Come visit with me as I stitch and craft my way from one Christmas to the next - I like to have Christmas projects close by me all year. I have a particular fondness for Santas and Angels. If you have the time, leave a comment so I know you've visited.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Smalls SAL April report (a little late)

It's been a difficult month for my family.  My MIL passed away peacefully this week. It was not unexpected - she was 91 and had multiple health problems - but it is still distressing.  Most of her relatives are country people, and our house is their city base.  We have a few visitors to date, but are expecting in excess of 20 to arrive Thursday for Friday's funeral.  Hence my delayed and short report. I will try and get in to look at the other Smalls reports, but it may not be until later in the month when things get back to what passes for normal here.

I have made and finished these ornaments in the past month:

The teddy design s a freebie on the DMC website.
The initial Santas are adapted from the Santa alphabet in LAs  Alphabets Galore booklet.
 The  bead decorated trees are my own design.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Be happy for me - another page finished ...

and just 59 more pages to go on Christmas Dreams.

I finished page 2 in record time - just one week.  This was because half the 10x10 blocks had only 2 or 3 floss colours - such a blessing!  I will start on page 13 tomorrow, and aim to finish page 13 and also page 24 by the end of May.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Two Beaded Tree ornaments finished - and I tell you how to do it.

My two beaded tree ornaments are finished.  Here are pictures of the fronts and the backs.

I usually 'batch' my ornament finishing - often 6 or more ornaments at a time - and I have developed a routine about it.  I should explain that I don't own (and couldn't use if I did own) a sewing machine, and I am absolutely dangerous with a tube of glue.  So, I have no option but to finish my ornaments by hand-sewing them.

To use my finishing method, you will need white cardboard, white felt, and double-sided tape (not the padded type) - all acid free.  I use A4 sheets of cardboard that I buy in a pack from a discount store, and A4 sized white felt.  You will also need beads (4mm size work well), a sewing needle, and white floss, and floss to match your back-stitched border. And to make it extra easy, you will need access to a photocopier. This method is much easier than the description indicates - it's harder to explain than to actually do.

First, I back-stitch a border around my ornament, and an identical border on the same count fabric for the back of the ornament.  The border determines the size and shape of the ornament.

Adhere the felt to a sheet of cardboard using the double-sided tape. After washing and ironing the fabric, photocopy the front of the ornament, and cut out the picture of the ornament, cutting just inside the stitched border.  To check that the size is correct, lay the cut out picture on top of the stitched ornament.  You should just be able to see the stitched border around the photocopy. Put double-sided tape on the back of the picture, and adhere the picture to the cardboard side of your cardboard-felt piece.  Cut around the ornament picture.  You now have an ornament-sized cardboard piece backed with felt.  Trace around it on the felt-backed cardboard, and cut that piece out, so you now have felt-backed cardboard liners for the front and back of your ornament.  If you don't have a photocopier it's a lot harder to get the lining pieces the right size and shape, but give it your best try - it is important that the cardboard is the right size.

Now prepare your fabric.  Cut out the ornament front and back, leaving a seam allowance of about 2 cm (3/4") all round. Put the stitched front stitched side down on your surface. Place a cardboard liner, felt side down, on (the wrong side of) your stitched piece, then fold the seam allowance over the cardboard, mitre-ing corners as you go and hold in place with a few stitches in white thread, and side to side lacing stitches if you like.  Repeat for the back.  

Now there's just one more step to go.  Hold the back and front together, wrong sides together. Making sure that you have the top of the front aligned with the top of the back, lace the front and the back together by stitching through the back-stitched borders only, using a back to front, front to back stitching pattern.  I attach my floss to the seam allowance near one corner, bring my needle up through the first back-stitch on the back piece, pick up a bead, bring the needle through the corresponding back-stitch on the front piece, then take the needle back through the next back-stitch on the front piece then through the next back-stitch on the back piece, and then it's back through the next back-stitch on the back, pick up a bead, through the next back-stitch on the front, continue in this manner. I hope I'm explaining this adequately.  So, the stitching goes from back, add a bead to needle, to front, then from front to back, then from back, add a bead to needle, to front, then from front to back and repeat.  Initially, it may be easier to stitch one side at a time, opposite sides, then top and bottom,  rather than just stitching all round the ornament (you'll usually not have enough thread to go right round anyway).

I finish my ornament with a beaded hanger, which I add last, anchoring my thread as securely and invisibly as I can.  If you want to use a ribbon or cord hanger, stitch it to the inside of the back of the ornament before you lace the front and back together.

That's the whole story.  It's not the quickest method of ornament finishing, but it does create a nicely-finished ornament.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Making a Beaded Christmas Tree Ornament, and GG report for April

I can not believe the speed at which 2016 is passing. Already it is time for the April Gited Gorgeousness report.  I have been stitching away all month, and have made good progress on my stitching goals.  I finished the first row of pages of Christmas Dreams (pic is in the post immediately below this one), so I have now finished 6 of the 66 pages.  The chart, fabric, and most of the floss for Christmas Dreams was purchased with birthday gift money.  I have also stitched but not yet made up seven Christmas ornaments.  Two of them were beaded Christmas trees, and as several people have commented on my trees, I have taken some progress pics to show how I make them.  A word of caution - I now have a huge plastic box of assorted beads in my craft room - so don't get involved with these if you're frightened of adding another stash addiction to your life.

I start with a framework for my tree.  These days I usually use smyrna cross stitches (over 4) fr the tree, as they stitch up quickly and I like the look of it.  Then I add a pot for the tree (I always try to make the pots different). I don't have a particular formula for stitching the tree - I just let my needle play.  These are the two trees I started with for my ornaments this month.

The next thing I do is add some feature beads or perhaps tiny buttons.  I just anchor a double strand of floss on one side of the tree, add beads to the floss, anchor it down on the other side of the tree with a small double stitch, then from the back of the work, put in some tiny couching stitches to make the beaded floss sit nicely.  So, at the end of this stage my trees looked like this:

No hard and fast rules, but for these trees I alternated strands of stars separated by beads with strands of graduated beads.  Mine are always symmetrical (even when I deliberately try to have a more casual look),  I always think I will stop at this stage, but by now I'm in beading frenzy, so I never do!  My next step is to fill in the empty spaces with beads.

 I stitch backs for my ornaments, because I make them up by  hand stitching them.  So, this is what I have now:

The purple tree is a Christmas gift for a dear friend, and the golden tree is a Christmas gift for my youngest sister.  I will be making them up in the next week, so I will put up pics of the finishing process in my next blog post.

I also stitched a Baby's First Christmas ornament as a Christmas gift for the newest member of my extended family. The teddy design is a freebie from the DMC website.  I changed all the floss colours.

 And I stitched Santa alphabet ornaments as Christmas gifts for four young family members.  I have yet to add the beaded border to Sarben's ornament.  The Santa alphabet design is adapted from LA's Alphabets Galore (1998) booklet.  I filled in the holes in Santa, omitted the tree, and changed all the floss colours.  I also made a few changes to some of the letters.

And that's me done for this report.  I look forward to checking the blogs of GG participants.  I always enjoy all the lovely pics.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

HD - My first row finish on Christmas Dreams

I am so happy to have finished this page, which I have really enjoyed stitching - though to be truthful, I might have enjoyed it even more if there were less confetti stitches!  This page (page 1) is my sixth stitched page, and it completes my first row of pages - though I have turned the pic round so it becomes the left hand column of rows. My next page will be page 2, and I was very pleased that when I looked at it, my first impression was that most of the 10x10 blocks had just two or three floss symbols in them - and on closer inspection, I found this to be true of just about half the 10 x 10 blocks. Of course, there are some confetti blocks, but the plain stitching is going to be a joy! Page 2 is the only page that has about as many good blocks of solid colour as it does blocks of confetti, so I will enjoy the break from confetti while it lasts.

I'm going to stitch a couple of Christmas ornaments now (well, starting in the daylight hours, not literally right now - it's 2.30am here, too late for me to be up, but you know what it's like when you just have to get those last few stitches in ...) and I'll come back and stitch one more page - that lovely page 2 - of Christmas Dreams this month.