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


appliqué gift

Howdy folks! My sister-in-law finally found a home on her wall for the gift I made for her wedding. She hung it above a piece of furniture she inherited from her grandmother, which she painted a cool color – check it out!


Here’s a close up. I am wondering how to avoid the look of the seam allowance in the method of hand appliqué I chose. Whatever, though, it’s handmade :)


First applique experience

I finally wrapped up my sister-in-laws 2-year-belated wedding present and gave it to her. In this post, I am going to talk about the process. When she sends me over a photo of it hung on the wall in all its glory, I will post the final look.

I learned many things. One, I like appliqué as much as I like hexagons. For her project, I used all free materials, except we purchased the background (a nice canvas for structure) and the trim (upholstery piping). The rest came from her grandmother who has passed away, her stepmother (my neighbor, a quilter and giver-of-scraps), and what I had in my stash (some gifted from my friend Leslie). I used a template I found on the internet, but for the life of me I cannot find its source again. Grr! I did not use the giant one, mostly the three on the left and a few of the one on the bottom right.


The process was simple – cut paper templates out, baste stitch around the edge and press.


Oh, so two, I learned the difference between ironing and pressing. And three, that you can burn your ironing board cover :(


Kaite was very lax about what she wanted. Or where she wanted to put it. So, I tried to stick with neutrals and her general house colors, but she also said to make it a bit fun. I selected a rainbow of colors and fabrics.

applique_flower_hanging_2 applique_flower_hanging_3 applique_flower_hanging_5 applique_flower_hanging_6 applique_flower_hanging_7 applique_flower_hanging_4

Not all of them made the cut once I started putting them together. I think I only used about half of the ones I had prepared. Here is a look at all of them:


My inspiration came from this image, I found through a foray into Pinterest (I do not have a Pinterest account, for the record – but I scope it out every now and then. But not having it prevents me from locating this art’s owner…).


A long time ago, I bought this rectangular embroidery (?) “hoop” (is lap-quilt frame more appropriate?) for a project that I hope to embark on soon for a coworker of mine. (See a theme here about belated projects?) It worked out really well! I pinned the petals in place, and then appliquéd them on one by one. And four, let me tell you, Star Trek TNG is starting to get really, really good. I am almost on Season 4 and I am just now starting to understand why the internet thinks Picard is such a badass (when I was little, he was just the old man!). Now, I know.


An easy roll-over over to finish the edge:


Even with the original choices for this pattern, not everything made the cut in the end. You’ll see that in the finale in the next post.

Then, some embroidery for the bride and groom – standard backstitch in a complimentary brown.


I had to cut it to size, and I lost some of the petals here. It was slightly crooked so to square it off; more got chopped off than originally planned. Then, of course, adding a quarter inch seam all around ate some of the real estate too.


I had another piece of canvas for the back trimmed out with pockets for a rod – to either be hung vertically or horizontally (the embroidery works with both!). And, to either be hung so you do see the rod, or with spaces so you can use rod hangers behind the whole thing so the hardware doesn’t detract from the view. I wasn’t sure how they would hang it, or if they would want it hidden or not. I sewed the front and back face-to-face and left a fairly large hole to turn it out. More pressing and ironing. Then I sewed the trim to the backside (I was too afraid to try to get it perfect whilst sammiched inbetween). I also wanted to hide the edges of the canvas for the rod pockets, but with them being that small, I could not get them to turn out. The sides are nicely hemmed, but the bottom isn’t. And ironing them was a pain also, so I went with fray check (the darkened line across the bottom). I mean, it’s the back, right?


See those sweet scissors? Boy got them for me for my birthday! He says no embroiderer is complete without gold swan scissors. He admires them for their engineering and is sad he is not allowed to use them (he’s learned the hard way about my sewing sharps!). I should mention he is the one who picked out the background and trim for Kaite’s project. He’s very proud of that.

Hopefully she will send me pics along soon to show you the front so ye can be dazzled.

I also learned finally how to not end up with crazy knots all over the backside (in all of that, I had one knot – in the embroidery – and I was able to get it out before I tied it off!). I was so proud of it I took a photo, but the thread is too much the same color as the canvas and you can’t tell what’s going on. Just believe me. It was cool.

the letter J

Another wedding, another letter! My friend Ashley loves aqua and her bridal shower was naturals and bird-themed, which is how I chose the design. I did not have the exact color of felt I wanted, but in the end I am very happy with how it turned out! I began with an off white yarn, using the same technique employed for the letter P. It was slightly trickier because the hanging ribbon needed to be in the same place, but I figured it out. Then I used a stick pin to keep it out of my way while I wrapped the letter.

cardboard_letter_j_wreath2 cardboard_letter_j_wreath1

After wrapping it in the off white, I wanted to give it a little character so I added some brown twine to it for that natural feel.


I used the same felt flower technique, this time pinning them with white pins. I used another one of those weird champagne colored plant baubles for the large flower.  I was even able to sew the little eggs into the nest (they were soft plastic, and I happen to own a curved needle which made it very simple). I pinned the nest in with two pins that were tied together with thread (so that they wouldn’t just slip between the little twigs).


I would have stopped here, but Boy convinced me to add some ribbon around the top of the J. It was a great idea and I love that I had some scraps that happened to match!


And the final touch, some embossed felt on the back just to make it have higher quality.


the letter P

Our friends recently got married, and Boy was one of the groomsmen. We had bought them stuff for their shower but I still wanted to give them something handmade. Their wedding colors were peacocks and browns, but I also get the feeling they like things like Mardi Gras and whatnot, so that is how I chose the colors and feathers.


I did a quick search online on how to do it – were there any tricks I should know? Why, yes, there are! Some letters are much more difficult than others if you want the yarn to look in sync across the whole letter (rather than most of it going one direction with a small portion going a radically different direction). There are several ways to tackle that, and so I just made up my own way. Thank goodness I investigated – I wouldn’t have put nearly the same amount of thought into how I would wrap a letter otherwise. Here is how I made the letter P.

I cut some ribbon to hang the letter (just eye-balled what looked good) and then taped with duct tape. Then, I folded it a little and taped it with scotch tape so that it didn’t get in my way or end up accidentally wrapped with yarn. I started with the inside area first, and simply taped the beginning length and wrapped around until it was covered, taping the end.

cardboard_letter_P_wreath2 cardboard_letter_P_wreath3

I cut another piece and began wrapping for the bottom leg of the P. When I got to the bottom, it was a little tricky getting the yarn to stay put and not slip off the bottom. I used tape just at the corners to secure them down. When wrapping horizontally like this, only the sides mattered. The front (and back) would be recovered with vertical yarn later.

cardboard_letter_P_wreath4Then I knew I needed to wrap the portion of where the curve of the P met the leg of the P (do parts of letters have proper names?). I thought on this for a while and decided the best course of action was to have a block of yarn that I could simply attach and came up with this idea: wrap the yarn around my phone (because the width and length made the appropriate size) and then cut. The first time I did this, I did not think ahead far enough. You’ll want to do what I did here in these photos – include something like a manicure stick so that you can actually get your scissors under the yarn to cut. But, before you cut, you slap a piece of tape on there to hold everything together. Then reinforce the edges with another piece of tape on the reverse side.

cardboard_letter_P_wreath9 cardboard_letter_P_wreath10 cardboard_letter_P_wreath11 cardboard_letter_P_wreath13

I then taped these two sections where they needed to go. Remember, they were only necessary for the side of the letter.


Next, I needed to move the brown ribbon so that I could begin wrapping the curved portion. Once I wrapped so much of it, I had to reposition it again. This is why I chose scotch tape – it does not stick well to cardboard as we all know! That usually frustrates me to no end, but for a project that needs repositioning, it was perfect.

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Finally, some long wrapping for the stem of the P so that the directions of the yarn was a smooth transition. It hid all my duct taping too.


Now, in the image below you can see that corner did not get covered so well. Eh, it would not matter because it was to be hidden by some purple and black feathers.



I wanted to tie in brown, so I decided to make some felt flowers. I have made these in the past – my favorite type, though, are cutting scallops out of spirals like this:


The large flower is made by using both of those cuts, and then the small flowers are made by a single color each. You simply wind them up, and voila! For the big one, I wound it from the inside out, but then I remembered that through experimentation, I decided I liked winding from the outside in instead. That is how the small ones are wound. You just need to scale the scallops accordingly – its very simple and since flowers are organic, perfection is not required. I tidied the bottoms up by sewing them all together.


The large one got a piece of I-don’t-know-what. It is a champagne colored ball from a fake floral plant. I cut it so that it had a stem and just pushed it through the middle.


I attached them with black stick pins. No glue required! (In fact, I was taken aback that they stayed in place at all – who would have thought, pins in cardboard?) I added a little ribbon trim just for fun.

cardboard_letter_P_wreath26 cardboard_letter_P_wreath25


I also added some embossed felt to hide the duct tape on the back and just up the feel of quality overall. It will also protect the yarn from whatever it sits against, whether on a door or a mantel.


Oh, and Sasha helped me measure the ribbon…..


Keeley is DONE

Soooo long in the making, but I was stoked to finally ship her off to her creator. I’ve posted about her here, here, and here, but here’s the final piece!


Also, I had a dilemma to solve – how to add her “pow” markings by her fist? I knew my embroidery skills were not up to the task. Then I had an epiphany – I could draw them on the plexiglass that frames her! I tried my favorite over-the-counter pen (Pilot’s Precision V5) and a trusty sharpie, neither having the results I envisioned. Then I dug around my craft room and found black puffy paint. Bingo!


Keith blogged about her here, and you can see in the first shot that I had trouble getting her in the frame without bunching up the background. But under the right lights, that isn’t noticeable. If I were to do it all over again, I would have a lot more structural planning. For this project, I just jumped right in. I had no plan on the outcome – I was relieved that it fit in a standard record frame, but that was utterly by accident. Without planning for how it would end up, I made due with what I had. And I would totally do this project again – Keeley is one of my favorite things I have ever done!

Felt Keeley progress

She is coming along quite fantastically! I tried my hand at a few different methods to “ink” her outline. I settled on couching black yarn with black thread. Originally, the yarn I bought was way too thick so I had to trade that in for something thinner. I wish now that I went with more of a rope than yarn because of the fuzzies up close, but from far away (as she will be hanging on a wall) she definitely kicks butt like the superhero she is.

Felt Keeley Comic practice Good news, Keith will be in town in August so I have a solid deadline to get her finished. Sometimes I need that, you know? And thanks to my “step-grandmother-in-law” Ruth for the giant embroidery hoop!
Felt Keeley Comic practiceFelt Keeley ComicFelt Keeley Comic practice

This type of embroidery is new to me. Usually, my left hand is under the fabric and I can feel when my thread gets caught. Couching the yarn, however, means my left hand stays on top to guide the yarn as my right hand works the thread around it. As such, the back of this piece is horribly embarrassing – but to allay any doubt in your mind that I am making the awesomeness that this is and not faking it somehow through photoshop, I thought I’d share:

Felt Keeley Comic practice

Felt Keeley

I guess there is nothing like making a project public to get me motivated. I’ve glued all of Felt Keeley, except for six little parts that I set aside for now (my fingers were quite sticky so the little parts would have ended in tragedy, I’m sure).

I cut an extra large piece of fabric for the backing so that however it turned out, I would be able to make a square. And then I realized as I was taking this photo, just how much of a diagonal Keeley sits on it….I worry that I didn’t plan quite well enough and this may cause me some heartache here in the near future. Wish me luck!
Felt Keeley Comic Some of the felt pieces were a little superimposed onto others, so it needed to be smoothed out. I had the perfect tool – I don’t know what it is, what it is for, or where it came from, but it has come in handy from time to time. I think it may be a punch of some sort, but I’ve used it from clay sculpting, to paper piecing, to now felt smoothing.
Felt Keeley Comic
So I will glue those little bits and start “inking” the outlines with chunky black embroidery. I super-duper hope it works out! I think it is like the coolest looking thing ever and I’d hate to see that go sour!
Felt Keeley Comic
PS Bug defense is generally only for insects. Arachnids still invade our home as it pleases them. I believe this is a nursery web spider. Tofer rescued it for me for study from my super-icky bathroom corner. Maybe my brother is right. Maybe the city life has its perks…
Nursery web spider

Sneak Peek: Picture in Felt

This project is well passed the date of which it should have been delivered to its owner. It’s so belated, I am embarassed. I think I dreamt up the rough idea back in let’s say 2007. I was intending on making it by a birthday. Then the next birthday. Then Christmas. Then another birthday. Then I realized I may never get it done. Then I felt that the commencing of a certain doctoral degree was as good a reason as any to kick my butt in gear. And again, I missed my mark.

I’ve made strong headway on it though! I am smart enough now to not put a time stamp on it, but it will get done, this I swear!

Artful inspiration by the recipient himself, Keith (he makes comics!), and procedural inspiration from Checkout Girl:
Felt Keeley Comic I photocopied the image and blew it up so that the final piece will fit in a sweet black square frame. Using freezer paper (for the first time, and O M G awesome!), I traced and color coded each piece so I would know how to assemble it later.
Felt Keeley Comic I cut each piece out, then ironed it to my perfectly matched felt I ordered through Wool Felt Central. (Gasp, did I mention I splurged and bought their Dream Bundle? All 98 colors!)
Felt Keeley Comic Then I began assembly. The image is in reverse so that I can spray it with glue, which Checkout Girl suggested when I asked how the heck was I suppose to do this right.
Felt Keeley Comic I am flabbergasted at how amazing it is at this point. Next steps – glue and stitch and frame!

cubicle wall art

My friend Leslie gifted me lots of crafty supplies – fabric, binding, lace, ribbon, sheeps wool – all kinds of stuff. So when I started messing around with the table runner thing she gave me, I decided it would be hers. (I posted about it here and here). She has had a major adjustment or two in her life recently so I stitched the beginning of my favorite quote on it. The original idea was to stitch the whole thing but I decided it would be too cluttered. It will spruce up her cubicle wall nicely, don’t you think?
cubicle wall art

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over,

It became a butterfly.


fabric family tree

If you missed it, you can read about the creation of the fabric family tree. Im super thrilled to finally get it framed.


I ran into a slight bit of a problem as the size I wanted was 16 x 24, which is not standard for photo frames. It is, however, standard of poster frames but poster frames do not come in the “floating” style (nor are they glass, but Ill take what i can get). I ordered two as a quick way to put it all together, instead of finding plexiglass for the backside elsewhere.

I was prepared to work with tutorial at How Does She? to make my own floating frame: Floating Frame Tutorial. But i lucked out because i was able to use both plexiglass pieces in one frame without any hotglue or other additional work. (The jury is still out on how you can see the little tabs though …).

Its been delivered into the care of its new owners, yippee!

And now I have a frame without any plexiglass but Im not deterred because “empty frames” make cool art. For instance, Make It and Love It shows two project ideas just for the holiday season: Christmas Wall Vinyl and Simple Christmas Decor.

What do yall think?

a family tree

So Im gonna say it: Im pretty proud of this project. It took me upwards of about 30 movies to complete (all by hand!) so I dont really care to calculate the time spent on it but it was a good time (i mean hello, i watched more movies in a month than i have in the last 5 years combined – thank you streaming netflix!!). Its true what they say – hexies are addicting. I was afraid to start this project because I had never done paper piecing before, nor had anyone I talked to. However, the tutorial over at craftstylish was well explained and easy to follow. And paper-piecing is quite simple! Honest!

Here is the backside:


The idea for the project was a culmination of a couple of things. First, i had tagged this article at disdressed. I normally lean toward non-traditional quilting ideas, so hexagons-turned-tree-wall-hanging caught my eye. I have literally hundreds of things tagged in my RSS feed though, so it got lost in the pile for some time.

Then i was gifted lots of sewing things from my MIL when she needed to clean house to relocate. Included in that bunch were some items she had been in possession of since the passing of her mother. So here i was with pre-cut hexies waiting to be used for something special. But again, they were lost in a pile of fabrics awaiting the right time.


Once Boys brother had set a date for the wedding, I began poking around for ideas. A quilt came to mind, but are you kidding me? Im too much of a newb to take on that task and something that large doesnt interest me (yet). Eventually, I decided to lean toward doing some sort of family tree, since I know Kev is really into those things. And somehow all these dots got connected and I knew what to do!


I picked the pre-cut hexies that I thought the couple would relate to the most and went out to buy matching colors. (Quilters cotton and heavyweight interfacing were the ingredients.) I even found this cool hexagon generator over at incompetech which i was able to size exactly to the pieces cut by Grandmother Dolores. The font I used was eye-balled from my favorite ever font GirlsAreWeird by John Martz/Robotic Attack Fonts (but I used the custom preview option at dafont to help me visualize the names).


I sewed a little sweetheart on it, which was akin to the image on their Save-the-Date cards.


Two little apples at the bottom for their kids and bam! Project complete :D


<Well, it will be housed in an 18×24″ floating frame, but thats beside the point.>


Now, those 30 movies did involve lots of accidents and learning so I doubt it would take me that long to do it over again. And yes, there are some hiccups that really irk me and i now know what to do and not do for a future project like this, but overall I think its sweet! Congratulations to the happy married couple:D

Next post = 100th Special! :D