All posts by annwood

the first ever sew-along : make a crow (or raven)

handmade textile crow on a table with stones, cermaic vessels, plants and crystals- there is an antiquey feel

One of the great things about a sew-along is it gives you a container, some structure, for a project you might have on your someday list. It breaks it down into manageable pieces and those milestones create momentum. Plus the fun of working on something with lots of other people, the extra motivation and  inspiration that comes with that. And you get insight and tips that go beyond the pattern. We can take deeper dives into stuff like fabric choice, sewing tips and details.

handmade textile crow on a table with stones, cermaic vessels, plants and crystals- there is an antiquey feel

October is a perfect month to make a crow (or raven) and the first ever! ann wood handmade sew-along begins on Friday September 30th 2022. That gives you (and me) two whole weeks to get your stuff together.

A great way to start is the box method.  An actual container. Everything I make starts in a box and lives there until it’s done. The boxes are for organization and they are also a thinking tool. Most importantly a way to start, it is very easy to put things in a box.

In the sew-along posts I won’t be recreating every step of the pattern but I will be demonstrating some steps with further detail and tips. Also if you are participating and tagging on instagram, your progress photo might get featured.

Please use #annwoodcrowsewalong and #annwoodpattern . And – also optional -there’s a facebook group you can join here.

what you’ll need to participate:

sewing pattern for a realistic crowget the pattern button

The crow pdf sewing pattern (sorry booklets are not currently available)

Some time – the sew-along will take place over 4 weeks. I’ll give you a schedule on the kick off day (9/30) of what needs to be accomplished each week. Plan on having 2 – 4 -ish hours per week to work on your crow steps.

The pattern contains a material list but a couple notes:

Fabric – For the body a medium weight cotton is ideal. Scraps of silk and velvet work well for feathers and details. Incorporate different shades to give the feathers iridescence – very dark blues, green and purples work well.

Old or vintage clothes are great – suits, lace, prints over-dyed with black would be cool. And speaking of prints, your body fabric does not need to be solid. I used a calico print for the crow in the pattern. Most important is to have a variety of sheen, textures and tones.

textile crow on a pink table next to a pile of black scraps from victorian garments

Really old garments are interesting and inspiring to work with, lots of pleats and trims etc. Ebay is a good source and there is a helpful link in the crow pattern to a specific search category that I’ve been using for years. If you are persistent you can pick up damaged antique garments for not too much money that make great feathers.

There are resource links in the pattern for a couple supplies that are out of stock. I don’t currently have an alternative source for the paper covered wire for feet so we will use the alternative method included in the pattern and make our own. You can find the 18 gauge wire you’ll need in most hardware stores. And floral tape is available in lots of places online and in most big craft stores.

Let’s get inspired! Checkout a few crows made from the pattern.

handmade crow posed on a pink upholstered chair in a forest

Meg McElwee (sew liberated) wrote a beautiful post about her experience stitching her crow – check it out here.

And more awesome crows below – links to the makers where possible.

 

1. by Maralee, 2. by Brandi, 3.  by Amy, 4. by Donna 5. by Elizabeth

Are you feeling inspired to stitch a crow? Gather your materials and check back on September 30th for the first sew-along post. If you feel like sharing your material gathering I’d love to see -please use  #annwoodcrowsewalong and #annwoodpattern on instagram. There’s also a facebook group – you do not have to join to participate but you can if you like – find it here.

If you’re joining the crow sew-along let us know in the comments!

glamping with very nice mice

little handmade mice with a feed sack tent on a camping trip

little handmade mice with a feed sack tent on a camping trip

The admiral, mrs. croft and friends set out on a holiday camping adventure over the labor day weekend. They are, of course, glampers. The kind of mice who feel a chandelier, china, carpets and a proper bed are bare necessities. (PS – note on the photo – the fire is pretend- photoshopped in)

fabric mice preparing their camp site

Do you know some very nice mice who love to camp?

The little tent is made from this free pattern with some adjustments. Print the pattern at 85% and cut out on the cut line. I did not sew it. It’s just one layer of fabric (a vintage feedsack I’ve been saving for just this sort of occasion). The edges are raw. It took about 5 minutes to make.

The mice are made from another free sewing pattern.

a tiny table for mice set with miss matched mini china

The diy for the little dishes is right here.

The wire bed diy is here and the mini chandelier is here. and some more mouse house details here.

Have your very nice mice had adventures? Let us know in the comments.

make this very scrappy and super crafty bunting

scrap puff bunting over my work table

sesomg colrful mini suffolk puffs on a hot day by a pool

In the slushy, hot doldrums of summer it’s the perfect recreational sewing project. A couple weeks ago I started making a few and lost control of myself. You know how that goes. There was no real plan for them but an idea for very scrappy and super crafty bunting emerged while I was stitching.

scrap puff bunting over my work table

mini yoyos (about 1 and 3/8th inch across) in my hand

These little vintage Yoyo’s, or Suffolk Puffs, turned up at the French General workshop.
There is something extra dear and compelling about them and I was immediately charmed. Maybe it’s the size? They are smaller than I have seen before and the fabrics are fabulous.

Maybe you need some scrappy bunting or you are just in the mood to stitch a bunch of something, either way, I got you. It’s super easy and takes forever.

 

1. Start with a circle of light cotton fabric that is 3 and ⅜ th inches in diameter. You can use this template. Use sturdy thread – I’m using cotton perl. Put your needle in ¼ inch from the edge on the wrong side of the fabric and fold the edge over.

2. Stitch right along the folded edge with stitches about ¼ inch.

3. Gather tightly and knot – optional – iron flat – I like them very squished.

That’s the slow part. Making all those little puffs. The assembly part was much quicker than I expected.

 

To assemble the bunting lay out the triangle shape as shown –  a row of 4 on top, next a row of 3, 2 and 1  (I used 10 but you could also make a smaller triangle with less for a mini bunting).

Stitch the string of 4 together with sewing thread. I connected them with 3 or 4 knotted stitches on top of each other. Pro tip – keep your thread attached and trim it later.

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new tutorial : miniature farm house plate rack

doll house with tiny dishes in a green wood plate rack on the wall. The house is made from cardboard and has a rustic feel.

A farmhouse plate rack for her perfectly mismatched heirloom china. It’s easy and quick to make and it might be the sweetest thing in the world. A new miss thistle society project is a perfect way to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the sewing pattern.

There has been major progress and one big set back in miss thistle’s cardboard house. The blue and white combination for the stamped walls was fine. I just didn’t love it. When I tried to paint over it the stamp pad ink ran and smudged and bled through. Relentlessly.

What finally fixed it was a wash of orangey/brownish paint that neutralized the weird blue and made a perfect variegated background for re-stamping with a more teal blue. The result feels just right. I can feel many generations of thistle women in this little room.

*This post contains affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link. Links are highlighted and marked with an asterisk.

Let’s make the plate rack. It’s super easy and you could use the same technique to make all sorts of tiny shelves. And it’s quick, less than an hour except for drying time.

tools and materials

Please read through all the instructions before beginning

  • scissors
  • paintbrushes
  • wax paper
  • popsicle sticks  – *find them here
  • wood coffee stirrer
  • optional – miniature clothespins – so cute – *find them here
  • wood glue
  • fine sand paper
  • light weight cardboard
  • paint

1. You need 9 popsicle sticks, 1 coffee stir stick, a piece of light cardboard and – optional- 1 mini clothespin.  Use scissors (that are not your favorite scissors) to trim the popsicle sticks. Measure carefully and make the cuts as straight as possible. Also use caution- the ends you trim will go flying. Note– if your sticks break your scissors are too dull.

2. Cut 7 sticks to 3 and 3/8th inches and 2 sticks to 2 and 1/4 inch.

3. Cut one piece of cardboard to 3 and 1/2 inches X 2 and 1/4 inches

4. Trim one corner on each of the short pieces to round it. Lightly sand the edges of all the cut pieces.

5. Place wax paper on your work surface and paint wood glue onto the top half inch of the cardboard.

6. Press one of the longer pieces into the glue – centering it on the cardboard along the top edge.

7. Paint another half inch of glue below the first stick and add another – pressing it firmly against the first stick. Repeat with another stick so you have 3 sticks glued down..

8. Apply a strip of glue right under the third stick.

9. Press the edge of the fourth stick into the glue – perpendicular to the other sticks. Hold it for a minute or two to let the glue set a little. This will be your top shelf.

10. Apply a half inch of glue and press the next stick flat below it – pressing it firmly against the edge.

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stuffing : 7 tips and tricks

All your precise cutting and careful sewing are lost without thoughtful stuffing. Songbirds are a great example of how stuffing can take your project from OK to magnificent. The birds need to be firmly stuffed to fully express all their curves and have “birdness”. The birds below were hand stitched using the songbird sewing pattern. I’ve got 7 tips to help make your birds or any 3 dimensional sewing projects awesome.

1. A well stuffed creature starts with preparing the seams before you turn it right side out. Clip little triangle sections out of the seam allowance around the curves. Be careful not to cut the seams.

2. Turn your bird right side out. Take the wider end of a chopstick and run it firmly along the inside of the seams. It gives you a head start on pushing those curves all the way out. I learned this trick from a student at a workshop and use it all the time. It’s especially helpful on small curved seams that you can’t easily press open.

3. Use great stuffing. I only use wool. It makes a firm shape, I find it easier to work with than poly fill and you can fine tune the shape – more on that later. Find it in my shop.

4. Take your time. I spend a huge amount of time stuffing my birds and other creatures. Add a little at a time. Start by pushing the stuffing all the way to the head. Adding too much at once makes it harder to completely fill the shape. Keep adding stuffing until the bird body feels and looks full and round.

5. Close your eyes. Run your fingers gently over the surface and feel for empty spots or lumps. Your fingers will pick up things your eyes won’t.

6. Adjust from the outside. Use a large needle to fine tune the shape, move little bits of stuffing around inside the bird. You can get stuffing into or out of little spots that would be impossible to get to from the inside.

7. When you’re ready to close stitch part way and then add a little more stuffing (songbirds get temporarily closed at this point in their process so I’m basting).

Stuffed! The birds are round and the shape is completely filled out, the seams and surface are smooth. They are ready for feathers and I’ll update this post soon with the finished birds.

sewing pattern for a textile songbird

And if you feel like joining me in songbird sewing the pattern is 25% off until July 31.

Show me your magnificently stuffed songbird by using #annwoodpattern on instagram or emailing a photo to info at ann wood handmade dot com.

Do you have a favorite stuffing trick? Let us know in the comments.

flea market and stitching report : france edition

In June I spent a couple weeks in France with French General stitching and roaming around brocantes and vide-greniers (that’s French for flea markets and yard sales!). I came back with a little bit of stuff and a ton of inspiration. I’ll show you some more of that in a minute (the image above is from a fantastic, elegantly ramshackle shop in St. Antonin). First I want to show you what we stitched in the studio.

Don’t see the video above? click here.

The project was a journal version of the stitchbook, made from scraps and inspirations found in our travels. I sure do love old cloth. It’s mainly what I look for in France and my book is a celebration of that, toile, woad dye and classics like roses and checks.

The students were serious stitchers and embraced the thought of inventing pages inspired by the experience. So many great ideas and interpretations.

 

This book was shorter than the full 100 day stitchbook, 12 pages instead of 20. Also on most of the books the edges were left raw and straight stitched together.  It makes an excellent vacation/road project, easy to carry and perfect for stashing little treasures and memories.

 

This is a little of the fabric I brought back with me. Songbirds are already in progress and there’s a whole blog post about that too. And in the gallery below there are a few more favorite images and treasures.

It was a big adventure! And the first time I’ve traveled in a long time.  It’s also a very happy thing to be home again and back to all the things I love doing. I am a person who loves routine, I think a lot of stitchers are, how about you?

the completed stitchbook and rookie garment sewing

Ann is wearing a hand stitched double gauze top and holding the completed stitchbook - there are plants in the background

Ann is wearing a hand stitched double gauze top and holding the completed stitchbook - there are plants in the background
Let’s start with the finished stitchbook and then we gotta talk about this hand sewn top – there are awkward selfies and everything.


Finishing is good! I’m definitely a process person but wrapping up a 100 day practice feels great. And there is a prize at the end. The book feels substantial and I love looking at it.
A little bit about the finishing details, the edges of the tabs and slots were stitched with red embroidery thread.

And a little piece of trim was hiding in my bag of scraps that made an ideal fastener, it’s stitched to the middle of the back cover. I used little whip stitches on each side and was careful to only go through one layer of fabric.

You can check out the assembled book and all the pages in the video above. Don’t see the video? click here.

This book, this process was full of surprises for me. Daily practice reveals things and it’s an excellent place for ideas to turn up. Ideas like a reliable place to show up. I’ve already started another book to stitch in France next week. Find all the info on making your own book here.

Let’s talk about the top.

The pattern is by my friend KZ Stevens. It’s been my recreational sewing project for a couple weeks. Parts of it can be machine sewn but I opted to do most of it by hand.

hand stitching seams on a top and hexies by a pool

It came everywhere with me. Hand finishing the seams is a slow, relaxing, chill process. In fact as soon as it was finished I started another so I’d have more hand seams to finish. Plus I’m a rookie garment sewer, I’ve only made a couple things, and the slow process and simple construction were perfect for me. I learned a bunch.

The result is super cute. It’s all about the drape. The fabric is double gauze ( I got it on sale at joann’s – they had tons of pretty colors). And it goes perfectly with the scrap garland necklace – I love the bluish gray with the deep pink and berry shades.

Ann is wearing a hand stitched double gauze top a- there are plants in the background
It’s inside out in this photo but it works that way too since all the seams are neatly finished. It’s a perfect addition to my middle aged art lady wardrobe. As is the cute but somewhat iffy smock below.

hand sewn gray linen smock on a hanger

I also used KZ’s top pattern as a jumping off point for a little smock dress. It’s iffy because a lot of it was made up as I went along and the fit isn’t perfect. And maybe it’s a little short. There are side pockets added and a bunch of other little details that mostly sprung from me screwing up and then fixing stuff.

It took forever and technically isn’t quite finished. There are a few things to neaten up on the inside. It’s wearable though and nice for hot days. You can check out a super awkward mirror selfie here.

other summer news

very small garden with repurposed cedar chest container

The tiny garden is producing! There’s ruby red lettuce, the first strawberries, herbs and tiny squash have appeared. Pretty exciting.

What are your summer sewing projects? Have you tried sewing clothes? Do you prefer hand or machine (I vote hand)?

 

what’s on my work table : whiskers for nice mice

small felt mice in progress on my worktable

little brown felt mouse in the palm of my hand

whiskers for mice

It occurred to me lately that mice have whiskers. But the very nice mice sewing pattern has no whiskers… I have made a ton of mice but I never thought to add them until this guy.

It’s super easy to do.

Make a small knot about an inch away from the end of your cotton thread. Insert the needle and bring it out the other side. Let the knot catch. Make a knot against the fabric on the other side and clip the thread. Repeat for more whiskers.

small felt mice in progress on my worktable

I have a few little wire beds and I’m making a mouse for each.

The main project here at the moment is still the captain pattern. I am in the woodshed with them, making tons. I think you’re going to love the boot method and easy lined jacket especially.

ragdolls with bicornes and military jackets and boots

And forest friends. This is a percolating idea. Since I started hanging things on the wall I get more and more ideas for other things that could join them.

What ideas are you percolating? Have you made mice?  Do they need whiskers?

7 things bringing me joy right now

1. vessels  And they’re turning up everywhere, in my paintings, the stitchbook and as ceramics.

little ceramic bottles - one with a pinted windmill scene the other white with little handles

I’ve been taking classes at the Guilford Art Center since I landed in Connecticut and have lately gotten obsessed with vessels. Mostly little ones. There are lots more in progress. The little group below is pre-firing.

2. the stitchbook I’m very surprised and happy at how many people are participating! And it continues to be a fruitful practice for me. I go on and on about that here.

*This post contains affiliate links – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link.

3.the cardboard house I’ve been imagining the pattern for the downstairs walls for a very long time. And carving the little stamps made me want to carve lots more little stamps.

blue pattern being stamped on doll house walls

The old linen napkin I was offloading ink onto made me want to block print some fabric. I love the pattern, I see tea towels in the future…


I’ll get into more detail about the process in an upcoming cardboard house progress post. If you’d like to try making stamps you can *get a kit here – this is an affiliate link – I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the link.

4. packages Making sweet packages makes shipping orders way more fun. Brown paper, stickers, stamps bakers twine and little extras are all magic to me. Also there are  a couple new cards for spring.

packages wrapped in brown paper with stickers, stamps, cards and twine

5. twinkle lights  Most things can be improved by twinkle lights. And I’ve had one long string for many, many years that is particularly awesome. It’s the mini kind – wire with tiny lights, the light is warm and it has a plug rather than batteries. It finally died about a month ago. I tried a bunch of replacements that did not sing to me until this one arrived. It’s just right – warm light, nice and long and it plugs in. *You can get it here – and fyi this is also an affiliate link – meaning I get a tiny commission if you purchase through the link.

little art studio with twinkle lights

6. The tiny garden and  imminent lilacs. So much joy. I am so ready for the garden. I’ve got some herbs, flowers and lettuce I started from seeds in March (that feels so adult), the beets have appeared and it’s looking like my repurposed cedar chest planter is going to give me another year.

Also I’m sure it’s a good omen that a mystery plant has appeared. You gotta admire its chutzpah just showing up like that so it stays. I am gonna move it so it does not dominate the tiny space and has something to climb since it looks pretty climby.

7.  House plants make life better. Freshly repotted, happy plants. The little jade has been with me for 25 years.

Are you a plant person? What’s bringing you joy this spring? Let us know in the comments.

stitchbook : day 83 update – we are in the homestretch

fabric book pages appliqued and stitched

fabric book pages appliqued and stitched

Today is day 83 in the hundred day stitchbook project. Page 17 is the current page. I can’t wait to assemble the book. Some stuff has to be figured out first, most importantly:

Will the pages be chronological?

When I began I thought I would assemble the book with the pages in the order I stitched them. Now I’m leaning toward my pages not being in chronological order, instead arranging them  in whatever order I like. Some of the pages seem to belong together and I like the idea of seeing them side by side when the book is spread open. That decision lead me to the next decision about designing a cover and back.

day 82

There are only 4 pages left to stitch – 17 is in progress now. I’ve decided to make it the cover page and it’s going to be super simple. A couple appliques and then 100 marks/stitches.
One of the other remaining pages will be the back cover. I haven’t decided on a design yet but it will also probably be pretty spare and simple and use the same background fabric as the cover.

The  remaining pages will be approached as the first 16 pages were – experimental, improvisational.

A large part of the value of this project has been getting somewhere I did not plan to go. That’s the huge benefit of a daily art practice. Stuff turns up.

 

There are tons of people stitching pages (I’m super surprised and pleased and excited about that!) and I’ve shared a few below.

1. @lobostitched

2. @prairiewomanarts

3. @teresacass

4. @harpdollz59

5

5. @artcat237

A special over achiever award goes to @shmataboro – she has stitched 60 pages! And they are fabulous.

60 stitched pages

You can find tons more on instagram by searching #annwoodstitchbook. If you’d like to email me a photo you can send it to me at info at ann wood handmade dot com.

Are you stitching along? Are your pages going to be chronological?  Please let us know in the comments.

onward!

ann

a sneak peek at miss thistle’s house and tips for building with cardboard

cardboard doll house in progress

cardboard doll house in progress

 It’s flexible, free and easy to work with, I’m a fan of cardboard and it’s the perfect material for a house for miss thistle.   The house was begun a year – or two? ago and then stayed stuck. Stuck in over thinking, indecision and architectural correctness. It needs the right spirit and that spirit kept slipping away in the effort. 

A couple days ago I put a deadline on it – there had to be a finished structure by the end of the week.  The time limit was motivating and got my wheels turning, I stumbled into a secret ingredient that solved lots of problems – gummed paper tape.  

brown tape over cardboard house edges

*this post contains an affiliate link

It’s a thick brown paper tape with adhesive on the back that you moisten to activate. I used it to cover edges and seams – it adds strength and stability to my quick, messy build and fills in pretty big gaps. I ended up putting it over every gap, seam and edge.  I’ve used this tape before for tacking down watercolor paper but never in this way.  It is awesome. *You can get it here (This is an affiliate link – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link).

A couple tips for working with it – use a sponge to dampen the adhesive – don’t dip the tape in water. And if you’re pushing it into a corner seam, crease it first. I also used it to cover the edges of some of the windows and door opening. This was kind of a pain so I switched to masking tape for the little areas.

The main downside to working with cardboard is it warps and gets soggy when painted. I’ve got a few suggestions for avoiding that:

Use wood glue. It sets up quickly and has a nice grab almost right away. I used tons. Hot glue works too but I’m pretty over burning myself.

Cover the raw edges of the corrugated board. Use the aforementioned paper tape or masking tape. The paper tape has a nicer surface.

Laminate. It makes a huge difference. Laminating two pieces together makes a much sturdier and warp resistant structure.  Wood glue is perfect for sticking them together. I laminated the front and floors. I wish I had done the sides too but I think it will be ok.

Paint in thin coats and don’t add water. I’m using latex paint and dry brushing on a super thin layer as a primer. When the whole thing is covered in that I’ll start adding color, decoration, etc. Always in thin layers. Plus I want to retain the “cardboardness” for this house.

lifting out the removable floor

And a building tip – I used clothespins to support the second floor. I wanted it to be removable to make decorating easier. The clothespins are taken apart and wood glued to the walls. They are adorable miss thistle size beams.

I’m on fire for the little house now. So excited to do the fun decoraty stuff. I tested out a few of the tiny things inside and it all feels just right.

house on my table - ready to paint

Are you building a tiny doll world? There are lots of tutorials for furniture and accessories on the miss thistle society page, including the hearth, rug, stove and pot above.

Stay tuned for more cardboard house updates!

 

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.


customer and reader project gallery

This year we are celebrating the 16th!! anniversary of ann wood handmade with the charming, magical and imaginative work by customers and readers. I’ve added links to the maker wherever possible – check them out –  there are tons of links and you will find a pinterest level of rabbit hole fun exploring them. The mushroom below (little mushroom pattern) and gorgeous photo are by Trish.

projects made by customers and readers

You can find all the patterns for the projects below in the shop or on the free pattern page.

Crows by Gillian and Anni the wing details are fantastic!

Songbirds by Gabi, blue bird by Alexandra and colorful songbirds by Sue.

mushrooms by Sarah and Michelle

elegant rag dolls by Marilina

Frogs (find it on the free pattern page) by Barb and Cris.

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