Tutorial: Thank You Teacher Gift

It’s hard to believe it, but the end of the school year is quickly advancing and it’s time to start thinking about thank you gifts for teachers. I came up with this quick little project that is a great beginner embroidery project. It uses a little bit of felt and embroidery floss to mimic a old fashioned slate board. The perfect little gift to tuck into a little basket for your teacher.

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First up, supplies. Here’s what you need:

A 6×8 piece of brown felt (wool blend felt is your best option if available)
a smaller scrap of black felt
white embroidery floss, divisible into 2 strands for stitching
black embroidery floss, divisible into 2 strands for stitching
an embroidery needle
wonderclips or pins
sulky solvy to print your pattern on

First up, print your pattern pieces.
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And cut out your brown and black felt pieces accordingly.

Then, print your embroidery pattern onto the sulky solvy.
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Cut out the center rectangle of your sulky solvy pattern and peel of the back paper. Place it, sticky side down, onto the black felt rectangle.
All the text and the apple are stitched with 2 strands of white dmc embroidery floss using a backstitch. You can fill in the apple leaf with a few satin stitches if desired.

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After you stitch your pattern, cut away as much of the sulky-solvy as you can. Follow the directions on the package and use water to soak it away.
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Once your sulky-solvy has dissolved and your felt has dried, place your black rectangle centered on top of your brown rectangle. Use wonderclips or pins to hold in place.

Take 2 strands of black embroidery floss and stitch a tiny whipsitch all the way around your black rectangle.

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Add it to a gift basket, wrap it up in a fun envelope and pass it off to your favorite teacher!

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Embroidery: Helen Keller Pattern

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Introducing the new and updated Helen Keller pattern. I’ve loved this quote for so long and last year I drafted up a pattern that wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. After some good Adobe Illustrator lessons, I was able to update and improve this pattern and really create what I had been longing for all the time.

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This is a great pattern for an advanced beginner looking to add some new stitches to their repertoire. It uses a backstitch, split stitch, stem stitch, long/short/brickstitch and more.

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This pattern is available for instant download in my etsy shop.

The lovely Sarah from In the Quiet Hours stitched up a sample and I love how she modified some of the stitches and chose a different colorway. This year I am reaching out for pattern testings via Instagram. So far it’s been such a great experience and I’ve been so grateful for the comments and help they’ve provided as I seek to become a better pattern writer.

Embroidery: Latest Projects

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This was my to-be embroidered stack a few days ago. Thankfully I’ve finished most of the hoops in this stack and I’m back to working on my original 2 projects before everything sort of exploded.

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I’m not doing much in the way of custom orders this year – at least not yet. But one of my first requests was to stitch up some handkerchiefs based off the song “Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. I used some blank hankies from Sublime Stitching and the colorway was a request by the customer. I think they turned out pretty cute.

 

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I have had the pleasure of keeping some of my work in a local shop in town and honestly I’ve struggled over the years with what to put in there. Usually it ends up being an overflow of things I’ve tried to sell online that didn’t really go or just other random sorts of odds and ends. This year, my goal was to put some things in there that were more of a series. I thought about the hoops that have always done well and usually it has been those with a mix of simple embroidery and whimsical fabric. So I decided to go through my stash of favorite fabrics and make some hexagons of various sizes and go from there. I’m pleased with how they turned out. I think it’s a great mix of colors, styles, fabrics and price ranges. You can find these locally at The Village Tinker hopefully sometime in the next week or so.

 

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I’ve learned a lot lately about Adobe Illustrator and I’m in the process of redoing all of my patterns. It’s been a slow job, but I’ve really enjoyed finally learning (and succeeding) at something that really freaked me out for so long (i.e. – anything adobe) I’m currently restitching this pattern (along with a lovely pattern tester from Instagram) and I’m excited to re-release it in the coming weeks.

 

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I’m working on a larger stumpwork butterfly. I want this one to be three-dimensional so it will have a felted body – at least that is the plan. It’s been fun watching the wings take shape.

Year in Review 2016

2016 was a year. I can’t say it was the worst year, which many people are saying about 2016. But I can say that it was a continuation of some of the hardness that 2015 had brought into my life. In many ways 2016 seemed like a gap year for me – an in between time where I really sort of woke up and started processing some stuff. It’s been a year where I have really had to step back and look at each decision and choice I make and figure out how it impacts me and our family, instead of just jumping ahead. It was a year where I did step back on my shop and really curbed my spending when it came to product development. There were (and are) so many things I would love to do, but for us financially right now I’ve realized I can’t step out and continue to do that.

It was a year that did see me finally stepping out to try and follow the dream of opening a store front. For years I had talked about opening a sewing shop and this spring I actually moved forward on that. I had prayed all along that God would very obviously open and close doors and I knew that no matter what happened I just had to see it through. I met with a small business advisor and met with bankers and in the end realized that I had followed that dream as far as I could take it. For the first time setting that dream aside was easy because I had followed it as far as I could take it. It was clearly a closed door and months later I’m so thankful. I learned so much in the process about business, about where I want to go creatively and how our life really works.

It was the first holiday season where I honestly wasn’t slammed and I did that on purpose. I stopped taking custom embroidery orders really early on and even though I did participate in a holiday market, it was the most relaxing holiday market prep I’ve ever done. I made stuff that I loved to make and it made such a huge difference.

I started a few projects this year that I’m really hoping to jump on right away after the holidays. First up I want to get back to my stumpwork projects. I miss this creative stitching so much and I’ve got so many ideas and ways I want to continue with my bugs and bugs in jars series. I also want to finally go forward with designing a pattern that comes with video links. I’m hoping to get going on this early in 2017 with my flower garden hoop I stitched back in the Fall. If there’s any goal I have for my shop in 2017, it’s to offer more embroidery patterns, more how-tos that go along with those patterns and oh how I would love to learn how to screen print so that I can print my own patterns and finally start offering kits again.

I am not sure where I’m heading with custom embroidery in 2017. For now, all of it will be on hold until I really get a clear picture of where I want to go. That includes shoes. I’ve often wondered how much longer the shoe thing can keep going. It seemed so much like a trend and we all know how trends go. I kind of want to go out on a high note and stop on my own terms. I’m also not sure where I’m going with teaching sewing either. Both of these things have played such a huge role in my life for the past few years and it’s weird to say I’m going to stop doing them. But there’s a part of me that thinks that for now, those chapters might be closed for a while so that I can focus on some other things.

 

One of my greatest achievements this year was being published! I was super excited to have a project in the Sew it All magazine. It was crazy to see my stuff actually on the shelf in bookstores. Maybe one day I’ll have an actual book or something! I’ve got some new things coming my way in 2017 that I’m excited about and can’t wait to share as the details get more and more worked out.

 

Probably my biggest joy in 2017 has been being able to continue homeschooling. We ended our last week of school with a Christmas Poetry Teatime with friends and as I sat around the table and saw this amazing community of friends that God has gifted my daughter and myself with I am humbled. We’ve joined a community of like minded schoolers and I couldn’t be more overjoyed at how God is continuing to grow that. We’ve got plans for 2017 that I’m hoping come to fruition and every day I’m grateful that I’m able to stay home.

One of my biggest goals in 2017 is to start writing again. I’m processing through in my mind some ways to clear some of the clutter in my head so that I can start putting some words to paper (or type). I want to spend more time actually reading books and not just reading snippets and blog posts. And I want to finally move forward on this book I’ve got floating around in my head. I read an essay this week by CS Lewis about writing for children and it was the biggest encouragement to me. He said something along the lines that his stories always came from pictures in his head. He would see all these scenes and ideas all jumbled up in his head and that is where his stories came from. As he started writing he would just have to fill in the blanks in between the pictures. Now, I’m never going to be the next CS Lewis, but for someone who has had these pictures floating around her head so vividly for years it was the kick in the pants to finally start penning them down.

Local Makers: The Hive Shoppe

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The Hive is a local place in Knoxville TN that is home to some pretty awesome local business ladies and is a dreamy event location.

I’ve long hoped to do an embroidery workshop there – alas life keeps getting in the way.

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A few times a year they set up a shoppe filled with local makers of all kinds and I’m excited to be part of their Holiday Shoppe again this year.

It’s a super relaxing and beautiful place to shop – and knowing that you are supporting local makers is even all the better.

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The Hive is located on Central Avenue on the same block as Magpies (stop and get a yummy cupcake while you are down there!)

Come out and shop THIS Friday through Sunday!

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Embroidery: Christmas is Coming!

I’m honestly still reeling over the fact that it’s November and I know I’m going to blink and it will be Thanksgiving. I went back and forth for the last few months trying to decide if I was going to do any holiday markets or not and finally decided to try the Holiday Shoppe at The Hive again. It’s such a great venue and so well run that why wouldn’t I?

The sale is at The Hive on Central, December 9-11, 2016.

Here’s a peek at a few of the things I’m trying to pull together for the event.

my mini ornament collection for 2016
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Mini wreath ornaments (and I’m hoping to work on a set of some a little bit larger – these measure about 2 inches)
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And these guys… my own take on the elf on the shelf
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I’ve got a few other things up my sleeve that I’m hoping to get together too.

 

And just a reminder – I’ve got 3 custom portrait spots left for 2016!
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