Thursday, July 25, 2013

Living In The 80's

Hey Guys! 
Time to jump in the 'way back' machine, we're going back to the 80's, cue music!
Oh, the 80's... Who didn't love the 1980's? It was a good decade, wasn't it? The music, the movies, the art! Born in 1974, I am mostly a child of the 80's, since it's when I did most of my growing up, and what a great decade to do so, too many things to list. 

Another Fifth Festival Friday of Fabulousness, Phat Quarter swap is just wrapping up over on Flickr, and now that my partner has received the piece of embroidery I made for her, I can share with you. The theme of the swap was "Living In The 80's", there was no way I wasn't going to participate in this one.

Can you think about the art from the 1980's and not think about Patrick Nagel?  Beautiful but remote, simplified, ethereal women.  His work was everywhere when I was a kid (even on one of my favorite albums!) and I don't think I realized how great it was until recently. It's also great fodder for embroidery, the hard part was choosing which lady to stitch. Now that she's finished, I want to do another one for myself. 

For this swap I went with Striped Pants.

(click any of these pictures to embiggen for more detail)

It was a fun challenge for me to make this piece, I did a few things I hadn't tried before and I loved the way they came out so I'm looking forward to using this technique in future embroidery projects. Part of the reason I picked this Nagel lady was because of her white skin on the gray background, I thought this would translate well to fabric and thought applique was the way to go.

Here she is traced out with fusible web ironed on to the white fabric.

I cut her silhouette out carefully... 

Then fused that silhouette into the grey background fabric. I think it came out very like the original piece that Nagel painted. I was already happy at this point, but this piece continued to come together so nicely, that I'm actually perfectly happy with it. Usually there's something I wish I'd done differently, some small regret. Not this time. This time it was like this piece was meant to be.

The first bits of stitching I did was her outline, stitched just barely outside the applique, then her shades, gloves and pants (which I'll be honest, I thought was a skirt until after I stitched it).

Then the hair. Stitching hair is a booger, ask anyone. I guess it's really not that bad, it just seems to go on and on (and on and on).
 I embroidered her hair in single strand perle cotton using a stem stitch, I liked the sheen of it, and the small twist in the thread gives her hair texture and movement. In this series of  progress pictures, you can see how I tackled stitching the hair. I like to do it kind of directionally, the way real hair would lay.

Her hair, earring and lips completed. Worth the time it takes to do right.

 Then all that was left was the yellow stripes on her booty. 
The stitching went quickly and was surprisingly neat on the back.

 I fill stitched the yellow portions using a brick stitch pattern. 

As far as finishing the piece, I painted a simple wooden hoop matte black,
 and finished the back like so,  a printed paper label with another Nagel lady and the details of the piece, attached to black fabric with scrapbooking brads. The fabric was spray glued to a layer of batting and mounted to a layer of craft board. Nice & neat. 

I added a sheer black ribbon to hang the hoop, and she was ready to go!

Miss Striped Pants is now living in Arizona with her new owner, who, I am happy to report loves her. Yay!! Just like every time I make something for a swap, I worry that the person won't like what I've made. I make myself crazy with that, actually. I need to stop.

So yeah, the 80's! 
Totally bitchin'!

p.s. I can't wait to show you what I got in this swap, it's terrific so stay tuned!

p.s.s. She got featured today over on Craft Gossip, yahoo! Go take a look.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Hola Amigos!
Happy Friday! This week seems to have flown by and while I haven't gotten much done in the way of stitching, I've been up to my eyeballs in fresh produce. Oh salsa, how I love you!

Last weekend I decided it was high time I visit a man of local legend to procure the main ingredient for some killer home made salsa. Tomato Bob, as he's known, grows tomatoes right there along side his house just outside of town and sells them at a little stand in the driveway. They are glorious, big, fat, red, juicy, delicious globes of goodness. I bought two flats.
I may have over estimated how much salsa I was prepared to make... two flats is a LOT of tomatoes. Fortunately, it won't go to waste in this house, my husband, if left to his own devices would subsist on chips & salsa for breakfast, lunch & dinner.

I don't use a recipe for my salsa, it's all according to taste, but it's pretty basic and goes a little something like this:
Onion, red & white
Jalapeno Peppers
Serrano Peppers
Lemon Juice

We like it with some heat, but not enough to make you run for the garden hose. Everything gets a rough chop, then gets a whirl in the food processor a little at a time until it's the consistency we like.

I ended up making TWO very large batches of salsa this week, the picture below is my biggest melamine bowl, I included the bag of chips for scale. I made TWO of these bowls, plus a little extra to give away. That's a lotta salsa!!
I think we've got enough to last us through this weekend, next week's another story. 
Now... where's my cerveza?

Have a grand weekend, friends! If you need me, I'll be in the hammock out back.

p.s. These pictures are all from my Instagram feed this week. I've just started using this thing, so I'm still learning, but here's me, come on over for a peep if you like. Are you there too? Do tell!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Embroidered Birdie Bunting

Hi Everyone!
Today I'm finally getting around to a special embroidery project I've eluded to twice on this blog (here & here). This was a multi-step project, I loved every step.

This is The Birdie Banner from Charlotte Lyons, as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to stitch it. It sat in my work basket for a long time, but once I started, I stitched & stitched until it was done.

Let's look at the birdies!
Hello yellow birdie! I did this entire bunting in fill stitch, does it take forever, yes. Is it worth it, absolutely! I love the little flower chain at the top of this piece.

Pretty flowers in a frilly vase,

The one I refer to as "the egg" I have regrets about this one... I wish I'd filled the center with a monogram instead of random little flowers.. ah well.

Pink birdie filled with tiny chain stitch. I love their sweet, round little forms.

My favorite of the flower vases. The pink flowers with the yellow centers make me smile.

Bluebird of friendliness, who watches over you, build a little birdhouse in your soul... love that song. 

Like I'd posted  about earlier, I finished the edgings in a new-to-me stitch, the knotted bullion stitch. I really wanted to do them in crocheted edging, but I still haven't figured out how to do that.

Fortunately, I adore the way this knotted bullion stitch looks and how it stands up off of the edge of the fabric. I needed something there because I fused the buntings to a backing fabric to give the whole thing a bit more substance.

It's my new favorite piece. It's hanging on my family room fireplace right now, and I anticipate that it will remain there until I decorate for Christmas ;) 

I finished the top of the piece with tiny pink pompom & the lightest aqua ricrac. Yup, it's dripping with pretty.
I think Charlotte's patterns are all beautiful, I have a wish list from her Etsy shop that I'd like to stitch, if only I could add more hours to the day ♥

Have any of you guys stitched this pattern, or other Charlotte Lyon's patterns? Point me to them, I'd love to see!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summer Lovin'

Hey Y'all,
Last weekend I stumbled on to a deal that I couldn't refuse and didn't want to. I've wanted a hammock for so long, so very long! I know it's might sound silly, but it's really a dream come true.

I've made myself a little nest in the backyard and have spent as much time out there as I could carve these last few days. Gently swaying with my nose in a book, watching the leaves flutter overhead, or sometimes just listening to the sounds of the neighborhood.

 It's the little things that make me the happiest, so I'll mostly let the pictures do the talkin'.
I picked up that pretty table cloth a while back at an antique store, it's hand embroidered, I think it was about $10. What a steal.

Hey look, a visitor! Boswell likes the hammock too.

Pleased as punch.

Couldn't ask for more.

Neither could he.
So happy.

A few things: the hammock & stand came from World Market, the pillow and green blanket are from Ikea. The Mexican blanket was a gift from my husband a few years ago. The cute doggie from BARK.

If you need me I'll be out back, knock loud.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tiny Cakes

So, a couple of days ago I mentioned that over the weekend my friend came over to belatedly celebrate her birthday. I made her a little something, and now that it's safely in her hands, I thought I'd share with you all.

Tiny cakes are my favorite, I've made a few of these now, the first one last summer for my own birthday. They're actually bottlecap pincushions, but I like to make them into cakes.
 I think this one is by far the cutest, fanciest one I've made. I just love it to pieces.

Like with just about everything I make, it all starts with indecision... I posted this photo on Instagram while trying to decide what colors I should go with.

Dez isn't an overly girly-girl, so I didn't want to make her an all pink cake. Instead I went with a soft, buttery yellow with pink & blue decorative "frosting" stitches.
Here's the little cake (with my original in the background) about 1/2 way finished. There's a lesson to be learned here, people, one which I have yet to completely absorb, and that is to do all the decorative stitches while the side piece is flat, BEFORE you sew it into a circle. I'm going to remember that one of these days.

Here's the finished little cake, couldn't ya just eat it up in one bite? This one might take two bites, it's quite a bit bigger than the others I've made. Instead of a soda bottle cap I used a Gatorade cap, it's about twice as big as a regular bottle cap.

I was fresh-out of little gift bags, so I used a piece of craft paper and made a small square open-topped box. Double bonus, you can drop in a battery operated tea light and it becomes a paper luminary. 

I hope Dez likes her little cake, it's the first thing I've ever made for her and it always makes me nervous giving someone something for the first time. Even when this person has been my friend since we were five years old.

Happy birthday, girl! I love ya.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Manly Stitching

Hello All!
I hope you've enjoyed a long, long holiday weekend as nice as the one I've had, which in all honesty has been spent completely at home. I haven't left the house since Thursday, and I'm as happy as a clam about it. I love going out on the weekends and having fun little adventures, but I love staying at home burrowing in just as much. We've watched the first two seasons of The Walking Dead, I've stitched a TON, we've made great meals, and quality time with my critters. Last night one of my best friends came over and we belatedly celebrated her birthday with some delicious Skip & Go Naked's. I slept in late today, and now, I'm making what promises to be some killer bbq sauce, from scratch, and chatting with you fine folks while Ferris Beuller's Day Off plays in the background. Yes, a very good weekend, indeed.

Speaking of birthday's, my hunny had his a couple of weeks ago, and I made him a little something that I thought I'd share, continuing two recent themes at once, the red, white & blue, and hexies!

I made Sean an oversized hexie mugrug with ice hockey motifs, his favorite!
Hockey Hexie Mugrug
I had everything I needed to make this in my stash and I whipped it out in just a couple late night sessions after he'd gone to bed. It was pretty straightforward to make, seven hexies arranged just so, stitched on to a piece of red craft felt and trimmed, then the red felt was stitched down on top of a piece of dark brown, wool blend felt and trimmed again. All top stitching and all by hand ♥ Cold beer in the hot summer creates a lot of condensation, but I'm fairly certain no drips will get through all of these layers to the wood of our tables, yay!

I don't know about you, but I always find it a really big challenge to make things for my guy. I mean, I make lots of things for lots of people, but I rarely make anything for him and after conferring with a couple of my girlfriends, we decided that the simple answer as to why is this: making boy things is hard.
Cute? Pretty colors? Easy. Masculine, clever, relevant? Harder.

Anyway, I think I succeeded with this little make, he's used it everyday since he opened it. 
She shoots, she scores!!

So what did you guys do this weekend, anything exciting?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

My Heart Beats True For The Red, White & Blue

Howdy, y'all!
Wishing you all a wonderful Independence Day full of sun, and fun, great food, friends and fireworks! 
"Larger Than Liberty" by Mary Engelbreit
From every mountainside, let freedom ring!
Love to you all, love to my country. 
Happy birthday, America!

Monday, July 1, 2013

P.A.M. = Pretty Awesome Mama

My friend Pam recently celebrated her birthday, I was a couple of days late, but I made and sent her a little goodie to keep the party going and this tiny bunting fairly screams birthday ♥

Let me tell you a bit about my pal, Pam.

 "P" for pretty, inside and out. She's a lovely soul, and she doesn't give up no matter what kind of crappy day she's having or what kind of challenge she's up against, she powers through with a little sass and a whole lot of class.

 "A" for awesome, because she seriously is. Take a look at all the neato stuff she makes, here, here & here! This lady is uber talented.

"M" for mama, because she's the one of the bestest dog mom's I know, and I'm sure her three crazy little dogs Lola, Jujube and Pete would agree, they have the most caring, nurturing, loving mom on the planet. 

Yep, she's a keeper! I'm so glad to count this fabulous lady as a friend. Now, if only I could get that Star Trek "beam me up, Scotty" thing to work so we could see each other on a regular basis, California and Oregon are close, but not close enough.

Happy Birthday, Pam!