20 July 2017

Big news, y'all!

I've decided on the theme for my 4th annual Christmas Open House here on the ol' blog! No, I'm not going to tell you. No, I'm not going to give you hints. Does Santa give hints? No! 

If you're a newish follower and haven't checked out my past Christmas Open Houses, just click on the labels on the right sidebar to see what all the fuss is about. I look forward to doing this every year, and I'm really excited about this year. You may think it's nuts to get going on this in July, but I will need all of the next four months to put together something fun for all of us! Because I have to adult and I can't just play in my sewing room. Someone should do something about that. 

Stay tuned... it'll be here before you know it! 

15 July 2017

Saturday Sampler: Mid-Summer Edition

Goodies in the mail from Rita in Texas: gorgeous Bluebonnet fabric, and two beautiful little charms. These will be perfect for future Texas finishes! Thank you, Rita!

I love green. Look at all the different shades in this single fern.

Spot the deer?

I decided I wanted to fit in one (maybe two?) more summery-ish projects before I turned my attention to Christmas stitching. I start thinking about Christmas every year in July. I've been playing in my stash for the last couple of days, trying to decide what my next few projects will be, and besides this one, they're all Christmas-y. I also need to get serious and make decisions about what fabric I'll be getting during the annual PTP Christmas in July sale, which is only 10 days away! Anyway, speaking of fabric, I've had this piece of Fabric Flair Berkshire Hive in my stash for a while, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how this project will look on it. I went to my LNS yesterday to choose threads. What a blessing it is to have an LNS close by and be able to see and compare colors. 

One of my favorite parts of stitching: pretty fabric awaiting the first stitch!

13 July 2017

Summer in a Jar

I don't like stitching on deadlines, even though I occasionally impose them on myself, so after the rush of finishing my Texas basket, I wanted to just relax with a quick and easy stitch. The current CEC freebie, which you can find here, caught my eye. It reminded me of that childhood summer activity: catching lightning bugs in a jar, putting the jar beside the bed, and watching their lazy flickering while drifting off to sleep (and dutifully setting them free in the morning). I saw a dialect map today that showed that "lightning bugs" is the preferred terminology in Texas and throughout the south, while the rest of the country calls them "fireflies." I suppose "lightning bugs" would've been too long to fit in the design, but it doesn't matter. Those adorable little bug buttons spoke to me, and I had to stitch it. I immediately ordered the buttons from JABCO, and when they arrived I was delighted to discover they really are fluorescent! (They don't glow in the dark, but they're very bright.)

The chart suggests a cream colored fabric, but I chose 28 ct. denim Jobelan. I wanted my jar to look like dusk, when the lightning bugs rise out of the grass and begin to sparkle. I also wanted them to really "glow" against the darker fabric. I changed every other color, too, and also pared down the number of colors for a more simplified look. Here are my choices, all DMC:

jar: 3753
jar lid: 318, 415
"Sweet Tea": 3826
"&": 415
"Fireflies": 907
flowers: B5200, 744 (Rhodes stitch)
leaves and stems: 3348
attach buttons with 907
***both trims used are from Hobby Lobby

Since this is an unusual shape, I thought I'd include a few finishing pictures. For more detailed descriptions of what's going on in these pictures, see these posts:

How to make rounded corners

How to make a template

The joy of light boxes

Determine the size you want. Mine is 5" x 6".

The bottom corners of the jar can be shaped using the quarter trick.

You'll need a template for the top of the jar. Use your working copy to find the center line of the design and sketch it onto your template paper.

My preferred border of fabric between the edge of the design and the edge of the finish is about 1/4". I measured 1/4" from the side of the jar lid and around the corner of the jar, to make sure my border would be even...

...then I sketched through the measurement marks to get a nice, even border.

Check your template against the design to make sure you've got the shape you want.

And there you have it!

If you want this freebie, go get it and save it now. CEC changes their freebies seasonally and they don't archive old ones.

Now go catch some lightning bugs!

07 July 2017

Texas finishes, up close and personal

As promised, here are close-ups of my finishes for my Texas basket. The fabric they're sitting on is the fabric I used for the backing.

This little pair of wildflower designs, a Bluebonnet and an Indian Paintbrush, is from an old, out-of-print booklet of Texas designs by Margaret K. Carlson, Designs from Redbone Valley.

The design on the left was created especially for my Texas basket by Holly DeVivo of Misty Hill Studio, and the flag on the right is from the booklet I mentioned above.

I found this leather trim when I raided the cording section (jewelry/leather working) at Hobby Lobby. 

Two from Redbird Designs: on the left, the Alamo, from the 12 Days of a Texas Christmas; on the right, an old freebie.

More finds from the cording section at Hobby Lobby. For the design on the right, I braided three colors of leather cord to create the trim I wanted.

This cord comes in more than a dozen colors and is very easy to work with.

And two more from Redbird Designs: Bluebonnet Blooms and Texas Market Basket.

This stretchy, woven ribbon trim is usually used (I think) to make headbands for babies, but it's really perfect for finishing. I used the 1 1/2" wide trim and simply folded it in half and pinned it on. It's hands down the easiest, fastest way to trim a flat finish I've ever tried. It gives you a fluffy look, similar to ruched ribbon, but it's lightning fast. I've seen this stuff for years but never thought about using it until recently. Now I'm hoarding all the colors.

So glad to have this project done! And thanks again for all the encouragement and the kind comments!

05 July 2017

Summer Texas Basket

Thanks so much to all of you who have been cheering me on in this project! In a couple of days, I'll post close-ups of the finishes and share design info and a couple of new finishing ideas.

If you'd like to see my other baskets, click on the "seasonal baskets" label.

28 June 2017

Needle Minder Organization

While y'all are waiting for me to get my act together and finish my Texas basket, let's talk about needle minders.

It's not exactly a secret that I'm addicted to them. They're functional, fun, and so easy and inexpensive to make that my collection was outgrowing my storage method, which was tins: all my foxes together, Christmas in a Christmas tin, Halloween in a Halloween tin, etc.

Yesterday, I spotted a $7 hanging jewelry organizer at Tuesday Morning, and I was struck with inspiration!

Tags from Michael's:



Now, instead of hunting for the minder I want in my little tins, I can stand in front of my organizer, see my entire collection, and choose which one I want. Putting them on tags keeps them from sticking together and makes them easier to remove from the pockets, especially if they're really small. And my collection has room to grow!

Speaking of which, here's my latest little creation. This minder is made from a slide I found at Hobby Lobby.

Okay, back to work. 

26 June 2017

Getting close...

Today's mail brought a wonderful surprise from Melissa in Texas! If you're a stitcher from Texas, you probably know about this chart, as it's an out-of-print classic. My copy is a nearly 30-year-old hand-drawn (yikes!) chart consisting of several pages stapled together. Melissa sent me a serious upgrade, a real printed chart that I can read! Thank you, Melissa!

I have another little finish for my Texas basket. This one is from an old, out-of-print booklet of Texas designs.

I had several more Texas smalls on my to-do list, but two things have happened: 1) I've gotten really impatient about getting this basket done as soon as possible so I can enjoy it for the rest of the summer, which is a third over, and 2) I realized that if I stitched all the projects on my list, they wouldn't fit in my basket! So I chose one more project to do, which I started today, and will hopefully have done in a few days. Then I'll do all the finishing--I think there are seven--and then the big reveal! I'm aiming for around 4 July, but we'll see how my week goes. 

23 June 2017

Adventures in Low-Carb Baking

Guess what I got in the mail this afternoon? A big box of Carbquik baking mix that I ordered from Amazon. Think "Bisquick" but low-carb. I decided to try it for the same reason I wandered into the world of tiny baking: we're in our 40's, we need to manage/maintain our weights... but I love to bake. Tiny baking has been a wonderful success, but the goodies still have a gazillion carbs, so they must remain an occasional treat. I wondered if Carbquik would be a solution for more frequent--if less decadent--baking, like biscuits.  Supposedly, it can be used cup-for-cup like Bisquick, with adjustments of liquid to account for it being a drier product. I went in search of a Bisquick recipe to experiment with, preferably one with only a few ingredients, to limit waste just in case it was a disaster. 

It was anything but a disaster.

Behold! Chocolate Chip Biscuits!

These little biscuits are very light, slightly crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, and very slightly sweet. Here's my adaptation:

Chocolate Chip Biscuits

2 1/4 c. Carbquik baking mix
1 Tbsp. granular Splenda (optional)
1 c. milk
1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Mix Carbquik and Splenda; add milk and stir until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool on cooling rack. 

I used a small, level cookie scoop and got 24 little biscuits.

The original recipe using Bisquick is here.

So, I've only made one recipe using Carbquik, but I have to say I'm delighted with how these turned out. Hopefully future experiments will be just as successful. 

20 June 2017

I'm back! With finishes!

I'm back! Thank you for all the inquiries as to my whereabouts and welfare! It's nice to be missed! Things went a bit sideways around here a couple of weeks ago, and my unsupervised stitching marathon week didn't go as hoped or planned, but I'm getting back on track. If you've emailed me and haven't had a reply, I am working through my emails and will get to you soon. 

I do have a couple of Texas basket finishes to show! This one is Bluebonnet Blooms by Redbird Designs on mystery linen. This design is still in print, as far as I know. I stitched the stem in the medium green (instead of brown) and brightened up the red a bit.

And this is the Alamo, from The 12 Days of a Texas Christmas by Redbird Designs, also still in print, as far as I know. I made a couple of slight alterations. The design calls for Weeks Terra Cotta, but my skein was a vivid orange, so I substituted GAST Woodrose for a more faded look. The fabric is "Muffin" but that's all I know about it. It's from a big box of stash my dad scored at the flea market and my mom gave to me. (Yay, dad!)

I also left off the evergreen Christmas-y bit in the top right corner, and the word "Texas" running along the bottom.

For more info about Redbird Designs, click on the Redbird Designs Catalog label in the right sidebar.