Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Project Safe

I've been working on Cleopatra's Cat. It will have to be done by early January and between that and some other stitching I have to get working on it.
This is after two days of stitching. She is outlined in smryna stars and the counting is more difficult than I'd anticipated with some of the stars moving up by only one thread, some by two threads, and some are 1/2 or even 3/4 stars. Once I've got all of them done and know that the outline is correct I can begin to stitch the filling of each section. I am happy that we started up at the top because I like seeing it already looks like a cat.

As a big project, I know that this piece will float around the house at times so I decided to make a project safe for it. A project safe is like a book cover you make that protects your mounted canvas from getting dirty or stretched. Not long after I joined the American Needlepoint Guild I received their September 2010 magazine "Needle Pointers" that had a great article about building an inexpensive project safe from foam core. This idea is from Judy Rager. She presented this at the Indian Wells seminar in 2008 and, since I hadn't had a chance to learn about it there, I was very happy to find the instructions.

I started with foam core, something to cut it with like an exacto knife or box cutter, a long ruler or t-square, and duct tape. Here are my supplies:
I bought the foam core on sale but a friend gets it at a dollar store.

First cut out the front and back covers the same size as your stretcher bars, cut out 1-inch strips to make the "well" and a piece the length and depth of your mounted piece + 2 layers of foam core for the spine. Glue the strips onto one of the cover pieces to hold them in place. Trim 2 inches off the top and bottom well pieces so they fit between the side strips.

Wrap the edges of the other cover piece with your duct tape to keep the box from crumbling. I used red tape. There is a lot of pretty duct tape that you can use for fun or you can use standard silver tape. It's okay if your tape is wrinkled or not quite straight.

Then tape the edges of the first cover. Put tape over the outer edges and then put another strip over the edges of the well. Here I have the second piece on the left and have only the first out piece on the top. Trim the tape in the well corners to help it lay flatter.

Now cover your spine piece. Center it on a strip of duct tape about 2 inches longer that the spine and wrap the edges around the ends. Trim the sides if you'd like. Then put your safe together. Lay down the "well" piece well side up. Lay your project stitching side down so the well space will protect your stitches and beads from getting smashed. Then put the flat cover on top. Push the spine up next to the stack tape side in. Tape the stack together by running tape down the length of the front cover with the tape half on the cover and half on the spine. Then flip the stack over and run tape down the length of the back cover with the tape half on the cover and half on the spine. Remove your project, open the safe and lay it down open and flat with the outside on top. Run another length of tape about 2 inches longer than the spine down the length of the spine and wrap the extra over the top and bottom.
It sound more complicated that it is. You're just making a cover like a notebook cover for your piece. Add a latch by laying down a few inches of tape on the front edge. Tear off a piece of tape about 10 inches long and stick about 3 inches of it on the back at the same height as the piece on the front and wrap it around to stick to the tape piece on the front. Fold the longer end over on itself to make a tab. Open up the latch, put another 3 inch piece of tape on the inside of the latch sticky side to sticky side so the latch won't get adhesive on your piece.

See the latch piece pulled out on the table? The light gray is the sticky part of the tape. The red by my stretcher bars is the extra sticky-to-sticky piece. I have extra tape on my cover because I got the angle wrong to I just stuck another piece in a better spot. I also made my safe about 3/8 inch too small as I didn't allow for my expanded Evertite stretcher bars. Who cares?! It still works fine. My piece is protected from damage while I'm working on something else.

 I've made other project safes before. They say leaning up together in the back of my closet. I'm not going to show you that because my closet is too messy but I will put them on a chair to show them off.

Here is "Goldie the Mermaid" by Dorothy Lesher. Her stitches aren't getting smushed or stretched because she's facing the "well" in her safe. I like that tape, too.

 Here are three safes. I wrote the project name on the front so I don't have to open them to see what's inside. Even when they're stacked on top of each other the project inside is protected. I ran out of the pretty tape on the middle one so I finished it up with blue.
Of course you can stand them on end just like they normally are in my closet. Assuming that I EVER get any of these projects completed, I'll just toss my project safe in the trash. A project safe is good for any project on stretcher bars whether it's canvas or an evenweave fabric.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Around the World Side Project

Some weeks ago, I explained here why I was restarting Around the World in 80 Stitches. That meant that I had a partially finished project. At first I thought I'd make the hearts into Christmas ornaments until a friend suggested an alternative I hinted at here.


I am so pleased with my box! After Denise suggested that the piece would be a great box top, I went to Hobby Lobby and found this wooden box. At a Baldy View EGA meeting, Laurie M. showed us how to use paint and Briwax to turn an inexpensive wooden box into something pretty. The mirror was already in the box. I painted the box light brown and then painted the outside with two coats of ivory. I sanded down the paint to let some of the brown show through, put two coats of dark brown Briwax on the outside and clear wax on the inside, and then lined the interior boxes with pretty paper and felt.

The box in process

I was happy that I could turn what I thought would be a loss into a really pretty gain. The pictures don't show how nice the finish looks. Thank you Laurie for teaching me how to do this. That skill let me turn a - get this - $7 BOX into something this pretty. Yup, seven whopping big ones after my 40% Hobby Lobby coupon. Another few dollars for the paint, some Warm&White and sandpaper while everything else came out of my stash.. I did buy the Briwax but I'd planned on getting that for something else anyway and wanted it for my stash too.

Cleopatra's Cat
Several of the local EGA members are doing a group correspondence course by Mary Long. This is a whopper (for me) project that is mounted on 16 inch x 20 inch stretcher bars.

The designer planned the project in blues but I have much more reds that blues in my stash so my cat will be red. It uses a lot of that pretty gold thread as a laid stitch under each section. Basically you lay gold thread across each row then stitch over it so that the gold peek out from between the more matte threads on top. It's a very pretty effect. I'm using the recommended canvas of eggshell and metallic gold too so it will really shimmer. I'm thinking the green for my kitty's eyes.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Another Part Complete

Here is Around the World in 80 Stitches, Part 4. It's smaller than the previous parts and I thought it was nice to have a bit of a "breather." It's so nice to have this all current.

Here is the whole piece so far. I think it has a bit of a garden feel.

This is "Area 2" of Part 4. The blue diamond is Romanian stitch and the butterflies and hearts are variations of Hungarian stitch.

Here's "Area 2" of Part 4. The leaves are Romanian leaf stitch and the yellow flowers are Hungarian stitch. The pink square "flowers" on both parts are a simple ray stitch. I like that! When I think of a flower it gets really complicated in my head, but here are essentially several simple straight stitches that overlap each other and yet  translate into "flower." I find that interesting.

I'm still working on that box project. As soon as I FINALLY have it completed I'll post pictures.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Around the World Part 3

Here is Part 3 of Around the World in 80 Stitches, a 24-part stitch-a-long from Papillon Creations.

Remember I mentioned that I'd done the plaited fly stitch wrong? I'd misread the chart and thought that some of the stitches had longer "legs." That was actually part of the cutwork stitching. Soooooo, once again, I had to restitch it...again as I'd already messed up and restitched once before! I really am having fun with this project despite (or maybe because of) my errors.

I'm having so much fun with it that I decided to buy a special q-snap cover from Christine in Hanna, Indiana. I saw Debbie's at a get-together and really liked them. I think this print complements my project. I picked up two more for more pieces I'm working on. The covers are well made and were delivered super fast. Sure, I could make one myself, but by the time I dug through my fabric, got my machine out, measured, cut the fabric, messed up the cutting, realized that I didn't have any fabric I really liked after all, went to the store for more fabric, stitched it up, looked for my elastic, went back to the store for more elastic, struggled to get it into the cover properly, and finally got it finished, it really is faster (and cheaper) to buy from Christine.

I've been working on a side project and thought I'd give you a hint. I'm having fun with this too and it's going surprisingly fast. I'll share more later.