review: The Joy of Stitching

The Joy of Stitching

The Joy of Stitching: 38 quick and easy embroidery and needlework designs by Nina Granlund Saether

This book focuses on projects, providing instructions for making a finished object (or embellishing an existing piece of clothing) that includes embroidery or needlework, but the motifs could easily be used in other contexts as well. Needlework designs are charted in color and black outline sketches are provided for embroidery designs. The designs here are cute but not super stylized – if you looked at the projects all collected together, it would not necessarily be apparent that they were all designed by one person. This could be seen as a negative (the collection lacks cohesion) but could also be viewed as a positive in that you could create all of the items and not have it be obvious that you got every one of them from the same source.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book form the Kent District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system


review: Japanese Paper Embroidery

Japanese Paper Embroidery

Japanese Paper Embroidery by Atsumi, Minako Chiba & Mari Kamio

This book offers ideas and inspiration for embroidery on paper (and cardstock, etc) in the form of cards, ornaments, folders, notebooks, frame-able art, and more. The first half of the book consists of color photographs showing the many projects and the second half, the motifs. The motif templates include some basic stitch instruction (the Olympus 25 embroidery thread color number, the number of threads, and type of stitch used) along with (if applicable) instructions for assembling the item. The feel of the whole book is sweet and will be familiar to fans of Japanese culture. The designs include abstract designs as well as letters and numbers, creatures and items from nature, and an assortment of other types of cute things.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kalamazoo Public Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system


review: Pen to Thread

Pen To Thread

Pen to Thread: 750 hand-drawn embroidery designs to inspire your stitches by Sarah Watson

Watson, an illustrator and designer, has collected her favorite motifs to create using embroidery. Also included are instructions for getting started and basic embroidery techniques, illustrated with both color photographs and hand-drawn diagrams. These introductory and instructional sections are robust and well put-together and will be an asset for anyone learning (or improving their skills in) embroidery regardless of whether the motifs are to their taste. The motifs are grouped into categories: made in the USA, food, craft room, tools of the trade, school days, in the kitchen, in the garden, around the house, fun!, the great outdoors, by the sea, animals, plants, frames & borders, and alphabets. With more than 750 designs included, a wide variety of subject matter is covered. I know I often find myself wishing for a specific motif when working on a craft project, and I love to have so much variety in one source. Each set of color photographs of completed motifs is followed by one of black and white outlines for those designs and others not pictured in color. Specific instruction for each motif is not included – it is up to the reader to look at a design and determine which stitch is used where and in what order, and for the designs not pictured in color, up to the reader to make that part up themselves. The style of these motifs is sweet and not fussy. Includes a CD.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Kent District Library through the MeLCat interlibrary loan system


review: 501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs

501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs

501 Enchanting Embroidery Designs: Irresistible stitchables to brighten up your life by Boutique-sha

I’ve been hoping to do some more embroidery and this wealth of mini patterns will certainly provide fodder for my upcoming projects. A wide variety of embroidery designs are grouped into themes including cute cups, a cozy room, a tidy kitchen, a visit to the flea market, Scandinavian forest designs, adorable items from Eastern Europe, the music’s playing, I love fruit!, sweet things for girls, stripes and polka dots (which actually includes a lot of outdoor/park elements), Japanese celebrations, birds & flowers, tasty tea time, and lace patterns. These are followed by some cross stitch collections including Scandinavian style cross stitch, a cross stitch alphabet, cross stitch cats and dogs, continuous cross stitch patterns. Ideas for using these elements are part of full projects are then provided, including pouches, pin cushions, dishcloths, and more. A short how-to guide includes color photographs for the very basics like threading the needle. The second half of the book is printed in monotone on matte paper and provides somewhat bare-bones instructions for each of the patterns.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the MeLCat ILL system


review: The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching

The Art of Whimsical Stitching: Creative stitch techniques and inspiring projects by Joanne Sharpe

This book covers a range of stitching techniques including machine and hand sewing, quilting, and embroidery. Sharpe’s goal is to enable the maker to create unique art using the artist’s preferred choice and combination of methods. The pieces shown also use fabric painting, dye, art markers, and more. Some basic information about using these tools and techniques is provided, along with inspiration pieces created by the author. The bulk of the book consists of projects that showcase one or more techniques and include utilitarian items like bags and pillows as well as pieces created purely to be art. Fans of mixed media collage will find lots of inspiration and useful information here.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Capital Area District Library through the MeLCat ILL system


review: Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched

Simply Stitched: Beautiful Embroidery Motifs and Projects with Wool and Cotton by Yumiko Higuchi

The projects in this book combine wool embroidery thread and cotton embroidery floss. Most of the projects I’ve seen use either one or the other exclusively, so this combination allows for a different look than many other embroidery projects. Fourteen projects and sixteen motifs are included here, all inspired by nature, mostly plants and animals. The motifs and finished projects are shown in large color photographs while the project and motif instructions are provided in black and grey illustrations. The floral motifs are pretty but not fussy and have a classic feel. The creature motifs seem simple but perfectly represent their subjects without anthropomorphizing. I especially love the bees (with segmented legs and french knot bodies) and roosters.

full disclosure: I borrowed this book from the Sterling Heights Public Library through the awesome MeLCat ILL system


Hufflepuff! Hufflepuff! Hufflepuff!

K and I have been taking the dogs to obedience class the last month or so. Hermione hasn’t had any training that we know of, and Coraline (and we) could use a refresher.

It’s going quite well! Hermione is learning to sit (she’s so stubborn about it!) and stay like a champ (a relatively slow-moving champ, but she’s making progress). Coraline totally remembers her training from before and we’ve been challenging her to more difficult “leave it”s and other tasks that require more focus. Both the girls are very food-motivated, so we generally make them earn their dinner at class and when we do practice at home. We started out loading up a ziplock bag with each of their kibbles (of course our very special Bostons require special food – Coraline is allergic/sensitive to a bunch of stuff and can only eat a specific type of limited ingredient food that we’ve determined doesn’t cause her to break out in hives, and Hermione is actually on an rx kibble that is super neutral and doesn’t upset her delicate constitution). But we found that the ziplock-in-pocket system wasn’t working out very well so we asked awesome seamstress and embroiderer Susan to make us some treat pouches. She really came through! They are awesome!

I forgot to take a pic of K’s, but it has Godzilla on it and is awesome. Mine is, naturally, Hufflepuff. Eff yeah Hufflepuff!

Awesome Hufflepuff treat bag by Susan of AnneArchy

How incredibly cool is that?! I just heart it so hard.

Awesome Hufflepuff treat bag by Susan of AnneArchy

Here you can see how awesomely it works – it fits right on my belt and is SO HANDY for doing training. Susan has a lot of experience with this type of thing so of course it’s perfectly designed and functional as well as looking cool as hell. I am in serious danger of asking Susan to embroider everything I own with this Hufflepuff crest.


custom case

Susan made me a most awesome birthday present this year: a custom carry case for Ellis!

AnneArchy custom Blythe carry case

Lovely, isn’t it? She custom embroidered it just for Ellis. I love the earth tones she used!

AnneArchy custom Blythe carry case

Check out this intricate design!

AnneArchy custom Blythe carry case

And a key pullchain for the zipper:

AnneArchy custom Blythe carry case

It’s so perfect! The inside is plain white cloth, which will prevent any chance of staining and also looks really crisp and clean.

AnneArchy custom Blythe carry case

Isn’t this awesome?

AnneArchy custom Blythe carry case

Thank you, Susan! You rock!





I’ve been so inspired by Halloween this year! I have a ton of ideas for cute Blythe stuff and have had time to create a few of them so far.

First, the panda:

Panda Hat and dress modeled by Willow

I have obviously been practicing my embroidery skills here – blanket stitch, you are now my bitch! I free-handed the pieces for this hat and I was really pleased with how well it turned out. I might make the ears bigger the next time, but overall I’m satisfied with it.

Next, we have Yoda:

Yoda Hat and dress modeled by Willow

I love, love, love this hat. It’s plain and simple, but wouldn’t Yoda prefer that? I can see making it with eyes, and perhaps I will next time, but I do like it this way.

And for Halloween, Candy Corn:

Candy Corn sweater modeled by Willow

I’m not really a fan of candy corn, but it’s so distinctive and such a staple of the Halloween season.

Finally, the Bee Girl!

Bee Girl Outfit modeled by Willow

I had the idea months ago to do a bee-stripe sweater, and then as Halloween crept closer and I finally got around to making it, I thought, why not do a skirt and headgear to go with it? I’m so happy with this look. I think it’s so cute!