Wednesday, November 25, 2015


It is Thanksgiving here in America, and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for joining us on our new journey. We enjoy sharing our stories and stitches with you and are grateful that you stop by to visit us. May all of your cornucopias be filled to overflowing with many blessings!

Pattern created by the Baltimore Appliqué Society, from the 1847 Samuel Williams quilt.
In the coming weeks, we will share the story of the lovely quilt that includes this cornucopia!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Snow White's Dwarf Ornament

Did you guess which fairy tale we'd feature this week? He's not one of Santa's elves, but he was pretty special to Snow White. Week four of our free ornament patterns brings you one of her seven dwarves. We are posting early this week, because here in the U.S., we will be celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Once upon a time, there was a young princess with ebony hair, rose-red lips, and snow-white skin. All agreed that she was the fairest in all the land. Snow White's stepmother, the queen, was also beautiful, but most vain. As Snow White grew up, the queen realized that her own beauty was surpassed by that of the princess. In a jealous fit of rage, she sent a huntsman to take Snow White into the woods and kill her; he could not bring himself to do so, and set her free. A terrified Snow White sought shelter in a small house, where she found a safe haven amongst a group of seven dwarves, who came to care deeply about her. Although they tried to protect her, when the queen discovered Snow White was still alive, she was relentless in devising plans to kill the princess. Her first two schemes were thwarted by the dwarves, but finally, the queen disguised herself as an old peasant woman and tempted Snow White with a poisonous apple. One bite rendered Snow White dead. The dwarves could not bear to put her in the cold ground and placed her in a glass coffin, so that they could still view her beauty. One day, a prince discovered her, fell instantly in love, and begged the dwarves to allow him to carry her away to his palace. As his servants carried her coffin, one of them stumbled; the piece of poisonous apple was dislodged from Snow White's throat, and she instantly awoke. She and the prince were married, the wicked queen was eliminated, and they all lived happily ever after.

I (Teri) gathered wool for the different parts of the dwarf: black for the background, brown for shoes, tan for hands and face, a dark green tweed for the shirt, and a lighter green for the pants and hat. I chose some threads that I thought I might want to use; some I did, some I swapped out as I was stitching, finding a color I liked better.

I traced the pattern onto freezer paper and cut out each part of the design. Because there were so many small pieces, I backed each with Soft Fuse for more accurate placement. Using a 3.5-inch circle template, I traced and cut two black circles: one for background, one for a backing for my ornament. Then I cut out each piece of the design, removed the paper backing, and arranged them on the background. (Quite a mess of scraps!) 

I pressed the design in place so that the pieces would be secure as I stitched them in place...

...using a whip stitch and matching silk thread.

Here is the little guy all stitched down, ready to be embroidered. He stood there for a day or so until I figured out how I wanted to stitch his beard.

I decided to start with the apple. I did all my surface embroidery with wool thread. The stem is just a small, brown straight stitch. I used red to outline the rest of the apple and filled in with white straight stitches to show the bite out of the apple. Poor Snow White!

I contemplated using turkey work for the beard, but I really wanted it to be curly rather than fuzzy. So I ended up making a series of randomly placed straight stitches, pulled tightly from the back, but leaving it a small, loose loop on the top. I'm not sure if it's a real stitch, or if I made it up, but my loose, loopy straight stitches placed in varying directions made for a nice curly, thick beard! I also couldn't decide if he would have a brown beard or a white one, so I doubled the threads and used a strand of each, for a bit of a "salt and peppery" look. Sometimes, indecision becomes a creative opportunity.

The thread is pulled tautly to the top from the back.

Varying the direction of the stitches, I made a small stitch about 1/8-inch or a bit smaller, and pulled the needle to the back.

I pulled the thread to the back slowly, so that I would leave a loose loop on the top. I knew it would be secure once the ornament was finished and the loops would not be pulled to the back. I also didn't worry about them being equally loopy; some are looser than others, but I think that just added to his charm.


His eyes are French knots, and a small fly stitch became his nose. Using a split stitch, I stitched a small line for the legs of his pants. Finally, I finished off his hat by outlining it with a blanket stitch. (Mary Corbet's Needle 'n Thread offers a superb stitch directory with video tutorials, if you need a refresher on any of the stitches.)

I stitched a small ribbon loop to a circle of Timtex interfacing, which I then dotted with glue to secure it between my two black circles. The Timtex offers stability for the ornament, and it is cut a tad smaller than the black circles.

Using Perle cotton #12 thread and #6 glass beads, I used a knotted buttonhole stitch, adding a bead between each stitch, to finish off the ornament.

We hope you have enjoyed our fairy tale pattern series as much as we have. For your free pattern, click here: Snow White's Dwarf.

UPDATE: Thank you for stopping by here! A detailed pattern will be available at a future date at

If you have made Cinderella's Slipper, Little Red Riding Hood, or Sleeping Beauty, we'd love to see some of your ornaments! You could share them on our Facebook or Google+ pages. Or post your photos on Instagram and tag us (@needleseyestories). 

We are so glad you stopped by for a visit! Come again soon...we may have a special surprise for you, in addition to more great stories!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Sleeping Beauty Ornament

Week three of our Fairy Tale Ornament series brings you Sleeping Beauty. This ornament is perfect for anyone who loves stitching, even your knitting and crocheting friends.

Once upon a time, there were a king and queen who longed for a child of their own. When at last they had a daughter, they were overjoyed and held a celebration for all the kingdom. They invited all the fairies in the land to the party to give their blessings to the princess; however, one of the fairies was thought to have died and did not receive an invitation. All were surprised to see this old fairy arrive, and they worried that she seemed unhappy at her omission. The youngest fairy hid behind a curtain so that she could give the final blessing and undo any harm the disgruntled old fairy might bring. The princess received blessings of beauty, kindness, grace, and talents. When the old fairy spoke, she declared that the princess would one day prick her finger on a spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The youngest fairy stepped forward and countered that the princess would not die, but fall asleep for a hundred years.  Fifteen years later, the princess stumbled upon a hidden spinning wheel, and as foretold, pricked her finger and instantly fell asleep. The youngest fairy got word and travelled by dragon-drawn chariot to the palace, where she put all the servants to sleep, so that when the princess awoke, she would not be alone. The palace was immediately covered in rose briars so no one could enter. When the hundred years had passed, a young prince heard the story of the princess and vowed to get into the palace to waken her. At first glance, he fell in love, kissed her, and she awoke. Everyone else woke too, and they held a feast, marrying the prince and princess, who lived happily ever after. 

The day I (Teri) made this ornament, I invited a friend to come and learn how to stitch it with me. First, we gathered materials we would need: the pattern, a 3.5-inch circle template, black wool for the background, hand-dyed brown for the spinning wheel, and bits of green for leaves and red for the rosebud. I also had needles, marking pen, beads, and thread for embroidery.

We first marked the circle on the black wool, cutting out two of them, one for the front and one for the back. We traced the spinning wheel on the freezer paper and pressed it onto the brown wool, which I had backed with Soft Fuse.

Now I had to really study this to determine the best way to stitch the units of the spinning wheel. If I were stitching it with cotton, I would likely stitch each unit separately, but I was thinking the wool might look a bit lumpy, so I decided we should cut it as one unit. 

I carefully cut around the outline of the spinning wheel. To cut the inside of the wheel, I cut through the wheel along the side as pictured on the freezer paper above. After removing the freezer paper, I took the paper off the Soft Fuse on the back of the spinning wheel and ironed it in place on the background circle. Once the piece was stitched down, it was not evident that it had been cut. I whip stitched the spinning wheel in place with matching silk thread. One caution: I have a tendency to pull my stitches a bit too tight; to be sure the wool doesn't pucker, try not to use too tight a tension. (I learned this the hard way.)

My friend, working on her first appliqué. I can't wait to see her finished ornament!


I chose a wool thread that matched the spinning wheel to outline the spindle. I cut and whip stitched the rosebud in place beneath the spinning wheel.

I placed the leaves. With my Sewline white marking pencil, I sketched the vines as a guide for my embroidery. After using the stem stitch with wool thread for the vine, I whip stitched the leaves in place. (You could do these steps in either order.)

Again, using my Sewline white pencil, I sketched the spokes in the wheel and used the matching thread to stitch them. I also outlined the arm of the spinning wheel, which covered the place where I had cut through to the inside of the circle. I stitched a wooden bead in the center for an axle.

Using a few dabs of glue, I placed a piece of Timtex interfacing between the two black circles to stabilize the ornament. I stitched a small hanging ribbon to the interfacing before stitching the circles together.

Using a knotted blanket stitch (see tutorial here) and adding a bead between each stitch, I finished my ornament. I used perle cotton #12 and #6 glass beads.

We hope you are enjoying stitching these ornaments. For your free pattern, click here: Sleeping Beauty. If you have made Cinderella's slipper or Little Red Riding Hood, we'd love to see some of your examples. You could share them on our Facebook or Google+ pages. Or post your photos on Instagram and tag us (@needleseyestories). 

UPDATE: Thank you for stopping by here! A detailed pattern will be available at a future date at

We are so glad you have stopped by to visit our blog. Bet you can't guess what next week's fairy tale will be! 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Little Red Riding Hood Ornament

It's week two of our fairy tale ornament pattern series. This week, we are featuring Little Red Riding Hood.

Once upon a time, a young girl set off through the woods to take some goodies to her sick grandmother. Her mother dressed her in a bright red cape and reminded her not to talk to anyone on the way. As Little Red travelled along the path, she encountered a wolf who asked where she was going. He seemed to be a nice enough wolf, so Red forgot her mother's warning and told him she was heading to visit her grandmother. While Little Red was picking some flowers to add to her basket, the wolf sped to the cottage, ate Grandma,  put on her clothes, and climbed in bed to await the arrival of the young girl. Little Red found her "grandmother" in bed and was astonished by what big ears, eyes, and teeth she had. A woodsman arrived just in time to save Red from becoming the wolf's dessert, and he rescued her grandmother from inside the not so nice after all wolf...and they lived happily ever after.

When I (Kara) gather my supplies for most of my wool projects, I try to choose my matching threads at the same time I choose my wool colors, just in case I need to adjust things based on what I have. Or I just go wool and thread shopping and get what I need!

The Little Red ornament went together a little bit differently than the slipper, primarily because there are more pieces. I chose to back all my wool with Soft Fuse this time, since many of the pieces would butt up against each other. Any type of paper-backed fusible web would work. I traced the pattern onto freezer paper and then ironed them to my fusible backed wool. (Make sure you keep the fusible backing paper on when you iron the freezer paper.)

Once my pieces were cut out, I fused them onto my black circle and then whip stitched them down.

After all the parts were stitched down, I added some decorative details, like the stitching on Little Red's cape and the embellishment on the basket.  I used a stem stitch on the cape, along with a few French knots.

For the basket, I stitched five vertical straight stitches and then wove my thread through those straight stitches horizontally; the handle was defined with some diagonal straight stitches. I used a stem stitch around the neck of her cape and stitched a little bow.

Once the embellishment was finished, I fused two circles of Decor-Bond to the backs of the circles to give the ornament some stability in preparation for the beading.

Then I used the same knotted blanket stitch (see a tutorial here) to attach the beads and secure the front and back together. Before I got to the top, I inserted my ribbon hanger.

Here is Little Red Riding Hood on her way to Grandma's house.

We hope you will enjoy stitching this ornament. For your free pattern, click here: Little Red Riding Hood. If you made Cinderella's slipper last week, we'd love to see some of your examples. You could share them on our Facebook or Google+ pages. Or post your photos on Instagram and tag us (@needleseyestories). What will next week's fairy tale be? Come back next week and see!

UPDATE: Thank you for stopping by here! A detailed pattern will be available at a future date at

Monday, November 9, 2015

American Crazy Quilt Exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art

Time is ticking! If you live in the general area of Baltimore, Maryland, you have a wonderful opportunity to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art, which currently has six stunning crazy quilts on exhibit. But this special exhibit ends on November 29, so don't wait! The quality of the workmanship in these quilts is exquisite. I (Teri) was able to visit last week, and was enthralled by the embroidery and elegant work in these fabulous crazy quilts. I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to see this wealth of amazing stitchery if possible. I was inspired to try some new techniques. But just in case you live too far away to visit in person, I thought I'd share a bit of it with you, so you can be inspired as well.

Crazy quilts commonly had a spider web and spider stitched onto them. Evidently, it was supposed to represent good luck. Here are a few examples of spider webs found in the exhibited quilts.


Butterflies were another commonly stitched motif, as seen below.


And the flowers! Oh, the beautiful flowers—appliquéd, embroidered, and even painted in various types of fabric and thread: silk, velvet, ribbon, chenille. What a glorious garden! I'll let you just study the photos; I think they speak for themselves.

We can't forget the birds, from ordinary to exotic.

Crazy quilts often include fan designs, perfect for showcasing embroidery stitches. Sometimes they are found in the corners of the quilts, and sometimes an entire quilt might be based on the fan design. It is always fascinating to see the combination of stitches the needle artists created to decorate the seams. One could study these crazy quilts for hours and still discover something new.

I hope you have enjoyed our peek at the crazy quilts on display at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It has been a joy to share with you. Are you inspired to try something new, or use a new fabric to create a flower, a bird, or something of beauty to you? I hope so!

Crazy Quilt with Center Star and Blue Velvet Border, 1883-1888; Made by Augusta Adèle Smith, in Baltimore, MD