Jan23

Goodbye 2014

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Can you believe this is the only (shareable) photo of our house during the holiday season? I took time off from sharing projects online this holiday season, and, without that pressure, I was able to create without worrying about the end result.

I knit two imperfect blankets, two neck warmers, a scarf, and a cowl. I crocheted garland for our tree, created star ornaments for our front door, wrapped advent chocolates, baked, cooked, threw a holiday party, shopped till I dropped, and didn’t photograph any of it.

Not blogging or seemed to be the theme this year. I went from hundreds of posts in previous years, to 27. I’m not sure if it’s a longer trend, or if I’ll be concentrating on lower quantity, but more time spent on the posts. I’m also considering bringing back more writing, something I quit over the last two years and have missed.

But, I digress. No blog is complete without an end of the year post, so I thought I would include a very short list of what I enjoyed in 2014:

#1: Larry

After losing both of our dogs in 2012, we waited a while until we felt ready for a dog. Early in May, we picked up a labradoodle puppy at a farm on the edge of County Cork. We named him Larry, and I don’t think I stopped smiling for two weeks afterwards. He was exactly what both of us needed, at exactly the right time.

#2: Getting active

2014 was the year I learned to be active without being neurotic. If I felt like walking, I walked. If I felt like running, I ran. I learned to pay attention to my body and mind, and change my choices to maintain energy, not just health or weight.

#3: So. Much. Travel.

Paris, London, Idaho, Corfu, NYC, Birmingham, Tampa, Skellig and Dublin. I felt incredibly grateful for each of those trips, for the chance to see family and friends, new places and old. If I had to pick, my favorite trip was the week in Corfu. We both felt more connected and relaxed after a week at the pool and beach.

#4: Kilkenny

I have loved living in a city that is so small and walkable. Our lives now consist of daily jaunts to the Castle, running errands on foot with a canvas tote slung over my shoulders, the 3-minute drive to pick up groceries, and having friends within walking distance. It’s decreased our time in the car and increased our quality of life. Cheers to living in the city!

What were you grateful for in 2014?

Easy Sashiko Stitch Napkins

Are you looking for a way to upgrade those boring white cloth napkins? Bob’s your uncle with this simple project that is a combination of techniques-dying fabric with coffee and sashiko embroidery. Both are easy and perfect for a beginner craft.

The total cost of the project was €13 (I included the cost of the napkins even though I had those on hand). I used leftover coffee grounds from our espresso machine. For the first batch, I left the coffee grounds in the water and they sat on the fabric overnight. When I rinsed out the napkins, there were oil spots from the coffee. For the second batch, I poured over the coffee grounds and it did not leave these spots. Optionally, you could brew several pots of coffee in a coffeemaker and pour the coffee over the napkins.

If old grounds are used, this will give you a much lighter cream color. If you use new grounds, the color will be darker and more brown in tone. Here’s a great guide to dying fabric with coffee and tea from Free People.


Coffee-Dyed Sashiko Embroidered Napkin

Supplies:

  • 6 white cloth napkins
  • 1 cup used coffee grounds
  • 1 square fabric to strain grounds
  • 1 colander
  • 6 liters hot water
  • 1 large plastic container (big enough to hold all of the water and cloth)
  • 3 yards thread in chosen colors
  • 1 quilting needle
  • fabric marker or tailor’s chalk (optional)
  • ruler (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the fabric. Wash and dry the napkins as you normally would.
  2. Dye the fabric. Line the colander with the fabric and place over the large container. Heat up the water in a kettle (or you can just use really hot tap water) and pour the water over the coffee into the container.  Stir every minute for 15 minutes, then let sit overnight (stirring once or twice more). Rinse out the napkins with water, then wash as normal. This will remove a lot of the dye, leaving it a creamy color. Iron the napkins flat when they are dry.
  3. Create the pattern. I chose a simple pattern of three lines in two different colors placed in one corner of the napkin. The outside and inside lines are a simple stab stitch about 3″ in length on each side. The middle line is a simple stab stitch in longer length. You can choose whatever pattern you like. If you need inspiration, visit my Pinterest board. I wanted a looser and more organic feel to my project, so I did not mark the pattern on my fabric. If you would like a more precise pattern, mark the pattern on the fabric with a ruler and a fabric pencil or tailor’s chalk.
  4. Embroider. Thread the needle with your first color thread. Tie a quilter’s knot at one end. Start the thread from the back of the fabric and begin to create a running stitch in a straight line by weaving the needle in and out of the fabric in .25″ increments. Continue this pattern as desired. At the end of the stitch line, check to make sure the fabric is smooth and unpuckered, and then tie off the end of the thread in another quilter’s knot. Trim the thread end as needed. Repeat the process with your remaining colors until your pattern is complete.

 

Nov17

Sashiko Book Page

Sewing paper makes a really interesting and simple craft. I typically use this technique for temporary projects, like these book pages that will be discarded at the end of a dinner party or event. Something that I’ll enjoy creating, but not feel the need to keep around.

This project is perfect for beginner crafters and would make a great workshop or craft class project. It took about 15 minutes from start to finish, not including the time it took to snip a stem of evergreen from a tree on my daily walk. I used shades of green and brown for my embroidery to keep in the natural colors theme.

You can use this technique on any type of paper, although it might be more difficult the thinner the paper. Use it on brown craft paper to dress up a gift.

The total cost of supplies was €2. I purchased an old book from a charity shop and used bits of thread and a needle leftover from the Sashiko Table Runner.


 

Sashiko Embroidered Book Page

Supplies:

  • 1 old book page
  • 3 feet thread in varying colors
  • 1 quilting needle (at least 2″ long)
  • 1 stem evergreen

Directions:

  1. Prepare the page. Tear out an interesting page from the book, making sure to keep the edge as straight as possible.
  2. Create pattern. I chose two lines of crosses across the bottom 1/3 of the page. You can choose whatever pattern you like. If you need inspiration, visit my Pinterest board. I wanted a looser and more organic feel to my project, so I did not mark the pattern choosing instead to use the lines of text as my marker. If you would like a more precise pattern, mark the pattern in dots on the page with a ruler and a pencil.
  3. Embroider. Thread the needle with your first color thread. Tie a quilter’s knot at one end. Start the thread from the back of the page and begin to create your pattern, weaving the thread neatly from back to front in .25″ stitches. Continue sewing until your pattern is complete. At the end of the stitch line, tie off the end of the thread in another quilter’s knot. Trim the thread end as needed. Repeat the process with the remaining colors until your pattern is complete.
  4. Add evergreen twig. At the top of your page, place a twig of evergreen making sure the end of the stem is stripped bare on the last inch. Repeat the process in step 3, stitching tightly around the edges of the stem. Tie off your thread ends and voila! An embroidered book page.

 

Sashiko Table Runner

What fall table is complete without a sashiko-stitched table runner? Until last week, mine! After realizing I had not a single tablecloth or runner, I decided to DIY my own version in preparation for a dinner party.

This project is perfect for beginners. Advanced sewers or embroiderers should just skip right over this page and go straight to these bad boys.

The majority of time went into preparing the fabric and deciding on a pattern. Make sure not to cut corners on this. Trimming, washing, and drying the fabric will make the project much easier. If you do this afterwards, your fabric may shrink and pucker.

Total cost of supplies for me was €23. I used a meter of fabric, cut in half, and the finished project is about 1.5′ in width and 5′ in length. To make this a tablecloth, use more fabric!


Raw-Edge Sashiko Embroidered Tablecloth

Supplies:

  • 1/2 yard (or meter) of 60″ wide cotton duck cloth or other heavy duty cotton fabric
  • 6 yards thread in varying colors
  • 1 quilting needle (at least 2″ in length)
  • fabric marker or tailor’s chalk (optional)
  • ruler (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the fabric. Start by trimming the fabric into straight edges, then wash and dry the fabric. Trim the long edges of thread off the edges of the sides, and finish by ironing the fabric.
  2. Create pattern. I chose five straight lines of running stitches in different colors. You can choose whatever pattern you like. If you need inspiration for your pattern, visit my Pinterest board. I wanted a looser and more organic feel to my project, so I did not mark the pattern on my fabric. If you would like a more precise pattern, mark the pattern on the fabric with a ruler and a fabric pencil or tailor’s chalk.
  3. Embroider. Thread the needle with your first color thread. Tie a quilter’s knot at one end. Start the thread from the back of the fabric and begin to create a running stitch in a straight line by weaving the needle in and out of the fabric in .25″ increments. Continue this pattern down the length of your fabric. At the end of the stitch line, check to make sure the fabric is smooth and unpuckered, and then tie off the end of the thread in another quilter’s knot. Trim the thread end as needed. Repeat the process with your remaining colors until your pattern is complete.

Sashiko Stitching Project

Do you get obsessed with ideas or skills? Every few weeks or months I focus obsessively on something–a TV show, hobby, or topic–and spend a lot of my free time researching the topic until my curiosity has been satisfied. My hubby and good friends are used to this, and endure nicely until the obsession fades.

Sashiko, a Japanese form of embroidery used to enforce or repair clothing, is the most recent interest of mine. I was introduced to this type of stitching two years ago, when I purchased a Sashiko-stitched quilt. The blanket is made of two sheets of simple cotton, but has lines of cotton-thread embroidery over the entire surface. The thread adds a perfect amount of weight and creates this piece of art that I’m now obsessed with.

Inspired by a friend’s recent honeymoon to Japan (more on that later!), I created a few simple DIY sashiko projects for my table. I’ll be posting more detailed tutorials over the coming weeks, as well as linking to recipes and content from Yolene’s blog, Creme de Citron. All part of our Japanese Fall Feast collaboration!

Raw-Edge Sashiko Embroidered Table Runner

I’m not a fan of tablecloths. It seems old-fashioned and fussy, and I love the look of a well-used dining table. But…I found myself wishing I had something more than a bare table for fall dinner parties. Enter this raw-edge sashiko stitched table runner.

Sashiko Stitch Table Runner
Sashiko Stitching

Sashiko Embroidered Book Page

This embroidered book page is the perfect addition to fancy up your Thanksgiving table. It can be used as a place card (add each guest’s name) or just to add visual interest. After dinner is over, put it on an inspiration board or frame it!

Sashiko Book Embroidery
Sashiko Book

Coffee-Dyed Sashiko Napkin

Last year, I picked up a batch of white napkins for my table. Only to avoid using them because I didn’t want them stained. So, I decided to purposefully stain them with coffee and then add a bit of embroidery in the corner. Viola! Napkins that match my new table runner!

Sashiko Stitch Napkins
Fall Sashiko Stitch

Come back over the next month for the tutorials and details! If you can’t wait for more Sashiko inspiration, check out my Pinterest board for more projects and photos.

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