Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Felt circle embroidery #15 Awesomeness in black and green grey

embroidery on felt stitches wool DMC 15 Felt circle embroidery #15 Awesomeness in black and green grey

This is one of my favourite color combinations and stitches. The black and green grey are saved from being too dark and sombre by the pink and grey circles.

Row 1: This is a form of Open Cretan Stitch where, instead of the stitches being offset they are in the same line – you might almost call this an alternating blanket stitch were the stitch alternates from being on the inside to the outside.

The bead is held on with long stitches ended with french knots.

Row 2 – Closed Blanket Stitch – this stitch makes a nice triangle shape stitch and if you make them further apart than they should be then you get the sense of triangles separated from each other – sort of like bunting.

Row 3: Straight stitches alternating in length go around the edge of the shape. Because of the color contrast here you need to get this quite even or it doesn’t look so good.

Between rows 2 & 3 are some French Knots alternating between light and dark gray color.



Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Felt circle embrodery #14 – Musically Inspired

embroidery on felt stitches wool DMC 14 Felt circle embrodery #14   Musically Inspired

For this set of circles I thought it time to develop my own stitch – this one is inspired by sheet music and teams french knots with straight stitches. The felt color scheme is a bit brash – purple, turquoise and grey and the thread is tan and grey – after doing this one I went out and bought some more threads so I would have some more color alternatives!

Row 1: Straight stitch done over the edge – another simple stitch but when you work it in contrasting colors you really have to get it right.

The bead is stitched with alternating long stitches of tan and grey each finished with a French Knot

Row 2: Blanket stitch worked with the edge over the edge of the piece.

Row 3: Herringbone Stitch – this works well around a circle and here I worked one edge along the fabric edge and one well inside it.

Between rows 2 & 3 are my music stitch – a series of straight stitches and french knots.


Saturday, November 17th, 2012

Felt circles # 13 – Crimson and Blue

embroidery on felt stitches wool DMC 13 Felt circles # 13   Crimson and Blue

I love the color combination of crimson and blue here – it is tempered by some gray also one of my favorite colors. This piece features some lazy daisy stitches which I love they just give your work a little bit of a frivolous touch. There are also lots of French Knots which I now find it dead easy to do – just make sure you ease the stitch in place by holding the thread steady with your thumb – if you twist the thread around the needle and just pull the needle without supporting the stitch, you are  doomed to fail! Believe me!

Row 1 – Double Blanket Stitch – You work this as one row of blanket stitch all around and then do a second one up side down so the long bars of each overlap – it ended up being quite a cute stitch.

The bead is attached with some long stitches right into the second circle and each finished with a french knot.

Row 2 – More blanket stitch here but very large stitches so they are quite far apart. On the outer edge these are enhanced with alternating Lazy Daisy stitches and some french knots – at long last I am really able to do french knots with confidence – it takes practice but it finally worked out well.

Row 3 – This is a row of detached Fly Stitch so each is spaced around the edge of the piece. Between the individual fly stitches are more French Knots.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Embroidery 101 – Running stitch

Embroidery running stitch Embroidery 101   Running stitch


Perhaps the simplest stitch of all is the running stitch. Stitches are made by taking the needle in and out of the fabric. To make very even stitches, keep the same distance between each in and out of the needle. This will make the stitch and the in between stitch areas nice and even. You can vary this by making shorter or longer stitches and spaces.

Here is the running stitch used on the yellow circle – as simple as it is when you stitch it with contrasting thread it looks great.

Embroidery running stitch example Embroidery 101   Running stitch

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Felt Embroidered Needle Case – Inspired by my friend Anna

felt embroidered needle case opener Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Before I start, this needle case has a cool story. The inspiration for it came to my friend Anna by way of a relative whose name was Lady May and who lived in Carmel. Anna was named for Lady May’s sister Anna Jack. At the time it came to Anna she was living in New York but now Anna lives in Carmel so her needle case has done a full circle from Carmel to New York and back to Carmel. I think that’s totally cool so I set about to use Anna’s needle case as the inspiration for my own needle case project. This time I chose to mimic the functional design, another time I plan to mimic the embroidery.

I started with some circles of felt approximately 3.5 – 4 inches diameter. I don’t lose too much sleep over making circles – I just grab the nearest round container and use it to trace a circle onto paper. Then I pin the paper to the felt and cut.

In this case I cut circles of tan, blue and a sort of sand color felt – two blue, two tan and one sand. I selected some embroidery floss – I use DMC size 5 and I chose brown, an orangey tan and a sand color. I also dug into my stash to find a really nice abalone shell button.

felt embroidered needle case step1 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

The first step was to embroider the cover which is one of the blue pieces. I embroidered some flowers using a range of stitches including lazy daisy and straight stitch for the small flowers. There are French knots scattered throughout and some simple seed stitches as well. For the second largest flower I used lazy daisy and a woven wheel which is just long stitches and then weaving around them. For the large flower there is a combination of lazy daisy and some straight stitches in the middle, French knots and then a blanket stitch and the outside is a chain stitch.

felt embroidered needle case step2 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Once the embroidery was complete for the front I turned my attention to the back. Here all I did was create concentric circles of chain stitch in the colors that I’d used. I used tan and sand then tan, dark brown, tan, sand, tan, dark brown until I’d filled the shape.

To make sure that the chain stitch went pretty much in circles I created some hollowed out templates that I could pin to the fabric to give me a guideline as to where I would sew. The result was a better set of concentric circles than I’d been able to do so in the past as sometimes they get a bit more like ovals than circles.

felt embroidered needle case step3 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Once I’d done this I needed to trim the pieces to size. The covers had come down a little bit in size as a result of the stitching so I lined all the pieces up and trimmed them until everything was the same size.

I pinned the two pieces of brown felt together back to back and stitched around with blanket stitch – leaving just a piece about 1.5 inches not sewn at the very top where it will all be hinged later on.

I then pinned the blue pieces of felt together back to back and pinned it all to the back with the sand piece sandwiched between the back and front.

felt embroidered needle case step4 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

I then stitched around the blue pieces with blanket stitch and at the point where the back hadn’t been stitched, this time I stitched through all 5 pieces of felt. This not only joins the pieces but you also get the impression that the blanket stitch on the front is continuous as it runs all around the piece. This is the front:

felt embroidered needle case step5 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

And this is the back:

felt embroidered needle case step6 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

And this is the inside:

felt embroidered needle case step7 Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

The result is a small needle case with the embroidery hidden by backing pieces and a piece of felt in the middle in which the needles will sit. I love the design and the colors and I’m planning to make another one really soon.

Update – more needlebook goodness awaits you

One of the people I follow on Twitter Johwey Redington has her own version needle book here – it’s way more detailed than mine and I just love it. Why not head over there and check out her detailed how to?

johwey redington needle book Felt Embroidered Needle Case   Inspired by my friend Anna

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

Sew your own felt elephant

Felt elephant 3d Sew your own felt elephant

This cute elephant is the first real 3D pattern I have made for an animal. I based it on a circle so its body is made from a circle with the base cut off and then I cut out the areas for under the trunk and between the legs. It is best at this point to trim just a little from the length of the trunk too so it doesn’t sit on its trunk later on. Cut pieces for the ears,  tail, belly and then five tiny small ovals  for the base of the feet and trunk. It is pretty easy to make the pattern yourself but I’ve  scanned mine so you can download and use it yourself.

I recommend you use wool felt not the stuff that is made from non natural fibres. The reason is that wool felt stands up to more of a beating and stitches close to the edges are less likely to pull out.  I used fibrefill and some eyes that I got for making amigurumi animals.

Start by sewing the legs and the underbody together, add the ovals for the bottom of the feet. Stuff as you go. Then sew up  the trunk and add an oval of felt to the bottom of the trunk and then sew all around the piece.

Add the tail which is rolled felt  with a fringe at the bottom. When you’re done stitch the ear pieces together and then stitch them to the sides of the elephant body.  The eyes go  into small holes made in the head – attach with a dot of fabric glue.

Link: Download free felt elephant pattern here.

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

Burlap Pencil Case

burlap pencil case pouch opener Burlap Pencil Case

If you’ve been following my blog you’re know that I’ve been embroidery burlap pencil cases that I picked up at Target in the one dollar bin. What concerned me was that as cute as those pencil cases you might be disappointed because you can’t find the pencil cases any longer at Target. I have to say I was bummed the other day when I checked my Target and realized they were all sold out.

So I set about determining how to make a pencil case that you could use for embroidery. Starting out you’ll need:

  • Burlap fabric (approx. 10 x 9)

- 8 inch black zipper – ideally an open ended one

- Fabric stabilizer –  I used blank Craft Fuse

- Black cotton thread (I also used some cotton that matched the fabric color)

- Sewing machine

- Pins, scissors etc..

- Iron

Start by ironing the fabric stabilizer to the back of a piece of burlap. My burlap was slightly smaller than the stabilizer which worked pretty well as it meant that it was completely covered.

Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step1 Burlap Pencil Case

Then cut a 9-3/4 by 8-3/4 inch piece out of the burlap. I was able to use an edge as part of my design but it doesn’t matter if you can’t.

Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step2 Burlap Pencil Case


Then on the short edge fold under a 1/2 inch seam and iron. Do this on both sides of the piece as this is where the zipper will go.

I found it useful to tack along that line with some matching thread which I’d intended to pull out but in actual fact as it was left in. Tacking this edge makes it easier for you to apply the zipper.

Pull the zipper apart into its two pieces and pin it so one piece is under each of the folded edges. (If you don’t have an open ended zipper – and yours won’t split in two, then see the tip below)

Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step3 Burlap Pencil Case

Machine sew in place.


Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step4 Burlap Pencil Case

Once you have the two pieces of the zipper in place you can reattach the zipper to itself. You’ll do this with the pencil pouch inside out. Just slot the base of the zipper into position and pull the zipper pull a couple of cogs forward, don’t fully zip it up because you’ll need to use this opening to turn it.

Pin the side seams together sew with machine stitching.


Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step5 Burlap Pencil Case


When you’re done turn the piece inside out pushing into the corners to make a good rectangular shape and iron to finish.


Make your own burlap pencil case pouch step6 Burlap Pencil Case


The result is a functional burlap pencil case that’s nice and stable with a good inside surface.

Now that you have your burlap pencil case you can go ahead and embroider it. While it’s not a one dollar project it still is a fairly inexpensive project and dead easy (and dare I say it?) fun to make.



If you don’t have an open ended zipper then you’ll need to cut the burlap into two pieces, attach the zip and sew an additional seam along the base of the piece. It’ll work just as well but it is an additional step.


Thursday, October 25th, 2012

Cover a Mead notebook

cover a mead notebook Cover a Mead notebook

I love the potential of a Mead notebook – they are simply awesome to work with. For this one I painted it black to begin with then painted the sky blue and wiped bits off so there were mixed bits of black and blue. Then I pasted some papers over the bottom of the book to make the hills and painted them green. I pained on some white clouds too.

I added some simple hand drawn style illustrations of the Eiffel Tower and other buildings. Over the top I added a white chipboard flower and leaf and marked around them with a Sharpie marker and drew the plant stem in with a Sharpie.

Finally I glued on a watch face – so it always tells the time and added a piece of elastic I had left over from some other project.

The project makes a great journal to take on a trip and the added bonus for me is that because I never carry a watch with me my journal always tells the time.

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Cool Hand Drawn Frames for your Blog

photoshop frames1 Cool Hand Drawn Frames for your Blog

One cute idea that I’m seeing on the web right now is hand drawn frames used for blog posts. For example, design doyen Jenny Doh uses it over at her blog.

I just loved the idea so much that my trusty assistant and I got drawing and made a few sets of hand drawn doodle style frames for you. You’ll find them here at - the frames cost less than your morning cup of coffee – in fact if you drink coffee like I do then you could buy all the sets and still have change from your day’s Starbucks bill.

The frames include hand drawn scroll-like frames, some Zentangle inspired frames, some floral frames and lots of others to give your blog posts a lift.

photoshop frames2 Cool Hand Drawn Frames for your Blog

Also included in each of the packs – which by the way contain at least ten hand drawn frames in each .99 cent pack – are instructions for using the frames to frame your photos in Photoshop, Photoshop Elements and the Gimp.

I know you’ll find there is something for everyone and now you  have no excuse for boring old blog posts anymore.

In fact you’ll see I have already grabbed one or two of those frames to use in my own blog posts.

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

Burlap pencil cases – just demanding embroidery

embroider burlap pencil case fish2 Burlap pencil cases   just demanding embroidery

I love the $1 boxes inside the door at Target. There is seldom that a trip to Target doesn’t result in some crafting item jumping into my basket there. One day it might be ribbon, sometimes a felt basket and one day recently it was burlap pencil cases. I bought 7 of them – they were just too good to go past – the colors were awesome – burlap and black, or burlap and cream and I just knew I would find inspiration in them.

Turns out inspiration was just around the corner. I have been embroidering a lot lately so it seemed that embroidering the pencil cases was a gimme since burlap is a great surface to use. I started out by embroidering stitches around the zipper – if anything wasn’t going to hold out for the long term I thought it would be the zipper so I ran a row of stitches around and then got to work on the rest. On this case I embroidered fish. One fish on the front and then three top to tail on the back. I used black buttons for the eyes – the ones you get at Joanns for the small fish and just a standard black button for the large one.

The large fish is embroidered using backstitch to make the outline and then a ‘U’ shape stitch to fill it. For this, come out of the fabric and then go in about 1/4 in away and then out between these two stitches a bit below at the same time catching the thread with a tiny stitch. It is really a fly stitch and if you don’t pull it all too tight you get more of a ‘U’ shape rather than a ‘V’. Continue across the row making stitches side by side and then continue to fill the fish with it.


embroider burlap pencil case fish Burlap pencil cases   just demanding embroidery

On the back here, the fish are again backstitched. One is filled with cross stitch, one with Fly stitch and the other with a sort of woven stitch. Black button eyes finish off the fish.

I am working on one in brown now … will have that to show soon.

In the meantime I’ve found some others on the web who have done things with these burlap pencil cases. Check them out:

Here Leah, owner of BlueBird Chic LLC,  at her blog has painted the pencil case with a paint dabber and added some tags to the finished product.

Here, Kim, from Plumberry Pie has used Sharpie markers to personalise her pencil cases.

Here they are stenciled with a mustache, and here is another stenciled version and again here, Sarah at Sweet life creative used them as invitations having stenciled a letter using craft paint on them.

So, have you found anything super cool at Target lately and what did you make from it?