Monday, December 28, 2015

Happy New Year!

I'm taking a holiday break from the blog this week. Thank so much for following my stitching and crafting adventures in 2015! Come back on January 4th when I kick off 2016 more ideas and inspiration!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Hearts, Arrows and More in the Winter Issue of "Craft Ideas"

My cross-stitched Heart Arrow Pendants are featured in the Winter issue of Craft Ideas magazine! It's filled with snow- and Valentine-themed projects to satisfy your post-holiday crafting cravings. Look for it on newsstands now . . . Enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Sew-Inspired Ornaments

Christmas is just days away, so I'm entering the "If it's not done now, it's not going to get done" phase of holiday preparation. I do have one more quick Christmas craft to share. It's really not a craft at all--just a pretty way to transform odds and ends from your sewing room into holiday ornaments.

The project begins with those beautiful, versatile clear glass ornaments you can find at craft stores. They come in different sizes. The ones I used are about 3 inches in diameter. I've seen these ornaments filled with everything from sand and seashells to photographs. 

Today, I'm filling them with sewing supplies left over from my Christmas crafting binge. I filled mine with mini pompoms, buttons, beads, sequins, ribbon, and rick-rack. Use your imagination and see what crafty fillers you can come up with.

To finish, pop the tops on the ornaments and add hanging ribbons. If you're hesitant to part with your treasured supplies to make ornaments, don't worry. When Christmas is over, you can retrieve most of the fillers from the ornaments and put them back into circulation in your craft room. However, I think those snowflake sequins are in there for good. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Winter Issue of Cross-Stitch & Needlework Magazine Has Arrived

The Winter issue of Cross-Stitch & Needlework magazine is out, and my poinsettia cross-stitch design is inside! Look for it on your newsstand. It's filled with beautiful wintry stitching projects.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Snowflake Sequin Garland

I love sequins of all sizes, shapes, and colors. When I found these pretty snowflake spangles at the craft store, I just couldn't resist. There are a lot of sequins in those little packages, so I wanted to come up with a project that would let me use a bunch of them. A garland seemed like a great idea. And an even better idea was to use white baby rick-rack instead of ribbon or cord. I hope you agree!

This is another easy project--and it's a good thing, because Christmas is really getting close! I just used white embroidery floss, which has a nice sheen, to sew the snowflake sequins to the rick-rack, spacing them a few inches apart. I used tiny pearls on my garland to hold the snowflakes in place, but you could use seed beads or small buttons. Just keep stitching on snowflakes until your garland reaches the length you like. 

The finished garland is lightweight and delicate--just like a flurry of snowflakes. You can use it decorate your Christmas tree, a window, a mantel, or even a holiday table.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Knitted Snowdrift Scarf

If you're a crafter, you're probably not in in "last-minute gifts" territory yet. Christmas is still a few weeks away, so you have plenty of time to put the finishing touches on the handmade presents you've been working on. Maybe you'd even like to start something new. This knitted scarf is easy to make and requires absolutely no concentration. It's worked entirely in garter stitch, so once you cast on, you can just knit back and forth without counting. That's why it's a perfect project to keep your hands busy while you're watching Christmas movies and sipping hot cocoa. 

The secret to the scarf's fluffy look and feel is the yarn--Pipsqueak from Bernat. It's like knitting a cloud. I will give you one bit of advice about working with this yarn: be careful you don't drop any stitches while you're working. The yarn has a loopy texture that makes it hard to see individual stitches after you move them off your needles.

With that said, I'll share the directions for this super-simple scarf. Ready?

Cast on 30 stitches (or desired number). Work in garter stitch (knit every row) until the scarf reaches the length you like. Cast off all stitches.

That's it! No need to block; the garter stitch pattern keeps the edges from curling up. As soon as it comes off your needles--and you've woven in the beginning and ending strands of yarn--your snow scarf is ready for wearing or gift-giving.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Poinsettia Cross-Stitch

My Poinsettia Cross-Stitch picture was one of the Christmas projects featured in the 2014 Holiday issue of Craft Ideas magazine. This year, I'll be using the picture as part of my Christmas decor. If you'd like to make one of your own, click here for the link to the instructions and chart on the Craft Ideas website. You better start stitching soon--Christmas is just 23 days away!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Gift Roundup

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, the Christmas countdown can begin! If you're like me, you like to make as many gifts as you can--they're much more personal, and it's a much more pleasant experience than braving the crowds at the mall.

Since I began this blog almost two years ago, I've shared many projects that make great little gifts. I'm re-sharing nine of my favorites here that use a variety of techniques--sewing, crochet, embroidery, and paper crafts. Click on the name of the project below to visit its original blog post.

1. Tiny Tree Pins: These cute little Christmas tree pins require minimal sewing skills. They're a great way to use up felt, buttons, beads, and other baubles from your sewing basket.

2. Crocheted Bangle Bracelets: They look luxurious, but they're inexpensive and easy to make from metallic embroidery floss and thrift-store bangles.

3. Flowery Fabric Pendant: No fancy embroidery here. You just accent a pretty piece of fabric with back-stitch and beads, and then mount it in a pendant setting.

4. Crocheted Paillette Necklace: If you can crochet chain stitch, you can make this necklace. Just add pretty paillettes--which are oversize sequins--onto loops of chain stitch made from embroidery floss.

5. Felt Daisy Pillow: Probably the most challenging project of the bunch, but very much worth it if you like to sew. I keep this pillow out year-round because the color palette suits every season.

6. Crocheted Icicle Garland: Another easy-to-crochet project made from embroidery floss (probably my favorite craft supply). It's just a long rope of chain stitch embellished with "crystal" ice drops.

7. Upcycled Tablecloth Sachet: I made this lavender-filled sachet from a tablecloth my mother embroidered. You can make a similar design by upcycling any vintage linens you have on hand.

8. New Year's Inspiration Jar: I can't really call this a craft project, but it's a great gift for anyone of any age. It's a decorated mason jar filled with 52 printed quotes to offer a weekly does of inspiration in the new year.

9. Embroidered Pine Balsam Sachet: The tiny pine trees on this sachet are stitched on Aida fabric with wintry green embroidery floss. The pillow is easy to sew from felt (no fraying!). Pine balsam filling makes it smell like a fresh Christmas tree.

So there you have it--nine of my favorite gift-worthy projects. If you don't see something you like here, browse through the blog--there are dozens of ideas to choose from.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Cross-Stitched Woodland Sachet

This project combines two of my favorite things--cross-stitching and the scent of pine. I made bunches of cross-stitched woodland sachets like this one a few years ago and gave them as gifts. It's a simple project that uses just four colors of DMC embroidery floss, a small piece of 14-count Aida, a scrap of backing fabric, and a ribbon for hanging. And a few scoops of fragrant pine balsam, of course!

You can follow the chart below or click here to download a free printable chart. Because the design is worked mainly in straight stitches and back stitches, I didn't use symbols on the chart. The pattern uses only four colors of floss--red, brown, and two shades of green--so I think this "stitch" chart is pretty easy to follow. (I hope you're not confused by those little stitches on the birds; they're just quarter and half cross-stitches.)

To stitch the design, start with a 3-inch-by-7-inch piece of 14-count white Aida. Begin your stitching at the center of the fabric (the arrows on the chart indicate the center of the design). I used two strands of floss for all stitching. When the embroidery is complete, press the piece face down on a padded surface. Cut a piece of backing fabric (mine is bright green) the same size as the Aida piece and pin it to the embroidered Aida, right sides facing.

Sew the edges together, leaving an opening at the bottom for turning. I made my lines of stitching two Aida squares beyond the cross-stitched border of the design all around. At the top of the sachet, I sewed a length of green gingham ribbon between the fabric layers to make a hanging loop.

Trim the edges and corners of the fabrics, and then turn the sachet right side out. Fill it with pine balsam, and then whipstitch the opening closed. Now your woodland sachet is ready for hanging--on a Christmas tree, doorknob, or anywhere in your home you'd like to add some Christmas color and fragrance. 

Woodland Sachet   ©2015 Kathleen Berlew

This design originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Crafts 'n Things (now Craft Ideas) magazine. Click here to see the chart and directions on the CI website.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oak Leaf Name Tags

Thanksgiving is only a week away, so your dinner plans are probably well underway. While you're choosing recipes and shopping for good things to eat, set aside a little time to make something pretty for your Thanksgiving table. Even if your gathering is small, place cards make guests feel welcome and special. These oak leaf name tags are easy to stitch from felt. Vellum leaves printed with guests' names give them a personal touch.

Each name tag starts with two oak leaf shapes (mine are about five inches tall) cut from fall-colored felt. Use three strands of embroidery floss to create veins on one leaf from each pair. I used chain stitch, stem stitch, and split stitch to create different textures. When the embroidery is complete, pin each embroidered leaf to a plain leaf and sew the edges together with running stitch. For the stems, fold a small piece of baby rick-rack in half and sew it between the two pieces of felt at the base of the leaf.

For the name tags, cut smaller leaf shapes from vellum paper. Use permanent marker to write a name on each one and punch a hole at the base of each leaf.

To assemble the name tags, just slip the rick-rack stems through the vellum holes. I love the way the color and texture peek through the vellum! When it's time to set the table, place a leaf at each setting so guests know where they're supposed to sit. And when your Thanksgiving gathering is finished, your guests can keep their name tags and use them as ornaments in their own homes.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tiny Pine Pillows

Another pillow project this week! These pillows are much smaller than the one I made last week, and they're filled with fragrant pine balsam. I've made pine sachets on my blog before (in fact, there's another Christmas-themed one coming up in a few weeks), but I think these are the tiniest. They're easy to stitch, and they make great little last-minute gifts. 

You can make your tiny pillows out of any fabrics you have in your stash, but I think this print fabric is perfect. It's Summer Camp Blanket in gold by Mark Cesarik. For the pillow backs I used wool-blend felt in gold and crimson. I really like the combination of colors and textures.

For each sachet, I cut one 3-inch square from the print and another from the felt. I pinned the pieces together, right sides facing (although there really is no wrong side to the felt) and sewed the edges together with 1/4-inch seam, leaving an opening for turning. 

To finish the pillow, I turned it right side out, filled it with pine balsam, and whip-stitched the opening closed. That's it! These tiny pine pillows take just minutes to make, but I think they have a charming, handmade look. They smell great too.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

My Projects Featured in "Quilts and More" Magazine

My Bitty Bots felt robots are featured in the Winter 2015 issue of Quilts and More magazine! See my projects, as well as other featured projects from this issue, here:

©2015 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Cross-Stitched Christmas Gift Ideas

Christmas gift-making season is upon us, so I'm re-sharing a few of my favorite cross-stitch projects that have appeared previously on my blog. Most of them are pretty quick to stitch. The mini pillow (top left) is a bit time-consuming, but very much worth the effort. Click the name of each design listed below to visit its original blog post. To download free printable charts of these designs--and lots of others--got to the "Free Cross-Stitch Charts" page on my blog.

Please remember that the designs are copyrighted. They are intended for your personal use only, and not to be sold. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Fall Patchwork Pillow

I have been gradually accumulating a stash of print fabrics, but I realized I've been neglecting them. When I pulled them out to plan a fall project, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had four fabrics that worked perfectly together. I knew I wanted to make something patchwork, and since my living room is in need of a splash of fall color, I decided on a pillow.

The pattern is super simple. I cut four 3 1/2-inch squares (for the center strip) and eight 3 1/2-by-5-inch rectangles for the top and bottom strips. To give the fabric stability, I adhered a piece of iron-on fusible web to each.

After playing around with the pieces for about an hour, I finally settled on an arrangement. Then it was time for the stitching. Using a 1/4-inch seam, I sewed the four square pieces together to make the center strip. To assemble the top and bottom strips, I sewed the long edges of the rectangle pieces together. 

Pretty easy so far, right? To finish the pillow front, I sewed to three strips together, and then pressed the seams flat on the wrong side. I kept the pillow back simple. It's a 12-inch square of the brown print, but if you're feeling ambitious, you can make the back patchwork too. To assemble the pillow, I pinned the front and back together, wrong sides facing, and sewed the top and both side edges closed. Then I turned the pillow right side out, inserted a 12-inch pillow form, and whip-stitched the bottom edge closed.

That's it! My first patchwork pillow is finished and sitting pretty on my love seat. I think I'll be making more to keep it company.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Look for the Holiday Issue of "Craft Ideas" Magazine

The Holiday 2015 issue of Craft Ideas magazine is out, and a few of my projects are featured inside.

The Festive Leaf & Berry Pillow (and coordinating garland) is sewn from cotton print fabric, wool-blend felt, and red baby rick-rack.

The Peacock Purse is an embroidery project. It's stitched with peacock colors of DMC embroidery floss on black Aida fabric, and then assembled with lining fabric and a chain to make an evening bag.

Check out the issue for lots of other Christmas crafts--ornaments, jewelry, gifts, cards, decor and more!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Oak Branch Cross-Stitch Pin

More acorn love this week--and another free cross-stitch chart! This Oak Branch design uses just three colors of DMC embroidery floss--898 Very Dark Coffee Brown, 422 Light Hazelnut Brown, and 3820 Dark Straw. It's simple to stitch, but I think the finished design has a detailed look. You can follow the chart below or click here to download a printable chart and color key.

I really like this bar pin setting from the Etsy shop Kailea. If you stitch the design on 18-count Aida, it will fit perfectly. You can use another setting if you like, or stitch the design on 14- or 11-count Aida and make your finished embroidery into an ornament.

Oak Branch Cross-Stitch   ©2015 Kathleen Berlew

Monday, October 19, 2015

Owl Treat Bag

Who doesn't love owls--and Halloween? I made this owl treat bag a few years ago. I had been playing around with the idea of making felt fringe, and it seemed perfect for this project. The cylinder-shaped bag is made from felt and embroidery floss, with a few button details. I designed the project as a Halloween treat bag, but you could also use it as a tabletop decoration. That's where my owl will be landing soon.

This little guy was featured in the Fall 2013 issued of Crafts 'n Things--now Craft Ideas--magazine. (That's him up there on the cover.) Instead of giving you the directions here, I'm sharing the link to the project page on the Craft Ideas website: Owl Treat Bag. You can print the directions right from the page, which also has a link to printable patterns.

Here are some additional photos to help you understand how the owl is constructed:

Back view

Inside view and handle

Wing detail