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2015 Smalls SAL – February

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This month I decided to work on one of the pieces from Grandma’s Stitching Treasures by The Cat’s Whiskers.  This is the scissor pocket from the set … or at least it will be once it’s finish-finished 🙂  It was really enjoyable stitching this one … now I’m looking forward to stitching the remaining two pieces – the scissor fob and the needlebook.  I think the scissor fob will be the next one to be stitched.

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Stitching Small SAL

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Well, so far my SALs have been going OK this year … I managed to put the final stitches into scissor keeper late last night – I opted not to re-do all the stitching, and just decided to change the bee’s flight path so that the back-stitching was closer to the right-hand border margin.  Funnily enough, though, the scissor pocket cover model looks the same as mine on the corners, but with one cross less on the top and bottom borders … so I think perhaps there was either an error on the chart, or the instructions changed at some point. Oh well, either way, it’s done now … and just needs to be made up. Next month I’ll probably do the scissor fob to match, then this little set will be done and dusted!  Sorry, but I can’t get a good photo of this one for love nor money – I need to charge up the proper camera, I think, rather than trying to use the iPhone like my lazy self has gotten into the habit of using!

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“Bee Keeper” by Cindy Valentine Designs
stitched on 28ct Quaker linen in Misty Blue
with recommended DMC and Mill Hill beads
Started 11 January 2015 – Finished 24 January 2015

Preview of the next tutorial

Yesterday I had a mini finishing spree where I did all the photos needed (almost all anyway!) for two scissor fob tutorials.  As you can see from my previous post I managed to complete one of them and have it published … I want to take some more photos before I publish the second one, though, so the cord attachment is more clear.  In the meantime, however, I can share my two finishes from yesterday – so you have a preview of which fob finishing method is coming next … 😉

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It’s felt really good doing the tutorials once again … perhaps my finishing funk is slowly disappearing and a wee bit of mojo is returning? … I really do hope so! 😀

 

Stitching Tutorial #1

I have just published the following tutorial in my Focus on Finishing blog, but thought I’d include it here as well …

This is the first of a number of upcoming Scissor Fob tutorials … and is the type of finishing used by The Drawn Thread freebie designs and similar to Mill Hill treasure ornament series.  The finish is a diamond shape, which I think is really attractive for a scissor fob.  This one in my tutorial is a bit large for a scissor fob, in my opinion, but the finishing is the same irrespective of the design size you choose 🙂  If you are interested, this is Pumpkin Keeper freebie by The Drawn Thread.

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Materials needed:

  • Stitched project – this needs to be a square design, preferably stitched in a diamond shape
  • DMC thread or sewing machine thread to match the stitching fabric (and contrasting sewing machine thread for basting, if desired)
  • Stuffing (your preferred choice, can be Polyfil, crushed walnut shells, or teddy bear pellets, for example)
  • DMC for cording, or ready-made cord
  • Pencil or cording drill

1.  Ensure you have equal sides on your stitching – the easiest way to do this is to count the number of squares away from each of your piece if stitched on aida, or count a specified number of threads away from each side when stitching on linen.  In this case I followed the Drawn Thread instructions, which was to count out 24 threads away from the stitched area and cut off the fabric edges.  I find the easiest way to do this is to count out your designated number of threads then remove the next thread, ie pull it all the way out – this leaves a clean channel for cutting a straight line following the weave of the linen, as you can see in the photo below.

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2.  Once you have cut away your edges and have a nice square piece of fabric, fold your stitching in half across the centre of the design, with the right side of the stitching facing each other.  Pin the edges together, and stitch a seam allowance at each of the short edges.  As it is hard to see my thread on the fabric, I have highlighted with red stitching where the seam line is below.

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I usually prefer top snip the corners slightly to make them easier to make ‘points’ once they’re turned the right-side-out.  If you do this, make sure you don’t snip them too close to the seam line, or it will unravel, and you don’t want that!

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3.  Now turn your stitched piece inside out, and put out the corners – sometimes I use a pointed chopstick to help get a nice point in the corner, but this needs to be done gently so you don’t poke a hole in the fabric!

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4.  Next we turn over the seam allowance on the top raw edges.  I prefer to give the seam a quick iron to make it sit flat.  You can just pin the seam allowance down around the top, or do as I do which is to baste it down using a contrasting sewing machine thread.

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5.  Next bring the two seams together to meet in the centre, and your stitching is in a diamond shape.  I usually pop a couple of pins in temporarily to hold the seams in place.  Turn your piece over to work out which is the top of your stitching, and where the cord will eventually be attached.  In this tutorial, because the fob is so big I’ve decided to just have a cord hanger at the top without any tassel or embellishments at the bottom – another tutorial will cover the option of adding tassels to your fob later.

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6.  Next it’s time to make your cord – obviously if you have purchased ready-made cord you can omit this step, but ensure your purchased cord is quite narrow so you can knot the ends easily.  I made my cord out of DMC cotton floss, and because of the size of the fob I opted to use 4 strands of DMC for my cord as I wanted it to be a bit thicker (my preference is usually 3 strands of either DMC or pearl cotton).  Sometimes it’s trial and error as to how thick the cord will turn out.  It is generally much easier to have another person assist you in making cord, but as I’m on my own I have to improvise with whatever is handy!  I apologise in advance for the poor photos in this section, I will do another tutorial soon to show the steps more clearly …

The first thing to do is to knot each end of the group of threads together.

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Next you need to rope in an assistance to help out by holding one end of the threads tightly, or do what I do by finding something you can attach the other end to … in my case I have a portable clothes rack that I used, by snapping a metal ring over the rail and hooking the ring through the middle of the threads at the knot end.  Alternatively you could tie the end around a door handle or something similar.

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If you have a cord drill, that’s perfect, otherwise you can make do by using a simple pencil to wind the thread.  Take your pencil and insert it through the middle of the remaining end of the thread (at the knotted end), and walk back until your thread is nice and straight.  Then start turning your pencil – it doesn’t matter in which direction you turn your pencil, as long as you continue to turn it the same way 😉  I prefer to use a cord drill as it’s so much quicker, so that’s how I finished my cord off this time round.

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You need to keep turning your pencil/cord drill until your threads are very taut.  If you slacken off your tension a little bit and your thread starts to ‘kink’ and turn on itself it’s generally twisted enough.  I let go of the tension a little bit here so I can hopefully show you what I mean about the ‘kinking’ of the thread.

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This next part is very tricky to photograph as I needed both hands …  Once your thread is twisted enough, carefully hold the middle of your twisted thread with one hand, then using your other hand bring the two knotted ends together.

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I usually use a self-made weight that I hang in the middle, but forgot to use it this time!  I’ll show that method another time, as it’s a really quick way to get the threads twisting onto themselves!  In this case, however, I just used my left hand (my right hand was still holding the two ends together) to slide up the thread about an inch, and using my thumb and forefinger gave the threads a gentle twist.  You continue to do that by working up the thread and helping the threads twice nicely onto themselves.  Eventually you end up with a beautifully twisted cord.  Then you finish off by knotting the two loose ends together so it doesn’t unravel.  And voilà your cord is finished!! 😀

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7.  Decide how long you want your cord to be – generally 3 1/2 to 4 inches is about the right length, but you may prefer to have your hanger longer than that – it’s all personal preference!  In this case I’d made my cord quite short so I could do the tutorial easier for you.  Knot the two loose ends together at your desired length.

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8.  Now it’s time to pick up your stitching once again, and we need to start stitching up the remaining seam.  My preference is to close it up using a ladder stitch, however you can use a whip-stitch if that is easier for you.  Start at the bottom of the fob, away from where the cord will be inserted.  To do a ladder stitch you just work your way alternatively up each side of the seam, taking a few threads in your needle for each stitch – this looks like the rungs of a ladder when the stitches are loose, and when you pull them tight they close up the seam very cleanly.  Keep stitching up the seam until approx 1″ away from the end.

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9.  At this point you insert your chosen stuffing.  I have opted to use teddy bear pellets for mine, as I really like the extra weight it gives the fob, especially for smaller fobs (in hindsight I probably should have used Polyfil for one this big!!).  When I stuff with pellets I use a little Tupperware funnel that I find really useful for this job – alternatively you can roll a piece of stiff paper into a funnel instead!

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10.  Now we’re on the homeward stretch, and it’s time to add the cord and close up the seam!  Take your cord, and place the knot inside the seam opening, then continue stitching up the opening to the top.  Sometimes I will take my thread through the cord at the top to stop it from moving around, but it wasn’t needed for my fob this time.  You can now remove all your basting stitches.

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And that’s it, your fob is all finished and ready to adorn your chosen pair of scissors!!

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As always, please feel free to leave comments and let me know if you have any questions.  It’s always good to know if you find the tutorials useful, or if there is something you would like to see more of, so the comments are always appreciated!

Kindest regards,

It’s a woman’s prerogative…

No sooner had I set out my stitching plans for 2012 that I started to realise I really don’t know how in the hell I’m going to achieve all of those finishes/goals when I really only get to stitch on the weekends (and not every weekend at that) … so I’m seriously thinking of throwing those previous plans out the window, and just going back to a rotation instead.  That means I’ll also be able to focus more on my existing WIPs which are actually starting to bother me, rather than trying to cram in those same WIPs (at a lot slower pace than I’d like) as well as meeting all the SAL and commitment deadlines at the same time … and probably not getting any of them done by the year’s end (but not stressing about it).

Perhaps it’s just that my head is in the wrong space at the start of the year with Dad’s health and some work issues that are still really bothering me.  Both of these issues are slowly getting resolved, with Dad seeing his surgeon this Friday, and I’ve started having dummy spits in the office to voice my frustrations at issues I’m facing (including telling a team member they’re doing my head in and they’re not helping my stress levels … yep, there have definitely been a few dummy spits lately in that respect, and probably a couple of months well overdue at that!!).  Anyway, maybe removing the pressure of having to finish all these projects will help to restore some sanity to my stitching – most of the projects in my list will still remain there as part of the rotation, I will just have no expectation to actually complete them by the year’s end … plus I’ll have the opportunity to change my mind at a moment’s notice, as I’ve also come across some other projects that I really wanted to stitch, but that didn’t make the cut for my initial 15 projects …  I think the stress of only limiting my stitching to a set group of projects also inhibits my sense of freedom, and as soon as that sort of pressure starts mounting I find I don’t end up stitching at all … so perhaps it’s for the betterment of my stitching this year to just ‘let it all hang out’ so to speak 😉

Tomorrow I’m off to the local GP to try and get some antibiotics for my bugs, which will also help to bring me back to a state of equilibrium (and probably less likely to have dummy spits at work LOL) … and perhaps feel more like stitching … but in the meantime I’m going to start my rotation guilt-free just as soon as I’ve finished my Round Robin piece that’s due out for mailing at the end of January … but not before I have fun by adding a few more rotation projects to the pipeline 🙂

And I’m not stressing if I change my mind a million times throughout the year … as the title of this post says, “it’s a woman’s prerogative” … as long as I enjoy my stitching this year I’m happy 😀

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Ooh, before I forget, I heard from Cindy that my little gift arrived safe and sound when she returned from holidays – so I can now share the full goodies … just as soon as I find the photos!!!  I think I’ve shown the finished biscornu before, but I’ve never shown the finished fob that matched it.  It feels good that this is now finished and living in its new home 🙂

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While I’m at it, I think there are also a number of framing jobs that I completed in November last year that I haven’t shared on here yet … the Tiger and Summer Snapperland are both for me, whereas the bears and the Letter S are both for gifts.  I did most of the framing of the Tiger 2 years ago, but couldn’t finish-finish it as the backing board was too high … he’s one of my first ever finishes (stitched on aida) and I love, love, love him!

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Finally here are a couple of yummy things I brought back from New Zealand with me on my last trip – the scrumptious blug electric kettle was compliments of Mum and Dad’s Fly Buys points in NZ, while the bowls are from my ‘glory box’ still in storage over there.  Both have already been christened, and I’m totally in love with the jug in particular!!  And I can’t WAIT to try out the new Orange Truffle Baileys over a bucket of ice … hmmm, in fact I just may choose that for dessert tonight, the ice will help soothe my throat and the alcohol will help to lull me into sleepy submission … hmmm …

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The final photos are of my frangipani plants on my balcony to show Mum – now both plants have finally flowered, although I’m disappointed to see the 2nd plant which has flowered for the first time has the pink frangipani … it’s still very pretty, but I do have to admit to preferring the white frangipani on the whole.

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And I think that will do me for another post … I still have some other things to post yet, but think I’m a bit photo heavy already … and it’ll give me something to write about later (if I get over the shock of having so many blog posts in one month!!!).

October 2012 WIPocalypse update

Not as much stitching done all up as I’d like over the last month, although I’d thrilled to show that I did manage to get one 2-year-old UFO out of the “hiding in shame basket” and back onto the Qsnaps … over the last month I not only managed to put the final stitches into it, but last night I even finish-finished it!  I also stitched a little scissor fob to match it yesterday, but it’s still not sewn together yet.  I hope to do that over the next day or so though 🙂

“Biscornu 458” by The Floss Box
Stitched on 32ct Thunderstorm Belfast linen by Zweigart
with DMC threads

Scissor fob to match Biscornu 458, personalised with recipients details (not shown)

The other stitching I did was to put the bi-cones onto Letter S … still have to add the name to this one, but I’ve bought a frame for it in readiness and need to get this one finished sooner rather than later, as it’s a gift for a work colleague’s daughter (instead of a birth sampler) who has now left work!

“Letter S” by Nora Corbett/Mirabilia
Stitched on 32ct “Secret” hand-dyed linen by Steph’s Fabbies
with recommended threads and beads

Mum came over to visit for just over a week last the week before last – unfortunately we didn’t have a great deal of time together due to not being able to get time off work, but the first weekend she arrived we had a wonderful time and got out and about quite a bit.  We took a drive to a picture framers about an hour’s drive from home, and came home with 9 different frames and 2 huge pieces of mat-board, ready to go crazy and do some framing jobs.  I’m still waiting for 3 of the frames to be made up yet, then I’ll go pick those up … but in the meantime I did manage to frame up the following:

I managed to get this framed while Mum was here so she could take it home with her – she was so thrilled she is going to take it into the rest home where she volunteers to show everyone – it’s lovely when your stitching is appreciated! Freesias are Mum’s favourite flowers, so I’ve always wanted to stitch this for her 🙂

“Trick or Treat Fairy” by Mirabilia
Technically not finished framing yet, as I’m waiting for spacers to be added beneath the glass, then the backing put back one … but I couldn’t resist sharing early, as I just love this one! 🙂

And that’s probably all I have this month for the WIPocalypse … while my fingers aren’t necessarily flying every night (usually just the weekends these days), my stitching still remains my most favourite pastime on the weekends for unwinding from a stressful working week – I don’t know what I’d do without it!  Sadly my hours mean the only blog reading I’m getting to do is on the morning commute, and it’s too hard to comment on my phone, but at least I’m still getting the odd bit of blog reading in – and the WIPocalypse is at least motivating me to post at the moment at least once a month … who knows when that’ll change, as work is particularly stressful at the moment, but “que sera, sera”, “what will be, will be” 🙂