Saturday, January 25, 2020

Cottages of the Month

It's another Year of Cross Stitch! 
We're feeling ambitious in 2020, so in addition to "Stitches of the Sea'" we're going to again do a cross stitch series this year.

We noticed "cottage of the month" is a favorite theme for our friends who do the handwork cross stitch we've seen on Instagram... and Mr. SFO is an architect, so why not?

The cross stitch function has always been a part of our digitizing software, but it wasn't until last year, when I pulled out all my old unfinished cross stitch kits, I decided to give it a try.

Now that we've explored the technique, this year, we're fully digitizing now to highlight what makes machine embroidery different than handstitched. First thing, of course, D-E-T-A-I-L!

  Just look at that teeny fireplace in the living room!
and it's B-A-C-K-S-T-I-T-C-H-E-D!

In comparison with regular machine embroidery designs, cross stitch is less dense, and you get an beautiful, flat, even finish across the surface. The x's remind me of little beads.

  Metallic thread for a little sparkle...

And then, of course, machine embroidery excels at scale-- once a design is digitized, it's a click of the button to make a tiny treasure, or a larger image! Check out FDR below...

There's also going to be three ways to stitch this year's designs, 
so read on!

First, we're going back to the all-in-the-hoop mug rug... it's a perennial favorite and since we're attempting two stitch alongs this year, we're cutting corners time-wise. 

If you're not a fan of ITH, (if that's really a thing?), there are so many other ways to use the mug rug design, just by considering it as an applique. This is a placemat we stitched--so this opens up quite a few other project ideas you might have if you're not a mug rug fan! (if that's really a thing?)

The second way to stitch out is a postcard. So many of you wrote to us to tell how you are making this for someone else-- a friend's birthday, a senior, people in the nursing home-- so we thought of just making a simple postcard back for mailing!

How would your day be if you found this in your box!

We took a little field trip to the post office-- the girl was so helpful, and had a poster with correct sizes and thicknesses for post cards-- we passed the test! It isn't small enough for the postcard rate, so you would have to use a regular stamp. 

She was really blown away by how pretty it was, and we had THE CONVERSATION about how it might get dirty if you mailed it. So in the postcard set, you'll find a template to easily make a pretty envelope-- you can see it there in back of the postcard. 

I then asked her if she could stamp it for me, and she said NO, NO, you wouldn't want to get red ink on it, and I assured her YES, YES, I did. By that time, I'm sure she realized she was dealing with a crazy artist. She was so cute when she made sure the stamp would come out right side up and bravely hit it...

At that point, she had to admit it looks really cool... I hope I get the same person next month!

And I'll admit I'm feeling a bit selfish about my first card-- it ain't going anywhere. So to inspire those of you who feel the same way, I'm going to write a favorite saying on each of my cards and make a little comment about what is happening in my life each month-- at the end of the year, I'm going to make a little memory book out of it. If I travel, I might even try to get different stamps from other post offices.

 My handwriting's not great, but it is MINE, and maybe someday in the future someone else will treasure my little scrawled words of wisdom and feel endeared by my handwriting. (Handwriting is definitely not a thing these days!)

Finally, the quilt block version--

I think at this point it speaks for itself-- we're keeping it simple by not quilting it in the hoop. I can so envision a wall hanging with twelve of these at the end of the year-- I'm great at thinking up BIG projects-- you don't have to. Just think what you could do with one, or even just three... a square size is so easy to work with and the possibilities are endless. There are 5," 6," 7," and 8" blocks in the set.

So that has been our week at San Francisco Stitch Co.
We sure hope we've provided you with the inspiration to take these dear things and make your own art. That is the best that machine embroidery has to offer.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020 Preview!

Happy January! 
It's a busy month for us as we chart the direction for the year-- there's more ideas than time as usual, and so many we're not sure which to write about so we'll just hit them all!
First up, the Cloud Club.
This is where we stood at about this time last year...

The finished design was looking, shall we say, a little too "squarish" and everyone was clamoring for more birds anyway.
We figured out that five more birds would be doable,
and now we have this!
As pleased as we are, keep in mind these are photoshopped images!
There's still work to be done.
We're still missing one last bird for the bottom corner--
it will be Cedar Waxwings and it's at the top of our list in 2020.

As soon as that block is complete we can finally decide on our layout. We love to order things in terms of the seasons, so to do that, the last five birds would have to be interspersed, not just at the bottom. Or we can order them by color-- right now, you can see there's a cluster of oranges in the upper right hand corner-- that's less than ideal. Or we can just put our favorites in the middle and go from there! You are welcome to do your own layout or follow along with us-- we will keep you posted this spring.

Speaking of favorites, we did get the Mockingbird out this week-- but our favorite is always the current bird anyway! LOL
 I mean, who could say no to that sewing machine.

Our first "Stitches of the Sea" block was a hit--

It's always so encouraging for us. 
For those of you who already asking when the next one is coming out, we're planning on one a month just like the birds. So-- February-- and we're thinking "Sea Horse."

And now for the cross stitch fans-- yes, 2020 will be another year of cross stitch! Originally, we were thinking teacups-- but now we're thinking cottages. We'd like this to be a monthly set, too.

 The working name of this is "The Peaceful Cottage," no surprise there. But what is it? A mug rug, a postcard, a quilt block? All of the above? Comment below and find out next week because this needs to get launched!

Next up-- it's time for another alphabet!
Most of you will remember our "Lovely Letters" series from a couple of years ago-- well, it was one of our all-time top earners!

Then we did this pillow for Christmas!

Some of you LOVED the alphabet...
and so, we're going to complete it with a winter spin--
just by changing the colors, you can get a different look.
Or pick a beautiful border fabric and match it.
You can just stitch your initial, or make a word-- 
we'll be offering singles or the entire set.

Most of the alpha is digitzed already, but there's a ton of testing to do. But we may just upload them, singly, as we finish them. 
Also expect L-O-V-E in red tones by Valentine's Day!

And finally-- we're almost to a finish on Kris Kringle!

Another proud moment for us!

If you've stitched with us before, you'll know the finishing kits are usually a border treatment... this time we're going to WOW you with a gorgeous center medallion.

We posted them on Instagram-- it was a real honor when some of our hand stitching sisters asked where they could get the "charts!"
Are charts in the future? We have to admit, it would be a thrill to see this worked traditionally. 

So that's everything in our crazy, busy world!
We hope you have managed to stick to a resolution to stitch more in 2020! And so we leave you with this great thought-- gleaned from our Quilter's Planner 2020 (by Stephanie Palmer)--


Monday, January 6, 2020

Stitches of the Sea begins!

It's time to get our 2020 stitch-a-long started! 
After two years of birds, we are ready for something different...

But not TOO different, because we loved digitizing them...

and so we're moving from the sky to the sea...
"Stitches of the Sea!"

It was probably a moment vacationing at the beach
last summer when the inspiration hit.

When I got home in July, I made a list of twelve creatures to see if I could think of enough for a year. 

You can see that I could! So we're not thinking of strictly fish, but some of the other inhabitants, too.

This is our first yearly stitch-a-long that doesn't follow the months of the year. Instead we're going to travel the globe, because each creature needs to be quilted into a beautiful setting!

 First up, our Blue Crab lives at the famous
Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. If it looks a bit sketchy, that's because digitized, it's less than the size of a quarter! 

Photo by Henry Gonzalez. 2003

Part of the fun of doing these series is the research, once you've decided on a subject, to find out where it lives. I don't travel frequently, but there's no limit to where you can go online.
I grabbed this photo from the lighthouse website-- 
I could actually drive here in a few hours, but some of the other creatures we have planned might require a sub!!

We are using Moda Grunge in the color "Pool," obviously, for our background fabric! The sketchy nature of grunge always compliments our thread sketching perfectly!

For the backing, we picked a new fabric called Uncorked Metallic. The color is aqua, and it has some gold mixed in.

You can use whatever you want-- 
expect some bright color choices!

You can stitch one, or all twelve, in three different ways--
the most fun for us comes when we see what YOU do with the designs!

If you live in Maryland, this is your state crustacean--
(I am not kidding.)
and so you can also just stitch it without the background.

We're planning a show quilt, of course!
With shells in the sashing and all sorts of splashy quilting!

Will you join us?