Monday, December 19, 2016

Happy Handmade Holidays!

Christmas is just days away, and our house is all decked out for the season. I love incorporating handmade decorations in my holiday decor---made by me or by loved ones. The sweet sequined ornaments above were stitched by my maternal grandmother in the '70s. I still think sequins are magical! She used to work on felt projects all year round.

This beautiful bird nest ornament was made by my paternal grandmother. She created the nests from wood shavings and starch, and then filled them with beans that she dyed to look like eggs. I'm so happy to have these keepsakes so I can bring them out each year and remember the women who provided my first craft inspiration.

This little gingerbread house was made by me at my sister's annual gingerbread party. (Full disclosure: I did not bake the gingerbread; I assembled the house from a kit.)

I'm going to be taking a few weeks off from the blog world to spend time with my family. I hope you're doing the same. Before I go, I'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Blue Acorn and Oak Leaf Garland

Blue was my first favorite color. I had a blue dress that I wore to death when I was in elementary school, and I even had a pair of blue suede shoes (it was the '70s). Now I'd have a hard time picking a favorite color--I love them all! But I do find a blue palette soothing. Last year, I made a bunch of felt acorn and oak leaf ornaments in shades of blue and white. This year, I strung them onto a strand of white rick-rack to make a garland that I can keep up all winter.

For the acorns, I cut simple acorn and cap shapes from felt and sewed them together. I added chain stitch details with DMC embroidery floss. The white floss is DMC Satin (S5200), which has a gorgeous sheen. For extra sparkle, I embellished the acorns with glass beads, glittery buttons, and snowflake sequins. I also used rick-rack, one of my favorite embellishments, on some of the caps. To finish, I sewed pairs of acorns together, stuffing them with polyester fiberfill before I stitched them closed.

For the leaves, I embroidered chain-stitch veins on oak leaf shapes that I cut from felt. I assembled the leaf ornaments the same as the acorns--sewed pairs together and stuffed them with fiberfill. If you look closely at the photo below, you'll see that I sewed a jump to the back of each ornament for hanging.

Here are the finished ornaments, waiting to be strung onto the garland. They look so frosty and wintry, I think I may have to make myself a cup of cocoa.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Pink Christmas Tree Cross-Stitch

I've always wanted a pink Christmas tree--one with fluffy faux branches, white twinkle lights, and colorful kitschy ornaments. Since I haven't gotten around to indulging my pink tree craving yet, I decided to make a miniature cross-stitch version. (The design is actually worked primarily in backstitch and half cross-stitches. The only full cross-stitches are on the base.)

I stitched my little tree on 18-count white Aida, which creates a finished design size of 1 1/2" by 2 1/2". I used two strands of DMC Light Effects E168 Silver for the base, trunk, and branches. For the "needles," I used three strands of DMC Six-Strand Embroidery Floss in 776 Medium Pink and 605 Very Light Cranberry, alternating the shades along each branch. To add some extra sparkle to the design, I sewed a pink seed bead to the tip of each branch and the top of the tree.

Pink Christmas Tree   ©2016 Kathleen Berlew

Follow the chart above to stitch your own tiny tree. Of course, you can use any colors you like. I think I might make one that's all silver--I'm in a vintage kind of mood these days. I framed my finished tree in a little silver frame at a flea market last year for fifty cents (I can't resist bragging about a bargain), and I think it suits the design perfectly. I may not have room in my house for a full-size pink tree, but I can definitely find a spot for this one.

Monday, November 28, 2016

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas is less than four weeks away--how can that be?! If you plan on making gifts for any of the people on your list, you better start crafting! For this year's edition of my annual gift guide, I've collected eight simple projects that you can whip up in time for the holidays. Whether you cross-stitch, crochet, or sew, you should be able to find a DIY gift that suits your skills. Click on the name of the project below to visit the blog post where it originally appeared.

1. Cross-Stitch Veggie Hoop: This cute little cross-stitch project uses just seven colors of floss, and stitches up in just an hour or two. A great gift for cooks and gardeners.

2. Crochet-Covered Earrings: If you have a ball of yarn, a crochet hook, and a few minutes to spare, you can transform a pair of boring plastic earrings into something fresh and fun.

3. "X-Files" X-Stitch: I designed this cross-stitch hoop to celebrate the return of one of my all-time favorite shows. Stitch one for an "X-Files" fan while they anxiously await season 11.

4. Mini Cross-Stitch Kit: Is there a reluctant crafter on your Christmas list? Encourage their creativity with a DIY kit that you can assemble from an Altoids mint tin and supplies you  have on hand.

5. Appliqued Autumn Leaf Sachet: The pine fragrance of the holiday season doesn't have to go away when the tree comes down. Sew a simple appliqued sachet and fill it with dried pine balsam to enjoy the scent of the forest year-round.

6. Shamrock and Thistle Cross-Stitch Pins: For the Celt on your Christmas list--cross-stitch pins that celebrate the symbols of Ireland and Scotland. 

7. Farmer's Market Tote: The veggies on this tote bag look yummy enough to eat. To simplify this project, I sewed the appliqued panel onto a purchased canvas bag.

8. X-Stitch Paper Heart Accessories: Sweet little hearts cross-stitched on perforated paper make pretty accents for barrettes and hair clips. Perfect for a little girl--and maybe a grownup girl too.

I hope you find a project you like on my 2016 gift guide. If not, you can browse through my blog to see dozens of other designs. Happy holiday crafting!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking this week off from the blog to spend time with my family--and probably eat way too much turkey. Happy Thanksgiving to all, and thank you for your continued support KBB Crafts & Stitches!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Mini Autumn Treat Bags

I love making little things, which is why you'll find a lot of projects labeled "mini," "tiny," and even "itsy-bitsy" on my blog. This week, as Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I'm sharing a collection of small fall-themed bags that can you can use as part of your table decor. You can tuck some wrapped candy or another treat inside each bag as a thoughtful gift for your guests.

Each felt bag is just 3 inches square and features an applique of a familiar autumn motif--a pumpkin, an apple, an Aspen leaf, and an oak leaf. I used simple embroidery stitches to give the designs a bit of detail and added orange rickrack hanging loops.

These mini treat bags were featured in the Fall 2015 issue of Craft Ideas magazine. Click here to link to the instructions and patterns on the Craft Ideas website.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Gilmore Girls Cross-Stitch Magnet

I know Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, but I couldn't ignore the other big event that's happening in November--the premiere of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix! Everyone in our house is a huge Gilmore Girls fan, so we've seen the episodes from the original seven seasons dozens of times. To celebrate the return to Stars Hollow, I created a cute little cross-stitch magnet project, compliments of Luke's diner.

I used 14-count white perforated paper and DMC floss--725 Medium Light Topaz and 780 Ultra Very Dark Topaz--to make my magnet. To make your own, follow the chart above and use three strands of floss for the cross-stitches and two strands for the backstitching.

When the stitching is complete, cut around the design carefully. Be careful not to cut too close, or your stitches could fall off the edges. Attach a small magnet to the back with clear glue or double-stick tape.

As far as cross-stitch projects this go, this one is pretty straightforward, but it still requires an hour or two of stitching time. What should you watch while you're working on it? An episode of Gilmore Girls, of course. (The entire series is on Netflix.) Since it's November, I recommend one of my all-time favorite episodes--"A Deep Fried Korean Thanksgiving" (Season 3, Episode 9). Enjoy!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Scrap Basket Halloween Pumpkins

Happy Halloween! My treat for you on this spookiest of days is a super-simple pumpkin decorating project. I used a few buttons and  scraps of ribbon and rickrack to make two happy little Halloween pumpkins. Like Linus in "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown," I prefer not to "kill" my pumpkins. This minimally invasive method just inflicts a few pinpricks. The instructions are self-explanatory: assemble your materials, as in the photo at right, and fasten them to each pumpkin with straight pins to make eyes and a mouth. I tied a bow on the orange pumpkin, because I thought its curvy stem looked like a ponytail. The white pumpkin got a cool ribbon-wrapped hairstyle.

As an extra treat, I'm also sharing a list of my favorite scary movies:

Dracula (1931)
Frankenstein (1931)
The Wolfman (1941)
The Body Snatcher (1945)
Thing from Another World (1951)
 Them (1954)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Tarantula (1955)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Blob (1958)
Earth vs. the Spider (1958)
The Fly (1958)
The Screaming Skull (1958)
The Mummy (1959)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The Tingler (1959)
The Killer Shrews (1959)
Psycho (1960)
Thirteen Ghosts (1960)

The Day of the Triffids (1962)

As you can see, I prefer my horror classic and/or campy. If all goes well, I'll be watching at least of few of these tonight while I stitch and snack on Halloween candy.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Itsy-Bitsy Spider Necklace

I used to love coming up with crazy Halloween costumes every year--for myself, when I was younger, and later for my two daughters. These days, my costume consists of a black shirt with a ghost applique that I pull out of the closet once a year. But even though I don't dress up for my second-favorite holiday anymore, I still like to have some fun with Halloween accessories. This year, I came up with a simple, spooky spider necklace.

I got the idea for this project when I found these little metal spider charms at my local Michael's store. Spiders need webs to hang from, so I put some crochet thread that I had on hand to work. It's Aunt Lydia's silver metallic crochet, so it has a little sparkle.

To make the necklace, use a size 4 steel crochet hook and chain about 40 stitches. Attach one of the spiders by drawing the thread through the loop on the charm with the crochet hook, then complete the stitch to hold the charm in place. Continue working in chain stitch, adding a spider charm every 40 stitches or so until the strand reaches the length you want. Join the end chain to the beginning chain with a slip stitch and fasten it off. You can wear your necklace in a single strand or double as shown in the photo below. 

An extra treat . . .

If you're looking for another adorable Halloween accessory, how about a pair of candy corn hair clips? Click here to go to the original post, which appeared on my blog last October.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sneak Peek at "Craft Ideas" Holiday Issue

I know Halloween hasn't even arrived yet, but crafters always have to be at least one holiday ahead. The Holiday issue of Craft Ideas magazine will be available on your newsstand in just a few days--yay!--so you'll be able to get lots of Christmas craft inspiration soon. Until then, here's a peek at my projects that you'll find inside: Cross-Stitch Felt Gift Envelopes (top right) and a Crocheted Mistletoe Garland, that can also be worn as a scarf (bottom). There are dozens of other festive projects to stitch and craft too. Click here to see a video preview of the issue on the Craft Ideas YouTube channel.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Black Cat Cross-Stitch Kit

Everyone likes Halloween treats! This black cat cross-stitch kit is a perfect gift for stitchers who are searching for a seasonably scary project. A black gossamer bag holds everything you need--chart, fabric, embroidery floss, and needles--to stitch up a spooky little black cat like this one:

If you're like me, you probably never throw a gift box or bag away, so chances are you have a gossamer bag on hand. (Mine is black, about 4 inches square, and once held a bracelet, I think.) If not, you can find one at a craft store. When you have your bag, click  here to download and print the Black Cat Cross-Stitch Kit Printable. Cut out the chart and place it in the bag along with a small piece of Aida fabric, a skein of black embroidery floss, and an embroidery needle or two attached to a scrap of black felt.

Next, cut the tag from the printable sheet and punch a hole in the top left corner. Fasten the tag to one of the ties on the gossamer bag, tie the bag closed, and kit is complete. Happy Halloween stitching!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Elf Clothesline Garland in American Patchwork and Quilting

My Elf Clothesline Garland is featured in the December 2016 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting magazine! See my project, as well as other featured projects from the issue here:

Used with permission from American Patchwork & Quilting® magazine. ©Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Mini Halloween Pillows

October has arrived, so it's time to scare up some Halloween decorations. How about a pair of frighteningly cute mini pillows? They're simple to sew from fun green and orange print fabrics, felt and rickrack.

My pillows are about 6 1/2" by 4 1/2", but you can make yours any size you like. First, cut two rectangles with rounded corners from cotton print fabric, adding 1/4" seam allowance to all edges. Now comes the fun part--creating the "Boo" and "Eek" lettering. To make the templates, choose a nice fat typeface in your word-processing software (I used Garamond bold). Remember--the fancier the font, the trickier the cutting will be. Adjust the size of the typeface so each word fits within the pillow front with at least an inch of space all around. Print the word out and pin it to a piece of black felt. Use sharp small scissors to cut the letters from the felt. Center a word on each pillow front, pin in place, and whipstitch with black thread. 

Now, let's give some attention to the pillow backs. Cut a rectangle of green or orange felt and pin it, centered, to the pillow back. Sew it in place along the side and bottom edges to create a pocket to hold small treats or a gift card.

To assemble the pillow, press the edges of the pillow front and back 1/4" to the wrong side. Pin the front and back together with wrong sides facing, sandwiching a length of wide black rickrack between the pieces. Sew the pillow together with running stitch and matching sewing thread. Leave an opening and stuff the pillow with fiberfill before you complete the stitching.

I added ribbons to my "Boo" and "Eek" pillows so I can use them as ornaments. To give your kids a Halloween morning surprise, tuck treats in the pockets and hang the pillows on your little goblins' bedroom doorknobs.

Monday, September 26, 2016

My Designs in "Make It Yourself" Magazine

So excited to see my designs in the Fall/Winter issue of Make It Yourself magazine! Those are my felt Penguin Gift Bags on the cover.

And below is my Night Owl felt applique picture. Look for the issue on newsstands now--it's filled with Autumn, Halloween, Christmas, and holiday projects for all kinds of crafters.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Appliqued Autumn Leaf Sachet

I am a great believer in the power of aromatherapy. I haven't studied the topic scientifically, and I'm not an expert on the use of essential oils. I just know that certain scents have an amazing effect on my mood. Citrus energizes me, lavender calms me, and cinnamon gives me a feeling of warmth. If you follow my blog, you know that pine is another of my favorite scents--and not just for Christmas. I use the cozy, homey aroma of pine balsam year-round. As you may have guessed, this appliqued autumn leaf sachet filled with pine balsam. It's easy to sew from wool-blend felt and embroidery floss.

To start, cut two 4-inch squares from orange and sage green wool-blend felt. Cut a simple leaf shape from gold felt and whip-stitch it to the orange piece with two strands of sage green embroidery floss. Use stem stitch to create a stem at the base of the leaf. With orange and gold embroidery floss, backstitch veins on the leaf.

When the applique and embroidery are complete, pin the orange and sage green squares of felt together, wrong sides facing. Sew the pieces together using gold embroidery floss and blanket stitch. Leave an opening so you can fill the sachet.

Fill the sachet with dry pine balsam, which you can find at craft stores or online vendors. (Be careful not to "over stuff" the sachet, or it will be hard to stitch it closed.) Stitch the opening closed with blanket stitch, and your appliqued autumn leaf sachet is finished! Tuck it in a basket or on a shelf to give a room a woodsy scent and a touch of autumn color.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Fall Craft Roundup

The official start of fall may still be a few weeks away, but fall crafting season has definitely arrived. It's time to pull out your gorgeous gold, orange, and brown fabrics and felt and start stitching up some autumn accessories. This week, I've collected six fall favorite projects that I featured on my blog last year. Just clink on the title of each project to go to the original post and instructions.

Tiny Pine Pillows--Super-simple pine sachets are sewn from camp blanket-print fabric and filled with pine balsam.

Squirrel and Crow Napkin Ties--Dress up an autumn table with napkin ties hand-sewn from felt and ribbon.

Acorn Treat Bag--An assortment of earthy buttons adorns the cap of a felt acorn bag that can hold treats for kids or grownups.

Oak Leaf Name Tags--Personalize embroidered felt oak leaves with hand-lettered vellum overlays.

Fall Patchwork Pillow--A patchwork pillow pieced from fun fall fabrics is a perfect project for beginning stitchers.

Oak Branch Cross-Stitch Pin--Cross-stitch a simple oak leaf and acorn design and mount it in a pin setting to create fall art you can wear.

Happy Fall! And happy stitching!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Easy Footstool Makeover

Have you ever had a project that you keep putting off? For one reason or another, you can't find the time to tackle it or you have other projects you'd rather work on. I have had many, but this little footstool wins the prize. I've been procrastinating about giving it a makeover if for years. Now that I've finally finished, I can only ask myself--Why did I wait so long?

I bought the footstool at a local discount store ages ago. It was perfect for stashing sewing supplies, and it was small enough to tuck under a chair. It wasn't this sad looking when it was new, but with each passing month, it became more obvious that it needed help. Luckily, it only needed a face-lift--not major surgery.

I didn't spend a penny on the makeover materials. I just chose a paint color (from the many cans stored in the basement) and a coordinating fabric (from my extensive stash) and got to work. First, I removed the padded lid and hardware and gave the wooden base a light sanding. One coat of primer and three coats of pale gray eggshell paint gave the stool a fresh new look.

When it came to re-covering the lid, I at first thought about removing the original fabric. I quickly talked myself out of that idea, which would undoubtedly involved a lot of time and frustration. Instead, I just measured my fabric so it wrapped around the lid with plenty of overlap, and then used a heavy-duty stapler to fasten the fabric edges on the lid's underside. I stapled a piece of gray felt onto underside of the lid to conceal the raw fabric edges. For the final step, I re-attached the hinges. Ta-da! The project that I had put off for years took me only a few hours to complete--and isn't it adorable? Make me think I should start tackling some of my other "procrastination projects."