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Friday’s Favorites: Decorating with Lace and Jewels

I love to decorate for the holidays. I have quite a collection of lace, buttons, and old jewelry bits, and try to find ways to incorporate them into my holiday decorations.

The first tree here, is actually a metal jewelry holder, with a bowl to catch your loose bits of stuff. I have used it to display my collection of vintage mercury glass ornaments and garlands. I placed vintage tinsel garlands in the bottom of the bowl, then nestled a collection of vintage swan shaped clip-on tree ornaments around the base of the tree. I gathered together a collection of vintage dress pins and single earrings, and added these throughout the branches.

The Lace Cone Trees, are resting in a silver leaf tray, with a garland of bells wrapped around the base. There are two vases flanking this group, filled with vintage mercury glass ornaments and vintage glass beads. See my Tips and Tea on Tuesdays post December 6, 2022, for directions on how to make a cone tree.

The Lace Christmas Tree hanging at the top of the picture is comprised of bits and pieces of lace that had been a salesman’s sampler. I added additional pieces of lace, and some vintage buttons. This project is a free handout that I am offering to my readers as a gift, from me to you.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

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, appliqués, 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

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!

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: Fall Colors

14 3/4″ x 13 3/4″

Batik Galaxy by Christen Brown

This piece started with the a group of batik fabrics in dark mustard, teal, and cranberry/rust. The cranberry/rust fabric reminded me of the red ring around Mars, so I created a galaxy in the center of the piece, using a wholecloth reverse applique technique. The copper and antiqued brass finishes of the celestial-themed charms added an extra color element. This piece can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

11 1/4″ x 12 7/8″

Umbria by Christen Brown

This piece started with four printed fabrics in rich browns, rust, and cranberry colors. I found a variegated perle cotton that picked up all of those colors. I then chose the remainder of the embroidery and embellishments to match the thread. Embellishments include vintage shell buttons, copper charms, and glass buttons that are sprinkled around the fiber and metal leaf trims. This piece can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

17″ x 16 3/4″ (close-up)

Autumn Ribbons by Christen Brown

The base of this piece started with a linen napkin, and added bits of vintage lace that I hand-dyed with Colorhue dyes. I then added in loads of rust, orange, and brown flowers and leaves that I hand-stitched from Hanah silk bias ribbons. I used techniques that can be found in my book Ribbonwork Flowers by C&T Publishing. The embroidery was worked with perle cotton, Wildflower threads, and silk embroidery ribbon, using many of the stitches that can be found in my book Embroidered and Embellished by C&T Publishing.

24″ x 23″ (close-up)

Harvest Quilt by Christen Brown

The base of this quilt was strip-pieced using Hoffman cotton batiks, in rich autumn colors of rust, umber, cranberry, maple, and olive. The embroidery stitches are worked in perle cotton #5 and #8, Wildflower threads, and cotton floss. This piece was featured in the gallery section of my book Embroidered and Embellished by C&T Publishing.

Enjoy! Happy Stitching! ~Christen

Recycled Blue Jeans and Denim Fabric

JEANS, when did you get your first pair? I grew up wanting to be the “ballerina” in Elton John’s song “Blue Jean Baby”. I can hear you singing, “can’t you see her, tiny dancer in the sand”.

In high school I embroidered jeans and work-shirts for friends and family. In fact the reason that I now wear a thimble while stitching is from being poked so much by working on the heavy jean fabric. I have recycled a pair or two (that did not fit anymore), and used them in various projects. I also like to work with denim fabric (sold by the yard), because it provides a nice firm base to work on.

“Blue Jean Baby” is stitched onto a pant leg, from a pair of old jeans. I removed the pocket first, and used it and the pocket from the other leg in the examples below. I appliqued a lace heart, and many hand made flowers into the heart vase. I added vintage and new beads into the centers of the flowers. I embroidered ribbon down the side edges using traditional embroidery stitches. The little cat (made from a quilt from 1880’s) was a gift that came along with an eBay purchase, and Marcia Marcantonio is the creator. Thank you Marcia, I think that your gift is quite at home here.

“Butterflies and Snapdragons” (a pocket from the pants), was featured in my book Ribbonwork Gardens, by C&T Publishing. The middle embroidery was worked on another portion of the jeans. “Flower Child” (a pocket from the pants), was featured in my book Ribbonwork Flowers, by C&T Publishing.

These two pieces begin with the same pair of jeans (cut from the other pant leg), and one of my favorite fabrics, the vintage floral print that the hearts are cut from. The heart shapes are bordered by a dyed leaf trim, and are surrounded by silk ribbonwork flowers and leaves, and silk ribbon embroidery.

“Country Hearts” Wall Hanging was featured in my book, The Embroidery Book, by C&T Publishing. Each square was cut from the same pair of jeans, and I used the vintage rickrack trim to cover the raw seams. The embroidery stitches are worked in perle cotton threads. The embellishments include vintage tatted lace, ribbonwork flowers, vintage buttons, and glass beads.

“Denim and Dresden” is featured in my book, Creative Stitching, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing. I used jean fabric for the base of the piece, and I think that it compliments the vintage feed sack fabric so nicely. The embroidery is worked in perle cotton, cotton floss, and vintage tatting threads. The embellishments include yo-yo’s and vintage buttons.

Happy Stitching to you! ~Christen

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

Friday’s Favorites: Spiders and Webs

This time of year brings to mind spooky things, and to me the spookiest is running into a spiderweb and wondering if you are wearing the weaver of that web! We have quite a colony of orb weavers in our garden, and I am amazed by the intricacy of these woven wonders.

Ugly Bug Ball, by Christen Brown

The base of this piece is a cotton twill fabric. I pieced and stitched the web using a vintage embroidery ribbon, and rickrack trim. The web holds a host of ‘’ugly bugs’’ stitched mainly from old sewing notions and vintage glass and hand-blown glass beads. This can be seen in my book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New.

Spiders Hide in the Dusk, by Christen Brown

The base of this piece is a cotton batik, that I machine quilted, and then framed with a rayon cord. The embellishments include vintage glass and shell buttons, glass seed and larger beads. The webs, spiders, and button flowers are worked in bead embroidery stitches. This is a project in my book, Beaded Embroidery Stitching.

If you know my work, you know that I sneak a spider and a web into many of my crazy-pieced creations. I am in awe of the beauty of those delicate structures, and I try to capture that beauty either with beads or threads.

Charlotes Webs, by Christen Brown

This project started with the reproduction cigarette silk print in the center, whom I named Charlotte. The center section was crazy-pieced with tiny and tinier pieces of precious silk scraps left over from a few other projects. Satin ribbon was machine stitched randomly to create sections for the vignette embroidery which was worked in silk embroidery ribbon, woven ribbon, perle cotton and beads. Additional embellishments include vintage buttons and glass charms.

As much as I love to look at the webs, I am deathly afraid of real-life spiders! When I embroider the spider, I try to create a more whimsical version to somehow confront my fear! It works, until I run into a web, and then wonder…

All Friday’s Favorites posts.

Thank you for looking, and Happy Stitching to you all! ~Christen

National Lace Day

October 1, 2022

I LOVE to work with lace, and have acquired a wonderful stash, many of the pieces were given to me by thoughtful family members and friends. A variety of techniques are used to create lace, by hand or machine, from natural or synthetic threads or yarns. The hand-made techniques use simple tools, such as a needle, wooden bobbins, crochet hook, tatting shuttle, or knitting needles, and I tend to collect these, but all lace is welcome in my home!

9″ x 10 3/4″

Creme de la Creme by Christen Brown

This is a collection of some of my favorite little scraps of lace, trims, doily bits, and pieces of a collar and cuff. I collage-pieced these bits onto a background of dupioni silk, then hand-stitched the pieces in place. The vignettes are comprised of silk ribbon embroidery floral components, groups of buttons with silk ribbon embroidery stitches, charms and other beaded components. This piece can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book, by C&T Publishing.

23 1/2″ x 19″

Girly Girls by Christen Brown

This entire collection of doilies, napkins, small serving place mats, and lace bits was given to me by friends and family members. The kid glove belonged to my grandmother, and my mother stitched the oval floral pieces. The earrings came from both of my husband’s grandmothers, and the jacquard ribbon from his mother. I collage-pieced and hand-stitched the base first, then added in the larger components, and ribbonwork flowers. The embroidery is worked with perle cotton, and beads. I also added in vintage buttons, jewelry bits, perfume vials, and and a safety pin with tea themed porcelain charms. This piece can be found in my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing.

Photo by Felix Mayorca

Pearl’s Delight by Christen Brown

I stitched this simple jacket from a fun paisley print that I had found in a $1.00 a yard bin many, many, years ago. Every inch of the base is covered with bits of vintage machine made, tatted, and crochet lace that had been given to me by my friend Jeri. The sections of lace are embellished with ribbons, mother-of-pearl buttons and charms, freshwater pearls, glass beads, and glass pearls that came from an old necklace that belonged to my grandmother. This piece can be found in my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing.

Here is a collection of some additional pieces that can be found in my new book, Creative Embroidery, Mixing the Old with the New, by C&T Publishing.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

National Sewing Month

Day 30

Question: Are you looking for inspiration, a little kick start, or just some eye candy? I have a few books that may help you on your creative journey, may that be a long and happy one!

Here is a re-cap of National Sewing Month 2022:

  1. September 1, 2022– Question: When did you first learn to sew, and who was your teacher?
  2. September 2, 2022– Question: How do you design a project, do you start with a plan or do you let the materials tell you what and where they want to be?
  3. September 3, 2022– Question: What type of piecing do you like to do?
  4. September 4, 2022– Question: When you choose a fabric, what are you drawn to, do you like to work with solids or prints, or hand-dyed or batiks?
  5. September 5, 2022– Question: Do you like to recycle old clothing, or use something in an unexpected way?
  6. September 6, 2022– Question: What type of embellishments to you like to work with on your projects?
  7. September 7, 2022– Question: Do you plan out every detail, or do you approach your work with serendipity?
  8. September 8, 2022– Question: Do you like to make and sew your own jewelry and adornments?
  9. September 9, 2022– Question: Did you know that the wooden spools that you have in your stash may be 50-100 years or older?
  10. September 10, 2022– Question: Do you have a favorite pincushion, or two?
  11. September 11, 2022– Rustic Americana, In Memory of 9/11
  12. September 12, 2022– Question: When you design a project, do you sometimes think, hmm I like that, but I want to try it in another colorway or design?
  13. September 13, 2022– Question: Do you plan out a project, with bits and pieces of paper lying around the workroom with your notes, or do you use a dedicated book to keep track of all of those ideas?
  14. September 14, 2022– Question: Do you name or title your projects, and how do you choose those names?
  15. September 15, 2022– Question: Do like to work with felt?
  16. September 16, 2022– Question: What sewer does not have a favorite pin or needle keep?
  17. September 17, 2022– Question: Do you sew functional forms for the home, or do you like to create whimsical additions?
  18. September 18, 2022– Question: Do you like to crazy-piece, but sometimes find the sections so small, that it is hard to embroider every seam?
  19. September 19, 2022– Question: Do you like to embroider over a pattern or print?
  20. September 20, 2022– Question: When you embroider a piece, do you like to use free-form images or do you use stencils?
  21. September 21, 2022– Question: When you create a strip-pieced base, do you embroider the seams, in the seams or over the seams?
  22. September 22, 2022– Question: What sewer hasn’t heard of the Sunbonnet Sue?
  23. September 23, 2022– Question: Do you sew functional forms or do you like to create fabulous frivolities?
  24. September 24, 2022– Question: Do you like to add lace to your creations?
  25. September 25, 2022– Question: When you are working with a group of fabrics, how do you decide what colors to use for the embroidery stitches?
  26. September 26, 2022– Question: What kind of sewing machine did you learn to sew on, and, what kind of machine do you sew on now?
  27. September 27, 2022– Question: When you see a hanky used in a project, do you ever think of Rhett Buttler’s comment to Scarlet: “Never, at any crisis of your life, have I known you to have a handkerchief.”
  28. September 28, 2022– Question: Do you ever hold on to a piece of fabric, and think, someday, I will use that?
  29. September 29, 2022– Question: When you buy a charm pack, do you often find that there are prints that you think, hmm, how did those get included in here?

I hope that you have enjoyed this month, and have found some inspiration within these pages.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

National Sewing Month

Day 29

Question: When you buy a charm pack, do you often find that there are prints that you think, hmm, how did those get included in here?

Paris Flea Market- by Christen Brown

The four 9-patch blocks are comprised of the lighter colors of the charm pack, with a border of bleached muslin. The embroidery was worked in three colors of perle cotton, the border row stitches in one color, the decorative stitches in a second color and the detail stitches in a third color. I stitched groups of mother-of-pearl buttons to the border.

Charmed Square by Christen Brown

This small square was pieced with a few leftover squares from the pack, with two complementary fabrics to complete the nine-patch design and borders. The border row stitches were worked in one color of perle cotton #8 to straddle each seam. The decorative and detail stitches were worked in five colors of cotton floss, and two colors of seed beads. The color and stitch changed depending on which side of the border row they were stitched on. I used three colors of glass buttons and charms and added brass buttons as an accent color.

These two pieces can be found in my book, The Embroidery Book by C&T Publishing.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen