Sunday, August 13, 2017

Tutorial: Adventure Embroidery

Oh no. Just no.

Summer is not over! But even when that time comes, the weather turns non-sweaty, cool, and brisk which is perfect for hiking, camping, relaxing by the lake, and having the beach to yourself.

Personally, I'm a indoorsy gal. But I do love driving the countryside and taking in the vistas that only being out of town can bring on.

Embroider these adventure themes and express your wish for wanderlust. Use the finished stitching to make sew-on patches for backpacks, jackets, and caps. Or do what I did and make refrigerator magnets to remind you that a vacation is a necessity, not a luxury.

The set includes a mountain, tree, feather, and compass.

What you need:

free downloadable adventure pattern
small scraps of linen or cotton fabric
small scraps of cotton batting or flannel fabric
embroidery thread in white and a darker color (brown/ black)
embroidery needle
sewing machine or hand sewing needle and thread

Optional supplies to make refrigerator magnets:
strong magnets
scrap cotton fabric

1) Download and transfer the pattern to the right side of the scraps you'll be using for the front of the embroidery. 

2) Pin a piece of batting to the wrong side of the embroidery fabric.

3) Working through both the fabric and the batting, embroider the designs using back stitch, straight stitch, and french knots (compass letters).

4) Place the embroidered work right sides together with a backing piece of fabric. Stitch around the design leaving a small opening for turning.

5)  Trim the excess fabric down to within 5mm of the stitching and trim the batting further to reduce bulkiness. Turn right side out and press with a iron.

6) If you will be making fridge magnets, cut circles of fabric larger than the magnets. Sandwich a magnet between the two circles and hand stitch around the magnet edges. This traps the magnet and provides an insert that won't slide around and mess up the shape of the magnet. Place one magnet in each adventure pocket.

7) Hand stitch the opening closed.


Brooch: Sew a pin back to the back of the work. 

Patch: Place the work on a jacket, your passport wallet, or your backpack and sew it on using a straight stitch or blanket stitch.

Tote: Enlarge the pattern and stitch four squares. Place them on a tote bag to make a patchwork of four pieces and stitch them on.

The designs are very simple and versatile. Have fun and with all the best intentions I say - go take a hike!

Did you know there is a new digital craft magazine in town? Stitch Cafe is a monthly magazine with 4-6 original patterns, plus tutorials, articles, and printable recipe cards. 

Issues 1 and 2 are available now and Issue 3 will be out at the end of August. Want to know when these issues are available? Keep in touch via the weekly newsletter.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Thrift Score: 1950s Toy Sewing Machine

Question of the week: what do you do when husband banishes you from the house?

No, not a fight. Just some work that was going to create some dust so he suggested I find something to do. Hmmm....that's never really a quandary for me. 

I spent an hour in the library reading Kurt Vonnegut and then another hour at my favorite antique store in town, Treasure Hunt, owned by Carol Reeder.

I bought the little Brown Betty salt and paper shakers while I was in there but snapped pics of a few 1950s to 1970s finds to share. Some of these were like things I grew up with. I had a Wonderhorse rocking horse and I definitely remember these tissue tins in the bedrooms.

The Bisquick tin would be great for homemade baking mix!

Later in the day, we drove to Pittsburg, Kansas to return a rented tool and found some lovely exposed history. 

The tile was exposed on a building site on the main street of town. I hope the rest is recovered and restored.

The wall was found by a couple who bought an old building for an old-fashioned grocery store they want to create. When they bought the building, it came with all the contents stored there so they were selling them off and I found this 1950s Singer Sewhandy 20 toy sewing machine.

The needle is broken and it's missing a couple of (not completely essential) pieces. The sewing machine should work, once I clean it up and buy the needles it uses. There is no bobbin. There's a "looper" under the plate that creates a chain stitch to sew fabric together.

I did some research and though this was a children's toy made from the 1910s to the 1970s, I read many young women would take this off to college to make simple repairs. It's only about 5" tall!

It's a hand crank sewing machine. It looks like the thread spool pin was replaced ages ago with an old screw whose point was clipped off. The little depression in the front of the base was meant for a C-clamp that would hold it to a table.

I learned to sew on a Singer cast iron machine that had once been a treadle but electrified for factory work. My grandfather owned a vest factory and put it in a beautiful cabinet and gave it to my mother. Leave a comment below: what kind of machine did you learn to sew on?

Monday, August 7, 2017

On the worktable - typewriter, squirrel, and armadillo, oh my!

The weather fairies are working overtime to confuse me. It's August. It's Kansas. And it's cold?

I'll take two!

The weather was gorgeous and cool so I grabbed the squirrel softie I had just finished and headed to the oak trees in front of the house for photos.

I actually can't stop playing with this squirrel. He has a little shaped face and I've embroidered a little white fur inside his ears and on his tummy. His pattern will included in the next issue of Stitch Cafe magazine. 

He needs a name though, don't you think? Hmm.....that gives me a contest idea. More about that in my newsletter next week.

It's almost back-to-school as vacations wrap up by the end of August and school supplies are gathered. I feel a rash of back-to-school projects coming on for the magazine and the blog. This is the only rash I have that doesn't itch - what with the poison ivy in spring, the mosquitoes in summer, and now the chiggers with autumn in view.

This project is hot off the presses as of yesterday evening. Got a tablet or Kindle? You can measure any similar device and make your own retro typewriter case for it. The flap even look like paper when it's open!

The inspiration came from a vintage typewriter-look laptop case Mr. True Love got me for my birthday a couple of years ago from Typo, my favorite stationery shop in Australia. Who knew the millions of pearly white buttons in my button tin would finally be perfect for one of my projects?

Making a lined case is actually really easy if you know the simple trick. I've explained it in detail in the pattern instructions in the magazine - yes, I'm already writing Issue 3 for September!

As I was putting the finishing touches on the case, I heard a tap at the window and hubby was waving and pointing to the back yard. I grabbed the camera when I saw who it was.

No, not Robert Downey Jr. this time. It was a little armadillo digging for his dinner. I shot the photo out the window. It's a dirty window. I don't do windows.

It's cool again today and I'm thrilled. I've got another project waiting on the worktable and I'm on a roll. You could say I've gone nuts with creativity!

If you haven't picked up Issue 2 of Stitch Cafe digital craft magazine, head over to the shop and get yours now. There are 5 patterns, 2 tutorials, a printable recipe card, and resource articles in this issue.

And if you have yours - send some photos of what you're making. I'm collecting them for a "reader maker" post!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The happy spiders in my home - and a creepy lesson

The spiders in my home are obviously well-read and crafty. While moving a bookshelf a couple of weeks ago, I found a brown recluse spider (venomous) crawling out from the book pile I had placed on the floor.

I was sure it had come from the floorboards since they tend to hide and are very shy. Luckily, I caught it before it crawled under my comfy armchair and took up dangerous residence there. But now, I'm thinking it was actually hanging out on the shelf.

Today I found another one, this time hiding in a stack of vintage linens on the top shelf of the small bookshelf in my sewing room.

I can't blame them. Who wouldn't want to hang out with books and fabrics for a lifetime of joy?

Brown recluse spiders are rather specific to the US south and lower midwest. They don't get bigger than a 25 cent coin and have this upside down violin marking on their backs. It's rather difficult at times to get close enough to see the violin clearly. If you have spiders and suspect it's a brown recluse, one of the best ways to tell immediately is that you won't find it in a typical ceiling corner web and its legs are all the same length so it's stance is rather round compared to the hobo spider, wolf spider, or pirate spider which are often mistaken for the brown recluse but have longer and shorter legs.

My favorite identifying advice is that they have 6 eyes, not 8. Seriously? I'm not looking it in the eye(s). 

And with that, let's just say - creepy lesson over. You have my permission to reach for a sedative now.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

I Spy In My Little Yard

We received an unusual amount of rain in the spring and because our lot is graded so poorly, the rain has a tendency to wash the topsoil downhill. 

The bad news is this is a problem as much of the water has collected over 125 years on the north end of the house causing it to sink about 5 inches.

The good news is
  • every rain uncovers a layer of buried treasures - broken bits of old pottery and crockery, buttons, rusted toys and tools, and
  • because hubby has been digging out under the house, there is also an additional mountain of dirt to sift through for these treasures.
So we get to play I spy every week with the gifts left to us by four generations of the Allen family who owned this property since at least the 1880s. It seems they were happy to use the backyard as a dump for broken dishes although some of the pattern points to a more creative use. 

Did you see the little 1960s baby and the 1930s button? The rusted lock and broken scissors intrigue me. I want to know their stories.

It looks like some of the glass and pottery might have been purposefully placed in the flower beds. There are also bits of modern embellishments like colored vase-filler flat marbles and larger seashells. 

Was there a loose mosaic by design in that yard at some point?

One of my favorite early finds was an old metal Slinky. Does anyone else think this should be paired with the other metal items found for a found object garden mobile/chime? 

We also have lots of bulbs growing and these just came up in the last few days. It makes me happy to have Naked Ladies flaunting themselves in this conservative Kansas town. Just a little of the old lady rebel in me, I guess.

Okay geology buffs! If any of you can tell me what these are, I'd love to know. We've started finding tooth-like rocks in the last week. We have no idea how a rock can look like that naturally. Any explanations would be most welcome.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Amish grocery shopping

My husband and I stopped by the Fort Scott farmer's market last week and had a chat with an Amish couple who live outside of town. The market is not large and about half the booths are Amish goods - produce, canned goods, baked goods, eggs and butter.

We were talking about Walmart being pretty much the only game in town for grocery shopping and they told us they also sold produce from their home. We had heard of a small bulk goods store not far away also, so Friday we headed out to find them. 

The produce shop was in a shed on one property with a huge garden in front - the only sign this might be the place.

A young girl was sweeping the porch but let us in and we bought some fresh corn, tomatoes and other produce, and canned sauerkraut, apple butter, and local honey. She said it was her parents we had met at the farmer's market and that the bulk goods store was at her uncle's place, Eli Yoder.

Before we left, I asked if we could take photos and she said as long as we didn't take photos of the people, that would be fine. It's a beautiful farm, well kept, and made pretty by flower beds around.

Wife of Eli, Barbara Yoder, met us at the other home and let us in the shop. It was a small room with a wood stove, not much of a store by most standards, but it probably keeps folks in supplies when they get low. Whole wheat flour, cornmeal, sorghum, and spices. Lots of good made-from-scratch ingredients. 

Barbara was lovely and I asked if I could take a photo. Her husband and children were about so I didn't want to overstep so I just took a couple of quick snapshots.

Now, this is a far cry from the Kuntry Bulk Grocery in Windsor, Missouri which has everything including cookware and dairy and meats and everything bulk for cooking and baking. We visited that shop in January and had hoped this would be as well-stocked.

Quite a difference. But my experience at the Windsor shop was not very friendly and I have to say, the Amish families living just outside of Fort Scott, Kansas are as lovely a bunch of folks as you'd ever want to meet.

There's something to be said for a simple selection of staples and a home garden. And friendly neighbors.

If you come visit, I'll take you on a drive where there are no power lines and we can buy fresh corn on the cob and home canned peach jam. 

Just remember, we have to share the road with a buggy or two.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Sneak Peek of Issue 2 (August) of Stitch Cafe magazine!

The August issue of Stitch Cafe magazine is nearly ready!

And who doesn't like a sneak peek of anticipated delights?

While summer is not my very favorite season, there are some wonderful events completely particular to these long, sunny days. 

Fireflies, cicadas, sunshine, wildflowers, swimming, fishing, and a garden full of ripening deliciousness. 

I've taken some of these special summer moments and created some projects and patterns for this issue.

In this issue, there are 5 patterns, 2 tutorials, a recipe, and articles. As always, there are links and resources for methods, supplies, and inspiring blogs and websites.

Here's a peapod softie. You won't have to try to get anyone to eat this, but even the pickiest eater will love this veggie.

My son-in-law loves to fish so I have to credit him with inspiring me to create this little bell-like fabric fish. I made it a salmon, well, salmon colored anyway, because we used to go salmon fishing when we lived in Alaska.

Another summer delight is chickens! My high school bestie still lives in the area and has a lovely coop full of feisty chooks (Aussie for chickens). Here's one of them on a little egg cosy.

There's also a teatime applique hoop art pattern, a firefly headband pattern, and two weaving tutorials including the chair seat on the cover above. What a great way to beat the heat - stay inside and play with your sewing and stitchery stash!

Stitch Cafe Issue 2 will be in my Etsy shop on Monday, July 31. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Product Review: Bucilla Ready to Stitch Aida on a Wooden Frame

Cross stitch is not my go-to embroidery, but I do enjoy it. It's structured and easily accomplished. 

This week, a local shop owner asked me to review a Bucilla product - the Ready to Stitch Aida cloth. Basically this is a 14 count piece of embroidery Aida already stretched onto a square wooden frame. It comes in white, natural, and black.

I chose the black canvas and embroidered a Victorian rose on it.

So what do I think of the Aida canvas on a frame? 

I love that it's pre-stretched and square. It's a nice change from round hoops. It's a standard size for most patterns, 14 count. The wooden frame is sturdy and can be hung easily on a small nail. It's lovely for highlighting a small pattern.

That makes it great also for budding young stitchers who want to make a gift that can be instantly displayed on an honored wall. Because it's sturdy, it will also stand up well on a shelf or mantle.

Here's what I didn't like about the frame.

Like any Aida fabric, it can stretch during stitching. But because it's already on a frame, it can't be blocked once the work is done. Stab method, in and out stitching, is necessary rather than being able to stitch through from hole to hole.

Another problem was that borders and designs have to be inside the edges of the frame because, obviously, the frame is in the way of stitching. This means about an inch all around can't be used for stitching. 

This pattern, by the way, is the new free pattern you can download when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. If you are already a subscriber, you'll see the link in the newsletter.

Bottom line for me is that I would use this product again. While I would rather be able to create borders closer to the edge, this frame does allow for gluing on a lace or ric rac border. It's a great size for small projects, and it's easy to hang up to display.

Have you done any cross stitch on one of these ready-to-stitch frames? What did you think about it?