First Dive in to the World of Wool Applique – via Sew Mama Sew and Alison Glass

I’ll be honest with you. I’m not sure whether this is a work-in-progress, or not. Or rightly, I’m not sure whether it’s my work-in-progress.

I had such fun making this fun kit from Alison Glass – and there’s a great article about it on the Sew Mama Sew blog. It was my first foray in to wool applique, and I think I’m hooked.  Oh, you’ll probably find this book very helpful if you want to make this kit – or just like fabric based eye candy.

Alison Glass Applique Book

I think I’m in love with Weeks Dye Works.  I’ve been looking at wool for a while now – actually, ever since Mandy started posting pictures of what she’s been doing with it – and haven’t much cared for the colors that were available from other manufacturers in my local stores.

The wool was much easier to cut than I’d expected. I used my regular fabric scissors (which come out of the drawer very seldom now that I quilt) and was worried that I’d end up with some really jagged edges, but I didn’t have any issues with the cutting.

I used my Sew Line for basting, and unfortunately discovered that it’s not very good for basting wool, so I let the fabric take a life of its own and do what it wanted to. I didn’t end up with nearly such a finely finished looking product as Alison did, but I love the natural form to it. Next time, I’ll go with the all purpose school glue recommended on the blog, and see if that holds things in place a little better.

Alison Glass Sew Mama Sew Wool Applique

See how regular the petals looked when it was basted but not sewn

Just and FYI for anyone who’s interested in this kit: it comes with a very limited amount of thread. There’s enough for each piece if you sew at anywhere between one eight and one quarter inch, but I did have to unpick a couple of pieces because I ran out of thread. It also came with more pieces and colors of thread than there was wool, and I loved that it was up to me to choose what color yarn went best with which piece.

Sew Mama Sew Alison Glass Wool Applique

Obviously, this is a work-in-progress, in that it’s unfinished, but as I said, I’m not sure whether I should finish it or not. I have a friend who’s just suffered a heartbreaking loss, and because looking at this makes me happy, I thought it might make her at least a little bit happy. Quite aside from the shipping considerations, which are always a problem when most of your friends and family live on different continents, I wondered if maybe I should send this as is, and let her decide what to do with it. She’s wonderful with all sorts of craft things, and will better know what she needs. I think this little panel would work well on the wall – I was going to staple it over some canvas and hang it – or maybe as the front of a bag, or a cushion, or a table topper. So maybe I let her decide. What do you think? Should I send it as it, or finish it up in one way or another and hope that she likes it? I’d really appreciate some input.

Many thanks to you all, and happy stitching!

– Jane

A Christmas Gift for Myself

With so much gift making for others, I decided I had to finally get around to making some necessities for myself.

Last week, I was cleaning out my stash, and found four quarters by Joli Pomme for Cosmo Textiles.  I bought them on a bit of a whim in October of 2013, not having any real plan in mind for them.  According to my receipt, it’s supposed to be Halloween fabric, but Nick and I decided that it was more fairy tale fabric, and are happy to live with it year round.

They’re a cotton-linen blend, that’s significantly heavier than standard quilting cotton.  I couldn’t find fabric of a similar weight to go with them, so I did my best to find additional fabric (although I couldn’t get an exact match for the black), and threw these together.fun pillow2

When I purchased the furniture in 2010, I started with four cushions.  Then along came Jolly, who was so sweet and easy to deal with for about three weeks, before he became Chew Monster from the depths of Hades.  Only one cushion survived, and we’ve been living with only one ever since.  We’ve been pretty good at not fighting over the single cushion, but new cushions have been on my to do list for a very long time.

fun pollows1I had a feeling that quilting these would take away from, rather than add to, the overall look, so I decided to let the fabric speak for itself.  Additionally, because I was working with fat quarters, I had to do something a little different with these cushions than I normally would.  I much prefer envelope style cushions, but there wasn’t near enough fabric for that, so I put in zippers.  I’m pretty sure the last time I put a zipper in something was 2010.  It was just as fussy and annoying as I’d remembered, although I found this tutorial, which made it a little easier than normal to put them in.

This is how I spent a large part of Christmas Eve, and my little Christmas gift to myself.

Until next time: happy quilting.

– Jane

Ribbon Embroidery with Mary Jo Hiney – via Craftsy

Well, the first of the gifts I posted has been received, so I finally have something new to share with you.

A few months ago, I decided to try my hand at something new, so at the recommendation of my friend Lori, I took a Craftsy class in ribbon embroidery, run by Mary Jo Hiney. Full disclosure: this is by far the most expensive thing I’ve ever gotten involved with via Craftsy. This is only because I bought all the class kits from Mary Jo Hiney Designs. I still have no idea where I can buy silk ribbon locally, and given the amount and varieties required for these projects, it was much easier just to buy the kits. These are the first three lessons, so I’ve still got a whole lot more to play with.embroibering with ribbon mary jo hiney cone flower

I’m so pleased that I was slightly lazy and purchased the kits. The ribbon is wonderful! It’s so soft and delicate, and because it’s hand-dyed, there’s such great variation in the color of each piece. Every stitch looks different!embroidering with ribbon mary jo hiney herb and pencil violet

Fortunately, there wasn’t too much of a learning curve on this one. If you can work a needle and thread, you can pick up ribbon embroidery really quickly. The one aspect of this I struggled with most was getting the ribbon to open up once it’s pulled through the fabric, which is especially difficult with the wider ribbons. I also ran in to a few problems accidentally running the needle through previous stiches in the back of the fabric. This pulls the stitches flat, and I found it easier to go back and make a new stitch over the top, then to try and rearrange the existing one.embroidering with ribbon mary io hiney rosebed

All in all, these turned out nicely enough that I was happy to gift them. I sent them to Dad and Goong, who are in the middle of building a house that’s much larger than their condo, and therefore clearly in need of things to decorate with, right? I do really hope that they were being honest when they said they’d have them framed – I didn’t want to get in to framing them myself because I have no idea what would suit in the new house – and find somewhere to put them up.emboridering with ribbon mary jo hiney

Many thanks go to Goong for the above picture of the three pieces together.  I love how she laid them out, and she kindly agreed to let me post this.

As for the other gift I’m waiting to post about, I made a major mistake on this one. I sent it to some family overseas who are going through a particularly tough time. Unfortunately, I didn’t look up the customs and duty information there, and it turns out that there’s an extremely low threshold before gifts attract taxes. I think it’s ridiculous to have to pay to accept a gift, but now I feel like an idiot for insuring it at a price that covered cost and about $2 an hour in labor. Hopefully it will be returned to me and I’ll send it back without insurance and a much lower declared value. After all, with the number of people selling quilts on Etsy at cost price, I feel that I can easily get that value down without making a false declaration.

Until next time, happy stitching!

– Jane

Introducing Abigail

Seven months, and seven days later, my Nightshade by Tula Pink needlepoint, Abigail is finally complete! To be really honest, I was a little worried about the brightness of the colors of yarn I’d chosen when they arrive – I knew full well that they’d look somewhat different than they had online, but these were quite a long way off what I’d expected, especially the teal. Now that I can look at the completed project from a distance, I really love them. It’s not quite Evening Shade, but it’s close enough.

I’d initially thought that this canvas was slightly larger than the one that came in the Parisville kit. I had no problem completing Antoinette on my seventeen-inch frame (the frame was a bit of an afterthought, so didn’t arrive until I was almost finished with Marie), but I had to order the three-inch extenders to complete this project. This made the frame slightly too large for the canvas to wrap around well, and it kept slipping out of the snap on grips. As you can see from the gallery, I did some experimenting with painters tape to get the canvas and frame to stay together. When I had the paint over the snaps, I needed to replace it each time I picked the project up, but once I taped the two pieces together underneath the snaps, it stayed perfectly in place.

tula pink night shade needlepoint

This project was a bit of a tough slog, and this is by far the longest I’ve ever spent on a needlepoint project. There’s just so much background! It’s much more fun to fill in all the pretty details than it is to do the backing. There were points where I’d go as long as a month without touching it (also because I was quilting so much and learning to knit – but more on that in another post) but now I’m so pleased with it.

I did the background a little different to the other projects as well. The last two, I put in all of the darker color before I put in the lighter, but I knew that because there was such a lot of background, and – this will sound strange, because it’s obvious in the photos what the backing looks like with only one color put in – I found it really difficult to conceptualize what was going on without putting in both colors as I went along.

As I mentioned in a previous post, the yarn I purchased is the same Anchor Tapisserie Wool that comes with the kit, and the colors are:

Teal: 8918

Purple: 8594

Light purple: 8588

I’m building up a good stash of left over yarn, but former Nanny offered to take it off my hands and see what she could do with it.  I’ll be posting it back home to Sydney with my next package, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.

Here’s the entire gallery of my progress:

The next project will be Tree of Life. I’m a little worried about making the repetition in this look good, but I love the colors, and The Birds and the Bees is my all time favorite Tula line.

Tree of Life
Tree of Life

I also purchased the Bees Knees kit because everything at I Heart Tula Pink was 20% off, but I don’t like this colorway much, so I’ll spend time making a decision between Sunset and Lapis. Any suggestions?

Bees Knees
Bees Knees
Sunset
Sunset
Lapis
Lapis

I’m thinking Sunset, as the Lapis seems as though it’s going to end up too similar to the colors I used for Abigail, but I’ll see how I feel as I’m getting towards the end of my next project.  I also really want to do another (yes, another, if that’s believable) Parisville kit and work out a sort of Mist colorway, but I think that will be completely dependent on whether she’s released anything new once I get towards the end of the two kits I just ordered.

Mist
Mist

In other news, I posted a couple of gifts out last week.  I’ve decided to hold off on the posts about gifts (Christmas aside) until I know they’ve been received so as to not ruin any surprises. I’m expecting to have a new post for next week, and one for the week after, but it’s always a guess with the international mail.

Until next time,

Happy sewing!

*Photos of kits from http://www.ihearttulapink.com; photos of fabrics from http://www.tulapink.com

A Tale of Two Sisters – Two Takes on Tula Pink’s Parisville Needlepoint

After three months I’ve finally finished my second Parisville by Tula Pink needlepoint.  I’m really pleased with the way that this turned out, especially considering that I winged it in the background department.  Unfortunately I can’t do a side by side comparison with my first version of this, as I left it in Bangkok with Goong, but looking at the pictures, I think I actually like this background more – but I’ll leave it up to you to decide which one you like best.

Antoinette Close Up

The idea for the stripes came after reading Juliet Grey’s Marie Antoinette trilogy during my holiday.  The narration was constantly referencing Marie Antoinette’s striped dresses, so this felt like such a natural change for me after that.  I did consider a number of different options, but given the directionality of the stitches, this was the only way I could get straight lines with flat edges.

I’m feeling a little bad for Goong, as – background designs aside – this piece came out looking somewhat nicer than the first.  I’m putting this down to having a frame that fits the entire work surface inside, maintaining an even tension on the canvas, which made it easier to run the yarn through with a more consistent tension.  It’s far from being perfect, but it’s a lot smoother than the one I made the first time around.  It also meant that I could work more quickly, which gave me some added motivation.

Unfortunately, there’s really nowhere to display her in this apartment, so she’ll have to go in to a drawer until I move, at which time I’ll take a look at having her framed.

Now, I’m looking at various online stores trying to decide what long-term project to take up next.  I keep looking at Tula’s Nightshade needlepoint, but it’s my least favorite of the colors from that line, although I do love the design.  I’m contemplating ordering one and once it comes I can see how much yarn is needed and change the colors around.  I’ll keep you posted.

Antoinette and Marie side by side.

Thanks to Nick for the new pics of Antoinette.

Non-Christmas Quilted Ornaments – Playing with Tula Pink’s Acacia

Created December, 2013

Acacia Ornaments 1A few months ago I came across a tutorial for these really simple “quilted” Christmas ornaments and just had to give making some a go.

In keeping with my long running aversion to anything that looks Christmassy, I decided to did in to my stash of Tula Pink’s Acacia fabric.  I’m sure its some sort of sacrilege to cut up such lovely fabric for this purpose, but I do love the color scheme and the contrast.  Nick loves how the raccoons’ eye peep out from some of the pieces.  Boys never do grow up, do they?

Acacia Ornaments 2After spending a few nights putting these together I very much recommend that if you’re going to try this, invest in some sort of thimble.  I prefer the disposable, sticky, plastic kind (very wasteful of me, I know) to metal thimbles, which seem to to be the only two options in the stores I’ve visited.  They will leave your fingers a little gooey, but they’re thick enough to cushion the pin heads, and flexible enough to allow for some degree of movement.  I haven’t tried a rubber thimble yet, so that’s on my list of options for the future – although I’ve still got a ton of Thimble-Its to use up.

My Unconventional Christmas Stocking – Kona Cotton Solids and Garden Diva’s by Jane Sassaman

Created November, 2013

Stocking - Side ATo be honest, it’s been years since I’ve thought about Christmas decorations.  It’s not something that’s come up as until this year I had lived alone and was often traveling over the holiday season.  It’s been even longer since I’ve been interested in the traditional red, green, and white color scheme.

When I signed up to take the Christmas stocking class at the Cambridge Quilt Shop, I decided to reach in to my stash, and put together something a little unconventional.  Or maybe it did have at least a little to do with convenience.  At this time I was still very much concerned about pre washing all my fabric – and now, to be honest, I usually don’t bother unless I think the colors are going to run – and as I’d returned from a trip home only days previously I didn’t have time to get out and buy Christmas themed fabric, then wash it.  I barely got this stuff washed as it was.  I didn’t have anything suitable on hand for the cuff, so I picked up this lovely print from Jane Sassaman’s Garden Diva’s collection at the shop.  And now I know how to preshrink fabric by hand, but I’m hoping that’s not a skill I’ll have to use very often.

Stocking Side B

For a first go, I think this turned out really well.  I suppose that means that the countless hours I’ve spent with my sewing machine during 2013 actually did help improve my skills.

I did make this for a friend, but I suppose it will have to do for this year’s Christmas.  I really don’t have the patience to deal with the post office during the holiday season.

It’s a shame I didn’t end up getting around to making more of these, but I have the template and can put some together later in the year.