Friday, February 26, 2016

Running Stitch Daisy Dishtowels

If you are looking for a quick project for the hope chest, you can't beat running stitch embroidery. The running stitch is usually the first stitch learned by a beginning embroiderer because it is so easy to manage and gives a fast finish to the design. You can stitch it using the "poke and stab" method, bringing the needle up and down through the fabric in separate motions, or by gathering two or three stitches at once on the needle in one continuous motion. This second method is most efficient, but may be a little harder to manage for children who are learning to use a needle for the first time.

Simple, coloring book style designs are fun to use with this stitch. This daisy was just a doodle for me. I'm sure that you could also draw a simple daisy-like flower to stitch or find one in a child's coloring book. I drew it out on scratch paper first and then used a transfer pen to trace the design on the flour-sack dish towel. I wanted to use a light colored floss for these towels, but a darker, more contrasting color will actually show up best. There are several tutorials on the Internet to teach you how to make this stitch. Mary Corbet's tutorial at Needle 'n Thread is a good one.

You are really only minutes away from a pretty dishtowel for the hope chest or even your own kitchen drawer. Give it a try!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Peek Inside: The Pink & Brown Kitchen Set

I have this Pink&Brown Kitchen Set finished for the hope chest. I've been working on it for quite awhile now, so I'm glad to finally get it wrapped up. I can't seem to work on just one set until it is finished. I always have a couple of different sets going at once. But, this one is finished now. Hooray!

Items in this kitchen set (with links to the separate posts):

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sew on Saturday: Pink & Brown Floral Apron

I always plan for aprons as part of the kitchen sets that I'm making for the hope chest. But for some reason, I put off making them. I have several cute patterns and I have a hard time choosing which pattern to use. The pattern for this apron is Butterick #5263 and I like it very much. I did not use the full lining the pattern called for. Instead, I just purchased bias tape and attached it as a faced hem to finish all the edges.

I took the opportunity to show Miss Abigail how to sew a nice curve on the pocket. In case you don't know, I will mention it to you. Just make a gathering stitch along the curve and pull it up a little bit. This creates a natural curve and then you can press it before pinning the pocket to be sewn. This is much, much easier than trying to press the curve without the fabric being gathered.

Completing this apron finishes the Pink&Brown kitchen set for the hope chest. I'm off to take pictures and will post the finished set next week. I hope you'll check back.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Midori Style Junk Journal

Over the past several months, I have become a little obsessed with the concept of junk journals. Depending on who you talk to a junk journal is probably one of two things. It is either a journal made from recycled junk mail, scraps of other useful papers, pages ripped from throwaway books or art magazines, a pretty gift bag or any other paper that would otherwise be "junked" or thrown away. These papers are used as background papers and sometimes altered with paint or other art media to make beautiful handmade books that can be used as journals and photo albums.

The term "junk journal" may also refer to a journal, such as a composition notebook or regular journal, that has been put to use as a sort of glue book or smash book to hold the scraps or "junk" memorabilia of our lives. These items might include fuzzy photos, concert tickets, the receipt from your birthday dinner, a pretty feather found on your anniversary. All the stuff in your sock or office drawer that you don't want to throw away but that is not elegant enough for a photo album.

If you search the Internet and particularly Pinterest with the term "junk journal" you'll see wonderful examples of what I'm trying to describe. I am amazed at such beautiful books. So I wanted to try my hand at making a junk journal. When this little cardboard flyer came in my mail, I knew I had the making of a book cover. My "midori style" junk journal is born.

I covered both the inside and the outside of the flyer with patterned paper from the scrap drawer of my paper stash.

By "midori" style I mean the style of binding for the pages. Midori journals use a set of rubber bands around the spine of the cover. Leaflets or booklets are slipped under the rubber bands to hold them, somewhat loosely and often temporarily, inside the cover. I wrapped cotton string several times around my cover to create a similar binding for my leaflet pages.

I again raided my scrap drawer for pretty patterned paper to use as inside leaflet pages. I embellished the outside of the pages with stickers. The stickers were also leftovers and didn't match from page to page. You can see that the pages are tucked under the strings.

I used chalk to color and soften the edges of the inside pages. These are the pages where I will write notes. Again, you can see the simple way the page slips under the string and is held by the fold in the paper.

I made two envelope pages to hold scraps and memorabilia. The flap of the envelope tucked around the string and into the envelope itself. Then I embellished the outside of the envelope.

My journal is held together on the outside with a plain red rubber band. A matching button is tied to it. The band just slips on and off to hold everything closed. That's it! I love Pinterest! Don't you?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Peek Inside: Vintage Ric-Rac Gingham Apron

Kelly was wondering about a how-to on the pretty vintage ric-rac gingham apron shown in Miss Abigail's valentine set. She admired the vintage flair and thought it might be simple enough to make with a little direction. I didn't sew this apron, so I don't have a pattern to share. I thought I could at least take a few close up pictures and explain how I think one could re-create it.

This apron was actually a gift from one of the older ladies in the Stanley Homemaker's Club, of which Abigail and I are members. The Homemaker's Club was officially formed in 1942 as part of the old County Extension club program. We are no longer formally affiliated, but rather meet twice a month for tea and conversation. I love our "show & tell" meetings especially. Abigail was born into the club when most of the ladies were already grandmas and they spoil her flagrantly! Peggy is in her 80's now and this was once her apron, reportedly hand-made by a member of her family. It is probably between 45 to 60 years old. Gingham was especially popular in the 1950's as a domestic fabric. Aprons were often made with gingham and embellished with cross-stitch embroidery and ric-rac.

The half-apron is sewn on a machine, but the bottom hem and the ric-rac are sewn by hand. It is 35-inches wide and 20-inches long, with a deep 3-inch hem. Three rows of medium black ric-rac are offset with two rows of baby black ric-rac. You can see a tutorial of the technique used to apply the ric-rac in this tutorial I wrote about ric-rac pillowcases.

The body of the apron is not gathered to a waistband, but rather has four (.75-inch deep) pleats which narrows the waist to 20 inches. A simple rectangular facing (2.75 x 20-inches) finishes the back and creates a waistband for the apron. The pleats are about 3-inches tall. More ric-rack is applied to the waistband.

The ties measure 2.5 x 27 inches (narrowly hemmed) with the end turned up and tacked into a point. They are attached underneath the facing.

Finally, a pocket, measuring 5.5-inches wide by 5-inches deep is sewn on the right hand side of the apron. It is attached 3-inches down from the bottom of the waistband and 6.25-inches in from the right side hem. Because of the pleats, I'm sure the pocket was attached before the pleats were sewn.

 I agree with Kelly - the apron is darling, and could be re-created with just a little experience with sewing. I'm so pleased that Abigail has this in her hope chest, both to remember Peggy and to dress up a little when she feels like it.

P.S. Please remember that the measurements are finished measurements. One would need to add allowances for seams and hems.

BTW - How do you think ric-rac should be spelled? Rick-rack?

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Thoughtful Thursday: How to Love Your House

Maybe you've heard people say "I love my house!" Did you ever wonder why? Our society places great value on decorating and remodeling and building equity in our home. People spend thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to make a home they can love.

I think what we are really looking for is comfort. Comfort is what we really fall in love with. When we enjoy comfort at home, time to relax in rooms that welcome us and work for us, we come to love the house because we love being at home. Comfort is an individual thing, but it is usually small things that bring home comfort.
  • a pretty edge on a face cloth
  • a favorite chair with a pillow for your back
  • souvenir magnets on the fridge
  • a fuzzy lap throw to snuggle under
  • homemade cookies in a cookie jar
  • a handmade picture frame with a photo of far-away family
  • a pretty set of sheets that feel just right
  • a hand-thrown flower pot your best friend made for you
  • somewhere to stash your keys
  • a favorite soup simmering on the stove
  • a bath towel that is just the right size
This feeling of comfort is the point of the hope chest. When you take a bit of time to prepare ahead those items that you know will bring comfort, you'll fall in love with your house, whatever or wherever it is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Peek Inside: Valentine's Day Kitchen Set

These are all the items we have in Miss Abigail's hope chest to celebrate Valentine's Day. This holiday has been a favorite for Abigail. I always made sugar cut-out cookies and Abigail would help me decorate them. The pretty vintage gingham apron was a gift from one of the club ladies to Abigail. It is a perfect cookie-baking apron. Miss Abigail made the cute stenciled hearts dishtowel a few years ago with a friend. You can read the "how-to" here.

We also crafted hand-made Valentines every year to give to friends and that was the most fun! We collected quite a lot of supplies for this project: stamps and stickers and specialty paper and ribbons and fancy scissors and templates. Once the scrapbooking craze hit the stores some years ago, we were truly in business. This activity has been so much fun and I will miss it intensely. I will pack up some of the tools and supplies in a pretty box for the hope chest, so that Abigail can continue this tradition with her own children. She will also be quite ready to bake the cookies!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sew on Saturday: Valentine Hand Towel

I quickly hand-stitched this holiday towel for the Valentine kitchen set this morning. I like the simple running stitch across the plain bands in the terry cloth. The trims for the heart came out of my scrap basket. While this towel is intended for the hope chest, I think it would be just as pretty as a guest towel in the powder room. Hmmm. A different motif maybe...I think I will make another one...

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Web on Wednesday: Cherries Round-Up

photo courtesy of Nicola Pravato

I saw this darling pattern for crocheted cherries on Pinterest and wanted to share it in time for National Cherry Month. It would be so cute sewn onto a terry hand towel, or in the corner of a flour sack dishtowel, or on a pair of thick hot pads, or sewn onto a place mat and paired with red napkins. This cute motif has potential! Thanks to the very crafty Nicola Pravato and her blog, Next to Nicx for sharing a great pattern.

Cherries are ever so popular as a kitchen motif. I was wondering out loud to my husband why cherries would be celebrated in February. He laughed just a little and reminded me about the birthday of George Washington and the legend of the ill-fated cherry tree. Ah, now it makes sense! Here are several more links for cute projects around the web. Whatever you do, don't leave cherries out of your hope chest.

French-Knots: All Things Stitchy is a wonderful site featuring free vintage patterns for embroidery, quilting and crochet. This pattern is for embroidering a cluster of cherries. The design would be delightful on a flour-sack dishtowel with a pretty fabric border! Don't miss this site.

French-Knots: All Things Stitchy

Wouldn't this look cute as the cover of a recipe booklet for the hope chest? There are so many yummy recipes featuring cherries and I think it would be fun to make a collection for the hope chest. LeAnne Pugliese is a talented crafter who specializes in stamping and beautiful handmade cards. She has many more ideas at her blog Wee Inklings

Here is a pattern for a charming crocheted cherry pie pot holder by Miss Abigail really doesn't need many more pot holders in the hope chest, but this would still make a lovely gift, especially at a bridal shower, accompanied by my favorite recipe for cherry pie!

A blog called Arte & Ricamo offers this simple cherries cross stitch pattern, along with several other links for free patterns of cross stitch cherries. I could make two or three as decorative jar lid covers and put them with Abigail's canning tools in the hope chest. They would look just as nice on my own jars in the pantry.

Whatever else I might make with the cherry motif will certainly go well with this pretty oven mitt, already in the hope chest. I crocheted the fancy white open fan edging and attached it to the cuff with hand stitching.

I had so much fun surfing the web (and Pinterest) for fun cherry ideas for the hope chest. I started a new board called "Cherries" on Pinterest to collect them all. These five fun ideas could keep me busy for a while though. I do love cherries, don't you?
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