Saturday, January 31, 2015

A simple winter-themed table topper

This week I was looking in my fabric stash for something and came across some beautiful winter-themed fabric I had bought last summer.  At the time I had no idea what I would do with it for sure, but I just couldn't resist the print because it looked like Vermont to me.

When I found it again in my stash this week, I decided that the only really good use (for the amount of fabric I had) was a simple table runner or table topper.    After debating with myself for awhile as to which it should be, I decided to make it a table topper so I could use the whole piece of fabric without cutting it.    The print is a really busy one, but I thought it best to use the whole piece to get the perspective of the whole scene.  I would simply hem the edges.   So that is what I did!
on the table
It even has mailboxes!   (I love wintry mailboxes!)
With my little wintry cake dome and 30¢ Walmart plastic placemats
My wintery scene in the cake dome still works with this topper.
 A few minutes' work at the sewing machine and I have a new wintry table topper.  My creative side is very happy!

Friday, January 30, 2015

A cross-stitch UFO

Today I'm sharing my progress on one more UFO (un-finished object) on my crafting list.  This one is a hand towel with a band of [very floppy] evenweave fabric near the bottom for a border.  (After the fact -- way, way after the fact -- I noticed a helpful tip in the instructions, to spray the evenweave area with starch to make it firmer and thus easier to stitch on.  Too late now!) 

This was a cross stitch kit from Creative Circle, I believe, and was from someone else's crafting stash which I've inherited.  The kit contained 2 towels and I finished one of them.  I had thought they would be perfect in a relative's pale green bathroom, so took her one as a hostess gift when we visited one time.  She loved it but did say I didn't need to hurry finishing the second one, as that bathroom gets heavy use by her small children and she would probably wait and use the towels when the kids were older.  So as a result, I set the second towel aside with just the center rose stitched and it became a UFO.

In the meantime, I managed to use the same chart to stitch a rose design on pillowcases.  I used waste canvas to do this, and I hope I will have the good sense not to listen to myself if I ever get the notion to do something like this again.  It was, however, a good use of the chart.
pillowcases from the same chart
Now I've decided to finish this cross-stitch towel up and get one thing off my crafting list!  I've actually made decent progress since picking this up again in early January.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A wintry getaway

The view from our room
 This past weekend Mr. T and I enjoyed an overnight getaway to Freeport, Maine.  The pictures I have aren't great; it was snowing Saturday morning and so everything looks white and blurry.  But I thought I would share a few of them anyway.  I'll just simply post pictures and caption them.
hotel that we stayed in

Building at far left is the cafe where we ate supper and then breakfast

A snowy scene

Wildlife display inside L.L. Bean

Model of L.L. Bean's original store

Carved sign in the hunting & fishing store

We loved this fireplace and cozy sitting area

Catalog covers through the years.  I could have spent quite a lot of time studying these, especially the wintry/Christmasy ones.
Hope you've enjoyed this simple picture post.  It's amazing how refreshing even 24 hours away can be!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Progress on the scrap afghan

The first row of the scrap afghan completed!
Just a quick post to share the progress on my scrap afghan.  This is one of those craft UFOs (un-finished objects) that I am hoping/planning to finish in 2015.  As I mentioned in a previous post, this is a project from Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book #9.  Every motif is edged in taupe yarn, and it takes 113 motifs to make the afghan.  The motifs are sewed together in strips of 12 or 13, and then the strips are assembled.

This weekend Mr. T and I were able to take an overnight getaway.  I took plenty of crafting along, but on the way there I just relaxed and enjoyed the trip and the scenery.  (Hopefully I'll find time to share a few photos from our getaway later -- maybe tomorrow.)

On the return trip, I did sew 13 of the finished motifs into a strip.   I don't have enough completed motifs to sew a second one yet -- think I have 4-5 of them done. 

The picture doesn't really do it justice; I hung it from push pins on a door so the whole length would be visible, but it made the afghan sort of droop.   No matter, you can see the colors and how the afghan is taking shape.  Hopefully I may have more to share next week concerning the afghan progress!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

A sweet baby gift to make

The first receiving blanket I made.  The unborn baby's older brother had given him this name and I thought it would be fun to monogram the blanket with it.  This one is solid blue on both sides.
For awhile now, I've been meaning to share the simple directions for something that may become my go-to gift for new babies.  It's a simple flannel receiving blanket.  I made my first one several years ago because I wanted a simple, easily personalized gift.

Since then, I have made two more blankets, both in the past few months.  I really hesitated with making blankets, because typically new moms seem to end up with more baby blankets than they can use.  But the moms who received these use them all the time and have told me so.  The size is really practical for covering baby in the car seat or to use as a coverup when nursing, etc.  So, I will likely continue making and giving these as gifts.  You might like to make some, too.

You need:
2 1-yard pieces of flannel, washed and dried  (you can use the same color, or contrast with another solid color or a print)
Thread to match
Sewing machine

*And, if you wish to embroider a name or design, you will need:
Embroidery floss
Tracing paper
Great handwriting or a computer
Embroidery hoop
Embroidery needle
(Note that if you are going to embroider anything on the blanket, the embroidery must be done first, before assembling the blanket.)

This is so simple you probably don't need instructions for the sewing part, but here goes anyway:

Place the two pieces of flannel (embroidered first, if you are embroidering anything) right sides together and smooth them out nicely.  If you like, round the corners.  I like to do this because it not only looks nice, it makes the corners easy to turn.  Pin the 2 pieces together all the way around.

At your sewing machine, sew all around the edges of the blanket (using the seam allowance of your choosing.  I think I use about a 5/8" seam allowance), leaving a 4 to 6" gap unstitched for turning

Turn the blanket right side out through the unstitched gap, smooth the corners out nicely (carefully poke them out with a chopstick or other implement if you have left them square), and press the blanket, tucking the raw edges at the gap inside the blanket to match the rest of the stitching.  Pin the opening together.

Then go back to the sewing machine and topstitch all around the entire edge of the blanket, using a 3/8" to 1/2" seam allowance.  This closes up the opening, gives a nice finish, and helps the blanket stay together better when it is washed and dried.

Then wash, dry, and press the blanket.

(To embroider a name, either write out the baby's name [or other saying, like Sweet Dreams, etc.] on tracing paper, or -- my choice, because my handwriting is terrible -- type the name or saying on your computer in a word processing document, using a font you like in a large size.  [I like to do the lettering in the "outline" style; I just like the way it looks.]  Then print it out on tracing paper.  Cut around the entire name, leaving a generous amount of margin so you will be able to pin the tracing paper to your flannel.

Pin the paper to the flannel where you'd like the name to be.  Then, using an embroidery hoop, embroidery needle and 4 to 6 strands of embroidery floss, embroider the name, right through the tracing paper.  You could use back stitch, or a stem stitch or even a split stitch or chain stitch depending on the look you are going for.  I prefer to use the back stitch for this.  It is sort of nerve-racking stitching through the paper, but it gives such a nice result it is worth the aggravation. 

Once you get the name all stitched, you can tear away the tracing paper.  You may have to use a pin to pull out the paper from some of the smaller, tighter areas, but it's not that much trouble.  To me, this is just the nicest, most accurate way to stitch a name on fabric.

To embroider a design, you can transfer it in one of several ways.  You can use an iron-on transfer or -- my choice -- print out or trace a simple design onto tracing paper.  Then again pin it to the fabric where you want it, and embroider through the tracing paper as before, tearing away the paper when the design is stitched.  Go on with the instructions for sewing the blanket, then wash and dry it before giving it as a gift.)

Another monogram
This shows the pretty flannel on the other side of this green blanket
Besides Arielle's name, I embroidered some snowflakes in the opposite corner of the blanket.  You can't really tell, but this solid fabric is a pale, pale green.
The other side of Arielle's blanket
Have fun with this idea!  It is such a simple yet fun project, with infinite variations possible!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Three cross stitched ornaments

This one is my favorite of the ones that I did.
 I actually finished these back in July, so that I could post about them over on my Christmas blog, Mrs. T's Christmas Kitchen.  During Christmas in July, I shared little tutorials on several ways to finish a cross stitch ornament.

But, because the one ornament keeps catching my eye as I walk by our still-decorated Christmas tree, and because I know there are people who visit here that don't always get to my Christmas blog,  I decided to just share the photos here.  If you are interested in the how-tos, please visit my Christmas blog.
How "Jingle Bells" looked before finishing.  I found a frame and was inspired to add the real jingle bells and bow.

Unfinished "Sleigh Ride"

Finished product.  This turned out too large for the tree so I hung it from a cupboard doorknob where it added some cheer.

"Silent Night" before finishing

Just a simple finish with glue, trim and cardboard, but it turned out quite nice.

Hope you've been inspired to make some ornaments, if you enjoy cross-stitch! It can be a quick and easy project if you use simple designs as I did.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

UFO scrap afghan

A scan of some of the motifs used.  All will be edged in taupe like these.
The next UFO (un-finished object) on my crafting list is a crocheted scrap afghan I started a few years ago.  The pattern came from Gooseberry Patch Christmas book 9.  It takes 113 of these hexagonal motifs.  I just counted, and so far I have 14 motifs finished.  I think part of the problem has been that in between brief bouts of working on the afghan, I tend to forget just how the motifs are made and have to learn all over again.  So this time, I am hoping to crochet several motifs every week, putting the motifs together in strips as I go, in order to finish this project in 2015.

Of course, I will continue to use yarn, so there will be more scrap afghans in my future.  But there are also a lot of great patterns out there!