My Top 10 Thirty-One Storage Choices

Last time, Monica shared her Top 10 Storage Solutions for us stitchy folk. She based her choices on my personal complaints about stash disarray and a handful of photos I sent her showing the kinds of materials we need to corral and control.

Her selection was excellent, but after spending time on the website and then receiving a print catalog (which I think is better than the website), I have come up with my own Top 10 Storage Solutions. There’s some overlap, but I discovered some cool new (to me) things, too. Want to see?


Thirty-one Gifts, Monica Bradford, Funk & Weber Designs

The square storage boxes on the shelves are Your Way cubes and rectangles. The two “pockets” hanging on the wall above the desk are Oh-Snap Pockets. And there’s a Creative Caddy in the bottom right cubby of the shelf.


1. Your Way cubes, rectangle, and basket Yep, I’m lumping them all together as one thing.
2. Oh-Snap Pockets Monica mentioned the Oh-Snap Bin, which I also like.
3. Creative Caddy

For storing things at home, I like the Your Way Cubes and Rectangles and Basket. I see these holding fabrics, wrapped in tissue or not. I also see these holding some of my floss and bead boxes.

I see the Oh-Snap Pockets on the wall by my craft table, giving me a place to stash tools and supplies for current projects that will keep the table clean and hide the tools away. With limited floor space for storage containers, being able to store things on the wall is a boon!


Thirty-one Gifts, Monica Bradford, Funk & Weber Designs

Another great presentation of what might be done with the Your Way Cubes and Oh-Snap Pockets. There’s also a Double-Duty Caddy here, holding mail on the counter, and a Fold N’ File in the bottom-center cubby below the table.


4. Double-Duty Caddy

I like how this caddy can double as a stay-at-home storage option and a grab-and-go option.


Thirty-one Gifts, Monica Bradford, Funk & Weber Designs

Double-Duty Caddy. A place for use-all-the-time tools, like hoop, scissors, needle book, tape (for making pearl), roller cutter, clamps, etc.


5. Fold ‘N File + Deluxe Utility Tote

This could be the perfect thing for a weekend retreat, seminar, or, say, Stitch In Alaska. The Files contain different supplies for different projects, and the whole thing fits together for easy schlepping. Plus, shared supplies can be contained in one so they’re always available.


Fold N' Files and Deluxe Utility Tote, Monica Bradford, Thirty-one Gifts

Fold N’ Files + Deluxe Utility Tote = Awesome Solution for Big Occasions


Fold N' File, Monica Bradford, Thirty-one Gifts

Fold N’ File folds up for easy storage–another reason I like it.


6. Jewelry Keeper
7. Hanging Traveler Case

I think these are both good options for corralling small accouterments, but I think the Jewelry Keeper will serve me better. I envision storing assorted jewelry hardware in it so I can finish stitchy smalls: jump rings, earring wires, wire, tools, shepherd’s hooks, grommets, etc. Lots of pockets will be super handy, and this could be my go-to smalls kit.


Jewelry Keeper and Hanging Traveler Case, Monica Bradford, Thirty-one Gifts

The Jewelry Keeper and Hanging Traveler Case are both good options.


8. All-Day Organizing Tote

The catalog relates more details about this tote than does the website. Go figure. Here’s what the catalog says:

  • Zip-top closure (Though I’m not seeing this in the picture. Personally, this isn’t the feature I care most about.)
  • 1 exterior front pocket
  • 2 interior mesh side pockets
  • 1 interior flat pocket
  • 1 interior zipper pocket
  • Approximately 13.5″ H x 17.5″ L x 7″ D

The size and the separated interior pockets are what I like. I always have a book, leaflet, or set of papers that I want to keep separate and together, plus this enables the separation of different projects.


All-Day Organizing Tote, Monica Bradford, Thirty-one Gifts

The All-Day Organizing Tote has interior and exterior pockets.


9. Hang-It-Up Pocket

Get this: I was just e-chatting with our Nut, Marty, who has turned a coat closet into a brilliantly organized needlework closet. I’ve asked her to send us some pics.

Thirty-one shows these hanger-pockets in the laundry room, but I’m seeing them in Marty’s closet. Now, if only I had a closet . . . .


Hang-It-Up Pocket, Monica Bradford, Thirty-one Gifts

Hang-It-Up Pockets hanging on hangers, Creative Caddies above them, Oh-Snap Bins on the table


10. Zipper Pouches

This is one of the crossover products. It’s kind of a no-brainer. We can use zipper pouches by the dozen–and I should to help me keep projects and supplies clean.

The thing to note here is that there are two sizes of pouches:

The Zipper Pouch is approximately 9”H x 12.25”L x 2”D
The Mini Zipper Pouch is approximately 5.5″ H x 8” L x 1.5”D

We’re in luck with these Zipper Pouches, too, because there are two special deals involving these pouches right now.


When we place an order for $35, we can order a Zipper Pouch for just $5.

Everyone who places an order of $35 or more will be entered into a contest for a free Zipper Pouch from Monica.

How cool is that?


Zipper Pouch, Monica Bradford, Thirty-one Gifts

The large Zipper Pouch is approximately 9”H x 12.25”L x 2”D.


How to Navigate the Thirty-one Website

Log on to Monica’s page on Thirty-one:


Monica Bradford, Thirty-one Gifts Consultant

Monica’s page on the Thirty-one website


You’ll see Monica’s picture at the top right, and you’ll see a link on the left side of the menu that says “My Scheduled Parties.” Click that link.


Funk & Weber Party on Thirty-one

How to find our party.


Scroll down the page a bit, and you’ll see a number of parties, including the Funk & Weber Designs one. Click the “Shop Now” button in the Funk & Weber Designs party square.

And you’re off! Click, click, click to your heart’s content.

If you have questions, there’s a link to email Monica at the top of every page from here on out. She’s standing by to answer any questions you have.

If you place an order, it will be processed and shipped once the party closes on the 13th.

Do you have questions for me? Leave a comment or email me at mail [AT] funkandweber [DOT] com.

What’s Your Brilliant Idea for Stash Organization?

What’s your favorite product?

Do you have a different Top 10 List? Spill!

How do you envision using one of these products? Leave a comment; we want to know!

Top 10 Thirty-One Products for Organizing Your Sewing!

Monica HeadshotHello, Funk and Weber fans! My name is Monica Bradford and in addition to being a devoted crafter I’m also an Independent Thirty-One consultant. I’ve been using Thirty-One products to organize my life for years, so Jen has invited me to share ideas for organizing your sewing supplies!

I’ve come up with my top 10 favorite Thirty-One products for organizing your sewing!



For those that can’t watch the video right now (I know, your boss might not like you watching a video during working hours) here’s a quick overview of my top 10!

  1. Uptown Mini Pouch – great for a on-the-go sewing kit to toss in your purse!
    Uptown Mini Pouch
  2. Oh-Snap Bin – hang it on your chair for the supplies you need in easy reach.
    Oh-Snap Bin
  3. Mini Zipper Pouch – organize your bits and pieces.
    Mini Zipper Pouch
  4. Zipper Pouch – store a smaller project and supplies in one place. (Psst! This bag is on special this month!!)
    Zipper Pouch
  5. Creative Caddy – use the pockets to store your tools and supplies.
    Creative Caddy
  6. Jewelry Keeper – or thread, needles, scissors, measuring tape, supply keeper.
    Jewelry Keeper
  7. Hang-It-Up Pocket – great for keeping multiple projects organized.
    Hang-It-Up Pocket
  8. Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote – when you sewing on-the-go this bag is a must have.
    Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote
  9. Soft Utility Tote – perfect for taking those larger projects out and about. (Psst! This bag is on special this month!!)
    Soft Utility Tote
  10. Deluxe Utility Tote – when you are heading out on a sewing retreat this bag will hold it all!
    Deluxe Utility Tote

Who’s ready to get their sewing supplies organized?!! Jen is hosting a very special blog party just for you! Head to and click “My Scheduled Parties”. Then select “Funk and Weber Designs” before you shop. This party will be open Nov 1-13, 2015.

Because I adore all of Jen’s readers I have a very special offer for you! Anyone that places an order of $35 or more on Jen’s blog party by November 13th will be entered in a drawing to win a FREE Zipper Pouch from me!

Nov Special Soft Utility Nov Special Zipper Pouch

This month we’ve got two of those Top 10 Products for Organizing your Sewing on special! With every $35 you spend you can save more than 50% on the Soft Utility Tote or the Zipper Pouch! It’s the perfect time to stock up!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Top 10 list! If you have any questions about which products would work for your organizational needs leave me a comment! I’m here to help in any way I can!

Happy Stitching!

Monica Signature

* This blog post was written by Monica Bradford, Independent Thirty-One Consultant. The views expressed are hers alone and don’t represent the views of Thirty-One Gifts LLC.

How to Give Stitched Gifts . . .

. . . for maximum understanding and appreciation.

I see it. Do you? Holiday season is fast approaching. I see stitchers on social media posting updates on gift projects as they furiously stitch to meet a deadline. Enthusiasm is high at this stage; it can be exhilarating to race to a finish.

And then, inevitably, some stitchers will crash when the gift giving isn’t what we hoped and imagined. Maybe the recipient doesn’t notice the special details we added. Maybe she sets it aside and moves on to something else immediately. Maybe he asks, “What is this?”


How to Give Handmade, by Funk & Weber Designs


Stories like this break my heart. I know what you put into your stitches: the time, the effort, the thought, the money, the care. I know the pleasure you enjoyed during the many hours you worked on the project. I know the pleasure you hoped you’d give with the gift. I know, and I appreciate it. I want you to feel great about giving such a gift. So great, in fact, that you look forward to stitching another gift.

I’ve written about giving hand-crafted gifts before; specifically, how and why to feel good about giving such gifts. Now, I have a suggestion for how to help the recipient understand and enjoy your handmade gift: Tell her what was involved. Give him the backstory so he understands what the gift is and what it took to create it.

Save 50% Off Storewide at Interweave StoreHow do you do this? Easy. Include a card or note that says something like this:

This (cross stitch, needlepoint, blackwork, Hardanger, fill-in-the-blank, but give it a name the recipient can use in describing the gift to others) embroidery contains 2,347 stitches handmade by me. Silk, cotton, and metallic threads along with beads and buttons are worked on linen fabric. This pillow represents ___ hours of work that gave me great pleasure, as I thought of you each time I sat down to stitch.

You can add further details such as why you chose the pattern or colors. Or share some of the thoughts you had about the recipient while you were stitching.

Even someone who already understands embroidery will appreciate knowing these details. For someone who doesn’t have experience with embroidery, this speaks volumes about what the gift is and what it entailed. I think that will go a long way to helping the recipient appreciate the gift. In this way, we can share the joy we had in the making.

What do you think? Will you do this?

What other tips do you have for giving handmade gifts?

Embroidery Adventure: Um . . . What Is That?

In planning the first Stitch In Alaska Tour, I thought long and hard about what kinds of stitching activities to include. For months. Actually, the better part of a year. And by “thinking,” I mean “wrestled with a tenacious and unrelenting beast.” I wanted the stitching activities to match the Alaska experience in excitement, surprise, and satisfaction, and that is a tall order. Maybe an impossible order. But, to quote the owner of the Alaska lodges we visit on the tour: “The extremely difficult is no problem . . . the impossible takes a little longer.”

As embroiderers, we understand what it means to “take a little longer.”

My first thought for stitching activities was a class. Of course it was. That’s the norm. We go to a stitching retreat or seminar and what do we do? We attend classes. Classes are adventures; anytime we’re learning something new, we’re adventuring.

I went so far as to design a brand new Alaska Souvenir Sampler that brought together multiple techniques and ideas, some of which I hoped would be new for our intrepid traveler/stitchers. It was nice; I liked the Souvenir Sampler, but I wasn’t over the moon about it. I wanted to be over the moon. Alaska, after all, is an over-the-moon kind of place.

My second thought, then, was I don’t want to do a class. Everybody does classes. Classes are everywhere, a dime a dozen. Alaska is unique. The stitching activities should be unique, too. I wracked my brain. Unique ideas are rare: It’s hard to imagine something we’ve never imagined.

I went to the dictionary for inspiration. I looked up “adventure.”

Adventure Definition, Funk & Weber Designs

Definition of “adventure” at

My brain pulled out the third and seventh definitions: “a bold, usually risky undertaking; hazardous action of uncertain outcome” and “to take the chance of; dare.” I boiled it down to this:

  • bold
  • risky
  • uncertain outcome
  • take a chance
  • dare

Hazardous? I don’t think so. I have a really good imagination, and I can’t see embroidery being truly hazardous. Plus, hazardous ain’t my thang. The rest, however, is what I wanted our stitchy activities to be, how tour activities would be different from what we usually experience in embroidery classes.

“Uncertain outcome” pretty much excludes a pattern, wouldn’t you say? And aren’t most classes based on a pattern?

So I decided to scrap the Souvenir Pattern. That felt risky because I knew such a project would be expected, but risky seemed right. I embraced it. Instead of having a pattern we all followed in the same way, I decided we’d focus on techniques and challenges, letting individuals and circumstances determine outcomes. Further, I would manipulate circumstances to force and ensure an element of challenge and uncertainty.

What might that look like? Well, the two project photos in this post are results of the same project adventure.

Becky's Bookmark, Stitch In Alaska 2015, Funk & Weber Designs

Becky’s bookmark adventure from Stitch In Alaska, 2015.

I made a list of techniques, challenges, and activities, more than we could possibly do. I laid out a tentative plan for when we’d do what, fitting stitching bits in between known tour bits. Of course, a tour such as this has changeable options, so flexibility was essential, which is yet another very good reason to jettison the “class” idea. Different traveler/stitchers would participate in different activities: Becky might kayak while Cathy hiked while Paula journaled while Harriet and Ruthie stitched. My plans would have to be flexible and customizable. Another tall order. (Refer back to the quote about “extremely difficult” and “impossible.”) My goal, then, was to always have a stitchy activity available and ready, but not overwhelm anyone with too much to do and the reality that no one could possibly do it all.

Imagine packing for this trip. Gah! I struggled with it. Really struggled. I would have to schlep these supplies between three lodges. They’d travel in a car, van, boat, and bus. This proved a bigger challenge than I expected. It was stressing me out. So I threw everything in the car and drove 2 hours into town where Arctic Needle Karen took the stitchy-supplies bull by the horns, set some harsh limits:

“Practice what you preach, Jen,” she said. “Limitations foster creativity.”

Karen had me straightened out, organized, and packed in under three hours. Phew!

The last piece of the puzzle fell into place. My stress was gone, and all I felt was excited. Oh, there was certainly uncertainty, but I trusted Alaska to dazzle, the tour company to be thorough and awesome, and visiting stitchers to embrace adventure. And they did.

Harriet's Bookmark, Stitch In Alaska 2015, Funk & Weber Designs

Harriet’s bookmark adventure from Stitch In Alaska, 2015.

Having tried and tested several ideas during Stitch In Alaska 2015, I now have a better sense of what I want to achieve with a stitching adventure and how to do it. I started planning for the next adventure even as I undertook the first. I’m not compelled to share details of planned activities because I adore surprises, and I think they add to the sense of adventure.

My favorite quote from Stitch In Alaska 2015:

“The hardest part was deciding to do it.” ~ Ruth Hubert

Boy, isn’t that the truth?!

If you’re coming to Stitch In Alaska in 2016 (dates to be announced in the coming week), know that the stitching will be an adventure as defined above. All you need bring are basic tools (scissors, hoop or stretcher bars or the like) and any glasses, magnifier, or small light you wish. Oh, and please bring an open mind and a willingness to try despite an uncertain outcome.

The trip we’ll take is the Alaska Wildland Collection. Visit that link to read a detailed itinerary (minus the stitching parts), see pictures of the lodges, and get all the details from pricing to policies.

If you’re interested in this and future trips, let me know, and I’ll put you on a special mailing list. If you leave a comment here, I can pick up your email on the back end. Or drop me a line at mail [AT] funkandweber [DOT] com.

So who’s ready for an adventure?

And what is your idea of a “stitchy adventure”?

The All-Embroidery Finishing Option

Hemstitched Coasters, DIY Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

Hemstitched coasters, plain and fancy.


I know. You’ve got a stack of stitched-but-not-finished embroideries in a drawer—or in a bag, tub, closet, or elsewhere. You want to finish them. You mean to finish them. But professional finishing, be it framing or having a pillow made or something else, is expensive. You could do it yourself, but . . . oh . . . you haven’t used your sewing machine in years. Does it even work? Do you remember how to use it? Did you ever really know?

And cutting mats is hard, even with that special D-I-Y mat-cutting tool, plus you’re never happy with the results of mats you cut yourself.

If only there were a way to finish embroidery that required

  • no special tools (sewing machine, mat cutters)
  • no special supplies (frames, mat, glass)

Good news: There is! It’s called hemstitching.

You already have the supplies supply: thread.

You already have the tools tool: needle.

You already have the skills skill: hand embroidery.


Hemstitched Frog Cross Stitch, DIY Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

Hemstitched cross stitch, ready to hang or simply lay out on a surface.


What is Hemstitching?

Hemstitching is an idea after my own heart: It is a simple idea that mushroomed into a giant blank-canvas of possibility. There are two branches of hemstitching: the practical branch where actual hemming is done and the decorative branch that involves no turning of fabric edges.

The Practical Branch of Hemstitching

At the core of hemstitching is the technique of hemming: turning the edges of fabric under to envelope and secure the raw edges, and then stitching the fold on the back side of the piece to secure it. That’s it. That’s hemming. The bottom of your pant legs are hemmed. The bottoms of t-shirts, skirts, shorts, sleeves . . . most are hemmed.


Hemstitching on Aida Fabric, DIY Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

Hemstitching on Aida fabric. No threads removed, just hemming.


We can hem any kind of fabric, so it works for any kind of embroidery: cross stitch, needlepoint, even surface embroidery. While the hemstitch is a counted-thread technique, the hem on your jeans isn’t counted. The stitch works whether you can count your ground threads or not.

I grew up sewing, and that means I hemmed in the non-counting way. Here, however, I live in counted-thread embroideryland, so I focus more on the counting way.

The Decorative Branch of Hemstitching

The other branch of hemstitching, the decorative branch, is worked not just on the edge of a piece, but anywhere at all within it—without any edges being folded and secured. That’s right: You can hemstitch without hemming.


Decorative Hemstitching, Funk & Weber Designs

Practical and decorative hemstitching.


“Then why is it called ‘hemstitch’?” you ask, because you’re smart and logical and this sounds . . . well, stupid, if we’re honest. But here’s why: Decorative hemstitching—or hemless hemstitching—uses the same stitch as hemming does. So why bother calling it something else?

Decorative hemstitching involves removing threads from the ground fabric to create open channels and holes that can then be filled with different kinds of openwork stitches. The hemstitch is used to secure the ground threads on the sides of an open channel to keep the remaining threads from wandering into the open space.

So hemstitching is used to secure folded hems and to secure ground threads bordering an open channel.


Hemstitched Cross Stitch, DIY Embroidery Finishing, Funk & Weber Designs

Another hemstitched embroidery. Snap, button, or sew to a jacket, pillow, tote, or something else.


Hemstitching for Finishing Embroidery

If you’re thinking that removing threads and openwork is out of your embroidery ken, I won’t argue with you. It is a technique unto itself: one I love and one you could certainly learn if you were so inclined. It’s fun; it’s beautiful!

But it’s not necessary if you just want to complete your stitched-but-not-finished embroidery!

You don’t have to learn a whole new kind of embroidery to finish your cross stitch or needlepoint or surface embroidery with hemstitching. You just need to learn one stitch. You can learn to miter the corners or not—it’s fine to just overlap them.

One embroidery stitch. That’s all you need to get those embroideries out of the drawer and displayed. Once the edges are hemmed, you can lay the piece flat on a table, drape it over a chair, or hang it from a rod with decorative clips or a few quick stitches. You don’t have to back the piece, but, of course, you can.


Dames of the Needle Hemstitched Embroidery

Elizabeth Talledo of Dames of the Needle and From the Cauldron hemstitches and float mounts many of her samplers.


If you’re looking for a quick, easy, beautiful, and inexpensive way to finish your embroidery, hemstitching is it.

Quit hemming and hawing, and just start hemming. I show you how in the DIY Embroidery Finishing class: Hemstitching.

What do you say? Are you game?