Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Nashville Needlework Market In My Future!

It's nearly time once again to make the trek to Nashville Tennessee for the  TNNA Needlework Market! 
I wish it were possible to convey even a portion of the magic and electricity you feel at a trade show!  You know what it's like to walk into a needlework store .. well, this is the same thing .. but we shops get to walk into the paradise of a designers 'store'!  This Market is held in an Embassy Suites hotel .. that's where the floor/rooms are on the outside walls surrounding an atrium in the middle.  So if you stand on the first floor in the middle of that atrium and look up, you'll see all the balconies bedecked with banners of the designers and companies that are attending to show us shops all of their newest designs and wares!
When you get off the elevator onto each show floor, you'll find all of the outside walls and windows with pictures, product and other decorations to entice you into that room.
 

Each designer/company sets up 'shop' in the first part of their suite, so when you walk through the door, you see displays and stitched models and all kinds of other stitching eye candy!  They turn their 'bedroom' into their 'warehouse' .. that's where they keep all the product so  that when we make our purchases, they (or their helpers) disappear into that back area, package up our goodies, take our money and send us cheerfully upon our way ... into the next room.
 !

The pictures above are all from past Needlework Markets, but you get the idea!
You may know by now that I always try to put up a Nashville Sneak Peeks Page, and it's up and live now!  But .. I'm also putting a good amount of the 'new' up on my catalog What's New pages.  Either way you get to see a 'glimpse' of only SOME of the things we'll be seeing and/or buying and/or bringing back to the shop.  I'd love to be able to buy it all in unlimited quantities, but that's a bit impossible.  So .. what YOU need to do is this:  check out both web sites ... mark down what you'd like me to bring back for you .. and then email me, the shop, at deb@stitchesnthings.com and let us know.  Pretty cool knowing you'll have a Personal Shopper just for you at a Needlework Market, huh?!  If you don't let me know what to buy, I may not bring that one item you MUST have back with me, or .. I might bring it back, but not enough!   Help Me Help You!

Friday is our 'class day', learning new techniques or information.  Friday evening, for two incredibly short hours, is when we get to begin shopping .. with those designers who decided to open up early.  The actual Market begins at 9am on Saturday and ends at 6pm, then again on Sunday from 9am till 4pm.  Exhausting but Invigorating but Exhausting!  When it's all over, Monday morning Debbie and I will be furiously trying to cram each box and every bag into my VUE-hicle, and begin the trek back to Michigan and my shop.  Then we spend two days of doing nothing but filling your orders, putting the items up on my web catalog (those we didn't have time to do in the evenings at Market or on the way home), and trying to make room in the shop for all the wonderful NEW we brought back with us!!  Crazy Fun!!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

D-I-Y Framing Class Winner

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Alas, our first winner has not been in touch, and we do not have contact information for her, so back we went to the hat with all the numbers.

The random number generator has spoken, and the winner is...

 

Steve Wells

 

Congratulations! Steve, I'll be in touch.

Everyone Wins!

We know that learning to frame your embroidery is important and rewarding. It can save you heaps of money (for your next stitchy projects!), and it's oh-so satisfying to complete a needlework project on your own from start to finish. We want to help, so we've got a special deal for you.

Sign up for the class and use the code STITCHINMOOSE for 10% off!

Sign up now!

Psst! The coupon code also works with the already discounted Finish It In '14 package that includes the following four classes:

  • D-I-Y Framing
  • Soft-Edge Finishing: Hemstitching
  • Piecing (Wall hangings, table runners, etc. Quilting without the actual quilting!)
  • Pillowpalooza
This offer is good through 2/3/2014. Happy Finishing in '14!

 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Making of a D-I-Y-er

I blame my parents, my father in particular. As a kid, when I wanted something, his stock answer was, "Make it."

How I despised that answer! Maybe I didn't think I could make it; maybe I didn't want to take the time to make it. Whatever it was, I didn't want to make it even if I could. I wanted it new, from the store, now.

But guess what: That "make it" answer stuck. I heard it so often it grew into me. It was reinforced by my parents' crafty natures. My mother made our clothes. My father could whip up a Halloween costume like nobody's business. Our dining room table became Craft Central while we made holiday ornaments for neighbors and friends.

It can surprise no one that I became an extreme D-I-Y-er. When something needs to be done, my first thought is, "How do I do it?"

Move three tons of dirt and gravel with a shovel and 5-gallon buckets? Okay.

Build a house? Of course.

Wire it for electricity? Sure. Let me read this book first.

Grow food for a year? Uh-huh.

Frame this cross stitch piece? No problem.

In the Beginning

After designing and stitching Termination Dust and The Great Outdoors, I asked my mother to help me frame them. She'd just taken a framing class—she had artwork of her own to frame—which gave her access to a framing studio with tools and supplies. We spent a long time choosing colors, cutting mats and glass, cutting and assembling the frames. It was great fun and a great learning experience. I love the results, warts and all.

When I began selling cross stitch patterns, I continued to finish my needlework myself...most of the time. I have taken a few pieces to professional framers. It's all good! Over time, I developed my favorite techniques (I prefer lacing my embroidery to the mounting board), but I also love to experiment and learn new things. I think my priorities are

  1. Do it myself
  2. Do it differently; i.e., in some interesting or unique way

When Problems Arise: Get Creative

Let's be honest, things don't always go smoothly in D-I-Y.

I once stitched a birth sampler with the fabric turned the wrong direction. The long side of the fabric should have been horizontal, and I had it vertical. I was well into the stitching before I discovered my mistake. (Yeah—du-uh!) You know the choices: I could stop stitching and start over, or I could deal with it. I chose the latter.

There wasn't enough fabric to frame the piece "properly." This isn't a unique problem—be honest, have you ever skimped on the amount of fabric you left around the border of your needlework? The fix for this is to sew a fabric (muslin is a good choice) border around the edge to provide enough fabric to work with, so that was my plan. In the end, I skipped the plain muslin and chose a quilting calico that could double as the mat. I added ribbon on the seam just for fun.

D-I-Y Framing Online Class

I've always enjoyed finishing as much as stitching, whether it's framing, edge stitching, quilting, pillow making, or something else. The more I stitch, the more I want to explore different finishes and uses for needlework.

I asked fellow stitchers what they need most help with, and the answer was, overwhelmingly, finishing. Well all right then; let's do some finishing!

The first Finish It In '14 class is D-I-Y Framing, and it begins on February 3, 2014. We will learn the following:

  • How to clean, block, and press embroidery
  • How to mount embroidery to a backing
  • How to choose and/or make a mat—or not
  • How to choose and/or make a frame
  • Whether to use glass or not
  • How to finish the back side and add hardware

Four written lessons will be delivered weekly, giving you plenty of time to read and execute them. You can download the pdfs so you have them for future use. You'll be able to ask questions and share photos in a private Yahoo! group, so you can get help with your particular projects. We'll discuss creative mat and frame options and get tips from pros.

Did I mention we'll have some fun, too? Of course we will!

Win a Free Front-Row Seat in the Class!

Want to win a spot in the class? We're giving one away!

Leave a comment with your most pressing question about finishing embroidery.

The random number generator will pick a winner on January 25th.

A Word of Caution

Lest you think my father's repeated suggestion to "make it" was a brilliant idea that you're tempted to adopt, I think you should be warned. In general, I'm grateful for the self-sufficiency my father instilled in me with his annoying answer, but in the deep recesses of my adult being, there's still a little girl who feels deprived. She says, "Just wait, Dad, until you need surgery for something. Surely there's a how-to book or tutorial online for that. Give me a sec, and I'll be right with you."

Proceed with caution.

P.S.

Don't forget to leave a comment with your most pressing needlework finishing question for a chance to win a free spot in the D-I-Y Framing class!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

To Market To Market and back again!



After that Artic Vortex Winter Blast we had, it was an absolute JOY to leave my shop for 6 days to attend the TNNA (The National Needlearts Association) Winter Trade Show in sunny warm San Diego California!
A full day of meetings, an afternoon of business and technique classes, an evening of fun shopping at The Sample It (where we were able to purchase "some" of the new items that would be shown during the Trade Show), eats and drinks at the Needlepoint Showcase (where I WON a drawing and received a crisp $100 bill!!), and then off for some off-site fun with friends.  Saturday, Sunday and Monday I shopped the trade show convention floor, viewed the New Product Showcase, watched a needlearts Sand Castle being built right before our eyes (over two days!), and met with old and new friends within the industry .. shop owners and designers!


 

It was an exhausting time, but profitable .. in seeing what color trends were, seeing display ideas, seeing design ideas, finding new goodies to bring back to the shop, networking with other shops and talking with everyone from this fantastic industry that were there!  I know shop owners who says they cannot afford to go to Market ... I say that I cannot afford NOT to attend Market! It's where you learn, it's where you are inspired, it's where you find ways to advance your business, it's where you are exposed to ALL of the Needlearts, seeing how they inter-relate, discovering the excitement of and the people who love them!
It just a few weeks I leave again .. to attend another Needlework Market, this time in Nashville.  A



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ornament Finishing Techniques

I am SO not an expert finisher.  I didn't do well in Home Economics with sewing and I do not own a sewing machine (instrument of terror!), so I've had to learn how to do simple finishing myself.
This link will give you a great tutorial for finishing your Christmas ornaments (or scissor fobs or whatever) for a nice look!  You simply stitch a simple back stitch around your design and on a matching piece of cross stitch fabric (nice place to put another quick holiday motif or your initials and date or a monogram for the person you're giving it to!).   In fact, they even add beads for a really decorative finish!  http://www.funkandweber.com/cross-stitch-finishing-overcast-backstitches/

You might try to incorporate a Four-Sided Stitch in place of that simple backstitch on both pieces of fabric for a more decorative finish!  You simply fold the excess fabric at the outer edge of your four-sided stitch on each fabric piece .. pinch those two edges together .. and lace the stitches!  Like this (scroll down about halfway the page, just under the different stitch illustrations):
http://www.keepsakestitches.com/PDF/Gallery_of_Stitches.pdf
Here's an example of one of Fern Ridge Collection's designs finished that way with a corded hanger added.


And for adding a corded trim .. with my favorite tool the Spinster Cording Drill, you might try this finishing technique (scroll down a bit to see the trim addition):  http://stacybinnj.wordpress.com/basic-no-glue-ornament-finishing-tutorial/
On the above ornament .. the cording was inserted through the ornament and then the lacing stitch on the Four-Sided Stitch was completed.
The same 'stitching technique' for adhering the cord to the ornament would work for adding the cool hand-dyed  Chenille and Rick Rack trims that our R&R and FromThe Cauldron companies offer!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tips & Techniques Time!

Holidays are a'comin and that means you may have some stitchery finishing that will need to be done.  Don't have a finisher-friend (neither do I!) but don't worry ... here's some quick and easy ways to finish off your gift projects!

Here’s a quick and easy way to make a tassel from a single skein of floss - this has to be the coolest way I've ever seen (and done myself!)! Tassels are a great way to finish off an ornament, and this allows you to exactly match the colors in your ornament. Tassel making instructions

You may find you can 'finish Christmas Stockings like a pro' with this tip.

And .. my next blog will contain some neat Ornament finishing tips and ideas!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Why Knot??!

I was finishing up Chessie And Me's "Buzzing '' Round Ewe" http://www.stitchesnthings.com/detail.cfm?ID=35943  and putting the called for French Knots (which I intermixed with Colonial Knots) to be scattered over the cross stitched Sheep' s body, and began to think how it used to be where I would rather have ripped off a fingernail than do a French Knot.   Of course, that was before I really learned HOW to execute that knotted stitch!
It was in a class with Teresa Layman that the veil was lifted from my eyes and that knowledge has never left my fingers!  
Teresa Layman Designs is the designer of those teensy little Knotted designs!  She says on her web site:  designs are small and sweet. They bring that feel-good warmth to all who see them and bring a real sense of satisfaction to those who stitch them. These are the original miniature 
knotwork designs that have made so many people gasp and say, “Oh my gosh, that’s beautiful! How do you do that?” Amazingly the technique is very simple... Simple and beautiful, is there a better combination?
http://teresalayman.com/designs.htm


The problem most have with French Knots is: 

  1. they "wrap the floss" around the needle more than once.  Two or three wraps = the beginning of a Bullion Knot, which by it's very nature is a "flat knotted stitch" and that' s why your knot falls over instead of just sitting there.
  2. they try to put the needle, once wrapped, back through the same hole the needle came up through.  It should go down "next to but not in" that hole.
  3. they don't hold the thread in their other hand as the needle goes back down, thereby controlling the tension for "knot control".
http://teresalayman.com/easy_frenchknot.htm

AND then there's the Colonial Knot ... for when you want a larger knot (instead of doing a French Knot around a larger sized" needle) or are looking for a very round knot.  Once you have THIS knot down, you'll probably always use it in place of a French!
http://teresalayman.com/easy_colonialknot.htm

If you want to get over any "knot aversion", simply get one of Teresa' s little designs and you'll be knotting like a pro in no time!  http://www.stitchesnthings.com/detail.cfm?ID=12849
Pre-printed design on "rug" (aka very tightly woven) fabric with step- by-step instructions as to what do do first, then next. And what knots to execute where.  You just need a Hoop to tightly hold the fabric for a very firm working surface. I think what I liked most about Teresa's designs was this:
  • Don't like the way a knot looks .. it's ok .. you just put knots close to it and you can't tell.
  • Pulled a knot through by accident .. it's ok .. put another one in.
  • How do you know if you have enough knots in .. hold it up to a light .. see any light showing through, put in another knot or two.
That' s why when you do a little knotwork design you will "amaze your friends" and "astound your enemies"!  And, never EVER have another problem with adding French (or Colonial) Knots to any other project!!   That's why I had FUN adding those French and Colonial Knots to  Buzzing 'Round Ewe (I chose both for added texture and dimension) and Why Knot!?!