Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Project - Beach Combing Bags

These small crocheted mesh bags are great for beach combing - they're airy, so everything won't smell rank the next morning and can be made in different colors, making it easier to tell whose bag is whose.

*size 10 cotton crochet thread
*US size 5 steel hook

1.  Loosely chain 82.  Single crochet in the 9th chain from the hook.  *Chain 4, skip 4, single crochet in the next stitch.*  Repeat from * until you reach the end of the beginning chain.

2.  Chain 4 and single crochet in next chain 4 space.  Continue to the end - do this twice in the end chain 4 space.

3.  From here on, you'll be working in the round - when you come to the end, you'll just keep on crocheting up the other side instead of turning.  At first it won't look like it's working, but keep going and you'll see the bag shape start to appear.

Edit:  I've added this drawing to show how you keep working around and around the original chain - you don't join each row at the end like usual.

4.  Keep working the same chain 4/sc in next chain 4 space around and around until your bag measures about 9 inches.  Make sure you stop at one of the bag's sides.  Chain 1, *single crochet in the next single crochet space and put 3 single crochets in the next chain 4 space.  Repeat from * all the way around.  Connect to the first chain in the row with a slip stitch.  Repeat for 5 rows.

5.  Slip stitch in the next two stitches - in the photo below I have my thumb by them.

6. To start forming the handle, chain 85.  Being careful not to twist the chain, connect to the other side with a slip stitch in the second stitch to the left of the side fold crease.  

7.  Single crochet in the next stitch, turn and single crochet back across the chain. 

8.  When you reach the other side, single crochet in the next stitch on the bag.

9.  In order to keep the handle from twisting, you'll be making your next stitch back across the handle.  Hold the bag as in the photo below - put a single crochet in the first stitch to the left of the handle.

10.  Single crochet in the next stitch, turn and single crochet across the handle.  Single crochet in the next stitch on the bag.

11.  Single crochet in the next stitch on the bag, turn, and single crochet across.  Single crochet in the next stitch on the bag, single crochet in the following stitch on the bag, turn and single crochet across.  Keep doing this until you have five rows of single crochet on your bag. 

Fasten off and head out to the beach!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Inspiration - Ocean Blues

We spent a wonderful few days on the Oregon Coast last week!  I've been thinking about working on some pieces of ocean inspired fabric, took quite a few photos for inspiration, and ran them through bighugelab's color palette generator.  What do you think of when you imagine "ocean blue"?  I took these three photos of the same section of beach, at different times of the day with different light ... did you ever imagine there could be so many blues in one photo?!

Time to start mixing dyes ...

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Sewing - Denim Crazy Quilt Update

I have the denim crazy quilt top finished and am taking a deep breath (and short rest) before tackling the quilting.  This thing is heavy!  Just sewing the top felt like I was wrestling - a good upper body workout!

I decided to separate each of the squares out - I sewed strips of a white on white printed fabric with squares of the backing fabric, sewed strips of the quilt squares with the white fabric, and then sewed these together.  The hardest part was making sure everything lined up - it required some ripping out and resewing.

Now I'm off to find some very thin quilt batting - this doesn't need to be any thicker!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Project - Tie Dye Meets Ice Dye!

And this is why I love working with teenagers!  Big C, my niece, was over last week ice dyeing and had a question - "What would happen if I did tie dye folds and then put the ice and dye over it?"  Oooh - let's see!  So she made a spiral and set it in the bottom of the pan - very easy, as she didn't even rubber band or tie it in place.  Here are her beautiful results!

I tried one with the traditional tie dye colors of fuschia, turquoise, and lemon yellow and came up with this:

I think the darker colors Big C used made a more dramatic, good looking spiral!  I'll be trying some other tie dye folds and let you know what happens.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Friday, July 20, 2012

Christmas in July - Christmas Fabrics

I haven't quite decided what Christmas sewing projects I'll work on this year, but I have been drooling over some beautiful fabrics new for this year.  If your local quilting/sewing store doesn't carry these, I've had good luck Googling the name of the line with the designer.  This will usually bring up different options for buying online.  I've had good luck with orders from several on-line fabric stores - The Fat Quarter Shop,, Hart's Fabric, and

I love Robert Kaufman's new Christmas in Kyoto line!  Below are three of my favorites - and that was hard to narrow down from the 19 different fabrics.  Gorgeous!

I'm partial to batiks, especially the overprinted Christmas ones.  These are a few of the new fabrics in Hoffman's Season Bali Batiks line.

Paisley's have been pretty hot the past couple of years - I really like this Christmas themed paisley from Robert Kaufman.  I can see it in some fun pillows ...

And because I'm a little sheep crazy this year ... I found this on Spoonflower!  If you're a fabric addict and haven't discovered Spoonflower yet you've got to check it out.  Yes it is definitely spendy, but fat quarters of quilting cotton are $11.00 and you can do a lot with a fat quarter.  This was designed by Candace Palmers (aka graphicdoodles) - you can find it here.

Christmas sheep wearing a Santa Hat.

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Christmas in July - Cross-Stitched Kitchen Towels

I used to do a lot of cross-stitch embroidery, but for some reason haven't in quite a long time.  Suddenly, I had the urge to work a project in it again!  There was a time I made large pictures with aida cloth - mostly I used waste canvas to put cross-stitch on fabrics that didn't have a large, even weave.  I found these kitchen towels at Cost Plus and fell in love with them - tassels!  I've never seen or even thought of putting tassels on kitchen towels!  Stripes make it easy to line up your waste fabric, so these were perfect.  I put a simple poinsettia design across each end.

*kitchen towels
*embroidery floss - red, green, and yellow.  You'll use two strands throughout.
*waste canvas - 14 count
*sharp embroidery needle - cross-stitch is usually worked with a dull tapestry needle, but when you're not using aida cloth, an embroidery needle works better

Waste canvas is sewn onto the area you want to cross-stitch.  I just use regular sewing thread and a long stitch.

Cross-stitch patterns have little squares filled in with the color of thread needed for that square - you're not actually working in one little square, though.  It'd be hard to hook your thread in an empty square!  What you're doing is working over one intersection (+), so each color symbol represents an x or cross-stitch.  It's just easier to read patterns if the color symbol is put in an empty square.

Find the center of the design on the cross-stitch chart and on your fabric.  On the chart, the center is marked by an O.  On your fabric, fold the towel in half width wise and crease.  Since my towels have stripes, I then found the stripe I wanted to start on and marked the center with a pencil.  If you don't have stripes, fold your fabric lengthwise in addition to width wise and mark the center.

I cross-stitch a little differently than most people do.  It's probably because I learned needlepoint first.  When I started cross-stitching, I did it the same way I did needlepoint - with a continental stitch.  When I found out I was doing it wrong, I changed to the usual way and suddenly didn't like how my x's looked, so I switched back and have stuck with the continental stitch since.   I have a feeling that breaks some cross-stitch rule, but it works best for me!  Basically, after you make your first half stitch, the usual way has you coming up in the hole directly below the hole you just went down.  With a continental stitch, you sort of work backwards.  It uses more thread but also makes each stitch more secure.  The pictures below show how I do it, but if you like making cross-stitches in the usual way, no problem!

Determine where your first stitch, or x, will be.  Bring your thread up in the lower left hand hole and push it back down through the upper right hand hole.

If I have a line of stitches to do, I work a half stitch all the way down the line first.  Working the stitch to the left, come up in the lower left hand hole and push it back down in the upper right hand hole.

Work down the line until you have the number of stitches you want.

Now you'll work back down the line putting on the top stitch - the one that makes it an x.  (If you're just starting out in cross-stitch, make sure that all stitches have the top stitch pointing the same way - I've always seen the top stitch going from right to left.)

To cross the first stitch, bring your needle up in the lower right hand hole and push it back down through the upper left hand hole.

To make your next stitch, come up in the lower right hand hole and go back down through the upper left hand hole.

Work down the row in the same manner until you have all x's.

Working from the pattern above, continue making cross-stitches.  Trim off the extra waste canvas.

There is a type of waste canvas that is water soluble - I haven't used it as I have a ton of the regular kind.  If you're using the water soluble kind, follow the directions on the package for removing it.  If you're using the regular type, wash and dry the towel (with the waste canvas on) to remove the starch.  I just run it through the washer and dryer with a load of clothes.  Then, grab a pair of tweezers and put on a good movie!  You're going to be cutting the canvas into small areas ...

... and  then pulling the fibers out, using tweezers.  It takes awhile, but it's not too bad!

Iron the towel and you're done!

Happy Creating!  Deborah

Monday, July 16, 2012

Christmas in July - 2012 Felt Ornaments Part 1

I love making Christmas things in the summer - there's no pressure to get everything done!  So I've decided to make Christmas in July a regular yearly celebration!  All this week, my blog will be Christmas oriented.  Today I have two of the felt ornaments I've designed for this year - the next two will come out the week before Thanksgiving.

This summer I got hooked on genealogy.  It kind of all started with working on My Sewing Circle.  My father gave me some hand written lineages he had and I wondered if I could trace our ancestors back further.  It turned out to be an addictive past time!  I've discovered some amazing stories - they don't always jive with the family stories I grew up with, but they're even more fascinating.

My father's paternal grandmother, Olga, was an amazing woman.  Even in grade school I knew she had more energy than most people!  She came over from Sweden in the early 1900's, but we never knew much about her family there.  In fact it was seemed to be such a dead end that I was convinced we'd have to go over and look at the parish records of the town she came from to learn anything.  And that's when genealogy becomes addictive!  One breakthrough on the internet and I had her ancestors back to the 1700's - and I would've been thrilled with just getting the names of her parents!  So ... in honor of finding Olga Petersson's roots, one of this year's ornaments is a Swedish Dala horse.  And in case you're interested, she came from the island of Styrsö and the village of TÃ¥ngen, from a long line of fishermen.

*felt - red, white, and green
*embroidery floss - red, green, white, and black
*felt glue
*1/8 inch white ribbon
*patterns found here

1.  Cut two horses from red, the saddle and both straps from white, the mane and the saddle decorations (teardrops) from green, the mane pieces from red and white, and six freehand ovals from green.

2.  Lay out the felt pieces as in the photo below and attach with a blanket stitch, using 2 strands of green embroidery floss.  It helps to first attach them with a small dot of felt glue.

3.  Attach mane, saddle, and straps using a blanket stitch and two strands of red embroidery floss.  Add red french knots to the center of each saddle and strap decoration and a black french knot eye.  Sew reins with 2 strands of white embroidery floss and an outline stitch and an eyebrow in black.

4.  Cut 8 inches of ribbon and attach to back of horse.  Attach back to front with three strands of red floss and a blanket stitch.

The second ornament is a beaded star.
*white and yellow felt
*white and yellow embroidery floss
*beads - 6 orange bugle beads, 7 yellow seed beads, 30 gold bugle beads, 25 silver lined clear seed beads
*patterns found here

1.  Cut two star backs from white felt, one star from yellow, and one star center from white.

2.  Pin star center to star and attach with 2 strands of white floss and a blanket stitch.  Don't use felt glue this time - it's hard to get a beading needle through it.

3.  Add beads to the star center as below.

4.  Using gold bugle beads and silver lined seed beads, sew the pattern below.

5.  Sew star to star back using a blanket stitch and two strands of yellow embroidery floss.

6.  Cut 8 inches of ribbon, double over and attach to the second star back.  Attach two star backs together with 3 strands of yellow floss and a blanket stitch.

Happy Creating!  Deborah