Saturday, October 29, 2016

Just off the hoop - just in time

Just in time for the November pattern bundle and Christmas embroidery. 

This was a lot of fun to stitch. I actually finished this project in about a day and a half.

It can be framed in the hoop but it would also look lovely in a picture frame. 

What's in your hoop for the holidays?

Friday, October 28, 2016

SweaterDoll in Nepal

Where do SweaterDoll pattern samples go when they overflow in the sewing room?

Once I had a flash sale and sold a few of the dolls, and many are given away, but a whole bunch of them traveled to Nepal with the 108 Lives generosity program this year. 

108 Lives is a giving and service organization that promotes individuals to travel to Nepal to find actual people to help with medical costs and resources, clothing, education costs and access, and, of course, toys for the children.

This is a village called Phulping in one of the least developed districts of Nepal. The population there relies almost entirely on agriculture and live lives of self-reliance within family and community networks. 

There's nothing more gratifying than to see children enjoying play and imagination. Play gives children an opportunity to practice social skills and morays and safely express difficult emotions, such as grief and fear. 

One of my favorite studies on play was conducted by O. Fred Donaldson who wrote Playing By Heart. He had the chance to actually enter wolf environments and learn how they interact socially. He found play was the manner in which cubs learned socialization and social structure. It was highly physical and rough and tumble as you might imagine. 

Fred took this understanding back to children, mostly developmentally challenged, abandoned, or traumatized in some way. His sessions with them was considered therapy by professionals but to him it was just love. The children blossomed when played with - no words, just touch and tumbling and smiles and laughter. 

I had the great fortune to spend a week training with Fred back in the early 90s. It was a game changer. 

Toys made by hand are always such a heartfelt gift. It's a gift of time and love as much as the object itself. 

May you have years of gift-making ahead of you. It's a joy that is experienced in the planning, the making, the giving, and the playing.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Readers are Makers - Part Three

Let's focus on reader embroidery today.

Here are some fantastic Embroidery School projects and some pics from a pattern challenge using one of my embroidery patterns from my online shop

The original Embroidery School series used two samplers to learn and practice 12 basic embroidery stitches. Here is the wheel sampler made by Dawn.

And here, Lisa (remember her from yesterday's post?) completed both samplers.

The second Embroidery School series was all about crazy quilt embellishment. Marcia G. not only worked the stitches but also made the actual crazy quilt blocks for a larger project.

Karen worked the downloadable sampler block to a T. Gorgeous work, huh?

Marcia G. also completed Christmas Embroidery School in record time! Here's her finished ornament pattern.

The members of Handmade Cooperative had a pattern challenge several months ago. It was a lot of fun trading patterns and making each others' designs.

My Fox and Bear embroidery pattern was made by two lovely makers. Here is Gail's work. She is the owner/maker of Skinny Malinky Designs. I am so touched that Gail has been a long time follower. I love her softies!

Jen of Ma & Me made this set up. I love how she colored in areas which really makes the stitching pop!

Dawn also worked up this Lavender embroidery pattern using some soft colors and a vintage look.

That's it for now. I eagerly await photos from makers of SweaterDoll patterns and projects. Has anyone made anything from the September or October pattern bundles?

Readers are Makers - Part Two

Want to see your gorgeous SweaterDoll sewing and embroidery featured on the blog? Just send me an email.

Here are some more inspiring photos of projects made by readers and customers.

Thanks to Emma of Squiggly Monkeys for participating in a pattern challenge and choosing the Dinosaur doll pattern to play with.  Grrr.....fiercely cute!

Long time reader, Evenstar, made several types of Sweaterdolls from the original pattern. I loved making characters from the pattern which creates a basic softie that is completely customizable.

Glenda is another long time fan of SweaterDoll. Here she has made a beautiful DollyGram using the pattern published in Homespun magazine (Australia) late 2015.

Kathy made this doll for her 7 year old friend, Sima, who is an Iraqi Kurd, who started school this year. Kathy wrote me: "It was impossible to find dolls with her colour of skin in the bazaar so I made one for her. She also started school this year, so I improvised the clothes pattern to make her a school uniform for her doll just like her own." 

This sewing pattern was updated in the June 2016 issue of Homespun magazine and will be available as soon as I have time to rewrite it. Modesty clothing is a real need for children of Muslim, Amish, Mennonite, and orthodox Jewish cultures to name just a few. Great job, Kathy!

Lisa, of Cucicucicoo, is a powerhouse of sewing. She is an American living in Italy, raising a family, and designing patterns. But that's not all. Her blog is a wealth of craft projects and upcycling and reuse. In one post, she reviewed my Perfectly Imperfect doll pattern. She must have liked it; look how many she made! Here's the review post.

 Thanks for sharing your projects with me. I love to see them!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Readers are Makers

This week is a shout out to readers and customers who have sent photos of the SweaterDoll projects they have made.

The projects are from my blog tutorials, patterns, magazine articles, and Embroidery School.

I couldn't be more proud of the work readers share with me. Don't you just love them?

I recently received this photo from Donna and am tickled pink! Puzzle balls are one of my favorite things to make. The tutorial is available in this post (and as a downloadable pdf also).

This doll has been a delight to me, not only because it was made using my most popular sewing pattern - the Folksy Lady doll pattern - but because the lovely woman who made it, Belinda, and I have practically become online pen pals writing back and forth about doll patterns of all types. 

Belinda adjusted the pattern so not only the arms but also the legs are attached using buttons and I love the look immensely.

Marcia G. has been an active participant of Embroidery School and its Facebook group. Here is her finished work using this free pattern I posted on the blog. Adorable!

These Kiddos are so cute! What child wouldn't love a basket of these instead of plastic dolls? These were made by customer and reader Barbara D. 

Here I have to apologize. I have lost the original email that came with this photo of one of my handcrafted wooden lucets being used by a customer. If you recognize this as yours, please let me know and I'll update the post.

And for today's last show-and-tell, here is Tawny's ballerina made from one of my doll sewing patterns. I adore the fabric she used for the hair. It's little touches like this that make projects unique and personal.

Reader appreciation continues tomorrow!!! Come back to see more photos.

If you have projects you've made using my tutorials, patterns, or from Embroidery School, send me photos to add this week. 

If by the end of the week you don't see photos you have sent to me in the past, I apologize. I am trying to collect them all in one place but may have missed some. Just email me and send those in.

Thanks for "playing" with me in the sewing room. 

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Christmas Embroidery School - Lesson Five

Let's finish this design! Today we'll tie the bow and add a bit of holiday greenery.

Scroll Stitch

This is a knotted stitch in the same way coral stitch is, but it is wrapped differently.

Use 6 strands of floss. Bring the needle up at the end of the line. Grab a small bit of fabric on outside the line and wrap the thread as shown.

 Pull the thread tight enough to hug the needle. Pull the needle through, creating the knot.

Take a bit of fabric again a small way from the knot and make another.

 Continue the stitch along the lines of the bow.

Satin Stitch

Satin stitch is used again in the pattern. But in a circle it's important to use stitches of graduated sizes to fill the circle. Use 4 strands of floss.

Stem Stitch (again)

Stem stitch was covered in the first lesson. It's used again here for the stems of the greenery.

Lazy Daisy Stitch 

Use 4 strands of floss. Bring the threaded needle up from the back at the pointy end near the center of the wheel. Take it back down in the same hole or a thread or two away leaving a loop if thread. Bring the needle back up at the rounded bottom to catch the loop.

And then tack it down with a small stitch over the end of the loop.

 Stitch a random bunch of leaves with the lighter green.

 Fill in the rest of the leaves with the darker green.

And now your Christmas ornament is finished and you've completed the Christmas Embroidery School.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Christmas Embroidery School - Lesson Four

Today let's finish the top of the ornament. Tomorrow we'll finish the bow and the greenery.

Double Herringbone Stitch

Herringbone stitch is mainly a crossed stitch with the criss-cross at the tops of each stitch.

Use 4 strands of floss. Draw or eyeball diagonal lines across the area. Stitch over these lines. Then start the return lines, crossing over at the tops and bottoms over the lines rather than across the middle.

Then create an overlapping herringbone stitch with the second color. Generally, the second line of stitching is centered between the first layer but I set them closer to one side.

Long and Short Blanket Stitch

Use 4 strands of floss. Stitch one straight stitch along the side. 

Come back up next to the start point and insert the needle about halfway into the box and back to the top. Wrap the thread behind the needle and pull through for a blanket stitch.

Continue this stitch alternating the length of the stitches.

At the other end, tack the last stitch in place.

Back Stitch

Use 4 strands of floss. Make one stitch along the hanger hoop. Bring the needle back up one stitch away and circle back to meet the first stitch.

 Continue to circle the stitches to cover the hanger.