Category Archives: Tools

A Surprising Use For a Needle Minder

    I love accidents when your stitching and a light bulb goes off then it’s…. “Now why did I not see that before and boy it is a nice way to do this!” Accidentally tracing some of the elements for Alison Coles “Victorian Elegance” …upside down… the wires were reaching out to the center of the hoop which caused no end of frustration. Yes, I tried the twisting around the pencil and covering them and that was just fine…But…then purely by accident “of course” they would get caught on my “needle minder”. Just so much magnetism! This usually happened as I was starting the wire wrap around the shape then to be couched down.  Just as I was about to do my twist with the pencil I realized I could just send the wire up to the “needle minder” and “voila” it  stayed there with all the magnetic glory and out of the way “in the middle of the hoop”! I am thrilled to find another way to keep the wires out of the way! Sure I will use any method depending on the element to keep those pesky wires out of the way. Happy to have found another “idea” to help and another way to use the “needle minder” ! If I ever do another “Stumpwork” piece I hope I will remember this trick and maybe..just maybe… I will trace all my elements upside down!!!! Love it!!!

You can see the twisted wire here in this photo and the element traced with the wire towards the outside of the hoop.

This photo has the wires all just attached “magnetically” to the Needle Minder! Worked great!  I do try to keep all of my stitching covered as I work so therefore all the “ Glad Press n Seal”.

Wish I had Remembered This Earlier!

  All of us who embroider and sew love the tools that make the project go “easier”. I for one have accumulated all kinds of tools relating to my hand embroidery as well as machine sewing through the years. Now, for the interesting part… I do organize my tools of the trade so I can find them and/or see and grab them at a quick glance… whether they are in a drawer/case that is specifically labeled or just hanging around on a shelf out in the open. I am very fortunate to have some wonderful furniture passed down to me by my mother-in-law who was a fantastic sewer and very talented. So many of my items that I stitch are on the shelves being displayed including tools that are unique and used in the embroidery craft.  

   So a number of weeks ago I went to a class with “Alison Cole” as the tutor, and had a fabulous time. All of the elements are stitched with a hoop. I basically “hand held” my hoop for the class.  I did have an small Irwin clamp (need a much bigger one) to attach it to the table but the clamp was just to weak to hold the hoop. So I suffered holding it.  We only worked on just one element at a time so it was not to bad. Came home and started to work on the elements to get them finished. Ummmm…fast forward and guess what …my hands started hurting! This was unacceptable so had to take a few days off for recovery.  In the meantime I am in my “handwork area” and reorganizing things. Then something said  “Look Up”…so I did and then it hit me… I have this sit on frame up on the very top of my furniture that I could of used for my class as well as here at home. It “CLAMPS HOOPS”! I remember thinking ages ago how do I use this embroidery stand….never once thinking that it would work for the class I took…(not going to tell you what I was thinking when I realized I could of used it at the class…some major mumbling went on) .   Sooooo…now you probably know I am using it for finishing the embroidery and therefore less stress on my hands and arms.  Such a relief…thank goodness for “tools of the trade”.

   This is a Sonata Frame and I remember purchasing it, but when….that’s a blank…. What is neat about this frame it raises and lowers, tilts, clamps fairly wide hoops and best of all you can spin the hoop over to the back when you need to fix something or end off.  There are “wing nuts” and they even supply a wooden tool to tighten these down so you are not going crazy and hurting yourself…Here are some pictures of the hoop…. I am estatic to have this in my tools of the trade now that I know how to use it. Something wonderful that I wish I had remembered earlier to make my stitching life easier! I was so disappointed in myself in having forgotten this tool. I already have other projects I will use it for in mind!

Lots of knobs for twisting and turning to get it so you can be comfortable stitching!

And “yes” that is one of my cats lazing on the deck ! She is now 14 years old. My other one is going on 18…

This is the frame flipped to the back… 

A Different Way to “Store” Floss

   Over at Mary Corbett’s Needle ‘n’ Thread awhile back there was a neat way to store your floss. If you click on the link you can see it. It was mentioned that maybe one could use just the ‘metal hangar bars” that are used for file folders to put the “Comb Binders” on and then hang your floss from them. Well….I really  really liked the idea of getting my floss hanging and more organized using a file box. My thinking cap went on and I came up with the following…(it took some trial and error) Once you make one of these it does go rather quickly. Just thought I would share. I thank the lady who came up with this as mentioned in Mary’s blog. A light bulb went off for me.

  This first picture are the items needed to make the comb binding floss hangars. You’ve got the 3/4 inch comb binder, a piece of fiber core board cut to about 5/8 inches wide by 10 1/5 inches long and the metal file hanging bar. These hangars fit inside a standard size file box ( I used a plastic one with a top) Plus you need “double sided permanent sticky tape. (Glue would just be to messy.) 

  Now you take the foam core and place a piece of sticky tape half on and half off one of the long edges. The part that hangs over gets folded over and stuck to the upper top of the foam core. I know the tape is hard to see but it is there!

Now place the metal file hanging bar on the lower half of the double sided sticky tape at the very edge of the top of the foam core.

   Here comes a bit of a tricky part. If you haven’t pressed the upper half of the tape down do it now. This is where you push the whole thing through the “comb binding” being careful that you keep the upper sticky part from attaching to it along the way. It worked well for me to keep the sticky part to the open part of the comb, less to stick to. 

   When the metal file hanging bar and the foam core is all the way through…line up the foam core with the front (the side that will open to hang your floss. Press down hard across all of the “comb binding”. If you have used permanent sticky tape there should be no worry that it is going to come apart with the lightweight floss.  See how the metal bar is pushed up against the plastic solid piece…You may need to figure out a way to balance the thing because it is wobbly. I have it stuck here on some tape to hold it for taking a picture.

   You can use a labeler or just a sharpie or whatever works for you to number each individual plastic binder. Then you can just slip each of your flosses on the correct number and them them hang all protected! For me I know this will make my life easier in the long run especially as getting older it is harder to remember where things are. I had begun labeling things long ago because I just do not want to have to think about all of it…There is way to much stuff up in the old brain as it is. If it’s labeled I can find it. Below is what it looks like finished. I plan on doing as much as I can with all my threads so they are all stored in a nice manner. You will also note I put rings on my floss so I can take them out and then put them on a bigger ring that will be used for a specific project so everything stays together. I even put more than one skein of the same color on a ring. I even pull my floss from here with the ring on. Here is a link to the article on how I use my rings for my floss. Using rings on my floss. I got these rings from a company called The Ring Lord..They supply these nifty plastic snap rings for people who make chainmail for those who are involved in the Medieval role playing …they can be painted etc. Works great for what I use them for.  

ooooooh….A new Cat from Trish Burr… “CHLOE THE CAT”

   Since embroidering “Katerina the Cat” ..Trish Burr has now come out with another “Whitework in Colour” called “CHLOE THE CAT”.  Of course I purchased the mate from her shop Trish Burr. You can get the kit or go to her digital shop Trish Burr Digital and get a digital copy.


    I purchased the kit without the threads as I have amassed a complete set of DMC threads. I was glad to receive the instructions in a booklet form and the design preprinted on a nice piece of fabric. Whew one less thing to think about! Also included was a needle. The booklet gives you the DMC color numbers you need with a printed “color block” next to each one.. Nice! The first thing  to be done after hooping up your design is to go through the steps in the booklet. The first one takes you through steps 1–4. I just finished number 1… it is a “Padded Satin Stitch”. Forgetting how tedious (albeit enjoyable) it can be doing the padding I have to use the same color throughout the process so where the floss goes can be wearing on the eyes. 
   I know that this is my method to help me keep some semblance of order so out came my “air erasable”. First thing is to outline the area with the outline  running stitch and then fill in the object with straight stitches opposite of the way the satin stitching is going to be placed. After the first layer is done I chose to mark my next layer with the marker to help differentiate the first layer from the second one. Followed that with the third layer also. This is the only way I am able to keep my focus on where I have stitched while using the same color.

Now I finished the padding and did the satin stitch on top and below is what is finished.There are some other outlines but they come later on…I am actually “reading” ahead…hopefully for the better in the long run!

I will show more when I finish a group of steps to show progress… I know it will be fun! 

Just so you can see my “KATERINA THE CAT that was finished a few years ago here is a picture of the one I stitched…For some odd reason I like eyelets and both of these have them so will be doing them with pleasure again! 

Talking about a Fix for an Embroidery (paying attention to directions)

  You’d think after all the years that have been spent sewing, doing handwork, cooking etc…(let’s just say over 50 years) one would finally….always read and pay attention to what one is doing…well the  Jenny McWhinney’s design I am working on now “Little Dog Dinner Time” was suggested as one of her easier ones.. and it is… except for “me” who just plods along and jumps to conclusions and this one was a definite no no…Thankfully I had used my trusty  “air erasable marker” to draw the lines. Ahhh…but what lines did I draw? Unfortunately the wrong ones…I drew the ones that show what “color wool” I was supposed to use…my brain had faded….it was sad…sad…so sad. So I have to wait for the lines to disappear because there would be to much confusion with the “other ones also there”.  Decided to mosey on a bit and just stitch the bowl and bone in the meantime. The lines will disappear by tomorrow more than likely.

Below is what I am supposed to draw for the stitching lines….

   Now this is what I did with the air erasable.. I know that not everyone loves these air erasables so it is a personal choice. For me they are so handy…There is always the possibility if you pressed it the mark could become permanent, however I use these markers for drawing in these types of lines….so who would see them! Okay I am really feeling the “old age” creeping in! Need to slow down and pay more attention!

As you can see here in this photo after waiting the lines have just about faded away, so now onto the “correctly drawn stitching lines”!

Here are the redrawn lines….feeling much better now…they are solid ones but it really does not matter…..these old eyes need more to see anyway!

Hope everyone has a wonderful day…mine will be “now”!

Embroidered Workbox Cornflower Leaves and Stem…Glad Press ‘n’Seal

     The Cornflower has the heavy chain stitch as the stem as in the “Heartease” flower…The leaves are “long and short stitch”. The floss used for the leaves is from Weeks Dye Works. I have used their floss before for some smocking I did many years ago and enjoyed it because of the deep colorations of the floss. Soooo…the Cornflower is finished!  The rabbit  is next!

      Tam asked me about the Glad Press ‘n’Seal…It has a slightly sticky side (think sticky notes) what it has let me do is keep my work in progress clean when I stitch. In the picture below you can see where I have cut out the area where I was working so my hands stay off the rest of the piece previously stitched. My needle minder is even on the outside on top on the “Press ‘n’Seal”…  I wrap a larger piece around the whole embroidery area covering my embroidery hoops or stretch/frames…great for keeping the oil off and protects from those very unusual “accidents” one has …..I will not tell what, how or why!!:) Now when I have finished stitching an area I will  take a smaller piece and cover it up until  I am ready to stitch the next part….

A way to organize your floss for stitching a project…

It was decided early on there needed to be a way to keep my Embroidery Floss organized…I finally came upon an idea that works for me…you need to find one that fits… you…. as each of us is different in how we approach our crafts…. 

First… a skein of floss….. then find the end that can pull freely out… then put a neat little “white snap ring” through the upper part where the floss is pulled… (these are from a place that sells …..rings to make chainmail for medieval costumes…)  The Ring Lord


When you pull on the strand….the floss will only come off to a certain length which has helped my  stitching with to long a length….If you need a longer length you can just pull it through the other side and more will come off …but also will stop again….

Now for the neat part…since there are six strands of floss…you  now pull one strand…threading my needle and the others will bunch up at the ring…. just long enough for stitching….

 Leave the floss bunched or smooth it out to get another piece when youu need it…then bunching it up all over again…works great….One thing I do then is put all of the colors I am working with on a large metal ring…which for a small project is nice or you could put them on multiple metal rings and organize then by the colors or numbers you will be working with…For the Trevelyon’s Cap course this is what I did with my floss….all the colors are on one big ring and I can flip them around and keep the color that I am working with on the outside…..  this is what works for me…..maybe it will give you some ideas too….

Oh….I forgot to mention  that any leftover lengths of floss can be easily put back on the ring of the same color to be used the next time you need that color….