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?
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.
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!
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.
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 + Deluxe Utility Tote = Awesome Solution for Big Occasions
Fold N’ File folds up for easy storage–another reason I like it.
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.
The Jewelry Keeper and Hanging Traveler Case are both good options.
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.
The All-Day Organizing Tote has interior and exterior pockets.
Hello, 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!
Uptown Mini Pouch – great for a on-the-go sewing kit to toss in your purse!
Oh-Snap Bin – hang it on your chair for the supplies you need in easy reach.
Mini Zipper Pouch – organize your bits and pieces.
Zipper Pouch – store a smaller project and supplies in one place. (Psst! This bag is on special this month!!)
Creative Caddy – use the pockets to store your tools and supplies.
Hang-It-Up Pocket – great for keeping multiple projects organized.
Zip-Top Organizing Utility Tote – when you sewing on-the-go this bag is a must have.
Soft Utility Tote – perfect for taking those larger projects out and about. (Psst! This bag is on special this month!!)
Deluxe Utility Tote – when you are heading out on a sewing retreat this bag will hold it all!
Who’s ready to get their sewing supplies organized?!! Jen is hosting a very special blog party just for you! Head to mythirtyone.com/monicabradford 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!
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?”
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.
How 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?
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.”
Definition of “adventure” at dictionary.com.
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:
take a chance
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 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 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.
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 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
News and nonsense about needlework, reading, writing, life in Alaska, and any other ding-dong thing that strikes my fancy. From project tutorials to books on my nightstand to gardening to travel to sourdough bread and waffles to wildlife and photography--it's all fair game. "Focus Schmocus" are the magic words here.