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  • Nearly Wordless Wednesday: More Biscornu!

    What is a biscornu? When it comes to needlework, a biscornu is usually a small eight-sided pillow that can be used as a pincushion, ornament, decoration, scissor fob, or sachet!

    Find out more from Bobbie Watts’ new pattern book—Teach Yourself to Make Biscornu! Coming Soon!

  • Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Biscornu

    What’s biscornu? Find out from Bobbie Watts’ new pattern book—Teach Yourself to Make Biscornu! Coming Soon!

  • July Challenge—Get Crafty for Christmas

    It’s the 1st day of July, but sometimes it seems like it’s always Christmas at Leisure Arts. We always have trees, and there’s always a holiday project of some variety hanging out in our hallways. I know it’s hard to think holidays when it’s 100+ degrees outside, but my July Challenge for you is to start your Christmas crafting now.

    Let’s celebrate Christmas in July with creativity!

    If you’re feeling Christmas crafty, check out our Creating the Happiest of Holidays series—Book 1 and Book 2. Each book features gifts to create for family, friends, and pets, food gifts plus adorable ways to wrap them up, and recipes for festive feasting!

    Take a peek at some of the goodies in Creating the Happiest of Holidays, Book 1:

    Daily Kitchen Towels

    Beautiful Throw

    Easy Apron

    Framed Heirloom Jewelry

    Knit Scarf

    Charm Bracelet

    Cat Snuggle Pillow

    Tea-Lover’s Basket

    Special Couple’s Gift

    Spinach Appetizers, Pork Tenderloin, & Reuben Dip

    Coconut Cream Cake

    Gingerbread Trees

    And just a glance at a bit of Creating the Happiest of Holidays, Book 2:

    Snowman Bell Ornament

    Sparkling Snowflakes

    Green Greetings

    Snowman Plate

    Dog Coat

    Chip & Dip Bowl

    Cheese Cookie Snacks

    Cheese Spreads

    Irish Smoothie & Chocolate Cups

    Burgundy Beef Stew & Dill & Green Onion Bread

    Chateaubriand with Creamy Caper Sauce

    Chocolate-Mint Cheese Ball

    Chocolate Petite Cheesecakes

    Lots of pretty projects and yummy food, huh? Each book features hundreds of inspirational ideas! In the Christmas spirit yet?

  • June Pincushion—The Tie One On Pincushion

    Remember that necktie lamp post from right around Father’s Day? When you make that lamp shade, partial pieces of necktie are left behind. Well, I just couldn’t let them go to waste, and the result is our Tie One On Pincushion. We’re recycling, being green, and just think what a nice keepsake or gift this pincushion would make if you crafted it from the ties of a husband, father, or son! Plus, I love the idea of a crazy quilt pattern made from silky tie fabric embellished with embroidery stitches.

    Here’s the How-To:

    Tie One On Pincushion

    • gently used neckties
    • two 6" x 6" muslin squares for foundations
    • embroidery floss and needle
    • polyester fiberfill
    • button
    • embroidery floss

    Use ¼" seam allowances throughout.

    1. Open center back seam of each tie. Discard any lining fabric. Unfold ties and press.
    2. From the ties, rough-cut 8-10 assorted-shaped pieces for the front and 2 large rectangles 6" x 3¼" for the back.
    3. With right side facing up, pin 1 assorted-shaped piece (purple dot) to the center of 1 muslin foundation.
    4. Matching right sides, angle piece 2 (red paisley) as desired over one edge of piece 1. Stitching through all layers, sew piece 2 to piece 1. Trim seam allowances to ¼". Press piece 2 open. Repeat to add piece 3.

    5. Continue to add pieces, until entire foundation is covered; press. Trim edges of pieces even with edges of foundation.
    6. Embroider as desired over each seam. Model was stitched using 6 strands of floss for Cross Stitches and Blanket Stitches and 3 strands for Stem Stitches.

    7. Sew the 2 large rectangles to the remaining foundation in the same manner as the front.

    8. Matching right sides and leaving an opening for turning, sew front and back together; clip corners. Turn, stuff, and sew opening closed.
    9. Sewing through all layers and pulling firmly to tuft, use 6 strands of floss to sew button to the center of the pincushion.

    A special thank you goes out to the folks that helped me realize my vision of this pincushion (’cause we all know I can’t sew)—Kelly (one of our pattern testers) for actually making it and Jean from our Quilt Dept. for writing the instructions. This is my favorite pincushion so far!

  • June Challenge: Be Creative in Public

    In honor of the upcoming World Wide Knit in Public Day, the Everyday Life at Leisure June Challenge is simple—crawl out of your recliner and share your creativity with the world! And I’m not just talking to the knitters out there:

    Yes, this waiting area does need a knitter in it…What a great way to make use of time waiting for appointments!

    This expanse of green grass is just crying out for a quilt to be spread out on it with a cross stitcher right in the middle! Take advantage of the wonderful natural lighting provided by being creative outside…

    Picture a crocheter on a park bench…Moms, you can let the kids play while you play with your hook and yarn.

    Imagine embroidery hoops and floss featured in this picnic area (under an open umbrella to keep the sun off if you live in a place like hot, humid, and hazy Arkansas).

    How about a quilt guild get-together around a company breakroom table? Get some handwork done during your lunch hour.

    Yes, I know I’m hitting you over the head with the idea (and being a little lazy ’cause all these photos are from in and around Leisure Arts, so enjoy the peek at us), but you get the picture, right? Share your creativity—it benefits you and those around you. You get to work on what you enjoy, and other folks get to watch you and maybe even join you in your creativity!

  • 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!

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