embroidered gift

December 25th, 2007

This was the very last gift I made and just barely done in time. It was for my brother in law and it’s the name of his band. And a large band it is. So I drew all the instruments in the band and embroidered them, then did the name in cross stitch free hand.  I got a little nervous that I wouldn’t finish in time toward the end of “flatpickers” and I think  it shows.  I’ve learned that cross stitch requires actual planning (this was my first attempt) so maybe next time I won’t just wing it.  On the whole I like how homemade it looks.  Folksy and modern–just like the band it’s for.  I wanted the hoop to be the frame, but a quick look around the internets didn’t turn up much, so I put another piece of fabric behind the embroidered bit and just cut them both to fit.  It’s pretty slippy, does anyone know how to do this properly? The gift is still within my grasp and I could fix it if need be.

Hope everyone had a very merry christmas and got at least something you wanted.

holiday traditions

December 20th, 2007

Every year my mom (hi mom) would somehow manage find a bird’s nest to put on our christmas tree. I grew up in Minnesota where there is several feet of snow and it’s ridiculously cold come christmas, so finding a bird’s nest is no small feat in December. So for the holiday traditions exchange one of the things I made was a nest. I was lucky enough to find a real nest (abandoned, of course, it’s cold here!) the very morning I was boxing up my package to send. It puts my little ruffle nest to shame, but I suppose my nest has a modern aesthetic (take that, bird).

The patchwork bit in the middle is a needlebook that I made for storing my partner’s popcorn stringing needles. We would string popcorn and cranberries most christmases, but I don’t think the popcorn string ever got all that long because, well, we would eat all the popcorn. The gingerbread man is a little stuffed ornament (I posted a pattern here and there are more I made here). We would make gingerbread men (and ladies) every year and before they would go in the oven we would give them extra legs, or no legs, two heads, six arms, basically creating an army of mutant gingerbread men that we would then cover in sprinkles and hang on the tree.

Now that I think about it, there was a lot of food on our tree growing up. I’ve always wanted to decorate my tree completely with food, not just popcorn strings and gingerbread, but gumdrop garlands and pretzel angels and marshmallow snowmen. But we have always had dogs, so half the tree would be eaten once we turn our backs. And now that we have two little kids they would pick up where the dogs left off and we’d be left with a bare tree. So maybe someday I’ll have a little tree way up high that I can decorate to my heart’s content.

That’s it. My package is somewhere between here and western australia now. I hope it (and our traditions) will be well received. I’m going to add this post to the sew mama sew Handcrafters’ Holiday meme because I’ve enjoyed reading everyone else’s posts.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Only six days until christmas and amazingly there is no furious sewing in this house. Just one more gift to make and then we’re off to Grandma’s house. There are always a couple people I forget and they are always the ones ready with a gift for me. So I thought I’d make a few ornaments to keep in my bag for those awful, awkward moments. I’m sure there are people like that in your life too: the weird cousin, the super smiley coworker. I thought I’d pass on a pattern for a gingerbread man ornament that can be whipped up quickly just in case you forgot someone. Click here to download the gingerbread man pattern and instructions. I included some pictures with the instructions below as well. If you make one let me know!

brown or tan wool felt
a tiny bit of white felt too
some stuffing (polyfil, etc.)
red, white, and black embroidery thread
white mini rickrack
fray check
two red buttons
glue stick


1. cut out template and pin to felt. Cut out one gingerbread man out of felt.

2. for the eyes cut two small circles out of the white felt and attach them to the gingerbread man with one black french knot each. With a backstitch, sew a small circle for the mouth. Sew buttons on with white embroidery thread–to make them look like candies, sew from the button holes to the outside edge of the button. Cut pieces of mini rickrack for trim on two arms and the leg, dab all the ends with fray check, and use the glue stick to tack them down.

3. cut a rectangle as big as your gingerbread man out of felt. Pin your decorated man to this rectangle. Make a loop of rickrack and tuck it in between the layers on your gingerbread man’s head (to hang him from later). Stitch by machine or by hand from A to B (the long way) 1/8inch from the edge. Be sure to catch all the rickrack as you stitch.

4. cut off the extra felt.

5. stuff the little man lightly and sew up the opening.

6. hang him up or give him away!

cozy cozy

December 18th, 2007

It’s a cozy cozy christmas.  I didn’t mean for it to happen, but it turns out my christmas gifts have a theme this year. I guess we all have too much stuff, so now we need stuff to put our stuff in.

Crayon cozies:

A knitting needle cozy:

and a tissue cozy  (that is going to my nana who is 104!)

All the patterns were from online tutorials (this christmas season I am thankful for the internet). They can be found here, here, and here respectively.  I can see the end of my christmas list now and I am very excited.  I really didn’t know what I was getting into with the whole handmade pledge thing.  Now that I think about it I haven’t bought anything–except for some thread and notions and a couple “just in case I forgot someone gift.”  But somehow the money still gets spent: pounds and pounds of butter for cookies, wrapping paper, tape, more tape, shipping.  It was a lot of time spent sewing, which I couldn’t have done without a very supportive husband to watch the babies (and vacuum!), but I am pretty satisfied with myself.  Let’s just hope the recipients like them too.

gifts for me

December 14th, 2007

I thought I’d show off some of the gifts I’ve received, because all the gifts I’m making are still in pieces (or shipped! yay!).   The tea cozy isn’t really a gift, unless you count the ones you give to yourself.   I never thought I would be a tea person, much less a tea cozy person, but after my second child I just stopped drinking coffee.  “COFFEE!” used to be the very first thought I had when I woke up in the morning, but my son was very sensitive to caffeine and with two kids I had to be able to nap at a moments notice, so I started drinking tea (fascinating stuff, Meg, do go on).  It is custom made (a couture cozy!) from this shop and it fits my funny tea pot perfectly.  The little knit thing next to it is a dishcloth.  Knit up by my mother, just because I said I liked hers. Thanks, Mom.  I can barely knit my way out of a paper bag, so it’s nice to finally have some beautiful knit goods around the house.

My oldest friend sent me an amazing christmas package yesterday full of fabric scraps, vintage buttons and trim, and the feminine encyclopedia!  Actually, l’encyclopedie feminine des ouvrages! I took a couple years of French in college, but translating Baudelaire and translating crochet patterns don’t have much in common.  Luckily the diagrams are explanation enough and the ideas are pretty fantastic.  I do love me a good 70s craft book.

Did you open any of your christmas presents yet?