Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hairstyles by Myself: Trendy Fishtail Braid

Braided hairstyles are "in" this season and it's essential to know how to create your own fishtail (or herringbone) braid.  This look throws a spin on the classic braid and turns it into a modern and chic statement.  It's also surprisingly simple to do—you're sure to get the hang of it right away.  Depending on what accessories you use, it can be dressed more formally or casually.  No matter what the circumstance though, you're sure to get noticed for wearing such a unique and beautiful hairdo!

Step One:  Start with dry and detangled hair.
Step Two:  If you want, add an accessory such as a headband or hair clip before you braid so that you don't mess up the style later.
Step Three:  Bring all of your hair over to one shoulder and divide it in half.
Step Four:  With your fingers, separate a small piece of hair from the front section and pass it to the other side.

 Step Five:  Take a piece of hair from the back section and pass it to the front (hint: smaller hair pieces will create a more intricate braid and larger ones will create a chunkier braid).
Step Six:  Repeat this process of passing hair back and forth between the two large sections of hair.
Step Seven:  Once you reach the end of the braid, secure it with an elastic (I used a clear one so that it wouldn't be as noticeable).
Step Eight:  For a softer look, gentle tug the sides of the braid to loosen it a bit and you're done!

This hairstyle is so versatile—it can be soft and loose or chunky and edgy—depending on your style!  I'd love to know how you would style your braids in the comments below.

Another (equally cute) variation of this hairstyle is to section off a small piece of hair from the top of your head and braid it fishtail style.  If you have shorter hair that can't be put into a side braid, this is a great style to try!  As you can see, there are endless ways to style this type of braid and I hope you find one that works for you.  I'd love to hear how you will throw your own spin on this braid in the comments below.

Try something new,


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Craft Your Calendar: Stitch January

Create your calendar this year by learning new crafting techniques every month and using my free printable templates.  For January, I decided to make a pretty wintery scene that captures the wonder of the frosty season.  In this tutorial, I wanted to showcase embroidering techniques for beginners in a simple, yet detailed way.  If you've never embroidered before, I encourage you to try it out—you may end up loving it!  However, if stitching isn't your thing, you can certainly do whatever kind of craft that suits your fancy!  You could color it in, decoupage it, paint it. . . the options are endless.  Once you're done, hang it on the wall for all to admire or put it in a binder as a reminder for school or work.

Step-by-step below, I'll demonstrate three basic embroidery stitches—the running stitch, the french knot, and the backstitch.  You can use these techniques however you want to on your template or use my examples as inspiration!

Materials:  Click and print the free January Template on thick paper, scissors, practice paper, needle, and embroidery floss in several complementary colors.
To prepare a needle and thread for embroidery stitches, cut a stretch of embroidery floss (no more than 18 inches so it doesn't tangle) and tie a knot close to one end.  Thread your needle onto the opposing side of the knot (use a wide-eyed needle to accommodate larger thread).

Note:  I recommend that before begin on your template, you practice and perfect these techniques on a recycled sheet of paper.

Here's how to do the running stitch. . .
This dashed stitch is a must-know because it is very common and easy to do.

1.  Poke your needle up through the paper and pull until you reach the knot.  Then, simulate an "under-over" pattern with the needle and thread, creating stitches about one centimeter long.  You'll notice that this stitch creates a line of dashes.

2.  On the backside of your paper, you should see your knot and the same dashed pattern.

In your template, you can apply the running stitch anywhere you want.  I used the same "under-over" concept of the running stitch to create a snowflake, instead of a line.

Here's how to do a french knot. . .
This embroidery technique is one of the prettiest stitches and is surprisingly easy to do.  Practice it a couple of times and you're sure to get it!  Note: this tutorial demonstrates the technique right-handed, but if you are left-handed, simply reverse the hand positions.

1.  Poke up through the spot you want to create a french knot.  In one hand, pull the thread coming though the paper taught and in the other hand, hold the needle.

2. Wrap the needle around the thread about two times.

3.  In a place close to where the thread came out, poke the needle back through the paper.

4.  Keep pulling the needle through until a little knot is created.

In all the places where there are dots on your template, you can apply the french knot.  If you don't want to do a french knot, another option would be to create little X's over the dots.

Here's how to do a backstitch . . .
The backstitch is a great technique to use if you want to create a solid line.

1.  Begin this stitch as you would for a running stitch: poke the needle up through the paper and go over, under, and come up again.  

2.  To fill in the gap created, go back to the last stitch made, and poke the needle through it about 1/4 way though.  Repeat this process by coming up to make a stitch again and then filling in the gap.

I used the backstitch for the solid lines in the template including the boots, tights, dress, and mittens of the girl.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and picked up a few embroidery techniques along the way.  I'm interested in knowing how you will decorate your template and how you're going to use it!  Remember to check back at the beginning of every month for a new template and craft that goes with it.  If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by,