Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ornaments Past and Present

For the last several years I've made ornaments each Christmas that reflect a new skill I've learned or as a tribute to an artist I admire. I attach these to packages, give them away as favors at holiday parties and as hostess gifts, and keep a few to hang on our own tree.

In 2006 I was interested in needle tatting and made little beaded snowflakes and wreaths

In 2007 I was all about crazy quilting as I worked on a Victorian bed sized quilt similar to an antique one that my mother had from her mother. More on that here.

2008 was the year of wet felting. I was crocheting and wet felting everything in sight. If you would like to try making them, here is the pattern

I guess I must have skipped 2009, but by 2010, I was enamored or an embellishment technique I had learned from an article in Quilting Arts magazine. More on this idea here
And again in 2011, I totally stole this technique for a large size reverse trapunto quilt and used it for ornaments. Here is the blog post about the technique.
Last year a friend introduced me to Natalie Chanin, the awesome designer behind Alabama Chanin. After looking at her gorgeous apparel, how could I not make hand sewn cotton jersey ornaments. Natalie offers finished product, kits, and workshops, so take a look at her website.

This year I was a bit stumped for an idea, and then right around Thanksgiving I was looking at an email from Sew Daily right before going to sleep. The message included this image.
I'm one of those crazy people that problem solves in my sleep. Well of course I woke up in the middle of the night with an understanding of how I could make these.

It couldn't be easier. Use stiff double sided fusible interfacing and bond fabric on both sides of a sheet. Use a rotary circle cutter (or draw circles and cut them out by hand). I made mine about 3 1/2 inches. You will need a total of four circles for each ornament, but it you fuse up larger sheets, you can cut multiples of one fabric. I fused fat quarters (or scraps from other projects that were about that size) and was able to get  up to 16 circles out of each bonding effort. If you have a sewing machine that can handle a really thick stack, then stitch two of the circles together right down the middle (I used a vanishing marker to draw a line in the center of each circle from top to bottom). Now fold both of those circles back on themselves to make two sets of wings. Match up the remaining two circles with the previously sewn pieces and stitch down through all thicknesses. If your machine chokes on that much fabric, these are just as easy to stitch by hand, and a good "in front of the TV" project. Open out the eight wings. If desired you can hand stitch a small bead between each wing to help them stay open. The final step is to take a 7-8 inch piece of embroidery floss and centering it on the bottom of the ornament, bring it up between the wings. Tie it close to the top of the ornament, and again at the ends of the floss to create a hanger. That's it. Easy-peasey!

Friday, December 6, 2013


I wrote the following post in the car on Sunday, but of course didn't get around to posting it until today. Such is life at this time of year...

Another Thanksgiving weekend is coming to a close as we wend our way south to Atlanta. We had a full house at the Gilliland’s (my husband’s family) 17 people spread across the kitchen and dining room tables and two more card tables set up in the living room. 
The groaning table was set on an old door propped atop two vintage singer sewing machine tables – treadles of course. One of the new additions to the family is a delightful teenage girl participating in a Foreign Exchange program from South Korea. After dinner she and Grace spent time cutting coupons to go shopping later. Of course none of us realized until later that we had neglected to explain what a coupon is. We all had a good chuckle over that.

Later in the weekend we had dinner out with many of my husband’s friends from school days. He is so lucky that so many of his close childhood friends have stayed close together in this rural patch of Southern Illinois where he grew up. We see them all often and have been able to keep up with their lives.

Tucked in here and there were trips to Aunt Pat’s basement studio to see what she is working on, and I had a little quilt fashion show with the three quilts I've been working on for Christmas gifts. I even managed to find a few minutes to finish the binding on the last one. Whew! Didn’t know if I would ever get those finished in time and now I have time to spare.  Patterns and pictures coming after the big reveal!

On a sad note we and our dog Lady said our final farewells to Buster, a family dog that has been a joyful playmate for all the years we have been taking her to the Farm. He isn't doing well, and we know he won't be there the next time we visit, but we are glad that we all spent time with him, and he seemed happy despite his infirmities. And it was sweet to see how gentle Lady was with him. This is how we will remember him.
So we head back to Atlanta, and our normal life – or as normal as anyone’s life is in this crazy season between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The next couple of weeks will be crammed full of busy. Food to make, a house to decorate, gifts to make, purchase, and wrap. And I have a neat idea for this year’s holiday ornament. As always, it seems in my head like it will be a snap and quite unique. Tomorrow I’ll head to the studio and give the technique I have in mind a try. I hope you are ready for the controlled chaos to come. Personally I can’t wait!