Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Book Review: Felt So Good

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Felt So Good, written by Swedish designer Tone Rorseth and published by Sellers Publishing, is a new book with over 70 wool and felt projects. I received a copy gratis from the publisher to review here, and they are offering a second book to one of our readers, so look for a contest next week.

“Where’s the embroidery?” you might be asking. Fair question, given that this is an embroidery blog. There’s some in the book, but with this book in the hands of an embroiderer, there could be heaps more. Felt projects lend themselves to embroidery. You know how I love to marry different crafts: This one’s a perfect match.

The book includes the usual felting techniques:

  • needle felting
  • wet felting
  • washing-machine felting (fulling) of wool garments

You may be familiar already with these techniques; many independent needlework shops carry felting tools and supplies. If you’re not familiar with them, they’re delightfully easy to learn: Basic instructions are on page 7. Yep, one page. Half a page, really. If, like me, you learn by doing, these instructions will get you going. If you prefer more in-depth instructions, you’ll have to look at other books or search here on the Web.

Alphabet and flower patterns

Felt So Good contains traceable patterns throughout the book and collected in the back.

The book is more project oriented (there are over 70 of them!) than instruction oriented. Projects begin on page 8 and continue to page 120 where the book ends with 19 pattern pages, acknowledgements, and the index.

Many projects are super simple, able to be completed in one sitting or over a weekend, and appropriate for kids and crafting beginners.

Barrettes decorated with felt animal heads

Hair clips with fun felt critters. How about making aliens or monsters?

  • woven-felt containers
  • felt circle mobiles
  • puzzle piece coasters
  • star coasters
  • star garlands
  • braided headbands

Even the more complex projects can be tackled by adult beginners and more experienced young crafters.

  • laptop cover
  • cell phone case
  • chair and barstool covers
  • pillows
  • lampshade
  • purse
  • glove cuffs
Pillow embellished with felt flowers

The felt flowers on this pillow are embellished with blanket stitch, running stitch, and other decorative embroidery.

Projects like the flower pillow, hats, and slippers use blanket-stitched edges and simple decorative embroidery, but further embroidery can be added to every single project. Felt is a great ground fabric for embroidery.

With so many projects illustrated, it’s not surprising that the book generates a bunch of other ideas: I know many crafters look at a project and get several ideas for altering or taking it further. Sometimes one project will trigger an idea for something else entirely. I love that, don’t you?

Here are some of my favorite projects from the book:

Acorn Heart Wreath project from Felt So Good

I love the addition of brightly colored wool to acorn caps in this wreath.

Acorn Wreath Heart: Stuffing acorn caps with brightly colored balls of wool roving makes a charming and cheerful decoration. Can you think of other ways to use stuffed acorn caps? We don’t have oak trees in Alaska. Can you think of something else I might stuff instead? I can!

Felt gift wrap and trim

Felt gift wrap with pom-pom ribbon.

Felted Gift Wrapping: I love everything about this project just the way it is—and it’s gray! With bright colors and added embroidery, well, it’s something I can see doing over and over. The yarn-and-wool-ball ribbons are fun, and I can imagine them as garlands, maybe wrapped around a tree like popcorn strings. Oooo, how about wool balls on a wonky pearl thread?

A felt cube, like an ottoman

A cube large enough to sit on or use as a table.

Square Floor Pillow: I love Tone’s suggestion for how to stuff this floor pillow—a tightly packed stack of newspapers. However, in my world, newspapers are hard to come by while wood scraps are abundant, so I think my floor pillow innards will be wood. Best of all, I envision the five visible sides of the cube as backgrounds for embroidery pieces. What about a smaller cube on a lazy susan as an embroidery display? Or a smaller cube toy? Oh, the possibilities!

And then there are the hat decorations, the necklace, the cuffs, the barrettes, and the napkin ring. I want to make and embroider them all.

I find this book inspiring, which is a big part of why I have craft books. There are projects I’d like to do in the book, but, perhaps more importantly, the book spawns new ideas, and you know how I love ideas. It’s a well-made book, and the pictures are gorgeous. That makes sense: Tone is a also a photo stylist for interior design magazines. (Ah-HA!) If you want to take better photos of your embroidery, notice how the projects are displayed in the photos in this book.

Do you craft with felt or embroider on felt? Do any of the projects here inspire you?

Would you like to add this book to your library? Remember, we’re giving one away next week! You’ll have to leave a comment to enter the contest next week, so why not practice and leave one now?

Buy Felt So Good from an independent book seller.

Get Felt So Good from Powell’s Books.

Order Felt So Good from Amazon.

Yep, those are affiliate links. If you choose to use them, thanks!


Category Deals & Steals, Ideas, News | Tags:

Illusion and Puzzle Cross Stitch Bookmark

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Make It MondayI’m participating in the Make It Monday blog hop with some of my favorite crafters. If you’re coming here from Melissa’s Digital Scrapbooking HQ, welcome!

If you didn’t arrive via the hop, you might recall that Melissa taught us how to improve photos of our embroidery with PhotoShop Elements (and PhotoShop). My photos are so much better thanks to Melissa’s tips. I suspect you’ve noticed! If you missed it, you can still grab the class.

Section break

As we continue to Finish It In ’14, I find I’m running out of completed needlework to finish. Really!

Here’s a project that’s detailed in the PillowPalooza class, a design I played with a few years ago that no one’s seen. It’s one-half illusion and one-half rebus puzzle.

Illusion and rebus cross stitch pattern.

Part illusion, part rebus puzzle. Can you tell what it says?

The words are all stitched in the same color. No kidding. That’s the illusion half.

Can you make out what the rebus says?

Eye yam H + ear = The same thing the other side says.

It was intended as a bookmark design, but I can think of other uses for it, too.

It’s a small design that worked up into a 2 x 1.75-inch tiny pillow. I filled it with Poly-pellets so it’s squishy like a beanbag. A fidgety reader could squish it while she reads. For some people, having a physical outlet helps the brain focus.

Instead of a bookmark, it could be a sort of stress-relief ball, the sentiment appropriate for people who feel overlooked and invisible.

To go from pillow to bookmark, I added a tail.

Various embroidery threads.

The threads I used to make pearl thread trim and a wonky pearl tail.

I used some black six-strand DMC floss, hand-dyed chenille From the Cauldron trim by Dames of the Needle in NM Turquoise, and Kreinik’s #4 Vintage braid. With the floss and chenille, I made a thick pearl thread, which I couched around the perimeter of the pillow using the braid. Then I twisted the two ends of the pearl together to make a wonky pearl tail.

Cross stitch pillow bookmark.

A squishable tiny-pillow bookmark with hand-made pearl trim and a wonky pearl tail.

I’ll snap some charms and beads to the loop at the end of the tail to give it some weight, and it will be a thong bookmark.

Want to make your own pearl or wonky pearl trim as I did for this bookmark? When you sign up for The Needlework Nutshell (which is free), along with getting all the latest Funk & Weber news, we’ll teach you how to make pearl threads in a twenty-minute video. I make pearls all the time. It’s easy and fun!

I AM HERE cross stitch bookmark in a book.

I AM HERE. Or I soon will be!

This illusion/rebus puzzle design was experimental, and after stitching it, I put it away, unsure what, if anything, I would do with it. Desperate for pieces to finish during the Finish It In ’14 campaign, I dug it out and put it to use. I’m glad I did!

Do you have any tiny finished pieces that you can turn into pillows? Tiny pillows can be fobs, ornaments, bookmarks, stress-relief balls . . . or just tiny pillows.

Section break

Next on the Make it Monday hop, Alice from Scrapbook Wonderland shares 5 Practical Tips for Using Multiple Patterned Papers on a Scrapbook Layout.

Not a scrapper? That’s okay, this can apply to needlework, too. What if you want to use multiple patterned fabrics in a needlework finish? Or maybe you want to do a mash-up of different embroidery patterns.

Learning other crafts is a great way to expand your embroidery repertoire. Pop on over and see Alice. Leave a comment that says I sent you, and tell us how you might apply her ideas to your needlework.

Others participating in this week’s Make It Monday blog hop:

GinaZee creates a tag using plastic packaging from her favorite scrapbooking supplies.


Category Ideas, News | Tags:

PillowPalooza: Make Embroidered Pillows

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Coming soon to a Yahoo! Group near you:


Section break

The final class in our Finish It In ’14 series is PillowPalooza. “Pillows” may be a bigger category than you think.

  • Some ornaments are pillows.
  • Some fobs and tags are pillows.
  • A biscornu is a pillow, no?
  • Ever hear of a door pillow? Well, door hangers can be pillows.
  • Of course, pillows are pillows, and they come in sizes from tiny to huge.
  • Seat cushions can be pillows.


Embroidered pillow.

Colorful Critter pillow. This is an envelope pillow.

The Class

October 6–November 7, 2014

We will cover the following topics:

  • Embroidery and fabric preparation
  • Ornament pillows
  • Tuckable pillows
  • Envelope pillows
  • Adding flanges, ruffles, piping, rick rack, and other trims

If you never taken one of our classes, you can read about how they run. It’s all online at your convenience.

embroidered pillows

Stack o’ stitchy pillows.

Win a Spot in the Class!

Want to win a free spot in the class? Great! I want you to, too!

For a chance to win, leave a comment on this post answering this question:

What embroidery finish would you like to learn to do?

Mind you, this can be anything, reasonable or unreasonable. Do you wish you knew how to make a pet elephant or a solar-powered car with your embroidery? Say so! It’s amazing what unreasonable things we can make reasonable with a little imagination and ingenuity, though perhaps we’re pushing it with pet elephants and cars. You get my drift.

This is going to be a quick contest. You have until midnight (AK time) Friday to leave your comment and be entered to win.

Can’t stand the Disqus comment system? That’s okay, class registration is open, so you can skip the fun riggamarole and go straight to class: Do not leave a comment; do not collect a free spot.

Mark. Set. Go!

Simply Samplers Book Review

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Does anyone else here spend a lot of time in the 746.4 section of the library? Does anyone else who’s not a librarian know what the 746.4 section is? Okay, maybe it’s obvious given where you’re reading this; the 746.4 section of the library is the needlework and handwork section. Knitting, beading, quilting, it’s all in that neighborhood. The point is, I spend a good deal of time perusing embroidery books in the library and have a substantial section 746.4 at home.

Simply Samplers book cover

Simply Samplers: Easy Techniques for Hand Embroidery, by Cheryl Fall.

Stackpole Books has just added a book to my collection:Simply Samplers: Easy Techniques for Hand Embroidery, by Cheryl Fall. Stackpole Books is going to add to one of our readers’ collections, too. That’s right, we’ll host a giveaway here in a few days, so keep reading.

I received this book gratis in exchange for an honest review, and, honestly, it’s not what I expected. I happily agreed to the arrangement based solely on the title and knowing the person who contacted me. I expected a book with cross-stitch alphabets and traditional motifs. What I found instead was a book that takes a much wider view of the idea of samplers, defining them as embroideries that contain a “sampling of different stitches or different motifs stitched on fabric to form a pattern or learn a particular technique.”

Sample project from Simply Samplers.

No alphabet in this sampler project. Instructions are given for finishing this nine-square design as a pillow, as coasters, or as ornaments.

  • Only five of the sixteen projects contain alphabets.
  • I’d call nine rooted in cross stitch.
  • Two are based on what cross stitchers call “specialty stitches.”
Seasonal samplers for surface embroidery.

One of the surface embroidery projects is a collection of seasonal samplers.

  • Five are surface embroidery.
  • There’s something for Christmas, Hanukkah, Halloween, and St. Patrick’s Day, and I think the Nine Squares Pillow and Spanish Lace projects would make great Christmas ornaments.
  • Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter projects: check.

In addition to the sixteen projects, Simply Samplers contains good information for the beginner.

  • Supplies and Tools covers fabrics, threads, needles, scissors, hoops, and notions.
  • In Basic Techniques we’re taught how to start and end threads, transfer designs, read a chart, and more.
Sample page of stitch diagrams.

Large diagrams and written instructions explain all the stitches used in the book’s projects.

  • Stitches Used in the Projects presents large stitch diagrams along with written descriptions.
  • Finishing Touches offers instructions for mounting embroidery for framing, making a pillow, making an ornament, attaching cord, and making fringe.

The subtitle of Simply Samplers is “Easy Techniques for Hand Embroidery,” and that’s an apt description. The book provides a nice selection of stitches and projects, easy enough for a beginner of any age and sufficiently varied to appeal to different personalities and maintain interest through multiple projects.

If you’re just starting out, or if you’re just getting back into stitching, this could be for you. If you’re a seasoned stitcher, this could be a great gift for an up-and-coming stitcher—and the holidays are just around the corner, you know. How’s that holiday-gift stitching coming?

See you next week for the giveaway contest.

Really, have you started your holiday stitching yet? Or are you starting gifts for 2015 because you’re all set with 2014 gifts?


Category News | Tags:

Free American Flag Cross Stitch Pattern

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

It’s that green, black, and yellow time of year again. You know, the Fourth of July . . . Revolutionary War . . . Declaration of Independence . . . Old Glory. And you also know, around here it’s always the time of year for puzzles, illusions, cross stitch, and bookmarks. Naturally, we’re going to put them all together.

Oh, say, can you see two flags?

Free cross stitch pattern: American Flag Illusion, from Funk & Weber Designs

Stare at the black knot in the center for 30 - 60 seconds, then look at something white: a wall, a piece of paper, a blank screen. You should see an afterimage of this flag in red, white, and blue.

This is an afterimage optical illusion. When you stare at the tiny dot on the image, you exhaust (or bore) the photoreceptors in your eyes that detect green, black, and yellow. They say, “Yeah, yeah . . . we see it. Move along now.” When you don’t move along, because you’re counting slowly to 60 to make sure the experiment works, the bored photoreceptors kick back and take it easy. “Fool us for 5 seconds, shame on you; fool us for 60 seconds, shame on us.” Then, when you finally stop staring and look at a white surface, an afterimage remains, but because the green, black, and yellow receptors are ignoring you, only the attentive red, white, and blue ones respond.

That, of course, is a highly scientific explanation. If it’s over your head, you might check out this explanation of color aftereffects.

Would you like a copy of the pattern so you can make one? Read more


Category From Us to You, How-To, News | Tags: