Ribbon and Embroidery Christmas Stocking

The fridge is packed with Thanksgiving leftovers and the Black Friday ads are out, so now it is time to think about Christmas.  While I try to plan ahead each year, I really find it difficult to get into the Christmas spirit early (unless I am working on a book project or something for one of my clients!).  In my personal life, I like to take my holidays one at a time.

So here is a little Christmas project I want to share with you.  I designed it for the Renaissance Ribbons Quilt Market & Festival booth.  I love Sue Spargo’s holiday ribbons and I thought they might look good with a few hand embroidery stitches.  I was trying to create the feel of a richly embroidered/needlepointed Christmas stocking, but with a bit less time-consuming hand stitching.  So I sewed the ribbons down to the velveteen stocking shape with pearl cotton hand stitches and then added rows of stitching between the ribbon rows.

I used cotton velveteen for the base of the stocking and I pre-washed it. (You’ll see why shortly.)  Then I cut out my stocking shape (a basic one I have used for several projects) and fused the rows of ribbons in place to the stocking front.  For the embroidery, I chose pearl cotton, in sizes 5 and 8, but floss would certainly work too.  To make it easy to sew the stitches, keep them even and work without an embroidery hoop, I used strips of Sew Cherished crazy stitch adhesive guides.  What a cool product!  You cut the designs into strips.  They are tacky so you can stick the strips where you want the stitches to be and then sew right on top of them.  The needle slides through the adhesive paper easily and you don’t have to worry about making your stitches perfectly spaced – just follow the lines.  When you are done stitching, place the stocking shape in water and the adhesive paper will quickly dissolve.  So now you see why I pre-washed the velveteen fabric.  I was worried it might shrink.  I did not pre-wash the ribbons, although I did press them lightly to smooth them before I stitched them down.  They are polyester and will not shrink.  After the stocking front dried, I sewed the stocking back to the front and finished off the top edges by sewing a lining in place.

Of course you can use any stocking shape; the ribbons can be applied diagonally, vertically or horizontally.  I used horizontal rows at the top to give the look of a “cuff”, but that can be replaced with an embroidered name and maybe just one row of ribbon below that line.

If you love these Sue Spargo Christmas ribbons as much as I do, Pat Sloan is conducting a give-away of her collection, along with a copy of my ribbon book, The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts.  Check our her blog for the details.

Win a collection of Sue Spago’s holiday ribbon collection for Renaissance Ribbons – and my ribbon book too!

Good luck, but remember if you are not the lucky winner, the ribbons are available in the Renaissance Ribbon store and you can find my book on Amazon.

Hope you get into the Christmas spirit with a little bit of ribbon and stitch.  Have fun!

Time slippin’ away…..and so much to be thankful for.

I know I haven’t written in a long time, but I didn’t realize it’s been 2 1/2 months since my last post.  Yikes!  Time sure has a “funny” way of slippin’ away.  Rather than write a lot of words, I’ll share a few pictures of what has been happening around here, going back to September.

I spent the month of September chained to my sewing machine, working on projects for Quilt Market and Quilt Festival (more about that in another post).

Cruisin’ the Mediterranean

Although Quilt Market wasn’t until the end of October, I was super motivated to get everything done and out the door by 10/1 because we had a very special trip planned – a 12 day Mediterranean cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  We have never traveled like that and it was indeed the trip of a lifetime! (Took over 1000 pictures which I will eventually edit and share just a few with you in an inspiration post.)

Came home for a few days – full of family and friends and fun – as we celebrated our niece’s upcoming wedding and our anniversary.  A big thank you to our amazing daughters who planned it all since Mom was a bit jet-lagged.

Renaissance Ribbons Quilt Market Fall 2012

Then off to Quilt Market and Festival in Houston where I taught a Schoolhouse class and demoed for Renaissance Ribbons.  Their products are so beautiful and the response was amazing.  I demoed making bracelets from ribbons and must have made several hundred between the two shows.  It was so energizing to spend time with the talented folks from Renaissance Ribbons and all the consumers who absolutely fell in love with everything in the booth.  Exhausting, stimulating, overwhelming….what else can I say?  It was quite an experience.

But while I was enjoying myself in Houston, Hurricane Sandy was on its way to NJ.  We do not live near the shore, so I really wasn’t that worried.  But then again, last year when I was in Houston, I came home to 23″ of wet snow, downed trees, and no power for 5 days.  So maybe we would get a lot of rain and wind and lose power for a few days.  But as we all know, it was much worse than expected.  I was able to get home Saturday night after the storm.  We ended up without power for 14 days and phones and Internet for 17 days.  We live out in the country, surrounded by trees….and we lost about 36 trees, all pushed down in a row, like matchsticks.  Luckily nothing hit the house.  Everything was OK.  But driving around and seeing the images from the shore communities, we saw that many had lost so much.

If anything good has come from the storm, it has been the heartfelt outreach of so many people – from checking in on neighbors and friends near and far, to our church finding a generator and serving meals to hundreds each day, to the many volunteers who are still are out there cleaning and clearing and getting things back to what will be a new normal.  There is indeed so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.  Hugs all around!

Talkin’ Ribbon with Pat Sloan on the Radio

I am thrilled to be invited to be a guest on American Patchwork & Quilting Radio with Pat Sloan.  We’ll be live on the air tomorrow, Sept 10, at 4pm Eastern time, so please join us if you can.  I love to listen to Pat’s online radio show, especially when I am working on a project in my workroom.  It always feels like a bunch of quilting and sewing friends have stopped by for a visit…kindred folks sharing their passions and discoveries.

Pat and I are going to talk about my book, The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts, with special emphasis on my favorite section – Sewing with Ribbons.  Since the book was written, I have continued to experiment with a variety of sewing and quilting projects that are enhanced with a touch of ribbon.  I plan on sharing some tips for sewing and quilting with ribbons and also on my Lazy Log Cabin Patchwork technique.

Lazy Log Cabin Ribbon Patchwork Pillow made with Anna Maria Horner ribbons by Renaissance Ribbons

The show airs live on Mondays at 4pm Eastern time, but you can click on the replay button below and listen to it anytime.  I hope you can join us live or anytime you need a little company as you work on your projects.  It’s such fun to be a part of this great big friendly sewing and quilting world.  Lovely to know we are all just a click away.

Lazy Log Cabin Ribbon Patchwork

Lazy Log Cabin Ribbon Patchwork Pillow

One of my favorite techniques that I featured in my book, The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts, is ribbon patchwork.  I call this the Lazy Log Cabin pattern because it really is a short-cut version of a traditional pieced patchwork block.  Except, I am not doing any piecing with different fabrics.  I am using rows or ribbons, placed side-by-side, to imitate the look.

Page 158 from “The Complete Photo Guide to Ribbon Crafts”

The block starts with a center square of ribbon that is fused to a base fabric.  Surrounding rows of ribbon are then positioned around the square in rows.  Each row covers the raw cut edges of the previous row, creating a very quick and neat log cabin patchwork.  Machine zigzag or decorative overcast stitches can be sewn along all the edges, where the ribbons abut.

With all the beautiful woven jacquard ribbons available, it is so much fun to mix and match different patterns and colors of ribbon to make a lazy log cabin block.  The ribbons can be cut so as to engineer the placement of a special motif in the center of the block.  The outside rows of ribbon can extend out to the edges of the project so they can be caught in a seam or folded back to the wrong side.

Here are is a Lazy Log Cabin Pillow tutorial I did for Fairfield Processing, using a variety of Renaissance Ribbons.  This is a great project for using up bits and pieces of ribbons you may have leftover from other projects.  Of course the blocks can be used for projects other than pillows – maybe the center of a wall quilt or the front of a tote bag?

I think it is perfectly fine to be a little “lazy” from time to time….

Hints & Tips for Sewing with Ribbons

It’s that time of year again….almost Quilt Market…so I have been busy working on projects for the show.  I am super excited this year because I will be demonstrating for Renaissance Ribbons at both Quilt Market and Quilt Festival.  I’ll also be teaching a Schoolhouse Series class for them the day before Market opens.  More and more as I work with their lovely woven ribbons, I realize how much “wow” they add to a project.

Kaffe Fassett Ribbon Pillow

Sewing with ribbons is easy.  Just keep these hints & tips in mind:

– Most woven ribbons are polyester and will not shrink or fade.  However, the fabric you are stitching them to may, so it is always a good idea to pre-wash and dry your base fabric as you would the finished project.  Of course, if you are making something that will never be washed, that is not necessary.

– Be careful when ironing ribbons.  Set the iron temperature to a lower synthetic setting.  Before sewing any project, I like to lightly press the ribbons with a steam iron to smooth them and prepare them for stitching.  Once the ribbons are stitched to the base fabric, make sure you continue to press them with a cool iron.  Or, if the iron is on a cotton setting, press the ribbons from the wrong side of the fabric or use a pressing cloth to protect them.

– To eliminate the need for pins and to keep the ribbons from shifting as they are sewn in place, I like to use a little basting glue or strips of lightweight fusible web such as Steam-a-Seam.  Follow the directions on the packaging and apply the adhesive to the wrong side of the ribbon.  Make sure whatever adhesive you select is OK for stitching through.  – To sew the ribbons by machine, use a size 75 or 80 needle and make sure that it is sharp.  The needle should be fine enough so that the holes it creates in the ribbon are just large enough for the sewing thread.

– I generally use polyester thread and sew the ribbon close to each side with straight or zigzag or overcast stitches.  You might also want to experiment with machine embroidery threads and decorative machine stitches.  Match the ribbon color if you don’t want the stitches to show or select a coordinating and contrasting color for added interest.

– Always sew in the same direction on both sides of the ribbon.  This will prevent any shifting and puckering.  – Ribbons can also be sewn by hand.  Use a fine needle and sew slip stitches close to both edges of the ribbon.  For added “wow”, beads can be added to the slip stitches.  Hope these hints & tips will encourage you to start sewing with the pretty ribbons you might have in your stash.  And next time you are tempted at the store, go ahead and pick up a yard or two of your favorites.  I am sure you will find just the perfect way to use them to add that touch of “wow” to your projects.

I’ll be posting more ribbon project ideas and tutorials here soon, as well as on the Renaissance Ribbons blog.

London Olympics Ribbon Bracelet

I am working on a ribbon jewelry tutorial for an upcoming post on the Renaissance Ribbons blog and I fell in love with the Union Jack ribbon they recently sent to me.  With all the buzz about the upcoming London Olympics opening this week, I thought this easy-to-make project would make a great accessory to get into the spirit of the games.

Union Jack Ribbon Bracelet – Ready for the London Olympics

Here’s what you need to make the bracelet:

7/8″ British Flag ribbon (Measure your wrist to determine the size of bracelet you want then subtract 1″ from that measurement to determine the length of ribbon you will need.), two 7/8″ ribbon crimps, lobster clasp and 3 jump rings, chain nose and nylon jaw pliers, Fray Check.

Apply a little Fray check on the cut ends of the ribbon to prevent them from unraveling.  Then use the nylon jaw pliers to attach the ribbon crimps to each end.

Hold the ribbon straight while you close the pliers and crush the crimps tightly onto the ribbon ends.

Add a jump ring to each ribbon crimp.  Add another jump ring and the clasp to one side.

It’s that easy……you’re done!                                          

The British Flag ribbon is available in the regular style I used as well as a very cool distressed styleI may not be able to jump on a plane to see the games an person, but I can wear my ribbon bracelet while I sit in front of the telly eating my crumpets and tea (better make that iced tea!)

The Renaissance Ribbons Blog & Me

I am thrilled!  Edith Minne, owner of Renaissance Ribbons, has invited me to be a regular guest contributor to their blog.  I am a huge fan of their gorgeous woven ribbons so I know it will be easy to write posts about all sorts of topics related to ribbons.

A box of beautiful Renaissance Ribbons – what a treat to receive in the mail.

Renaissance Ribbons creates original designs for woven ribbons and works with many talented designers including Anna Maria Horner, Kaffe Fassett, Sue Spago, Laura Foster Nicholson, Jennifer Jangles and Dena Designs.  All these unique ribbons are so lovely and special that it is very easy to design projects to use them.  Just a little bit can be made into a card or sewn to a pillow or made into a bracelet.

In my posts on the RR blog, I will share project ideas and tutorials, tips and techniques for working with ribbons, as well as interviews with the people who work and design with Renaissance Ribbons and upcoming sneak peaks of new products.  Plus anything I can think of that is related to ribbons.  This is going to be fun!

Recently Renaissance Ribbons opened an online retail shop so now it will be easy for anyone to purchase their ribbons.  Take a minute and check it out.  But keep in mind that their ribbons are a little bit like really good chocolate….a little addicting, especially if you are a ribbon lover/collector (OK, hoarder) like me.