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?

 

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Small projects this week

This week was time for smaller projects.  I had the chance to spend some time in Ocean Pines Maryland earlier in the week with an embroidery group.  I invited two friends of mine to come along, and they were welcomed and felt that the time was well spent.

Every time I go, I learn something about hooping, alignment, stabilizing etc.  The group leader, Anna, is a wealth of knowledge.  I was able to do a little “show & tell” of the project I did the last time I attended.  We had embroidered “crab bibs”, and I finished the sewing in the interim.  These are “full size adult bibs”; which I will gift to some friends at Christmas.

Crab Bibs

The bibs are 2 layers of fabric, so should help keep the clothing underneath clean while those wonderful blue crabs are consumed.  I kept a paper pattern of the bib, in case I want to make them again.

Crab for bib

This was a fun summer time project.

As I got ready for this weeks gathering, I decided I would go for a fall theme.  I had downloaded this great, free (this month only) design from Embroidery Library -Autumn Elegance Deer #M15361, 12464 stitches. (Size is 3.87″x 3.18″).  The shirt is a golden brown, and I decided to go a bit lighter with the body of the deer so it didn’t get lost on the shirt.

TShirt

I love “FINISHING” a project when I start something new.  Now, I just need for the Fall weather to settle in….after next week.  I took with me another long sleeve t-shirt, in red.  I never got it stitched, but it is ready to go with stabilizer already on.  I am hoping to get a design loaded in and have it stitched out this weekend.

My other project this week was the log cabin cross banner.  I have it finished, ready to gift.  I used my “oops” blocks on the back of the banner.  I thought it would be fun to include them.  I quilted it with “glow in the dark” white thread (40wt Superior) on the front, and silver bottom line (60 wt Superior) in the bobbin.  After I finished quilting, binding, labeling and a hanging sleeve, I ran it through the washer & dryer, and while still damp, I blocked it to make sure it squared up nicely. (Yes, that binding is Susie’s Magic Binding. I went scrappy on the yellow flange!)

blocking the banner

I use one of those old fashioned folding cardboard cutting boards and use the lines to keep things square, along with my 6×24 ruler and my 12×12 ruler for the corners.  I like to block it, because I know it is going to hang and I want it square. The cardboard cutting board is on the floor and my pins go through the cardboard, the carpet and into the wood under the rug. I set a floor fan to blow across the project so it dries completely overnight.

Here is a peak at the label I made on my embroidery machine.  I like to fuse it to the back of the quilt, and catch 2 edges under binding. The other two sides get hand stitched.

Banner label

I did a hanging sleeve that will hold up to a 4″ rod.  I like to put the sleeve on before I do the binding, so it is nicely held under the binding edge.  Of course, the sides and bottom of the sleeve are hand stitched down.

Back of Log cabin cross banner

Other fun stuff this week include making bags for the food bank to use over the holidays, when they pass out large items (like turkeys).  I’ve finished 2, and have 3 more cut out and ready to sew. I am using donated upholstery / decorator fabric which is VERY sturdy.   They are also very colorful bags!  I hope to have all 5 ready when I go to Helping Hands Quilt Guild on Monday evening.

What are your weekend plans??  I hope you have a chance to do a little sewing and enjoy your hobbies.

 

 

All but binding……

I am nearly finished with Mittens, my pet mosaic project I started in May of 2016.  (If you click on that link you can go back to my FLICKR album and browse through all the photo’s).  I’ve written many times about Mittens on this blog, and wanted you to know I have FINALLY reached the end!

Mittens will be completed in the next day or two with a week to spare.  I entered him into the  Ocean Waves Quilt Guild Quilt Show  which takes place on July 21 & 22, 2017 in Lewes Delaware.

I did a LOT of thread work on this project trying to give the idea of his fur, especially in his ear you see below-

Thread painting

All that heavy thread work caused the sides of the quilt to pull in and make a “bow” in the sides of the quilt near the ears.

I needed to block the quilt.  I went to the internet and read lots of posts on how to block the project, and compiled info from many sources for “my method”.

Can you see how wavy the sides are???

Quilting finished

I ended up on the floor with 2 of those old fashioned cardboard cutting mats, a carpenter’s square with a yardstick attached and about 500 pins, and two tape measures.  I just kept working and working until it was as square as I could get it. The pins went through the project, into the cardboard mats and then into the floor!  (Industrial carpeting!!!)  This took me nearly 3 hours as I worked to get rid of as much of the “curve” the heavy quilting caused.  If you have a tip on how to keep that from happening, let me know! The project & borders were straight before quilting!

I got the water bottle out and started spraying.  I let it “soak” in and waiting an hour or so, and plugged in the iron, and steamed and pressed the whole quilt.  After I was finished with the iron, I set a floor fan near it and walked away.

Blocking Mittens

I let him dry for about 18 hours and then I pulled out the pins, put him on the table and trimmed him up.

While he was drying I got busy with making the binding and the label and the hanging sleeve.

I did my label on my embroidery machine and edged it in some cute cat fabric.  There are pieces of this fabric scattered out in the project.

Label for my Pet Mosaic project

I stitched down 2 sides of the label in the edges of the binding, and fused to the back of the quilt. I still have to hand stitch around 2 sides of the label, and the bottom and ends of the hanging sleeve.  Since Mittens is a wall hanging, the top of the sleeve is stitched in the edge of the binding.  Which binding?  Well….Susie’s Magic Binding of course. It is stitched to the back of the quilt and READY for me to roll to the front and take those final stitches in the area of the flange.

That is my project for this summer afternoon!  What are you working on??

 

NOTE – Cheryl Lynch taught the class where I began the project – check out her website Cheryl Lynch Quilts  .  If your guild is looking for a great teacher & speaker, she comes with my recommendation!

A couple of projects and FOOD

The last few days have been filled with good food and projects.  I won’t bore you with the details, just suffice to say that since Saturday, I have been to a luncheon tea, a church shrimp & rockfish dinner, a guild pot luck luncheon, lunch at a friends house while sewing, and soup supper at church!  I just love it when I get to eat different, interesting foods made by other people.  The tea sandwiches were so delicious, along with scones and cheesecakes; and the shrimp was gigantic at church.  Guild luncheons always bring out the best cooks, and the lunch at my friends house included a fresh baked bread, filled with ham & cheese along with strawberries and chocolate frosted brownies. Soup supper tonight at church included a wonderful Italian salad to complement the 3 soups.

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Tea Sandwiches – Starting from the top – meatloaf, bleu cheese and grapes, peas and carrots  egg salad flowers, and salmon with radish

Aren’t they pretty?  The egg salad was so delicious I used the recipe for the Guild luncheon on Monday.

In between these lovely meals I have been enjoying a few sewing projects.  Tuesday at my friend Pam’s house, 3 of us got together and made these fantastic bags using 5″ charm squares.  The pattern is by Penny Sturges and is called Chubby Charmer.

Chubby Charmer bag

I, of course, opened my Scrap Storage System boxes and pulled from the stack of already cut 5″ squares, and collected enough coordinating colors for the project, and opened my “blue bin” of stash yardage and pulled a piece of fabric, circa 2011. Yes, the tag was still on the piece from the purchase.  Well aged fabric and scraps are always the most fun.  The only thing I had to purchase for the project was the fusible fleece, and I needed nearly 3 yards following the pattern instructions.  It consists of 48  – 5″ charm squares, set in a 6×4 grid on each side of the bag. The bag measures 11.5″ deep; and 9×20 “inside”.  The pattern said you could put a “9×12 casserole pan” in the bottom of the bag.

The yardage was used for the handles, the lining, and the inside pockets.

Inside pockets

There are 2 LARGE pockets inside this bag, and I decided to divide them in half when I sewed them to the lining. This is a “substantial bag” with 2 layers of fusible fleece behind the charm squares; 1 layer behind the lining, 1 layer in the pocket and handles.  This project required a “denim needle” for the top stitching around the upper edge of the bag.  I was not happy with the way my standard sewing needle was behaving when I was going thru almost 9 layers.  As soon as I switched to a heavy duty (size 16) needle, it went right through all the layers along the edge where the handles are.

After we constructed the bags, my friend Pam made some notes on the pattern on changes for “next time”. I said I would skip the fusible fleece, and use the Bosal In-R-Form in just one layer.  You wouldn’t have to get the fusible type, as you are quilting it to the bag, and a few pins would keep it in place until your stitching secured it.  Pressing the fusible fleece in 2 layers to our panel of squares, and getting it to adhere nicely was challenging. The other thing I think I would do is make sure my fleece or the Bosal is 1/2″ smaller all around the panel; to give you a little less bulk in the seams.

This bag is big enough to take a quilt to the guild for show and tell, or a bunch of supplies to a sit & sew.  I had a great time with Pam & Nancy while we made our bags.  All 3 of us finished the project the same day we started. Pam teased me and said I could NOT leave her house until I finished. She finished about 15 minutes before me. We started at 9 am, and I finished at 6:30 pm.  We joked about making the “bag in a day” and were determined to finish.

My other projects this week were to work on my flying geese for the Bonnie Hunter Talkin’ Turkey.  I used my Square in a Square ruler, option 3 by Jodi Barrows.

Square in a Square option 3

(My strips are 2.5″ which is wider than need be, but what I had already cut). The first step for cutting is to  put the 90 degree mark in the corner of the square.  Then you do it on the opposite corner and this is what you get below.

Option 3

Then you do something Jodi calls the “Texas two step” – you SHIFT the ruler two lines over from the 90 degree point for the other two corners.

Texas 2 step Option 3

AFTER the Texas 2 step trim

and then you trim the opposite sides.

Texas 2 step for Option 3

and you get this –

After the Texas Two step

I am ready to “cut through the white square” to get 2 perfect flying geese units.

2 perfect flying geese

In summary, by putting the 90 degree in the corner of the white square, you end up with a perfect 1/4″ seam allowance for the top of the goose, and you won’t loose it’s point when you stitch it in the block of the quilt.  The Texas Two step on the other two points eliminates that seam allowance, because the side of the wings will be in the seam allowance.  I’ve put links in a previous post to Jodi’s website and you tube videos on how the ruler is used.  I just thought I would share some close up photo’s of the ones I am making.  I have about 20 left to trim and then I will have my 240 that I need for this part of the project.  My next round of flying geese is for the border of the quilt and they will be red geese with white wings, and there will be a couple of hundred in that round!

One last project is something I did on Monday.  I was “going” to the Embroidery Club in Ocean Pines Maryland.  At least, I intended to go……Our luncheon at Ocean Waves went longer than I expected, and I got stuck in road construction stop & go traffic. By the time I got through the traffic, my time was so short, I ended up coming home and working on the project.  I followed instructions by Embroidery Library and made this little cutie –

Chicken felt stuffie

I haven’t “stuffed” him yet, as I need to use tweezers to get the stuffing through the opening left by the embroidery machine.  I apparently used the “WRONG” type of spray adhesive, as I spent 3 hours making this little gem of a chicken.  Thread breaks, needle jams, broken needle etc because my machine HATED the spray adhesive.  The stuff NEVER dried in the course of the 3 hours.  Had I attended the Embroidery Club, I would have gotten those great tips they had to share about this type of problem.  I wrote to the gals who lead the group and got some good feedback the next day.  Maybe I will try again, but not until I get a different spray adhesive.

What are you up to this week?

 

 

a sense of accomplishment

I feel like I have accomplished something today.  I started off the day with a meeting and was home before noon!! I decided to spend the afternoon in my sewing room, and I managed to get one of the Senior Quilts put together.

We have a total of 5 graduates this year at church, and I am only obligated to make one top.  I currently have 3 completed tops in my car to take back to church. The ladies have been busy getting these ready. When I left off on Saturday, I had 5 rows sewn together I think.  The rest of the 8.5″ blocks got put together and the whole thing has been pressed and is “ready to delivery”.   I had to print out some more pictures of the church on fabric and get them stitched onto blocks for the quilt I was working on and one other.

We will start signing them at church this weekend!  The other 2 tops should be done very soon.  Once the congregation has had a chance to sign and write messages of hope and faith and love, then we will get together and tie them and send them home with a quilter for binding.  Perhaps I should think about what binding I will be doing and get that ready tomorrow!!  Then I will know it is “DONE”.  At some point I will try to get a photo of the one I did, along with all the rest!

I also finished an apron that I started last week.  It is made from twill, which is a sturdier fabric than quilters cotton. One of my daughters home schools, and she “wears an apron” all day, and asked for a replacement. She also asked for something that was a busy print, so splashes and spots were not terribly noticeable.  I added an extra pocket to the apron, and made the pockets a little more substantial than called for in the pattern. I did that by just cutting an extra “piece and stitching and turning the pocket”.  I’ve made this pattern twice before, for a little girl and her dolly…..but it has been a few years. I plan to put this one in the mail tomorrow, and await feedback on the length, and the overall sizing.  I was asked to size it “generously” so that less splatters landed on the clothing of the wearer.  I tried it on and found it to be satisfactory, but I will wait to hear that feedback before cutting out the fabric I have for the 2nd one.

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Meanwhile, I have a garden apron to make for a “raffle basket” donation.  I need to have it done in the next couple of days.

It is nice to get a few things checked off my to do list.
Oh, by the way, my quilters math yesterday was correct and I have 10 EXTRA half square scrappy triangles. Thanks Carole!

 

A bit of sewing

It’s been quite a while where I felt like I have done any sewing at all.  Thank goodness for the Scrap Dance Two Step for March!!  This mystery quilt run by Carole at https://frommycarolinahome.wordpress.com/2017/03/17/scrap-dance-two-step-march/   got me busy!  I put my half square triangles together on Friday afternoon, and finished squaring them all up today.  I did have to send Carole an email and ask if I was “counting” properly.  I either have extra, or I am short!   That quilter’s math on an empty stomach….

It was fun working out of the scrap bins.  Most of my fabrics for this project were already “cut to size” when I started, coming from my scrap storage system.

Step 3 of the Two Step

Scrap Dance Two Step mystery Scrap HST

Last weekend my youngest granddaughter turned a year old.   I swore I would not be the “plastic toy grandma” but she needed a dump truck and a cell phone to call me!  I feel a bit better about the plastic toys because I also gave her a handmade fabric book.  I had some ” animal prints” from a panel that were just right. Especially since her mom had posted pictures of a paper book that had been mutilated ! Those pop up books just don’t hold up to the eager fingers of a little one.  I had fun putting this together –

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Yesterday I got together with another quilter and we laid out our blocks for a couple of senior quilts at church.  This is the look mine will take on –

Senior Quilt 2017

These are 8.5″ squares, and I got about 1/3 of it assembled yesterday during our workshop.  It was fun sewing on my little featherweight.  I did decide it is time to order that new belt the hubby suggested.  I used it on Wednesday at a sit & sew with the Material Girls, and we had a few moments of “hesitation”.

What have you been up to??

Embroidery resources

Welcome to my new “readers & followers”.  I don’t say that often enough, but I am glad you found my blog and hope you will find something helpful, amusing, interesting or motivating in my posts.  I started this blog over 3 years ago, and use it as a “journal of sorts” of my hobbies – which continue to expand.  I originally wrote about quilting and sewing for the grand children; and have expanded to paper crafting, card making / stamping; and machine embroidery.  (Note – I flunked out of knitting 101, so you don’t have to listen to that story unravelling). Occasionally, I will chat about other things, like domestic life, my pets and travel.  Mostly, I am a stitching grandma!

I had a lot of fun on Monday, meeting ladies from Ocean Pines MD at the Embroidery Club they have established.  They have been meeting for over a year, and this was my FIRST chance to go.  I went immediately after the Ocean Waves Quilt Guild meeting and it was a 45 minute trip.  Thank goodness I had so many helper to “pack up” the Second Time Around shopping and help me “get out the door” quickly.  My wonderful husband came over to the church with my car, and swapped out for the loaded SUV, and took it home. Next month, there is a luncheon at OWQG, so I will be able to “grab my dish” and head out on time.

What I enjoyed about the meeting with the Ocean Pines Embroidery Club was the willingness to share SKILLS that the experienced stitchers had acquired.  We learned about various stabilizers they like, design sources, and techniques for “in the hoop” designs.  They have been creating some wonderful projects.  Of course, I have terrible “machine envy” right now.  My little Brother PE500 can only accommodate a 4×4 design, and they were showing some projects that needed a 5×7 or larger frame.  I’m not investing in a new machine any time soon, so I will just “admire” and learn from the “bigger machine operators”.  I want to learn all I can, so when I eventually take the leap to something bigger, I will have “proof of use” of the little machine to satisfy the hubby……     😉

I mentioned to several ladies at the Embroidery Club that I had a blog, and had recently written about “transferring designs” between the computer and the embroidery machine.  If you are interested – that blog post can be found here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2017/03/02/moving-files-to-the-embroidery-machine-tutorial/  .

A few years ago I wrote a detailed post on resources for embroidery machines.  I shared lots of websites for free designs etc, places to buy designs, and supplies you might want to consider.  Again, if you are interested – that blog post can be found here – https://stitchinggrandma.wordpress.com/2015/07/24/machine-embroidery-resources/

I spent yesterday attending to normal domestic life stuff, with NO sewing/stitching. (Have I ever mentioned that I would rather sew than clean house or grocery shop???)  I deserved a nice cold glass of wine after the “stuff” was taken care of, and sat out in a rocker on the front porch and watched the traffic go by!  Can you believe it was 70 degrees yesterday?

After dinner, I had some time to “surf” on the computer.  I did find some interesting new “sources” for free designs and spent several hours   downloading things. I joined a group a few months ago on Facebook – Resources for Free Machine Embroidery Designs, Sales, Tutorials, Networking . https://www.facebook.com/groups/624604440941908/  Those members share links to FREE designs.

Following some of those links that had been posted on the Facebook group, I ended up at http://www.krisrhoades.com/  and picked up the cutest little elephant.  (Of course, I ended up window shopping for other designs too).

I also dropped by http://www.thebikestore.com/starling/index.html and picked up the mug rug pattern for March.  Once I downloaded the design, I was disappointed to find it was a 5×7, too big for my machine. Oh well, I have it saved now.

Then I popped over to http://missmarysembroidery.com/free-stuff-sales/  and picked up a “Luck of the Irish” free monthly design and an SVG cutting file too.

While I was browsing around on the Resources for Free Machine Embroidery….. group, I saw a link for Janome.  I don’t have a Janome EMBROIDERY machine, but I popped over to Janome’s website to see what they had, and was surprised to find FREE designs in multiple formats.  I need to subscribe and start downloading.  There were over 70 that would work for me, and I think I will be a little selective about what I download.   http://www.janome-embroidery.com/c-132-free-embroidery-designs.aspx

Another place on Facebook that I have found free designs is StitchDelight . https://www.facebook.com/groups/StitchDelight.FREEBIES/   I’ve collected some great alphabet  designs in the last month; new letter daily.   This is also a group you have to “join” to be able to download.

I am subscribed to a mailing list from Artistic Thread Works and get lots of freebies there every week.  You have to “subscribe” to the email list to get the free stuff – http://www.artisticthreadworks.com/public/main.cfm

As I mentioned, I am working with a Brother PE500; which is an embroidery only machine, with a 4×4 (100mm x 100mm) capability.  My machine has a “cable connection” to my computer, and uses PES files.

So, no fancy photo’s today because I have stitched not a thing!  Maybe later.  Grandbaby # 4 is having a birthday and I saw something tempting…..

DISCLAIMER – With most of these websites & Facebook groups, you need to “subscribe” or “join” or “set up an account”.  Be careful about what information you chose to share when doing this.  Honestly, one of these sites wanted my “birthday”….but I was not giving up the year….too much identity information!  And of course, Be careful about clicking on unknown links etc.  Make sure your “virus software” is up to date and running, and scans your downloads BEFORE you open them.   FYI – I have not had any problems with ANY of the links or the websites I am sharing, so if you ‘know and trust me’ you know that I won’t ever knowingly steer you wrong, but there are “evil doers” in the world who like to trick people; so be cautious when clicking on links in emails; on websites etc.  

Have fun with what ever you are working on today!