Thursday, May 16, 2019

Biscornu-ing . . . Again!

Earlier this year (or was it last year?) I discovered the addiction of biscornu-making. This book (affiliate link) does a really nice job of explaining the steps of the process and has a bunch of patterns.

Once you've made a couple biscornu, you realize that the process can be repeated with any sort of counted canvas type stitching, as long as the top and bottom design are back-stitch bordered with exactly the same number of stitches. The border must be a square, and must have an even number of stitches, divided easily.

top and bottom biscornu panel

I found this seagull pattern in the September issue of Cross Stitcher Magazine.  I made up the blackwork pattern on some graph paper and used the same thread color combination on top and bottom, so they 'match' even though they don't 'match.' Once both panels were completely stitched and bordered, I was ready for the last few steps.

To make the wonky, zig-zaggy shape, you place the corner of the top panel, centered on one side of the bottom panel. A pin or two keeps things in place.

Notice that both panels are right sides up, unlike in quilting where something like this would be placed right sides together. Then I whip-stitched each and every backstitch loop, grabbing thread only, not canvas with each pass.

Center of side aligned with corner. then stitch first side

Turning the corner can be a little tricky, but following a one-stitch-at-a-time process, the corner is tackled. The pin placed strategically where the center and corner meet helped to keep me on track.

keep stitching, grabbing only the backstitch threads

When I reach the last side, I stop.

Since I use wool batting for my quilts, I have lots of leftover bits that make perfect biscornu/pin cushion stuffing.

I like them stuffed really generously, then I'm ready to finish the stitching along the last edge to close it all up.

At the last side, stop, and stuff with batting scraps

Once stitched, a small mini-button adds the final touch to a tufted, squishy, irresistible addition to my collection!

And there you have it!

Cross stitch top . . .

cross stitched top

  . . . and blackwork bottom.

blackwork bottom

Of course, this one is completely reversible.

The finishing whip-stitch process takes me a good couple of hours paired with audio book or TV time, and it's pretty detailed work.

What's next?

I have about a million things I can pull out of my to-get-done pile to work on next, but for some silly reason, this stack of 2-1/2" squares from a several-years-old Maywood Studios collection by Marti Michell was calling to me. Add a few stash fabrics and a requisite bird print and we'll see where this goes.

purple fabric combination

You know how it is, when the shiny new object (actually this little pack has been around for quite a while) calls, you have to answer!

I try to do at least an hour or two of machine sewing in the morning before transitioning to the computer where the daily tasks form a list about a mile long. Lately, small, easy projects and quick finishes are drawing me in, so I'm going with it. Evenings are for handwork projects like feeding the biscornu addiction.

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Travel Time

Last week I headed south to Atlanta for some time with my business coach. Lots of new ideas in the works, for new programs and for The FLOCK.

Two weeks ago, I showed you a photo of this project in its earliest stages. It was just a pile of blocks and some fabric choices a couple weeks ago.

These blocks started as a Hardanger sampler, including, I think maybe 12 blocks. I made 5 of the (about) 4" square stitcheries, then I ran out of thread.

Sure, I could have purchased more thread in this color, but instead decided to add some borders (in quilting fabric) to each square and make something from the five blocks. Here you see the bordered blocks, layered and ready to pin-baste and quilt. Notice that I added an extra layer of fabric (the dark brown) under the quilt top to secure the batting beneath it. The embroidery has some cut-away sections, so an extra lining was needed.

Hardanger runner, sandwiched, ready to quilt

With the layers sandwiched, I did some simple quilting to hold everything together.

Then added the binding.

As an afterthought, I felt that this runner could also hang on the wall in some of those narrow wall-spaces in my home, so I added a hanging sleeve.

Harganger table runner, ready to bind

The bound-but-not-sewn project went into my travel bag so that I could secure the folded edge of the binding to the back of the project during my flight.

Lucky me, I had an empty chair next to me on the plane and was able to finish up this project before the flight landed in Georgia!

Perfect use of flying time!

Hardanger runner, finished and bound

Here is a close up of one of the blocks.

Notice that I added some machine quilting within the hand stitching area to keep the puffed-up-center-effect down.

Detail of one of the blocks

In between everything, I'm making progress on this blue-and-green Split the Check quilt (pattern found in the book ScrapTherapy, The Versatile Nine Patch)

This project is in preparation for an upcoming cruise - not the 2020 Hawaii cruise - that's going to be a different, all-new project TBD). This is for a 2021 cruise that has not been announced yet. Stay tuned.

Split the Check quilt, in progress

Finally, the travel project that made it from my basket of projects into my travel bag is this little cross-stitch seagull piece. The pattern is from the September 2018 issue of Cross Stitcher magazine.

I worked on it quite a lot, both on the plane and in the evenings at the hotel.

seagull cross stitch

The pattern calls for these little seagulls to become a pin cushion. . . . . . .but I think I'm going to turn it into another entry into my biscornu collection. I created a plain blackwork panel design for the biscornu backing - it's shown, in progress, on the right side of the photo below, inside the hoop.

seagull cross stitch, with blackwork

I suspect the little chart I made up could stand alone as its own little project. We'll see. . .

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring Cleaning

There is something about Spring--growing grass, buds and flowers on trees, tulips and Spring blooms making their way through packed dirt--that awakens the 'tidy-up' bug in me. I like organized stuff, but I'm not always the best at keeping things that way. 

I really like to work on stitching and hand work in the evening while watching TV or listening to a book. Since most of my stitchery projects are small, or they are small parts of a bigger series, I tend to flit from one project to the next a lot. For example, I'm already working on my Christmas card ornaments for this year.

Since they're fairly detailed, I decided early on that I'd be in good shape for next holiday season if I did one each week, so I don't get tired of them or stressed over it if I saved it up and did them all in one lump. I started in January--way ahead of schedule! (Yay me!)

I usually focus my energy on one main project - like the Hummingbird cross stitch piece I recently finished - and give myself little breaks with something small like this colorful set of small stitchery pieces that are in their earliest stages. This may become models to show you that border technique I keep jawing about.

Brightly colored embroidery on a hoop

All those in-process projects became a stack of messy-ness on the sofa next to where I usually sit. On Saturday, I started in on a Spring Cleaning snit, threw a bunch of old stuff away, clearing space for new stuff (magazines, mostly) I wanted to keep, minimizing that ugly pile.

Then I found this lovely handmade  basket (Patty F., do you recognize this?) that really needed to serve a special purpose.

basket full of small projects

Now this basket full of little packets of stitchy goodness sits neatly on the floor right next to my evening sewing spot. It's actually much more fun to pull out a little packet of stitchy-good-ness and start in with my evening's selected project!

When I get the tidy-bug, I sure can milk it!

A Spring Cleaning Special for you!

Most of my sewing storage is in the basement, so while I was filling up my Special Stitchy Basket, I made several trips up and down the stairs, and this box of Your Nest Organizers, still leftover from what I brought with me to Quilt Market and Festival last fall, caught my attention.

No worries, still plenty of Your Nest Organizers at the warehouse in all seven colors, but these few, are all that are left here in my basement. I'd really rather give you one last chance to SAVE some money on these well-traveled Nests than SPEND the money to ship them back to the warehouse! So, EVERYbody wins!

With Mother's Day right around the corner and my Spring Cleaning bug, this seems like such a nice fit with the whole Spring Tidy-Up concept. However, I only have five of the available seven colors in stock in my basement available for this promotion.

Your Nest Organizers

Here's the Spring Cleaning Special

From now until April 29th and while supplies last (the supplies in my basement, that is). You can order Your Nest Organizers in these colors:

Raven, Cardinal, Bluebird, Hummingbird, and Flamingo

 at $18.95 each and pay $0 to ship them.

(Sorry, US orders only)

Your Nest Organizers

The free shipping special ends at Midnight (east coast time) on April 29th, 2019.

To get this offer, click the button below to make your color selection.

You have to use this special link, otherwise, if you use another link shipping will be added to your purchase.

Happy Spring Cleaning and Happy Stitching!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Game of Stones

Without getting into too much detail, Dave had some medical tests two weeks ago that resulted in his getting Pancreatitis. Painful and potentially dangerous stuff, putting him in the hospital for about a week for observation and to move slowly from no food intake to liquid-only diet to a strict non-fat diet until his gallbladder is removed (the test confirmed that he has gall stones that are too big to be removed without removing the entire gallbladder) later this year.

This all made my last couple weeks a 'little bit' stressful. Things are much better now and everything is getting back to a routine, but I found myself in the position to learn very quickly what foods are included in a low-fat diet. Actually this is going to be a good exercise for both Dave and me. And, of course, there's always a way to clever-up some mini-bagels, jam, and fruit, right?

Low Fat breakfast, bagel, jam, and banana

(I'm not sure Dave appreciated my efforts to create this low-fat 'Happy Meal!')

In between back-and-forth trips to the hospital to check up on Dave's progress, I managed to steal away some time to finish up a couple of near-complete projects. This hummingbird cross stitch quilt that was started earlier this year is complete.

This has been a detailed step-by-step process: Cross stitch the main image, add the border in one piece with my sneaky applique technique, layer and machine quilt the borders, quilt the center with seed stitches by hand, embellish the border seam with four different blue perle cotton colors, then bind.

Hummingbird Cross stitch quilt wall hanging

Hummingbird cross stitch wall hanging close up border embellishments

The photos in full sunshine, don't effectively convey the varied texture and dimension all these steps added to this wall-hanging piece.

It's going to go in the Genesee Valley Quilt Fest show later next month. So if you're in the area, you will be able to get up close and personal there.

Hummingbird cross sittch wall hanging quilt

This table topper (approximately 40" across) featuring four 8" blocks from The FLOCK is also complete. Last time I mentioned it here, I think it still needed a bit of quilting and the binding. All that is done now.

I am hoping to include this pattern as a bonus pattern for FLOCK members soon, but, understandably, the pattern is off to a somewhat slow start. . soon is as best I can promise right now.

Four block bird table topper, bonus pattern for the FLOCK

The first couple days at the hospital meant a lot of sitting and waiting for test results and doctor visits and updates. I was glad to have my Erica Michaels alphabet project, and the letter "F" and all necessary threads and tools ready to go in a project pouch. 

alphabet letter F stitich pattern from Erica Michaels

I started this block during hospital visiting times, and completed the 'foxy' F block just a couple days ago. 'G' and its featured Goose are up next.

alphabet letter E and F sttich pattern from Erica Michaels

I am continuing to incorporate the stitching/border technique I'm developing for stitchy/quilty combination stuff.

I keep promising more how-to details, and they will come, but this isn't the week. The process has lots of steps, but I really like the end result. Hey, if you've spent the time on the stitching, what's a few extra steps to make a dramatic finish, right?

More to come on this, I promise!

alphabet letter F sttich pattern from Erica Michaels, close up of border treatment

And then, of course, I'm a "Game of Thrones" follower - read the books, watched the series from the start.

These socks with the Seven Kingdoms' sigils, a gift from a friend, put me in the appropriate attitude for the first episode of the final season.

Game or thrones socks

Happy Stitching! And Happy Easter!


Thursday, April 4, 2019

It's Show Time!

A quick one-day trip to Lancaster, PA with some girlfriends this weekend brought all kinds of inspiration!

The AQS Quilt Week show had plenty to see, and lots of vendors with enticing goodies. For the most part, I kept my wallet in check - pretty unusual for me, but it's tax month and I need a new set of brakes on my car, so those things can really put a damper on spending.

Quilt Week sign Lancaster

Still and all, there was plenty to catch my interest at the show. People sometimes call me crazy when they see the small pieces I have used in my quilts ("99 Bottles," from the cover of ScrapTherapy, Scraps Plus One, for example!) This quilt, made by Angela Petrocelli, is just covered with teeny tiny flying geese! I wonder if Angela gets 'grief' from her quilty friends for her itty-bitty quilty tastes! *Wink!*

Quilt Show example

Quilt show example with tiny flying geese and my hand for perspective

It was nice to see an example of cross stitch worked into some of the show quilts - this one called 'Halo Star' by Annabelle Dollins has some cross stitch cornerstones and borders. (Detail, then full quilt below)

quilt show example with cross stitched border

Quilt show example with cross stitched border, full view

Featured Artist: Bethanne Nemesh

The show had an entire section dedicated to the exquisite work of local quilter Bethanne Nemesh. Perhaps I was drawn to them because she uses a lot of bird imagery in her quilts, or perhaps because the level of detail is inspiring. For whatever reason, I was blown away by her work on display, including this centerpiece bench entitled "Sitting Pretty" The detail in the quilting and the couched threads and yarns is just 'wow!'

Quilted bench with peacock

Close up of quilted bench

Bethanne's beaded piping is a signature technique that appears in many of her pieces, both along the binding (as shown) or incorporated in various parts of the quilt. It adds elegant texture to some already awe-inspiring work.

Beaded piping example on quilt binding

The Rogue Show

We discovered that a separate quilt show was going on simultaneously with the AQS show over the weekend. This one (The Lancaster Quilt Show) was at a nearby hotel. We hopped in the car after lunch with plenty of time left to shop and look. Here is a birds eye view of part of the vendor area at this secondary show.

Lancaster quilt show over look

Always nice to see Your Nest Organizers 'in the wild!' This short stack was all that was left in the Bee Happy Quilting Booth (Union City, PA)

Your Nest Organizers at quilt show booth

Also nice to meet people you previously only know online. The charming Ms. Rachel Rossi had a booth at the 'rogue' show and we got to meet in person in her booth.

Joan Ford and Rachel Rossi photo

Projects Moving Along

During the trip, we took some time in the evening to do some social sewing in our hotel lobby/lounge area. I finished the seed stitching in the background for my hummingbird project. But now, I've decided to keep going with a little more embellishment along the border edge. Right now, I'm adding a simple chain stitch in dark blue perle cotton, but there is more to come! This may be the project that never gets done. But I certainly am enjoying the journey!

Cross stitched hummingbird with seed stitch background complete

Cross stitched hummingbird quilt with chain stitch embellishment

To break things up a bit, I started and finished this little needle book inspired by a pattern in the March 2019 issue of Cross Stitcher Magazine. My mom used to call the dragonflies that criss-crossed the surface of the pond sewing needles. So this little case is very appropriate and handy. It's great to hold my tapestry needles, and it is small enough to fit nicely into my project bags for stitching on the go.

dragonfly needle case, cross stitched

dragonfly needle case, cross stitched

And that table runner I started a couple weeks ago, which features four of the blocks from The FLOCK collection is moving right along as well. I'm working on the machine quilting in between other 'distractions.' Eventually, I suspect I'll make this up into a bonus pattern for FLOCK members. Are you a member yet? Wanna give it a try? More info on The FLOCK here.

machine quilting on table topper with bird quilt blocks

Happy Stitching!


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Going a Little Batty

This week, I have a quick recap of what's happening with those couple projects I've been chatting about for the last couple of weeks. The Table Topper I've been working in is progressing nicely.

It's a slow-go however, because I am doing quite a bit of stitch-in-the-ditch which can be tricky. I only sew for an hour or two in the morning each day, so that naturally means progress is slow without a big chunk of dedicated time. I'm not going anywhere, so I'm okay, if the quilting comes along in its own sweet time. No deadline for this one.

Notice that one of the blocks is the newest block from The FLOCK, the Baltimore Oriole!

Close up quilting with Baltimore Oriole Block in table topper

I finally settled on a quilting solution for the big area of negative space in this cross stitched hummingbird project.

I had hoped to find some inspiration in Laura Wasilowski's book, Joyful Stitching and I did! These little seed stitches make a very nice fill to reduce the puff while adding a really nice texture to the linen areas. Like, the table topper above, it's slow going. I'm good with that and I'm thoroughly enjoying the journey watching this move forward, little by little.

Seed stitch quilting on cross stitch hummingbird project

Breaking point

Whoa!! I had a stop-me-in-my-tracks moment this week as I was digging around for some batting scraps in a remote area of my basement.

With all the quilting I do, I buy batting by the roll. I use a lot of wool batting around here. It's a bit more expensive, so I hoard the scraps because they can be used in lots of different projects - including the little bits.

My routine has been to cut a chunk of batting just the right size for the project, and trim off any extra, leaving me with big hunks, medium-sized pieces, and little bits, all having the potential for other projects.

Me being me, years ago, I found an empty table in one of the back spaces in my basement and started stacking up those pieces - all three classifications - chunks, pieces, and bits - in one big pile on the table.

Not so bad when there are one or two scraps, but over time, the pile was out of control. Everything in one stack . . .

Messy batting scraps, need to be organized

And last week, I hit a breaking point.

I pulled the mess onto my work table and started separating:

Medium to Large Chunks - pieces that could be used for something long and skinny - like runners - or something small but chunky - for small quilts, toppers, pillows, etc.

Messy batting scraps, large chunks

Smaller pieces. Too small for most quilts, and almost in the bits category, but the possibility for a skinny runner or small wall hanging makes it worth keeping separate.

Maybe less than 12" wide or long.

Messy batting scraps, medium sized pieces

Little Bits. These are generally the long skinny pieces that are trimmed from the quilt when the quilting is done and before the binding is applied.

These are perfect for pin-cushions and biscornu stuffing.

messy batting scraps, small bits and strips

I stacked pieces from each category  neatly:

  • Large chunks in a tidy pile
  • Medium to small pieces stacked, then rolled together, and squished into a wire storage bin
  • Little bits jammed into a basket

Organized batting scraps, large chunks, medium pieces, and small bits, back on the shelf

Now they fit nicely on the table. They don't flop all over when I need to excavate a usable size. And I can easily go right to the size category to get what I need without wasting time in the search.

Organized batting scraps, large chunks, medium pieces, and small bits, back on the shelf

Took about 30 minutes. Seems like such a minor improvement, and it's okay if you're laughing at me for making such a big deal out of a silly detail, but every little bit of searching-for-the-right-piece-of-batting time takes away from quilting and sewing time!

Now, if I can just sort through that pile of old paperback books on the shelf behind the batting. However, that's sacred territory - for the most part, those are Dave's - he's a book hoarder. (Do you think he'll notice if I 'sort' them a little bit?)

Happy Stitching!


Feel free to pin this image so you can find this post later

Organized batting scraps into three categories based on size