3/30/12

five things friday: happy wish list


 (1.)   (2.)   (3.)   (4.)   (5.)

It's my birthday today, which I really try not to make a big deal about. As I inch closer to 30, I am struggling to keep down my panic that comes along with getting older. I don't know why I dread 30. I suppose I am too vain, my perspective is all wrong, but I really think it is that I just never imagined my life going by so quickly. Last night a (rather morbid, I admit) thought popped into my head. What if I was sick or something and I didn't have a chance of seeing thirty? Wouldn't turning 30 seem like a dream, a privilege? I teared up at the thought. It put things in a different light and I have been rethinking my journey into a 1/3 life crisis. I have been all wrong about how I see aging. So what if I am seeing a few more wrinkles and gray hairs? Vanity, vanity. I should be happy, blessed, and full of joy that I have another year of life. After all, I am healthy and supremely blessed beyond what I deserve. 

So, my dreary attitude is gone, along with another year of my 20's. I am happy that I get to celebrate today. I am thinking about how many great things are still to come in my life, and I want to age gracefully and graciously. 

So, maybe I'll celebrate and buy a thing or two off of that happy wish list up there. Maybe I'll eat cake for lunch and dinner. Maybe I'll watch junk tv all afternoon. Whatever I do to celebrate, it will be such a happy birthday!
 
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3/29/12

pinned, it did it 10: diy tank dress




While I am definitely not a fashion blogger, I have considered sharing an outfit post here and there. However, after the total awkwardness of trying to get a picture of me in this dress I made, I am thinking outfit posts might not happen. How do fashion bloggers get over their insecurities? Maybe they don't have any? How do they find so many perfectly shabby brick walls/fences to pose in front of? How do they perfect the dreamy off-into-the-distance stare? How do they keep their legs tan in the winter? So many questions?!

For now, outfit posts are on the back burner for me. At least until I can get a tan. Onto the dress - the whole point of this post. I followed the tutorial at the Southern Institute exactly, although I am completely sure that I have many more uneven seams and hacked up fabric to show for it than she did. For the sash, I used the explanation that is at the end of Rachel's McIntosh knock off dress tutorial. Let me tell you this, and believe me when I say it, if I can make this you can too. I am comically bad at sewing, so for me to say something is easy, it really must be. 

What have you been pinning and making lately? Leave a link in the comments - I would love to see!

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3/27/12

how to cross stitch: basic supplies


The first order of business when starting any new hobby or craft is to gather the supplies you will need to get you going. Something that I can appreciate about cross stitch is that it can be a somewhat inexpensive craft to get into. Of course, as with any craft, it's possible to spend a lot of money building up a supply of thread and cloth and tools, but just to get started you won't have to spend too much. 

Let's go over the few essentials you will need to get stitching.


 Thread and needles: 
The most common thread used for cross stitch is 6 strand cotton embroidery floss. There are a few brands out there, but a commonly available brand is DMC. Normally two to three strands of thread are used while stitching, depending on what you prefer. As for needles, you will want size 24 or 26 tapestry needles. Tapestry needles have a more blunt tip so the thread doesn't get snagged or split as you are passing your needle through the holes. Typically, you will use a size 24 needle for 14 count Aida, and a size 26 needle for Aida fabric with a count greater than 14.


Hoops: 
While you don't have to display your finished work framed in an embroidery hoop, it is usually recommended that you use a hoop while you're stitching to help you keep an even tension through your stitches. Once again, I think whether or not a hoop is used can be a matter of preference. I do use a hoop and find that it helps keep my stitches even, my work cleaner, and is just easier to work with.


Embroidery scissors: 
Once again, not an absolute essential, but pretty close. In cross stitching, there are often tiny threads that need clipped that big scissors just can't get to. These also come in handy if you need to pull stitches out. They have a tapered point that is easy to slip under a stitch to undo it. The small size is also great because you don't have to haul around a huge pair of scissors while you work.


Cloth: 
The two most common textiles to use for embroidery are Aida and Evenweave. Let's take a closer look  at the two fabrics.


Aida (on the left) is a stiffer fabric and is worked one stitch per square. Evenweave (on the right) is similar to linen and is worked over two threads, as you can see illustrated above. These two kinds of fabrics are defined by number of stitches per inch - their count. (See the packaging on the first fabric picture above.) In the case of the 14 count Aida - 14 stitches per inch. In the case of the 28 count Evenweave - also 14 stitches per inch since the stitches are worked over 2 threads.

Confused? If you are a beginning stitcher, I would start with the 14 count Aida. You don't have to worry about counting over two threads for a stitch, the stiffer texture of the fabric is easier to work with, and it is a bit lower in price.

When it comes to fabric, you can also cross stitch on other fabrics with the help of waste canvas or water soluble canvas. I will have a whole post devoted to this method later on, so I am going to skip over it for now. 


 Patterns:
 You'll also need a pattern to work from. There are countless patterns available, from books, etsy shops, and magazines. I'll be sharing some of my favorite pattern sources in a dedicated post, so we'll skip over this too.

There you have they very basics of what you will need to start cross stitching (and also a hint of some of the posts to come). Have any questions or suggestions? Leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer!



Button



(Like what you see? I would love for you to share! 
A tweet, fb link, or Pin would be great too!)

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3/26/12

how to cross stitch series

I have been working hard on a new "how to" series for the blog:


 I am so excited about this series and can't wait for you all to see what I have been working on the past couple of weeks. If you'd like to help spread the word, I also made a cute button that you can add to your sidebar. 


Button


I would love for you to share! 

First up, I'll be starting tomorrow with a run down of the basic cross stitching supplies. See you then!

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3/24/12

family pic saturday: walking


With the arrival of spring and the summer-like temperatures, we have been taking lots of walks. Today we headed out to buy bubbles, pick up dinner, and let Sawyer do some exploring (translate: burn some energy). 

Left: We'll file this under the "things your kids do that you think is totally adorable but no one else really cares" category. Sawyer has been tucking his fists under his chin and exclaiming "Oh, bumpers!" We don't know where the chin thing came from, but we think he learned "bumpers" from a talking train that he has. He's such a funny kid. 

Right: I had to stop to take a picture of these tulips because they were just so perfect. Anderson even asked if they were fake. I wish I had a whole yard of tulips and daffodils, but that would require gardening and actual work, so side of the road tulip pictures it is for me. 

We've had a really good weekend, laid back and productive at the same time. It's been just what we needed.

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3/22/12

stitch swap!


I finished my piece for the stitch swap over at Wild Olive. Just in case the recipient reads my blog (but I don't think she does), I won't share anything about her or her blog just yet. Surprises are more fun, so I'll try to keep it one. 


The "pattern" is a mish-mash of flowers from Doodle Stitching: the Motif Collection. I just free handed from sight using the book as a guide. Some of them are direct copies, and some of them are inspired by the flower patterns in the book.


I love the blue bells the most, I think. 


Or maybe I like the orange star flowers the best. 


It was fun to pick colors as I went, add extra stitches here and there, and practice lots of different kinds of stitching. I always feel extra pressure (in a good way) to push myself when it comes to making something for someone else. This piece is not something I would have made for myself, so I am thankful for the chance to branch out of my normal style.

I can't wait for my recipient to get it and I really hope she loves it!
 
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3/20/12

craft room follow up

I am so excited to write this post. My craft room reveal post has been really popular, and I am so flattered by all the great feedback I've received. It has become clear to me over the past year or so that I have left quite a bit of information out. Time to change that. This is going to be a looong, picture heavy post, so get ready. 

Lets start with what my craft room looked like about a year ago. 





 These were taken literally days after I finished the room. Translation: I hadn't made a mess yet. I shared here how my room normally looks. As much as I try to be, I'm just not an organized or tidy crafter. I make messes, jump from project to project, and then when I'm done, I turn off the light, shut the door and ignore the mess. Lucky you, I cleaned up for this update post. 

One of the most common questions/comments I get is Where do you store everything?

Good question. One of my favorite snarky comments comes from Pinterest and goes a little like this: "It's a pretty room, but where does she store stuff?" Let me show you. 



My biggest storage area is under my long, tall desk. The shelves are mismatched, cheap ones from Target. The counter rests on top of these shelves and is also bolted to the wall. When I am ready to hide my hoard, I slide the curtains closed, and it looks pretty and clean again.

But wait, there is more storage.



Under my other 2 desks, I have cabinets where I store various junk. The cabinets are from the kitchen cabinet section at Home Depot. They are kept in stock at the store and are unfinished, which is exactly how I left them. I like the blond color of the wood, and more importantly, I like that I didn't have to sand/stain/paint, etc.

You can see in this picture that I have even more storage in the form of a shelf by my door. 


The shelf houses some of those fabric bins from Target, which adds tons of semi-organized storage. 

Another Pinterest commenter said that she thought I had my storage behind the curtains you see in the picture above. 


Nope. It is another small "room" I created by closing it off with curtains. Anderson has his stuff over there and there is also a bathroom at the end. (Time for a shout out to my husband who graciously let me have a whole room in our small house devoted to nothing but crafts. He's alright.)

Notice anything else different about that picture above? I added a piece of furniture. - that pretty blue cabinet. 


 I keep my embroidery supplies, yarn, and Aida cloth in this baby. I didn't buy this cabinet specifically for my craft room. I've had it for a few years, but decided to move it down to my room after I realized I have a lot of craft junk and needed more (yes, more) storage. 


 That takes care of the storage question, I think. There is lots of storage in there, so no worries all you Pinners who think I have a pretty yet nonfunctional room.

Onto the most popular question I get: What is the paint color? 
 It is Behr Tide Pools. Also, I don't get asked this, but I thought I would share anyway. I always always use the paint + primer in one. It is more expensive, but totally worth the extra few dollars. 

My next most popular question: Where did you get those bookends?


I got them last spring at Target. They are by Umbra (I think), and I have not seen them since I bought them. I hate that I can't help you out with this one. I have done google searches and come up empty handed. If anyone knows anything else about where to find these, leave a comment and I will update this post.

That is about it for the most common questions. Have any other questions/comments/etc.? Leave them in the comments and if there is enough interest I can do a follow up to the follow up post. 

Onto what else I want to share. Are you still with me?

As lovely as my perfectly staged craft room was, it has become a bit more "real" over the past year. I've filled up cork boards, added trinkets, and just made things a bit more homey. 

Lego Harry Potter. Because apparently I am five years old. 


 Jars house my most used supplies - like glue sticks and baker's twine.

 The original Pin board.

 Basket-o-junk.


 I hoard pretty cards and bits of ribbon. I throw stuff in baskets when I don't know what else to do with it. I have a Harry Potter Lego figurine happily sitting right next to a ceramic rose vase. Does it all "go"? No, of course not. But it makes me happy, it inspires me, it makes the room mine. That's what a studio should be. So even though I wish my room always looked like it came from the pages of a Home Decor magazine, it just won't. Now, it looks like me, and that's just the way I like it. 

I still have some things I would like to do to make this space even better. I want to come up with a good storage option for my growing collection of craft books. 

  
Right now, they are taking up a lot of room on my desk, so maybe a new bookshelf is in order. 

I also need to file this ugly pile of pictures, patterns, and other various bits of inspiration. 


I keep putting it off, but I just need to buy a file box and take an afternoon to sort through all that paper. 

I'd also like to eliminate every spider within a 100 foot radius of our home. Since my room is in the basement, I get spiders. Yuck. Maybe I should be happy though, because they take care of the ants. Yuck. 

In all seriousness, I can't with good conscious complain about anything. I would have to say that one of the most popular comments I get is that I am so lucky to have a room like this all to myself. Believe me, I do know it. I feel so blessed that I have this special, pretty space all my own. 


Like I said, if you have any other questions, I would love to share. Just leave them in the comments.

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3/16/12

how to embroider: blanket stitch

Hi guys! This week I am busy working on my How to Cross Stitch posts as well as a craft room "Where is it now" sort of post. Lots of photography and editing going on here even some old school paper and pencil note-taking and outlining. It's serious.

As some of you know, I am a needlework contributor over at 30 Handmade Days. I figured while I am doing some behind the scenes work I would share my older 30 days embroidery guest posts with you. I hope you enjoy!
 
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Just to recap, here are all the stitching tutorials we have gone over so far:


Today I am going to go over the blanket stitch. It is a stitch commonly used to join two fabrics together (like on a blanket, hence the name) or for applique work. That is how I will be using it today, to make this adorable nursery wall art piece.


I made this for a friend who had a baby... four months ago. oops. I may not be on top of things, but when you do get a present from me it will be a good one.

Let's go over how I made this, from start to finish.


I have a very elaborate, expensive process for getting my letter shape for the applique, as you can tell. Instead of printing off a letter, I used Word, picked a font with an "m" I liked, and enlarged it to the appropriate size. I held the hoop up over my screen to gauge the size. Once I had it where I liked, I traced the letter and cut it out. Obviously you want to be very careful not to harm your screen while doing this. Why do this instead of printing the letter? To save black ink, of course. Or, in my case, because you don't have black ink.


Flip your fancy template, trace onto felt, and cut it out. I am by no means a supply snob, but I do have a thing for 100% wool felt. For projects like this where you will be stitching over and over into the felt, you probably should go for the 100% wool or some higher percentage of wool. It is sturdier and will stand up to the stitching. The acrylic felt from craft stores sold by the sheet for like $.25 just won't hold up as well to all the needlework. Will it work? Probably, but it might not look as good. JoAnn does sell some higher quality felt on bolts in the fabric section, so you can start there if you don't want to order online. Lots of Etsy sellers offer wool felt, but I buy mine from Papertrey Ink because of the fabulous color offerings.


To hold my letter stable while I stitch, I use a very small amount of hot glue to hold it down. Only glue in the center of the letter because you will be stitching the perimeter and it is hard to get a needle through hardened hot glue.


I use the same computer-as-a-pattern process for the rest of the lettering. This time I just traced my letters directly onto the fabric with a water soluble pen.

With the pattern all ready, it is time to blanket stitch.

1. Bring your thread up just on the outside of your letter and then put your needle into the felt a bit down and to the right of where you started your stitch.
2. Pull your thread almost all the way through, leaving a loop.
3. Bring your needle back up through the loop and pull through.
4. Once you pull your thread all the way through, you have your first stitch. It is kind of an "L" shape stitch.

Here is the process again.





When I run out of thread, I just end the stitch where I am at by inserting my needle directly on the other side of my last stitch and knotting it in the back.


 To resume stitching, I just bring my needle up at my ending point and keep going.


Blanket stitch all around the perimeter and use a back stitch for the "is for maria" lettering. 


At this point, all of your stitching should be done and it is time to add embellishments. I chose my colors based on this pretty vintage inspired fabric I have in my stash.


I made a yo-yo flower with the fabric and added a coordinating button. I free handed some tiny blue flowers, and also made felt rosettes.


To make the felt flowers, I used a ric-rac die (also from Papertrey Ink) to make a wavy piece of felt. If you don't have this die, you can just out the wavy shape with scissors.


Roll up the piece of felt, hot gluing as you go and that's it. Hot glue and/or stitch all of your flowers on. For finishing the fabric in the back of the hoop, I just trim it down to about a half and inch and hot glue inside the hoop very neatly. There are fancier ways to finish the back, but if you are careful and neat with your work it will still look nice.


I really really love this turned out. Proof that a few simple stitches along with pretty embellishments can have a big impact.

Hope you enjoyed this little tutorial and project! If you decide to make anything inspired by my tutorials, I would love for you to share.


Happy stitching!

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