Monday, May 22, 2017

Red, White & Blue Beanbags


With Memorial Day just one week away, picnic season is upon us. Eating outdoors is my favorite summer activity. I've already pulled out my favorite warm-weather recipes, and I'm ready to dig into a new season of burgers and potato salad. To celebrate the holidays that mark summer's beginning, middle, and end--Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day--I designed this set of red, white, and blue beanbags. They're not only pretty; they're practical too! You can use them to hold your tablecloth, napkins, and paper plates in place on breezy days. You can arrange them in a basket to make a simple centerpiece. You can even use them in a beanbag toss game. (They are beanbags, after all.)

I used three cotton prints to make my beanbags: a blue swirl pattern, a red-and-white floral, and a red polka-dot fabric. They're embellished with red, white, and blue rickrack, and red-and-white gingham ribbon. You can, of course, use any ribbons or trims you have in your sewing stash. The instructions are quite straightforward, so I decided to explain the process with pictures, rather than words. To make each beanbag shown, just follow the corresponding diagram. Cut the fabric pieces to the sizes indicated. If you're going to add ribbon or rickrack, do so before you sew the pieces together. When it's time to sew, use a 1/4" seam allowance. 



When the beanbag fronts are finished, pin each to a 4 1/2" square of fabric in your desired print, right sides facing. Sew the pieces together, leaving an opening for turning, then fill the bag with dry rice (or another filler), and whipstitch closed.

Happy stitching--and happy picnic season!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Cross-Stitched Summer Cap


If you follow my blog, you know I'm a bit obsessed with cross-stitching. The only drawback is, cross-stitching has to be done on even-weave fabrics like Aida and linen. They provide a grid to guide you as you transfer a design from chart to fabric. So what do you do when you want to cross-stitch on an item that isn't made of even-weave? You use waste canvas! For this week's project I designed a cute gardening cap that doubles as a tutorial in using waste canvas.

I started with a pink cap that I bought at the dollar store and a 3" by 3" piece of pink felt from my stash. Next, I cut a 3" by 3" piece of waste canvas (I used 14-count Waste Canvas from Charles Craft), pinned it to the felt, and started stitching. If you want to give it a go, follow the Daisy chart below, using two strands of white and yellow embroidery floss. Cross-stitching on waste canvas fabric is just like stitching on Aida; the only difference is that you just stitch over the canvas threads and through the fabric (felt, in this case). When the stitching is complete, it's time to reveal the design.



This step requires a bit of patience, but it's worth it! Spray the surface of the waste canvas lightly with water and let it soak in a bit to loosen the canvas threads. Next, remove the threads of the waste canvas one by use, using tweezers to pull them out from under the cross-stitching. You can see my progress in the photos above. When you've removed all of the canvas threads, let the felt dry completely.

To finish the cap, cut the felt into a 2 1/2" circle with the daisy centered inside. I used matching pink thread to sew my daisy patch to the front of the cap. If you don't want to make a gardening cap, you can use your daisy to decorate anything you like. You can even use waste canvas to cross-stitch directly onto a shirt or a pair of jeans. I think I just got idea for another tutorial!

Daisy   ©2017 Kathleen Berlew


Monday, May 8, 2017

Appliqued Butterfly Picture


We try with varying success each year to attract butterflies to our garden. We suffered a setback a few years ago when our beautiful butterfly bush failed to survive an especially harsh winter. I designed this project so we can always have butterflies at our house, even if real ones don't find their way to our backyard. It hangs year-round in my craft room, but it would make a great gift for Mother's Day.

The butterfly wings are cut from WoolFelt from National Nonwovens (I used Mac 'n Cheese, Chartreuse, and Blue Bayou) and appliqued onto an even-weave background. The details are embroidered with DMC six-strand embroidery floss. I'm not gonna lie--this project requires some patience, especially the monarch butterfly. But it's totally worth the effort, don't you think?

This project was featured in the 2016 Garden issue of Craft Ideas  magazine. Click here to go to the patterns and instructions on the magazine's website.




Monday, May 1, 2017

Groovy Goldfish Beanbag Bookend


This cute little goldfish is my kind of pet. She requires no care, and she adds a splash of color to the shelf while she holds books in place. The word groovy may be betraying my age, but I think this design has a definite retro vibe. The neon color palette and gradient bubble pattern definitely deserve to be called groovy, don't you think? Plus it's a beanbag (filled with rice). You don't get much more retro than a beanbag.

This project requires two skills--cross-stitching and some simple sewing. I used 16-count Aida fabric and six-strand DMC embroidery floss (one of my favorite crafting supplies, as you know). The beanbag is assembled from another favorite crafting material--WoolFelt from National Nonwovens. The colors I used are Mac 'n Cheese and Sunburst.


This project was featured in the 2016 Summer issue of Craft Ideas magazine. Visit the project page here for a black-and-white chart and assembly instructions. If you'd like to download and print a color PDF chart, click here.

(Tip: As you can see from the photos here, the zigzag background is created with half cross-stitches. If you find the half cross-stitch symbols on the charts confusing, you can just refer to the photos.)


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

My Designs in Summer Magazines

I'm always happy to see spring arrive, but this April has been especially exciting. My designs are featured in four of my favorite needlework and craft magazines! Here's a preview of my projects. If you'd like to give any of them a try, you can find the issues on newsstands now.

From Quilts and More magazine: My Heartfelt Pillow is simple to sew from strips of pink and orange pink fabrics and sweet felt hearts. See my project, as well as other featured projects from this issue, here: www.alpeoplequilt.com/summer. 

Used with permission from Quilts and More™ magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Used with permission from Quilts and More™ magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

From Make It Yourself magazine: Felt tomatoes, peaches, and cucumbers displayed in Mason jars. (I've never tried real canning, but I suspect I should stick to sewing my fruits and veggies.)

Used with permission from Make It Yourself™ magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Used with permission from Make It Yourself™ magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

Used with permission from Make It Yourself™ magazine. ©2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

You can find two of my cross-stitch projects in the June issue of Just CrossStitch magazine: a pair of Butterfly & Moth pendants, and a summery Flowers & Stripes Tote.



I love that Craft Ideas magazine publishes an annual Garden issue that's filled with all kinds of flowery and fruity projects. Here's a peek at my Crocheted Poppy Purse from this year's issue.


Don't the lemons and strawberries on the cover look yummy? I may have to make some time to crochet those too. Happy stitching, everyone!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Cross-Stitch Lavender Sachet


I just love making little pillows and filling them with lavender, pine, or potpourri. I'm not even going to guess how many sachet projects I've shared on my blog.  I designed this one to resemble a vintage French perfume package. It's filled with dried lavender buds, so it smells absolutely divine, and it's worked in cross-stitch, half-stitch, and back-stitch in just three shades of embroidery floss, so it's quite easy to make. Perfect for a Mother's Day present or a springtime gift for yourself, n'est-ce pas?

The sachet shown here was stitched on 18-count antique white Aida fabric, and it measures 5" by 7 1/2". If you prefer to work on 14-count Aida, your sachet will come out a little bigger (and will require more lavender buds). The lovely editors at Craft Ideas magazine featured this design in the Spring 2016 issue. You can click here to go to the instructions, chart, and key on the magazine's website. Bon stitching!


Monday, April 10, 2017

Pink Retro Telephone Pillow

©2017 Kathleen Berlew

The '70s were a colorful decade of avocado appliances and pastel telephones. My family had white and beige wall and desk models in our house, but my grandmother had a pretty pink telephone on her nightstand that I absolutely loved. This little pillow is a tribute to that phone and to all things retro that have become cool again.

To make your own phone pillow, you'll need:
  • Pink retro print fabric, two 11 1/2" x 10" pieces
  • National Nonwovens WoolFelt®: Pink, Shocking Pink, White
  • Pink baby rickrack
  • Pink mini pompom fringe
  • DMC six-strand embroidery floss: 605 Very Light Cranberry, 818 Baby Pink, White, Light Effects E168 Silver
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • Buttons: one 1 1/8" white, ten 3/8" clear with glitter

©2017 Kathleen Berlew

Print out the pattern below and size it so the base of the phone is 6" wide. Cut the telephone base and receiver from pink felt. Cut the large circle from white felt, the small circle from shocking pink felt. Sew the white button to the center of the shocking pink circle with white floss. Sew the clear buttons evenly spaced around white button with silver floss. Use cranberry floss and whipstitch to sew the shocking pink circle to the white circle. Use white floss and running stitch to sew the dial to the center of phone base.

Next, pin the receiver onto one piece of the print fabric, centered, so the top edge of the handle is 1 3/4" from the top edge of fabric. Tuck a length of pompom trim under the outer edge of the receiver, pin it in place, and trim away excess. Pin the phone base onto the fabric so bottom edge is 2" from bottom edge and the cradle tabs overlap the receiver slightly. Tuck a length of pompom trim under the outer edge of the receiver base. Cut a 20" piece of rickrack and tuck one end under the receiver and one end under the base, as shown, and pin in place. Sew base and receiver in place using baby pink floss and running stitch, making sure to sew through rickrack. When you've finished stitching, arrange the rickrack "telephone cord" around the phone and tack it in place.

To finish the pillow, pin the appliqued print fabric piece and the backing piece together, right sides facing, and stitch around with 1/4" seam allowance. Leave and opening for turning. Snip the corners and turn the pillow right side out. Stuff it with polyester fiberfill and hand-stitch the opening closed. 

©2017 Kathleen Berlew

All done! Now show it off in your TV room and watch some episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore or your favorite '70s sitcom.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Felt Easter Peeps Basket


I'm not sure what I liked better about the Easter basket I got every year as a child--the chocolate bunny inside or the fluffy pom-pom peep that was tied to the handle. I never outgrew those little yellow peeps. I have a flock of peeps that come out every year with my Easter decorations. Last year, my love for Easter peeps inspired me to make this little felt basket.

The supplies are pretty basic--wool-blend felt in bright yellow, blue, and chartreuse; white jumbo rick-rack; and buttons from my sewing basket. To give the basket some fun texture, I snipped slits on the wings to give them a feathery look, and I added a border of fringed grass around the bottom. This design was featured in the 2016 Spring issue of Craft Ideas magazine. Click here  to go see the instructions and patterns on the magazine's website.

I admit, this basket is too small (just 4 1/2 inches tall) to hold a big chocolate rabbit, but you can fill it with colored eggs, foil-covered chocolates, or marshmallow peeps.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Spring Flowers Cross-Stitch



It's snowing here in Pennsylvania as I write this blog post, so any bulbs that had started to sprout in my garden are now covered in a few inches of fluffy flakes. While I wait out this temporary setback to the arrival of spring, I thought I'd share a cross-stitch project that might help chase winter away.

One of my favorite things about cross-stitch is that it requires so few instructions. If you have a chart and a color key, you can just go ahead and transfer a design from paper to fabric stitch by stitch. You can substitute colors if you like, and you can even stitch on different types of fabric to create different sizes and effects.

This spring flowers design, which was originally published in Craft Ideas magazine, features a geometric trellis pattern of irises, tulips, and daffodils stitched with eight shades of DMC embroidery floss. (I'm not a math person, but I do appreciate geometry and symmetry in my needlework.) I stitched the model shown above on 18-count Aida, which created a design area of about 4 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches. If you use 14-count Aida, your pictured will be about 6 by 7 inches. You could also stitch it on linen or another even-weave. Experiment with different fabrics to find out which work best for you.

If you'd like to give the Spring Flowers design a try, click here to download and print the chart and floss key. As I said, cross-stitch requires little instruction. Just follow the chart and start stitching!


Monday, March 6, 2017

Felt Celtic Pins


St. Patrick's Day doesn't last just a day anymore--it's a month-long celebration complete with parades, dinners, and wearing of the green. When I was in grade school, I used to push the limits of my Catholic school's dress code with green accessories, right down to green shoelaces and nail polish. Although I'll still wear green beads and a plastic leprechaun hat during my family's annual St. Patrick's Day dinner, I have developed an appreciation for more subdued Irish-themed accessories. Sometimes, I even make my own.

These appliqued Celtic pins are sewn from green and gold felt and embellished with simple embroidery. I admit, the pieces are pretty tiny, but I think the end result makes the patient snipping and stitching worthwhile. The pins were featured in the 2016 Spring issue of Craft Ideas magazine. Click here to go to the instructions and patterns on their website.

Looking for other St. Patrick's Day projects? Check out these cross-stitch designs--Shamrock and Thistle Pins and Irish Flag--which I featured previously on the blog. Click on the link below each photo below to se the original blog post.

Shamrock & Thistle Cross-Stitch Pins

Cross-Stitched Irish Flag

Monday, February 27, 2017

New Designs in "Just CrossStitch" and "Craft Ideas"



What a great way to end the month! Spring issues of two of my favorite magazines came out, and my designs are featured in both of them. You can find my appliqued flower sachets (above) in Craft Ideas. They're filled with dried lavender and make a pretty spring or Easter gift.

If you're a cross-stitcher, you might like my Ireland Sampler in the April issue of Just CrossStitch (that's it on the cover below). You can find my Ho, Ho, Ho Ornaments in the magazine's "Christmas Stitch" section. It's always Christmas when you're a crafter, right? I'm also super honored that the nice people at Just CrossStitch featured me in the issue's "Designer Q&A" page.

Happy (almost) Spring, all--and happy stitching!  

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mini Felt Robots

©2017 Kathleen Berlew

These miniature robot ornaments are made from some pretty low-tech materials--wool-blend felt, buttons, snaps, and embroidery floss. They hang out on the bulletin board in my craft room, where we can keep an eye on each other, but you could also clip them to a backpack or use them as decorations in an older child's bedroom.

The inspiration for this project came from my love for 1950s sci-fi movies and a need to use up some of the odds and ends that had accumulated in my sewing box. I started with National Nonwovens WoolFelt® in Denim, Smokey Marble, Confederate Blue, Silver Grey, Black, Strawberry Parfait, and Opal. I created simple body shapes and then added felt appliques and simple embroidery to create the "control panels" and other details. The buttons and snaps are sewn on with metallic embroidery floss. If you want to have a go at making your own little robots, print the patterns below and size them so they're about 4 1/2 inches tall.  

©2017 Kathleen Berlew


Use the photos above and below as reference to create details, such as panels, eye bands, and mouths on the front pieces of the robots. When you're happy with your designs, sew the robot fronts to the backs with running stitching, stuffing them lightly with polyester fiberfill as you go. I added jump rings and key chains to my robots for hanging, but you can use ribbon, chain, or another material you have in your craft supply stash.

©2017 Kathleen Berlew

This project was originally published in the Winter 2015 issue of Quilts and More magazine, which includes detailed instructions and patterns for making these little robots. The print issue is no longer available, but you can click here to peek inside and order the digital issue.

Images used with permission of Quilts and More magazine and Meredith  Corporation.  Copyright 2015.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Cross-Stitch Hearts & Arrows


Don't wait for someone to surprise you with a Valentine's Day gift--make one for yourself! Aren't these hearts-and-arrows cross-stitch pendants sweet? And better yet--they're super simple to make.

If you follow this blog, you know how much I love these jewelry settings from the Etsy shop Kailea. I stitched my hearts and arrows on 18-count white Aida, so the finished pieces fit perfectly in the rectangle pendant setting. Follow the charts below to stitch your own. I used two strands of DMC six-strand embroidery floss in 3831 Dark Raspberry, 3852 Very Dark Straw, 995 Dark Electric Blue, and 996 Medium Electric Blue. It's not a traditional Valentine's Day palette, so feel free to substitute pinks, reds, or your own favorite colors.

Cross-Stitch Hearts & Arrows   ©2017 Kathleen Berlew

Cross-Stitch Hearts & Arrows   ©2017 Kathleen Berlew
This project was originally featured in the Winter 2015 issue of Craft Ideas magazine. Click here to go to the instructions and charts on their website.