Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Christmas Sewing and Organizing

I spent the whole day after Christmas finishing up these darling little ornament bags. Now they're all ready to be put away with all my Christmas things for next year. I added a few beads on all but the kitty to jazz them up a bit. The kit came with gold string so they could hang on the tree but I skipped that part, preferring instead to prop them in the branches. Now I'd like to make something similar but in the shape of an angel, to match my angel tree ornaments.

However, it's time to move on and start on some of my UFO's. I mentioned that I had bought some comic book boards to fold all my fabric into mini-bolts. Well, I used up the whole package of 100 and had to order more! Luckily, there's not much fabric left to fold. I've just about cleared my main workspace and hope to continue working my Persian Peony Tile, then move on to the Golden Pomegranate, two goldwork projects started recently. Then there is the Floral Glove, which hasn't even been started!

I don't anticipate getting too much done today as I have visitors for lunch, then my DH is insisting we go out to a movie. Maybe tonight, so at least I'll have the afternoon to stitch. We'll see.

Have a great Wednesday!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Some Exciting News!

I have just a few things to share with you today, the first day after Christmas. If you're interested in Historical Embroidery and Goldwork, then the exciting news is that Ruth O'Leary's St. Cuthbert's Banner is finished!  It is embroidered on beautiful red velvet with lots of appliquéd flowers around the border. The center cross is also appliquéd with lots of gold, some leather and more velvet. She has a link on the side bar of her blog that will take you to all of the posts related to the banner. Many are just fascinating, but there are lots of posts about embroidering all those flowers and leaves. I can't imagine how tedious that must have been. But Ruth stuck to it, and the result is absolutely stunning. Please stop by Ruth's site, take a look at the gorgeous banner, and leave a comment telling her how lovely it is.

The other exciting news is that Mary Corbet of Needle n' Thread is having a Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway and so far the first day's offering is pretty spectacular! Go over and see it, leave a comment and maybe you'll get lucky. I hope I will!

I am on my Christmas Holiday from work, so I plan on some serious sewing and stitching related activities. First of all, I'm organizing some of my fabric into mini-bolts using the comic book boards I purchased from Amazon. Follow the link and read some of the reviews. Most are from sewists, not comic book enthusiasts, which I thought pretty funny. Then I have some projects to work on and I'll share them with you this week as I progress.

Have a great stitching week!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Walker Bag Completed

I made a walker bag for my mom yesterday from Kwik Sew 3927, and true to its name, it was very quick to sew. Here it's shown over a chair as I haven't presented it to her yet.

The backside is the same as the front. It has a double pocket on each side, ties to the walker with fabric ties, and has velcro on the facing so it doesn't flop around when mom is racing down the walkway at her home.

I made it exactly as shown in the pattern, and will have mom use it for awhile before I decide what modifications for the next time. With these gorgeous fabrics, I have a feeling I may get requests to make more from the other ladies at the home. I used fusible fleece to give some firmness to the body of the bag, but I'm a bit concerned that the pockets are too flimsy. I may stabilize them with fleece as well, and maybe add a zippered pocket to one side of the bag in the next go-round. I'd also like to make View B, which has a front closure and looks more purse-like.

Today is Christmas, and I hope all of you have a wonderful day with family and friends. Since two of our children are not here, it's a pretty quiet day. My youngest went to Istanbul with his office mate and will be here on New Year's Day. My daughter and her family decided not to travel as it's so nerve wracking. I don't blame her, and encouraged her to stay home even though I miss the little darling GD. I'll bring the bag to mom today, then come home and cook a lovely dinner with my son.

Friday, December 23, 2011

At Least One is Finished, and a New Project

The Gift Bag Ornaments took quite a bit longer than expected, but I managed to finish one of them. Of course, I started with the simplest one first. Four of the others are completely appliqued to the felt body, but I haven't started on the embroidery.

The back of the bag closes with floss wrapped around felt circles, just like an inter-office envelope. Maybe I'll get one or two more embroidered, but only after I finish this next project:

I decided to make my mother a walker bag using this Kwik Sew pattern I bought online from Clotilde.  It looks pretty simple, and given the brand name, I figure I can get at least one of these done by Christmas, only two days away now. I'll make the one in front, with all the pockets.

As it was our last day of work for the year, my carpooler and I left a bit early yesterday and stopped at Quilter's Paradise in Escondido, California so I could pick up these lovely Japanese-style fabrics. I should have enough for four bags, in various color combinations.  Don't you just love the pink/purple colors? I'm a real sucker for any fabric that has gold in it, and three of these have just enough to satisfy my need for glitter.

So, time to get cracking! And I still have a bit of shopping to do, and don't forget baking. I don't want Santa to go away hungry!

I hope all of you have a very Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Saturnalia (sorry, the Roman History buff in me sometimes comes out), or whatever else you celebrate!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gift Bag Ornaments

While rummaging through my stash of Christmas kits/fabrics/miscellaneous-items-in-the-sewing-room I came across this kit of Gift Bag Ornaments purchased last year (I think!). I decided to make some of them up, thinking they would come in handy for gift cards, which so many of us very lazy people tend to buy so we don't have to shop.  This delightful set of ornaments kit is from Rachel's of Greenfield (which refers to Greenfield Road in Lancaster, Pennsylvania). Please check out her website; she specializes in kits for embroidery, quilts and punchneedle.

The kit comes with all of the felt and embroidery floss needed to decorate as shown on the pattern illustration. It took me several hours to cut out the felt but just a few minutes to glue them onto the envelope pieces. I can't tell you how nice and relaxing it was to just sit in the sewing room and work on something, well, not creative, but at least sewing related. I may try to jazz some of the pieces with some of the many, many beads I have on hand. Now I need to sew the felt pieces on to the envelope pieces, then get to embroidering.  Don't you just love the little kitten in the stocking? The directions are extremely easy to follow, especially so if you read them first. I have a lot of blue lines on the white pieces, so I'll spritz them with a bit of water before I do much embellishment. 

It's only one week to Christmas, and I still have a bit of shopping to do, but not much. Today will be spent baking and stitching these little pieces. I'm sure I won't get nearly as far as I would like, but I'll try. I'm sure I'll be able to get some serious stitching done in the car this week while it's my turn to ride in the carpool. The exacting part of this project, the cutting, is over, and the sewing and embroidery can be less than precise, making it a good candidate for the car.

What are you stitching today? Or are you shopping, wrapping and/or baking? I'll be trying out a new Panettone recipe from the magazine La Cucina Italiana and hope to get some cookies made. Tonight starts the second season of Downton Abbey here in the US, so I'll be sure to watch and record that! In fact, I'm watching the first season on Netflix while working on the ornaments just to get ready for it.
Update:  Oops! Season Two doesn't start until Jan 8. Reruns of Season One are on tonight.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Ladybug Charm Apron

I completed this apron for my granddaughter today, and will ship it off to them when I finish the Christmas shopping for them this week. Those red strips are the ties hanging at the bottom of the apron. She loves to help her mommy in the kitchen, so this will make it extra fun for her. The pattern, from The Apron Lady was very easy, but unfortunately left a few markings and instructions out, making it somewhat complicated for a beginner.  I rummaged through my extensive collection of unfinished and not-even-started projects and found two more patterns from the same company, and maybe I'll make them soon.  Unfortunately, with all that's happened lately, I don't have time to make a darling Christmas Dress for my granddaughter, so the nightgown and this apron will have to do.

If you notice on my sidebar, I've added the Pattern Review button to link to the reviews of the patterns I've made. I'm determined to do more garment construction, and will write a review of each pattern I make and post it on PR. I'm determined to do quite a few other things, such as getting back to embroidery, but that's another story. So please visit my reviews (only two so far), and let me know if they help you. 


Monday, December 12, 2011

Back to Sewing!

Slowly, slowly, I'm making my way back to the sewing room after the three strikes of the computer crashing, our Thanksgiving trip to Colorado, and my mother's heart attack and subsequent surgery. I have finished my Advent Calendar, but sadly, my granddaughter isn't around to enjoy it. So it's hanging on a post in the upstairs hallway for the time being. Someday, I hope and pray, I'll have enough grandchildren around to actually use it.

I'm also working on the Ladybug Apron, and hope to get it cut out and maybe start sewing on it tomorrow.

Another project is to install the new Adobe Photoshop Elements on the new computer. We found that we were using version 6, and decided to purchase the latest, version 10. This was true for almost all of our software. Since our old computer was five years old, virtually all of our software was positively ancient. It will take some time to get up to speed on all the new versions. One thing I really like about it is the Apple Magic Trackpad. It's four inches square, angled nicely and you can tap anywhere on it. It's pretty slick.

Off to the cutting table! Have a great week!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Simplicity 5382 is Finished!

Here is Simplicity 5382, all finished! The embroidery took about an hour to work, the crocheted edging a bit longer. Bridget, my granddaughter, saw the embroidery and said, "Happy Birthday!" She still isn't too clear on the concept of Christmas.  I made a few modifications on the pattern, adding pleats to the bodice instead of gathers, and a few little pleats on the sleeve hem. I made the nightgown a size 4 so my granddaughter can wear it again next year. Unfortunately, she was pretty cranky every evening, so I was unable to get a photo of her in it.

This was a pretty easy pattern, and I plan on writing a review in Pattern Review when I get a few minutes.

So where have I been these last few weeks? Up to my ears in all sorts of things! As I mentioned in a previous post, the computer crashed and I just now have a bit of time to actually work on the new one. Much of the software was pretty old, so we're updating, and installing Office, Parallels, Adobe Photoshop Elements, among other things. In fact, I'm installing Office while I'm writing this. 

Right about the same time the computer crashed my mother had a heart attack and then open heart surgery. She's back home and doing reasonably well. One really great thing about having a large family is that there is always someone around to visit. I have four siblings in the area so in all good conscience I was able to leave Mom to have Thanksgiving with my DD in Colorado.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

If It Weren't for Bad Luck...

I'd have no luck at all. That's right, my trusty Mac crashed, or rather, slow rolled. It developed that eternal "spinning CD" icon Sunday so we took it in, found it had corrupted system file, so had the hard drive reformatted. Since then I've been trying to restore the data from the backup drive with no luck. I have finally made an appointment to have the Geniuses at the Apple Store do it next Saturday morning. Then we leave for Colorado a week from today, so not only will I not be posting much, I won't be stitching much at all.

I have made quite a bit of progress on Simplicity 5382 - Christmas Nightgown. In fact, I have it put together and just need to finish the crochet trim and add buttons with the loops.

So please be patient, eventually I'll get all my photos back and will be up and running. It just may take a couple of weeks.  Until then, Happy Stitching, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Tree Trimming!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Simplicity 5382 - Christmas Nightgown

I have a rush job going on now as I've decided to make a Christmas nightgown for my granddaughter. I saw this pattern in Joann's but of course it was out of stock. So I went online to Pattern Review to read the reviews (only two) and bought it for only $2.99 on sale. Pretty good deal.

Ever since I saw this article in last year's Sew Beautiful Issue No. 133 I have wanted to make it. The flannel on Joann's wasn't on sale, but I bought it with one of those handy 40% off coupons. Another pretty good deal.  I'm making View A but with entredeux in the yoke and sleeves so I can crochet the scalloped edging. I'm also making pleats in the front, back and around the sleeve hems. I whacked off about three inches from the sleeves so they will end just at Bridget's wrist, not three-quarters length as in the magazine photo. 

After skimming around the internet searching for clip art (the magazine article uses machine embroidery) I came across a candle/holly drawing which is just right. After sizing it to 2 inches high I embroidered it with just three colors, DMC 743, 700 and 321 which keeps it really simple. It took all of an hour to work. I'm sure it would have taken me much longer to do it on the machine as I haven't done much machine embroidery in the past several years.

As of this writing, I have the front and pack put together and pinned to the yoke. I used Bunny's (from La Sewista) tutorial on pajama plackets for the back to make it very sturdy. I'm also using her recommendations for seams, which is to sew the seams, press to one side, serge the seam allowances, and topstitch to mimic a flat felled seam from the right side. This is why we read these blogs, to learn all these great techniques!

Bridget is a size 3, but I'm making this a 4 but with a length of size 5. I plan on crocheting the scallops on the drive to Colorado for Thanksgiving, and will hem it there with a growth tuck so she can wear it for another year or two. I'll buy some rick rack or more floss in the DMC 321 (red) for feather stitching to hide the seam once it's let out.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Crocheting in the Car

Remember some time back I had a post about trying to find something easier than embroider to do in the car? I selected this project from Leisure Arts Shawls and Wraps for all Occasions and had everything ready to start this in the car for when I was back from the SAGA Convention. But at the Convention they had all of these Wee Care gowns on display. As I mentioned, I had only four to contribute. (Never mind that I found several more in the sewing room when I got home)

So I changed my mind and started some tiny crocheted afghans. They are quick and easy to do, and soon I should have the patterns memorized. 

I made one out of Caron Simply Soft acrylic yarn, started another, then ran out and had to buy another skein. I'll try to make a few little bitty hats out of the leftover yarn.

Then I bought two skeins of Lion Brand Baby Soft and have made two afghans so far and am still on the first skein. These are great car projects are they are pretty easy and that's what I need, easy! It's also a great way to use the 40% off coupons for Michael's and Joann's. I throw so many of them away it isn't funny.

The patterns are from Leisure Arts 63 Easy-To-Crochet Pattern Stitches that I picked up from Joann's.  I used patterns that are worked in the round so I can make them any size I want. Robin Hart, who has commented several times on this blog, heads up SAGA's Wee Care program and says that the afghans should be approximately 13-14 inches square. Please email her if you would like to participate in this worthy program.

There are lots of free patterns available at Crochet Central, this link gives you the 12 inch square patterns. All you have to do is make it in baby yarn, add a sweet shell edging, and you're done! Eventually I will tire of making them and will need a break, then will switch to the shrug pictured above.

I'm home today with a cold, and since it is raining I've made a fire in the family room fireplace and have been working (not on fun stitching projects, but on real work) while watching chick flicks. Well, they are my sort of chick flicks. I have watched Room with a View and am now working on The Age of Innocence.  I had better get back to it before the guys I live with (son and hubby) get home!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Old Linens IV

I came across this tablecloth and napkin set while preparing to depart for the SAGA Convention and thought I would share it with all of you in a quick post. The tablecloth is fairly small, only 34 inches square, with four little napkins, but is perfect as a tea set.  It is hand embroidered in white coton á broder on peach linen. It is all satin stitch leaves and flowers with fil tiré in the leaves and seed stitches in in the flower centers.

I love the beautiful satin stitch that was worked on this piece. If only I could do half as well! It has just a few hemstitched lines with little, perfect granitos at the end of each line. The border is finished with scalloped buttonhole edging in an intricate design. Isn't it just lovely? The embroidery is practically perfect, and I especially love the little round granitos which seem to pop from the fabric.  I'm somewhat afraid to use it for tea as I might spill the tea and stain the linens!

Did you notice that I figured out how to add the accent marks to coton á broder and fil tiré? I'm so proud of myself!  

We are off to San Francisco for a short trip.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick Post on Needle Painting

Remember this? It's my Chinese Flower Project that I finished last May. The reason that I'm posting again about it is to entice you to try needle painted project by pointing you to Trish Burr's latest post on "Smoother Shading".  In it she gives several tips on how to successfully shade your stitching so it looks lifelike and well, like a painting with a needle! Many of her designs are available as downloads, so you don't have to buy a complete kit but can work with the threads in your stash. This is especially good if you have the complete range of DMC floss, as I do. Trish also has a project in the current Inspirations, No. 72.

I hope you enjoy her tips and give this technique a try! It's very rewarding, but I have to admit, I'm terrified to try it all by myself. I need the photos and thread selections to do this successfully.

This post is an update from one I started this morning and hit the "Publish" button too soon. I'm sure you've all done the equivalent on email by hitting "Send" too soon and sending out gibberish. Well, that was me today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rosebuds and Hemstitched Baby Dress Progress

Now that I've finished the Schwalm Heart Needlebook, I'm trying to devote all available time to the Rosebuds and Hemstitched Baby Dress that I started at the SAGA Convention. This hasn't been easy, as this weekend was filled with my normal weekend chores; laundry, grocery shopping, cat box cleaning, a bit of gardening, etc., etc., etc.  You know the drill.  Since the last post, I've sewn the tucks in by hand.

And have even done quite a bit on the hemstitching for the sleeves. This is done on a block of fabric that is hemstitched before the two sleeves are cut out.

I've even sewn in the back placket, using Jeannie's "no raw edge" placket method. However, I did leave a bit of a raw edge exposed but you can't really see it in the photo. Since it is sewn in by hand with a fairly large running stitch, I'll take it out and redo it so the raw edge is completely enclosed. It will be fun deciding which of all those lovely buttons I won from Jeannie to put on this gown.

And that's as far as I've progressed. I'm dying to make a nightgown for my granddaughter, using white flannel with some Christmas design in it. And don't forget all of the other things I need to do, which are too many to list here. I may make a "projects" page so you can all see how woefully behind I'm getting with my projects.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Schwalm Heart Needlebook Finished

Here is the completed Schwalm Heart Needlebook. This was a fun project. It's a nice introduction to something entirely new for me and now I have yet another needlebook. On the left you can see where I stitched a line of blue coral knots on the spine to cover up the handstitching on the outside. 

The leaves of the needlebook are strips of wool challis, a lovely, fine fabric which is available from Heirloom Sewing for Children for $17.55 per half yard (internet special) or from Martha Pullen at $38.96 per yard. I made up the needlebook with three strips instead of the recommended two as I didn't want to waste a bit of this lovely fabric.

So, on to the likes and dislikes:
This was one of many classes I've taken from Claudia Newton. She's a great teacher, knows her subject very well, and uses high quality fabrics and threads with well illustrated instructions. This class was an excellent introduction to Schwalm Embroidery which was made a bit easier by using the blue threads on white linen. There was nothing to dislike at all, except for the dark room we had for the class, but that wasn't Claudia's fault! She might be teaching the bonnet at the next SAGA Convention, in Atlanta in 2012.

She even gave us references, both of which are available on Amazon:
Fernau, Renate. Schwalm Whitework: The Exquisite Regional Embroidery of Germany
Bishop, Christine. Schwalm Embroidery: Techniques and Designs
See also:
Luzine Happel. Basic Principles of Schwalm Whitework.  Follow this link to read Mary Corbet's review and find out how to order it from Germany.

Have a great Sunday!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Schwalm Heart Needlebook

I wish I can tell you I made this lovely bonnet, but alas, no, I didn't. However, I've been working on my Schwalm Heart Needlebook, a class from the SAGA Convention taught by Claudia Newton (who does not have a website so I can't provide a link). The needlebook takes the heart motif in the center for the cover of the book.

The bonnet also has a bird and flowers on it, with gorgeous hemstitching along the front. Don't you just love the balloon for the baby head?

Now to the real life embroidery part. The heart outline consists of a row of coral stitches in the center, chain stitches just inside, and buttonhole half circles on the outside. The heart embroidery is done in coton a broder. Once the chain and coral stitches are finished we started removing every fourth thread inside the heart. Then we had to use a Marburg filling stitch that is worked diagonally over the grid, using one strand of floss. Can you tell that something is very wrong with that bottom right diagonal row and the top left four rows? This drove me nuts for hours until, lying in bed in the wee hours of the morning, I realized that I used coton a broder instead of floss once I returned home from Convention.

Here I've carefully picked out the coton a broder from the filling and replaced it with floss. I've worked most of the hemstitching around the border of the piece and even embroidered by initials and year on what will be the back of the needlebook. However, I don't like the way it turned out and may change it a bit.

This is my first foray into Schwalm Needlework and to tell you the truth, I don't know a thing about it other than it consists of surface embroidery and withdrawn/pulled thread techniques. But if you would like to see a beautiful example of this along with some reference material, check out Mary Corbet's recent post on coton a broder and follow the links regarding the Schwalm piece in it. Just amazing, isn't it?

I hope to finish this over the weekend and will post about the finished article soon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Back Home from Anaheim

I'm back from the SAGA Convention in Anaheim and have been quite busy working on my projects, but want to give you a peek of what we did besides stitching. One of the most important activities in SAGA is their Wee Care Program. You can read about the program by following the link. In short, we make gowns for critically ill babies that are donated to local hospitals. They are then used for burial garments or to have something lovely for the baby's short time on this earth. Here is part of the display of the lovely gowns that were donated.

You can certainly see that the ladies who made them put quite a lot of work into them. I managed to bring in only four, so I really need to step up my smocking so I'll have more to donate.

One of the ways SAGA raises money is to raffle off baskets of goodies that are donated by chapters, teachers, board members or anyone else who cares to donate. Some of them are quite large and luxurious, others smaller but packed with lovely things. I won this basket donated by Jeannie Baumeister of the Old Fashioned Baby. It has three patterns, her book of Heirloom Embroidery, and buttons, buttons and more buttons, most them vintage and all of them pearl. No plastic buttons for Jeannie!  This was one of the very best baskets at the Convention.

Many of the chapters also donate table favors that are given out at each meal. One of the chapters I belong to, Sandcastle, made the scissors fob on the left. We received lots of useful items, including a wool pincushion, needle magnet, two fabric bags, fabric wash donated by Kathy Awender and so on. Every single item is sewing related and is greatly appreciated. Thanks to all of you who donated them!

I've been working on a Schwalm Needlebook from one of the classes I took, and I'll post about that soon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another Report from Anaheim

Today was a half day class as the Convention has its Market in the afternoon. Which was fine, as I needed something a bit simpler after two intense days of very fine handwork in Jeannie Baumeister's "Rosebuds and Hemstitched Baby Dress". I took Susie Gay's class, "Beauty from Scraps: Padded Baby Hanger". Susie is the proprietor of Berryhill Heirlooms in Smithfield, Virgina.  This year is the first year she has taught at the Convention, and I think she will definitely be a repeat teacher; at least I hope so. She is a natural teacher that had the class completely engaged right from the start.

We made this darling little hanger for baby dresses out of scraps of fabric, lace and silk ribbon. When I get home I'll post a better photo. This was taken in my hotel room and loaded on my laptop which doesn't have any good photo editing software. What was so good about this class is first and foremost, it was pretty easy! And as I mentioned earlier, I was really ready for easy! Susie makes some lovely garments and always makes a matching padded hanger for each, and showed us several examples of hangers that she has made in the past. This was a class that not only gave us a pattern but included several variations that we can use to create hangers to match our own creations.

This afternoon was the Market, in which many of the teachers and other vendors held an open shop. I dropped a considerable amount of cash today, but bought some lovely things which I'll share with you on another post. One of my favorite vendors was here, Luc Smiers of Fine French Laces. Luc wasn't here but had representatives selling a great selection of Maline laces at unbelievably low prices. 

So now it's Friday night and I'm ready for bed. Tomorrow is a very long day, what with a full day of classes then our annual banquet in the evening.

Good night, and I'll post again Sunday evening or Monday morning.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Hello from Anaheim!

OK, so it is only one half hour from my house, but still, it's a stitching vacation! This is how far I've progressed on the "Rosebuds and Hemstitched Baby Dress", a two day class taught by Jeannie Baumeister. We have actually accomplished quite a bit. We had to withdraw threads (three on each line shown) from the linen fabric and hemstitch the remaining threads into little bundles. Those hemstitched lines are all of two inches long. I've managed to withdraw the threads on the sleeves (not shown), stitch down the lace insertion and sew one tuck. You can see how I've botched drawing in the neckline on the left. As it still doesn't look quite right, I'll check it over very, very carefully once I get home. We also made samples of some of the hand finishing techniques we will use later on in making this darling little baby dress. We are using a very pale blue 1000 Ulster Linen fabric which is very fine and has a lovely "hand". There are lots of blue markings where I'll make little bullion roses and lazy daisy, or detached chain, leaves. I'll work on this tonight then tomorrow I'll have a completely different class.

After I came back from the Persian Peony class in San Diego, I decided to splurge and stay in the hotel for this convention. Of course, it was too late to get the special convention rate, so I'm staying at the Embassy Suites next door. My room's window faces east, so I have a beautiful view of the full moon rising all evening. What a treat! The hotel has an African theme with a mountain in the breakfast area that sports a sleeping lion on top. Every half hour he awakens and roars, just to let us all know who's king. The little kids are just fascinated. We are only two miles away from Disneyland so all of the hotels cater to families, especially with children who are visiting the theme park. It's fun to see the little ones with their MM ears and princess gowns prancing around.

We are also having a mini heat wave with temperatures in the high 90's. Tomorrow should be a bit cooler, with normal 70's by the time the convention winds up. I ran into a friend I met at the first convention I attended so we went out for sushi tonight and had a great time.  Now it's back to stitching so I can get a bit more accomplished on this dress and then early to bed. Last night I stayed up way too late working on the hemstitching and watching bad Star Trek movies. Not tonight!

I was unable to save the photo as a smaller file, so please let me know if this takes an inordinate amount of time to load. I am using a laptop which does not have Adobe Photoshop, so I am fairly limited in what I can do. I'll do much better once I get back home and can edit the photos.

Keep cool and Happy Stitching!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Christmas Distraction

Last weekend, after coming home from the Persian Peony Class, I took a few hours to attend a local quilt show. I really didn't buy much, but couldn't resist this darling angel Advent Calendar by Makower UK fabrics. I love their fabrics, as they have a somewhat heavy hand, and generally have plenty of gold, especially in their Christmas fabrics. I spent some precious time sewing all the pockets on the panel, when I really should have been working on the aforementioned Peony or my terribly neglected Golden Pomegranate. The really bad part of this is that I have two older Makower Advent Calendar kits in my Christmas Fabric collection, just waiting to be sewn together.  I mentioned last year that I have all angel ornaments on the Christmas tree, so I just had to have this calendar to go with it. The trouble is, there aren't any children around to get the treats in the pockets.

I also picked up this darling Ladybug Charm Apron that will be perfect for my granddaughter, who is 3 1/2 years old. This shop is Quilter's Cottage in Fallbrook, not too far away, so I'll have to drop by sometime. I purchased the Advent Calendar from them, too.

I'm getting ready to attend our SAGA Convention in Anaheim, October 12 - 16, and if I get my act together I'll remember to take some photos and post while I'm there.

Well, it's Sunday evening, and time to make dinner and get ready for the week to come. I'm only going to work on Monday, and it's my turn to drive. I did make a decision on the "Small Project for the Car" and I'll share it with you once I start it the week of the 17th.

Have a great week! I know I will!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Small Project for the Car

I'm always on the lookout for some nice, small and relatively easy projects to work on while my carpooler has her turn driving. I had these Crewel projects from Tristan Brooks so I thought they would be just perfect.

So last week I brought it along, mounted the linen on the muslin, hooped it and started working. As I was working, I kept getting this nagging feeling that this was familiar to me. So when I got home I started looking around and found that I had already done this particular kit and even posted about it over a year ago. So how on earth did I manage to wind up with two kits? As far as I can remember, I treated myself to three kits a few months ago for my birthday. I bought these but only posted about the Elizabethan Pencil Box. I purchased the kits shown above, the two Charleston Smalls and the one Newbury Small, but didn't realize at the time that I bought the kit I already own. Sheesh! The brain seems to be going a bit soft. So I'll give away the one that's already completed and mounted into a trivet then figure out what to do with the rest.

That herringbone leaf is driving me crazy. I've started it three times and have already taken out the latest try. I'll lock myself in my sewing room and not come out until it's complete. One thing that I really like about this kit is that the kit makers have made the printed design much thinner and changed the color to a light brown (or sepia). It was a thick green before and very difficult to cover, especially with the lighter colored wool.

So about working this in the car: not a very good idea. I am too obsessed about making the stitches look precise and it's too hard to do that in the car.  I really want to start on the Royal Persian Blossom Kit from Talliaferro and am using these as practice pieces. At any rate, I'll have to come up with something a bit more forgiving, like crocheting or smocking

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Back from the Persian Peony Class

It doesn't look like we got much done on the Persian Peony Tile, does it? This was the result of two intense days of stitching, plus homework. We had a wonderful time in the class; Jane Nicholas is a very gifted embroiderer and teacher, who is able to make the complicated embroidery look simple. She showed us exactly where to sink threads to make it all look so professional. She is also a commanding teacher who has no qualms about telling everyone to stop what they are doing and look at her so she can illustrate a point. That really helps to keep repetition down to a minimum and saves everyone time.

Towards the end of the first day we were starting to get a bit punchy, so she told us, "I came a long way, so if I'm still standing, you're still stitching." That quieted us down and we got back to work. Right before we quit for the day she gave us a long list of homework to do. I'm so glad I stayed in a hotel instead of driving home, as I had a good three more hours to stitch. I managed to get it all done and was ready for the next day.

At the end, she gave us some words of wisdom as to how to proceed to finish the project. She said to focus on one group of items at a time, finish it off, then go on to the next group. For instance, finish off all the stems, then proceed to the leaves, then the peony, the buds, and so on. I think I'll finish off the border to get rid of those dangling threads.

Much credit goes to Muchas Manos, the local EGA guild in San Diego. They did a wonderful job in setting up the course, from choosing the venue to providing snacks and lunch recommendations. You couldn't find a nicer group of ladies! I even joined their local guild, so now I'll have more info on upcoming classes. This group seems to be interested in surface embroidery, which in my experience, is rare. Most of the local guilds focus on needlepoint and counted cross stitch, so it's really refreshing to be with a group that likes surface embroidery.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Today is a lovely Saturday and I have way too many errands to run, but hope to get in a few hours of stitching tomorrow.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

More Old Linens

As I rummage through the drawers in my sewing room I keep on finding treasures that I have purchased but not done anything with. Here is the first of two recent finds. This is a rather large dresser scarf, about 32 inches square, with some really lovely embroidery on it. This is one corner, with the design repeated at each corner. Notice the hems are Point de Paris, all done by hand.

On each of the four sides is this delicate little butterfly. The back of the embroidery is almost as pretty as the front. Sorry, no picture of the back.

Not to be content with the embroidery, the maker withdrew threads in the center of the square and embroidered over the semi open spaces. (There is probably a term for that, I'm just not thinking of it right now).  This whole piece is an interesting example of combining surface embroidery with drawn work. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it before.

Then I found these placemats with a table runner in Madiera applique. The center is cotton organdy with a border and flowers of cotton batiste.

All of the flowers and the entire hem are hand worked Point de Paris. Can you tell I just love Point de Paris?  The stems have just the right degree of crookedness to make them look real. The stems, granitos in the center of the flowers, the veins and the turned over petal all combine to give a bit of depth and realism to the embroidery.

There were eight placemats, plus a table runner, and all for only $35.00!  But these things are really a bear to iron. The organdy tends to stretch, so I had to iron the hems first, then the flowers, and then steam the organdy centers to shrink them to fit. It took me several days to iron them as I could only manage a few at a time. To store them I'll roll them over a muslin covered tube so I don't have to iron them again. Oh, and in the humidity they tend to warp. Not that we have a lot of humidity here, but it does get to about 65% at night. Positively dry compared to the East and Midwest. There is no way I'll be ironing them again before I store them.

The Golden Pomegranate is coming along slowly. I was hoping to get it finished before I go to San Diego for the Jane Nicholas Persian Peony class, but that didn't happen. So I am bringing it along and will try to get some pointers. I'll post photos after the class this weekend.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Floral Glove Encore

I can't believe what I've just done. I've gone and registered for the Floral Glove Needle Case over on the Thistle Threads Online University. With all the various projects that I am now working and have coming up over the next month, I went and added another. I'm getting addled. But whenever I read another embroidery blog describing working on this, I kept kicking myself for not signing up for it. So, we'll take it month by month and see where it goes. It doesn't start until November 1 so I have a bit of time yet.

The others who took this class, as far as I know, are Coral-Seas at Threads Across the Web, who finished her project just last month. The only other one I know of is Mary Corbet at NeedlenThread. If you follow the link you will go to her last known post of this project, at least the last one that I know about. I follow her pretty closely so I think I would have remembered if she finished the project. 

Has anyone else out there taken this class? Have you finished it, or just put it down and went on to something else? If so, maybe reading my posts once I start will inspire you to finish it!