Monday, December 18, 2017

Mistletoe Garland Scarf

Is it a scarf? Is it garland? Yes! You can use this easy-to-crochet strand of mistletoe to deck the halls--or to deck yourself out for the holidays. It's worked entirely in chain stitch, slip stitch, and single crochet, so it's a super simple project for crocheters of all skill levels. The pom-poms are tied on when the stitching is finished. I used two skeins of Vanna's Choice yarn from Lion Brand in Kelly Green, one skein of Simply Soft Party yarn from Caron in Snow Sparkle, a size I/9 crochet hook, and a 1 3/8-inch pom-pom maker from Clover.

The extra-long scarf (mine has a length of about 80 inches) is constructed of chain-stitch loops worked on the top and bottom of a chain-stitch base. Follow the instructions below, or click here to download a printable pattern.

To begin, chain 250 with the green yarn.

Row 1: Single crochet in the 20th chain from hook, (chain 16, single crochet in the next stitch) across, ending with a single crochet in the last stitch.

Row 2: Turn work upside. Chain 20, single crochet in the base of first stitch, (chain 16, single crochet in the next stitch) across, ending with a slip stitch in the base of the last stitch. Fasten off.

For the "berries," make 18 pom-poms from the white yarn and tie them to the scarf in an arrangement you like. To finish, weave in any yarn ends.

Ta-da! Your mistletoe garland is ready to wear or display. If you'd prefer to make a holly garland, swap the Kelly green yarn for a darker shade and use bright red yarn instead of white. (I've really got to make one of those myself!)

I'll be taking a break from the blog next week to spend some quality Christmas time with my family. Hope you all are doing the same!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Festive Leaf and Berry Pillow

What's your favorite Christmas color scheme? I like so many, I can't settle on just one, so I use different combinations in different rooms. In the living room, where I display the tree, I go traditional with colors from the forest and nature. The kitchen, which has become the "Santa" room, is decked out in bright reds with pops of blue and other accent colors. In our very casual dining room, I decorate with cool grays, crisp white, silver, and sparkles.

This festive pillow puts a fun twist on the traditional red-and-green holiday combination. It was originally featured in a holiday issue of Craft Ideas magazine. Click here to visit the instructions page on their website. Here's a list of the materials I used: National Nonwovens WoolFelt in Magical Forest 0779, Chartreuse 0715, Spring Tickle 0728, and Red 0923; DMC Six-Strand Embroidery Floss in Bright Christmas Red 666, Bright Chartreuse 704, and Medium Parrot Green 906; green cotton print fabric; red baby rickrack; and a 14-inch pillow form.

I love the bold contrast between the red and the light greens--it definitely makes this pillow merry and bright. If this palette doesn't suit your holiday style, switch up the colors to create a pillow that matches your own Christmas color scheme. Happy holiday stitching!

Monday, December 4, 2017

American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast Today

The big day is here! As I told you last week, Pat Sloan, host of the American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast, invited me to be a guest on her show! My interview will be available today, December 4, at 4 pm Eastern Time (3 pm Central, 2 pm Mountain, 1 pm Pacific).

I admit, I was mildly terrified, but Pat was super nice. We had a great chat about the WoolFelt projects I've designed for American Patchwork & Quilting and Quilts and More magazines--and other needlework topics. The show features interviews with three other designers too.

Click here to check it out. If you can't listen live, no problem! The podcasts are uploaded to the American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast page, so you can listen any time.

Mini Christmas Stocking Ornaments

Are you ready for some Christmas cuteness? These mini Christmas stockings are super simple to sew from felt, embroidery floss, buttons, and trims from your sewing basket. They make adorable ornaments, obviously, but you can also use them to decorate packages and brighten your holiday place settings.  I used a classic color scheme of red, white, and black, but you can use any palette you like for your stocking collection.

To begin, print out the patterns below to the size you like. My finished stockings are about 3 inches high. For each stocking, cut two stockings from your main color and one toe piece from a contrasting color. (As I do for all my felt projects, I used WoolFelt from National Nonwovens.) Use two strands of embroidery floss and whipstitch to sew the straight edge of the toe piece to one of the stocking pieces, as shown in the photos (this will be the stocking front). Cut a length of ribbon or rickrack slightly wider than the stocking and sew it in place about 1/8 inch from the top edge of the stocking. Sew an arrangement of buttons below the ribbon. 

When you've finished embellishing your stocking, pin the front and back pieces together, folding the edges of the ribbon over and tucking them between the two pieces. Starting at one top corner, sew the two pieces together with running stitch. Sew through the ribbon and curved edge of the toe piece to secure them in place. When you reach the other top corner, stuff the stocking with fiberfill before sewing the top edge closed. If you prefer, you can leave the top edge open and use the stocking to hold a miniature candy cane or other tiny treats. I sewed a jump ring to one corner of my stocking for securing a hanging loop, but you could also sew a hanging thread or ribbon directly onto the stocking.

That's it--your mini Christmas stocking is complete! If you get carried away like I did, here are some ideas for using your little stockings . . .

Use them as ornaments--on the Christmas tree or all through the house.

Tie them on Christmas presents for an extra touch of cuteness.

Wrap them around holiday sweets, then arrange them in a candy dish or on your holiday table.

Monday, November 27, 2017

American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast Dec. 4

I have big news! Pat Sloan, host of the American Patchwork & Quilting Podcast, invited me to be a guest on her show! My interview was recorded a few weeks ago, and it will be available on Monday, December 4 at 4 pm Eastern Time (3 pm Central, 2 pm Mountain, 1 pm Pacific).

I admit, I was mildly terrified, but Pat was super nice. We had a great chat about the WoolFelt projects I've designed for American Patchwork & Quilting and Quilts and More magazines--and other needlework topics. The show features interviews with three other designers too. I'll post a reminder next week with a link to the podcast, so please stop by again.

2017 Holiday Gift Guide

Christmas is less than a month away, so if you plan on making some of your gifts by hand, you better start crafting! To give you some inspiration, I've once again rounded up some of my favorite, gift-worthy projects from the blog. Some are simple; some require a bit more time and skill. Click on the link below to visit each project's original post.

1. Mini Felt Robots: Sew these tiny robotsfrom felt, buttons, and snaps, and give them to a robot-loving kid or a grownup sci-fi fan.

2. "Animal Crackers in My Soup" Pillow: A sweet appliqued pillow for a child's room, even if they're much too young to remember the song that inspired it.

3. Cross-Stitched Summer Cap: The weather may be frightful, but the gardeners on your list are already thinking about planting and weeding.

4. Appliqued Butterfly Picture: For someone special on your holiday list--pretty appliqued and embroidered butterflies that are worth the time and effort they require.

5. Jelly Jar Sewing Kit: This cute sewing kit comes together in minutes and makes a thoughtful stocking stuffer for an aspiring crafter.

6. Seashell Hoop Picture: Know a beach-lover or a fan of seashore decor? Stitch them a pretty appliqued seasell and frame it in a hoop.

7. Pink Retro Telephone Pillow: This fun pillow celebrates the bygone rotary phone--much more interesting than a cell phone, don't you think? Switch up the felt and fabric colors to match the recipient's favorites.

8, Groovy Goldfish Beanbag Bookend: This cross-stitched beanbag holds books in place and requires no feeding. A perfect gift for your pet-less friends.

If you're looking for more ideas, take a peek at gift roundups from previous years:

2016 Holiday Gift Guide

2015 Christmas Gift Roundup

Monday, November 13, 2017

"Give Thanks" Ribbon Banner

When it comes to gift boxes, wrapping paper, and ribbon, I have to admit I'm a bit of a hoarder. When I received a gift last year tied with this burlap wire-edged ribbon, I knew I had to cross-stitch something on it. I stashed it away and waited for inspiration, which came to me this year as autumn approached. The result is this simple "Give Thanks" design, which can be used as a mini banner on a Thanksgiving table. 

The ribbon I used is 22 inches long, 1 1/2 inches wide, and has about 14 strands to the inch. I used all six strands of embroidery floss and worked over two burlap strands, which suited the size and weave of my ribbon perfectly. The finished size of your cross-stitching will depend on the ribbon you use. Experiment with a small swatch until you get the look you want. If you want to create a more refined design, use fewer strands of floss or try working over a single fabric strand. If you're working with a wide ribbon, and you want your individual cross-stitches to be more prominent, try cross-stitching over four fabric strands.

Of course, you don't have to use a ribbon at all. You can use the chart below to stitch a simple Thanksgiving sentiment on any type of even-weave fabric, Aida, or linen. I used DMC embroidery floss in the following colors: #900 Dark Burnt Orange for the lettering, #3852 Very Dark Straw for the acorn bases, #780 Ultra Very Dark Topaz for the acorn caps, and #520 Dark Fern Green for the leaves. 

By the way--I'll be much too busy cooking, eating, and visiting to blog next week. I hope you will all be doing the same! I'd like to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving--and to offer my sincere gratitude for your kind support of my little corner of the crafting world.

Please stop back on November 27th to check out my annual Holiday Gift Guide.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Embroidered Felt Pumpkin Leaves

Halloween may be over, but pumpkin season is still in full swing. Pumpkins make perfect Thanksgiving decor, but I wanted a way to dress mine up to make it centerpiece-worthy. Since the pumpkins I found at the store were stripped of their vines and leaves when they were harvested, I decided to make some leaves to give my pumpkin a fresh-from-the-field look. The front of the leaves are embroidered with veins stitched with DMC floss; the backs hide the ugly side of the embroidery and make the leaves extra sturdy. I used a length of chain-stitched green yarn to make the vine that connects the leaves, but you could also use ribbon or twine.

To make a pair of pumpkin leaves, you'll need felt (I used WoolFelt from National Nonwovens in Blue Spruce and Sandstone), gold embroidery floss, green yarn, a sewing needle, a crochet hook, and scissors of course. Print the pattern below to the size you like. The leaves shown in the photos are 4 1/2 inches high and 5 inches wide. Cut two from green felt for the leaf fronts, and two from beige for the leaf backs. 

Use the vein lines on the pattern as a guide for your embroidery. Here's the method I use: trace the lines onto tissue paper, pin the tissue paper pattern onto your leaf, and then embroider on the lines, sewing through the tissue paper and the felt. When your embroidery is finished, pull the paper away gently to reveal the stitches. You may need to use tweezers to remove any stray pieces of paper. I embroidered my leaves in two different ways. On one, I embroidered a single line of split stitch, which creates a delicate look. On the other, I began with a single line of split stitch, and then added lines of chain stitch around it for a more textured look. If you want to keep things simple, you could use backstitch or running stitch.

To assemble the leaves, pin the leaf fronts to the leaf backs. Tuck each end of your "vine" between the felt layers at the base of each leaf and pin them in place. Next, sew the pairs of leaves together with running stitch, sewing about 1/8 inch from the edge. Be sure to stitch the vine ends in place securely.

When it's time to dress your pumpkin up for Thanksgiving, wrap the vine around the stem like a scarf and let the leaves hang naturally to the sides.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Halloween Pompom Garland

If you haven't decked your halls for Halloween yet, you're running out of time! Don't worry--I have a last-minute project for you that's super cute and super simple. All you need is a small amount of orange, gold, black, and white yarn. If you have purple, green, or gray yarn on hand, you can throw them into the mix too. You'll also need a pompom maker--one of my all-time favorite craft gadgets. (Mine is from Clover.)

Just use the pompom manufacturer's directions to whip up as many pompoms as you like. Beware--as I've said before, pompom making is addictive. When you finish your pompoms, give them a trim to even the edges, and then fluff them up. (Don't trim the two ends of the tying strand; you'll use those to assemble your garland.)

For the base of my garland I just crocheted a length of white chain stitch, and then tied my pompoms along it, evenly spaced. If you'd like to make this project even easier, tie your pompoms to a length of Halloween ribbon or colored craft twine. When your garland is finished, hang it around a window, wrap it around a chandelier, or wind it around a centerpiece for an extra splash of Halloween color.

If you still have a few minutes to spare, here are two more quick crafts from Halloweens past:

Candy Corn Hair Clips

Scrap Basket Halloween Pumpkins

Monday, October 23, 2017

See My Felt Arctic Animals in "Quilts and More" Magazine

Used with permission from Quilts and More™ magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

When I first saw these shades of blue, white, and gray WoolFelt from National Nonwovens, they  made me think about ice and snow and Arctic animals. After a bit of sketching and stitching, I came up with this blue whale, orca, seal, and narwhal. I'm happy to report that they found a home on the pages of the Winter 2018 issue of Quilts and More magazine. (How awesome is the background that the Q&M people came up with?!) The issue will be on newsstands on October 24. Click here for a sneak peek inside--it's filled with gorgeous quilts and smaller sewing projects. 

Used with permission from Quilts and More™ magazine. ©2018 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Trick-or-Treat Mouse

This little felt mouse is all dressed up for Halloween! She was featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Craft Ideas magazine, which, I am sad to say, has since ceased publication. The patterns are still available on the magazine's website, though, so I decided to share the how-to on this week's blog post.

WoolFelt from National Nonwovens in Smokey Marble, Shocking Pink, Lavender, Chartreuse, Black, White, Yellow, Mac 'n Cheese.

DMC 6-strand embroidery floss: 208 Very Dark Lavender, 310 Black, 415 Pearl Gray, 444 Dark Lemon, 741 Medium Tangerine, 899 Medium Rose, 907 Light Parrot Green, B5200 Snow White.

1/8"-wide bright green ribbon, polyester fiberfill, 2 black seed beads, 1/2"-diameter pink pompom, gray and purple satin cord (optional)
Although Craft Ideas is no longer in publication, their website is still available. You can click here to download and print the patterns and diagrams for the mouse.

Cut the following shapes from felt: from Smokey Marble: two bodies, one head, four ears, one base, two large paws, two small paw; from Shocking Pink: two ear insets; from Chartreuse: one mask; from black: one bag; from Snow White: one candy; from Yellow: one bottom candy stripe; from Mac 'n Cheese: one center candy stripe; from Lavender: one cape. Use pinking shears to trim the long edge of the cape.

Make the Tail (Optional)
With a size 1 crochet hook and six strands of gray floss, make a chain 5 inches long. Turn, slip stitch in second chain from hook and all remaining stitches. Fasten off. Make cape ties: With crochet hook and lavender, make a chain 2 1/2 inches long. Fasten off. Repeat to make second cape tie. (Alternately, use gray and purple satin cord for tail and cape ties.)

Assemble the Mouse
Note: I used two strands of embroidery floss for all stitching.
With whipstitch and rose floss, sew an ear inset to each of the two ear pieces. Whipstitch the appliqued ears to two remaining ear pieces.

Referring to the diagram, use gray floss to tack ears, two small paws, and tail in place on one body piece (this will be the mouse's back).

Sew the mask to the head around the eye holes with green floss and whipstitch. Use running stitch to sew the mask to the head, sewing only as indicated on the diagram. Sew the seed bead eyes in place with black floss. Sew the bottom of the head to the front body piece with gray floss and running stitch. Sew the large paws to the wrong side of the body front with gray floss and running stitch.

Sew the pompom nose in place with the rose floss. Pin the body front to the body back. Cut two 7-inch pieces of bright green ribbon, tuck one end of each under the sides of the mask and pin in place. With gray floss and running stitch, sew body front and body back together, leaving bottom open as shown on diagram. When sewing sides of head, stitch only through body and head pieces and ribbon; do not sew through mask. With green floss, sew running stitch around outer edges of mask.

Stuff the mouse with fiberfill. Sew the base to the body front and back with gray floss and running stitch.

Sew a cape tie to each top corner of the cape with lavender floss. Sew the cape to the body back at the shoulders with lavender floss.

With white floss and whipstitch, sew the candy piece to the top half of the bag piece. Whipstitch the bottom candy stripe in place with yellow floss; sew the center candy the candy stripe in place with tangerine floss. Cut two 2-inch pieces of green ribbon for handles and tack them in place to the bag edge. Fold the bag in half, wrong sides facing, and sew the long edges together with black floss and running stitch.

To finish your Trick-or-Treat Mouse, hang the bag from the mouse's arm and tie mask ties in a bow at back of head. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Trick or Treat Embroidery

Happy October, everyone! I'm kicking off my month of Halloween crafting with a versatile "Trick or Treat" embroidery design that features a fun font and cute candy corns. For the sample I've shown here, I used white cotton fabric and DMC embroidery floss in Dark Lemon #444, Pumpkin #971, Bright Chartreuse #704, Black #310, and White #B5200. I'll start with some basic instructions and tips, and then give you some ideas on how to incorporate your Trick or Treat embroidery into your own Halloween wardrobe and decor.

To begin, print out the embroidery pattern below and transfer it to your fabric. If you're using a light-colored fabric, you can trace the design onto it with a fabric marking pen. You can also use Sulky Solver Stabilizer or a similar product. Follow the manufacturer's directions to trace and stitch your design, and then wash the stabilizer away. (Tip: When I'm embroidering on lightweight fabrics, I like to iron a piece of light fusible web on the back to stabilize the fabric.)
Now it's time to start stitching! Place your fabric in a hoop or frame and thread your embroidery needle. I used three strands throughout this project so the stitches really stand out. Backstitch the outline of the letters with Black floss. To fill in the two "Ts," use the Chartreuse floss and a filling stitch (I used long and short stitch). For the candy corns, use Pumpkin floss for the outline, and then refer to the photo to fill the segments with Pumpkin, Dark Lemon, and White. I used split stitch, but you can also use satin stitch or another filling stitch.

When your embroidery is complete, remove it from the hoop or frame. If you've used a water-soluble stabilizer, wash it away and allow your embroidery to dry. To finish, press the completed piece face down on a padded surface.  

So what can you do with this little piece of Halloween stitchery? My embroidery, which is about 3" by 7 ½", is eventually going to make its way into a pillow. I have some orange and green prints that are just dying to be used in a Halloween project. Here are some other ideas: 
  • Make your own Halloween T-shirt. Print the embroidery pattern to the size you like and stitch it onto the neckline or sleeve of a plain white T-shirt. (Iron a piece of fusible web on the wrong side of the area that's going to be embroidered to stabilize it.) If you want to use a black T-shirt, use white embroidery floss instead of black for the lettering. 
  • Transform a canvas tote bag into a trick-or-treat bag. You can either embroider the design directly onto a purchased canvas bag, or stitch it on a piece of fabric first and sew the embroidered fabric onto the tote as an applique.
  • Dress up a boring basket of treats. Embroider the design onto a piece of White felt, trim it with ribbons, and tie it around a basket or bowl of Halloween candies to make them extra tempting.
  • Bring a bit of Halloween spirit into any room with a Trick or Treat ornament. Embroider the design in the size you like, sew it onto a backing of black fabric or a fun Halloween print, and stuff it with polyester fiberfill to make a pillow ornament. Add a matching ribbon for hanging and display it on a wall, in a window, or--if you are truly dedicated to celebrating all things spooky--on your Halloween tree.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Appliqued Fall Felt Vase

Each year, when it's time to put our garden to bed for the winter, I harvest the twigs and pods the flowers have left behind and use them indoors as part of my fall decor. Because they don't require any water, my dried arrangements aren't limited to traditional containers. This appliqued felt "vase" works perfectly and adds a nice pop of autumn color. (Bonus: It's just the right size to hold a quart canning jar, so you can also use it to display greenery that needs water, if you like.)

As with all my felt projects, I used WoolFelt from NationalNonwovens: Driftwood for the body and base of the vase; Burgundy, Pea Soup, and Gold for the appliques. (I also used Pea Soup for the lining.) Making this project is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. To start, print out the patterns below and use them to cut out felt shapes in the colors you like. 

Arrange them on a 7" by 12" background piece, which will form the body of the vase. Be sure to leave a little extra space on the edges for the seams. Here's what my design looked like before I sewed it all together:

When you come up with an arrangement you like, pin the felt pieces in place. Next, use matching embroidery floss and running stitch to sew the appliques in place.

When you finish the appliques, it's time assemble the vase. Fold the appliqued felt piece in half widthwise with right sides facing and sew the pieces together with a 1/8" seam. Cut a 4" base from the Driftwood felt and pin it to the bottom edge of the vase. Sew the base to the vase body with a 1/8" seam and then turn the vase right side out. To add extra stability to the vase, I cut a piece of Pea Soup felt to fit inside and sewed a seam along the short edges. To finish, I tucked the lining inside and sewed the top edges of the vase and the lining together with running stitch.

I love combination of textures and colors in this project--it looks rustic and modern at the same time. The pattern can easily be adapted to create any size or color vase you like. Just keep in mind that a felt vase is not as heavy as a glass or pottery vessel. You might want to add some glass pebbles or another vase filler to keep it standing upright.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Crocheted Trellis Cowl

This cute little cowl is much easier to make than it looks. A repeating chain-and-pineapple stitch pattern creates a textured, openwork look that looks the same on the front and back. Each of the unjoined rounds is worked identically, making it a fun project that requires minimal concentration. Once you get the pattern in your head, you can just stitch away while you watch TV--which is how I spend most of my fall evenings.

The yarn I used is Cascade 220 Superwash in Como Blue #811. It's 100% washable wool, so it feels cozy and has just the right amount of stretch. Of course, you can use any worsted-weight yarn you have on hand. I used a size I-9 crochet. I tend to crochet tightly, so I used a hook that's a bit larger than I would ordinarily use for this yarn to keep the pattern loose and lacy. Experiment with your yarn to find the hook that creates the desired effect before you begin making the cowl.

This pattern uses one special stitch--the pineapple stitch--which creates the tiny "puffs" that give the cowl texture. Follow the instructions below, or click here to download a printable pattern.
Here's how to make it:
Pineapple stitch: [Yarn over hook, insert hook, yarn over hook, draw a loop through] 4 times in the same stitch, yarn over hook, draw through first 8 loops on hook, yarn over hook, draw through remaining 2 loops on hook.

To begin the cowl, chain 140, join with a slip stitch in the first stitch to form a ring. (The circumference of my cowl is about 26 inches.)

Round 1: [Chain 3, skip 3 stitches, single crochet in next stitch, chain 3, skip 3 stitches, pineapple stitch in next stitch] 17 times. To end the first round, chain 3, skip 3 stitches, single crochet in the joining slip stitch.

Remaining rounds: [Chain 3, skip 3 stitches, pineapple stitch in the next single crochet, chain 3, skip 3 stitches, single crochet in top of the next pineapple stitch] around, without joining rounds.

Work in this pattern until the cowl reaches the size you like. (Mine is 8 inches high.) To finish the cowl, chain 3, slip stitch in the next single crochet, fasten off, and weave in ends.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

See My Design in "Crochet! Winter Warmers"

Scarf and shawl season is almost upon us, and I couldn't be happier! If you're a crochet addict like me, and you're looking for some cool-weather accessories, wearables, and home decor items to make, look for "Winter Warmers" on your newsstand (it's a special publication from Crochet! magazine). I'm thrilled to tell you that my Ridge Rock Shawl is one of the featured designs. These photos give you a sneak peak.

I really can't wait for the weather to get just a little bit cooler so I can wear it. In the meantime, I'll keep busy crocheting. This issue has certainly given me a lot of inspiration!