Monday, April 10, 2017

Cross Stitch Bookmark

I found this cross stitch bookmark that came with the canvas and instructions in my stash.  I thought it would give me something to do with my hands while watching TV during our down time in the evenings.  For the letters I used a metallic thread that was difficult to work with.  It kept fraying and breaking, but I had enough of it to complete the project.  I chose not to outline anything, because I liked it the way it was at this phase and didn't want to add in long stitches that could get snagged on book pages.

I have a lot of leftover thread from old cross stitch and needlepoint projects.  I also created a stash of thread several years ago when you could buy a skein of DMC floss for just a few cents.  It was better than candy and lasts a lot longer.  I've been trying to find needlework projects to do that will allow me to use all that thread.  This was one of those projects.  I also bought some blank cross stitch and blank needlepoint canvas and have been printing out free designs from the Internet.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Fitting Fiasco

For years I've owned this wonderful, shapely cotton knit top that was my all-time favorite piece of clothing, because it not only had a flattering cut, but it was comfortable in any temperature, long enough to cover my bloating belly at the wrong time of the month, and dressy enough to wear in public, but not so dressy that I couldn't wear it while doing barn chores.  I wore it so much that it began falling apart at the seams.

Each time I went to a clothing store, I'd look for something like it, but could never find anything that came close.  I finally decided to recreate it myself.  I set it in my sewing room and spent about a year shopping around for the correct material.  I finally found a fabric that would work, but I wasn't sure where to start.  In the past, I always sewed clothing with the help of a pattern.  In this case, I needed to make my own patterns out of computer paper.  For about a year, I had crafter's block and did nothing.

I finally got on the stick and cut out some paper patterns molded from the shape of the top.  I then began cutting out the fabric.  After I cut out the back, I held it up to myself and thought, "This can't be right.  This is way too small."

Granted, I was holding the pattern for the back up to my chest, but I could still tell that it was way too small.  I then held the piece of fabric I just cut out up to the back of the original top, and it fit perfect.  It took some thinking, but I eventually figured out that I should try on the original top.

Holy smokes!  In the two years that it had been sitting in my sewing room unattended, my body had changed so drastically that it no longer fit me.  The top had a ribbon of material wrapped around the rib cage right underneath the breasts.  However, now that I am a middle aged woman going through menopause, my breasts have drooped to the tune of about three inches!  Which meant that I had to lengthen both the back and the front of the patterns for the new top by three inches in order to not have that ribbon of material running right over my breasts.  I would have looked pretty silly wearing that in public.

So, another lesson learned for the fabric design world.  Make sure the item you are using as your example still fits before cutting anything.  Had I kept going, I may have been able to finish the product, but I would have had to find someone who was my size from two years ago to be able to wear it, which would have defeated my entire purpose for starting this project in the first place.  I wanted the top for myself.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Stitch & Zip Coin Purse

I just completed the Stitch & Zip preassembled needlepoint coin purse / credit card case.  This is model SZ215 Modern Tulip.  The finished size is 4-1/2" x 3-1/4".  As usual, there was plenty of floss left over.

I love these little projects.  They are so much fun, and since I don't have to constantly be consulting a legend to know what kind of stitch and what color thread to put where, I can easily needle my way through one of these while watching TV in the evenings.

I'm setting it on my coffee table, and first house guest to admire it gets it.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Stitch & Zip Scissor Case

I completed this fun little project called the "Stitch & Zip SZ 920 Pink Rose on Black Preassembled Needlepoint Scissor Case" in about three nights.  The hardest part about it was hunting down the tiny scissors I knew I'd seen somewhere in my sewing supplies to put in it when done.

I only made one mistake.  When I finished the last stitch, I turned it over to look at the back and found a hanging loop of thread that didn't pull all the way through.  By that point I had put in way too many stitches to back up to the point of the loose thread, so I cut it in the middle with the intention of tucking each end into some stitches to finish it.  However, the thread ends were shorter than the needle and quickly frayed, making it impossible to thread them through the eye.  I gave up and cut them flush, figuring I'd fix it later once they worked their way loose.  There was plenty of thread left to do so.

It was the easiest needlepoint kit I've done yet.  Just how I like it.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Frogs Needlepoint Kit

This project is currently in the shaping stage.  I have it pinned to my bulletin board to get it as square as possible.  I plan to buy a frame for it someday.  It's a 10x10 Design Works needlepoint kit simply called "Frogs".  It contains a 12 count interlock canvas printed in full color, acrylic yarns, a needle, and excellent instructions.

I think this is my favorite needlepoint kit yet.  It was simple enough that it didn't demand my full attention, so I could work on it while watching TV.  I believe I only made one mistake in which I started up a new row with stitches sloping in the wrong direction, which was easy enough to fix.  I didn't have any problems figuring out which colors needed to go where.

Because the canvas was printed in color, each time I added another color of yarn onto the canvas, it began taking on this 3D effect.  There were times when I considered just stopping and not adding yarn into some places, because I really liked the look.  It might be interesting to invent a kit that comes with a canvas that contains some sections with weave that you can needlepoint and other sections that are painted cloth that can either be left as is or embroidered to add more texture and shadow.  When you do an entire crafts project in the same stitch, it ends up with a flat appearance.  The hard part would be trying to figure out how to fuse different canvas types together.

I do wish there were more needlepoint kits with the challenge level of "Frogs".  It seems that most of the options out there are either super intricate flowers or landscapes that require a lot of focus and mapping between the legends and the hands on work you do, or kid's beginner projects.  I recommend "Frogs" for anyone who wants an adult needlepoint project that can be worked on when your life is full of distractions, and you just want something to do with your hands that can help you relax that will eventually result in a fun and beautiful end product.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Needlepoint Eyeglass Case

This is my finished STITCH & ZIP preassembled needlepoint eyeglass case, copyright 2010 by Alice Peterson Co.  This design is called Paisley Jacobean.

If I could do one thing different, it would be to use the half cross stitch instead of the basketweave and continental stitches, because they warped even a small canvas like this enough to make the case lopsided.  I did use a wet cloth and iron, and stretched it out, but it's hard to undo something like that.  I suspect that with it being an eyeglass case, they recommend using full coverage stitches to avoid leaving naked canvas on the back that can scratch lenses, although the canvas provided with this project is a soft fabric as opposed to the harder, plastic kind.

The soft, fuzzy material on the back of the case had a lip to it at the top that I had to tack down with hand-stitching, because my sunglasses kept getting caught under it.  That step was not included in the instructions, but now I know to do that in the future before giving these out as gifts.  Not being able to get one's glasses out of the case easily is an annoying enough problem to make someone not use it.

With that said, this is an easy project that can be completed in a day.  I love the pre-printed canvas.  The only thing I would caution against is jumping into the needlepoint without first separating out the colors and studying the design.  There were several purple colors that were very close in hue, and I had to rip out a bunch of stitches because I picked up the wrong color when the lighting was bad.  Despite being a fast and easy crafts project, you still need to pay attention to what you are doing and think ahead.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Finished Needlepoint Pillow

After many interruptions and distractions, I finally turned my "Floral Splendor" needlepoint project into a pillow.

I was never able to get the distortion stretched completely out of the finished canvas, so I had to sew it as a parallelogram.  I should have turned the cover inside out to examine how well I lined up the cording with the canvas and fabric before sewing, but I did not think of it, and so the final result was cord and lip sticking out further in some locations than others along the edge.

I also discovered that I do not have a sewing machine foot that is narrow enough for me to machine sew along the edges where cording is involved, so the pillow had to be hand sewn on top of the basting.  Basting is becoming my friend, because it saves me from a lot of pin pricks.

Also, this time I was smart enough to dig around in the kit for instructions on how to cut and assemble the backing, so there is enough overlap that I did not have to sew the back pocket together.  It's always a learning experience.  The problem is that it takes so long to complete just the needlepoint portion of a project this big that I forget what I learned from the previous time I attempted to construct a pillow.  That's why I write it down here.  Now I just need to remember to read my own blog before attempting to construct another pillow.

On another note, I ordered some smaller needlepoint projects online to keep my hands busy in the meantime, and one of them was a needlepoint coin purse.  When the box arrived, it contained the bag for the kit and the label, but no contents!  There was no coin purse, no thread, no needle, and no instructions.  The glue on the bottom of the bag had failed, and the contents must have fallen out in the warehouse.  I had to call Amazon to straighten things out.  The seller gave me a refund, but couldn't send me a replacement.  Oh well.  Sometimes buying products can be more of a hassle than it is worth, but at least the issue got resolved.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Graph N' Latch Owl Rug Kit

I completed making the M.C.G. Textiles' Graph N' Latch Owl Rug Kit as a gift to my daughter on her birthday.

The finished size is 18.5" x 27".  The kit includes 3.75-mesh canvas, pre-cut acrylic yarn, a color chart and instructions.  I bought the latch hook tool separately.  I was torn on whether to make it a wall hanging or a floor rug.  I can always turn it into a wall hanging later.

As far as the latching of yarn goes, I made one mistake that multiplied because I chose the technique of using the previous row as a reference for what color to use where.  The problem with that method is that if you make a mistake, every row after that has a mistake in it as well.  In my case, I put one too many purple sections in the wing, but chose to leave it that way since it would just give the illusion that the owl is cold and fluffing up his feathers.  I did not make the same mistake in the owl's head, because I started counting rows once I caught the problem with the wing.

Cutting the excess mesh and applying rug binding was where I really struggled.  I've only made one rug like this before, and it was oval shaped.  The owl has many more curves that required notches to be cut out of the mesh in order for the hem to fold over smoothly.  I had to be careful not to cut so close that the yarn could fall off.  However, that left some sharp edges, so I had to try my best at covering the sharp edges with binding.

I basted the mesh hem over to make the binding process easier.  I ran out of iron-on rug binding before I made it all the way around the edge.  All I had on hand was sew-on rug binding.  I quickly discovered that it is very difficult to push a needle through the existing iron-on binding, and I was running out of time because my daughter was coming over to open her birthday presents the next day.  In the morning, I raced out to the crafts store and bought more iron-on binding to make a second row of coverage over the mesh hem.  Ironing the binding on is so much easier than sewing.  I was done in less than five minutes.

It turned out that I didn't have to hurry, because my daughter's birthday celebration had to be postponed because she was ill, but it sure feels good to be done.  Another project can be checked off my list.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Another Needlepoint Block Complete

This is a Dimensions needlepoint project called "Floral Splendor", designed by Barbara Baatz Hillman from the Kooler Design Studio.  It's a pre-printed 18x18 inch canvas that can be made into a pillow or hung in a frame on a wall.  The finished product is 14x14 inches.

As I get older, my eyesight gets worse, so I try to avoid counted stitch projects.  I need the design to be printed on the canvas like this one.  However, due to the intricacies of this gorgeous design, I still managed to miss a few stitches even when using a magnifying glass on top of thick reading glasses.

There were also some hues that were too close to each other in color for me to differentiate between them, so I had to consult the legend repeatedly.  However, pinpointing a tiny spot on the canvas and matching it up perfectly with a tiny spot in the middle of the guide was no easy feat since the guide was blown up into two large pages.  Figuring out whether the middle spot I was working was on the left page or the right page was a struggle.  I decided to go rogue in the last few stitches, picking whatever colors I saw fit.

My other challenges with this project included me repeatedly dropping the needle and having it slip down the side of the couch onto the floor.  I had to crawl around with a flashlight several times to locate it.  I also kept "losing" floss, only to discover that it had stuck to my clothes and fell off somewhere in the house or garage.  Fortunately, there was plenty of extra floss left over by the time the project was done, so I really didn't need to worry.

Because I used the continental stitch mostly throughout, there is a lot of stretching that needs to be done at the moment.  I think I am on my fourth stretch.  If I do a similar project in the future, I will have to remember to use the basketweave stitch as much as possible to prevent distortion of the canvas.  The continental stitch usually results in a parallelogram shape instead of a square, so I have to mist the needlepoint with water, stretch and pin it to a bulletin board repeatedly until I get it as close to a square as I can.

I think I will opt to make a pillow since cording and fabric are much less expensive than large frames.  It should be beautiful when finished.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Needlepoint Wall Hangings

It feels like it took me a whole year to complete this 12x16 needlepoint kit...

...only to find out that I'm still not done with it, because despite stretching it out by misting it with water and tacking it to a bulletin board, it still does not fill the frame.  So, I need to complete 5 or 6 more rows at the top.

This is "Old Mill Cottage" designed by Violet Schwenig for Dimensions.  It was definitely the most ambitious and complicated needlepoint project I've worked on yet.  There are legends for the legends, so especially near the end while working on the finishing touches like French knots, there was a bit of deciphering I had to do.

Ironically, I completed this 5x7 needlepoint kit in a week...

This is "Butterflies Galore" by Design Works.

Despite just getting new glasses, I'm still struggling to see details.  I think every butterfly had at least two stitches that I missed, so I had to go back and tack in extra stitches.  I need to keep a bright light over the canvas while I'm stitching.  This was also the first kit that instructed me to use the half-cross stitch instead of the continental stitch, which I discovered makes it really hard to tuck in tails.  I ended up creating an occasional row of the continental stitch to make room for mistakes.

I appreciated the simplicity of this particular kit because the ink on the canvas matched the yarn colors, and enough yarn was provided to be creative.  I took some liberties with the smallest butterfly because it was supposed to be the exact same colors as the biggest butterfly and I wanted some variation.  That's why it looks like a kindergartner completed the smallest butterfly.