Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you! My sale is on!


Thank you, 2021, for being a year to make me more conscious than ever of life's blessings, in awe of God's providence, and more aware of just how quickly life can change. I'm holding my dear ones a bit tighter this year (under their loud protests LOL) and resolving to be a person who is more deliberate about giving thanks in all circumstances. One huge blessing I'm counting right now is YOU, who so kindly stuck with me and sent so many encouraging notes and messages. Thank you! I'm looking forward to jumping back into doing what I love, designing new patterns for you to enjoy. 

If you've been waiting for my annual sale to buy a pattern from my Etsy shop, wait no more, this is it! 20% off your pattern purchase through Monday with no code necessary. Please note: the sale is keyed to my time zone, Eastern Standard, so factor that in if you are in a different part of our lovely world.

Many many thanks to you! And please accept my wish to all, wherever on this beautiful planet you may be, that God richly blesses you with happiness, health, and special times with those you love. And may you snag the very last piece of pecan pie.  

Monday, November 8, 2021

Ghost of Christmas Past: detailed Benzie color guides – kits available!


Ghost of Christmas Past is the third pattern in my Ebenezer Ornament Series. Here are the detailed felt/floss/sequin/bead color guides for you so that you can easily make spirits that look like my Benzie felt samples!

Benzie Design has long been one of my favorite places to purchase wool-blend felts. They have stellar customer service, quick shipping, and their felt, floss, sequins and beads are an absolute joy to work with! They will be very happy to help you with what you need.

First, some handy links to get you started:
To buy the Ghost of Christmas Past pattern: mmmcrafts.etsy.com
To buy the Modern Pastel or Victorian felt palettes shown here:
To shop their sparkle and shine:
Benzie sequins and beads and also their metallic felts

OK! Here are the color guides:

Modern Pastel Silver Ghost

BENZIE FELT COLORS:*
Silver: Tunic and capelet
Gold Metallic Bellwether:** Snuffer, belt, tunic leaves
Peach: Body and arms
Moss: Holly leaves
Fern: Center holly leaf
*Note: You will need matching floss or thread colors
**Substitute Mustard felt if you do not have metallic felt

FLOSS/SEQUIN/BEAD COLORS:*
Capelet: DMC 937 and D3852. Benzie Teal seed beads, Benzie Red seed beads. Trim: Benzie White seed beads, 5 mm iridescent translucent sequins
Belt: DMC 905, 5 mm gold sequins, 8 mm iridescent white sequin topped with 6 mm gold sequin, Benzie Gold seed beads
Tunic: DMC 934, 905, 3705, 943, and D3852. 6 mm metallic kelly green sequins topped with 5 mm aqua sequins, 5 mm lime metallic sequins, 8 mm lime metallic sequin topped with 6 mm metallic kelly green sequin, Benzie Red seed beads, Benzie White seed beads, Benzie Teal seed beads, Benzie Kelly Green seed beads
Snuffer: DMC E301, 4 mm Benzie Gold metallic sequins, Benzie Rose Gold seed beads 
Holly Staff: gold sewing thread, semi-precious 4 mm beads
Year on back: DMC 943
*All sequins/beads sewn with gold sewing thread

OTHER NOTIONS:
Holly staff: white 26 gauge paper wrapped stem wire
Hanging Loop: DMC 5282 Metallic Pearl


Modern Pastel Ecru Ghost

BENZIE FELT COLORS:*
Ecru: Tunic and capelet
Gold Metallic Bellwether:** Snuffer, belt, tunic leaves
Peach: Body and arms
Moss: Holly leaves
Turquoise: Center holly leaf
*Note: You will need matching floss or thread colors
**Substitute Mustard felt if you do not have metallic felt

FLOSS/SEQUIN/BEAD COLORS:*
Capelet: DMC 3848 and 732. Benzie Foxglove seed beads, Benzie Red seed beads. Trim: Benzie Rainbow seed beads, 5 mm iridescent translucent sequins
Belt: DMC D301, 5 mm gold sequins, 8 mm iridescent gray translucent sequin topped with 5 mm gold sequin, Benzie Gold seed beads
Tunic: DMC 3848, 732, and D3852. 6 mm metallic copper sequins, 5 mm pink sequins, 8 mm pink sequin topped with 6 mm copper sequin, Benzie Red seed beads, Benzie Foxglove seed beads, Benzie Rose Gold seed beads
Snuffer: DMC D301, 5 mm gold sequins, Benzie Rose Gold seed beads 
Holly Staff: gold sewing thread, semi-precious 4 mm beads
Year on back: DMC 3705
*All sequins/beads sewn with gold sewing thread

OTHER NOTIONS:
Holly staff: white 26 gauge paper wrapped stem wire
Hanging Loop: DMC 5282 Metallic Pearl


Victorian Swan Ghost

BENZIE FELT COLORS:*
Swan: Tunic and capelet
Bronze Metallic Bellwether:** Snuffer, belt, tunic leaves
Peach: Body and arms
Turquoise: Holly leaves
Peacock: Center holly leaf
*Note: You will need matching floss or thread colors
**Substitute Copper felt if you do not have metallic felt

FLOSS/SEQUIN/BEAD COLORS:*
Capelet: DMC 3808 and D301. Benzie White seed beads, Benzie Red seed beads. Trim: Benzie Rainbow seed beads, 5 mm iridescent translucent sequins
Belt: DMC D168, 5 mm iridescent gray sequins, 8 mm iridescent gray sequin topped with 5 mm teal sequin, Benzie Rose Gold seed beads
Tunic: DMC 3808, 3848, White, 815, and 3712. 8 mm iridescent gray translucent sequins topped with 5 mm teal sequins, 5 mm metallic red sequins, 8 mm red metallic sequin topped with 5 mm pink sequin, Benzie White seed beads, Benzie Red seed beads, Benzie Teal seed beads
Snuffer: DMC D168, 4 mm Benzie Copper sequins, Benzie Rose Gold seed beads 
Holly Staff: copper sewing thread, semi-precious 4 mm beads
Year on back: DMC 815
*All sequins/beads sewn with copper sewing thread

OTHER NOTIONS:
Holly staff: white 26 gauge paper wrapped stem wire
Hanging Loop: DMC 5283 Metallic Pearl


Victorian Midnight Ghost

BENZIE FELT COLORS*:
Midnight: Tunic and capelet
Silver Metallic Bellwether:** Snuffer and belt
Bronze Metallic Bellwether:** Tunic leaves
Peach: Body and arms
Turquoise: Holly leaves
Swan: Center holly leaf
*Note: You will need matching floss or thread colors
**Substitute Bronze felt if you do not have metallic felt

FLOSS/SEQUIN/BEAD COLORS:*
Capelet: DMC 958 and D301. Benzie Red seed beads, Benzie Aquamarine seed beads. Trim: Benzie Rainbow seed beads, 5 mm iridescent translucent sequins
Belt: DMC 958, 5 mm silver sequins, 8 mm copper sequin topped with 6 mm silver sequin, Benzie Rainbow seed beads
Tunic: DMC D168, 958, 943, and 3801. 6 mm brassy gold sequins, 5 mm aqua sequins, 8 mm brassy gold sequin topped with 6 mm teal sequin, Benzie Rainbow seed beads, Benzie Red seed beads, Benzie Aquamarine seed beads
Snuffer: DMC D301, 5 mm iridescent translucent sequins, Benzie Rainbow seed beads 
Holly Staff: silver sewing thread, semi-precious 4 mm beads
Year on back: DMC 832
*All sequins/beads sewn with silver sewing thread

OTHER NOTIONS:
Holly staff: white 26 gauge paper wrapped stem wire
Hanging Loop: DMC 5283 Metallic Pearl


I hope this was helpful! These color guides can be followed exactly, but feel free to vary the choices to match your tastes and make your own unique combos. The way I've combined the Benzie Victorian and Modern Pastel felt colors are just a few of the possibilities! I'd love to see what you make. :-) #ebenezerornamentseries

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Ghost of Christmas Past pattern now available!


It took a bit longer than planned, but I'm very thankful to say that Ghost of Christmas Past is now in my Etsy shop. This pattern is the third in my Ebenezer Ornament Series, which is inspired by my love for Charles Dickens' spooky Victorian novella, A Christmas Carol

You'll find the difficulty level to be intermediate – not for beginners. If you've completed my Twelve Days Ornament Series, you are likely ready to step into the Ebenezer series! (Twelve Days is a great primer as it builds your skills when you do the patterns in order.)

Skills needed for this particular pattern are backstitch, whipstitch, drawing on the face, precision cutting of small pieces, beading, and working with stem wire. This one is not as complicated as Mr Marley, IMO. And not to worry, as with all my ornament patterns, Ghost of Christmas Past is organized into detailed step by step instructions with scads of diagrams and tips.

The pattern includes 21 years to trace and embroider on the back, if you like

Male or Female Spirit?
It's a bit hard to tell, but despite his long hair and fancy tunic, this is a male spirit. My ornament is designed to reflect the ghost as written by Mr Dickens, who describes this spirit as a candle-like shape shifting youth/old man with long, white hair and blooming cheeks, wearing a flowered white tunic and golden belt. He carries a large snuffer hat under his arm and also a fresh branch of holly, and a bright clear light jets from his head. (At the end of the encounter, Mr Scrooge sends him on his way by squashing the extinguisher over his head and body, under which he disappears, though the light refuses to be extinguished.)

Despite the original text, I've seen many productions which cast this spirit as a woman, so I've provided a list of tips at the end of the pattern for converting this ornament design to a feminine version. Like skipping the sideburns and thick eyebrows, making the hair longer, adding a braid, cinching the waist, skipping the capelet, etc... I hope that will help match your nostalgia for lovely productions you may have seen. I'll have to make a female sample and photograph it for you guys. On my to-do list!


Just like my other heirloom ornament patterns, it takes about two crafternoons to make a Ghost of Christmas Past. Using metallic wool felt for the snuffer, belt and leaves and using metallic tinsel or iridescent pipe cleaners for the crown of light adds such a rich, festive sparkle to the look.

This ornament is best constructed using Sulky Stick 'n Stitch, which makes the process so fast and accurate. If you already have the materials on hand to make Scrooge or Marley, you just need a few more things like metallic wool felt, tinsel pipe cleaner, plastic or semi precious 4 mm beads (for holly berries), some larger sequins, and paper or cloth covered white stem wire. There's a full materials list on the first page of the pattern.


What's a fun collective pronoun for a group of these? A sparkle of spirits? All four samples you see above are made with the same two Benzie Ebenezer color palettes I curated for the rest of the series. I exercised a bit of artistic license in the color of his tunics #becausecolors. I will be publishing detailed color guides for these samples soon, which coordinate directly with the amazing felt/floss/notions kits put together for your buying convenience at Benzie Design

To purchase the instantly downloadable PDF pattern, visit my Etsy shop. :-) 

Friday, October 1, 2021

an update to the Sulky post!


Hey guys! I've updated my previous post regarding the recent issues with Sulky stabilizer. Please read the update here! :-)

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

alert: your Sulky stabilizer may be faulty (read the update!)


IMPORTANT UPDATE TO THE BELOW: I've just spoken again with Patti Lee and she says the glue problem seems to be isolated to bogus Amazon vendors selling counterfeit product rather than coming from Sulky's own glue manufacturer (and so far the bogus product seems to only be using the Stick'n Stitch branding but that could change). Sulky is reporting the bogus vendors to Amazon and hopefully getting them eliminated from the marketplace. 

Because this will be an ongoing problem, and because the faulty stabilizer isn't coming from them, Sulky cannot offer to replace your counterfeit product for free if it's purchased from Amazon. Understandably! You should pursue getting a refund of your purchase price via Amazon. They will refund your money even if the vendor is no longer there. 

However, please continue to contact Patti Lee (info@sulky.com) if you get scammed on Amazon - this will help them shut the crooks down and also she will offer you a generous coupon code to purchase the real stuff from Sulky.com.

I'll post updates as I receive them, but her recommendation for now is to only purchase from reputable resellers and if you purchase directly from Sulky.com you can be confident that you are receiving the legitimate product. Just like always, I can personally recommend these resellers:
Benzie Design, both on Etsy and also their own benziedesign.com
And, as always, I think you can rely on large hobby/craft websites to have the legitimate product, like Jo-ann or Michaels or other reputable large sewing retailers or vendors you have purchased the real stuff from in the past. 

I understand from Patti that the Amazon counterfeit packaging is done very well so that the average person would not be able to tell just by looking at the outer packaging that's it's fake. However, you can sometimes tell just by looking at the sheets themselves. From Patti: "One thing that might help folks is that it is fairly easy to identify the fake goods by the release paper. The release paper on our product is a fairly slick, off white in color, silicone paper - while the fake goods have a very dull, white paper that would more closely resemble copier paper than silicone."

Tips for water testing and tips for fixing a sticky project are below in the edited original post:

+++++++++++++++++++

Hey guys! I need to alert my customers to a potential problem with Sulky Stick N Stitch (also marketed as Sticky Fabri-Solvy): There appears to be Amazon vendors selling counterfeit product with the wrong adhesive applied, according to Patti Lee at Sulky America. (See update about the counterfeit product above!)

1) THE PROBLEM:
The product with the wrong adhesive will not rinse away as normal — instead it turns clear and gummy and refuses to budge no matter how long it’s soaked in water. This bad product seems to be coming from crooked Amazon vendors.

2) AFTER STITCHING IF YOU DISCOVER YOU HAVE THE BAD STUFF:
Patti says to try this: Apply a coat of Dawn* dishwashing liquid soap (for hand washing dishes) to your wet flat (sticky) pieces and let it sit for 2 hours. Then gently rinse away using cold water and air dry. If you find it’s still sticky, repeat that process.
*If you are outside the US use any good quality liquid soap used to hand wash dishes

3) BEFORE YOU STITCH: TEST EACH SHEET OF SULKY STABILIZER BEFORE USING ON YOUR PROJECT!
It's a good idea to test each sheet. Luckily, the test is easy. Go ahead and print the pattern on the sheet JIC. Before using it, cut off an unprinted corner and adhere it to a scrap of fabric. Submerge the fabric in water for a few minutes and see how it does. If the stabilizer turns clear and gummy, do not use that sheet!! If it turns white, stringy, and lifts away, it’s the good stuff and you can go ahead.

4) CONTACT PATTI IF YOU HAVE THE BAD STUFF!
Patti Lee and Sulky would love to know if you have a bad batch from Amazon. Do not hesitate to get in touch with her if you have a problem, because it will help them to pinpoint the counterfeit Amazon vendors. She will also offer you a generous coupon code to purchase the real stuff from them:
Patti Lee at Sulky
(800) 874-4115, extension 173
Or email info@sulky.com with Attn: Patti Lee in subject

(If you are outside the US you might need to visit Sulky.com to get the correct phone number)
Refund: If you purchased on Amazon, you'll need to pursue a refund of your money via Amazon.

This stabilizer is such an integral part of making my ornament series, and in its legitimate form is 100% awesome, so I wanted to get the word out so you can avoid frustration. I truly love the product, so I hope you give it a second chance if you have this issue!

Thursday, July 29, 2021

all new releases on hold for now, please read this post


Where to begin. I'll just dive in. My family is currently in the middle of a medical emergency* that began three weeks ago. While Ghost of Christmas Past is very close to completion, the release is on hold and will be on hold for at least a few weeks while God gets us through this. Your prayers are very welcome.
*See update below!

2021 has presented a series of hard personal challenges to me beginning with the illness and death of my Dad in January and including my own health issues, but I've been coaching myself this whole time that there is no problem, still plenty of time to catch up on my design goals for this year. With this latest challenge, I must face facts. Catching up is just not realistic and I need to reset my goals:
  1. I still plan to release Ghost of Christmas Past as soon as I am able. I cannot say when that will be but hopefully in the next few weeks. God willing.
  2. I cannot guarantee any other releases this year. I humbly apologize, I know many of you were looking forward to the releases. I was too. God has different plans for me.
  3. As time allows after Ghost is released, I will be tackling the next pattern and will release it this fall if at all possible. It may not be possible.
  4. The shop is open for now. I'm available and happy to assist with questions via the shop. You'll get your speediest answer there, as opposed to FB or IG. There may be a time coming when I need to close my Etsy shop temporarily, but I will keep it open if I can.
  5. This blog is a huge resource for tips, tutorials and links while you work on my projects. Have a look through my sidebars and nav buttons to get started.
As always, I so appreciate your patience and support. Once again, I do sincerely apologize for the delay. I will update more when I can.


MEDICAL UPDATE: Thank you thank you thank you for your prayers and encouraging messages, wonderful folks! This man right here came home from the hospital after eleven long days. He is 12 lbs down, poked full of holes, exhausted, but making very steady progress day by day. It will be a long time 'til he's back to normal, but what counts is now he's HOME. Thank you, merciful God!
(Photo is from his birthday a few months ago.)

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Ghost of Christmas Past prototypes underway

I'm working hard on producing the third pattern in my Ebenezer Ornament Series, Ghost of Christmas Past. I only have a few tweaks to make before I have the final version. I'm pretty happy with how it's all gone so far! Earlier version is on the left, Mr Headless on the right is the latest.

I've seen many productions or movies which portray this ghost as a woman, so you may be a bit surprised to learn it's actually described as a boy/man in the book. That's the version I'm going with, however, this is DIY and you are the boss. If you'd like to craft this spirit as an ethereal woman instead to match the nostalgia of your memories, it is entirely up to you! 

As written by Dickens, this ghost is kind of tricky to represent faithfully as a felt ornament. I've done my best to hit the highlights! And some artistic license is thrown in there. Here's the description of what Scrooge sees when his bed curtains are drawn aside:

"It was a strange figure–like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age, and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintery emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm."

Admittedly already a challenge to represent with a crafted Christmas ornament, but even further than that:

"Even this, though, when Scrooge looked at it with increasing steadiness, was not its strangest quality. For as its belt sparkled and glittered now in one part and now in another, and what was light one instant, at another time was dark, so the figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness: being now a thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs, now a pair of legs without a head, now a head without a body: of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible in the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the very wonder of this, it would be itself again; distinct and clear as ever."

So um yeah, you'll just have to use your imaginations for that last shape-shifting part. As a designer, I landed on a candle-like youth with blooming cheeks and long white hair, sporting bare arms and feet, wearing a tunic trimmed with flowers and holding a holly branch and a hat-sized snuffer in his hands. The light pouring from his head is tricky to represent, so I'm probably going to settle for a tinsel crown with a simple flame shape in the back. I'm still thinking that one through.

New craft items you'll need to make this pattern: If you've been making the Ebenezer series already, you have most of what you need already on hand, but there are a few things that are new:

  • 24 or 26 gauge cloth covered or paper wrapped floral stem wire (for the holly branch). I've used white in my sample photo, but I will probably also use green, which is easier to find than white. It takes one 18 inch stem to make a holly branch. 
  • Benzie Design's Bellwether metallic felts for the belt, snuffer, and some leaves. It adds such a rich sheen! I love using it for this. You may of course opt to use regular wool felt for those parts if you wish. It still works!
  • Three 4 mm round jewelry beads for holly berries. I found the tiny glass seed beads just didn't have enough presence for the berries. The sample you see is made with semi-precious stone beads I grabbed at my local Michaels, just because I liked the natural variations in hue.
  • 8 mm and 6 mm sequins in addition to the 4 or 5 mm ones you are already using. You'll need them for the belt buckle and flowers.
  • The spirit's hair is white DMC embroidery floss, and you can get two heads of hair from one skein.
I think that covers any new stuff. The rest is the usual wool felts, floss, wood beads, pens, stabilizer, tinsel pipe cleaner, metallic Diamant and metallic threads that you are already familiar with. 

Ever wonderful Benzie Design will continue to offer Ebenezer materials kits to get you going with most of what you need to make ornaments that match my color guides.

I hope to begin writing the pattern soon. Sooooo back to work for me! 

Monday, May 24, 2021

Xfinity's block on my blog is now fixed!

Yay! Just to let those of you know who subscribe by feed or email, the erroneous block put on my blog by Xfinity's service Safebrowse.io seems to be fixed now. It only took seven days. :-(

I can now load my blog using Xfinity wifi on any of my devices and I hope you can too. Thanks so much for your patience, and if you notice the Safebrowse warning is still happening for you, can you contact me via FB or my shop and let me know? Thanks!