Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Napkin Ties

Thanksgiving is just a few days away, but I figured I had time for a last-minute craft. These simple napkin ties are made from materials most crafters have on hand--ribbon, beads, and embroidery floss. If you don't have alphabet beads, a quick trip to the craft store is worth the effort. The little black-and-white beads really give the napkin ties a personal touch. You can use them to add a warm greeting or spell out each guest's name.

Basic supplies: beads, ribbons, embroidery floss.
There really are no specific directions for this project. I just chose ribbons in autumn colors from my never-ending ribbon stash and paired them with coordinating beads. For the "Welcome" tie, I stitched the beads directly to the ribbon. For the "Grace" and "Give Thanks" napkin ties, I threaded the beads onto pieces of embroidery floss and then stitched the floss to the ribbon. I used wood and red plastic beads to accent the ribbons, but you can use whatever supplies you have. And remember, the ties don't all have to match!  

When it's time to set the table, there's no need to fold napkins so they look formal and fancy. Just roll them up and wrap a beaded napkin tie around each one.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Herb-Print Cards

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, I thought it would be a good time to make a batch of thank you cards. I'll be harvesting sage and thyme from my garden for Thanksgiving recipes soon (they're still thriving here in Pennsylvania), but I picked some early for this project. I love the look of these herbs as much as I like their taste, so I decided to use sage and thyme leaves to make prints.

Fresh-picked thyme and sage.
For the sage card, I pinched several well-shaped sage leaves from the stem and pressed them with a paper towel to make sure they were dry. I then placed each leaf wrong-side-down on an ink pad (the undersides of the leaves really show off the veined pattern). To avoid making a mess of my hands and work area, I placed a piece of clean paper over the leaf and rolled over it with a rubber brayer. I then positioned the leaf, ink side down, on a piece of card stock and covered it with another piece of clean paper. To transfer the leaf print, I rolled over the paper with the brayer a few times, being careful not to let the leaf shift. When I lifted the sage leaf away from the paper, I found it had made a perfect leaf print on the paper. I added other leaves to the design following the same process.

Place sage leaves wrong-side-down on the ink pad.
Finished leaf prints.

Thyme leaves are too tiny to print individually, so I decided to use whole stems. I trimmed small sprigs of thyme to fit my piece of card stock and then used a brayer to coat the stem and leaves with ink. Using the same process I did for the sage card, I applied thyme prints to a piece of card stock. 

When the ink on the designs was dry, I used a fine-point marker to write "Thank You" on some of the cards, and then mounted the printed papers on small cards. I like the way the leaf prints came out so much, I may have to use the technique on other projects . . . maybe this year's Christmas cards?

In the garden: sage . . . 
and thyme.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Orange Tiles Cross-Stitch Pillow

I'm one of those people who can't resist a clever color name. That's why our living room is Celtic Sage and the bedroom is Hydrangea instead of generic green and beige. The same goes for embroidery floss colors. When I designed this cross-stitch pattern, I was inspired by Spanish tiles, and I had a general color scheme in mind. But when it came time to choose the exact floss colors, the names made the process easy. Turquoise, orange spice, olive, tangerine . . . they just sound exotic, don't they? (I also included navy blue, which isn't exactly romantic, but at least conjures images of the sea.)

The design is repetitious and relatively simple, but it does require a bit of concentration. I guess that's what I like about cross-stitching; it helps me relax and makes me think at the same time. The finished pillow shown in the photo is about 4¾" square; it's worked with two strands of DMC® embroidery floss on 18-count white Aida. If you use 14-count Aida, the design will be 6" square; 11-count Aida will give you a 7¾"-square design. Click here to download and print a copy of the chart.

Assembling the pillow is the easiest part of the project. Trim the finish embroidery, leaving about a 1" margin all around. For the backing, cut a same-size square of fabric (mine is shimmery orange), and then pin the pieces together with right sights facing. Sewing up the edges is easy if you use the lines on the Aida as a guide. Leave an opening and turn the pillow right side out. Fill it with polyester fiberfill and hand-stitch the opening closed.

So what can you do with such a small pillow? Show it off on a shelf, use it as a fancy pincushion, or fill it with cedar shavings to make an exotic sachet.

Orange Tiles Cross-Stitch Pillow Chart   ©2014 Kathleen Berlew
Color Key (DMC Floss)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Felt Squares Purse

Sometimes I just want a small purse to carry my cell phone and keys instead of hauling around a big handbag. I made this little clutch (it's about 4½" square) from scraps of olive green, gold, orange, and sky blue felt. To make a similar bag, follow the directions below, substituting felt shades to create your own color scheme.

Start with a 4½"-by-12" piece of green felt. Cut small squares and rectangles from orange, gold, blue, and green felt and arrange them in a layered pattern along one short edge of the green felt strip. (This will be the flap of the purse.) When you like the way the arrangement looks, sew the pieces in place with gold or green thread and blanket stitch.

Place the green strip facedown and place a 4½" square of gold felt on the wrong side of the decorated edge of the green. Extend the gold piece about ¼" beyond the short edge of the green piece. (From the front, the gold will peek below the edge of the green flap.) Using matching green thread and blanket stitch, sew the gold piece to the green piece. Next, fold the plain edge of the green felt up about 4½" from the plain edge and sew the sides together with blanket stitch.

To make a fastening for the bag, sew a loop of cord or thread (I crocheted a small piece of orange embroidery floss) to the wrong side of the flap. Sew a small coordinating button to the front of the bag so it matches up with the button loop.

If you feel your blanket stitch isn't up to par (mine's still not as even as I'd like), running stitch or backstitch will work fine and look just as pretty.