Thursday, December 20, 2018

no, that's not my kit at HobbyCraft :-(

I wasn't going to post about this. I really don't love putting negative posts out there. However, I'm getting so many messages about it that it seems better to clear it up publicly.

From the HobbyCraft website

In September, a kind reader noticed a kit on the HobbyCraft website called Partridge and Pear Tree Decoration that looked a lot like my Partridge & Pear pattern from my Twelve Days Ornament series. It's slightly different, but clearly a blatant copy of my design, even down to the colors I used in my samples. I opened a dialog with the store, which is based in the UK. I was directed to a Ms. Shiers, with whom I exchanged a few emails.

Ms. Shiers indicated that, without admitting any liability, they would remove the kits from their website. Which they did. However, after that I began hearing from many UK crafters via Facebook and IG who were shopping in the HobbyCraft stores and were confused to see the kits for sale there. They took pictures and messaged me about them because they could clearly see the kits were a copy of my designs. Ironically, folks even contacted me to congratulate me on collaborating with HobbyCraft, even though my name does not appear anywhere on the kit.

From a lovely crafter in the UK

I wrote again to Ms. Shiers to ask HobbyCraft to take the kits from their stores, and I did not receive a reply. So after that, every time I heard from a kind someone who is angry/disappointed about the copycat kit, I gave them Ms. Shier's email address so they could let her know about the negative impression they were getting of the store.

I just want to make it clear that I have not collaborated with HobbyCraft to make the kit, nor have I given permission to use my design. If you were confused by the kits and would like to contact HobbyCraft about it, I suggest starting with their Facebook page.

Finally, I'd like to thank the vigilant crafters who took the trouble to take pictures and contact me so that I'd be aware of the kits. You know who you are! I appreciate your having my back.

Friday, November 30, 2018

many thanks for making my Etsy sale such a success! and now back to sewing...

I'm lucky to have this gorgeous pile of Felt On The Fly greens, teals, pinks and corals on my desk at the moment. They are waiting to be turned into the last of three jewel colorways for my Twelve Days ornament series. The first two colorways are featured here and here, and are available in her shop.

I have to extend one thousand thanks to you for making my annual Etsy sale one for the MmmCrafts record books! Y'all have a bunch of sewing to do! And man. So do I. Can I panic yet? Only 25 days 'til Christmas. TOO MUCH TO DO. This happens every year. #stilldidntseeitcoming

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Gold designer collection complete and available at Felt On The Fly

Gold color story. Photo courtesy of Felt On The Fly

OK! Here's Gold, the second in my three jewel tone Twelve Days Ornaments color collections for Felt On The Fly. This one features warm, vibrant tones of gold, and corals, with splashes of teal and red. These 100% merino wool felts are just a joy to sew with! This set includes ten colors in 8x12 inch sheets:

Sweet Potato
Raw Umber (Note: Raw Umber is unfortunately discontinued. Great substitute: Olive)
Caribbean Blue
Dark Teal

You can also choose to add on Sulky Stick N' Stitch and matching flosses (which work well to sew the ornament together and also can be used for the decorative stitching with the addition of white and black flosses). Just use the drop down menu to select the option you want. Buy it here!

See how pretty the first two color stories look combined? Such beautiful, saturated colors. See this post for details on the previous Sapphire colorway! One more designer collection to go. Hint: GREENS

To buy: Felt On The Fly (and be sure to view the other palettes Janet has selected herself in her shop's Twelve Days Ornaments section). And of course, you can purchase the sewing patterns for the ornaments at my shop,

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Sapphire designer collection complete and available at Felt On The Fly

Sapphire color story. Photo courtesy of Felt On The Fly

Hello, guys! Man, I'm so behind on this. I forgot to post that this vibrant, saturated 100% merino wool felt Twelve Days Ornaments colorway is now available at Janet's shop, Felt On The Fly. It's called Sapphire for the rich, saturated pinks and blues. The bundle contains eleven gorgeous colors of 8x12 inch felt sheets:

Deep Pink
Lavender Pink
Dark Teal
Caribbean Blue

She also offers add-ons for Sulky Stick N' Stitch and matching floss. Just select those options from the drop down listing. Buy it here!

The matching floss is necessary to sew the pieces together, but you can also use the matching flosses to create the decorative embroidery, with the minor addition of white and black flosses.

I really enjoyed putting this designer collection together! The merino felts are such a joy to work with. Stay tuned: I will be putting together three different designer collections for Felt On The Fly. Sapphire is the first! (Here's the link to Gold, the 2nd color story which is now available.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

new colorways in 100% wool felt - WIP

Hey, guys. Stitching like a busy bee in between driving my kid all over creation to volleyball. This is the first time I've been an athlete parent and MAN, y'all. It's a lot of driving. But my kid loves it. Go, Holland! Bless her, she's working successfully to overcome the combined set of awkward genes she got from her very unathletically gifted parents. I have other talents.

So anyway, the three Twelve Days ornaments^ up there are from the blue/pink color bundle that I'm putting together for Janet at Felt on the Fly using her luxurious 100% wool felts. There will be three different colorways and they are going to be heavy on the rich, dark and bright colors. I'm excited to share more later!

In other news, I decided it was time to replace my blog, shop, and social media profile pictures with one that actually looks like me. The old one was the Brunette Larissa from several years ago. It was time to switch to Granny Hair Larissa. But how embarrassing is it to take a bunch of selfies? I'd rather be poked with knives than ask my teens to photograph official shots of me, so I hid in the kitchen and tried to figure out the best way to get a shot of myself with my phone timer (multiple fails) that didn't look 100% contrived and awkward. I kept checking over my shoulder to make sure they couldn't see what I was doing and mock me. It felt completely ridiculous. #generationgap

I'm not sure the one I am using over there > in my profile is even acceptable but I give up for now. It's me Living My Truth (aka swilling coffee). 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Hey, Larissa, what do you mean by "4 strands of floss"?

If you are working on any of my hand embroidered projects, you'll notice that I specify how many strands of floss to use on each step. If you are new to embroidery, you may be wondering what that means. Wonder no more!

DMC embroidery floss is made up of six cotton threads that are twisted together to form a rope of floss. On my patterns you will find the number of strands specified, for instance:

4 strands of contrasting floss + whipstitch

That means you'll remove 2 strands of floss and use the remaining 4 strands of floss to do the whip stitches. Pull the group of 4 strands a few inches through the eye of the embroidery needle so that it doesn't slip out as you sew. Leave that end loose, then knot the other end. When you stitch, your stitches will be made up of 4 strands each (in other words, do not double the floss).

(Note: "Contrasting" up there just means a floss color that is not the same color as the felt so it will show up well. By the same token if it says "Matching" you would use floss which is the same color as the felt you are sewing.) 

It's important to use the correct number of strands if you want your embroidery to have the same look as my samples because I obsess over tailor the number of strands used to best fit my designs.

You'll find I use 4 strands the most, but I also specify 2, 3, and 6 strands a good bit. I don't recall ever specifying 5, but it's a possibility! It's a good idea to set aside the strands you peel away so you can combine them and use them later.

Q: So what's the best method to separate the strands? 
A: You'll find if you just grab 2 strands and try to peel them away the floss sometimes gets snarled or twisted. Who has time or patience for that? Not me.

Start with about 18-20 inches of floss. (Avoid cutting strands much longer because this process just gets too tricky.) First I'll tell you about the DMC recommended method. And then I'll tell you mine.

DMC approved method: Pinch the floss between your fingers near the end and slowly pull out one strand at a time, until it's all separated, then reunite however many strands to thread your needle. This has the advantage of removing any twisting and will keep your embroidery smoother and less snarly. Here's an excellent visual tutorial for that method:

Larissa's quicker method: My non-DMC approved method is to hold one end of the floss in my teeth and at the other end grab two threads with one hand and four with the other. I peel them apart that way to keep the floss from twisting/knotting on itself. Then I run my pinched fingernails down the strands a few times to untwist them. Voila. There still might be an occasional twist in the floss, but I usually don't sweat that.

Q: What needle should I use? 
A: Most of my patterns specify a size 5 embroidery needle (also called crewel needles). If that's the only size you have, you can do most all of the embroidery with it. However, it will make your job easier and your fingers happier if you have a variety of needle sizes at hand. Also having multiple size 5 embroidery needles is a great idea so you don't have to unthread every time you change a color. 
Make sure your needles are good and sharp. (Avoid tapestry needles. While they have nice, big eyes, they also have blunt tips. Chenille needles have sharp tips and long eyes, but be aware their sizing numbers are completely different for whatever reason!)
  • I use a size 5 embroidery needle for 3 and 4 strands of floss.
  • I use a smaller sized regular hand sewing sharp for 2 strands (or you can use a size 8 or 9 embroidery needle).
  • I use a larger size 3 embroidery needle for handling all 6 strands or anytime I'm making a French knot with 4+ strands. The larger eye and needle shaft make it easier to pull French knots through.
  • I use a small, slender sewing sharp for sewing on seed beads and sequins. A beading needle is also great for that, but I prefer a sewing sharp because they are just easier to thread. (Disclaimer: I do sometimes run into seed beads that will not fit over my tiny sewing sharp, so if you use a beading needle you will not have that issue.)
DMC also has a needle guide here

Q: I hate stripping floss. Can I just use different sizes of DMC Pearl Cotton?
A: In theory, yes. Yes, you can. I have no experience with it because Pearl cotton only comes in limited colors at my local store, but I don't see why not. DMC Pearl cotton comes in several widths.

Cheater Note:
After the embroidery's all done and you sew the ornament parts together, I specify 2 strands of matching floss for that. BUT. You can cheat. If you have a large library of sewing threads like I do, and they just happen to match the felt color, then feel free to use a doubled strand of sewing thread for that instead. (Remember this is for sewing the parts together only – not for embroidery.) It's way less trouble than stripping more floss. BUT. It is less likely you'll find a matching sewing thread for every felt you have because they come in fewer colors. I just use it if I have the matching thread. And, yes, I have plenty of samples that are sewn together with both – 2 strands of floss and doubled thread. It's hard to tell unless you really look closely!

I hope this guide has been helpful! Happy stitching!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Floresita's 12 Months of Christmas - a Twelve Days Ornaments stitch-along on Feeling Stitchy

Interested in a Twelve Days Ornaments stitch-along? Lovely and talented Floresita is hosting one on Feeling Stitchy called Twelve Months of Christmas. Follow along to get inspiration and share your ornament progress too. Floresita is using alternate stitching (couching!) and adding sparkle with beads and metallic threads. Her ornaments are going to be beautiful!

New to the Twelve Days Ornament Series? This page is chock-full of tips and information to help you get started.

Friday, March 2, 2018

baby molly's floral felt banner

My dear friends Marc and Amanda adopted a beautiful newborn girl recently. I helped throw a shower for them and this banner was a present from me. A few years ago I made a paper name banner for their older son, Micah, so when they requested a name banner for new little Molly I decided to do felt for a change.

I think name banners are satisfyingly easy and fun to sew, especially if you are like me and have illustration software and can print directly to Sulky Stick n Stitch*. Skidoosh! Not only do name banners make easy handmade, personalized gifts, (#forthewin, #oohahhfactor) they also double as pretty shower decorations.

*Why/how did I used the Stick n Stitch and not freezer paper? I used it just as a quick, no tracing way to adhere the printed pattern to the felt, cut it out, and then I peeled it away. I did this in stages so as not to waste the stabilizer. I adhered the composite printed pattern to the cream. Cut. Peeled it off, adhered the same piece to the colored felt. Cut. Peeled it off. Adhered what was left to the letter felt. Cut. Peeled it off. It saved a lot of freezer paper tracing. I didn't feel bad about using it that way because it was from my stash of 'bad' stabilizer -- the batch of stabilizer that doesn't wash away. There's no other way to use it. Not to mention I was kind of in a hurry. But to be honest, I'd do it again, bad batch or no. It was a huge time saver.

Sizewise, Molly's banner is fairly large, with each flag being about 7 x 9 inches and total length about 76 inches from ribbon end to ribbon end:

Here it is where I hung it for the shower - over my couch. I also recommend waiting until the night before the shower to sew yours, just to add that extra bit of excitement and danger! (#2am #woolfeltavalanche #sleepisforquitters)

Designing it was pretty fun (I did not do that on the night before, at least). I looked around on the internet for some images and decided I liked this notched shape for the flags. Then I tested out a few fonts 'til I landed on one that had presence and was not too complicated to cut and sew. The felt colors I chose coordinate with Molly's nursery decor.

It seemed wasteful to use wool felt for the cream colored background that's only seen at the edges, so I bought sheets of acrylic craft felt from the store for that, and then the rest of the banner (including the letters) is wool felt. Bad decision in hindsight. After struggling mightily with the cheap cream stuff I remembered why I despise acrylic felt. It's too lightweight. It bunched, stretched, frayed, stuck too much to the stabilizer, didn't stick enough to the glue, walked away under the machine foot and was a general pain to work with. Next time I make one of these I'll try the stiffened felt for the backgrounds or just give up and use wool.

I did not initially plan to have the charcoal outline around the letters. I added that later because it needed a little oomph, and also to tie in the black centers of the anemone flowers. OK, the flowers!

If you look around on Pinterest you will realize there are one million felt flower tutorials out there. I tried a few of them for a rose, anemone and whatever that loopy poof thing is supposed to be. Chrysanthemum? After figuring out the best sizes by trial and error, I customized some templates for myself on the computer. I found the key to nice looking flower petals and leaves is not to leave them as flat pieces. You have to add curve by snipping and overlapping the ends. Hot glue was used to put the flowers together. I have a love/hate relationship with hot glue. Love the immediacy. Hate the inevitable burns caused by my apparent lack of common sense (the basic disconnect of brain cautioning hey, that's hot, you probably shouldn't pinch it with your fing-- as fingers make contact with sticky lava. Again.)

Now that I have all the kinks worked out, templates made, and know what I'm doing, bring on the baby showers and birthday parties! I'd love to try the letters or flags in a pretty print fabric also, and maybe another font.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

new notions kit for Twelve Days offered at Benzie Design

Photo courtesy of Benzie Designs

Hey, guys! You may have noticed I've been flying under the radar since the release of the last Twelve Days ornament. I've been busy catching up on the mountain of tasks that have been sorely neglected over the past few months during the design and release of the last three patterns. And besides that, I actually designed and sewed something that was not a Christmas ornament! And I used my sewing machine. It was like, hello, old friend!

Anyway, I'll blog that later, but wanted to pop in and let you know about the notions kit you see above that is being offered at Benzie Design. It is tailor made for my Twelve Days Ornament Series and includes many of the materials (besides felt) that are required to make the ornaments, all in one place: Tacky Glue®, interfacing, Sulky stabilizer, pipe cleaners, wood beads, embroidery needles, and more! Check it out. BTW, if you find the kit is sold out, you can still shop the individual items on their website.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

curated Benzie felt & floss color guide for Lord a-Leaping ornaments

All three of my Lords a-Leaping you see above were made with the Benzie felt bundle #6, shown below. It's the same felt color bundle as you use for Goose a-Laying. I've provided this felt and floss color guide so you can make samples that look like mine. Of course, there are even more color combos possible with this bundle, but I just made three.

Photo courtesy of Benzie Design

You can purchase just the Benzie bundle #6 felt as shown above, or you can opt to include matching flosses, shown below. Matching flosses are needed when you are sewing the parts of the ornaments together, but just note you will still need to purchase contrasting floss colors for the embroidery.

So without further ado, here are the samples with their felt and floss keys:

His Periwinkle Lordship:

Periwinkle: heart front, sleeves and coat
Blue: heart inset, boots
Copper: vest
Coral: heart back (not shown), body and legs
Fuchsia: hat
Icicle: cravat and lace cuffs

Decorative Embroidery:
DMC 3753
DMC 918
DMC 718
DMC 892
DMC 3753
DMC 918
DMC 718
DMC 892
DMC 796
DMC 809

His Fuchsia Lordship:

Fuchsia: heart inset, sleeves and coat
Cotton Candy: heart front, body, and legs
Coral: vest and heart back (not shown)
Copper: boots
Aqua: hat
Icicle: cravat and lace cuffs

Decorative Embroidery:
DMC White
DMC 3846
DMC 3844 (dashed line)
DMC 892
DMC 605
DMC White
DMC 3846
DMC 605
DMC 918
DMC 718

His Cyan Lordship:

Cyan: heart inset, sleeves and coat
Aqua: heart front, body, and legs
Orange: vest
Copper: boots
Coral: hat
Icicle: heart back (not shown), cravat and lace cuffs

Decorative Embroidery:
DMC White
DMC  918
DMC 604
DMC 947
DMC 892 (dashed line)
DMC White
DMC 3844
DMC 604
DMC 947
DMC 918
DMC 3341 (dashed line)

Friday, February 2, 2018

in which I take a moment to reflect and also tell you the Twelve Days 1-12, 7-12 and 10-12 bundles are now available

Wow. There they all are. All twelve patterns photographed in one shot. Big feels came over me as I was bending over this in my well-lit bathroom and taking the shot (keepin' it real, y'all, my bathroom has a skylight and doubles as a photo studio). It feels a little weird to be finished with this series I've loved so much. Weird but good. I released the first pattern back in June 2014. That's like a million blog years ago. Three and a half Real Time years of thinking through each ornament and endlessly brainstorming how best to represent each day and how best to translate that into an accessible pattern that everyone can enjoy making. 

I've always liked a good puzzle and that's exactly what this series was -- a challenging 3D felt design puzzle and each time I completed a day I got to level up. I've learned a lot! And I hope you will learn some new techniques for your crafting as you make the series! If you've mastered French knots alone you deserve a large bar of chocolate wrapped in gold paper.

Thanks so much for your constant encouragement and kindness and support through this series! Your faithful, thoughtful comments and messages and photos really kept me motivated. Special notes from grandmothers making multiple sets for grandchildren, long distance sisters making the sets together, a lovely lady getting ready to have a hip replacement who is planning to take these projects to the hospital with her, and one especially memorable letter from a sweet Texan who used the hand stitching as a mental refuge and calming exercise during the terrible flooding in Houston. And I can't not mention the pointed messages I received from two completely different octogenarians (true story) hinting that since they were in their 80s they would appreciate my hurrying it up already with the rest of the ornaments. Oh my word, y'all. 

PS I forgot to include the brave (possibly crazy) crafter who tells me she is working with her daughter to make as many as the song says...Great Scott! That's...78 ornaments, right? Or you could technically say that's just the total for day 12 and then you have 11 other days to total up...Math is not my strong suit. Anyone else doing this??

I do adore seeing your finished ornaments! Check out what others have been posting on Instagram with the #twelvedaysornaments hashtag. So much inspiration there. Keep them coming! I hope you continue to love making these special heirloom ornaments as much as I do! Yes, I still do! I plan to concentrate now on finishing the sets I'm making for my own two girls. And I'm going to take my sweet time doing it. 

So here are the new discounted pattern bundles, including the 1-12 complete bundle. Yaaassssss. They are now available in my Etsy shop or my Craftsy store:

Many have asked me, 'what's next?'. I have no idea.
Isn't that awesome? :-) 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Lord a-Leaping pattern now available!

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to meeeee...

Twelve lords a-leaping!

Can we all just have a 30 second freeform dance party now, y'all? *dances like no one is watching*

Hooooooo. *arranges hair* (I used to do that as a school break with my two girls when they were young enough to think I was funny and cool. We'd blare the music and dance like maniacs around the living room. Good times.)

This. The grand finale! The final pattern! The end of the Twelve Days Ornament Series. Is finished. I love this His Leapingness so, and of course the True Love bonus ornament that comes along with him.

One of my favorite things about Lord Fancy Pants here is the fact that his legs are jointed and moveable. You can position them in whatever energetic pose you prefer. Just a little extra something I included because it's fun.

This twelfth and series finale pattern is now available in my Etsy and Craftsy shops. Are you new to this series? Pop over to this post to see lots of helpful information about it.

If you know the modern Twelve Days of Christmas song by heart, you might be saying to yourself, 'Wait, I thought day twelve was Drummers Drumming?' And you'd be right! However, my series is based on the original carol from 1780 and the order toward the end is a bit different than the modern one. No worries if you prefer that order – you can number your ornaments any way you like!

These three leaping lord and true love samples were made with the Benzie felt bundle no. 6 (Goose a-Laying and Lord a-Leaping). You can of course make your ornaments in whatever colors you like! For those of you who want to make ornaments just like these samples, the specific color guide for them, along with DMC floss numbers included, will be coming soon in a separate post.

On a personal note, you may have noticed January got by me a little faster than I planned. This last week my dear Schmoopie went through a medical ordeal (three kidney stones, one very large) so I was understandably derailed for a few days. If you have ever passed a kidney stone, you know how truly horrible it is no matter what size the stone. I'm so glad to tell you he's feeling much better! Thanks so much for getting in touch and for your eagerness to purchase these patterns! 

So all that to tell you that YES indeed, I am going to list a 1-12 pattern bundle -- the complete series bundle you've been waiting so patiently for! It's not listed yet. Give me a day or two to get it together and into the shops. It's late, y'all. *yawns*

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

minor correction for Swan a-Swimming pattern and maybe I should just use a pipe cleaner anyway...

Hello, guys!
You are all awesome, have I mentioned that lately? Well, you are. Vigilant mmmaker Judi (thank you, Judi!) brought a mistake to my attention in the Swan a-Swimming pattern. If you haven't already noticed it, grab a marker and make a note on your patterns:

On step 31 it should read as follows:

Trace this water outline twice on heavyweight fusible interfacing (glue side up), then once (glue side down). Cut them out.

So the mistake was that I had the 'glue side up' and 'glue side down' switched. What you want to end up with is two layers of interfacing on the wrong side of the WATER BACKING and one on the wrong side of the WATER FRONT. Not a huge deal even if you make it with this switched, but it does end up making you feel like you went wrong somewhere. Sorry, Judi! If you've been cheating like I sometimes do by just gluing the interfacing in place instead of ironing it on, you may not have even noticed.

However, I'm re-thinking the whole interfacing thing for this step anyway. The more I store my Swans, the more I realize the water tends to curl on the ends and not stay level. (Do yours do this too?) So I'm thinking a pipe cleaner shaped and glued lightly to the wrong side of the water backing might work better than the 3 layers of interfacing. Feel free to do that instead!