Kingdom Hearts Symbol Cross Stitch

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Kingdom Hearts SymbolA Kingdom Hearts symbol cross stitch that I created. It utilizes 3/4 stitches around the edges. If you aren’t familiar with this stitch, don’t worry it is very easy. These directions can be followed in either order. It all depends on what works best for your stitching. However, when I was learning I always followed the order I will be sharing. Still do what is easiest for you. Also, complete all of the full cross-stitches before working on the other stitches.

1. This stitch is a combination of a quarter stitch and a half stitch. quarterstitchstart

2. It is easiest to start with the quarter-stitch. Check your chart to see which corner the quarter comes from. You will need to start at that corner. Bring your thread down in the center before the thread would reach the normal corner.

threequarterstep1

3. Next complete the half stitch. Again, check the chart so that your stitch is facing the correct direction. That’s all there is to it.

quarterstitchstep2The rest of the KH stitch is easy as well. You could finish in just a few hours. I recommend using a blue that you like the best or DMC variegated or variations floss. Happy stitching.

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The symbol with DMC delft blue variegated floss.

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Make It Yours: Reversible Curtains Preparation

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A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

A selection of the boring curtains available in local stores.

“Make It Yours” is my series of projects you can do to make your house, and yourself and other items that you own, more friendly to your design tastes. At no time am I going to claim that this is cheaper than the alternatives. For example, if you want curtains for your home, it could be cheaper to buy them. However, you are limited to what you can find pre-made. There might be a custom option that is cheaper than making them yourself too.

For me though, it is generally easier if I just make it myself. Maybe, my tastes run a little too esoteric for prime time.

This week, we’ll learn how to make very simple reversible curtains because I like my curtains to look nice from both sides. Nothing fancy here, a novice can complete this project, and you can have them finished within an hour.

You will need:

  • Sewing machine or hand needles
  • Exterior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Interior fabric, yardage will be determined
  • Thread to match
  • Pins or bulldog clips

First, measure the width of the window, including any additional area of the wall or window frame you want the curtain to cover. You can also measure the length of your current curtain rod to get an idea. Now, measure a second time just to be sure. Add one inch to your measurement. For example, the window I want new curtains for is 34 inches wide, so my first measurement is 35 inches.

Keep in mind that the width measurement is for a single very simple curtain. With these measurements if you make a single curtain, you will not have much in the way of gathering (folds) when you put your curtain up. Many will want a pair of curtains per window. To determine the width each curtain will need to be, you will need to do a little math. Each curtain should be about 75% of your total width. In my example, I would then need a width of 26.25 inches. Or you could just make two full size curtains have a lot of folds – this technique can be very pretty with lightweight fabrics or cumbersome with heavier ones.

Next, measure the length you want your curtains to be. This is up to personal preference. Perhaps, you want a half-curtain with a valance in your kitchen window, or you want a floor length curtain for the living room or you want the curtain to stop at the end of the sill. Decide and measure; measure again. Remember measure twice, cut once. We’ll repeat this mantra over and over again. Add one inch to your measurement. Add additional inches equal to the depth of your curtain rod if you have a rod that bends around the side of the window. In my example, I have 37 inches that I want to cover. So I need 38 inches.

If you don’t have fabric, now is the time to figure out what you will need. The fabric you purchase factors in your width, and you are limited to the stock on hand there. Most fabric at a typical American fabric shop (local quilt shop, JoAnns, etc) come in widths between 36 to 54. You may find some specialty fabrics come in other widths, so this is just in general. The length of your fabric will determine the number of yards you need. If you need help with the inches to yards math and don’t want to use a calculator, there are all kinds of apps that can help. In general though divide your inches by 36. My measurement ends up being 1.06. I round-up to quarter yards, so I need 1.25 yards of each fabric.

Remember to consider, how many curtains you are making as well. Using my example, if I wanted two panels out of each cut I would need a fabric that is at least 52.5 inches wide. If I fall in love with a fabric that is only 44 inches wide, I will need an additional 1.25 yards (for a total of 2.5 yards) to make two curtains.

Once you have your fabric, launder it. Wash it on the highest temperature the fabric can handle and dry it. This should take care of any shrinkage. My method is to wash my fabric on speed wash with about one-quarter to one-half the normal amount of detergent. Do not use fabric softener. I dry my fabric based on what it is. Then, iron your fabric.

In the next post, I will share step-by-step instructions on making your curtains.

Fabric Gathering Hack

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My daughter loves gathered clothes. When left on her own to pick out an item for me to make her she inevitably picks one that features large sections of fabric gathered tightly. Sometimes it feels like miles of gathering.

The traditional method of gathering involves sewing a loose basting stitch, and then pulling the bobbin thread to the desired fullness. The problem with this method is inevitable the thread breaks. Then, the sewist is left hand arranging the gathering to the right fullness or trying another basting stitch. It sucks. I hate it.

I read about gathering with crochet thread somewhere. I’ve used it exclusively on five projects now, and I am happy to pass it along to anyone that might have need of a less frustrating way to gather fabric.

First, set the sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. Set the stitch width to wide and the stitch length to long. The width will need to be within the stitch allowance of the project. Make sure that your stitches are close the edge of your fabric. Lay the crochet thread in what would be the center of the zig-zag.

The crochet thread should be placed where it will be captured in between the zig-zags.

The crochet thread in the center allows the thread to be captured by the zig-zags.

When finished with the zig-zag stitch, the fabric will slide easily along the crochet thread making it easy to not only gather but attain even fullness along the length of the gather. Once the gathered fabric is attached to its partner fabric, the crochet thread can be removed.

 

Slide the fabric along the crochet thread to the desired fullness.

Slide the fabric along the crochet thread to the desired fullness.

I vary this technique based on the type of fabric I use, and the length of what needs to be gathered. For example, on my daughter’s satin steampunk skirt I used a zig-zag stitch to create a tube around the crochet thread. This gave a finished look to the tops of the tiers. It also held the tight gather required on the project in place to make pinning and sewing easy. On a gypsy skirt, I broke the crochet thread sections into easier to manage regions due to the length of the fabric that needed to be gathered. One stretch was nine feet long!

Hope this helps someone out there!

 

Let’s Create: Goal Jars

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After sitting in my Pinterest board for months, inspiration finally struck to create this project; I call it the  Goal Jar. Most of the jars I have seen are for weight loss, and mine is no different.

To say I have struggled with weight loss is an understatement. When my family and I moved to Pennsylvania four years ago, I quickly put on 30 pounds; I was already overweight at that point anyway. I have been working toward the goal of a healthy weight consistently for about 18 months. I halfheartedly tried for it for a year before that.

Still it’s a daily work-in-progress. Sometimes I need a little more inspiration than others. I also need to remind myself of how far I have come because frankly, plateaus are hard and it’s easy to lose sight of the progress I’ve made.

This is a very easy project to do. It cost me less than 10 bucks to complete. It would have cost less, as I had everything but matched jars; I like things “matchy-matchy”, so a pair of jars was important. However, while wandering the aisles I found six-sided jewelry bead dice and had to have them. Let’s face it, I’m a gamer girl at heart and anything that puts a geek stamp on things makes me happy. So, rather than use dice from my large collection and risk incurring the wrath of the gaming gods or shamelessly harvest the dice of a character, I bought two packages of six-sider jewelry beads.

Anyway, what you’ll need for your Goal Jars (and approximate costs):

  • A measurable goal (free)
  • A couple of jars, vases, or any clear containers (I found 2 glass containers with lids on clearance for $1.50 each. However, I saw appropriate sized jars that cost upwards of $10 each)
  • Stones, marbles, dice, beads, or another item that can be counted and represent a portion of your goal (My dice were on sale for $2 a bag. The average price hovered around $5 for glass stones and $4 for various jewelry beads.)
  • Embellishments, stickers, markers, tape, decorative paper, or whatever brings a bit of you into your goal jar (Had these on hand, but I never buy stickers that aren’t on sale so I would estimate $1-$3 a sheet)

goaljars.jpgThe rest of the fabrication is easy. Decorate your container with your goals and anything else that strikes your fancy. The trick is to make the goals measurable and achievable.  Try “pounds lost” and “pounds to go.”  Similarly for fellow wordsmiths, “words written” and “words to go”.  Since I’ve had trouble overcoming a weight at which I’m currently plateaued, instead of pounds, I’m going to use “minutes exercised” and “minutes to go.”

My husband saw me writing this and suggested “video games to play” and “video games completed.” I am pretty sure this one could snowball quickly to “trophies to earn” and “trophies earned” since I watch him pursue trophies in an effort to “platinum” video games. Though I personally am not sure about a goal jar for this, but to each his own, I guess.

So what will your goals be? What will you use? I would love to see what others make.

Update: Found the original source of my goal jars. Hot Mess Princess calls them “Motivation Marbles.” I stand by my name though as I used dice, not marbles.

 

The Waste Knot

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When I was taught to cross-stitch, my teacher told me never to use any knots even when starting a new piece. Knots were the cardinal sin of embroidery. Knots created bumps and funky pulls in the fabric, and no matter what they were disallowed in needlework (this excludes the technique of the French knot, but that’s not the topic today).

In the method I learned, I would pull my needle through for the first stitch and hold about a half-inch of floss in my fingers. Then, when I pulled the floss through the back, I would make sure the thread was underneath, or captured by, the new stitch. This caused the thread to secure itself with back-stitching and everything laid flat ~ neat and tidy, just the way it should be. Like so…

But do you know how many times when I was learning I would lose that first stitch because nothing but my fingers and the unsecured floss was holding the stitching in place? How many times I have lost my stitch as a skilled stitcher? About a million. And when you lose your initial stitch because “there are no knots in cross-stitch,” you can get a little frustrated.

The waste knot technique doesn’t leave a knot in the end design though. It is only in place long enough to secure the thread in its proper place (buried underneath the back stitching); then it is cut away and discarded. I don’t end up pulling out stitches because I missed catching the thread on the backside or the floss slid through my fingers. The end result is I cut the knot off, it looks the same as if I hadn’t used a knot, and I save two-five minutes with every stitched line. Bonus!

And for those who want to learn to use the waste knot, a little tutorial.

There is a variation of the waste knot called the away knot that you can use if you don’t want to cut near your stitches. In this method you still count away from where you want to start, but put the knot a line or two away (up or down) from where the stitching will be. I don’t use it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else.

Make It Yours: Memory Scarf

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If you sew for any amount of time, you find yourself with scraps. Lots and lots of scraps. You could throw them away, but what’s the fun of that? Besides, it isn’t very earth friendly.

I actually hope for scraps. It is great to see where I have been in my sewing. I relive the projects I have worked on – the ease or difficulty it was to sew with the fabric and such things. I used to keep them in a drawer and look through them every so often in the guise of organizing them. Now, I actually have an idea for true organization of my scraps, and now I can display it! That’s where the Memory Scarf comes in.

Supplies:

  • Scraps, lots of scraps
  • Scissors, rotary cutter, or pinking shears
  • Cardboard square/rectangle measured to a dimension you like. In fact, any shape that you like works. I used 5×5.5 because I had a random rectangle that size.
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Fray check, optional

First, you’ll want to cut your scraps into a more uniform shape. They don’t have to be uniform, but in the end you will want to be able to see all of your scraps. If you want to use fray check, do that after cutting and before sewing.

scraps

Make the majority of your scraps uniform in size and shape. An odd piece placed every so often can create visual interest.

Next, line up your scraps in a way that is aesthetically pleasing to you. You want to layer them one on top of another at intervals of about an inch.

Sew through your scraps. I sew mine on a diagonal. You want to place each so that at least an inch of every fabric shows. However, you can’t go wrong here. Do what pleases you.

Sew through your scraps, allowing at least an inch of each fabric to show.

Sew through your scraps, allowing at least an inch of each fabric to show.

As for finishing, you aren’t really going to finish it as you will always have new scraps to add. Just add to it. I plan to hang mine from the ceiling of my sewing room, eventually.

Now, it’s your turn. What will you use for your scarf? How will you piece it together?