Thursday, October 31, 2013

Playing with decorative stitches for Halloween

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! As I mentioned on my Facebook page, I’m the delighted owner of a new Janome Horizon 8900 sewing machine, and I’ve been happily mucking about with all of its stitches, features, and capabilities.

Straight stitching may be 99% of my (and many people’s) sewing, but I’m determined to put the hundreds of decorative stitches on this machine to use somehow. I never thought I’d have any use for the high-heeled shoe stitch (no. 264 on the 8900), but when I was sewing out a stitch sampler, it struck me that the shoes looked a bit like witchy boots, so that’s what they became when I worked up the little Halloween appliqué picture yesterday. And the fingers holding the pumpkin? They’re actually petals from partially sewn out flower stitches (no. 210). For a machine with no embroidery function, I’m pretty impressed!

Apparently I’ve had witch legs on the brain; one of my projects for the Fall 2013 issue of Stitch was a doorstop inspired by the wicked witch departed by Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Witch Legs Doorstop

If I’d had the new machine when I made the doorstop, I could have sewn the buckles on by machine with the button-sewing function! I need to sew a button back onto a jacket, so that’s what I’ll be doing tonight between trick-or-treaters ringing the doorbell. So the spookiest thing happening for Halloween round here is that I’m getting excited about a mending job.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bundle or cheat your way to a Paper Shredder quilt

Paper Shredder Quilt pattern originally published in Stitch, 2011

A couple bits of news about one of my most popular quilt patterns, Paper Shredder....

Firstly, Interweave has a great deal going on this month where you can get the Paper Shredder Quilt pattern, a couple more patterns by yours truly, the winter issue of Stitch, plus my home-dec video and webinar, all for only $39.99! Check out my home decor sewing bundle on Sew Daily.

Collage Newspaper Strips Red
Collage Newspaper Strips in Red by Carrie Bloomston of Such Designs for Windham Fabrics, 2013

And if you like the look of Paper Shredder but can’t be bothered to piece it yourself, I recently spotted a fabric print that might as well be a cheater cloth for Paper Shredder. But if you want the look of paper shreds piling up at the bottom of the quilt, you’ll still have to do it yourself—and if you’re looking for a bunch of text fabric to use, my website can help! Shop pages for patterns like Paper Shredder have a “Suggested Fabrics” section that links directly to hand-picked suitable fabrics on (You can refresh the pattern page to see a different mix of fabrics.)

If these Suggested Fabrics listings are helpful to people, I’ll try to add them to more patterns and keep them up to date.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Needle storage for fun and function

English post box needlecase

I was looking for a way to dress up some wood needle cases, and suddenly it struck me—they’re shaped quite a bit like English pillar boxes! A couple coats of paint and a royal cypher later, they truly looked the part. I sent one to the Mother and kept another to hold my own appliqué needles.

Of course, the post-box needle case is just a fun way to tote my most-used needles around. Coincidentally, I’ve also worked out how I want to store packs of hand needles, after much deliberation: an unassuming plastic drawer unit.

hand needle storage drawers

Prior to this little number, I stored needles based on purpose—embroidery needles with my embroidery floss, appliqué needles with my appliqué toolkit, betweens with my hand-quilting threads…. It sounds logical, but I often found myself digging around more than necessary to get at a needle: if I was doing a little embroidery with pearl cotton, I still had to get out all my stranded floss ’cause that’s where the needles were. If I wanted a tapestry needle, had I left them with needlepoint stuff, or were they in with the flosses too? And what about basic sharps and other miscellaneous needle types? I had packs of needles tucked in all kinds of places and never seemed able to find just want I needed, even though I knew I had it somewhere.

hand needle storage drawers

The drawers comfortably contain pretty much all the various forms needle packaging takes—hang cards, envelopes, tubes, folders, you name it. I labeled the drawers so I can still sort the needles by type, but now I have a central location for them all to live while waiting for active duty (at which point they take up residence in a needle book). Finding particular needles is much easier, and I can easily see what I have and what needs replenishing. Many of my organizing ideas don’t last very long in practice, but this is one I’ve been able to stick with.

hand needle storage drawers

How do you store your hand needles?