Category: on my work table

when life gives you lemons make tiny needle books and herb markers

a mini cloth gook fastened with a red string

a very small cotton needlebook with a haret in the center - there is a needle with green thread in it wrapped in a criss cross fashion

And also maybe a sad bulb… 

let’s start with the needle book

It’s super small, just 2 and ½ by 3 inches. And it’s made with template C and the heart from the free needle book tutorial. A couple details are different from the pattern:

  1. I added a layer of cotton batting in the heart and rectangle.
  1. Instead of the loop closure  I used a string with fringed ends. It’s tied around the button and long on one end for wrapping. 

It was fun to make and the size is sweet but most importantly it helped me bust out of inertia. 

Usually, in the early summer, I take a little  time off to travel or just mess around in the garden and swim. This year, instead of that, I got super sick and did a lot of tedious website maintenance work…  Finding my energy and focus on the other side of that and getting back into a working/creative rhythm has been tough. I’ve been firmly stuck in the doldrums, not even a whisper of a breeze to push me out.

a mini cloth gook fastened with a red string

 In a doldrum emergency like this the question to ask myself is : what would I be willing to do. Not what should I do, but what might I possibly, actually, maybe be able to get myself to do.  For me the answer was a tiny needle book. And twig herb markers.

 If you don’t see the video click here.

The little book would make a great gift and I might make a couple for the shop (I’m still in a tiny needle book making place). You can check out the book in the video above. The thread wrapped needle detail is a simple thing that makes it feel extra special.

making stick herb markers

Every year I mean to make them and don’t. They’re super quick and easy, just twigs with the bark shaved off and a fine sharpie. Mine are kind of a mess but that’s in keeping with the current theme here. I love them.  

The tiny projects did the trick, somewhere between the needle book and the twig markers  there was a glimmer of motivation and momentum. The wheels are turning again and I’m nurturing that precious momentum

blulb stitched form cotton with a green sprout and sad stitched face

Let’s talk about this guy. He was a bonus project for the zoom botanical class.  I’m considering a sewing pattern or mini class for him.  

How is your summer? Have you hit the doldrums? What’s on your worktable? Do you need a sad bulb in your life? Let us know in the comments.

stitching mini tetras from scraps

work table with multi colored mini fabric charms in pyramid shapes

These mini tetra charms are super quick and fun to sew (they are also pretty addictive).  All you need is a tiny scrap and a little stuffing and you are minutes away from a completed charm. I have no real plans/reason for these yet but I love making them. There is something so satisfying about the shape and size and variety of colors together. They are lucky charms or bookmarks (on a longer string) or garlands or jewelry.

I came across a tutorial years ago on the mairuru blog  (she has lots of great diys) but got around to trying them just lately.

I made charms in two sizes – very mini – using a rectangle 2 ½ by 1 ¼ inches and a larger size using a rectangle 2 by 4 inches.

Cut your rectangles and follow the diy here.

 

tiny fabric pyramid shaped charm - about 1 inch high in my hand

indigo pyramid shaped charm in my hand

You can also make an even larger version for a pincushion or pattern weight.  Start with a rectangle twice as long as wide.

The name, tetra, comes from their shape – tetrahedron- a triangular pyramid. The construction is magical and simple. You can also make little paper packages with pretty much the same technique. Check out this vintage tetra milk carton. So cool, but it apparently did not stand the test of time…

pyramid treat boxes in paper and card stock

I also made the packages in 2 sizes. The smaller size is made using a 4 ½ by 6 inch rectangle and the larger with a 6 by 8 rectangle. If you’re using heavier paper like card stock the larger size is best. For the little one I used kraft paper. a shopping bag is ideal.

*this post contains an affiliate link, meaning if you purchase through the link I get a small commission.

Roll the paper into a tube, overlapping the edges and tape or (glue stick) them. I used washi tape. Double sided tape is also great for the join.

Fold the edge over twice. You can glue or staple or even sew the edge. It also does not need to be folded – you could  trim the edge instead. Put treats or surprises (or little tetra charms inside).

Close the other end with the taped join on the side instead of the middle, fold and staple.

And we gotta talk about the stapler. Who new staples could be so charming? It was a Christmas gift and everything about it is appealing, the box it comes in, the midcentury design and the tiny staples. You can find it here * this is an affiliate link meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the link.

I love the simple little packages! You can find more variations of them and other simple and sweet packaging ideas on my pinterest packaging board.

Will you stitch up some mini tetra charms? Do you love cool packaging? Does a tiny staple make you swoon? Let us know in the comments.

first ever zoom workshop, fabric boats and the last 3 stitch book pages

textile seed pods

There’s a lot of news! The first ever zoom workshop,  fabric boat progress, the next art work update, a new notecard,  plus we are down to the last 3 stitch book pages and, by popular demand , the cardboard house measurements.

zoom workshop

Let’s start with the zoom. We’ll be making seedpods! The workshop is hosted online by my friends at French General. You can find all the details and sign up here.

The seedpod is one of my favorite classes to teach and I’ve done it in person many times here and in France. This will be my first zoom! With hopefully lots more to follow. You’ll learn a bunch about soft sculpture and the result is pretty spectacular.

click here for info and registration 

Checkout some workshop seedpods below:

textile seed pods

 

the cardboard house

The cardboard house was made without any real planning and not that much measuring… It’s wonky and a bit uneven. There will not be a tutorial or pattern for it but there is a post with building tips and because lots of people have asked I’ve added the approximate measurements below. I hope that helps and good luck with your cardboard house!

  • measurements are in inches:
  • across bottom – 11.5
  • ceiling/floor – 13.25
  • wall height – 9.5
  • roof – 13
  • and the depth is – 8.75

uppercase magazine


This week’s newsletter was sponsored by uppercase magazine. UPPERCASE is an always gorgeous quarterly print magazine for the creative and curious. The newest issue is all about surface pattern design, featuring the portfolios of 100 artists plus in-depth features with cover artist and fabric designer Anna Maria Horner as well as designers e bond, Kitty McCall, Mirth Studios and more. I’m a huge fan of Janine and uppercase was a contributor to the stitch illo volume.

* BECOME A NEWSLETTER SPONSOR

Do you have a product or service the more than 24000 readers of the ann wood handmade newsletter would be happy to hear about? One carefully curated sponsorship opportunity per newsletter is available. Email for more info.

the fabric sailboat sew-along

I haven’t made a fabric sailboat in quite a while and had to follow my own directions closely. I’m happy to report they are excellent. My parts are nearly assembled and the hull is taking shape. The hulls are made from fabric and batting over cereal box cardboard. I’m always amazed at what graceful shapes a simple cardboard armature can make.

While the mast is drying in place I’m working on sails and flags. Next week I’ll make a passenger. I’m leaning towards wobblers… The sweet boats below are made by readers – 1. Terry Wilson and 2. Lindsey Bass. So adorable! if you’re making a fabric sailboat please use #annwoodregatta to share.

 

a couple more studio notes

The next art update is 4/20 at noon eastern time, you can sign up for an email notification here. Lot’s of small paintings and depending on the kiln situation there might be a couple new story bottles. And there’s a new notecard available now – peaceful moon.

the last three stitch book pages

Only three left?! It’s day 85 today, 4/14. Lot’s of people have already started assembling their books. I’m waiting until the very end to decide my page order. I know what pages I want to display together but have not decided on the overall lay out. In the last stitch book blog post on 4/29 I’ll do a demo of the alternative page joining method (raw page edges exposed) but if you’re anxious to get started the short explanation is follow these steps until step 11 . Instead of right sides together place the wrong sides together and then stitch around the edge.

What’s on your work table this spring? Are you a fan of zoom workshops? Are you assembling your stitch book? Let us know in the comments and happy garden season!

the 2022 ornament round-up : little projects for the holidays

Little projects for your tree or an extra on a gift or place setting.  Easy and fun to make and give. This year my tree is a carefully chosen branch. Everything on it is made from my sewing patterns, some from the shop and some from the free pattern library. We’ll talk about that in a minute. 

First let’s check out 5 free projects from the interwebs.

 

1. These victorian cones are such a classic! You can fill them with treats or treasures. The free DIY is by www.halfyardsewingclub.com. The design and tutorial  are excellent. They’re super easy and you could sew up a bunch in a day – find the instructions here.

2. Fabric origami poinsettia ornaments –  they’ re quick and clever.

3. 3D ornaments made from hexies! Simple, brilliant and easy. My stick tree needs a couple of these.  Find the DIY at wild Olive. They would also be great as a garland.

4.  Felt ginger bread ornaments – find a little house here and a felt gingerbread man here.

5. A village wreath! The paper houses are super sweet. There are templates for cutting machines or PDF templates you can cut out by hand.  I love the forest village idea. You could also just make make the paper houses for a village or as ornaments.  Find it all at deliacreates.com

There are some great holiday ideas in the  stitch club community too, these trees are by Mary C. The pattern is the free scrappy tree pattern and she added the bead detail on the hanging string – perfect!

There are a couple scrappy trees on my branch too. The branch happened by accident – I  stumbled upon an irresistible stick that would make perfect, simple tree just right for the things I made.  And a bunch of tinsel.

A branch in an antique ceramic bottle used as a christmas tree and decorated with simple stitched and paper ornaments

I’ve got one very helpful suggestion if you decide to do a branch tree. Get some glue dots. You can find them in craft stores.  The branch is pretty smooth and the dots keep the ornaments from sliding down. Also tinsel placement was crucial. I’m from the one strand at a time school of thought and I wanted tinsel to hang from the very tips of the branches – impossible without a glue dot.

That decorated stick is bringing me a lot of holiday joy, more than expected.  Let’s talk about the ornaments.  The afore mentioned scrappy trees, the also free sheep ornaments and lucky fish, and the mushroom is the mini size from the mushroom sewing pattern.

The wax paper snowflakes are made from this DIY (so fun and easy to make), the little paper snowflakes were cut by a friend. The star on top is also made from the wax paper ornament tutorial using foil and vintage paper. Find the little felt boat pattern in the shop here.

Thar she blows. I was so happy to see this guy, he’s one of my favorite ornaments and he’s been missing  for a while. Love his lacy spout. He is made from the little whale pattern. And finally the minimalist chicken, find the free pattern here.

Are you making ornaments? Do you have a favorite holiday project? Are you a one strand of tinsel at a time sort of person? Let us know in the comments!

happy and merry to you,

ann

make scrappy trees from recreational patchwork

These little tree ornaments (or garland) are a quick and easy  project perfect for scraps and a great excuse for indulging in some recreational patchwork: sewing lots of random fabric scraps together (on the sewing machine) without thinking about it too much, inviting happy accidents.

The trees have batting inside and are finished with quilting stitches. As many or as few as you like.  I used muslin for the back, I like that they feel like tiny quilts.

To make the patchwork start with a big variety of light weight cotton and join pieces together. Press the seams open, trim the edge and sew more together etc. etc. 

When a bunch are joined you can cut it into smaller sections and join those together. You get the idea.  It could go on forever – joining, cutting and joining again. I love doing it and it also get’s me moving if I’m feeling stuck or  keeps my hands busy while an idea is percolating.

how to make the trees

download the tree template

You will also need:

  • embroidery thread
  • a large sharp embroidery needle
  • cotton batting
  • optional – muslin for the back
  • chopstick for turning
  • basic sewing supplies

1. place the tree template on your patchwork and cut out with about a 1/4 inch seam allowance

2. Place your tree back fabric (I’m using plain muslin) over thin cotton batting. If your back fabric has a wrong and right side you want the right side facing up.

3. Place the cut tree over the back fabric with the right side facing down.

4. Pin the pattern back on and cut out.

support the ann wood handmade free pattern library with a happy donation 

Support free patterns like scrappy trees! And keep the awesome free projects flowing.

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back to the trees:

5. Sew around the edge of the pattern leaving one side partially open. The opening should be about 1 and 1/2 inch.

6. Trim off the points close to the seams being careful not to clip the seam. Clip little triangles out in the corners of the trunk and clip away any excess seam allowance.

7. Turn your tree right side out through the opening.

8. Use the larger end of the chopstick to push out the general shape and the sharper ends to push the points all the way out.

9. Fold in the opening edges and press the tree. Don’t sew it shut yet – leaving it open is handy for hiding the ends of your threads if you’re quilting it. Add some quilting stitches. I made the executive decision  not to care what the stitches on the back of the tree look like – wabi-sabi style. If you do care just turn the tree over with each stitch to make sure you’re bringing the needle out where you want it.

10.   When you’re done quilting bring the thread out at the tip to create a hanging string and finally whip stitch the side closed.

These are super quick – I made a bunch in just a couple hours and they go fastest in batches. They’re sweet to hang on a tree or anywhere and  a nice extra on a package.

I hope you make scrappy trees! You can use #annwoodpattern on instagram to share or join the community!

owl color inspiration, a couple sneak peaks and stitch club test drive

Changes are afoot! The biggest is the brand new community. You can share what you’re working on, follow topics like the crow sew-along, the miss thistle society and finish line friday. 

What is finish line friday? At the beginning of the week choose a project or task that’s been hanging around in almost done-ness or not technically, actually started-ness, finish by friday and share with the stitch club community! It could be something super small – it’s all about momentum. Last week my FLF task was to fix the giant mess in the sewing/shipping room and it was magically tidy again by Friday. I sure do love a deadline

This week my task was pulling fabrics for an autumnal owl. The next sew-along will be the dastardly owl and the start date will be announced soon.  The pattern is available as a pdf or booklet and if you’re ordering the booklet you’ll want to do that pretty soon.  The fabrics I’m using are a mix of cotton, linen and light weight wool with lots of variety in texture and color.

There will be a group in the new community devoted to the owl and that’s especially helpful if you’re feeling anxious about trying the pattern.  The facebook group and stitch club members are superstars about helping and encouraging. 

The stitch club is still in the experimental stage but already a promising creative and supportive group, a bunch of friends who sew. There are currently over 400 members and if you feel like giving it a test drive you can sign up here.

so long kits

Kits are going away. Once the current stock is gone kits will be retired. As a stubbornly one person business the labor and expense of creating and shipping them has not worked. I’d rather spend that time creating new patterns or art work. The prospect of working 16 hours a day at the ann wood handmade fulfillment center (the little sewing/shipping room at the top of the post) again this holiday season is deeply unappealing. So many paper cuts…  I will still have booklets and soon some fabric packs. Find the kits in the shop while supplies last and then they are gone. 

new art work

It’s interesting how much framing affects how I think about the little paintings. The frames place them in another world, another time. They feel outside of me, who’s dark and dusty library did the swan hang in many years ago? That’s the feeling I want for them, relics from another life and time.

and story bottles

two little ceramic vases in blue and offwhite painted with and owl and a windmill

The imagery springs from the daily paintings. One thing really does lead to another. The bottles are wheel thrown stoneware, painted in underglaze and high fired.  The first collections of bottles and framed paintings will be in the shop in early November.

You can sign up for an email notification here.

ceramic bottles small - offwhite with blue painting in an early american style

 

christmas card with water color illustration of a mouse, seen through a baseboard mouse hole, decorating a tree

Also in the shopping department if holiday cards are on your list now is the time to order.

Are you ready for the owl sew-along? Also I’m rolling a couple ideas around for the winter including an ornament swap and a correspondence workshop for the soldier rag doll – meaning the lessons are delivered via weekly email to a limited number of participants and we have a dedicated group in the new community for discussion, videos and sharing images – is that something you’d be into? Let us know in the comments.

 

crow sew-along week 4 : finishing the crow

 parts of a textile crow on my worktable ready to be assembled

The final steps go fast. One minute there are a bunch of parts in front of you and the next thing you know there’s a big bird standing on your table.  It’s been a while since I made a crow and I expected the assembly to take way longer than it did. The reality was just a couple hours and that included me awkwardly filming myself. Let’s jump ahead and take a look at the finished guy before we talk about putting it all together. 

As soon as he was done I took him to the front yard for a photo. Just kidding! That’s the Henry Whitfield House in the background. It’s definitely haunted and the oldest house in Connecticut.

assembling the crow

don’t see the video? click here

Check out the video above  for a pretty solid look at stitching the eye, a little bit of the wing stitching plus a finishing tip at the end, something I do to all my feathered textile creatures. And keep reading for more assembly tips.

He got on his feet easily and did require a bunch of counter weight for balance (about 80 cents). Before closing up his back I pinned on his wings and tail for a test drive. The tail was fine but the wings felt like they needed a tiny bit more texture so I added a feather. 

The most difficult thing about assembling the crow is sewing everything on after the legs and beak are in. There are a couple things that help. Keep your thread pretty short, less to tangle, and hold your bird upside down, feet up, as much as possible, get gravity on your side.

I realized after his official photoshoot that I had forgotten the last step in the sewing pattern – shoving some stuffing up into his shoulders. I think maybe he doesn’t need it though, the extra ruffle detail on the top of his wings is enough.

Good luck assembling your crow! And congratulations where-ever you are in the process. This is the last of the 4 official  crow sew-along posts but we will need a finale post for sure, a parade of crows.  You can checkout crows in progress in the facebook group  and on instagram- #annwoodcrowsewalong.

Plus! the brand new ann wood handmade community – stitch club. Please click here to sign up.

sew along links:  week one     week two     week three

Are you ready to assemble your crow? Did you already cross the finish line? Just getting started? Let us know in the comments.

5 things bringing me joy and community questions

fish and owl ornaments in progress

fish and owl ornaments in progress

small sewing

The fish are getting stuffed with wool and dried lemon verbena from the garden. It dried really well and just a little mixed with wool adds lots of scent. I’m all about a fresh lemony smell. Starting little gifty items early makes me feel like an over-achiever. For now. This feeling will fall apart by November first and I’ll be in a holiday induced panic for weeks.

collection of small cotton prints stacked on my cutting table

fabric score

One of those “start the car!!” moments. Guilford has a couple great church thrift sales every year and I made a major fabric score. That’s yardage people!  And the prints are perfect for the tiny doll.  Little variety packs in autumnal shades will be in the shop next – week-ish.

frog rag doll lounging on a blanket in fall leaves wearing a miniature sweater

sweata weatha

These guys are made from the free frog pattern (the sweater was a gift).  I sure do love making something and then taking it outside for a photoshoot.  You can checkout a video version here.

And you can show me you what your frogs are up to be using #annwoodpattern on instagram or emailing a photo to info at ann wood handmade dot com.  There will be another exciting image sharing option coming soon – scroll to the bottom of this post for more.

 

spooky books

It’s an annual event for my friend Katy and me. This year the official picks are: Frankenstein – Mary Shelley, which I have somehow never read, and the 70’s title (I have a particular love of movies and books made in the 70’s) is Ghost Story by Peter Straub. I’m super into both.  Ghost Story is not available new but I found it at the library and used on ebay. It’s also available in ibooks.  I remember Ghost Story being on my Mom’s night stand a million years ago. Sometimes she would let me read her books with black crayon redactions but this one was entirely forbidden…

a crow wing in progress- feathers pinned in place

crow sew-along

The first ever sew-along (crow sewing pattern) has been a big surprise. There are way more participants than expected and awesome crows are emerging. The real magic (and biggest surprise) has been in the facebook group. There are more than 400 crow makers in the community and it is a supportive, fun, self-sufficient and friendly group. Experienced sewers are helping beginners and all kinds of ideas for fabulous crow details are turning up. Thanks very much to everybody for making it great. The wing photo above is by Heather on instagram.

textil mushrooms in the hands that made them

stitch club

For people who aren’t on social media having a place to share your images has been a problem for ages. The success of our first sew-along has lit a new fire under me to fix that. The ann wood handmade community, stitch club, is currently, officially in the works. I‘d love to know what you would like from that community. Some ideas are sew-alongs, project challenges, maybe make the scrap festival a more interactive event? Your thoughts and suggestions are very welcome. The fine print – at the moment I’m planning on this being a free community at least to start. If it ends up working out I’ll have to figure out how to pay for it and it will likely move to freemium – meaning membership is free but there are also classes or group events available to purchase. If it does’t work out the way I’m hoping I’ll delete the whole thing and we’ll never speak of it again (just kidding- I’ll keep looking for a solution that works for us).

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.

sew along links:  week one     week two     week three      week 4

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.

Read More

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?