Saturday, April 20, 2019

Happy Easter!

So I have to ask-- where did another month go? March came in like a lion, left like a lion, and April came in like a lion, and appears to be leaving like a lion here today. All that makes for great sewing days, but I was in bed with the flu for the first week of this month, at least!

It hasn't been a super productive month, but I've tried in life to be more accepting of what I can accomplish each day--it's never enough, is it? So if you agree with my inspirational calendar, just take a look at what day this sentiment falls on and that's what it's been for me lately!

After digging through my scraps for cherry applique fabrics, I decided to do a little spring cleaning-- washed up all my red scraps and the good news is I have room for more fabric!
I'm going to go through in rainbow order until they are all neatly stowed.

While sick in bed, I did manage to complete the applique on "Mon Cherie." I'm feeling pretty good about it-- it's all "bowl of cherries" on this one.

Now it's time to make the open lattice that will fill the blue area-- I need about 100 1/2" tubes, which are then turned, pressed, woven, and glue basted on top of a paper template I made.

This is really just a test piece for my next show quilt, the flower baskets, and again, I'm really pleased. I'm not sure exactly how to stitch these three things together, but I'm confident the process will reveal itself as I continue along, and I will write a post on how I ended up doing it...

...mostly so I will remember myself how it did for the bigger piece-- LOL.

We're not going to write the pattern for this, but if you have the Cherry Zen design, you can just blow the photo up and copy it-- be my guest. We also just finished another Zen design, The Curated Carrots, and really, any of those zen designs would make the center of a fabulous medallion quilt of your own imagination. 

I found the perfect fabric for "Mon Cherie's" backing in JoAnn Fabric, while looking for the perfect backing for a QOV my friends and I are making for Memorial Day, which I didn't find

In more San Francisco Stitch Co. news, we started a new FREE stitch-a-long... the link is at the bottom. It's a sister piece to "Autumn Twist," yup, it's "Spring Twist!" We are again using Superior Thread's beautiful tweedy twist colors, but you don't have to-- any pastels would be fabulous. We found a white on white polka dot for the background. 

Yes, we're doing Summer and Winter Twist 
stitch-a-longs by the end of the year!

You know that I draw my inspiration from the little things all around me-- 
the first block is called:

"Who Ate My Tulips!"

Why do they always leave one?

We're also finally starting the #14 Cloud Club Bird! After seeing the hardship and flooding in Nebraska, we're working on the state bird, a Meadowlark. It's a beautiful bird with all kinds of stripes and dots and a striking yellow chest with a black band. The state flower is goldenrod-- I have never thought of all the individual yellow buds on a stalk until I decided to digitize them. So be patient, Between stripes, spots, and buds it's going to take a while!

Have a Happy Easter 
and hope your world is peaceful and warm.


Monday, March 25, 2019

Hatching Eggs!

It is embarrassing to look at the date of my last post-- I assure you, it is not because nothing is happening here-- quite the opposite is true! I am going to pack this blog with less blather and more visual delights to make it up to you.

Most of the time and energy went into the Cloud Club finishing kits. We are still making five new birds this year for a larger piece, but it was so gratifying to clean up and trim those blocks and then even just sew two together-- don't they just make you want to cry! This quilt seems to be going together more easily than the Baltimore Album or the still unfinished...

 ... "Beacoup de Bouquets," which was supposed to be a show quilt this year but is still wrapped up like a burrito in a dusty corner.
I took it back out-- I mean, what am I waiting for!  Here's a sketch of what is stopping me...

Yes, it is over the top, fully embroidered borders... the intermediate one is going to be an ACTUAL lattice-- just like a garden-- it is strips you can see through. So I wrote "this is beautiful" at the top to encourage myself! And then started digitizing...

... my absolute favorite, beach roses, and I am throwing in some of this vetch pea vine thing that I can never eradicate from by garden but on closer look is very beautiful.

These are BIG borders-- like 60" long in all, so multi-hooping, and while we will probably make the borders for sale for your own project inspiration, no, we are not writing instructions for the lattice borders, mostly because they haven't been invented yet!

This is the Cherry Zen block which has long been in need of a 
gorgeous setting...

The Zen designs are not top sellers, but they do have a select set of very discriminating fans and we love to do them.
Hoping to have carrots for Easter!

It's always fun to look up the names of the fruit and veggie varieties when we digitize the border and it's always surprising how many you have heard of, but also, how many you have never heard of!

Anyway, we are making a small finished piece out of that Cherry block with fabulous Cherry borders. It was so enjoyable to do the fabric pull on this.

This is a quilt just for fun... I'm planning to do an open lattice on this as practice so it's serving a purpose for that, too. I'm calling it "Mon Cheri." Appliquick has really helped me up my skills... 

yes, it's a bowl of cherries... (sorry)

Next up, a group of people from my quilt guild are meeting once a month for a day of machine embroidery... last time, we all made little applique elephants, and I had the privilege of taking them home to assemble a charity quilt... super simple setting with 6" blocks. Isn't it adorable! SO hope it gives a baby somewhere a happy start in life and such a pleasure to get to know these women better. xoxo

On the machine cross stitch front, well, everyone loves it, so we're already sketching out a TON of Christmas stuff... we're hoping for a whole series starting in September with, you guessed it, some free stitch a long tie-in. So fun to see what you make.

And speaking of cross stitch, every morning, just about, I have gotten up sipped my tea, and stitched for a couple of minutes on the infamous 20 year old stocking project...

On the left, we have it when I freed it from the box it was living in for ten years, the middle as it exists now, and the right is the picture of the finished stocking. So you can see that progress has been made. My ever supportive husband commented that I am almost finished, but when I showed him the finished photo and he saw all the french knots in the chair, he said, "Looks like you still have some wood to chop there."


Finally, my daughter was home on spring break-- her last-- she graduates in May. So not much got done that week except this-- we are such fans of Perler Beads AND those soft foam houses they always have at Michaels for every holiday-- we picked the greenhouse, and that's the perfect way for me to end and say:



Monday, February 18, 2019

Christmas Album Finishing Options

This is just a short post to explain some of the Christmas Album finishing options-- at some point, we fell in love and upgraded this whole project to show quilt status, and it's taking more time than we planned.

That doesn't mean you have to make a show quilt! We will be posting just a simple, free diagram shortly that shows "the easy way out," with cutting directions for an all fabric finish-- done in an afternoon!

If you are game for more, there are two more steps-- embroidered sashing, then embroidered borders. You can do either or both.

This is the "Sashing Kit" for the 4x4 size blocks-- it has already posted. If you recall, we were looking for the perfect sashing fabric-- we didn't find it, so we decided to embroider it. Other than being repetitive, we are super pleased at how easily it went together. All of the parts have basting lines on them, and all you need do is stitch along the dotted line for perfect results. The instructions are super detailed, with photographs. 

The charm size sashing kit is underway, and will be posting this week-- the instructions are pretty much the same, just a little more charming. Then, when you finish your lovely sashing, you can just add a lush Christmas print, or fabulous red plaid and call it quits, 


wait for our beautifully embroidered borders! We have in mind a Christmas plaid with a red ribbon swag all around the edges. As with everything, we guarantee it's worth the wait-- and there's still ten months to Christmas any way!

Since our Christmas Album customers will be kept busy with sashing for a bit, we're not tackling the border set until March.

Mostly because this happened...

A couple of days ago, a SWARM of robins landed on our front step and looked in... by the time I grabbed my camera and everyone else ran to see them, only this guy was left.

What were they looking for, I asked myself.

The Cloud Club Finishing Kit.

Yes, it's time. 

We will be actively working on it starting tomorrow, and I would estimate a finish by the end of the month-- then you can start stitching, and while you are working on your pieces, we will then write up some instructions.

That's the plan.

 We're totally committed to five more birds this year to make a longer layout-- thanks to all for your encouragement to continue-- apparently, you loved them as much as we loved doing them. If you have a bird you'd love to see, comment below.

Still there?

Here's a sneak peek progress shot of March's cross stitch mug rug-- a little robin snuck his way onto this, too.


Monday, February 4, 2019

Christmas Album Finishing Kit Peeks!

January was a super busy month! There are always so many thing to get wrapped up after Christmas, an office that needs a serious clean-up, and my friend Tere and I were invited to lecture and have a workshop at a local quilt guild-- Bayberry Quilter's of Cape Cod. It was a huge honor, as it is a group filled with very talented people. (Artist's always pick a great place to live!) Of course, in my excitement I forgot to take pictures. We had a wonderful time, and really enjoyed chatting with everyone after about their own quilting stories. 

So now it's February, and it's really overdue to finish our Christmas Albums! If you're not feeling Christmas at this point, why not finish in the fall... but we hope this sneak peek of our finishing kit will inspire you to stay the course. Just look at those beautiful blocks...

We trimmed our large ones to 6-1/2" x 6-1/2" and our charm size to 3-1/2" x 3-1/2."  There are three more designs to come, but they will be coming fast!
Now that the calendar is clear, we hope to close this out by Valentine's Day...  finishing kit and all.

We have a 6-1/2" square ruler, and we taped a little 4x4 window on it, which made for accurate and quick cutting. We'll be posting a full tutorial on this later.

Time to pick sashing fabric! This is always such a dilemma-- it is SO HARD to find the perfect one, and when we do, you want to buy it... and sometimes it isn't even available anymore.


We had this great idea... we are all embroiderers, so why not embroider our own fabric?

That ended up being much easier than driving from store to store, and searching online.

So here it is! The top one we thought was a little too heavy, the middle one was a little light, but the bottom one was just right. hee hee. 

 Trimming was so easy with the basting line, and sewing was just as easy-- we left our stabilizer in and all we had to do was stitch along the dotted line.

Isn't that just so pretty!

If you remember, our layout inspiration was the Caroline's Garden quilt, our first ever show quilt.

So before you rush to buy, you can see we still need a cornerstone design, and a beautiful swag for the borders. 

But we hope we've given you the vision to re-energize your efforts, and a promise that then end is in sight. 

We seriously cannot wait to hang this up the day after Thanksgiving... thanks for joining us!


Monday, January 28, 2019

February's here!

February is here... well, not quite... but we're ready for it!

We're having so much creating cross stitch designs, we're early... this month. Wouldn't it be nice to have your cross stitch design all set for the first of each month? We're going to try hard to make that happen this year. Get a head start on your month, here...

We're still in total shock how much these 
machine embroidery designs look like hand stitching... 
in, seriously, a fraction of the time!

It's so much fun to watch our Babylock Spirit race right through.

January's design was a blockbuster! You split evenly between those who were hoping the quilting was part of the design (it isn't),  and those who were hoping it was NOT! 


Quilt over gorgeous cross stitch?

The answer is-- YES! And we quilted over it again this month... because they stitch so quickly, you can just make another one!

As a test this month, we're also offering the individual parts of the piece for $1.49 each. Many of you have asked for this with some of our past collections as well-- the reason why we don't is that the single transaction fee for credit cards and PayPal eats up more of $1.49 than we'd care to think about. So we'll see what happens... 

We'd love to start a project gallery for just cross stitch-- so if you come up with something fantastic, show it and tell it on our Facebook Project Photo Group.
You have to request membership, but only because we're trying to prevent spammers. It's a great place to see what everyone is doing... we love it!

For those of you who are working on "My Christmas Album,"
we're steaming ahead with two more blocks and hope to release them this week... then there's only two more to go!

If you are missing blocks, now's the time to push forward...

We have a FANTASTIC finishing idea kit for that as well. Total embroidery gorgeousness. If you "FOLLOW" this blog by entering your email, above right, and you'll be the first to get a sneak peek of that, and trimming instructions will be up soon as well.

And last but not least, CLOUD CLUB!

Many of  you can't wait to finish-- we stitched out this first test and it's great! We're still debating if we want to add subtle color behind some of those feathers. What do you think?

Happy Monday to all!


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!