ the bottom, but do whatever is easier for you.
Check the tension of your stitching, keeping it the same all round. Make sure you only go through each pair of backstitches (front and back) only once.



Continue stitching all the way round.  Sometimes the corners can feel a bit fiddly, but just check that you are in the center of the design and keep going! You will see the design start to take the biscornu shape as you progress.




Stop when you finish side 6.



Step 4
This is where you start to stuff the biscornu. Make sure you push the stuffing right into the corners of your biscornu. Use the blunt end of a pencil, or something similar, to make sure the corners are well stuffed. You really need quite a bit of stuffing to fill it up properly, far more than you would imagine! So stuff, stuff, stuff!

Step 5
Once you have enough stuffing inside, you need to fold in the edges of the last two sides.



Continue to whip stitch to close all the sides.


 This is what it will look like at this stage.



 Step 6
Now you are almost finished, but you need to make the little indentation to give your cushion the classic finish of the biscornu. This is where the buttons come in.



I found the easiest way to attach the buttons was to tie the thread to the bottom button (I used a dark blue one) and then bring the needle up from the underside of the biscornu through the middle and loop through the top button (red in my case) then back down to the bottom button. I squeezed the biscornu while I looped the thread through the buttons several times. I ended the thread with a small knot (yes another one!) on the bottom button, and then buried the end of the thread inside the biscornu.





Voila! Biscornu complete….much easier than anticipated!


It probably took me longer to write the instructions than it did to make the biscornu!
So if you have never attempted one of these little cuties, take your courage in both hands and just do it. You'll be glad you did.

Until next time.....happy (biscornu) stitching!

Rhona

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Three Little Words


The three words most people want to hear are, of course, ‘I love you’. It is often said that these words aren’t spoken enough. However, there are another three words that are definitely said too much – ‘You have cancer.’ These are the words that no-one wants to hear. Cancer is a particularly cruel disease striking anyone at any age. I once read an article by a woman who had cancer and she very eloquently described her cancer as a thief, robbing her of hope, dignity and self-esteem. Too often, this thief may steal life too.  Breast cancer is no exception. Every thirteen minutes a woman will die from breast cancer. That is a terrible statistic. Think of all the women in your life…mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, friends, co-workers etc . How would your life be without one of these women? But we can do something about this. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and you will, no doubt, have noticed all the pink ribbons popping up to remind everyone. Every year I do something to help one of the Breast Cancer charities and this year is no exception. I am passionate about helping these charities as I know how devastating the effect breast cancer can have on the whole family.  I have designed a charity pack of four card designs and a mouse mat. All proceeds from the sale of this chart pack will be donated to the Susan G Komen foundation. You can see the designs here at my website.

So, on to the stitching...here is one of the card designs.



I thought the cards would be easy to make and give to someone who has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. I don’t know about you, but I can’t always put in to words what I'm feeling and say what’s in my heart, especially when someone is facing a battle with cancer. These cards say everything and more…they show you care.
Two of the card designs can be used for other types of cancer since they don’t have the word ‘pink’ in them.  Just change the colours to match the ribbon colour for that particular cancer. I stitched one of them up using lavender coloured threads (all cancers.)



These cards would also be great to stitch for somebody who has helped raise breast cancer awareness. Lots of people join in organized walks, marathons or other fund raising events. These would be a great way to say thank you to them for their efforts.



Now you may be wondering why I did a mouse mat in this set. Well, breast cancer doesn’t just strike in October when we are being reminded about having check-ups etc. Having the mouse mat there on your desk every day will remind you and your loved ones to be vigilant throughout the year and have those ‘pesky’ check-ups. I know it’s been said before, but the life they could save may be your own!

So together, let’s help raise funds for treatments and ultimately a cure for breast cancer. I’m a great believer in the phrase ‘every little bit helps’, so treat yourself to the chart and know that your ‘little bit’ will be doing some good too! Let’s help those doctors utter the three words every cancer patient and their families want to hear… “You are cured!”

Until next time...happy stitching!

Rhona



Monday, October 3, 2011

Waddling straight to your heart!


Isn’t it great when you get a design that can do double duty? By ‘double duty’ I mean it can be used for more than one thing or occasion.

This cute little penguin design can do just that….and steal your heart too!



Isn’t she adorable?
This little penguin is wrapped up against the cold, but is sure to bring the warmth of the season to who ever you stitch her for.
She’s from the new release here. Just look for the Woolly Jumper Penguins page!

There are two sets of these penguins to choose from with eight different penguins per set. In the first set, the penguins are wearing their pastel coloured winter woollies. (This little cutie is from this set.) For those who love non-traditional colours for Christmas, this is the set for you. In the second set, the penguins are bundled up in bright bold coloured clothing which also includes the more traditional Christmas colours of reds and greens.

And here’s where the double duty comes in… by using the greetings such as ‘With Love’, ‘Penguin Wishes’ or ‘Just For You’ (which come with the charts) these designs can be used for either Christmas cards or birthday cards! Wouldn’t these designs make wonderful birthday cards for those people who have winter birthdays? Swap the greeting round to make the cards just as YOU want them!


To make the card, I used the colours that were in the stitching and got some similar coloured card stock. I wanted the card to be quite soft and feminine so I picked lilacs and pinks for the card. I ended up using a very thin border of black card between the lilac and pink to kind of sharpen it all up. It really worked well as there was quite a bit of black in the design. Here's a close up picture of the card colours and the frayed edging.

I always use iron-on interfacing on the back of my stitching so that the colour of the card underneath doesn’t shine through, although in this card, it might not have mattered as the pink is quite pale. I also frayed the edge of the stitching by one square. I think it gives a nice finish to the card. All that’s left now is to decide what to write inside and who to give it to!

Until next time…happy stitching!

Rhona