Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Finishing Latch Hook Rugs As Pillows

Latch hook rugs are so fun to do, but it took me a while to figure out how to finish them. Part of it was trying to figure out what I wanted to make the latch hook rug into – a rug, a pillow cushion or a wall hanging.

I finally choose to finish one of my latch hook rugs as a pillow cushion. Here's what I did. After finishing the latch hook rug, I trimmed off the excess canvas, leaving 4 empty rows to work with. Next, I measured the latch hook rug and added 4 inches to the length and width. I used these new measurements to cut a piece of fabric for the backing.

Once I was ready to attach the fabric to the latch hook rug, I folded the edges of the fabric over 3/4 of an inch. I then pinned the fabric to the latch hook rug, making sure to match up the right sides of both the material and the rug together. Once that was done, I sewed the two pieces together by hand, placing one stitch in every square on the latch hook canvas.

After I had sewn together three of the edges (I left one of the sides unstitched), I turned the piece inside out. I filled it with stuffing, until the pillow was soft and fluffy. Finally, I sewed the remaining side shut, being careful to keep the edges tucked in. Now my latch hook pillow is happily on display on a chair in my living room!

If you liked this project, you can find more FREE Project Ideas on my website. Try them out and leave a comment on my blog - I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Receiving Handmade Gifts

Last week I talked about how I love to give handmade gifts to people. But you know what? I also love receiving handmade gifts! I feel that if someone has taken the time to make me something, then they really care about me. I cherish that feeling and the gift.

I think the handmade gifts that I treasure the most are from my parents. My mom loves to quilt and has made me quite a few quilts over the years. They're better than anything I could buy in a store. And yes mom, I even loved the baby quilt that you made for me years ago – despite the fact that I didn't even have a boyfriend at the time! Hmm, no pressure there, really. :-)

Quite a few years ago, my dad started into woodworking. At first, he made his own picture frames – to showcase photos he had taken – and then he slowly started making furniture. The first piece he ever made for me was a bookshelf that I took with me to university. Since then, he has made me a coffee table, wood bowls and wood vases. I love showing them off to friends when they come to visit and everyone agrees that my dad should have done this for a living!

What are some of your favourite handmade gifts that you have received and why?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Gifts For Others

One of the things that I love about crafting is making gifts for other people. I love seeing their reaction. It's easy to buy something, but it takes a bit of effort to make something for someone.

I think the reaction I love the most is seeing the delight in their eyes when I give something that has been customized just for them.

For example, when my friend Vicki got married, she had a harpist play during the ceremony. She loved the music and given her musical background, this was very important to her. So, I designed a cross stitch wedding announcement that featured a harp. She loved it, especially the harp! Plus, the fact that she was so appreciative of it made my day!

I have cross stitched a lot of gifts over the years, including wedding announcements for friends and pictures for my mom. Not only do I love seeing their reaction, but I also love when I see my handiwork displayed in their house. I love it when I go to a friend's house and noticed that they have hung the wedding announcement I cross stitched for them up on the wall.

I especially love it when they show my cross stitching to others. My dad never really understood the whole cross stitch thing, until I had one framed for my mom and she hung it up. Now, whenever they have guests over, my dad proudly shows off my cross stitching! It's such a great feeling!

What things have you made for others and what was their reaction?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Knitting Is The New Yoga

A recent article in the Daily Express talks about how one company in the UK has organized a new initiative – knitting at lunch time – to help reduce stress.

The article reports "Health officials have concluded that knitting is an ideal way to combat work stress. Under a new initiative, workers at NHS Highland have been bonding over balls of wool at lunch, instead of grabbing a rushed sandwich at their desk. Organiser Fiona Clarke, health promotion specialist at NHS Highland, described knitting as "the new yoga". She said: "Every knitter knows it is good for you because it really calms you down and de-stresses.""

Many people these days feel that taking a break is a waste of time. Perhaps they feel that there is so much work to do, that it just won't get done if they stop for even 1/2 hour. However, working without breaks can leave people feeling tired and prone to making mistakes.

Personally, I have come to realize over the years that I need breaks. Not only do I feel refreshed, but I feel more focused and I'm able to concentrate on the task at hand. So, instead of breaks delaying me, they actually help me to be more productive.

Sometimes my breaks mean working on some repetitive tasks that don't require much thinking (it feels really good to cross them off my to do list), but other times it means going for a walk, knitting or chatting with a friend for a little bit. I used to feel guilty about this, but now I realize that I'm a much better person and more productive because I take breaks.

What do you like to do on your break time?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Brief History of Crazy Quilts

Crazy quilts are quilts that have random patches or scraps of fabric sewn together. Usually, there is no set pattern or colour scheme when creating a crazy quilt. Each piece of fabric has a unique shape and is added to the quilt one piece at a time by hand. Fancy embroidery stitches and embellishments are common on crazy quilts but the amount of detail added to each quilt can vary enormously.

Crazy quilts have been popular since the Victorian age, especially in North America where settlers had limited resources. They didn't always have new material to make blankets, so they pieced together scraps of fabric and the pieces of old clothing left over after the worn out parts were cut away. It didn't matter what type of fabric it was or its size, all fabric was precious and useful.

Then, in the 1880's, the popularity of crazy quilting exploded due to an art exhibit from Japan in 1876, at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. Patterns and embroidery on the quilts became much more elaborate and often had an Oriental theme or featured Japanese motifs, such as fans. However, the emphasis of crazy quilts was still on the embroidery stitches holding the fabric scraps together, along with the embellishments added to the patches.

By 1920, their popularity had faded and crazy quilts had taken on a simpler look. By this time, women began to think more about practicality than fashion or art when making their quilts. Crazy quilts had finally returned to their original purpose as a way to use up fabric scraps and old clothing.

To learn How to Make A Crazy Quilt, please visit my website, Beautiful Creations, where you will find step-by-step instructions and a full list of all the supplies you will need.