November 2011

Squirrel Applique Block

A couple of weeks ago I got a request for a squirrel applique. I realized it has been a while since I added any new applique blocks. Yikes! I really can't believe I haven't included a squirrel sooner. Our backyard is teaming with wildlife... totally encouraged by us. We provide year round water and food for our little friends. In our green belt we have stacks of branches and brush for animals to make their homes. We have birdhouses throughout our yard for nesting. We even certified our garden with The National Wildlife Federation. BTW.. If you are interested in certifying your backyard, check out their program HERE. It is a wonderful nature study to do with your family.

Anyway, back to the squirrels :) Although many people try to keep squirrels out of their feeders, they are welcomed in our yard. Providing them with sunflowers is a small price to pay for the constant entertainment they provide. So, in celebration of our furry friends, I have created a Squirrel Applique Block. As always, it was designed to fit a 6" x 6" block, but it can be reduced or enlarged to meet your needs. The pattern for the block can be found HERE. Enjoy!

http://www.weefolkart.com
Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2009. All rights reserved.

All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on WeeFolkArt.com without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.

Paper Bag Gnarly Trees

 

The other night at the Pumpkin Carving Party, my SIL Jennifer, was telling me about these paper bag trees she made with her Brownies. I must have looked like I was lost in the muck and mire because she finally said, "Geeze... just get me a paper bag and I can show you in 5 minutes." Well, she was true to her word. In a matter of minutes not only did she make a gnarly looking paper bag tree, but I felt confident that I could make one, too.

I sat down tonight to try to make one. Sure enough, in a matter of minutes, I made a tree. Out popped the camera, and easy peasy... a tutorial. I love it when things are this easy, although it would be a lot easier if all of you were sitting around my dining room table. We'd have a forest in a matter of minutes!

Basically, you can't make these wrong, and it is a craft you can do with children. So, go grab a few brown paper bags and pair of scissors, and you'll be making trees in no time. BTW... for the observant... you'll notice some blood smudges on the trunks and branches. Took a little nip out of my thumb :( But I didn't let a little cut stop me, trooper that I am ;) Ready? Here we go!

Measure up 4" from the bottom of the bag.

Cut down the center of the 4 sides of the bag to the 4" mark.

Twist the bag, then untwist.

Twist the trunk up 4" to the cut.

Each of the four sections will become a major branch of the tree.

Twist the first branch about halfway up.

Then, cut lengthwise down the bag to where the branch is twisted. You can make 1 or 2 cuts making 2 or 3 sections.

Twist each section. You can twist all the way up, or go halfway and make another cut. Continue cutting and twisting until all pieces of the 1st branch are all twisted.

Do the same for the other 3 branches. Make each one slightly different.

Make 4 or 5 snips at the bottom of the tree. Twist each section to create roots.

That's it. You can dink with the branches a bit until you are satisfied with the way they look. Then, tah dah... you are done and ready to make another. Now wasn't that the fastest and neatest craft you ever made? Thank you, Jenny, for teaching me this fun technique!


Links to the other Wee Folk Art crafts pictured in these photos:
Paper Clay Leaves can be found HERE.
Mini Pumpkins can be found HERE.
Campfire can be found HERE.

http://www.weefolkart.com
Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2009. All rights reserved.

All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on WeeFolkArt.com without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.

Pixie Knits!

After bath time last night, my barely five year old Pixie brought me a skein of yarn and asked if I could teach her to knit. I think the kids know that the best way to delay bed time around here is with impromptu crafting. I also believe it was encouraged by our history reading yesterday in which our book on colonial life said that children as young as four where taught to knit. Either way, how could I turn down such a sweet request.

Pixie took to it immediately and was probably my fastest student yet. I cast on and demonstrated the first row. After that, in true Pixie fashion of "I can do it" she took the needles from me and was off and knitting all by herself.

It just makes me smile to see the littlest fingers performing beautiful, useful work. If you haven't picked up the needles yet... take some time to explore our Newbie Knitting Series.

Blanket Stitch Whiz

How would YOU like to become a Blanket Stitch Whiz? One of the most common questions I receive is, "How do you get your stitches so even?" Well, my normal reply is practice, practice, practice, and although that is true, over the years, I have developed some habits that have helped me improve my blanket stitching. And, let's face it, the blanket stitch IS the most important stitch when working with felt. It can be used as decoration, as an edging to prevent the edge from stretching, or as a means of sewing 2 pieces of felt together as a seam. Truly, a worthy stitch to practice :)

In this series, I will be sharing tips on how to make the most of your blanket stitch. Although blanket stitching can be done with yarn, pearl cotton, embroidery floss, or any type of sewing and embroidery thread, for our tutorial, we will be using 6 strand embroidery floss.

So, if you'd like to learn how to make a blanket stitch, or if you are just looking for suggestions for making uniform stitches, creating neat corners, or starting and stopping, make sure you have some scrap felt, assorted sizes of embroidery needles, and some 6 strand embroidery floss on hand, and stitch along with us. We will share our first tutorial on the blanket stitch later in the week :)

Blanket Stitching - Part 1 - Think Before You Stitch!

Before we even pull out our needles and thread, let's talk a little bit about the purpose and structure of a blanket stitch.

Blanket stitches are often used to finish an edge. The stitch creates an interlocked thread that runs on the edge of the fabric.

Think of a serger sewing machine. Sergers overcast a seam's edge, preventing the seam from fraying, and giving the finished product a neater look. 

When using a blanket stitch on the edge of fabric, you help prevent the fabric from fraying and stretching.

 The sibling of the blanket stitch is the button hole stitch. They are both made in the same manner, but button hole stitches are placed very close together to stop a button hole from fraying and to give additional strength to the hole.

As an added bonus, blanket stitches are also beautiful, and besides protecting the edge of the fabric, the stitch can also be used to embellish a project, to applique one piece of fabric to another, or to actually sew two pieces together creating a seam.

The first step in blanket stitching, is to decide what type of thread to use. The type of thread depends on the fabric you will be blanket stitching and the purpose of the stitch. Blanket stitching can be done with yarn, 6 strand embroidery floss, pearl cotton, and many other threads. Basically, the thicker and heavier the fabric you are using, the thicker the thread and the larger the needle you will be using to blanket stitch. Makes sense, right? So, if you wish to sew a needle felted applique to a sweater, you might use yarn. Whereas, if you are turning under a hem on a fine linen handkerchief, you might use 1 or 2 strands of floss and a fine needle. When you are done, there should be a harmony between the fabric and your blanket stitches.

The next step is to decide how big to make your blanket stitches. Here again, the weight of the fabric you are working on plays an important role in stitch size. Rule of thumb, the thicker your fabric, the larger the stitches. 

Think of a blanket stitch as a 3 sided square. 2 perpendicular stitches make up the sides of the square. The interlocking thread that rests on the edge of the fabric makes up the top of the square, and the bottom of the square is left open. (These can also be rectangles, and when working on curves, the sides won't be perpendicular, but for starters, I found it easiest to try to make squares along a straight edge.)

Given this idea of squares, the heavier the fabric, the larger the squares. When sewing a blanket stitch on the edge of a bag with yarn, your perpendicular stitches might be 1/4", and the stitches would then be placed 1/4" apart.

Whereas, if you are sewing together the sleeves of a small doll, you would use 1 or 2 strands of floss and your stitches may be 1/16" with the stitches placed 1/16" apart.

As you get experienced with blanket stitching, you will begin to develop a "feel" for the size of your stitches and thread. Once you get started stitching, the most important thing is to be consistent. Later, we will talk about ways to help develop consistency.

Next time... Getting Started. We will learn how to start our thread. BTW... I found this to be the MOST confusing thing when I first started blanket stitching. I had to rethink this each and every time I got started :) We will also start blanket stitching along a straight line. So, next time... have your floss and felt handy :)

Part 2 - Blanket Stitching a Straight Line - can be found HERE

 

Newbie Knitting | Knit & Purl Wash Clothes

To practice knitting and purling I have included 2 wash cloth patterns. These make a great gift when paired with a special bar of soap. When working in stockinette stitch (when you knit one side and purl the other) it helps if you can visualize how the knit side and the purl side should look.

After a couple rows of a pattern it should become pretty obvious if you are on a knit side or a purl side. On the knit side (when you are looking at the stitches on your left needle that you are getting ready to knit) you should see rows of Vs.

When you are working on the purl side you should see offset horizontal lines.

Take a look at a couple sweaters in your closet. The outside (unless it has fancy stitches) will probably have the Vs and the inside will have the horizontal lines. If you are able to see the difference in your sweater being inside out... then you should be able to see what type of stitch you need to do. I must admit thought, this is one of those things that I remember as a kid having a hard time truly seeing. I would ask my mom at the beginning of every row if it was a knit or a purl row. Fairy does the same thing now. It is also hard to see during the first couple rows so keeping track of where you are in a pattern especially for the first few rows is a good idea. Tally marks on a scrap of paper works well for me but there are rows counters that you can buy.

Another thing to note, in both of the patterns below you will have to switch from knitting to purling in the middle of a row. When switching from knitting to purling, you will need to bring the yarn from the back to the front. Likewise, when switching from purling to knitting, you will need to bring the yarn from the front to the back. When switching, you will want to be careful to bring the yarn through the middle of your needles and not over the needles, otherwise you will create a "yarn-over" and add an extra stitch. Below is the correct way to switch from purling to knitting. (Front to back.) After you switch, beginning knitting as usual.

Materials for both patterns:
size 8 needles
cotton yarn such as Lily Sugar ‘n Cream

You may be able to make two wash clothes from one skein of yarn.

Simple Stockinette Wash Cloth
Cast On 34 stitches.
Knit 7 rows.
Pattern:
Row 1 and all Odd Rows: Knit 4, Purl 26, Knit 4
Row 2 and all Even Rows: Knit all stitches
Repeat  the pattern (row 1 and row 2) until you are about an inch away from a square. (Note: Knitting the first 4 and last 4 of every row will create the garter stitch border and stop the cloth from curling.)
Knit 7 rows.
Bind off.
Weave in ends.

Add the Simple Stockinette Was Cloth to your Ravelry Queue.

Basket Weave Wash Cloth (more advanced pattern for your second cloth)
This is a smaller version of my mom's Basket Weave Dish Cloth pattern that can be found here.

Cast on 36 stitches.
Knit 6 rows.
Pattern: Row 1: k4, *k4, p4* repeat between* a total of 3 times (24 stitches), k 8.
Row 2: k4, *p4, k4* repeat between * a total of 3 times (24 stitches), p4, k4.
Row 3: repeat row 1.
Row 4: repeat row 2.
Row 5: k4, *p4, k4* repeat between * a total of 4 times (32 stitches).
Row 6: k8, *p4, k4* repeat between * a total of 3 times (24 stitches), k4.
Row 7: repeat row 5.
Row 8: repeat row 6.
These 8 rows make up the pattern. Repeat these 8 rows 6 times (48 rows).
Knit 6 rows.
Bind off.
Weave in ends.

Add the Basket Weave Wash Cloth to your Ravelry Queue.

Blanket Stitching - Part 2 - Blanket Stitching a Straight Line

Part 1 - Think Before You Stitch - can be found HERE
Part 3 - Corners and Sewing 2 Pieces Together - can be found HERE

I more or less taught myself to blanket stitch by looking and doing. It was after I had been using the blanket stitch for a while, that I went in search of “how to”. Yes, I know, a bit backward! Although my stitches looked the same, I did start and stop differently than the other methods I found, and along the way I had come up with a few tricks that worked for me. I am going to teach you my way of blanket stitching. If it doesn’t work for you, there are other tutorials out there, even quite a few on Youtube.com that might feel more “right”. Crafting is all about experimentation and finding techniques that work for you. So, if you find something you are more comfortable with, feelings won’t be hurt ;)

Because blanket stitching is so important to appliqueing and work with felt, I felt it warrants close examination. Here's what we will be learning:
 
USES

  • Stitching on the edge
  • Sewing 2 pieces of fabric together
  • Appliqueing one piece of fabric to another
  • Blanket stitching as embellishment
  • Button Holes

TECHNIQUES

  • Starting your first stitch
  • Getting your stitches even
  • Little boxes
  • Stopping
  • Perpendicular stitching
  • Corners and points
  • Curves
  • Adding floss when you run out
  • Joining last stitch to first stitch
  • Reinforcing a seam
  • Intentionally messy
  • Making your back side neat
  • Determining stitch size

 
Today we are going to practice stitching on the edge using the following techniques:

  • Starting your first stitch
  • Getting your stitches even
  • Making little boxes
  • Stopping

Preparation:
Cut a strip of good quality, light colored wool felt about 8” x 1 ½”. You can practice on both long edges.

Tip: If you don't already own a toothed tracing wheel and tracing paper, go out immediately and buy them. Seriously... if you are in your jammies, throw on an overcoat and find a late night craft and/or sewing shop, and buy them... NOW! Fortunately, they are not expensive, and they are beyond useful when learning various applique, embroidery and quilting stitches. This technique gave me the "feel" of stitch size and placement when learning the blanket stitch, and helped me to achieve "perfectish" stitches fast!


 
Start by placing a dark piece of tracing paper, waxy side down, near the top edge of the felt. Pushing hard, run the tracing wheel along a straight edge about 1/4" from the edge to mark your felt. Note: be careful. You can actually leave dents on the surface below the felt, so don't work on your good dining room table! Also, marking your fabric with tracing paper is used for practice only. The marks are meant to come out in the wash, and unless you have washable felt, the marks could remain permanent on a finished project. After practicing for a while, spacing will feel second nature and you won't need the practice dots any more.

If you don't have a tracing wheel and tracing paper, then draw a line 1/4" from the edge. This will help you make your vertical stitches the same height.

TIP: When working on a real project, you can usually use one of the disappearing markers on your felt, but I have found the marks won't fading away on their own, and I've always needed to remove the marks by GENTLY dabbing with a damp cloth. ALWAYS try this on a scrap piece of felt before marking and dabbing a project. Some felt will not hold up to dabbing, and the area will felt, ruining a project. 

STITCHING
 
Note: We will be working from left to right, so your first stitch should be placed at the left end of the top edge.

Using 3 strands of embroidery floss 18" - 24" long, knot the end. On the backside of your felt, insert your needle in the felt about 1/4" from the top edge where you want your first stitch to be. Slide the needle between the felt fibers, coming through the top edge of the felt. If you are in the center of the felt, you should not be able to see your needle through the front or back.

Pull the thread through so the knot is against the felt in the back. Turn the felt over. You will now be working from the front of the felt. (In a later lesson, we will learn how to hide your knot so the back is as neat as the front.) The thread is now attached to the felt through the top edge.

Place your needle through the felt in the second hole. (Make sure when you push your needle through the felt that you go through the felt directly and not on an angle. If you go on an angle the stitches in the back will be shorter. More about this later.) When your needle goes through the fabric, the thread attached to the felt should be to the left of the needle, and the thread attached to the needle should be to the right of the needle. This creates a big loop. (The top part of the loop is cut off in this photo.)

When pulling the needle through the felt, pull it towards yourself, which would be inside the big loop you made. The loop will be behind the thread that is attached to the felt.

Gently pull the thread straight up. The tension should be tight enough to close the loop but not so tight that it dents the edge. The edge should remain straight.

For the second stitch, skip one of the dots and go into the next dot.

Repeat like the first stitch going between the threads, with the attached thread in front of the loop.

If your spacing is correct, you should create a 3 sided box. (Although I usually make my boxes square, they can be rectangular. The most important thing is to keep them uniform.)  Use your index and middle finger on your left hand to hold the thread and control the tension gently pulling up after each stitch.

Continue stitching until you come near the edge. Check your stitches as you go along to make sure they are parallel to one another and at right angles to the edge and stitching line. If they do not line up, you are probably not pulling your thread straight up after each stitch, and your stitches are drifting. Note: don't be afraid to take out a stitch or two that you're not happy with. Although there is a charm to uneven stitches (which we will talk about later), in this exercise we are trying to perfect stitch size and tension.

When you get to the end, use your index and middle fingers on your left hand to maintain tension, and with your right hand, slide the needle from the back to the front, between the top edge of the felt and the horizontal thread on your last stitch.

Pull the thread through, maintaining the tension with your left hand until the knot is against the felt edge.

From the back side, slide your needle in between the felt fibers from near the top edge, and coming out at the hole for your last stitch. 

Tie off the thread and cut the thread. Later, I will show you how to hide the knot so the back of your work is nice and neat :)

By using the dots, your stitches should be fairly uniform. Keep practicing on straight edges until you get the hang of the placement and tension.

When you are feeling comfortable, practice with a straight line without the dots. And, of course, when you are ready, try blanket stitching along a straight edge without a line. Check your work often, and if you don't like a stitch, take it out!

Next time we will learn how to sew two pieces of felt together, and how to turn corners and points.

Part 1 can be found HERE.
Part 3 can be found HERE.


http://www.weefolkart.com
Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2011. All rights reserved.

All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on WeeFolkArt.com without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.

 

Improptu Giveaway and Challenge


EDIT: The giveaway in now closed. The winner will be announced on Wednesday morning, 11/16/11. Thanks for playing. We had an unbelievable amount of entries, and we had fun reading all of them :) Comments are now open on this blog entry.

First off, let me apologize to all you non-geeks out there. You are at a distinct disadvantage in this giveaway. HOWEVER, the geek in me was so tickled today, that it prompted me to want to share my chuckle with those of you that are like minded. So, here goes...

I happened to be married to the most wonderful man on the whole planet. I don't think I am exaggerating here. He brushes my hair each night before I go to sleep, and wakes me each morning with a cup of coffee... in bed! And if that isn't enough to make you green with envy... he loves to go shopping with me. And not just to hardware stores or chains that sell oversized flat screen televisions. No... this man actually enjoys quaint little shops and art fairs. So, today, when I told him I was heading out to a little boutique in town that was having their Holiday Extravaganza, and he WANTED to come along.

So, we are in the shop, being crushed by all the other shoppers. Tim is munching on a courtesy bag of popcorn, when he points at the little guy pictured above and says... "Oh, look, THE BIRD THEY CALL JAYNE!" Okay... either you get it or you don't.

So, here's the giveaway. If you know what Tim was referencing, email me at weefolkart@yahoo.com, and tell me why I found this so funny. If you are NOT a geek, and don't understand the joke, BUT you are a great sleuth, see if you can figure it out. If you do, send me an email, own up to the fact that you are not a geek by trade, but you figured out the reference, and I'll make you an honorary geek for the day and accept your entry. Comments will be closed on this post so someone doesn't slip up and give away the answer. You MUST email us at weefolkart@yahoo.com to enter. This giveaway will only run until tomorrow, Tuesday, at 9:00 pm EST. At that time, I'll randomly pick a winner from those that emailed me.

Oh, yes, I guess I forgot to say, the giveaway is for The Bird They Call Jayne. We couldn't help buying one for us, and one to giveaway! Good luck ;)  BTW... we will gladly send Jayne anywhere, so anyone can play.

Here's a little clue...

If THIS doesn't get me enough points to be one of Bad Horse's henchmen NOTHING ever will ;)

A Splash of Color That Sets My Head Reeling!

I am a sucker for color. Although my favorite or "comfort color" changes like a kaleidoscope, I always surround myself with color... no beiges or whites for me! Since last winter, I've embraced a brighter colorway than usual. I have been accenting my spring green and golden walls with reds and oranges. It really has stirred up my creative juices. It's hard to be passive when your house is alert and energetic. So, it wasn't surprising to Michelle, when she came over the other day, and saw 1 new placemat and 2 new napkins, and ask, "What are you doing with those?" and I replied, "I have no clue, but aren't the colors spectacular?"

Of course, she agreed. And after just a few sips of coffee, and about 2 minutes of discussion, we had come up with a whole list of things I could do with the placemat and napkins. As a matter of fact, I went back to Pier One the next day, and bought several more of each. We are extremely busy right now, with the holidays coming up and working on our shop, so my one stipulation was that any project I made had to be fast and easy :) I will be sharing a few of the projects with you over the next couple of weeks, but for now, I just want to share the explosion of color. Inspiring, right?  

The Hero of Canton... The Man They Call Jayne


First off, we'd like to thank ALL our readers for indulging our silliness, but sometimes silliness over rides sensibilities!

Then, let me say, Tim, Michelle and I were floored by how many people entered this giveaway, and how humorous many of the answers were! We had a blast reading each and every entry, and realized, we are amongst good company :) BTW... we had several incorrect answers, too, and we enjoyed them every bit as much. For that reason, we decided to leave all answers in the random pull.

For those of you that didn't get the reference, here's the explanation... no matter how lame it may sound :)

There was an awesome sci-fi series, Firefly, that was on television for only 1 season during 2002/2003. IMDB gives this description of the series:

"Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small, spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them."

Basically, Firefly was about space cowboys. It was a Joss Whedon creation, and starred Nathan Fillion as Captain Malcolm "Mal" Reynolds. In my opinion, and many others, it was a travesty when it was canceled after just 1 season. Because of the quality of the show and incredible dialog, often humorous, it has become a cult classic.

Anyway... there was a rather unscrupulous crew member named Jayne Cobb, played by Adam Baldwin. He often wore a hat with ear flaps, but in the final episode, he receives a gift of a hand knit hat from his mother.

This hat has become iconic in the sci-fi world, especially with the "browncoats" (fans of Firefly.) When Tim saw the ear flap hat on the bird, he made the connection to Jayne's "cunning hat". A bit of a stretch I grant you, but hey, I got it right away. Tell you something about me? And, as far as The Bird They Call Jayne, there was an episode, my favorite, btw, where Jayne is given heroic traits which he doesn't deserve, and the townsfolk even wrote a song about him, The Hero of Canton... The Man They Call Jayne.

So, there you have it. Now, I am going to try to redeem myself for using these two posts for utter nonsense, by tying this all into a crafting project! After the episode with the "cunning hat" aired, it went viral. There are lots of patterns on Ravelry that readers created to look like Jayne's hat. If you have a Ravelry account, just look up Jayne's hat to find many entries. If you don't have a Ravelry account, I am also linking to a blog that has a pattern for the hat. She did a great job, and even boxed the hat like Jayne's. You can find the pattern HERE:

"A man walks down the street in that hat, people know he's not afraid of anything."

Finally... it is time to announce the winner of The Bird They Call Jayne.

The winner is:

Kristin Bray

I don't know if I'm a geek by trade, but I am a huge Firefly fan. Who
doesn't love the awful, lovingly handknit hat that tough guy Jayne
receives in the mail from his mom. You gotta be a folk
hero/thief/generally murdering badass (or a cute felt birdie) to carry
off this hat.

Thanks for the chuckle,

Kristin

Congratulations, Kristin. Just email us your snail mail address and our tough little Bird They Call Jane will be on his way to your house.

Thanks to everyone that entered... especially to my fellow browncoats. And, I'd like to give a special "nudge nudge wink wink" to all of you that made the Bad Horse connection to Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog.

BTW... If you've never seen the movie Firefly and the movie that came after the series, Serenity, or Dr. Horrible's Sing-A-Long Blog, both created by Joss Whedon, they are available for streaming on NetFlicks. Okay... now that I got THAT out of my system... back to business as usual :)

Blanket Stitching - Part 3 - Corners and Sewing 2 Pieces Together


When I first started blanket stitching, my corners were... how shall I put this... unique, interesting, inconsistent... in other words, a mess! Messy is okay for some projects, but I did want my corners to look better and to stay looking good after a project was finished. Time and trial brought me to the point where I was finally satisfied with my corners. Today I will be sharing how to blanket stitch corners and how to sew 2 pieces of felt together. I have a few tips that I hope will help you to improve your stitching :) Before you begin, make sure you have read Part 1 and Part 2, because I will not be re-teaching the techniques from the first two lessons:

Part 1 - Before You Stitch - can be found HERE
Part 2 - Blanket Stitching a Straight Line - can be found HERE

Introduction: Because blanket stitching is so important to appliqueing and work with felt, it warrants close examination. Here's what we will be learning:

USES

  • Stitching on the edge
  • Sewing 2 pieces of fabric together
  • Appliqueing one piece of fabric to another
  • Blanket stitching as embellishment
  • Button Holes

TECHNIQUES

  • Starting your first stitch
  • Getting your stitches even
  • Little boxes
  • Stopping
  • Perpendicular stitching
  • Corners and points
  • Curves
  • Adding floss when you run out
  • Joining last stitch to first stitch
  • Reinforcing a seam
  • Intentionally messy
  • Making your back side neat
  • Determining stitch size

Today we are going to practice stitching 2 pieces of felt together and learn how to:

  • Make a neat corners and points
  • Sew two pieces of felt together

In lesson 2 we talked about using a toothed tracing wheel and tracing paper to mark our felt for practice. Today, we are going to talk about using graphing paper. Graph paper is paper that has been divided into squares of equal size. You can use this to mark your practice felt while you are perfecting your stitch. (I'll show you how in a minute) Most graph paper comes 1/4" x 1/4".  But what if you want stitches that are closer together than 1/4" or even bigger than 1/4"? Luckily, there are some great, free resources on the net to help you. The site Incompetech has a graph paper generator. You just plug in how many squares you want per inch and print the page, and you are ready to go. Take a minute to check it out HERE. For today's lesson, print a page with 4 squares per inch. It should look like this:

Cut out a piece of graph paper 3" x 3". (That is 12 squares by 12 squares.) Refer to our tutorial on how to cut out felt found HERE, and using the graph paper as your pattern piece, cut out two pieces of felt.

Before stitching, staple or pin the 2 pieces together. I prefer to use staples because the thread does not get tangled in the pin point or head.

Cut out a piece of the pattern piece grid 1 block x 12 blocks.

We will be using the yellow felt as the front in this demonstration. Set your grid marker on the edge on the front piece of felt, and using a disappearing marker, make a dot at each grid line. You will use these dots as a stitching guide. Because the squares have the same width and depth, your stitches will make little boxes. If you want smaller stitches, simply create a grid with more boxes per inch. Not only will your stitches be closer together, the stitch length will be shorter.

Pick the middle of one side to begin. Using 3 strands of floss, knot the end of the floss. Separate the front piece from the back, and on the inside front piece, slide your needle through the felt into one of the dots. Pull the thread through so the knot is against the felt.

Insert the needle through the back piece of felt so it lines up with the front dot. Point the needle up so it is coming out the top between the two pieces of felt.

Turn the felt over so the front is facing you. As you pull the thread, the loop you just made will begin to pull the two pieces of felt together. Your needle and thread should be to the left of this loop. Continue to gently pull on the thread until the two pieces are together, and the loop is lying flat against the felt. The stitch should be perpendicular to the edge. Pull the stitch tight enough so the stitch lies flat, but not so tight that it puckers the felt.

Continue stitching as explained in Part 2 which can be found HERE. When stitching, it is very important that your needle goes straight through the 2 pieces of felt. The needle should enter the felt at a right angle.

If your needle is entering the felt at right angles, the stitches should be the same length on the front and back of your work.

If you enter the felt on an angle, the stitches on the back will be smaller than the stitches on the front. In projects where the back of your work will be visible, it is very important to keep your stitch length consistent. In the photos below, the last stitch is the result of a needle entering the felt on an angle. NOT what we want to do :)

Continue stitching to the corner. Sew a stitch in the corner dot. The next stitch will be put in diagonally, like the needle shown below.

From front to back, insert the needle through the same dot of your last stitch. It should come through the bottom of the last stitch on the back.

Gently pull on the thread like you would for any stitch, but you want the top loop to rest on the point.

When the stitch is in the proper place, firmly hold the stitch in place with your thumb and index finger.

From the back side, insert the needle into a wee bit of felt near the tip, then slide the needle under the thread, bringing it through to the front. You have just created a small knot on the corner, and anchored it to a small bit of felt. This part is very important. Without grabbing a little piece of felt, the stitch can slide off the corner with use.

Insert the needle back into the center dot. (This is the third time that dot is used.) Make sure the needle comes through the matching center point on the back. Pull the thread through like a normal stitch.

Your thread is now in position to continue stitching down the next side as usual.

When done right, you should have a little square in the corner, with a diagonal stitch in the middle. The front and back should look alike

Next time we will learn how to add new thread when you run out, and how to join the last stitch to the first stitch. Start practicing on your corners :)

 

Simplicity and Libations for the Holidays

We are trying something new this year... and I must admit I'm a little bit nervous. As a family, we decided that we wanted to simplify Christmas and focus on the joy of being together. So, for the first time ever, the adults are not exchanging gifts. Gulp and Yikes! I am not buying my babies gifts! Again, Gulp and Yikes! We can, however, make something small for one another... jars of jam, a tin of shortbread, or in our case, homemade liqueurs.

Actually, there is a reason we went this route. First off... I was going to make a "six pack" of unusual jams and jellies for each family. I had visions of jalapeno jelly, apple butter and tomato jam. Well, summer came and went with nothing to show for it! (Uh, I did get as far as to buy lovely tall canning jars... I'll be ready next year :) Anyway, I needed a Plan B.

My father helped me formulate Plan B. Soon after I was married, my father started making his own Kahlua. A month or two before Christmas, he'd make up a batch, and give a bottle to each family as a gift. He did this for many years, until his disease, frontal lobe dementia, robbed him of his normal routines. Sadly, as each year goes by, my dad slips farther and farther away from us. There is now little left of the father I knew, but I decided to carry on his tradition, thereby including him in our celebration, even in this small way.

So, with the help of my trusty sidekick, Timothy, we made a batch of Kahlua. I swear it was an accident, although I've been accused otherwise, but I miscalculated, and we made twice as much as we needed. Oops! Something tells me it won't go to waste! We also found and made a recipe for a Butterscotch Liquor that I can't wait to taste!

So, this Christmas, things will be a little different. Hopefully, as a family, we will take joy in our new tradition, simplifying, and perhaps add another tradition that has its roots in an old tradition started by my dad :)   

BTW... Before anyone asks... We bought our bottles and bottle tops online from Quality Wine and Ale Supply. We purchased the assorted wine bottle collection and the expansion stoppers. They look so pretty lined up on my cabinet!

KAHLUA – Makes 1/2 gallon
 
Ingredients:
2 cups boiling water
3 cups sugar
1/3 cup instant coffee
1 fifth 100 proof vodka
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (very important not to use imitation vanilla)
 
Directions:
Combine boiling water with instant coffee. As soon as the coffee dissolves, add sugar. Allow to cool to room temp. Add vodka and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a big bottle (at least 1/2 gallon jug) and cover. Set aside for at least 30 days. Shake the bottle each day. Keep tightly closed. 

BUTTERSCOTCH LIQUEUR – 1 Quart
 
Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup 100 proof vodka
1/2 teaspoon butterscotch flavored extract
 
Directions:
Bring sugar and water to boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat stirring constantly. When the sugar water mixture turns clear, remove from heat. Cool to room temp. Add brandy, vodka, and extract. Pour the mixture into a 1 quart container and cover. Set aside for at least 30 days. Shake the bottle each day. Keep tightly closed.

Too Excited Not To Share... NOW!

I do not normally post on the weekend, but this morning I came across this pattern for a beautiful pair of mittens (which can be found HERE):

and was dying to find out if my local yarn shop carried this yarn/color. (It is Crystal Palace - Mini Mochi, #101 - Intense Rainbow.)

I was the first one at their shop this morning, and YAY... they had the yarn! I plan to knit up a pair for myself (Is that wrong? Always feels wrong somehow to knit for myself!) When done, I will create a scarf to match. (They have a hat to match, which can be found HERE, but for the most part, women in our family don't look smashing in hats, so we tend to save wearing them for the most inhospitable weather when we are willing to ignore appearance for warmth!) Anyway... it will require tons of will power not to get my needles out... but I have a busy day ...and miles to go before I knit, ...and miles to go before I knit :)

BTW... Tim gave me an early Christmas gift last night... a macro lens... "It's yet another in a long series of diversions in an attempt to avoid responsibility." He's such an enabler!

A Wonderful Sarah' Silk Giveaway! YAY!

EDIT: This giveaway is now closed. The winner will be announced Monday, November 28. Good luck to all :)

A few weeks ago we had a lovely new sponsor quietly join our family... Sarah's Silk. Actually, Sarah isn't new to Wee Folk Art. She hosted a wonderful giveaway last spring. But now, she has a permanent spot on our blog, so whenever you are HERE, you are just one button push away from visiting her wonderful shop :)

Very often interviews are done to introduce sponsors. Since we already did that in the spring (you can read about that HERE), we thought we would do something a little different. Sarah sent us one of her Starry Night Silk Scapes to test drive. We had 3 very eager guinea pigs! Below are a few of the ways they incorporated the silk scape into their play...  

Indoors... by draping it over their play stand, they created a lovely reading nook. That night they read books under the stars, using flashlights to read by. Camping indoors... totally awesome :)

Michelle decided SHE had the perfect spot for the new silk scape... flowing over a window! I love silks on windows!

Silk Scapes also make beautiful table clothes. We also have Sarah's Rainbow Silk Scape that is used everyday!


The wee ones didn't let Michelle play with it for too long before moving outdoors! The Silk Scapes can be used like parachutes, but much easier to use with a small number of children. Can you run under the silk before you are caught?

Or, can you jump over it?

If you "miss", it's your turn to hold an end of the Silk Scape, but that is just as much fun :)

And, just because it feels so good, you can run... trailing a trail of silk behind you!

Silks are an important part of the wee one's daily play. They present endless opportunities for open ended play. From the large silk scapes down to the mini silks, children will find ways to incorporate them into their play. As a matter of fact, the last time the Little Lady was here, her favorite toy at Gammy's was the silks. Even before heading for home, Meghan placed an order for their own stash of silks. I was sent these pics shortly after their visit. I am told she is seldom without a silk :)

Obviously, we are humongous fans of Sarah's Silks. Here's one of the ways that I like to display/store my silks. I change them out with the seasons.

So, after singing the praises of silks... I bet you want your own (if you don't have any) or more (if you do :) Luckily, Sarah is hosting a giveaway. YAY! One lucky winner will receive their very own Starry Night Silk Scape


Wouldn't this a perfect time of year to win this? Just in time for the holidays. To enter, simply click HERE, go to Sarah's Silk, and make up your Christmas wish list. (There's still time :) Then come back here, and let us know, which Sarah's Silk is at the top of your list. Then... cross your fingers :) The giveaway runs from today, Monday, November 21, and runs through Friday, November 25, at 9:00 pm, EST. Then, a winner will be drawn at random. The winner has one week to contact us or a new winner will be drawn. If you are traveling for Thanksgiving, make sure to get your entry in quickly so you don't forget :)

Michelle and I wish to welcome Sarah's Silk to the Wee Folk Art family. Then, we'd like to thank her for sponsoring this giveaway. Finally, we'd like to wish everyone good luck. The Starry Night Silk Scape is indeed a lovely and versatile toy!

Because of the Thanksgiving weekend, the winner will be announced Monday, November 28. Love a little suspense, don't you ;)
 

W.I.P. Rainbow Mitts

I've managed to get in a few late night hours knitting my rainbow mittens. Size two needles do not make for quick knitting! This mitts are knitted in the round, and I can't say I'm a huge fan of purling in the round. I'm all thumbs :) Despite that, the yarn is so wonderful, and the colors so happy, it's hard not to enjoy every stitch!

The pattern and yarn info can be found HERE. What are you working on now?

Cardinal Applique Block

Several weeks ago a reader asked me for a applique block for a cardinal. I finally got it done :) Although we have cardinals in our backyard year round, they look their loveliest in the winter world. Here, we have a male cardinal perched in a tree. I'm sure he has his eye on his mate which is always close by. BTW... although it is very hard to see in this photo, his eye is made up of 4 black seed beads. In person, the light makes his eyes twinkle, just like a real cardinal :)

Our cardinal was designed to fit a 6" x 6" block, but can be enlarged or reduced to meet your needs. The pattern for the cardinal can be found HERE. Enjoy!

Christmas Crafts

Today marks the first Sunday of Advent. It seems that no matter how far away Christmas may seem throughout the year, those last 4 weeks fly by. Although I'm sure all of you know that we keep a pictorial gallery of our past crafts, it can be accessed by hitting to Freebie button at the top of the page or in the right column, I thought it would be fun to pull our Christmas Crafts to the front page. Yikes! I had no idea how long the list had become! Of course, these are just projects specifically for Christmas. For gift giving ideas, we would have to highlight everything in our galleries!

So, below is a list of Christmas projects, with direct links. There is still time to get many projects made... whether they are for the home or for gift giving. I was at JoAnn's late last night, getting some fabric to make a few more Easy Cotton Shawls. Judging by the line at the fabric cutting counter, LOTS and LOTS of people feel like they have plenty of time yet to craft :) Also, I've included a link to the Advent Celebration we used last year. Each week includes a book, craft, recipe and applique. So, take a few minutes, scroll down the page, and hopefully you'll find something that inspires you this holiday season. And make sure you visit our gallery for a plethora of other ideas.

And... visit our Recipe Page. There are some of our Christmas cookie recipes and many from our readers.

ADVENT CELEBRATION

Week 1 - Giving From the Heart

Week 2 - Symbols of Christmas

Week 3 - Celebrating With Family

Week 4 - Birth of Baby Jesus (Didn't get all our activities posted last year, perhaps this year!)

APPLIQUES

Advent Poinsettia

Primitive Angel

Cardinal

Holiday Log Cabin

Poinsettia

Christmas Tree

HOUSEHOLD

Advent Calendar

Mini Flower Stocking

Mini Star Stocking

Traditional Snowflakes

Poinsettia Garland

Star Advent Wreath and Candle Holders

Wool Roving Angel Ornaments

KIDS CRAFTING

Rolled Beeswax Candles

Rejoicing Angels Watercolor Painting

Gingerbread Men Garland

Stuffed Star Ornaments

Wet Felted Cookie Cutter Ornaments

Felted Wood and Ribbon Ornaments

sss

GNOMES AND DOLL HOUSE STUFF

Santa Gnome Peg

Christmas Holly Banner

Sarah's Silk Starry Night Silk Scape Giveaway


 
First off, we again would like the thank Sarah, from Sarah's Silks, for this lovely giveaway. Obviously, there are many imaginative ways for your wee one's to play with this beautiful Starry Night Silk Scape. Wish we were able to send 1 to everyone :)

Now, on to the winner:

I love the idea of a play silk a month!
The starry night silk is gorgeous as well!
xoxo
~ joey ~

Congratulations, Joey! Just email us at weefolkart@yahoo.com with your home address, and we will send it along to Sarah's Silk, and you'll have your new Starry Night Silk Scape in time for the holidays! You have 1 week to contact us or a new winner will be drawn.

Thanks, again, Sarah, for sponsoring this wonderful giveaway. We are so delighted you are now apart of the Wee Folk Art family!

Easy Peasy Napkin Apron

Even if you possess the most rudimentary sewing skills, this project will be a breeze for you. Just in time for the holidays, this is perhaps the simplest apron you'll ever make! Let the kids wear them for cookie making or wrap them up as gifts for all the wee ones in your life. Because you begin with a finished square napkin (mine was a 21" x 21" napkin from Pier One), there's no cutting out or turning under seams. It is a one size fits most children. I love this design because the apron covers the child all the way to the neck. Too often aprons hang down in front allowing food stuff to fall behind the apron defeating their purpose. This apron is really so fast to make, it will probably take you longer to read this tutorial than actually make the apron ;)

Start out by picking a spectacular napkin!

Then, pick a corner... any corner. Turn the corner down on a diagonal so the two sides of the triangle are 8" long. NOTE: If you get a woven napkin like mine, the front and back are both finished. If your napkin is finished on both sides, fold the corner so you have front sides of the fabric together. When the apron is done, you will see the decorative triangle. If the backside of the napkin is yucky, fold the corner so you have the back sides of the fabric together. When the apron is done, the triangle will be on the inside, unseen. 

You will be sewing a seam that will create a casing along the fold. This seam should be as wide as your neck ribbon plus a quarter inch. My neck ribbon was 1/2" X 28". I made my casing 3/4" wide. Make sure to reinforce the start and end of your seam so it doesn't come undone. NOTE: I made this apron using ribbon in my stash. If you are buying ribbon, I suggest you use grosgrain ribbon over satin ribbon. It holds its shape and stays tied better.

Using a safety pin, slide the ribbon through the casing. Center the ribbon so the ties are the same length.

To prevent the ribbon from coming out, sew a small perpendicular seam in the center of the casing.

To sew on the side ties, pin a ribbon to the back of a side corner, overlapping the back by 1". (I made each side tie with 1" x 24" ribbon.)

From the right side of the napkin, sew the ribbon to the apron. The seam should be close to the folded edges of the corner, and the seam should be as long as the ribbon. (The seam will be a right angle following the corner.) From the backside, trim the ribbon to prevent unraveling.

To prevent unraveling of all 4 ties, cut the ends on a diagonal.

And that's all there is to it! If you have a young sewer in your family, this is a great project for them. Now... running along and do some baking with the munchkins :)