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!

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):
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):
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"  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?

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".

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!

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!
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!?!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

   Phew!  Winter Market in Long Beach CA is over!  3 weeks later and the Nashville Market in TN is over!  9 days later and I'm in the final stretch for the shop's annual Camp Stitchalot Stitcher's Retreat!  Some may say they don't know why I plan everything so close together .. but the only thing *I* have a part of in planning is Camp Stitchalot!  And the St.Patrick's weekend has become a tradition it seems .... shortly after Nashville Market and before Easter begins!
    I always bring my shop 'on the road' with me to Camp and have a room at the hotel that becomes the SNT Boutique.  This year we will be hosting 5, count em 4 Designer Trunk Shows at Camp!  Featuring stitched designs from ERICA MICHAELS... from ROSEWOOD MANOR .. from SAMSARAH .. and from THE STITCHING BEAR!!   It's going to be interesting to see just 'how' I'll get all their stitched models AND charts set up and displayed in my Boutique room along with all the other stitching goodies & essentials that I bring.

   YOU .. the stitching public .. are invited to come to the Stitches N Things Boutique to see (and purchase) the Trunk Shows from these incredible designers!

   We'll be at the Davison Inn (previously known as The Comfort Inn) at  10082 Lapeer Rd.  in Davison Michigan ... Friday March 15 from 4pm through Sunday March 17, 2013 at 2pm  
Hope to see you at our Trunk Show!    And maybe ... next year ... you will join us at Camp Stitchalot for our entire stitcher's retreat!  We'd love to have you!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

NEEDLE Little Help?

Where would we be without needles?  The women who crossed the plains in covered wagons treasured their cases filled with .. not gold jewelry .. but fine steel needles.  In the territories to which they were going there were no stores and who knew when the next peddler with his pack of necessities would come by.   Those precious needles would have to last for months, and maybe even years!  Today a pioneer woman would probably think she'd struck gold if she ever tore apart a stitcher's overstuffed recliner!

Traditionally, tapestry needles are used for counted cross stitch and usually found from size 18 (the largest) to size 28 (the smallest).  Tapestry needles have a blunt point as opposed to Chenille needles which have a very sharp point (and are idea for waste canvas stitching!).  The blunt rounded end of the tapestry needle slips easily into the weave of the fabric without snagging or piercing.

Did you know that the Danish use a larger needle for different counts of fabric than Americans do?  It's true.  They believe a bigger needle opens the hole wider to allow the plies of floss to flow through with less friction or wear and allows then to loft out so that the strands can lie better side by side.  Conversely, they feel that a smaller needle compresses the plies and cause them to become fuzzy by wearing on the floss as it comes through the fabric .. the hole the needle makes is just not big enough for the floss to follow through. 

If you have trouble getting your floss to go through the eye of your needle on the first try (or second .. or third), perhaps this little tidbit will help:     
        Roll the needle 180 degrees and try again. 
Did you know that needles have a 'right' and 'wrong' side to them?  The naked eye may not be able to see a difference, but one side of the eye is rougher than the other.  This comes from the fact that needles are punched out of the metal from which they are made (usually steel-plated with nickle, or gold, or platinum).  The side FROM which they are punched is smoother than the side THROUGH which they are punched.  So, if your floss is trying to pass through the rougher side, it may catch on the edges and begin to spread out instead of gliding smoothly through.

Here are some general guidelines for selecting a particular size of tapestry needle for different counts of fabrics.  But remember .. you need to stitch with what is most comfortable for you!

     NEEDLE                                            FABRIC
size 28                                        18ct Aida,   36 - 40ct Linen
size 26                                        16 - 18ct Aida,  32 - 36ct Linen
size 24                                        14 - 16ct Aida,  28 - 32ct Linen
size 22, 20 & 18                            6 - 11ct Aida

Remember too, that you'll need to adjust your needle size for the number of floss plies you are using.  Use a size 26 needle if you're stitching with one or two ply; a size 24 for 3 or 4 ply, and a 26 for 4 - 6 ply.  Again, the key word is:  Experiment.
                        Hope This Helps!  Happy Stitching!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Did you know about Harikuyo .. the Festival of Broken Needles?

In the Hari-Kuyo ceremony, Japanese women gather once a year on Febuary 8th at Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples to thank their worn out needles and pins for good service.

It is also a time to value the small, everyday objects of daily living and to wish for progress in one’s needle work. In what is known as the Festival of Broken Needles, women gather to offer a funeral-type service by laying the needles to rest in soft jelly cakes or tofu. This burial is meant to bring rest to the needles and wrap them with tenderness and gratitude. This practice reflects the animist belief that all beings and objects have a soul.
Further to the idea of laying the needles to rest for good service is the idea that women have many secret sorrows in life. These sorrows are often passed to the needles during long hours of stitching and the needles are thought to take on the burden of some of these sorrows, thus taking them away with the stitching that they do. This “rest” is brought to the needles in appreciation for their faithful service.
Another aspect of the ceremony is the consideration for “the value of small things.” The concept of Mottainai, or not being wasteful, is related to the usefulness of the needles. These small but important tools would give long, useful service throughout the year. They were not to be lost or wasted nor carelessly replaced.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Scissors! Who Knew??

I found the following while browsing the web and thought you'd be interested too!
It is not surprising that modern cross-bladed scissors would have many superstitions surround them since most household items that have been in parts of our history as far back as early 100 AD hold some imagined ideas with them.  Here is a list of some of those beliefs:

Hope you didn’t use your scissors this past New Year as you might have “cut off” your fortune or wealth for the year.
Decrease the likelihood that your house will be struck by lightning in a storm by putting your scissors away.

Placing a pair of scissors under your pillow may help a variety of pains. It is said that a woman in labor can “cut her pain in half” by doing so. Likewise it would halve the discomfort of any others in bed ridden pain. Some believe that putting an open pair of scissors is a way to sleep better even if you are cursed.

Dropping a pair of scissors is said to warn that a lover is being unfaithful.

Breaking one blade is an omen of quarrel, while breaking both blades is a sign of an impending disaster.

Do not give scissors as a gift or the friendship will be “cut in half”. To subdue this superstition a little money should be exchanged for the scissors as buying them doesn’t count.

Ward off evil and witches with a pair of scissors nailed above a door in the ‘open’ position, so they somewhat resemble a cross.

The cross-bladed scissors origins point to Rome but have a widespread place in international cultural superstitions as well which can be specific to a region.

    • To curse a bridegroom in North Africa wait until he is on horseback, then hold an open pair of scissors while calling his name. If he answers you, snap the scissors closed and he will not be able to consummate the marriage.
    • It is bad luck to idly open and close scissors without a purpose in Pakistan.
    • It is held in some Eastern Europe countries that leaving scissors open causes disagreements and discord within a household.
Good luck with those scissors!