Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In the Victory Garden

The Victory Garden

Lots of delicious tomatoes!

The Victory garden is doing very well this year.  The garden is planted rather close but all the plants are healthy and some growing overnight!  The tomatoes have been the star of the garden.  Even with loosing some plants at first there are close to 30 tomato plants several volunteering from last years seeds!  There are 6 Early and Best Girls, 6 cherry 100's, a Brandywine heirloom, six random heirlooms, some odds and ends tomatoes and of course the volunteers!  They are growing so close together that it is hard to tell which plant the tomato is on!  One of the tomato plants looks like a Black Krim, it just started setting fruit so it will take a while before we know what it is!

Last week we finally had more tomatoes then we could eat so I put them in the oven to dry.  I've had good luck using the pilot light in the gas oven to dry tomatoes and afterward I froze them for the winter.  But I just couldn't wait to eat them so I put them in the oven at 250 degrees.  Then I added a handful of 5 different types of fresh basil leaves, a splash of white wine and a little Balsamic vinegar and lots of olive oil.  It came out great!  Lee spread the tomatoes on a sandwich of Havarti cheese.  So today when I harvested about 5 pounds of ripe tomatoes I cut them up and roasted them and Lee brought home a loaf of French bread!  So he toasted the bread with cheese and olive oil and then put on the tomatoes and sausage.  A wonderful dinner inspired by fresh tomatoes.  Definitely worth all the work in the garden and with organic tomatoes at $3.00 or more a pound helps the budget.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Today was very stressful for awhile.  I had gone into the backyard to water the vegetables which are doing really well.  At this point it is better too soak the plants to reduce water on the leaves causing mildew.  So instead of going in and out of the house I decided to sit under the apple trees and work on a new project, a basket.  Recently I wanted to take advantage of the millions of pine needles that fall into the yard every year.  So I found a video on .  Once I understood how pine needle baskets were made I started weaving a basket to use in the yard too collect all those veggies!  The only supplies needed were pine needles, raffia, and a strong needle.  So I got out an 6 inch doll needle!  Doll needles are large, sharp and strong so that they can be found easily when making a doll.  Not something to step on!  So when I placed the hose to trickle water around the watermelons and went back to my basket the needle was gone!  I panicked!!  I've been trying to be extra careful with needles and now I had lost one of the most dangerous in some dry grass.  I flashed back to my doctor wanting to give me a tetanus shot.  The needle had to be found!  So I calmed myself and looked at the surface I had put it on and imagined were it would have fallen.  Then I had to take the weight of the needle into consideration.  That gave me two small areas to search.  So I knelt at the first spot and worked through the dead grass in layers and still couldn't find it.  The dead grass was so shiny that I was fooled several times into thinking that I had found the needle.  So I went into the house for a magnet.  I would have done so earlier but I had lost my large magnet and only had magnetic scissors.  The needle was so heavy it would never be picked up by the scissors but I hoped I would see it move.  The scissors didn't find anything but now I felt sure it wasn't in that area.  The second area was in the shade and the needle would have hit a board that was against the surface it was put on.  So the needle would have bounced a little.  So I narrowed the area and finally found the needle!  I was so relieved!  By then I had flooded the garden a bit!  But I was happy and so were the vegetables!  So much for the haystack!

Here is my pine needle basket so far.

Pine needle baskets are very easy to make.  So far my problem is not tightening the raffia enough while winding the pine needles.  The technique is just like my fabric basket but instead of fabric strips wrapped around soft cotton cording, the raffia is wrapped pine needles.  Here is a link to  by fabric basket tutorial  This will never be as pretty as the fabric basket but it does give be a project to work on in the yard!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Skiving Off Today

Actually I spent the morning weeding out the tomatoes and feeding them, then I planted some squash.  But the rest of the day I have been resting. 

Found this book on paperback swap and looked it up on Amazon.  Amazing book on embroidery.  One project looks like a bulletin board and has embroidered plants and flowers, seeds and fish and animals must make one of these.  This has a Look Inside feature if you are interested.  Would have bought it but is $55.95 used.  Wish listed it on paperback swap but 13 people are ahead of me.

Paper Folded Jewelry

The Art of Annemieke Mein: Wildlife Artist in Textiles.  Worth a look at her style of embroidery and stumpwork.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Megan's Sacrifice

Megan the orchid was loosing a flower so I picked it and drew a template from her sacrifice.  At first I was going to make a stumpwork pattern but instead decided to start with a needle painting.  Maybe this will go into the embroidered quilt.  The biggest job is finding the right colors, DMC's colors don't seem to ever have the right shades of purple!  The colors I picked out are pretty but not accurate.  The truth is that I keep changing the colors and perhaps I need to shop for some more floss!

I have been working on the needle painted yellow poppy.  I am still having a hard time with the shadows on the petals.  To little and the depth is wrong to much and the petals blend into each other.  This is a bit harder on a poppy because the petals don't overlap as much as other flowers.  So there is just a small but important amount of shadow to work.  Needle painting seems to be a type of embroidery that takes a bit more creative thought and is unique to each needleworker.  Makes be long for a painted canvas!  Not a lot of decisions to make just a lot of fun stitching!

Yesterday I started several projects.  Not exactly a great idea to start more embroideries but sometimes I have to take advantage of being able to iron the fabric.  So I started working on a Jacobean style embroidery using the wool and some natural colored linen fabric.  The other day I was trying to come up with a Jacobean design when I received yet another book from  The book was "The Margaret Boyles Book of Needle Art.  There are several designs in the book that I really like and it saved me having to make up my own Jacobean designs.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Found Some Projects Today

Yesterday I was thinking about making another skirt.  I found nearly 5 yards of a deep royal blue cotton fabric.  The cotton fabric is so lovely definitely Kona.  So that got me to thinking about a blue skirt I started a couple years ago.  The project had been put aside when I couldn't get the sewing machine to behave.  Matching the two fabrics I found that they were the same and I must have bought 9 or more yards.  Then I found the pattern and it called for more than 8 yards because it included a matching blouse.  So it is a good thing I didn't start another skirt!

The pattern is a full length skirt made in three equal sections which makes it very wide too!  Each section has 2 deep darts and then the fabric is sewn together leaving one seam open to put a zipper in.  Then the top of the skirt is gathered before adding the waistband.  Even with the darts sewn each section is 34 inches making the entire waist 102 inches before gathering.  All that fabric at the waist does not sound flattering!  But the project should teach me a lot and will take time sewing it by hand.

While searching through projects I found the Herb Robert embroidery!  I began to worry that the project had been thrown out because I hadn't seen it for so long.  The Herb Robert embroidery is so beautiful I am very glad to have found it.  The wire worked petals were in the bag also!  Perhaps after the skirt is finished I can get back to doing the stumpwork part of the Herb Robert and finally give it as a gift.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

How to Make a Soft Sculpture Cupcake or Let Them Eat Cupcakes

Why make soft sculptured cupcakes?  I'm not sure but it is a challenge!  This started as a project for the Marie Antoinette Christmas tree.  "Let them eat cupcakes!"  So I started by making them in off white felt but my first one failed for two reasons, first it had straight sides and the second reason was it didn't fit in the cupcake lace.

First try at a cupcake with spider web rose and size 15 beads.

Side view of a cupcake showing red velvet ribbon sides.

So I started again making the cupcake a bit smaller and didn't put anything on the sides and it fit inside the cupcake lace!  Then that led to the problem of the sides being the off white color of the felt.  This is something I am still working on.

Second cupcake with pink satin frosting and
a zig-zag runched ribbon flower.

The second cupcake also looked too plain.  So I started a third cupcake and wrote down the instructions.  This is for your own use and I hope the instructions will help you with your own designs.  I like the soft squishy look of the cupcakes but by putting light weight cardboard inside they will look crisper!  If you have some improvements on this I would love to hear from you.  Hope you enjoy!

How to Make the Cupcake

Step 1:  Cut a 2.5 inch and 2.25 inch circle out of felt.  Then cut a felt strip 1.75 x 8 inches.  When sewing the circles to the strip you will not use all of the strip.  Better to have too much of the side strip then to run out.

Starting with the smaller circle hold it against the long side of the strip.  Start buttonhole stitching the pieces together starting 1 inch from the corner of the strip. 

Buttonhole stitching felt circle to felt strip.

While stitching ease the pieces together by squeezing them between your thumb and finger.  Try to pinch up a little of the strip while sewing.  This gives the cupcake more of a baked feel somehow.

Pinching the circle and strip together while buttonhole stitching them.

 Once the strip is attached to the smaller circle attach the larger circle to the other side of the long strip.

 Small circle attached to strip.

Large circle partially attached to the strip.

Cupcake with both circles attached to the strip.  Notice that there is some leftover strip.

Next if you have any leftover of the felt strip cut it short leaving enough to fit into the opening.  If you don't like the buttonhole stitching you may want to turn the cupcake inside out.  I like the little wrinkles so I leave the stitching side out.  You can also slip in a 2.4 inch piece of lightweight cardboard if you want a firm cupcake.

Now stuff the cupcake with fiberfill but if you are going to put a cupcake lace around it keep trying on the lace while stuffing.  When you have it stuffed, you need to sew the cupcake closed.  I use a simple running stitch.  It is a good idea to squeeze the cupcake and size it to the cupcake lace again.

Holding the strip edges together to close with a running stitch.

Resizing the cupcake to fit the cupcake lace.

The next step is to add some padding to the top of the cupcake.  I do this separately because stuffing the cupcake enough to have a nice round top makes it too fat to fit in the cupcake lace.  To pad it cut three circles, 1.5, 2.0 and 2.5 inches from felt.  Then stack them and place on the top of the cupcake with the largest circle on top.  Buttonhole the felt padding to top of the cupcake.

Now for some fun decorating the cupcake!

Now for the frosting.  I've been using satin for the frosting it is so smooth and shiny, but you can use any fiber that you want.  Cut a 4.0 inch circle of fabric and mark a 3.0 inch circle inside.  Sew a running stitch between the outside and the 3.0 inch mark.  Like making a yoyo.

Use a running stitch between the 4.0 and 3.0 inch marks.

Pull the thread and create a little cap for the cupcake. 

Satin frosting cap.

Tuck under the fabric edge and sew it as invisibly as you can to the cupcake top.  Think of frosting dripping over the edge of the cupcake.  So don't try to make this step perfectly even or it won't look as much like frosting.

Sewing the satin frosting cap to the cupcake.

Felt cupcake with satin frosting ready to decorate!

Now is the real fun of making the cupcake decorating it!  Use your imagination!  Here are some of the cupcakes I've made.

Chocolate cupcake with gingham frosting.  This would
be cute with yellow daisies or inside a picnic basket!

Satin covered cupcake with spider ribbon rose and a sprinkling of size 15 beads. 
Around the edges is a zigzag runched sheer white ribbon.

Hot pink satin frosting with a pink zig-zaged runched flower.

White satin frosting cupcake.  It is flat because it's
top doesn't have the felt circles padding it.

The sides are decorated with a strip of silver lace and purchased ribbon roses.

Bottom of cupcake, the lace covers the bottom.  If I do this again
I will insert some cardboard so the cupcake sits better!

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial and make soft sculptured cupcakes of your own!