Archive | November 2022

Lace Christmas Tree: Free Handout

This felt project is fun, fast and easy to make for yourself or someone you love! Use up your tiny bits of precious lace, appliqu├ęs, and trims to create a hand-sewn collaged tree. The lace tree can be embroidered and embellished with stitches, buttons and more. It can be used as a pillow, or you could add a piece of ribbon to the top, for wall hanging.

You can download the free PDF handout here.

Happy Stitching ~Christen

Tips and Tea on Tuesdays

On Tips and Tea on Tuesdays, I will cover a topic and hopefully provide you with some tips that will be helpful! And just as an afterthought, tea may occasionally be a cup of Joe!

Tea for Tuesday

Tea today is a cuppa English breakfast tea, with a splash of milk, and my favorite breakfast in the world. My hubby was a doll and made French toast for me this morning. What a guy! As he was cooking, I was getting my beading project laid out on the work table, so that the colors are organized and ready for today’s project.

I am working on a small piece this week, a beaded heart, from my class Beadoodlery. These little brooches make nice gifts, and give you a place to display your beading talents.

When I teach a beading class, I talk to my students about the types of threads that can be used and how to work with them. Below are a couple of tips that I would like to share.

Tips: Beading Threads and Needles

Threads

  • Silamide comes either on a card, or on a spool, which makes it easy to cut off a length and thread through the needle. I use the June Taylor thread holder for the spool, which also has a convenient place for your scissors and needles.
  • Nymo and S-lon come on a small bobbin, which truthfully can fly across the room at any moment while cutting off a length of thread. UGH!

To counter act that issue, and to prevent my spool from becoming the latest cat toy I use these ideas.

  • If you have an unused lipstick holder, it makes for a great storage case for those small bobbins. You can pull out a short length of thread from the color that you choose, close the lid, then pull out the length of thread you want to work with.
  • Another trick, is to pin the bobbin onto a pincushion with a T-pin. Hold onto the pincushion, and pull off the length of thread that you want to work with.

Needles

  • Use a refrigerator magnet to keep your needles organized while working on a project
  • To store your needles, cut an empty plastic bead tube, to fit the size of your needles. Take the cap off the cut end, and place it onto the short end of the container.

Happy tea drinking and stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you have any questions or thoughts, just leave a comment! See Tips, Tricks, the Basics, for more helpful ideas.

Friday’s Favorites: Old Doors, Knobs, and Keys

I have always loved old doors. The more worn the better, because this signified that they had been used, traveled through, experienced. And then of course, I love the accessories that a door needs, such as door knobs and keys.

This is picture, was drawn by a friend. He drew it as a wedding gift for my husband and I. I framed it with this old music sheet, that I found on The Graphics Fairy.

The romantic in me thinks of castles, and knights and damsels in distress. So I to created an image of an old castle door that had been weathered, with a big door knocker, a brass knob and big hinges. I found this old, large key on eBay, and used it for the hanger. I also found a few old skeleton keys to add in here and there, and grouped them with my newer keys and heart shaped locks. The base is machine pieced and machine quilted. The charms, keys, and buttons are attached with embroidery floss.

This is a digital image that I created, using many images that I had found on Pinterest. If you like to look at photographs of old doors, windows and Greece may I suggest the artist Tolis’s Flickr photostream with this door as my favorite.

I gathered this group of batik fabrics that varied from rust to brown, and thought, well this would make a cool door! I found these wonderful blue buffed celluloid buttons, which I paired with brass buttons, buckles, and both vintage and new keys. The rust and vintage blue ribbons just keep the colors flowing. The base is machine pieced and quilted, and the hand embroidery is worked in perle cotton.

If you like fairies, old doors, and wonderfully illustrated books may I suggest “A Knock at the Door” by Angi Sullins and Silas Toball.

All Friday’s Favorites posts.

Enjoy your day, go on an adventure through a door that you have never been through! Imagine, dream, knock and enter! ~Christen

Tips and Tea on Tuesdays

On Tips and Tea on Tuesdays, I will cover a topic and hopefully provide you with some tips that will be helpful! And just as an afterthought, tea may occasionally be a cup of Joe!

chamomile tea

Tea today is Chamomile, just sippin’ and enjoying the quiet morning. In the last few days we have seen clear autumn days and crisp clear nights with a myriad of stars on display. This is certainly the time of year that I find myself sitting on the couch with a good book, and a warm snugly blanket.

Speaking of books, if you are like me, you probably have a few titles stacked up, next to your favorite chair or by the couch. I usually use a different book mark, for each of my favorite authors.

For my Tony Hillerman novels, I use an old postcard with a picture of Canyon de Chelly. For Mary Stewart’s series on Merlin, well of course it would be a picture of Stonehenge.

For this book by Laurie R. King, I am using a packaging label (black “Link Soul” label below). The cardboard is sturdy, and it has a nice tie, that drapes out of the pages.

Tip: Re-purpose Packaging Labels

My tip today, would be to recycle and re-purpose cardboard and paper that we might not have thought useful. I have all manner of packaging labels saved up in my workroom, waiting for the day that I can find a way to re-purpose them.

Medium weight cardboard pieces can be used for patterns, such as yo-yo templates, or embroidery designs. If one side is blank, then you can write down the description of the pattern. You can even use labels that are already the shape that you need, such as this round Valdani thread label.

Medium weight cardboard is sturdy enough to punch holes into the edge. You can do this to create a thread saver, to attach and organize loose strands of floss. If the packaging is relatively free of text, then list the brand name, and color number of the threads.

If you are lucky enough to find a particularly unique label like this one, you could use it to create a travel sewing kit.

  1. Remove the black thread at the top, and replace it with a length of rattail cording. Before putting a tie at the top, attach your travel sewing scissors.
  2. Cut out two pieces of felt for your needles, and glue theses to the inside front and back of the book.
  3. Punch holes into the two inside pages, for loose strands of floss.

Happy tea drinking and stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you have any questions or thoughts, just leave a comment! See Tips, Tricks, the Basics, for more helpful ideas.

Friday’s Favorites: Thanksgiving Decorations

Fridays Favorites is all about the Thanksgiving Decorations. I decorate for fall at the end of September and leave the decorations up until the end of November. Here in California, we really do not see the colors of turning leaves, and experience only the occasional crisp cold weather mornings. That said, I still appreciate the change of the season.

Here is a collection of my pumpkins, and other fall ephemera.

I love these wine cork pumpkins, what better way to use up all of those wine corks! I also love these wooden spools, so cool! The aluminum tins on top hold wax candle pumpkins.

Here are a few more vignettes, the first showing a collection of bird nests and paper wasp hives, along with Indian corn and mini pumpkins. The second shows Oliver and Aubriana, two art dolls that I have made. The third, a host of pumpkins, flowers and other fall ephemera.

And more owls, candles, gourds, and a turkey or two!

These images and poem encompass this time of year for me:

Dirt roads lined with
brown dusted bushes
and autumn colored trees
Leaves falling with even prettier colors
than last year.
Crackle air smells
of snow and cooked
turkeys and pumpkin pie.
Family days spent with
distant relatives, loved ones
and Thanksgiving.

Christen, 10-15-79

All Friday’s Favorites posts.

Well I hope that this inspires you to be creative with your decorations, and that you are enjoying this time of year.

Happy Stitching! ~ Christen

National Button Day, November 16, 2022

I LOVE buttons!!! As a kid my mom kept a wooden cigar box in the sewing cupboard, it was full of buttons and all manner of treasures! When we were sick, or sometimes just bored she would pull out the box and let us play with them. At first I just loved the sound that the buttons made when they fell on the table, then I loved just looking at the colors, then I started imagining what I would do with them all. I learned a lot about color, shapes and sizes by playing and arranging these little treasures on the rug in the living room. My mom in her quiet wisdom allowed us to explore, and to create our own self-taught course on design.

What button box, stash or hoard does not include mother-of-pearl buttons? Here are two pins that I have made for a project that is included in my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New. The last image shows you a shell that the button blanks were cut from, and a collection of buttons.

Every discerning collector has a favorite material or type of button that they collect. I happen to love all of them!

  • Santa Fe Talisman starts with a base of velvet ribbon. I used abalone shell, brown muscle shell, jade and turquoise buttons. Additional components are glass seed and larger beads, shell and freshwater pearls.
  • Cobble Stone Collar is entirely worked in a beaded stitch. The Tahiti and brown muscle shell buttons, and fresh water pearls were stitched on after the piece was stitched.
  • Umbrian Vintage starts with a base of two silk rouleau cords, with the buttons and beads worked between them. I used metal, celluloid, and glass buttons as the focal points, with glass seed and larger beads for embellishments.

Buttons are easy to stitch in place with threads or beads, and therefor are not damaged in anyway. This way the beauty of the button can be appreciated, and the history preserved.

  • Deco Plumeria started with a grosgrain ribbon base, with hand-stitched ribbonwork flowers and leaves. I embellished these with a collection of celluloid buttons and glass beads.
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride started with a velvet ribbon base. I used black glass buttons, metal buttons, and a few novelty buttons. The embellishments include vintage glass beads, seed beads and larger glass beads.
  • Woodland Roses also started with a velvet ribbon base. I used carved Bakelite roses for the focal points, and surrounded them with a collection of tagua nut and celluloid buttons.

If you want to know more about buttons, check out Piecework Magazine July/August 2013, for an article that I wrote called My Button Box. And in my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing, I have a chapter dedicated to “What’s in Your Stash”, with two pages dedicated to button materials, types and more.

I hope that you too have happy fond memories of your mom’s button box, bag, or jar! Happy Stitching, ~Christen

Tips and Tea on Tuesdays

On Tips and Tea on Tuesdays, I will cover a topic and hopefully provide you with some tips that will be helpful! And just as an afterthought, tea may occasionally be a cup of Joe!

tea on tuesday

Tea today is chai, with a lovely aroma, accompanied by a homemade oatmeal cookie. I am looking around at our decorations, and enjoying the colors, and the imagery. The piece below, Big Leaves was featured in my book, Hand Embroidery Dictionary, by C&T Publishing. This piece hangs over my computer, and just makes me smile.

Big Leaves

I created this project, with this small section of fabric that I had saved for just the right project. I love the colors in the linen print, but didn’t find any fabrics that I thought coordinated with it. So I decided just to work the embroidery stitches over the sections of the leaves. But what colors would I choose for the embroidery threads?

In this case, this large print fabric already came with the colors swatches printed on the selvedge edge. Wow, if only the rest of life could be so easy! This made it a breeze to pick out the thread colors. I chose solid colors in perle cotton, and variegated colors from Valdani.

Tip: Documentation

I put together a swatch card of the threads that I will work with for every project. On the back I list the color numbers, brand name, and the size of the threads used. The swatch card contains all of the information that I need and stays with the project until it has been completed. This way if I need to buy more thread, I have the color numbers right there. I also use my Embellished Art Embroidery Project Planner to keep all of my projects on track.

Happy tea drinking and stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you have any questions or thoughts, just leave a comment! See Tips, Tricks, the Basics, for more helpful ideas.

Friday’s Favorites: Rust, Wood, Bark

Fridays Favorites is all about natural rustic decorations. I love to collect things, and I am sharing some of my favorite treasures with you today.

This is one of my favorite boxes, it rests on our mantel year long. I change the decorations according to the season. Here I have lots of wooden spools, keys, dyed gourds and cool treasures.

The first image is a grouping of rusted tools, in a really cool woven container. The second is an old wash board, with a very well used wooden pole.

This is just a collection of more of my treasures, and all of them make me smile!

All Friday’s Favorites posts.

Well I hope that this inspires you to be creative with your decorations, and that you are enjoying this time of year.

Happy Stitching! ~ Christen

Tips and Tea on Tuesdays

On Tips and Tea on Tuesdays, I will cover a topic and hopefully provide you with some tips that will be helpful! And just as an afterthought, tea may occasionally be a cup of Joe!

tea cup

Today I am sitting with a cup of Earl Grey (cheers to Jean Luc), keeping warm and toasty with my feet clad in my husbands socks, and my comfy, cozy, slippers, hmmm! I got to thinking more about storage. Now that the days are shorter, I find myself spending a few hours a day in my workroom, organizing my smaller components.

Often I store beads, buttons, and embellishments in small plastic bags, or in small jewelry or other types of cardboard boxes. When I am working on a project, and I have a large group of small objects to work with, I want to see what there is to use.

Tip: Use storage containers that are open, like ice cube trays, or a painter’s palette, so that you can compare the components with each other. These are relatively inexpensive, and stack nicely.

Happy tea drinking and stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you have any questions or thoughts, just leave a comment! See Tips, Tricks, the Basics, for more helpful ideas.

Beading Threads and Needles

Threads

Beading threads are used to stitch the beads in place on your fabric or into bead woven forms. When used for bead embroidery, the thread is used double, with a knotted tail. When used for bead woven stitches, the thread is used single, unless the directions state otherwise.

  • Silamide comes either on a card, or on a spool, which makes it easy to cut off the desired length.
  • Nymo and S-lon come on a small bobbin.

Thread Holders

  • The June Taylor thread holder can be used for a spool of Silamide, which also has a convenient place for your scissors and needles.
  • An unused lipstick holder, makes for a great storage case for loose bobbins. Pull a short length of thread, close the lid and cut off the length needed.
  • A T-pin can be used to hold the bobbin onto a pincushion, pull the thread off as needed.

Needles

Beading needles are fine and thin and most commonly found in sizes 10-13. The needles come in long and short lengths.

  • Use a refrigerator magnet to keep your needles organized while working on a project
  • To store your needles, cut an empty plastic bead tube, to fit the size of your needles.

Happy stitching to you! ~Christen

PS: If you are looking for inspiration or ideas, check out my PDF Classes and books.