Thursday, November 19, 2020

All the Stockings Were Hung...

Both Teri and I (Kara) have been working on all things stocking lately. Our Cardinals Christmas Stocking was released earlier in the week, and now we would like to introduce our Floral Christmas Stocking!

This flannel and wool stocking is simple in its color scheme but is full of little details that give it a unique charm. All the simple embroidery is done with Weeks DyeWorks crewel wool, giving the stocking a lot of texture. We have a limited number of kits available that include the flannel, wool, ribbon hanger, and a whole skein of the Weeks crewel wool. All you need to provide is the lining.

I did this stocking a little differently than our Cottage Christmas stocking. Instead of cutting out the stocking pieces first and then appliquéing, I lightly traced the stocking pattern outline on my flannel so I knew where to place my appliqués and then proceeded to stitch them down. This way I didn't have to worry about distortion from the appliqués or fraying on the cut edges.

...and traced.
Pattern is pinned...

All the embroidery stitches are pretty standard, with the exception of the Pekinese stitch. It is a simple stitch that we love to use since the effect it gives is so varied depending on the thread you use. You can watch a tutorial for the Pekinese stitch HERE

Back stitch

Seed stitch and French knots

Stem stitch, lazy daisies, and knots
Fly stitches

Blanket stitch

When you are finished appliquéing your stocking, line up your appliquéd piece and your backing fabric, wrong sides together, and cut it out using your traced line as a guide. Be sure to leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance all the way around when you cut both pieces out. Do the same with your lining fabric.

To see the method we used to assemble our stocking, please go to our Cottage Christmas Stocking post HERE. We have used this method for all our stockings and find that it works out well in putting the stocking together.

The stocking pattern is available for digital download on our website, and we will have printed patterns available for it in the near future. The full kit—with wool, flannel, ribbon hanger, and thread—is also available on the website, although we have just 20 kits available. It's possible we may be able to stock more, but not promised.

Our good friend, Linda Macklin, suggested that we have a stocking of the year (Thanks Linda!) Two years ago, we offered our Cottage Christmas Stocking and Teri had the Cardinals Christmas Stocking all cut out last year, so we will count that as our 2019 stocking. With this stocking, I'd say we are well our way with a yearly stocking tradition! 

We hope you enjoy stitching our Floral Christmas Stocking and that it brings a little joy to you during this crazy year.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

"It's Not Over 'Til the Fat Lady Binds"

 ...or sings. Or both—because when I finally bound this quilt, I sang!

This quilt was part of a mystery quilt that the guild I (Teri) belonged to was doing—about 15 or so years ago. There are many details about the project I don't remember, like who designed the pattern, but I can remember many things that I learned about myself doing this project.

First, I am not very good at mystery designing. I remember waiting a few months to get started so that I could see a bit of the design coming together before I chose my colors and fabrics. I had decided to do a scrappy quilt, using only fabrics from my stash. I succeeded in completing the quilt without buying any new material, but I learned something else about myself.

Primary block design
I enjoyed picking the reds and greens from my stash.

Second, I don't like random, scrappy sewing. I have to plan my random scrappiness. It took me so much longer to arrange the blocks because I didn't want the same fabrics to be adjacent, or even very close. I would put the blocks on the design wall and rearrange them repeatedly, and every time I thought I had gotten it, I'd see two identical reds, greens, or neutrals right next to each other. And when I moved one block, there would be a domino effect. Good thing I like puzzles. 

Secondary block design
I allowed myself a but more leniency with the neutrals. 

I remember that I had bought this paisley design in the border and the corresponding fabric that makes my star centers, so I wanted that to be the starting point of my color choices. The trick was to pull together the blue and yellow greens, as well as the orangey and bluish reds. I chose a few fabrics with both colors to help, and the overall effect seems to work. 

So third, I love color!

I made this quilt when I was a piecer, long before I was pulled to the fabulous world of slow stitching. This quilt was filled with points! I am not sure I'd have the patience for all that precision work today. I might have to hand-piece it!

I finished the top and sent it off to a long-arm quilter. Helping her design how to quilt it was fun. Then I got it back and put it on my to-do list. I even had the binding chosen and cut out. All I had to do was trim the quilt edges, sew on the binding, and stitch it down. But it moved from my sewing room in the basement to my new room upstairs, and finally, to my new home. How absurd is that? 

Fourth, I guess binding is not my favorite part of the process. And maybe I am a great procrastinator?

But at long last, I can sing. I have bound the quilt, and miraculously, I even still like it! 
I do love the scrappy look of this quilt, even if I know it was "plandom" and not random. Every time I look at this quilt, I see another design jumping out at me as these blocks interact. Hooray for a fun finish!

I have yet to determine where this now finished quilt will live. It does look happy on my couch, just waiting for an afternoon nap on a gray day. Maybe today.

The moral to this story: Don't wait 15 years to bind your almost-finished quilts. Just think of all the love this quilt could have given over the past decade and a half!

I'm sure you can imagine what my husband said when he walked in the room to see me perched on my tip-toes on a bar stool to take a picture of the quilt. I'm certain it was nicer than what he was thinking!

Thursday, November 5, 2020

A Poppy Pincushion and Pin!

This is our last installment in our Hopeful Bluebird Sewing Smalls, and "hopefully" you have been joining in on the fun. This week we will be showcasing our Poppy Pincushion.

Hopeful Bluebird Poppy Pincushion

To start the pincushion, cut out the wool pieces and appliqué the poppy—the templates for the poppy can be found in our Hopeful Bluebird pattern (website link below). The first two petals are stitched down on one of the circles, and then the smaller petals are just tack stitched in the center. Once that is finished, it is time to add the embroidery to the top and side piece. We used a stem stitch down the center and then embellished that line with lazy daisies and French knots. We added a stem stitch around the poppy in purple just to bring a hint of that color to the pincushion, and the center of the poppy is made by using a spider web stitch with 5 spokes. Here is a video of how we did that stitch:

After the embroidery is finished, it is time to assemble the pincushion. First stitch the top to the side using a blanket stitch and #12 pearl cotton in green starting 1 inch from the end. You can pin if you like to help keep it together.

When you get to the end, overlap the two ends and finish off your blanket stitch. Line up the bottom ends, pin, and then sew the overlap with matching sewing thread.

Overlapped ends

Overlap sewn closed

Next, attach the bottom circle with a blanket stitch as you did for the top. You can choose to pin the whole thing, but we found that it was easier to just pin at the end after we had stuffed it.

Blanket stitching the bottom circle

Leave an opening and stuff.

Pin the opening and stitch closed.

Stitched, stuffed, and ready to go!

An extra project this week is to make a pin to wear for Remembrance Day! It's super simple to do—just cut a small piece of wool for a backing and then tack stitch the centers of your poppy petals to the backing, embroider the center, and then add a pin to the back.

We hope you have enjoyed making our sewing smalls—and don't forget, we have kits for sale on our website that contain all the wool needed to make all four smalls: scissor keeper and fob, needle book, and pincushion. You can find all links needed for all the smalls below, as well as a link to our Facebook group where you can meet other stitchers and participate in our great giveaway. All you need to do to enter is join the group and then post any of the Hopeful Bluebird projects, either finished or in progress.

The Giveaway is now closed, but you can now purchase the Hopeful Bluebird Sewing Smalls Printed Pattern along with the wool kits using the link below.

Have fun stitching and don't forget to share your pics!