Friday, December 25, 2009

Gifts for stitchy people and a tutorial

Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas - or at least a good day.

This year I made Christmas gifts for my stitching buddies: fabric covered tape measures with matching bottle cap pincushions (thank you to VeryBigJen for her Flickr tutorial on bottle cap pincushions) and personalized magnetic needle books for most everyone. (One gal mostly knits, the other already received a different personalized needle book on an earlier occasion.)

It was a lot of fun to select fabrics, color combinations and buttons that I thought the recipient would find pleasing. It was also fun engineering the magnetic needle books. There were a few false starts on those but I finally worked it out. Would you like to see the process? Here's a tutorial on making the needle books:

Fidget's Magnetic Needlebook

What you'll need:
fabric for exterior
fabric for interior
iron-on interfacing
flat flexible magnets
sharp scissors
a sewing machine or hand needle and thread
Aleene's Jewel-It glue or a multi-purpose glue that works with fabric

Getting ready:

Cut two pieces of fabric 2 5/8" by 3 1/2". One piece is for the exterior where the stitching will be done - if you want stitching. The second piece is the interior and will be mostly covered by the magnets. Use the same material for both or don't. Do what makes you happy!

Cut four pieces of iron-on interfacing about 1" by 1 1/4". This is roughly the size of each face of the needlebook less the top-stitched edge. Adjust the size so that there is about a 1/4" open border around the edges of the material and about a 1/4" in the middle for folding.

Cut two magnetic strips 1" wide by 1 3/4" long. I bought a roll of magnetic tape that was 1" wide, so that part was easy. Unless you're making many needlebooks or have a use for the excess magnetic tape, buying a roll may not make sense. You could use the flat magnets that you find with advertising and/or calendars on them but because these are thinner you'll need to either adjust the size of the magnet (make it a bit wider) or the size of the needle book faces (make them narrower.)

If you want to add stitching to your needlebook, now's the time to do it. I centered the stitching on the bottom half of the exterior fabric so that it would be on the front cover once assembled.

Putting it all together:

Flip the interior and exterior pieces over and position the interfacing in the four quadrants of the fabric. Be sure the interfacing is bumpy side down so that it fuses with the fabric, not your iron. Iron the interfacing according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Match the interior and exterior fabrics right sides together and pin in place. Sew completely around all four edges.

Trim the seams and angle the corners. Flip the piece over so you're looking at the interior side. Take your sharp scissors and cut a slit in the center of the interfacing on one side. Make the slit large enough to turn the piece but don't go all the way to the edges. Don't worry, we'll cover the hole later.

Use your tweezers to reach into the slit and grab a corner. Gently pull the fabric and turn it right side out. Use the tweezers to poke the corners out, but be careful not to poke through the seam.

Press the piece flat.

Top stitch about 1/8" from the edge of the needlebook on all four sides. I found it easiest to set the needle position to the left and stitch counter-clockwise (or to the right and stitch clockwise) instead of at center. This allows both feeddogs to move the fabric instead of just one if you tried to stitch that close to the edge from the center needle position. Trim any loose threads.

Put the magnet faces together. If you're using a tape or flat magnet that has sticky sides, put the sticky sides to the outside - but don't peel off the backing yet. If you're using an advertisement or calender magnet, put the printed side out. Test fit the magnets to the inside of the needlebook and make any necessary adjustments to the size of the magnets. Remember to try closing the needlebook. Once you're happy with how they will sit, peel off the backing on one of the magnets and put a drop of glue on the sticky side...

and use your finger to spread it around to all the edges.

Turn the magnet sandwich over and position the gluey side inside the needlebook. I usually do the side with the slit first.

Peel off the second backing paper and apply the glue in a similar manner.

Press closed and wait for it to dry.

Taa-daa! You're done!

Add needles and repeat as necessary.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kitty Pillow

(Click the pictures to see larger versions.)

Stitching buddy BS had a birthday on Monday. In addition to loving to stitch, B loves cats. This pillow made her happy. It's the first crewel I've done in years, no, probably decades - yup, just like riding a bicycle - and it was a nice change of pace from flossy embroidery. The orginal backing material was a lime linen, but I like the floral canvas from Jo Ann's better. Happy birthday, B!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Final TUSAL for 2009

Oh, no! Just realized that yesterday was the New Moon, and that means it's time for the Totally Useless Stitch-a-long hosted by the lovely Yoyo at Dragon My Needle. And it wasn't just any old new moon: it was the final one for 2009 - time to start a new ort bottle. And just in time as the one I'd selected for this year is about full. I'm planning on going to the hardware store and buying a cork for it. It will look great sitting on a shelf in my craftroom. Along with TUSAL bottle is the wee little Waste-Knot-Whatnot. There are a lot of black knots from AC's 15-sided biscornu and plenty of white ones from as yet disclosed gifts.

Yoyo has graciously agreed to host the 2010 TUSAL - thank you! To join in the fun, you have to go HERE to sign up. C'mon! Join the fun!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

All she wanted for Christmas was a new right hip

Today, Mama got what she's needed for a long time: a new right hip. The doctor said the surgery went well and all the new parts were a good fit. She's in good spirits and feeling pretty good, considering. Here's to Mama and her new hip and pain-free days ahead in 2010!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Baby's Better and Birthday Crafting

The baby netbook is all better now - and it didn't cost a fortune. Luckily, there wasn't anything on the netbook that wasn't on another computer or storage device somewhere else, so it didn't matter if I had to start from zero. My netbook had a recovery disk that allowed me to reset the netbook back to factory specs, as if it had just came out of the box. So that's what I did. And you can bet your boots that the first thing loaded onto the virginal netbook was anti-virus software!

Some of the December birthdays have happened so I can show off what I made for AC and DP, who happen to share a birthday. These were the items I was wanting to crow about in the November 30 post.

. . . . . . . .
AC is a lover of bright green and tchotchkes and I wanted to try my hand at blackwork and making a 15-sided biscornu. Anita, at Stitch Creations, had created beautiful patterns for blackwork squares and instructions for making a 15-sided biscornu. The pictures for assembling the biscornu were so perfect that it didn't matter I don't speak or read a word of Dutch - stitching is a universal language! So, I started the blackwork on the trip to Alaska and finished it last month. Thanks, Anita! AC loved it and I loved making it for her.

DP is fond of frogs and I'm fond of making quirky things out of the mundane. This cute little frog caught my eye last spring and I knew I had to make something out of it for DP. It was hollow and had a hole in the base so it just about screamed Orts! to me. I took a paper mache box, stained it with a food coloring wash, rubbed it with gold paint to pick up the texture on the box, varnished it, applied some rub-on transfers and lined it with cloth. A hole was carved into the lid and Mr. Froggie glued onto it. The lid lining was extended up into the cavity so it all flowed together. It looked good on paper, looked good put together, but I haven't heard from DP yet if it actually works as designed. Sure hope so but if not, it's still cute.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grumble, grumble

I'm running behind on postings because my new baby netbook caught a virus - all because I was stupid and didn't load anti-virus software on it. Grrrrrr Totally my bad. I hope to get something posted from my laptop soon.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Finishing Up

All of my stitching/crafting efforts of late have been directed to finishing gifts (birthday and Christmas) for friends and relatives. The final touches were added to the _____ for ______ and the ______ for _______. Sorry, can't blow the surprise. I'm happy I remembered to take pictures of the finishes so I can post them (later) here on the blog. For right now, all you get is this:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Back in the Real World

Pookie and I had a marvelous mid-November vacation in Florida. First stop was a weekend at Treasure Island. We watched a beautiful sunset on the Gulf of Mexico...

...crashed a wedding on the beach (along with a few other beach bums)...

...and I had a great time at a needlework class taught by Susan Greening Davis while Pookie relaxed.

Then we went to the Atlantic coast and watched the launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis from the Kennedy Space Flight Visitor Center. It was so much brighter than it appears on TV. The only thing I could compare it to would be burning magnesium. It was a bit disappointing that it wasn't louder, but we were 7 miles from the launch pad so it's understandable.

Next, we spent a few days in Orlando, mostly at Seaworld. I'd been to the one in San Antonio, but this was a first for Pookie. We saw all the shows (some twice), fed shrimp to some rays and generally had a good time. One unexpected and fun show featured dogs and cats adopted from shelters and rescue operations. They were very highly trained and their show was like watching a living Rube Goldberg machine in action.

Heading south, we visited with some of Pookie's relative and overnighted in Ft. Lauderdale. The next morning, with a kiss and a wave good-bye, I put Pookie on a plane and sent him home. BFF CD was driving down for the races and picked me up the airport (probably before Pookie was even through the security check point) and we headed for the NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jimmie Johnson (CD's guy) won the championship for a unprecedented fourth time. She was happy about that but would have prefered the champion had been Mark Martin. One of my guys, Denny Hamlin, won the Cup race for the weekend and I was happy about that. So we both got to have a happy.

CD then put me on a plane to return to the real world and the job that goes with it. sigh I really, really need to win that lottery so it can be vacation time all the time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

TUSAL for November

Yoyo over at Dragon My Needle pulled a nifty trick on her blog recently: she wrote a blog entry and posted it later at a predetermined time without being online. *gasp!* I was amazed since I didn't know that was possible. So, being the inquisitive type, I did a bit of poking around, found the Post Options link and am making use of this feature at this time - I hope. There's every possibility I goofed and this post will happen in mid-February. Pookie and I are on the road right now (the now for when this post should be posted as opposed to the now when I'm typing this), and looking into my crystal ball, I see we are having an awesome time and are on our way to watch the launch of space shuttle Atlantis.

It's the new moon and time for the TUSAL for November. The bottle is getting rather full, no? The little bitty bottle is the current Waste Knot Whatnot. I've been doing crewel embroidery lately and that accounts for most of the orts and the waste knots growth over the last month. Sorry, can't show the project at this time as it is a birthday gift for a friend, though I will post pictures of the finished product after it's been delivered. And don't forget, it's never too late to join the fun and sign on for the Totally Useless Stitch-a-long.

Bob is just so photogenic, I can't resist posting this recent picture of him. Enjoy that which is the Bob.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the air and on the road

The new and improved mobile version of Pookie and I are traveling again as of tomorrow. This time we're headed in the opposite direction - Florida! I'll be learning great new stitching techniques from Susan Greening Davis while Pookie amuses himself in (or at least near) the Gulf of Mexico. We're planning on watching the launch of STS-129 (it's Atlantis this time)at the Kennedy Space Center on the 16th and after that we're foot loose and fancy free. Don't know what we'll do or where we'll end up but we'll be having fun in the sun!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Finished Stitch Book

Boo, y'all!

For the past week, all my crafting energies have been directed to making Christmas gifts. Since I'm not sure who looks at my blog, this is all that gets shown at this time. I'll post real pictures after the holidays.

I did finish the Susan Greening Davis design Susan's Needlebook of Stitches. Here's a picture of the assembled book. All fourteen pages are bound with ribbon. Even though no stitches have been documented, I'm very pleased with the results. I've designed what I want for the back cover, but it will have to wait until I'm finished with all my holiday/birthday crafting.

When I was stitching the cover, there was a point when I was reloading the needle and took a look - a real look - at what I had sitting in my lap. "My stitches are filled with me" Ain't that the truth? It was just a fluke that I needed to reload at that point, but I'm glad I saw it and captured the image.

Here's a detail shot of the ribbon rose and "doo-dah" from the cover. When you attend a class with Susan Greening Davis, you're given a charm at the end of each class. In addition to the charm she selects for a class, the little scissors are the customary charm for first time students. Susan has taught me so much about stitching and the history associated with it, and I'm so grateful for it. For this reason, I put my first class charm on this project and it makes the project that much more special. I hope that some day this book teaches someone else.

In addition to being Halloween, today is Caturday! So, I'll leave you with a picture of the ever charming and loving Bob.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

TUSAL for October and something new

The New Moon is upon us and it's time to post a progress picture of my TUSAL orts bottle. The orts that have been added come from the SGD project I've been working on diligently. There's a new #8 perle cotton #738 ball label in the jar. For those of you at home keeping count, that's the second one. It's getting really full and should be overflowing by the end of the year.

See the little bottle sitting next to the TUSAL bottle? That's something new I've started: a waste knot whatnot. The vial is about 2 inches tall and 7/8 inch wide. I tend to use waste knots to start my stitching and just stitch over the thread/floss to secure it. The waste knot whatnot has only been in action for a few days but I'm liking it so far and look forward to a little bottle full of colorful knots. Too bad I didn't think of saving them earlier. Ok, they were saved - in the TUSAL bottle - just not separately.

Today's stitching was on the cover for Susan's Needlebook of Stitches and that added some color to the orts bottle. There are a few more specialty stitches to be done, and seven pages need some eyelets and then it's time to assemble it. Pictures will follow when it's all together. I like posting pictures of things that are done; progress pictures, enh, not so much.

With the holiday season fast approaching, Susan's Needlebook of Stitches stitch documention may have to wait a while. It's getting really close to time to start the ol' creative juices flowing for gift ideas.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cat walking

Buying a cat walking jacket from MetPet was probably the best thing I've ever done for Bob. He loves it! And it took surprisingly little time for him to learn that if he tolerates getting the jacket on that he gets to go outside and sniff, sniff, sniff. Our walks haven't gone far - just around the yard - but for Bob it's all about smelling what's been going on.

"Does this jacket make my butt look big?"

Sniffing the bushes, reading the p-mail.

"Who's been here?"

"What do you mean 'time to go in?'"

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Rainy Tuesday

I got a nice surprise in the mail: a $10 check from the State Fair Creative Arts department. That's $6 for the second place sampler and $4 for the one that placed third. I think that's rather quaint. Bet those prize moneys haven't been updated in a coon's age.

In the not so nice department, the city of Nashville no longer wants to foot the bill for the State Fair so this last one really may be The. Last. One. It was nice to have the experience of participating in it.

No stitching since the weekend. I've been mulling over the placement of the eyelets and haven't reached a firm conclusion. The original design called for two eyelets on each page and a ribbon run through both, tied on the front. That's great if you've just got a few or even several pages, but I'm dealing with 14 of those boogers. I'm thinking I need three to four eyelets for a more stable stitching book.

Mull, mull, mull.

Oh, Mr. Stinky II is browsing at the feral cat bowls. The first Mr. Stinky met his demise crossing the street last year, so I know this isn't the same one. Seems like I'm running a soup kitchen for animals these days: Patches, Ginger, Big Yellow Cat, Tabby with White Feet (who I now know is named Ziggy), Patches's Evil Twin, and Tippy, the chubby gray and white cat with the white tip on his tail that lives across the street but always likes to grab a bite or two on my front porch. And sometimes this huge white German sheperd comes by really, really early in the morning and cleans out what little is left in the bowl overnight.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Still here...

It's been way too long since I last posted. My free evening time has been devoted to stitching on a Susan Greening Davis project Susan's Needlebook of Stitches, a handmade expanable notebook of stitches. I chose to make 14 pages for the notebook and have been working on them since the Alaskan cruise. The end is finally in sight, though, as I put in the final four-sided stitch on page 14 last evening. Now, it's on to the eyelets!

Friday, September 18, 2009


We had a great flight up to Seattle on Southwest. We told the flight attendents we were celebrating our anniversary and wanted everyone else to join in. We had a handful of drink coupons and bought drinks for all who wanted one. The flight attendents made us crowns from drink stir sticks and bags of peanuts and pretzels and a "cake" from a roll of toilet paper.

I love the vacation frame of mind!

We saw mountains...
and glaciers...

and more glaciers.

And all sorts of wild life...