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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?


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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:

Stitchy Doo-Dad Project: Plant Pokey

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

With buckets of herbs on my window sills and a vase of wildflowers on my dining room table, I am inspired to embellish my life and flower pots and vases with embroidery.

Embroidered Plant Pokies

If there’s a good standard name for such a thing, I don’t know it. I’ve seen them called “plant pot sticks” and “floral cardholders.” How boring is that? I like “plant pokey.” It sounds like a dance I used to do, the Hokey Pokey. I like a “plant pokey” even better when it’s embroidered.

Embroidered ornaments stuck into the soil of potted plants

Embroidered plant pokies: A kind of stitched doo-dad.

Want to see how to make them? Let’s do this! Read more

Stitchy Doo-Dads

Monday, June 9th, 2014

Silent Night, Let There Be Night Stitchling, by Funk & Weber Designs

Silent Night cross stitch from the Let There Be Night series. See Orion?

Years ago, when I was primarily creating cross stitch patterns to be sold in Indie needlework shops, shop owners advised me (over and over) to make smaller patterns. For example, publish four animal portraits rather than the twelve we had in Portraits of the Wild Life, or patterns similar in size to our Let There Be Night Stitchlings.

Being one who doesn’t do anything but overdoes everything, my projects kept shrinking and shrinking, and I embraced Stitchy Doo-Dads.

What’s a Stitchy Doo-Dad?

Stitchy Doo-Dads are small (or extra-small) embroidery projects, which in the stitching world are sometimes called “smalls.” If you’re a seasoned stitcher, that probably conjures images of needle books and rolls, pin cushions, scissor fobs and keepers, biscornus, and perhaps boxes and the like.

But those are already being done beautifully by other designers, so I don’t feel called to do them, and the term “smalls” doesn’t feel quite right because it suggests these kinds of projects.

Enter “Stitchy Doo-Dads.” Read more

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