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Seashells and stitching books

March 11, 2010

I continue to make progress on the tropical piece, slowly but surely. I finished the water, using  2 blue strands and 1 orange strand for wave shaped scallop stitches. Still not sure if I like it:

I am also now wondering how I am going to get the water soluble marker lines off the piece once I’m finished with it…any tips? The thought of trying to “wash” this fabric scares me! I am about 1/2 way through the seashells. I chose some colors that I thought had the same kind of tone to them (if that makes sense?): orange, pink, purple, green, and blue, and then what I did was take 2 strands of color and mix it with 2 strands of ecru:


Stitching 911!

March 9, 2010

This weekend one of my good friends called me with an urgent stitching request. She is throwing a bridal shower for her sister this upcoming weekend and is planning on giving her a bunch of really cute kitchen stuff for a gift. She got an apron as part of the gift, but it was just plain black….BORING. She wanted to have a monogram and perhaps “some sort of retro flower” stitched on the apron to liven it up a bit. I really wanted to do something with the Crazy Kitchen pattern I bought from Sublime Stitching a while ago, particularly the pin-up waitress, so I traced it and combined it with a monogram. It was cute, but ultimately not what my friend had in mind. It turned out retro flowers was exactly what was needed because the rest of the kitchen stuff she bought was covered with retro flowers. Tons of bright colors and 60’s style flowers…very cute. We ended up using part of a floral motif from A Rainbow of Stitches (that book is proving to be a fantastic addition to my tiny, tiny stitching library). Because the apron was black, our transfer options were pretty limited. I traced the pattern onto tracing paper, then pinned the tracing paper to the apron:

I had recently read about stitching onto tracing paper over at Wild Olive, so I knew it was possible. It was definitely an interesting experience. It was pretty frustrating not to be able to see how the stitches were turning out on the fabric, and it was pretty difficult to re-hoop the paper/fabric combo as I moved along. I was especially nervous when it came time to do the monogram because I knew monograms should be done in satin stitches. I thought about just outlining the letters, but then thought, no, it should really be done with satin stitches. When I was all done, I carefully tore away the paper. Here’s how it turned out:

There are still tiny bits of paper stuck amongst the satin stitches of the monogram, but I can’t get them out! Close-up:

I was wary initially about how the colors would look against the black, but I think it came out looking good. We chose the colors together, based on a very cute oven mitt that’s part of the kitchen gifts. Aqua, dark blue, royal blue, olive green, grassy green, bright orange and yellow, and a brownish red orange. Retro indeed. I hope the recipient will be pleased 🙂

Tropical WIP update

March 6, 2010

Wanted to check in to show you all some updated pictures of my tropical work in progress:

You can see that I decided to do chain stitching in a shade of purple on the moon outline. You can also see that some of my chain stitches got a bit wonky around the right palm tree and I will need to rip those out eventually and re-do them. You will also notice that I decided to do tow rows of back stitching for the outlines of the palm tree trunks, mountain/volcanoes and foliage:

Since I’m only using 3 strands, I thought a second row of back stitches, in the fill-stitch style, would look nice to give the outlines more depth and texture. I think I like it. As I mentioned in my last post, I secured some light interfacing to the back of the piece to give it some much needed stability, and so far it is working quite nicely. I am also trying something new for the water. Since this piece is in darker tones of blues and purples, I figured it is either night time or sunset, so I wanted to sort of have that reflected in the water. So, I pulled two strands of a brighter blue shade and one strand of a shade of orange, you can see it in this picture:

I’m hoping it will look sun-kissed or something. I’ll take a picture tomorrow when I’ve got some of the waves done. Those will be all scallop stitching. Oh, goodie…. On another note, I have lived in Davis for almost 10 years and never checked out the annual Pig Day at the Farmer’s Market. It was today, so I met up with some friends and headed over. I expected a barrage of pork products and of course actual real live pigs. Sadly, it was pretty much business as usual except for a bunch of pig balloons, four terrified piglets that were being constantly fondled by toddlers, and some scary ass clown/pig things that were wearing paper mache pig heads. One of them waved and started coming towards me while I was snacking on some delicious spinach naan, so I promptly made a sour-looking face and turned around to go far, far away…Oh, and THIS:

These were called “pig pops,” and looked to be a piece of pig head-shaped bread on a stick. My response to this is simply: hmmmm…. Cool stuff happened after the market though. My friend and I found this cupcake shop called “Let Them Eat Cake” that we’ve been seeing signs for around town, but hadn’t ever actually seen the store, and I got a CREAM SODA flavored cupcake with CREAM SODA flavored cream cheese frosting:

They had some other awesome sounding flavors:

which I can’t recall right now because OMGPONIES1! there was a CREAM SODA one…Crazy. It was good. Not sure it it would up to my friends’ Erin and April’s incredibly advanced cupcake palette…I shall bring them there next time they happen to be in Davis and see. Also, I got a new pair of running shoes:

Happy feet 🙂

Adventures in thrifting

March 4, 2010

Today I decided it would be fun to see what thrifty delights could be found in Sacramento because a) why not, and, b) thrift stores in Davis are pretty sub par. I talked my friend in coming along and we went to Goodwill in West Sacramento first. My goodness, what a HUGE store. It was almost as big as a grocery store and had just TONS of stuff. Of course, I was only in the market for certain things, but we ended up spending an hour there just marveling at all the weird stuff we found. I was looking for fabric suitable for stitching on and any other embroidery craft supplies I could find. I ended up getting a sheet after I posted a “what do you guys stitch with” discussion topic on the flickr Embroidery group and got feeback from some that they use sheets. I love the flickr crafting community, they are so forthcoming with help and advice, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I also got some frames:

A never-been-opened yellow 8.5 X 11 IKEA frame for 99 cents. And this one:

You can’t tell from the picture, but the frame is a bright light blue with silver wavy lines. I thought the picture was of seashells, but when I showed it to Eric he said “Those are bloody teeth, yuck!” They ARE bloody teeth….yuck! That’s o.k. though since I purchased this delightful little piece of art not for the art but rather for the frame. I’m hoping my current stitching project, the tropical one, will fit in this frame. It might not though…that pattern is pretty big. After Goodwill, we traveled to the downtown/midtown Sacramento area to the SPCA Women’s Guild store, which looks kinda shady on the outside, but was totally awesome inside. Lots of great vintage jewelry, clothes, shoes, linens, books, everything you can think of. I got a set of six red cotton napkins that will make a nice gift for someone someday after I stitch them up with some kind of cute pattern:

I found a couple embroidery hoops:

I have saved the best for last. I could not believe when I saw this next item amongst the framed art work…I could not believe someone would give it up I mean:

How gorgeous is that?! That is hand-stitched, people! Look at the colors! The design! Also, this does not have any glass on it and it is perfectly CLEAN. I think you need to see a close-up:

I don’t know what kind of fruit that is supposed to be, but I want it! I love all the different things going on in this piece. I love that the artist made all the leaves different, colors, some filled in, some not. I love all the chain stitches. I love all the different colored fruits. I love the little french knots scattered around. I love the fabric and the color of the fabric it’s stitched on, and I love that it’s framed. And I love that I paid $7.50 for something that must have taken someone hours and hours to do. If someone made that for me, I would never give it up. On the back of this piece, there is a name (a woman’s name thankyouverymuch) and a date…this piece was made in 1965! Oh well, I guess that saying about trash and treasure is true after all. I started stitching the tropical piece last night and here’s what I’ve got so far:

There are three different shades of blue going on there. So….the linen fabric. It’s really, really thin. SO thin. I am using the smallest needle I have and have split my thread and am using 3 strands. You can see through this fabric. Therefore, you can kind of see the thread on the back through the fabric…which is…not so good. BUT: I’m hoping that that won’t matter if I tape the finished piece onto some kind of backing and then frame it. I hope…I bought two yards of this stinking stuff, too because the lady at JoAnn’s told me it was a good idea. Stupid. What do I know? I guess I should have guessed though. You can also see that the fabric is so thin that it’s not really “holding” the stitches very tightly…I don’t know if that makes sense. I am having to kind of pull the stitches taught and hold the floss from behind the fabric while I make the next stitch so it stays securely in place. It’s kind of a pain, but that’s o.k. Lesson learned. If it turns out terribly (which I doubt), I will just try it again on the sheet I just bought or go back to the heavy cotton fabric I have. Hopefully it won’t come to that. Looking ahead, I am really excited about my mother’s day project. I think I am not going to give my mom the “Silver, Glass, China” series just yet, but instead stitch up a pillow cover using a  pattern from an embroidery book I got a while ago called “Modern Primitive Embroidery.” The patterns are very country craftyish, which is perfect for my mom. In other new, my birthday is next Friday, and I am looking forward to (hopefully) using some bday monies to purchase some new running shoes, as I think mine have officially bit the dust. I hope to run sans shin splints very soon…

A good day for goals & new things

March 3, 2010

Yesterday started out pretty rainy and I was not optimistic about my chances of venturing outside, however, at about 1 pm, the rained cleared and the sun came out. I immediately threw my jogging stuff on, did a few quick stretches, and scooted out the door. On Monday I reached a personal best of 15 minutes straight jogging, and yesterday I was determined to beat it. I have a little loop that I’ve been jog/walking for the past couple of weeks, and I had no idea how long it was. It turns out that my little loops is about 1.7 miles, and yesterday I jogged the whole thing. It took me about 20 minutes, which is pretty slow, but I was proud of my accomplishment. I revamped my “workout” playlist yesterday morning, so that helped. The right music can really make a difference in whether I keep jogging, pick up the pace, slow down, or stop jogging and walk. I had a good run of motivating/high energy songs, and even though there were a couple times when I wanted to just walk, I just kept telling myself “just jog through this song” or “just til that tree” or something like that, over and over again until I was home.  My other motivation?:

These seven (seven!) pairs of pants I have had in my drawer for at least a year that I can’t wear right now…and I REFUSE to buy new pants. I see no reason why I can’t wear these again, they are not lose-20-lbs pants, they are just lose-5 or 10-lbs pants, and I think that’s a reasonable goal. Anywho, yesterday I also tried something new in the stitching arena. I bought a water-soluble marker at Michael’s last week because it seems like many people in the stitchy world use one to transfer patterns onto fabric, and I felt like I was missing out. I do not have a light box, however, but I had read that you can use a window as a light box, so that is what I did. First I taped the pattern to the window:

You’ll notice that I did make some modifications to the pattern, taking out the “FAR AWAY” text and putting in a bunch of seashells from the Rainbow of Stitches book as I contemplated doing in yesterday’s post. I rather like the way the shells came out, but good gosh, there’s a lot of detail in those things. Next I took my piece of cut fabric (white linen) and taped it over the pattern:

Neat, huh? So instead of my hand getting really sore like when I use transfer paper and a stylus, my elbow got really sore from holding up my arm and tracing at a weird angle. I think that is probably easily remedied though by 1) using the sliding glass door instead of a small narrow window (I was kind of scrunched into this itty bitty space behind the couch), 2) taping the pattern much lower on the window so that I can sit and trace. Whilst I was tracing, Amelia came up to investigate:

Shocking, I know… After I was done tracing, it looked like this:

This morning I pulled out my floss box and started mulling over colors:

I know the palm trees & other foliage will be shades of blue…something I didn’t consider but am thinking about now is instead of orange for the sun, what about a shade of purple? Then maybe oranges & pinks for the shells? Hmmm….what do you all think??

Project switch-a-roo and a sneaky-peaky

March 2, 2010

In my last post I wrote about the design process (oooooh, that sounds all fancy, huh?) for my first attempt at creating a pattern from scratch. Well it turned out that my friend actually like the palm tree & island motif better than the hula girl. The palm tree evoked a strong sense of nostalgia for her because she had palm tree themed linens that looked something like this:

So I switched out the hula girl for the palm tree motif and came up with this:

I don’t know what I think about the “FAR AWAY” text anymore…it looks kind of loose and perhaps messy compared to the rest of the design. Maybe I will nix it and put in some sea shells in it’s place. There are some great seashell designs in the book Eric got (ordered off my Amazon wish list) me for my birthday:

The book is French, which I didn’t know until I started looking through it. It’s organized by color: green, pink, blue, red and white, with a project per page in full-page photos. At the end of each color section there are patterns and images for photo-copying and transferring to make the projects shown (or your own!). I LOVE LOVE LOVE this project & pattern motif:

A pink poodle table runner! WHAT?! I don’t know if I even know anyone who would use this in their house, but isn’t it darling? SIGH. I am almost finished with my current stitching project, a birthday project for a friend which I can’t describe in any detail because, you never know who might be watching…I can, however, give you a few sneak peaks:

I can’t wait to show you the whole thing, but that will just have to wait. I think today I will work on cleaning up the tropical pattern and getting it transferred onto some lovely linen I got at JoAnn’s over the weekend. I have been wondering where to get embroidery hoops for framing embroidery that I am giving as gifts, so I posted a discussion topic on the lovely embroidery flickr group and got some good feedback about where to look. Most people said thrift stores, so I am going to check out the thrift stores we have here in town, which are very few and kind of crappy, so….we’ll see. It is another rainy day here in Davis, and Amelia has been inspired by the gray weather to just settle down in her kitty bed and sleep the day away (don’t you wish were a cat some days? I do…). Here she is kneading her blankie in her bed:

And even though it’s rainy, rainy, rainy outside, spring continues to make it’s impending presence known. To wit:

What a beautiful giant flowering tree….too bad it’s full of evil pollen that will make me sneeze and my mouth itch like crazy. There is a big pink tree across the street. These flowering trees are all over Davis and are a big part of what makes this town so pretty in the Spring. What’s your favorite blooming thing in spring?

First attempt at pattern design

February 27, 2010

So I think I am going to stop titling my posts with Day __: ______ because as the count gets higher, I get more depressed. So I am just going to post about whatever (semi)interesting things I did on that particular day. This week was kind of a crappy stitching week. Actually it was just a crappy week all around. On Tuesday, when I typically do a lot of cleaning, I made a big list with lots of cleaning on it and then I did nothing. It was raining and gray outside, I looked for jobs but didn’t really find anything promising, so I kind of just ended up sitting on the couch all day being depressed. It sucked. Really bad. I never got around to trying to fix up my China piece and I don’t know when I’ll get around to it; sometime before Mother’s Day but that’s all I know. Still contemplating scrapping and starting over, and I think I’m leaning towards that option more and more. I didn’t make lists for Weds-Fri, but the week did get better. I played a lot of guitar which was good I guess. I have some pretty good calluses going on now, which I’m pretty happy about. Started playing some other songs besides Hurt & Reasons Why. I added “Out Loud” by Mindy Smith, which is pretty difficult and “Easy to Ignore” by Sixpence None the Richer which is super duper easy, which I love. Tried to pick up “Everybody Knows” by Dixie Chicks, but the rhythm is hard and I gave up on it for now. I did stitch up a quick birthday present for a friend, which turned out cute, but I can’t show it or I’ll ruin the surprise. So, I’ll post about it after the gift is given. I had four project-related tasks on my to-do list for the week (Tuesday’s list just ended up covering the week), including: Birthday present for ____; fix China piece; plan project for Daniel (my friend’s baby boy); and plan project for Erin. I got around to half of those…. Erin asked for something tropical to hang in her cube, which was a challenge because there are not a whole lot of tropical patterns floating around out there. I found a vintage pattern in the Hoop Love Vintage Transfer pool on flickr:

I just wasn’t feeling this pattern. It’s pretty plain, so I guess there’s potential for adding on, but it didn’t say “Erin” to me…so, I decided to try my hand at creating my own pattern from scratch. First I did a  google image search “tropical,” and saw some vintage looking posters amongst the photos. So then I did an image search on “vintage style tropical art” then “vintage hawaiian art,” which turned up some great vintage prints. Erin loves Hawaiia and Hawaiian-related stuff like ukulele music, Jack Johnson, Hawaiian food & drink, ETC. So, I knew I wanted to have that vintage print feel to my pattern. I ended up printing several images, but the one I really wanted wouldn’t print due to copyright issues probably, but you can see it here. I liked the simplicity of the image:

Since it wouldn’t print, I grabbed my tracing paper and used my laptop as a light box, placing the tracing paper directly on top of my screen and tracing the image with a sharpie. I did not want the “ALOHA” text, but instead wanted to incorporate a song by one of Erin’s favorite singer/songwriters Ingrid Michaelson. The song is called “Far Away,” and it’s about day dreaming about living another, simpler life on an island somewhere. I like it and I think it works with the tropical concept. I played around with different elements:

I wanted a vintage post card message “Greetings From ____” type thing, so I googled vintage fonts and found an alphabet I coud print out, so I traced the phrase I wanted. I decided to do away with the tropical flower elements, I thought it looked to cluttered. And I rounded out the font for “FAR AWAY” and replaced the star with a sea shell. The final looks like this:

What do you think? Still contemplating adding some teensy seashells or plumeria flowers in front of “greetings” and after “bay”…what do you think? Don’t want it to look too cluttered. I am going to JoAnn’s in Sac today to see if I can score some nice linen to stitch this on. Check out these super cute hand puppets I found at Michael’s yesterday for 59 cents each:

They are plain (not colored) so I figure I can stitch over the outlines and give them as gifts to my friends with babies…I’m excited. They also had blank puppets, which I may have to go back for later. I have to be careful in Michael’s…