embroidery: owl tote

owl tote, originally uploaded by pinstripe_bindi.

This is something I bought from Sublime Stitching last year and just got around to. It was kind of a palate cleanser after finishing the hurricane tracking map, it only took one afternoon/evening of work last Sunday.

The pattern was stamped on the tote with water-soluble ink, so once you finish the stitching you just throw it in the wash and the pattern washes out, leaving just the floss. I prefer that to the iron-on transfers, which don’t wash out. Sometimes the lines are too thick, or your stitching is a hair off, and you can see the pattern creeping around the edges, and that really bugs the perfectionist in me.

Next project (which I’ve already started) is a design from the House of White Birches Celtic Crosses book. The one I’m doing isn’t actually a cross, it’s a medallion that has one of those twisty bird designs. The backstitching is so complicated that I’m actually doing it piece by piece, instead of doing the whole design at once after I finish the primary stitches, like I usually do.

I’m doing it on 18-count Aida, which I haven’t used in a while. I prefer evenweave, because it’s more flexible and cloth-like. But they only make that in high stitch counts like 28 and 32; usually I use 28 and work over 2 squares for each stitch, which gives me a 14-count design. But I wanted this to be smaller because I’m probably going to use it on a piece of clothing somehow. I thought it would be fun to buy an old blazer from a thrift store and put it on the breast, like a private school crested blazer. But at 7″ x 7″, it might be a little too big for that. I won’t really be able to judge until it’s finished.

(You thought old cameras were the only thing I was obsessive about, didn’t you?)

peacock cardigan

In the Embroidered Effects book Jenny Hart has this stitched on a yellow satin bomber jacket, but satin bomber jackets are a) hard to come by in my size, and b) not really my thing. So I stitched it on a very lightweight yellow cardigan.

It was tricky stitching on this material, because of course cardigans are always very stretchy. I had to be careful to pull each stitch tight enough so it wasn’t slack, but not so tight that the material puckered. I think I did a pretty good job, and it went faster than I’d thought it would.

Mostly I followed Jenny Hart’s color suggestions (and these colors are not true because for some reason the flash gave everything a weird purplish cast), but I wanted something with green in it for the tail feathers (she used dark gray), and I didn’t have any iris sequins so I used dark blue. Oh, and my beaks are orange–hers were dark yellow, but the cardigan was a darker yellow than her bomber jacket and I didn’t think dark yellow would show up.

For the eyes I used those little stick-on jewels with the adhesive base that you melt with a special tool; I’ve had that set for a year and never used it, and they were the right size so I figured hey why not.

The little squiggle underneath the heart is… I forget what you call that stitch; it’s not cording because that’s when the base is tacked down with the top stitches. It’s basically plain ol’ split stitch like the rest of the design (what can I say, I like the classics), but with a second color woven through it.

black apple throw pillow

Pillow #2: the Black Apple embroidery transfers from Sublime Stitching. I chose somewhat more muted colors than I used for the Julie West pillow.

I think that’s actually supposed to be a fly, but flies are gross so I turned it into a bee.

I wish I had set those trees up a little higher so there wasn’t such a blank space between the girl and the bear, but overall I’m pleased.

Detail! I couldn’t resist throwing a woven spider web onto her apron.

julie west throw pillow

I bought a pair of 14″ x 14″ zippered cotton throw pillow covers a couple weeks back from Sublime Stitching and finished the first one this afternoon. You can get plain pillows in all shapes and sizes at Hobby Lobby, and I easily found a couple that were the right fit.

The embroidery transfers were the set on Sublime Stitching designed by artist Julie West, I used most of the motifs. The sun was actually a flower, but I thought it made a better sun, so I trimmed off the stalk and eyeballed stitching a complete circle. Came out pretty good!

flour sack kitchen towels

Okay, so this is basically the most awesome thing I have ever embroidered. It’s a flour sack kitchen towel using the “Meaty Treats” pattern set from Sublime Stitching. MEAT!

Some close-ups…

And for the other towel (they come in pairs) I used the “I Love Veggies” pattern set.

They had mix & match faces.

The lemon is making a sour face. Heh.

some recent needlework finishes

Normally I really don’t like polo shirts. But I had to get one for casual Fridays at work. Then I passed my probationary period and was given a company polo shirt, making this one extraneous. So logically, I turned it into a sushi shirt. Yup.

The back. This was the “sushi bar” pattern set from Sublime Stitching.

This was a holiday table runner and bread cloth which sadly did not get finished until halfway through January. Oh well. It was a stamped cross stitch design from Bucilla.

I bought a set of 6 cocktail napkins from Sublime Stitching. This is 3 of them…

…and this is the other 3. All these came from the “Chinatown” set from Sublime Stitching, except for the one in the middle which is from the “Chinese acrobats” set.

I have just begun my next project, which is embroidering the “meaty treats” set from Sublime Stitching onto a large flour sack kitchen towel.

“dress up” embroidery pattern from sublime stitching

I’m only making one of my Christmas gifts this year, my grandmother’s. There isn’t a whole hell of a lot a 91-year-old woman wants or needs, but she’s always happy to get something I made. And since she started my obsession with needlecrafts about a quarter century ago, by teaching me the basics of cross stitch one afternoon, it always feels fitting to give my work to her.

These are “cocktail napkins”, 10″ squares of hemstiched light blue cotton. She can use them as napkins; or to put perfume bottles and the like on top of; or even as handkerchiefs, although the fabric may be a little rough for that. It’s okay with me if she does though, I’m not one of those prissy control freak stitchers who thinks everything should be kept immaculate forever and never used. The cross stitched apron I made for myself last spring is already pretty stained, because cooking is Serious Business in my family.

Instead of the usual birds/flowers/butterflies-type design, I thought why not something a little different. This is the “Dress Up” transfer set from Sublime Stitching. (The napkins also came from there.)

This is how they were shipped to me, and I thought it was a pretty presentation for a present. So I kept the piece of cardboard and the white ribbon; and as soon as they were stitched, washed, and ironed I did them back up in a stack and tied the ribbon around them.

kokeshi doll tea towel

I bought this from Sublime Stitching last week, and it only took a couple of hours. It came with the design drawn on in that blue water-soluble ink that washes out the first time you wash the towel. I used split stitch, again. I guess a lot of modern day stitchers are kind of snobby about split stitch? Whatever, I like it. I think it looks cleaner and less “bumpy” than back or stem stitch.

This was simple and fun, and had personal meaning for me because I actually have a set of kokeshi dolls that are in storage, and I miss them. (I bought them at Daiso, which I also miss. Horrendously.)

Apparently Sublime Stitching puts out new products like, weekly. This may be a problem for me–although almost all of them are less than $10. This morning I bought the new Epic Alphabet transfers. I’m going to make some monogrammed shirts — a couple Ss and a couple Gs — but I also might embroider some totally random word on like a tote or camera bag. Any suggestions? (Jenny Hart asked the same question when she was getting ready to unveil the alphabet; although she went with “merci”, one of the runners-up made me LOL IRL: “tacotastic”.)

mah jong embroidery transfers from sublime stitching

This is one of the transfers from the Embroidered Effects book. I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out, because the shirt is kind of stretchy, which might have led to slack stitches. But I think it actually worked in my favor, because cotton embroidery floss always shrinks a tetch.

A fun thing about this design is Jenny Hart re-arranged the lazy daisy stitch to create the lazy lotus.

I bought the kokeshi tea towel for my next project, I should get it this week. I also really want to try embroidering a lampshade, there’s a design in the book that I think would make a great one. And I have a great idea for sushi bar transfers: a cardigan. I’m percolating!

dia de los muertos embroidery transfers from sublime stitching

Dear Mexico:

Sorry about appropriating your culture. But it’s really kind of your fault for being so awesome.


This is the Dia de los Muertos transfer from Sublime Stitching. I have this old linen dress that I bought second-hand for like $5 and only wear on the weekends anyway, so I figured it would be no big loss if I totally screwed it up, but I’m very happy with how it came out. It’s hard to tell in the photo, probably because the flash washed it out somewhat, but the white floss for the skulls actually stands out quite nicely from the color of the dress. I took this photo literally seconds after finishing, so there are still wrinkles and marks from the hoop and stuff. I’ll clean it later.

I used 4 strands of DMC embroidery floss. I chose bright colors (using my prayer card of La Virgen de Guadalupe as a model for her colors) and predominantly used the split stitch — it seemed to fit the simple lines of the design. The exceptions are the bits of satin stitch on the sugar skulls, the red French knots around the pink spirals, and the “roses” on Mary’s cloak, which are actually whipped spider webs, a favorite stitch of mine that I wish I had more occasion to use. Oh, and I used gold seed beads to embellish the “aura” around Mary. I would have preferred French knots, and I did try that, but metallic thread is very stiff and rough; it tends to get bound up and tangled when the tail is only halfway through the knot.

My only complaint is that the lines of the transfer are a hair thicker than they need to be and in a few spots bleed around the edges of the stitching. This probably could have been avoided by using more strands of floss, but I don’t really like working with more than four — I find it starts getting too bulky-looking and hard to work with. Still, it’s only noticeable close up, and for what’s essentially a play dress, I can live with it. (I recently bought the Embroidered Effects book from the same company, and am happy to report that the transfers in that one have much thinner lines.)