Let the people choose…Specialty Stitches!


I am linking up with Jo of Serendipitous Stitching for her monthly SAL, Let the People Choose…and the people chose Specialty Stitches this month!

I am firmly in the “Love Specialty Stitches” camp!

My career as a needlewoman began with cross stitch and crewel almost simultaneously. Cross stitch is what stuck, although I remain fascinated by crewel and I bet if you hang out reading my blog long enough you eventually will see me try it out again. One of my first crewel projects was a cauliflower and carrot by Jiffy Stitchery. The cauliflower was entirely made of French Knots. I never finished the project because I ran out of orange yarn for the carrot but here it is! I can’t even believe I still have it! I dug it out of my box of UFOs from childhood/teenage years.

You could say that this was the way to master French knots! I do like doing them!

When I got seriously back into stitching several years ago one of my first “big” projects was Just Nan’s Bee Blossoms which is full of specialty stitches:

Of course Just Nan does enjoy using specialty stitches in all her band samplers, and I have made two others for my baby girls, Baby Garden and Baby Celebration:

About that time, I discovered The Victoria Sampler’s Learning Collection which is a wonderful series for practicing specialty stitches. If you are interested in learning a new stitch, I highly recommend these very pretty little kits.

The Biscornuments from Victoria Sampler also have some nice specialty stitches:

Another designer who is excellent for learning some specialty stitches is Atalie, from France. Atalie charts are nearly impossible to find in the US but I ordered a bunch from a French shop several years ago, and it is just a question of making them up. Here are 2 hearts I made from Atalie, which I showed for our February Hearts post.

And then there is one of my favorite designers, The Drawn Thread. You all have seen my Random Thoughts piece many times of course so I will show just the close ups of the most fun specialty stitches and then the French Garden fob and “All You Need Is Love” which are both small but chock full of special stitches!

And finally, going along with the Love theme, I have this sweet little mini sampler from The Sweetheart Tree: Tiny, but full of specialty stitches!

I wish I had something new to show you this post because if you are a regular reader you probably have already seen all of these! I am not working on anything with specialty stitches right now, but I have several in the queue, so stay tuned!

Hedgie! A little tutorial for the strawberry shape


I finished up Hedgie the Hedgehog by Just Nan this weekend! He came out so cute!

Since it’s my second Just Nan finish in this “strawberry” shape, I figure I have exactly enough experience to do a little tutorial on this type of finish in case anyone out there is on the fence about making one of these cuties and thinks maybe the finish would be tricky. It’s really not too bad, and Just Nan gives really good instructions. You can do it! Get that adorable Just Nan mouse kit you’ve been eyeing! Or get out the one in your stash that you’ve been putting off! This is really just pictures to accompany the written directions you will find included with any of her charts. Here goes!

So, after you have completed your stitching, gather your materials. You’ll need a pencil, ruler, and scissors, stuffing, floss or thread in the proper color, and anything from your chart pack like the decorative button for the base. And of course your needle. It can be your stitching needle, no need for a sharp.

Measure out around the backstitched border the specified amount. Then cut out your stitching. I mark a few spots with pencil and then connect the dots.

Finger press the seams inward.

Thread up your needle and, after lining up the back seam, start at the bottom and whip stitch the border stitches of the straight sides together.

When you reach the top, work your needle down through the top of the nose and end off the thread on the inside seam.

(Now I needed to take my son to baseball practice so I am moving to a nice picnic table at the park. This is my real stitching life, people. That’s why we are now at a different table with better light!) (Also, at this point, Hedgie needed a little extra work on his nose to get his profile just so. I will not include that since it is not used for the mice, and it was fussy).

NO! I am not going to use all that stuffing!

Next you need a new thread for gathering the bottom. Just Nan says use 24″ and she is not kidding. You don’t need more than that but don’t think you can get away with 12″! You can’t! (Spoken from experience!)

Enter your thread at the seam. I find it best to leave the tail on the top, not inside, and I leave a tail of a few inches to pull the gather. Using the backstitched line as a guide make small gathering stitches.

When you get to the end (rather, back to the beginning) tie a loose overhand knot. Stuff as recommended- mousies get stuffed firmly through to the nose so you might want a chopstick but Hedgie is supposed to have a flat, upturned nose so no stuffing in his nose.

It only really takes a pinch of stuffing! Then tuck in the extra fabric.

Pull your gathering stitches closed like a drawstring bag. When it is closed up enough ( there will be a gap) tie off the end to hold it. Stuff the short end in to the hole. But don’t cut your long thread end! Work the gathering folds around so it’s even.

Then get out your button and center it in the base.

Use the rest of the thread to stitch the button on the base. I try to space the stitches evenly which is a little tricky with the varied spaces on the button edge due to its decorative design.

I go from underneath up through the spaces in the button. I find it easier to make the stitching straight going from bottom up. You might prefer diagonal stitches, if so, then it’s probably easier to go top down.

Then end off your thread and hide the end inside your creature- I do this by poking the needle in, pulling the thread firmly through to a random area, squashing my critter a bit to snip off the end so the end pulls back inside when it is un-squashed. Probably here’s where you needed a picture but this part is a two hand operation! Sorry no picture!

Et voila! Here’s the finished Hedgie!

There are some finishing touches he will get but I couldn’t do them at the park. I’ll put those on at home and share it will you next week for the FFO Gallery. Hope you found this helpful and inspiring to make a mouse or hedgehog from Just Nan! If I could make 2 in 2 weeks or so, you can too!

Progress Report


I’ve been working on three things lately that are showing progress. I know I’ve been posting mostly finishes, but I’ve been stitching on a lot of unfinished things too!

First of all, I decided, Miss Mousie needs a friend RIGHT AWAY! I started Hedgie and he will be done this week probably.

Hedgie will be a good friend to protect her from Minerva the Owl.

I’ve been working on the Birthday Tart by Plum Street. I have discovered that between the colors in the photo and the wonky dye lots I must have that mine is not going to look like the picture. Phooey. Because I really like the colors in the photo! My Piney Woods for example is VERY dark, and my Sarsaparilla is brown.

Well, I changed one thread. I subbed in Antique Rose for the Sarsaparilla because my Sarsaparilla is just plain BROWN without those rosy shades in it and I don’t want brown flowers.

I hope it turns out ok and I like it.

Finally, I have been working on Leaping Cat. I am not loving stitching it. I should have used 1 thread instead of 2 but I can’t go back now! Lesson learned.

When I went back to stitching after a sanity break (ALL THAT GRASS-which I redid twice in certain sections to make the colors flow!) I switched needles to a thinner one. It is working a bit better. I want to get this done this month. Because, I love it, right? And I am a bit tired of having it be a WIP.