A Demon of a Good Time

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Hello Sunday readers!

This week we are at MAGfest! The Music and Gaming Festival that takes place at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, MD is one of our favorite events of the year. It includes non-stop gaming, fabulous music, and wonderful geeky camaraderie. Every year has a different theme and this year’s is Castlevania so I figured we could take a look at some cool, appropriately themed crafts.

Many of the results of my search ended up on fuse bead art, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have a rather large fuse bead color stash.

You can find the tutorial for this one at Cut Out and Keep!

You can find the tutorial for this one at Cut Out and Keep!

But I like to mix things up a bit and my first craft of choice has always been stitching. Hence, my love for this Castlevania stitched coaster from the Sprite Stitch Forums:

I haven't tried my hand at needlepoint in quite a while so maybe it's time to give it a whirl.

I haven’t tried my hand at needlepoint in quite a while so maybe it’s time to give it a whirl.

Or, for the more ambitious, this Pixel Hobby Dracula by Deviant Art user EveningEmma is super amazing:

That took a lot of dedication and patience!

That took a lot of dedication and patience!

Or if you are into the cosplay scene, this combat cross prop made by Deviant Art user weaselhammer would complete any Belmont clan costume:

To smite the shiny demons and vamps!

To smite the shiny demons and vamps!

I have a lot to work to do if I am to build up my collection of evil-bashing art, so I guess I better get onto it.

Stay crafty!

Laura


Basic Hand Stitching

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As someone who only just recently developed a tentative truce with my sewing machine, I often find myself still relying on hand sewing for all my general sewing needs. Old habits die hard and all that I’m sure, but sometimes you just have a fickle bit or you just don’t feel like carting around a big machine on the go. In either event, if you’ve been thinking about brushing up on your skills, or just learning how to hand sew in the first place, I have found a lovely illustrated guide just for you.

There is much, much more (I just took the top part to keep this post form scrolling for ages) that you can easily scroll/read at your leisure here on Lady Cels’ deviantart page. Don’t be dismissive of the title either and think it’s not for you. While it may have been written with a cosplayer in mind, cosplay is still just working with fabric and these techniques can still help your basic sewing skills.

~Nicole


Stitched Towels

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I know I’m biased since I’m a crafter by nature anyway, but I’m really excited about the idea of decorating my house with the skills I’ve learned over the years. With stitched towels being my most anticipated, though sadly most often moved to the back burner. They have such a large range of design options available to them as well.

This is the style most people probably think of when they think of decorating towels (though that’s not a terribly common decoration to see on them!) with simple cross-stitch x’s making the design. I’ve been growing more fond of the much more versatile back and satin stitch style though; something that this stitcher has done absolutely beautifully.

While my towels are going to be cafe themed, I loved that MadX-Stitcher used their skills to add a touch of fandom to their kitchen. If you want to go for master class, try mixing some embroidery paint into your design. It comes in a fairly decent range of colors and is a special oil based paint that can be washed and used on a large variety of mediums. So get crafting! ūüėÄ

~Nicole


A Pin in the Hand

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…is not something you want! At the tail end of last year, I took up machine sewing in order to practice for the Nintendo BOM Quilt-a-long detailed in the Crafthackers forums. During the beginning stages I gathered appropriate materials, watched a ton of tutorials, and used a lot of scrap material as my rehearsal. Finding a couple of quick and easy starter projects to get comfortable with my machine were also a must. The very first project I scouted out was something that would not only help me work on my skills but also benefit my sewing supplies – a pin cushion! I think the hardest part was deciding what type to make. When push came to shove, I did not use any of the ones featured below (I’ll let you see that next week) but these are some decidedly good runner-ups. All of the following are links to Beginner/Easy tutorials if it is also your first time.

First up I found a tutorial that was not only quick, easy, and useful but also super cute! This particular pin cushion features both hand and machine sewing. A felt cupcake from Art Threads:

Just don't try to take a bite after you finish this prickly sweet.

Just don’t try to take a bite after you finish this prickly sweet.

The next is a very convenient and lovely take on a cuff pin cushion. I liked the idea of a cuff so much that I eventually chose one that was not quite so frilly. A fabric flower cuff from Ruffles and Stuff:

A blooming convenient place to stick those pins while working.

A blooming convenient place to stick those pins while working.

The third one I came across is still on my to-make list as I very much like the idea of having a way to distinguish my tools from others’ in a useful fashion. Small strawberry pin cushions from V and Co:

Freshly picked craft tools, my favorite!

Freshly picked craft tools, my favorite!

I think I was feeling mildly intimidated by the last one I was considering at the time, honestly. Now that I have a bit more experience I may consider re-visiting this one as well. A combination pin cushion/thread catcher from Merriment Design:

A quick solution to all of those thread ends and loose pins!

A quick solution to all of those thread ends and loose pins!

Next week, I will take you through the tutorial I used to make my own cuff pin cushion to satisfying effect.

Hope everyone is staying warm, winter has finally hit! What a perfect time to work on some sewing projects.

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Mind Your Needles!

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Let’s face it, the holidays are coming (where did the rest of the year go?!). Are you at a loss for gift ideas for your friend/significant other/second cousin twice removed that enjoys textile arts like cross stitch, crochet, and knitting? I have found just the thing, mainly because they are currently on my holiday wishlist. A Needle Runs Through It is run by a lovely lady that started her business by creating sturdy project bags for those that like to take their needle crafting with them wherever they go. She has since expanded to include needle minders.

Needle minders, protecting fingers and toes everywhere!

Needle minders, protecting fingers and toes everywhere!

Not familiar with them, you say? If you have ever completed a project that requires a needle no more than 2 inches long, you know the pain of dropping and then trying to find your needle without stepping on it/stabbing yourself in the process. Needle minders are little magnets that attach to the front and back of your project so that when you need a break or to change your thread color, the needle has a safe and apparent place to rest. Her shop has some of the cutest little needle minders I’ve ever seen.

Alpaca and kitty will keep your needles safe!

Alpaca and kitty will keep your needles safe!

Does your friend/SO/cousin perhaps prefer subversive cross stitch? How about a super awesome yarn skull needle minder?

That's some tough craft love right there.

That’s some tough craft love right there.

Ok, I did mention above that she also caters to the crochet/knit crowd with her adorable wooden accessories. These sheep stitch markers should do the trick:

Fluffy little sheep tail!

Fluffy little sheep tail!

She has plenty to choose from! Even TARDIS shaped needle minders for the Doctor Who crafter in your life. To get your own needle minding awesomeness, you can find A Needle Runs Through It on Etsy and Facebook.

Wishing all our readers in the US a safe and happy Thanksgiving this week!

Now back to those holiday crafts I need to finish! Where’s my needle?

~Laura

 


Feltastic Halloween DIY

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I have a long standing love for adorable felties and stuffies. It’s only recently that I’ve started attempting to make my own. In the spirit of the season, this Sunday I bring you some DIY felt projects to start your own little army of super cute critters.

First up is a set of four traditional Halloween symbols with a great set of instructions with templates from Made to Sew. They also have some very well done tutorials on different stitches if you need a refresher before starting.

Look at how neat those stitches are!

Look at how neat those stitches are!

Next up is a really cool tutorial and pattern for those of you who (like me) enjoy making slightly odd but cute things: eyeball softies from Much XOXO.

I see what you did there...

I see what you did there…

Finally, a really beautiful tutorial from Adventures in Making for your very own sugar skull felt sachets.This is a really fantastic idea if you would like to fill them with some fall scented spices for some extra flair!

There are so many possibilities.

There are so many possibilities.

 

Whichever ones you choose to make, have fun and stay crafty!

~Laura


The Finishing Touch

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Probably one of the biggest questions I see asked is “how do I take my finished stitching and get it to look amazing?” The finishing touches on any project can be both the most time consuming and the least obvious, but for stitching and embroidery projects, the normal questions of how to display your work becomes fraught with the worry that your efforts to finish it off will somehow compromise or even ruin the work.

Questions abound, from the simplest “what do I do?” to “will the colours in my thread run all over each other and create a giant mess that I’ll never be able to fix?” Its the last of these that keeps me up at night, as a long time ago I fortunately learned what to do with the first question. I have yet to ruin a project, but I do regularly have to remind myself that these techniques are tried and tested.

So what is it that you should be doing when you finish an embroidery, cross stitch, or other project? In my experience, there are three steps that every project should undergo on completion whether you want to frame your work or display it another way.

Three simple steps: Washing, Blocking, and Ironing. It sounds easy, but the first is by far the most nerve wracking. Water and thread has the potential for disaster, but most modern thread companies, like DMC and Anchor, have made their threads fast.

How do you test if your thread is fast? Simply put a small piece (or two) into a cup, pour boiling water over it, and leave it to sit. Come back when your water is cool, and check to see if the water colour has changed. If it hasn’t, then you should be all set to wash your work.

You have spent countless hours creating your project, you deserve to be able to show it off looking its best. If you’d like more information on the safe ways to go about washing, blocking and ironing your project, then you can check out my guide From Stitches to Masterpiece.¬†

~ eliste


A Stitch in Time.

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Hey guys!

After a week away, I’m back home and though I haven’t done much creating this week I thought I’d share what I have been working on over the last little while and show you how things have progressed. As you know I love to do things with my hands. Outside of sewing for Absynthetika, I love to knit and… cross stitch. That’s right. I may be a grandmother trapped in this fabulous young body. However, the stitching I like to do happens to be of the nerd variety.

If you’ve looked in stores, most of the corss stitch kits are things like flowers, unicorns, fairies and teddy bears. I don’t have anything against these kits but fluffy kittens and cutesy animals aren’t really my thing. So I turned to online resources. I started on Etsy where I came across Sunshinyday¬†and her lovely Etsy shop, though as always there’s plenty to choose from.

This particular vendor has very intricate and very beautiful geeky counted cross stitch patterns for sale. From video games to Disney to Dr. Who, she covers a wide variety of nerdom. If you search through her inventory you can also find ¬†a sale if you’re thinking of buying more than one pattern. ¬†She even sent me a photo of the finished product of one of the patterns I ordered so I could see how it would turn out.

The basic travelling box

The basic travelling box

There’s a couple of things you need to know before you start on any of her beautiful, flossy endeavours though. You need to make sure you have the right size and count for your embroidery fabric and a way to organize your materials (see above), especially organizing your thread by number, since many of the patterns use 30 colours and up. You also need a way to track what you stitch so you can properlly follow your pattern, which you will need to tape together into a gigantic map. ¬†You will also need a place to print your pattern (at home or at a small print shop), as they can be a good 9 pages of grid an over. ¬†All of these organizational tools you can find at your local craft shop.

20150731_205353

 

So my biggest recommendation is to start in the middle of both the pattern and fabirc. This way you stay centred and it’s easy to find. Keep a pencil and sharpie (permanent marker) handy so you can fill in the symbols as you stitch them. ¬†You’ll be using the sharpie to fill over the seams that you’ve taped shut. You will also want to tape everything together in a strategic way so that if you need to fold the pattern for transport you can do it along a taped seam and also so you won’t lose that part of the pattern to rubbing off the ink.

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Not quite half way done….

Another thing to be aware of is timing. One of these beauties is so big and intricate that it’s going to take a while. I have been working on this for about 7 or 8 months fairly dilligently…. to give you an idea of what kind of time investment you’re looking at. It really is an investment.

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Ignore the little unfinished corner… and enjoy the rest of the effect!

Though it takes time and patience, it can really pay off in how spectacular these look when you’re done, especially if you’re using a finer weave cloth. You can make them into pillows ¬†or go have an adventure in framing.Which is what I will document as I do it to mine.

 

Maybe taking a peek at this will inspire you to try something or to do something a little different.

 

Happy stitching!

~Megan


A Crochet Masterwork

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I have quite the amazing crochet project to share with everyone today. My sister brought it to my attention and….wow is all I have to say.

This amazing blanket was crochet by the gentleman in the picture above, a Norwegian amigurumi crafter named Kjetil Nordin. He has spent the last 6 years (800 hours) working on this massive blanket off and on and I for one am in awe of how clean his color changes are!

Based on the closes ups here, it looks like he made it using a half double crochet stitch with each pixel equaling two stitches. It’s hard to say for sure and I can only imagine what the wrong side looks like with all his color changes. He plans on hanging this lovely throw on the wall to keep it nice (can’t say that I blame him!)¬† and at 2.2m by 1.8m (7ft by 5ft) it will be quite the decoration. You can find more close ups here, that were posted by his friend on imgur, as well as see a brief interview he gave to a Norwegian site called NRK (the article I first found out about him on) if you wish to know more.

~Nicole


Inherited Craftiness

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It’s Mother’s Day in the US this weekend (it was Mothering Sunday in March on this side of the pond), so I’m spending this week celebrating all I’ve learned from my mother.

Where do you get your crafty streak? If you’re on this site, then chances are someone along your path introduced you to the ways of making your own creations. On my trip home in January, it occurred to me that I come by my love of needlework, sewing, crafting, and textiles very honestly. My mother always had some project on the go, and spent hours working by my side, showing me her creations and teaching me along the way.

inheritance3

I don’t remember learning to sew, but it was under her guidance that I learned. She taught me to cross stitch. She taught me quilting. We sewed dresses for my dolls, and created Halloween costumes. She made quilts for my bed, and helped me make one too.

inheritance2

But it went beyond that. I love textiles. I love the feel of fabrics. I love the textures created in embroidery. The marvel and the wonder in these things she passed down to me as well.

Our house was full of textiles that ranged from the traditional to the modern, with origins that spanned across the globe. Native costumes, historical needlework, and traditional patterns have always been scattered throughout our house. It was only on my trip home that I realised how much having such beautiful work surrounding us influenced my interests growing up.

It isn’t often that we think of all we’ve been given by our mothers, but for me it goes far beyond the genes she passed down. I would not have the skills or love of crafting I have today if not for her.

Considering it is Mother’s Day this weekend, I suggest we all think of who might be your “Crafting Mom” and thanking them for all the help and support and love they gave you along the way.

~ eliste