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ice cream, instagram swaps, and travel plans

New York Cherry Pouch

I recently participated in my first handmade project swap on Instagram. Each person made a zippered pencil pouch, and the theme was favorite ice cream flavors!

Susi was one of the organizers of the swap, and she also was the person who made a pouch for me. (I made a pouch for Millie.) My favorite ice cream flavor is New York Cherry, and I'm pretty sure it goes back to when I was little and memories of going out for Chinese food with my grandparents. Anyway, Susi perfectly captured the flavor of the ice cream...and my love of the Statue of Liberty. Pretty sure she didn't even know that about me!

And what's even more perfect is that I'm currently planning a trip to New York City this fall, and the lovely lady liberty is on my list of things to see and do. You can bet that this pouch will be coming with me!

In the meantime, I'm thinking that I need to organized a handmade swap (I did one once before), I've just finished another round of proofing on my book, and I'm nearly finished with a new project to share with you. Just a little more stitching! Busy, busy around here!

confessions of a thread licker

thread licking self portrait

You guys. I lick my thread and embroidery floss.

I mean, not like, just for fun. I promise I only lick it to thread my needles.

Yes, I know I could use a needle threader. I even made my own!

And yes, children do get grossed out if you do this when you help them get started with their own embroidery.

Yes, there are other ways to do this. (I'm amused by this "manly" site!)

And really, yes I do know that supposedly it can cause your needle eye to rust.

I just don't see me changing any time soon.

How about you? Are you a thread licker?

printable // matchbook needle books

Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books

Two weeks ago I shared my very non-technical guide for choosing the right needle for the right job. In that same spirit, I thought I might make it easier for all of us to keep those needles separated by their types: small, big, and just right.

The idea for these printable needle books that work like a matchbook came from Kristen of Hey Paul Studios. She packages needles like this for embroidery kits, and when I saw hers (they were polka dot!), I knew that I needed to make some that are printable.

To make yours, you'll need:

Card stock
Felt (I recommend wool or wool blend...it makes your needles happy!)

Needle Size Matchbook Printable

Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books

Cut out around the rectangles, then fold on the lines.

Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books

Cut a piece of felt that is just a little smaller than the back section of the needle book. If you print these at 100%, the felt should be about 1-3/4 x 2-1/8 inches. Place it on the inside of the matchbook and fold the short end up over it.

Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books

Staple through all the layers on the line, and then add your needles.

Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books

Fold the top over and tuck it in the flap.

Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books
Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books

Repeat for all of your needle size needs!

Printable Matchbook Style Needle Books

I also made this Crafty Characters version that I'll be sending out to folks on my mailing list later this week. If you'd like to get near-monthly emails from me with bits of news, special offers, and freebies (like this bonus printable!), you'll find the sign up on my Connect page.

handmade charlotte // fishy friends

Fishy Friends Hand Puppets

With a beluga on my calendar this month, I've definitely been thinking under the sea, and that theme showed up in my most recent post on Handmade Charlotte! You can find the printable to make Fishy Friends Puppets right here. I'd also like to point out that these could be shrunk down to be used as embroidery patterns...hint, hint.

Have fun, and just don't get them too wet!

book review // edward's menagerie

Edward's Menagerie

My first peek at the book Edward's Menagerie had me instantly wanting to see more.

When I was contacted about this title, I was both excited and hesitant. You see, Edward's Menagerie is a book of animals to crochet. And I don't really crochet (I have a little, but it always takes great effort). So I told the representative for the book this. I also told her that I really liked what I saw, and would still like to blog about it. I told her that my review wouldn't be based on my being able to actually make anything, but she said that would be fine. Really, I think the reason is because I told her what my review would be. Would you like to hear it?

This is so cute!

And it is. Kerry Lord, the author of this book and creator of all these sweet animals started to crochet when she was expecting her son. She kept making them and soon she had created a whole menagerie of creatures for Edward. Just look at these darlings!

Edward's MenagerieEdward's Menagerie
Edward's Menagerie

How could you resist them?!? Even though I have no idea if I can make these animals, I know that I want to try. The techniques section looks quite clear to me, so maybe it's time that I pick up a hook again?

For all my crochet friends, check out Edward's Menagerie from TOFT Alpaca Shop, and while you're there, be sure to admire all of the gorgeous yarn that was used to create these animal friends!

Edward's Menagerie

beyond embroidery basics // coral stitch coral

Coral Stitch

A few years ago I first published my Embroidery Basics series. If you're new to embroidery or are wanting to get started, I recommend that you check it out. Recently I've been sharing some additional stitches, and calling it Beyond Embroidery Basics. These stitches are more advanced, though not necessarily difficult, and they are great for making your embroidery well, less basic.

For a long time, I've loved today's stitch, even though I rarely get the chance to use it. To get us started, I thought I'd let my friend Olive introduce what we'll be working on.

Wait. Um, Olive? I think you're confused. A corral holds horses. We're talking about coral stitch. You know, like the color.

What? No, no, no. You can stitch with any color of floss, I just happen to be using coral for my coral stitch. Never mind. Let's just start stitching.

Coral Stitch

To start, I've traced the coral from my Bitty Beluga pattern. But you could easily draw something similar on your own, or try this with just about any like you'd like. I'll be using all six strands of (coral!) floss. Tie a knot in one end and thread the needle with the other.

Coral Stitch

Come up from the back at the start of your line. Lay the floss in the direction that you'll be stitching, and then curve the tail to the left. If you're left handed, you'll want to reverse all these directions.

Just a short way from where your thread came up, take your needle down and back up in a single stitch, perpendicular to the line you're working.

Coral Stitch

Bring your needle over the working thread on the left and pull it through.

Coral Stitch

As you pull the thread taut, it will form a knot on the surface of the fabric. Which is why this stitch is also called coral knot.

Coral Stitch

Here's the next stitch forming, from another angle. The same process is repeated, with the knots spaced evenly.

Coral Stitch

Each of these knots is about 1/8" apart. See what a neat little line they make? At the end of your line, just bring the needle through to the back of your work.

Oh, sure! You can change the spacing and size and you'll have a different feeling to the coral stitch. It's subtle, but it's there.

Coral Stitch

With this little line, I started making the knots further apart. You probably wouldn't want to go more than about 1/4" apart, because the floss separating each knot could snag.

Coral Stitch

Here the stitch worked perpendicular to the line is wider. This results in a larger nodule on the line. I think it would look cool to have this alternating with the standard size!

Coral Stitch

Try out a few ways to do this, and you'll find it has a nice rhythm, and a really pretty look.

Well, what do you know, Olive? It is coral. That's why we call it coral stitch!

Oh, and Jennifer asked what else you might use this stitch for, and here are some ideas: curly hair, necklaces, ruffles...lots of girly things! I've also seen it used as a fill stitch, with the nodules nestled together in rows. Plus, frames and borders would be fun with this stitch. If you have ideas for using coral stitch, share them in the comments!

Coral Stitch

Happy Stitching!

project // quilted hexagon frame

Quilted Hexagon Frame

I've been thinking about starting another big (well, more like medium) English paper piecing project. Ever since I saw the ferris wheel design, I've been itching to try it. Since I really shouldn't start another something I can't finish within a short time, I did the next best thing. I used the design to make something that I could finish in a short time!

Actually, it worked out even more perfectly than I could have planned, because I was going to work on a way to use EPP to frame small embroidery. I was going to involve half hexagons though, which I don't particularly love making. So...ferris wheel as a frame it is!

You can use this method to encircle any small embroidery, and really, if you make the pieces bigger, the embroidery doesn't need to be that small! The pieces in the downloadable template have a 1.5" side, making the completed quilty circle about 5 inches across.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Here's what you need:

Embroidery floss
Basic embroidery supplies
Basic EPP supplies
Sewing Machine

Quilted Hexagon Frame template PDF

Quilted Hexagon Frame

First, you'll need to have some completed embroidery. For this, I chose to stitch the words "Stay True." I wrote them on the fabric with a Xyron pen and stitched with 3 strands of embroidery floss. It's a little tricky to read in some photos...I should have gone with darker thread. But I know what it says, and since it's a reminder for me, I left it this way!

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Use your favorite English paper piecing basting method to make the embroidered hexagon and all of the squares and triangles that will go around the center hexagon. Join triangle to square so they will come out in the order you want them to be. My three fabrics follow a pattern.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Join each square to the center hexagon. Once you've attached the first, you can join the next one, then join the square and triangle edges that match up.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

After you've gotten all of the pieces attached to the hexagon and all of the seams joined, give your circle a good pressing. Cut a circle of batting and backing fabric to the same size as your pieced front.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Remove the papers from the EPP and place the batting on the back of the pieced front. Sew around the circle close to the edge.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Trim any excess batting and cut off the little flaps from the triangles.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Pin the front with batting to the fabric backing with right sides together. Sew around the circle, leaving an opening to turn it right side out, and making sure that you are sewing inside the line of stitching from when you attached the batting. Back stitch at the start and stop.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Turn the circle right side out. Normally you would clip the curves before turning so that they stay curvy and nice. You could do that here, but I didn't and was okay with how the shape looks.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Fold in the seam allowance (an iron helps!) and stitch the opening closed with ladder stitch.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Stitch around the center with embroidery floss and running stitch to add some quiltiness.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Thread a needle with embroidery floss and take a stitch through the fabric, close to the seam and right at the top center. Tie a knot to form a hanger.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

Now you can hang your embroidery somewhere that you'll enjoy it every day! Or...perhaps you'll get a jump on Christmas ornaments. Did I just say that?

Quilted Hexagon Frame

The center of this can be filled with any small embroidery you have already finished or you could stitch some just for this. I think it's a great way to highlight some words that you need as a reminder.

I had a hard time narrowing down what I wanted mine to say, but I settled on Stay True because I want to remember to be myself, to stay true to what I believe and value, and to remain focused on what my life is supposed to be about.

Quilted Hexagon Frame

What will you fill your quilted frame with?