Sunday, November 29, 2009

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Number Six

Today's idea gives you a chance to be extra creative - patchwork pincushions. This is a great way to use up scrap fabric, those special fat quarters you just happened to pick up, buttons, trims, and rick rack! No pattern is required...just a bit of inspiration, the aforementioned materials, some stuffing, and a needle and thread....they can be made by hand or machine. Shown in the photo - a few pincushions I made from fabric scraps in my stash and some fun buttons. A wonderful gift for a stitcher or seamstress...and to add a special little touch, give them with a package of needles or glass head pins...or some fat quarters of fabric and button cards...or a special sewing treasure - such as a pair of scissors, laying tool, seam ripper, or sewing ruler. Use a project bag for a gift bag and it makes the perfect gift!

For those of you needing some pincushion inspiration, has a wonderful reference with links to 60 FREE Pincushion Patterns! There are all sorts of ideas listed here, using all sorts of materials - you are sure to find a pattern to inspire you...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day

To those of you celebrating today, Happy Thanksgiving! It was a lovely day here in central Iowa...and I hosted/cooked the Thanksgiving meal. I have so many things to be extremely thankful for...loving family, a wonderful husband, amazing friends (who accept me, my quirks, and my crazy busy schedule!), a career I find joy in every single day...too many things to list...and I am thankful for all of you who share my passion, encourage me with your comments and emails, and support my designs - you all brighten my days!

The plate photo (on the right), is my husband's first helping of Thanksgiving dinner - his mother and I both admired the artistic layout of his meal and how it could be in a magazine photo shoot - I just had to take a picture! Below is a shot of our dinner table...

Wishing you all a wonderful holiday - filled with family, friends, food, and laughter....take a little time to count your blessings...and a little time to stitch....

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Number Five

How cute is this?! It is a "Sweet Treat Bag" made from 1 1/2" strips of fabric...and Moda has a free pattern available for this great little bag! This is the perfect way to use those pre-cut HoneyBun strips you see in local quilt shops....and it's possibilities are endless (for the stitcher, it is a wonderful project bag). The photo shown on the right is made from the holiday fabric "Crazy 8" by Sandy Gervais for Moda.

Another fabulous pattern for the same style of bag is called "Little Jelly Bags" by Bunny Hill this quilt pattern, designer Anne Sutton gives you instructions and ideas for five different sized bags, all made from strips!
These are perfect to use as a gift bag and tie with a beautiful bow...tuck inside a few sewing treasures...or art supplies...or a manicure set...or even some lotion and soaps...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Simba's Pet Pad

Taking a short break in the homemade holiday gift ideas to share a little personal project with embroidered "pet pad" (or at least that is what I am calling it) for my baby boy Simba. Simba LOVES to ride in my new Jeep, but I was concerned about my leather interior, so I decided to make him his own seat blanket and embroider his name on it. I made it with the softest no-pill fleece and machine embroidered his name and a paw print on the front...then inserted a 15" x 17" piece of NU-Foam Densified Batting...making the perfect sized pad! He loves it so much, he was sleeping on it before it even made it to the Jeep...I almost put a crown over his name (instead of a paw print) because he definitely lives like a little king!

More holiday gift ideas are coming soon...and I guess if you have a pet that likes to travel, you can consider this entry a homemade gift idea...

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Number Four

Today's holiday gift idea makes a great stocking stuffer...a tissue holder. These holders are made for pocket packs of tissues and there are a lot of different sewing patterns...along with a number of ways to "spruce" them up. I am going to give you some of my favorites!

For simple sewing, I have two favorite patterns. The Teacher's Pet has an inexpensive and unique pattern called "Tissue Totes"...this pattern is for adorable two fabric tissues holders with or without a hang tab (bottom right in the photo). Another favorite is from Thimbleberries and is from a fabulous pattern called "Quilter's Carry-All & Accessories" - this quilt pattern also includes a tote bag, planner cover, and eyeglass case!

For quilting in a machine embroidery hoop - The Purple Hat has a great digitized quilted tissue holder done completely in the hoop and is part of the Purse Essentials Set (which also includes an eyeglass case and zippered cosmetic bag). I love this design, as it has a zipper for closure, perfect for throwing in your tote or purse.

If you want to machine embroider a design on an in-the-hoop tissue case, visit Embroidery Library and check out the "In-The-Hoop Tissue Holders Design Pack". There are a variety of embroideries for these fun little tissue cases (bottom left in the photo)...

And finally, for those wanting a FREE tutorial or pattern to try, here are a couple of places online where you can print out instructions...

As you can see, these little tissue holders are easy to make and offer lots of options. For a special treat - put a package of Swankie Hankies or decorative tissues inside!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Number Three

Today's easy homemade gift idea is a humbug bag. These unique shaped bags are easy to make...and require few materials...the shape is based on a traditional 19th century English candy, from which the bag takes its name. They can be sewn/quilted with a regular sewing machine...or done in the embroidery hoop for those with an embroidery machine. McKenna Linn has a great "Humbug Bag" pattern for those of you with a sewing machine....quick and easy. For those of you with an embroidery machine, The Purple Hat has digitized Humbug Bags that are made almost entirely in the embroidery hoop. You can make these bags in various sizes...with fabric to match your recipients personal style....fill them with candies or baked goods or small treasures....medium and large bags are great for stitching/sewing necessities, make-up, jewelry, hair accessories, crayons, jacks, marbles, etc. - the options are endless! For those of you wanting to play with this idea, One Hour Craft has a fun, free tutorial that makes humbug bags out of patterned paper to fill with treats. I made the bags in the photo with holiday fabrics from my stash and plan to use them for small gift bags this Christmas.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Number Two

Today's gift idea - embroidered flour sack towels. These are such a nice homemade gift...and pair up perfectly with baked goods, or pot holders, or kitchen utensils...the list is endless. Flour sack towels are relatively inexpensive (a package of 5 for $5.50 at Walmart) and can be adorned with all sorts of embroidery - by hand or by machine! For hand embroidery, visit the Needle In A Haystack Stitchery Blog for a fabulous tutorial and free design...and you can find more hand embroidery designs at The towels seen in the photo were done on my machine...and there are TONS of great digitized designs available, as well. The designs shown are from the Vintage Christmas Tea Set from Embroidery Library...also check out for more great digitized redwork. Whether you embroider your flour sack towels by hand or machine, they make a great gift and a wonderful addition to any kitchen!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas ~ Number One

With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought I would take a week or two and write about some of my favorite homemade gifts and ideas....a little inspiration to get you in the holiday mood!

Today, the first fun idea is a "mug rug"....the perfect gift or stocking stuffer for a coffee or tea drinker! This quilted coaster has two pockets - one for a teabag or instant coffee sachet...and one for a could also include sugar and/or creamer packets! You can make it with or without a loop for hanging...and can choose the perfect fabric for the recipient. This particular "mug rug" design was done completely in the embroidery machine hoop and was digitized by The Purple Hat (they have great digitized designs and quick gift ideas!) measures about 4 1/2" x 4 1/2" square. If you are without an embroidery machine, you could easily quilt and bind one (a square fabric/batting sandwich). Give as a gift with a new coffee mug or teacup...or with fresh baked goods...

Check back often for more holiday gift ideas!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Merry Christmas Pillow

It has been an insane week - bagging, packaging and shipping the new designs to shops and distributors...along with my usual workload...a pile of finishing work for a customer...and trying to get some new designs charted and ready to stitch....but I am not complaining, busy is definitely a blessing! I took a sewing/quilting break today to try and maintain my sanity and get into the holiday spirit...

The center design is machine embroidery (Victorian Merry Christmas digitized by Embroidery Library). When I first saw this design, I knew exactly what fabric I wanted to use with it..."Christmas Past" by Polly Minick & Lauri Simpson for Moda...I had some yardage and a charm pack from this line in my stash, just waiting for the perfect project! I decided to make a holiday pillow with a pieced border....and I am so happy with the results! The pillow is 12"H x 16"W and has an envelope back.

I have also been working on some small sewing gifts - perfect for stocking stuffers...I will share these with you in the next few days.

Tomorrow will be spent making a short road trip to Cedar Rapids, Iowa for a family husband's grandmother is turning 92 tomorrow and his family has planned a birthday celebration in her honor. A big luncheon and get together...should be an interesting day!

Enjoy your weekend...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday Sewing

This morning I found a little "me" time with a quiet house...time to play with some machine embroidery and do a tiny bit of sewing. I started out working on a new zippered cosmetic bag for my purse...and enjoyed it so much, I decided to make a second little envelope-style pouch. The digitized embroidery came from "Pretty Purses in the Hoop" by Anna Haraldsson for Husqvarna Viking. The embroidery is done first - I used rayon threads (black and charcoal), along with a black metallic thread for the circle centers (a little bit of sparkle)...all on a silk fabric base. After the embroidery is complete, there is a small amount of sewing to finish off the pouches. A nice Sunday morning project...before getting back to work...

The last couple days I have been busy rearranging my design warehouse, bagging charts, packing and shipping automatic shop orders, and working on some new charting for releases in 2010. It is a crazy, hectic time. Since I have all my designs professionally printed, I keep stock of each piece in what my husband and I affectionately call the "warehouse"...every several months, I have to condense/organize the warehouse for the new designs. I thought you might appreciate seeing a couple photos of this special room (while it is under "under control") wall is shelving, ceiling to floor, with bagged charts in numerical release wall has shelving (more bagged charts) with a counter-top for packaging and weighing...the closet is filled with organized packing materials. The angle of the room and the height of the shelving makes it hard to get good images, but you get the idea! It is now time to get back to bagging charts...only twenty plus boxes to go...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pair of Precious Pillows

Finally, a beautiful sunny day here in Iowa...I am feeling much better...getting a bunch of work accomplished and deadlines fulfilled...the new designs are finally in printing production...and I have reached 100 blog followers (THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING) is a great day!

The last three days have been spent working on getting the new designs published...and this time, there was a bit of a challenge with the covers - but now, the proofs have been finalized and the printing is underway. This was a very large print order, but I am confident my printing company has it under control and I should have the new designs in my hand by the end of the day on Friday...then the *fun* weekend will be spent bagging thousands of charts, filling invoices, packaging and shipping...all in an effort to get my new charts to your favorite needlework shop as soon as possible.

I finished stitching the model for my SYHO Designer Encyclopedia this was a bit of a challenge to work with a 50 x 50 stitch count for me...but I am quite happy with this small design and look forward to sharing it with you in the future! I am now excited to work on teaching designs for 2010 and new pieces for the Nashville Needlework Market in February.
(By the way, have you heard - I will be teaching at the first New Endland Stitchers' Retreat in conjunction with ABC Stitch Therapy in June 2010 - I am super excited about this!!)

Yesterday, I took a couple hours to test two new machine embroidery designs for Shelli at Needle In A Haystack Stitchery; two beautiful Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness files - one has the ribbon filled with embroidery - the other the ribbon is applique'. I enjoyed finishing these two designs into a pair of pillows. The applique' was embroidered on wool felt (and the ribbon is wool felt)....and the ribbon fill design was embroidered on quilted cotton with rick rack for an embellishment. The fabric for the borders is one of my favorites (Karen Neuburger - 2006 Pink Ribbon Signature Fabric) and I have been holding on to it for quite some time, waiting for the perfect project! These will make very special taking a couple hours to sew was (again) great therapy for me!

...and although October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month) has quickly come and gone, we all still need to be proactive....PLEASE do your monthly breast self-exams and your yearly mammogram - early detection is key!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Time For Some "Therapy"

Now that I am finally starting to feel better, I am frantically trying to meet a pile of deadlines...I am completely overwhelmed to say the least...I am finally starting to make some progress on the "task list", but my stress level is at an all time high. So, I decided it was time for some sewing and quilting therapy...just a couple hours to regroup and re-prioritize...and to be honest, it was just what I needed to clear my head and lower my blood pressure. So here is a little bit about my Sunday sewing project...

I have had my hot pads and pot holders for years...haven't replaced them as long as I can remember...I have my favorites and use them all the time...they are not pretty anymore...they have stains and burn marks and look "well loved". I never gave them too much thought, until Shelli sent me her new "Hot Pads" project to test...and then I decided I needed to make new ones. This is a great "You Can Sew This" project...the tutorial was quick and easy...and best of all, it is FREE at! There are fabulous step by step instructions and color photographs - a beginner could easily handle these. The finish size is about 9" square...and they use 2 layers of Warm & Natural Batting and one layer of Insul-Brite (insulated batting), so they are nice and thick. The supply list is minimal...and I made two in a short amount of time. I made my own bias binding, but the directions show you how to use purchased bias tape...and I used grosgrain ribbon for the hangers, but the directions show you how to use bias tape. A fun and very useful project...I will be making more of these...maybe some for holiday gifts...
Now back to that ever-growing task list...but at least I feel rejuvenated! Make a few hours to do something you enjoy...