Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Embroidery Hoop Wall Art: Stenciled Letters

Before I talk about the last of the embroidery hoop projects: I read this article today, and it just about broke my heart! Does anyone else feel the same way?

So, stenciled letters. I've done lots of projects using freezer paper stencils, and I have to say, it is the gift that just keeps on giving. Maybe I'll tire of them at some point (like if/when I ever get around to taking a silk screening class), but I've been doing various freezer paper stencil projects for over a year now, and they still excite me! And if you are patient and have teeny-tiny scissors, you can make really complicated designs really easily.


  • 1 embroidery hoop (for this project, I used a 5x9" oval)
  • 1 piece of cotton fabric, cut about 3" larger on each side than your hoop
  • 1 piece of freezer paper (by the aluminum foil at the grocery store)
  • flat fabric paint (as opposed to puffy paint)
  • a paint brush
  • an iron and ironing board
  • a pen or pencil
  1. Before you do anything else, you need to find a letter to trace. For this particular project, I used the Palace font and modified it slightly to fit my hoop. I played with the size of the font until it was big enough to fill the hoop while leaving a little open space. When you have found your letter (or shape or clipart) and gotten it to the right size, print it out on a plain old piece of computer paper.
  2. Tape your letter to a sunny window. Tape your freezer paper over it, centering the letter. Using a pen or pencil, trace the letter. Make sure you get all of it, inside, outside, and in between. Remove the freezer paper from the window.
  3. Using a small, sharp pair of scissors (like hair-cutting scissors or embroidery scissors), cut out the letter. Keep in mind that you are creating a stencil, which means you want to keep the big piece of freezer paper intact. It doesn't matter if you have to cut the letters into pieces to get them out because the letter is actually the part you will throw away. If your letter has any inner pieces (A's, D's, O's, etc.) carefully cut those out and keep them. Keep chanting the mantra, "I'm making a stencil. I'm making a stencil."
  4. Place your fabric on the ironing board. Put your freezer paper stencil on top, making sure the letter is centered on the fabric. Carefully iron the freezer paper stencil onto the fabric. Make sure the fabric and stencil are both smooth while you do this. When you have the main stencil firmly adhered to the fabric, you can add any little pieces that complete your letter (like those insides you cut out and saved). Iron them on as well, and allow the whole thing to cool.

  5. Put an old pillowcase, dish towel, or scrap of cloth under your fabric (or inside if you are painting something like a t-shirt or tote bag).
  6. Using your fabric paint and brush, fill in the stencil on your fabric. Try not to glop the paint on; you want your finished product to be nice and smooth. Feel free to add another coat of paint if your paint color and fabric warrant it; some of my projects have only needed one coat, some have needed two.

  7. Allow your design to dry completely--overnight if possible.
  8. Take the old pillowcase, dish towel, or cloth that you put under you fabric, put it on top of your dry design, and go over the whole thing with an iron. This will set the paint.
  9. When everything is cool, carefully peel off your freezer paper stencil.
  10. Frame, trim, and glue the painted fabric according to Monday's instructions.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Emroidery Hoop Wall Art: Button Letters

The second set of letters I worked on in my Embroidery Hoop project was the button letters. These were quick and easy to make, and they turned out so cute!

  • 1 embroidery hoop (for this part, I used 5" circles)
  • 1 square of cotton cloth, cut about 3 inches bigger than your hoop on all sides
  • pencil
  • assorted buttons
  • thread
  • needle
  1. Before doing anything, figure out what you want your letter to look like. Because I was using different styles and colors of buttons, I kept the style of the letter simple.
  2. Put your fabric into the embroidery hoop, making sure it is centered and stretched nice and tight.
  3. Using a pencil, lightly sketch your letter onto the fabric. If you make a mistake, it is possible to get the pencil markings out, but that would require washing the fabric, so try to get it right the first time!

  4. Lay your buttons on top of the pencil sketch. Play around with different arrangements until you get one you like. If you have a digital camera or a camera on your cell phone, take a picture of the button arrangement. Otherwise, transfer them to a counter, tabletop, etc, being sure to keep them in the right order.

  5. Thread your needle and start sewing your buttons onto the fabric.

  6. When your letter is complete, trim and glue the excess fabric in the same manner as the giant cross-stitched letters.

Tomorrow: Stenciled Letters

Monday, August 16, 2010

Emrboidery Hoop Wall Art: Giant Cross-stitch

Another project I can cross off my list of unfinished projects!! Actually, it's the first project, not "another" project, but let's not argue semantics, okay?

After seeing a giant cross-stitched monogram in an equally giant embroidery hoop on Frolic! last spring, I decided to do a trio of framed monograms for each of our daughters' bedroom walls. As usual, I bought all of the materials immediately and then did nothing for almost 18 months! I don't know what came over me in July, but I up and finished all six hoops in two days!

The first--and arguably sweetest--project tackled was the giant cross-stitch. Each one took about an hour, but that's an hour that includes DVR watching, so if you concentrated you could probably get it done much faster!

  • 1 embroidery hoop per letter (mine were 9" circles)
  • 1 square of cotton fabric, cut about 3" bigger on each side than your hoop (I used 1 30x30" flour sack towel for all 6 hoops!)
  • 1 thingy of embroidery floss
  • 1 embroidery needle
  • graph paper
  • pencil
  • black marker
  • water-based fabric marker
  • tape
  • clear-drying glue (Elmer's, Tacky Glue, etc.)
  1. Lay your hoop over your graph paper and lightly trace the inside edge of the hoop with a pencil. This will help you stay centered and within your hoop's boundaries when sketching your letter.

  2. Using the circle you just traced on your graph paper as a guide, sketch your letter using large X's. If you don't like how it looks, by all means, adjust it. That's why you're using pencil! My "E" was a no-brainer, but I had to finagle my "A" a bit to make it look right.

  3. When your letter looks the way you want it to, use a thick, black marker to make a big dot on each corner of each X (not the center of each X, but rather the points where the X's meet each other).

  4. Tape your graph paper to a sunny window. Center your fabric over your graph paper and tape that up as well, gently pulling the fabric so that it is taut, not slack.

  5. Using a water-based fabric marker, trace the big black dots from your graph paper onto your fabric. You don't have to make big dots on your fabric; you just need a point big enough to see.

  6. Remove your fabric from the window and transfer it to your embroidery hoop, centering the letter and pulling the fabric taut.
  7. Thread your needle with embroidery floss. I didn't want my thread doubled over, but feel free to double it if you want extra heavy X's. Knot the end of the floss, and start cross-stitching! You might want to come up with a game plan for cross-stitching your letter before you actually start embroidering. You want to make your X's with as few starts and stops as possible; you don't want to have to knot your floss and start all over on a new section if you can help it. If you've never cross-stitched before, here's a great tutorial to help you get started.

  8. When you are finished cross-stitching your letter, remove your fabric from the embroidery hoop and soak it in cold water until the fabric marker has completely faded. Let your fabric air dry; iron it if needed after drying.
  9. Pop your fabric back into your embroidery hoop. This is the last time you'll put it in, so make sure that the letter is centered, that the screw on the hoop is where you want it, that the fabric is smooth, etc. Trim the excess fabric so that is extends about 1/2" beyond the hoop. Put a thin line of glue all the way around the inside of the embroidery hoop, and gently tuck the fabric little by little until it is all tucked in and glued to the inside of the hoop.

Tomorrow: Button Letters

Friday, August 6, 2010

What Do We Do With All This Zucchini???

This is actually the first year we've had that particular problem. For the past three summers, we've only managed to get one or two zucchini's from our pathetic zucchini plants. This summer, we are having the age-old problem of discovering monster zucchinis that were mere sprouts yesterday. And we welcome the problem with open arms and grumbling tummies! Here are a few delicious zucchini recipes to get you through the end of the growing season; just click on the name of the recipe to see the recipe in full.

My Smart Spice Give-Away is still going on! You can win 16 different organic spices; just click HERE!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Smart-Spice Review and Give-Away!!

I'm excited to introduce everyone to a great product today: Smart Spice. Smart Spice offers 16 different organic spices in pre-measured, individually sealed 1-teaspoon packets. You can use what you need, and the rest of your spices stay protected from light, air, and moisture, the enemies of freshness. The spices have a wonderful, stone-ground texture, and lovely aromas and flavors. And the makers of Smart Spice are generously giving away one entire set of 16 spices! If you're the oh-so-lucky winner, you'll receive a box containing four 1-teaspoon packets of each of 16 commonly-used spices, everything from Basil to Thyme. To read my full product review, get recipes, and most of all, TO ENTER THE GIVE-AWAY, click HERE!