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.