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  • Simple Pleasures

    Have you ever experimented with redwork embroidery? With Mother’s Day coming up, this might be the time. Check out Simple Pleasures in Redwork by Kathy Schmitz for some really charming, heirloom-quality, bird-themed designs that when combined with some simple sewing would make perfect Mom’s Day or any day presents (if, like me, there’s no way you’d finish my Mother’s Day).

    Here’s a peek at some of the pretty patterns:

    Bluebird Nest Shoulder Bag

    In My Garden Drawer Sachet

    Quill Bird Pillow

    Blackbird Sings Wall Hanging

    And that’s just a glimpse of a few of the ten patterns featured in Simple Pleasures in Redwork. To make life even more simple, the book also includes full-size patterns, so you won’t waste your time at the copier.

  • Leisure Arts for Easter

    Are you just starting to work up the energy to begin your Easter projects? (That would be me unless you count my Eco-Friendly Easter Pincushions.) If you need some Eastery inspiration, just search “Easter” on for lots of Easter options or check out some of the books I especially like:

    How about knitting a Dandy Duck dishcloth from Katherine Satterfield’s Holiday Knit Dishcloths? There’ a bunny dishcloth, too!

    Paint a Bucket of Spring with a smiling bunny from Kooler Design Studio’s Paint for the Holidays.

    Use your embroidery skills to create a vintage Easter Bunnies design with Happiness and Cheer Redwork Through the Year by Dolores Storm of Lakadaisies.

    And if cooking’s your passion, whip up some Easter goodies with Celebrating Candy and Celebrating Cookies, Book 2. Maybe you’re craving White Chocolate Cream Eggs or Easter Egg Cookies?

  • Take Up Embroidery

    Celebrate National Craft Month by learning a few embroidery stitches. This timeless style of needlework has been with us forever. Genteel ladies worked on their embroidered samplers. My mother did crewel embroidery back in the 60s. I remember stitching peace signs, flowers, and hearts on my denim shirts in the 70s, and how many of you have dish towels with the days of the week, teacups, or kitties stitched on them or pillowcase wedding presents featuring your initials?

    If you’d like to learn classic embroidery, check out Teach Yourself to Embroider from Kooler Design Studio. It walks you step-by-step through the history, supplies, the basics, transferring designs, and the actual stitching with diagrams for each stitch. Plus, it includes 15 traditional projects: a butterfly and flowers on table linens, an iris on a denim shirt, floral monograms, floral-embellished fingertip towels, four fun bookmarks, and more.

    Looking for more contemporary designs? I really love the patterns in Stitch This! (created by the Leisure Arts design team), Modern Primitive Embroidery by Jennie Baer, and Mary Engelbreit’s The Art of Embroidery. These designs are fresh, up-to-date, and most are even quick-to-finish which helps them fit right in a busy stitcher’s schedule!

    Stitch This! will show you how to create you own patterns from a favorite photograph, how to embellish your embroidery with beads and chalk, and how to experiment with different fabrics to create your own unique artwork.

    Modern Primitive Embroidery is all about sweet phrases and simple designs that work up fast. It features lots of flowers, birds, sheep, and seasonal designs—all with patterns drawn in three sizes, so you don’t have to fool with reducing and enlarging!

    Mary Engelbreit’s The Art of Embroidery lets you transform Mary’s illustrations into fabulous home accents. Plus, we show you how to make your projects more colorful by using permanent markers rather than additional stitching time.

    Are you an advanced embroidery artist in search of a challenge? Discover beautiful, elegant Hardanger with Teach Yourself Hardanger Embroidery. “No way,” you say. “That’s too hard.” But I’m here to tell you—don’t let this type of embroidery frighten you! I do admit that the first Hardanger piece I attempted did terrify me! It looked so complicated, and the idea of cutting threads on the fabric of my stitched piece left me panicked. Seriously though, Hardanger really only involves a few basic simple stitches that even a beginner can master with heirloom results. Give it a try!

  • Take-Along Pocket Guides

    Don’t hide your creativity behind closed doors! Take it outside and share it with the world. I mean, really, what better time to show off all your cool skills than National Craft Month? Plus I’ve found a tool to make it easier to take it all with you.

    You know…sometimes my brain just doesn’t cough up the information like it used to. For example, invariably, I’ll be crocheting away in the doctor’s waiting room, only to realize that I can’t, for the life of me, remember how to work a treble crochet stitch. I’m just blank, and, consequently, at a standstill until I can get my hands on a book—the big reference book that’s not at the doctor’s office. (Please tell me this happens to you, too, so I don’t feel so old!)

    The SOLUTION—Pocket Guides from Leisure Arts. These laminated (just wipe them off if they get grubby), 4-1/2" wide x 8-1/2" high reference guides fit perfectly in a pocket, purse, or project bag, so you can carry them with you everywhere. The handy, accordion-fold guides are filled with stitch diagrams, tips and tricks, basic how-to instructions, and more.

    We’ve got pocket guides for Crochet, Crazy Quilt Stitches, Basic Bows, Album Covers, How To Remove Stains (I use this one a lot!), Embroidery, Wonderful Walls with Paint, Faux Finishes, Quilting Basics, Beading, Knitting, Table Skirts & Toppers, and Decorative Painting.

    Just think, you’ll never need to feel brainless in public (or even in the privacy of your own recliner) ever again! (Wouldn’t it be nice if the solution really was that simple?)

  • Leisurely Bird Watching

    It’s a bird!

    It’s birds on my dining table. Actually, salt and pepper shaker birds in a bowl on my dining table…(Aren’t they cute? My kids gave them to me for Valentine’s Day.)

    And it’s birds in our books…to make and keep for your very own or give as gifts:

    If you knit, you could create the Wren Twins from Little Knitted Creatures by Amy Gaines. This book features 26 amigurumi designs (26 cute little knitted creatures) including Forest Friends, Fishbowl Friends, Friendly Sea-ciety, and more. Very very cute!

    For those of you that sew, the front cover of Home Stuff from designer Linda Lum DeBono shows off a simple, modern-looking appliqué bird silhouette on a pillow that would be just perfect in a contemporary setting. Featuring a variety of other home décor projects, this book promises fuss-free designs that you can create in no time.

    I really like embroidery, so I’m thinking this Branching Out design from Stitch This! might be one of my favorites. From the Leisure Arts in-house designers, this book teaches you how to use simple embroidery stitches, artist’s pastels and chalk, a few beads, and some scrap felt to create this charming design plus nine others using our patterns or your own.

    And that’s just a small sampling from the flock of bird designs we offer!

  • Sweet Felt Heart Hangers for Valentine’s

    Leisure Arts in-house designer, Becky, has really embraced the whole concept of Valentine’s Day designs this year. She just showed me the Sweet Felt Hearts Hangers she made at home last night. Aren’t they cute???

    She used really nice felted wool for the hearts and flowers (you can just use regular craft store felt or fabric if you like), a button as a flower center, embroidery floss to embellish the front and to stitch the front and back together, and a length of ribbon for each hanger to hang from. You’ll also need polyester fiberfill or potpourri to stuff your hanger with.

    1. Your hearts can be any size you want. Just create your own heart pattern, pin it to the felt, and cut it out. You’ll need two felt hearts for each project.

    2. Then embellish the front of your hanger with felt flowers, leaves, a button, and embroidery stitches like French knots, backstitch, blanket stitch, and running stitch as desired.

    3. Starting at the top of the design, use blanket stitches to sew the front and back hearts together. When you get to the top center, stuff your project with fiberfill or potpourri, fold the ribbon length in half, place the ribbons ends inside the hearts, and continue stitching—being sure to catch the ribbon ends in the stitching to secure the hanger.

    Thanks for sharing your idea Becky! These pretty hearts would make quick, yet thoughtfully handmade little gifts for your favorite Valentines.

  • A Redwork Valentine

    Need a quick but special (meaning handmade) Valentine's gift? Grab a copy of Happiness and Cheer Redwork Through The Year for a precious vintage redwork embroidery Valentine’s pattern.

    This sweet project by designer Dolores Storm of Lakadaisies works up fast using only backstitches and French knots with red embroidery floss on any light-colored, light- to medium-weight fabric.

    It’s easy to finish, too! Simply place it in a purchased frame or hem the edges and use four buttons to attach it to a store-bought pillow for the perfect Valentine’s present.

    If you fall in love with the beauty and ease of redwork embroidery, Happiness and Cheer Redwork Through The Year from Leisure Arts also features patterns for Easter, May Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and more!

    Happy Stitching!

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