Machine embroidery and applique

Promised my daughter I would make a couple of hooded bath towels for the youngest grandchild. She is growing so fast and those little hooded baby towels are just not big enough any more. My daughter asked for 2, and I chose the basic fluffy “white” bath towel and hand towel to use.

I found a great pattern/tutorial on “French Frills” embroidery website for making the hooded towel work with embroidery on the hood.  I’d done hooded towels before but they always had a seam at the center of the forehead.  French Frills offers the pattern as a free download, and you have to select 5×7 hoop size.  French Frills freebies page

They also have some cute designs to purchase. They have some very elaborate designs, and also offer SVG files for cutting the applique pieces.  They do offer some 4×4 designs, but not many.

Because my Brother PE500 is only capable of a 4×4 design, I was limited by design choices.  I knew I wanted a unicorn, and I knew I wanted some “undersea” designs.  I ended up at Embroidery Library  and chose from the “animals on the edge” category for both my clown fish

clownfish - ready tocome off the hoop

and my unicorn.

Ready to deliver - 1 Unicorn towel

I’m really pleased with the results.  I’ve only done applique on the embroidery machine one other time, for a baby bib, so there was a learning curve for me with this project.  (Note to my embroidery friends….sometimes I do break down a BUY designs….but ONLY for a really special project!!)

All wrapped up and ready to go

I read somewhere that if you don’t have embroidery software, you can load a sheet of paper in your hoop and “stitch out” the die line to make cutting the fabric for the applique easier.  I did that for the clownfish, but not for the unicorn.

I also read that if you put water soluble stabilizer (wss) on over the toweling, then do the first die line stitch, it will help to keep from snagging the towel, plus help with the sinking stitches.  I did that, and then once I set the applique fabric on top of the wss, I put a 2nd piece of wss over the applique fabric.  I think it really helped the overall stitching.

Another thing I did was use Floriani sticky back stabilizer, so I didn’t have to hoop the towels.  I also floated a piece of tear away under the hoop.  So, count the layers….4 stabilizers and the applique fabric.  I only had 2 issues with the stitching where I had a thread break and had to go back and restitch.  I am really tickled with the outcome.

I decided to add a piece of that soft “tender touch” to the back after the project was done, and I cleared away as much of the tear away and sticky back as I could.  The sticky back will eventually dissolve in the washing but the tender touch will stay in place.  I don’t know if you can see it, but I stitched the tender touch to the back of the towel, as the “glue” doesn’t really stick well in my opinion. (I’ve had it peel off of a cotton t-shirt in the first washing)

inside of hooded towel

I put it on the back, stitched around the design with a straight machine stitch, then trimmed it close to the edge, then pressed it in place.  This will keep the back of the design from scratching little faces and bodies.

I chose some other designs for the “undersea” towel to put along the edges –

Undersea motif hooded bath towel

The fish on the right is from Designs by JuJu – “Sassy Fish”.  I purchased that several years ago and don’t find it available now.  There were 22 steps in that little design, 6 fabrics.

Sassy Fish

They have a LOT of great designs, that would have worked well for this project.  I love Designs by JuJu  and have used many designs in the past.

The crab applique is from OhMyCS.  I had a challenge with it, because I did not cut the applique fabric perfectly. It came a little low and did not catch in the tack down stitching around the eyes.  I ended up adding some extra stitching on my sewing machine to catch the raw edges.  Also, the design had so many curves, I could not trim it well.  I figured those bits will ‘fray’ in the washer and give it “character”, so it will turn out ok.

Feeling crabby

Overall, I think they turned out cute.  Trimming applique on towels is a real BEAR! I left the wss in place when I started trimming, but removed it “too soon” I think.  Not perfect, but it “is a bath towel” and it “WILL” fray and still look ok. (Trying not to obsess any longer……where are my snippers…….breathe…..)

I am second guessing my “ribbon” decision, and may have to replace it “down the road” if it doesn’t stand the test of time.  I could not find any other unicorns that would work on the white towel.  (Next time I would choose a colored towel I think!)  Again….trying to stop obsessing……..

Unicorn towel and floral ribbons

Anybody that makes these to sell gets my respect!  If I was to make them and put in a “craft sale”, I wouldn’t charge less than $50 a piece, as there is a lot of time in the embroidery, and construction.   Then of course, I would be obsessing……looking for absolute perfection.

These were made with two “medium quality” bath towels from Big Lots, and one hand towel.   Of course, they are “priceless” in my opinion because I am making them for one of the grandchildren!

Time to deliver this afternoon!

Back to quilting……………what are you working on?

 

Always a project or 2 or 3

I stepped away from my Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt this weekend to work on something new. (My GIMQ has 10 of 12 blocks sashed)

10 out of 12 blocks sashed

10 out of 12 blocks sashed

I had some verses to embroider on my Brother PE500 embroidery machine.I downloaded these for free from     http://www.designsbyjuju.com/freebies  –  She “GIVES” these away for free on her website and they stitch out beautifully. If you are looking for nice embroidery designs; Designs by JuJu is a great website.    These 3 blocks will be placed in our Senior Quilts we are working on at church. We finished cutting blocks and kitting up 3 quilts yesterday morning to be handed out to our faithful sewers. wpid-20150117_153552.jpg

Another little project that has distracted me is for my grandkids. They will be visiting at the end of the month, so I want to get this one finished this week.I wanted to make some little “fleece throws” for them  to have in the car as they travel cross country this winter. I had a gift card to JoAnn’s and found some great cuddle fleece on a super sale.  I picked up 1.5 yards of 2 different florals, and already had one really cool one in my stash I bought last year.  I thought about several different ways to make fleece throws, and played around with several options.  Speaking to their mom, she suggested a “hood” would be fun and they could wrap up in in, much the way the hooded bath towel I made last summer worked.

So, I set to work this afternoon, and this is what I came up with:

Finished size if 58 x 36.  The hood is along the long edge, so if a little one wraps up and decided to walk; the “length would be 36” plus the hood.  wpid-20150118_171856.jpgI put little “triangle pockets” in the corner to the left & right of the hood.  That way they might slip their hand in to “hang on” .  Might “shorten” the hood a bit for the littlest child.  I am a little worried she will trip.

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Pillow pocket is on the left side

The “other side” has the pocket for the “pillow” part.  The idea is you fold the throw in thirds lengthwise and tuck it all in the pillow.  Like this: wpid-20150118_172140.jpgIt’s not real “full” and I may have misunderstood the directions about how this pocket was to be constructed, but by the time I get the 3rd one made this week, it should be PERFECT!!

I searched online for a QWILLOW pattern, and found this one: http://www.budget101.com/crafts/fcp7.htm

The design/directions were created by “Grammy Lynn”.  I wish I could link to her actual post, but could not find her.  She gets the credit for the basic design plan. My daughter gets the credit for the idea of the hood, and I take full responsibility (giggle) for the corner triangles.

Here is a peak at the other fleece for the other 2 I will make tomorrow:

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I picked up some royal blue fleece today for the one to coordinate with the USAF. Maybe use it for the pocket and hood & corners, that way I can maximize the size of the fleece without cutting it into a smaller piece. Bigger kid, bigger throw.

I thought I would share another “distraction” with you.  I found this darling panel at a local quilt shop (Mare’s Bears in Lewes Delaware) earlier this month and just love the “vintage look” of these little doll babies.  One panel = 4 dolls.

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Each doll will finish about 16 inches high and each one has a little pet too.  I am thinking of doing these dolls using fusible fleece and some soft and stable to give them a little firmness.  I plan to keep them pretty “flat too” like I did with the flats dolls.  We shall see how that works out…need to order some more soft & stable to play with these. Got the fusible fleece today at Wal-mart.  I could not find it at Joann Fabrics when I hunted for it last week.  Neither place carries the Annies Soft & Stable, so will check the local quilt shops then order online.  Here is a closer look at each of those little dolls – click on one pix below and it will give you a slide show.

Have you been playing with fabric this weekend?

August is here!

I can’t believe we are already in August!  Where or where did July disappear too?  I haven’t been spending anytime reading blogs or posting. Doesn’t mean I have not been sitting at the computer…oh my have I ever.  I last posted when I gave away my little Blue Hen Chicken!  The week her new owner was chosen was a busy time.  I had a meeting of the guild’s Program Planning Committee, followed by the “Material Girls” quilt bee, both at my house, followed by another meeting about Program Planning.  In between, I spent countless hours writing and responding to people to come & speak & teach at our guild.  I feel like I went back to work at a full time job, with overtime.  The good news is; I have all of 2015 booked, and some of the contracts are finished; and I have started in on 2016.  The hard part is the budget, and finding instructors in the mid-Atlantic area that we can afford, who bring new and interesting lectures, trunk shows and workshops. (So far I have 3 out of 8 lined up for 2016). I need a break though!

In 2 weeks, I almost didn’t stitch a thing.  After our Material Girls bee, I did layer up and quilt a charity baby quilt in flannel; yet it sits on the table, waiting on binding.  Just as I write this, I decided I will uses some of my stash strips and make a scrappy binding!  I have also decided, I do NOT like to work with flannel….way too much lint in my machine after working up the blocks and quilting. The fabrics were donated for these quilts, but I did need to get more flannel for backing.  I have 3 more kits to put together before I take a trip in the middle of the month.  I decided to just quilt across the center of the blocks, and used one of the pretty stitches built into my machine.

 

I did sneak in a little fun on a bus trip to the Hershey Quilt Show. We got to see the lovely quilts (the lighting was terrible and did a dis-service to the quilts!); did some shopping at the various vendors.  I stocked up on thread from Superior Threads, and picked up more of that great bag lining product – SOFT & STABLE, along with some fun fat quarters and a new marking pen.  We also did a trip to Burkholders Fabrics on the way home.  If you are ever in the Hershey or Lancaster area, you need to set your GPS and go find Burkholders!  Out in the middle of NO-WHERE, surrounded by picturesque farms and rolling hills, you will be in fabric HEAVEN!!  Burkholders is at 2155 West RT 897,  Denver, PA   ( http://www.burkfabric.com/ )  Because we were there on a bus trip, and our guild stops there every year, we got some extra special deals. My favorite was the bundle of 20 fat quarters for $30.  Had I gone back in for 1 more, it would have gone down to $25 for the bundle…but by that point I was “shopped out”.

About Wednesday this past week I decided it was time to SEW.  I had fun working on projects that will get put in the mail in the next day or 2 to my grandaughter.  She will have a birthday next week, and will be a big 2 years old.  In order to make sure I don’t send her any plastic junk (aka toys), I decided it was time to get busy and make those things I have been intending to make for months and months.   So; with limited fanfare: here you have – Project # 1 – the hooded bath towel —

In case you want to make one of your own; these instructions are very helpful:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Hooded-Baby-Towel/
I did a few mod’s, but nothing much differently.  I got the embroidery machine going and got busy~!~  I have not done any work on bath towels before, but read quite a bit about the process.  I used a Floriani iron on mesh tearaway stabilizer on the back of the towel, floated a piece of medium tear-away under the hoop, and put water soluable on top.  I was very pleased with how well every thing stitched out. The cat face and the kitten topper come from Embroidery Designs . com; and when I downloaded them, they were part of the free collections.  I had trouble with the smiling kitten though. It was “too big” for my Brother PE500 embroidery machine. My hoop size is 4×4; and although it said 4×3.95; my machine would not recognize it.  I contacted Embroiderydesigns.com at their toll free number, and  Bonnie in customer service was a BIG help.  She looked up the specifics for my machine, and explained I really can not use a design bigger that 3.85″.  Then she offered to RE-SIZE the design and she emailed it to me in about 10 minutes.   I learned a little more about my machine and was tickled pink that she was so helpful.  Especially for somebody who mostly downloads the free stuff every week.   It stitched out beautifully.  I will remember them when I see a design that I have to pay for and not buy it somewhere else!

 

Project # 2 is a Super Hero Cape.

Patterns are plentiful on the internet. I can’t remember where I got this one, but it worked well. (All straight cuts with a ruler & rotary….no scissors were used in the prep of the fabric!)

Grandchild # 3 is familiar with the use of Super hero capes, as she often plays in her big brother & sisters capes I made last summer.  I picked out what I thought was fun fabric, and then put a contrasting fabric inside so it would “look cool”.  I used a piece of the contrasting and made a little super hero patch for the back, with a cute little ladybug design.  Again thanks to Embroidery designs. com.  There is bright yellow ric-rack around the gathering at the neckline, and along the bottom edge (in the second picture you can see it.)  (The goal was to not use licensed character fabric, and this fabric was so much fun with the butterflies, and worms and bumble bees.)  I used velcro for the closing; and the same pattern as big brother and big sister. Hopefully it is not too long, and won’t be a tripping hazard! (Grandma wants pictures……….)

 

Project # 3 – placemats and napkins for a tea party!

 

miniature place mats and napkins for a tiny tea party for a two year old

miniature place mats and napkins for a tiny tea party for a two year old

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using the fun stitches on my machine; boats and planes and elphants and lambs and cars

using the fun stitches on my machine; boats and planes and elphants and lambs and cars

I opened my ziplock bag of left over 4 patches; and left over 2 patches and put together these little placemats. The four patches and two patches are leftover from 2 quilts I made. One was a baby quilt for grandchild # 2, and one was a full size I made for my sister. I went crazy making those blocks, and I had lots left.   I had some big squares leftover, and they were combined to make the back of the placemats, and the napkins.  I had fun with some creative stitches on my machine for the quilting of the placemats, and the trimming of the napkins. I think these will work quite nicely with the tea party dishes her mommy is ordering!  If she needs more than 6 placemats, I have about 100 more 4 patches that could be made into placemats.  (I love my stash!!! I pulled strips from the stash that were used in other quilts; and 3 of them are strips that were in grandchild # 3’s one block wonder quilt.  )  I LOVE The fancy stitches on my macine. And I love that new pink varigated thread from superior. It is a 40wt  perfect for quilting.

I have one more little idea up my sleeve, and then I will get this birthday box in the mail.  🙂 It is a cloudy rainy day and I could either stay in the house and vacuum or go out to the garage to sew !!  Sewing it shall be!  (Someday I am getting one of those robo vacs!  Happy stitching.