This week I'll be celebrating my thirty-*cough* birthday, and one of my favorite birthday traditions is sharing the festivities with you! And what that means is that it's time for...
The Annual Mollie's Turning 29 Sale! I won't tell you how many of these we've had now, but I will tell you that this is your chance to save big on everything in my Etsy shop.
Today through Friday, the 28th, save 29% on your total purchase. Enter the code MOLLIE29 in the coupon code box at checkout, and your discount will be taken off immediately.
If you've been eyeing some patterns, now is the time to order!
Happy birthday savings to you!
I'm shocked that Thanksgiving is only a week away. Less than a week, really. But I find that some of my favorite holiday crafts happen when I'm running short on time. Thankfully, the project that I finished up today doesn't take very long. Even if you are a slow stitcher, you can make this before you need to start cooking.
English paper piecing always makes me happy, so I really wanted to come up with a design for Thanksgiving that would use this technique. A tiny turkey seemed appropriate. Stitch this towel for yourself, or bring it as a gift for your Thanksgiving host!
Here's what you need:
A flour sack towel (pre-washed and dried!)
Small pieces of fabric
Fabric glue (optional)
Needle and Thread
Turkey Towel EPP Templates
These shapes go together like regular English paper piecing. I hadn't tried this kind of half hexagon before, and I found that if you work the sides in a particular order, they come out well.
Fold the long edge over first. Fold the next side over, and stitch through the fabric layers.
When you reach the end, at the second short edge, make sure that the long side is still folded in. Then fold the short end down and baste.
A happy little half hexagon!
You'll need one whole hexagon, and six half hexagons. These are all 1-inch hexies, and they're in the downloadable template, but in case you want to do your own, it's good to have this info. You'll also be making one (just a bit larger than) 1/2-inch hexagon.
Join the halves together, then stitch them onto the whole hexagon and join the tail feather sections. When you're done, give it a good ironing.
By the way, you can also make these half-hexagons by using half-square triangles and placing the the seam across the center of a whole hexagon, but I wanted to be able to do this project wherever and whenever.
Embroider the turkey face and make the tiny hexagon. Or, if you're like me and enjoy doing things the hard way, make the tiny hexagon and then stitch the face.
Remove the templates from all of the sections, and place the turkey head on the body, overlapping the tail feathers a bit. Stitch around the head with running stitch.
Position the turkey where you want it on the towel. I placed mine so it is centered along the bottom edge.
This step is optional, but it always makes me feel a lot better. Apply a bit of fabric glue to the back of the turkey. It doesn't need to be a lot. Just go around the edges (not too close though!), and maybe along the seams too. It makes it less likely that your turkey will bunch and shift.
After the glue has dried, stitch around the edge with running stitch, hiding the knots between the layers.
And that's how you make a turkey towel the week before Thanksgiving and still have time to peel the potatoes, thaw the turkey, make the stuffing, cook the cranberries, and bake a bunch of pies.
I mentioned in the supplies list that you should use a pre-washed and dried towel for this. It will prevent your turkey from crinkling. That said, it will look nicer longer if it's used more for looking pretty than for drying post-feast dishes. Just keep that in mind.
You could also use this little turkey for other things too. I've started a second one that I plan on making into a little ornament. To do that, I'll add a second turkey (but without the head) to the back. Maybe with some stuffing in there? The non-edible kind, of course.
Is it weird to be so thankful that EPP exists? Because I really am grateful that we get to make fun little things like this.
99% of the time I embroider with stranded cotton floss. It's easy to find, inexpensive, and what I'm used to using. However, I love different kinds of stitching threads, and when I find new (or old!) kinds to try, I often buy a few skeins just to have around.
My local needlework shop has quite a selection, and some time ago, I found these wool threads. I haven't really used them (other than a small test shortly after I bought them). But I'm so glad that I had them so I can now out them to use with the techniques I learned in Craftsy's Stitch It With Wool: Crewel Embroidery class!
If you're not familiar with crewel, first, I promise that it's not cruel. (Sorry...I couldn't resist!) Crewel is very much like regular free embroidery, the kind I usually do. In fact, there's a HUGE overlap of stitches! But there are some key differences.
The biggest difference is that you use wool threads and yarn. But I learned from instructor Kristin Nicholas that another element that differentiates crewel from other embroidery is texture. That comes from the wool, but also from stitches that really emphasize texture. The embroidery process is a tactile experience normally, but I like the idea that the finished item will be more tactile too!
As I mentioned, there are some standard stitches, as well as some special stitches and variations on stitches that are used in crewel work. Some of them I've heard of, but never tried, but there were a few that I had never even heard of! It's nice to know you can get started right away with some base knowledge, and continue to learn more unique and advanced stitches.
Stitch It With Wool: Crewel Embroidery teaches all of this, along with what kinds of materials work best, how to prep and manage crewel yarn, and what steps to take for finishing. Kristin has been doing crewel since she was a little girl, so she knows what she's talking about.
Even with all her experience, this class isn't all perfect stitching, which can almost be discouraging as a beginner. One thing I love about Craftsy classes is that you can always count on a few "oops" moments. Seeing what mistakes look like and how to correct or avoid them is more helpful than perfection, wouldn't you agree?
I can tell you that I will be going back to this class again and again, especially because I think that crewel ornaments are going to be on my list of Christmas gifts to make this year! And since Craftsy classes are available and yours to keep forever, I won't feel rushed to learn every little bit right away.
Would you like to stitch with wool and learn crewel from Craftsy? For just one week (the offer expires 11/25 at 11:59pm MST), you can purchase this high definition video class for the amazing price of just $14.99.
I hope you'll give it a try!
This post was sponsored by Craftsy, but the words and thoughts are all mine.
Last week I shared a few photos from my trip to New York, and I hope you don't mind, but today I'm going to show off my souvenirs. Being a crafty kinda gal, my primary purchases were fabric and other supplies! I find that souvenirs like this are perfect for me because they find purpose in projects, but I always manage to remember where they came from.
My big shopping spree was at Purl Soho. I usually have reverse buyers remorse, regretting the things that I didn't buy, and that happened with the bag above. It's a zip top project bag, and they had some canvas bags too. Why didn't I buy more of these? They are perfectly useful, very cute, they show off where you've been shopping, and they were a deal too. Silly Mollie. I guess I'll have to go back.
Essex linen by Robert Kaufman has always been something I've wanted to try out for embroidery, so I got a big piece of that, as well as a couple chambrays. I don't have an official plan for them yet, but I'm thinking of starting with some zip pouches. Maybe they'll make up for the project bags I didn't buy?
My sister and I both picked up this little fat quarter, so that told me I "needed" it, and why not grab some matching felt too? I have some of this heathered felt in other colors, and it's super soft! Just before my trip I bought some expensive Japanese embroidery needles (I'll be writing about them soon), so I really didn't need more fancy needles. But these cross stitch needles came in a sweet wooden case that says Purl Soho, and I couldn't resist. My friend Katie bought some needles for the same reason!
These fabrics do have a real purpose. I've been growing my collection of small cuts of prints that will work in the English paper piecing mega quilt that I'm slowly stitching. I kept looking for fabrics in colors that would be perfect, and the purple and pink here were perfect.
As for the Liberty, remember my reverse buyers remorse? The last time I saw my friend Katie was in London, where I didn't buy any Liberty fabric, and I've regretted it for years. Since we were seeing each other and were at the next best crafty place, I decided it was meant to be. I'm in love with this print too!
Meanwhile, at Brooklyn General, I bought a quarter yard of Cotton + Steel, again, planning to use some for my EPP quilt. I had hoped that they would have the All the States prints so I could use them for something special for my 50 States Stitching Club, but alas, no such luck.
And that was my big crafty shopping. However, I managed to forget to take pictures of the Japanese craft books that I bought at a delightful Japanese bookstore. I think they might deserve a post all their own...
By Mollie Johanson at Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Life has felt hurried lately and I don't like it. Sometimes it's necessary, but I still don't like it.
My days have been filled with graphic design work, secret sewing, and keeping up with the 50 States Stitching Club. All of it gets done as quickly as I can, because there are many more things coming down the pipeline.
I need more slow stitching.
So I work towards that. Christmas coming soon threatens my plans, but I'm gonna do everything I can not to let it. I'm determined to have myself a slow stitching little Christmas...and if I figure it out sooner, Thanksgiving too.
Officially, I probably don't have time to be stitching these English paper piecing shapes, but a moment of slow stitching was needed. It's just a small project, so that justifies it, right? If all goes well, I'll share it here with you this week.
How about you? Do you enjoy slow stitching? It's become a whole movement, and I like it.
By Mollie Johanson at Monday, November 17, 2014
So, I've been working on this little Christmas sampler for just about a month now. It's not that it takes a long time to stitch, I've just been setting it down and getting distracted. In fact, by stitching only in red, the process is a lot faster than most pieces of this size.
The pattern for the 2014 Christmas Sampler (which I hope will become a yearly release) is now in my shop. There are gnomes and mushrooms, a tree and stars, and lots of happy Wild Olive faces. It's sized to fit a 5x7 frame (my sample stitching is just a bit larger than the final pattern, so the real thing fits better than what you see), and the goal was so you could frame it easily.
So, grab an IKEA frame (or your favorite kind of frame), and let's get this embroidery ready to display!
What's nice about IKEA frames is that they have plastic instead of glass in them. For this framing tutorial, we're not going to put the embroidery under the plastic, which would flatten the stitches. Instead, we'll wrap the fabric around the sheet of plastic.
Typically, these frames come with a protective coating on both sides of the plastic. I've left it on for the photos (so you can see it better), but you'll want to remove that.
Oh, and just as a side note, this post is not sponsored by IKEA...I just like them and their frames!
If your embroidery is on a light color, cut a piece of card stock, or a doubled piece of paper to the size of the plastic. The backing of the frame is dark, so the paper prevents that from showing through.
Lay your embroidery face down and position the plastic rectangle so it is centered on the embroidery. Cut around the sides so there is about 1 inch on each side. Then, slide the white paper under the plastic.
Wrap the edges to the back and secure them with washi tape, tucking the corners as neatly as you can. It doesn't have to be super pretty, but you do want to semi-stretch the fabric evenly. Also, the tape won't need to hold the fabric long-term, so don't worry if it doesn't want to hold permanently. It just needs to hold it tight while you're framing.
Make sure that the embroidery is centered and looking how you want it, then place the wrapped piece in the frame.
Tuck the corners as needed and then secure the frame backing in place.
And with minimal effort, you've got embroidery that's ready for displaying or gifting! Which means, even if you take until the last minute to finish those stitches, you won't have to fret about what happens next.
When planning our recent trip to New York, My friend Katie started a sheet of places that we wanted to visit, and everyone on the trip could add ideas. There was a whole section devoted to craft stores, and though we only made it to a couple, we still got to see plenty of fabric, yarn, and more.
I was also especially excited to encounter some art and craft in unexpected places. But then, since it's New York, should anything be unexpected?
This installation was at the Brooklyn Museum. Each needlepoint piece is on plastic canvas and is a collaboration between Shantell Martin and her grandmother, Dot. The thing I found interesting about this this that Shantell is listed as the artist (perhaps because this was in a collection of Brooklyn-created items, and she resides in Brooklyn, while Dot lives in England), but Dot did all of the stitching, including some design adaptation.
I found this wall to be pretty incredible, and the kind of project I'd like to try. Maybe with embroidery, though?
We stopped into Free People as they were decorating for Christmas, and I politely asked a woman holding a bottle of glitter if I could take some photos of their quilt-bombed security detectors. I love this style of Indian quilting, and how delightful to wrap things with it!
J. Crew also had some crafting on display. My sister thought it had a slightly obscene look to it (she might be right), but I assure you, the title called this an owl, which is traditional for macramé. Can you get a sense of the scale on this? It was easily 20 feet high!
But let's get to the craft shops. Our first stop was Brooklyn General, and it was incredible. Almost everything in New York was smaller than I pictured it, and this was one of those places. It's cozy and quaint, and filled to the brim with charm. And completely wonderful supplies! I somehow managed to only buy a small piece of Cotton + Steel fabric.
While we were there, a kids sewing class was going in in the back room, people were crafting and chatting around a table, and there was a sense that everyone was connected by the making we do. Oh, and there was that squirrel...
But no trip to NYC is complete without a visit to Purl Soho. Again, the shop was smaller than I imagined it would be, but I still managed to find plenty of goodies! (I'll share pics of my spoils soon.) I seriously wish I had taken more photos, but Liberty + Purl Soho is a pretty great combo, right?
When it comes to beautiful, well-made projects, their blog might just be one of the best crafting blogs around. Seeing all of the projects on display, in-person, had me a little star struck. Oh, and each member of the staff was completely wonderful.
And along the way, in the apartment we stayed at, and in -light, I managed to stitch a bit too. All vacations should have a bit of crafting, I think!
By Mollie Johanson at Wednesday, November 12, 2014