Monday, January 30, 2012

New Pattern Tutorial for Snow Days (and a Baby Lamb!)

I promised I would begin a tutorial for my newest design, "Snow Days", which I hope to release in the next week or so.  It's a cute and fun pattern for a 14" candle mat you can make from wool or wool felt.  If you've been reading my previous posts, you know my patterns work equally well with either wool or wool felt and you can use either one depending on your budget and personal preferences.  I'm always torn between the two, because they each lend their own look to a project and I can never decide which I like best!

I hope you enjoy this tutorial, because I think you'll realize as you follow along that none of the steps to make your own "Snow Days" candle mat are set in stone.  You can change the colors and even the shapes or order of the snowmen to fit your own taste.  Like I always say in my patterns, relax and enjoy yourself, since creating is part of the fun!  Here we go . . .

"Snow Days" Tutorial (Part 1)

This candle mat is smaller by an inch than my previous "Halloween Jacks" candle mat because I wanted to cuddle the snowmen a little closer together.  The other difference between this candle mat and "Halloween Jacks" is we have two scalloped background templates for the front of your mat, a small one and a large one.  We'll be stitching the snowmen to the smaller scalloped piece and then attaching that to the larger piece.  We'll also use a third scalloped piece to make a backing for our candle mat so it's nice and finished (so your mother-in-law can't see all the little knots and tails on the back!).  Of course, both the small and large background templates will be included with the pattern.

Tracing the Backgrounds and Snowman Heads:  The scalloped templates are traced onto freezer paper which is then ironed to the back side of your wool or wool felt.  I then use a sharp pair of scissors to cut them out.  I used navy blue wool for the smaller scalloped piece and deep red for the larger, but there are no rules here and you can use whatever colors you want:

I then traced the snowman head eight times (for eight heads) onto freezer paper which I ironed onto cream-colored wool.  Once the the heads were pinned in place against the navy background, I stitched them down with a blanket stitch that is illustrated in the pattern.  It was easy and I managed to do the stitching while I watched a bit of television . . .

What Colors Do You Like?  Next, it's time to "audition" the wool to see what colors you like best against the background.  When a piece of wool is auditioning, it's just like an actor trying out for a part in a play.  The wool auditions for the part to see if it fits and looks good with the rest of the design!  I tried about twenty different color combinations for the noses and hats.  You can use the colors you'll eventually see in the finished pattern or choose your own.  Remember, there are no rules here and none of your friends will know!

It's Not Set in Stone At this point, I decided one of the noses was too big for snowman number three, so I cut the nose template waaaay down and made a smaller nose.  That's what I mean when I say nothing with this pattern is set in stone.  If you don't like the size of a nose, cut it smaller.  If you think the eyes should be bigger, trace and cut them a little bigger.  I tried several different noses and eyes before I finally decided on my favorites and stitched them to the background.

[The nose is waaaay too big - I'll cut it down smaller!]

You might also notice a little trick I use to hold some of the wool pieces in place while I stitch:  Staples!  I usually use water-soluble fabric glue to tack the pieces in place, but sometimes I cheat and staple them to my background.  Once they are stitched into place, I remove the staples with the tip of a steak knife.  Way too easy!

Part 2 of this Tutorial will come a bit later this week, where I'll show you how to embellish the faces and hats, finish the edge of the smaller scalloped background and attach it to the larger red scalloped piece. I'll also show you how to add a backing to your candle mat so it is nice and full and lays flat.  I love to embellish with embroidery thread, and you'll find out just how easy it is!  Click Part 3, for the last and final tutorial on "Snow Days".

I need to close now, but I couldn't part without showing you a couple of personal pictures.  While enjoying the snow this weekend, hubby and I visited some friends in Prairie, Idaho.  Prairie is aptly named and one of the prettiest places on earth because you see flatland and foothills in every direction.  We arrived just in time to see a newborn lamb trying to stand on its own for it's first dinner!

We were also visited by Torry, one of the friendliest sheep in Idaho who wanted his ears and head rubbed . . .

and a few others from the herd who were waiting for their own dinner of oats and hay . . .

Well, that's it for now--I've gotta get rolling on the rest of the "Snow Days" candle mat, besides needing to get the rest of my paperwork done for the tax man (yikes! isn't that a terrible thought!).  In the meantime . . . Happy stitchin'!  -- xoxo Melanie

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