Friday, January 3, 2014

Winter sprucing and a hoopy how-to

Last summer, we did some home renovation and decorating, primarily in the family room and the bedrooms. The family room got new carpeting (and new sheetrock and paint on one wall, when we discovered a shower-pipe leak inside the wall upon removing the old carpeting). The bedrooms got some new wall decor. The LB's room was in particular need of help, with very little on the walls before this summer. I felt a little guilty about this, but my guilt has been assuaged by his happiness, especially about the world map we framed and hung on the wall. I'm hearing all the time about far-flung places he'd like to visit someday. Score one for Mommy with the $10 map and $8 poster frame.

The next room we wanted to decorate a bit was the living room. Our living and dining rooms are L-shaped and open to one another, which is nice and very spacious, but it means we have one long, continuous wall that runs most of the depth of the house. This is an outer wall, and it is broken up by a large bay window at the dining-room end. For years, we've had only one item hanging on this wall, a big landscape photo of the sun setting over the city, taken by the Bear (an accomplished photographer) and framed professionally (at shockingly great expense).

For awhile, we talked about framing some of his other photos to hang there too, but the cost of good framing detracted us. I decided to hang other things instead, eclectic things we either already had, or that I could make. In December, I finished stitching my Winterwoods ABC's Sampler, which had been my Mother's Day gift last year. We framed this ourselves (it was easy and inexpensive) and hung it in a grouping with other items we like. We also hung up a vintage printer's tray which was our Christmas gift to each other. Here's the wall as it looks now, with all the decor on it, in a photo I shared the other day:


Here's a closer look at the grouping at the left side. I'm so happy with the way this grouping turned out, and I can barely remember the room without it. It makes all the difference to have these things hung in an arrangement here.


The sampler is framed in an inexpensive faux-wood frame I picked up at Hobby Lobby for about $10. It was actually the second frame I purchased; I returned the first one because the framing area was too small. The finished area of the sampler is about 8 inches by 10 inches, and I bought a frame for that size, which made it all look very cramped. This is a 10-by-13 frame and it works much better. It was also less expensive than the first frame, though larger, and I think it's just as nice, so it's a win all around. The smaller framed items are inexpensive postcards I've collected, framed in little 4-by-6 frames from Walmart and World Market. From left, a medieval-style capital H (the first initial of our surname), an Alphonse Mucha painting, and a Japanese illustration of finches with thistles. The heart-shaped item is a small hand-painted china plate from Poland, which I've had for a long time. Then I did two embroidery-hoop frames with fabric that I like; I've been captivated by this decoration style for awhile now and decided to make some of my own. I'll show you how I did it later in this post.


A closer look at my sampler (sorry about the glare on the glass). This sampler was such a pleasure to create. It was quick work, too - I started it over Thanksgiving weekend and finished it the weekend before Christmas. I worked a little each day, but found it especially delightful to work on during our daily audiobook sessions (I really should have made a list, the small Bears and I listened to a LOT last year). This was the first time I'd ever worked on 28-count cloth, or real linen, for that matter, and I'd never worked with variegated flosses before either. I found a local stitchery shop which sells this same Weeks Hand-Dyed Floss and it's expensive, but I'm tempted to build a little stash for myself because it's really beautiful.


For an inexpensive frame, it looks pretty nice. I like the simplicity of it, this sampler is so pretty and each letter and forest-related element is spare in its design. I didn't want an ornate frame because it would have spoiled the whole effect in the sampler. I'm happy with this one.


The Bear and I gifted each other with this antique printer's tray for Christmas. We had been looking for something to display small treasures and collectibles for a long time, and finally saw an affordable printer's tray on Ebay this fall. Most of them are just too pricy for our budget, and some need an incredible amount of work to make them look nice for display purposes. This one has very little wear, and just a bit of ink-splatter, which gives it character. We added hanging hardware to the back, bought as an inexpensive kit at Hobby Lobby.




We put all kinds of things in it - small stones, geodes, seashells, pottery shards, bottle caps, keys, buttons, a tiny watch pendant and more. A lot of these items were things we'd saved since we were kids, others came from this old mayonnaise jar I've had since childhood, given to me by my father, who collected them since he was a kid. The blue pottery shards are my favorite bits from the jar. They were probably left by early Dutch settlers long before he found them, on the banks of the Hudson River in New York, the area where he went to college and where, later, I grew up. He is a forager and a collector just like me. Maybe I'll share more tales from the jar sometime.

Now, the embroidery-hoop frames. I love the look of these and I have pinned a fair number of photos of them over the past few months. I think they're such an easy, inexpensive way to add color and interest to a wall grouping. I'll show you how I made mine, which may not be the only way to do it, but it worked well for me if you'd like to make some too.


You can buy wooden hoops in several different sizes. I bought three different sizes, because I wanted to make four of them; two for the dining room as I shared above, and two more for the family room, to be hung on the wall over the couch in a grouping with family portraits and other items. This wall is still in progress, but this example was made for that wall. It's the largest I made and probably the easiest to see, so I'm using it for this how-to. Each of the above hoops came from Hobby Lobby; the largest cost $1.99 and both of the smaller sizes were $1.29 - cheap!


First, measure off the fabric you will use. I cut the fabric in a square around the hoop, leaving about an inch or two of excess. Separate your hoop and place the inner piece on the fabric, as shown below.


Then, cut the square into a more circular shape, still leaving some excess around the outside edge. It can be trimmed later, or you can cut it closer now; I liked having it a bit wide so it was easier to shape.


Place the outer ring of the hoop onto the inner one, so that the fabric is "sealed" inside, just like when you use a hoop for your embroidery fabric.


Now, thread a sewing needle with a long length of thread, enough to go around the whole circle. Double it and tie the ends in a large knot (so it can't pull through the fabric), and start sewing a basting stitch around the edge of the circle. Make sure your knot is on the underside of the circle; it will help you use the thread as a drawstring when you're done.


When you've stitched all the way around the circle, make your last stitch into the fabric and don't come up again, so the thread is on the underside. Then grab the knotted end and the needle end, and pull them tightly, like a drawstring. This will help your fabric lie flat behind the hoop. If it isn't flat, you may need to loosen the drawstring and trim the fabric, then tighten again. Tie the ends of the thread in a good, strong knot and snip close to the knot.


And there's your hoop-framed fabric. I hung mine on the wall with a little finishing nail. They rest nicely. I love the way they add some color and interest to the wall. They take very little fabric, even the largest ones. You can tie the whole room together with pretty fabrics and you could experiment with all kinds of textiles, though I've stuck with cotton calicos thus far. I'm not necessarily a person who goes in for trendy style, but this one seems timeless to me, and so inexpensive and quick that it doesn't matter if they get dusty or faded after awhile; just pick another fabric you love and make yourself some new ones!

41 comments:

  1. Jennifer, I love your hoop-framed fabric. It looks lovely hanging on your wall. -What a lovely display.
    I hope you and your family have a wonderful weekend.

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  2. The printer's tray is a favourite of mine. I used to have one as a child (I wonder where it went?) and my mum has still got one that has some of my little treasures in. I would love to do some embroidery this year, I have a big hogweed picture in mind (probably too ambitious for a beginner).
    You have lovely house, Jennifer! I'll do a tour of my house soon, it is nice to "window gaze" I think. Cx

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  3. i like your display. The hoops are good. When I have time I will try to make one.
    Rosezeeta.

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  4. Hi Jennifer, I love your wall decorations especially the heart shaped plate and your beautiful sampler.
    I have embroidery hoops that I keep meaning to do something with....yours look gorgeous.
    Jacquie x

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  5. It looks so pretty. You did a great job of framing that sampler. I had mine done professionally as I was so worried I'd ruin it. It cost £30 and I opted to have no glass, but I chose a frame very similar to the one you used. Isn't it lovely? I never tire of looking at it and I've kept the leftover floss. No idea what for...

    Love the hoops. We have about ten behind out sofa and I think it's time I refreshed the fabrics. And that printers tray is a great find, it looks fantastic. x

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  6. Such wonderful ideas for inside frames and love that hoop too.

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  7. It looks lovely, a perfect mix of things and the fabirc hoops are gorgeous
    Clare x

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  8. Your walls look lovely what a great idea the hoops look very effective. I really need a change in my living room the pictures have been up forever and need a serous revamp, I will keep your idea in mind. :)

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  9. Hi Jennifer, I love how you decorated your wall. It's very personal and meaningful. The embroidery hoop frames are brilliant. I can imagine a bunch of things to frame! My favorite is your printer's frame display with all it's memories. It inspires me to start a bottle collection like your father and pass it on to my children who can one day display it's contents.

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  10. I love that photograph, I really do! And it was lovely to see your framed groupings close up. I wold love to make some little embroidery. The lovely cross stitch I won in your giveaway will be the first one I complete when I join Happy Stitchers (have you noticed how excited I am about this new group?!).

    You have given me some ideas for embroidery hoops for my own house, and gifts for others. I have loads of fabric and fancy tea towels that I can't bring myself to throw away or use. I shall definitley look into that.

    As for the printer tray. I would love something like that to display the flotsam and jetsom that I have accumulated since moving to St Ives. And I am very intrigued by tales from the jar.....

    Lovely post, as always.

    Leanne xx

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  11. What a lovely wall. It's so nice to fill it with things that are special and precious to you. I've got a couple of spare printers' trays which I am planning to do something with. And one that's filled with little 2x2" photos that hangs in the hall - I should really blog about it. I'm thinking I will put one of the trays on the wall in the littlest boy's bedroom. He will love popping little treasures in there. I can't believe how quickly and beautifully you did the sampler. I actually completed the mushroom the other day, but I'm progressing very slowly. The photo is beautiful. Photos taken by me are some of my favourite things to have around - perfect reminders of a unique moment. Thank you for sharing your inspirational room, it's been lovely to see it. Hope you and the bears have a good weekend. CJ xx

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  12. I love everything, your wall looks fantastic!!
    I love the idea with the embroidery hoops, it looks great, thanks for sharing :)
    Happy new year!!

    Lluisa

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  13. Printers grays are great and I'd love to have one as I like collecting too. You have made a beautiful grouping on the wall around your lovely sampler. Stitching on 28 count linen looks really good - do it as much as you can before your eyes give out, as mine now have. It is 16 count aida for me these days. Variegated threads really are a stitcher's friend, and I have a big stash of them. Happy New Year!

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  14. Your display looks so nice, and adds so much to that space. I love it! I really want to do something like that in our home. The hoop-framed fabric is an awesome idea. I really like the fabric you used.

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  15. Fantastic idea . Your living room wall arrangement looks lovely, it all ties in well together.

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  16. Your living area looks lovely and your wall hangings just finish it off.
    Sally xxx

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  17. It looks so nice. I love your printers tray!

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  18. Oh, good for you for doing your cross-stitch and framing it so nicely! I have the kit here but haven't gotten to it. One day.. you have done a good job of putting a meaningful collection together on your wall.
    ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  19. I admire how your décor is based on your own hand/Bear's photography work and personal collection of meaningful treasures. I remember accompanying a friend to find art work for her new home. She swept through the store, pointing, "That one! that one! and that one! Done!" Yikes. I asked her if she'd like to slow down and consider adding one piece at a time that had some special meaning. Nope! Wouldn't hear of it! Just wanted to "done!" Her place was pleasant, but it just didn't "hug" you when you came in the door like yours does!

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  20. Just love your sampler, it's so different, uncluttered and beautiful! Now you have me wondering what I've done with the printing tray I had. :) They're great for little memory treasures.

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  21. So much I want to comment on, Jennifer! Your decorative hoops are a great idea. I have been given two little hoops that frame cross-stitch projects that were made for me. I love how they look but also how your material hoops look. [the backside view of the material with the material gathered looks very pretty to me too...I keep going back to admire it :)]
    Your Alicia sampler came out beautifully and your framing does it proud. Personally, I think bargain frames can be just as effective as the more costly ones. Bravo!
    Finally, the printer tray project which is so clever in and of itself, is all the more so to me because of your comment about where your dad found some of his treasures. We may have typed back and forth about this before...I can't remember. Did I tell you that for 2 1/2 years we lived in Hurley, NY, and for fifteen years we lived on the west bank of the Hudson River in Saugerties, NY? While we lived on the river bank we had many creatures come and visit us: huge mama snapping turtles every June 12 to lay their eggs, a herd of deer that arrived around Christmas one year and made us do a double take and wonder if we were hosting Santa's reindeer, red fox, snakes, and ducks and geese that would fly low over our home. In the lots a bit south of us there was also a bit of an archeological dig when Native American relics were found, which we found very exciting, although we never found such treasures on our property. Where did your dad find his treasures? xx

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  22. Oh friend your collection on that wall is spectacular! The combination of different pieces from pottery to fabrics is perfect!!!! And thank you so much for the hoop art tutorial! I have been really wanting to do this for my bean girls! I just think it adds the right amount of detail to the gallery! Your home is beautiful because of all of your lovely handmade touches! Well done you! Happy weekend to you and the family!!! Nicole xoxo

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  23. What a lovely collection of personal things. I love your sampler. I still have the other ABC sampler from Alicia from 2 years back that I haven't finished! Happy New Year Jennifer. Julie x

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  24. We have a long wall too, and you are right they are hard to decorate aren't they. It looks as though you are doing a great job with your wall though. You will have fun filling your printers tray with memories over time I am sure. Your embroidery looks great too, and you are right, the space between the picture and the frame is needed and it looks all the better for it. I like the hoop frames too, a great way to use little pieces of favourite fabrics. xx

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  25. Love your display and especially your sampler, it's beautiful. Love the hoop art too, I've been collecting various sizes of hoops as I want to do a display like this on my craft room wall with some of my favourite fabrics. It's such a lovely way to add interest and brighten up a wall.
    Great job, well done!
    Xx

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  26. I love the display, your stitching deserved a wonderful place on the wall. In addition to the hoop art and all the different sized items it all comes together beautifully and adds so much interest to the space. Well done,
    Meredith

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  27. These are just lovely photos and I love the informal grouping. I've always gone for the formal and symmetrical but my plan for this house is to experiment with the relaxed and informal which showcases all my favourite things and crafts. Well done with the cross stitch, they always look much better on your fabric but I've always shied away as they are so much harder to do. I've love to hear your reviews of what audiobooks you've been listening to as I am a total audiobook fan too.
    http://gonebeading.blogspot.co.uk/

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  28. This was such great blog post, Jennifer! I am hopeless when it comes to decorating walls, and only just got a few pictures up on the walls of our cottage two days before Christmas (thanks to my oldest son helping me frame and hang them). If I ever finish my Winterwoods Sampler I will remember to go with the 10 X 13 frame. Your printer's tray is really special. And I love your cloth hoops. Thanks so much for taking the time to show us how to make them!

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  29. I am really loving that printer's tray to hold all kinds of little found objects. I have something similar on a smaller scale - a shadow box with a lot of little cubbies. It holds all my little glass animals that I've had since I was a teen, original Monopoly playing pieces, thimbles, a miniature glass bottle, etc. And now I'm intrigued about this mayonnaise jar full of interesting things from your dad... :-)

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  30. January is normally my time for sprucing up my living room, especially now the decs are all down. I love your eclectic wall hanging and how you've grouped them. Thank you so much for leaving a comment on my last post about me being me, it meant a lot.
    Patricia x

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  31. Your white walls show off all your collections, photos and needlework really well. The living looks great. Jx

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  32. The printers tray is really neat. A great way to show off your small treasures. Your living room looks great, very homey, which is my favorite type of space! Look great :)

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  33. This hoop-framed fabric sems like a great inexpensive idea for decorating a wall. It was really kind you took the time to show us how you did it.

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  34. Love love love the printers frame! really cool for showing off lovely treasures lucky you a brilliant present for you both!
    I really like your choice of fabric in the hoop great idea.
    Looks like you have an amazing home. xx

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  35. I love how your wall looks and the printers tray is perfect for displaying those little things that often dont have anywhere to be on show. I am a big fan of embroidery hoops too!!

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  36. Happy New Year Jennifer to you and your family and I enjoyed catching up with your news.
    Your decorating looks lovely and like the way you have displayed everything - the sampler is beautiful.
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  37. Ooooo..I love this sampler and your room is just lovely!

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  38. Everything looks so pretty and unique, Jennifer! You are very creative and again, have saved the day at Thistlebear home! I love gallery walls, especially when the artists are family members who have contributed to the collection!

    Poppy

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  39. I love the whole display, but your sampler is the piece de resistance, it's so beautiful. I love the frame you chose for it too.

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  40. The living room looks great- all the displays are really pretty- and I particularly love the printers tray holding all your treasures:)

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  41. The printer's tray is just wonderful, Jennifer, and I love that you are filling it with truly personal treasures! Your entire wall looks great. I really like the look of samplers and used to do crewel and cross stitch all the time, but my eyes are just not up to that any more -- probably not my patience either! I've used a few embroidery hoops in my decor, too; they are so much fun and so easy. Your home is very charming!

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Thank you for leaving a comment. It's so good to hear from you! I don't always have time to reply but I try to answer questions when I can.

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