27 May 2016

Finishing Spree: Update #7~Made it to the bottom of the basket!

Ten days and 19 finishes later... I'm done! Whew! Here are my last few finishes.

This is a small part of Antique Bee Sampler by Elizabeth's Designs. I went a little crazy with the embellishing on this one, but it was fun.

This little sheep is a freebie from Just Cross Stitch, available here.

Another freebie, available here.

And yet another old freebie, which I don't think is available anymore.

And that's it! From this...

...to this!

Thank you to all who have left such kind comments and followed me through my finishing spree! I hope you've enjoyed it and perhaps picked up an idea or two. Finishing is fun and it doesn't have to be difficult or expensive. But I don't recommend leaving your finishing to pile up for a few years!

And now for the framing...

...but first, a break!

Thanks, y'all! Happy Stitching & Finishing!

26 May 2016

Finishing Spree: Update #6~How to build a bow

Still with me? See, this is what happens when you neglect your finishing for--ahem--a very long time. A large pile of finishes falls on you and you have to dig yourself out. I'm still digging...

An old La D Da freebie, available here.

A Halloween ornament for Mr. Wonderful from the 2014 Just Cross Stitch Halloween issue.

And a Primitive Bettys freebie, available here.

Last fall I posted a few pictures of how I make what I like to call a big splashy bow, which you can see here. Now, y'all have probably noticed from all of these finishing pictures that I'm not wild about bows. I use them occasionally, but they're not my favorite thing. And I really am not a fan of "perfect" bows. I like my bows to look hand-tied (not clipped and sewn) and I like my splashy bows to be slightly messy. As I said in the post I cited above, I think the randomness of the bow is a nice contrast to the precision of the stitching. That being said, sometimes you need to make a bow that's slightly less wild than the one I linked to. You may want it more compact or a certain size. So here's how I make a Big But Slightly Less Splashy Bow.

If you don't have a compass, treat yourself to one (school supply section; they're inexpensive). If you do any amount of finishing you'll find one very useful. Not only can you make perfect round templates in any size, but you can use one for this little trick. After you've decided the diameter of the bow you want to make, draw a circle of that size on a piece of foam core. This will be your guide for how big to make the bow.

 Use a pin to poke a hole through the foam core at the point left by the compass in the center of the circle, remove it and then poke a threaded sewing needle through the hole from back to front. Don't pull the needle all the way through the foam core; rather, let the foam core hold the needle upright. This will allow you to use both hands to thread the ribbon onto the needle.

Start building the bow by looping ribbon over onto the needle, using the circle as a guide to how wide the loops should be. 

When you have the bow as big as you want it, carefully pull the needle through the foam core and knot the thread. You can use a clothespin to hold the bow together on the needle while you're knotting the thread. When the thread is secure, pull the needle through the bow and put a couple of stitches through the bow to secure it.

Finish the center of the bow with another smaller bow (as in the linked example), a charm, or a button.

And one more thing... these tail feathers! This old boy's tail is stitched with Caron Wildflowers in Fiesta and I couldn't resist showing you a close-up of the beautiful colors in this thread.

25 May 2016

Finishing Spree: Update #5~Rounded Corners & Ribbon Garland

Firing up the Finishing Machine again! Here's Joy Y'all by Redbird Designs, stitched on 28 ct. Newport. This is the little project I stitched while home in Texas earlier this month. The charm is from my mom's LNS Stitches From the Heart in San Antonio. They also carry Redbird Designs.

 Here's a simple trick for getting perfect rounded corners. After cutting the mat board that will be covered in fabric and serve as the backing for the ornament, line up the top and side of a quarter with the top and side of each corner of the mat board and trace around the outer edge of the quarter. Trim the corners.

See? Nice rounded corners!

This is a Stitcherhood freebie available here. I've now finished all four and they make a really cute set.

This is also a freebie, from The Sampler Girl, but the blog it came from has been taken down.

The ribbon garland on this ornament takes a bit of fiddling. It's not difficult to do, just takes some patience. Tie the bow, leaving long tails to work with, and pin it in place. Arrange the ribbon around the ornament like you want it, and pin at each point the ribbon will be attached to the ornament. 

Glue the bow in place and wait for the glue to bond. One by one, remove a pin and use a tiny dot of glue to secure the ribbon to the ornament. Don't remove the next pin until the glue at the previous point has bonded. You might be tempted to speed up the process by re-pinning the glued points, but that will leave a very visible pin hole in the ribbon. When you're finished, you'll be rewarded with a pretty ribbon garland that looks like it's just draped casually around the ornament. No one has to know that it took you so long you had to have a cookie break.

Back tomorrow with more. I'm getting close to the bottom of the finishing basket!

23 May 2016

Snowfire Christmas is FINISHED!

It's done! I finished it! Cookies for everyone!


Gotta admit, I actually was a little weepy when I finished this last night. Lots of symbolism in it for me, lots of work. And I'm so thrilled to finally be able to share this finish with y'all. Thanks so much to all of you who have cheered me on and said such nice things about my work. It helped me stay motivated on a complicated project. Thank you.

Now help me celebrate by treating yourselves to something delicious today!

21 May 2016

Finishing Spree: Operational Pause

Y'all, I have finished until I'm cross-eyed. I still have more finishes to show and to complete, but I'm taking a break for the weekend becaaaaaause...

My Valdani arrived! Look how scrumptious!

Remember that squirrel brain stuff about the SAL I'm hosting that I mentioned last week? (If you missed that, it's here.) Well, the fabric for my first choice, Fox Forest, has not arrived, but this Valdani is for my second choice, Garden Sampler. So. I must, MUST, MUST finish Snowfire Christmas before I begin Garden Sampler, so this weekend I'll be plodding through those last five snowflakes (keep me in your prayers) and then I'll be starting this gorgeous, gorgeous sampler. I'm excited! 

Hopefully I'll be able to get back to my finishing Monday or Tuesday of next week. I am determined to get through that finishing basket. And then there's the framing...

I'm going to be at this til June...


And just in case y'all were wondering where the Stitchy Supervisor has been during all of this, Tiger Lily has been on duty all week. This is my view from where I sit while I'm finishing. Here, she's monitoring bird and walking trail activity.

And here she is, taking a little break... but keeping a watchful eye on me.

Have a great weekend, y'all! 

20 May 2016

Finishing Spree: Update #4~Round Ornaments

Round ornaments really aren't any more difficult to make than rectangular or square ornaments, but they are a little less forgiving. Small bulges in the fabric around the edge that might go unnoticed on a square ornament can look like small animals hiding underneath the fabric of a round ornament. Happily, that's not difficult to avoid.

In yesterday's template tutorial, I talked a little about light boxes. Here's another thing they're really great for: centering a design on a piece of padded foam core. Place the padded foam core on the light box, lay the design over it and move it around until it's centered exactly like you want it, then pin it in place. Being able to "see through" the design to see exactly how it's positioned on the foam core makes getting it right much easier.

I use lots of pins, especially on round ornaments. Closely pinning the edges helps eliminate those little bulges and makes for a nice round shape. That's the first step to getting a smooth edge on round ornaments.

The next step for getting a smooth edge is carefully clipping the excess fabric around the ornament. Make small snips all the way around, being careful not to cut too close to the ornament.

The final step is gluing the fabric down, one flap at a time, each flap slightly overlapping the previous one. Use your fingers to smooth the flaps inward so that the edge of the ornament doesn't have any bulges.

And that's all there is to it... a round ornament with a lovely smooth edge.

19 May 2016

Finishing Spree: Update #3~How to make a template

Most of the finishing shapes I use are pretty straightforward: rectangles, squares, circles, ovals. I've done a few unusual shapes, which you can see here and here, but even those aren't very challenging, just a little different. But sometimes you have a finish that calls for some extra creativity and effort. This is a design Mr. Wonderful picked out and I stitched for him last fall. It's from the 2015 Just Cross Stitch Special Halloween Issue, and I did a brown conversion of the original (information on that is here). The outline of this design, the shape of the bat, is superb. Instead of just doing a rectangular finish, I wanted the finish to be the exact shape of the bat. That required me to make a special template. Here's how I did it.

If you're making a template for a symmetrical design, start here at the beginning. (If you're making a template for an asymmetrical design, start with the third photo and skip the folding stuff.) For a symmetrical design, the process is pretty much exactly like making Valentines out of construction paper, like you did when you were little. Remember folding your paper in half, drawing half of a heart, with the center of the heart on the fold, and then cutting it out to make a symmetrical heart? That's all I did. 

First, fold the design in half. Make sure the outlines of the design line up exactly (hold it up to the light), and pin the halves together to keep them from slipping out of place.

Next, place paper over the design and sketch the shape you want. I have a small light box for projects like this, but if you don't have one, you could probably carefully tape everything to the window and get the job done. Light boxes are great for all kinds of stuff, and as with the button shank remover I showed in yesterday's post, they're one of those things you may not use often, but when you need one, you need one. They start at less than $10 for a small plastic sketching surface with a bulb attached underneath (not really a box, but fine for projects like this). 

Make sure you sketch a center line so you'll know exactly where to fold the paper. Unpin the design and place it under the paper, lining it up with your sketch, to see if you need to make any adjustments to your sketch.

When you have it like you want it, fold your sketch in half down the center line and cut it out, just like cutting out a Valentine.

Place your template behind the design and hold it up to a light source to make sure you have the shape you want.

And there you have it... a custom template... and a one-of-a-kind finish!