In April, the Sweet Pea Embroidery design company had their “KISS” – Keep it Simple Sew along challenge. The offered pattern is discounted during the sew along to participants. There is a deadline to submit your finished project photo on the Facebook group. The pattern was called Wildflower Window Cushion and was available for hoops from 4×4 to 8×8. I chose to stitch out the 8×8 blocks. I used my Janome 11000 to do all the stitching.
The block pictured below has so much texture in the embroidery and lots of thread changes too. The white background, and the batik green around it are supposed to be the window pane and frame.
Once it comes out of the hoop, you trim the stabilizer back to the outer stitching line. After that is done, you trim the frame to 1/2 inch from the stitching. This gives you good seam allowance without so much bulk. During the stitchout, the batting is trimmed back as well.
There are 40,243 stitches in this block and my machine shows that the time it should take, at 600 stitches per minute was 114 minutes. That doesn’t account for the time for thread changes, trimming etc. I figure it took me about 3 hours.
I decided to go “scrappy with my window frames”, using some batiks from the scrap drawer.
The blocks with the applique like the red poppy didn’t take as long to stitch. I layered a tulle over the fabric for the flower on the left, and it added a shimmer and dimension to the flower.
I was on a pretty good roll by the time I got to the 3rd block. It was another applique block so it went pretty fast.
Once everything was all stitched out, I arranged the “windows” for assembly.
When I assembled them, I decided to add a narrow strip of sashing between all 4 blocks, and around the outside. Once I put the envelope backing for the pillow on, I stitched about 1″ in from the edge to make a bit of a flange. I stuffed the project with an 18″ pillow. I used all scrap batik for the project, including the backing.
I figure overall, it took me about 12 hours to make this project, using up about 1 1/2 yards of scrap fabric. Fits just right in this rocking chair.
I loved the pattern so much, I stitched out 2 more blocks and made them into placemats for my friend, June, who lives in assisted living. I think they will make a nice Mother’s day gift for her, and replace the fall placemats that are currently on her table.
All the fabrics came from the scrap bins and June’s box of fabric. I had fun with the variegated thread on the flower edges.
The fabric for the borders and backing were leftover twill from making a couple of aprons last year. I thik they will make great “reversible” placemats.
I think I got my monies worth for the pattern and used up some scraps as well. I’m counting a total of 1 yard of fabric “out” for the Stashbuster 2022 challenge.
Edit — The free pattern for Small Town Charm embroidery blocks is no longer available.
I wanted to share my completed Small Town Charm project with you. The blocks I have shared in previous posts have been incorporated into a tote bag for my friend June. The bag was made with short straps to go over her walker handles, and buttons to hold them in place. It also has ties on the side to keep the bag from swinging while the walker is in ‘motion’.
Before I made this project I took a look at her existing bag and measured it. Those measurements were important as I created the new bag, since I didn’t have a walker handy to test the fit.
I had fun figuring out which fabrics I wanted to use for the bag, making my choices from that one box of fabric I had dumped out and sorted. I really wanted to make the bag for June using her OWN fabric. My hope is the fabrics will be ones she remembers having. While they don’t have the same elegance as the beautiful blues and golds in the bag picture above, they do remind me of things she likes. And, when I agreed to make the new bag, June didn’t make any color requests. Well…you know that I like things scrappy!
I played around with lots of color combinations, and thought about how I wanted to “construct” the bag. Once the decisions were made, the extra bits of fabric came down off the wall, and the construction was pretty simple.
After the front and back of the bag was made, I layered it with Pellon 973F (Fusible Fleece) and did some quilting. I made the straps, and put the bag together.
Once the outside of the bag was made, I chose one of those pretty pink fabrics and made the lining. I added pockets for both sides of the lining. I used the fusible fleece in the pockets too, so it has some body.
Construction is similar to lining any tote bag. Once your lining is ready, you slide the main bag inside the lining, with pretty sides (right sides touching). You have to make sure you leave an opening for turning. My opening was on the side, just above the edge of the pockets.
Those little clips are great for holding the edges of the bag together and keeping everything lined up during the sewing process. You can see the stitching of the pockets on the back side of that lining in the photo above.
Below, is the inside of the bag showing the pockets.
Once the bag was pulled through the opening and turned “right side out, a quick press along that top seam, and of the lining before top stitching around the upper edges. I use my clips then as well to make sure there is no shifting.
Button holes in the straps for two closing positions, and some bright shiny buttons on the Flower Shop side of the bag.
The blue bag she had previously had a bit of velcro tab to keep the bag closed. I added a 3″ strip of velcro near the top edge of the new bag, skipping the tab. I also added two pockets on the sides of the bag, where she can keep a packet of tissues if she likes. The ties for the walker on the bottom are made from June’s stash of bias tape binding.
The bag has a “scrappy quilter” look to it I think. My husband, who knows her so well, thinks she is going to “LOVE” the new bag. I had fun making the Small Town Charm embroidery blocks, and building a bag that will be functional for her. I’m glad I have had a little experience making bags in the past few years, or I would never have tackled this without a specific pattern in hand.
If I was making this into a tote / purse for myself, I would not have used the dimensional awning on the flower shop, but I knew the bag would be stationary once attached to the walker, and I think the flower shop will face out, so it won’t get mashed during use. For myself, I would use a magnetic closure, and put a couple of key ring loops inside the bag to have a spot for hooking my car keys. (Hate hunting in the bottom of a bag for keys!) Because of where / how June lives, she really doesn’t use keys.
Do you enjoy bag making? Any tips? Do you have a favorite pattern that you make frequently?
update (March 2022) – the free pattern is no longer available
I worked on the Small Town Charm -Flower Shop block on Sunday and Monday. When I set it up in my embroidery machine, it gives me the stitching details. I did remember to watch the you tube videos before I started. I have to tell you that I set the you tube speed setting at 2x to buzz through the very chatty video. These blocks are stitched out on my Janome 11000 machine. They are free downloads from Designs in Machine embroidery. I’ll put links for the block and the video at the end of the post.
The Flower Shop block has 28 color changes, the stitching time is 75 minutes, and there are 29610 stitches in the project for the 5×7 size project. I stitched it my 8×8 hoop.
What you “don’t see” on the screen, and what has to be done while the project block is ready to begin is all the preparation for the machine applique. Fabric choices must be made, and the fabric needs to have some wonder under applied to the back for the applique. The wonder under/heat n bond lite help with the trimming.
Oh, and those thread choices…..I probably added 4 or 5 extra in as I went along. My big ironing station is to the left of my embroidery machine and I use it as a staging point for the threads. Usually I have my thread lined up on an old calendar page for color change order, but not with these blocks. I did a run thru with the color sheet, and on the machine I paged thru the various colors, but what I really did was zoom in closely on the pattern on my computer and make some color plans.
I have a basket on the ironing station with the prepared fabrics and leave my self a corner to press if I need to use the iron. And bobbins….I often wind a bobbin with a similar thread if there is a lot of heavy stitching. This precludes any chance of a bit of white bobbin thread showing. I use children’s pony tail holders to contain the loose tails of my threads.
The previous block was made using a bit from my stash, and I thought I would chose my background fabric for the next block out of a box of my friend June’s “stash”. (You might remember that I packed up her sewing room 3 or 4 years ago when she moved to assisted living, and I am still going through those boxes organizing.) The applique pieces come straight out of my scrap drawers.
I decided to just “dump out” the box with the reds, pinks and blues on my big table to select fabric. It was labeled SORT and had the colors on the end of the box, so I am actually doing double duty. No wonder it takes me so long!
I thought she might enjoy seeing some of her own fabric in her bag. Of course, just dumping it on the table made a mess, and I am gradually measuring and refolding and sorting it all. In the process of the sorting I have plucked out several more pieces I think will work for the bag I am going to make. No doubt I will be digging for turquoise and purple soon.
The fabrics got restored to their box after doing some pressing and folding. I found some great fat quarters, and other fabrics that might get introduced into this bag. There was way to much 1980’s dusty rose or mauve for my taste in this box! You will see the choices I made later, as I am still ruminating on them.
It’s pretty exciting to see the machine counting down and to know I am nearing the end with no troubles during the stitching. 3 minutes to finish the 29,610 stitches! And that spool in the bottom left corner tells me I am on color #27 out of 28. PHEW…….
There is a second hooping for the block on the left to be done, and it is for the awning. I was able to actually stitch out TWO awnings in one hooping. They stitch out quickly, but are quite fiddly to turn. I ran the stitching for the awning twice, and had trouble during the turning, so stitched it again on my sewing machine.
Below are the two blocks side by side, and I still have to put the awning on the one on the left.
I spent nearly an hour turning the awning and getting the little scallops to pop out. They were challenging and tiny. I used a pair of forceps to poke around and hold and help me turn. My tweezers were too pointy and ended up poking a hole and I had to re-stitch that bit.
I decided to make the awning dimensional, but tack it down snuggly as it will get a lot of handling on a bag. I think it turned out well.
I thought I would share a couple of comments on how I did this block. I hoop my stabilizer, and then put a piece of batting on top and run a basting outline stitch over it to tack it down. Then I floated my pink background fabric and ran another basting stitch to tack it down. After that is done, I start the design, and the first step is a placement line for the building background. I didn’t want the pink to show through, so I added another bit of batting on top of the pink, in the same space where the building will go. Then I place the building (yellow fabric) over the placement line. I use a piece much bigger than the outline, and run the tack down line again, and then trim and do the rest of the stitching. The extra layer of batting gave those stitched in bricks extra dimension. Plus, it really helped with all the heavy stitching on this block without adding more stabilizer. (This digitizer did not give a placement line and a tack down line for several parts, so, it was a bit of a challenge.)
Another choice I made was to add a little “fabric in the window” of the door. I fussy cut that pink floral from an absolutely hideous print I found in June’s box!
And, as I mentioned I added extra colors in my thread choices. I used some variegated threads for the blossoms and stopped the machine to change the green threads for the various leaves of the plants and for the various baskets. To give the blocks some “continuity” I used the same plaid fabric for the sidewalk on both blocks, and the same yellow “building” fabric on both blocks.
Whenever I am working with these applique type blocks, there is a lot of stopping, taking the hoop off the machine (project remains hooped) and trimming along tack-down lines etc. Depending on how well the digitizer did the stitch selection for tack-down, there is a chance for error or pulling. On both blocks in this collection, the tack-down only ran one series of stitches. The other thing I noticed is with the satin stitching and how narrow the unlay zig zag stitching was. I have experience with other digitizers (Sweet Pea designs for one) who do a much better job with this step. So, fair warning, when you run the tackdown on this design, run the step a second time. I ended up with my “sidewalk” pulling in one corner. Now, that could be because the zigzag underlayment wasn’t wide enough for the satin stitching or my fabric gave way due to the open weave of the fabric. The wonder-under / heat n bond light should have prevented the fabric pulling .
I knew that I had to fix that little pull once I took the project out of the hoop. I loaded the same silver thread into my sewing machine and did a tiny zigzag all along the edge of the sidewalk along the satin stitching. Yes, if you zoom in on the picture with the awning you can see it, but it saved the block. Not show worthy, for certain, but it will keep the bit from coming loose on a finished bag. I did a similar repair on the Ice Cream Scoops block. Hey, stuff happens, but it helps to have a way to fix it and carry on. My husband spent a few minutes looking closely and couldn’t find the fix. I am pointing it out to use as a lesson on how I “recover and carry on” with a block. Too many hours to get frustrated and be dissatisfied, when fixing it is possible.
The table in the sewing room is cleaned up again, and the thread back on the wall racks. The blocks are on the design wall with some fabrics that I am considering. The bag pattern is still being considered as well. A rainy day, perfect for sewing is ahead.
By the way, did you see the post – it note on the very first picture? I think the last time I changed my needle in that machine was July 3rd, and I’ve done a project or two since then. The post it note helps me remember when that was, and since it is the 1st of September, perhaps it is time to clean the machine and change the needle! How often do you change your embroidery machine needle? Curious…….Thanks for stopping by and commenting.
EDIT – March 2022 – the free pattern is no longer available.
I happened to “trip over” a post on a Facebook group I belong to that directed me to the cutest group of machine embroidery blocks being offered for FREE. Of course, I had to go look!! And register….and then go watch you tube videos…and now…figure out HOW in the world I am going to make them and put them into something useable. The collection I am loving on is the SMALL TOWN CHARM group. It seems a new block comes out once a month, and of course, I have downloaded all of the available ones from January – September.
My friend in assisted living asked me to make her a “new” bag for her walker, and I decided I would incorporate a couple of these fun blocks in the bag. I picked out four to stitch out and have ONE finished.
This is a 12″ background block. The embroidery was designed for the 5×7 hoop. took quite a long time to do, and I have done quite a few “machine embroidery/applique” blocks in the past. It’s a good thing I have a “general idea” of how these work, as the printed instructions were not nearly the same quality as those you get with some patterns. Now, truth be told, I didn’t read all 6 or 8 pages of the PDF instructions BEFORE I started, so that could be part of the problem. AND, I did NOT watch the YOU TUBE video I linked below for this particular block until I was ready to “put the awning on”. It took me about 3 – 5 hours to do this one. LOTS of thread changes, tack down stitches, flip & sew , and TWO hooping’s.
What I plan to do differently…next block… is WATCH the video all the way through first, then print out the accompanying templates for placement before I start stitching. I’ll share that block as it gets going and time how long it takes to do.
One thing I did for this SCOOPS block was use my 5×7 hoop. I really should have started with my 8×8, and shifted the entire project to the bottom of the hoop, and then I would NOT have had to rehoop to attach the awning section. Sigh…lesson learned. To be honest, I watch the You Tube Video on how to make the September block and got overly excited.
Then, off to YOU TUBE – https://youtu.be/uvw1g_wtTtM to watch OML Embroidery (Sue is the presenter) show her methods in this stitch along. Hat’s off to Sue for the lively conversation and tips. Sue does a video for each month’s block.
I did prep my fabric for the applique by using Wonder Under on the back of the pieces. This gives you a cleaner cut (in my opinion) as you are trimming following the tack down stitch. I still need to go back and do a little “clean up” trimming, so I will catch those little bits that show when you zoom in. I also put a layer of quilt batting (Warm and Natural) under my block fabric, on top of the cut away stabilizer. This gives the heavy stitching something to bite into and a little dimension to the design. I float my background block fabric (the pink multi color) in the hoop and do a basting stitch to anchor it. I also follow Kay’s suggestions at Kreative Kiwi, and use pins on my stabilizer at the edges of the hoop. Those pins make a huge difference when stitching out something with a lot of heavy stitching.
I think this block and a couple of others will make a fun addition to a tote bag for my friend June’s walker. Maybe it will catch the eye of another resident, and facilitate a conversation and a new friendship too. Who knows? The bag this will replace was beautifully made by another resident, but is starting to show some wear. I think it might just need a good washing. June has given me her requirements for pockets etc, and I took lots of pix of the existing bag so I can meet her size requirements and attachment needs for the walker.
While I procrastinated on “other” projects this summer, I played around a little bit with my Janome 11000 embroidery machine. (Hey Skip….I love that machine!).
I got a free pattern from Kreative Kiwi for DOMINOS. These can be made in a 4×4 hoop. There is a great video on the page I linked and several different options. IF I were going to make another set, I might do the outline color in a different color and the BACKING color in something DARK. I had to add extra cut away to hide the pips from showing through on the back. After I got finished with the first round, I told myself I was crazy! The full set is 28 dominos. I decided to do them in a bigger hoop and spaced them out accordingly so I didn’t have to change the thread to often. I managed to get 6 in my 8×8 hoop. I used all white fabric and purple thread for the pips. The backing fabric is also white. It all came out of my scrap drawer.
I did “almost” use up the whole spool of white thread in this project.
I made this little bag about a year or two ago and the dominos fit just right into it. And, they weigh next to nothing, so they are perfect to take on my next cruise!
I also made a few FOX hair clips. They were popular with 2 granddaughters and I think I made about 6 in total.
The fox hair clips led to a request for “masquerade masks” by another granddaughter who was having a birthday party. I think I made 9 sets.
And then I moved on to solid blue vinyl
The last round of stitching I put felt on the back, and then cut them all out. The felt got two slits in the back for the hair clip to slide in. A little dap of super glue / E6000 or hot glue keeps the clip from coming out.
My youngest granddaughter called one day and asked for TRACTOR hair clips. She came over to spend the night and we worked on this rather LARGE set of tractors. She picked all the colors.
That same granddaughter told me she had a loose tooth, so I worked on this little design for her to hang on her door knob when the timing is right. The “tooth” goes in the vinyl tooth pocket, and the tooth fairy leaves a coin in the little purse on the right. I chose the fabric to match the quilt I made for her when she was much younger that is still on her bed.
I made this set of dish towels as a hostess gift. We were supposed to go to some friends for the 4th of July fireworks party, and we got rained out. They are wrapped up and ready for “next year”.
My next embroidery machine project is a quilt label for my “Grandma’s Kitchen” quilt, pattern by Pat Sloan. It is a project I finish a couple of years ago, but forgot to put a label on.
I’m still “dancing” with the Scrap Dance Pachanga mystery quilt by blogger Carole at From My Carolina Home. Last week was Step 7 in the mystery. We got the instructions (still available on the blog) for Block A. It was fun to put some of the bits and pieces from previous steps together. Here are my blocks.
This block used some of the 4 patches, 2 patch rectangle units and some of the half square triangle units. It was fun to play around with the colors and try to balance them out a little bit. These blocks went together quickly. I am doing the throw size this year. (In the past I have done the king size for most of the Scrap Dance mystery quilts).
Next step comes out on May 14th and I am looking forward to what we do with the other units left in my project basket.
I was inspired by my friend Nancy to do a bit of “cleanup” in my sewing room. She & I were working through some donations for the quilt guild, sorting and organizing. Alright….Nancy was doing all the sorting and organizing and I was playing with the scraps, trying to save as many as possible. One donation I picked up in March came with a bunch of plastic drawer units. These units had been stacked up all over the place in my garage, and needed to be emptied of the contents. As we did the emptying, I realized these drawers would fit just under one of my cutting tables, and might help me better contain my own scraps.
Since the guild is not currently meeting, and storage space is at a premium here, I sold those drawer units…..to me. We usually sell this type of thing for at the guild, at a “fair price”. Because they are bulky to transport and store, I often sell them for considerably less than what you would pay for them new. (If I have to drag them to a meeting to sell, I don’t want to drag them back home !) We probably won’t meet until the fall at the guild to sell anything, and I decided I “needed” those draws! I guess I can always “donate” them back later if the system doesn’t work for me. But, for now….I am happy~!
I took all the scraps that have accumulated for sorting/trimming and sorted them by color into the drawers. Previously, these were piling up in an open basket stacked sorting system and it was starting to overwhelm me. In the process, I also emptied out a “laundry hamper” of scraps, and cleaned my cutting table.
My cutting table has been buried in stuff for a while, but now, the big baskets are projects, and the smaller ones are things I still need to trim. I unearthed several things I set aside for later and gave them their own big basket. A couple of bits ended back up on the design wall for inspiration.
I really am inspired to turn that big block with the checkerboard border into a pillow. The house blocks are leftover from a class at the guild, and I want to keep making some.
During the “scrap sorting” I set aside a basket full of “leftover block/units” for crumb quilts.
I busied myself for a couple of days, inspired by Pat Sloan, making crumb blocks. You might recognize some of the pieces in the crumb blocks below from the big block above. That center house block may come out and end up on the wall with the other houses too.
I never “got to the bottom” of the crumb block basket. Really I just skimmed the surface and have made about 25 blocks. I will have to find a cohesive way to put them together and turn them into a quilt at some point. Meanwhile, they have been assigned to their own project basket and I moved along to something else.
I had lots of scraps to work on for the guild, things that were donated. I set a timer and worked on them for one hour, and got them all ironed.
Now that these small pieces are ironed and sorted by color and general size, I will trim them up. If they are of a size that I can price and sell at the guild meeting then they will get folded and priced. There were a lot of “fall colors” and I think I see a nice “bundle” coming together.
Speaking of fall colors, you might recall back in November I mentioned I was “Stuck in the Middle” of quilting my Autumn Jubilee quilt. This is another pattern by Carole/From My Carolina Home. Thanks to my friend Nancy, this past week I was able to FINALLY finish the quilting. It has languished on the frame for 5 months, all while I picked out poor stitching. The quilting is now DONE! The quilt is off the frame, trimmed and ready for the addition of the label and binding.
The binding will go on fairly quickly, as it is all done by machine. The main color of the binding is the stripe, with just that little green flange showing on the face of the quilt. The method I love is called Susie’s Magic Binding. I love sharing the link to Aunt Marti’s 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks blog. It is where I first saw this type of binding and the directions are so well written, along with a subsequent video. I was a fairly new quilter when I learned this method and love to share with others. The “hardest part” of the method is joining the two ends, and I just recommend you take your time, use a basting stitch to make sure you have a nice alignment. I know with a stripe pattern, some may not be happy with diagonal stripes not aligning, but personally, I am not worried at all. Time to go make my label and next blog you will see the finished quilt top!
Speaking of labels, I finished and attached two more for the Senior Quilt project I was working on. The volunteers at church got together and tied the quilt two weeks ago.
I used a label from Kreative Kiwi and eliminated the line where you might hand write the name. I inserted the names using fonts from my software.
The verse on the back of the quilt was digitized by Designs by JUJU. I’m not happy with the stitch out on this label, too many puckers but I figure it will have to do on a deadline. I am certain I had stabilizer pulling in the hoop as the stitch-out took place. I think once the quilt is washed and all that stabilizer “softens up” and the quilt crinkles it will not be so noticeable. I guess if you aren’t a machine embroiderer it wouldn’t matter, but it makes me a little nuts when I see that puckering.
I had to do a little bit of machine quilting on that quilt before putting the labels on the back. Our group tied the quilt, but the borders needed more “anchoring”.
I used my walking foot and did a serpentine stitch, stretched to it’s maximum length on the yellow and blue borders, along with some basic straight stitching in the ditch along the borders. The wide backing came from Marshall’s Dry Goods (Batesville AR). If you are ever shopping for wide back, they are my preferred location, with quick service, and great prices.
Time to get busy and make that label for the Autumn Jubilee quilt and get the binding on. It is going to be a hot sunny day, and the pollen count is very high, so I think hanging out in the sewing room with the A/C running will keep my allergies in check.
I just could not wait for February to disappear. It always feels like the longest month at the end of Winter. It’s still cold here in Southern Delaware, but at least the sun is shining. Next week things are warming up and we will be out of the “below freezing” at night! Hoping for just one last winter delivery of home heating oil in the week ahead.
Now that the weather is better, I have been venturing out more often to my sewing room. I did a project in February for a birthday gift, but couldn’t really post about it until the package was delivered. Sent it out via USPS priority mail on Feb 19 and it FINALLY got delivered on March 3. So much for 2 business day service! At the time I delivered it to my local postal clerk, I was told it will be there on Tuesday….My package got “lost in transit” between Philadelphia PA and Santa Barbara CA between Feb 24 and March 3. I finally entered a “lost package query” on the USPS website, complete with photos. I did that on March 2nd, when the package was a full one week overdue. Magically, it arrived and delivered to the residence on March 3. So; I can quit wondering what happened and be happy it arrived. The recipient and I chatted about bandits holding up the stagecoach and wishing the pony express was carrying this precious package!
Here are the contents of the very travel weary parcel-
Each of these projects was a lot of fun to make and my recipient is a “known” tea only drinker, and I thought she would enjoy them for her birthday. All of the designs were done in the 5×7 hoop.
I’m sure if they never showed up I could “redo” them, but I would have to dive into the fabric bin and find something else almost as cute as these fabrics. Most of the applique bits came from my never ending bin of scraps that I save specifically for embroidery machine applique. I had just a small piece of the “chicken wire and chicken fabric” and could not repeat that if I had to. I am SO glad the package finally showed up.
The tea towels were “Aunt Martha’s Retro towels” that I purchased last year from Oh My Crafty Supplies . They are available in other places, and are currently out of stock at this vendor. These are my favorite dish towel to embroider on. I have found them at WalMart in the craft section in the store & on line, and on Amazon. They start out at 18×28, and I ALWAYS prewash in hot water for maximum shrinkage. Boy do they shrink, but they are a nice “usable” towel for drying glassware and china. They are durable and will last for many years, unlike a lot of the “flour sack” towels others like to use. I like the size and the loop in the corner, and even though they look so cute with the embroidery, they are usable and functional. The more you wash them the softer they get.
While I was having fun with machine embroidery, I got busy with the verses that go on my church quilts for the high school graduates. I send all the parents to Designs by JuJu website and have them select verses for their graduating student. So far, these are the ones I have stitched out. Special thanks to Designs by JuJu for digitizing so many Bible verses and offering them for free. I am always pleased with the quality of the stitch out and Designs by JuJu’s gift helps me with this ministry at my church. This year, there will be “more than one” verse on each students quilt.
These verses will go in the corners of the quilts we are making along with a photo of the church, which I print out every year on fabric. I am working on assembling one of the quilts, while there is a group working on another.
I have all the blocks made, the quilt top laid out on the design wall to my satisfaction and have started putting it together. I was so blessed to participate in two day long ZOOM quilting days last week and got a lot of stitching done. I have half of the quilt “webbed” together and just need to stitch the 10 rows together, then join it with the right side which is all ready assembled.
I used the Jodi Barrows Square in a Square ruler, option 2 for the alternate blocks. I like the way the corners make star points if you squint one eye. All the fabric for this particular quilt was donated by one of the church members when she cleared out her sewing room.
The student likes blue, and I am planning on a blue border, using the same fabric as the wide backing.
The quilt for the other student is very striking as well. His grandmother purchased all the fabric, including the wide backing and is participating in the construction. One volunteer stitched all the half square triangle blocks, and we got together to starch, press, cut, starch, open and press and trim last Saturday. The previous Saturday we worked on cutting out the strips and squares needed for the project.
This two color quilt will also be quite striking and we are planning on using the same red as the backing for the borders. Both quilts are using 8.5″ squares. With half square triangle blocks you have endless ways to layout the quilt and one of the volunteeres liked this particular pattern. It made her think of the marching band going across the football field in formation. Perfect for this musician.
I’ve ordered wide backing for both quilts and it will be nice to work with. We won’t be quite ready for another week or two so I’m hoping the USPS does a better job with the shipment of that fabric. These two color quilts are very fun to work with and are so different from what we did for the last 12 years. When there are only a couple of grads, it gives us more time to be creative. Normally we alternate a print block and a plain block and allow for space for the congregation to sign the quilt. But, this year, like last year; that isn’t possible, so we really wanted them to stand out. I will make a nice label for the back of the quilt on my embroidery machine as well to let the student know that the quilt was made especially for them.
I did one little embroidery project for my quilt guild. In December we all received a piece of fabric in the mail, and the project was launched. It was called “Ask” to Reconnect Us Project”. Each member was provided an 8″ square piece of fabric with which to create a finished block that reflects you as a quilt maker. I left my square pinned to my design wall for almost 2 months, and then, at the eleventh hour, I got busy and came up with a plan. I found one of my favorite embroidery designs, called Sewing Friends available at Kreative Kiwi. It is a free set and has several adorable Sewing designs. I used scrap fabric for the embroidery and the provided turquoise for the strips around the center square. I don’t really have a name for this block because it didn’t come out exactly like I had planned, and I had to adapt and regroup. I do like how it finished and I think it reflects my enjoyment of machine embroidery along with quilting. That pink came right out of the scraps that were used in the quilt I made in January for Stella. (More about that project on https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2021/01/31/a-finished-small-project/ )
That should catch you up on my cold February sewing and embroidery work. I did work on my clue for Scrap Dance Pachanga, but the units need to be pressed, so I will save them for the next post.
Well; thank goodness 2020 is gone. I have always said don’t wish time away, but this is ONE year that has been so full of upheaval in our everyday lives that I don’t want to repeat it ever again. We are blessed that our grandchildren are “IN” our safety bubble and get to see them on a regular basis! In order to be “IN” the safety bubble, we do very little “outside of the bubble” and report in if there is cause to do something that might be “risky”. This means no hanging out with anybody outside the bubble; no dinners out with others in restaurants, no quilt bees or extended visits of friends indoors, no travelling to shop for fabric in Lancaster PA, no parties or social gatherings outside the circle. This has worked very well for all 10 of us, since June; and we are all staying safe because of the trust in behavior we have with each other. It meant we have had a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas together with no risk of infecting one another. We are blessed to be retired, and that the kids are doing their best with school via remote learning and limited in person contact when school is in session. My grandkids have adapted to “outdoor play” no matter the weather with their neighborhood friends. We did one day “out” to shop in a local community for Christmas and used all the recommended methods for keeping safe. The bulk of our Christmas shopping was online.
I’m sorry that my blog has been silent in December. I was busy getting ready for Christmas. Along the way I took a LOT of photos. This year was “odd” because my husband wasn’t tied up with his annual train club open house events, and that meant he spent a LOT of time decorating at home.
Tree decorating at our house started Thanksgiving week and took around a week to get “done”. We set a card table up in the living room and unboxed ornaments, and set aside a lot to have the grandkids give us a hand. They really enjoyed looking at the ornaments and helping us decorate the tree.
It was a lot of fun looking at the ornaments through the eyes of the kids. I had fun looking at the ones we had collected over the years during our travels. The 3 in the slideshow below are just a sample of our travel collection.
Once that train track goes down under the tree, I am finished!
Hubby has a large collection of Star Trek ornaments by Hallmark that he hangs on garland on our stair railing. Unboxing and putting in batteries etc is often a 2-3 day project. He had some help from our grandson this year.
The two youngest grand girls had a “sleepover” at grandma’s one night in December, and they worked hard helping us “arrange” the Christmas village.
I did some sewing in December. My blogging friend Carole ( https://FrommyCarolina Home.com// ) had a couple of ZOOM retreats in December and I really enjoyed participating.
During the first retreat, I worked on 3 blocks for the Vintage Christmas Quilt (book / pattern by Lori Holt). I did the 12″ blocks and the last 3 I finished were the candy canes, the cup and the stocking. I admire anybody who did the 6″ blocks with those much smaller pieces. My favorite block so far is the train, because my hubby encouraged me to put a Santa face in the block.
This completes the sew along that Carole inspired just before Christmas in 2019. (She was done in July!) I had made kits up for all the blocks, and have now learned to “not cut fabric after drinking wine” with the last 3 blocks! 🙂 During the Zoom retreat I discovered several “miss cuts” in the kits I had prepared months ago! I was able to overcome that problem because I had all the fabric for the project still binned together and quickly recut what I needed. I decided that there are a few more blocks I want to make in that book, so this will hang on the design wall a bit longer. Thinking about how to sash the blocks, which blocks to “make” for another few rows or column is fun, and may be a January project for me.
The second Zoom retreat I chose to work on Christmas gifts. I had decided in October that I was making “pajama pants” for the grandkids, and it took me a while to get around to it. I had all the flannel fabric prewashed, and the day before the Zoom retreat, I copied my pattern into the 3 sizes I needed on butcher paper, and got all the pieces cut out. During the zoom call I got 3 sets of pajama pants made. I was worried about flannel “raveling” during the washing and someone suggested zigzagging the raw edge of the seams. I did that on the first pair, but during the 2nd & 3rd pair I found the “overcast stitch” on my Janome 8900 and that speed up the process of constructing. Following the second Zoom retreat I got a fourth pair of pajama pants made, and thanks to quick shipping from Amazon, I got the elastic and twill tape for ties that I needed. It did this Stitching Grandma’s heart good when the grandkids were EXCITED about the pj’s. It was funny to watch really. The oldest (12 year old boy) was the first to open his package and jumped off the sofa, ran to change. Throughout the afternoon of unwrapping, as each subsequent child opened their package, they ran to change. They all spent the day in their “cozy pajamas”. I included long sleeve cotton t-shirts for them, as I wasn’t sewing tops.
I also did some machine embroidery. I’ve been trying to give everybody in the family an “ornament” every year. This year, I joined a group on Facebook with John Deer https://www.facebook.com/JohnDeerEmbroidery and he gifted the cutest little gingerbread ornament. These are done as “free standing lace” (FSL) using matching top & bobbin thread on water soluble stabilizer. As you will see as you look through the photos, I put a little bit of tulle in my hoop with the stabilizer to add some extra “structure” to the ornament. There is so much waste of stabilizer, I find that I can reduce the waste by putting more than one design in the hoop, and also by “stitching together” bits of stabilizer that might get thrown away. I use 2 layers for FSL, so one layer often contains some of that “Frankenstein stabilizer”. It works well and doesn’t really matter that I used grey thread to join the bits together. I did have one little gingerbread man who was kinda naughty….He ran away and forgot to get all his frosting and eyes, so I “repaired him” with some sparkly eyes glued on and kept him for myself…as he was particularly acting like he was a 2020 oops.
My other “big embroidery/sewing” project was a gift for my daughter. I purchased a pattern in Dec 2019 for the Sweet Pea casserole carrier . The project includes 10 different blocks to stitch out on the embroidery machine, then join on the sewing machine. You need to do a few “repeat blocks” and it didn’t take me long to figure out some of these blocks took upwards of 30 mins to stitch. I used fabric from my never ending scraps for the blocks, and African Wax fabric for the handles, lining, bottom. I like the continuity to the project the African Wax fabric gives in contrast to the scrappiness of the embroidered blocks. I also added extra wool batting and peltex (http://www.pellonprojects.com/products/70-peltex-sew-in-ultra-firm-stabilizer/) in the bottom of the carrier for added warmth and stability. I also quilted the end panels and the bottom panel . The hardest part of this project was turning it “right side out” with peltex inside, but I think it turned out really well. The pattern directions are a bit ambiguous about sizes for the end panels, and I had to do some “adjusting” because of it.
Each block is done “in the hoop” with batting and Insulbrite under the fabric. The pattern gives you a choice of a 4×4 block or a 5×5 block. I did the 5×5. The hoop is taken off the machine for “trimming” of the batting and Insulbrite, and on the blocks with more than one fabric, for trimming of the seam allowances.
Once all the blocks are made, the carrier is completed at the sewing machine. I had fun picking the fabrics and the threads for the various blocks. The African Wax fabric (the lime green and brown) was gifted to me by my other daughter when she lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I thought it was a special way to keep the fabric “in the family”. I got right down to December 23rd before I finished, but was quite pleased with the results.
Christmas eve and Christmas day were fantastic with the family. We “partied” like rock stars with the 4-12 year old’s and parents on Christmas Eve, playing lots of games my daughter presented. Even ol’ grumpy played along and had fun. (Hubby NEVER plays games….) Christmas Day was relaxed and fun, and my daughters each took part in creating a fabulous Christmas dinner. Hubby helped set the “new table” and I even thought to take a photo, though somewhat fuzzy. The “new table” is our big gift this year. I have been looking for 2 or 3 years for a table we could all fit at, and this one easily seats all 10 of us. One of my daughters found it for sale on Facebook Market place and we took a drive to Maryland to purchase it on Thanksgiving weekend.
Hubby and I celebrate our anniversary on New Years eve, and actually “went out” for dinner to a local place that we haven’t been in since March. It was good to be “out” and behaving like normal people, except for the much hated masks. What was strange is to walk in, seat ourselves in an empty restaurant, where 1/2 the tables are removed, and the workforce diminished to just a couple of people. What was good is the server “remembers” my husband and his very particular ordering habits, eating food that I enjoy, but didn’t have to cook and clean up. We had a quiet “rest of the evening” at home, enjoying our “binge watching” of the program “Heartland” on Amazon prime. We managed to make it to midnight, but I was asleep by 1230!!
The big “sigh” for me is the heartbreak of not seeing our beloved friends who are “locked away” in an assisted living facility who can’t even see their own family, much less friends from “outside” or even down the hall. We also have friends who lost loved ones this year due to poor health and COVID, and others that are living at home, alone, with no family near by. I hope to do better in this new year by calling more often to those who are alone, and staying in touch with distant family members.
I pray that in 2021 you will enjoy good health. I hope that 2021 is a year that will bring renewed health and improved economic situation to not only our friends, but those around the world who have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic. I pray that with the release of 3 vaccines in the last month in England and North America, the distribution will be done fairly and quickly. I pray that those who wish to be vaccinated will suffer no ill effects and that we will soon build to that “herd immunity” we have been waiting for. I will be “in line” for a vaccine so that I can “resume” more of a normal life, including travel and recreation with friends. I’ve still got a “cruise on the books” for 2021, and am hoping it will turn into a reality.
Thanks for following along with my rambles. Happy New Year.
Off and on I show machine embroidery projects I have been working on. The month of October has been fun working on the Autumn Jubilee projects that Carole on From My Carolina Home blog has posted. She inspired me to do some stitching out of “leaves” on my machine which I showed in a previous blog post. When I was searching some of my favorite digitizing websites in September for inspiration, I came across this fun pattern for an ACORN Table Runner. I wasn’t certain how the leaves would be used in the Autumn Jubilee in October, but I thought I would possibly find a use for this pattern.
Since I was “all caught up” with #AutumnJubilee2020 with my quilt along row blocks and my sew along tote back, I decided to work on a few blocks.
I started working on it Saturday. I had my choice on block sizes and choose the 150 mm block, which I stitched out using my 8×8 hoop.
The fun of these patterns is choosing fabrics and threads. I used the same gold fabric for all the tops of the acorns. The block design had a meander stitch for quilting and I made the error of choosing a variegated thread. No fixing it after I took it out of the hoop. I even tried doing my own meander on the sewing machine ‘after the fact’ and it looked so bad I ripped it all out. The variegated threads looked great on those open leaves in the corners though. Oh well, lesson learnt. Thread choice is as important as fabric choice.
After I got the second block done, I decided I better be serious about my fabric and thread choices. I chose 2 fabrics for background and a wide variety for the acorns and leaves.
Of course, on Sunday, the instructions came out for the Autumn Jubilee wall hanging that has the leaves. I played around with those leaf blocks and the first couple of acorn blocks, and decided NOT to intermix them. The scale was so different, I decided I would carry on making acorn blocks, make the table runner, and work on the wall hanging later.
Now that I have all 10 blocks embroidered, I have found a layout with them that I think works for me.
The fun of working on these blocks is that ALL of the fabrics for the acorns and leaves came from my “scraps”. Ever since I did that Knitting bag last fall, I have kept 8 small baskets with fabrics sorted by color, just for embroidery machine applique projects. It was handy to reach in and pull out little bits of fabrics for these machine applique pieces.
Next up is to stitch the rows together and figure out what to use as a backing. Pattern calls for you to “turn” this project and top stitch to finish it off. It should finish quickly as there is no binding required. Sweet Pea designs has a Facebook group, and I chatted with someone this week who had just finished her table runner and asked about how easily it turned. The secret is leaving a good opening, clipping the corners and chopsticks for poking out the corners after turning. I usually employ a long knitting needle for that job so keep your fingers crossed. I’ll post a finished picture in a few days.
Another interesting project I did this month was to stitch using my embroidery machine on card stock. Embroidery Library has lots of designs, especially digitized for card stock. I read though the tutorials and purchased one design. The design I selected has just over 8500 stitches of a 5×7 card.
I have enjoyed really getting to know my embroidery machine in the last year. I have to say this is so much more fun than making COVID-19 masks!
What is happening this week in your sewing room? Do you have a favorite place to download designs? Do you like projects that incorporate machine embroidery with your quilting projects?
When I read through the instructions, I decided for I did not want to do a Velcro closure on my bag, so I ordered some “magnetic” purse closures on Amazon. I was “waiting” for that delivery on Tuesday so I could finish this project. (Note...local friends…I have extra magnetic closures if you need them….they came in a pack of 20 and it will take me that many years to use them.)
I waited a while to come up with my “panel” for embellishment. I was supposed to insert it before quilting, but I could not decide on the fabric for a few days. I chose the linen multi color block fabric that is in the middle of the strip set for my panel and got the embroidery done a couple of weeks ago.
Yesterday I sat down to follow those “bag finishing instructions” (linked at the top of the page).
I had to first add fusible fleece to the back of my embroidered piece and then insert it in the strip set. Once it was in, I decided it needed quilting. I did some straight line quilting using the same thread as the ‘fancy stitches” on the strips, using Superior Threads Fantastico “CASHMERE” thread. (My all time favorite color!) The quilting and the fusible fleece helped make the wrinkles around the edges of my embroidery disappear.
Once that was done it was time to trim up the piece. I just could not bring myself to cutting it down to the “pattern size”, so I squared it up, trimmed and measured and went with a bigger size bag. I ended up with about 16 1/4″ by 44″.
I dug into my Autumn Jubilee bin of fabric and chose my bag lining and handle fabric.
As I was deciding on which fabrics to use, I decided that the bag NEEDED pockets inside. I had enough fabric of either color to make pockets. I used the fabric that was left after making straps and made two pockets for inside.
I added the magnetic closure to the lining before putting the lining in the bag. I put a small square of fusible fleece behind the lining fabric where the magnet prongs go through the fabric to keep it from pulling out.
I was very happy with this project and my modifications along the way. One thing I would have changed is the width of the straps and the method for doing them. These straps are about 1 1/4″ wide finished, which is ok for a bag this size, but I like a thicker strap. I know the idea was to use those 2 1/2″ strips from jelly rolls, but I cut from yardage and could have done bigger. They do have fusible fleece inside the handles, so they are going to be comfortable to hold. You might remember my story of the puny strap bag last year https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2019/06/09/taking-care-of-some-odds-and-ends/
I am dashing off to an outdoor quilt bee and will be taking this bag for show & tell. This evening I am going to practice on muslin for hem-stitching / rolled hem for a scarf. Wish me luck, and tell me your tips!
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