Wild Olive friends, I'm very happy to share that you can now wear my designs on t-shirts! I guess technically, you could have embroidered my designs on t-shirts, but these are printed and I'm very excited about them.
When my first shirt arrived, I took to Instagram to show it off, and now I have a few others available too. All of them are printed on demand by Threadless, who makes all of my favorite tees.
A Rainbow of Floss is only on two types of regular t-shirts right now, but I may be adding a few other styles if I hear from folks who are interested in things like hoodies or such.
Something you should know is that the tri-blend tees fit on the small side. For reference, I typically wear a men's small or a women's medium (average fit). The shirt I'm wearing above is a tri-blend women's large and it's very fitted. So bear this in mind.
This sweet spool of pink thread is the only one on a v-neck right now, because I'm still working out designs that work on this style without looking a little awkward for ladies. Ahem. (And this is available in other colors and styles.)
But A Rainbow of Hexagons might be my favorite. Because hexagons with faces in rainbow order.
Find these, and most like more to come, in my Threadless Artist Shop.
By Mollie Johanson at Saturday, May 28, 2016
Are you ready to wrap up some cuteness? I really wish I had thought of these animal floss bobbins back when my Stitch Love book first came out, because these really are the sweet creatures mentioned in the title!
I chose kitties and guinea pigs because, well, that's what lives at my house. And so yes, I'm biased. But I hope you can learn to love having these little friends in with your stitching supplies. They promise to be helpful and keep your floss tidy for you!
Need some new stitchy friends?
Print the PDF on card stock. For sturdier bobbins, I recommend spray mounting the printed page to a second piece of card stock.
Cut out the bobbins. The indent is the trickiest part, but you can do it! If you really struggle, try cutting that part with a craft knife. And don't forget the little slits at the bottom!
Now it's time to wrap up your critter friends! Get the floss right up to the top so that you don't see where the animal stops.
These bobbins are a little larger than the standard kind, or like my happy thread bobbins. But don't worry! They'll still fit in your plastic organizer box. Like the linen-look printable I made for About.com, you just turn them to fit in the compartments the long way.
As you work, your new animal friends can keep your company!
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have already seen this. But it's too important for anyone to miss.
No doubt you are aware of the refugee crisis. But if you're like me, you may want to help in some way, even a small way, and have no idea how to truly help. Which is why I was very excited to learn of Sisterhood Soap.
This is hand-milled soap made by refugee women who lost everything, but who are now trying to rebuild their lives. With dignity.
What I love most about this is that really, these are just women much like myself, who are part of a small business much like the kind I have. So although I can't imagine life in their circumstances, I can still relate to them.
We support small businesses for a variety of reasons, but this delightful soap might be the most purchase you'll consider. And if you're up for it, think about supporting a soap maker.
By Mollie Johanson at Monday, May 23, 2016
I started this year with the hope of making old things new. Picking up long-forgotten projects and giving them new life or using old things in new ways has been the plan. The other thing I wanted to try was to take a vintage pattern or tutorial and make it in a new way. That's what today's project is.
Months ago, I saw these kitty pillows in a craft magazine from the 80s.
I sketched out an idea for how I might make them cuter, and the sketch has just sat there waiting. Until I went to Disney World and saw a mural that got me thinking about a pattern that might work for my kitty pillow. Long story short, even this old idea that was getting new life, now became an even newer idea than I planned.
I love that.
Anyway, the original idea had these cats drawn on the fabric with a laundry marker so that you don't have to embroider. Whatever. We're stitchy people! We stitch! (That said, feel free to draw or paint your pattern on the fabric if you want.) And if you aren't up for a stand-up kitty, the embroidery pattern will work for any sort of embroidery.
You will need:
Fabric to embroider and for the base
Fabric for the back
Fabric for the weighted insert
Basic sewing and embroidery supplies
Kitty Stand Up Plush Pattern PDF
First, embroider the kitty design onto the fabric for the front. I stitched the main outline and the face outlines with six strands of floss. For the face details I used two strands.
Use the kitty pattern template to cut around the embroidery, centering it within the template shape. Flip the pattern piece over and cut the back piece from your other fabric.
Pin the two pieces right sides together. On the longest side, sew about an inch from the bottom edge and leave a gap of 2-1/2" (where you see the pin above). Now, sew around the rest of the kitty until you get to the other side. Stop at the bottom edge. Leave the entire bottom open.
Cut two pieces of fabric with the oval template. These can be any fabric that is the same or lighter than your main fabrics (you don't want them to show through!).
Sew around the oval and leave an opening. Fill the shape with rice and sew the opening closed. There's no need to turn this, as it will be tucked away inside the base for weight.
Cut an oval piece for the base and pin it into the bottom opening. Sew around the entire oval. This is easier if you sew it by hand, but it works on a sewing machine too.
Clip the curves, then turn the kitty right side out through the gap in the side. Tuck the rice-filled weight through the gap and situate it at the base of the kitty.
Fill the entire shape with stuffing, starting at the ears. Use small amounts to prevent lumpiness.
Stitch the gap closed with ladder stitch and hide the knots.
The weighted bottom will keep your kitty standing up, which is different than the original project that inspired this. Of course, you could skip the oval insert in the bottom and just make this a pillow.
But I like the idea of this sitting and watching. Much like my own kitty likes to do!
And this was a perfect place to use my Cotton + Steel polka dot kitties. Right? The front is a cat filled with cat faces, and so is the back!
As I mentioned, Darcy Cat likes to sit just like this stand-up plush. Like, a lot. But do you think she would do that for a photo? No, of course not. I got one picture before she bolted out of here.
That's okay. My embroidered kitty stuck around!
When I was little, I had a pet guinea pig named Tootsie. She and I didn't always get on very well, but as an adult, I've been wanting a guinea pig for a while now. I've looked into adopting one or more, but I've been apprehensive about finding one with a good temperament.
Then a friend of ours mentioned that their family had two guinea pigs and they weren't 100% sure that they wanted to keep them. But they wanted to know that they would go to a good home. Knowing the background of these little cuties, I jumped at it!
So, they came to live at my house this weekend, and my brothers and sister and I chose some new names for them, and we've been giving them lots of snuggles!
This is Captain Cuddles. She is the calm one. She enjoys being held, but also likes to hide away in her plastic igloo (which we're calling The Captain's Quarters). Captain Cuddles is much lighter than her friend, and you'll soon hear why.
Lt. Nibbles loves to eat. Like, a lot. She is most likely to be spotted at the food bowl or munching on some hay. When it's time for their special carrot snack, Lt. Nibbles often steals the The Captain's carrot. She fidgets some while being held, but still seems to like it!
I just love their sweet faces. How could I not? But I'm trying now to become too obsessed with them. (Ha!) That said, there's a very real chance that you'll see some guinea pig pics and maybe even some projects inspired by these furbabies!
Whenever I have the chance to try out an embroidery product, I jump on it. You never know when you might find something helpful or just fun. I'm especially always on the lookout for ways to make the pattern transfer process simpler. Which is why I was very excited when I saw someone working with a product called "Heat Away."
This clear film stabilizer is made by Sulky, the same folks who make Fabri-Solvy, which I love and use all the time. The difference between Fabri-Solvy and Heat Away is that one soaks away and the other melts away. And I really liked the idea of not needing to soak my work and wait for it to dry.
It's intended use is with machine embroidery, but the person I saw using it was doing hand embroidery. So I contacted Sulky and they generously sent me a roll to test.
The "film" feels similar in weight to a lightweight zip-top plastic bag, but it has a slight texture to it.
They recommend tracing the pattern on with a Xyron pen, and that was what I used. Permanent marker is NOT recommended, and other pens didn't show up so well. The Xyron didn't trace perfectly, but it worked.
By the way, the pattern for this kitty full of kitty faces will be coming soon to ye old blog.
With the pattern traced, I basted the film onto my fabric. Heat Away is fairly slippery, so there were moments when this felt like a challenge, but I got it on there. It felt loose, so I basted through the center as well as around the edges.
Stitching through the Heat Away was SUPER easy. I worried that there would be some shifting or pulling, but that didn't happen at all. You can see that there's a bit of plastic "puff" around the stitching, but that didn't affect the embroidery results at all.
To remove the plastic film, you iron it. That sounded so scary to me, and it was. I used an old iron to be safe, but I needn't have worried about the iron.
So I started running the iron back and for across the embroidery, as the instructions said. At this point I had this moment of going, wait...you really shouldn't iron embroidery this way! Too late. There would be much more ironing to go.
As you can see, the plastic melts and pulls away and yes it really is scary to do this. Plus it smells of melting plastic! But I pressed on. (Ha! Get it?)
The more you iron and melt it, the more it starts to clump into these little beads of plastic. That's what's supposed to happen so you can then brush them away.
Here's after more ironing and with most of the beads removed. Some wanted to hang on.
I tried pulling them off, but they were pulling the threads. Not just the stitches, but the floss, and I didn't want that, so I ironed some more. By this point I didn't even care about how flat my stitches would end up. And honestly, they came back to life well enough.
Here's the problem I really had. When it looked like most of the Heat Away was gone, I ran my hand over the stitches and I could still feel it. The stitched felt like they had a slight plastic coating on them. Because...they did.
Upon closer inspection, there are a few spots where you can see that the film sort of fused with the floss. Sigh.
I took a risk trying something new with a larger embroidered piece like this. Thankfully, you really can't see the areas that are a bit goobed.
Soooo...I wouldn't recommend Heat Away for hand embroidery. After all, it's not designed for this! I was just hopeful.
My guess is that the type of stitching and threads used for machine embroidery play nicer with the heat and plastic. Machine stitches are finer and tighter to the fabric, whereas I used six strands of cotton floss with back stitch. As it was melting, I think the film found its way right into the stitches.
I'm going to stick to Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy. Even though it requires soaking and drying time, it's helpful to be able to print directly on it (no tracing!) and to peel and stick it flat on the fabric (no basting!).
Bottom line: Sulky makes great embroidery products, but it's important to choose the right item for the job.
I do this crazy thing where I get really down on myself when I don't accomplish "enough" during the day. Don't get me wrong, being productive is good and when you work for yourself, it's essential. But when an abstract "enough" is how I evaluate myself, I've valued it too much.
One way I've found to fix this is to look less at my to-do list, and more at what I'm calling a "You Did It!" list. As I work through the day, I write down all the things I accomplished.
Sometimes they're big things: made project & wrote post, designed pattern, photographed three projects, etc.
Sometimes they're small things: sent email, loaded dishwasher, cut pattern pieces, etc.
I write down things I finished, and things on which I just made progress. It's almost like tracking my day, but not so detailed. And why do I do this? Because at the end of the day, I can't say "what did I actually do all day?"
I may not get everything done (big stuff takes time!), but I have evidence that I did, in fact, stay busy.
Often I grab the nearest scratch paper (junk mail envelopes are a favorite), but I thought it would be fun to make a printable. And this one says You Did It! across the top. Cheering yourself on is a good idea.
The page has six lists per piece of paper, so basically a week's worth. You can trim them apart on the gray lines, or try this:
Fold the page in half and then accordion fold it in thirds. Now you have a week of lists all in one handy spot. Have an extra-productive day? Open it up and use the back of a section.
Usually I still work from a to-do list, or something similar. When there are a lot of things to be done, I need to see all the things so I don't miss anything important. But the You Did It! list is crazy helpful for my well-being.
And seriously, the normal life things that take time during the day (dropping off the kids, making dinner, putting away laundry) need to be on your list. They are part of what we accomplish during our days. They take time and they're important.
For an embroidery pattern to congratulate someone on their accomplishments (maybe bigger than loading the dishwasher, unless you're feeling cheeky), visit the Embroidery site at About.com. I couldn't help but make both the pattern and printable to match!
You guys. I've been having a hard time focusing lately, and that's a problem. I know all the things I'm supposed to get done, but it's easy for me to avoid them as I let myself wander and move on to less important things.
This leads to me not accomplishing enough in a day, which leads to other things, which I'll share soon.
But the point of this is that when I really need to just buckle down, there are a few things I do to minimize the distraction.
1. Get the distractions out of the way. I confess, there are some apps that get me in a loop. Instagram, a game, Twitter, another game, email, a game, and back to Instagram again to start all over.
When it's time to focus, I allow myself to check what I need to check, play a game, then I put it away. But having one more look has me thinking about it less when I'm working.
2. Hide from the distractions. I used to turn off my wi-fi, which kept me away from internet that grabs my attention. But so much of my work happens online now, so I have to be connected. Instead, this means putting the phone or iPad away (ideally out of sight) and closing the extra tabs.
I love working in the middle of the action in my house, but when I'm feeling especially distractible, this becomes a problem. It's time to find a quiet spot.
3. Tell yourself "don't be distracted." This has mixed results, but when I remind myself, I'm more likely to get back to what I'm supposed to be doing. It also helps to know that when I finish the work, or at least a chunk of the work, I can enjoy a distraction or two.
If all else fails, give in. Get up, pour yourself some coffee, go for a walk, play on your phone. And then get back to it later. Life is short!
And if you're looking to embroider the reminder above (it hangs over my desk!), you can find the pattern right here.
By Mollie Johanson at Friday, May 06, 2016
May the 4th be with you! I love Star Wars. I mean, I'm not quite the crazy fan my brother is (he knows so many details about so many things related to all of the storylines and so on), but I just love watching these movies and taking in these characters.
Since my brother is such a fan, I try to make him something Star Wars related each year for his birthday. After The Force Awakens came out, I knew that this year needed to be a new character and Maz Kanata won out. She's just so much fun!
Plus, a while back I made Draw Pilgrim's Chewbacca plush and thought that the two would be a fun pair. You know...I like that wookiee!
Oh, and if you'd like to take a look at the other Star Wars posts I've done through the years, you can scroll through them all here.
The Maz plush is quite small. She nearly fits in the palm of my hand! There's no need to make yours this small; you can enlarge the pieces. The size of mine was guided by the Chewie doll, because I wanted them to look similar to the height proportion in the film.
Going back to the fact that I made this as a gift for my brother, my step-by-step photos for this are lacking. This is what happens when you are struggling to get something made in time for gifting and without the recipient seeing. Also since I made some tweaks to the pattern along the way, there's a chance that pieces may a little off.
Thankfully, the assembly is fairly simple, so I hope you'll forgive the minimal photos and any errors.
Now, here's what you need:
Felt - light & dark gray
Fabric - choose colors based on Maz (there's a good pic here)
12mm safety eyes
Embroidery floss - dark gray
Basic sewing tools
Maz Kanata Template PDF
The pattern pieces have cutting instructions on them, so look at those and look at the photos in this post for a cutting guide. When pieces say to cut something reversed, flip the pattern piece over for cutting.
Okay, let's start sewing!
Sew the hands to the arms and the feet to the legs. There should be two arms facing one way and two facing the other way. The same for the legs. Press the seam allowance to one side (use your judgement based on your fabric).
Pin and sew arm pieces with right sides together, and repeat with the other arm and legs. Turn them right side out and fill with stuffing. Set them aside.
Place the felt "hood" on the fabric head and sew around the inside of the hood. You can do this by hand or machine. It's not necessary to sew the outside edge, as it will be sewn into the main seam.
Now it's time for the face.
Cut out the goggle rings from felt, then cut out the vinyl pieces as a circle, not a ring. You may need to trim it down just a tiny bit, but start with it the same size as the outside of the ring.
Place the rings on the head to help with placement, then mark where you will install the safety eyes and go ahead and attach the eyes. (You can make the eyes from felt, but I love the dimension the safety eyes create.)
Embroider the nose and mouth in the middle of where the goggles will go.
Place a vinyl circle over an eye and a goggle ring over that. Stitch around the outside of the ring with a whip stitch. If you can, catch some vinyl with these stitches to secure it. But if you only catch the felt and fabric, the vinyl should still hold in place. Repeat with the other eye.
Place the "ear" pieces on the sides and sew around the curve. Embroider two lines connecting the ear pieces to the goggles. Sew the ear pieces to the back head piece, and take care that they are all positioned the same so they match up when the front and back go together.
Sew the shirt to the belt and the belt to the pants. Sew a front vest piece to each side of the shirt, and sew the buckle to the middle of the belt.
Maz wears some awesome jewelry and has some great accessories hanging from her belt too. I wanted to add some of these with embroidery or even metal charms, but ran out of time. Consider adding these!
Sew the head to the body.
Repeat this for the back of Maz. Instead of two vest pieces, you'll have just the one and no buckle. But the rest is pretty much the same process.
Place the arms and legs on the back as shown. You might want to baste these in place.
Pin and sew the front and back with right sides together and leave an opening for turning. Be sure to backstitch when you start and stop. I left the opening in the top of the head, and that worked well.
Turn it right side out and fill her with stuffing. Sew up the opening with ladder stitch.
And then give Maz a hug, because she's all finished!
If you've done this right, the sides will match like the ear pieces here.
If your fabric doesn't cooperate, they might not match so well, like the belt here. I tell ya, my sewing machine decided it wasn't a fan of that linen, and it wasn't liking the Liberty from Maz's shirt either!
Speaking of her shirt, I think we can all agree that Maz would choose to wear Liberty if she lived in our galaxy, right? I know she wears a sweater, but since I wasn't up for knitting a tiny garment, this is the next best thing.
With any of these elements, go for as much accuracy as you want. I knew that I could have found fabrics that were a closer match, but I had all of these on hand, and they were close enough.
I think finding a fabric that is a good skin color is one of the most important elements, because that and her facial features are what really make her Maz.
Ahh...a match made in Heaven! If you want to ruffle the Star Wars fan in your life, be sure to share theory with them: Rey is the love child of Maz and Chewie. She's just had a bit of laser hair removal.
Have a wonderful Star Wars Day, and May the 4th be with you!