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Posts Tagged ‘Crafts’

Yay! Another super easy, super quick, and super cute project makes the Nikki, In Stitches Top 10 Countdown!  I did have to give you a better picture than the ones in the original post.  (Santa, thank you again for bringing me a new camera.  How did I ever think those pictures were acceptable??)  This little flower can go anywhere…on a card, atop a wrapped package, in the corner of a picture frame, maybe even on a pinback.

Enjoy…again!

Nikki, In Stitches

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Ruched Ribbon Flower

September 12th, 2009

Ruched Flower (Step 11)Last week at my monthly quilting class, we were taught how to make ruched flowers.  They will eventually find their way onto yet another Christmas quilt that I have started (pictures coming soon…I hope!).  We made them with a strip of fabric, and because of possible fraying, had to do a few folds to hide any raw edges.  The whole time I was thinking I could definitely come up with a better, easier way to make these.  And of course, I was also sitting there wondering what else I could use them for.  It hit me last night.  Why not use ribbon?  No folding necessary since there are no raw edges to hide!  I played around with some pink and green ribbon, my two favorite colors, Greeting Card with Ruched Flower Embellishmentand that led me to the very large stash of pink and green papers that I have accumulated, and before I knew it, I had a cute card with a ruched ribbon flower embellishment.  (Don’t you love when you find a completely different purpose for your newly found favorite technique?)  Below you will find a tutorial on how to make the flowers.  Feel free to ask any questions, and if you can think of any other uses for these goodies, please share!

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

 

Materials:

36″ of 5/8″ wide ribbon

Needle

Coordinating embroidery floss (1 strand) or any heavy thread that will not break when pulling to ruche ribbon

*Note:  I used black embroidery floss in the pictures below so it would stand out.

 

Directions:

Ruched Flower (Step 1)1.  Mark the wrong side of your ribbon, moving from right to left.  Along the bottom edge, mark every inch.  Along the top, first mark 1/2″ in, then mark every inch the rest of the way across.  If you’ve done this correctly, your marks should be evenly staggered the entire length of your ribbon, as shown in the picture provided.

Ruched Flower (Step 2b)2.  With a long piece of thread (approximately 36″), hand baste from mark to mark, creating a zigzag pattern, stopping occasionally to gather (“ruche”) the ribbon.  Stopping every eight to ten inches to gather your ribbon is recommended.  Any longer and you risk breaking your thread.  Also, put a hefty knot at the start of your thread so that as you pull to gather it doesn’t pull through your ribbon.

Ruched Flower (Step 2a)*The trick to the hand basting is to be consistent in your stitches.  If you look at the picture provided, I always do three stitches along each diagonal, and I was always sure to start by inserting the needle from underneath the ribbon and to end with the needle coming out the top.  I found this method made it easiest to gather the ribbon.
 
 
3.  Adjust your gathers so that your finished piece of ribbon is now ruched to about 17″.  Leave the long tail of thread in case any adjustments need to be made while assembling your flower.
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Ruched Flower (Step 4)
4.  With a new piece of thread, baste across (from side to side) the first six “petals” of your flower.  Again, put a hefty knot at the start of your thread so you don’t pull it through when gathering.

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Ruched Flower (Step 5)
5.  Pull the thread tight to form a circle of petals.  Knot the thread, but do not cut it, to hold the center loop of petals in place.
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6.  Move gathered tail from the front of the flower to the back.  Use the before and after pictures provided below as a reference.
Ruched Flower (Step 5)Ruched Flower (Step 6)
7.  Insert needle through the center of the flower to move the working thread from the front to the back.
Ruched Flower (Step 7a)Ruched Flower (Step 7b)
8.  Spiral your gathered tail around and around, creating the layers of your flower.  Tack the flower together to keep the tail in place by coming up in the crease of each petal and back down in the same crease, being sure to catch the layer underneath.  The folds, or creases, in your petals will hide your stitches.
Ruched Flower (Step 8a)Ruched Flower (Step 8b)
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Ruched Flower (Step 9)9.  Continue until you have tacked the entire tail in place.  Take a few extra stitches on the back of your flower to hold your ribbon end in place.  Knot and cut the working thread.

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Ruched Flower (Step 10)10.  Knot and cut the gathering thread.
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Ruched Flower Greeting Card11.  Embellish center with a button!

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I’m having so much fun with the Nikki, In Stitches Top 10 Countdown.  Each time I look at the list to see what’s next, I think about how much I loved each of these projects.  These backed and quilted blankets are still so popular, here on my blog and on Ravelry.  When people inquire about handmade baby items, this is the first place I lead them.  The blankets themselves are so easy to knit or crochet, and the backing and binding just somehow give them that something special.  Maybe they look more finished or polished?  Maybe it’s the combination of the knit/crochet fabric with the soft minky and silky smooth satin?  I’m not sure, but they are my favorite thing to give to friends that are welcoming new babies into their lives!

Enjoy…again!

Nikki, In Stitches

 

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A Knitted and Quilted Baby Blanket??

June 16th, 2009

Knitted Quilted Baby Blanket 3I love making baby quilts for my friends when they are expecting a new arrival, but sometimes there is just not enough time. I have so many projects that are unfinished, so many ideas for crafts I could do to decorate my new house, not to mention chasing my son and dog around most of the day, that making a quilt sometimes just isn’t in the cards, but I still want to make something special. There is something about receiving a homemade gift that is different. You can feel the time and love that went into it. And, I want my friends to know that I cherish them enough to make them something from my heart.

My solution was to crochet or knit a blanket. It went faster, baby yarn was relatively inexpensive, and it was more portable than a quilt. I could take my project on road trips with me, and I could sit in front of the TV and work on it when I wanted to spend time with my husband. But, no offense to any crocheters or knitters out there…it was just missing something.

I think I found an even better solution.

I turned my knitted or crocheted blankets into “quilt tops.” First, the “top” needs to be blocked. Depending on which stitch type you use, this is more or less important. The knitted, Entrelac blanket shown above needs to be blocked very well. Crocheted Quilted Baby Blanket 2The tendency of the Entrelac stitch is to stretch rather easily and you will notice your backing will pucker a lot, and your quilt will not be anything close to square, if you don’t take the time to block it. The crocheted blanket pictured here needed minimal blocking just to square it up. I then back them and bind them just like they are a quilt. There is no need for batting. The heaviness of your knitted or crocheted top usually ensures the blanket will be warm enough. I use minky fabric for the backing, and flannel lined satin for the binding. These are the perfect combination for a baby to snuggle up with. I do tack the backing and top together in a few spots just by hand with a needle and thread. I cut my binding very wide (sometimes up to 10”), which makes it quite difficult to work with, but I like the look of the wider binding, and it gives the babies more to hang on to. I attach it exactly like a typical quilt binding.

Problem solved! These blankets are quicker to make than quilts, they are less expensive (although in the Entrelac example I did splurge and buy very nice, but kind of pricey, yarn), they are easier for a beginner crafter or nonquilter, and they still have the same something special about a homemade gift. The perfect quick weekend “quilt”!

Questions and comments are welcome as usual. I’d love some feedback on these blankets. Also, if the demand is out there, I’m considering putting together a tutorial on Entrelac knitting. Let me know what you think!

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

 

Added Later:   When I wrote this post, I thought the “quilted” aspect of these projects would be the main focus.  I am so happy so many of you like this idea.  Thank you for all of your emails and comments.  I am surprised by the overwhelmingly large number of requests for patterns for these blankets.  It means a lot to me that so many of you enjoy my projects.  Please check back for them soon.  I am starting the pattern writing process within the next few days, and hope to get the instructions up soon after.

Added Later:  If you’d like the pattern to knit the Entrelac Blanket shown above, it can be found in the following post:  You Asked For It.  The crocheted blanket pattern can be found in:  Crocheted “Quilt”…Sorry for the Delay!

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I’m so happy this post made the top 10!  It is one of my personal favorites!  It’s so easy to make.  I’ve taught it in classes and everyone is so surprised by how quickly and easily it works up.  (Simple single crochet stitches are all that’s required!)  And it never goes out of style.  I’ve made it in different color palettes.  I’ve made it in neutrals.  I’ve even made it in metalics.  Can you tell I love wearing this bracelet? And…this is the next Nikki, In Stitches project that will be turned into a kit!  I’m in the process of working with suppliers and putting all of the pieces together.  If you’d like to know when the kits go up for sale, just become a subscriber of Nikki, In Stitches!

Enjoy…again,

Nikki, In Stitches

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Green Bead Soup Crocheted Bracelet

February 23rd, 2009

green-bead-crochet-braceletThank you to everyone that commented on my bracelet, and thank you for all of your ideas and suggestions for future posts.  I now have ideas and projects to keep me busy for months and I hope to cover all of the areas that you asked me to address.  Now, drum roll please….

Suzanne, Congratulations!  You are the winner, and I do hope that you enjoy it.  Thank you again for your comment!

There were many requests for the pattern for the bracelet.  This is my first attempt at pattern / instruction writing, so I hope that my directions are clear.  I’ve included a few tips and also a few pics along the way to help, but if there are any parts that still seem a little confusing, you know I will answer your questions as quickly and clearly as I can.

This entire bracelet is made using a single crochet stitch.  It is the most basic crochet stitch.  The only difficult part of this bracelet is getting the right tension.   bead-crochet-bracelet-close-upIf your stitches are too tight, your beads will be too dense, pile up on themselves, and eventually it will be impossible to continue crocheting.  If your stitches are too loose, your beads will come through to the inside and you will not get the nice full look you’re trying to achieve.  I try to use a normal tension on rows where I am attaching beads, and a slightly looser tension on rows that I am just straight single crocheting.  This tends to balance out the rows with the density of the beads.

The weight of the beads, along with the fundamental makeup of the single crochet stitch, will cause the bracelet to stretch.  Also, depending on the style clasp you wish to use, the bracelet will stretch and even pull some on the ends.  Make the bracelet slightly shorter than you normally would.  In my case, I only made the bracelet five inches long, but it will fit the average wrist.

Materials:

Size 10 Crochet Thread

US Size 1 Crochet Hook

Large Eyed Beading Needle

Beads in a variety of sizes

Clasp

grean-bead-soup-2Using the large eyed beading needle, string approximately 40 – 45″ of beads.  (Please note, more is better in this case.  You don’t want to get through all of your beads and realize your bracelet is not long enough.  If in doubt, string more.)  Vary the sizes, keeping in mind that you will attach these in groups of two or three.  In order to keep the beads from piling up on themselves, try to attach beads in groups of varying sizes, i.e. a large bead with two smaller, two medium sized beads together, etc.  I use a variety of beads from the smallest seed beads to large specialty beads.  Leave a long tail of thread, but keep in mind that you will have to continually slide your beads back along the thread as you crochet.

To Begin: Chain 9

Row 1: Single crochet in both loops of the 2nd chain from hook and in each of the next 6 chains, ch1 (to turn). (8 single crochets)

Row 2:  Single crochet in each single crochet across, then chain 1 (to turn). (8 single crochets)

Row 3:  Single crochet in each single crochet across, then chain 1 (to turn). (8 single crochets)

Alternate the following two rows to reach desired length:

Row A:  Single crochet in each single crochet across, attaching 2 or 3 beads to bracelet in each stitch, then chain 1 (to turn). (8 single crochets)

To attach beads:  Insert hook under both loops, slide beads bead-crochet-tutorialtowards bracelet as far as possible.  They should now be touching the bracelet itself.  Wrap the yarn over the hook and pull up a loop.  Continue single crochet stitch as normal.  When you yarn over and pull of the loop, you trap the beads, and they are now secured to the front of the bracelet.

Row B:  Single crochet in each single crochet across, then chain 1 (to turn). (8 single crochets)

To End:  Single crochet three additional rows without beads.

bead-crochet-bracelet-3_editedWeave in all thread ends.  Attach clasps to each end of bracelet.

Enjoy!

Nikki, In Stitches

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Sometimes when I’m working on a project, I get the feeling it’s going to be a hit. I had no idea these paper punched Easter eggs would get the amazing response they did. This project has been shared around the internet more times than any other post I’ve written, and has gotten the most views in the shortest amount of time. I love this simple technique. Stay tuned this winter…I have a few ideas of how I’m going to “recycle” these into projects for the holidays!

Enjoy…again!

Nikki, In Stitches

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Paper Punched Easter Eggs

March 20th, 2011

Some of the best projects are also the most simple, and it doesn’t get much more “back to basics” than these paper punched Easter eggs.

Simple and classic, they take just a few minutes to make and will last for many springs to come!

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

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Materials:

5/8″ paper punch

Decorative paper

Styrofoam egg

Straight pins

Glue

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Directions:

Scroll through the pictures below.  Click to enlarge!


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It’s perfect that our “Nikki, In Stitches Top 10″ should start with a quilting post, since being at my sewing machine is really my favorite place to be (next to the beach, of course!).  I cringed when I first went back through this post because my pictures taking skills were certainly NOT very good two years ago.  I apologize…profusely!  But, if you are a beginning quilter, or someone considering jumping into the world of quilting, this is actually a really good place to start.  This is the first of nine simple quilt blocks.  Links to all the others are at the bottom of the post.  There are also links to my posts on assembling them into a quilt top, as well as how to back and bind your quilt.  It’s pretty much a “Quilting 101” class!

Enjoy….again!

Nikki, In Stitches

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Churn Dash – Your First Quilt Block

March 28th, 2009

Are you ready?  At this point, you’ve practiced cutting your fabric, and you’ve mastered the quarter inch seam.  The only thing left to do is just do it!  I tried to pick a block that was easy, yet also visually interesting.  Churn Dash is this block’s traditional name, but depending on your fabric choices, this block can certainly look modern.  I have included some tips along the way.  They appear in italics.  If you’re new to quilting, you should take the time to read them.  If you are an experienced quilter, you are probably to the point where the suggestions I provide  just come naturally.  This is my first attempt at teaching quilting via my blog, so if there are suggestions for improvements, feel free to speak up.  I plan to do at least eight more of these, and I’d like them to be as user friendly as possible.  As always, questions and comments are welcome!

Enjoy!

Nikki, In Stitches

White tonal:
Cut 4 rectangles 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
Brown Paisley:
Cut 4 rectangles 4 1/2″ x 2 1/2″
White Paisley:
Cut 2 large squares 4 7/8″ x 4 7/8″
Cut 1 small square 4 1/2″ x 4 1/2″
Green Houndstooth:
Cut 2 large squares 4 7/8″ x 4 7/8″
churn-dash-step-11. With right sides together, sew 1 white tonal rectangle and 1 brown paisley rectangle together to make Unit A. Press to the darker fabric. Make 4 Unit A’s.

A note on pressing: “Pressing” and “Ironing” are very different, especially to a quilter. Quilters press. They use an up and down motion, not the typical back and forth motion of ironing. After a piece has been sewn, set your seam by placing the piece dark side up on your ironing surface. Put the iron down on the seam, then bring the iron straight up. Next, lift the top layer up, and moving from right to left, run the iron along the seam with the body of the iron parallel to your sewing. Good pressing skills make quilting easier, so take the time to carefully press your pieces.

churn-dash-step-22. Draw a diagonal line on the back of each green houndstooth square from corner to corner. With right sides together, place 1 green houndstooth square on top of 1 white paisley square. Stitch 1/4″ on each side of the drawn line. Cut the square into two triangles by cutting on the drawn diagonal line. Press to the houndstooth fabric.

churn-dash-dog-ear

When triangle units are made, there are always “dog ears” that stick out from your seams after they are pressed. Cut these little triangles off before attaching another piece to prevent bulk in your seams.

churn-dash-step-3

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3. Sew a houndstooth triangle unit to each side of Unit A. Press towards the houndstooth triangle unit. Repeat this with the other two remaining houndstooth triangle units.

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4. Sew the remaining two Unit A’s to each side of the small paisley square. Press toward the paisley square.

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5. Sew Rows 1 and 2 together, pressing towards Row 2. Sew Row 3 on to the bottom, pressing towards Row 2 again.

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The importance of which direction you press your seams should now become apparent. If you have pressed your seams in the directions that were recommended above, they should abut to each other nicely as you sew your rows churn-dash-pressing-seamstogether. With practice, you will be able to judge which direction to press, but most patterns offer suggestions. When in doubt, press to the darker fabric to avoid any color showing through your finished quilt.

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For other posts from Nikki, In Stitches related to the Relay Quilt, please see the following:

Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Cheap Trick

And For Your Second Block…A Card Trick

Third Times a Charm, or a Sawtooth Patchwork

Back to Blocks…4th: Gentleman’s Fancy?

Block Five: A Dove in the Window

Block Six: A Flower Pot…My Fave So Far

7th Block: Crow’s Foot…And You Can Actually See the Feet!

Block 8: Pinwheel and Squares…Don’t Be Afraid!

Rosebud: The 9th and FINAL Block!

The End is in Sight!

A Quilt Sambo

Bound and Determined

Tagged and Ready for the Relay

Relay Results

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I’m a “sit in my beach chair, bury my toes in the sand, I’ll be here in this exact spot all day” kind of girl.  (I’m lucky that my children are “sit in the sand, build a sandcastle, we’ll be here in this exact spot all day” kind of kids!)  Packing for a day at the beach is pretty simple for us: toys, snacks and drinks, sunscreen, my beach chair, and, of course, my favorite craft mags.  Here are my top three, and yes, I saved the best for last!  I have no tie with any of these magazines, and wasn’t asked to review any of them.  These are just a few in my pile I have set aside for upcoming beach days, and thought I’d share!

Enjoy!

And feel free to add your faves in the comments below!

Nikki, In Stitches

3.  Stitch

Photo from Stitch

When browsing through craft magazines, I look for variety.  I gravitate to magazines that offer a range of projects and can fill a lot of needs (from gift giving to home decor, and everything in between).  I also look for mags that include simple projects I can put together in an afternoon, as well as projects that will challenge me and help me learn new skills.  When I consistently find all of this in one issue…Jackpot!  Stitch never disappoints.  Any sewer, from any skill level, can find a project they love in each issue.  Sadly, it’s a little hard to find.  Some large chain craft stores carry it, and some do not, but it is absolutely worth your time to hunt it down!


2. Simply Handmade

Photo from Simply Handmade

This little magazine (and it is smaller than most mags, so don’t miss it on the shelves!) is packed with simple, quick ideas that are perfect for personalizing.  I love the fact that I can take any project they publish, put a simple twist on it, and use it over and over again…often times in multiple mediums.  And, this is actually a series of magazines…There’s one for cards! There’s one for scrapbooking! There’s one for beading! There’s even one that is full of projects to make with your Cricut! Get the idea here?? There’s literally something for everyone!

1.  Martha Stewart Living

Photo from Martha Stewart

OK, yes.  I am a huge Martha fan, but even if I weren’t (and I can’t imagine not), but even if I weren’t…I’d still love this magazine!  Not only is it beautiful to look at, it’s always packed with great ideas.  In typical Martha style, they are simple and elegant.  I like, too, that Living gets my creative juices flowing, and my taste buds watering!  Unfortunately, my skills don’t really extend into the kitchen, so when I’m finished earmarking all the craft projects I’d like to make, I pass it over to my husband…the chef in the house!!

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Let’s Make A Button Necklace!

I love teaching classes.  I love getting to share what I do.  I love that my students leave with a finished product they are so proud of.  And I love getting to talk “all things crafty”…all night long!

If you’re in Connecticut, I would LOVE to see you at my button necklace class Monday, April 18th at 7:00pm in Granby.

You can find all of the class details, as well as register, pay, and reserve your kit, here:

Let’s Make A Button Necklace Class Registration Page

And if you can’t wait for class, and MUST make your necklace as soon as possible, you can always watch my video tutorial here: How To Make A Button Necklace and even purchase a kit with everything you need from start to finish here: Nikki, In Stitches Buton Necklace Kits.

Enjoy,

Nikki, In Stitches

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