Finished! With the embroidery part of this project, at least. Here are the final blocks from Crabapple Hill Studio’s garden alphabet embroidery. “S” for spring and summer (apple blossoms and apples):
“Y” for yarrow:
and “W” for winter (with “X” cleverly worked into the snowflake design):
Even though this project has been very time-consuming, I’ve really enjoyed it – there’s something so satisfying about hand embroidery, getting to work with all of the colors, watching the design grow stitch by stitch – and as slow as it is, it’s a lot faster than knitting! I’ve been very impressed by these patterns, particularly the attention to detail an the clever use of different stitches like french knot, lazy daisy, etc, to create different effects. For instance, take a look at the chain stitch below, used to create the effect of snow on the branches:
Of course, it was a heck of a lot of chain stitch – a stitch I discovered I’m not very good at! – but I love how it looks in the end. Next step: assembling the blocks into a quilt.
I’ve made it to the letter “P” in the Crabapple Hill Studio’s Gardener’s Alphabet embroidery series . . . this one took a while, it’s easily the biggest block in the series so far, and so much detail! I loved getting to work with all of the different colors, and the poppies really “pop” right off the fabric
and English Daisy (a small block, but each of those petals is a lazy daisy stitch – hundreds of them!)
They don’t look that great yet because they’re not pressed or trimmed, but I love the designs and the colors. I’m working on pacing myself, so that I don’t get obsessed and try to spend all day working my way through them – sometimes it’s hard to remember that with hand crafting, it’s the journey as much as the destination!
I recently completed letters “A” and “C” in the twelve-block hand embroidery series from Crabapple Hill Studio. Here’s the “C” block with some gorgeous real-life carrots I bought at the farmer’s market this weekend:
The carrot tops are all lazy daisy stitches – I definitely got better after this particular stitch after doing all of these, but it took a very long time.
Unfortunately, it’s the wrong time of year to get a pumpkin from the garden to photograph with the “A” block:
Having finished the months-long knitted squares blanket marathon, I’ve started another long-term project, this time via hand embroidery. Twelve beautiful garden-themed patterns make up Crabapple Hill Studio’s “A Gardener’s Alphabet,” and the combination of a garden theme, hand embroidery, and beautiful bright colors was too much for me to resist.
I started, logically enough, at the beginning, ordering the A and B blocks – the B block caught my eye first, so that’s where I began. I went with the pattern-recommended embroidery thread colors and ordered those from Crabapple Hill Studios, as well. I used a plain white quilter’s cotton as my fabric base, and did not try the color tinting called for in the pattern – it looks intriguing, but I’m not ready to add another layer to this project right now. Instead, I just wanted to enjoy the peace and calm of the hand embroidery.
I love how quickly a hand embroidery piece comes to life (compared to knitting, that is), and how I get simple pleasure out of using each new color. I’m pacing myself, only doing a little bit of each block every day, otherwise I tend to get carried away and I can’t put it down!
After “test driving” this first block, I’m hooked – I went ahead and ordered the rest of the alphabet, and started on the A block. When they’re all finished, I’ll piece them together to make a quilt. Stay tuned!
A great combination of wool felt and hand sewing, for a (relatively) quick and easy Easter project . . . I used pastel colors of Mary Flanagan felted wool and corresponding embroidery thread, and followed the directions here. There are only a few steps:
1. Cut out the pattern pieces according to the template – I enlarged the template by 150%, because the pieces would have been so small otherwise, I don’t think I could have sewn them together. For each chick, I cut out two body pieces, two wings, and a gusset out of the pastel felt, and a triangular beak out of a stash piece of orange felt.
2. Using a blanket stitch, hand sew the two body pieces together (tuck the beak in between the pieces and sew it in as you’re joining the body pieces), joining in the gusset – leave enough room to stuff (I used cotton stuffing, which worked great because it compacted down nicely to make the bird bodies firm), and then finish sewing together.
3. Run the thread up through the body and blanket stitch on the wings (just the front ends – leave the tail ends loose).
4. Using black embroidery thread, pull your knot through one of the holes in the body stitching, make two french knots for eyes, then run the end of the thread out on the other side of the body and cut it off.
5. Cut the wire approx 15″, form a foot on one end, slip the other end through a hole in the stitching at the bird’s belly (try to center it, so your bird won’t tip forwards or backwards on his legs), then pull it out the other side through another hole in the stitching, form a second foot, and cut off any extra wire.
I really wanted to make the birds perch on a wire I would string from one side of our kitchen hutch to the other, but I didn’t want to have to wrap their feet around the wire and, as a result, ruin my neatly created bird feet, so I settled for putting them in different “on the ground” positions. To get the best effect, you definitely want to make a flock of these guys – I like five (one in each color), but how cool would it look to have ten, or fifteen, or even more?
Such a quick and easy, but gratifying project – the perfect items to tuck away in my gift closet until I need to put together a handmade package for a birthday, or a housewarming, or a hostess gift . . . this sewing project is from the Purl Bee and uses Essex yarn-dyed denim and Flora Eve print from the Liberty of London lawn fabrics. The cotton twill tape (color navy) is ingenious, because you don’t have to create your own binding, and I really liked the construction detail of the mitt hot pad.
I quilted the hot pads with the diamond pattern used in the project instructions and, while I usually favor machine sewing, I followed the instructions and hand sewed on the twill tape with Valdani Pearl Cotton embroidery thread (color 114). In this way, I could be sure that I’d catch the edges of the twill tape on both sides (which would have been impossible using the machine). It didn’t take too long, and I like the finished look.
I used Insul-brite batting, an insulated lining for heat-sensitive projects – it’s not very thick, but does the job. This is a great project for fabric scraps – you could put together quite a few sets of these in an afternoon. I’d highly recommend using the twill tape, it’s a beautiful finishing touch and a real time-saver!
This is a project that took me a LONG time to finish – one of those that doesn’t look like it will be near as time-consuming as it turns out to be. I’ve been wanting to make some simple but beautiful placemats in a neutral palette to go with some of the brighter colored dishes I’ve collected, and this seemed like the perfect project. Reversible sashiko placemats, a free pattern on Purl Bee, gave me an opportunity to use Robert Kaufman’s Essex, which looks like linen, but at 55% linen and 45% cotton, it’s more cost-effective and machine washable.
I bought Essex wide-width in color Flax – I can’t even remember how many yards, as I had to re-order twice once I decided I wanted eight placemats instead of six, and then that I wanted to make cloth napkins, as well. I bought Sashiko thread in color White 01, and Sashiko needles, as well (because you really do need large, long needles to make the embroidery work). I followed the pattern exactly, and quickly found that the embroidery took a really long time – plus, I couldn’t just churn out placemat after placemat, because it got to be a little dull. I decided to pace myself, and worked on finishing the embroidery for one placemat every two days. Then Christmas projects intervened, and the placemats were set aside for a while. In all, it took me over two months to get the eight placemats done.
I bought a hera marker for marking the grid pattern on each placemat, but I didn’t find it to be very effective, so I stuck with the chalk. I used craft-size batting between the placemat front and back, which gave it just the right amount of loft and was still easy to embroider through. Although I have a bias tape maker, I’ve never really figured out how to use it, so I just made the bias tape by hand by pressing it with the iron.
I do love the finished product, though. The hand embroidery is just rustic looking enough, without being too kitschy, I love the flax linen with the white thread, and both sides of the placemat are equally attractive. I struggled a little with the binding directions, particularly the mitered corners and joining the two ends of the binding together, but with eight placemats (32 corners!), I had ample opportunity to practice.
The finished size of each placemat is approximately 16×20. Because I wanted a complete set, I made napkins to match – a simple process, I just cut two 20″ x 20″ squares for each napkin, sewed the squares together with a 1/4″ seam, leaving a 2″ opening for turning, cut the corners, turned the napkins and poked out the corners, and then top-stitched 1/8″ from the edge, which also sewed closed the opening. Then I carefully pressed each napkin (the placemats required a fair amount of pressing, too).
Overall, I’m glad that I did this project, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you want to put in a significant amount of time, or unless you’re just making a set of two or four placemats – that would have made for a lot less embroidery!
Isabella now has her own business up and running: Alphabet Animals Embroidery! All twenty-six letters of the alphabet (and their corresponding animals) are available on T-shirts in any size, from newborn through adult. Custom made to order, the recipient can choose T-shirt size, letter/animal, and color scheme. Below are all of the available patterns:
The T-shirts are white, 100% cotton (the colored borders in the photos are not on the T-shirts). You can request any color(s), including multi-colored hedgehogs or yaks:
You can also order either a large (8″ x 8″) or small (6″ x 6″) canvas square wall hanging, in any of the letters/animals and color schemes:
Inspired by the Stitched in Color online class lesson on reverse appliqué, I tried my hand at using the same technique for butterfly silhouettes. I downloaded butterfly silhouette pictures, then used Saral transfer paper to transfer the images to black or white cotton. For each piece, I chose a different color / pattern scheme, reverse appliquéd on the underlying fabric, and then carefully cut out the overlying black or white cotton with embroidery scissors.
I learned quickly that the edges frayed badly, so I refined my technique by first adhering Steam-A-Steam sticky back fusible web to the back of the black or white cotton, to keep its edges from fraying.
I experimented with both hand embroidery and machine sewing to finish off the appliqué. On some of the pieces, I hemmed under the edges of the fabric block, while on others, I ran a stay stitch and frayed the edges.
The final step was to use spray adhesive to adhere the entire finished piece to a backing of thin plywood, and then put double-stick pads on the back of the plywood for easy hanging.
I’ve been taking a wonderful online class this summer from the Stitched in Color blogger – it has covered a wide variety of hand stitching projects and techniques. This post came from the week we learned hand embroidery – I chose the Sashiko embroidery project because it’s a technique I’ve been wanting to learn, and I liked the end product.
You can see details here on the project (but not the actual instruction – that’s on a secure site for class members only). I loved the cool blues and the taupes, so I used the same colors as the class example. I didn’t find it difficult at all to learn Sashiko embroidery, with my solid (albeit rudimentary) embroidery skills.
I used Kona Cotton in blues and neutrals (sand and putty) for the fabric, Saral transfer paper to transfer the patterns from paper to fabric, and Valdani Pearl Cotton for the embroidery thread. There’s something so zen for me about hand stitching, particularly embroidery – and, as time-consuming as it can be, it’s usually a lot more instant gratification than knitting!
I’ve loved this online class so far – the first one I’ve taken, a very unique idea. The instructor, Rachel Hauser, does a bang-up job, her projects are interesting and inspiring, and her pricing is more than reasonable. I hope she does more online classes and opportunities for creating online community in the future!
My middle daughter, Bella, has just turned nine, but she’s well ahead of her years when it comes to her skill – and drive! – as an artist. She has always loved to draw, and recently has begun writing and illustrating short stories, but her real love is sewing and knitting. The two Rebecca Danger patterns shown here (monster and cat) were among her first knitting projects – I mean, what person in their right mind knits toys (often among the hardest knitting patterns), on double-pointed needles, no less (difficult to master, especially for little hands) as beginner projects?! But toys was what she was interested in knitting, so toys it was. I give her a hand with casting on and binding off, and some of the more difficult in the round sections, but by and large, these projects are all hers.
Bella also finished her first full-size quilt – all the more impressive because it is made up of twenty-six hand embroidered panels! She did all the embroidering and all the piecing for the quilt top; I was going to have her machine quilt it, but there were some difficulties, so instead she hand-tied the quilt, then sewed the binding. I think the finished project is beautiful, and the perfect size for a twin bed.
The Penguin & Fish embroidery patterns are so cute, Bella’s moved on to making them into wall hangings, t-shirts, and pillows . . . she recently finished sewing a skirt to match a purple embroidered cat t-shirt, and is hoping to sell it at an upcoming craft fair.
It’s so nice to have a daughter who loves handcrafts as much as I do!
My plan was to make these felt apples to celebrate the start of school, but my daughter Bella got a hold of them and completed most of them all by herself! They’re designed as coasters, but I used stick-back velcro and attached them to blank books as back-to-school gifts for the girls.
The free pattern is available on the Purl Bee, and the felt and embroidery thread is available from Purl Soho. I sewed them together by hand – although it could be done by machine, I enjoy the hand work, and sewing into felt is easy and fun.
A fun and easy project from the Purl Bee . . . I used brightly colored Wollfilz Felt (these colors came from Purl Soho’s Spring Felt Bundle) and matching colors of Valdani Pearl Cotton Embroidery thread. I used a template to cut out two circles of the colored felt, one circle of the white felt, and eight colored “segments” (four larger and four smaller pieces). Then I placed the white circle on top of one of the colored circles, cut out a few small triangles from the segments to resemble seeds, placed eight of the segments (alternating large and small) on top of the white circle (I occasionally had to trim down the segments so that they would show white space between), pinned them in place, and hand sewed it all together. Next, I placed the second colored circle on the back (this covers up all of your stitches) and sewed it to the top colored circle. Trim the edges of the two colored circles so that you have a neat finished edge, and you’re done!
I thought about machine sewing the pieces together – it would have gone a lot faster – but I liked the handmade look of hand sewing, and it was actually very relaxing to sit on the porch in the shade, with a little breeze blowing, and stitch together these brightly colored pieces. They’re supposed to be used as coasters, but since we’re not big on requiring coasters on any of our tables, I thought they’d function just as well decoratively whenever we eat dinner outside on the picnic table.
As a result of the extremely cold and wet spring break we’ve had, my daughters and I have spent a lot of time indoors. Luckily, they all love to draw, write, and sew (along with a lot of other creative – and very messy! – crafting projects) so we kept busy (there was a fair amount of chocolate chip cookie baking going on, too). Alia, my six-year-old completed her first sewing project, a “snuggle bunny” made out of soft, fuzzy fabric that she begged me to buy during a foray to the fabric store. It was the perfect first project for her – I saw the pattern in the store and knew that even I could do this one without a store-bought pattern, so she and I drew out the bunny shape, then she cut out the pattern. I showed her how to pin the pattern onto the fabric, and how to cut out the fabric pieces. From there, it was a simple project on the sewing machine, and she learned how to turn the pieces, stuff and slip-stitch closed the opening, sew on the ears, and add the final touches of tail and ribbon. She kept the pattern pieces and took the whole shebang to 4-H to show.
Bella, my eight-year-old daughter has taken up embroidery with a vengence, and is doing amazingly well – I was somewhat reluctant to get her going, because I feared she wouldn’t have the manual dexterity to make the tiny little stitches, and I would constantly need to assist her, pull out mistakes, do the embroidery myself in difficult areas, etc. Not so – her stitching was near-perfect from the get-go and, what was even more impressive, she demonstrated a real stick-to-it-ness that I value even more than her technical skill. She taught herself to tie off when she ran out of thread, to re-thread the needle and tie a knot at the end, to back-stitch and satin stitch, and to keep the fabric taut in the embroidery hoop.
We’ve purchased the animal patterns (Penguin and Fish Alphabet Embroidery) one by one off of the Purl Soho website, and so far she’s completed the yak (Y), alligator (A), hedgehog (H), cat (C), and pig (P). She’s almost finished with the koala (K) and has the lion (L) and viper (V) queued up next. One key has been using better quality embroidery thread than the stuff I usually buy at Joanns – she’s sewn them all in Valdani Pearl Cotton Embroidery Thread, and the thread is so much nicer, higher quality, and easier to work with (doesn’t break, tangle, etc), that I’m really sold on it. When she’s done all 26 letters, she plans to sew them together to make a quilt.
My oldest, ten-year-old Emmersen, leans toward a little more creative and esoteric projects – her latest is a creation of an entire “zoo” of animals made entirely of aluminum foil. How these even occurred to her is beyond me, but I’m amazed by the ideas she comes up with and executes, without any directions or patterns.