I just finished a neat commissioned sewing project. A local college asked me to make sashes for the Nursing Department mentors who would be graduating. They needed seven white sashes for the mentors and one for the Vice President of an on-campus nursing group. The purpose of the mentor sashes was to recognize the hard work put forth by the students, so they asked for each sash to have a gold star for each semester the student acted as a mentor. I used bridal satin for the sashes and a beautifully textured gold satin for the letters and stars. The letters and stars are fused on then stitched over with matching thread. There were many little steps towards getting them finished, so it took longer than I anticipated. But I'm so glad I accepted the commission. As soon as the student mentors and the nursing department saw the sashes they "ooh-ed" and "ahh-ed" and said how beautiful they look. The students wore them for graduation last Friday. This is the first time my work has been on display for so many people to see. There is a certain thrill that goes along with that, of course, so I will definitely be accepting commissions again. If you know someone who has a custom order, drop me a line.
A couple weeks ago I got the latest issue of Sweet Paul Magazine. It's such a beautifully photographed magazine, and I just love the interview with the embroidery artist and the how-to articles. As I looked through it while Goen played at the park, I knew I was going to make one of the recipes from it soon. On Monday, the cooking bug hit me and I decided to make a loaf of bread and a dessert in the morning while Goen was awake. I sat him on the counter to watch and then tried to involve him often enough to bake the Black Pepper Bread "World's Best!" dessert, both from this issue. I must say, I'm starting to really enjoy the increased attention span of two years old and my little one's willingness to sit and watch while I cook. The bread came together pretty fast. Once it came out of the oven we ate a few slices while I worked on the dessert.
As I always do, I made a couple changes to the dessert recipe. I used coconut milk instead of dairy cream. It works just as well, you just have to chill it slightly to let all the solids float to the top and solidify. Then you just scoop out everything except the watery stuff at the bottom. I think it will actually keep better than dairy cream without getting the cake layers soggy. This is important for me since it will probably take a couple days for us to eat it all. The second change was to use frozen blueberries for the fruit topping. I love strawberries, but blueberries are all I had on hand.
This dessert is so delicious. It will definitely become one of my go-to desserts. It's indulgent without being too sweet. The layers are perfect for adding texture. And, with the cream in the middle and on top, it won't dry out quickly at all. I think it would be a great dessert to make for a party because you can (must, really) make it ahead of time, put it in the fridge, and pull it out as you head out the door. Delicious and versatile? Yes! This one's a keeper.
And, before I knew it, it was all eaten. Luckily it was only the first piece and I have the rest of the dish to enjoy. Perhaps even as I write this I am snacking on a slice, but I won't tell. But I will say that it makes a nice between-breakfast-and-lunch treat. I hope you have a chance to enjoy a piece as well.
Last week marked the end of the second round of the Itty Bitty Beginner Swap. This time everyone was assigned to make a mini quilt for their swap partner. Based on the likes and dislikes I was given from my partner, I chose the Swoon quilt block by Thimbleblossoms, pink as the central fabric color, and some bright green to kick it off. I was a little apprehensive about my color choices as I cut out the pieces because it's a bit outside my comfort zone. When the top was all sewn together, though, I started to like it more, and the dark pink binding really brought it all together and finished it off nicely.
I learned a lot about making quilts. Even though I've made a couple before, I'm a bit rusty. Plus, the pattern I chose has a lot more seams to manage. There are some spots that are a bit bulky because I pressed the seams the wrong way. On the plus side, I got to use my flannel design board for the first time. It really helped by keeping me organized and allowed me to see what the block would look like. When it came to the binding, I really wanted to make sure it looked professional, so I went looking for the perfect tutorial. The one I found, which you can read here, is well-written and clear, with good pictures as well. It's the best one I've seen, and explains how to bind a quilt where the beginning/end is impossible to find.
Here are a few closeups of the quilting. I gave machine quilting a couple attempts, but it was a complete failure. So I did the whole thing by hand, using two strands of embroidery floss. I used matching pink and orange to make it mostly invisible, though it does add a nice bit of texture.
For the back, I made a free-handed embroidered label with my name, the year, and the place I live. The label is pieced onto some orange fabric and then the last bit of the green fabric. I spent quite a bit of time centering the front and the back so that the label would be right in the center of the quilting stitches. It turned out nicely.
I folded the mini and wrapped it in tissue paper. The extras I included in the package are a quilting book, a notebook I made from an empty plastic food bag, a skein of purple Perle cotton, and a disappearing ink pen for fabric marking. I sent the mini and the other goodies off last Friday and eagerly awaited my partners reaction to the pattern and color selection. Most quilting patterns I've seen have white as the "background" color, but I chose to make mine orange, pulling it from one of the flowers in the pink print. My partner mentioned that the mini would hang on a wall painted chartreuse, so I decided to include that in the color scheme, though perhaps more than I should have. I figured that anyone who would paint a wall chartreuse was pretty adventurous with color, though I still had my doubts. I got more and more nervous as the days went by, which wasn't helped by the weekend making it take longer to arrive. Well, she received it yesterday and she loved it (phew!).
It was such a fun mini quilt to make. I want to give the pattern another go with other color combinations and make a larger quilt with it. I definitely need more practice on aligning seams. It was my first time doing flying geese blocks and, I must say, they are quite a bit of fun to do.
But I must move on to the rest of the swap. Take a look at what I got from my swap partner. She chose aqua fabric as the main theme and included some shades and prints that really pop. As soon as I unwrapped it I could tell that it's well made by experienced hands. The seams match up at the corners (which is not always easy) and the machine quilting is neat and even. I love that she chose gray as the background. It really kicks off the aqua. She also included a set of notecards, some glittery clips, and chocolates, which aren't in the picture because they were eaten up faster than you can say "free motion quilting."
I've designated one wall in my sewing space as the "swap wall" where this will hang. At the moment it's a bit lonely, being the first decorative swap item I've gotten, but I know it won't be the last. I've already joined the Around The World Swap that will conclude sometime in October (if you know of any other sewing or embroidery swaps that will be starting soon, please let me know). Until then, I'll just be in my sewing space admiring this little mini, and dreaming up more.
I'm so excited about the start of a collection that connects me to other makers and quilters from near and far. It's such a neat thing to imagine something I made hanging on someone else's wall, and just as exciting to think that someone made this beautiful thing just for me. Have you been involved in a swap recently? What is it like for you to exchange a handmade item with another person you've never met?
In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, today I'm sharing a gift I made for my mom many years ago, when I was a young teenager. I poured many hours of thought and energy into it, which is how many of the best gifts start. I began by writing a poem for her, which, in itself, is a tough thing to do for one's hero. Once I had the right words, I chose cross-stitch canvas as the medium on which to create it. I made the first letter of each verse in a swirly script font, which I still love (if only I could find the pattern again). For the stitched flowers in the border I chose colors that matched the curtains my mom made for the family room. And, as a finishing touch, I wanted a fabric border to help it stand out. I got my mom's help with that last part since I hadn't really started sewing at that point in my life, and mitered corners weren't even in my vocabulary. The fabric in the border was actually left over from the curtains that she made, so it was all very coordinated. Of course, now that I have a child of my own, my mom doesn't even get a card mailed to her (Sorry mom. I've got the card. I just need to write in it.).
Looking back on this stitching project, I try not to notice all the embroidery faux pas I made. Don't look too closely or you might be able to see the gaps in the border stitching or the bumpy places where the giant knots are in the back, and I'm sure I was ignorant of the whole direction-of-stitches guidelines. Even so, it was a satisfying finish. What I love most of all is that I made it for someone I love and it hangs on the wall in my parents' house where my mom can be continually reminded of how much I love and appreciate her.
I wish all mothers everywhere a bit of rest and relaxation on their special day (goodness knows we all need it!). Happy Mother's Day!
How do you celebrate Mother's Day? Food? Fun? Handmade? I'd love to hear your ideas.
Choose an embroidery stitch to outline the design and secure it to the fabric to prevent it from lifting off through washing. If there are still visible puncture holes from the old design, use a finger nail to rub the knit fabric and ease the fibers back together.
Your unbranded jacket is now ready to show off your style, or, um, your child's style.
Once you are satisfied with the placement, iron the design onto the knit material. Make sure to avoid any plastic zippers or other meltable parts.
I love to see projects from my tutorials. If you make something, send me a link to your picture or post. It's great to see other designs. It inspires me to come up with more ideas to share.
Place the fusible shape over the spot where you removed the old design. If you ripped any threads in the knit fabric, strategically place the piece over it. Also, try to cover up as many of the puncture marks as possible.
I'm not a fan of overtly branded clothing. I don't want to be a billboard for corporate advertising, and I don't want my son to be either. When I was given a few toddler clothes a few months ago, one of the items was a jacket in a pretty two-tone blue color. It was a nice jacket, but it had a large appliqued logo on the front. I kept the jacket with the intention of removing the design and putting on one of my choosing. Now, with my sewing stuff in disarray from the move, this simple project rose to the top of the queue. Here's a quick tutorial so you can join my unbranding revolution.
How to Unbrand a Knit Appliqued Jacket
- Seam ripper
- Fabric scrap (knit or woven)
- Fusible web
- Embroidery floss or thread
Use the seam ripper to carefully remove the stitching from the embroidered and/or appliqued design. Be careful not to cut through the knit material; however, if you do, it's easy to cover up and prevent raveling.
Measure the area you want to cover. Since the puncture marks from the original design will still be visible, try to make your new design at least as big to cover up as many of the marks as possible.
Choose a scrap of fabric for your new design and iron fusible web to the back side. Draw a box outlining the outer limits of your new design. Trace your chosen design in reverse on the paper of the fusible web. Cut out the design and remove the paper backing from the fusible web.
Hi. My name is Carley. I love to sew, craft, and create. As a Jane-of all-crafts so to speak, I enjoy sewing, writing, cooking, drawing, photographing. But the constant thread (if you'll excuse the pun) throughout my weeks is needle arts.