How To Make An Embroidered Valentine

I first learned how to embroider cards at an Etsy craft night and fell in love instantly. This is an inexpensive and easy way to give your partner, BFF, or Mom something uncommercial and handmade on Valentine's Day.

What You'll Need:

Card stock or blank greeting card
Embroidery or Sewing Needle
Threader (optional)
Embroidery Floss (cotton preferred)
Bubble Mailer
Painters Tape
2-3 words to Embroider
Glue Stick
Decorative Paper for inside of the card (optional)

Once you decide what word(s) you want to use, the first step is to pick the right font to create your pattern. Type them into a Word program then play around with different fonts and sizes to fit your card. Keep in mind that you will be using simple, straight stitches to outline the word. Thin fonts are easiest to stitch, but you can also use a rotund font and stitch the outline. It helps to decide what will fit best by printing out a couple different choices.

Once you have picked the right font and size use a ruler to place your word and make sure it is straight. Once you are happy with placement, tape down the word to the front of the card with small pieces of painter's tape. Painter's tape will not stick to the front of the card so you can play with the placement if needed.

I have decided to add a simple heart cut-out to my card, then the embroidered word.

Next, open up your card and place the side you are embroidering on top of your bubble mailer.

We are now ready to punch the design into the card. This way, we can easily stitch the thread through the card all in one shot. I usually punch the holes about 1/8" apart, as evenly as possible. I am using a fat font, so I will do the outline of each letter. The hardest part of letters are in the curves. Around curves make the punches a little closer together to control the way the curve looks. You can always add a punch later if needed, so don't stress out about making this perfect.

To do the punch use a thin needle or straight pin to carefully push through the card to the mailer. It works best to hold the needle with one hand and push down the top of the head with the other. I like to wear a thimble for this to protect my finger.

Once you have punched all the letters carefully, pick up one side of your word pattern and make sure you didn't miss any letters. If you did, just tape it back down and keep punching. Once you are done, remove the pattern and you will be able to see the whole word clearly.

Woo hoo! Now we are ready to stitch, so let's talk about some basic stitches and thread options.
I recommend 6 string cotton embroidery because for about 39 cents you will use it forever and it works well moving through paper. This thread is made up of 6 strands and for outlining words you only need to use one or two strands. Cut off about 8 inches of the thread and separate out two threads and slowly pull down to completely pull it from the original strand.

Since we have separated the string sometimes it is hard to thread the needle. If you are a beginner I highly recommend investing a dollar for a threader to easily get the two strands of thread through your needle. Once you are threaded we are ready to stitch.

If you would like to do the whole word in one color use a backstitch. With this stitch you are literally going back through the hole of the last stitch you just did. Start by pulling your needle from the back of the card to the front. Leave a little bit of tail in the back of the card before you do your next stitch. Hold down the tail with your thumb for the first couple stitches. Do not tie a knot!

Back of Card:

Now you are at the front of card. Take your needle back through the next hole so your needle is now at the back of the card. Then from the back of the card come through the next hole to the front. Finally from the front, take the needle through the same hole where the last stitch was. You just completed a backstitch! Continue that same pattern through all the letters.

Another option is to do a straight stitch using two different colors to outline your word. With your first color threaded start at the back of the card and bring the needle through the front. Then bring the needle back through the next hole up and down through the card over and over again like below.

While you work, it is inevitable that you will run out of thread before completing the design. Some people recommend using a dot of glue or tape to hold down the ends, feel free to do that. I find it to be just as secure to stop the stitch at the back of the card with an inch or so left, then pull the excess thread through the stitches that you have already done in the back to hold down the end. All of the previous stitches will hold everything in place and it would be very hard for the ends to come lose through the front of the card.

Continue through all your letters until you have the word half stitched.

Now we'll thread our second color and do the same straight stitch. Start at the back of the card and pull the needle through the end of the first stitch. Then go back through the very next hole.

Back of Card:

Continue this way so the thread alternates in color.

Front of card:

When you first try this out, often you will get a dreaded knot in your thread. Don't freak! All you have to do is carefully push your needle through the knot and work it around in circles with a slight tug. Usually you'll be able to pull it out and happily continue on.

Another good tip is hold your thumb close to where you are pulling your needle through. This will help stabilize the paper and avoid tears. I usually keep my thumb a centimeter or so away from the hole I am pulling the needle through.

Once you are done, take a deep breath and enjoy your work. You just stitched a gorgeous handmade card. Nice! Some people choose to cover up the back of their card with decorative paper. If that works for you, go ahead and do that by gluing it on with a glue stick. I think it is awesome for people to see how the work is done. So instead of covering the back, I add some hand pulled paper on the inside but not over the embroidery. To do this just run a line of glue on the fold, press any decorative paper into the fold, then leave it underneath a pile of heavy books for 24 hours.

Finished card:
Have a lovely valentines day sharing your love with someone special.

Get your shopping totes ready for the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade!

After bursting onto the scene last year with the inaugural event, the Holiday Handmade Cavalcade is back with even more handmade shopping for all. This year, we've moved out of the Knitting Factory and into Openhouse Gallery, a gorgeous, modern space in NoLita that will highlight our most talented local makers and their lovely wares.

Due to your suggestions, we've also extended our shopping hours this year. We will be open from 11am until 8pm, letting you shop early or late during the busy holiday season.

But you'll want to come early if you've RSVPed for a free goody bag because those puppies got snatched up within the first 24 hours of online registration! The limited-edition silk-screened totes, (filled with fun stuff), will be on hold for confirmed registrants until 2pm. After that, it will be released for sale to the public. Next week when all the goodies have been sorted through, we'll let you know some of the stuff that's in it!

So mark your calendars and visit our vendors page to make your shopping list. Remember many of them welcome custom orders, so if you act now, they can have your unique, handmade gifts ready to pick up by the big day!

-Lisa {Pretty Stationery for Beautiful Souls}

What's going on in Beacon, NY this Saturday?

Fall Handmade Cavalcade teams up with
Beacon's Second Saturday

Join the {New New} tomorrow in Beacon, NY for Second Saturday where the Beacon Arts Community Association is promoting the city as an up and coming center for the arts. Once a month they host this event where galleries and shops stay open until 9 pm. Check out their website to see the openings, music and dance performances available this month.

Alongside Second Saturday, the {NewNew} is partnering with the Hudson Valley Esty team at our second Fall Handmade Cavalcade at the corner of North Cedar and Main Street from 11-7. It’s a great time to spend a day with family and friends exploring the town and supporting local independent artists and businesses. Come to the Handmade Cavalcade early and then take advantage of the late store hours to hit the town.

Here's a map to get you to the show It's easily accessable by car or MetroNorth!

This event is sponsored by the kind people at:

While you're at it, check out some of these {NewNew} shops!

For More information visit

Meet Your {NewNew}

Meet Jill of J Davis Studio!
Shop name: J Davis Studio
Shop address:
In a nutshell:
Sterling silver and gold plated jewelry
sterling silver, brass
I transform them into: jewelry
Tell us a bit about yourself :
The J in J Davis is for Jill. I'm from Ohio originally. I received my BFA in Metalsmithing from Syracuse University. Then I moved to Michigan and worked for a mall jewelry store whose name we all know, doing repairs and polishing and being miserable for a couple years. Then I moved to New York and got my Associates in Jewelry Design from the Fashion Institute. Then I moved out to Brooklyn, met the love of my life and I've been here for 2 years. I work part time for two different jeweler's here in Brooklyn while working on my own business as well.

What is the first thing you remember making?
I remember in preschool our teachers took pictures of each of us in front of this awful plastic fake wood wall. Then we pasted them on pink hearts and decorated them with stickers and what have you for Mother's day. I remember being completely fascinated with the laminator. Then we stuck magnets on the back of them and the one I made hung on our fridge for years. My Mom recently found it again a couple years ago and it's back on the fridge for all to see. Little me in my favorite cupcake dress.

What part of your life do you find is/was the most creative? Do you think back to these times when creating your work?
When I was an art major at Syracuse University, I was very creative. Not only because I had to be creative every day for 4 years, but because I was really inspired by the people around me, the challenges that were introduced, the art I was forced to look at for hours at a time. I also had plenty of time to make things, and design, and think about art (in between keg stands of course).

Did you have a creative mentor?
A teacher or role model that taught you about creativity or simply inspired you to be creative?
I have so many mentors, from professors, to friends, to artists and designers I've never even met. A lot of people have helped me along the way, whether they know it or not! I'm obsessed with reading success stories, whether they be artists, designers, musicians, chefs, or business people. I love to hear how people "made it." It's very inspiring and it really pushes me to find that perfect balance of being happy with your career and making a living at the same time.

What is your creative process when making your product?

Things just kind of evolve. I'll get one idea, and I'll make it. I might like it, I might not. It might change from my original idea as it goes from a drawing to a three dimensional piece. I might love it, but when I put it on, sometimes it just doesn't work as a piece of jewelry. So things change, ideas lead to other ideas. The process defines itself. I have no control!

Do you have any creative thinking tricks you'd like to share?

Again, things just kind of evolve for me. When an idea strikes, it goes down on paper. I might not even look at it again for a few weeks. Then I go back through my sketch book and see what pops out. I continue to flesh out the winner ideas and see where they go.

When you get stuck, how do you get out of it?
When I get stuck, I just walk away. Things always look different with fresh eyes.

What is something about yourself that surprises people when they find out about it?

I was voted "Most Likely to Lead a Disco Revolution" Class of 2000. What can I say? I had a penchant for loud colors, platforms, big jewelry and crazy patterns in high school.

What inspires you?

My house jewelry, specifically, is inspired by my love for all things miniature. I wanted to be an architect when I was younger, but I'm not a huge fan of math and straight lines. I was very into dollhouses for a long time, even through high school. I was always making furniture, tiny food, dolls. Then I fell in love with silversmithing and there was no going back. There's just something magical about tiny things, especially when you're a child. I wanted to take that feeling and put it into sophisticated jewelry for adults without losing the magic.

What are your current projects and what is on the horizon?

Oh, things are brewing. That's all I can say right now.

Why should people buy handmade?

Support a person, not a corporation. It's a great feeling to know that the item you bought was made by hand, just for you. The quality and attention to detail cannot be matched by commercial products.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

I don't have this in my possession per se, as it lives at my parent's house. It's a macrame Santa face, complete with big wooden black bead eyes and a beard and hat, of course, that my mother made in the 80s. It's actually pretty ugly and very dated, but it hung at the top of the stairs every Christmas for as long as I can remember. My brother and I, every time we went down the stairs, would see how far up we could reach on Santa's face. When we were younger and were still growing, we could reach further and further every year. I unfortunately stopped growing in 7th grade, so it kind of lost its appeal. But to this day we still make my Mother hang it up. It's a reminder of growing up in that house and it just doesn't feel like Christmas without it.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I like food and cooking (but mostly eating). If it weren't for Food Network and I'd have a lot more time on my hands. I always have a good book to read. I love scouting around the city and pretending I'm a tourist. I love sitting in dive bars with cheap pitchers and a quiet-ish atmosphere, talking with my friends.

When and why did you start your business?

I started my business officially in June of 2007. I love making jewelry. It's all I know how to do! I am also very interested in business. I love researching, doing paperwork (pathetic I know), brainstorming new marketing ideas. I love being in control of what happens to my designs and handiwork.

Do you make all the products yourself? How long does the production process take?

I do make all the products myself. Depending on the item, they can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

What are your your best-selling items?

It changes all the time. My sterling silver does the best online and my gold plated jewelry does the best at fairs.

In ten years I'd like to be...

Working on my business full time. My boyfriend and I are currently fighting about where we want to live in 5 years. (His vote is San Francisco so far.) I also want a dog and a little backyard where I can grow herbs and grill and where my dog can pee.

-MaryAnne LoVerme

MEET {NewNew} Diana of Sweet Buddha Designs

I recently had the pleasure of *virtually* sitting down with Diana Gonzalez of Sweet Buddha Designs. I learned quite a bit about her artistry and spirituality--plus I reinforced my love of gchat. With Thai food on my plate + Diana’s 2 year old, Dakota, on hers, the Internet brought us together while paying attention to our individual priorities. Sweet Buddha Designs is eco-mindful, utilizing natural yarn and recycled papers. Diana describes her aesthetic as “Martha Stewart, Janis Joplin and Courtney Love visit a Buddhist Monastery and get crafty.”

How did you decide on the name Sweet Buddha Designs ?
I collect religious deities: Hindu, Catholic and Buddhist. I'm a spiritual person, and don't believe in labels, but I follow Buddha's teachings. I wanted laughing Buddha designs but it was taken on etsy so I went for sweetbuddha.

Do you have a creative mentor? What inspires you?
Well I don't think I have a real mentor. I guess that I don't believe so much in a real like . . . person to look up to. I was taught from an early age that people will always let you down, but faith in a higher power is something that never fails. My inspiration is the world around me. I find myself inspired by nature, by the practicality of life, and the things needed in life . . . and city life; the city really inspires me a lot too. The things I create come to me; I really feel like they come to me by muses and good spirits that guide me . . . sounds crazy, but then, I am a little nuts.

What was the transition like from crafter to etsy seller?
Well, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I started making soap and my husband suggested that I try selling it. So I did for years, until it got too common and too expensive for me. I decided to do paper crafting and crocheting until I had the money for soap making, then lost interest in the soap :)
[Crafters everywhere can relate!]

Do you have a favorite item you make now?
Honestly my favorite items are the ones that don't sell! The cards are what I love. People love my stamps and cowls, but I so enjoy making cards. I put so much of myself into them.

Where would you like to go next, creatively?
I want to create an empire, lol. Not really. I want to design more items, hats, gloves and things, and more paper items . . . just branch out. As far as my paper items, I want to start creating things to empower other people to create, like more hand carved stamps, unique paper supplies, and craft supplies.

So what is a typical weekend like for you?

Juggling my little one, my husband, yoga, and finding the inspiration to make things that I love.
I do Kundalini yoga.

Do you craft with your daughter?
Oh my daughter is 2 tomorrow*! She's a bit young to do crafts now, but I do paint with her!
[tomorrow* relative to interview timing]

Big plans for the special day?
Hubby is making a pinata for her, I'm going to do some potato stamps, and we're going to have the kiddos make some potato stamp art.

Diana concludes with her true passions and inspirational side project:
Life is art. Art is the world around you. Money doesn't matter. None of that matters. What matters is what you make matter. For me, all that matters is my family and my art. I consider it my mission in life to teach others to heal through art. I consider what
I do to be an art and I went through quite a bit in my life, and learned to heal through art. I taught myself that spirituality and art can go together. And so I made it my mission to teach others. I have a meetup group for this reason, and am in the beginning stages of writing a book about it.
[The meetup] is called the NYC craft circle.
I originally started it to get to know other artists, and I have. I try to teach people about the law of attraction through the craft projects we do. We make shrines, do altered books, and things like that all using the principles of the law of attraction.

For more, check out the Sweet Buddha Designs shop and Diana's blog.

- lisa

How-to: DIY Wedding Favors

When my mother remarried nearly 10 years ago, her wedding was all about DIY from her dress to the wedding favors. That's where the inspiration for this blog comes from too! It's a fairly simple, yet sweet keepsake for your guests to remember your union. To honor her 10 years with her husband, Frank, I bring you:

Wooden Heart Magnet in an Organza pouch

Wooden heart cutouts (available at most craft shops)Magnetic self adhesive tape (ditto)Paints/paintbrush and/or metallic paint pens.Other embellishing paraphernalia (trimming, glitter, sequins... you get it)Small organza bags

1. Lay the wooden heart on a flat, protected surface.

2. Put a piece of magnetic tape on the back, but not too much that it extends beyond the surface of the heart.

3. Draw, paint or otherwise embellish the heart (this one was sort of 'tie-dyed' and used silver metallic paint pens) and Voila! You have a sweet little memento for your guests to recall your special day, and it hold coupons, to do lists or childrens' art on their fridge!

-Lorina Ladrillono of The Original Beadscarf

Meet your {NewNew}!

Meet Jen Pepper of PepperSprouts! I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her better through this interview. Read on for a peek into Jen’s life…

Tell us a bit about yourself! I grew up in a small beach town in Delaware, it's the kind of place where your parents know you got a D on your math test even before you did. My family has always been supportive of my interest in the arts and let me take a watercolor class when I was 7, from then on I feel like I've always had a project going on. I spent my first year of college at the Art Institute of Boston, and then transferred to the University Of Delaware, where I majored in Graphic Design. I moved to New York after graduation, and started a slew of odd creative jobs. I worked as a custom picture framer, a photo retoucher, a advertising production artist, and currently design director at isocurve. Throughout it all I've always been creating, drawing, painting and anything else I can get my hands on.

What are your favorite materials and what do you transform them into? I love paper, wood, paint, x-acto knives, and fabric mixed with digital software and I make pretty things to decorate your home.

Why did you start PepperSprouts and when? I officially started PepperSprouts in 2008 to keep my creativity alive and give myself an excuse to keep creating. I love the idea of designing pieces and sending them out in the world for other people to enjoy.

Design plays an important role in your work, so who are your favorite designers? Some of my favorite designers are Jennifer Sterling, Chip Kidd, David Carson & Ken Barber. I know when I love a piece of design work because I get this feeling in the bit of my stomach that feels like jealousy, yet at the same time I SO want to hang out with that person.

How would you describe your aesthetic? My design aesthetic is very clean and simplistic mixed with a little bit of wit, I try mix a little bit of humor in everything I do.

What are you working on now? What's new and coming up?
I just finished a Brooklyn skyline pendent, Michelle from Dirty Loves Clean gave me the idea this winter and I'm very happy to say that it came out wonderfully! My upcoming projects are numerous, some textile designs for throw pillows, a series of prints and originals of my favorite Brooklyn buildings, some super cute typography and silhouette brooches, and another set of coasters. I also have an ongoing childrens book I've been working on, hoping to have that finished by the end of the year. So keep your eye out, I'm on a roll!

Wow! You've got so much going on! How do you find time between your full time job and your own work? Do you have a set routine? Ha! I always say I need more hours in the day. As I work 9-6 Monday-Friday in a small design firm, a lot of my outside work is done on the weekends and late at night. I talk a lot of ideas out on the train ride to and from work, with my boyfriend of course not complete strangers.

What inspires you?
So many things inspire me, I love the woods, nature, my silly welsh corgi, Einstein. Typography also plays a big part in the background of my work.

Einstein is so cute! That face kills me. What part of your life do you find is/was the most creative? Do you think back to these times when creating your work? The most creative time in my life has to be right now, because I'm able to be creative at my day job. My mind never turns to mush. I might be thinking about a logo for a client and some crazy idea for a series of prints pops up in the background.

What is your creative process when making your work? It's funny I actually come up with a lot of ideas in the middle of the night. I rarely sleep through the night. I find myself waking up and having to sketch something out. When I have some idea I spend some time bouncing things off my mathematical boyfriend for a different opinion on things. A lot of times I sketch ideas out in illustrator before I bring them out in the real world.

Do you make all the products yourself? How long does the production process take? My shadow boxes are made my me, hand-cut from paper and assembled, the entire process takes about an hour or so. My illustrations, of course, are my own. I am currently working on some new home goods that will be out in the next month, the first out are my silhouette coasters which took me a few weeks to get the design finalized, and then they were outsourced to be cut, then finished by me.

What are your best-selling items? My Brooklyn shadow boxes and silhouette coasters are two of my best sellers. I think they add a lot of uniqueness to a home.

When you find yourself stuck, how do you get out of it? I go to the bookstore. If I open a book and start looking at designs, or patterns or maps, or floral design it gets my mind jump started and then its hard to get it to stop.

Do you have any creative thinking tricks you like to share? Always keep a little notebook with you. I couldn't live without my moleskin. Just jot it down, get it out of your head, especially if it’s a bad idea, or something that just isn't going to work. You never know when those forgotten ideas may transform into something else great.

Why do you think people should buy handmade? Originality. Cut out the middleman, and buy the creativity that supports local economies. People put so much love and time into their creations, I can't think of a reason not to buy handmade.

What handmade possession do you most cherish? So many to choose, I really love my ceramic Bears in love from KG + AB, I got them last year at the Renegade fair at McCaren Pool.

I have a ceramic spoon from KG + AB and it is my favorite handmade object too, because using it makes me so happy. Apart from creating things, what do you do? Oh the usual, exploring the city, doing the dog park thing, winning free drinks at Redd's because I rock at skeeball.

What is something about you that surprises people when they find out about it? I'm a comic book nerd. It's pretty funny because the last few weekends I've been dragging my boyfriend into Midtown Comics and I can tell he just feels super uncomfortable.
In ten years where do you see yourself... Married and self employed. But seriously, I'd like to still be able to wake up everyday and create. I want to still have fresh thoughts and not be burned out. I really don't want to get burned out.

Thank you so much for sharing Jen! She also has an awesome blog, UpstateFancy, where she features lots of other makers, inspirations, beautiful objects and design on the daily. Check out the blog and make sure you hop over to her shop. Thanks for meeting your NewNew member Jen! and check back for more interviews to come!