finished HP embroidery!

My friend’s birthday was yesterday, which meant she came over to get her present—and she remembered to bring her Harry Potter scarf too, so she got her present from last year as well! 😉

I have had this embroidery finished for a while, but since we only see each other sporadically it’s been hard to find a time to iron it onto the actual scarf (which my friend handknit years ago).

But now it is completely finished!!!

I’m so happy with how it turned out. I always get a little nervous using fusible things, in case it doesn’t adhere to the materials well. But luckily it worked beautifully! I also hadn’t seen the scarf in a while, and forgot how well the colors matched. I guess the hour we spent matching thread and yarn was worth it!

Anyway, my friend and I both loved the final project. It’s so nice when things go well.

Advertisements

favorite tools!

I’m sure others have experienced the gradual accumulation of crafting tools—you start with a pair of knitting needles and a skein of yarn, and soon you somehow have a spinning wheel, tens pairs of size 00 dpns, and half a room of “stash.” And of course, the more crafts you do, the more this multiplies.

So I thought it would be nice to pare back a bit and show off the top ten crafting tools that I didn’t just “end up with,” but that I genuinely enjoy using most. Some are craft-specific, others I use for any and everything. 🙂


9. clover patchwork pins

Not being very good at sewing (or realizing how many cool sewing supplies are out there!) I spent years using cheap plastic topped pins that were frequently dull and even more frequently poked giant holes into my humble projects. These clover pins were such an upgrade! Also I love the cute case they come in. 🙂

8. brittany crochet hook(s)

These hooks look beautiful and also happen to be my favorite ergonomically. The wood keeps stitches from sliding too much, while the long handle allows me plenty of room to grip. And I love tools that are as beautiful to look at as they are to use—it makes crafting even more special.

7. stone whorl spindle

Spinning is one of those crafts that can feel just incredibly ancient. I think about all the women who used to have to spin hour after hour to make enough yarn for clothing and other household necessities, and am a bit awed by taking part in such a long, arduous, tradition. These stone whorl spindles really accentuate those feelings. They’ve become one of my favorite types of spindles to use, and it helps, of course, that they’re extremely well made and nicely balanced.

6. turtlemade 3d spindle

In contrast, these 3d printed spindles are eminently modern. 🙂 They’re also perfect for traveling—I slip mine into a coat pocket or purse, and bring it everywhere! I’ve even spun with mine in Disney World. 😉 These are also the favorite spindles of my little cousins, who have taken to asking after them if I neglect to bring them. While I wouldn’t recommend them for beginners, due to their light weight and high speed, for a more confident spinner I think there is no better travel option!

12045505_10153455168896299_204470106244472825_o

6. a portable iron

Ironing was another of those simple, exceptionally obvious skills that improved my sewing. I like using a small, portable iron, because I travel and move frequently, and I don’t really need a bigger iron for my clothes. Having a little iron and tabletop ironing board allows me to set up a space almost everywhere, and just start sewing!

5. my handmade nalbinding needle

Nalbinding is one of my favorite types of wool-based crafting, because it’s so portable and looks great with my rather uneven handspun yarn. 😉 When I first started nalbinding, I made my own needles out of sticks, because I didn’t like using metal tapestry needles (a cheap beginner option) and didn’t want to purchase one before I knew I like it. Now, a few years later, I have quite a collection of needles! The three below are my three favorites, made of elk antler, mammoth ivory, and one I made myself! Not only do I love using my little wooden needle for finer projects, but I’m also very proud of it. While my dad is a woodworker, I rarely do anything with wood. But I have had a little pocket knife since I was 5 for whittling, and I guess it finally paid off!

IMG_4065

4. sajou embroidery scissors

I bought these scissors in France, and I love them. Embroidery can be so delicate, so pretty—doesn’t it make sense to have a pair of scissors that matches? Of course, they also have a very sharp edge, and the blades are paired, so they work beautifully too. But I will admit I mostly enjoy them for their looks!

3. kromski minstrel

One of my biggest crafting tools, the Kromski Minstrel is my long-awaited first spinning wheel. As you can probably tell, I enjoy a certain aesthetic style. 😉 The Minstrel looks somewhat antiquated, but because of its castle-wheel setup, doesn’t take up too much space. I got it because I wanted a very versatile wheel, and so far it hasn’t disappointed. While I still do particularly fine spinning on my spindles, I’ve found it easy to switch between fine and think yarn on this spinning wheel.

14257500_10207662400014920_1911384332537695784_o

2. rhodia grid notebook

I am…not the most organized person in the world. But while I don’t mind digging through a pile of mail to find my bills, I hate to lose pattern or project notes and ideas. My solution has been to save one notebook, a rhodia gridded one, and use it for everything! While I still keep notes in other places, or use larger notebooks to design patterns, this little notebook always has at least a note or initial sketch. That way, if I somehow lose the other pieces (which has happened…too many times), I don’t have to start entirely from scratch. 😉

1. gingher shears

My sewing shears get top place. 🙂 When I was a kid, I used to scoff at all the sewing tutorials I found that instructed me to use real sewing scissors. What could possibly be wrong with my normal paper scissors, other than the fact that they had nicks all over them, were incredibly dull, and occasionally didn’t even close properly?

Obviously nothing, right? 😉 I’m sure it’ll surprise no one that my sewing magically improved ten-fold when I finally invested in this pair of gingher shears. Suddenly I could cut in a straight line! My seam allowances no longer looked like mice had chewed the fabric apart! I could actually follow patterns! I’m still using the same pair, and I still love them.

So these are some of my absolute favorite crafting tools—what about you? Which do you use most often, or enjoy using the most?

 

 

embroidered lunch bag

I still can’t get past my love for white-on-gray linen embroidery. It’s simple, pretty, and decorative without being ostentatious—perfect for things I want to use daily. I decided to make this latest project after realizing that a bag to carry my lunch in would be useful. My normal schoolbag is a leather satchel, which while perfect for keeping papers un-crumpled, isn’t that spacious. I usually clip my water-bottle to the handle, and figured I could do that with a lunch bag too!

I used this zakka book once again for inspiration (the last project I used it for was my pincushion). The bag will be a simple drawstring one, with embroidery on both sides—although I might just put a decorative initial on the back.

You can see I still have a lot of work to do! While I love the look of chain stitch, I’m not very fast at working it yet. Oh well, practice makes perfect. 🙂

I’m designed this bag to fit the box I used for these lunches, but I hope it also fits the new (slightly bigger) lunchbox I just ordered. While I like my other one, I wanted one that a) looked somewhat more like an adult would use it and b) was stainless steel. I haven’t used my new one yet, but I did test the seal—it didn’t spill anything!

Embroidery and sewing things that I can use frequently is one of my favorite things about these crafts. Every time I spot my handmade item, I feel like the day gets a little more special. 🙂 What are your favorite things to make?

finished lily-of-the-valley pincushion!

I finished my pincushion! It turned out super cute. I went with a Rifle & Co. print fabric for the back, and also used it to make a covered button.

IMG_3408.png

I really like how the embroidery turned out. I found it a little difficult to steel myself to cover up parts of it, since although it didn’t take that long to do, it still was work. But the end result was totally worth it.

IMG_3412.png

You can see some of the lily disappearing into the seam. 🙂 I really loved this fabric too, I mean most of rifle & co’s prints are great, but the blue-heavy floral made an excellent contrast to the gray & white of the embroidered linen. I only got 1/2 a yard before, but I may have to order some more! Or if anyone knows of simmilar fabrics to recommend…? 

wall quilt & garland

One of the less fun things about being a grad student is the lack of money. This is especially a problem, if like me, you tend to prefer handmade furniture and oil paintings (I know, I know). My dad is a very good woodworker, and has so far indulged me in the desire for very nice furniture, but I’ve had to be a bit more economical with art and decorations. I decided to combine my desire for less-blank walls with my desire to improve my quilting skills, so I’ve been making wall quilts! They’re not exactly my favorite pastoral oils, but they are very cute. 🙂

IMG_3404

This is my first finished one—I made it to hang in my kitchen. I thought that the redwork embroidery looked a bit vintage, and the teacup of course makes it very suitable. I didn’t do a very complicated block, since this was for practice, but I did make sure the cat fabric formed a nice border. I think my hand-quilting has improved somewhat—the stitches are getting a bit more even!

IMG_3450.png

Once it was done, I thought the wall still looked too blank, so I added a little crochet garland. The stars are very simple, only two rounds, so it went quite fast. I used scraps leftover from the cotton I use for my dishcloths, which luckily I’ve made in a nice variety of blue shades.

IMG_3443

Overall, I’m very happy with this simple decorating! I still have a few more things I’d like to make for my kitchen, and then onto the next room. 😉

embroidered pincushion!

I’m really into this zakka embroidery book lately. (I used a little bird for my recent needlebook!) Something about the simple designs is so appealing, and it’s a good opportunity for me to practice other stitches than just backstitch and satin stitch. I rarely bother to trace the designs exactly, but they’re easy to just sketch myself from the pictures. For this pincushion, I used the lily of the valley pattern, but decided to embroider it in just one color.

img_3264
For the fabric I used some leftover linen/cotton blend that I bought when making myself a cross-back apron last summer. I think I’ll do some patchwork on the back of this pincushion once I finish the front. It should turn out cute!

pattern: embroidery project pouch

The last time my parents were visiting, I was working on some basic redwork embroidery. While sitting and chatting, my mom kept staring at the needle going back and forth through the hoop, and finally admitted that she couldn’t believe how relaxing embroidery looked! While I’m sure most embroiderers have experienced plenty of moments in which embroidery is the exact opposite of relaxing, I do think it’s a very enjoyable craft to pick up. Not only can embroidery be used to decorate almost anything made of fabric, but it’s also relatively inexpensive to get started with, and can achieve great results with only a bit of practice.

My mom is probably the least crafty person I know, but I thought she might enjoy trying some embroidery herself, so I threw together a kit for her. Of course, once I’d gathered all the supplies, I realized they really needed a cute way to keep them together—hence this embroidery project bag! It requires very basic sewing & quilting skills, although of course you could make it fancier by doing embroidered decorations, more patchwork, or adding appliqué. I made it sized for a 5″ hoop, but you could also easily increase the dimensions.

embroidery project pouch

materials:

  • lining fabric: cut 9″ x 6.5″ piece, 2.5″ x 6.5″ piece, 6.5″ x 6.5″ square, and 34″ x 2.5″ strip (for binding)
  • back fabric: cut 9 x 6.5″ piece
  • front patchwork section: cut three 2.5″ x 2.5″ squares
  • front fabric: cut 6.5″ x 6.5″ square
  • top pocket flap: cut two 3.5″ x 6.5″ pieces (either of same or contrasting fabric)
  • bottom pocket flap: cut two 4.5″ x 6.5″pieces (either of same or contrasting fabrics)
  • scissor sheath: two pieces cut according to pattern (download )
  • batting: cut 9 x 6.5″ piece, 2.5″ x 6.5″ piece, and 6.5″ x 6.5″ square
  • wool felt: cut two 3″ x 2.5″ pieces with pinking shears
  • ~2″ piece of elastic
  • one button
  • one 7″ zipper

instructions:

  1. Cut out all the pieces as specified in the materials.
  2. Sew together your three 2.5″ squares, using a 1/4″ seam, and press.
  3. Take your three 6.5″ square pieces: the front fabric, lining, and batting, and your zipper. Pin the front fabric to the batting, and lay them together on top the zipper, facing towards the zipper. The top edge of the front + batting should line up with the bottom edge of the zipper, and the lefthand edge should fall 1/4″ beyond the zipper pull. Lay your lining fabric, facing towards the zipper and front fabric, on the other side of the zipper and line it up to match your front fabric + batting. Pin all of this in place—you should have a fabric sandwich of batting, front fabric, zipper, lining fabric.  IMG_3246
  4. Sew together, 1/4″ from the edge. Unpin and press down. IMG_3250
  5. Repeat this process with your patchwork strip, 2.5″ x 6.5″ piece of batting, and your matching lining fabric on the other side of the zipper. Press up. IMG_3251
  6. Top-stitch around both sides of the zipper, and trim whatever of the zipper sticks out beyond the edge of the fabric.
  7. Take your three 9″ x 6.5″ pieces: the back fabric, lining, and batting. Pin them with the batting sandwiched between the back and lining fabrics, and quilt them together. Pin this quilt to your zippered piece, with the lining fabrics facing each other.
  8. Fold & press your binding strip in half. Line the unfolded edge up against the edge of the front of your pouch, and sew around your pouch with a 1/4″ seam.
  9. Fold binding around the pouch, pin, and whip-stitch in place.
  10. Now take your pocket flap pieces and piece of elastic. Pin the pieces with wrong sides facing, and sew around with 1/4″ seam, leaving a small opening to turn them inside out. For the top flap, add an elastic loop before sewing.
  11. Turn pieces inside out and press. Pin in place on your pouch and sew them along the top, continuing (without sewing them to the pouch) in order to top-stitch the rest of the sides.
  12. Take your scissor sheath pieces and cut out the pattern from them. Sew together with 1/4″ seams, wrong sides facing, leaving a small opening to turn inside out.
  13. Turn scissor sheath inside out, and press. Then pin to your pouch, and sew around (leaving top open).
  14. Sew your felt pieces to the pouch. IMG_3260
  15. Sew a button on the bottom flap, matching the elastic loop.
  16. You are done!

You can use whatever combination of fabrics you like. I went for a blue & yellow theme, with gray accents in the scissors sheath, lining, and binding fabric. To draw things together, I used the inside fabric of the flaps, the outside fabric of the flaps, and the back fabric for my trio of patchwork squares. I also added a bit of purple ribbon as accents because I thought it was cute. 🙂

If you make this project, please link your pictures/blog in the comments! I’d love to see other people’s take, and of course, go ahead and ask if you have any questions! I’m not that practiced at sewing tutorials yet, so I might have missed explaining some things. 🙂