Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Travel Chart Stand

One thing leads to another, so of course my new tote bag needed a really cool chart holder. I mean, there I am, at a workshop or traveling. I open my tote bag and take out my project, but I still have to struggle with my chart. I saw a plastic project case on line that wasn't quite what I wanted. Then fortune struck: I went to Target! I found a plastic portfolio and realized that I could customize it for my very own project case. I bought a metal magnetic chart board, Velcro squares, and some self-stick magnets. I put the stiff Velcro on the back of the board and the soft Velcro on both the inside and outside of the front cover. I stick the board on the inside of the case for travel, but I can also use it like that by just propping it open on a table - like an airplane tray table. I can put the board on the outside front of the portfolio and then stand it up to hold it in place or prop it open with a stick like I did in the photo. I stuck the strip magnets along the inside to hold threaded needles. One more powerful magnet at the bottom secures my scissors. I'll probably have to tweak this a bit after I've "field-tested" it.

Green Tote Bag

Some weeks ago, I ran across the blog Hooked on Needles with a wonderful tote bag tutorial. It looked like it would be really great for stitching workshops or traveling. I hadn't sewn anything up in quite some time but decided to give it a try. The tutorial made it really easy.

Look! I made it have a little pocket on the outside just right for a boarding pass, cause I always seem to lose it in my purse and panic at the gate. It has a zippered extension that will protect larger projects on up to 16x18 inch stretcher bars with room for threads and accessories.

Inside, I have two pockets on one side and three on the other. Yes, that is a big floss bobbin box in one big pocket and Mag Eyes in the other. This bag will hold my stitching supplies, my battery-powered Ott light, and a good-sized project.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Going in the Water

Last night, I put the last stitches into a stocking for my future son-in-law. It's called Bad Landing, the design is by Sherrie Stept-Aweau from artwork by Rebecca Wood, published in A Cross-Stitch Christmas/Season of Joy. I worked it on 14-count white aida (design measures 9 1/2 x 17 inches) and every stupid square is stitched. Every one! It took me, an amazingly slow stitcher, 4 months to stitch. But once I get it sewn up Jonathan will have his very own handmade stocking. I'm washing it today and should iron it on Thursday or Friday.

I'll be working on White Queen (from the EGA) next as I've got a due date on that. I also promised to make a unity candle wrap for my daughter's wedding and if I wait too late it will be a nightmare! But my heart is yearning for And They Sinned.

I have And They Sinned all kitted up. I'm going to put it on scroll rods since the design is about four feet long when it's completed. Here's the fabric I choose with the threads spread out over it. I chose a gorgeous fabric from R & R (purchased from Stitcher's Paradise in Las Vegas) that looks like it's been sitting in some one's attic for several years. Of course, it can't be washed (I REALLY like this fabric so chose it anyway) so I'll have to be extra careful. I've been checking on how to make scroll rod covers to protect my piece. I'll make them up and show you how they work.

1Corinthians 13 is framed

Here is the finished piece. I had it framed by Bob at Needles and Niceties in Upland, California. He really does a great job. I wrapped it up and gave it to my husband for Christmas.

The color ran! Oh no oh no oh no!

Here is my piece after soaking overnight. It's easy to think that you've just destroyed your piece. Don't panic. This is normal. Your threads were dyed then rinsed, dried, and cut and tagged for sale. A little extra dye remained on your floss. All that color in the water is this excess dye. Just change the water and let it soak more. After soaking a total of two nights (more if it's really dirty, but why weren't you more careful?!) you drain and rinse the piece. Rinse in cool water. Rinse again. Rinse again. When the rinse water doesn't have any suds and looks like you can drink it, rinse it one more time. Now you'll dry and iron the piece.

DON'T WRING OR TWIST THE FABRIC. Lay it on a clean towel. As you can see, my dog Fitzwilliam is carefully supervising this step just in case food suddenly appears on the towel. Then roll the towel and piece like a jelly roll, put it on the floor, and step on it. All over it. Don't forget the ends. That presses out all the excess water. Now you'll iron it dry.

Now, it you've attached stuff to your piece that will melt, you'll need to block the stitching without ironing it. You'll have to look for info on how to do that elsewhere. If nothing will melt, than you can iron it dry. Yes, small glass beads are okay in my experience, though be careful as some of them have coloring added that won't survive the washing step. If you want, you can always add those extras and things that interfere with ironing (ie. big buttons) later.

I have a small ironing board I use only for my stitching. I put a fresh clean towel over it and lay my piece face down on the towel. I heat up my iron to the cotton/linen setting (again, use your good sense for your piece).
Then I press it, one section at a time, until it feels dry to the touch. I've had people recommend that a press cloth be used to protect the piece (one lady uses a plain paper towel). Don't iron it bone dry as you don't want to burn it. Then, when the entire piece is pressed dry, I turn it over and let it sit on the board overnight to let it dry completely.

That's it! Now it's ready to be used in some way.

But it's dirty!

All needlework gets soiled while you stitch on it. The fabric picks up some soiling during the manufacturing process. It gets a little dirty just sitting in the store, even if carefully handled. Then you add the worst part - YOU TOUCH IT WHEN YOU STITCH! The oils from your hands transfer to the threads you use and the fabric, causing light soiling. You can avoid this by washing your hands before stitching and not allowing food anywhere near your project, but it will still get dirty. If you're working on materials that can't be washed, then you must be extra vigilant. However, I try to chose materials that can be washed. So, how do you wash needlework?

Wash it with a nice horse shampoo!

Yup, you read it right. Here's my gallon jug of Orvus. This is a pure quality soap. It's used for washing delicate items (which evidently includes horses). You can buy it as a fabric wash or quilt wash in a smaller container, but if you buy it at the feed store in a big jug like this, it's a lot cheaper. I use a dishpan that is only for needlework, since I know what other people can do with my stuff and I don't want my stitching contaminated.

I put about 1 teaspoon of Orvus in the pan and fill with cool water, then put in the needlework and let it soak for a few days. Yes, that is indeed d-a-y-s.

A Finish!

I actually completed this in November. It's 1 Corinthians 13 by My Big Toe Designs and was a blast to stitch. I picked up the materials from Nordic Needle during a retreat there a few years ago and worked on this on and off for about two years. Now, every project (and needlework is no exception) has three parts to it: Preparation, Completion, and Finishing. Preparation is gathering the materials and planning out how you're going to begin the project, such as starting in the middle vs. in a corner, any color changes from the charted design, over 1 or 2 threads, etc. Completion is actually stitching the project. Finishing is getting the project into its final form, such as framing it or making it into a pillow or something else. It's interesting to me how many stitchers favor one step over the others, such as the folks with 20+ works in progress (WIP) because they LOVE starting a new piece, or the people who won't do any prep work but have their LNS pull the threads, mount the project on a frame, and even select a bag to store it all in (my guess is they are favorite customers). So many stitchers, however, seem to struggle most with the stage of finishing. So many of us have lots of stitched projects sitting in a box or drawer and completely unusable! So, here I am documenting the finishing stage of this piece.

Here it is, fresh and wrinkly from my hands.