Monday, February 19, 2018

Fly Away Home Pillow

It snowed here again last night, so I'm in the mood for a spring project. This pillow's bright colors and prints are just what I need--and how cute is that little ladybug? I like this design because it combines three of my favorite needlework skills: fabric piecing, felt applique, and embroidery.  Here's a list of thematerials I used:
  • Cotton fabrics: Green print -- one 3 1/2" x 12" piece and one 2 1/2" x 9 1/2" piece; black/white chevron, two 2 1/2 x 9 1/2" pieces; red polka dot, red/white floral, and white -- one 2 1/2 x 9 1/2" piece each.
  • DMC Embroidery Floss: 310 Black, 321 Christmas Red, 699 Very Dark Kelly Green, 906 Parrot Green, and 907 Light Parrot Green
  • Six 1/4"-diameter black buttons
  • Polyester fiberfill
The first step is sewing the strips of fabric together to make the pillow front. Follow the diagram shown on the right and use 1/4" seam allowance to sew the horizontal strips together. When all six strips are piece together, sew the remaining wide green strip to the side as shown.

The next step is embroidering the "fly away home" script onto the white strip. Print out the pattern at the bottom of the page to the desired size and use a fabric marking pen to trace the script on the white fabric. Use three strands of red floss and backstitch to embroider the script onto the fabric.

For the appliques, use the patterns at the bottom of the page to cut two leaves (mine are about 4 1/2" long)  from the Magical Forest felt, one leaf from Chartreuse, one ladybug head from Black, and one ladybug body from Bright Red. Embroider curved veins on the leaves with backstitch. Sew the buttons onto the ladybug body, and whipstitch the head to the body with black floss. Arrange the appliques on the pillow front, stuff them lightly with fiberfill, and pin them in place. Sew the pieces in place with coordinating floss and backstitch.

When the appliques are finished, add center veins on the leaves and a center line on the ladybug's body. Stitch right through the fiberfill and the pillow fabric to create extra dimension.

Now you can use your embroidery skills to embellish the design anyway you like. I added black backstitch antennae to the ladybug and whipstitches around the leaves to gives them extra texture. For the twisty vines, I used different shades of green floss and a combination of backstitch and long-and-short stitch.

To make this sweet little design into a pillow, cut a piece of backing fabric (I used solid green) the same size as the pillow front. Sew the two pieces together, right sides facing, leaving an opening for turning. Clip the corners, turn the pillow to the right side, and fill it with a pillow form or fiberfill. Sew the opening closed and you have a cheery pillow that's sure to chase the winter blues away.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tutorial: Cutting Felt Shapes with Freezer Paper

I fell in love with WoolFelt a few years ago. To be clear, I'm not talking about the sheets of acrylic felt that you can find at at most craft stores. I mean wool-blend felt that's made from natural fibers. I get my WoolFelt from National Nonwovens. It comes in dozens of gorgeous colors. When you cut patterns from it, the edges are sharp--not fuzzy, like acrylic felt.

But how do you transfer patterns to WoolFelt? Fabric markers and pencils aren't very compatible with the felt's texture, but freezer paper works like magic! You might have a roll in your kitchen right now. If not, you can buy a huge roll at the grocery store for just a few dollars. It's become an essential item in my craft room.

To use the freezer paper method for cutting shapes from WoolFelt, draw or print your patterns onto heavy paper or cardboard. Cut them out and then trace them onto the matte side of the freezer paper.

Next, place the freezer paper patterns shiny side down over a piece of WoolFelt. Press the freezer paper with a hot, dry iron for a few seconds until the paper adheres to the felt. (Reminder--this method is for use with wool felt only. Acrylic fibers and hot irons don't always play well together.)

Let the fused felt and paper pieces cool for a few minutes, and then use a sharp scissors to cut the shapes out. That's it--just cut right through the paper and felt. Now comes the fun part. Peel the freezer paper away from the felt pieces gently to reveal the shapes you've made. Don't you love those crisp, clean edges? And here's a bonus tip: you can reuse your freezer paper shapes several times.

I hope you've found this little tutorial helpful. Now I've got to make some more felt hearts--Valentine's Day is just two days away!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Loopy Pink Cowl

This pretty pink cowl is soft and fluffy--and surprisingly easy to crochet. The fun texture is created with the loop stitch, which is really just a variation on the single crochet stitch. The only tricky part, for me anyway, is keeping the size of the loops uniform. When you're learning loop stitch, the "a picture is worth a thousand words" rule definitely applies. So, rather than try to describe the process, I'm sharing a link to a Loop Stitch tutorial on the Annie's website. (They're the publishers of some of my favorite needlework magazines--Crochet World, Crochet!, and JustCrossStitch.) 

When you master the stitch and you're ready for a project, give this cowl pattern a try. For the model shown in the pictures, which is 7 inches high by 28 inches diameter, I used Caron Simply Soft yarn in color #9719 Soft Pink and a size I/9 crochet hook. I made my loop stitches long so they cowl would be extra fluffy.

Loopy Pink Cowl Pattern

Row 1: Chain 26, single crochet in second chain from hook and in each chain across, turn. (25 single crochet)

Row 2: Chain 1, loop stitch in first single crochet and in each single crochet across, turn. (25 loops)

Row 3: Single crochet in each stitch across, turn. (25 single crochet)

That's the pattern--I told you it was easy! Just repeat rows 2 and 3 until the piece measures 28 inches long, and then fold it in half widthwise, with the loop sides facing. Stitch the two short edges together with slip stitch. Fasten off the yarn, turn the cowl to the right side, and your cowl is ready to wear. I added a few heart charms to dress my mine up for Valentine's Day, but I think it's just as pretty plain. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Variegated Floss Heart

This Color Variations embroidery floss from DMC is my latest obsession. When I use it for cross-stitching, it creates gorgeous shading and depth without changing floss. The colors pictured here are some of my favorites: #4010 Winter Sky, #4025 Caribbean Bay, #4030 Monet's Garden, #4050 Roaming Pastures, #4200 Wild Fire, #4210 Radiant Ruby, #4215 Northern Lights, and #4240 Mid Summer Night. (I'm a pushover for color clever color names, and these are pretty great.)

When I work with solid embroidery floss, I usually cross-stitch stitch using the "cross-country" method--working across an entire row, making one half of each X, and then working back across the same row, completing each stitch with the other half of the X. But if I use this method with variegated floss, the color variations don't show up very well. Instead, I complete each stitch before I move on to the next stitch in the row. This creates a stripey effect and little pockets of color.

This simple heart is the perfect project for experimenting with variegated floss. I used Radiant Ruby for the heart shown here, but I think it would look adorable in Wild Fire or Northern Light. I also used even-weave fabric that I had on hand. You can of course use Aida, linen, or your favorite cross-stitch fabric.

Here's my finished heart. See all those pretty shades of ruby? I can't wait to make it into a little lavender sachet--hopefully in time for Valentine's Day.