Monday, October 16, 2017

Trick-or-Treat Mouse


This little felt mouse is all dressed up for Halloween! She was featured in the Fall 2016 issue of Craft Ideas magazine, which, I am sad to say, has since ceased publication. The patterns are still available on the magazine's website, though, so I decided to share the how-to on this week's blog post.
  
MATERIALS

WoolFelt from National Nonwovens in Smokey Marble, Shocking Pink, Lavender, Chartreuse, Black, White, Yellow, Mac 'n Cheese.

DMC 6-strand embroidery floss: 208 Very Dark Lavender, 310 Black, 415 Pearl Gray, 444 Dark Lemon, 741 Medium Tangerine, 899 Medium Rose, 907 Light Parrot Green, B5200 Snow White.

1/8"-wide bright green ribbon, polyester fiberfill, 2 black seed beads, 1/2"-diameter pink pompom, gray and purple satin cord (optional)
  
DIRECTIONS
Although Craft Ideas is no longer in publication, their website is still available. You can click here to download and print the patterns and diagrams for the mouse.

Cut the following shapes from felt: from Smokey Marble: two bodies, one head, four ears, one base, two large paws, two small paw; from Shocking Pink: two ear insets; from Chartreuse: one mask; from black: one bag; from Snow White: one candy; from Yellow: one bottom candy stripe; from Mac 'n Cheese: one center candy stripe; from Lavender: one cape. Use pinking shears to trim the long edge of the cape.

Make the Tail (Optional)
With a size 1 crochet hook and six strands of gray floss, make a chain 5 inches long. Turn, slip stitch in second chain from hook and all remaining stitches. Fasten off. Make cape ties: With crochet hook and lavender, make a chain 2 1/2 inches long. Fasten off. Repeat to make second cape tie. (Alternately, use gray and purple satin cord for tail and cape ties.)

Assemble the Mouse
Note: I used two strands of embroidery floss for all stitching.
With whipstitch and rose floss, sew an ear inset to each of the two ear pieces. Whipstitch the appliqued ears to two remaining ear pieces.

Referring to the diagram, use gray floss to tack ears, two small paws, and tail in place on one body piece (this will be the mouse's back).

Sew the mask to the head around the eye holes with green floss and whipstitch. Use running stitch to sew the mask to the head, sewing only as indicated on the diagram. Sew the seed bead eyes in place with black floss. Sew the bottom of the head to the front body piece with gray floss and running stitch. Sew the large paws to the wrong side of the body front with gray floss and running stitch.

Sew the pompom nose in place with the rose floss. Pin the body front to the body back. Cut two 7-inch pieces of bright green ribbon, tuck one end of each under the sides of the mask and pin in place. With gray floss and running stitch, sew body front and body back together, leaving bottom open as shown on diagram. When sewing sides of head, stitch only through body and head pieces and ribbon; do not sew through mask. With green floss, sew running stitch around outer edges of mask.

Stuff the mouse with fiberfill. Sew the base to the body front and back with gray floss and running stitch.

Sew a cape tie to each top corner of the cape with lavender floss. Sew the cape to the body back at the shoulders with lavender floss.

With white floss and whipstitch, sew the candy piece to the top half of the bag piece. Whipstitch the bottom candy stripe in place with yellow floss; sew the center candy the candy stripe in place with tangerine floss. Cut two 2-inch pieces of green ribbon for handles and tack them in place to the bag edge. Fold the bag in half, wrong sides facing, and sew the long edges together with black floss and running stitch.

To finish your Trick-or-Treat Mouse, hang the bag from the mouse's arm and tie mask ties in a bow at back of head. 

Monday, October 2, 2017

Trick or Treat Embroidery


Happy October, everyone! I'm kicking off my month of Halloween crafting with a versatile "Trick or Treat" embroidery design that features a fun font and cute candy corns. For the sample I've shown here, I used white cotton fabric and DMC embroidery floss in Dark Lemon #444, Pumpkin #971, Bright Chartreuse #704, Black #310, and White #B5200. I'll start with some basic instructions and tips, and then give you some ideas on how to incorporate your Trick or Treat embroidery into your own Halloween wardrobe and decor.

To begin, print out the embroidery pattern below and transfer it to your fabric. If you're using a light-colored fabric, you can trace the design onto it with a fabric marking pen. You can also use Sulky Solver Stabilizer or a similar product. Follow the manufacturer's directions to trace and stitch your design, and then wash the stabilizer away. (Tip: When I'm embroidering on lightweight fabrics, I like to iron a piece of light fusible web on the back to stabilize the fabric.)
Now it's time to start stitching! Place your fabric in a hoop or frame and thread your embroidery needle. I used three strands throughout this project so the stitches really stand out. Backstitch the outline of the letters with Black floss. To fill in the two "Ts," use the Chartreuse floss and a filling stitch (I used long and short stitch). For the candy corns, use Pumpkin floss for the outline, and then refer to the photo to fill the segments with Pumpkin, Dark Lemon, and White. I used split stitch, but you can also use satin stitch or another filling stitch.


When your embroidery is complete, remove it from the hoop or frame. If you've used a water-soluble stabilizer, wash it away and allow your embroidery to dry. To finish, press the completed piece face down on a padded surface.  

So what can you do with this little piece of Halloween stitchery? My embroidery, which is about 3" by 7 ½", is eventually going to make its way into a pillow. I have some orange and green prints that are just dying to be used in a Halloween project. Here are some other ideas: 
  • Make your own Halloween T-shirt. Print the embroidery pattern to the size you like and stitch it onto the neckline or sleeve of a plain white T-shirt. (Iron a piece of fusible web on the wrong side of the area that's going to be embroidered to stabilize it.) If you want to use a black T-shirt, use white embroidery floss instead of black for the lettering. 
  • Transform a canvas tote bag into a trick-or-treat bag. You can either embroider the design directly onto a purchased canvas bag, or stitch it on a piece of fabric first and sew the embroidered fabric onto the tote as an applique.
  • Dress up a boring basket of treats. Embroider the design onto a piece of White felt, trim it with ribbons, and tie it around a basket or bowl of Halloween candies to make them extra tempting.
  • Bring a bit of Halloween spirit into any room with a Trick or Treat ornament. Embroider the design in the size you like, sew it onto a backing of black fabric or a fun Halloween print, and stuff it with polyester fiberfill to make a pillow ornament. Add a matching ribbon for hanging and display it on a wall, in a window, or--if you are truly dedicated to celebrating all things spooky--on your Halloween tree.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Appliqued Fall Felt Vase



Each year, when it's time to put our garden to bed for the winter, I harvest the twigs and pods the flowers have left behind and use them indoors as part of my fall decor. Because they don't require any water, my dried arrangements aren't limited to traditional containers. This appliqued felt "vase" works perfectly and adds a nice pop of autumn color. (Bonus: It's just the right size to hold a quart canning jar, so you can also use it to display greenery that needs water, if you like.)

As with all my felt projects, I used WoolFelt from NationalNonwovens: Driftwood for the body and base of the vase; Burgundy, Pea Soup, and Gold for the appliques. (I also used Pea Soup for the lining.) Making this project is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. To start, print out the patterns below and use them to cut out felt shapes in the colors you like. 


Arrange them on a 7" by 12" background piece, which will form the body of the vase. Be sure to leave a little extra space on the edges for the seams. Here's what my design looked like before I sewed it all together:



When you come up with an arrangement you like, pin the felt pieces in place. Next, use matching embroidery floss and running stitch to sew the appliques in place.

When you finish the appliques, it's time assemble the vase. Fold the appliqued felt piece in half widthwise with right sides facing and sew the pieces together with a 1/8" seam. Cut a 4" base from the Driftwood felt and pin it to the bottom edge of the vase. Sew the base to the vase body with a 1/8" seam and then turn the vase right side out. To add extra stability to the vase, I cut a piece of Pea Soup felt to fit inside and sewed a seam along the short edges. To finish, I tucked the lining inside and sewed the top edges of the vase and the lining together with running stitch.


I love combination of textures and colors in this project--it looks rustic and modern at the same time. The pattern can easily be adapted to create any size or color vase you like. Just keep in mind that a felt vase is not as heavy as a glass or pottery vessel. You might want to add some glass pebbles or another vase filler to keep it standing upright.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Crocheted Trellis Cowl


This cute little cowl is much easier to make than it looks. A repeating chain-and-pineapple stitch pattern creates a textured, openwork look that looks the same on the front and back. Each of the unjoined rounds is worked identically, making it a fun project that requires minimal concentration. Once you get the pattern in your head, you can just stitch away while you watch TV--which is how I spend most of my fall evenings.

The yarn I used is Cascade 220 Superwash in Como Blue #811. It's 100% washable wool, so it feels cozy and has just the right amount of stretch. Of course, you can use any worsted-weight yarn you have on hand. I used a size I-9 crochet. I tend to crochet tightly, so I used a hook that's a bit larger than I would ordinarily use for this yarn to keep the pattern loose and lacy. Experiment with your yarn to find the hook that creates the desired effect before you begin making the cowl.


This pattern uses one special stitch--the pineapple stitch--which creates the tiny "puffs" that give the cowl texture. Here's how to make it:
Pineapple stitch: [Yarn over hook, insert hook, yarn over hook, draw a loop through] 4 times in the same stitch, yarn over hook, draw through first 8 loops on hook, yarn over hook, draw through remaining 2 loops on hook.

To begin the cowl, chain 140, join with a slip stitch in the first stitch to form a ring. (The circumference of my cowl is about 26 inches.)

Round 1: [Chain 3, skip 3 stitches, single crochet in next stitch, chain 3, skip 3 stitches, pineapple stitch in next stitch] 17 times. To end the first round, chain 3, skip 3 stitches, single crochet in the joining slip stitch.

Remaining rounds: [Chain 3, skip 3 stitches, pineapple stitch in the next single crochet, chain 3, skip 3 stitches, single crochet in top of the next pineapple stitch] around, without joining rounds.

Work in this pattern until the cowl reaches the size you like. (Mine is 8 inches high.) To finish the cowl, chain 3, slip stitch in the next single crochet, fasten off, and weave in ends.