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pattern // dia de los muertos skulls and flowers

Dia De Los Muertos Embroidery Patterns

At my house we don't do much celebrating for Day of the Dead, but I find many of the decorations to be pretty fun. So last year I designed a printable wreath project for Handmade Charlotte. The wreath features layered flowers and sugar skulls...with a bit of a Wild Olive flair.

I always thought they'd make excellent embroidery patterns too, so I adapted them slightly so they are stitchable.

Dia De Los Muertos Embroidery Patterns

They can be used as individual motifs, but I think they'd be fantastic layered. You know, a skull with a grouping of flowers, or maybe even a few skulls for a larger design! I'll leave that up to you.

I did take the liberty of choosing a few colors that would be fun for your Dia de los Muertos stitching...

Dia De Los Muertos Embroidery Patterns

Add some black and/ or white to these DMC colors and you'll be ready to stitch a celebration!

And then don't forget to check out the printable wreath. There are more skull designs there too, so you may even be inspired to create your own decorative designs on the sugar skull outline!

project // epp octagon pumpkin pin

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

Ready for an easy little project you can stitch up in an hour? You'll be able to wear it on your jacket or tote to celebrate this fantastic fall season.

Since it's octagon month, I took an EPP octagon, er...two octagons, and made them into a little pumpkin. And while I went for a pin, I think these little gourds would also make great magnets.

To make the pumpkin you only two to baste two pieces, but the 3/4-inch octagon template page includes more than you'll need. Why? Because you might just want to make some more octagons this month. And you'll want to do that with adorable little octagons with faces. Right? Right.

Now, onto the pumpkin pin!

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

You will need:

Orange fabric
Brown felt
Embroidery floss
Pin back

Octagon Pumpkin Pin PDF Template

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

Baste two orange octagons and cut out one stem piece from brown felt. Finger press the edges of the octagons then remove the papers.

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

Cut out two octagons from batting, then slide them in the back of the octagons. They should fit just right in there.

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

Embroider a face on one of the octagons and stitch the pin back on the other octagon. Stitch through the fabric and the batting.

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

Hold the two octagons wrong sides together, making sure that pin and face end up in the correct direction. Place the stem piece between the layers, at the top of the pumpkin. Wonderclips are extremely helpful for holding the pieces as you stitch.

Stitch the two pieces together with ladder stitch.

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

When you stitch the top, continue with ladder stitch, stitching through the stem as you go.

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

Now your pin is ready to wear!

EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin
EPP Octagon Pumpkin Pin

I love that this happy little pumpkin is good for wearing through October and November. If you're looking for something more Halloween, you could definitely make the face more like a jack o' lantern. Or, you could change the color to red and make it into an apple!

Happy Pumpkin Making!

a happy little leaf

A Happy Little Leaf

It's amazing the things that you find on your front sidewalk.

calendar // print & post octagons for october

Hello October! I just looked out my window and saw the most beautiful blue sky. There's a strong breeze...it's almost a blustery day. And a few leaves have started to fall. Yep. You're definitely here, October.

And while I'm a little sad as one month passes into another, I also sometimes need to embrace the idea of turning over a new page. It's like each month comes with a fresh start. Better yet, I know that there are new mercies every morning. So I'm breathing in a new chunk of this year.

For October, I chose octagons for our shape. Maybe that's a little obvious, but let's just go with it. Because besides the shape and month names starting with "oct", those little orange eight-sided shapes also look a lot like little pumpkins. Right? Now, go ahead and add them to your computer or other devices!

For iPhone 6+, choose the iPad version. To use the iPhone and iPad versions, click the link for the wallpaper you want. When it opens, touch and hold the image until it pops up with the option to save. After you've saved the image, go to your settings, choose wallpaper, then find the image you've just saved.

To PRINT a calendar page (with a place for notes), download the October 2015 calendar page PDF. The dates are lighter print so you can write over them if you want, or let your little ones trace over the numbers for practice!

And before you move on entirely from September, here are a few favorite projects I shared elsewhere on the interwebs!

news // I'm the new embroidery expert on about.com

Stitching and Writing for About.com

It feels a little strange to call myself an expert at anything. Mainly because aren't we all constantly learning and improving? But that said, I've just taken on a new title: Embroidery Expert.

I didn't give myself that title, but the fine folks at About.com did. You see, I'm now writing for their Embroidery site, and bringing my own experiences and personality. Right now most of what you'll find there was written by someone else, but you'll start seeing more and more from me popping up.

Starting with a fun way to use one or two small embroidery motifs to make a larger design. The idea came from this:

Repeating Tapestry

I saw this gorgeous woven tapestry and loved how the simple creature artwork repeated throughout, and wanted to try it with embroidery. The leaves in my stitching are about 2 inches high, but I'm betting that tiny would be equally cute.

But back to my news...

I hope you'll visit me at About.com, and keep stopping in here as well. I'm still figuring out the rhythm of life and writing for my own blog and others, while delighting in the work that I've been given.

spoonflower fabric // hexagon tinies sampler

Hexagon Tinies Sampler Panel

When I shared that I made some fabric featuring my Hexagon Tinies, you all were so kind and supportive! You also told me that it would be helpful to you if you could purchase a sampler with a bunch of the designs on one piece.

It look me two months, but finally, the sampler is available for purchase!

Hexagon Tinies Sampler Panel
Hexagon Tinies Sampler Panel

With the 1-yard sampler, you can order one yard and receive 25 prints. Each print measures a little over 7x8 inches. They are just right for small-ish patchwork, and definitely just what you need for English paper piecing.

Ordering a full yard is the most economical way to order from Spoonflower, so I'm happy to make this option available to you.

Find the Hexagon Tinies 1-Yard Sampler Here.

Hexagon Tinies Sampler Panel

the scariest stitching I've ever stitched

Nearly Stinky Stitching

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have already seen this photo and heard the story. If you have, please forgive and indulge me as I recount my harrowing tale once more.

This photo represents the scariest stitching I've ever stitched.

It doesn't look so very scary, but looks can be deceiving. It was a beautiful night. The sun was starting to go down, but it was still bright. I decided to go sit on the front porch/patio. (In my PJs, naturally, because I'm a blogger and this is common work attire.)

I was happily stitching, admiring the sky, and sipping some coffee too. This summer didn't include much outdoor stitching, for various reasons, so I thought I should document it with this photo.

No sooner had I posted the pic, but I looked up to see a skunk making its way across the patio and into the landscaping. It was a couple yards away from me.

I knew that startling it would end badly, and every noise in the neighborhood raised my heart rate. He kept coming closer, and I held as still as possible, praying that he would just move on. And finally, he did. Not before walking right past the screen door where our cat was sitting, and I got one last dose of fear.

As soon as he was out of sight, I went straight inside.

The moral of the story? Never go outside.

Okay, maybe not that, but do consider the time of day when you head outside, and watch out for wildlife that may cause your embroidery to really stink! Now I think I may need to stitch up a little project to remember this occasion...

making an old project into something new

Vintage Hexies

The great thing about digging out the mess you've made over several years is that you find untold treasure.

That's what happened recently when I was trying to get rid of the excess that has accumulated. I pulled out a bag of crumpled fabric pieces. The fabric looked old, so I had a feeling it was good. And it was.

The bag was filled with pieces cut for making dresden plates. Some were even started, all stitched by hand. The pieces still have some visible markings from where a pencil traced the shapes.

Vintage Hexies
Vintage Hexies

My attention went immediately to the fabrics. In my opinion they are far superior to any reproduction fabrics meant to reflect the style of this era of fabric. At least, the prints are. The fabric itself is a lighter weight than modern quilting cotton, but still much better than cheap fabric. At any rate, I'm smitten.

I showed my mom and she's fairly sure that the project was started by my great grandmother, Mollie. Of course. I never knew her, but I'm named for her. And even though I'm adopted, I seem to have the family crafting genes.

Usually I look at something like this and feel obligated to keep the integrity of the original project. Like, because this work-in-progress came to me, I need to finish it as it was intended. Because not doing that would dishonor the maker.

This time, I decided that was silly. The women who came before me would have repurposed things to make what they wanted or needed to make. Who knows? These dresden pieces may have been other items before they were so lovingly cut.

Vintage Hexies

Since I'm an English paper piecing and hexagon gal, I hoped that I could cut some pieces from the fabric bits. And I was delighted to find that 1/2" hexies will fit...and if I'm careful I get two from each piece!

Vintage Hexies

Cutting these fabric hexagons was both challenging and refreshing. As I went to take the first cut I kept thinking, "What am I doing? You're crazy Mollie!" But with each cut I was more and more pleased with my decision.

And as I basted them, it got better and better.

Suddenly I felt like I was honoring my great grandmother in a whole new way. I'm sure she'd be pleased.

At this point I don't know what these hexagons will become. I'll probably wait to see how many I end up with, but I know that whatever it is, it will be treasured. And I'll enjoy this connection to my past in a crafty sort of way.

Vintage Hexies

project // fall leaf applique pincushion

Applique Leaf Pincushion

I really didn't need another pincushion. In fact, I made another one earlier this year, so I REALLY didn't need another. But I had this idea to make one that would fit in my travel case. It would look like what you see in the photos, but smaller.

In case you haven't guessed, mid-project I forgot about why I was going to make it smaller, and ended up with a pincushion that won't fit in my travel case. Oops! I guess I'll have to make another.

But I do love this one. Even with the hand-stitched details, it's quick to make and perfect for the season. Want to make your own? Here's how!

Applique Leaf Pincushion

You will need:

- Nine scraps for leaves
- Linen (at least 5 1/2" square)
- Quilting cotton (at least 5 1/2 x 11")
Fusible interfacing like Wonder Under
Batting (at least 5 1/2" square)
Embroidery floss
Pincushion filler of your choice (I used fiberfil and walnut shells)
Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler
Sewing machine

Leaf Template

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Iron pieces of the interfacing on to the back of the fabric scraps, then cut them out using the leaf template. You will need nine leaves.

Since this interfacing has a paper backing, I removed the paper before cutting. I don't always do that, but in this case it helped a lot.

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Arrange the leaves on the linen however you like. I pulled out my ruler and tried to get the layout as straight as possible, without actually marking the fabric. I failed. But close enough is, well, close enough.

When you are satisfied with how they look, iron them down.

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Layer the leaf piece, batting, and a square of the quilting cotton to make a mini quilt sandwich. Pin the layers together.

Applique Leaf Pincushion

With three strands of embroidery floss, stitch around each leaf with running stitch. This will quilt the top a little, while securing those leaves and adding a pretty detail (three functions for one bit of stitching? nice!).

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Trim down the top and a second piece of quilting cotton for the backing. They should both be a 5-inch square.

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Place the backing on the quilted piece, right sides together. Pin around the sides. My sideways pin is where the opening will be.

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Sew around the sides, and back stitching on each side of a 2-inch opening. Trim the corners as shown.

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Turn the pincushion right side out and poke the corners so they look pretty. Lately I've been using the handle of a little paintbrush for this!

Applique Leaf Pincushion

Fill the pincushion with your favorite filler. There are lots of options for this! Since this is a good sized cushion, I did a combination so it was solid, but not overly heavy. My friend Ellen suggested alternating walnut shells and fiberfil and that worked great! (We have no nut allergies around here, so I'm good with the walnuts.)

Stitch the opening closed with ladder stitch.

Applique Leaf Pincushion

You're finished, so get your pins ready to jump in these leaves!

Applique Leaf Pincushion
Applique Leaf Pincushion

This cushion would be a wonderful fall gift for a sewing friend...or a gift for yourself! And you don't need to limit it to fall colors. Make it in springy greens and yellows, or all in one color, or a whole rainbow!

Do you need a new pincushion? I bet you do now!

cute tips // laura from bugs and fishes

I just have to say that I feel pretty lucky to have encountered so many cute folks online. By that, I mean people who make cute things. But also, I think that people who make cute things can't help but be pretty cute themselves.

Take today's contributor for Cute Tips. Laura is the author of several super-cute books, and her site Bugs and Fishes documents her very cute life in England, while offering plenty of extra cute felt tutorials.

Here's her fantastic cute tip!


One easy way to make something cute is to make it tiny! Something so small you can hold it in the palm of your hand? Instantly adorable.

You can draw your own mini patterns, or use a photocopier to shrink an existing pattern to make a mini version of it. If you're shrinking a pattern, remember you might need to simplify some shapes or details to make them easier to cut or sew at the smaller size. You can do a lot with just a few stitches when you're making something small: add two seed beads and a row of tiny stitches and you've got a happy little face!

Laura Mini Felt Cactus & Hamster & Heart

Felt is a great material to use for making small things. There's no need to worry about seam allowances or fabric fraying, you just cut and go. You can use any kind of felt but I use high quality synthetic felt or 100% wool felt for really teeny pieces.

Cutting out small felt pieces can be a bit fiddly, so take your time. My main tip for cutting small shapes is to buy a good quality pair of embroidery scissors. The small, narrow blades make it soooooo much easier to cut small pieces than using ordinary sewing scissors. I shared some more tips on my blog a while ago - make sure to read the comments as my readers shared some great tips of their own!

Laura Super-Cute Felt Animals

Thank you Laura! Tiny is always so very cute. I want to shrink everything!

A note to all my bloggy friends: Cute Tips contributors are generously sharing their cutest secrets with us. Be inspired by them, but please, please, please don't try to steal their style! Be your own cute self!