Wednesday, June 28, 2017


It's been a little while since I posted.  I have another draft post--a really long draft--explaining why, at least in part.  Let's just say the past few months have been a depressing, frustrating experience, textile-wise.

But I did get this small project done.  I like cuffs and have wanted to make some for years.  A few months ago, I bought a leather cuff from a man in my neighborhood who has started leatherwork.  He had an Etsy shop, but I can't find it now.  Argh.  Well, if I do, I'll add a link to this post.

The leather cuff

It was immediately my favorite accessory; I wore it everywhere.  And it solved a problem for me:  how to measure my wrist to make sure any cuff I made fit properly.  This one fit perfectly so I used it as a template.  

I wanted to make a denim cuff first.  I have a tote full of old jeans, just waiting for me to do something with them.  So I pulled that out, bought some Pellon (stiff but bendable) and some suedecloth, and sorted through my old jewelry box for a suitable medallion.  

A few years ago, I visited Oak Island with my family, and I tatted bracelets for each of the women who were there.  I liked my bracelet, but didn't feel it suited me well, or fit well, for that matter.  But I thought it would look perfect with the denim.

 Denim, suedecloth, pellon, tatted bracelet, sparkly pendant

After taking the photo, I thought, "Well, that doesn't look right!"  The denim was uneven and, it turns out, suedecloth is a knit, something I have no experience with.  I redid them, this time measuring out rectangles, cutting them with my rotary cutter instead of scissors, and then curving the corners.

 Much better!

The tatted bracelet is stitched on with hot pink thread.

 Pellon fused to the back

 Suedecloth stitched to the back.  Those are some tiny stitches!  It's because I forgot to adjust my stitch length after working on darts.

 From the front.

 The medallion is added.  I didn't have any good way to stitch it on, so I glued it on with E-6000 and tacked the very top on with a few stitches.  That way, if the glue fails, it won't completely detach.  My plan is that the stitches will be disguised by the eventual fraying.

 Snaps attached and fraying started!  The fraying may take a little while.  I want it to fray down to the stitch line of the suedecloth.  I did have to learn how to install the snaps for this part.

It's all over but the fraying!  

It's not perfect, but overall I am very happy with this first step into making fabric cuffs.  I have some beautiful orange silk shantung that I plan to use for my next project.  I hope to start (and finish!) later this summer.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Fizzle

In my last post, I posted a picture of an ornament I had just started.  I hadn't done too much work on it then, and I haven't done too much work on it now.  Still, there was a little progress.

This is a fun little ornament from JCS 2016 Ornament Issue:  "You Peeked" by Fern Ridge Collections.  I've completed the cross-stitch and the backstitch, and gotten a good start on Scotch and reverse Scotch.  It took a little bit to get the counting down, but now it's a nice, relaxing--but not boring--project.  

Chevron stitch on the hat will be next, but I called this "The Fizzle" because that's the name of the yarn the beard is done in, and that beard is why I picked this project.  You'll see.  But the name reminds of "The Twizzle" from the first season of The Dick van Dyke Show.  Every time I stitch on this, that song gets stuck in my head.  If you, too, would like the song stuck in your head, here is a clip from the episode:

By the way, The Dick van Dyke Show is currently streaming on Netflix.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Studio Time

So this is the stitching I've done over the past nearly two weeks:

Yep, that's pretty much it.  About 1 1/2 hours work.  I have also done a little on my a-line skirt--drafting a pattern, cutting out the muslin--about which I will write more in a later post.

But I don't want to go too long without a post, so I thought I'd write a bit about an idea I ran across recently that has been very helpful (and also that I need to make sure I'm consistent in doing).  It's Studio Time.  I read about this in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Somerset Studio (I love all of the Somerset/Stampington magazines).  I didn't save the article, but I saved the page with the tips (it's on page 19).  So here they are, "Janet's Time Management Tips," paraphrased:

-Block out the time on your calendar.  Use your device(s) to set reminders.  My session is in two parts:  late morning and early afternoon, divided by lunch.

-Take your art seriously.  (Don't type "art" in quotes.)  This is working time.

-Set long- and short-term goals.  Keep track of where you leave off when you finish for the day.

-Leave your computer/iPad/iPhone/devices out of the studio.  Don't answer the phone.  (I break this one a bit:  I use these items for some of my projects.)

-Have studio time even if you're not currently working on a project.  I have two sessions a week for studio maintenance--clearing clutter, cleaning, getting some non-textile to-do's taken care of just because they're in my studio.  If I should run out of these things to do, I plan to do a bit of puttering, just to see what I have.  I've collected a lot of stuff and then forgotten about it.  Running across it again can be inspirational.

-Keep a notepad & pencil handy for jotting down to-do's that come to mind, and they will.  This will keep them from distracting you.

-Say no to distractions and interruptions.

-Don't interrupt this time with errands.  Plan ahead so you don't have to.

I am lucky enough to have a space I can call a studio.  It's my space--the family doesn't use it--and I keep my projects and supplies down here.  But it also serves as a guest room, laundry-folding room, TV room, music room, reading room, office, and meditation space.  I didn't always have this; my "studio" used to just be whichever recliner was in front of the TV.  These rules can apply to whatever space you have available.

On a similar note, and because it's on my mind, I also started a wonderful practice a few months ago:  Listening to music on my headphones.  Just listening and nothing else.  And it doesn't really matter what kind of music.  I've listened to classical, Motorhead, country, whatever seems interesting at the time.  I started doing this as an Artist Date (per Artist's Way by Julia Cameron) when I ran out of ideas that didn't involve me driving 40 miles away.  It's very relaxing, very focusing for the mind, and even meditative.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Clean Sweep Nutcracker


Clean Sweep Nutcracker by Jemini Designs is found in the 2015 JCS Ornament Issue.  It was quite fun to do, with a little challenge in the metallics, satin stitch, and fluffy thread.

Here I have finished the backstitch and long stitch:

And then the satin stitch.  I felt I could have made it a little more smooth.  I decided at this point to add the signature as well, although it wasn't quite finished, because the final thread I used in this project was Rainbow Gallery's Wisper in red and there's nothing like dragging tiny bits of red fluff all over a nearly-finished project:

And, finished!  JazzBoy and I are both pleased with the way it turned out.  We like the clarity and simplicity of the design, as well as the humor:

It will probably be a little while before I do the final ornament Finishing.  I may, possibly, have mentioned that I don't like Finishing.  So this, and the other ornaments, will be worked in among other stitching/textile projects.  I'm currently working on stitching the remaining ornaments my family selected--I'm starting the next one this afternoon--as well as learning to sew an A-line skirt using lessons from Craftsy.  I'm also planning to get started on a few projects that I've had in mind for quite a while:

1.  A Mirabilia project for my sister that I started quite some time ago--a decade?  Longer?  It's ridiculous.  She paid quite a bit for the supplies, too.  I took a floor stand upstairs a few minutes ago and put it in front of the TV.  That's what I'll be doing this baseball season.

2.  Learning to tat ice drops.

3.  Tatting a small black doily.

4.  Making a couple of cuffs.  One will be denim with some tatting that I've already done.  I also have some orange silk shantung that will make an amazing cuff--I'm thinking of using some vintage costume jewelry and some cream ribbon and beads.  I've wanted cuffs for years.

So, lots to do!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Funniest Snowman in the Issue

It's been a little longer than I anticipated between blog posts.  First I had that cold that decided to settle in.  I did start stitching again once I felt better and I also did the finishing work on an ornament and I wanted to get that all done so I could post it.

First, updates on my "mystery" ornament.  It's probably pretty obvious by now what it will be.


I'm actually almost done.  I'm working on backstitch, there's a bit of long stitch and satin stitch, and a few beads.  Finally, a bit more cross-stitch, which I've decided to do last.  It'll be pretty obvious why.

Jazzboy always picks a snowman for his ornament (the above is his, too), but it turns out there's a little more to the pattern.  He told me he always picks the funniest snowman in the issue.  For 2016, he chose "Winter Bluster" by Glendon Place from the Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue.

It's not clear here, but it's a beautiful sparkly fabric:  28-ct Mystic Cashel linen by Picture This Plus.  I normally don't use Q-snaps anymore--I prefer stretcher bars now--but I didn't have the right size stretcher bars and I didn't want to wait to order some.  It turned out to be a good thing, because when I did order my supplies, I forgot to order the stretcher bars.

This segment actually involved a lot of miscounting and frogging and was far more frustrating than it looks.  Another problem I had was that of working on dark fabric.  My eyes are aging and it was very hard to see the holes.  I had heard a suggestion that I use a light box and I do have one, so I pulled it out.  Unfortunately, it made the threads difficult to distinguish--which threads go over, which go under--and I really need to be able to see those.  So I used the best (overhead) light I could and strong reading glasses and took my time.  Once I got going, though, this project was quite fun and relaxing.

Once again, no idea why it's sideways, no good with a camera, can't figure out how to right it.

Now we're taking off!

Stitching complete...

And the back.  You can see where I carried threads between the little snowflakes.  There is a technique for anchoring a thread into the fabric itself, and I know how to do it, but I don't trust that it won't come undone.  It may be something I address in the future.

The stitching was completed before Christmas, but I didn't start the finishing until last week.  The picture in the top left show the supplies:  completed stitching, backing fabric, acid-free foam core, trim.  Rather than do my usual lacing, I decided to use the flat ornament finishing instructions from the magazine.  This involved sewing with a sewing machine, not my best skill.

Front and back sewn together, except the bottom.

Foam core inserted (I added some batting as well), all sewn up.  I wasn't happy with the lower left corner, so I straightened it out a bit when I added the trim.

All finished and ready to hang!  The trim required tacking down in the front and whipstitch in the back.  I happened to have a snowflake button to attach a hanger.  I just made a ribbon loop.  I may change it in the future. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Bandanna to Headband

So, this is the latest on the ornament.  It's about an hour of work and I did it on Wednesday.  I think.  I know I haven't worked on it since Wednesday because I developed a migraine and an obnoxious head cold that night and I haven't worked on anything since.

And I had such great plans for this week!  I want to make sure I don't burn myself out out of guilt, and I want to make consistent progress.  So I get frustrated when there are interruptions to the forward motion.

Still, I did finish another project that I had had in mind for several months.  I decided to make a hairband out of a bandanna.  I like headbands and I like bandannas.  I hardly ever wear either, because they don't stay on my head very well.  Still, they are very useful for road trips; they allow me to go into convenience stores without looking like a total bum, or else having to get up 1 1/2 hours earlier than everyone else in order to do my hair.

I searched for simple and free patterns online, unsuccessfully.  There are lots of very cute patterns that are also free, but they were not what I had in mind.  I am not a good sewist--I really cannot sew a straight line, as is obvious in the below pictures--and I wanted to do something very basic.  So I just decided to buy a couple of bandannas at the dollar store and just go for it.

Blue dollar store bandanna

Red dollar store bandanna

Then I got out my rotary cutter and clear quilting ruler and cut a strip out of the center--the hypotenuse, the longest part.  I had decided I wanted the finished headbands to be 2 1/2", with 1/4" hems, so I measured 1 1/2" from the center on either side.

I did have to fold the bandannas in half because the ruler wasn't quite long enough.  You can see that I didn't quite get it symmetrical.  I believe the dollar store bandannas weren't quite square--you get what you pay for, I guess.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  For another project, I might have been inclined to re-do it and get it right, but this was sort of an experiment and I didn't care enough.  I don't think anyone will be close enough to inspect these for quality.

Next I pressed down the hem allowances:

Wrong side view

Right side view

And finally I sewed the side hems:

The final products.

Overall, I'm happy with this little experiment.  I had an idea and I followed through with it.  It worked.  These are wearable enough.  And I have two more travel headbands.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Metallics: What a Pain

Below is what I've done the past two days:

I stitched about two hours each day.  Most of that time was spent dealing with metallics in one form or another, and boy, was it a pain!

Both the white (DMC B5200) and black (DMC 310) were combined with Kreinik blending filament.  It creates a nice sparkly effect and it isn't usually horrible to work with.  But for some reason, the black blending filament shreds and separates and refuses to cooperate.  I'm sure it's just a bad batch, but it's making me nuts.  For the time being, because I don't want to wait for a replacement spool, I'm just carefully searching for stitchable lengths and that's working so far.  I have two more medium-sized areas to stitch in black.

The gold is #4 Very Fine Braid and I'm using two strands.  Because it's a metallic, and because it comes on a little spool, it can be curly and springy and bouncy and generally uncooperative.  And that's just one strand.  Two strands each doing their own thing are quite frustrating to work with.  There are some tools and techniques to make it easier:

     -Use short lengths.  I like to use about a foot.
     -Use a thread conditioner.  I use Thread Heaven.  Some people like beeswax
     -Use a laying tool when dealing with multiple strands.
     -Consider alternating your metallic work with stitching with easier threads
     -Meditate.  Take deep breaths.  Go as slow as you want.