As you all know, I’ve been working on a little stitch challenge, the Take a Stitch Tuesday (TAST) from Sharon B, owner of Stitchin’ Fingers and the blog PinTangle.

Week 5‘s challenge was Herringbone Stitch, which was (yet another) new one for me. I’d been intimidated by it for some time — come to find out, needlessly so. Herringbone is surprisingly easy to do!

First attempt!

I found that layering a few herringbones side-by-side in closely-related (but still different!) colors made for a nice effect. The layering made for a physical and aesthetic depth that I like very much, and will probably replicate.

The other thing I found interesting about this stitch is how little thread is wasted. Here’s what I mean — with your basic backstitch, for instance, just about as much thread winds up on the backside of your fabric as on the front! But herringbone takes place almost exclusively on the front side, with only itty-bitty stitches to anchor that thread to the fabric:

Notice the difference between the amount of thread from backstitch (the letters, above) and herringbone (those nice, neat little stitches below)!

Since this post was so late (a full week!), you’ll be getting to see two new Stitch Challenge posts in rapid succession (Week 6’s challenge is already up, so I’ll blog about that in another day or two)!

For now, just look at how my stitch repertoire has grown in the past 5 weeks:

First five weeks...time to move the hoop!

Thanks for following along, and stay tuned for Week 6, coming soon!

-Erin

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It’s week four of the Take a Stitch Tuesday challenge from PinTangle. This week’s stitch was the cretan stitch, which I found to be perfectly suited for some leaf shapes!

My little cretan stitches, layered in three different colors.

Cretan is another stitch that was new to me, though in terms of technique it shares some characteristics with the past couple of weeks’ stitches. Here, I layered stitches in two different yellows and an orange, which filled out the cretan stitch and gave the shape a fullness that is really nice (next time I do project with flowers, I know what I’m working with for the leaves)! I’m also pretty partial to the neat little plaited effect that happens when you work the stitches close together.

Here’s the big picture of all my stitches so far:

Weeks 1 through 4.

And, just for the heck of it, here’s what the back of my stitching looks like so far!

For those stitching nerds out there (like me) who like to see the backs of stitching...

Look out next week for Stitch Challenge, continued!

-Erin

This week’s stitch challenge, from Sharon at Pintangle, was the feather stitch, which is actually a variation of the buttonhole stitch, which you might remember from last week‘s post.

This one was a little tricky for me, as you can see from the dual-layer feather on the left (a little wonky):

This one could use some more practice!

I thought about ripping my stitches out and starting over, but actually, I’ve decided that I like my wonky little stitches — a sign of where they began! As I practice more and more, and consequently get better, then it might actually be sort of fun to go back and look at how awful they began (sort of an “oh, how cute! I thought I knew how to do feather stitch” kind of thing). The feathers on the right are looking a little better.

The first three weeks!

Stay tuned for next week’s challenge!

-Erin

As you read last week, I’ve undertaken a stitch challenge, “Take a Stitch Tuesdays” or TAST, hosted by Sharon at PinTangle. This week’s new stitch was the buttonhole stitch. I’ve used this stitch once or twice, but not extensively, so here’s what I did to practice the technique.

Second week of TAST 2012!

Here, also, are my first two weeks’ stitching together:

Weeks 1 and 2.

Keep checking back every week to see my progress!

Remember the napkins I blogged about a couple of months ago? Well, I finally finished them!

Here they are, all finished up!

They’re for sale on our etsy site, in case you’re interested! 😉 Expect to hear from me again on Wednesday with this week’s stitch challenge!

-Erin

Whenever I give gifts, I usually like to give handmade. Making a gift yourself means that you’ve put thought, time, and effort into the project, and it just makes the item that much more special. I understand that not everyone is crafty, so handmade gifts aren’t always an option (although you can always buy from someone’s etsy store!). Luckily, I’m skilled in a few different crafts, so I can usually whip something up for whomever.

The tutorial that follows was born out of a project I undertook for a dear friend’s Christmas present. I was running a little low on time, so I made these no-sew embellished cloth napkins to give to her.

Quick and cute!

What you’ll need:

4 cloth napkins (Mine were white, but you could always spice it up a bit with colored napkins. I got these at Target.)

1 fat quarter of patterned fabric

1 roll hem tape such as Stitch Witchery

self-healing cutting mat

rotary cutter

ruler

sewing gauge

iron

The rotary blade makes precise cutting easy & quick. It's not essential (scissors will work just fine), but it sure takes a lot of work out of the cutting!

Step 1: Measure and cut. You want to first measure the width of the cloth napkin, so you can do the math to figure out how wide you need to cut the patterned fabric. Add one inch to the width of your napkins, and you have the measurement for your fabric! Then, decide how thick you’d like the strip to end up and add an inch to that as well. Easy peasy!

Here’s how I figured out my measurements: The napkins I used measured approximately 16″ across, so I added an inch to that, and determined that my strips needed to be 17″ wide. Then I decided that I wanted the band of contrasting fabric to end up measuring 2 1/2″, so I added an inch to that for a total of 3 1/2″. I cut my four strips 3 1/2″ tall and 17″ wide.

The perspective is wacky, but I promise all four strips are the same size!

Step 2: Fold and iron down the top and bottom edges. Using your sewing gauge, fold the top edge down 1/2″ and iron. Repeat for the bottom edge.

Use the handy dandy sewing gauge to make sure you're only folding down 1/2".

Now you've got clean edges, and you're ready to attach the contrasting band to the napkins!

Step 3: Attach the band to the napkin. Here’s where the Stitch Witchery comes into play. You first need to decide how high up you want your band to go on the napkins. I chose to place the bottom edge of the contrasting band at 1 1/2″ from the bottom edge of the napkin. *You can make your own judgment call, but it’s important to fold the napkin into quarters when choosing where to place the band.* Once you’ve decided, measure and line up the bottom edge of the contrasting band with the height you chose, making sure to move the ruler to the other side of the napkin so that the band will be straight once affixed to the napkin.

Now take the Stitch Witchery, unroll a bit of the hem tape, hold the end of the tape about 1/2″ in from the left edge of the napkin, and cut it about 1/2″ from the right edge. Slide the hem tape under the top edge of the contrasting band and use the iron to fuse the fabric to the napkin, being careful not to let it slip or iron in any creases. Repeat for the bottom edge of the fabric.

Step 4: Fold under and iron the left and right edges of the fabric and attach the ends. There’s no measurement necessary here. All you need to do is fold under the fabric on each end, aligning the crease with the edge of the napkin, and iron (sometimes you might have to trim off a little excess fabric so that the crease will line up). You can then cut a length of hem tape that corresponds to the height of the contrasting band (just hold it and cut it like before), slip it under the fabric, and iron to fuse.

It's all tidy edges now, and you've fused the contrasting band to the napkin, so YOU'RE DONE my friends!

Step 5: Fold the napkin into quarters, and pat yourself on the back. You’re finished! I like to go through the whole process for each individual napkin, but you could also go step-by-step with all four napkins at once, if that’s your style. This is a great project that you can do while watching TV or listening to tunes. Have fun with it. It’s a stress-free project!

(Optional) Step 6: Use your sewing machine and a cute decorative stitch to thoroughly tack down top and bottom. You can use the zigzag or another decorative stitch to add a little extra flair to your napkins. It’s not necessary to do this because Stitch Witchery will not wash away, but you may want to do it anyway if you’re the nervous or meticulous type.

Voila! Adorable napkins for you or a friend!!

My mom found this Western pearl snap shirt at the thrift shop attached to the crisis center where she works. I bought it for a whopping $2, knowing that it could use some work.

Pretty hideous

The embroidery and applique look like they were done by the previous owner, and everything was coming undone.

Not looking so hot, see?

My first order of business was to remove all of the gross-ness so I could start from scratch. It took a good while (3 episodes of Downton Abbey, as a matter of fact), but I got it all taken off.

Already looking better.

The areas that had been covered by those oh-so-lovely white flower appliques are darker than the rest of the shirt, since over time the shirt faded to almost a charcoal grey rather than a crisp black. If the shirt didn’t have that great white piping detail, I would most definitely have re-dyed the shirt. C’est la vie, I suppose. The next step in this rehab process was to find something to replace (and, hence, cover) the areas that had previously been embellished. I sorted through my collection of Sublime Stitching patterns (my sister and I are licensed stitchers through that great Austin company!) and selected some from the artist series featuring, this time, Ryan Berkley. I chose the lady cat and the fantastic Mr. Fox to go on the shoulders of my soon-to-be-fabulous shirt.

Ms. Kitty, already transferred

Mr. Fox, awaiting transfer

Transferred and ready to stitch!

I transferred the designs using the transfer paper for dark fabrics and stylus that I purchased from Sublime stitching as well. They worked much better than when I’ve used store-bought dressmaker’s transfer paper. I highly recommend buying both if you’re much of a stitcher.

I’ve got a way to go before this shirt is fully rehabbed, but I wanted to let you see some of the preliminary progress. I’ll keep posting as I make more headway!