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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May flowers
week three

Something old

It's time for showing our old ornaments with some small additions to doll them up a bit.   It's hard when they are already made because we can't add fabric and stitched in trims to them. But we will using small things like trims stitched to the outside seams, bows, charms, buttons etc. 

There is a monthly freebie at the end of the post for you too.

RJ -
I chose Garden Pleasures by Little House Needleworks for our week three showing.   It was a bigger stitch and I wanted it to be an ornament so I did it on 25 ct. Lugana over one. I have two tabletop trees at Christmas and one is French themed so I changed the words Garden Pleasures to The French Garden.

It is a really sweet stitch but done with a plain finish.

Changed Garden Pleasures to Le Jardin Francais


This is a petite stitch so I thought it needed a girly finish.  My first thought was rusching but how do you do it?    I searched blogs and you tube and making the ribbon ruffle did not seem too hard but no one actually said how they attached the ruffled ribbon.   So I was on a trial run.

After I finally got it on (don't ask how!), I also added a bow at the top and a set of garden tools in the girl's hand.   Hope you like her new look.
It's's pouring!  The ornament is sitting in a garden conservatory hoping for sun.

Lighting is not too good on this gloomy day but you can see her little garden tools and the French words a little better 

Love the back fabric.   It is embroidered with flowers.  I bought it at the Fabric Guru online.

Garden Pleasures
by Little House Needleworks
25 ct. country mocha Lugana
called for threads
garden tool


Mary -

Before: Here is my birdhouse ornament before the update.  Love this stitch but it needed something more.

My updated oldie is LHN's "Birdhouse Alphabet".   I wanted this to be ornament size so I stitched it on 28 count over one.  It was a fairly easy transition for me as the smallest count I had previously stitched on was 18 ct. Aida.  I used the called for thread, Crescent Colors Belle Soire Beanstalk silk thread.

I have trouble making bows so the Bow Easy which can be found here makes tying little bows easy.  It's a little piece of plastic for $11 but I found it worth every cent.  If you have trouble making little bows you might want to give it a try.  There are many helpful videos on you tube if you have trouble understanding the written directions as I did.
Added buttons and a bow

Closeup of the buttons

Birdhouse Alphabet
by Little House Needleworks
28 ct. Lugana
Belle Soire Beanstalk silk thread

Freebie for May

You can find the free chart from Glory Bee here

We hope you have a great week and get in a lot of stitching.  Hope you will come back next week to see our new May garden stitches.
                                                                    Mary and RJ

                                    Friends are the flowers in the garden of life

Monday, May 15, 2017

May flowers
Week two

RJ's Grab Bag

Here is my newest stitch that I have been working on for grab bag week.   It is a baby sampler by Lizzie Kate called Welcome Baby.  I love LK patterns because they are easy, quick stitches and fun to do.   It is a gift for one my close friend’s new little granddaughter, Amelia.


My tip on framing

If you are like me, custom framing has gotten so expensive that I hardly ever use it.   But I love to make stitches for other people and frame them.   So I have been changing the pattern a tiny bit to make them fit a store bought frame perfectly.   The Lizzie Kate baby sampler was stitched on 40ct. flax and it came out to be 2  ½ by 3 ½. The width was perfect but the length of the stitch needed to be an inch longer for a perfect fit.  It needed to be 2 ½ by 4 ½ to fit my 4 by 6 frame.  So this is what I did.   I stitched the sampler to the birth date and stopped.   Then I measured down from the top of the stitch 4 ½ inches and marked it.   I then stitched the bottom border up from the marked spot.  This left just about an inch of linen space to stitch.

Disclaimer:   these are just examples of things you can use to add to your stitch to make it longer.   They are not perfectly centered yet or in the perfect colors for this stitch (just tucked in).  The last photo will be the real gift with the right colors and alignment.   
Here it is with the extra space to make the stitch fit the frame.
Now I had to fill that extra inch of linen with something.   Lots of things came to mind… like how about a strip of lace?   Wouldn’t that be pretty for a little girl?
  Just added for display purposes. 

Or maybe some large rick rack?
If this was the real finish I would have used a different color rick rack.

Or how about ribbon and buttons?
Would have used a more delicate ribbon and little vintage white buttons if it was to stay.
How about a strip of ribbon?
Definitely would have used a wider ribbon the color of the border if it was staying.  But I like the polka dot for a little girl.
Or you could stitch a cute little saying like:

                                                               SUGAR AND SPICE
                                                      AND EVERYTHING NICE

Here is my finished baby sampler.  I chose to make 10 long stem tulips to fill in the empty space.  It also has an attached heart button.  But you can see there are lots of choices to pick from to add to the empty space and I'm sure you will come up with even more.
I made up the tulips so I hope you can tell that is what they are!

closeup of the 10 added tulips to the stitch

Welcome Baby
by Lizzie Kate
40 ct. flax linen
over dyed threads
Kohl's frame

I can’t wait to buy a pretty little outfit and wrap it all up and take to little Amelia Faye.

Side note:

In the past I have bought all of my frames at craft stores like Hobby Lobby, Michaels and Joann’s.  But I found they had so little depth, it was hard to close them in the back after putting a finished cross stitch in.   Then I discovered these great frames at Kohl’s.   The line is called Maison and they have enough depth to fit your stitch even with buttons and charms attached.   And the back closes easily.   They list at $15.99 but they are on sale all the time for half price and then if you have a 30% off coupon too you can get them for $5.60.   Now that’s pretty good for a well made frame with lots of room for your stitches.   I always stock up when the deal is that good.

Stitching Challenge

We made a small change and moved our stitching challenge to week two to join our grab bag week.  I was able to get another Santa stitched and Mary stitched her Christmas ornament and now they are just waiting to be finished. Come join us and make a challenge for yourself?   

                                                           RJ's Santa challenge

I was able to get my second Santa stitched this week.  This is a Prairie Schooler design from the booklet Santas Revisited III.   I love gardening themes so I especially enjoyed stitching this one.   I used all over dyed threads that I had and am pleased with the choices.   Well two down and lets hope many, many more to come!

I collect vintage water cans and can't resist stitches that they are in.

Cayenne, Cidermill Brown, Wood Trail, Wisper White, DMC 950, Antique Rose, Otter Creek, Wheat Fields and Tomato over dyed threads were used

Prairie Schooler Garden Santa
Santas Revisited III
32 ct. raw linen
over dyed threads

                                                   Mary's ornament challenge

My challenge is to alternate months between Prairie Schooler Barnyard Christmas and the LHN Christmas ornaments.  I have a precious 3 year old nephew that I'm making the animal ornaments for.  I look forward to selecting from my large LHN stash next month.  With this challenge, I may finally get them all finished.
Here are all of the Barnyard Christmas ornaments.   I think my nephew will love them.

The PS horse was stitched with called for DMC colors with the exception of Weeks Red Rocks and Crescent Colors English Ivy.  This is my fabric choice for the ornament.

Prairie Schooler Barnyard Christmas
32 ct. beige linen with a distinctive green tint
DMC and over dyed threads

Looking forward to seeing you next week with our old stitches dressed up.  And we will be sharing our cute freebie find on the third week too.    Keep on stitching!!!   Mary and RJ

                              You are as welcome as the flowers in May
                                                          Charles Maclin

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May Flowers
Week one

Spring is in full bloom and we are enjoying the pretty flowers all around us.  We also have been busy stitching and finishing projects for our new blog Stitching Friends Forever.


While we have been working hard, our sewing machines have been humming along getting everything sewn up.   So we thought we would treat them to sewing machine covers with new cross stitch patterns and fabrics.  They were a lot of fun to stitch.   Why not make one for your machine too?

RJ's:  This is a simple finish that can be made as easy or hard as you want.  First just find a cross stitch pattern that you love and want to put on your sewing machine cover.   I chose This is my Happy Place by The Scarlett House.   I think cross stitching is the happy place for so many of us and I loved stitching this design. 

Cross stitch, fabrics and rick rack
Added bird on spool and rosebud border to stitch
I bought this lovely fabric of rosebuds and tiny birds at a great little quilt shop.  I was all set to use it for the sewing cover, but I worried the white background just didn't go with the country mocha linen.   I went back and forth on using this fabric.  At first it seemed the white background might pull out the white letters on the stitch.  I thought if I added a row of rosebuds to the bottom and a tiny bird on one of the spools it would work even better.  I was all ready to go with it...but then I decided to look more at fabrics I already had. The red and cream check seemed better suited for it.  But I still really wanted to use the rosebud fabric too.  So, I coffee dyed a small piece for pockets and added it to the check cover.   Now I was happy!            (the rosebud border chart can be found here).    

Coffee dyed pockets

Pocket with rosebuds and tiny birds picks up the bird and rosebud border in the stitch

I decided to line mine, add rick rack trim and stripe ties.   I added a double pocket  for embroidery scissors, a small ruler and pins.   You can add any embellishments you wish like lace, buttons, a ruffle etc.   Then it just needs some ties which you can add with buttons or stitched into your seam when you line it. 

Stripe Ribbon Ties

This is my Happy Place
by The Scarlett House
40 ct. country mocha linen
over dyed threads


Mary's:  My Stitching Friend Forever suggested the pattern Pineberry Lane's Proper School of Needlework when I was looking for something that would work for a sewing machine cover. With just a few adaptations, I was very pleased with the result.

Stitch and fabrics used
I made a few changes to the original pattern.   I changed the words to our blog name, gave one of the sisters blonde hair and completed the thread on the spools a different way.   I filled in all the spools with X stitches in DMC 869 and then wrapped the spools with DMC 613.  I used the chart LHN's Quaker Bird for the flowers instead of the ones that were called for.

I had no idea how to center words but with RJ's instructions I was easily able to make the adaptation. Moda has some of the best fabrics and I chose Kansas Troubles Favorites II in two contrasting colors.  I am very pleased with how my cover turned out.  I even lined it!  I hope  you enjoyed seeing our sewing machine covers.

Closeup of trim and heart buttons

Proper School of Needlework
by Pineberry Lane

28 ct. cream Cashel linen
called for threads with changes listed above

Next week we have a grab bag post we hope you will enjoy and our stitches from our challenge.  Until then, hope you get lots of stitching in this week.   Mary and RJ  

                              Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature
                                                               Gerard Nerval

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

April Bunnies
Week Four 


This month is really going by quickly!  It’s week four and we will be sharing our "new stitches" for April. 
Spring is here and it's the perfect time for stitching bunnies.   Our new stitches will show more variety in finishes each month.   We will be using fabric, decorative stitches, trims and other details to complete them.   Bunnies are always fun to stitch and patterns are hard to resist buying.   We have two of our favorites to share.

RJ Topiary Bunny is actually a small part of a sampler called Button Bunny Sampler by Homespun Elegance.   The minute I saw the bunny holding the topiary I knew he was the one I wanted to make.   I had two challenges with this stitch.   One was the topiary itself which was made with a chain stitch.   I had done this stitch many years ago in needlepoint but had totally forgotten how.   But after watching a you tube video a couple of times (well actually many times) it came back to me!

My next challenge was all of those French knots for his tail.  They became easier and went much quicker as I made more of them.    This bunny was a fun stitch and I will make the whole sampler one of these days.  It has many great details and I think you would enjoy stitching it. 

This stitch was made with two green fabrics, flax linen, called for over dyed threads and a carrot charm.   The charm was made from a set of earrings I had never worn.   One was a bunny and the other was a carrot.  I pulled them apart and now they will be put to great use as charms for stitched ornaments.

This is a closeup of the chain stitch on the topiary.

Button Bunny Sampler
by Homespun Elegance
40 ct. flax Newcastle linen

Hobby Lobby fabrics
over dyed threads


Mary -  This sweet bunny is called The Rabbit and the Elderberry and is by Primitive Acorns. It can be purchased on Etsy.

I substituted Gentle Arts threads for DMC because I love the way over dyed threads bring more depth to my stitches.  I used Cidermill brown for the body of the bunny, Woodtrail for the urn, Dungarees for the flowers and Avocado for the leaves.

This was an enjoyable and easy stitch and I had even more fun finishing it.  Many a package makes its way between Florida and New York as both RJ and I like to shop for fabric and adornments for our stitches.  She sent me this adorable set of garden tools and I knew exactly where they would be used. With the use of some blue crochet trim I had in my stash, this finish came together quickly and was a joy to work on.

The Rabbit and the Elderberry
Primitive Acorns

20 ct. linen
Moda fabrics
stitched over one

Have a great week friends.   Next week will be our big project to start the month of May.   See you then.   RJ and Mary

                                    Spring is when life's alive in everything
                                                             Christina Rossetti

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April week three
Something Old

Week three of every month we will be showing some of our older stitches.   Mary and I started stitching together about four years ago.   She was brand new at this pastime and I had taken a long break from something I had loved so much.    We started with Little House Needleworks ornaments and at the time we just finished them with a basic fabric back and a hanger.  

We thought it would be fun to show these earlier stitches in their before style.   And then in their after finish as we add some additions to hopefully jazz them up a bit. Hope you enjoy their new look!

If you have some ideas or suggestions on ways to add adornment to plain finishes we would really like to hear about them for future third weeks.

We have also added a challenge at the end of this post for the two of us and we would love for you to join us.

RJ -  

I chose the pattern Blessed by Little House Needleworks for this month's old stitch.   This is the first ornament I made for Mary and myself when we started stitching together.   Here the ornament only has a fabric back and a ribbon hanger. I think this is such a pretty pattern and bigger than a lot of the LHN ornaments but it still needed something extra.

by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 32 ct. raw linen
with called for threads


Her new look has embroidery X's all around the seam edge of the ornament. I've never done this before and I have to admit I had all kinds of problems with it. Having an upholstery weight fabric as the backing probably had a lot to do with it. But I think the more I do this technique, the easier it will get.  After my struggle with adding the X's, I added a brown plaid bow and a special  friend charm easily I feel very blessed to have such a kind, caring and generous friend to be my blog buddy.  I liked this ornament before but now I really like her new look!  I have a feeling Mary will too.

Here she is with an added bow and a charm.  

Here you see the little X's that were so hard to do.   I hope I get better at that technique as I attempt it more.

by Little House Needleworks
32 ct. raw linen
used all the called for threads
special friend charm


Mary -
I was a brand new cross stitcher when RJ discovered the LHN Christmas ornament series.   My new found hobby soon became an obsession!    We both wanted each and every pattern in this delightful group of ornaments.  Our stitching partnership was now in full swing.  My first selection to stitch was the Tree Farm because I have a dear friend that owns a Christmas tree farm.   I knew this would make the perfect gift for her.
Tree Farm
by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 14 ct.
called for threads

As my confidence in stitching improved, I re-stitched it on 28 ct. even weave which was an easy transition from 14 ct. Aida.

I had to make a trip to New Brunswick, New Jersey recently.  Whenever I'm in a new area, I search for cross stitch stores.   I was in luck!   The nearby town of Metuchen had a beautiful shop called Needleworkers Delight.  My luck got even better because that day they were having a "sit and stitch" with an instructor.  Dawn was a wonderful teacher who taught me how to make cording with a" Lacis" cord maker.  I was able to make some beautiful cording and added it to my older Tree Farm stitch.  It was easy to use and took my finish up a notch!!!
Here is the cording up close.

Tree Farm
by Little House Needleworks
stitched on 28 ct. evenweave
called for threads

attached tree button

                                    STITCHING FRIENDS CHALLENGE

We are starting a Stitching Friends Challenge.   I'm challenging myself to stitch a Santa every month and Mary will be working on more Christmas ornaments to add to her tree.  Our goal is to stitch them this year and then to finish them next year.  We will show our progress every third week after the "old stitches remake".    We would love it if you joined in.   Let us know what your challenge is.

Mary is on vacation this week but here is my first Santa challenge stitch.  It is called A Christmas Visit book 48 from Prairie Schooler.  It is just leaning on an old tin tile for the photos but will be made into an ornament. PS has so many great patterns to chose from and all different sizes too.  This one is a smaller Santa but so sweet with birds and a birdhouse. It's just waiting to be sewn up.  Ok one down and many, many more to come!


I'm sure you are wondering what are all of those brown x's all around the stitch!  I do that while I'm stitching so that when I cut it out I have a really straight line to follow.  As soon as I have the 3/4 inch allowance cut out around the stitch I pull them out and then sew it into an ornament.

A Christmas Visit Book 48
by Prairie Schooler
32 ct. raw linen
over dyed threads I already had

Hope your week is filled with lots of stitching.   Next week we will be showing new bunny ornaments.   Hope to see you.   Mary and RJ

                   Spring adds new life and new beauty to all that is

                                                          Jessica Harrelson

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

April week two 
Grab Bag

Every second week of the month we will have a grab bag post.   We will select from a number of ideas like stitching tips, interviews with designers and other bloggers, give aways, recipes and much more.  This month we have a stitching tip you may find helpful.

Mary's thread organization

I have found an inexpensive way to organize my thread that works very well.  I bought a lidded 17x14x6 inch plastic container from a craft store.   I always use a coupon to make them a reasonable purchase.    From Dollar Tree, I bought white business size envelopes.   I prefer the peel off adhesive style over the ones with glue.    I also use ziplock freezer bags that have a place where you can write on them.  You can usually find them at Dollar Tree too.
I store my thread in ziplock bags inside the business envelopes.  On both, I write the thread brand, color and number.  When I have a piece of leftover thread, I keep it in the white envelope only and not in the plastic bag.  Then I know to use them first.   I always scotch tape a small piece of thread on my DMC envelopes.  This is helpful when I need to look for a color or make a color substitution.

When I do make a substitution I will make a notation on the envelope.  I make sure I mention the new brand name I'm using.  

I store all the envelopes in numerical order.   I group them by their brand name.   I make one exception for Classic Colorworks which I store in alphabetical order.

When I am done with a stitching project I always file everything in its proper place right away.   This system has worked very well for me.  I don't waste time looking for thread and they always stay neat and orderly.

If you’re struggling with thread organization please give this system a try.  It works well for a disorganized person like myself.

                                                           Easter stitch freebie
We found a cute free Easter stitch you might like.   You will love Sub Rosa's pretty blog and the lovely patterns she has for sale. 
You can find this free pattern and many more here:     

Next week we will be showing some of our older stitches that we have updated with a new look!  We hope you will join us.   RJ and Mary

                                   Spring is the time of plans and projects

                                                                 Leo Tolstoy