A Simple, Floral Wedding Embroidery Hoop

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Another wedding, another embroidery hoop. But I think this one is my favorite so far. I’ve been following a few artists who use very small embroidery stitches to create these precious floral arrangements with thread, and I was inspired to try to here. I love how how the flowers turned out.

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  Summer Wedding Embroidery Hoop

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I attended a beautiful wedding this weekend of my sweet friends Kathleen and Drew. It took place at Ephesian Farms, which I was told is a relatively new wedding venue about 45 minutes outside of Birmingham. Every detail of the wedding was so thoughtful, but knowing Kathleen, I was not surprised. So I knew I wanted to return the thoughtfulness with a sweet gift. I made this embroidery hoop and attach it to a gift – a book all about Atlanta, the city they are moving to after their honeymoon.

Embroidered Hand Print Pillow

This project came out of a great collaboration. A friend named Amy recently connected with me on Facebook, asking if I had any ideas for a gift I could make for her mother. She wanted the gift to somehow involve her son and niece (her mother’s two grandchildren). I spent the morning brainstorming, and after a little back and forth on Facebook, we came up with the idea of embroidering the children’s handprints on a pillow.

I am so obsessed with this finished product.

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The first step required a lot of Amy since she had to trace her son’s hands. Apparently, he kept trying to grab the paper. Her sister did the same with her daughter. The traces weren’t technically perfect, but I loved the authenticity of them. It liked that it looked like we traced their hands directly onto the fabric.

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Amy and her sister sent me pictures of the kids’  hand prints on a 8.5 x 11 pieces of paper. Knowing the size of the paper, I tried my best to print the hand prints to scale. I cut them out, and traced them onto the fabric with a yellow pen. (It probably would have been better to use a pen with disappearing ink, but I didn’t have one at the time.) I then used black thread and embroidered on top of the yellow line.

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Since their hand prints were so tiny, I embroidered a few details to help fill in the space, like their names and the year. With everything stitched, I turned the two pieces of fabric in to a pillow.

I love when a customer order turns into a collaboration like this, with both sides bringing ideas to the table. Amy’s mother loved the pillow. But who wouldn’t love such an incredibly thoughtful gift!

Modern Plus Pattern Baby Quilt

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Dear reader, I specifically told you in my last blog post to remind me not to start a new quilt. You dropped the ball. I recently made a baby quilt. Okay, okay, so this has more to do with my lack of self control than your accountability. My little niece was born in January, and I had been itching to meet her, so to help temper my longing heart, I started cutting out squares of fabric.

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Ninety squares to be exact. For baby quilts, I base the dimensions on a standard yard of fabric – 36 x 44 inches. So I cut 5-inch squares out of two different fabrics: a navy solid and a light blue print. (Totals = 39 navy squares and 51 light blue squares)

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This quilt is a great pattern for beginners because you’re working with squares and straight lines.

After cutting the 5-inch squares, arrange the pattern on a flat surface (in my case, it’s the floor). Begin sewing the squares together a row at a time (always right sides together). I used a 0.5-inch seam allowance with the basic walking foot on my sewing machine. Then sew each row together. Stop periodically to iron the seams, and after sewing on the last row, iron the entire piece.

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It is important to take the time to iron the seams. For this quilt I used the quilting technique called “stitch-the-ditch” (I explain further down), and you need your seams to lay flat for this technique to work. Before moving on to the next step, also take the time to cut off the loose thread from the seams.

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Now that you have created the front piece of your quilt, the next step is to layer the three pieces together and start quilting. I found an adorable floral print for the back piece. It’s a standard yard (36 x 44 inches).

First, take the piece of batting and lay it on a flat surface (again, I use the floor). (I bought a crib-sized piece of polyester batting.) Take the front piece and lay it on a flat surface, with the wrong side facing up. Spray with temporary spray adhesive and let stand for a minute or two (this step is best to do outside). And then lay the front piece on top of the batting, smoothly the fabric as you lay it down. (It’s helpful to have a friend hold up one end as you smooth.) Flip the batting over and do the same with the back piece of fabric. (The back piece is a larger piece of fabric, but still make sure it lines up with the front piece. Once complete, I pin safety pins around the quilt as a precaution to keep the fabric in place.

The next step is quilting! Using the “stitch-the-ditch” quilting technique, you sew along the existing seam, creating a quilting pattern that matched the front piece. For this quilt, I sewed along the outline of each plus sign.

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Once complete, cut off all loose thread as well as any excess fabric that extends beyond the length and width of the front piece.

The final step is calling binding, the creation of the quilt’s edge. Since I had a lot of blue in a quilt made for a girl, I went with a pink binding. (I think it’s important to pick a color or fabric that helps connect the pattern and colors of the front and back pieces.) First, cut out several 2.5-inch strips, and sew them together so the fabric measure the lengths + the widths of the quilt. (I can’t remember the exact dimensions.) Iron down 0.5 inch on one side, and then pin the strip of fabric to the front side of the quilt (remember, always rights sides together).

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When you get to a corner, keep the fabric aligned with the edge, folding at the corner so the fabric overlaps (hopefully the picture can help explain). With the fabric in place, sew along the quilt’s edge with a 0.5-inch seam allowance. As you approach, stop sewing about 0.5 inch from the corner. Remove the needle from the quilt, and turn the quilt 90 degrees. Because of how you folded the fabric strip, you’ll have a excess triangle of fabric. When you put your needle back into the fabric, make sure that excess triangle is out of the way.

This process is hard to explain, but trust me, there are a ton of YouTube videos out there that are very helpful (especially for those who are visual learners like me).

With the one edge of the binding in place, I fold the fabric over the edge and whip-stitch the other side in place. (It’s a long process, but I find it easier that machine binding the whole thing!)

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Before I finished the binding, I took a moment to embroider my niece’s name. These personal touches make all the difference!

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I love the modern twist to the classic gift of a baby quilt. (And I’m a huge of the navy, blue and pink combination.) I did finally get the chance to meet my little niece, and she looks crazy cute wrapped up in this!

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A Custom Felt Playmat for my Nephew

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The brainstorming process for my nephew’s 2-year-old birthday present began about 2 months ago. I had seen ideas for a “quiet book” on Pinterest. Mostly made from felt, “quiet books” are these cute flip books filled with little activities that are meant to entertain and keep your kid still and quiet. I liked the idea (especially since Josiah is quite the jet-setter), but I wanted something bigger! (He’s my only nephew to make things like this for!) That is when I had the epiphany to create an awesome, felt play mat – customized for his life.

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I started by purchasing a yard of green fleece. In my opinion, fleece holds up better over time than felt. (Felt can shed and eventually start to ball up.) Though I planned to use felt for the details, I knew fleece would be a better foundation. Plus, fleece is much softer in case my nephew every decides he wants to use the mat as a blanket.

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Cutting out the streets and the buildings took a few days. (And as you can see, I let it take over the floor of my kitchen.) I cut everything by freehand, so I did experience some trial and error. Initially, I cut the streets pretty wide, but as I cut out more and more building, I made the streets skinnier to fit everything on the mat. (Plus, I found this cute wood cars that were the perfect size for my smaller roads.)

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With everything cut out and in place, I used no-heat sewing glue to glue everything down. The glue left marks at first, but they go away as the glue dries.

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Despite everything being glued down, I wanted to secure the felt pieces in place by sewing everything down. (I am giving this to a 2 year old.) I used clear and white thread, and it took about a week to finish since I sewed everything by hand. I also used embroidery floss to add a handful of details – like a sign for the gas station and items for sale at the market.

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The back side of the fabric shows all of the work, but no one wants to see that. So I found this adorable fabric at Joann Fabric that I used as a back piece.

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I customized this mat for Josiah, picking places that he would recognize from his everyday life. And from what I’m told, Jo loves some pizza and ice cream.

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Since they live right on the ocean, I added a beach with the surf club my brother belongs too. For the zoo, I decided to leave the space blank since Josiah has so many small, plush animals he could place there.

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I totally took this gas station/car wash idea from Pinterst. I’m obsessed with the car wash. It’s my favorite element on the whole mat!

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Dad’s office on the left, and a school on the right.

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Their local grocery store is Carrefour. I tired to copy the store’s logo. Though looking back, I’m bet I subconsciously picked a green roof because I shop at Publix. And then with a little extra space, I placed a blue U.S. mail box!

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The train station was a must! And this too is an idea I found on Pinterest. I cut rick rack into piece for the railroad tracks, and then used felt to create an accompanying train station.

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Last time I went to visit my brother and sister-in-law, we walked into the same music shop everytime we walked by it, so it was also a must-have. Plus, I think the little guitar and bongos look super cute in the windows. The fire station was added because I think it’s pretty iconic.

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These three buildings represent Josiah’s apartment on the right. His grandparents’ house is in the middle. And I added a house I thought could represent their good friends, the Wallaces. (Plus, I wanted to use the silhouette of that archway somewhere on the mat since it ties in so closely to where Josiah is growing up.)

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Finally, I added a Medena, or a little market. Of course, this is a lot smaller than the ones Josiah goes too, but I thought it was a needed detail.

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I attached the back piece of fabric the same as if I was making a quilt. I used basting spray to attach the two pieces together, and then I used denim fabric cut into 2-inch wide strips to bind the edges.

Hand-Stitch a Star Chart

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A needle and thread are the only tools you need to recreate the night sky. My love for the stars and their constellation stories are not new. (You might remember my first constellation-themed project with a pair of Toms.) So when I began to brainstorm new projects to help decorate my new desk at work, I ended reverting back to a favorite, creating this hand-stitched star chart banner.

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Like my pair of Toms, I started by splatter-painting the material with silver paint, but this time, I used a piece of navy muslin fabric. (Sorry, I did not make note of dimensions) This process helps create the look of infinite stars, adding a beautiful layer of dimension. Once done with the silver paint, I did splatter on a little white paint too.

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Once the paint dries, I start with my needle and thread. I printed off a a star chart to help with a few constellations, but for the most part, I stitched everything from memory. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, use an erasable fabric marker to draw the constellations before stitching. Along with the constellations, I stitched several additional starts to help fill in the spaces between constellations.

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To finish, I took a matching piece of navy muslin, and placed the two pieces right sides together. Using my sewing machine, I sewed them together using a 3/4 inch seam. At the top, I skipped over an inch on each side to leave room for the wood rod. After turning the fabric right-sides-out, I ironed it, placed the wood rod, and used hemp string to hang the banner.