Saturday, 8 December 2018

Mini Pillow Tutorial

Hi all!

When I posted this finish, a few of you expressed an interest in a tutorial to show how I made the pillow, so here it is. It's long, but I also hope it's helpful and perhaps even a little inspiring.

A few pointers first though:

- I always iron light-weight interfacing onto the back of the project. This helps to protect the stitching from errant needles, stiffens the fabric and prevents the stuffing poking through the holes of the aida.

- it was all sewn by hand, really fiddly to start with and took more than one attempt. Time and patience are a necessity, especially when following someone else's instructions!

- the amount of fabric border showing will depend on the amount of spare aida around the design and how much aida you want to leave showing. In my example I had 2 inches of spare aida - I left 3/4 inch showing around the design, used 1/4 inch for the outside seam (a little more would be advisable) so was left with a fabric border of 1 inch.

- if you are attempting this, may I suggest doing so with scrap pieces of aida and/or fabric, or a less important piece of stitching first...  just in case!

I understand that it's not easy to write instructions nor follow someone else's so please feel free to ask questions or point out places where I've not been that clear and I'll try to answer and/or amend as necessary.

Here goes then:

1) Cut four pieces of fabric you wish to use as borders, allowing more than enough to cover the width of the edge of the aida. I used two different fabrics but the choice is obviously up to you.

2) Iron a small hem along one long edge each strip of fabric, ensuring it follows the warp or weft (I hate wonky fabric!) This crease will be used as a guideline to attach the fabric to the aida in a straight line. Alternatively you could draw on a feint pencil line. These pieces are just laid on at the moment.

3) Using the ironed crease/pencil mark as the guideline, pin the first strip of fabric to the aida, leaving some adia showing around the stitching. I left 3/4 inch between the design and the pinning; you might want more, you might want less (it took me three attempts before deciding 3/4 inch was the right amount for this design). Then using the holes in the aida attach the fabric with a running stitch. Leave a good tail of thread, do not fasten off the thread at the beginning or end and do not stitch right to the ends; you may need to adjust the end stitches later to account for the other pieces of fabric under- or over-lapping.

4) This is how the front should look when the now attached piece of fabric is folded back.

5) Attach the second piece of fabric using the same method. You will notice here that I have chosen to lay the right strip of fabric on top of the top strip of fabric, but in the photo underneath this one this has changed to the right strip being underneath the top strip. This is one of the reasons why the thread should be left loose instead of being fastened off; it was easy to unpick, adjust and restitch.

6) Repeat this process for the third and fourth pieces of fabric.

7) After all four pieces of fabric have been attached the back should look like this. You may notice that there are a few pencil marks on the back; this was my various attempts trying to work out the placements of the edges of the fabric strips. I did find it helpful marking the corners where the fabrics would meet though.

8) And this is what the front should look like. I deliberately wanted the corners to overlap like this, but attaching the two side pieces then the top and bottom pieces would look just as effective and definitely be less fiddly (as would using a sewing machine but I get real satisfaction out of hand-sewing all my finishes, and hand-sewn running stitch is a lot easier to unpick than sewing machine stitching!)

9) Then pin on the backing piece of fabric, again using the holes in the aida as a guideline. Remember to ensure the four strips of fabric are pulled back fully to ensure no puckering (I pinned them to the outside edge of the aida to ensure they stayed taught). Attach the back using the holes in the aida as a guideline for the running stitch and remembering to leave a gap to turn the piece in the right way! I left my gap in the bottom centre, but where you leave yours is up to you of course. Don't worry about the excess fabric, that gets cut off in a minute.

10) Having tied off and secured all the loose ends of threads, this is how the back should now look. The green piece of thread at the bottom represents the gap I left. In this space I continued the running stitch along the aida; those stitches will be picked up later to close up the opening.

11) Trim off all the excess fabric and cut the corners diagonally. I used pinking shears although usually leave more of a edge - it's just in this instance I din't have that much spare aida to play with!

12) Now turn the pillow in the right way, stuff and close up the opening using invisible stitching by catching the backing fabric and picking up the running stitch on the aida (forgot to take a photo of that bit but it's very clever). I personally don't like 'pokey' corners so try not to overstuff my ornies. This is probably a bit too much stuffing but, hey-ho, I can always sit on it for a while to flatten it out!!

13) Now attach the ribbon. I had three different attempts at attaching the ribbon but in the end found the following to be the easiest (but quite time-consuming way). Note - I gathered the ribbon a lot, but obviously it would be down to personal preference and/or the type of ribbon being used. For reference, this method used about 7x the amount of ribbon as the perimeter of the pillow.

Start at a corner, leaving a good few inches of spare ribbon and the tail of the thread loose so that the corner can be adjusted later if necessary. Gather the ribbon by sewing four running stitches through the bottom of the ribbon (just under the length of the needle) then pulling it tight... 

... and then attaching it to the pillow by catching one of the stitches used to sew the front and backs together. I picked up one of these stitches at about 1/3 inch intervals. 

NB When going around the corners I used five running stitches instead of four to account for the ribbon having to travel further and to therefore keep the gathering consistent-looking.

14) Where the ribbons finally meet at the corner, use the ends to make a small bow and secure the knot with a couple of tiny stitches.

Et voila... one finished completely OTT cutesy pillow!

I don't know how long it all took to put together, either with or without adjustments, as it was done in bits and pieces over the course of a couple of weeks. Assuming no errors, I would probably estimate a good 6-8 hours. When I make another one (which will hopefully be quicker than this first attempt) I will time myself and let you know!

Well, I hope I haven't confused you too much and have maybe inspired at least a couple of you to change some of your UFOs into FFOs, not necessarily by following these instructions, just by wanting to finish them anyhow!

Like I said, please ask any questions or suggest clarifications and I'll see what I can do.

Now... go dive into your pile of UFOs and FFO some of them before the end of 2018!!

Take care,
Rachel x

Thursday, 6 December 2018

November Progress on 2015/2016 Challenge Pieces

Hello there!

This will be the last time for a while that I post a report on the progress I've made on some of the projects I started for Debbie's Challenges back in 2015/2016. I was actually wondering whether to post this, seeing as there's only the one project to show, but why not?

During November I finished and framed Winter Alphabet (posted previously) and made progress on the one remaining piece I am hoping to finish this year:

Hufflepuff by theworldinstitches (etsy)
started 11th February 2015; last worked on last month
finished the name and the outside of the crest

As you can see, I've not got much left to stitch now. Once I've finished my piece for the Smalls SAL, which I'm currently working on, I shall get straight back to this one and return with a finish soon.

Take care,
Rachel x

Sunday, 2 December 2018

People's Choice SAL - Dragons

Hi all!

It's the first Saturday of the month (well, Sunday, sorry!) so it must be time for Jo from Serendipitous Stitching's People's Choice SAL. Many thanks to Jo for hosting this unique SAL which will have a different theme each month.

This month's theme is Dragons.

I'm really excited about this topic which means this is a quite self-indulgent and long (but could have been much much longer!) post. It also deviates away from cross-stitching a little at the end, so apologies in advance for the tangent. So grab yourself a cuppa (or something stronger) and enjoy!

I love Dragons, generally cute ones but then not all cute ones, and there are some non-cute ones I love too... it's obviously complicated as to which ones do or do not appeal to me.

I have a shelf full of little cuddly dragons, two walls adorned with dragon pictures, five different colour versions of the Lego dragon, and dragon skins for my laptop and phone but, surprisingly, I haven't stitched (or rather finished) many.

My only finishes are:

Elemental Dragons (Earth, Air, Fire and Water) by Dragon Dreams (freebies here)

My Treasure by Dragon Dreams (freebie at same link above)

But I do have a few dragon WIPs.

You may recall the barely-started Emerald Dragon by HAED I showed in last month's Birthstones post, so I'm not going to show it again.

But also in my unfinished pile are:

Mythical Dragon by True Colours
I started this way back in 1999 (it is my oldest WIP) and left it like this in 2000. It's on 18ct black, which was a really silly choice considering it's full of fractionals! I reckon I'm about half way through but am not sure if I will continue stitching it as it is, or restart it... on evenweave (probably the latter if the day ever arrives!)

The History Of Chocolate by HAED
Another HAED I've given up on because of the fiddliness. But it's not been purged so never say never. It would be a shame to see it go to waste.

Dragon Eye by EvasDesignsBg (etsy)
I made a very small start on this piece back in 2015 but only for four hours so it's never appeared on my blog. It will almost feel like a new start "when" I go back to it.

As for other future projects, there are quite a few dragons on my Large Stash page if you want to take a look, but I thought I'd show just the largest and the smallest:

Fire Dragon by Cross My Heart
This has been in my stash for almost 20 years so I'm wondering if it will ever get stitched! I don't mind the gizzilion shades of orange and yellow, or that it needs to be stitched on black, it's just that it's so big! Maybe I should just frame the A4 cover picture and be satisfied with that?!

Crazy For Dragons from Cross Stitch Crazy Magazine
But on a much smaller and more easily-achievable scale (pun intended!) a couple of these will be making an appearance next year for the Smalls SAL.

Being mythological and fantasy creatures, dragons can basically come in any shape, size, colour(s) and level of friendliness you require. Doing a quick google search for 'dragon cross stitch' (I really should not have looked!) shows just how many are available; there literally has to be something to suit everyone's taste...

...from the tiny and cute...

Cute Baby Dragon by FuzzyFoxDesigns (etsy) the huge and scary...

Dragon Rip
Dragon Rip by HAED

...and not forgetting the famous:

Image result for dragon cross stitch
Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon by (free)

Haku from Spirited Away by HarpSealCrossStitch (etsy)

Image result for smaug dragon cross stitch
Smaug from The Hobbit from

As a result of my search, the following two charts somehow (whistles innocently) found themselves being added to my etsy wishlist but ONLY my wishlist; I'm being a good girl... for now ;)

image 0:
Rainbow Dragon (him and her) by PatternNadGavr (etsy)

image 0
Dragon With Pearl from LoLaLottaShop (etsy)
There are quite a few in this series; click here if you would like to see the others. Go on, I dare you, you know you want to!
(Katie, there's a lovely sleeping dragon guarding a lighthouse...)

After my search, I convinced myself/my mum that I just HAD to have this one for Christmas, so it's been purchased and wrapped and is ready to go under the tree. I have a feeling I may *shock horror* deviate from my stitching plans and treat myself to a new start on Christmas Day. The kit is supplied with 18ct white aida but I'm not going to waste time stitching all that black when I can use black aida instead!

Anne Stokes' Tribal Dragon by Thread Geeks

Talking of Anne Stokes, I mentioned previously that I had lots of dragon pictures. Over the years, and after seeing some of the cross stitch versions on HAED, I have purchased various Anne Stokes 8"x10" canvas prints:

Some of Anne Stokes' Dragons

And, if you are familiar with other HAED dragons, you may have come across charts converted from pictures by Randal Spangler. Again, I didn't purchase the charts but instead purchased some of his limited edition prints and had them framed. I know it's cheating but, let's face it, I'm never going to stitch even one of his charts (I do have one in my stash) let alone these four beauties I've shown here:

Some of Randal Spangler's Dragons

Well, if you've made it this far, congratulations! Let's end with a wave from my pride of Lego dragons:

"Bye bye!"

Thanks for sticking with this post; I hope you enjoyed a trawl through my dragon psyche!

Next month - New Starts... and I promise a MUCH shorter post!

Take care,
Rachel x

Friday, 30 November 2018

Smalls SAL - November 2018

Hi all!

For the penultimate time in 2018 it's the last Friday of the month and time to post my piece for the Smalls SAL, run by Heather of Stitching Lotus.

November saw me go bananas and stitch another piece of cheeky fruit:

Banana from Fabulous Fruit
Designed by Jenny Barton in Cross Stitch Crazy magazine issue 192 (I think)
Stitched on 16ct Sundrop over-dyed aida from 2 over 1
Stitch count 35 wide by 38 high
Started - 1st November 2018
Finished - 4th November 2018
Total stitching time - 5 hours 45 minutes

I actually made a mistake and stitched it off-centre which meant I just about had the required amount of fabric to make it into an ornie - and I mean just! So I very carefully finished it off using yellow spotted backing fabric and coordinating barley twist cord:

And here's my four pieces of healthy fruit salad I've stitched this year:

There are still six more pieces of fruit to stitch but I won't be doing them for a long while yet; I'm not so keen on them and four is a healthy enough fruit salad to be getting on with!

For the final month of 2018... something Christmassy.

Take care,
Rachel x

Monday, 26 November 2018

Winter Alphabet - finished; all 4 Seasonal Alphabets framed

Hi all!

So this is finish 31/31 from Debbie's Ultimate Crazy January Challenge 2016 and is, of course, Winter Alphabet by Lizzie Kate.

At the end of October I had stitched this much:

And now all completed it looks like this:

Winter Alphabet by Lizzie Kate
Stitched on 16ct Cloud Winter Sky aida by 2 over 1
Stitch count 112 wide by 159 high
Started - 26th January 2016
Finished - 10th November 2018
Total stitching time - 36 hours 35 minutes

And as the title of this post gives away, I have also framed all four Lizzie Kate Seasonal Alphabet pieces. Thanks to I found the same frame in four different colours to match each season - red for spring, green for summer, brown for autumn and blue for winter. It makes them a bit more interesting than them all having the same generic gold-edged wooden frame, which was my other option. Here they are before framing...

... and after...

... and all together:

I think they look really good, but then I am more than slightly biased and would say that! I'm a very happy bunny indeed.

Considering samplers are definitely not my thing (are these truly samplers?) I thoroughly enjoyed stitching all four pieces. There was a great sense of satisfaction in working on them and watching them grow, especially as psychologically each letter of motif counted as a mini-finish!

And, of course, framing them all means my Box Of Shame is getting emptier! It definitely won't be empty by the end of the year, but it won't be far off.

Take care,
Rachel x