I did something different this week: I took a break from paint-and-pencil artwork and instead did sewing and weaving crafts. (It was good to take a short break from drawing.)
I have a little hobby tree that I decorate seasonally each month: pink hearts and flowers for February; birds and flowers for spring; lighthouses, shells, anchors, compasses and other nautical details for summer. Some themes I create aren’t strictly seasonal but look good during autumn or summer, such as the farmer’s market theme featuring herb labels and felt sunflowers and miniature vegetables.
This is one of my autumn themes.
And this is the theme for January: just a plain, white look with a lace garland, white sparkly round ornaments, icicles made of wire and beads, and snowflake jewelry charms.
Last week, I decided to create a southwestern theme for my tree, and I decided to weave a tree skirt in southwestern colors (inspiration taken from the Josefina books.) I dug out the handheld loom, weaving needle, and weaving fork that we used as kids, and rifled through our yarn stash for appropriate colors.
We do have a yarn stash. Approximately 163 balls and skeins, some left over from the craft projects we did as kids, and some gifted to us by elderly friends who were more than happy to pass on their own stashes of yarn to us.
Anyway, I threaded the hand loom and wove stripes in various colors and widths. Weaving was incredibly relaxing, so much so that I really didn’t mind re-doing my attempt 2 times. Re-doing the project paid off, and I finally mastered the trick of keeping the edges of the blanket more-or-less straight and neat.
Almost finished! Actually, this loom isn’t big enough to weave enough fabric for the tree skirt. So I wove two rectangles, intending to sew them together to make one large block.
Here are the two pieces. To get the fabric to fit snugly around the tree, I wove two narrow strips and sewed those strips between the rectangles, leaving an opening in the middle of the whole piece for the trunk of the tree.
The finished tree skirt! I left one strip and one side un-sewed (in the the lower right-hand part of fabric) so that I could slip the fabric around the tree trunk.
Continuing the southwestern theme, I tried my hand at colcha (New Mexican) embroidery. The basic instructions are in the Josefina’s Craft Book, a book which we fortunately kept after American Girl discontinued the AG cook and craft books series (*grumble grumble*).
Anyway, I found some loosely-woven linen in our fabric stash (accumulated the same way as our yarn stash) and used leftover yarn from the weaving as embroidery thread. And started with a simple design: a heart.
Eeish. Well, this is the first time I’ve tried colcha. And I had the wrong kind of yarn; I used what was on hand, which was synthetic-wool blends, and the technique really requires 100% wool yarn. I’ll have to get some later, because I thoroughly enjoyed colcha, enough to continue doing it.
When possible, I love making ornaments that can be used for several different themes and seasonal decors. Pink flowers, for instance, can be used for February and spring; miniature sculpted vegetables can be used for summer decor, autumn decor, and a farmer’s market theme. (And my southwestern theme.) So when I sewed miniature quilt squares for the tree, I assembled colors and patterns so that the squares could be used for at least two seasonal themes.
These would work for spring, summer, or autumn. Or for a homespun theme, a farmer’s market theme, or a Fourth-of-July theme. (The denim in the lower left-hand block came from old jeans.)
And these would look good for spring, summer, or Valentine’s day.
I hand-sewed all the blocks together. It’s actually easier for me, since I’ve been sewing by hand since I was a kid. And it would have been a lot of work to drag out a machine for miniature quilt squares.
Once I sewed the four blocks of fabric together, I cut backing fabric from an old pillowcase and sewed the backing to the square, right sides together as if I were making a bag or pouch. Then I turned the square right-side out and whip stitched the whole thing shut. (You can see the stitching best on the right-hand square). Since these quilt squares are just for decoration, I didn’t put any batting between the top layer and the backing. It would have been a waste of fabric and time. But I did quilt the squares to hold the two layers together, and then added a thread hanger at the top.
I’m going to end up making 108 of these. It’s good to be sewing again; it’s just as relaxing as weaving.