Dish towels and Embroidery fun

I love to use my Brother PE500 embroidery machine to stitch designs on dish towels.  My favorite towels are called Retro Stripe Towels, under the brand name Aunt Martha’s Stitch ‘ Em Up blank goods.  The towels are made in India and distributed in the US by Colonial Patterns Inc, of Kansas City MO.  I have seen them on Amazon, but I buy mine from Walmart.com.  I used to find them in the store, but now have to order them thru the website.  They come in a package of 3, and measure out 18×28. They are 100% cotton, and are hemmed, with a loop in the upper left corner for hanging if desired.  I have used these since 2013 for embroidery projects, and my daughters tell me they hold up well to washing.  Before I embroider with the machine, I launder these towels in hot water, and put in a hot dryer.  I want to maximize the shrinkage before I do the stitching.  I think you lose about an inch in both directions after washing.  Yes, they need to be ironed after the first wash.  I use a mist of water combined with spray starch and give them a good pressing, right before I embroider.

My quilt guild, Ocean Waves Quilt Guild, Lewes Delaware is having a quilt show on April 26 & 27 2019.  One thing that happens at our shows is Raffle Baskets.  One of my bees, the Queen Bees, decided to choose the garden basket to contribute to the show.  We did the garden basket at our last show, so it was an easy choice.  I contributed a garden apron last time, but someone already signed up to make one this time, so I thought dish towels with something from the garden would work.

I had some fun the last couple of days stitching out designs from Embroidery Library.  They have high quality design that stitch very well.  I have a series of “baskets” and thought the designs would be right.  They are very dense designs and take about an hour or more to stitch out.  Most had between 10-12 thread changes.

Autumn Bounty Basket

Autumn Bounty Basket – Embroidery Library # H7481; 14584 stitches 3.88 x 2.44

Blooming Autumn Basket

Blooming Autumn Basket – Embroidery Library H7479; 20,427 stitches

Spring Fling Flower Basket

Spring Fling Flower Basket – Embroidery Library Design – K9637  22563 stitches 3.86×3.36″, 11 color changes

Here is the full set. The bottom basket I forgot to take an individual photo.

Four basket designs on dishtowels

The bottom basket with the apples is also called Blooming Autumn Basket – Embroidery Library # L5107, has 22,366 stitches.

All of these designs are still available on Embroidery Library.  If you are shopping, use the Embroidery # that I referenced in your search. I have stitched out 2 of them before, one on a   and one on a fall tee-shirt.  Too heavy for a thin tee-shirt, but perfect on a sturdy towel.

For the dish towels, I hooped a piece of medium weight cutaway stabilizer.  I used 505 spray on my stabilizer and pressed the towel on the stabilizer, in the hoop, adding a couple of pins around the edge of the frame for stability.  I floated an extra piece of medium weight cutaway under the hoop.  I topped with a piece of water soluble stabilizer.  During my stitchouts, I realised that the daffodils were too “tan”, even though the color I had chosen was a  .  I went back over those petals and “re-stitched” with a lighter yellow. The shading ended up great.  I also had to – over the leaves in the basket with the daffodils, as the color was just “too blue” for my taste.  The last 2 baskets were giving me fits with thread breaks and I did a lot of “backing up” and restarting. I finally changed my needle, twice, before my machine was happy again.  I don’t know if it was the 505 spray that was still to “wet” or if it was that the needle was just tired!  Same needle has been in my machine for the last 3 weeks, so perhaps it was over-due.    I went through 2 bobbins during the stitch out, which surprised me. I’m glad I have that large spool of bobbin thread from thread art, and that I can wind them easily on my Janome machine while the embroidery machine stitches across the room.  One lesson I learned on winding bobbins is to not -. The other is, my machine does not like a “low bobbin”.  It throws the tension off, and the machine will stop and give you an “out of bobbin” warning.  I save those last few feet of bobbin thread for hand stitching my English paper piecing projects.

All 4 dish towels are finished, ready to bag up and deliver to the next Queen Bees gathering.

Side note – I got finished with these stitch outs, and my dear husband tells me……..they are too heavy for using to dry dishes.  So, maybe whoever wins the raffle basket will just use them to decorate with.  I might go back and find some “lighter” designs for the next round of towels!  I considered the size of the design; less than 4″x4″ and the overall size of the towel (18×28″) and decided there is plenty of room to dry!  These designs do soften up with multiple washings over time, but he is right in that they feel heavy. One reason I did not like them on a t-shirt was it felt much like having an armor plate on your chest with all those stitches.  Hindsight….. off to check out lighter designs at Embroidery Library

PS…no, I don’t work for Embroidery Library, and no, I get no compensation.  I pay them for my designs!  😉

Do you have a “favorite” embroidery design source?  Do tell……

Advertisements

More small projects and storms

BUSY WEEK !!  Monday was Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting, so that meant an afternoon of loading containers in the SUV, and a 7 am departure to unload and set up for sales before the meeting began, then pack up, store some boxes and bring the empty containers home.  (We sold 85% of the fabric we took to the meeting!)  I am grateful to be able to store at the church where we meet, and only have to bring home empty containers and new donations.

As the week has unfolded, we have had rain coming down in bucket loads. We got most of our unloading and reloading done between rain showers. Our area on the mid-Atlantic coast has been beaten with a Nor’easter storm.  Amazing amounts of rain in some areas, with flash floods.  Fortunately, I am not on a waterway, or a known flood zone.  I have a friend whose parked car flooded in a shopping center lot, where she had parked to carpool for the day.  While that particular storm raged for a short time, I was miles away stitching at Embroidery Club. A couple of the husbands called their wives at the club to report on the rains. Yet where we were, 30 miles away, the skies were just grey and gloomy.  Early in the week the discussion about Hurricane Florence in the news made us wonder if it was going to come this far North.  This morning, the maps look like North Carolina is going to take the worst of the weather.  We will be lucky in that case. We are already so saturated after nearly 2 weeks of rain!  I can not imagine having to pick and choose what to pack up and take with me in the event of evacuation. We are fortunate!

On Tuesday afternoon, while the rain came down, we were busy stitching.  I took 2 projects with me to work on at the Embroidery Club.  I purchased a design from Embroidery Library and one from Oh My Crafty Supplies.  I stitched both designs out on cream colored craft felt.

Crafty Christmas Sewing Machine

Crafty Christmas Sewing Machine  – Embroidery Library X14180  -3.86″ x 3.19″

Embroidery Library calls this design a “stuffie”, done “in the hoop”.  I chose to use my applique scissors and cut out after the stitch-out.  I will try again cutting the shape first, using the dieline template and see which look I like better.  It was suggested to me not to use a Water Soluble Topper (WSS) on top of the felt, as it would be too hard to remove, pull stitches or cause problem with the felt.  I used a tweezers to remove most of it, and lightly misted the remaining, blotting with a paper towel.  I had to use tweezers to stuff the filling in.  The stitch out left an opening on the bottom for filling and I used my regular sewing machine and matching thread to stitch it closed .

The key fob below is the perfect thing to hold onto my flash drive full of embroidery designs!

Sewing machine key fob

ITH Sewing Machine Key Fob Embroidery Design by Oh My Crafty Supplies Sketch design 2.9″ x 3.8″
This stitchout did not give you “placement lines” or “dielines” for placements, so I ran the first color “twice”.  First run to create a dieline on my stabilizer, then the second run tacked down the felt with those read stitches on the stabilizer. Right before the final outline stitch, I placed a piece of felt on the back of the hoop so I could have a nice finished backing.  Rather than use a snap, I used my sewing machine to close the loop around the keyring.  Thoughts –  I felt the “fill” on the 2nd one (blue machine) was too thin.  I should have gone back in and run the fill a 2nd time.  I posted this picture on the Facebook group for Oh My Crafty Supplies and someone said the “SKETCH” design was why the stitching was so light.  Hindsight!  I am going to try this stitchout on a different fabric and see if I like it better.  I haven’t removed the WSS on this one yet, so you still see “shiny bits”.  This one I also “trimmed” after the stitchout.  It is small, only 4628 stitches, so I think I will try again.  LEARNING CURVE….

I’ve been working on my batik placemats.  There are 18 of them and more in the works!  I took about 6 and used a different backing fabric.  I decided to not do free motion quilting on this group, instead, switched out to my walking foot.  I have 4 done and 2 to go.  I do a much better job with the walking foot I think!

Walking foot quilting Batik placemats

Batol placemats quilted with walking foot

quilting detail batik placemats

here is a peak at the back!

back of placemats

I love the way this worked out.  I did measure out those triangles and mark the front with a chalk where the points of the triangles were to land.  I decided to do all the ones with this backing in the same manner, so they look like a set!  (I like them better than the ones I did the free motion quilting on…..)  Somebody (more than 1) will get placemats for Christmas, I just have know idea who that will be quite yet!  We use placemats everyday, throw them in the washer etc, but there are too many here to keep.  I just love making them.  

It’s a busy week with meetings, and I am off to the 3rd one of the week in a few minutes. Hoping for time to have a little fun later today!  Stay safe, stay dry!  

note – Embroidery is done on my Brother PE500, which has a 4×4 capability.  Quilting was done on my Janome 8900.

Other small projects…continued and bike rides

Did you read my last post Embroidery Machine Fun and other small projects and wonder what the “other small projects” were?  I got distracted posting and had a deadline to leave, so I left you hanging !  Sorry about that!  I had another (3rd one this week) bike ride to take!  So, let me begin with that story!

Bike Rides — My Wednesday nights used to be strictly for sewing while the hubby had his train club nights, but they have turned into bike rides with the LifeCycle Community Slow Cruise group in Milford Delaware. Our ride on Wednesday night was not quite a full hour  covering 5.4 miles and looked like this –

LifeCycle Community ride Sept 5

There were 30 or more riders, and we all had on bright neon yellow shirts – great SWAG from LIFECYCLE.

My third ride this week was on Thursday morning.  I dashed out the door following my post, which is why I forgot to get to the small projects!   I met up with a small group again for another ride around town.  This one is led by my daughter and took us a little bit further, but similar amount of time.  We had 4 riders, and one passenger, my 2 year old granddaughter. She rides along in her trailer, munching on her banana or strawberries, etc and enjoying the view.  She loves seeing the trash trucks as we ride by!  She cheers her mother and the rest of us on as pedal.  We covered about 7.5 miles on Thursday morning.  I’ve told my friends I keep trying to encourage to join the ride, that since we are essentially going in a big circle, it is easy to “return to center” if you were not up for the mileage.

Thursday morning slow cruise

The informal Thursday morning ride pace is set based on rider ability, and since my daughter is pulling that trailer, we are not really road racing about town.  I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the road bikes that you might see in their bike costumes around.  I like the name “slow cruise” and staying under 10 mph is just my speed.  The rides are open to anyone who would like to take part, meeting at LifeCycle across from the Public Library. For Wednesday night rides, lights, front and rear, are necessary, as it was getting dark at our halfway point, and totally dark by 7:49 pm when we stopped.  Ride With US as the logo on the back of the neon yellow shirt says!  (If your bike needs any work, see Ben at LifeCycle and he will get you tuned up, tires sorted out etc!)

And now –Small projects – I made another project on my Embroidery machine this week.  Actually, have done the same project twice  THREE times.  You will notice in 2 of the photographs that I numbered which run the project is from.  The design is from Embroidery Library and is called a Pin Cushion Magnet. The idea is to hot glue a magnet on the back and use it on the fridge, but our Embroidery Club made them for name tags.  I missed the meeting where they worked on theirs, and I decided to finally make my own.  I had to “check in” with the leaders to see if I was correct in taking the right steps to stop the program and insert my name.

Making a Pin Cushion name tag

This is my “first run”.  I hooped vilene wash away stabilizer , floated a piece of tear away under the hoop and have no show fusible mesh on the back of my applique piece (the tomato), front and back. I always use a water soluble topper (WSS), which is the shiny stuff on top.

I stopped the machine after thread change 9, exited the design, and used built-in fonts on my machine for my name. I played around a bit with the placement. Then I reloaded the design software, jumped ahead to thread change 10 and restarted the stitchout. In the photo it is doing the “tack down” stitches to secure the back piece.  The point of stopping the software is to get your name on the front stitched out before putting on the back piece.  Since you have to remove your hoop and change your bobbin color to match the last 2 colors it seems like the perfect time.

Now, why a first run…well…..2 reasons.  Thread breaks at the very end, last 500 stitches or so, and ill fitting back. I cut out the applique using the dieline file I printed out, and it gapped in a couple of areas around the top.  I felt like I cut on the lines, but that was “too close”. So, I made a 2nd run on Thursday.  This time, I stitched out the die line files on tear away stabilizer and cut them out around the edges, leaving about 1/4″ all around on the stabilizer.  AND..I think when I made the first one, I put the dieline pattern on the BACK of the fabric.  (I’m not certain).  So, once I had new dieline patterns, I made sure to cut on the FRONT of the fabric.  (Right sides made a difference).    For the 2nd run, I prepared the fabric again with no show fusible mesh on the back of the applique fabric, cut out the shapes, hooped 2 layers of Vilene wash away (running in opposite directions in case of stretch) and did not float a tear away underneath.  The reason….I don’t want to see the little white bits of tear away poking out along the edges of the final stitches around the outside edges.  Once I had stitched out completely, I removed the design from the hoop, cut away the vilene, and removed as much of the WSS as possible with tweezers.  On the first project, I used a wet q-tip and dabbed at the remaining WSS and along the edges of the vilene.  On the 2nd project, I got impatient, brought it in to the kitchen sink and turned on the hot water and soaked it completely.  PROS / CONS — The double layer of Vilene was awesome. Gave good stability to the stitchout.  Soaking it made everything get “wrinkled” and I am hoping a good press from the iron will improve the look.

My third try, I used the dieline template to cut out my red fabric and I cut it 1/2″ larger all around than the dieline. I also put a piece of batting, cut just a bit smaller than the dieline for the front piece. I used the same stabilizers and laid the batting on under the front fabric, and got busy stitching.  I went though the entire process, and after the tack down stitch for the back, I removed the hoop from the machine, and used my tiny scissors to trim away the excess fabric on the front and the back of the name tag.  This make sure I got all the edges caught under the stitches.  After it finished, I removed the stabilizer and “melted” the vilene with a cotton swap and water.  All looked great…..until I hit it with the iron, which still had steam going….and the whole nametag started to curl up.  The vilene was MELTING inside the project because of the steam.  Evil thoughts went through my head, and then I decided I was going to be smarter than the name tag.  Since it was already curling and looking melted, I got a piece of flannel out, and laid the tag on it.  I sprayed the tag until it was soaking wet.  Then I used the flannel as a “sandwich” and just kept ironing the tag until it laid flat.  It took about 10 minutes of pressing, with a large piece of flannel that was soaking up the moisture, changing positions every minute or so, but FINALLY, I have a flat project that does not look like it shrunk!  The front looks good but the back has some wrinkles.  I can live with that!  Time to get out the bar pins and get one hot glued on the back of the tag.

Three name tags

I used 3 different fabrics, and they were all from the scrap bin.  Fabric for run # 2 was really thin, which I assumed accounted for all the wrinkles.  Fabric # 1 & 3 were of equal weight and quality.  #1 & # 2 contained no batting.  #1 was never completely wetted.  You can see in the photo below of the backs of # 1 & 2 (near the arrows) where the fabric didn’t quite get caught under the edge stitching.  I am now convinced it is worth cutting “bigger than the dieline” and using the sharp applique and pointy scissors to trim the oversized piece.  # 3 has great edges.  In hindsight, a piece of batting on the back would have been a good idea.  In the photo’s # 3 is still a bit “wet” from all that spraying and ironing.

Back of all 3

3 of my fellow embroidery friends were here on Friday, and wondered why I was still “trying”.  I considered this little project a good learning experience!  As one said, “third times the charm”, though I was doubting that for a few minutes this afternoon.

I’ll never be a “pro” at this embroidery gig, but I learn with each project.

Other small  projects – I recovered my ironing station this past week.  My original board cover was four years old and just recently started to show terrible wear.  I ordered another Bo-Nash cover for my big board several months ago.  I had to add extra width to the cover so it would completely cover my station, which is an old butcher block kitchen island.  The previous cover I had added about an 8 inch “skirt”.  This time, I decided to go much longer, with the goal of hiding some of the clutter than lives under the ironing station.  I have bolts of decorator fabric I was given years ago, and chose one that wasn’t totally hideous.  I do like the extra length. Nobody needs to see my gallons of water, cans of spray starch etc.  Plus, it might prevent me from arbitrarily tossing stuff on the shelf underneath.  If I am going to put something there, it will be with definite purpose!

New Ironing board cover

I have 2 more placemats that are pin basted and ready to quilt, and since the feed dogs are down, I intend to work on them next.  Once they are all quilted, I will trim them all to final size and set to making binding.

I also have another binding project, but it is not for my own quilt.   I brought home a quilt that Trish has been working on at the assisted living place where I volunteer.  She did all the machine quilting, and I offered to trim it and bind it for her.  She is anxious to gift it to a young mother who works at the facility whose baby had just been born this past week.  Trish is  a resident who does a lot of sewing for other residents and staff members.  She was tickled to learn how to make a quilt.  I think she did a fine job.

Trish with her baby quilt

This past week when I went to volunteer, Trish was finishing her quilting, and there were 4 other ladies working on projects.  Two new to the group are hand piecing 4 patches, and another was working on pinning a blouse for alteration.  It is so fun to see my favorite resident, 101 year old Elsa come to sew. She had fabric cut to size to make sachet bags.  She did all of her own pinning and machine sewing, and I employed my assistant (aka husband) to press for her.  One of my hand pieces, Dotty is 99!  I believe they were having fun, and am convinced that IS the secret to a long life!

Any projects going on in your sewing room this weekend???

Embroidery machine fun and other small projects

I got in the mood last week to play with my embroidery machine a bit.  Last post, Summer Winding Down I shared a small zip bag made with my machine.  I also decided to make a “name tag” to wear when I go to my Queen Bee’s gatherings.

I was inspired last Tuesday by my friend Nancy’s hand made tag.  She designed and hand appliqued her bee skep (bee hive) , and used her embroidery machine just for her name.  Isn’t the little bee made from beads and a flower petal sweet?

Nancy's name tag

Since I loath sewing by hand, I thought I would keep a watchful eye out for something I could use my embroidery machine to make the tag.  I found the perfect design at SewSweetly.com  .

Beehive pattern

I do like to keep track of what I used in the various color changes on the color sheet, just in case I want to duplicate or change something on the “next run”.  I stitched out the 3.5″ design.  The 4″ would not open on my Brother PE500.  I am guessing it was bigger than 100 mm, even though it was labeled as a 4×4.

Playing with variegated thread

I decided to use that wonderful Embroidex variegated thread I was given 2 years ago!

Beehive name tag

Did have to do a little hand stitching after I put a back on the design and close it up at the bottom, but overall I am happy with the outcome.  I didn’t have any clasps on hand so I hand stitched a big safety pin on the back to allow me to pin this to my shirt at my next bee.

I’m keep my eye open for the perfect bumble bee to attach to this hive!

NOTE – I am not affiliated with this website!  But have to tell you everything is on sale today.  I paid $3 for the design last week, and you can get it today for $0.75.

Happy stitching….off for another bike ride!

Summer winding down

I can’t believe August has left us and summer has wound down so quickly!  August has been a hot humid month, and September is much the same.

Our local kids went back to school on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day in the US.  Some areas of the country school has been in session for several weeks.  We live in an area that is a summer tourist destination.  A few years ago, citizens complained to the state government about schools starting in the middle of the August and not long after the legislators set a “state-wide” start date for schools.

So, as the children started back for their “First day” in Delaware, my youngest daughter, my youngest granddaughter and I ventured over to the formerly busy beach area for a bike ride! What a change a week makes in the volume of people on the trail, walking and running.  All summer it has been filled with families and young children and yesterday, it was the older crowd. A few moms with strollers around the library and right in town, but once out on the longer trail, my granddaughter in her trailer, was the only child around!  We rode a surprising 12.24 miles !

12.24 mile bike ride

I was stunned to realize how far we had gone. Up to this point, my longest ride has been about 8.5 miles.  I started riding with my daughter in early July, sometimes 2-3 times in one week. I need exercise and this is certainly a fun way to get it.  Haven’t lost one pound, but I have found my calves!  Now, I am finding myself scheduling bike rides on my calendar into October. I want to make sure I schedule the time so other things don’t get in the way of an opportunity to ride together.  I haven’t done much in the way of exercise since I retired six years ago, unless you count climbing the stairs to my sewing room multiple times a day as exercise!  So, this is GOOD.  As I approach my mid 60’s, those looming health issues we all face demand I do something, and I love to ride.

My bike is a TREX, era 1990’s, with good tires, though heavy and a bit squeaky and with it’s quirks.  My oldest daughter rode this bike in middle school and high school during that decade, and I rode it off & on in the years following. I put a “new bike” on my Christmas / Spring birthday wish list for myself, determined not to buy one until I have at least 6 months of riding  regularly. I really love the local bike shop, LifeCycle in Milford DE. My daughter introduced me to the owners, Ben and Jenn, during a community ride they organize.  I’ve done several with a big group, 40 or more riders, and some with smaller groups that my daughter has organized and I am having fun!   All in all, a positive direction to move in.

Yes, I am still sewing, and I managed to get a few projects done last week.  Those batik placemats are coming along. I found a nice 3 yard piece of batik in my “blues” bin and think I can get just about all of my placemats backed with it.  I layered and pin basted them and started quilting them over the last week.

half way done with placemats

I have 9 quilted, trimmed and ready to bind.  If you click the photo, it will take you to my FLICKR album. Give the picture a second to focus, then you can zoom in and see the free motion quilting (FMQ) on the placemats.  It has been good practice.  The quilting has been done on my domestic sewing machine using Superior Fantastico # 5021, a variegated blue turquoise and purple 40 weight on top and in the bobbin. Thankfully you can’t really “see” the quilting on those busy batiks on the front of the placemats, but boy can you see it on the back.  I will show a photo of the backs ‘next time’.   Let’s just leave it as “good practice” for my FMQ and I am getting better bit by bit.

Next up for projects is a quick one I did on Labor Day afternoon.  I made two bibs to include in a “baby basket” that will be raffled off at our spring quilt show.  Since I made so many for my youngest granddaughter, I feel comfortable making these for that event. I tried to pick fabrics that looked modern and might appeal to a young parent.

Bandana bib

I love this bandana style.  I did minimal quilting in a graphic manner, just enough to hold the batting firmly in place that is between the layers.  I made a second bib in a more traditional shape with 2 contrasting fabrics.  I just love this bright green leaf print.

Flip side of the black bib

I think it makes a nice reversible to this dot fabric in bright colors.

Traditional bib

I did a bit more quilting on this bib in a wide graphic shape. They are bagged up and ready for delivery!

While I had my “bib making supply box” out, I sorted out all the fabrics I had stored in it, and returned most to my stash, leaving just the basics in the box, like patterns and PUL laminated fabric for waterproofing.

I found a great pattern and instructions for a free “in the hoop” zip bag last week through a group on Facebook.  I was happy to find one that would work with the 4×4 hoop on my Brother PE500.

Pattern Paw Print Zipper bag

The instructions are so well written, and it was worth the 12-14 pages I had to print out, to follow along.  I downloaded the design and got busy!

Paw Print zipper bag

This little pouch finished at 3.5″ square.  I did use some 505 spray, for temporary adhesive while construction was underway, along with my narrow masking tape.  The instructions have you pinning fabric edges, but I found that I liked the masking tape. I am now on the hunt for short zippers that I can use on some future projects!  I have a bunch of 18″ ones I purchased at a quilt shop a couple of years ago, but they are really too big for this project and would be wasteful.  I’ve dug in my sewing box and come up with a few short ones.  I have a similar in the hoop pattern from another designer that puts the loop on the left side of the zipper, and I am going to try it next. Bother patterns use the same size pieces for the pouch.  I have 3 pouches “cut out” and kitted up for my next embroidery club gathering.

I do like these quick projects that I can finish in a day or two.  I keep working on my placemats, in between, some of these other fun projects.  It’s nice to have some “finishes” once in a while.

I had to laugh with my husband about all of my quilt tops that are on hangers, patiently waiting for me to finish them.  I have to go in search for a heavy duty hanger for one, which was too weighty for the hanger and broke it this week.  It is a queen size that is in a state of “limbo”, just hanging around waiting for my next move.  I believe it is my Scrap Dance Tango in king size. (Pattern is from Carole – From My Carolina Home.  (Follow the above link for pattern information). The one with 1400 or so half square triangles.  It is a beauty, and one that I must get busy and quilt.  I seem to remember I wanted to add a 2.5″ border all around. Must be time to spread it out on the bed and see if the size is as I wanted it to be and move forward from it’s status.  Our quilt show registration is opening next week, and I think I want to show this one, so I must get busy.  I need to make a “finish it list” to move it along!  Carole – From My Carolina Home always has fun projects and great posts.

I also follow some rather “famous in the quilt world” people.  Bonnie Hunter has been a favorite for a long time, and I have done a couple of her mystery quilts and taken 2 of her classes.  .   Those that have followed my blog know that I love her scrappy style and I have written about her scrap storage system, string piecing and linked to her blog many times.  This week she is mourning the loss of her brother and I know that the tens of thousands that are her fans feel her grief and offer their sympathy.  She has a worldwide following and I hope she can find strength from the “quilty hugs” many of us are sending her way.  I pray for peace in her heart and comfort for her entire family.  

Many quilters find peace during their sewing time, and comfort in the quiet time they spend in their sewing rooms.  I’ve read about quilters who work through their grief while stitching in the wee hours of the night. I enjoy the solitude sometimes in my sewing room, and yet, I find great joy in the times I can sew with my friends at a bee.  I hope you have a wonderful day working on your special projects.

 

 

 

Embroidery Club Fun

Last week our monthly Embroidery Club met in Ocean Pines Maryland. It isn’t too far of a drive from our area in Southern Delaware, and we tend to carpool for the trip. The conversation is always fun with those that ride together too.

About a week before the club meets, we get information from Kristie, who coordinates with the group.  This months project was another “in the hoop” design from Embroidery Library.  Because we have many different brands of machines and hoop capabilities, Anna, our leader, picks projects that everyone can do in a small hoop, and also has picked designs to satisfy those with bigger hoops.  I have a 4×4 ” capability, which is quite limited, so I have “hoop envy”.

Our project for the 4×4 frame was a key ring.

Flip flop stitch out

I think it turned out very cute. (At least the 2nd time around!) Anna is such a patient and willing and giving person, and spends the 2-3 hours we are there, helping everyone.  She has brought many tools and ideas, and tips and techniques to help us master our machines. This month she provided the grommets and rings for the projects, along with the setting tools. She shows us how to really get the most from our machines.

First challenge —  The instructions from Embroidery Library suggest you put a #11 sharp needle in your machine instead of the usual #14 embroidery needle.  I had 2 packs of those needles, and shared with 2 other people.  One person was successful using that needle. I had nothing but thread breaks, and so did the one other person. I got about 1/3 of the way through the project and switched needles back to my #14.  I’m not sure why, but the lady that had no problem had taken the needle from the other package and it was fine.  There are so many “layers” going on with this project.  First you hoop tear away stabilizer.  Then you use your “die line pattern” and cut out 3 layers that you have “spray glued together” with 505 spray.  Those layers consisted of fabric, cut away stabilizer, and fabric for the back piece, and fabric and cut away for the top piece.  All in , the needle was going through 6 layers  I can see why a sharp # 11 is recommended. I need to find the “right” sharp # 11 with a bigger eye to preclude thread breaks.  Lesson is learning about what your machine “likes” best!

Second Challenge — My backing piece “shifted” slightly, and so the outline stitches did not catch the edge.  Anna had shown us how to make sure it was secure, and when I went to do my second key chain, she came over  to help me and made sure my piece was secure.  Anna showed us to hold it up to the light, and make sure that the fabric was in the placement lines, then put the hoop on the table and really rub from the top thru the stabilizer to make sure that piece on the back was secure.  (We were using 505 spray to hold it in place.)  SUCCESS on the second key chain!

Flip flop key ring

This is Embroidery Library pattern X4160, available here – Flip Flop Key Ring X4160 in the hoop

TAKE AWAY – I learned a new process.  Any background fabric and thread combinations can be used. 505 spray is a must, along with a “spray box” so you don’t get overspray on things. I don’t have fancy software, so I stitched out the die-line files on a piece of tear away and used it instead of a paper template for cutting out my shapes.

COST – the pattern is $2.99 from Embroidery Library.  The materials are minimal.  I used 3 pieces of fabric, each about 2.5″ x 4.5″, and tear-away and cut away stabilizer, which I had on hand, along with various thread. There were 10 color changes/steps in the project. Grommet and ring were provided by Anna.  (Thanks to Anna for being SO willing to share!!!)

I enjoyed wandering around the room seeing what colors of fabrics and threads others were using.  I think I might make some more of these!  They would be cute gifts.  I will have to dig thru the craft room stuff and see if I have a grommet kit hanging around somewhere.

I also enjoyed seeing some of the “bigger hoop” projects being made.  They were making little zip bags and the zipper was stitched down “in the hoop”.  Drooling……….

I’m not willing to shell out hundreds of dollars for another machine at this time, so I will have to be content for now. A couple of my “bee buddies” have upgraded to bigger hoops, and I am trying not to be envious. My budget is spent on cruising!  I am debating on other expensive toys too…..a new bike for riding (for exercise of course) and a new cell phone.  When I think about what I am using, and how much I use the embroidery machine, the bike, the cell phone, I have to put the phone as a  #1 priority. My current phone was purchased before I retired in 2012…..probably around 2010 or so, and the thing is often behaving like a brick!  I can’t believe you have to pay so darn much for something comparable.  I keep shopping for a deal!

Do you have a favorite place to get designs?  One of my “new” favorites is Oh My Crafty Supplies  .  I found them on Facebook in a group called Embroidery Help and Advice.  If you join the group, you get access to a free design every day.  They do lots of “sayings” and a are very generous with their daily free designs.

I enjoy downloading designs, but have come to the conclusion that I won’t run out of designs or fabric in my lifetime!  I’ve taken a bit of a break from daily downloads because I just don’t use my embroidery machine that often.  Retirement is fun, but sometimes you just have to balance the priorities!  If you have an embroidery machine do you use it often?  What kind of projects do you like to make?

In betweens

Do you have those days where you are just uncertain of what to do?  I had “free time” last Wednesday in my sewing space!  I FINALLY finished putting the backing together for Grandma’s Kitchen Quilt and was at a loss for “what’s next”. (No, no photo yet……) (The backing is so huge, I just can’t find a place to lay it out for a photo!)

I have LOTS of projects but wasn’t sure what I wanted to work on. Some of the hesitation comes from the fact that I am leaving on a big trip this week, and I am not sure I want to dig into something new.  (I have LOTS of UFO’s I could work on….)  I could “load” Grandma’s Kitchen Quilt and prepare it for quilting on my frame.  I could get one or 2 of the scrap quilts off of hangers and order some backing and batting and ship them to OneBlockWonderWoman to practice on when I visit at the end of April.  Or, I could play with something new. Or…I could pack up Grandma’s Kitchen Quilt and backing and mail it off to One Block Wonder Woman and quilt it when I visit.  (She actually approved of the idea today, so I think we have plan!)

Anyway, during my “free time” on Wednesday, I finally made a decision when the never filed stack of embroidery designs fell off the heap on my desk. Since my big table was clear, I took the papers there and sorted them for filing in my  4 embroidery design binders. Once that was done, I pulled out a couple that I loved, and grabbed some pre-washed towels that I keep at hand and got busy playing with the embroidery machine.   These were fun to stitch out, and I played around with different methods for stabilizing, so it was educational along the way!  Definitely a fan of hooping tear-away stabilizer, the SPRITZING it lightly with 505  spray, and pressing with my fingers, the towels towels to the now sticky stabilizer. I learned from experiments that plush towel or towels with nap need denser designs.  I am pretty pleased with how these turned out. 

Fun stitching on Kitchen towels

The design with the spoon is heavy enough to go on a terry towel, but the word KITCHEN on the dark towel is not dense enough.  I still need to give them a wash, but I think they turned out well overall. The white towels are from the craft section at Walmart – they are called Aunt Martha’s Vintage towels  and come in a package of 3 for a reasonable price. I like them because they are sturdy and have great hanging loops in the corner.  The are LARGE too, 18×28 and wear quite nicely. Periodically I stitch them up and use them for gifts.  They are meant to be used, and I think with using just tear away stabilizer on the back, they are very usable.  The black dishtowel I purchased in a bundle, specifically to embroider on. It is a loop terry, and I won’t buy that kind again.  I have a whole box of red terry kitchen towels to play with.  I think they will get Christmas motifs. I’ve been saving them for a day just like this!

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to take another class from Cheryl Lynch (www.cheryllynchquilts.com)  This class was held at Serendipity Quilt Shop in Dagsboro DE, and was the MINI-Mosaic Class. (More about that class in a minute).

This is the 3rd time I have had the chance to take a class with Cheryl.

In 2014 I did a project in her class called Sensational Silk, when she taught at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild in Lewes De.  I was happy to take that project and “show it off” when she lectured in March at Helping Hands Quilt Guild in Dover DE.

Barn Raising in Silk
27 x 39″

This small wall hanging is made from dupioni silk and batik.  When I learned how to stabilize the silk for cutting into half square triangles, I had one of those “ah-ha” moments.  I was later able to transfer the method to other “non-quilt fabric” when I made this baptism banner for my granddaughter. That shiny gold fabric was just “perfect” for the cross, but would have been a bear to handle without that stabilizing lesson I learned with Cheryl.

Lori’s Baptism Banner, created by Grandma Mary

Then, of course, if you have read my blog for any bit of time, you might remember it was Cheryl who taught me the method for making my Pet Mosaic Quilt “Mittens“.  (I wrote about this project ALOT in 2016 & 2017…)

Mittens wins Viewer's Choice at Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Show

(Mittens is about 56×56″ and hangs in my living room. It was fun to take him “off the wall” and to the Helping Hands Guild meeting too, so Cheryl could see him “finally finished”)

When I had a chance to take another class from Cheryl, I jumped at the opportunity.  The mini-mosaic is a “much smaller” project than either the silk or the pet mosaic. We used 3/8″ squares for the project!  When I left the “all day class” – I came home and continued to work on the project after dinner.

Building the Mosaic

I was so engrossed that I kept at it until I had the entire mosaic completed!  Let’s just say midnight was a surprise to me!  I have more to do to “finish”, but this is where I have left off for now –

Mini Mosaic Project

The finish size is somewhere around 11″ x 14″ after quilting, borders and binding. But for now, it is still a “work in progress.  There are lots of steps to be taken yet, but Cheryl’s pattern is very clearly written, and I don’t think finishing it is going to be too hard.  She was right, it is a bit addictive.  In the project container Cheryl gave us everything we need to finish except our borders and backing. She even gave tips in class for hanging.

Meanwhile, the stack of tank tops I was going to embroider “before the trip” this week were left to sit, while my suitcase has been packed.  I have a busy week with various things before I head to California!  I’m looking forward to a 10 day Baja Peninsula and Sea of Cortez cruise leaving from California on Saturday! Snorkeling, sunshine, sea days await, as does some time with my favorite brother and One Block Wonder Woman(OBWW) after the cruise. Better get busy and pack up Grandma’s Kitchen and send it off to OBWW so it is waiting for me at her house!  (I can’t believe I get to quilt it on her new Gammill long arm!)

Just curious – do you ever take classes from the same teacher?  We are lucky to have so many venues in the mid Atlantic area where we can !

 

Note – each of the projects in this post have been written about previously. If you want more info on any of them, you can use the search function and the stated names to find those posts.