Chevron Easter Egg Hoop Art

It's spring! It's spring! It's spring! Uh, I mean, hey, did you notice it's spring already? Yeah, me either. I'd just love a little more of that colder-than-usual weather we've had all winter, and the fact that it's been raining most of the time since September doesn't bother me. At. All. Did they come up with that sarcasm punctuation mark they were talking about? I sure could use one right about now.

I didn't let what's happening outside stop me from celebrating the springiest of holidays with this month's hoop art, but it did have a rocky start. I knew I wanted to make an Easter egg with an oval hoop. The first version was a fail, because my hands could NOT get a grasp on what brain was trying to do. It just wasn't working, so I actually moved on to a different idea, but I kept looking at the hoop I'd already painted white. I realized I really had my heart set on the egg, so look for the alternate project next month, because I love it too. Today though, Easter Egg 2.0.

To make this, you'll need:

  • one 9 x 5" oval embroidery hoop

  • white paint

  • ribbon

  • felt

  • 2 1/4" fabric squares:

  • 10 pink

  • 10 blue

  • 8 purple

  • 8 green

Paint the embroidery hoop with the white paint. The only parts that are really important are the front and outside of the outer hoop. You can leave the rest unpainted. I just realized that, right now.

Match up the fabric squares so you have one row of five pink/green, one row of pink/blue, one row of blue/purple and three sets of purple/green.

Lay each pair of squares with right sides together. Draw a diagonal line in the center.

Pin the pieces together. Stitch 1/4" from either side of the line you drew.

Cut on the drawn line. Press each square open with the seam to one side.

Trim the seam tails. Repeat with the other 17 pairs. 

Lay out the squares so they look like this. You'll have one square left over.

Sew the squares into rows. Press seams.

Sew the rows together and press the seams. You don't need to worry if it's not straight because you're putting it into the hoop and no one will know. Unless you post it on the internet for all to see your saggy left side.

Cut 18" of ribbon. Wrap it around the outer hoop, centered at the top. Tie a knot just above the hoop to hold it in place.

Center the fabric on top of the inner hoop. Slide the outer hoop over the top. Adjust the fabric as needed and tighten the screw. Trim away the excess fabric at the corners on the back. It doesn't have to be precise or fancy.

Cut the felt to match the hoop.

Hot glue the felt to the back of the hoop a bit at a time, working your way around the oval and tucking in the fabric as you go.

Tie a bow or knot in the top of the ribbon for hanging.  I'm so glad I didn't give up on this little egg!

How to Make a Pincushion with a Frame and Crushed Walnut Shells

Did you know ground walnut shells make great pincushion filler? I was searching around for an alternative to polyester batting and found out everyone knew this but me. I thought about trying sawdust, since my husband is an occasional woodworker and it would be easy to get, but I liked how clean this option sounded. I finally got around to trying it in a couple of projects, and I don't think I'll be using anything else!

When I was gathering up items for my recent anniversary giveaway, I snagged a couple of these Create-a-Pincushion kits, keeping one for myself. The instructions call for batting, but I've worked out a way to make it using the walnut shells, and I'd love to share it with you.

This post contains affiliate links.

When you open up the kit, these are the pieces, plus instructions.

As you can see if you look closely at the finished product, it wasn't going to be possible to pile the shells up like you would if you use batting as instructed. Instead, I made a small container for those.

Cut a piece of muslin 7" by 3".  Fold so the two 3" edges meet, right sides together. 

Hand stitch medium length stitches with doubled thread about 3/8" from one edge.  Leave the needle and remaining thread attached. Pull tightly to gather, tie a knot and clip thread. Turn right side out.

Hand stitch the same way near remaining edge. Leave needle attached, but don't gather yet. Set the bag inside the pincushion base.  Fill with about 1/4 cup crushed shells. You may need slightly more or less, and you can adjust as needed.

Pull the thread to gather the bag. You should be able to just get it closed, but not be able to see any of the loose shells. Add a few stitches through the top to make sure it stays closed, knot the thread and clip.

Grab the fabric you're using for the outside. The pattern says to cut a 5 1/2" square, but I went with 6".  To smooth out the top, add a small handful of fiberfill before covering with the fabric.

Cover with the fabric, then roll the silicone ring into place in its notch on the pincushion base.

Adjust the fabric so it's taut and the gathers are even. Trim the fabric about 1/4 - 5/8" from the ring.

Snap the top ring on and it's ready for pins. So easy!

The ground nuts give it a good weight, so it won't move around as you're trying to use it. I like that it has some height, while I was still able to use my new favorite pincushion stuffing. Where can you get ground walnut shells? I gotcha covered - click here, and use the coupon code AHNUTS for 25% off through 3/7/17!

Temperature Starburst Hoop Art

Right about now you might be asking yourself "What's a temperature starburst?"  Well, it looks like this:

A few months ago I spotted a crocheted afghan that was called a temperature blanket. I was curious, so after doing a little research I found out that people have been making them for quite a while. The way the yarn versions often work is that the maker chooses colors for a variety of temperature ranges, then adds a row or shape to the blanket each day or week that reflects the average temperature outside. It's a make-as-you-go kind of thing. 

They aren't always made as blankets. I've also seen temperature scarves, which I would love! I wondered if I could make a temperature quilt. Of course, I was far from the first to have that idea, so there are lots of those out there too.  I've pinned a few of my favorite temperature projects on this board. The author of the quilt seen there just started a quilt-along for her version in January.

Then came the big question - how can I fit that idea into a hoop? Since it would be difficult to fit daily, or even weekly entries, I went with monthly. I sketched out a few versions, but the one I liked the best reminded me a bit of a beach ball. I also realized after it was finished that it's rainbowness is pretty perfect for the St. Patrick's Day holiday coming up next month.

We had some pretty erratic temperatures last summer and this winter, which isn't always the case in Oregon, so I knew the previous 12 months would give me a good variety. There are lots of time frames you could use though, like someone's birth year or to mark another big event. Thanks to Weather Underground, you can look up temperatures for anywhere and anytime. This is the chart I made to use. On the right are the temperature colors and ranges I started with, and on the left are the adjustments I made based on the actual ranges I needed to use and the fabrics I had available.

To make this, you'll need:

  • 9" embroidery hoop

  • 12 fabric wedges, cut using the first page of this pattern (the second and third pages are for reference only - those wedges do not include a seam allowance)

  • fusible interfacing

  • embroidery transfer pen

  • embroidery thread

I'm going to tell you how I sewed this together, then I'll tell you how I think you should do it differently. Sometimes you learn as you go.

I stitched the wedges together in pairs, then stitched those pairs together, which created three sections.

What I would do next time, and what I recommend to you, is sewing three wedges together, so you have four quarters.  Sew two quarters together, giving you two halves, then stitch the two halves together. That might seem obvious now, but it wasn't when I was knee-deep in trying to fit that third wedge into the circle.

In the end, it should look something like this. Or maybe your points match up a little better in the center. If not, don't sweat it. Let's call it character.

Trim away some of the excess fabric in the center seam to reduce the bulk. Cut a piece of fusible fleece to fit the back and iron it on.

Transfer the embroidery designs from the last page of the pattern. My favorite tool to do this is the Sublime Stitching transfer pens. Iron the appropriate month onto its corresponding wedge.

Embroider each letter using a backstitch. I thought about using the same color embroidery thread as each fabric for a more subtle look, but decided to go for the contrasting black instead. Has anyone else ever noticed that when you write out the first letter of each month it spells Jason in the middle? Weird.

Insert the fabric centered into the embroidery hoop. Cut a piece of felt to fit the back of the hoop.

Tuck the excess fabric into the center of the hoop and glue the felt onto the back.

Add a bit of cord or ribbon to the top for hanging. I love the variety in this one. There are some years around here where this would have been an awful lot of green. What colors will be in your hoop? 

I Heart You Hoop Art

Those of you who've been around here for a while might remember the Hot Pad of the Month series I started in 2015 that ended eighteen months later.  We could go back even further to the coffee cup sleeve series, which was way back in 2013.  Well, I've intended to start another monthly series, but I was a little up in the air about what it would be.  That is, until inspiration hit me last month.  This time, I'm going to do a project each month that involves hoop art, which basically means anything I can fit in an embroidery hoop.  I have a full page of potential ideas, which of course I'll have to winnow down, but I'm excited about it. Some months will involve sewing, others won't.  The sizes will vary.  You'll probably see a variety of mediums and supplies, like fabric, buttons, felt, embroidery floss, maybe even some a little more unexpected.  I can't wait any longer to share the first one with you! I'd like to point out, unlike my other series, I'm actually starting this one in January!  Barely, but still.  Since we all know it takes a while to make stuff, I had next month's Valentine's Day on my mind for this one.  All you'll need to make these is fabric, three 3" embroidery hoops, felt, a hot glue gun and this pattern.

Technically, there are two different ways you can sew this together.  You could trace each tiny piece, adding 1/4" seam allowance, and sew them all together.  The other option is paper piecing, which is what I recommend and the method I used.  Some of these pieces are pretty small, and that's the easiest way to handle them.  If you're unfamiliar with how to do paper piecing, I highly recommend this video by The Crafty Gemini.

To start, cut out each pattern square on the outside line.  Cut the horizontal lines only inside the square.  Leave the vertical lines intact.  The circle is only a guide to show where the embroidery hoop will be in the end.

The top and bottom row of each square is solid, so it doesn't need to be pieced, but when you cut it out add a 1/4" to the inside line for a seam allowance.  Piece the other rows together, then add 1/4" to both long edges when you trim them.  You should end up with something like this:

And this is what it looks like from the front:

Stitch each of the rows together with a 1/4" seam, then remove the paper.  Give it a good pressing.  Once again, here's the back:

And the front:

The I is the easiest of the three, because there are no angles.  When you're sewing the others, just be sure your fabric covers the area it should and leaves enough for your 1/4" seam allowance.  I'll admit, I used the seam ripper a couple of times trying to get that right.  I also freaked out thinking I had completely messed up the heart and it wasn't going to fit together, but I forgot to account for the seam.

See?  Not perfect, but acceptable.  My new mantra.

The U has a couple of angles to it too.

I left plenty of space around the letters to fit them in a hoop, but I also made them square so you have other options if you choose to skip the hoop.  These would be cute sewn into a table runner, or made into hot pads, or mug mats, or a quilt…

But we're talking about hoop art here.  I know I'm probably the only person who'll ever see the back of these (in person), but I needed them to look finished anyway.  Trace the embroidery hoop onto a piece of felt and cut it out just inside the line.  You'll need three of those.

Insert the square into the embroidery hoop, making sure it's centered before tightening the screw.

You can trim some of the fabric if you like, but I found it was easy to stuff it inside the back as it was.

Hot glue around the edge of the hoop and press the felt over the top.  I found it worked better if I glued one half, then the other.

You can get a little creative here and add some ribbon or trim.  I tied a ribbon bow at the top, then took it off because I actually preferred them without it.

I hope you're looking forward to the rest of this year as much as I am!

Check out all the other Hoop Art of the Month projects here!