Wednesday, August 13, 2014

August Ramblings in a Pre-Market Haze

Early tomorrow morning, the car gets packed up as if I was filling a dorm the gills! But...I'm not heading to college...I'm heading to market.

Last Sunday night, I was sitting in the deck with DH and I said "you know, a week from now, it will all be over!". 6 months of work and all done! At first I was kind of sad, then I got happy, because it means I get back to the part that is most fun...designing. 

This year's market comes at an appropriate time...I unleash 6 of my designs on the "world" at the same time as I let my 2 masterpieces go into the world: one heading back for his final year of his Life Skills/Year 13 program and the other to his Sophomore year in college.

It is 2 years since I started Hands On Design and it has been a very satisfying journey so far. I have met some fantastic people, had some wonderful opportunities in this industry, and have loved challenging myself to push boundaries. Ok, we are not talking brain surgery here, but it does make me happy!

If you follow me on Instagram or facebook, you might have thought "what was with the #30days?". For 30 days, I took a picture of something in my life, a picture I took that day. The pictures are a memory of a thought, experience, or a joy that was in my life and something to focus on...the blessings in my life. Some days were more of a struggle than others, but it did kind of force me to look for the positive! Try it for yourself!

Time to pour another cup of coffee and tick off the final items on the "to-do" list. Find a copy of the newest Just Cross Stitch issue. "Give thanks for this day" is featured on page 12. The colors grab you, the finish is easy and fun, and the sentiment is spot on!

Enjoy the stitch!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Year of Celebrations

The Year is quickly coming to a close!

Hard to believe, but true - the 5th installment of the series is in the September 2014 issue. My involvement with the series has been much longer than a year, and I have to say, I was more than a little sad when I shipped off the last 2 designs. Since I did not frame or finish any of these, it has been exciting to see how the editors of Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine have chosen to frame each month.

I won't be sad for long...I have been asked to take over the "Motifs" column for 2015! What fun! This is a regular magazine feature that includes a theme & lots of small motifs to coordinate with the theme. I've already turned in January & have to get going on March! That is probably the hardest part about seasonal designing...not designing that season during the matching season!

Enough seasons: I am including the DMC substitutes for August & September.
August: this has been a summer for ants - the uninvited guest to every picnic!
721, 826, 3801, 987, blanc, 725, 310, 400, 166

September: Time to hit the books! 838, 720, 930, 3347, blanc, 349
I hope you have enjoyed this series - I had a blast designing it!
Enjoy the Stitch,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Finish It Friday - thanks to Cherished Stitches!

Thanks to the wonders of Social Media, I have gotten to know a lot of my fellow designers in the counted thread industry. Yes, we meet up at markets, but sometimes...there's work to be done at those shows & you just can't meet everyone! Fortunately, I get to know designers on a whole other level...I do a lot of "finishing" of their designs that customers send to me.

I have put together quite a few of these wonderful little pillows for customers & I went looking for Louise, designer of Cherished Stitches, on Facebook one day. After figuring out who each one of us was & that we have been to the same markets, but just never met, I asked her if it was OK if I featured her finishes on a finish it Friday.

Now, Louise gives great directions...perfect for a beginner. I don't brag about many things in my life, but putting little pillows together...I've got that down. I'm showing you how I put these together - it may vary a bit from your style...I'm just showing you what I do. Take what you can from it & don't be scared of finishing these little beauties!

My customer sent me these little beauties, all stitched up, neatly pressed and ready to go.

Louise does a great job with her kits - includes everything you need packaged up in these adorable envelopes.

I trim the top, bottom, and left sides to 3/4" away from stitching.

On the remaining side, I draw a sewing guideline on the back of the linen, 1/4" away from the stitching. Match up the right side of the stitching to the right side of the cotton fabric, and sew along the guideline.

Trim the linen and cotton to 1/4" away from sewing line & press to the cotton fabric side. Refer to the pictures provided for placement of the lace & buttons required for each design. Here I laid the lace across and sewed right through it with a neutral thread.

Louise has done such a good job cutting the cotton fabric , that I just fold the fabric over the whole piece to finish the pillow. 
Now...I usually line the back of my linen with a thin batiste weight muslin...but for these, I did not, for several reasons. Having the lining helps the pillow to keep it's shape when stuffing, keeps the corner from being weak when you trim close, and, as I said, when I do larger items or pillows that are going to be firmly all means, use a lining. For these small pillows that will sit in a bowl, and since I know I'm only turning them inside out once, we are good here without the lining. (Sometimes lining also adds too much bulk in small items)
I mark with my pen (I use a fine tip, archival type) 1/4" away from the image on the back sides of my linen. I wanted the pillow to be 6" wide, so I measured from the linen side and marked on the cotton side. Sew around all guidelines, but leave an opening for turning in the cotton fabric side.

Here, I have sewn along the guidelines, trimmed, and pressed open my opening along the seams (this helps create a guide for the slip stitch later when closing the pillow up)

I do push out my corners with a blunt tip knitting needle, but I use a gentle poke/push motion and I always have a finger placed on the outside of the corner - so you don't have the dreaded poke through! 

Wool roving for stuffing - another reason I can go with no lining. It is very fluffy, fills corners nicely, and you don't have to use nearly as much. (which is good since it is also more expensive that fiberfill)

Here are all 4 pillows ready for stuffing!
Louise has designed quite a few of these lovely little kits & I thank her for letting me show them off (and showing my own take on finishing them!) Visit her website at and she is also on facebook.
If you follow my designs, you know I'm into the pillow finishes as well. I released Just Bee - a chartpack that includes cotton fabric, baker's twine & bee charm. This is a Limited Release, so contact you shop. Shops may order these from me and can see the details on my website:
A few housekeeping notes: soon,  I will be posting links to the previous Finish it Friday posts in the column so you can look back at them easily. I will also be posting the DMC substitutes for the Year of Celebrations early next week. Finishing deadlines for Holiday finishing is still Oct 1 - that means it must be here by then. I enjoy finishing, but currently have a very full  overflowing log book. Finishing takes time & I have lots of Fall markets.
Have a great weekend & enjoy the stitch,

Thursday, June 12, 2014

It's Been a Great Week!

I've got winners!

Thank you to everyone who responded to my At the Beach contest - may this summer find you at the beach - or at least at the place that makes you happy!

I had entries come in through email as well as the blog (blogger glitch...) so we put everyone's name on a piece of paper.
I had my son scramble the entries & pick 5 names! (He's used to being asked to perform the occasional odd task around the house...)
& the winners are
I know, I know - hard to read. I'll be in touch with: Howdy68, Renee, Judybob3, Marilyn, Nicolesender

As soon as we connect, I will send you my latest release - At the Beach!
It's been a awesome week for me as well. Over 8 months ago, I was contacted by the editorial staff at Just Cross Stitch to set up an interview and design a piece for the August issue.
The issue is now available and man, is that cool! I had a great interview with Vickie Jennett (of Needlework Press) and designed the Black & White Garden Pinkeep. I have been so excited to share this piece with you.
Check out my photos - but wait - there's more...I also have an ornament in the issue as part of the annual Ornament Preview section!

I shot a couple pics before I sent the model of to the editors. The message unfolds as you open up the pinkeep! 
Congrats again to the winners.
Enjoy the stitch, Cathy 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

At the Beach - Contest Time!

It's time for a New Release...and a contest!

I know it's summer & it's beach time...but I really think this one could stay up all year round. In fact, my husband asked me to stitch this one up again (this one travels in trunk shows!) so we could hang it in a bathroom we have re-done in beach style. What better time than in February when it's 5 below to really close your eyes & pretend you're at the beach!!

Lots of bright shades in this one, little fishes in the seaweed, and a friendly whale. So much fun!

Contest time! Do you notice the little quilt block ornament in the picture? I occasionally put these designs into a chart. Designed with the chart's colors - I'm trying to build a collection of these to adorn a tree.

Leave a message here on my blog with the Chart Title of one OTHER chart (not this one!) that has a little quilt ornament in it & I will randomly select several winners to receive this chart! (need help - go to my website at Another hint: there are 3 other charts with one...any one will do!

Contest closes Sunday at midnight (6/8/14) & I will select Monday morning & post the winners.

Enjoy the Stitch (at the beach),

Friday, May 30, 2014

It's All A Process

I am basically an in box/out box kind of person. A list maker & a list scratcher-off-er. How did I end up in a business where everything is a process?

My husband's favorite line for me is "It's all a process dear." Year's ago when I opened my needlework shop and wanted everything done RIGHT NOW - he said that phrase to me more times than I can count. I've learned to become patient with more of the process (I see you rolling your eyes honey!) I thought I would share part of the "process".

Besides my day job as needlework designer and my 24/7 job as mom & wife, I am also a needlework finisher. I am grateful for all of the stitchers who trust their work to me. Sometimes I get to follow the directions and sometimes I get to "do my own thing".

Recently (OK, I've had these since last fall) - a customer & very dear friend sent me all 6 of the CherryWood Design Studios Dictionary series and said "I was thinking a wallhanging". First let me say, since I used to be part of the CherryWood design team and I remember exactly where I was & what I was doing when the idea for the 1st word in the series came about...I knew this would be a fun project.

I took some pictures to walk through the process:

First - pick out the coordinating fabrics. At this point, I have no idea of my vision or the final project, but I knew I needed fabric borders to make the 6 stitched pieces the same size...or at least it seemed like a good place to start.
This is when I repeatedly tell my kids "don't think you won't use that math they taught you in school"...maybe it's not algebra, but it does take a certain amount of computable skills to make this all work out!
Once I got fabric borders on each, I put them up on my design wall to play with the order of things. My design wall is really thick insulation board covered in flannel and attached to the wall with roof nails (they have a cool washer on them that helps hold it all together).
By this time, a better picture of where this piece was heading had formulated itself. It really does help when you can step back & take a look.
I did some top-stitching for quilting and to help sandwich it all together!
It will need a little pressing up when it arrives at her home. Along with her one-of-a-kind Dictionary Series wallhanging, I sent home some pretty framed pieced and a bellpull.
That's part of the process - certainly not what very project involves (thank goodness), but it's a lot of fun especially when I know the home it is going to! I have met so many wonderful stitchers all over the country as their may not be the typical in box/out box job I used to have, but this one is way more fun!
I hope everyone is off to a great start on their summer. We are slowly settling into the new routine. How fast this 1st year of college went for our youngest. It was a good year for both boys that ended with a bang for them between grades and sporting events. I have been really touched how many people have "liked" or commented on their achievements when I have played the proud mom on facebook.
 Enjoy your weekend.





Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Greetings from Home Improvementlandia

Home Improvement...2 words that strike fear into many people. Last time I talked about how we were starting back into Home Improvementlandia - a country from which we have hidden from been absent for a few years.

Normally, I can handle it - I am strong...back when we did a lot more of this type of work, I did not run a business from home! Some might say it's like a forced vacation...umm, not really. We will survive and be the better for it - in the meantime, I will share pictures!

I have passed this spot  a lot on a local highway going back & forth to my son's college - my goal by the time he graduates...get the perfect picture of this setting! 

While cleaning out some of the flower beds, we discovered that our bushes went condo with the bird nests this season. (Could we call this waterfront property once the pool is opened?)
This was my son's room, now freshly painted & ready for carpet!

Our room, ready for paint...we had yet to move the world's heaviest king size bed! I tweaked my back removing this carpeting but was saved from moving the bed by a well-timed visit from our son! 

Our the dining room! (blinds closed so neighbors didn't greet us each morning as we selected the outfit of the day!)

...and this is why I got almost no work done for a few days...hard to get in my studio when it's loaded with furniture!
Well, I did get some finishing jobs done...these are pretty easy to work on in the car as we logged drive time to the last few tennis tournaments of the season!
Carpet is now installed & we are moved back in...still things to do, but at least the house is mostly put back to order! This morning I spent some design time playing with a few stitches for a new counted canvas piece.

Under the heading "I've never done this before, but I'm willing to try" - walnut crystal staining...interesting.
Yeah!!! I have now turned in all of the months and stitched models to Cross Stitch & Needlework magazine. I am more than a little sad that my part of this series is done! I am thrilled with the positive response it has gotten.
Here are DMC colors for June & July:
June: blanc, 350, 597, 3809, 838
July: blanc, 666, 310, 3852, 312
Keep sending those pictures as you stitch yours - I love them!

Not that I am a huge Andy Warhol fan, but I ran across this & it really spoke to I'm gonna' go make some more art & have a great day!