Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday Project - Felt Flowers

With the way winter's been bringing extra cold, snow, and cloudy days, I thought we could all use some flowers to brighten things up!  These are made from felt - you can use the ordinary kind from your local craft store or go all out and make them from 100% wool felt.  I used a sewing machine to add the decorative stitching, however, you could do this just as easily with hand embroidery.

*18 gauge florist wire
*florist tape
*glue stick
*wire cutters
*small pliers


1.  Using the patterns here, cut 1 bud grouping, 6 small petals, 5 medium petals, and 5 large petals for the rose.  Cut 5 sepals (the little leaves that hold the flower) and 4 leaves from green felt.

2.  Starting at the small end, roll the bud grouping piece tightly.

Sew together with a few stitches on the bottom.

3.  Put one small petal in between two bud petals and tack into place with a few stitches on the bottom.

Overlap the second petal over the first petal and tack into place.  Repeat with the last four petals.

4.  Put one medium petal in between two small petals and tack into place with a few stitches on the bottom.  Repeat with all the medium petals.

5.  Put one large petal in between two medium petals and tack into place with a few stitches on the bottom.  Repeat with all the large petals.

6.  Put one sepal on the rose as show below and sew into place going only halfway up.  Move thread to other side and sew down the other side of the sepal.  Attach all sepals this way, adjusting to make sure they solidly go around the rose.

7.  Bend a small piece of a florist wire in a 90 degree angle.  Hold all the sepal bottoms between your fingers and thumb and insert the wire into their center.

8.  Cut off a few inches of florist tape and wrap tightly around the sepal bottoms.  I use a little bit of glue stick at the beginning and end of florist tape to help it stick better.

9.  Cut about 18 inches of florist tape.  Beginning at the top of the stem, wind the tape around the wire at an angle.  I find holding the tape in one place and twirling the stem easiest.

10.  Put two leaf pieces together and sew a decorative stitch (on my Brother, I used 29 with a 1.4 length and 1.5 width) around the edges and up the center, leaving a gap at the bottom.  Insert a piece of florist wire into this gap, pushing it to the end of the leaf.  Repeat with the other leaf.

11.  Twist the wire that comes out of the leaves around the stem.  Cut about a foot of florist tape.  Cover the leaf wires, starting about 2 inches above the leaves and continuing down the stem.

12.  Admire your rose!


1.  Using the patterns, cut two back petal groupings, two front petal groupings, two centers, four sepals, and four leaves.

2.  Put two back petal groupings together and sew around the edges with a decorative stitch.  Repeat with the two front petal groupings and the center.  Layer as shown below and attach in the center with a button.

3.  Sew sepals together on the edges as shown below.

4.  Attach the sepals to the daisy by sewing across the tops.

5.  Hold the sepals together and attach a stem (same way as with the rose).

6.  Complete the leaves the same way as with the rose.


1.  Cut 10 large petals (I used two different colors - 3 of one and 2 of another), 10 small petals, one center, 5 sepals, and four leaves.

2.  With two petals together, apply decorative stitching to the large petals.  Tack together as shown below.

3.  Repeat with the small petals and tack to the large petals.

4.  Sew two centers together and attach to the petals with a button.

5.  Attach the sepals as shown below.

6.  Complete the stem and leaves in the same way as with the rose.

When I made more flowers to fill out the vase, I left the leaves off of some to avoid having too many leaves jammed in.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Story Quilts

Last September I discovered the story quilts of Harriet Powers (this blog post) and they inspired me to create my own year long story quilt.  Well - here it is 2011, January is almost over, and I'm planning my first quilt square.

Many different cultures use story quilts/cloths to record and retell events.  In looking for more inspiration for my quilt, I found the story cloths of the Hmong, created in the refuge camps in Thailand they fled to from Vietnam.  The Hmong have a long tradition of decorating cloth with intricate needlework.  Their story cloths use embroidery to record the events of war, escape over the Mekong River, and life in the camps.

This cloth is one of several created by Joua Xiaong, a young woman who has spent most of her life in the Ban Nam Yao Refuge Camp in Nan Province, Thailand.  See more photos here.


This cloth at the Kansas Historical Society tells the story of a family who escaped across the river and were taken to one of the camps before eventually ending up in Kansas.  The KHS has a good write up on what these escapes often entailed.

Dia's Story Cloth is one of those picture books that is really for older children and adults.  Written by Dia Cha, it uses the story cloth created by her aunt and uncle, Chue and Nhia Thao Cha, to tell the story of her birth in Laos and her family's escape to Thailand and eventual journey to the US.  The link to Amazon shows part of the cloth in close up.

For my quilt, I decided to go over the photographs I take each month and use either one or parts of several to make each month's square.  Next Wednesday, I'll show you how I did this for January.  I'm hoping that some of you might want to take part in this project with me!  I'll create a Flickr group we can post each month's squares to (to help inspire each other) and next January I'll post pictures of our creations.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday Sewing - Buttonholes

Most sewing machines these days have automatic buttonhole makers - with these, gone are the days of measuring buttonhole beginnings and ends, carefully making sure your stitches follow the lines you drew, and screaming and taking out tiny little stitches when it didn't turn out right.  For years I avoided buttonholes due to my "post traumatic stress" from making (or trying to make) buttonholes as a teenager in home ec classes!

I have a Brother 6000i machine, but many machines use the same basic buttonhole foot and procedure.  Read your manual before you begin.

*something that needs buttonholes!  I'm putting them in a smock top I made for little c - McCall's pattern number 4756.
*scrap fabric to practice on
*seam ripper
*disappearing fabric marker

1.  Make sure you have a full bobbin.  It's a pain to run out of bobbin thread in the middle of making a buttonhole.

2.  Attach your buttonhole foot.  With the Brother, this means taking off the regular foot and snapping on the buttonhole foot.  Pull the buttonhole lever down as far as you can and put it behind the bracket on the buttonhole foot.

3.  Put a button the size of the hole you want in the guide at the top of the buttonhole foot.  I'm using flower shaped buttons - I've found if you have funky shaped buttons, the hole doesn't always turn out the right size.  So when I have buttons like these, I find a nice flat button in the same size and use that in the guide.

4.  Grab a doubled over piece of scrap fabric to make a test buttonhole on.  The Brother I use has 7 different buttonholes - how do you decide which one to use?  I tend to use only three of them - 29 (a rounded one) for regular weight fabric, 32 for knits, and 34 for thicker fabric (I like using keyhole shapes for thicker fabrics and like the rounded end of this one).  For the top I made, I used 29 and made the buttonholes horizontal.

To practice, put the scrap fabric under the needle, making sure you have a good inch or two behind the needle.  Buttonholes are made away from you.  You don't do anything while the buttonhole is being made other than sit and watch.  When the machine is done it will make a couple of tacking stitches and then slow way down.

5.  Cut the buttonhole open with a seam ripper and test it to make sure your button with fit through - not too tightly, but not too loosely either.  If you don't like the size of buttonhole you get when you use the garment's button in the buttonhole guide, use a different button in the guide.

6.  If you like the size of your buttonhole and feel confident you can make one on the "real" garment, you're ready to go!

Mark with a dot or small line where your buttonhole will begin.  When using a pattern, I lay the buttonhole guide or the pattern piece (whichever has the buttonholes marked on it) along the garment, lift the pattern up slightly, and make a mark with a disappearing fabric marker.

7.  Make your buttonholes, trim the threads, and slit them open.

8.  To mark where the button goes, I pin the garment as if it were buttoned (overlapped correctly) and make a mark through the buttonhole.

9.  I decided this top needed something a little more, so I put a crocheted edging around the neck and down the front.  I explain more in depth how to do that in this post on adding an edging to pillowcases.  Since then I read a cool hint on using a chain stitch as a base for the crochet instead of a blanket stitch.  I like the way it turns out much better!  The edging pattern I used is row 1 sc all the way around, row 2 *(sc, hdc, ch, hdc, sc) in first stitch, sc in next stitch, repeat from * all around and fasten off.

Little c is now a year old!  How time flies.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Project - Crocheted Sweater and Hat for Surprise Newborn

Here are the last two patterns for little c's new Surprise Newborn - for awhile, anyway.  When she gets a little older, she'll probably want more clothes and it'll be back to pattern drafting!  I left buttons and under chin ties off since she's so young, but if you're making these for an older child's doll you could add those.  If you missed the first post on sewing doll clothes for this doll, it's here.

*Lion Brand Wool-Ease or other worsted weight yarn
*Size H crochet hook
*tapestry needle


Left Side:
Chain 12.
Row 1:  In fourth chain from hook, double crochet.  Continue across to end of row.
Row 2:  Chain 3, double crochet in second stitch from hook.  Continue across to end of row.
Row 3:  Same as Row 2.
Row 4:  Chain 3, double crochet in second stitch from hook.  Continue across to end of row.  Chain 10.

Row 5:  In fourth chain from hook, double crochet.  Continue across to end of row.
Rows 6- 8:  Same as Row 2.
Row 9:  Chain 3, double crochet in second stitch from hook.  Continue across, stopping when there are 4 stitches left.
Cut yarn and finish off.

Right Side:
Chain 12.
Rows 1 - 3:  Same as for left side.
Row 4:  Chain 3, double crochet in second stitch from hook.  Continue across to end of row.  Turn and slip stitch across the stitches just made.  Chain 10.
Rows 5 - 9:  Same as for left side.

Chain 23.
Rows 1 - 4:  Same as for the sides.
Row 5:  In fourth chain from hook, double crochet.  Continue across to end of row.  Slip stitch down the side of the last stitch so that you are one row below.  Chain 10.

Turn.  In fourth chain from hook, double crochet.  Continue across until you meet up with the row 5 stitches you've already completed.  Turn and slip stitch back across stitches you just made.
Rows 6 - 8:  Same as for the sides.
Row 9:  Chain 3, double crochet in second stitch from hook.  Continue across for 14 stitches in all (this includes the turning stitch).  Slip stitch across 6 stitches.  Continue with double crochet until the end of the row.

Cut yarn and finish off

Sew pieces together.

Attach yarn to back of neck, chain 1 and single crochet all the way around, putting 3 stitches in each bottom and neck edge corner.
Cut yarn and finish off.


1.  Chain 4 and join to form a ring.
2.  Chain 3 (counts as the first double crochet), 9 more double crochet into the ring.  Join to first dc.
3.  Chain 3 and put a stitch marker in the top.   Double crochet in the same stitch, 2 dc in each stitch around to marker.  Do not join or turn.
4.  Move stitch marker to dc just finished.  1 dc in next stitch, 2 dc in following stitch.  Repeat all the way around through stitch marker.
5.  Move marker, 1 dc in each of the next two stitches, 2 dc in the following stitch.  Repeat all the way around through marker.
6.  Leave marker where it is and put 1 dc in each stitch until the hat measures 3 inches from the marker.
7.  Move marker to last stitch done.  Single crochet in each stitch around through marker.
8.  Fasten off yarn.

Make a pompom and sew onto the top of the hat.  I make pompoms a bit differently than usual - it's faster and works for me!  Cut a piece of cardboard or empty box.  Wrap yarn around and around until you have have a large amount.

Slip the yarn off the cardboard and tie around the middle very tightly (several knots) with a piece of yarn.

Cut through all the loops.

Fluff the pompom up

and trim to a round shape.

Happy Creating!  Deborah