Embroidering and Upcycling for the Holidays – Wreath


I will admit that I am a garage sale, estate sale,and auction addict. My love for fabrics and crafts provides fuel for that sales addiction. One of the ways that I rationalize my addiction is to believe that, with every purchase, I am saving items from becoming landfill.  The only problem with that rationalization is that by saving the earth from additional landfill, I am creating a personal landfill in my own home.

The creation of this holiday wreath is an example of how I am putting my collecting landfill to use and – in my mind – saving the planet by beginning the landfill reduction within my own home. (anyway, that’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it)

To create this wreath, I dug in to my collection of buttons, sequins and beads. I also unearthed some old stained damask napkins (you know … the ones that you find at estate sales where the proprietor always assures you that there are no stains on the carefully taped napkin bundle??? I fall for that hunk of malarky every time!) from the fabric stash. I also dug through the embroidery floss for some greens and some browns.

After starching and ironing a napkin, I discovered an area that was about 6 inches of stain free fabric. (use good light for this, some stains with not show themselves readily)  I found a 4 inch diameter circular lid that I used to draw a wreath base.

After hooping the napkin in an embroidery frame, I stem stitched in the brown floss over the wreath base line.  Varying the shades, I then used random fly stitching and back stitching to create the greenery of wreath.

Beginning with my focal point (which in this case was the rhinestone button) I overlaid and stitched buttons and sequins around the wreath.  (I used a North – South then East – West approach to better balance the design)

Since I decided that this upcycle was going to become a wall decoration, I needed a much more substantial drape to this piece.  So I used a combination of spray adhesive and a craft stabilizer sheet to give this piece the stability that it needs.

Circular items are so attractive, but circular frames are difficult to find.  You can always create your own by stitching you finished work to some plastic canvas, felt or other stable background. I have seen frames created from mason jar lids, embroidery hoops and and grapevine branches. Personally, I crochet, so I created the crochet frame that is shown with this wreath. The frame is available as a paid pattern in my ravelry or etsy shop  (links provided below)

As Creatives, we often find inspiration reading and seeing the projects that other people create.  Hopefully this little post inspires you to enjoy and create from your collection. Happy Holidays!

Links to frame patterns;







Up – Cycle a Lamp Shade in Crochet Glitz and Glam

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Lamp Shade Upcycle

This beautiful cane lampshade used to sit atop a large table lamp that belonged to my grandmother. My grandmother stated that the lamp was a “decadent” purchase that she made in the 1920’s. Over the years, the lamp had degraded and had been discarded. But the shade escaped the trash heap. By the time that I received the shade; the caning and the leather binding was brittle and torn in several places. The cost to repair was well beyond my skill level and well beyond my budget. However, the cost of upcycling was well within my skill level and well within my budget.


Here are the steps that I used in the upcycle process. Of course, with any creative endeavor, there are an infinite number of possibilities and potentials that can be explored.

  • I removed the cane and the leather binding. Removing the glue was quite an undertaking. Apparently “they” knew how to make glue back in that time. After several episodes of glue – goning, scraping and sanding, I decided that the glue that remained had earned its right to live on through the upcycling.
  • Since the remaining glue left some uneven surface areas on the lamp shade’s frame, I decided to cover the frame instead of going for the repaint option. I have seen many cute designs where lamp frames have been covered by strips of fabric. While I am a fan of the cottage chic styling; I wanted to celebrate this frame’s design and era by going toward the subtle glitz of “late Victorian parlor.” Crochet seemed to fit that bill.
  • I worked two strands of size 10 metallic crochet thread together. Using a size “E” hook (3.5 mm) I worked single crochets around the vertical stays. Since crochet thread has a tendency to “relax,” I worked the stitches very close together and with a tight tension. I didn’t keep an exact stitch count, but I did maintain an approximate stitch count per section to maintain evenness of appearance. (note that one design option would be to create swags between the stays. This would be easy to do with the single crochets and you would want to keep track of the stitch numbers to ensure an even swag) To help keep the vertical stitches from sagging, I hooked around to beginning stitch of each swag as I did the single crochets of the top ring. I repeated this with the last single crochet stitches with I single crocheted the frame’s bottom ring.
  • The final upcycle of this shade was the placement of the “jewelry.” I could have gone wild with swaging vintage beads, crystals and assorted adornments. But I had to keep in mind that I was going for “late Victorian parlor,” not “late Victorian brothel.” I stacked some crystals (from a broken necklace on a jewelry headpin and stitches them in place in the valleys of the bottom curves.

Currently I have this shade atop a blue hobnail lamp that I purchased at a church rummage sale back in the 1980’s. BUT, at some point, I would like to make the shade into a pendant lamp with a great Edison bulb at its center.   I am certain that this upcycle won’t have the durability that the original design had, but I am glad that I could “save” a beautiful piece of design history (the lamp frame) from the landfill.

Please feel free to visit our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/FollettsCollectibles

If you are local to the Kansas City area, feel free to check out our retail spot at

Nellie & Nico’s Antique Mall

6495 Quivira Rd. Shawnee, KS 66216


(vendor 888)

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Curly Cue Christmas Trees to Embroider

Christmas Tree pictures

I am in constant amazement with the brain and how it works.  At the age of 55, I am absolutely dependent on my “to do” lists (yes, plural). As the day progresses and new things want to wander into my brain, I have to rely on my reminder post it notes to keep what wanders in from wandering back out. (It has been stated that I do use post its as a decorating theme.)

 While I may not be able to remember what I did yesterday or what I need to do in ten minutes; I can clearly remember a Christmas card that I fell in love with some fifty years ago.    Glitz and glam ruled the decorating roost in the early 60’s.  Everything was either pearlized, flocked or glittered … or some modernized combination of the three.   The card that has had such a grand place in my memory was a pearlized green that was bordered by a frame of glittered holiday red.  The image at the center was a swirling, curling flocked and glittered white Christmas tree.  This is the tree that inspired the embroidered design that is being offered in this writing.

 I believe that most crafters have a common DNA code that makes us all upcycling, garage saling, multi – crafting stashers.  With that in mind, I believe that most crafters have the items needed to create either of these trees.  The items that I used were:

Background fabric – The burgundy red fabric was once a table cloth.  The blue fabric is a painted linen napkin (you know how you pick up a stack of napkins only to find that some have stains? Linen makes an excellent embroidery fabric and you can definitely dye over or wet paint over any stains)

Single side fusable lightweight interfacing

Carbon or transfer paper

Embroidery floss and needle – The green tree was embroidered in size 5 perle cotton and the white tree embroidered in 6 strands of embroidery floss

Assorted buttons, beads and charms to your liking.

Sewing thread, needle and glue and / or spray adhesive.

Masking or art tape

8 by 10 inch frame and optional 8 by 10 art canvas board (you can use cardboard cut to size, but I had a really good coupon that I needed to use before it expired, so I bought art board)

To create the trees;

Copy and resize the design as you like.

Back the desired fabric with the interfacing

Transfer the design to your fabric.  The dots and stars were my schematic of where I “thought” I wanted the charms … as you can see, I didn’t follow that schematic. 

Embroider the design.  I used a back stitch with the green perle cotton. The white tree needed a bit more “oomph,” so I used a split stitch.  After completing the embroidery, lay the fabric face down on a padded surface and lightly press.

Sew / glue on charms as desired.  Raid your button stash, jewelry finding stash, broken jewelry pile, ect.  Nothing is beyond the boundaries of the glitz that you can add to your tree.

Adhere to the art or card board with a thin spread of glue or with spray adhesive (which I prefer)  Cut until there is about 1 inch border of excess fabric. Fold over excess fabric and tape to back of board (I used an archival art tape)

Insert into frame.  Note that this will create a very thick piece and sliding it into some frames may take a bit of patience and creative finagling. 

Enjoy your lovely creation!

Christmas Tree Embroidery

Collecting Vintage Needlework Kits

kitsCollecting Vintage Needlework Kits

 Ask any collector about their collection and in all probability, you will receive a

passionate discourse regarding the “whats,” the “whys,” and the “how – tos,” that are

 responsible for the initial awakening of their inner collector. 

 From any point that I can remember, I have loved most forms of needlework in an

 Observatory – isn’t that pretty to look at … I wonder how they did that … I would love to

 create that – manner. In the early 1970’s I received my first crewel embroidery kit.  That

 kit transformed me from an observer of needlework into a participator in needlework. 

 That first kit also awoke the inner collector in me.  Since that awakening, I have been an

enthusiastic amasser of vintage needlework kits.


Needlework collecting enjoys a devoted, but relatively small, audience.  This

 “small but devoted” status currently provides a favorable market that is reasonably

 balanced in affordable supply and demand.  Whether you search on an online global

 market or a local garage sale, you can still find gems that won’t make your wallet cringe. 

 Regardless of where you search, it is helpful to have a mapping set of guidelines that can

 help you navigate the collecting terrain.  As your gain experience in collecting, you will

 also gain expertise. But while you are experiencing the collecting learning curve, here are

 some initial guidelines to map your beginning collection:


 Stick with a price point.  Whether bidding online or perusing a local sale;

 know the comfortable price boundary and stick to it.

 Learn about the designers and manufacturers. There are some names that you will

 see with frequency. These names can be indicators of the kit’s style, era, intricacy and

 difficulty of design, and overall product quality. Depending on their current level of

 production, there are some names that could indicate current and future monetary value.


Question the plans and possibilities with the kit.  Will this kit be created, or

 collected or sold to fuel other purchases?  Can you take some creative license with the

 design and function of this kit?


Be picky when inspecting the kit’s condition.  This is particularly important for

 online purchases.  Regardless of any perceived standard of terminology, (i.e.

 mint, very good …) condition is still subjective  “to the eye” of the observer.  Using the

 kit’s packaging language as a starting guide; begin your inspection..  Has the kit been

 opened.  Are  all of the contents  present as packaged. Determine the condition of the

 thread, fabric and other supplies.  Ascertain the needle’s placement and the presence of

 any metal rust. Occasionally you will find a needle that has become rusted and affixed to

 the design area which could destroy a kit’s usability.  If the kit has been started, assess

 the quality of stitching.  If the stitches need to be removed, make sure that this “de-

 stitching” doesn’t affect the integrity of the fabric.  Inspect the subtle language of the

 package, which will include any tearing, soiling or clouding of the package exterior. This

 exterior damage may indicate that there is also damage to the interior contents.  


 Think “out of the original purpose box.”  Even kits with condition issues can

 occasionally be rescued and repurposed.  Kit contents can also be salvaged

 and repurposed for another kit, or project, or for supply “stash.”


Pay attention to what your nose already knows.  Aromas are great story tellers. 

 While some aromas can dissipate; many aromas will indicate a deeper problem which

 may never resolve.  A good rule of thumb to follow is, “if there is an aroma (including an

 intentional over perfuming) that catches your nose, then there is an issue that needs to

 catch your attention.”


Know when to say “no.”  Even a nicely priced kit is not always a good value. 

 Keep in mind that when you say “no” to an iffy kit, you trust your inner “knowing” that a

 better kit is just around the corner.


This final guideline is probably the most important of all of the mapping techniques. This

 guideline encourages you to make those purchases that to move you from creative

 observer to creative participator. Buy the kits that remind you of the “whos” the “whats”

 and the “whys” that initially stirred up your inner collector and inspired your collecting



WC 709 CPR Karen Glasgow Follett 2014