Sunday, May 30, 2010

Embroidery Tutorial- Braids

After posting a few pictures of a special project I've been working on, I received a lot of questions on how I stitched the braids.  I decided that I would whip up a little tutorial to show you guys.
I can't show the project that inspired this tutorial...yet.  It'll be worth the wait though, trust me.  I can't wait to share it with you.  I don't mean to toot my own horn but it's pretty epic.  I'm in love with it.

Instead, I'll demonstrate with this lovely Senorita.
Where the braids will be I just used a general outline so I know roughly how wide they should be.

When stitching hair I generally use about 3 different colors.  Here I am using 3 browns, my needle is threaded with one strand of each color (at the same time).  Stitch a satin stitch diagonally until you get the desired width.  There is no need to go all of the way across the braid, as this will get covered up anyways.

Next, bring your needle back up through the fabric above the section you just made but on the opposite side.

Stitch another diagonal section that overlaps the first portion you just stitched.  Once you've reached an acceptable width, bring your needle back up next to where the first section of hair ended.  Then overlap the chunk of hair on the opposite side.

Keep repeating this process for the entire length of the braid.

All of this overlapping helps to give it a fuller, rounder look that makes it very realistic.  

Hopefully you find this helpful!  And please don't hesitate to ask me any questions.
Enjoy what's left of your weekend, I've got to get back to my secret projects.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Day Late and a Dollar Short.

Hello, folks.  
Today has been the craziest day.  I know, I promised a tutorial today...however, unforeseen events have delayed that.  I wanted to check in, so that you didn't think that I forgot about you guys.  I'll be sure to post it tomorrow.  I swear.

Perhaps it's that the inspiration for this upcoming piece and the tutorial has changed... drastically.  I'm hoping that there was a reason for this madness.  I'm hoping he chopped it for a good cause, like soaking up oil in the Gulf.  (Did you know you could do that?  Yeah, you can.)  

I'll be honest, I'm still upset a few days later.

Willie, why?

When I first took this photo (a few weeks ago) it was to show that I get inspiration from stuff I just have around the house.  Like records.  I also took photos of a few other records that have inspired embroidery pieces that I'm working on.
I love Jim Croce.  
So freakin much.  
You really have no idea.  
I sing his songs literally everyday.  
No joke.
RIP Jim.

And just to show you that not all records are old.
Yeah, I have a COUP embroidery piece in the works.
Yep, one for Pam and one for Boots.
They are the shit.
No joke.

Ok, so really.  Tune in tomorrow for a tutorial on how to embroider braids.  Hopefully, by then I will be over Willie chopping off his.  Damn, Willie...

Have a good night!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Snapshot Friday!

Today's picks are from the '68 Spectator, the yearbook I got for my birthday.

Boys go to Shop.

Girls go to Home-Ec.
(Isn't the gal at the sewing machine just gorgeous?  I think so.)

Yep, there's nothing like some stereotypical images to portray gender roles.

Happy Friday, anyone have big plans this weekend?  Like many of my fellow Americans, I'll be celebrating the holiday with some good, old-fashioned barbecuing.  We're some grillin' fools in the summer time.

Thanks for looking, have fun out there!

p.s. Tune in tomorrow for an embroidery tutorial on how to stitch braids.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A 12-Pack of 6-Packs.

Ok, so just because I live in California does not mean that I surf all day.  Or that I'm super tan.  Or that I lounge around looking svelte, with 6-pack Abs.  My lack of 6-pack Abs may or may not have something to do with my love of 6-packs.

I made some pocket sized notebooks with old beer packaging and some random paper I had lying around.
Dillon has been doing a lot of small one minute sketches lately and I figured these would be perfect.  Plus, I always like to have paper to write on- you know me and my quotes.  

I like that they aren't too special.  That way we can doodle, be rough with them, lose them.  All of that good stuff and not feel like we are wasting our fancy schmancy journals that we've actually paid big bucks for.

Like I said, it was random paper.  Way random.  Some of them have pink pages, some have green.  I spruced up the inside covers just a wee bit so they aren't so ugly to look at.  Besides scrapbook paper, I used some of the marbleized paper that we made awhile back.

After I was sick of the pink and green, I used some white unlined index cards for a few of them. Perfect for ink washes and watercolors.  Who knows, even a bit of collage perhaps.  Maybe I'll turn one of those ones into a mini art journal.

Yeah, just another crazy craft I made with my trash.  Just doing my part to help Mother Earth.  Man, I love when garbage transforms into greatness.  Made anything "trashy" lately? 

Thanks for looking, go make something great!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Teaser for Sam!

Today I'm going to be a bit mean.  I'm going to post a little something to torture tease poor Sam.  See, we are doing a personal swap that involves a little guesswork.  We will both embroider each other a scene and a quote from a movie and the recipient has to figure out what it is from.  Accckkkk, it's so much fun!  I love how the one I'm working on right now is turning out.  However, it's so obvious that it was hard to take a picture that didn't give it away.  I hope this one doesn't.
 For those of you in the know, please don't spill the beans.  The suspense of waiting for it to get to her is going to kill me, I know it.

Thanks for looking, gotta get back to stitching or these pieces will never be finished by the end of the month!  I hope you have a productive day.  I'll be back later to share my 12-pack with you...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thriftacular Thursday!

I have big plans for these crafty gems that I picked up recently.

* I'm pumped about the bandanna patchwork fabric... I'm thinking embroidered cowgirl pillows.

* Super excited about finding the cotton batting, I've been wanting to make a quilt lately.  Crib size is perfect, I won't get too overwhelmed with a huge project.  I have enough of those going on.

*  As for the zippers, what can I say?  I have a problem.  I always pick them up if I see them when I'm thrifting.  Besides who can pass up those awesome colors?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

Found anything great lately?  What are your favorite things to look for when you are out and about?

Thanks for looking, I'm headed back to Stitch City aka my little corner.  
Have a fun-filled, creative day!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tried This?

Hello kiddos!  I've been stitching a whole lot lately, so I've got nothing but needles and thread on my mind today.  It occurred to me that you guys might like to know some of the tips and tricks that I use when I'm embroidering.
One of the most common complaints with embroidery is how tough it is to work with metallic floss.  In the beginning, I felt the same way.  Years ago I suffered through a race car project made entirely of metallic floss... and all six strands of it too.  After a newcomer mistake like that it's a wonder I ever picked up a needle again.  I've mentioned Thread Heaven before as something that will help you out.  However, I'll show you a little something that you can do that won't cost you anything.  

Did you know that there is a correct way to thread your needle with metallic floss?  Yep, there sure is.  I know you're thinking, don't you just cut a piece, knot one end and put the other through the eye of the needle and then get to stitching?  Well, that will work too but trust me, once you try it the other way you'll never go back.  

Cut a piece of floss twice as long as the length you like working with.  Separate one strand of floss from the skein and fold it in half.

Thread the loop created by folding it through the eye of the needle.

Pull this loop over the sharp end of the needle.

Pull the loop back to the eye of the needle.

Adjust the loop so that it held securely under the eye of the needle.

Knot the loose end of the floss as you would normally and get to stitching.

Sometimes I like to mix metallic floss with a regular color.  You can use the same method to accomplish that, just place the two threads together before you fold them in the first step.  Running some thread conditioner or a damp cloth over them in the beginning with help when you are stitching with them.

A few more tips for metallic floss-
* Work slow, choosing the placement of your stitches carefully.  As this type of floss is stiffer than regular embroidery floss it will not lie the same against your fabric.

* Using a slightly larger needle helps too.  It allows the floss to pass through with less fraying.

* If you get tangled up, just let go.  Drop the needle and it will unwind itself.  And with this method you don't have to worry about losing the needle when you do this.

Did I forget anything?  Do you have a tip for working with tricky floss?  If so, I would love to hear it!
Thanks for looking, have a creative and productive day.  Go make something with your shiny floss.

P.S.  Dearest Sam... a teaser for you.  So, the copper floss I used to demonstrate this method?  One of your pieces has already used a whole skein of it!  Curious now, aren't you?  Hmmmm, what could it be?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Psssssst...I have a Secret.

So, I'm sure you're all curious about my eye-opening, life changing experiences this weekend.  Am I right?  One was that I've officially set the ball in motion to accomplish something I've been dreaming about for a while now.  I don't want to spill all of the beans right now but I will tell you this- that embroidered flier I showed you a few weeks back?  The one for my stitching group?  Yeah, it's been started.  The calendars are being consulted, people are being recruited, and my excitement level is rising.  I will do this!

Another is that Dillon and I attended a PostSecret event.  I feel like I walked away from the experience a different person.  I've been a follower for years, so when I saw that Frank was coming to Sonoma County I literally let out a little scream for joy.  There would be no way that I would miss it.

I've heard that these talks are emotional experiences but, geez louise, even I almost shed a tear or two.  Hearing Frank's thoughts on it and the secrets of those brave enough to stand up and speak that night was absolutely amazing.  Afterward, I stood in line to purchase a book.  It wasn't in the budget, but it felt good to have something to remember the night with.  Like the feeling you get when you blow the last of your money on ice cream (or beer, whichever suits your fancy)- you just don't care because it made you feel so good.  

Waiting for my change, I realized that with your book you received an actual secret that had been mailed to Frank!  Acccckkk!!!  I began looking at the tops of the piles, trying to figure out which one was going to come live with me.  I spotted one that was a collage, covered in all sorts of crazy bits, paint, and even a bit of lace.  I figured that would be it for sure.  I glanced away for a second so I wouldn't see her choose.  I took my change, shoved my secret in my book and pushed my way out of the mob.  I found a place off to the side to peak at my new treasure.  As I pulled my secret out, I felt like Charlie Bucket opening a Wonka Bar.

This is the secret I received-

As I stood there holding this, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  Not because I didn't like it, but because it was so darned ironic.  It was perfect for me.  In fact, Dillon says this about me all of the time.  Not in the "Oh, look at you, reaching for the stars!" kind of way but more like the "When did you forget how to be happy?" sort of way.  It saddens me that I'm not the free spirit I used to be, I want the happy-go-lucky me back.  This helped me to realize that wanting it is not enough, I have to work at it too.   I'm not sure I can explain how cathartic it was.  I've been trying to implement change in my life to get back to the fun person I used to be.  This experience has shown me that I'm almost there but I still need to forget about the negatives and only focus on the positives.

I will work at it because I don't want him to be able to relate to this secret.

As Frank would say, "free your secrets and become who your are."

Thanks for looking, I hope that you have an insightful and creative day.

Monday, May 17, 2010


For someone who is normally a total homebody, I had a surprisingly eventful weekend.  We attended a car show being held in honor of American Graffiti.  It was in Petaluma, where parts of the movie were filmed.  While I was there I met the nicest lady who happens to go to school with Dillon.  (Hi Tanya!)  I was super flattered to find out that she reads this little ol' blog and is a big fan of one of my embroidered shirts that Dillon always wears.  It made me feel great that Tanya and her daughter were so encouraging of what I'm trying to do right now.  Thank you, ladies.

I can't wait to tell you about the rest of my eye-opening, life changing experiences later today.
See you soon!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Snapshot Friday!

Friday...already?  Yep, I guess so.  I know I switch it up on you guys a lot but today is special.  It's Dillon's Birthday!!  So, naturally as the creator of Snapshot Friday many years ago, he deserves a big shout out.  I know he reads this so he's totally going to be embarassed when he realizes all of today's photos are of him.  Muah ha ha ha!

I love him because...

he is always happy,

he is goofy,

he is gentle with creatures big and small,

he is talented,

he insists on wearing worn out shirts,

and he is a great Daddy!
Hyvää syntymäpäivää to my very own Finn!  I love you, Babycakes.

Cheesy, I know.  If you stuck it out this far, thanks for looking.  I hope that you have a wonderful, creative weekend.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A New (To Me) System.

So, I have a terrible habit of starting a project, getting bored, starting something else and then coming back to the original thing.  Hey, variety is the very spice of life, no?  I don't always work this way, just with large scale projects.  I'm trying to cut that out but old habits die hard.

For me, coming back to a painting and figuring out what colors to mix to get back to where I was at is no problem.  However, with embroidery it's always hard.  I sit there, holding every darned (insert color here) bobbin up to the piece.  Saying the whole time, "nope, that's not it..." until I come up with something close and then obsess over whether or not it actually matches.  I don't keep particular floss for each individual project, so I may have run out of a color or the kitties might have taken it to their stash.  Unable to find a match, I've even ended up at the craft store trying the comparison method.  Needless to say, that system wasn't working.  

Now, this is what I do for most of my big projects that are completed over a long period of time. 
Easy Peasy!  Two index cards, two staples.  All you have to do is remember to write down the number and location.
 (You may recognize the Sew Lovely Embroidery Pattern.)

I take the little bits that are too short to stitch with and add them next to the number.  That way I can be sure, I guess I don't trust myself with what I'm writing down.

People always ask me how long it takes and I never know.  So, now I also try to keep track of time for the pieces on the back cover.  (It also has the date started, some would say I'm obsessive.)

Yay for being organized!  Yes, I really do say things like that, sad, I know.  Besides being organized, I think it's a great way to keep track of projects, like a little memento left behind for the projects that get given away.   I have a stack of fuzzy edged books adding up.
How do you keep track or do you just eyeball it?

Thanks for looking, have a craftastic day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I'm not sure if I told you guys or not, but I joined Swap-bot.  As a crafty gal and a mail enthusiast, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to join a group of like-minded people.  Check it out, I would be willing to bet there is a swap or two that will catch your eye.

I signed up for my first swap too, an embroidery swap with a fairy tale theme.  And even though send-outs are over two weeks away, I already received my package from the talented Snifferooski in Ohio.

Isn't it darling?  I love the tassels she made by putting the knot on the front.  I'm going to paint a frame to go with it.  Can't wait to show you when it's up on the wall.

It's exciting to get a little something a person with a totally different style than your own.  I never would have interpreted it this way, which is why I love it so much.

Now for my piece, to show or not to show?? 
I'm 99% sure that my partner doesn't read my blog but I'm still torn as to what to do.  I've already decided I will not be showing personal swap stuff on here until after my partner has received it.  (Sorry, Sam.)  But what about Swap-bot stuff, is there a protocol?  Since you don't know who your partner is, does it matter?  What do you think?  Help!

Thanks for looking, I hope that you all have a creative day.  I'm off to be productive...hopefully.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


Last weekend the boy and I were walking the dog around our neighborhood and the college campus nearby.  On a whim I picked up the school newspaper.  Later back at home, Dillon was reading bits and pieces of it when he casually asked if I had seen the police blotter.  I knew it had to be something good because while I was reading it he just sat there staring at me with a strange little smirk on his face.  

When I got to the very end and read what I'm about to show you I flipped out.  I started laughing so uncontrollably hard that I almost fell off of my chair.  Soon tears were streaming down my face.   I was laughing that hard.  It was so great, in fact, that even after I calmed down the laughter would start again just thinking about it.  Ahhhh, it totally made my day.

It's the "Please Pass the Macaroni" Flier that I found!  Remember?!  I hope that you find it as hilarious as I did.

Thanks for looking, I'll be back later with some swappy goodness.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Snapshot Friday!

Ok, kiddos, you know what time it is.  Ready for it?  Today I have some more poorly stored, badly mistreated art class refugees that took in.

This makes me want a pair of Saddle Shoes.  I already have cat eye glasses.  I might as well just finish off the look.

I like to imagine these are the same two gals later in life, still laughing it up together.  But instead of finding humor at a classmate's expense now they just laugh at their significant others.

Thanks for looking!  Have a craftastic weekend.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

More of the Loot!

Getting up close and personal with some of the goodies from yesterday.

Don't ask me why, but I'm a sucker for old packaging.  I love this one-

These ones are huge!

And last but not least, some amazing green glass ones.

The ones where the paint have come off totally remind me of lettuce.

As if that wasn't enough for a picture overload, there's more!  You didn't forget about the linens did you?  Once you see some of them you'll understand why I was happy to give them a new home.  

Hand Tatting!

I'm saying these are bookmarks, Dillon is saying that they are ultra fancy, old-fashioned pantie liners.  Do boys ever grow up?  Eventually?

Ultra crazy sci-fi embroidery! 
I love this one so much.  I'm totally going to plot out the pattern of this and stitch one too.  I have no idea what it is or what it is for.  They are stitched onto small pieces of fabric, about the size of an average paperback book, and there is more than one.  There are also a bunch of other pieces of the fabric with just the bottom line and the red squares stitched onto them.  Like perhaps they were making a bunch more?  Strange, no?  I'm going to use this one as a patch.

It always saddens me to see these kinds of thing tossed aside after someone took the time and effort to make it.  I guess I can't complain too much because if people didn't get rid of it I wouldn't come up on it.  But when I'm looking at a thrift store and see what is obviously a lifetime's worth of work sitting there as if no one even bothered to look at it before they donated it, it tugs at my heartstrings a bit.  I guess what I'm saying is that I hope it doesn't happen to my stuff and if it does, someone awesome better buy it before it ends up in the trash.

This last one bothered me the most.


It's a rather large circular piece (it's folded in half here) with a flower border that wraps all the way around.  As I was throwing it in the washer I found a note attached to it that said, "This was the last hand embroidered piece that Nana made before she passed."  I kept the note but as the moment can't seem to find it.  How can someone throw something like that away??  Granted about a third of the stuff in the box had to be tossed, either mildewed or dry rotted from being improperly stored but the rest just had to be washed.  Oh well, their loss is my gain.  Some of them I'll leave as is, others I'm going to re-purpose or maybe even add to them.

Thanks for looking.  I hope that you have a creative day!