A stitch in time

It’s Halloween this weekend, which means that’s it’s almost too late to be thinking about handmade Christmas gifts.


If you read regularly, you know that things have been rocky for us lately. I haven’t been able to do much of anything creative. But I want to, and I’ve been collecting inspiration.

It started with this:

Embroidered napkins

Image via Apartment Apothecary. Click on it to see a nice tutorial.

It reminded me of the year my mom and I embroidered a tablecloth and napkins for my grandmother, and I started thinking that it might be nice to make some embroidered napkins for my mom.

She has this set of china:

Lennox Weatherly china

Lenox Weatherly

When I was younger, I thought it was so boring. Now, I think it is classic and beautiful–and would look lovely with embroidered napkins.

She also has painted wine glasses similar to these, which she often uses with the china:

wine glasses

Image via Etsy shop HelensGiftStore

I haven’t done much embroidery since I was a  teenager, back when embroidery kits were a thing that crafty people did.

embroidered basket

I did a little bit back in February, when I was working on the Valentine card that never got finished, and I think I’d like to dive further into this particular realm again.

Scan 91

I haven’t gotten as far as really doing anything yet, but I have collected some inspiration:

I like the simple lines and old-fashioned sweetness of the flowers on these tea towels from Etsy shop PrettyPMamaB:

tea towels

If I decide to go with this sort of look, I might create my own designs using something from vintage patterns such as these:

vintage embroidery designs

Vintage embroidery designs from Knitting-and.com

I’m also liking these images for a more modern take on florals with simple lines:

Chalk Botanicals clip art from Etsy shop StudioDenmark

Chalk Botanicals clip art from Etsy shop StudioDenmark

I could go in another direction and do something more modern/graphic. I like how this design grows out of the corner, which might be really cool on a napkin:

graphic flower

Image via Maybe Matilda

If I’m going to go more bold/modern/graphic, I’ve also got these for inspiration/creative-pump priming:

Image via Etsy shop KFNeedleworkDesign

Image via Etsy shop KFNeedleworkDesign

Image via The Createry

Image via The Createry

But I might want to do something really different, like this:

Image via The Fabric Shopper

Image via The Fabric Shopper

or this:

Image via Upcyclist

I’m not really sure which way I want to go with this. My mom tends to like florals that are sweet and old-fashioned. (My taste runs more to modern/graphic.) Something like this might appeal to her taste and mine; I like the juxtaposition of the traditional flowers on a patterned fabric, rather than a solid:

Image via Pretty by Hand

Image via Pretty by Hand

This might work, too:

Image via Cazadora de Insperacion

Image via Cazadora de Insperacion

Some projects I do when in this kind of creative space don’t go any further than a Pinterest board. I think that’s OK; feasting on others’ work always feeds something in our own creative beast, so I never consider the browsing/pinning to be wasted time. But this one I’ve actually pulled the trigger on. I bought a tablecloth today (although it could be returned if I decide to bail), and I went to the fabric store to see what I could see.

fabric Collage

Clearly, I saw a lot and emerged with no coherent vision for this project. That’s OK, too. I’ve found I need to have a scouting trip, where I just look a lot and snap photos with my phone. The first visit is always overwhelming, but I let what I see stew around a bit and soon a direction emerges.

I hope to get back there this weekend, but it is Halloween and who knows how it will go. Luckily, there’s nearly two months until the gift needs to be given, so I think I’ll be good.

In the meantime, going to sign off with a throwback picture that always makes me smile. I loved these years with these two:


They were not the creative costume years. 🙂 Those came later…

14 thoughts on “A stitch in time

  1. Kate says:

    Ooooh, so many pretty embroidery patterns! I often pick up my needle and hoop in the summer when it’s too hot to knit. I have a stack of plain white napkins that I was hoping to embroider this year for gifts as well but never did get around to it. My favorites are the days of the week tea towels you showed.

    I LOVE those floral painted wine glasses. My MIL has some up at the cabin and I’ve always wanted to find some for my home – but I have plain ones to match my china (which is my great great grandmother’s vintage floral) and I can’t see purchasing beautiful glasses that will just sit in my cupboards most of the time.
    Kate recently posted…SnowMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I like those sweet tea towels, too. I am with you on beautiful things that will just sit in the cupboard. I like to admire them, but not buy.

  2. Marian says:

    LOVE this post, Rita! I’m drooling over all the beautiful embroidery and suddenly feel like tossing aside the knitting needles and getting back to what was my first crafting love. We crafty types DID all do those embroidery kits back in the 70s and 80s, didn’t we? 🙂

    Your mom’s china and wine glasses are gorgeous and would go perfectly with embroidered napkins. I would have a really, really hard time deciding between the various designs – I pretty much love them all.

    And your kids in their cow costumes are so sweet! It reminds me of a photo we have of my older two when they were very young – my daughter was a pink pig and my son was a bunny.
    Marian recently posted…Using the Freezer to Minimize Food WasteMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      I loved those kits when I was a kid! And the tablecloth/napkins my mom and I did for my grandma were a kit, too. One thing I’m having a hard time with is picturing embroidered napkins with those glasses. I know she hardly uses the glasses, but I’d like it to be an option. I worry that embellished napkins will be too busy with the painted glasses or detract from them. I’m enjoying the puzzle of figuring it out, though. 🙂

      And I love little ones in costumes. We had hardly any trick-or-treaters because it poured rain last night, but I enjoyed the few we got.

  3. Cynthia says:

    Every picture that you posted is beautiful, and I would have a hard time deciding myself. However, given the time constraints, embroidering a bunch of napkins (you didn’t say how many you’d do, but I’d guess that 8 would be the minimum) might end up being overwhelming… Here’s my idea: make [however many] two-sided napkins. Use crisp, classic white for one side and a silvery-grey design for the other side — I can’t quite tell if the color is grey or light sage-y green, but the fabric in the upper left corner of your fabric store foray picture night be perfect. a bit easier/less time-consuming, and still lovely.

    Then, let the embroidered napkins project simmer longer, make them when you’ve come to a decision that you are thrilled about and can commit to and you have lots more time, and give them to your Mom for next Christmas or some other occasion. A second set of handmade napkins from her talented daughter would be most welcome, I’m sure. And the “feel” and “look” would just give your Mom more choices for different occasions. (Or maybe she could even mix-and-match them if you planned the colors for the embroidery that way.)


    • Rita says:

      You have helped me so much! I always think things will take less time than they do, and I appreciate the reminder to be realistic about how much time I have. You have me thinking simple design now. And excited about going back to the fabric store tomorrow.

  4. Jen says:

    Funny about those embroidery kits! I had a ton of them. The grandmas never taught me to sew but they were all about letting me do some cross-stitch and embroidery. Such cute little cows!

    You are right about it being almost too late for handmade Christmas. I’ve got to get on my crochet projects…nothing big but they do need to be done. (I should be working on one now. Instead I’m catching up on bloggy stuff). I’ve got various alcohols steeping and at the end of the month, they will transfer to final vessels for gifting. I need to order photo prints and get one working on making scrubs and soaps. So much to do, not enough time…& I thought I was getting a jump on things this year. *sigh*
    Jen recently posted…Photo Friday – Paddington Reservoir Gardens via Steph’s JoyMy Profile

    • Rita says:

      It sounds like you have done a lot already–far more than me. My list has really dwindled in recent years, so I don’t have that many gifts to make. Just things for my parents, really. Although I’m thinking about some small things for friends. I wouldn’t even begin to know how to make soaps–is it easy?

  5. May says:

    Good golly it has been far too long since I have had a chance to sit and catch up, but I am having such fun reading all these posts in a bunch today.
    You have collected some amazing specimens here. I am sharing this post with my eldest who embroiders magnificently.
    May recently posted…TToT:Christmas EditionMy Profile

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