Friday, November 6, 2015

Finishing Christmas Ornaments

One of my newsletter readers recently made a request which I though might be helpful to many of you who are in the midst of making Christmas ornaments - either as gifts or for your own trees.  I've written a simple set of instructions and will post them here on the blog , and  we will put them on my website:

Many of the ornaments have been finished in a variety of shapes - a heart, circle, tree shape, square, or as a house shaped ornament.  When you first begin, you can use tracing paper to make a paper template of the stitched design.  Allow at least 1/4" - 3/8" beyond the finished design for mounting it onto the mat board.  You will be cutting two pieces of mat board in this shape - one for mounting your design, and the second will be for the backing.  Continue with the finishing steps listed below and please feel free to write if you have other questions.

Mat board
Small piece of batting or a piece of felt (optional)
Cotton fabric for backing
Floss to make cording, or you can use a 1/4" ribbon to finish the edges

Finishing steps:
1. Cut two shapes of the mat board for mounting your design and the backing fabric.
2. Place a small piece of batting or felt onto the mat board and center the stitched design on the top.
Wrap the edges neatly to the back, using fabric glue to secure.
3. Cover the second piece of mat board with the cotton fabric and secure with glue to the back.
4. Put the two covered shapes together - with the wrong sides facing one another.  Slip stitch the edges of the two pieces with small basting stitches or glue together.
5. The edging of the ornament can be finished with either twisted cording, beads or a ruched ribbon.  ( A ribbon which has been gathered and twisted before being attached to the edges.)
6. If you are using cording, allow a long enough piece to add a loop to the top.  And  you will need enough to go around the perimeter of the ornament.  (Kreinik carries a tool to make cording that is a great little device.)
7. The cording can be either glued or stitched onto the edges, ending at the top or base of the ornament.  If you leave a little opening at the top or base - you can sink the ends of the cording into that space to make a neat joining.
8. Use a small ribbon bow to cover the joining area at the top or base of the ornament.
9.  To attach the ruched ribbon to the edges - gather the ribbon and twist it as you sew it to the edges.  You can also tack down the ribbon using just straight pins with a pin at the top.  Space about every 1/2" .  The pins are placed between the two layers of mat board.  It's a beautiful and clever finish and was used on the Christmas Tree VIII ornaments pictured above.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Teaching Future Stitchers

This past weekend our four youngest grandchildren were here for an 'overnight' with Nana and Papa.
Since there are three boys and just one girl, Elli and I  often bake or do other projects while the boys are being ' just silly'.   She asked me if we could 'sew' together , and of course I was delighted.
We were up in my studio so I showed her my latest design and we found her special sewing supplies.  We sat side by side while she continued a previous project and I was available to help her if the fibers slipped off her needle, or if things became a little tangled.

Sometimes we forget how diligent small children can be when they are concentrating on learning to do something they truly enjoy.  She is so proud of her work and I am so pleased that perhaps she will carry on my stitching passion.  We've decided that I will make her little design into a small pillow for her bed.

A few years ago I was interviewed for a blog post about the Affectionately Yours book. The writer
asked what I was doing to help  ensure that future generations would continue to learn to stitch. This question really made me stop and think, as my answer at the time was that I was doing nothing.

So I designed a small booklet called Learning To Cross Stitch, which is a guide to all of the beginning elements of stitching.  Several shops have had some very innovative ideas on how they could promote cross stitching for children.  One shop in PA had a several day event that involved making aprons for American Girl dolls.  One day was just an introduction, followed up with stitching borders, and then stitching the doll's  or little girl's name onto the apron.

The future of cross stitch will depend upon each one of us sharing our passion with others - no matter whether they are six, twenty six or forty six years old.  And we understand how it brings such a sense of peace and calmness to our very busy lives.

Share your suggestions and I will post them in future JBW blogs.  Thank you!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Trip to the East Coast

A few weeks ago my husband and I took a vacation to Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.  I've always wanted to visit the island and we were fortunate to have sunny warm days while we were there.

We stayed with friends on the 'Vineyard' who were great tour guides.  Each day we'd pass homes with picket fences and beautiful gardens which were so charming that I'd have to say "Stop- let's get a picture of this!"  My favorite was a stunning Cape Cod - with  grey cedar shingles, a pitched roof, French doors, windows boxes overflowing with flowers and lovely gardens.  Oh if only I could build one like that!

My other favorite home was in Edgartown - where we could see a collection of cobalt blue glassware mounted in the upper windows of the cottage.  It was just captivating.  We kept trying to figure out how the owner mounted each piece into the display.  Hmm - I wonder if I should think about this for displaying my collection of blue and white ware in my office windows.  But then who would ever see it - since we live at the top of a hill in the woods!?  It would be my own private joy to contemplate every day.
The trip was short but a much needed get-away and we'd highly recommend it as a destination.
But now it's time to concentrate on designing once again  and working on the next collection.
Stay tuned and stay in touch.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Fall 2015 New Releases!

New for Fall 2015

#309 Christmas Tree Collection VIII
Worked on #32 Belfast linen in soft ivory using Weeks and Sampler Threads.

#310 French Country Santa
Worked on #32 French Polka Dot linen using Classic Colorworks fibers. Two models are pictured: the first one finished with a pulled thread edging and made into a sweet little bag, and the second model stitched over one has been mounted on a red hornbook exclusively available from Kelmscott Designs. La Pere Noel is part of the French Country line.

#311 Tidings of Joy
The design has been worked on #32 Belfast cream linen using Classic Colorworks fibers. Two models are pictured: one over two threads finished as a pillow with red rick rack edging, and the second model stitched over one, finished as a tiny pillow (about 5" square).

#312 Peace at Christmastide
The design was stitched on a soft ivory #32 Belfast linen using Classic Colorworks and Weeks fibers. This particular design was adapted from an antique sampler which I purchased about a year ago, dated 1879. The motifs were just fascinating, and the quotation reads: "May peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through."

#313 Trick or Treat
Two models were stitched and finished as little treat bags. I chose #32 Belfast linen in light sand for the model over two threads, and #30 Northern Cross linen for the over over one model. Classic Colorworks and Weeks were used for the fibers.

#314 Alphabet Owl
Worked on #32 Polka Dot linen (over two model) or #30 Northern Cross Linen (over one model) using both Weeks and Classic Colorworks fibers.

2015 Limited Edition Christmas Ornament
"Up on the Housetop"
Kit includes: #32 Belfast linen, charms, needle, chart and finishing instructions.

Autumn Basket with Birds Kit
Kit includes: #32 Cream Belfast linen, rick rack, buttons, fabric lining, ribbon, needle, chart and finishing instructions.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Workroom

How can summer almost be finished - and September be just around the corner?  I feel as if I've blinked and perhaps missed a season!  But in reality, it was a wonderful summer with a few boat rides with our grandchildren, croquet games out on the lawn, many meals out on the porch, and a time to visit with friends and family from out-of-town.

In the meantime, I've been rushing to finish the six new releases and two kits which will come out hopefully in about 10 days.  Delays are inevitable in our business and this time it was the photographer who had a family crisis. So it took some time to locate his replacement, but I was able to have all of the models photographed yesterday, and am hoping for the  proofs to arrive today or tomorrow.
I usually stitch a number of models of each design, and this time did three of the pieces over both one and two threads.  I have to admit that I love the tiny ones, but understand that it may be too difficult for many people.

In my monthly newsletter I mentioned that my workspace is in our home,  - in a large room above our garage.  I was able to design the space, not only to hold a large desk, but  it also has room for stock storage ( never enough however!) and a small packing closet.  There are two nooks with window seats, with more storage in those areas, and a nice big worktable that I use constantly.  Usually it is covered with books, fibers, sewing accoutrements, fabrics, charts, etc. - and usually it is a mess!  I have a magnifying lamp nearby and stitch most of my models in this area.  There are big windows which look out over the woods, and lots of my collections are on display.  It's a great place to work, and my husband always claims it his favorite room in the house!   It is mine too, which is a good thing as I spend most days, and many evenings up here.

I'm so anxious to show you the new designs and
can tell you that they will be on display for shop owners beginning September 10th at the Harvest Market Hop ( a wholesale online show) .  So stay tuned for more information from your local shop owners .  It's time for me to get back to work!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer is Flying By

Each evening while we are eating dinner out on the porch, watching the birds bathe in the fountain, feeling the breezes from the overhead fan, and smelling the enticing aromas of the oriental lilies - we are thankful for another glorious summer day. Our warm weather season is short so its especially important that we savor each day (which in reality we should be doing no matter what the weather is like!)

I'm sure your days are similar to mine regarding what you hope to accomplish. Somehow the hours fly by, and I've only touched on a few of the items on my list. Today was no exception, as I had hoped to get a good start on packing two trunk shows,  stitching a bit more of the limited edition 2015 Christmas ornament, and ordering supplies for another kit to be released in September.

There were good interruptions though, as orders came in which needed to be assembled and packed, there were phone calls from family and friends, I took time to research a trip which my husband and I are taking in a few months, and I made my usual trip to the post office.   Hopefully I'll be able to get more stitching done this evening.

Did you know that although we don't have a wholesale market this Fall, a  group of vendors have come together to offer a "Harvest Market Hop" in September.  It will be an online show and shop owners will be able to preview all of our latest releases and hopefully purchase their favorites directly from the designers.  I'll have at least six new titles, plus the previously mentioned kits.

Tomorrow is another day - and with the help of my assistant Dawn, we will get those trunk shows packed and ready to go, and perhaps I'll even be able to finish that ornament.  We may even take time to have lunch on the porch - another moment to treasure.  Keep your fingers crossed for a productive day, but don't do it for too long - we want you to keep stitching.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Bouquets For you!

We celebrated the 4th of July as many of you did with a parade in the morning, back-yard games and a trip to the beach in the afternoon and finished it off with a barbecue in the evening.  I think the parade is one of my favorite activities, as it takes place in South Haven, Michigan where my sister lives.  It is small town Americana at its best.  South Haven is a lovely town just 40 minutes from Kalamazoo, and we feel so fortunate to have a beautiful lake so close to us.  But the water that day was so cold - 51 degrees! -  so we adults barely dipped our toes in, while our 3 youngest grandchildren dove right in for a swim.  Oh to be young and brave.

Yesterday morning I decided to cut flowers for a fresh bouquet and discovered that the deer have munched on many of my favorites!  I think they attacked the yard as if it were a Thanksgiving smorgasbord.  Thankfully the hydrangeas, daisies, and roses survived.  We need to figure out how to deter our pesky neighbors who live in the woods nearby.

This morning I shipped two more models to the finisher, and am set to begin a Halloween design this afternoon.  I love my job and feel so fortunate to have you as my readers.  So I'm sending bouquets of thanks for your loyalty.

Affectionately Yours,

Friday, June 12, 2015

A Time to Stitch

For many of us, the Spring and Summer seasons are particularly busy - with graduations, weddings, outdoor activities, and gardening projects. We treasure the mild temperatures and even the rainy days - as the windows are open and the birds are chirping.

Since the last trade show, I have been hard at work and have sent three new designs to my finisher, and have located an antique frame for the fourth larger design. Pictured here is just a sneak peek of the little Alphabet Owls - stitched over one and two threads.

Designing is such an interesting process as we are always thinking ahead to the next step. Of course, charting is the first step, then selecting the colors of the fabrics and fibers, then stitching the model, and finally selecting a finishing method. Finishing is the key to having a design that appeals to our stitchers and makes them want to purchase the pattern!

We love receiving pictures of your finished JBW Designed projects. We've received a wonderful response to our new Facebook page - Friends of JBW Designs and each posting inspires others. Please join us there if you have not already. I also write two monthly newsletters - one for shop owners, and the second for retail customers. It's the perfect way to stay in contact and for you to hear about the new releases. You can sign up for the newsletter via the signup form located to the right. (Shop owners, please contact us to be added to the email newsletter.)

On a side note, I invite you to peruse my Etsy Shop, JBWDesignsXStitch, where you will find several out of print titles for sale (limited quantities) as well as older models. We strive to add new items each week, so check back often to see new listings.

In closing, it is my goal to release the new titles in mid-August - so stay tuned and keep stitching!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Springtime in Michigan (not Paris!)

Springtime in Michigan is my favorite time of year, as the trees and gardens are bursting forth with greenery and flowers. Each day we can see changes - the red bud tree outside my studio window, the Baltimore orioles at the feeders, and the dogwood blossoms in the woods are all saying - welcome - it's time to celebrate a new season!

 Since the trade show took place in early March, where I released seven new designs, I've been busy charting and stitching the next set of releases. It always seems quite strange to be working on Fall and Christmas themed designs in April, May and June. But that is part of our designing cycle - a lot of time is needed before the next set of designs has been stitched, finished and put into a booklet format.

We have also opened up a new site on Facebook, called Friends of JBW Designs, and I have been thrilled with the response. I am encouraging fellow stitchers to send photos of their finished JBW projects - as one picture can inspire many new ideas. I always welcome not only new design suggestions but input on how to improve the business.

Trunk shows are an important aspect of the business, and are held in shops all over the country. They are usually booked for a month, allowing one week for shipping to the shop, another few days for shipping onto the next shop or back to me, and then at least 2 - 3 weeks for the display. This month, A Stitch in Time in Jacksonville, Florida is hosting a show. Cross my Heart in Columbus, Ohio will have a show in July, and Country Cupboard in Orland Park, IL will be in August. I still have openings in each of those 3 months - June, July, and August - so encourage your local shop to book one now. It's a great way to sell and promote the merchandise -as the models and finishing are always inspiring.

We are in the process of updating our blog/website so that we can update it much easier and stay in contact with our valued customers and friends. Keep coming back to see the updates and let us know how you like it.