Deals & Steals
Head’s Up! These are all affiliate links. This means I might get a small commission if you make a purchase through these links.
In the US
Craftsy’s Black Friday–Cyber Monday sale is on and all classes are $17.99 or less! In addition, supplies are on sale for up to 70% off.
I am a Craftsy fan. I love learning, experimenting, and playing. And I love classes: The structure propels me into action while introducing me to new materials and techniques.
Craftsy classes are professionally made videos, available any time of day or night, so that I can watch whenever it’s convenient, and as many times as I’d like. There are class forums for asking questions, sharing project photos, and interacting with the teacher and other students.
But don’t take my word for how fun, informative, and inspiring these classes are, you can try before you buy: Watch free online classes, and see for yourself.
Craftsy offers classes in all sorts of delightful crafty genres, but if you want, you can jump right to the hand-embroidery classes.
I am currently enrolled in seven classes, one of which is Joan Hawley’s Zip It Up! class. I have a vision of embroidering fabric to make these Runaround Bags from the class.
All the bags from the class stitch up quickly, look great, and make fun gifts. Add embroidery to make them super special!
Something new for this holiday season: Photos of your embroidery on cards, mugs, gift wrap, and more!
Ready to give it a go? TinyPrints is having a Thanksgiving sale!
Create and Craft
DIY crafts, supplies, and 24/7 Craft TV.
Something new! Double your crafting output, double the fun by watching Craft TV while stitching. You can watch on your TV, PC/Mac, tablet, or phone, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. How’s that for inspiration?
In addition to crafty programming, Create and Craft has popular large-company embroidery kits and patterns. Dimensions, Janlynn, Bucilla . . . stockings, ornaments, quilt tops . . . yanno.
They also carry basic embroidery supplies: DMC threads (floss and pearl), mostly-white fabrics, needles, lights and magnifiers, etc.
If cross stitch is your thing, you can head right there.
Interweave and Keepsake NeedleArts
You’ll find a wide variety of craft magazines and books here, as well as digital media. These are the publishers of Piecework magazine and Cloth, Paper, Scissors—to name two of my favorites! You can find back issues and collections of magazines on cd. If you’re a knitter or crocheter, there’s tons here for you. Embroiderers, yes, there are patterns and books for you, too.
‘Tis the season for ornament stitching!
Remember how we were talking about filet embroidery recently? It’s generally stitched on a handmade net. Want to try your hand at netting? Here are simple bookmarks that use the technique—and you know we’re still collecting bookmarks for Stitching for Literacy, right?
I’ve taken several classes here and have been pleased. If your schedule is super flexible, you can catch classes live and for free. If you aren’t free to watch while they’re running for free, or if you want the freedom of watching at your convenience or over and over, then buying the classes is the way to go.
The free option can be useful for checking out a class and deciding whether you’d like to own it or not.
Want to take better photographs of your embroidery? Check out the craft photography classes. Also of interest might be the craft & maker classes. See these and more offerings in the class catalog.
Annie’s offers patterns and supplies for crochet, knitting, plastic canvas, beading, card making, and more. They also offer online classes. If you’ve taken any, please let us know what you think.
Start holiday crafting with yarn–or thread?–crafts.
Leisure Arts has a Warehouse Clearance Sale with up to 75% off patterns, supplies, and kits.
For non-clearance items, seniors, teachers, and military folks can get 15% off with the following coupon codes:
In the UK
Sew and So
For our friends in Europe—though they’ll ship anywhere in the world, too.
Sew and So also has an exclusive DMC Cross Stitch Ideas Collector’s Box and cross stitch kits, among other things.
Or check out Modern Cross Stitch: Over 30 Fresh and New Counted Cross-Stitch Patterns.
Or just see what’s new at Sew and So
Stitch, Craft, Create
Another source in Europe, primarily for sewing, knitting, and crocheting, but check out their daylight lamps and magnifiers.
Check out the Brand New Craft Books.
Free Standard UK Delivery On Orders Over £30!
Free Worldwide Delivery On Orders Over £100!
Intrepid stitcher, Deb Ovall, discovered the Funk & Weber World blog while searching for info about decoupaging embroidery. She wanted to adhere a cross-stitch design to a clock face, but had never decoupaged before, let alone decoupaged embroidery.
I’ve fiddled around with decoupaged plastic cups and denim pocket bookmarks, as well as earrings and artist trading cards.
Check out Deb’s project:
Dr. Who cross-stitched clock face. Fabric dyed by Deb; pattern stitched by Deb.
She started by dyeing her own Aida.
The cloth was white, 14-ct. Aida, and I ice-dyed it using a video I found on YouTube. You wet the cloth, bunch it up in a clump, place it on a rack over a tray, pile as many ice cubes on it as it will hold, sprinkle your powdered dye on the cubes, wait till the ice melts, rinse till clear, dry and iron. I didn’t do anything to set the color except iron it. I didn’t really care what it looked like, I just have so darn much white Aida and didn’t want to buy anything else!
Ah, anyone else have white fabric you’d like to dye? I sure do! And Deb’s fabric looks great, don’t you think?
The design is a pattern pdf from Cloudsfactory. I found a YouTube video for a different clockface that used a 10-inch clock, but when I tried to fit the design into the 10-inch clock I bought, it was 1/4 inch short, even as close as this cut is! Ten inches was the outside diameter, LOL!
I put the clock away and re-stitched the pattern on 16-ct, which fit a different clock I had: This board clock was $6 at a yard sale and had a 1/8-inch-thick plastic face that I peeled off. The clockworks still worked, so I removed them and fixed up the board.
Painting the clock base, Deb Ovall.
Deb used an enamel spray paint to cover the wood base.
I knew about Modpodge but had never used it, so I was just groping in the dark all over the place here. That’s why I was glad to find your blog! Sometimes you just need one little push to go for it, eh?
Oh, I love pushing!
Deb purchased Fabric Mod Podge* for the project, unsure whether that was the best choice or not. Well, she was pretty confident it was the best choice for the fabric, but what about the painted wood base that the fabric would be adhered to?
What Plaid, the maker of Mod Podge, seems to recommend in this case is to prepare the fabric by coating it with Fabric Mod Podge, but then attach it to the painted wood base with regular Mod Podge.
Unlike me, however, Deb doesn’t have seven different kinds of decoupage medium in her arsenal, and I encouraged her to accept the risk and go for it. I’ve found all the Mod Podge formulas very forgiving and effective on a variety of surfaces. I figured the worst-case scenario would be that the fabric wouldn’t adhere well to the wood, and if that happened, she could have another go with regular Mod Podge.
Check out the shiny decoupaged surface of Deb’s clock.
The fabric podge did not come with any instructions except that to do an applique, you adhere it, wait at least two hours for it to dry, then seal with a fabric brush, working the medium into the applique. I had a small, new, 1-inch paintbrush so I used that and it worked well! This piece was a throw-away if I could not make this work, plus it’s a gift for someone who will love it no matter what, so it wasn’t too risky.
The completed Dr. Who clock, by Deb Ovall. Note the silver trim around the fabric. A nice way to finish that edge.
It worked! The Mod Podge enhanced the contrast in the colors; I’m so happy! It also didn’t dull the silver trim around the design too much; that was the only thing I was afraid of. I only used one coat. This is the first thing I’ve ever Mod Podged so I had no idea what it would look like!
Well, I think it looks fantastic! Well done, Deb!
What do you think? Does this inspire you to decoupage embroidery? Leave a comment and let us know.
Want to see another fun decoupaged-embroidery sample? Check out Becca’s coffee-bean jar.
As always, if you give this a go, we want to know!
*Head’s up! The Mod Podge link to Amazon is an affiliate link. That means I might earn a small commission if you make a purchase through that link. Thank you!
Counted thread is my embroidery forte. Oh, I dabble in stumpwork and crewel and random acts of needleart, but my expertise is in embroidery that can be counted and gridded: cross stitch, blackwork, hemstitching, Hardanger, etc. That means it’s based on squares, lines, and right angles.
I hate to say it, but sometimes that bums me out. Sometimes I’m drawn to circles and curves. What’s a counted-thread girl to do when she’s feeling contrary and craving curves?
Well, I’ll tell you . . .
One option is to fake curves with strategic step downs and/or fractional stitches that enable 45-degree angles. We used the step-down method to create round(ish) frames around the Portraits of the Wild Life and the planets in The Neighborhood.
We use this method a lot.
We also used a lot of fractional stitches in the wolf and other animals to get beyond the square issue.
The wolf from Portraits of the Wild Life
The Neighborhood cross stitch pattern by Funk & Weber Designs.
Stitching threads and wires to the surface by couching allows for real curves, but, then, is this really counted thread? I think not.
The curved scribbles on this bookmark are couched.
Countable Stitches that Create Curves
And then there are counted stitches that create curves. Three of my favorites are crescent stitches, button-hole wheels (spider webs and all other wheels), and something else with a name I don’t remember that works like a closed-circle crescent stitch.
So I’m doodling in my design program, playing with stitches that create curves and circles. Those stars or rotating squares or whatever you want to call them will create circles when stitched.
Curves and circles
Or maybe . . .
Curves and Circles Playground
Yeah, this is what I do.
Becky G. is the Gadget Guru.
Anyone who’s been around here for long probably knows I am a minimalist when it comes to embroidery tools. For instance, I own just one
pair of embroidery scissors. It’s possible I am the only first-world stitcher with a single pair of small, pointy scissors.
Becky and I are the Odd Couple of stitching: While I have few tools, she has many.
This is the column where Becky introduces me (and you) to her extensive collection of stitchy gadgets and explains how she uses them. It’s the Gadget Guru series!
The jury is still out on whether I will abandon my minimalist ways and adopt assorted gadgets for improved needlework results, ease of stitching, or convenience.
This week, Becky shares some of her fabric-preparation gadgets.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may earn a small commission. Affiliate income helps support this site.
Fray Check / Fray Stop / Fray Block (We’ll talk about sergers another time.) You need something to keep your fabric’s cut edges from fraying. I’ve heard that some needlework shops will serge the edges of your fabrics for you; although, I’ve not actually seen that happen. I like Fray Check best of the three liquids listed; it’s a little thicker and stays where I put it.
Just be really careful using any of them; if it drips in the wrong spot on your fabric, it’ll show. And it’s permanent. Ask me how I know.
Jen: I have Fray Check, but I never use it. For small projects, I may just let the fabric fray. For large projects, I’ll serge or zigzag the edges myself. But Becky says we’ll talk about sergers later.
Gridding Thread Easy-Count Guideline has saved my life. If you grid your fabric, this stuff is great. It’s a solid polyester thread, so you can’t split it with your needle. Ever try to pull out a guideline that you’ve stitched through? Oy! I’ve also used Coats Transparent Black thread, it’s a lot thinner, and I think it’s harder to stitch with. And if you use a lot of guideline, go to a sporting goods store and buy 8# red fishing line; it’s a whole heck of a lot cheaper than the Easy-Count.
Jen: I’ve never gridded my fabric. I’ve never felt it was necessary, but I can easily imagine many stitchers finding it useful. Maybe I’m just lazy.
Fabric gauge A necessary thing for figuring out the thread count of your fabric. Many varieties and styles.
Jen: I just use my regular old ruler.
Stitch Starter I got mine in a class by Belinda of Blue Ribbon Designs. It’s a 3” square of clear plastic, marked on three sides in ¼” increments and on the fourth side in 1/16” increments. There are also markings for a 1” square and a 2” square. It’s great when you know you purchased enough fabric for a 3” margin, you can just whip this out to measure where to start stitching. It’s also small enough to carry in your stitching kit as a small ruler.
Frames / Q-snaps / scroll rods / Evertites / Hoops Many different types of fabric holders that do the same job in the same way. Mostly. I don’t use hoops anymore, they just didn’t keep the fabric snug enough for me and I just didn’t like them. Scroll rods are okay, but I don’t like the ones with Velcro or that I have to stitch my fabric to. I like q-snaps because they’re easy to put together and take apart for travel. I have some hand-made covers for them to help contain excess fabric.
I’ve heard that slate frames are great, especially for needlepoint. I’ve never used one so can’t comment on that. But my all-time current favorite is the Millennium Frame, from Needle Needs in the UK. I have two sizes, they keep my fabric nice and tight, yet they come apart easily to transport. I bought a poster tube (for transporting rolled up paper posters) large enough to hold my biggest set of Millennium Frames including the fabric; I just take off the side adjusters, roll the frame and fabric up, and tuck them into the poster tube along with the side pieces, chart and threads. It’s unfortunately not cheap, especially the shipping since they’re in the UK and I’m in the States.
For one thing, [on a stitching frame] the project is permanently set up and accessible. For another, it makes parking threads on this type of project much easier. A frame goes a long way to ensure even tension. A frame gives you room for your chart, so that it’s right in front of your eyes. A frame allows two-handed stitching, which means you make progress a little faster.
But there are disadvantages to a frame, too. They take up room. They require a specific posture, to reach the stitching area. (You can’t always cozy down on the couch with a project on a large frame!) And it’s more difficult to pack the whole project up and away, tidily, in a small space.
Jen: Tools to keep stitchy fabric taut are things I have and use. I’m a hoop gal because I was stitching before Q-snaps existed, and I’ve never felt the need to try something new. I find the (newish) plastic Susan Bates Hoopla hoops with the little lip on the inner ring keep the fabric nice and tight. That lip really helps. However, I much prefer my homemade floor frame because it keeps the fabric nicely taut, and there are no hoop creases to deal with.
Jen again: Well, all of these things are, indeed, useful. Do you have these things—and do you have multiples like Becky? Do you use them? Do you have different favorites?
Becky and I want to know!
Still Stitching for Literacy
Students at Mountain View Elementary School select a hand-stitched bookmark to go with their brand new books.
It’s that time of year when we start thinking about the graduating fifth graders at Mountain View Elementary School in Anchorage. Every year, we celebrate the reading accomplishments of these students with hand-stitched bookmarks.
Since the dissolution of Arctic Needleworkers, the Anchorage EGA chapter, readers here have stepped up to keep the tradition alive, stitching and mailing bookmarks for these students. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Stitchers, thread your needles . . . it’s time to stitch bookmarks again.
Where to Find Bookmark Patterns
There is no shortage of bookmark patterns. Your local Indie needlework shop is bound to have a bunch, and an Internet search will turn up countless free and paid options.
In fact, you may already have bookmark patterns in your pattern stash. But that’s not always the point, is it? Part of the stitching fun is finding and stitching something new.
Here are some things I’ve found.
Heads up! Some of these are affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links, I may receive a small commission.
Leisure Arts offers a bunch of bookmark charts, usually containing multiple patterns.
Keeping in mind that the recipients are kids, this Stoney Creek Collection is a great choice. The 12 patterns include seasonal themes as well as book themes. I’d love to see a bunch of the skull-and-crossbones and space bookmarks. I especially like the Batty over Books and Book Lover ones, too.
Do you like surprises? This Bookmarks Galore pattern collection is like a mystery stitch-a-long: the pattern image is so small you really can’t tell what you’re getting! This cracks me up. But there are 66 patterns in this collection—66!—so there’s bound to be something fun and useful. And for just $6.95, well, the fun of the mystery alone is worth that. I can make out cool-looking cat and bear bookmarks that are cat- and bear-shaped, and I see that there is at least one corner bookmark pattern included. If you’re an adventurer, this might be a fun option.
The Hold That Thought bookmark collection contains 37 patterns along with alphabets so you can add your own sentiments. It’s actually two collections: Words of Wisdom and I Can Read. As you would guess, the I Can Read patterns are designed for kids. We’ve had some of these donated in the past, and I can tell you they’re popular with young readers. Also, if you’re in a hurry to get a pattern—or if you just appreciate instant gratification and/or want to save trees—this collection is downloadable.
Ornaments as Bookmarks
Now that we have cool elastic for bookbands, consider using ornament patterns for bookmarks. These colorful owlet kits would make great bookbands, don’t you think?
Funk & Weber Patterns
Oh, yeah! We have bookmark patterns, too! Even better, you can get them all in a collection for 40% off plus free shipping!
Funk & Weber Cross Stitch Bookmark Patterns
Bookmarks 101: Simple, Smart, and Swanky Finishes
You can also make bookmarks from just about any tiny bit of embroidery: a doodle, a UFO, an isolated motif from a larger pattern. Learn all sorts of clever and creative ways to finish bookmarks with the Bookmarks 101: Simple, Smart, and Swanky Finishes ebook.
Learn to finish bookmarks and other stitchy doo-dads.
Will You Stitch A Bookmark for Us?
Will you stitch a bookmark or five for us? It doesn’t have to be one of these patterns: Any hand-stitched bookmark will do. The goal of Stitching for Literacy is twofold: We want to encourage and reward reading, and we want to expose kids to needlework and help them develop an appreciation for it.
Leave a comment below or drop me a line at mail AT funkandweber DOT com, and I’ll tell you where to send your bookmark donations.