Archive | April 2023

Slow Stitchin’ on Sunday Mornings

In these posts I want to share some of my favorite pieces, which will include wall hangings, small works, pillows, purses, and just because pieces. The piece below was also featured in a blog post that I wrote for C&T Publishing, promoting my book Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New. It is a take-off on one of the Projects by Design, called Ribbons and Trims Squared.

Autumn Ribbons and Lace

Autumn Ribbons and Lace: This piece started with a piece of green silk fabric, which I collage-pieced with vintage jacquard ribbons and lengths of vintage lace. I sprinkled vignettes of silk ribbon embroidery and vintage buttons throughout the piece. The stitches are worked in 2mm, 4mm, and 7mm silk ribbon embroidery, and #8 and #12 perle cotton. Embellishments include, vintage celluloid and glass buttons, glass seed beads and glass charms.

Embroidery Details:

  • Border Row Stitches: Single feather stitch, chain stitch, chain stitch double, and stem stitch
  • Detail Stitch: Lazy daisy stitch, French knot stitch, and pistil stitch
  • Silk Embroidery Stitches: Woven rose stitch, woven rose stitch variation, Ellen Matilda’s rose stitch, French knot bud stitch, ribbon stitch, padded straight stitch, lazy daisy stitch, and French knot stitch
  • Beaded Embroidery Stitches: Single bead stitch, stacked bead stitch

Want to learn more about embroidery, and specifically silk ribbon embroidery?

I will be the keynote speaker for the Creative Spark, EMBROIDERY EXTRAVAGANZA! I will also be teaching a class on SILK RIBBON EMBROIDERY.

If you click on the link, you will receive $20.00 off the price of the four hour event.

Happy Stitching to you all! ~Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Attic, Garage and Junk Drawer Finds

What more can I say? I have a selection of pieces to show you today, from my book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old With the New, by C&T Publishing.

A selection of orphaned and discarded items, waiting for a forever home!

I love to re-purpose items, and give them a new or different home, other than what they were intended for. Here are a few examples of how you can take orphaned or found items like this odd selection above, and repurpose them into something useful.

These are Stash Idea Inspiration examples of two of the Stash Projects in the book, Scrap Pin and Hoop Frame. I re-purposed old knitting and jewelry pins and a wooden embroidery hoop.

The first picture is a Stash Project in the book, that uses and old Jello-o mold for the base. The next two images are Stash Idea Inspiration pieces. I incorporated a collection of heart-shaped cookie cutter molds, that I wrapped with ribbons, and added in ribbonwork flowers to make a wreath. The next wreath started with a base of vintage wooden sewing thread spools. It has vintage sewing thimbles filled with ribbonwork flowers, and old pair of scissors, trims, and metal butterfly pins.

Here are a selection of vases, made from unexpected finds. The first two are Stash Projects in the book. In the first image, I used a vintage china creamer that had belonged to my husband’s mother, Virginia. Filling the vase are flowers and leaves made from a variety of ribbons and zippers. In the second image, I took a wooden spool from my mom’s old stash, and filled it rosettes made from hand-dyed ribbon, and a group of vintage French beaded glass leaves. The last image is a Stash Inspiration Idea, where I took a saltshaker and inkwell and used them as small vases filled with flowers.

The book has a chapter called Altering the Past, where I give you instructions how to make the ribbonwork flowers and leaves, the rickrack and fabric flowers, and the penny circles.

I hope that this inspires you to find and repurpose those abandoned attic, garage and junk drawer finds, and get creative!

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 today, is actually coffee. I needed a bit of a jolt this morning, and well, it did the trick. I am sitting here at my work-table trying to re-organize and clean up my room after finishing a piece for an upcoming project. It is always fun to gather your treasures together, but I must admit, that it is challenge to put everything back. I guess my young self would have told my old self, well at least you have all of those treasures. Ok, I am listening, and I promise to quietly work away, and try to enjoy the moment.

Speaking of work-spaces, I recently participated in a survey that Lynn from Create Whimsy posted: Best Fabric Storage. She asked us a series of questions on how we organized our workspace, tools, and supplies. As I read through the other artist’s comments and saw their workspace, I was so impressed by how organized and clean each workspace was. In comparison, I noticed one thing about myself, my workspace looks like my artwork. A combination of using old and new, left-over bits, and well let’s be honest, piling as much stuff as I can into one space. And to be fair, my workspace which is 10′ x 12′, can be pretty cramped, and often times I find my work spills onto the kitchen table.

Tip: Organizing Your Workspace

Keep the tools handy that you use regularly, and designate a place to put them on your work table. Keep it fun, and give new purpose to unused containers or other household items that have found their way to your table. Include things on your table that make you happy, like small artworks, old postcards, or gathered ephemera.

  • Designate a place on your work table for your tools so that they are within arms reach.
  • An unused coffee mug is a great place to store your scissors, rulers, tweezers, stuffing tool, marking pen, and pencil.
  • Keep one pincushion for embroidery needles, and one for beading needles.
  • Use old Jello-O molds to store spools of thread, or for your thread cuttings.
  • Use a tea tray as the destination spot for small tools like a strawberry needle sharpener, a pair of scissors, or a bead scoop.
  • Keep a picture of your kid on the desk, ’cause I bet she makes you smile, mine does!

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.

Slow Stitchin’ on Sunday Mornings

In these posts I want to share some of my favorite pieces, which will include wall hangings, small works, pillows, purses, and just because pieces.

My Crazy Valentine

My Crazy Valentine: This piece started with an embroidered heart, that had been a greeting card, stitched by my mom. I crazy-pieced around the center section with two different colors of green silk fabric. I framed the center section with two strips of a lovely vintage edging and insertion laces. I hand-stitched ribbonwork flowers from an ombre ribbon, and sprinkled these in vignettes throughout the piece. The stitches are worked in silk ribbon embroidery, and perle cotton. Embellishments include vintage mother-of-perle buttons, glass beads, metal and glass charms.

Materials Used:

  • Silk Embroidery Ribbon: 2mm, 4mm, 7mm
  • Perle Cotton: #8, #12
  • Cotton Floss: 2 or 3 strands
  • Woven ribbon
  • Embellishments: vintage mother-of-pearl buttons, glass seed beads, and glass and metal charms

Embroidery Details:

  • Border Row Stitches: Modern fern stitch, feather stitch, stem stitch, and couched ribbon stitch
  • Detail Stitch: Lazy daisy stitch, French knot stitch
  • Silk Embroidery Stitches: Woven rose stitch, rosette stitch, ruched rose stitch, ribbon stitch, lazy daisy stitch, and French knot stitch
  • Beaded Embroidery Stitches: Single bead stitch, stacked bead stitch

Want to learn more about embroidery, and specifically silk ribbon embroidery?

I will be the keynote speaker for the Creative Spark, EMBROIDERY EXTRAVAGANZA! I will also be teaching a class on SILK RIBBON EMBROIDERY.

If you click on the link, you will receive $20.00 off the price of the four hour event.

Happy Stitching to you all! ~Christen

Earth Day 2023: UpCYcLe IT

I have always been an advocate for re-purposing and turning something old, and worn, and forgotten into a new treasure, I have a lecture (with handout) on Creative Spark, Upcycle It with Embellishments that shows you many examples of ways that you can rescue, update and revive your own wardrobe.

And why not do this yourself, with your wardrobe? What better way to honor Earth Day, and be creative at the same time? Here are a few pieces of mine that I have updated, embellished, and refreshed.

Phred’s Jean Jacket

My friend Phred, created this jacket from 6 or 7 pairs of jeans that he found at several different thrift stores. He made this jacket in the 70’s. At some point he gave it to me, and it has been worn at various times, by both myself and my daughter. As you can imagine the raw edges of the jeans had frayed through the years. So I sat down one week, and trimmed off all the frayed edges, and then repaired any rips that had occurred. I then took 2 colors of perle cotton #5, and hand-stitched a running stitch around the edge of each square. I added in some white vintage buttons, and a few corsages that I made from old ties. VOILA a star was re-born.

Shabby Chic Jean Purse

This is a jean purse that I just loved, I used it over and over again. But at some point, the brass findings had left rust spots on the purse. I cut off the tabs that the findings had been attached to, and pulled out my box of vintage crochet doilies. And then I got busy! I added in rosettes made from lace and ribbons, large ruched flowers made from denim strips, zipper roses, crochet flowers, and buttons.

Old Rose Corsages

These corsages are made from vintage silk ties, so get to rummaging through your stash, and get busy! I have included instructions in the lecture handout on how to make a version of the one on at the top right of the picture

Millifiori Jewelry Ensemble

This jewelry ensemble represents many hours spent on eBay, looking for all of the vintage parts and pieces to complete the group. I strung the necklace with new and vintage glass and metal beads. I just love how all of the colors pop when worn with the jacket.

If you would like to learn more about re-purposing and updating your wardrobe, see my lecture, (with handout) on Creative Spark, Upcycle It with Embellishments.

Happy Stitching! ~Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Vintage Notions

What more can I say? I have a selection of pieces to show you today, from my book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old With the New, by C&T Publishing. Some of the pieces are gallery examples, some are examples of the projects included in the book.

Create, Sew And, Stitch, And Play Garland: is a Stash Inspiration Idea, that I created for the book. I had been collecting vintage notions for a long time, and wanted to have a use from them other than sitting in a vintage sewing basket, ignored and forgotten!

Vintage Sewing Collection: This sewing kit and needle keep were stitched from a scrap of vintage flannel fabric. The embellishments include a vintage measuring tape, soutache trim, woven rickrack, buttons, sequins, beads, and sewing notions. Also shown are a collection of well-loved vintage sewing tools. The Needle Keep on the right is a “Free Project” that I created and wrote directions for, that can be found on C&T Publishing’s website.

Ugly Bug Ball: This is a Stash Idea Inspiration piece, that uses the ideas from the Hoop Frame Stash Project. The base is a piece of cotton fabric with a hand-stitched web of variegated rayon embroidery ribbon, and cotton rickrack trim. My “ugly bugs” are embroidered with vintage sewing notions and glass beads. The embroidery stitches are included in the book.

Scrap Pins: These are examples of the Scrap Pin Stash Project, which starts with a base of wide ribbon, or fabric. The base is then hand-stitched with embroidery, buttons, and all manner of gathered ephemera. An old knitting pin, laundry pin, or other type of pin is used for the hanger.

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!

apple tea-pot and mug
Tea on Tuesday

Tea today, is a new tea, well to me, it is called Himalayan Spring, which is an organic white tea, it has a light and smooth flavor. I love to look at my cup and pot set (in back on the left), but don’t use it much because the cup is so big, it doesn’t fit in the designated spot on my work table. Priorities over beauty I suppose!

Today I have set some time aside to sort through and organize the button bags and boxes, that were set aside for a project but were not used. This is always a happy task for me, as I enjoy looking at them, and resorting them, and bonus I get to revisit old friends. As I am doing this I think of the upcoming pieces that are waiting to be made, or even the ones that have not been imagined yet. I think of the colors, themes, and designs that I will be using and try to find just the right project to put these little gems on, so they have forever home.

Here is an example of an ensemble where I think the buttons, beads, charms, and ribbons are quite happy together! Well at least, I am happy that they were used to make these pieces. The two bracelets (left image) and the necklace (right image), are made from predominantly vintage buttons, with two exceptions, the bright yellow plastic sunflower buttons, and the green plastic leaf charms (bracelet on the right). The ribbon on the necklace, and the vintage earrings were made during the 1940’s-50’s. The felt heart pin was made many, many years ago.

Design Tip: Choosing Colors For a Jewelry Ensemble

  • As a starting point, find a colorway, piece of fabric, or another object that has all the colors that you want to work with. In this case I choose a colorway that I call “Crayon Colors”, which are the ones used for the vintage hanky and the pin in the center of the necklace.
  • Start collecting your components, choosing colors that match your palette, or are some slight variation of the colors. Notice that the green in the hanky is different from the green in the pin. The bead and button bracelet (left) has a variety of greens, and the leaves on the charm bracelet (right) is a warmer green.
  • Choose a color/s that will be used throughout the piece/s to bring some cohesiveness. For this ensemble, it was yellow.
  • For consistency choose one color to stitch all of the buttons in place. For the necklace, I choose a red perle cotton.
  • Another thing to consider, is that when worn, the pieces in the ensemble will not be next to each other, so a little variation is OK, as long as you feel all the colors work together!

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.

Slow Stitchin’ on Sunday Mornings

In these posts I want to share some of my favorite pieces, which will include wall hangings, small works, pillows, purses, and just because pieces. The piece below is featured in my book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New.

Lace and Rose Finery Book Cover

Lace and Rose Finery: This piece started with a piece of floral linen fabric, that had soft colors in beige, rose, and green. I collage-pieced a collection of very lovely, fine, bits of exquisite vintage lace. This collection of lace was given to me by my sister-in-laws mother’s husband, which had belonged to his mother, Evonne.

Materials Used:

  • Silk Embroidery Ribbon: 2mm, 4mm, 7mm
  • Perle Cotton: #8, #12
  • Cotton Floss: 2 or 3 strands
  • Embellishments: vintage glass and metal buttons, glass seed and bugle beads, and glass charms

Embroidery Details:

  • Border Row Stitches: Blanket stitch, blanked stitch up and down, blanket stitch knotted, stem stitch, and chain stitch
  • Vines: Feather stitch with lazy daisy stitches, feather stitch with French knot stitches, and chain stitch with lazy daisy stitches
  • Decorative and Detail Stitches: Lazy daisy stitch, fly stitch, and French knot stitch
  • Silk Embroidery Stitches: Woven rose stitch, woven rose variation stitch, old rose stitch, rosette stitch, French knot bud stitch, ruched rose stitch, pointed petal stitch, ribbon stitch, lazy daisy stitch, and French knot stitch
  • Beaded Embroidery Stitches: Single bead stitch, stacked bead stitch
Full exterior, 19˝ × 101/2˝ (48.3 × 26.7cm)

Want to learn more about embroidery, and specifically silk ribbon embroidery?

I will be the keynote speaker for the Creative Spark, EMBROIDERY EXTRAVAGANZA! I will also be teaching a class on SILK RIBBON EMBROIDERY.

If you click on the link, you will receive $20.00 off the price of the four hour event.

Happy Stitching to you all! ~Christen

Friday’s Favorites: Ribbons and Trims

What more can I say? I have a selection of pieces to show you today, some you may have seen and some are from my upcoming book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old With the New, by C&T Publishing.

Well Hello Dolly: Vintage jacquard ribbons from the 1940s frame the four hand-quilted, printed pattern pieces for the dolls, Alice and Jeannie. Embellishments include a leaf trim, satin ribbons, ribbonwork flowers, celluloid flower pins, glass and plastic flowers beads, and vintage hat buttons. The chapter on Altering the Past, has a section on Ribbon and Trim Details, that shows you how to make the ribbonwork flowers.

Here are two examples of the Stash Projects that use ribbon. These two projects are primarily hand-sewn, so if you don’t own a sewing machine, you can still make them!

These are all examples of how you can incorporated rickrack and other trims into your work. There is a section in the chapter Altering the Past, on how you can stitch Ribbon and Trim Details.

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 today is a light Jasmine green tea, with a bit of orange honey, freshly made locally. I am also munching on a slice of carrot cake left-over from the weekend. The lovely china cup was a gift from my dear friend Jeri, and I treasure it. She introduced me to all things feminine, like drinking tea in beautiful vintage cups, playing with lace, and collecting mother of pearl buttons.

She also was a staunch believer in re-cycling. Her workroom was filled with all manner of collected treasures, displayed in jars, boxes, and tins. Her spirit lives on here in my collections.

Tip: Repurposing Glass Jars

  • Wash your glass jar thoroughly in hot water, preferably in the dishwasher, this will remove all leftover food or oils.
  • All manner of collected treasures can be stored, I usually leave the lid off.
  • Store buttons made from glass, metal, shell, and wood.

Note: Do not store vintage plastic buttons in glass jars with the lid on, as the materials and chemicals have a tendency to breakdown. If you ever wondered why those buttons have a funny smell, that is it! I store vintage plastics in a cardboard or wood box.

Here are some additional ideas for ways to use unusual vessels:

  • Fill a spice jar with flowers from Michael’s or your local craft store and place it on a doily.
  • Keep a jar for all of those bead blips, broken buttons, odd pits of ribbon, stuff you don’t want to throw out.
  • Fill the holes of a salt shaker with hatpins, or remove the metal top and fill it full of hat pins.

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.