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adventures in making thread wax

DIY Thread Wax

This could be a DIY on how to make thread wax, and it kind of is. But it's also kinda like join me on this adventure of trying to make a thing I've never made before. Which is often how I go about doing things, I'm just letting you in on it with this one.

First, let's talk about thread wax. If you've never used this, you might be utterly confused right now. Don't worry!

First, here's what thread wax ISN'T. It's not the same as Thread Magic or the now no-longer-produced Thread Heaven. Those are silicone-based and they are designed more to prevent tangling. They're fantastic at what they do and helpful for hand embroidery. Thread wax, on the other hand, is more for strengthening and protecting the thread. I use it when doing bookbinding projects, but it's also frequently used for beading. The coating isn't so great for making beautiful embroidery.

DIY Thread Wax You can easily buy any of these products, but I had a bunch of extra beeswax pellets (and tiny tins!) left from making lip balm, which this really looks like, so I thought why not try making my own?

I looked for a tutorial, but didn't find anything truly difinitive. I saw tips from a variety of similar projects, so I went with those and just started my project! If you'd like to give it a go, follow along with me!

DIY Thread Wax

Here's what you need:
White Beeswax Pellets (avoid the yellow ones if possible)
A Tiny Tin or Another Heat-safe Container
Parchment Paper
Scented Essential Oil (optional)

DIY Thread Wax

Fill your little container with pellets.

Because I used a metal tin, I could just do everything right in this container. If you want to fill a plastic container with the wax, you'll need to melt it in something else and then pour it. You can also use a silicone mold to make shaped thread wax.

Now, follow me to the kitchen...

DIY Thread Wax

My stove has a griddle built in, but you can do this on a pan too.

Cut and fold a piece of baking parchment paper so it's a few layers thick. Based on what I saw, this just helps protect the cooking surface.

Turn the burner on to medium-high.

DIY Thread Wax

As the griddle or pan surface heats, the wax will start to melt. As it does, you may find that the level goes down quite a bit, so you can add more wax pellets to fill the container.

DIY Thread Wax

Carefully stir the wax with the toothpick so that it all melts down.

And really, do be careful. First, the container will be hot. But also, you don't want the wax to spill over and get in the threads for screwing on the lid. Ask me how I know.

DIY Thread Wax

When the wax is entirely melted, turn off the heat and let it slowly cool. You can leave it right where it is, which will take a little longer, but you don't have to worry about burning your finger or making a mess.

You can leave the wax unscented, but I thought it would be fun to make it smell nice. Now, here's the thing. Oils aren't really good for your stitching. So I may be COMPLETELY misguided here, but I went for the teensiest bit of lemongrass essential oil for mine.

What I read is that it's best to let the wax cool down a little before adding any essential oils to it, so I waited until it was just starting to get a little shell on the top of the wax. I gave it a stir, then added like two drops of oil.

DIY Thread Wax

Instantly the wax got thicker! You can see that this is where I started to really make a mess of the container.

DIY Thread Wax

Within moments I had a thick gloppy thread wax. But this is not what I wanted. It's probably not what you want either! Thankfully, there's an easy solution.

DIY Thread Wax

Turn on the burner again and heat the wax just until it's all smooth on the top.

DIY Thread Wax

Let your thread wax cool again until it's soild. And now it's ready to use!

DIY Thread Wax

When I do any kind of bookbinding or functional sewing with perle cotton, I like to coat it. So let's use that to test it!

DIY Thread Wax

Hold the thread on the wax with your thumb and then draw the thread through the wax. I sometimes coat it a few times if I want to make it really strong.

Full disclosure: I haven't stitched a stitch with this yet! But it feels right. It feels like it has a nice coating. I'm happy.

DIY Thread Wax

To finish off my container and make it "official", I made some little labels. It's also good so I don't confuse it with the lip balm I made in these same tins!

DIY Thread Wax

I'm sharing the printable for these little labels with all my Ko-Fi supporters, so if you'd like to make some thread wax, you can grab the PDF over there. They'd even make fun gifts for your stitchy friends!

calendar // fun mushroom house wallpaper

March. I'm not sure how we got here, but I do know that I have a new calendar with a mushroom house for us to enjoy! It's surrounded by some lucky four-leaf clovers because, well...March.

As always, I like to think of who lives in these houses. Who would you expect to see living in this little mushroom? I picture a froggy friend who is a very fun guy. A fun guy...living in a mushroom...a fungi...

Sorry, I couldn't resist a little pun!

Ready to add this little house to your screen? Choose your wallpaper below!

Now, if you are thinking that this house reminds you of The Smurfs, you're my kinda person. I grew up watching those little blue creatures, had so many Smurf toys, and I absolutely was inspired by their mushroom cottages. I can even hear the classical music playing as I look at this!

Oh, and since it's now March, I'm also very happy to say that season 4 of the Very Serious Crafts Podcast just launched! Give it a listen!

pattern // lovely envelope house cross stitch

Lovely Envelope House Cross Stitch

I cross stitched this month's lovely envelope house and it's making me oh so happy! If you'd like to join me in this cross stitching joy, the free pattern is here!

Last month I mentioned that I was a little sad that I decided not to cross stitch every one of these. Logically, I can't do everything, but I WANT TO. So it was especially nice to at least stitch this one. 

Lovely Envelope House Cross Stitch

I also love seeing how things actually work up in thread. What works on the screen doesn't always translate well to stitching, especially when it comes to colors. So this served as a way to fix some issues that I am still learning to spot when designing for cross stitch. 

Speaking of designing for cross stitch vs. embroidery, I still feel very strongly that the eyes need to be french knots. I know they are a challenge for some folks (here's my video tutorial), but it makes a difference in how this looks. Typical french knots are wrapped two times, but on the eyes for the mailbox I wrapped them just one time to make them smaller.

You'll also see that the mailbox face requires you to stitch at a point halfway between the Aida cloth holes. This is how we successfully squeeze a face into a tiny space! 

Lovely Envelope House Cross Stitch Chart

I left this without any ground under it, but you can stitch some grass or snow, or fit it into the streets from last year's Kawaii Crossing chart if you'd like!

pattern // lovely envelope house embroidery design

 February Lovely Envelope House Embroidery Pattern

It's time for another free embroidery pattern in my Houses of Kawaii Crossing series! This month it's a lovely envelope cottage and someone sweet lives inside, sending cards and notes to all their friends.

Every time I design something around February that has hearts on it, I get caught up in Valentine's deadlines in my head. Did I choose to make this house look a little like it would work for Hearts Day? Yes I did. Am I posting this with enough time to stitch it before February 14? No I did not. 

But would I make things with hearts all over them other times of the year and no worry about this at all? Of course! So even though I'm sharing this in February, please don't think of it only as a Valentine's Day pattern. Because it's not. I mentioned earlier this month that in my head, the Kawaii Crossing resident who lives here is like a friend of mine who sends lovely correspondence all year 'round. 

So with all those Mollie mind games out of the way, how about an embroidery pattern?

Last month I stitched up my hot cocoa pattern as felt appliqué, and shared the pattern pieces with the folks who support me through Ko-Fi. Someone suggested that this would be a great way to do all the designs, and I agreed! (Even though I'm trying different techniques each month this year...) If you've ever done felt appliqué, you can probably figure out the pattern from the embroidery version, but if you'd like the pattern pieces all ready to go, I set up the pattern for Ko-Fit supporters again.

If you follow my on Instagram, you may have seen that I've been cross stitching this month's design, which means that (definitely after February 14) I'll have the cross stitch chart ready for you all soon too!

project // diy valentine mini paintings

Valentine Mini Paintings

Who's ready to paint something super cute for Valentine's Day? These mini art pieces are fun and easy to make for both kids and grown-ups. And you only need the ability to color (or paint) inside the lines and a few basic supplies!

A bunch of years ago I made some little paintings kind of like this, but it's been a while since I painted for fun. (Okay, so I did actually sell a couple of them, but I still think those folks were just being kind...) Basically, I snatched up some scraps of wood from household DIYs my dad did, and I added my kawaii-style art to them.

Valentine Mini Paintings

I found that I LOVE painting on wood. I like that the texture shows through, I like that it's sturdy, and I like that you don't have to frame it because it can stand up on its own. I also don't use any fancy paints for this. Basic craft acrylics work just fine!

Wood pieces really do make these special and I think it's worth finding some pieces to work on. These were cut from the ends of trim boards and Swedish pine 2x4s. Home Depot sells them, and if you wanted to make a bunch of paintings you could buy a board and just cut it into small pieces. Or, talk to someone you know who builds things or does some DIY and see if they have scraps you could use!

If you don't want to use wood, you can also work on little stretched canvases, cardboard, or just cardstock.

And to make this extra simple, I created some painting templates for you to use! 

Valentine Mini Paintings

Here's what you need:
Wood Blocks (you could also use small canvases or cardboard)
Acrylic Paint
Soft Pencil (I used a 6B)
Toothpick or Skewer


Valentine Mini Paintings

Cut out one of the painting templates and rub a soft pencil all over the back. 

This is going to make the template into a transfer so you can just fill in the lines. The darker the pencil rubbings, the better the pattern will come out. 

Valentine Mini Paintings

Place the template on the wood block. If the design is larger than the block, that's okay! Just center the part of the design you want on your painting.

Use the end of your paintbrush as a stylus and trace over all the lines on the template.

Valentine Mini Paintings

Lift the template to make sure that the lines are showing up or if you need to press harder. It's best to have the lines be just dark enough for you to see them (if they're really dark, they may show through the paint).

Valentine Mini Paintings

Start painting in the designs. I often just open my bottles of paint like this and dip the brush into the cap. There's less clean up and waste than if I squirt some onto a plate or palette.

Valentine Mini Paintings

Fill in more paint around the shapes, trying to keep the lines and color smooth. Be sure to let each color of paint dry before you add paint near it. The good news is that craft acrylic dries pretty fast.

Valentine Mini Paintings

Paint the faces with a skewer or a toothpick. I find that it's a good way to get those little details! 

You can also use a paint marker to do the faces or to add outlines if you want. I left mine without any outlines, but I think it would be cute! One of the patterns in the PDF has some lettering that would also work really well with a paint marker, but a brush will still do the trick.

Valentine Mini Paintings

Your painting is all finished! To make sure it stays nice, you can add a layer of sealer over the top. But otherwise, it's ready to display.

Valentine Mini Paintings

When I made the templates for these, I definitely had Valentine's Day on my mind, but I also wanted something that could work any time. So this happy little painting will be sitting on my shelf year-round!

Also while I was working on these, I thought it would be fun to make a set of printables to match, so I did that and have them available for folks who support me on Ko-Fi. If you'd like them, head on over to check out that post. (If you've sent me a coffee through there recently, you should still have access to this...and there's another bonus pattern coming there soon!)

Happy painting!

calendar // a lovely envelope house february wallpaper

What kind of house do we have for February? Why, an envelope, of course! I chose this because, well...Valentine's Day. But I think that mailing something thoughtful any time is always a lovely idea.

The Kawaii Crossing resident who lives here likes writing cards and letters. They probably also collect stamps. And full disclosure, I picture them a little bit as my friend Kimberly. She has the best handwriting, always gets creative when addressing envelopes, and she even makes cards and artwork with old stamps!

I, on the other hand, am usually terrible about mailing things. Will I remember to mail even a single Valentine this year? only time will tell.

But at least I remembered to make these wallpapers, so let's start there.

And with any luck, I'll get some patterns to go along with this ready soon so there can be some Valentine stitching and other crafting too...

video // epp basting and joining

EPP Hexagons

While I enjoy a lot of different crafts, English paper piecing or EPP is one of my most favorite. So it's about time that I have more EPP basics tutorials around here!

I've shared lots of free patterns for EPP projects and of course I do stitching clubs every year that combine embroidery and EPP. But it's been ages since I just made a basic tutorial here on my blog. Enter my plan to make videos. This started back in November, and one of the videos included here is from then. But I wanted one easy post to send folks to that has the two key processes for this hand-sewn quilt technique.

The first step for English paper piecing is cutting and basting the pieces. In this video I show you two methods for thread basting, which I still prefer over glue basting. These work for all shapes with straight edges.

If you're looking for the happy hexagons I used for the sample in this, you can find the free printable here on my blog!

After you prepare your EPP shapes, you need to stitch them together. Over the years, I've worked with three methods to join my pieces, and I truly think it comes down to what you like. It's about finding what works for your hands and how you feel about the way the stitches look.

After you finish joining all your pieces together, the last official step for the EPP portion is to remove the paper pieces from the back of your work. If you have large pieces that you basted through the paper, you need to snip and remove those basting threads first. Then just pull out the papers. It's sooooo satisfying!

From there, each project you do is likely to have a specific set of instructions for proceeding, but it's usually a lot like any other quilt!

If you're looking for some EPP inspiration, be sure to look through my EPP posts!

printable // kawaii stationery magnetic bookmarks

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Mark your page with these printable stationery items that are also magnetic bookmarks! Instead of tucking in the pages of your book, these fold over the edge and hold together with thin magnetic tape.

This is not my first time making bookmarks like these, and in fact, most of these are updated versions from my first two sets of these, but now in more pastel colors. (Check out the original set one and set two) I also made a kitty version, which I also love! But updating these was a fun way to make something to go along the new embroidery pattern I just released!

Desk Mates Stationery Embroidery Pattern

This is also an update, in a way, because I had this old pattern that I called the Office Workers and it was in need of some attention. So I took inspiration from that, but really made this something new. It's stationery tools and supplies, but super cute and also with the idea of stitching them as patches. So along with the patterns, the nearly all-new Desk Mates set comes with a tutorial for making hand-embroidered patches.

But let's get back to making these bookmarks!

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

You will need:
Paper or cardstock
Thin magnetic tape (This is almost paper-thin...not the typical craft stuff)

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Print the bookmarks and cut them out.

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Fold the bookmarks in half...sort of. For the pencils and washi tape strip, you should actually fold them so that the points extend past the flat part from the other side.

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Cut two squares of magnetic tape. The tape dispenser has a place to tear off the tape, but I prefer to cut it with scissors so the edges are perfectly smooth.

Place the two pieces together, with the non-sticky sides touching. They will naturally find where they need to stick together, and they won't be aligned. This has to do with magnet polarity science! It's also important so your bookmark sticks together correctly.

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Place the magnets on one half of the folded bookmark. The two pieces should still be a little askew.

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Press the other half of the bookmark down so that it sticks to the sticky side of the top magnet.

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

When you open the bookmark the magnet pieces should be stuck in place and ready to use.

Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Fold the bookmark over a page in your book so it can mark where you left off!

Printable Stationery Bookmarks
Printable Stationery Bookmarks

Follow the same steps to finish the rest of the bookmarks, and you'll never lose your spot. You could also use these as reusable tabs for marking favorite recipes or projects you want to make in a craft book!

pattern // cozy cocoa house cross stitch chart

Hot Cocoa House Cross Stitch Chart

Cross stitch friends, your time has come! It's offically "share the cross stitch version of the latest Kawaii Crossing design day!" Okay, so I made that up...it's not a real holiday. I suppose you knew that though.

Anyway, let's jump into this!

I mentioned in my post with the embroidery version of this that I'm going to choose one way to stitch each house each month, and not make one big project. That's just how I need and want to work on it this time around. But that's not how YOU need to do this! There will be consistently sized patterns/charts for each house each month in 2021 so you can make them all together if you want.

At the same time, I wanted to simplify things a little as I was working on these, so I'm not making one large chart with all the houses on streets. This way I can just focus on the individual house charts and files. Buuuuut...I'm making them the same size as the shops from last year, so if you're comfortable with small changes to charts, you can use the streets from 2020 and just swap in the houses for the shops. You'll need to adjust the grass around the houses too, but I have confidence in you!

If you're really confused by how this would work, let me know and I may be able to create a little walkthrough.

Now, for that pattern! The PDF below has the thread colors in it so you don't have to guess from the sample image above.

To be fully transparent about this, I'm already feeling a little sad that I'm not cross stitching the whole thing! But I do think I'll cross stitch the next house to come out. And maybe this will also give me the opportunity to make other fun things along the way. Ideas are brewing!

pattern // cozy cocoa house embroidery

Cozy Cocoa House Embroidery Pattern

First free embroidery pattern of the year? Yes! If you didn't see my previous post, this year I'm going to be designing adorably-shaped homes for the residents of my Kawaii Crossing town. Last year, shops...this year, houses!

The first house is a cozy hot cocoa house and I'm not entirely sure who lives here, but I know that they built a snowcat outside. And then they promptly went indoors to have some hot chocolate with marshmallows AND whipped cream, because that's how we do things around here. (By the way, there's a good chance that we'll eventually see the resident who lives here...it's only a matter of time.)

I'm making these patterns for both embroidery and cross stitch, and the cross stitch chart will be coming soon. Also, this time around I decided not to lock myself into only stitching one version of the patterns, and definitely not trying to stitch all versions! But in fact, I'm planning to try out fun ways to stitch or present the patterns. For example, I might try using the cross stitch charts to make Perler bead or Diamon Dotz art. 

Cozy Cocoa House Applique

Today, rather than strictly embroidering this pattern, I thought it would be fun to add some felt appliqué. I LOVE combining felt and embroidery, especially for times when I want some solid color in objects without all that fill stitching. Trust me...this is much easier. 

If you've ever made any of my felt ornaments, you'll be familiar with how I do the appliqué and embroidery, but I also recently made a video showing how I stitch the felt down (in the video it's two pieces of felt, but it works with felt on linen too!).

You can use pattern shapes to cut out the felt, then trace the embroidered details onto tracing paper and stitch through the paper and material. Tear the paper away when you're done stitching.

To make this a little easier, I did make a version of the pattern that has the pieces separated out for felt appliqué, and I'm sharing that with the folks who support me through Ko-Fi. If you've supported me recently, you should have access to the pattern through my page. 

I probably should say that you can buy me a hot chocolate since this is a cozy cocoa house! But while we're talking hot chocolate, do you have any favorite mix-ins for this nice warm beverage on a snowy day?