Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Brute force method

I tried to share a photo of the awesome version of Growth Rings that Jenn made by forwarding her link.  Sometimes Facebook thwarts me. This is worth sharing, so I've resorted to a more direct posting of the photo.  Thanks to Jenn (@jenn_ay_em on Twitter) - happy dancing with you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Has anybody found a use for these yet?

I love them. I make them. You love them. You make them. But when somebody asks what its purpose is, we all start to falter.  Yeah, they look great in a little basket...  I suppose it could be a pincushion... They're perfect gifts (for friends who then get to figure out what to do with them.)

Ah, the biscornu. As I said, we love them, make them, share them.

You're on my newsletter list, right? This is the Celtic Swirls chart that you get when you sign up. Steff used 18 count cream aida and picked shades of brown (anchor thread numbers 308, 310, 360 and 891) for her exchange partner who loves browns. These really do make sweet little gifts and I'm sure her partner was pleased. Nice job, Steff!

So functionality be damned - stitch a biscornu today!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Jiggity Jig

After a wonderful weekend at the Baltimore TNNA show, I am home again (home again, jiggity jig.)

Hannah and I had a great time visiting with all of the other vendors and shop owners and partaking of the best crab cakes on the planet.  We brought six new releases, with the 99 Bottles of Beer probably being the most talked about (perhaps due to the five foot tall inflatable beer bottle we brought along.)  This was one of the "hotel-style" shows, where the vendors each set up the parlor room in their suite as a booth. It makes for some interesting improvisation for display. You can see the banners hanging from the railings facing the big open atrium in the center of the hotel.

As always, my head and my suitcases were about to explode on the way back.  I also had the chance to visit the Stitching Post, a cross stitch shop local to the area.  If anybody ever asks why we need to keep shops in the loop and not just buy everything off the internet, they need to visit places like this LNS.  It is so inspiring to be surrounded by all of the threads and fabric, to see models in person, and to chat with folks who are as passionate about the craft as you are.  It turned out that they had a feature wall of Ink Circles and Long Dog models stitched by Debbie, a local lady.  Impressive, and more so when I tell you that they are all on 28 over 1.

So much to do now that I am back, but I'm trying to convince myself that I can sit and rest for a few minutes and am being "productive" since the washing machine is washing all of our dirty clothes. Right?

Thank you to everyone who attended and to all of those stitchers who support those shops that came.

Monday, August 8, 2011

5 Steps Forward; 2 Steps Back

I've been asked many times how I finish my flat ornaments, like the clef series.  I do use this finish a lot because of how simply it goes together and how nice it usually comes out. I do use glue and double-stick tape, so some of you purists may be put off by this cheating and I give you this chance to avert your eyes.

Gather up your materials and tools. Press your stitched piece. I use acid-free mat board (the blue rectangle), wool felt, Warm & Natural quilt batting, and beads.
Cut a piece of mat board to the size you want your linen square. Use double-stick tape to stick on a piece of batting. Trim the batting (after you stick it) to the size of the square. This gives a little poofiness to the stitching.
Place double-stick tape around the perimeter of the back (un-batted) side of the mat board. I find the acid-free super-sticky kind with the red peel-off made for scrapbookers to work very well. Peel off the red backing to expose the sticky side. Trim your stitched piece if you have any long/wide sides.
Center the stitched piece over the batting and press the excess fabric into the tape areas, gently at first until it is lined up and straight. We'll be mitering the corners, so your front and back should like as below.

Now for the glue. I use "Fabri-tac" by Beacon Adhesives. This stuff is stinky (not for people with VOC sensitivity) and super sticky. Try very hard to not get any in places you don't want it. One corner at a time, put a blob inside each miter area and under the wings, then squash it down flat and hold it in place until it stays there.  Double-check which side is the top then add a loop of trim for hanging, using the glue to cement it in place. Draw a line of goo in a box about 3/8" inside of the outer edge.
Carefully place it (goo-side down) onto the backing felt. Allow plenty of room on each side. Press it down firmly then leave it alone for an hour or so to dry.  I set it outside where the heat not only dries it, but it drives off some of the out-gassing chemicals. Find a color of thread that best matches the backing fabric. I use beading thread; you could also use regular sewing thread. I would not use floss, as it might fray.

Rule 1 for beading -keep the needle out of the glue-y areas. If the glue is 100% dry, it is almost impossible to put the needle through. If the glue is <100% dry, you will gum up your needle beyond where you though possible.  So, tie a knot, hide it some where between the two layers and begin by stringing on five beads. Take the needle straight down into the felt exactly where the fifth bead ends. If you are a leftie, you may find it easier to go clockwise.
Bring the needle back to the front side just before the last two beads. Catch one thread of your linen as you come up. This thread you catch should be on the fold. If you do it right, you won't be able to see your stitch after the next step.
Bring the needle BACK through those last two beads.
Repeat those two steps and work your way around the perimeter of the linen. Five beads forwards, back through the last two. This anchors the felt to the stitching without having to have glue out at the edges and hides any gaps where the mitered corners are thicker. The back should have a series of small diagonal stitches visible. When you get back to the beginning of the circle, you will probably not need all 5 beads (80% chance against ;-) so add however many closes the gap. Take the backstitch if you added more than two. Run your needle through the first few beads you added to make a join, then take your needle to the back and tie it off, burying the end in the felt.

Pinking shears are a great investment! I love them. Just be careful to not pink off the ribbon hanger you so carefully added.
Ta da!

I hope you find this technique helpful. You can also use a twisted cord or some other trim instead of the beads.  Try it, then show me your finishes using it.