No, the title is not a new mix of Doberman Pinscher/Poodle/Labrador (Poopinschoodle?)  I am brainstorming some 1-hour textile projects for adults, and had this idea today while doodling in between uninspired ideas. Doodles! Embroidery can be an entry-level craft after learning a simple straight and satin stitch, and no pattern is needed.


Freehand squiggles

I like the surprises that come from letting your mind wander through a pencil on a notepad.  It seems like it’s been too long since I’ve been bored– having a smartphone is a crutch in some ways.  There’s always something I can think to do, so I have to force myself to daydream*.  Even when I’m on the phone with my parents, I’m probably stitching something or preparing food.  Busy hands!

For this project, just doodle. Take some paper (not too big) and a black marker and doodle. Make it as simple or as complicated as you want.  Do you still have the scrap of paper with your girlfriend’s phone number on it, from the first time you asked her for it? Maybe a to-do list that got done on a day you thought nothing would go right?  Just jot something down real fast!

Materials needed:

  • muslin or other lightweight fabric
  • paper
  • black market
  • embroidery hoop
  • embroidery floss or sewing thread
  • needle
  • fabric marker
  • scissors

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Weird Embroidery

Love odd embroidery?  Then you’ll love my friend Dolly’s stuff.  She is in a contest right now, and if you would like to vote, you can vote here.  There is a Flickr page with the contestants in the New Year, New/Old Mixed Media with Stitches category.

“Do Your Chores” by funkembroidery

Here are a few others she’s done in the past:

Tammy Faye Baker by funkembroidery

Embroidered Dune book jacket by funkembroidery

Vote for Do Your Chores!

A Stitch a Week: Casalguidi

Into the fray!  My fascination with the art of embroidery is such that I’ve decided to try a new stitch every week, and document it here.  I’m going off of Sharon B’s Stitch Dictionary for Embroidery, which rates each stitch’s difficult level.  I picked a random stitch, the Casalguidi, and found it listed as three scissors! (That’s hard.)  In my typical unprepared but enthusiastic fashion, I decided to try it last night while we watched Deep Space Nine.

From Sharon B's

The Casalguidi stitch is actually a number of different stitches that form a raised tube-like structure.  I think the example pictured above looks like snakeskin.  It’s a mix of couching, satin stitch and stem stitch that looks ab-fab once it’s done.  I used four colors of green, which came out stripey.  It looks like a variegated thread would look a lot better.  Mine ended up looking like a caterpillar, so I gave it some spikeys with the Turkey stitch (also known as a Ghiordes Knot).

The Casalguidi is the horizontal stitch along the tube, and the yellow fuzzies are Turkey stitches.

I went a bit crazy with the Turkey stitches and gave my 'pillar a fuzzy face, too.

I was inspired to learn couching after I saw a tutorial at Hands Occupied for an adorable Kermit/Piggy embroidery/applique.

This was supposed to be a "J", which then almost became my husband's name. I got bored, so now it looks like the start of, "FUUUUUUUUU". To the right is a little sample of stem stitch.

A little patch of Turkey stitches cut and fluffed up to look like grass.

You can check Flickr for their few Casalguidi pics.

Gorgeous Casalguidi from Flickr user Fiberdabbler

What We’re Making Today: Embroidery

My new job requires me to spend hours of one-on-one time with a child doing crafts.  It is, for me, the best thing ever.  I can’t write too much about it, but I will put up an occasional post about cool things we’ve done.  Today was a good day for embroidery.

I have no child experience– don’t got ’em, haven’t hung with them.  I was a kid once, and that’s about all I have to go on.  But I think I’m doing ok, and together we’re doing all sorts of different activities.  She is learning how to needle felt, do various papercrafts, puppets, paper mache and embroidery.  Every day, I try to introduce a new skill.  Maybe I’m imagining things, but I think I already notice an improvement in her ability to handle/manipulate small pieces when crafting.  My sister used to tell me I was weird around kids, and I think I know what– I approach them as a zoologist approaches an unknown species.  I’m perfectly genial, but always making sure I don’t make a wrong step (and sometimes I say/do something that is probably completely weird).

So, embroidery.  Every day, I realize that after 29 years, I take my skills for granted.  Everything I do now, I had to build up.  I had to make tons of mistakes and form good habits, break bad ones.  Today, at 29, I get frustrated when ripping stitches from a messed up hem, when my bobbin runs out around a tough corner or when I can’t find my favorite Sharpie.  So, of course a small child doing embroidery for the first time might actually HATE it.  That was early on, and I was bummed that she seemed so disgusted by the repetitive act of stitching and teasing out knots.  So, after learning about Rule #1 (patience) I figured out Rule #2: put it down, try it again tomorrow.
We tried it today with a piece of muslin that I pre-decorated with her name and a few easy shapes.  What also helps is telling a kid what activity they will do, not hem and haw and give them lots of choices.  Also, if you’ve got more than one trick up your sleeve, well, they can’t see up your sleeve.  Give them what they need, and don’t tell them anything else.  I’m not trying to be tricky, but if I seriously told her everything I could possibly come up with, little brains might explode.  I showed her all the colors of embroidery floss I brought, showed her how to use a disc of beeswax to prevent tangles (the word “bees” got her attention).  She got started, and after about an hour she had it finished.  I only helped a bit with de-tangling.

I wish I could post the whole picture.  I took these because I’ve got her little embroidery at my house to frame it.  I got a frame and sparkly paper for the mat so she can give it to her mom for Christmas.  It feels nice that one day when she’s older, she might look at that little frame and remember when she learned how to draw with a needle and thread.   It was a good day to be at work on my birthday.

Feeling Stitchy “Covered in Stitches” Contest

A good friend of mine has an entry in the Covered in Stitches book cover embroidery contest over at Feeling Stitchy.  Of course, I’m gonna tell you to go vote for her AMAZING Dune embroidery (she for real dyed part of it with SPICES) but there’s a lot of talent over there.  Go vote!

Cheap pillow make-over

Karlstad Blad cushion from Ikea

When it comes to patterns, the largest thing I can pick out is wrapping paper.  If I have to cover anything larger (or more permanent) than a wrapped box, I freak out.  I have to take a friend with me when picking out fabric for clothing and get multiple opinions on even a solid-colored sofa.  I enlisted my mom at consumer disneyland (Ikea) to help me with pillows.  It was really funny to hear her say, “You’re being too safe!” in response to my reluctance.  We settled on this pattern, in the hopes that the dark lines could serve as a color-by-number design.  She suggested I focus on putting a little color on the round, seed-like objects (hard to see in this picture).

Aforementioned seed-like objects

The fabric has a pile to it, so painting it was out of the picture.  I took it out of its case and attached an embroidery hoop around the seed part of the fabric.  Using an embroidery needle and orange floss, I did a simple satin stitch within the lines to add some accents onto this monotone pillow.

The great thing about embroidery is that I could easily take this out if I started to hate it.  The pile of the fabric would probably cover up any visible holes, also.   To add just a hint of color, you could also do a running stitch, while would take much less time.

For those with an Ikea nearby, did you know they also sell fabric by the yard?  I had no idea until someone pointed it out (I thought it was more curtains, another thing I can’t pick out by myself).  I’m on craft-purchasing lock-down right now, so I had steer clear.  Cute stuff, though.