Monday, October 29, 2012

Embroidery Pillow

This is my first project in embroidery. It was a cute little kit I picked up from AC Moore I believe. 
This pillow case was very quick to embroider. I think I did most of it during a weekend. I did have some trouble with the thread knotting itself over and over. Actually I had a big problem with that. I think I should have cut the sewing lengths much shorter.
Here's a picture of the backing fabric. I didn't make the pillow as per instructions included in the kit. Mainly, I didn't know what they were talking about and I wanted to do things my own way. I found this fabric at a going out of business sale in Massachusetts somewhere. It's heavy and actually quite nice. I really like the pastel coloring.
The stitches used in this kit were:
  • Satin Stitch
  • Stem Stitch
  • Buttonhole Stitch
  • Lazy Daisy
  • French Knots
  • Straight Stitch
As you can see in the picture, I have a lot to learn still. I've been working on my stem stitch recently. I've noticed that the "ropes" in the stitch go in different directions depending on where I've stitched. I've also noticed that I tend to turn my work this way and that while I am stitching. I think this is a big no no so I'm working to fix that as well. All in all I think my first project turned out well.
Happy sewing!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Marbled Effect Candle

This was my first attempt at a marbled effect candle. I didn't find that much useful information on making this type of candle on the Internet. Especially for making it with solid color pigments instead of the liquid. I tried a combination of the techniques I did find and ended up with the candle above. It doesn't look too bad for my first attempt.

Materials Needed

  • about 2 lbs of plain white wax (I use Yaley Premium Candle Wax with a melting point of 148 F)
  • metal candle mold
  • 2 t vybar 103
  • 2 T stearic acid
  • length of #2/0 raw wick in a square braid
  • small amount of sealing putty
  • 2 wooden skewers to hold the wick in place and for poking relief holes
  • small metal tin to melt the color pigment
  • double boiler set-up (large pot with a small amount of boiling water, about 3 inches, with the metal wax holding tin set inside)
  • an old wooden spoon for stirring
  • thermometer used only for candle making (no one wants waxy food!)
  • fragrance oil (I used lavender)
  • 3 or 4 dye pigment chips (I used turquoise) 

Method

  1. Set up your double boiler over a medium heat. Make sure the wax chunks are roughly the same size so that they melt at the same time. In the meantime, set up your candle mold. Attach one end of the length of wick to a skewer then thread the other end through the hole at the bottom of the candle mold. If you have some available, screw in the wick with a small candle mold screw. You can usually find these with the other candle supplies. Seal the screw and wick to the bottom with the sealing putty. We don't want any leaking!
  2. When the wax has reached 175 F add your additives (the vybar, stearic acid, and fragrance). Mix well using the spoon.
  SAFETY PRECAUTIONS :
    1. Always have a fire extinguisher within reach
    2. Never leave the wax unattended
    3. Use an electric heat source if possible
    4. Always use a thermometer
    5. Always use a double boiler
    6. WAX IS FLAMMABLE!!! The flashpoint of wax is 300 F. Never let your wax temperature go above 250 F. The temperature of liquid wax rises fast, please exercise caution and watch the thermometer carefully. If your wax does catch on fire NEVER throw water on it. Liquid wax acts much the same as oil and as such must be smothered. (The Mythbusters oil fire show ring a bell with anyone?)
  1. Pour the melted wax carefully into your mold container. Make sure your wick is in the center of the mold and is as straight as possible.
  2. Now here comes the boring waiting bit. When the wax begins to show signs of solidifying, melt the dye pigment in the double boiler. Using your relief hole stick (the spoon is too big) start stirring the wax in the mold. Quickly pour in the melted dye chips making sure not to stir them in very well. You don't want to mix them together very long. A few seconds should do the trick otherwise you'll just end up with a plain colored candle.
  3. Now we wait. And wait. And wait. Every hour or so check on your candle and poke relief holes if needed. When the candle is completely cool, remelt your leftover wax. You'll want to melt the wax about 5 to 10 degrees hotter than your original melt.
  4. Pour the newly melted wax into the relief holes making sure not to fill past the first fill line. Now wait again, probably overnight. In the morning or whenever cut off the wick that is attached to the skewer. Remove the putty and the wick screw and the turn the mold upside down. Your candle should slide right out. If it doesn't, put it in the fridge for a bit then try again.
  5. You can level the base of your candle by placing the candle on a cookie sheet that is resting on top of a pot of boiling water.
I hope you enjoyed my tutorial!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fumage Number 1


I've finally finished my first embroidery/fumage project. It seems like it took forever, but I think it was maybe only a few weeks. I have several other ideas planned to test how embroidery and fumage can work together.
I only used a few different stitches for this project as I am new to embroidery. I used heavy chain, outline, fern, laid threads, and couching on the borders.
To make the fumage borders, I covered 1 inch diagonal bands with paper and then passed the flame over the open parts. I used a thick braided wick to get the effect that I was going for. In my experience, candle size really doesn't matter that much. Fumage really depends on the size and type of wick you are using.
I did the fumage bands first. I then used a few layers of spray lacquer to make sure that the soot would not rub off as I did the embroidery.
I drew the test design first on paper. Then to create the design on my canvas, I used a pouncing technique and then traced around the dots with a sharp pencil.
That pretty much sums everything up. I like the way that it turned out. I'm planning to create several pieces of this type of work. My next one is an embroidery nightmare. You'll know why when you see it!
Happy sewing!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Salmon en Croute


Don't let the fancy name fool you. This recipe is quite simple.
A few tips before the recipe are:
  • Do not use pie pastry
  • Make sure the pastry is chilled
  • Try to keep the fish chilled right up until you use it
  • You can season your salmon with salt and pepper

Ingredients for short crust pastry

  • 2 C flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter chilled and cut-up
  • 4 T chilled shortening
  • Slightly less then 1/2 C ice water

Method for short pastry

    1. Place the flour, salt, butter, and shortening in a large mixing bowl. Rub the fat and flour together quickly with your fingertips until the fat is broken into pieces about the size of peas. Make sure not to over incorporate the fat!
    2. Add the water and blend quickly with one hand or a wooden spoon. Sprinkle on more water as needed. You want the dough to just hold together. Form it into a firm ball that is pliable but not sticky.
    3. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. With the heel of one hand, rapidly press the pastry down the work surface, blending the butter in more thoroughly. Wrap the dough in wax paper and chill until ready to use.

Ingredients for the Salmon en Croute

    • 1 lb salmon
    • 5 oz cream cheese softened
    • 5 oz watercress, spinach, and arugula mix (a spinach-parsley mix is fine)
    • 1 lemon
    • salt and pepper 

Method for Salmon en Croute

  1. Par cook the salmon first to get the skin off easier. I set up my steam pot with slices of lemon on the bottom of the basket for the salmon to rest on. I then cut the salmon into four serving size pieces and steamed them for 3 minutes. I then removed the skin. You don't have to do this step, I just think the skin is non palatable.
  2. Mix together the cream cheese and the greens and set aside. Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Roll out four pieces of the pastry large enough to completely cover the pieces of fish.
  3. Put a piece of fish in the middle of the pastry. Spread some of the cream cheese mixture onto the fish and wrap securely in the pastry. Repeat with the remaining pieces. Preheat the oven to 400 F and bake for about 30 minutes or until the pastry is brown.
You now have yourself an easy elegant looking meal! I served mine with gratin savoyard.
Happy cooking!

Monday, October 15, 2012

First Quilt

This is the first quilt I have made. As you can see, I really love reproduction 30's fabrics. The quilting is done by hand.

Basic Supplies

  • Sewing machine
  • Cotton thread in a neutral colour
  • Sewing machine needle- 80/12 or 80/11
  • Rotary Cutter
  • Self healing cutting mat
  • Ruler 6" x 12"
  • Ruler 6" square
  • Pins, seam ripper, pencils 

Fabric

  • 1 fat quarter of each of 5 colors- a, b, c, d, e
  • 2 fat quarters of background fabric- f
  • 1/4 yard inner border
  • 1/2 yard outer border
  • 1 1/2 yard backing
  • 1/2 yard binding
  • Crib size batting

What To Do

Fold fat quarter in half and then cut 3" strips as follows:
  • Fabric A = 1 strip
  • Fabric B = 1 strip
  • Fabric C = 1 strip
  • Fabric D = 1 strip
  • Fabric E = 1 strip
  • Fabric F = 5 strips
Using a 1/4" seam allowance, sew a strip of fabric f to each of your remaining cut strips. Sew right sides together and press seams towards darker strip.
Sub-cut each strip set into 3" segments. Sew 4 patch units by matching 2 patch units of the same color. Rotate these pieces to make sure that like colors do not touch each other.
Measure several of your 4 patches. This will determine the size you should cut your large squares. Figure out how you want your quilt to look then cut large squares according to that.

Example:
A (4 patch c) B (4 patch d) E
(four patch c) B (4 patch d) E (4 patch a)
B (4 patch d) E (4 patch a) C
(4 patch d) E (4 patch a) C (4 patch b)
E (4 patch a) C (4 patch b) D
(4 patch a) C (4 patch b) D (4 patch e)
C (4 patch b) D (4 patch e) A

Center large squares on the 4 patches. Make sure right sides are together. Sew (with 1/4" seam allowance) the pieces together. Sew the newly made rows together to make the quilt top.
For the first border, cut 4 1/2" strips. measure border from the middle of the quilt and cut the border fabric length. Sew length border to quilt top. Measure the width of the border using same technique as the length. Cut and sew the top and bottom border to quilt.
For the second border, cut 4 3 1/2" strips. As with the first border, cut and sew onto the quilt top.
Attach the batting and backing. Quilt any design you like. Cut the excess batting and backing. Cut the binding fabric into 2" strips. Attach together and then fold in half wrong sides together down the length and press. Attach to the quilt.
I hope you enjoy my tutorial!

Friday, October 12, 2012

First Knit Scarf

This was my first knitting project a few years ago. Seems like quite a long time ago actually. I can't remember the reason for wanting to learn to knit but I now knit constantly. I taught myself by using the Internet and a few "how to" books.
I had bought some cheap yarn from the store in order to practice the knit stitch. I thought that making a scarf would be an easy yet useful item.

Materials

  • US size 10.5 knitting needles
  • 1 ball yarn, any type
  • Tapestry needle
  • Crochet hook

Pattern

In all honesty there's not much of a pattern here. I cast on, using a long tail cast on method, about 30 stitches. My scarf is rather wide; you could reduce the number of stitches if you want. I then knit every row (garter stitch) until I had a scarf as long as I wanted it to be. I think it is about 6 feet. In the middle of this project I got brave (or so I thought at the time) and practised a little purl stitching. Since the scarf is so long and wide, you can't really notice the purl rows when it's worn.
At the ends of the scarf I added some tassels. This is done easily enough with a few short lengths of yarn and a crotchet hook. I made a loop with the yarn and passed it into one of the stitches at the end of my scarf. I then passed the ends of the short lengths of yarn through the loop and pulled tight. Make sure you pass the ends in the same direction. You'll end up with the knots facing opposite ways.
I hope you enjoy my simple tutorial!