Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Year of Cross Stitch--New Series!

Once again, a Happy New Year to all!

Ours has started with a bang-- the January Cross Stitch mug rug has really sold well, and so we think there are many people with fond memories of this glorious pastime!

The idea to start digitizing cross stitch came last month. For a little relaxation, I have this OLD box of cross stitch patterns that I pull out every once in a LONG while. Back in the day, as I was just starting my career as an artist, I had a two-hour commute from the hinterlands of NJ to New York City for my job.

Not one to sit still, I picked up this hobby from my neighbor and filled those hours with sewing, glorious sewing. When I think about it, I wasn't happy at that job in the city; but I LOVED my commuting time-- the roots of starting my own embroidery business were really sewn in those hours that many would have considered a waste. So never think that the simple things you do in life are unimportant.

You can see why I pull this out at Christmas! This is my daughter's stocking I started 21 years ago when expecting her on those train rides, back and forth. I still believe I will finish it, although she now kids me that she will name a future daughter Caroline so a little girl might enjoy it growing up! LOL 

When you think of the hours it took to get this far, I still think I am more than halfway. Instead of watching towns roll by on a train, I now watch Hallmark Christmas movies.

I'm sure some of you will remember these kits, mostly from the 80s and 90s. This one is a Christmas house, and featured "hardanger" where you cut holes in linen. Looks like I gave up on the border, and there is a bottom underlay with the tree I never even started. Isn't it gorgeous, though!

Talk about the time required... in this kit, you were supposed to stitch eight tiny reindeer and then Santa on his sleigh for a 3D display. Even commuting 4 hours a day-- I only ever finished one reindeer and then decided to make a framed piece of that instead.

I googled it, and it is a Leisure Arts kit, that is still available on line-- if you have four empty hours a day and are interested!

These were snowmen, that were supposed to fit in a tray. I wisely decided NOT to buy the tray until it was finished!
Many of these kits are still available on eBay, unopened. And so I congratulate myself on getting this far.

As an artist, I very quickly ventured into drawing and stitching my own patterns. This is one I drew from a cameo passed down from my grandmother. I entered contest it in a cross stitch magazine, and won a prize. Think of that... my first published pattern! I tried to find the magazine online, and old copies are available, but I'm not really sure which issue it was in.

As you get down to the bottom of the box, the pieces become less and less finished. It would take a lot of ambition to start this "Fruits of the Spirit" again. 

When I am feeling nostalgic, I think of the time when that needle was last sunk into that cloth, and I think of the person that I was then, and what I am now.

Yes, I'm sappy like that.

Later on, as I'm sure cross stitch decreased in popularity, designers put out easier kits... these even came with a mat and frame. But you can see, though close, they are not even finished-- there is simply no time for us modern women anymore!

So during "Christmas at Pemberley" on the Hallmark Channel, as I am still not good at sitting still, I started once again sketching my own cross stitch.

There is a part of our digitizing software that does cross stitch--
 I tried it years ago, but it seemed difficult. 

I tried again last month, and it did NOT seem so difficult...

 It actual seemed, well, SIMPLE and FUN-- and best of all FAST to do and stitch out, and it looks incredibly like the real thing that takes years to do! Sew easy, in fact, that I was willing to risk spilling hot chocolate on it!

 We're now on a mission to resurrect this glorious craft-- join us!
It's an heirloom in an hour. We'll be going through the months, and even adding some special editions, like birthdays, Mother's Day, puppies and kitties, as we go along. The goal is to also issue each of the little parts, like the snowflake and skates, individually, for those who want to make something else of their own inspiration.

Thank you so much for your response-- it is really gratifying to know that YOU all have memories of doing cross stitch, and we'd love to hear your own stories below. Maybe you'll even pull out some of your own old kits!

Welcome to the Year of Cross Stitch!


Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

New Year's Eve is a great time for reflection, and we thank you SEW much for stitching a long with us this year. It is a tremendous privilege to connect with the worldwide community of sewing, full  of people who live their lives trying to make something beautiful, frequently to gift it away!

And so, we reach across the world to hug each and every one of you with these few pictures to warm you and make you smile-- 
a little look at what happened between thread changes this holiday season at San Francisco Stitch Co.!

Our tree, pulled from the backyard, because we were so late in getting one, every one was sold out... isn't it glorious!

Stockings for all the elves at our son's auto shop... having a machine embroiderer in the family sure has it's privileges at this time of year, wouldn't you agree!!

A shortbread house, 
because we're Scottish and no one here likes gingerbread!

Snowflake cookies made by an extremely talented daughter. 
If you think sending one to art school won't pay off... think again!

A new rescue grandpuppy...
and a very tired grandpuppy at that!

A trip to see the tree in Boston, where my phone got SO COLD it could only take one picture...

Lots and lots of eating out-- 
because there is even less time to make dinner than usual...

Perler bead ornaments-- because at heart-- 
we're all about the crafts here.

Here's wishing you had the
most magical Christmas season ever,
and to a bright New Year-- 2019!

Carol and the San Fran Stitch gang

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Cloud Club Ready for Take-Off!

It is so hard to believe another year is ending, 
and we are so happy to have a set of thirteen birds to show for it!

It is with great pride that we look over the past year and see how we went from this, 

to this,

to this! 

That is quite a flock and we know from your emails that quite a few of you kept up and have this same stack as we do!

We briefly enjoy the sensation of being "finished"--
however, we are quick to remember that there is some fill in to do-- and some finishing instructions!! Yes-- the joy of the "on point" setting-- we have some triangle fillers to design!

We have put A LOT of thinking and sketching into it... and it was very difficult to find something perfectly stunning for these birds. 

We started with the idea of quilted "feathers" ... what else for a bird quilt, right? We quickly moved on from stuffy old feather sketches and started moving into REAL feathers. After months of thought and sketching, this is what we have finally decided on:

We are pretty excited and hope you love it as much as we do! We've already started to digitize it-- we're not sure if the feathers will be full color embroidery or maybe just a quilting design. 
Thanks to Photoshop, we've been able to do a little "imagining" of what a truly finished piece might look like.

This is an "artist's rendering" of the in-the-hoop birds as they would look stitched together and with setting triangles added.

For a more formal setting,  you could add a fabric border in a color like the one above. Isn't that the perfect finish?!

Some of us will get there, but the beauty of designing just two sizes of these setting triangles is that you can then make a project of as many birds as you wish. Whatever you have finished NOW, is perfectly fine! (More on that later!)


Three... etc. etc.

Then there is the Quilt-As-You-Go version, which is more like a real quilt, and we have planned a full setting of both the triangles and sashing blocks.

Are you WOWed yet?! Remember, these aren't finished pieces,  and we're still in the early stages of planning... here are some fabric swatches we snipped from Fat Quarter Shop. More grunge so far, and we are leaning toward the purples, but no final decisions have been made. What do YOU think?

It's so exciting for us to finally have a chance to render up what a finished Cloud Club quilt might be... and we can't thank you enough for all of the LOVE you've shown for our bird series. There are so many more birds we'd like to draw in thread! So....

We're making a committment to do five more during the course of next year which would extend the layout as follows:

Or...with twelve more you could do this... but we have to admit, another bird every month next year seems a bit daunting! Let's see what happens...

So that's where we are... expect the setting triangles and sewing instructions for both methods early next year.. then it's up to you to finish or to keep on! We are so grateful for the large following we had this past year, and hope you'll be able to turn your bird blocks of any number from UFOs into a finished project that really takes wing!! We'd love to hear your comments on all of this below.


Thursday, November 22, 2018

My Christmas Album-- A New Free Stitch-a-long!

Christmas is our favorite time to stitch... we love spending the weeks before Christmas making special, handmade gifts for those we love. But this Christmas, we're going to sneak some time in on a project just for ourselves!

We have long wanted a gorgeous, Baltimore Album style Christmas quilt to grace our walls in the month of December. Since time constraints and skill level still keep that goal out of reach, we're going to machine embroider one!

Picture how our "Caroline's Garden" quilt celebrated spring...
 this new collection will celebrate Christmas!

We're planning twelve 4x4 blocks, with a simple, sensational finishing kit... 


We'll also be releasing a 2x2 charm series for FREE... we did this for the Twelve Days of Christmas free stitch-a-long two years ago, and it was wonderful fun.... our finished piece, at a petite 16" x 20," is a tiny beauty!

Here are the first two designs in our new series, available today:
The FREE charm size...

and the 4x4 size...

The week that each design posts, the charm size is FREE, and the upgraded 4x4 design is $1.99.

Don't miss any! As soon as each new design posts, the old charm will be priced at $1.49 and the 4x4 design will be $2.99. To keep the stress off, we're not sticking with a schedule for release. It will be as the inspiration can sign up for our mailing list at the link in the top right column and you won't miss a stitch.

For the twelve blocks, you'll need a yard of fabric for either size...
because they are both hooped 4x4.

Thanks to the magic of photoshop, 
here are some background fabric ideas!

Basic Grey Grunge Cream (our very favorite!!)

 Lori Holt-- Cozy Christmas Green

Grunge Raspberry Seeing Stars

Fairy Frost Bordeau 

We are SO tempted to put everything on cream grunge-- but this time we're stepping out of our box and are ordering the Fairy Frost-- it seems so elegant!

We have been a Fat Quarter Shop customers for years...
we have been recommending them for a long time, and recently they have added us to their affiliate program. If you buy your fabric from them and if you do so through the link below, we will get a small commission at no cost to you. It's a great way to support our free stitch-alongs-- we appreciate it!

Go to Fat Quarter Shop
Plus, they just happen to be giving 20% off every order today!

Thanks for stitching along with us this holiday season...
we can't wait to see YOUR Christmas Album!


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Charm Pack 101 for Machine Embroiderers

Charm packs, those little 5" x 5" fabric swatches, have been around for a while, and we're sure fortunes have been made coming up with ways to use them. The machine embroidery community, on the other hand, has totally ignored them. Why? If you think about it, machine embroiderers are usually thread heavy, but a little light on fabric stash, so what could be better than an assortment of 40 matching fabrics, sized perfectly for 4" x 4" applique?

We decided to start a new trend-- so here's one take on how to use them in the hoop. Our first up Christmas project, entitled "Charm Pack Village," debuts on Black Friday. We used a charm pack named "White Christmas," designed by Zen Chic. Look at all the fabrics included-- light, medium, and dark tones-- all perfectly sorted.

In no time at all, we were stitching up a little house in a 4" x 4" hoop. One charm square was used for the background, and others were snipped into little house and roof parts. Then we just picked an accent thread color right from the fabrics, gold, for the door and windows. 

In no time at all, we had a little village of nine different houses!

Another advantage of the charm pack-- there was plenty of matching fabric left over for little sashing and cornerstone pieces.

Then we digitized a beautiful header to complete the wall hanging. The header require a bigger piece of fabric, so we had ordered an extra half yard of this collection which was also used for the backing.


We had so much fun with the idea, don't be surprised if you see Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's themes coming next!

All of our fabric came from the Fat Quarter Shop...
you can use the link above right to go to the store-- then just click "Charm Packs" on the left and prepare to be inspired! There are tons of Chrismtas themed ones.. so you can make your wallhanging with your own favorite.

So that is Charm Pack 101--the wallhanging pattern will debut on Black Friday-- gosh-- can you believe that is only ten days away!

We are also starting a new free stitch-a-long that day-- use the link above, top right, to sign up for our e-mail list so you won't miss a stitch!