Journal: August 23

 

“Above me, wind does its best
to blow leaves off
the aspen tree a month too soon.
No use wind. All you succeed
in doing is making music, the noise
of failure growing beautiful.”

― Bill Holm

I read these words the other day and for some reason they came back to me this morning. Maybe it is the crispness in the air – the wind that seems to have shifted as the seasons slowly start to change? Maybe it is my heart that I want so desperately to change – the things in my life that I so desperately want to be different that aren’t. But this quote reminds me that seasons change, leaves fall, but only in their season. The wind can blow and blow all it wants to, but those leaves will hang on until they are ready to fall – till their season.

There is a quote by Edith Schaeffer in response to someone asking her “who is the greatest Christian woman right now?” Her reply was “we don’t know her.” She is the one who is struggling, who sees the emptiness in her soul, who sees how easily the world slinks into her life.
She is the one who feels like a failure.
So what makes her great?
Because it’s in our failure that God’s music plays.

Just like those leaves that hang despite the wind trying to rip them off – it is in our brokenness that the world hears the music of the heavens.

 

I sit in middle of the grove listening to the waves of movement above me.
The sun streams down in beams around my lap.
There is no sound except the rush of the wind rustling through the leaves.
These leaves that sound like fairies running from branch to branch.
I can almost hear them laughing in the soft chirping of the birds that fly.

Despite the wind, no leaves fall – except this one lone leaf.
Slowly I watch it drift down from the heavens as it floats on the air above me.
it lands in my lap – a green tissue shaped heart.
Like a message from above – a voice in the shape of a heart reminding me to be patient.
To bask in the sun – to listen to the fairies dance – and to hear the music of the dancing hearts.

 


Long ago I started blogging and it was a combination of my writing and creating. Then I decided to separate the two and I started another blog called A Constant Pursuit. Recently, in an effort to stop segmenting my life I decided to shut that writing blog down and merge it with this one; because creating with words is no different than creating with threads. My writing life has been pretty vacant lately and when I have written it’s been kept private, but I’m hoping that combining these two loves and two outlets back into one might help me reawaken this voice that has been so silent.

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Embroidery: Bugs in Jars

One of my goals this year was to work on this series of embroideries I titled “Bugs in Jars”. I had this idea of stitching a mix of regular embroidery with stumpwork bugs and adding some vinyl to make it look like they were actually in jars. It was a great experiment and I’ve learned so much.

The last in the trio ended up being more of a terrarium than just a regular mason jar like the first two. I found this old illustration of a terrarium and sketched it up with a few additions and changes.

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The base is a “copper” base with a mix of back stitches and satin stitches. After the base was done, I moved on to the flowers and greenery.

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I started out with satin stitching all the petals and leaves of the plants. Then I added some dimensions with some stumpwork petals and leaves. This was the first time I’ve done stumpwork with something other than a wing – the concept is totally the same but it felt fun to do something different.

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I wasn’t going to add any bugs to this one, but I figured I needed to in order to call this trio a true trio of Bugs in Jars. So I free handed a little white moth and stitched up some wings.

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This is probably one of my favorite shots. I used some hand dyed threads that I had in my stash and couched them down to make it look like moss. I also added in some back stitched greenery to fill up the space underneath all the plants.

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Then it was time to add the vinyl cloche top!

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I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!

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Embroidery: Custom orders

While I am taking somewhat of a hiatus with custom embroidery orders right now, I recently finished up the last of the orders I had from this summer.
Here’s a little peek at them.

A custom birth announcement. The coolest thing about this one is that it is the 3rd I’ve done for this family. I did two last year for a pair of sisters and their family welcomed another baby girl this spring. It was such a gift to be asked to create this third for the trio.

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A 50th anniversary. I had a daughter come to me and ask for a custom 50th anniversary portrait. This one was based on the one I did a couple of years ago for my aunt and uncle’s 60th. I even was able to find a matching metal oval hoop!

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The theme for this one was daisies. So I had fun stitching loads and loads of lazy daisies!

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Here’s a close up of the bride and groom.

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Embroidery Pattern: New release Romans 12:12

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Last year sometime I designed this lovely pattern with Romans 12:12; lovely until I stitched it and honestly I just kept running into snags. I couldn’t get it to look the way I wanted it to. So the pattern sat for a while. This past spring I finally came up with a redesign for it and honestly it took me all summer to finally get it done. I absolutely love how it turned out.

I used the basis of the original pattern, with this lovely font that you fill in for some key words and a simple font for the rest of the text.

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I stitched the black text with wool thread, which gives it a bit more texture. The rest of the text is stitched with three strands of standard DMC cotton floss in various colors.

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Instead of adding embroidered flowers around the edges like I had originally designed (and failed), I decided to go for a hexagon frame. The hexies are roughly 3/4″ hexagons and mine are made from some Heather Ross fabric scraps. For each section I stitched the hexagons and then whipstitched them together. I ended up using my sewing machine to stitch each row down and I’m super happy with the result.

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Right now this is a finished embroidery that you can purchase in the shop, but it’s also an instant PDF download that you can purchase and sew at home. The pattern comes with complete stitching directions, color suggestions and instructions on how to make hexagons. It’s probably more of an advanced beginner pattern for the embroidery and the hexagons…but any adventurous embroiderer could tackle it!

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Sewing for little hands: Build a Softie

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This spring I had the great joy of teaching a few Saturday sewing classes to some great girls and one of my favorite classes was our Build a Softie day. Last Sunday was Sew a Softie day around the world and while I’m a little late to the game I wanted to share this fun activity we did in our class. This is a great designing and sewing activity to fill these last, crazy hot days of summer before school starts up again.

First up, you will need to gather some supplies:
cotton fabric and felt scraps
trim, ribbon, ric rac etc
polyfill stuffing
scissors
chenille #22 needle
thread (I recommend either thin crochet thread or cotton perle embroidery floss size 5)
a needle threader (I highly recommend Loran needle threaders)
buttons for eyes
directions for making your pattern buildasoftie

How to Build a Softie:

Build a Softie Class

Using your Design a Softie sheet, first figure out what shape body you want your softie to have. Using a sheet of printer paper, draw out the shape of the body (make sure to draw it a little bigger than you want it to be. This is called adding a seam allowance – that’s the little bit of fabric that is in the inside where you sewed the two pieces together) Repeat this process for the legs, wings, arms and the rest of the body parts you want to include. Remembering ever time to draw your pattern pieces a little bigger than you want them to be. Cut out your paper pattern.

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Taking your fabric scraps and your paper pattern, cut out the pieces of your softie. Make sure you cut out 2 body parts (a front and a back), two wings, two arms/legs etc. For the ears I recommend using felt because it’s a bit stiffer and the ears will stand up by themselves.

Build a Softie Class
Build a Softie Class

Now decide if you want to add some trim to separate the head from the body. You can use ribbon, ric rac or even a strip of fabric. Pin this down to the front of your softie and take it to your sewing machine. If you know how to sew with a zig zag stitch, go ahead and sew this down with a wide zig zag straight down the middle of your trim piece. Repeat on the back of your softie (if you want).

Next up, decide what sort of face you want for your softie. Add some eyes, a nose or a beak and using a whipstitch or a running stitch sew these onto the front of your softie.

Now you need to sew your legs and arms. Match each leg up with it’s front and back with right sides facing (this means the backside of the fabric is showing). Sew a straight stitch on your sewing machine all the way around the sides – leave the top open. Check to make sure you don’t have any holes and once you’ve sewn all of them, flip them right side out. You might need to use a chopstick or a seam ripper to help you pull out all the edges.

Build a Softie Class

Now take your arms and legs and pin them in place to the right side of the front piece of your softie. They should each be laying inside. Put the back piece on top – with right sides facing – and pin it to the top.

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Sewing really slowly on your machine, sew a seam all around the outside of your softie. Make sure you leave an opening in the side for stuffing. I like to leave my hole on the side between the arm and the leg. Before you flip your softie right sides out, stick your hand in the hole and take out all the pins.

Build a Softie Class

Then flip him right side out and your arms and legs should flip out! Go ahead and start stuffing. And stuff and stuff and stuff!

Build a Softie Class

Sew up the hole with a whipstitch.

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And give your new little friend a big hug!

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Journal: Cultivating a presence

I started this blog as a way to journal, write and share what I was making when my nearly 10 year old daughter was an infant.
I wasn’t writing for comments.
I wasn’t writing because I wanted to link up.
I wasn’t posting because I wanted to get shared all over social media (social media wasn’t even a thing back then).
I just wrote because I needed to and I wanted to.

But then I started selling on Etsy and I started getting hits and the world of blogging exploded. It became a way to frame my day in order to be noticed. And I’ve got a thing with being noticed. That drive to be discovered soon overrode any other drive I had. I realized that I needed to start using my blog platform to help sell the things I was making. And eventually all I was doing was advertising. I upgraded my website, changed my logo a million times and tried to figure out how to use this space less as a journal and a space for me to frame my words and more as a space for me to show off my wares.
The words stopped flowing and as my space here sort of fell apart so did my life.

The last eighteen months has a story that isn’t quite ready to be shared, but these months have totally reframed my life and the idea of presence.

I have spent so much time grieving the past and trying to control the future so much that I have become exhausted with today.

And many of my today’s have worn me down.
But they have worn me down because I’ve been trying to cultivate something that isn’t me. I’ve been neglecting the margins in my life and I’ve been putting aside and ignoring all those things that used to give me space. I’ve jumped from one course to another thinking that it was going to be the thing that would make sense of everything and honestly nothing makes sense right now.

So I am doing the one thing that has always made sense – I’m picking up the scrambled words in my head and trying to lay them down.

To begin with bringing margin into my life, my Etsy shop is changing a little bit for the time being. I’m taking an extended break from any custom embroideries and embroidered shoe orders. It’s a pretty scary move for a lot of reasons, but I feel like it’s the right move. The shop will stay open, but for now it will only have downloadable embroidery patterns and finished hoop art that is ready to ship. I’m also taking a break from teaching sewing classes beyond a couple of adult Saturday classes (one in the Fall and one in the Spring).

I don’t know what this space will look like, but I am hoping to use it as a way to bring my focus back on today and life at hand.

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