Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Final SAL for 2017

After pillowcases and sampler stitching I finally felt able to return to my travel trailer series for The Sketchbook Project. The last time you saw it I believe it looked like this:

Then one day I had a brainstorm and did this:

I straightened up the window but ran afoul with the "logs" a bit. To use a British expression, I was pretty chuffed with the way the door turned out!

Next up was curtains in the window.

I used a star stitch (I don't remember what the official name of the stitch is at the moment) for the valance. The extra wide log was driving me nuts so I took out that one line of split stitches and replaced them. The logs are still wonky but I don't find it quite so offensive. It sort of goes with the lumpy wheel.

I just laid four long straight stitches, wove around the center a few times, and then couched each midpoint with a single stitch. I was shooting for the look of a wooden spoke wheel. It'll do. Here's my caravan riff on a cabin in the Old West:

In the original drawing there was a propane tank on the trailer's tongue. It felt like a stroke of genius when I had the idea to turn that into a storage barrel. 😉

I have at least two more trailers I'd like to attempt to complete the collection. The books are due in Brooklyn at the end of March so I should be able to pull it off.

It's a busy time of year for everyone but others in this stitch along may also have progress to share. We each work on our own needlework projects, and there's quite a variety. You can take the tour while you await the bells ringing or the fireworks going off or the ball dropping to welcome 2018. 😊

Thursday, December 28, 2017

December's Bee, Myself & I

At the end of November I shared that I've decided to do some more embroidery as my selfish sewing. Specifically, I've joined a Facebook group called A Year in Stitches. That's doing a good job of encouraging me to pick up the sampler to try out a new stitch or keep my skills sharp. And it has the added benefit of a bit of selfish stitching every day or every couple of days!

Last month my sampler looked like this:

Now it looks like this:

Well, there are a few stitches that have been added since this picture was taken but you get the idea. I finished framing the numeral one, started another square of daisies, fleshed out the garden above with more flowers and foliage, and embellished the paisley with some pistil stitches.

Here's a close-up of the flower garden. In my mind the purple flowers in the lower right corner are violets. I didn't realize the top of the square had been cut off when I took the picture. Sorry about that. I may eventually add a spider in, or dangling from, the web.

Not only does this sampler give me a place to practice my embroidery skills, it gives me an excuse to play with the hand dyed flosses I've been acquiring. Hubby did not take the hint I gave him about a special bundle of floss I was hoping to receive for Christmas. Lots of other lovely gifts, but I had to order that for myself after the fact. With any kind of luck it will be here for some New Year's Day stitching!

There was one unexpected gift on Christmas morning:

A pretty dusting of snow!

We do get snow occasionally around here, but to have it arrive in such a timely way was a surprise.

There will be another Stitch Along check-in on the last day of the year. I'm happy to report there has been some progress on the latest caravan. I hope you'll stop by to see what I've done on that front. 😊

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Holiday Effect

I have had no creative energy to speak of this month, for varying reasons. Just this morning I realized that one aspect of the problem is that my studio space has become the main Christmas preparation zone. This happens every year but for some reason it's having a greater impact this year. Or so it seems. In any event, there are no new quilt blocks or quilt tops to show you. There have been days when I haven't even done any needlework because I didn't have the right kind of project to hand. That was taken care of yesterday with the delivery of a couple new sets of stamped pillowcases to embroider. I found these on sale at This was the second time I've ordered from them and I have to say I've been impressed with their selection and service.

I have already selected the hand dyed flosses I will use on the giant daisy design and have begun the stitching.

Of course I'm not following the package directions. Instead of stem stitch I've outlined the central circle with chain stitch and am using split stitch for the petals of the flower. The plan is to use back stitch and chain stitches on the leaves and stems. Or maybe more split stitch, we'll see. I'm even toying with the idea of embellishing the center of the flower with some extra stitching.

And now for a happy dance: I was lucky enough to win Nancy's third day of give-away! I'll be receiving one month of the floss club free of charge. Merry Christmas to me! There are still a few days left in her advent give-away, and you can still put your name in the hat for the prizes that have not yet been awarded if you haven't done so already. 😊

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Scrap Happy in December

Not much actual sewing is taking place in The Magpie's Nest these days, partly due to the holiday season and partly due to the toxic exposures that come with the holiday season. I didn't think I would have anything for Scrap Happy Day this time around. Then one day this week I wanted to do some hand embroidery. Specifically, I wanted a place to practice feather stitching. I rummaged around and found some crazy piecing I'd done years ago, with the scraps from a doll quilt I'd made for my daughter. (Which gives you an idea how long ago this was pieced: my daughter has four daughters of her own now!) The doll quilt was something like 18" x 20."  This piece would finish at about 8" x 10."

I'm using - of course- some of Nancy's hand dyed floss.

By the way, there's still time for you to hop over and sign up for her advent give-aways. Two prizes have already been awarded but you've got ten more chances! Well... nine by the time you read this probably. She will ship internationally so don't think you can't enter if you're on another continent.

I discovered that I'm more comfortable working the feather stitch with the work upside down rather than right side up. Although I haven't quite wrapped my head around working the stitch from the bottom up as it were. If that's even possible!

I have no idea what else may happen to this bit of crazy patchwork. There are a couple of short seams to cover yet. After that I may create some false seam lines just to break up the longer patches a bit. I have no idea what I'll do with this once I've finished embellishing it either. Might make a fun journal cover...

Kate  over at Tall Tales from Chiconia has a whole list of folks who've been playing with their scraps if you need some inspiration or just some eye candy. 😉

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December SAL

Well, the caravans have been parked by the side of the road for the time being. 'Tis the season after all!

Instead of embroidering travel trailers I've been embroidering flowers on pillowcases. If you're a regular reader you may remember this set of pillowcases:

The pair have been completed, hemmed, and laundered. They were stitched entirely with Nancy's hand dyed flosses.

Before they were finished I'd ordered and received another set of stamped pillowcases to stitch up. I only used Nancy's floss for the pink petals and yellow French knots this time. 

The black, green, and deep red accents are done in DMC floss. The flowers were rendered in split stitch, the green scroll is back stitch. This was such a simple design that I knew I could complete both cases well before Christmas if I applied myself.

So I did!

This set was made with lace edging, eliminating the need to hem them. I now have three sets of pillowcases ready to donate to our local women's shelter in hopes of brightening their space and the lives of the women currently residing there.

Some time ago I signed up to receive a monthly shipment of 6 skeins of floss from Nancy. Look at the fabulous Christmas colors she sent this month!

They look better in person, trust me. Nancy is doing an advent of give-aways. There are 12 days to sign up, with a different present for each day, and then between the 13th and the 24th she will announce the winners, one a day. She's willing to ship internationally so be sure to go visit her blog while you're touring the rest of the Stitch Along!

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Tortoise Finishes Another Race

Slowly, slowly, I've been working on this blue Patience Corner quilt. The blocks were made by my friends in my local quilt guild. I set 36 of them 6 x 6.

Then I framed them up to make an 84" top. (I also moved one block to get that X in yellow through the center of the quilt!)

It sat for a while before James got around to quilting it. As usual, he did a lovely job for me. 😊

He used a simple overall design he calls 'water' through the body of the quilt, then these circles in the inner border and waves in the outer border. All freehand I might add!

It's too wet and windy to go outside for a proper photograph and I don't feel like wrestling with it to hang it in the studio for a portrait. Here it is draped over the long-arm, minutes after I finished sewing down the binding:

Since that picture was taken I've washed the quilt and now need to ink the label. My intention is to donate this to our local women's shelter. How they choose to use it is up to them. I've adapted the fast corner triangle technique Ami Simms advocated for hanging small art quilts to make labels for my bigger quilts.

For a quilt this size I cut a 5" square of my label fabric and fold it in half diagonally once. The raw edges of the label are then lined up with the raw edges in one corner of the quilt (before I apply the binding). I sew it in place with a narrower seam allowance than I will use for the binding. After the binding is applied by machine and then sewn down - which I do by hand as a personal preference - I celebrate by blind stitching the single folded edge of the label patch. The quilt is laundered before I inscribe the label with my Pigma Micron pens. As long as I don't try to rush the process, stretch and hold each section of the label with my left hand while I'm writing on it with my right, I don't have too much trouble writing on the fabric. You just have to go slowly and let the ink settle into the fibers. In addition to who made the quilt, where or why and when, I'm usually able to include simple laundering instructions on these labels. You know, something like "machine wash/dry, gentle cycles, low heat." And away we go!