Today’s discussion is primarily a dialog between Emily and I with Theresia piping up at the end. If you haven’t visited with Emily yet, do stop by The Handmade Experiment. Emily has some terrific tutorials and her layout makes me want to redesign my blog. Theresia from the UK makes cute critters. You can visit with her at Minori Design.
Emily: Our book this time is Alicia Paulson’s Stitched In Time. This was one of my suggested books because I already had it on my bookshelf and had been meaning to find some time to do a project from it. Alicia is a fellow Portland crafter (Yay!) and actually lives in my neighborhood which was one of the main reasons I purchased the book.
Simone: This is a lovely book with a wonderful appendix. Unlike other sewing books, this one delves right into projects (30 of them). The focus of this book is to help you create “memory keeping projects” with which you can surround yourself and your loved ones. The projects are divided into three types: For the Little Ones, For Every Day, and For Special Occasions. Paulson uses a lot of photography in her work. Some of her projects are brilliant like the New Home Place mats; some of them are not really up my alley; the Friend Chandelier would keep me up at night. The photographs depicting the projects have been carefully styled and almost motivate me to clean up my house. (Hmm, watch another episode of Bones on Hulu, or mop the kitchen floor. What a choice.) The projects leave lots of room for further exploration and creativity.
Emily: To be honest, I’m not sure I would have bought the book if it hadn’t been written by a fellow Portlander. My first flip through I was excited by the photo of a small child’s blouse and another photo of a child’s vintage looking dress. Unfortunately they were for display only. Disappointed, I started a more careful peruse to see what project I wanted to do.
Using general sewing techniques, hand-sewing, transferring photos to fabric, freezer stencils, embroidery, and appliqué, Stitched In Time is full of projects to help preserve memories, make keepsakes, and family heirlooms. I liked several of the projects – the memory game, laundry bag, kid’s drawing softie, and sleepover pillowcase in particular. Other projects, like the recipe card apron, the friend chandelier, farm girl photo pillow, and farm boy picture frame, I had no interest in pursuing.
Simone: I am very impressed with the appendix. It reveals a secret recipe for removing stains out of vintage fabrics, provides excellent step-by-step instructions on mitering corners, and tells you how to make a knotless start with your sewing thread and how to bury it afterwords.
Emily: Once my daughter saw the front cover I was committed to making one of the nutcracker dolls. I thought it would make a great gift for Q’s first birthday coming up on the sixth. I slowly gathered all my supplies and finally started the doll on Wednesday. I knew I was going to be cutting it close with my vacation. I was gone from Friday until Monday and Hubs said NO CRAFTING ALLOWED. That was a tough deal, but really relaxing so no real complaints.
I got the face made, the body sewn to the head, the arms sewn to the hands, and the legs sewn before I left on Friday. On Monday night I stuffed all the pieces. I used a fondue skewer for stuffing the narrow arms and legs which worked really well. This morning I sewed up the hands and feet, attached the arms and legs to the body and started in on the hair. Then all progress came to a screeching halt. Uh Oh. That doesn’t seem right. Let’s take a closer look at those instructions.
Starting with the list of materials, instead of just telling you how much fabric you need in all, Alicia tells you what cuts you need. Now most people I’m sure can figure out from that how much fabric to buy, but not me. I ended up with WAY too much skin-colored fabric. Luckily the other fabrics I used were just from my stash. Then with the embroidery, (something I’ve never really done before with any instruction), I didn’t realize until the I was almost done that she didn’t want me to use the entire thread, but just sections of it. Probably another common knowledge step, but one I wasn’t familiar with so my doll will be called Angelina Jolie with her puffed up pout.
My next roadblock was the running stitch on the hands and feet. I’d never done this before and didn’t really figure out how to do it until I’d already done the hands and had moved on to the feet. I’m okay with that, though more pictures from her of the actual process would have been REALLY appreciated. I figured out the whip stitch after only two tries and thought for sure I was going to make the deadline until that hair! I know my wool isn’t worsted, so maybe that’s the problem? I’m pretty sure I have the right needle, but it is making HUGE holes in the top of the doll’s head and the stuffing is beginning to poke through. Not good! I also have no idea how exactly I’m supposed to be sewing the hair on. I took a wild guess and chose to do the no-knot technique described in the back of the book. Perhaps that is part of my problem? Angelina and I need help people!!
I’m hoping to get this project done by Q’s birthday, but for now my Stitched In Time project is not stitched in time. Whoops! And looking ahead to the last instruction, anyone have a clue what she’s talking about when she says to sew the skirt fabric into a loop? Huh? I don’t know, but wish me luck!
Simone: Okay, so I copped out and picked a much, much easier project. I made the Monogrammed Stocking using a felted wool sweater my mother had made and some flannel pajamas my husband had given me for Christmas many moons ago. (“Mommy, why are you making a Christmas stocking in July?”)
I used the instructions as an “inspiration,” in other words, I didn’t exactly follow them. Because the wool felt was so heavy, I didn’t use any stabilizer. Instead of the felt patch, I cut off the pocket from the pajamas and attached them as a pocket, not as a patch. The pocket prominently featured the designer’s initials, so I covered them up with a felted flower. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whose monogram to feature on the stocking, so this embellishment was an easy way out. The other modification is the way I attached the lining. I cut the lining about an inch longer than the stocking, and sewed it to the top the way you would sew lining to a bag (right sides facing with the lining on the outside). And yes, as always, I forgot to leave an opening to turn out the stocking, had to rip open a few inches and then birthed the stocking so to speak. The extra fabric allowed me to fold a bit of the lining over the top of the stocking and to top stitch it down. Did I forget to attach the loop when I sewed the lining to the stocking? You bet. More ripping, but it finally came together in just a few hours.
I think next time I would modify the pattern to make it more of a boot shape. The elven foot shape is very elegant, but boot translates into more loot, yay! Also, did anyone notice the garland in the stocking picture? I love that thing. That’ll be a November-get-into-the-season project for my household.
Theresia: I got the Alicia Paulson book for Christmas and couldn’t resist to make this cute hand stitched horse! Stabbed my little fingers a number of times but worth it, I love this horse and it will be a present for someone special! I used leftover felt that I have lying around in my sewing room! For the mane I used 100% wool fabric, I don’t like acrylic stuff, so yes that is the only expensive thing that I have used making this lovely horse! Don’t forget to use a thimble please, ) Oh and here is a link to the picture of the horse.