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Category: Needles & thread (page 1 of 6)

Experimenting with embroidery

Maggie's embroidery

I love how independent Maggie now. The other day she was bored and instead of asking me what to do for the zillionth time, she found herself a Klutz book called Simple Embroidery, browsed a bit, and then helped herself to everything she needed to get going. The only bit I provided was a crisp white hotel napkin to work on.

This awesome bird has been joined by a ladybug and several happy flowers.

Maggie exploring on her own = a happy mommy.

Maggie's embroidery

Pip’s blog tour: Embroidered Bug Keepers

bug keepers 5

So exciting! Today, we have a visit from Pip of Meet Me At Mike’s. Pip is on a blog tour and I was lucky enough to be picked for her first stop. For those of you who are new here, I hope you’ll stay a while & poke around a bit. I’ve plenty of fun activities for kids & grown-ups alike.

{for those of you paying attention to dates: I’m posting this on the 7th because Pip is in Australia, and her 8th starts earlier than mine!}

Here’s Pip:


I thought a back to nature crafty tutorial would be just the thing for my visit over here at Little Elephants!  Go look under rocks with the kid in your life!


I am totally devouring the tales of writer Gerald Durrell’s childhood, so descriptively spun in books like ‘My Family and Other Animals‘. The young Gerald was forever catching bugs and other creepy crawlies, which he would then research thoroughly and (usually) return to their natural habitat. In honour of Mr Durrell, I thought you might like to craft up some bug-keeping matchboxes.  They are the perfect accessory for the junior naturalist in your life.  They are quick to make and you can also use them to keep little non-crawly treasures in!, if bugs are not your cup of tea.  I borrowed my bug designs from the Charley Harper Coloring Book.  These would make great party favours, too!

bug keepers 3

Embroidered Bug Keepers a la Gerald Durrell

  • Matchboxes
  • Calico or Muslin to embroider onto
  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Transfer Pencil
  • Bug Image resized to fit onto face of matchbox
  • Embroidery Floss
  • Needle
  • Scissors
  • Stapler
  • Iron and Ironing Board

First trace over your design using the Transfer Pencil

Next flip your tracing over and pin it face down onto your fabric.  Make sure it is centred nicely.

Iron with firm presses to transfer design onto fabric.  Don’t move the iron backwards and forwards or your design might move too!

Take a peek – without shifting your paper – to see if it’s transferred.  If not keep pressing.  Once it HAS transferred to the fabric, remove pins and paper and draw in any bits that didn’t transfer properly with a grey lead pencil or embroidery marker if you have one.

Pop the design over an embroidery hoop and stitch over your lines with small stitches.  I used two strands of the embroidery floss to keep the details nice and fine.

Once done, trim all your loose threads neatly so they don’t show through your fabric later.

Next make the strip to go around your matchbox.  Trim your fabric so that it’s 5″ long and 4″ high.  Your embroidered design should be centred in the middle of this piece.

Go slowly so you don’t make any blunders.  Head to your ironing board.  Now, with right (embroidered)  side down, fold each raw LONG fabric edge in to the centre so that the raw edges meet nicely and create neat folded edges at the top and bottom of your strip. Press.

Now fold just one of the short edges of your strip in 1/2″ and press.

Then wrap this whole folded and pressed ensemble around your matchbox outer.

Tuck the raw short edge under the folded short edge.

All your edges will be neat and folded now, with the embroidery centred nicely on the front of the matchbox.  Yay!

Staple into place at the back, being sure it’s pulled nice and snug around your matchbox as you staple.

Go look for some critters to study : just be sure to return them to where you found them after you’ve done our investigating!

Tor’s teepee

Tor's teepee

For Christmas, I made Tor this teepee. For all it’s simplicity it did take a while to get together; time which went faster thanks to a bit of help from my Mom.

Mom, helpingI used five 7 foot wooden dowels, a large drop-cloth, a small bungee cord, and several yards of twill tape.

To make it I secured my dowels in the position I wanted with the cord, then draped the cloth over the whole thing, tucking in the top seam as best I could. The fun part was sitting inside my makeshift teepee and marking the bottom with pen all around where I’d need to cut it.

My mom helped enormously by basting the whole hem of the beast so all I had to do was run my sewing machine though a bit of twill to finish it off.

I’m hoping to convince Tomas to paint something fun and exciting on it as well at some point, but I’m very happy with the result so far. It’s already become a spot to hide with a book and a flashlight or a pile of Bakugan.

Needlepoint … ha!


One of the things I love most about my mother-in-law is that she celebrates even my most failed attempts at creativity. When we visited her in Denmark this summer I found this little pillow happily displayed on a windowsill for all to see (and smirk?). Read more

Tomas’ birthday hat


Lookee what I did! Today is Tomas’ birthday. I tried to put together a little party but he went and got sick on us (again!). Good thing I had this little number ready to help keep his aching noggin warm. Probably not the flat-panel TV he was dreaming of, but it was in my budget and helped me feel better about flunking my pledge to buy/make handmade over the holidays

It took me two evenings to make using circular knitting needles. I didn’t use a pattern, and just winged it by measuring my own head and calculating how many stitches I would need (80 in this case). After the green rows I dropped one stitch every eight, knit a whole row, then dropped a stitch every seven, then knit a row … I kept this pattern up until I hit five & the wool was stretched out so tight I couldn’t possibly continue. I haven’t chrocheted since I was around Maggie’s age (she’s 9) so I did a test run off the hat to figure it out. Once I had the hang of it, I crocheted the hat off the knitting needles and worked my way in spirals until it was closed up tight.

I was inordinatly pleased with myself. I even forced the kids to come try it on and admire my work.

In the end this was an easy and crazy-satisfying project. I hope the kids weren’t lying when they said they liked it, ’cause I’m planning to make more for the whole family so we can all be matchy-matchy :-)