Sue Spargo’s Textured Embroidery Craftsy Class

You might recall that I signed up for two Craftsy courses earlier this year. Today, I present to you my first finished project, from Embroidering Texture and Dimension from Sue Spargo.

I ordered her fabric kit but could not justify spending an equal amount on the threads (once I become “pro”, I won’t mind spending for upgrades!). Instead, I used what I have left of a starter pack of cheap stuff Boy bought me many moons ago. Honestly, that wasn’t a terrible idea – most of the colors worked well and were chunky enough to stand out from the felt. Shrug.

My first challenge with this course is that the course itself was not what I expected. I am new to Craftsy and did not understand two important things: 1) that the cost of the class does not include supplies (this was a “DUH!” moment, considering how cheap the courses are), and 2) more related to the class itself, I had expected a step-by-step guide of how to replicate one of her pieces. What she offers is the inspiration to go at it yourself, explaining how she chooses combinations of colors and textures, and she does show you step-by-step on some stitching. In the end, that method of teaching is more valuable as it teaches you critical thinking skills on how to pull something together with your own imagination, but until I realized that, I was uncomfortable!

But my second (and largest) challenge was that my imagination is picky. Though I do enjoy looking at Sue’s bold and vivid work and I relish in her texturizing, overall it is not my personal style. I am not a fan of butterflies, and I felt very uncomfortable having so many “clashing” colors in the fabric kit without explicit directions of how to put them together so that they look as great as Sue’s. And toss that in with no step-by-step, use-these-stitches-together guide and I found myself squarely outside of my comfort zone. For a while I was frustrated (not with the class – with myself!); ya’ll know me: I generally whip out projects as fast as I can (sometimes too fast!) because I have clear ideas of the final product. This? Not so much. I didn’t even know what I was going to do with it once I got it done because I just sort of kind of hated the whole thing (no offense, Sue!)! Give me color combinations I swoon over, or shapes I collect in my mind’s inspiration vault, and I’ll go to town with ideas! But this… this was a challenge, for sure.

I figured a good inspriation would be to order Sue’s Creative Stitching book and make a small practice sampler of them. It probably helped, but honestly I am not quite sure how to explain that, somehow, it all did eventually come together. I cut out all the felt butterflies, and then continued to hold off working on the project. I finally added the cotton appliqué to them, and then sat on it. I began figuring out the background embellishments and was able to finally begin stitching on that. But then once the background of soft oranges was completed, guess what? It was shelved once again. Finally, I made the bold move to Just Make.

The background was the easiest part. I just had to keep things in the same general color family and hue. Here are just a few things I worked on for that: bullion knots couching twine as a border; small seed beads arranged around the edge of a micro-fiber cloth (found object from some tech item, I’m sure); and finally colonial knots anchoring ric rac along a pinked strip of felt as well as colonial knots decorating printed fabric, attached with the buttonhole stitch. Other stitches for the background were simply quilting (running stitch) and backstitch on cotton, varying sizes of Algierian eye stitch on cotton, flystitch outlining cotton, seed stitch on velvet, couched yarn along a piece of upholstery fabric, and ladder herringbone stitch along a ribbon with variegated thread. Look for them in the close-ups of butterflies below!

Adding the stitches to the butterflies seemed daunting at first but really once I started, the process just went. I stopped stressing over it – the idea was to learn, and surely I was doing just that! I will list a few, if not all, key stitches used in the individual butterflies below each photo. All the bodies were outlined in outline stitch, stem stitch for the antennae, topped off with colonial knots. (Note: I did not keep a record as I made each one, so it is entirely possible I have some mismarked!)

Stem Stitch, Whipped Woven Circle, Crested Chain, ZigZag Chain Stitch

Buttonhole Scallop, Stem Stitch, Back Stitch, Bullion Rose, and what I call “reversed” Blanket Stitch

Stab Stitch, Colonial Knot, Outline Stitch, Pekinese Stitch

Double Laced Running Stitch, Scroll Stitch, Colonial Knots, Split Stitch, Straight Stitch

Italian Knotted Border, Colonial Knots, Straight Stitch, Scroll Stitch

Colonial Knots, Straight Stitch

Straight Stitch, Bullion Knot, Back Stitch, Chain Stitch, Stem Stitch, Crested Chain Stitch

Closed Fly Stitch, Staight Stitch, Coral Stitch, Split Stitch, Woven Wheel Stitch

Split Stitch, Scroll Stitch, Seed Stitch, Blanket Stitch

Triple Chain Stitch, Detached Chain Stitch, Chain Stitch, Straight Stitch, Stem Stitch

Woven Circle Stitch, Straight Stitch, Palestrina Knot, Chain Stitch

Chain Stitch, Colonial Knot, Bullion Knot, Coral Stitch

Colonial Knot, Straight Stitch, Split Stitch, Pearl Stitch

Bullion Rose, Colonial Knot, Stab Stitch, Chain Stitch, Buttonhole Scallop Stitch, Straight Stitch

Double Whipped Chain Stitch, Colonial Knot, Stem Stitch, Straight Stitch

Some stitches were much easier than others, and some took a lot of work. Many people who have seen the pillow ask how much time it took. I estimate, based on the number of Netflix shows I watched, that each butterfly took about 2 hours to embroider (not to cut out, and not to appliqué). The rest of it was done in piecemeal throughout much of the year, so it is hard to really know, but I would hazard a guess of maybe 60 hours, give or take. Cutting, ironing, planning, seam-ripping, youtubing/reading for instructions, and so on – maybe I should hazard a higher guess, huh?

And once I realized my new window seat just had a boring white pillow, I checked the measurements of the panel and realized that with a little top and bottom border (reclaimed from fancy faux suede napkins), I’d have a pillow case. Tada!


Corbet’s Stitch Sampler: W

As a self-taught sewing beginner, I have not purchased many patterns. Almost everything sewn here at theCrafties has been found through the generosity of people providing their ideas for free online (or gifted to me by people I know!). However, as I am moving into an intermediate level, I have begun to look for specific projects.

I find myself always drawn to two lovely ladies: Sharon B of Pintangle and Mary Corbet of NeedlenThread. It is not that they are the only ones up to such rich encrusted embellishments of embroidery; nay – many creative stitchers abound on the Great Internet! I just find their writing styles pleasant and their love of teaching their craft to others to be inspiring. I am always learning something new with them, and they are not afraid to show their own humanity in flaws and disappointments which helps me stay in the game myself when the craft has begun to frustrate me.

So anyways, one day I want to create a masterpiece of a crazy quilt like Sharon. I blame my Aunt Sandy et al. for starting that. (In fact, that quilt may be the singular reason I picked up embroidery!). And one day I want to sew as regularly (and as amazingly) as Mary and be hip to the history of what I am doing (part of the reason I joined the EGA and local guilds; in fact, if I could blend anthropology and art history and needlework, I would seek out less European varieties and become their master!).

When I saw that Mary was selling her Stitch Sampler Alphabet, I just had to have it. Of course, it was scary. How could I possibly recreate such lovely letters? I printed out a color copy at Boy’s office and used his book-binding machine to make a shelf reference copy, but she is quite right! The electronic copy is amazing for quick link referencing and blowing up images! Then it sat on my shelf between alternating periods of me drooling over it and shying away from it. But then our friends Tim and Becky came in to the picture: they were getting married and what better gift than a handmade W for their new shared last name?

I did not have the appropriate type of threads available, so I used a couple of strands of embroidery floss. I am still looking around for a brick-and-mortar store that carries more varieties in types and colors. I might have to give in and buy them online in the future. Oh, Amazon and such, why must we have a love-hate relationship? It turned out completely fine, though I did consider redoing it if I could find the right threads (I checked one more shop a county over, but to no avail). Mostly, it was the braid stitch that looked a bit thin.

Overall though, I was quite proud of my W, and had no idea that such “complexity” was actually pretty simple. In fact, I had done this project before the blackwork heart, and that is one of the reasons I had originally scoffed at blackwork being anything more than simple stitching. Heck, if I could do this, of course I could do that! Looks are so deceiving.

I used seven colors, and I think nine different stitches. I had previously only knew two of those! In a single letter, which took only a few hours, I had learned seven brand new stitches. My favorite is the scalloped buttonholed chain stitch. I had always wondered how people did that!! At first I was afraid to pull too tightly, but once I realized that wasn’t an issue, I crammed them on there and, pop! Scallops!

I stuck the W in a shadow box and had big ideas. Their theme was simple and rustic, and I found a small stem of cherry blossoms that matched their invitation, as well as a tiny canning jar. It was gonna be awesome. But the tiny jar was still too fat, so I had to scrap that idea. I tried a couple of others: a string of pearly beads to mimic a string of lights. Nope; that just clashed. A band of crocheted ribbon – I liked it on the bottom, but it was too much for the top. A “Mr&Mrs” woodcut; it looked off in bare wood so I painted it their colors of brown and pink, and nope. Looked horrible. In the end, after time ran out and all craft stores had been searched, I left it as a simple ribbon at the bottom and let them decide if they wanted to add to it. But of course, I did not take a finished photo! Why must I always forget that final step so often?!

Luckily, Tim and Becky loved it and sent me a photo of it on their bookshelf, so you kind of get the idea of the finished project:

EDIT: Tim brought it back for me to photo. How nice of him! :D


SMS win from El Petit Taller

I received a package from Ireland yesterday! I entered around 140 giveaways with Sew Mama Sew during their week-long event, and I won one! You can check out the original post from El Petit Taller, but this is what I won:


A handmade notebook cover, complete with button tie, bookmark, pencil, and hardback notebook.

SMS_win_el_petite_taller3 SMS_win_el_petite_taller2

A cute quilled whale bookmark.


Adorable quilled snails on a note card.


I loved the postcard – what a great idea! I immediately thought of my friend who does postcard swaps. I am always so grateful for all the people who willingly give away items during SMS. I really hope I can participate in that regard again soon! It is so neat to meet other crafty-minded people out there.

Irina, thank you so much! :D :D :D

SMS Giveaway May 2014

I am so excited to finally get to enjoy Sew Mama Sew’s giveaway day (which is now a week!). I haven’t been able to peruse the exotic markets since grad school! I did not have enough time to whip something up to give away like last time (note: those images are broken due to site reconstruction; check back later), but I certainly intend to during the next giveaway. Probably one of my bookcovers. Anyways, I have entered a lot of giveaways, so here’s hoping!


I just wanted to note that Jessica from contacted me a while back about listing my book cover tutorial on their site. I gave permission and am thrilled with the amount of people checking things out!

Don’t forget to share your photos with the rest of us at :)

On a different note, grad school is kicking my ass so theCrafties is taking a side seat for now. I hope to get things worked out and back to quasi normal after I get caught up (boo for late shipments on books!!). Remember that if you would like to follow my grad school adventures, you’ll need to email me because I will not be linking the site here.

I hope you experience great crafting days ahead and continue to share so that I can live vicariously through the internet!

While you wait

Here are some links to things I’ve found on the interwebz lately (and my first attempt at embedded videos).

Axis of Awesome is a band that has shown the world the power of understanding music in their 4 Chord Song. Did you know all the popular songs in the last forty years is played with 4 chords? Brilliant!

They led me to google Canvas Bag which led me to Tim Minchin who is another amazing (comedy) musician. I love this song, Rock n Roll Nerd – it is so honest! is a new site in beta-test where 3DS users can upload Miis that they created. I am a huge Nintendo fan and this will be awesome to grab some of my favorite characters without having to do all the work myself of creating them. (This is Professor Layton, without his tophat :)

3DS Mii Professor Hershel Layton

I am really digging Checkout Girl’s projects lately. I’ve started one similar to hers but I doubt I have the skill level to make it as awesome. It has actually been in the works for quite some time but life keeps getting in the way.
Checkout GirlDo you have any interesting places to check out on the world wide web?

things on my table

I am sure you have been expecting pictures of my new kitchen but it has been really hectic here. Not only is there still much to be done with it, but Boy also has moved his company to a new location so that has taken a higher priority of our time. I will leave you with this tease though:

kitchen remodel wip

I also began scrapping again since I recovered my craft room. I posted all the pages I have made in my personal book, but I have yet to show you my Peru scrapbook. I started it shortly after my return in 2007, and school got crazy so I never finished. This is a shot of me trying to work out the layouts for the day trip to the national museum in Lima:

Peru scrapbook wip

I also need to get in gear if I want to participate for the Sew Mama Sew giveaway, hopefully coming up in May. I’ve had so many ideas for covers but it is time to start working them through. This isn’t intended to become a cover, more like an idea board of options while I work through the problems and creative process and await my nice wool felt shipment. (I just may have purchased the dream bundle at WoolFeltCentral, ooo la la!)

bookcover ideas

And have you ever heard of 31bits? Apparently there are a few companies out there doing something similar but I must say this one rocks – anthropology for the win! One of the founders is a cultural anthropologist who saw these Ugandan women, having survived and been displaced from the civil wars, making paper beads and jewelry but with little market in which to sell. 31bits was developed as a way to give them a client base and therefore a way support themselves and their families. Unlike other “parties” out there, this one is neat and simple – you get a box of goods, you sell what’s in the box directly to your friends, and you ship back what didn’t sell. No overhead of shipping, waiting, or returns. No obligation to try to get to a certain price-point to get discounts. Just an honest transfer from their hands to yours. I’m not much of a jewelry gal but Boy felt the urge to buy me this bracelet:

31bits jewelry

(Oh, that background? Well, one day I must tell you of the gorgeous quilting my Aunt Sandy does – in fact if she is reading this, she should really consider having a website to show case her work!)

SMS December Giveaway Day!

No, i did not participate this time (Deadline Fail!) but I did want to remind you to check out all the fabulous sites that are offering free goodies!

Giveaway Day ~ Handcrafted Item(s)

Giveaway Day ~ Handcrafted Item(s) + Supplies/Materials

Giveaway Day ~ Sewing + Knitting Supplies/Materials

Sew Mama Sew organizes this event in May and December. It is super awesome to gamble at winning, or to send away something you made/have to someone anywhere in the world (or both:).

You can see details of my previous giveaway here – i didnt win anything per say, but I sure felt like a winner with all the wonderful comments and shipping things internationally made me feel super cool.

And let us not forget how rad it is to find so many talented people you may otherwise not have known about! Im sorry i didnt post about this at the beginning of the week – hurry, its over December 17th!

Thanks again SMS :D

wool felt

The first order of wool felt came in, yay! I ordered it from Prairie Point Junctions shop site, Wool Felt Central. On tuesday. And i already got it. AWESOME!

The site was suggested to me by both Megan from Princess Lasertron and Larissa from mmmcrafts. So many scrumptious colors to choose from! And much nicer than that cheap stuff at the craft store.

Though my photo is a bit overly blue, I did find the colors to be what I expected from the pics at their site. Seen here is the Plenty of Pinks bundle, Buttercream, Beige, Mac & Cheese, English Rose, Pink Grapefruit, Plum, Robins Egg Blue, and Peacock. Look at their site though to really see the colors : 12×18 Wool Felt Central.


Fast shipping + Excellent colors = I will buy there again :D

back in the game

I hope. So a brief catch-up / things-on-my-mind post of randomness.

As you may have guessed, all crafting has slowed to a stop lately here. My craft room was taken over by furniture and tools. I got the tools out at least so now there is room to craft again and i can access my supplies. Our kitchen has a microwave, stove, sink, dishwasher, one wall cabinet and a silverware cabinet. The rest of the kitchen finds itself in random places. Once we are done removing the drywall, lights, and ceiling, then its just a waiting game for when the contractor can fit us in. Not ideal living for one such as myself, but now I can lock myself away in the craft room at least:)


I made curtains today – they dont hold up under close inspection, but they do their jobs respectfully so I like them. I still would like to add ribbon to them like i mentioned here. Some day maybe.



My favorite scrapbooking store is going out of business. This really bums me out but they have *everything* on sale for 50% off so thats pretty spectacular, eh? Lets just say i brought home lots of goodies. Which means that I plan on returning to scrapping in the near future. Ooh la la!

I did start a project to test something I read on the internet, but I decided to postpone it for now so this is all i got. I dont recall where i heard it, but the idea was that you can use a lazer jet printer and an iron to make a transferable image. I would suggest only using the very basic images (more plain than what you see here on the carebear) but it turns out to be true!


For all you mac users, boy found me this sweet program that keeps any window you want to stay on top while you poke around other windows: Afloat.

Around this time of year, you may see lots of donation options. Theres a million, I know – how do you choose? I dunno myself, but here are some I know like: <— Iraqi Bundles of Love <— Animals for families to sustain a future (I participate through the World Builders Team Page which matches my donation, the mastermind work of Patrick Rothfuss) <— Knowledge for all – read about it and donate here. <— I add this one in memory of one of my undergraduate teachers who recently passed away from breast cancer. She worked with me to gain admittance for the bioarchaeological field school in Peru. She really showed me how to write at a more professional level in just a few days (i had it in me, but hadnt learned how to hone it yet), staying late after her class with me or being available on the phone – even though we had never met before then. Later, she taught me about forensic anthropology in an adult education class. She also was a very enthusiastic member of our Anthropology Club. I will always remember her.

while im away…

Since I am working on organizing my new laptop (think of it like this: a virtual bomb went off in my old laptop and my addiction to “a place for everything and everything in its place” which i cannot as yet do with my house-in-progress has come out in full with the organization of my new machine), I thought i would send you on to some of my favorite RSS feeds. I hope to one day own something from each of them!

With that said, I do own something from PrincessLasertron but she makes me drool with her creativity of color combinations and embroidery choices, so why wouldnt i want more? She made a wedding bout for Boy and a wrist crosage for me and I love them both. Here is one of her recent creations that I stared at for entirely too long:

I love AnnWoodHandmade for making the sweetest little birdies out of Continue reading

living and craft room

So I had bought a papasan rocking chair from Pier 1 for my living room, but the layout just wasnt working for me. After meddling with ideas for a few days, i finally decided to put it in the craft room. In order to do so, I had to swap it with my loveseat and coffee table. It took me a while but I finally got the living room comfortable. I have the matching loveseats in the same room for once, and set up for conversation, with the tv in the background (i couldnt even tell you the last time i have turned it on).


Putting the giant papasan chair in the craft room proved other difficulties. I reworked the layout quite a bit but only once I got my new craft table did the pieces fall together. Looking back at what the craft room use to look like and comparing it to now is amazing. It was so cramped and cluttered!

I still need to whip out some curtains for the closet and window, but tada!


The table placement is awesome because I can work from either side, and need I remind you its counter height? Love that! The papasan chair still works out for my “reading nook” and ive moved some scrapping supplies to the shelving next to it from the closet.


That has allowed the closet to be a larger sewing space, since now the ironing board can go on the shelving in there.


The set up of the last shelving is interesting to me, and my cats love the stair-stepped aspect of it. I have an office section set up where I can do all my scheduling and office-type things; my “library”; and some odds and ends storage.


And while taking these photos, I came across some items that deserve to be blogged about. First, there is this ceramic piece i made in highschool. It even has a working drawer on it ;)


Then there is this primitive doll that my friend Leslie made for me a few years ago. She used an old quilt for the dress, patched a star on it for moi, named her Estell (the meaning is “star”), and what you definitely cant tell from the photo is that she has a faint cinnamon smell. Super clever!


This little jar is one of my favorite pieces. In addition to the faces reminding me of Brian Froud‘s artwork (one of my favorite artists – youll know him as the designer of the Labyrinth film with David Bowie and Jennifer Connelly), they were handmade by my late great gramma. I dont know if there is a proper name for these dolls, but they are made from hosiery and each one is definitely unique.


I also was gifted this doll, Horse Medicine Woman, for my graduation present. Mik blogged about her here and here, where the light was with her for better photos. It was her first venture for a fully beaded dress and it is stunning (yes ladies and gents, the colors of her dress are tiny little beads)!


And now i must work to deserve the itouch Boy so graciously got me for doing taxes. Bleh.

my new go-bag

The bag I made for my New York trip was fun, but because I was new at sewing, there were a few issues with it that started to bother me, so I opted for a new one. I call it a go-bag because i can just grab it and go and have entertainment handy, as well as some items boy has thrown in there (miniature tool set and the like). I incorporated all kinds of pockets too because i just hate having to dig around to find something.


Recognize the ladybug print? Its Heidi Grace – one of my favorite scrapping designers. Those little windows were fun. With the additional knowledge of interfacing, i have so many new ideas! And i used fray-check to keep the corduroy from fraying.

Pockets on one side are sized for my wallet, phone, itouch, and little things like my addiction to Avon’s Care Deeply chapstick. The other side is reserved for my dsi and checkbook. There is also a pocket that fits off to the side of the bag, for my lotion bottle (another addiction, Jergens Ultra Healing lotion).


Did i ever mention my wallet? I love him. I picked it up at the Bristol Renaissance Fair, from Grichels, a Wrinkle in Reality. She makes all kinds of leather goods, with awesome faces, reminiscent of the Necronomicon from the Evil Dead series.


But i digress. My new go-bag is awesome because it holds my book but there is still room for additional things when Im on the go, which my old one didnt allow. For instance, if I ever wanted to take my camera, now i can.


So, originally the pattern came from ArtsyCraftyBabe. I tweaked it so much that perhaps I shouldnt really advertise it as her creation, but this bag wouldnt have existed without her Phoebe bag pattern. The changes I made were the shape (mine is more squarish, and a different size – the same goes for the latch part) and mine has lots of pockets. If i did it again, i would widen the strap and attach the pockets just a tad differently. But overall, this will be my new go-bag for quite some time i think:)

beadwork and leather

One of my teachers was able to make it to my graduation beach party that boy threw for me (hooray for all the monkeys, boo for lack of parking!).


She makes Native American inspired crafts so she made me a beautiful pouch from teal suede leather, and created a beaded rosette for it. Its so soft! I havent decided what Im going to keep in it yet, but itll be something good:)


She also made a little ornament type thing for package decoration.


You can check out what else she makes at Past, Present, and Future. I also received a catalog from Crazy Crow! They sell all kinds of things for historic crafts – from leathers, stones, and metals to knives, books, and dvds.

im working on it

The current project I am working on is taking quite a bit more time than I thought because instead of this last part being incredibly easy and fast, it is instead incredibly easy and slow. And i cant show it yet, since its a gift, so youll just have to wait.

Instead, Ill leave you with a pic of my neice, Kaia. Her Pops runs a concession stand at local events, and last weekend i was working for him at the local arts and craft show. Her mom found her these cute little headbands, with flower clippie attachments. Ive seen a lot about these on craft blogs, and perhaps one day Ill think of something to embellish them with.


like an exotic market!

I recently stumbled upon Sew Mama Sew’s May Giveaway Day event. There are literally hundreds of bloggers GIVING things away at random!!

Im only about a third of the way through the Handcrafted Items list, but I can tell you my RSS feeds keep growing! Not to mention all the attempts I am making at winning!

Its a wonderful idea. Honestly, its like strolling down some exotic market, peeking in everyones booths. Everyone is so welcoming, it has a real community feel. Ahhh the wonders of the internet!

Anyone can attempt to win – you just need to comment in most cases, and some kindly request an opinion or two. In general, you just need an email address to be contacted if you are a winner, but some do require an account with either Google or OpenID (blogger, wordpress, etc are OpenID accounts). Anyone can do it though, did i mention that? That means you!

I hope they do this annually. I wouldnt mind gifting something to a random stranger who thought it was cool. It sounds fun:)

a day of inspiration

I could get lost on the internet for weeks, looking at everyones creativity. I mean, who couldnt? Today, I went through a lot of links found at whip up and would list them all, but my rss feed grew from around 10 to over 50! It will shrink back down as i weed out bloggers I dont truly identify with, but I like to check out new blogs maybe monthly to see what is happening out there in the craft world. When I make projects inspired by them, I will list them individually for you. Continue reading